I’m not sure what got me thinking about flower mandalas. I used to make them regularly. I think this was when I lived in Santa Rosa on four acres and had an abundance of materials to choose from. When I first decided to write this post I actually thought I’d gotten the idea for flower mandalas from a book I will soon be reviewing. (Stay tuned.) But, in fact, when I looked there, she makes no mention of flower mandalas, and when I googled them, I found zero actual images of what I have been doing for years now. Of course the mandala itself is a very old archtypal image, as indicated above. The word mandala is Sanskrit, and roughly translates as “sacred circle.” It also bears a context of home or essence. I create my own humble, live versions, and hope after reading this post you will be inspired and encouraged to create yours.
I found as I began thinking of writing about my flower mandalas, my mind kept nagging me for thinking of writing of them in the fall, when flowers are certainly not at their peak. Nevertheless, I could not postpone the idea for some reason or another, which perhaps will become clearer by the end of this post. So I went out into the garden and gathered what was in most abundance (as you need repetition to create them) and brought them into the kitchen to begin. My first observation, surprisingly, was that almost every flower I currently have multiples of, is rather horn or trumpet-shaped. (“Harbingers of what?” I asked myself.) And this means they do not lie flat, as they should. So my first effort was uncharacteristic in its lack of perfect symmetry, yet I felt it has sufficient charm to be included. And thus I share Flower Mandala #1.
You will recognize that I used white and red hollyhocks, golden and orange nasturtium, pink and blue morning glories, and two pink zinnias. The zinnia is most what I would normally use, as it’s quite flat. But I find in spite of the slightly casual display, this is a nice addition to a table, dresser or even altar, if you are so inclined.
Most mandalas have an intuitive, irrational character and, through their symbolical content, exert a retroactive influence on the unconscious. They therefore possess a “magical” significance, like icons…
Upon completing this first flower mandala I was simultaneously pleased and frustrated. I determined I needed to make another, and turned to yesterday’s farmer’s market for what I knew would be there in abundance: (flat!) dahlias. This enabled me to choose stem by stem considering symmetry, in terms of both color and size. More inspired, I returned to my kitchen and fashioned Flower Mandala #2, which is more similar to those I’ve made in the past, but also more formal. It’s very pleasing, I think. And, yes, I added two of the zinnias from my front garden for splash!
By now I found myself fully engaged in the Flower Mandala process as I found myself inquiring over and over again what the implications were for now and for the upcoming holiday season. I kept imagining bay and berries and trying to configure them in my mind’s eye in keeping with this structure, almost to no avail. Undaunted, I surrendered to this process, which has some unexamined urgency or drive behind it, and advised myself that apparently I was engaged in a Flower Mandala Workshop on a Sunday afternoon [I’m what??] and what had I thought I was doing? It seemed like a worthy endeavor. Deepening the surrender I went out in search of flowers that reflected current motifs. I’d already decided I wanted to explore greens in addition to flowers, but knew I needed a single flower with a big voice. Here’s where that impulse led.
In all honesty I had been anticipating lots of layering, so I was utterly surprised when I realized once I’d put the flower in the center, the red maple leaves symmetrically framing it, and the baby mums in place that it was finished. (You are?? Yes, I am.) This taught me that sometimes a thing of beauty can be rendered in a flash. Good to note.
My curiosity was now fully engaged and I followed the next impulse, wanting to incorporate something of the upcoming Halloween imagery, but, also, again, the notion of More Green. I had abandoned the idea of berries, as its being too soon in the season, but pulling out from a store jaunt, I happened to spy some pepper berries in the parking lot and quickly reparked and pulled out the gardening shears which I always carry in the glove compartment. (You never know when you might find something irresistable and available–such as pepper berries in the parking lot!) I have to confess I’ve never created anything quite like this, a very satisfying experience for a creative person, and thus, I really did create my very own Flower Mandala Workshop today, in the convenience of my home. Sweet, unexpected, fun, and very gratifying!
I would like to invite you to explore making your own flower mandalas with what is readily at hand. I hope you will. And then if you would love to share your treasure, please email me a jpeg and I will include one or two here.
I saw that everything, all paths I had been following, all steps I had taken, were leading back to a single point — namely, to the mid-point. It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the centre. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the centre, to individuation…I knew that in finding the mandala as an expression of the self I had attained what was for me the ultimate.
– Carl Jung
Love and gardening blessings,
Posted on October 12th, 2008 by Kathryn
Filed under: People at Play