Carl Jung defines the mandala as “a symbol representing the effort to reunify the self,” (page 28, Heart, Gut, Head: Creating a Healthier Hierarchy) and also refers to the Hindu meaning of the word "mandala" as magic circle (Man and His Symbols). He notes some communities use it to restore balance when there is an inner sense of feeling lost. The Navajo use mandala sand paintings to restore harmony with self and cosmos when ill.
A Zen gardener, Martin Mosko, refers to starting the design of a garden with the mandala principle (Spirituality and Health Magazine; May/June 2018). He notes that “A mandala is a bounded complex system, organized to generate a specific energy.” It helps to provide the sense that everything is interrelated and interdependent. Such a garden helps us stay in the present moment, feeds our souls, takes us beyond our egos, and transforms through beauty. What gifts from the combination of nature and the magic circle!
The following story depicts a literal gift from nature in the form of a "magic circle."
The year was 1981. It was the 40th wedding anniversary for my parents. Due to family health history, we wanted to have a celebration and not wait for the 50th. Therefore, we had the big one in 1981, complete with vow renewal and friends coming from far and wide to surprise them. When it came time for the 50th in 1991, I was puzzled about what to give them.
Through those 50 years, Mom and Dad had built the log house we lived in, and in the valley below our hill Dad had dug out a lake to help protect the rural community after a house fire destroyed a neighbor’s home. There were constant piles of dirt for years as he constructed this lake of 1½ to 2 acres. People teased Dad about having "restless dirt" to pacify.
They had raised my two brothers and me in this magical circle of life. Like the lyrics in "Circle of Life" from The Lion King, there was more to be seen than could ever be seen, more to do than could ever be done. They had gone from poverty to plenty. They had traveled extensively.
Now I needed to find a way to help them celebrate those 50 years of life experiences, and I was asking Mother Nature for help. I walked around and around my yard, looking at the ground, pondering the possibilities. I asked over and over what I could or should do for them to help them celebrate. Suddenly, there at my feet, was a magical round pouch, an oriole’s nest that had fallen from the huge cottonwood under which I was circling. It was still attached to three twigs. My parents loved birds. This was the celebratory gift I had been seeking. It came to me that I could ‘package’ it with something in writing from the heart. Here is what came.
A nest you see
You gave to three
Rod, Roger, and me.
The nest for these
Was made from trees
With love that sees
Beyond all ills
And paying bills -
You moved those hills.
Together you strove
This nest you wove
In 50 years love
And now we cleave
As oft take leave
For nests we weave.
Poem by Ellen E. Swanson
© 1991 All Rights Reserved
The nest and verse were framed together and on the wall in their home for over 20 years until Mom moved to her nursing home room. She suggested I take it, and it now resides in my living room, reminding me that life truly is a "magic circle," where all is interrelated, interdependent, and connected. Perhaps a gift of ‘saging’ is that one has 20/20 hindsight and can see from a broader, circle-of-life perspective. Enter, wisdom.
Heart Selah: Describe a "magic circle" you experienced, and what that looked and felt like. Did you recognize it at the time?
“Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” ~ Rumi
“If you speak from the heart, your intention will be heartful, will be wise.” ~ Maya Angelou
“I believe this universe is whole. And so, synchronicity for me is this connection that you have, that you meet people, or that you read something that you need to read at that moment, or that you do something that is there waiting for you.” ~ Paulo Coelho
“I believe that everything is connected, that there is a certain spiderweb out there. And in this spiderweb, everything in the universe is connected. The past, the future, the universe, the planets, every form of life is connected.” ~ Isabel Allende