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Journey 28 - MANDALAS AND SYMBOLIC ELEMENTS: Symbology and Mandalas explained and how the pertain to your inner-you that speaks to the outer-you symbologically.
Journey 28 - MANDALAS AND SYMBOLIC ELEMENTS: Symbology and Mandalas explained and how the pertain to your inner-you that speaks to the outer-you symbologically.

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Published by: Christopher C. Humphrey, Ph. D. on Dec 01, 2006
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Journey 28 - MANDALAS AND SYMBOLIC ELEMENTSThere are things that we cannot learn by reading about them -- only by doing them. Mandalas arean example. So get yourself a sheet of typing paper. Tape the very edge of the corners to a thin piece of wood, Masonite or hardboard to avoid ruining your tables. Gather together the tools of kindergarten art: the compass and square, ancient tools of the Freemasons, plus liquid crayola, poster paints, crayons, colored pencils, rulers.If at all possible, go to a graphics supply store and get a large compass, big enough to make a circlethat would fill up the page. You can improvise this with a string, a tack, and a pencil. Make sureyou have erasers. You must either do this alone, or everyone must make a Mandala. No spectatorsallowed. Make sure you will not be disturbed for an hour. Some people will make two Mandalas inan hour.There is only one rule to making Mandalas. You must allow the Mandala to make itself. If thatseems like a puzzling instruction, take my word for it, this will work.Listen for some faint inner impulse to put a line here, and a circle there. If you have a preconceiveddesign, discard it. Empty your mind. Do not imagine that your Mandala should resemble thosecreated by Tibetan Monks. Chances are, it won't. Once you get going, it will go very smoothly. If you make a mistake, you can always erase it. Take bathroom or water breaks at least once and whenyou come back and look at your Mandala, you will recognize the mistakes, if you have made any. Now, at this point, you must stop reading this book. Do not read past this point until you have madeyour one-hour Mandala. Now that you have finished your Mandala, what do you do with it? You interpret it, because aMandala is a message from the deep. If not (this sometimes happens with Mandalas made bychildren), then it is just a doodle, not a Mandala. How do you interpret it? There are no dictionariesof symbols. Well, there are, but they are totally useless. The reason is that a symbol is a completesentence or even a paragraph. Chances are I will not write the exact same sentence twice in this book. Chances are students of symbolism will never encounter the exact same symbol twice in alifetime.What is possible is a dictionary of symbolic elements. These are colors, number, orientation,gesture, clothing, and species, material and other attributes. Symbols will combine these things inways they would not combine in nature. For instance, in the Book of the Deliverer, there is a largestraight golden serpent with a blue tongue. Species is "serpent," the tongue (the main perceptivesense) is an attribute, and its color is blue, the color of renewal. Other attributes are "large" and"straight." Material is gold. On this same card, there are two serpents, light with fire, which formthe infinity symbol. The straight serpent is on the left side of the card, while the infinity serpentsare top center. That is orientation.I am going to give you a brief dictionary of symbolic elements, right here and now.We begin with colors. Green is the color of chlorophyll, the means of fixing solar energy for the useof all other life. In symbolic terms green is similarly a fixing or capturing of portable energy,1
usually in the form of money. A strong yellow is sunlight, and by association, the creative energiesthat makes life possible. Red is blood or a flushed face, and by association, emotion, drive, motivation. Purple is the rare dyereserved in ancient times for the emperor's family, and by association is authority. Gray is ashes,and by association, death, destruction, desolation (which may be of an emotional rather than literalkind). A certain shade of grayish blue is the color of a newborn at the instant of crowning, and at thecyanotic instant of death. The color of death may be more of a grayish green. Blue is the door to birth and death and therefore means renewal. That is why the flesh of the Renewer is blue in thenew tarot. The flesh of Osiris, the Egyptian god of the afterlife, is also blue, not a bright blue, but agreenish blue. A color partway between blue and purple suggests the renewal and authority of thehealer, and in particular the profession of healing. A pale yellow is an illumination color, the color of the aura of the teacher, for instance. Brown is earth or wood or shit and thus a building materialor basis or foundation or fertilizer for other growth. The meaning of white seems to derive fromwhite paint. When mixed with any other color, it ceases to be white. Thus white is pure andinnocent, untouched by experience, virginal and ignorant. The colors of twilight suggest the twilight of life, and the metaphysical contemplation and wisdomthat are appropriate to that stage of life. Light is illumination, visibility and clarity, while dark isignorance and stoppage. Orange the illumination of fire, and the discovery of the meaning of life inmeeting challenges, and undergoing renewal. We shall next look at numbers. When interpreting Mandalas, we count the numbers of things. Wehave five physical senses and five digits on our hands. When our limbs are fully extended (as in the jumping jack exercise), we make a five pointed star, with head and limbs forming five extremities.There are also five major inhabited continents on earth in the present epoch: North and SouthAmerica, Europe, Asia and Africa. Five relates to our physical existence, associated with a well-rounded life in-the-body, using our senses and our limbs to their fullest. There are five jewels in thecentral crown of the Royal Maze and five courses of stones on the well of life in the Renewer.There are four directions, four winds and four dimensions in our earthly plane. Quaternity hasalways meant wholeness and completeness on the earthly plane. Trinity has always meant wholeness and completeness on a spiritual plane. Gods always come inthrees. There is Brahma the creator, Shiva the destroyer, and Krishna the preserver, or the Father,Son and Holy Ghost. There are three pillars of the kabbalah. In the Book of the Renewer, there arethree handles on the chalice for the waters from the well of life. If we drink from the well of life inthe Renewer, we may fulfill the divine purpose by grasping the handle of creation, the handle of destruction, or the handle of preservation. All may equally serve growth and creation. This is a hardlesson, and shows us that the divine or sacred goal does not always agree with earthly morality or values.Two is polarity. Polar opposites are the two ends or extremes of the same thing, and cannot existwithout each other. Male cannot exist without female, and the north pole of a magnet implies the2
existence of a south pole. Two are the polar opposites on the axis of ONE. There is nonethelessalways tension and opposition, if not downright war, between the dualities of polar opposites.The meanings of all other numbers derive from the meanings of two, three, four and five, byadding, multiplying or taking them to a power of themselves. Eight of something shows the polarizing effects of two combined with the earthly whole of four. The symbolic meaning ismaterialism and greed. Ten shows the polarizing effects of two combined with the body number five, suggesting the misuse of technology and the corrupting effects of luxury. In some contexts, tenrefers to the ten forms of Samadhi. That is the meaning of the ten fruit on the Tree of life in theGarden of the Renewer. Six shows the polarizing effects of two combined with the higher trinity, the sacred dance of Shivacarried to fanatical excess, to martyrdom or asceticism or the suicide terrorist that can only bemotivated by evil religion. The six-pointed star of Israel is a symbol of Zionist fanaticism that took away the land of the Palestinians and refused to give them citizenship (I understand why; I don’twish to engage in a debate over the issue).Seven is the additive, twelve the multiplicative, combination of three and four. Both seven andtwelve are lucky numbers, the combination of the earthly and the spiritual whole. There are sevenspiritual paths and seven rays of light piercing the clouds over the Renewer. There were three partsto the holy trinity, four books of gospels, twelve disciples and seven seals on the book of revelation.This is no accident.These numbers constantly recur in sacred contexts, as do their combinations and powers such asnine and sixteen. Sixteen is a quaternity of quaternities, and nine is the trinity of trinities. This islike a redoubling or intensification of the original symbolic meaning. Thus, nine is the holy of holies.Species of animals or plants or natural objects are also symbolic elements. The meaning of specieselements is sometimes surprising. For instance, a serpent means "initiatory experience." This is hardly our free association with snakes. There are two strands to the symbolic meaning of serpents, with the context bringing out one or the other or both. On the one hand, serpents arechthonic, of-the-earth. They come out of the ground, and have the temperature and feel of earth. The other association is with the penis; cool to the touch, and similar in shape. (Freud was not thefirst to notice this!). It is not the penis that conveys the symbolic meaning. It is the first act of sexthat forever changes one. After sex, one is no longer a child, and can never go back to the childhoodframe of reference. Before sex, it is impossible to understand fully adult love. Sex is an initiation, and thus stands for all initiatory experiences that forever change a person. Thisties back to the chthonic thread of meaning, for the experiences of the nature mystic or the shamanare also initiatory and transforming experiences that prepare the novice for further steps down the path. It is because of this large and complex freight of meaning that serpents occur frequently insymbolism. There are a dozen of them in the new tarot. There are three just in the Book of the3

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