Is a mandala a spell?
2022 the year we learn to listen to love
Week 46--in which we realize 2023 is on the horizon and the hour to cast a sacred spell is at hand
Friends, soul writers, mystics, witches, and lovers of prayer,
REMINDER: The Lotus and the Lily opens tomorrow, Monday, November 14 with a live gathering at 7p eastern and a UK/EU watch party on Wednesday. Because this is such a miraculous experience in the Theatre of the Miraculous, it will NOT be available On Demand. If you can’t be with us live, you might want to purchase the intensive anyway and watch it as your schedule permits. The Resource Page which holds everything from the intensive will stay open through next summer. Next Sunday will be the last day you can register.
I have written about the magic that ensues in the Lotus and the Lily intensive for 12 years now. But here’s a strange thing:
Because a mandala is a living breathing moving sphere that percolates through the cosmos, holding not the things you think you want, but the ways you want to live, it is still a mystery to me.
- Me, who stumbled upon its transformative power on New Year’s Day twelve years ago.
- Me who went to bed on Dec 31, 2009 bankrupt and woke in February, 2010 bank-full.
- Me, who wrote the book about it.
- Me, who thousands have joined in Lotus and Lily intensives.
- Me, who has made 12 mandalas and loved the life each has created.
- Me, who after living with 12 mandalas is still startled by what the mandala knows that I do not.
There is one thing I do know: A mandala-directed life is radical.
It asks us to let go of the patriarchal, linear, goal-chasing life the mass culture demands, and turn instead to a different, sweeter, more magical—but also deeply mysterious—way of walking in the world.
Radical is a strong word. When was the last time you looked up its meaning? We tend to hear it as “extremist” as in the “radical right.” But at its essence, radical means:
- going to the root, the original, the fundamental
- thorough change from accepted or traditional forms
This definition is more than a dictionary entry for me. It’s a lived reality. My experience with my first mandala was indeed a deep drop into a root. A root system I didn’t even know was there. Although I was thrilled to leave bankruptcy behind, and I knew the mandala was the key to my new and much happier life, I did NOT know what a mandala really was.
And my Voices knew it.
So they woke me on February 21, 2010 to show me. It was just two weeks after the bankruptcy attorney tossed me out of his office because I was somehow no longer bankrupt.
Now, I started deep soul writing in 1997 and over the years had trained myself to drop into theta easily in writing. I knew how to activate and listen to the extraordinary voice on the page. In words. Words I trusted. But still, only in this one medium of language.
Until that February morning, I had never had a vision. I had never seen the Voice in action.
I didn’t know that was even possible. Sure, I heard of visions in my catholic childhood. But the nuns made it clear that those visions happened a long time ago and they were given only to holy saints and prophets. I was not a saint and no kind of prophet.
But I guess my Voices knew I was not only read to start having visions, but that seeing what a mandala is was essential to my being able to talk about it, teach it, and write the book.
Here’s what happened (Full story in the foreword of The Lotus and the Lily):
“I was hungry to know more about mandalas. ‘Why,’ I asked, ‘does a mandala make such a difference. Show me.’ Two weeks later, I was awakened in the middle of the night with a picture of my mandala floating in my head. The invisible hands holding it vertically in front of me began to slowly rotate the paper until it was completely horizontal, and I could see only the edge.
When it reached full horizontal position, I saw that it wasn’t a piece of paper at all. It was the central slice of a three-dimensional sphere floating in clear black space. The edge of my mandala was the middle line of the sphere, like the equator on earth. Below my mandala were three slender gold threads, like latitude lines. The three gold threads divided the lower half of the sphere into four sections, which I knew were the four weeks of deep work I’d done prior to creating my mandala.
Above my mandala was a cone of golden light pouring onto the lily from a small hole at the top of the sphere. I felt I was seeing confirmation that our conditions are our connection with the Divine. I could see my desires on the periphery of my mandala, but the bulk of the light was falling on the lily that held my conditions.
I stared hard at the sphere, trying to capture every detail in my memory. When I relaxed my attention, I noticed that the golden threads of my sphere were connected to other spheres, which were connected to still others, reaching into infinity. Everything and everyone was connected in clear black space.
And then, my first vision!
“I glanced back at my personal sphere because something was moving. The lily petals were coming to life. A stem seemed to grow down from the petals. Then a couple leaves sprouted and finally roots spread out from the stem. I could see—literally—how everything in my life had led to, fed, and become by present.”
And thus began a twelve-year exploration into the mystery and power of the mandala. Each year, it seems, there is a new and deeper revelation.
This year’s AHAs are twofold.
The first came listening to Marcia Wade talk about the edge-dwelling dwarf planets in the Kuiper Belt during our Goddess of the Edge Part 1 intensive in September. Marcia kept showing us a strange schema of their orbits. Unlike the circular orbits of the planets we know, these mini-planets travel in massive ellipses that refuse to follow “the rules.” They appear to go every which way and they even have the audacity to intersect other planet’s orbits.
Marcia said these Goddesses demonstrate the mystical attribute of inter-becoming.
When she said this word, I sat up. Because in The Lotus and the Lily, we have long quoted the Buddha on inter-being. Stated succinctly, inter-being means “this is because that is.” In other words, this experience I am having, this life I am living, is the expression of all that came before.
In You Are Here, Thich Nhat Hanh offers a simple example. You cannot see sunflowers in winter, but that doesn’t mean sunflowers are dead. When the days get longer, the earth warmer, and the spring rains come…voila…sunflowers.
That’s why the center of the mandala focuses on our conditions, how we choose to live. If it’s snowing, all the wanting and asking in the world won’t produce sunflowers. But committing to living different conditions—comparable to watering our lives with sunlight and rain—welcomes something beautiful to come to life.
If you’ve been in a Lotus and Lily intensive or read the book, you understand the principle of inter-being. But it was only when Marcia mentioned inter-becoming, that I realized why it’s so much more delicious and wild to do this in community, not just read the book on our own.
When we come together to share this sacred experience of inviting the life that wants to be lived to bloom, we are transformed from individuals creating individual mandalas, into a living body. We become a global mystical container for the Sacred to come alive in and through and as each one of us and in the collective, the whole.
We inter-become one another.
The second AHA is that the mandala is a spell.
That one might surprise you more than the whole inter-becoming thing. It certainly surprised me. The seed for this insight was planted by Perdita Finn one day when she said “prayer is a spell.”
Now, as a prayer artist, you’d think I’d already know this. But I didn’t. I didn’t have that language for the experience of prayer. But the second I heard Perdita say this, I realized, of course! Of course, prayer is a spell. When we pray for ourselves, for someone else, for the earth, for anything or anyone, we surround that being with a sphere of love. Love that protects and nurtures and heals.
And, here comes the big finish: a mandala is a prayer.
Not only is the mandala itself a prayer because it carries and symbolizes our sacred commitment to how we choose to live. But we renew it each day for an entire year by chanting our conditions.
It’s a multi-faceted prayer. A prayer flag. A prayer call. A prayer chant. A prayer symbol. A prayer commitment.
It’s one big wild wonderful and totally mysterious prayer that has its own wild wonderful and totally mysterious orbit, touching me, touching you, and touching everything and everyone we touch.
And oh does it ever cast a spell. A spell of inter-becoming.
I do hope you’ll join the global community gathering tomorrow to come and cast a spell of love, joy and devotion.
We gather in the Theatre of the Miraculous for five Mondays from 7-9:15pm Eastern: November 14, 21, 28, December 5, 12.
We also have a UK/EU Watch Party on Wednesdays at 7pm UK/ 8pm EU on November 16, 23, 30, December 7, 14.
Everything is recorded and available for viewing within 24 hours.
We meet one final time on Sunday January 8 at 2pm Eastern to share and celebrate our mandalas. It's a joy-filled mystical party of the highest order!
Come and play in the mystical magical waters of The Lotus and The Lily.
to becoming a drip of hope in a parched and thirsty world
facebook: janet conner prayer artist
YouTube: Janet Conner