The Parish Church of St George the Martyr, Waterlooville


A Christian Mandala

Winter and Lent Edition 2010

Recently at church an Advent display was constructed. This consisted of a set of tableaux where the visitor was enjoined to select a pebble and contemplate on its provenance, to light a candle and ponder the duality of light/dark, good/evil and other dichotomies, to write on paper a prayer, a short phrase or aphorism. There were other stations in similar vein. The principle object was of contemplation, reflection, private study, thoughts and revelation through personal introspection and experience. Many found this process very enriching.

In the same way meditating on an object of focus can lead to enhanced spiritual awareness. It appears that such objects - paintings, icons, sculptures, symbols - have been present in all civilizations, cultures and religions. One kind of such object is called a Mandala. The word is derived from Sanscrit and is in essence a circle with a centre. There are many variations and configurations which intend to engender spiritual expression as well as a piece of art and craft. A range of media can be used, both temporary and permanent. An illustration of a transitory form is that of the sand designs of Tibetan Buddhist monks, which once constructed are then ceremonially destroyed.

Christianity is the basis of the making of many Mandalas, and they are present in many other religions. Carl Jjung the psychotherapist made and used them - emphasising the importance of balance and harmony, regarding them as metaphors for moving from the circumference to the centre - from the group to the individual. The 12th century mystic Hildegard von Bingen designed a great number of Mandalas. She was an Abbess, and competent in science, music, theology and healing. Whilst writing about her visions she inserted Mandalas into the text.

Rod has designed this Christian Mandala, [see facing page] in which the viewer is invited to contemplate the meanings which it contains. Within the circular design and square within, will be found Christian symbols and allusions which could form the start points of trains of thought (even that described as woolgathering or daydreaming).

Rod Dawson