- First (root) chakra: Red
- Second (sacral) chakra: Orange
- Third (solar plexus) chakra: Yellow
- Fourth (heart) chakra: Green
- Fifth (throat) chakra: Blue
- Sixth (brow or third eye) chakra: Indigo
- Seventh (crown) chakra: Purple
Sit in a quiet, comfortable place and breathe slowly, deeply. Focus your attention on the first chakra, and send beautiful, clear red light there. Do this for a minute or two, until you feel warmth at this energy center. Then shift your attention to the second chakra and focus orange light there. Repeat, moving up through your body, sending the appropriate-colored light to each chakra. By the time you reach the top of your head, you’ll feel more relaxed and balanced in body, mind and spirit. Try to do this every day to maintain personal harmony and well-being.
Surrendering to your life
The intention of this ritual is to accept all that as happened to you so far, and to begin to see your life as a whole.
Time: 1-2 hours; this can be split into two sections
- You will need: Journal, paper and pen, a large piece of paper (or art paper or cardboard) for the mandala
- Objects for a mandala - appropriate art materials if you are going to draw; personal and/or found objects if you are creating a tridimensional mandala (further instructions below)
Part 1: Saying Yes
Good or bad, excruciating or ecstatic, the experiences you’ve had so far in your life are what have formed you. By accepting them, acknowledging them and then studying them you can be released to continue your journey.
It’s often said that the only thing you can change is your own mind; or that the one choice you always have is how you interpret what happens to you. This ritual is designed to give you some freedom from, and acceptance from your past. Journeying to the Dark Goddess we cannot take anything with us and anything we try to take will only slow us down. And – perversely – we seem much more willing to leave behind – or to let go of – happy experiences than unhappy ones. Seeing all of your past as meaningful, and having shaped who you are will assist your path into the Underworld and towards meeting the Dark Goddess.
- On two pages of your journal – or two loose sheets of paper – divide each page into two columns. Label the columns on the first page Positive Events and Acceptance of Positive. Label the columns on the second page Difficult Events and Acceptance of Difficult.
- In the column Positive Events write down all the wonderful things that have happened to you in your life (or as many as you can fit in!) These didn’t have to be in chronological order – just however they come to you. They might include the circumstances of your birth; your childhood and education; your gifts and talents; characteristic or values you embody; significant relationships; experiences and understandings. You don’t need to describe them, just list them.
Sometimes people have difficulty recognizing what is good in their lives; particularly when they are in a very bleak place. If this is happening to you, imagine you are someone else, looking at your life. What would this other person say were some of the wonderful things in your life? Maybe it’s the culture and time you were born into; maybe it’s the intellect, sense of humor or deep understanding; maybe it’s that wonderful connection you had with your teachers at school; your joy in dancing; the children you’ve loved.
Do not progress with this exercise until you have managed to fill up this column with wonderful experiences and events in your life, even if you have to put this exercise down and continue another day, or ask someone else for help. Only when you have completed this first column you should continue.
- In the column Negative Events write down all the difficult, painful and awful things that have happened to you in your life (at least the most significant ones). These could include illnesses; periods of unemployment or uncertainty; relationship break ups; losses and deaths; addictions; accidents; personality traits you’re not proud; or things you were born with, or born into. Once again, they don’t have to be in chronological order, or order of importance and you don’t need to describe them in any way. Just list them. If you are having difficulty finding things to write in this column, you might imagine what someone else would say about your life.
- The column Acceptance of Positive is for you to record your acceptance of each of the wonderful things in your life on your list; regardless of whether they are due to luck, merit, hard work or someone else’s love for you. Read the first item on your list and spend a moment taking it in and feeling what it means to have, or to have had, that in your life. Reach out to it with a deep acceptance and when you feel that acceptance, write YES in the Acceptance of Positive column, next to that item.
- Move onto the second item and deal with it the same way. Follow through with all the items on this list.
- Now look at the column called Acceptance of Difficulty. It is for you to record your acceptance of the difficult and painful things in your life you have listed; regardless of whether they are due to bad luck, circumstance, your lack of effort or ability or someone else’s actions. Read the first item on your list and spend a moment really taking it in, feeling what it means to have, or to have had, that in your life. Reach out to it with a deep acceptance – you do not have to accept that it was good to have this in your life, but just acknowledge that you DID or DO have it in your life. When you feel acceptance, write YES in the Acceptance of Difficulty column, next to that item.
- Move onto the second item and deal with the same way. Follow through with all the items on this list.
There may be some items on the list you have some hard time writing YES next to. Remember you are not being asked to accept the value or merit of those things – simply that they are (or were) a part of your life. Writing YES next to them does not signal your approval, simply your acknowledgement that these things are included in the total of your life, with all their pain, difficulty, grief and disruption.
When we accept what is real and what has happened, we are able to integrate it. While we still seek to deny or hide from it, it’s as if we are stuck there, staring at that very thing we most hate. Try it. If need be, you can refer back to your first list. Seeing the fullness and beauty listed there, you may be able to better acknowledge that hard things come into all our lives, but they do not negate the power or truth of wonderful things.
Part 2: Seeing the Whole: Making the Mandala
A mandala is a design, usually circular and often geometrical or repetitive (but not always). It symbolizes the universe, or the whole. Mandalas visually represent your interpretation of a topic. They can be entirely free-form but they often begin with a structure, (such as dividing the circle into a certain number of segments), which is then filled in.
Making mandalas, and later contemplating them can be a method of meditation, enquiry and reaching towards divisions. Mandalas are a way of both distilling and encrypting information (which can be feelings or thoughts) so that you can see more deeply into yourself. It is amazing how something you yourself created yourself can teach you so much about how you think and your own experience. Creating mandalas you concentrate mainly on the details; in looking at them afterwards, you see the whole and that whole can be quite startling.
Anyone can create an mandala. The simplest way is to draw a circle – at least on a letter piece of paper, but larger if you have one – and divide it into sections. The number and placement of sections will be relevant to the topic of your mandala. If you wanted to create a mandala representing light and dark it might simply have a line drawn through the middle, horizontally. If you wished to create one representing the seasons you would divide it into four quarters. A more mutable design might be the phases of the moon and you might choose to make the lines out from the center curved, rather than straight, to represent the curving edge of the moon. The number of segments would depend on whether you choose to depict the moon’s cycle as four phases, nine phases or twenty-eight.
There’s another way to create a mandala and that is a 3D mandala. I’ve often done this outside; on the beach; in the garden or in the forest using found or brought objects. On the beach I draw out the circle and the dividing lines, and fill the sections with sand sculpture (usually abstract) and shells, seaweed, feathers – whatever you can find. In the forest I might use sticks as dividers for the circle (or you can use rocks whatever you can find) and place a blanket of leaves over the whole perhaps arranged by gradation of color or by type. I might add only a few objects – maybe seedpods or flowers. In the garden I’ve made mandalas with food – spaghetti is great for dividing the segments – and I use lentils, split peas, pasta, rice and other grains to fill in the mandala, you can place flowers, cut fruit and candles into the mandala. I then leave this – apart from the candles – for the birds and animal as an offering.
You can also create a 3D mandala inside, on your altar for instance. Divide the altar into the appropriate number of segments – these could even be on different levels, depending on the structure of your altar – and then place meaningful objects into each section. If you do construct one of these 3D altars, considering taking a photo of it before you leave it or dismantle it. You can paste the photo onto your journal and have it for further reflection.
Creating Your Ritual Mandala
- To begin with you may like to light a candle, or spend some time breathing quietly and centering yourself. Cast a circle or use some other method of preparation to enter a focused, sacred space. When you are ready, begin.
- On a page of your journal or a piece of paper list the sections of your life, chronologically. For example my sections might be: Childhood; adolescence; early-to-mid-twenties; late twenties (which includes having a baby); thirties; forties up until now. (you don’t have to do it in decades; for you, something else may be a significant divider, such as countries you’ve lived in or professions you’ve followed.)
- Count the sections of your life you have listed. This is how many segments your mandala will have (so my mandala would have six segments).
- It’s also possible to create a mandala representing particular things – important moments in your life, the Descents you’ve made to the Underworld or anything else – but for this exercise, cover the entirety of your life so far.
- Now begin creating your mandala. Draw the mark in the outer boundary and divide the mandala into the number of segments you require, of roughly equal size using lines radiating out from the center.
- Strat with the first period of your life you have listed. Choose which segment to place it in and – allowing yourself a light mind, you can select colors, shapes or objects by intuition, without a whole lot of critical thinking or trying to ‘get it right’ – begin filling the segment in.
- You may choose to fill the entire segment, or to place a few items, drawings or shapes into it, leaving the rest empty. Do whatever seems best to you.
- When it feels complete for the moment, move onto the next segment and the next part of your life on the list.
- Continue, until you have complete the whole mandala.
- Glance over the mandala – there may be some segments that feel unfinished to you, in which case you can add something more. Sometimes people write words around the mandala or create a border around it.
When you’ve finished you might want to take a break for a few minutes, to stretch, drink some water or close your eyes. Then come back to your complete mandala.
- Study the mandala as if you were seeing it for the first time. Notice the colors of it. Notice how the segments relate to each other – whether they flow together, reflect or mirror each other or are completely different. Notice themes that reoccur, or segments that really stand out from the rest.
- In your journal or on some paper record your observations and what you think they might mean, as a reflection of the life you have lived until now.
- Come back to this mandala in a week or a month, and see what other understandings you receive from it. An interesting thing to do is to ask someone else; perhaps someone who knows you quite well; to ‘read’ the mandala. Just ask them to comment on what they see, without knowing anything more than it represents the life you have lived. You will probably find at least some of their comments startling, insightful and supportive.