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Mandalas and Me with Kristen Herrington

Kristen Herrington

That sounds a bit like a B movie title, doesn’t it? But, no, it’s about my journey into understanding and working with this particular art form.

It all began as I became more curious about spirituality and the nature of the soul. I was raised in the Baptist church, and my questioning up to that point had been limited to finding which aspects of Christianity I resonated with and which didn’t fit. So, Joseph Campbell books in hand, I broadened my quest to encompass other theologies and, perhaps more importantly, basic spiritual concepts across cultures and time.

At the time, I had been working for some decades in Advertising and Marketing. It wasn’t quite the work I had dreamt of in my art school days or as a holder of a degree in Psychology, but it paid the bills. In my final job, I created some lovely starbursts for a project and became fascinated by that process ~ not only in the ethereal quality of the bursts, but with the precise, gentle, mathematical placement of the glowing soft lines creating the circle.

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Mandala 1

Mandala 1

When that job ended, I began playing with shapes and lines on my own. After creating a few pretty images, I showed them to some friends. One mentioned that they were mandalas. I vaguely remembered having heard or read the term before, but I had no idea exactly what a mandala was. Not wanting to appear wanting, I nodded in agreement. The moment I was able, I rushed to research what that was and what was meant by that word, mandala. The results fascinated me and dovetailed into my personal spiritual quest.

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Mandala 7

Mandala 7

Mandala is a Sanskrit word literally meaning “circle”. However, subtle nuances of the language, as I understand it, also open the definition to include everything from the basic circle to the vastness of all creation.

The circle form has been used as a common symbol since the beginning of humanity. Cave drawings show reference to circular forms thought to be reminiscent of the sun. The pyramids, whether in Egypt or the Americas, all have circular symbols resonant in their construction and decorative motifs. While researchers believe that Stonehenge was constructed around, and to understand, astronomical events, it is also a glorious mandala of stone. The Aztec and Mayan calendars are excellent examples of mandalas. It would appear the circle has always been a reference point for humans in understanding the vast nature of existence.

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Mandala 4

Mandala 4

Nature itself is replete with rich and glorious mandala shapes. Flowers, trees, bushes all appear as vivid reminders of our connection to all that is and to that circular form. The very shape of our planet, the moon, and the sun are circular, although irregular. It is my understanding that the natural world is created according to pure geometric formulas and principles such as the Golden Mean. The recognition of nature’s use of the circle may have inspired its use throughout time.

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Gelatinous Light

Gelatinous Light

Perhaps the most culturally familiar of today’s mandalas are the beautiful Hindu enameled mandalas found throughout India and beyond. Even the mehndi hand paintings echo mandala forms. Or maybe the glorious sand mandalas meticulously created by Buddhist monks over several days then destroyed as an example of life’s impermanence are more recognizable. Of course, Christian churches also use mandalas in their worship, although they’re not called mandalas. My own childhood church had the most beautiful stained glass rose window, simply glowing with color and design. Carl Jung, early psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, was fascinated by mandalas as a metaphor of our individual and societal psyches. He even became something of a mandala artist himself.

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4 Elements

4 Elements

Mandalas in one form or another seem to be resonant throughout all societies. Because they are so present in our lives, I believe they deserve recognition and attention. They are used cross culturally as tools for prayer, meditation, and contemplation, as well as simple graphic forms of beauty. Once I recognized the near omnipresence of the mandala form, I found myself noticing all the circular forms surrounding my daily life.

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pyramid

Pyramid

As I researched and learned about mandalas, I developed a deeper connection to the work I had been creating. These mandalas were helping me understand myself, my place in the world, and the world itself. Creatively mandalas were now a constant presence.

My mandalas are rather unique. I use Adobe Illustrator to create brush strokes, then, in Adobe Photoshop, I isolate one stroke and place it in the center of the canvas. That stroke is copied and rotated repeatedly using simple geometry. The layer created by this repetition is copied and flipped horizontally, producing an initial mandala shape. I then attach the next stroke to one of the previous strokes and repeat the process continuously until a base frame is formed. With this foundational form, I’m free to place colors in the voids. Then the background and bursts are added, finalizing the image.

The result is a mandala with a certain resonance in the past, but holding a purely modern feeling. While there are many mandalas created daily around the world, thus far I’ve been unable to find anyone else using my particular technique. My conclusion is that my work is remarkably rare.

As with all artists, I use every aspect of my being as fodder for my work. Reiki is a form of energy healing which includes the use of long distance healing techniques. The practitioner uses focus and intention to connect with an individual to remotely affect healing and well-being.

I am a Reiki master teacher, but in my work, I’ve altered the application of this technique a bit. I have two specific types of mandalas in which I intentionally use my Reiki training. In the Spiritual Energy series of mandalas I focus on a spiritual principle with the intention of connecting to the resonance of that energy and representing it in the mandala form. The energy exchange becomes cyclical, with the resonance of the spiritual principle guiding every stroke, rotation, color choice, and movement in the mandala. The result is, hopefully, an image that invokes the feel and energy of that principle.

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Spiritual Energy World Wide Deb Community

Spiritual Energy of the World Wide Web

I also create Personal Soul mandalas, which are essentially portraits of an individual’s soul energy. The Spiritual Energy series is available to the public. The Personal Soul mandalas are commissioned works and owned by each of the individual clients. They are not available for purchase by the public.

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Soul Mandala of Sarah Davis

Soul of Sarah Davis

As much as I love mandalas and creating them, they are by no means the only type of artwork I produce. Over time, I’ve developed a line of inspirational greeting cards. I’m also a fiber artist and have a number of sculptures I’m developing. I would love to learn how to create in stained glass. Wouldn’t my mandalas look beautiful as stained glass windows? Texture and shape have always piqued my creative interests. As you can see, that interest translates into many areas of expression.

Please visit my website for more information and to see a range of my work. Thank you for taking time to consider my mandalas!

For more Kristen visit: life-lites.com or on facebook: Soul Mandalas by Kristen

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18 Responses to “Mandalas and Me with Kristen Herrington”

  1. Kristen – I enjoyed your mandalas article. Not many people are aware of the power of these intuitive works and the process of creating them. I also share information like yours with others, as I love to paint mandalas of all kinds. You may see several of my paintings at http://arielagroup.com/gallery and, if you really want to see the mandalas of a master, go to http://mandalas.com for the works of artist Paul Heussenstamm. I’ve studied with Paul for several years and he’s a real delight and wonderful artist! He definitely understands the concept, spirituality, and power of the mandala! Kristen – thanks for sharing your wonderful works and your information! Anne

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  2. Leila says:

    Hi Kristen, your mandalas are beautiful. I love the jewel effect and how some of them spin a bit. I’ve tried making some (with coloured pencils) and believe it could be therapeutic. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Evone says:

    I, too, began making mandalas before I knew what mandalas were. It was a soulful response to my homeless-helpless-hopeless stage when I spent much time in bed. Mine were done with just black ink.
    This is the conclusion I eventually came to regarding the mandalas and mandala cases I made:
    “Life is a process of ever-changing perceptions and possibilities. Gifting ourselves with moments of pause deepens our relationship with the source of all energy. Mandalas, symbols of wholeness, are ciryuclar designs that reflect patterns of energy. As re-creations of those patterns, they convey some sacred essence and encourage the consciousness to reconnect with the universal principles of life.
    When we pause to follow the lines and shapes of a design, contemplate the spaces, feel the rhythms, and reflect on the language of divine design that speaks of and to the spirit and soul, we journey visually into a realm where we can comprehend the significance of the patterns we live by and create with our thoughts, feelings, actions, and what we expose our senses to.
    The soul gravitates to the intrinsic nature of circular motifs and cyclical motions, and thus, mandalas. As the soul is nourished, one is free to move into a state of detachment. In detachment, one merges with what simply is. In this meditative state, influenced by Oneness, one opens to receiving valuable affirmation, insight, and guidance and is then better able to return to normal consciousness and effectiveness.
    The purpose of my mandalas, which I call Elmbrello mandalas, is to initiate you into an awareness or quest of what designs, patterns, or rhythms appeal to and nourish your mind, spirit, and soul. Ideally, you will enter a meditative state and let your soul express itself in the creation of your own personal mandalas. Handcrafting anything satisfies the soul. The flaws of a humble hand sketch ferment in the soul, inciting imagination. In turn, imagination cultivates soulfulness.”

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  4. Namaste says:

    Blessed love Kristen….lovely inergies:) I’d love to get to know you…..it would be cool to have beautiful mosaic mind like yours to intereact with:)

    Davidz
    Jamaica:)

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  5. Kristen says:

    Thank you all so much for your kind and gracious praise and for taking the time to comment! I really appreciate your efforts and support!
    Namaste,
    Kristen

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  6. Judy McMillan says:

    Kristen,
    Always a delight to encounter another mandala artist. Beautiful work.

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  7. You’ve created some nice mandala images. I especially like the way you integrated the last two mandalas into their backgrounds with the rays of white light. The stain glass mandala is a great idea, and I’ve also thought tile work would be a good medium for these geometric works of art. I’ve been delving into mandalas quite a bit as of late, and if you’re curious you can see some of my work at http://www.mandala-forest.com
    -Luke

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  8. I love the colour & energy of your work -very beautiful.

    Love

    hazel

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  9. Marina says:

    Thank you so much. They are so beautiful.
    Love.
    Marina

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  10. Shankar says:

    In South India, Mandalas are drawn in front of houses every morning, to keep out negative energies. They are also drawn on the floor inside houses – in the prayer room. We also write/draw Mandalas during weddings and other religious functions. In fact, if there is no Mandala in front of a Hindu house, it means, there is death in the family and it is mourning period. We use a combination of triangles and circles to draw Mandalas. They are a two-dimensional reduction of a higher dimensional energy field.
    Shankar, India

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  11. thank you all so much for your kind words and comments!

    yes, Shankar, mandalas are, from what i understand, omnipresent in India. i love the mandalas i’ve seen from your country. it is my desire that my work will be something of a bridge between the pure Indian mandala form and the western world, as i perceive of my mandalas as a blend of the two. regardless, i’m fascinated by the purity of relation and understanding in Indian society to the mandala form and can only hope that will catch on here!

    namaste,
    Kristen

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  12. Alan says:

    They come to life when observing the center then imagining it expanding in all directions, like the Big bang. They spin and change color.

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  13. Dear Kristen:

    Thanks for sharing your ideas and thoughts.

    This is for you. Enjoy!

    MANDALA SOJOURN

    There is a time, a place called Now;
    Each soul journeys through spirit space;
    Let passion rhyme, as love endows;
    Fond memory hints a new trace.
    Here spiral spheres align and spring,
    Watch inspired grace, let insight voice;
    Observe right here feelings that bring,
    Movement you trace in soul’s sweet choice.
    Mandalas sign patterns of soul;
    Let cheer design an inner whole;
    See heart align body, mind, soul.

    Leon Enriquez,
    Singapore

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  14. Vinod Sailes says:

    Exquite designs and the title “Mandalas and Me with Kristen Herrington” says everything. Imagination par excellance that carries you in to eternity. Superb and God gifted.

    I am delighted to have come by this mind boggling art which is indeed a delightful forray in to heavenly bliss. Thanks for its placement and the script adorning them. Have a nice day.

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  15. Caroling says:

    I am SO inspired by your story and journey Kristen-what a beautiful website: heart touching and authentic. I too am an artist and I know my purpose-I can see the art, I create it in my mind, it is uplifting and beautiful, but in the physical world with demands of husband, dogs, farm I haven’t been able to create the time and space and deep, inner un-interrupted quiet to do it. But you did, and so can I!

    Caroling,
    Tennessee

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  16. Dawn says:

    I love the beautiful mandalas!

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  17. gandhi says:

    you great souls create create eternal art…………..
    no words ……………..

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  18. Ivan Zavala says:

    Absolutely amazing work! Your mandalas are inspirational. Thank you for sharing your work and thoughts. Best of wishes from Boston!!

    Ivan

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