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Black and White

Black and White

Elmina de Beaupuys lived in the polarized world of the 13th century, a time when the medieval Church and the gnostic Cathars offered contrasting belief systems and vied for the minds and hearts of the people who lived in the Languedoc region of southern France. It was a time not so unlike ours today. No compromise seemed possible and Elmina’s heart craved the certainty preached by the traveling priest Dominic. There are times when I know just how she feels, when…

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The Path to Perfection

The Path to Perfection

Almost all physical evidence of the medieval Cathars has been erased, systematically destroyed by the Roman Church.  What remains are a carving here, a button or an old coin there to suggest that the Cathars knew full well the healing power of mandalas. Arthur Guirdham was a British psychiatrist who treated several clients who believed themselves to be the reincarnated souls of Cathar perfects. In his book The Great Heresy, he wrote that “Seven centuries ago the Cathars used [completing mandalas] to…

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Trinity

Trinity

I really didn’t just go to Divinity School on a whim, as my mother suspected. Despite my parents’ hostility to the church, I’d been interested in religion all of my life. I’d shifted from being a Unitarian Universalist to an active member of a United Church of Christ. I’d taught comparative religion for twenty-five years and come to discover I was jealous of students who went on to study religion in college. I’d completed a two-year School for Spirituality at…

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Consolamentum

Consolamentum

There is a troubling problem, one that no one has been able to answer in a fully satisfying way. It’s connected to the First Cause, the question of How did something come out of nothing? How did the perfect Oneness hypothesized by most religions give rise to multiplicity, in all its complexity and chaos? The problem gets more personal when we confront it on a daily level. Why do things fall apart? Why is that that bad things happen to…

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On the Verge

On the Verge

  Do you remember that song from West Side Story? Could it be? Yes it could, Something’s coming, something good, If I can wait! Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is, But it is Gonna be great! We are all on the verge of something new, and the lengthening days remind us of the coming of spring despite the snow an ice. In the Mandala Great Round, that’s Stage 3, the build-up of energy that precedes any new endeavor….

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Le Jeu d’Adam

Le Jeu d’Adam

Sometime around the end of the 12th century a morality play emerged in the Occitan region of southern France called “Le Jeu d’Adam.” On the surface it recounts the stories of Genesis about humanity’s fall: the temptation in the Garden of Eden and Cain’s jealous fratricide. It also offers a dire warning to the growing number of Cathars and Waldensians who were considered “enemies of the Church.” In my upcoming novel “Elmina’s Fire,” I’ve told the story from the point of…

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Mandala of Possibilities

Mandala of Possibilities

Suzanne Fincher describes Stage 2 as the “hot tub of the mandala Great Round.”  It is a stage of respite and renewal from which the potential for new life emerges. Here’s a mandala exercise to try, combining a technique learned from Julie Gibbons’ Mandala Magic course and round stickers. Cut a circle from water color paper and place random stickers on it. Create a marbled mandala by floating ink on a bed of shaving foam and using a chopstick to swirl it around. Press…

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Symbols

Symbols

I’m taking a Julie Gibbons’ on-line Mandala Magic class and an assignment this month was to explore the symbols that re-appear in your journeying, dreams and/or artwork. Try this! It’s really interesting what emerges. Ask the question and then breathe into a meditative space. When I did it the first images I got were my animals, the ones that in stuffed form live on the mantel over the old fireplace in my bedroom. There’s Horse who I sleep with when I’m feeling…

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Not Alone

Not Alone

  In mandala journaling you can go deeper by identifying a place in your mandala that has strong energy for you and doing a second mandala based on that place. In yesterday’s mandala the nascent pink-orange shape at the center had that energy. It seemed like a vulnerable new life taking form in a swirling sea. In today’s mandala it has grown larger and more defined. More importantly, it’s not alone. It is joined by a collective of others whose…

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What’s Next?

What’s Next?

It’s been a challenging time, these past few months of bracing for the onslaught. In mandala work, black can denote death and deep depression, while purple often signifies grief and mourning. That sure fits this one. I’ve been walking around like a zombie, unwilling to face the reality that almost half of my country voted for Donald J. Trump, voted to support a populist nationalism as powerful in its hate-filled rhetoric as that which came out of Nazi Germany in the…

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