Mandala is Sanskrit for sacred circle. The sacred circle you draw becomes a container, of sorts, for all that is in you or your world. When you enter the process which includes meditation, prayer, and drawing a mandala, then you can access symbols and answers that help to clarify life issues. These symbols and their meaning are personal to you, the artist.
Mandala-like items appear in nature and have inspired artists since the cavemen.
While mandalas seem to have originated in the East, various forms of the mandala appear all over the world where there was no previous connection to the East.
The Celtic-inspired mandalas are filled with elements of knotwork or spirals. The grey mandala (found in the row of pictures above) is based on one found in the 5,000 year old "Cave of the Sun" in County Meath, Ireland.
St. Hildegarde of Bingen, an 11th century Catholic nun, reported having visions. Someone paint her visions; they appeared as mandalas. Carl Jung studied her mandalas for insight into his own work on mandalas.
The psychoanalyst Carl Jung began drawing mandalas during a particularly dark period in his life. He continued to investigate their symbolism and the process that connected one to the Self and to the Divine.
Mandalas appear in Native American society as medicine wheels. They are used for healing, ritual, and teaching purposes.
Islamic mandalas beautify mosques. Rose windows in Gothic churches are also sacred circles of art. Mandalas are a fundamental way to connect with the Divine. The Hindus believe with proper prayer/mantra the mandala actually becomes a diety going beyond just representing the diety.
Here are some of my mandalas from the Dr. Judith Cornell workshop "Awaken out of Suffering." As you can see, you don't have to be an artist to do mandalas. Stencils are always available. Mandalas are about spiritual connection to self and to the Divine, not necessarily about "the art." The icon is Hildegarde of Bingen.
I studied under Dr. Judith Cornell, founder and director of Mandala Facilitation and became a Certified Mandala Facilitator. Cornell became interested in mandalas when she was on a spiritual quest and as part of a healing process after a bout with cancer. She went on to teach people with cancer and other diseases the healing power of a mandala drawing practice.
Mandala video - click for link on Youtube.