I am pleased to share a teaching and ritual dear to my heart, creating an Earth Mandala. This is an excerpt from my newly released book, Rio Abajo Rio.
This practice is featured on the beautiful web home of Ashley Neese, a beloved holistic nutrition consultant, yoga instructor and a radiant, sun spirit. She inspires me daily with her love and care for the body and nourishing through juicy fruits, rainbow vegetables, healing herbs and grains. Thank you Ashley for igniting my creative spirit in the kitchen and reminding me that each recipe is a ritual, carrying an intention to nurture our vessel and connect to Mother Earth.
As the warm air of Spring arrives, a beautiful time of transition opens before us. New life emerges. As our outer world transforms so does the landscape of our inner world. The season of Spring presents a time for us to align with our inner truth, the seeds inside of us waiting to blossom with the droplets of rain and sun. One of my most loved rituals is the practice of creating an Earth Mandala, a Healing Circle, a Flower of Life, a cosmic diagram connecting us to the Universal oneness. It is an offering of prayer and love to Mother Earth and the Spirit of the land where you live.
This ritual was inspired by the sacred Andean Despacho ceremony of the Inka tradition. Since ancestral times, people of the Andes have used this ceremony to connect themselves with the harmony of nature and to live in Ayni, in reciprocity and right relationship. To practice Anyi is to acknowledge the interconnection between human beings and the natural world that sustains us. In Peru, a Despacho ceremony is performed by the Q’ero shaman to honor Pachamama, Mother Earth or the Apus, the Mountain Spirits. Using various natural elements as offerings to represent the stars, rivers, clouds… the shaman creates a three dimensional Mandala composition as a symbolic act of respect for all of life.
Creating an Earth Mandala is a basic ritual that will be unique to the natural world around you. The environments we live often vary – perhaps you live by the ocean, in the city, or in the mountains or desert. Each environment is distinct and as you will see, the Mandala illuminates the beauty surrounding you and within you. It is best to perform this ritual in nature however you may also create the Mandala inside your home by placing it on the ground to connect with the Earth element. This can be an individual practice or you may feel called to invite loved ones, children and animals. You may wish to include music, instruments, like drums, rattles, or bells, and burn herbs of white sage or palo santo. Use your intuition and bring in the elements that resonate with you.
I often use this ritual when I journey to new lands, to greet the Spirit of the land with honor and gratitude, thanking them for receiving me. Recently upon traveling to Sedona, Arizona, a dear friend and I created an Earth Mandala on the sacred red sandstone of Bell Rock. We found a special piece of land where a twisted Juniper tree stood deeply rooted. We laid down four pieces of selentite crystal to represent the four directions and used native flower petals and leaves we collected on our hike to create various outer circles. We began burning cedar, sage and palo santo and to our surprise an Earthworm rose deep from under Mother Earth to greet us in the center of our Mandala. This was truly a magical experience that presented us with a powerful message.
When you create sacred space using ritual, you will notice little miracles such as the Earthworm, are all around us. Pachamama is always teaching us. If we begin to open our eyes to remembering her ways, we will begin to see with the eyes of our heart. The healing vibrations of this ritual will be felt personally, by loved ones and by Mother Earth. By creating an Earth Mandala, your intention and action sends filaments of light to our eternal Earth Mother and to all of us Earth children.
Center yourself in nature and gather native elements from the environment around you such as flowers, leaves, stones, shells, nuts, berries. Notice the color of the object you select and its corresponding chakra, the swirling energy centers within you. Allow this practice to be an expression of your creative spirit.
Find a sacred space and select the first element to be the center of your Mandala. This object will hold your overall intention, so begin by saying prayers into the object, bringing it into your third eye and heart chakra and then place it in the center of your offering.
Each additional element carries a symbolic meaning and is placed around the center element with intention, intuiting what message it will carry and where it wants to be placed. When you feel your Mandala is complete, gently leave your offering on the Earth, allowing the elementals (Sun, Rain, Wind, Land, Spirit) to merge with your creation.
*Photograph Earth Mandala from Maggie's book Rio Abajo Rio