Because the Christian Mandalas† study approach is new there are questions. This page is important because it answers questions that arise when people first encounter this method of engaging Scripture.
FAQ: How do you make sure folks are not drifting off into the Theological Weeds?
This is the concern that flashes of inspiration are not of God.
Two safeguards are built in:
- These studies are generally intended for regenerate Christians, in other words, born again Christians. The presence of the Holy Spirit within you should synch-up with Scripture and point to Christ.
- Day Two studies utilize a commentary. This is a very good way to check and build upon your day one insights.
There is a third, optional safeguard that can be very beneficial:
3. Share. Check your insights in Christian community.
FAQ: Is this a group thing or an individual thing?
Christian Mandalas are individual. It is you interacting with the Holy Spirit and Scripture one on one. But!
People love to share what they have done. Even introverts. What works well is to study a Scripture independently and then share your mandalas and insights with others.
For some folks this works best if they do their mandalas during the week and share in a traditional group setting on a set day once a week.
For couples, it may be on a daily basis.
For other folks it works better if they do their mandalas and then share them through social media.
Finally, for some individuals, this goes beyond their comfort zone or they simply don’t feel the need to share. That’s OK.
FAQ: Kerry, can you put this into a more traditional format like a devotional or add in a little commentary of your own to help guide us?
Nope. This is your time to interact with God. You don’t need Kerry Pierce getting in between you and God to tell you what Scripture means for you. My role is to help enable the conversation. The conversation itself is a very individual experience. You are an individual at a unique place and time in your life. Scripture will speak to you in a way I can’t imagine much less prescribe. This is very important.
On Day 2 especially, you are going to have a commentary, or a laptop, or a smartphone, or some yet to be invented piece of technology sitting next to you. Commentaries and search engines open up 1,000s of years of wisdom. Either commentaries on Scripture or the imagery that you choose will speak to you in a way I cannot. You will find something from a brilliant theologian or an inspired artist that helps connect you to God. Pastors and ministers do this as well, because, like the Good Shepherd, they know you.
If you do get stuck, the answers to the even numbered questions are in the back of the workbooks. Just kidding. In the back of the workbooks I do give a list of useful resources: Commentaries, Artists, etc. They work for me, but they really are just suggestions. Eventually you will find a theologian or an artist that clicks for you. You may outgrow them. I started on William Barclay and used him for years and then moved on to more advanced material.
FAQ: This makes me think, do I have to?
Yep. It does kind of force one to think. This is not two minute, microwaveable, instant Spiritual junk food that allows you to check off your God-thing for the day. We are building spiritual muscle mass. You will transform and become more Christ-like.
FAQ: But Kerry, I can’t draw!
That’s ok, it still works.
First, if you look at the mandalas done by some of Jung’s patients I promise you they couldn’t draw either. They still benefited.
My wife Nancy can’t draw. Really. However, she is extremely supportive and went through the experiment with me. I saw her gain deeper insights into Scripture than I had seen before. A side benefit, her drawing ability also improved over time.
Other folks find that annotating their mandalas with text helps them through challenging imagery. Some people put a one word description next to their mandala. Sort of a theme statement.
In practice, the worse people draw, the livelier the discussions become. The drawings lighten the mood, people relax and then begin to share.
Martin Luther is known for: being a brilliant theologian, a key figure in the Protestant Reformation, translating the Bible from Latin into the common tongue, being a bit of a hot head that used colorful language, and also for writing wonderful hymns. Look at Luther’s seal. It is a rather brilliant Christian mandala.
Luther used traditional Christian symbols and liturgical colors to make a very elegant and profound statement about his faith.
Luther’s mandala, breaks down as can be seen below. It’s not difficult to draw.
Gold outer ring. The circle is the Christian symbol for God. Gold, the color of divinity.
Blue backdrop. Blue, the color of the sky, symbolic of heaven and truth.
White rose. White the color of purity. The rose is symbolic of the purity as well.
Luther takes the five pedaled rose, rotates it 180 degrees, sizes it down and places it on top of the first rose. Five in Christian symbolism is the number symbolic of wounds received by Jesus on the cross. Luther may have been thinking of the sacrifice of Christ as well.
Red Heart. The heart is symbolic of the inner person, the soul and/or spirit. Red is the color of blood. It is also the liturgical color for Pentecost.
Black Cross. The cross refers to the central work of Christ. Black, the color of death. Note the centrality of the cross in Luther’s mandala.
I can easily read Luther’s mandala as follows: By believing in the work of Christ on the cross, in one’s heart, that person is made clean. In repentance, and faith in Christ, they are forgiven. The result is that they stand in a right relationship with God.
None of these elements are difficult to draw.
FAQ: I’m not sure where to start?
If I look back over all the pencil mandalas I have drawn, 84% have Christ in the center of the circle (I know, I am being geeky again.) The Holy Spirit points me to Christ. Jesus is a very good subject to center on. Look at Luther’s mandala, it’s got Christ in the center.
FAQ: What are the mechanics of drawing the mandala?
Here is a suggestion for getting started, but don’t limit yourself: I use a pencil. It erases, it’s fast, and I can smudge the lines with my finger to give a softer look to a shadow for instance. I use a ruler for straight lines and for dividing the circle. I use a compass for drawing circles. Balance and focus on the center is important.
Spontaneity is especially important on Day One.
FAQ: Can I pick my own Scriptures Kerry?
This is one of the great temptations. My question would be: How many Christian Mandalas have you done? I love the Bible, even Leviticus, however not all Scripture works the same in mandala world. I have a set of criterion I use to pick the Scriptures for the workbooks. I would spend a month or so creating mandalas with the Scriptures I have selected before picking your own.
FAQ: The Holy Spirit as the source of God’s truth?
“9 But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”
1 Corinthians 2:9-13
FAQ: Why the Circle, why not a Square
In Christian Symbolism, the circle represents God which is a very good place to start. Geometrically, with a circle, everything relates to the center and the edge is always equidistant from the center of the circle. It really focuses everything towards a center. Also, the circle is a natural form that works, it arose naturally out of the work that Jung did with his patients and has a long history with religion including Christianity.
FAQ: Is it OK for a Christian to Mandala?
Yes. Christians have made mandalas throughout history they just didn’t get the mandala label and no one added a process around them. Here’s a short list of Christian Mandala heroes: Martin Luther, Jakob Bohme, Hildegard von Bingen, Hieronymus Bosch, and whoever made the Christian symbol for marriage. See the image below..
Also, there are some excellent stained glass examples: North Window Notre Dame, Paris; North Window Notre Dame, Chartres; St. Chapelle, Paris.
Finally, my daughter Kirsten, during her senior year in High School, during a period of transition, began to spontaneously create mandala-like images. Below are two of her mandalas.
FAQ: Are you going New Age on us Kerry?
Nope. In the book of John, chapter 14, verse 2, Jesus says:
“2In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you”
This is after the Last Supper and Jesus is giving a farewell sermon to the disciples. Thomas has a question. Thomas always has a question. His questions give us great insights into Jesus. Thomas wants to know how to get to his room. Jesus responds in verse 6:
“6 Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”
With this statement Jesus stirs up a bit of mud around the Lotus. He claims that there is a God, and that he is the unique way to get to Him.
A little later, after Jesus’ death and resurrection he and Thomas meet again. Thomas sees the risen Christ, touches him, and believes in him saying to Jesus: “My Lord, and my God.”
I will belabor the point by quoting from C.S. Lewis: “I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him [Jesus]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and Kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”16
I take the Lewis’ second option and call Jesus Lord and God.
FAQ: Will this work for non-Christian text?
Nope. You are going to need text that was breathed by the Holy Spirit to resonate with the work that the Holy Spirit is doing within you. You are connecting text which was breathed by the Holy Spirit with the access you have to God due to your regenerate nature. You are tapping into the same Spirit that breathed out the Scripture initially. With non-Christian text you don’t get that harmony.
FAQ: Will this work for non-Christians, or those who are not regenerate?
Being regenerate is critical for opening up the Scriptures; however, if you aren’t regenerate this is a very good way of giving the Holy Spirit an opportunity.
Separately, I did not do Christian Mandalas when I was non-Regenerate. Also, I don’t have any Christian Mandalas that have been created by non-Christians so I don’t have any data points yet. Let me know how it goes.
FAQ: Are there any rules?
No hard and fast rules. My suggestions are: Try to work from the edge to a central point to which everything relates. See Luther’s Seal. See the examples of my Christian Mandalas at the website, and also in the work books.
It’s good to use Christian Symbols as a sort of Spiritual visual shorthand. Searching Christian Symbols online will turn up numerous sites.
FAQ: How much time should I spend on a Mandala? What if I miss a day?
Stay with your mandala as long as it’s working for you. Sometimes I will draw one up in a few minutes, sometimes I might spend a whole day on it when I am in my inspired artist mode.
Typically I stay with the same Scripture for three consecutive days. Sometimes I go for more than three days if I am still getting something out of the text.
It works best if you stay with the same Scripture for three consecutive days. I do miss a day here and there. The world is full of things like finals, deadlines, and surprises. If I am short on time I will look at the last mandala I drew to re-load it into my brain before rushing off.
For a small group that meets once a week, a single Scripture with three mandalas will be enough.
† Christian Mandalas is a trademark of Kerry M. Pierce