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Mandala Terminology and Anatomy:

Cardinal points are the major points of the compass - North, South, East, West.

Chakra - [Origins: Sanskrit, meaning circle or wheel] This is a Hindu term that defines a person's various centers of energy, or prana, which exist within a person's "astral body". There are seven foundation chakras which lay along the vertical axis of the numan body and are typically symbolized by mandala- or yantra-like circular designs.

Kalachakra - [often referred to as the 'wheel of time'] Represents a few different concepts ranging from the secret teachings of the Buddha which were recorded in the Kalachakra Tantra, the deity itself associated with the teaching and/or the Indian system of belief that we commonly associate with modern day astrology. The Wheel of Time Sand Mandala is a visual representation of the entire Kalachakra Tantra. It is a representation of the five-story palace of the Kalachakra deity and those who make this sand mandala are believed to actually 'place themselves within the realm of the deity.'

Labyrinth [lab´ rinth´] from the frame of reference of Mandalas and related beliefs are thought to be a circular pattern featuring a serpentine but unobstructed path to the center. You will find many labyrinths set into the floors of gothic cathedrals with tile. They represent the symbolic journey to Jerusalem. The idea being that pilgrims walk the labyrinth to the center and back out to achieve a state of 'walking meditation'.

Mandala [Origins: Sanskrit, meaning circle and/or center] The mandala describes a very traditional design involving the circle, which is the symbol of the cosmos, coupled with the square, representing the man-made or physical world in which we currently exist. Typically, mandalas have a center, radial symmetry, and cardinal points. Bet you didn't realize that the 'rose windows' commonly found in Gothic cathedrasl are mandalas! Yup, we're talking about those stained glass windows that are round, or circular, that have symmetrical rose-like tracery.

Sand painting is a traditional ritual where images are created using, you guessed it, sand. However, in most cases it refers to the ritual sand artwork created by Native Americans of the Navaho tribe and should not be confused with Tibetan sand mandalas. Navaho sand paintings are employed in ceremonial "sings" by tribal healers.

Stonehenge can also be viewed as a basic Mandala. The circular arrangement of monoliths [massive shaped stones] are primarily located in Salisbury, England. These are thought to date from the neolithic age and were probably created to help track celstial events as a form of observatory. However, the actual use, meaning, and method of construction remain unknown and modern-day researchers can only speculate.

T'ai chi is also known as the "yin and yang". It is a circular Chinese symbol which represents the universe as the harmony and comingling of opposites -- light and dark, hard and soft, male and female. This opposites tension is thought to create invigorating energy and rejuvination.

Thangka [ Origins: Tibetin for picture or painting] is a Tibetan Buddhist painted scroll. Thangkas are important in rituals and help followers with visualization.

People and Mandalas in History:

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) A Benedictine abbess who was an artist, musician and theologian. Hildegard's illuminated manuscripts contain many mandalas.

Jung, Carl Gustav (1875 - 1961) Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist who drew his first mandala in 1916. Jung's discovery of the mandala provided the key to his entire system. Some of Jung's writings on mandalas are available in the volume Mandala Symbolism.