Usually when weaving a mandala, I am thinking only of creating artwork. Also, to me at least, in as much as a mandala might be a talisman, or have some spiritual significance, my idea is that, the more beautiful I make the mandala, the more spiritual significance might shine out to the viewer. And so, while weaving away, I seek to create the most beautiful mandala that I am capable of weaving.
If you have read My Ojo de Dios Story on my website, you know that back in the 1960′s, as a young man, I discovered that Tibetans, and Huicholes of Mexico, made yarn and stick mandalas of incredibly similar design, and that this got me started on my path of mandala artist. Later, after reading a National Geographic article about Huicholi Indians, I realized that both the Huicholi and Tibetan peoples used their yarn and stick mandalas as protection from “ghosts,” or “evil spirits.” Here is a recreation I wove recently of that Tibetan/Huicholi design.
Slowly over the many years of weaving yarn and stick mandalas, I’ve evolved my own style and pattern of work, which has ended up mostly being twelve-sided designs with a central diamond, and needlework of various patterns in the border. Artistically, I very much like the complexities and the design possibilities in a twelve sided mandala, but I also like the design comparisons to common Western cosmologies.
I think almost every spiritually minded Westerner believes in either Jesus as the Christ, with his twelve disciples, or in the twelve signs of the Zodiac, as meaningful patterns. Myself, I believe in both, and so see twelve as a particularly meaningful number. Also the fact that twelve is the combination of three, for a three part Godhood common to both Hinduism (Preserver, Protector, Destroyer) and Christianity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), and four, for the common pattern of the four directions commonly referred to by Native Americans, gives the number twelve special meaning to me.
I virtually always weave the very center of my mandalas as a four point diamond pattern, matching the center patterns of the very first yarn mandalas I saw. I also almost always weave that center pattern with white yarn. I aim to accomplish two main things in my yarn artwork: balance of color and design that stills the mind; and a constant return of the viewers eye to the mandala center.
Today many people are drawing, painting, and using computer programs to create mandala patterns. I much prefer my woven mandalas, however, with their three dimensional, stand-out-from-the-wall reality. There is one design element to the woven mandala, especially in the twelve-sided pattern, that stands unique from the other mandalas available today; and that always points back to the mandala center, and that is the empty spaces.
Overall, my best hope for people that hang one of my mandalas on their wall, is that it brings a bit of beauty into their lives, and perhaps a reminder that there is a higher power watching over us, and that we can learn to remember that beyond the everyday cares of life, there is unlimited beauty, everlasting peace, and true happiness.