Sunday, December 27, 2009


impermanence mandalaImpermanence Mandala (Ocean Series) © Sue O'Kieffe
source image: sea foamsea foam

My gift for the holidays was an afternoon at the beach on Christmas Eve. It was a perfect winter day, which for me means sun out/no wind.

The lesson I receive whenever I visit the ocean is that nothing stays the same. The waves roll in, leaving sea foam behind. The bubbles glisten on the sand for a while, then pop pop pop they are gone. To visit the ocean is to learn about impermanence.

Pacific Ocean
This visit to the beach on Christmas Eve day was holy; I got to take in everything offered to me -- the sounds of roaring waves, the smell of fresh salt air, the exhilaration of highly oxygenated air -- and in return I sang back my praises to mighty Pacifica. Give and take ... the tide rolls in and then rolls out. This is the ocean's pulse.

The mandala created from sea foam has 13 points. While some consider 13 to be an unlucky number, others consider it to be a number of new beginnings. It signifies the beginning of a new mandala series. I look forward to exploring the stories the ocean has to offer and sharing them with you.

How do you explore the sacredness in nature?

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas


Friday, December 25, 2009


Love Came Down at ChristmasLove Came Down at Christmas - © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: cotoneaster

However it is you choose to celebrate (or not celebrate) this time of year, may it be filled with Love and the spirit of giving.

From my heart to yours,

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas


Monday, December 21, 2009

Everlasting Dance Mandala

everlasting dance mandala
Everlasting Dance Mandala (Circle of Winter series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: Japanese skimmia

japanese skimmiaI discovered Japanese skimmia while nosing around the local nursery and was immediately taken by her showy red berries. I knew the photograph would transform into a powerful mandala.

The seven points of this mandala relates to the mystical traditions of many different religious orientations. When I look at this mandala created in traditional Christmas colors, I see a celebratory joyous image. And yet there is tension in this red and green combo, as opposites on the color wheel do.

Red is a passionate color associated with blood, fire, and transformation. Green is harmonious and a color of balance. It is the color of the heart chakra and is the resolution of darkness and light. There is a colorful dance going on here, with the boldness of red vibrating against the calmness of green.

Is it possible that, because of the colors we have chosen to celebrate this time year, we have created an opportunity to take a look at these seemingly opposite energies, and create for ourselves and for humanity a compassionate dance of peace? What would it take?

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bare Trees Mandala

bare trees mandalaBare Trees Mandala (Circles of Winter series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: twigs in sandtwigs in sand

I created this mandala a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to wait until Solstice to publish it. The source image, two little twigs I spotted in the sand of a riverbank after a heavy winter rain, seemed like a runic message left by the storm gods for someone to interpret.

Solstice is a time of magic and mystery. This past fall I began studying with a shamanic practitioner and learned how to communicate with my spirit allies. It was a potent time, and tonight I am going to a shamanic journeying circle to experience Solstice with other journeyers. While Solstice is often celebrated as that time of returning to the light, tonight we will be journeying with the spirits of darkness. I think it will be a potent time.

Those of you who know my art know that exploring the mystery is one of my favorite themes. I am most true to life when I stop trying to control it and let it - and me - just be. At that time is when I am most aware of the unknowable.

How about you? What truth do you find in the dark?

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas


Friday, December 18, 2009

Holiday Elegance Mandala

holiday elegance mandalaHoliday Elegance Mandala - (Holiday 2009 series) - © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: decorative kaledecorative kale

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not, rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common - this is my symphony ~William Ellery Channing

During the process of creating this mandala, I started to think about my mother. She was a woman who loved all things elegant, and I learned a lot about that quality from her. It shows up all over the place in my art, in my choices of color, in my preferences for having things "just so." This Martha Stewart perfectionism of hers pretty much drove me and my dad crazy, because there was no making her happy. As I grew older our relationship was harder and harder to sustain, but I did make my peace with her by the time she passed away.

By the time this mandala was finished, I was thinking Mom would have liked this. She was at her finest at Christmas time, with everything sparkly and glittery. She found the most wonderful ornaments for the Christmas tree, the best wrapping paper, and she made everything look special. I am grateful to her for these qualities. It keeps me striving to find that certain way of expressing my vision.

I'm not sure if she ever saw decorative kale in person. I never saw it until I left the Midwest for California, where plants like this grow in winter. I'm pretty sure she would have loved it. This is an elegant plant, with its delicate frills and symmetrical beauty.

So today, a week before Christmas, I want to say thanks to kale for being so beautiful and thanks to Mom for helping me find ways of expressing beauty in my own way.

How do you, as the daughter of your mom (or son of your father) share similarities with your parent and how have you grown past them?

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Divine Star Mandala

Divine Star Mandala
Divine Star Mandala (Winter Circle series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: phormium (New Zealand flax)

For each one of us there is a star to discover, and a Being within ourselves to bring to life ~Author Unknown
~~~~~~new zealand flax
I had a conversation on Twitter the other day with @TheSeekers , a woman who is both an artist and numerologist. We had a lovely discussion about patterns (we both love 'em) as well as about the archetypal vibration of the number nine. Julia is a wealth of information. You can visit her website here. With so many cool people online, we shall have to learn more about astral projection so we can visit each other in the ethers!

My guidance had led me to create this mandala from the leaf of New Zealand flax with nine points. Nine is considered a sacred number. Early numerologists did not even include the number nine because it was too magical; but when Pythagoras came around, he introduced nine to humanity. We had evolved enough to be able to handle the magic of the nine vibration. It takes nine to come together to create the whole. It is a completion.

I let this mandala talk to me for a couple of days before writing about it. I wanted to focus on the significance of the nine-pointed star. And then, at a Sacred Singing Circle the other night, I was given the quote I used above. We all have nine-pointed stars inside of us, we are all complete, magic and divine. We have created so much darkness around us; but at our core is true perfection, our True Selves, the perfection of Love. This is the mandala's message. What better time is there than this holy time of Light coming out of the Darkness for us to be reminded!

My winter prayer for all of us remains this -- Be Love.

Bright blessings on your path.

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Geminid Star Mandala

Geminid Star Mandala

Geminid Star Mandala (Exploring the Mystery series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: driftwood

Walking river banks and beach lines after a heavy rainstorm is full of mystery and magical energy.driftwood Driftwood is washed ashore, sand dunes are washed away. Walking over sticks and wood chips and fallen tree limbs is eerie, and also makes me aware of the ever changing qualities of nature. When I saw this double branch formation laying in the sand, it reminded me a rune marking. I wonder what its meaning is? In my files I named the image Gemini. I've often drifwood sculptureimagined inhabitants from other galaxies have visited here and left subtle messages in rock formations. I think these structures are where they must stay. They seem to pop up after rainstorms too.

The Geminid meteor shower will occur Dec 13-14, at the time of the New Moon. You can read more about it here.

If you were to see a falling star, what would you wish for? I would wish for the end of polarized, black and white thinking and an embracing of the present moment for everyone.

Consider this mandala your star to wish upon.

Bright blessings on your path.

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Shadowland Mandala

shadowland mandala
Shadowland Mandala (Exploring the Mystery series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: purple brussel sprouts

What is the body? That shadow of a shadow of your love, that somehow contains the entire universe ~ Rumi

purple brussel sproutsExploring the mystery of dreams is one of my favorite themes. It seems like as soon as the weather turns cold and days grow shorter, my dream world is revved up ten fold. I am not one of those people who will ever worry about sleep deprivation. I love spending time in the outer realms.

I associate purple with late November and early December. When I saw these purple brussel sprouts at our last farmer's market, I just knew they would have something special to share.

As we expand into new awareness, shadows of our past appear to be recognized and healed. It's not easy work, sometimes, and it calls for us to embrace ourselves with even more love. Sometimes angels appear to help us out. You just never know.

I created this mandala to honor the angel and to honor the shadow and to honor the wonder of dreamland.

Be blessed.

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Luminous Light Mandala - AEDM 28

luminous light mandalaLuminous Light Mandala (Circles of Awareness Series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: leek roots

...for my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. ~ Yoda (Star Wars)


Consider the function of vegetable roots and how they carry nutrients from the soil into the flesh of the plant and then we eat that flesh and it nourishes us. We are so connected to everything and the connection is, like Yoda reminds us here, the Force.

Part of why I love creating this mandala art is so I can transform the crude matter into luminous light. It's as simple yet as profound as that.

Bright blessings to you on your path!

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

This mandala is dedicated to Laura Hegfield, who shines a light divine.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Harvest Jewel Mandala - AEDM 27

Harvest Jewel MandalaHarvest Jewel Mandala (Autumn Circle series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: Indian corn kernels

"What is the body? That shadow of a shadow of your love, that somehow contains the entire universe." Rumi

When I look at this mandala, I think of all the individual kernels of corn that make up the whole of the image. It's like how we are, full of ideas and creativity, love and passion,experience and wisdom, and we are just so darned colorful and filled with light. Sometimes these qualities take time to mature; but when everything ripens, we are juicy and savory and delish.

Enjoy your life and be your best self. That's what I've got to say about that!

Bright blessings on your path!

~Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Melissa Mandala - AEDM #24

Melissa MandalaMelissa Mandala (Circle of Awareness Series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: honeycomb

His labor is a chant, His idleness a tune; Oh, for a bee's experience Of clovers and of noon! ~Emily Dickinson

Today I am expressing gratitude to the bee and the golden syrup it produces. Thank you for tirelessly going from flower to flower, keeping things pollinated, keeping life alive. This mandala is named for the nymph Melissa, who fed honey to Zeus as an infant when he was being hidden from his father. When she was discovered, she was turned into an insect. Zeus turned her into a bee so she could make honey for eternity. Sweet! Did you know honey is the only food that doesn't spoil?

When I was sick earlier this fall, honey and lemon juice in warm water was the only thing that really helped. How boring my breakfast oatmeal would be without this lovely sweetener on it.

I'm busy as a bee myself today, but I'll try to buzz around to other AEDM-ers later.

Blessed bee!

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Sunday, November 22, 2009


ring of love mandala
Ring of Love Mandala - (Circles of Beauty and Light Series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: lavendar straw flower

Yesterday I went to the local farmers' market to take in the sights and smells, interact with folks and take some photos. It was an amazing harvest display.straw flowers A box of straw flowers caught my eye, and I imagined creating a mandala in fall colors when I shot the photo. It was the lavendar flower that begged for my attention when I brought the photo into Photoshop this morning. I never really know how things are going to turn out, and today was one of those days.

And I'm glad it was.

A couple of weeks ago I created a set of brushes, one of which I used for the texture in the surrounding area of today's mandala. I have a dream of using only brushes that I create in my artwork, and right now I would say Im about half way there. This isn't going to mean much to non Photoshop users. Brushes aren't hard to make, but they are a little tricky to make so they are usable.

wood chip brush samples wood chip brushes

This is what the four brushes look like. They were created in Photoshop CS3 on a PC. They are high res, CS-CS4 compatable, and I believe they can be used on a Mac. You can download the files by clicking on the above link. Feel free to use them for either commercial or personal use. Have fun.

I'll do this again, I'm sure.

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Saturday, November 21, 2009


ancient one mandalaAncient One Mandala (Earth Mystery Mandalas) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: beach rock face

I become a waterwheel, turning and tasting you, as long as water moves ~ Rumi

I took the day off from posting anything for AEDM, opting instead to give my eyes periodic breaks from the computer. This has been a busy couple of months for me pursuing my dreams one step at a time. Participating in AEDM this year has once again introduced me to an extraordinary community of artists. Having the opportunity to go around and visit their blogs and Facebook pages has been extraordinarily renewing for me, and receiving new visitors here has been refreshing and helped relieve the periodic bouts of isolation that sometimes bother me about solitary creating. I would say that most parts of my life feel pretty good right now except for that derned isolation. I want to make community and relationship building more of a priority in 2010. To those of you new to my art, thanks so much for stopping by.

I took this photograph a month ago on a sunny day at the beach. It is the face of a rock formation common on our shores. I love all the texture. Isn't it amazing what water can do to rock over time?

If I gaze at this mandala long enough, it almost seems to be spinning through space and time, and I am reminded of how ancient rock is. Wouldn't it be fun to hear the stories it might share with us?

Spirit guided me to use the thirteen point formation for this mandala. Thirteen is a number unto itself that reminds us of what is ending and what is opening into the new picture. Do you have old business to finish before you can begin anything new? For myself, I have limiting patterns of thinking and being;I am envisioning an abundant, prosperous, loving life.

Now might be a good time to consider what to release from your thought patterns as we approach the beginning of another year.

Be blessed, everyone!

~Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas
(Mandala prices include shipping and handling)

Ancient One Mandala


Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Honoring Autumn MandalaHonoring Autumn Mandala (Autumn Circle Series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: pear tree branches

God is the experience of looking at a tree & saying, "Ah!" ~Joseph Campbell

I took this photo of an elder pear tree covered in lichen a couple of weeks ago during that yummy golden hour when the world is filled in magical light.

I love the way the textures and light was captured in this mandala. I've never created a mandala with nine points before either. How perfect for Art Every Day Month.

Susanne Fincher writes about the significance of the number nine in one of my favorite books, Creating Mandalas:

Symbolism associated with the number nine expresses mysterious realities of human existence. We are creatures of different levels. We are physical beings who think and have souls. Nine in our mandalas may suggest the fact that we live a more complete existence when we integrate all three: the physical, the mental, and the spiritual.The number nine symbolized truth in mystic Hebrew tradition. Perhaps it appears in our mandalas to remind us of our own true nature. (p. 107)

Last night when this mandala was finished, I sat for a long time and soaked in the mandala's energy. It was just what I needed after a frustrating day. I hope you enjoy the glow of autumn light that's celebrated here. Do you feel the uplifting exciting energy of nine? I'd love to know what you see and feel in this mandala.

Thank you, Venerable Pear Tree, for sharing your gifts with us.

(Mandala prices include shipping and handling)

Honoring Autumn Mandala


Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Heart Path MandalaHeart Path Mandala (Circles of Awareness Series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: red valerian in autumn

In every heart there is the power to do it ~ Marianne Williamson

Today I want to say hi to my new Google followers and thank those of you visiting my site red valerian in autumnfrom Art Every Day Month. My mandala art is created from my own photographs of nature (usually flowers, but recently I have begun working with feathers and stones/crystals). I take my images into Photoshop where I "mandalize" them, intuitively isolating a sliver of the photograph which I duplicate and flip into a mirror image, repeating this process until I have a complete circle.
Then I wait and listen and feel into the mandala, asking what it wants to share. My intent is to take my ego out of the process as much as possible and ask my spiritual guidance to assist me in art making.

I'm pretty sure this is a photograph of red valerian in its autumn coat.

I love the hot pink/salmon/peachy/coral colors that emerged in this mandala. These colors are a blending of pink, orange, yellow, and red - 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st chakra colors. When we are rooted/secure (1st), fully feeling our feelings (2nd), are in touch with our will and God's will (3rd), the heart opens wide to give and receive love (4th). These are the paths of the heart.

Brightest blessings to you on your path!

~Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Gate of Courage MandalaGate of Courage Mandala (Earth Mystery Mandalas) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image:local stone

I was attracted to the patterning on this stone and wondered what stories it might reveal. I don't remember where I found this stone, and after I created the mandala I wondered if I had been disrespectful in some way by not asking for permission to use its image. I had recently taken classes in shamanic journeying with
the intention of using these skills to enhance my art and my
creative process, and along the way I also developed a new level
of consciousness and awareness of my subject material I use in my mandalas. As a sentient being, perhaps this stone would actually prefer not to be studied.

In a journey, I connected with the stone’s spirit. The stone told me a story of being an ancient one and having come from far away. It told me to use the name Gate of Courage for the mandala. I asked this stone if it wanted to be returned outside, and it asked to be placed in my garden. And that is all I know.

Perhaps by spending time with the mandala, you will come to hear the story that is being

I am thankful for Stone’s gift to humanity.

Brightest blessings on your path!

~Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas
(Mandala prices include shipping and handling)

Gate of Courage Mandala


Thursday, November 12, 2009

11:11 MANDALA - AEDM 12

11:11 mandala11:11 Mandala (Power Shield series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: red shouldered hawk feather

Creating this mandala yesterday was a story of synchronicity. My guidance tells me that the feather I used was from a red shouldered hawk. These birds are prevalent on the coast of California, and I often see them sitting on wires and highway signs, waiting to spot prey.

My guidance suggested using 11 points for the mandala; when I began creating the image, I noticed that it was 11:11 am, pst: 11 points at 11:11 on 11/11.

Numerologically, 11 is a master number. It represents illumination, a channel to the subconscious, insight, sensitivity, nervous energy and shyness. It is the psychic's number. (from Hawk medicine offers us protection, vision and messages from Spirit.

Much has been written about the phenomenon of 11:11. If you are interested in reading further, Solaris has dedicated much time and energy into this subject. This mandala is a gift for humanity, channeled through me, for the 11:11 energies.

Lighter we become.

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

(red shouldered hawk image courtesy of google images/

(Mandala prices include shipping and handling)

11:11 Mandala


Monday, November 09, 2009


source image: chicken feather

We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels 'cross the floor...(from A Whiter Shade of Pale)

It started with a chicken feather and my Wacom tablet. A little doodling, playing with orange, rust and gold with a splash of lavendar for an electric effect. I just wanted to have fun playing with color color color.

A fandango is lively Spanish dance. It can also mean a big fuss or brilliant exploit. I hear castanets and see swirly skirts. Ole!

Day 9 fun for Art Every Day Month.

Friday, November 06, 2009


zen dream mandalaZen Dream Mandala (Exploring the Mystery) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: fall grass

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream ~ Edgar Allan Poe

fall grassI love the dream world and associate it with November, when the nights get colder and the veil between ordinary and non-ordinary reality is thin.
This is Samhain, el Dia de los Muertos, Halloween, Celtic New Year time. Spirits, our ancestors and loved ones come and visit. It's a moving powerful time of year.

I love these simple field grasses that show up in autumn; I wish I knew their names. Spirit directed me to use the 3 configuration, which is probably my least favorite , but I love the resulting simple yet powerful painterly quality.

As I was finishing this mandala, I felt my mother's presence behind me, telling me how much she liked it. Red, black and white was her favorite color combination. She left this world ten years ago, and it's been a while since I have noticed her energy around me. It felt good.

I quietly slipped into the Art Every Day Month challenge this year and missed the first few days.
This year I am focusing on things I want to play with and to practice being easy on myself. Sometimes that is the biggest challenge of all!

~Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas
(Mandala prices include shipping and handling)

Zen Dream Mandala


Wednesday, November 04, 2009


infinite life mandalaInfinite Life Mandala (Circles of Awareness series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image: Himalaya berries

And the seasons, they go round and round ~ Joni Mitchell
Himalaya berries
Himalaya berries grow in disarray along the North Coast of California, and their branches make a better barrier than barbed wire. I love sampling these plump, juicy, seedy gifts from heaven throughout the summer, testing them for ripeness, marveling at their succulence when they are just right and warm from the sun at high noon. It's not hard to imagine our ancestors conceiving of pie during those moments.

I took the photograph in early autumn, before the rains washed away berry sweetness. I love the beauty of the different stages of their ripeness against the backdrop of lush green leaves.

This mandala has eight rays, a number that symbolizes harmony, balance, and infinity. This configuration is also known as The Great Wheel, and it speaks of life's transitions.

The center of a mandala represents the self, and the center here is juicy ripe, dark and inviting. Be that center.

Thank you, Himalaya berries, for showing us your gift.

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

(Mandala prices include shipping and handling)

Infinite Life Mandala