Sunday, August 30, 2009


source image - coleus

To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly. ~ Henri Bergson

I created this mandala for my 58th birthday, coleuswhich is August 31st. I am visioning this as a significant year as I move into creating a life for myself that I love.

Coleus is one of those plants I have loved since forever, and I am especially attracted to the bright pink throat contrasted against the dark burgundy leaf on this variety.

This is how the mandala speaks to me: Green center for growth, eight hearts in the middle for love, eight owls nestled in eight yonis representing goddess wisdom. Eight is a number of rebirth; on its side eight is the infinity symbol. As the eight spoked wheel, eight is seen as a symbol of endless change. Change is not one of those easy things, as neural pathways are rewired and the ego protests.

But change is good. I love what Pamir Kiciman tweeted on Twitter: Cooperate with what wants to emerge.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Visioning MandalaVisioning Mandala (Messenger Mandala series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image-northern harrier hawk feather

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid ~ Audre Lorde

The Northern Harrier, or Marsh Hawk, is one of my favorite raptors. I love watching it soar and glide over the marshlands and then quickly dive for some unsuspecting mouse or snake that got its attention. Hawks are an awesome example of the power of nature. When I see any of the hawks sitting on a telephone wire, highway sign, or billboard, I feel somehow like they are watching out for me too.

I was guided to use the four rayed configuration for this mandala, and I understand after completing the mandala how appropriate this choice was. Solid, bold, balanced, and complete, the four rays of the equidistant cross speak of the power of the Light and our relationship to it. According to Sayadha:
Hawk signifies union with Great Spirit. A bird of the heavens the hawk orchestrates the changes necessary for our spiritual growth. Having this totem can be bitter sweet. If we accept its presence in our life we will be asked to surrender anything that doesn't honor the integrity of all life. Be it an idea, a feeling or an action. Although hard work is involved the rewards the hawk offers us are great.
Hawk soars between heaven and earth and encourages us to live our lives with creative visionary purpose. During these remarkable times of awakening and change, having hawk's clear eyesight to assist us is a blessing.

Marsh hawk photos ©gloperflicker and greg gothard
Hawk medicine information also cited from Ted Andrews Animal Speaks pg 155

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Visioning Mandala


Monday, August 24, 2009


mushroomI really enjoyed reading everyone's responses to my previous blog post. A friend of mine who knows more about these things than I do told me that mushrooms were really not a true vegetable, so I'm sorry to have been misleading in my clue giving. I was playing 20 questions; I guess mushrooms are in the Fungus kingdom. (But that would have been a dead giveaway!)

Here are some of the results: a number of people said the mandala had a powerful tribal/native feel with references to both Africa ( Zimbabwe in particular) and voodoo. Others saw something bloody, meatlike, fiery, with strong snake energy. Tammy Vitale referenced Morrigan, the Celtic goddess of death and rebirth as well as Erzuli Freda, voodon goddess of love, beauty, and art. My friend Ellie saw Kachina dolls and the three phases of women. Oh yea, and a couple of people referenced chocolate (syrup, ripples and s'mores). Now Im hungry!

Mushrooms are mysterious. They are poisonous, halleucinogenic, powerful and worthy of respect. In dream symbolism, mushrooms represent unexpected growth and change. I'm pretty sure that this particular mushroom is a boletale, but Im not sure. I wasinviting a vision of power shield attracted to the patterning of the gills on the underside of the cap when I took the photograph and was just curious how it would translate. I love it!

I have decided to call this mandala Inviting a Vision of Power Shield.

I love seeing how the collective works.

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

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Inviting a Vision of Power Shield


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


This image was a bit of an experiment and needs a title. Would you like to help me name it?
Oh, and what do you think the source image was? (I will reveal all in a future post)

What I liked best about creating this image was making the brush used in the patterning surrounding the mandala. Once you get the hang of it, making brushes in Photoshop is really a lot of fun. If you are interested in learning how, I found this tutorial by Veerle really helpful.

So what shall I name this?

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Crow Caws Gold Mandala
Crow Caws Gold Mandala - (Messenger Mandala series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image - crow feather

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.~ Eden Phillpotts
I got really excited when I started reading about crow medicine, after I was gifted with this feather. Even at this moment while I'm writing, I can hear either a crow or raven cawing outside my window.

When I read Crow calls out that the secret magic of creation is calling in Ted Andrews' book Animal Speak, I got shivers. As I was creating this mandala, the name Crow Calls Gold came to me; but it wasn't until later, when I discovered that crows were associated with medieval alchemy, that the title made sense.

I was guided to use 10 rays for this image. When I did a little research, I discovered all sorts of things. Ten is a number associated with creation and the Universe, and also represents Divine Law. It is the end of a cycle and the beginning of another. It represents life and death. Black, the color of Crow, is the color of creation. It represents night and also the womb. Likewise, the cycle of night and day, death and rebirth are also part of crow's medicine.

Crows are intelligent, observant and aware. Though a color of the night, they are a daytime bird that remind us that the magic is everywhere, if we are open to seeing it.

When I asked what this mandala was offering, what I heard back was Honor What Is.

(You can read the story of How Sue Received Her Crow Feather and Found Her Joy at my latest blog, The Awareness Apprentice.)

ref.cit. Ted Andrews Animal Speak pgs 130-131; Riding the Beast

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Heart's Shadow Mandala

Heart's Shadow MandalaHeart's Shadow (Circles of Awareness Series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image - Venus flytrap

One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious ~ C. G. Jung
venus flytrap
Am I the only one who finds carniverous plants fascinating? Venus flytraps actually are efficient and well designed specimens. When an insect crawls on the plant and triggers hairs on the inside of the trap twice in succession, the trap closes and the bug is digested. This mechanism is an energy conserving device that keeps the plant from shutting when something like a raindrop hits its surface. (If you click on the image of the plant, you will see an itty-bitty slug crawling along the surface. I wonder if it was dinner later?)

Conserving the energy of the heart, though, is a coping mechanism that leaves us malnourished. How many of us go through life holding onto the events from our past that certainly influenced our development but really have nothing to do with who we are?

I am learning that by loving and forgiving those shadows of my past and let them go, the more I am able to love, stay open and become the person I was born to be. I will be bringing this darkness conscious for the rest of my earthbound life. It is so worth it.

How about you?

Peace Mandala


Tuesday, August 04, 2009


swan sings shine mandalaSwan Sings Shine Mandala (Messenger Mandala Series) © Sue O'Kieffe 2009
source image - swan feather

And we all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun - John Lennon

swan featherI have been asking people to send me feathers, because I love using them for mandala making. My friend Doreen of Mandala's Message was gracious enough to send me some swan feathers from her buddies who swim on Silver Lake in upstate New York. Working with a white feather was challenging, and Im pleased with the results.

My intuition guided me to use nine rays for this mandala, though the apparent divisions are more subtle than usual in this piece. I used three mandalas of three layered one upon each other with varying degrees of opacity and rotated at different angles. Just now as I reached for one of my books about symbolism, I opened right to the page about the meaning of nine. 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...that we live a more complete existence when we integrate all three. (Susanne Fincher, Creating Mandalas, p. 107)

Swans are a symbol of grace and they are also very powerful. swansThey have the ability to break a man's arm with the beat of their wings. When I began reading about swan totem medicine, I realized they were not only a lovely symbol of transformation (the ugly duckling becomes the beautiful swan), but that they also taught us about recognizing our own inner beauty and power. In his book Animal Speak Ted Andrews speaks about the swan's graceful neck.
The neck is a bridge area between the head (higher realms) and the body (lower worlds) you begin to realize your own true beauty, you unfold the ability to bridge to new realms and new powers. This ability to awaken to the inner beauty and bridge it to the outer world is part of what swan medicine can teach. It can show how to see the inner beauty in ourselves and others, regardless of outer appearances. (p.195)
When I asked the mandala what its message was, it sang back to me "Shine"

Sue O'Kieffe
Sacred Circle Mandalas

Swan Sings Shine