Interpret Your Mandala


You can learn to understand the messages in your mandalas by spending some time studying them. Remember, even though you become expert at understanding your own mandalas, you cannot be sure you know about the mandalas made by someone else. When offering your impressions of others’ mandalas it shows respect to preface yourcomments with, “If this were my mandala it would mean….


Some paper and a pen or pencil for writing.

Interpreting your Mandala

Turn your mandala and look at it from all angles. Decide where the top is by noticing when you have a feeling of balance, a gentle “Ah hah.” Mark the top with a small “t.” Date your mandala as you will probably want to refer back to it and know when it was made.

Once the top is established, set your mandala where you can get a good look at it. Let a title come to mind as you are looking at your mandala. Don’t worry if it is silly, grotesque, or overly grand. Just write it down on your note paper.

List by name each of the colors you used in your mandala, remembering to include the color of the paper if you left any uncolored spaces inside your circle. After each color, write down your associations to that color. These will be whatever comes to you as you ponder that color in your mandala. Set aside your critical judging, and just write down your associations as they come to mind.

List each of the shapes you have included in your mandala. Name them so you know what you are writing about: “squiggle,” “doughnut,” “bird,” whatever describes the form in your own words. Write your associations for each of these forms in the same way you did for your colors.

Read through all you have written: your title, your color associations, and your associations to the shapes you have used in your mandala. Do you notice any themes? Is there an emotional atmosphere that emerges from your associations? Is there a story or interaction among different parts of your mandala? Write all this down in a few sentences. This is your interpretation of your mandala.

If you want to do more with your mandala, try one of these suggestions:

  • Read about colors and shapes in books or symbol dictionaries and apply this information to your mandala (Creating Mandalas has sections on colors, numbers, and forms; Barbara Walker’s dictionaries are useful).
  • Spend some time gazing at your mandala, just drinking in its forms and colors, while in a meditative state of mind.
  • Let the forms in your mandala suggest body movements, and dance your mandala.
  • Share your mandala with a friend, a therapist, or a spiritual director.
  • Create a ritual around your mandala by placing it where it “wants” to be. One woman hung her mandala on the wall in the room where she was getting radiation treatments for cancer. A man put his mandala in the garden to be weathered by the elements. Perhaps your mandala will let you know it is to be burned, buried, or cut up and put together to create a new mandala. Scraps of my old mandalas are buried and becoming rich soil in my special memory garden.

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