Celtic Tree of Life Mandala

©2010 Amy Livingstone

“Celtic Tree of Life Mandala” for Mary M.

When I met with Mary, she said “When I look at my mandala I want to feel JOY.” Gratitude for life right here, right now in this present moment. As a pagan, shamanic healer, and lover of trees, and with her roots in the Celtic tradition, the Tree of Life and the Triple Spiral called to me for the center of this mandala. The ancient Celts envisioned the cosmos in form of a great tree—the roots deep in the earth and branches stretched to the heavens. The Celtic Tree of Life is the symbol of balance between these worlds; the unification of above and below. Spirit and Earth. It is a sacred symbol of balance and harmony. Within the center and in the larger mandala, the night/dark/new moon and the day/light/sun represents the balance between the masculine and feminine which she is learning to balance through her recovery from cancer.

The number three, as in the shamrock and triple spiral, is significant for Mary, so the three half-circles surround the center mandala represent that number. Within these shapes lie a world of magical creatures that inhabit our world. Often they are too small to see at a passing glance, like a slug or lady bug, but when we slow down and come more fully into the present moment, we are able to appreciate the miracle of all living things and find joy and gratitude in the moment. The hummingbird, butterfly, and dragonfly are symbolic of transformation, beauty, and love. The red flowers are impatiens which are symbolic of “motherly love” which I discovered after being called to paint them when a hummingbird visited these flowers outside my studio door. Synchronicity, spirit guiding my hand. They are reflections of Mary—with her enormous love for your family, community, Mother Earth, and the women she supports in recovery.

The cat—and cougar who curled up with her in the sweat lodge—sleeps quietly as a reminder of her spirit guides. Finally, she spoke of the power of herbs and the importance of rosemary. Framing the mandala are sprigs of rosemary to guide and support Mary on her journey of healing and JOY!

I feel honored and great joy to create these personal, soul-symbol mandalas for others on their journey. When I am immersed in the process of creation, I feel the spirit of the Creator working through me and am enormously blessed to be a vessel in which to birth each of them into the world. For more information about soul-symbol mandalas, please contact me through my web site at www.sacredartstudio.net or call 503.239.9671.

Upcoming workshop on May 1

Co-creating with the 4 Elements

A special day for women seeking to explore the connection
between nature, spirituality, and creativity

Date and Time: Saturday, May 1st • 9:30am—5:00pm
Cost: $80 (includes art supplies & light lunch)

Nourish your soul with a day where you can slow down and enter into a sanctuary of contemplation and creativity. Drawing inspiration from the natural world and the four elements of earth/air/fire/water, we will explore the inter-relationship of these elemental energies within the cycles of the seasons and the four stages of a woman’s life. Learn how remembering the ancient wisdom of our ancestors can deepen your connection to the natural world, open new pathways for experiencing your place within the web of life, and inspire your own creativity. Earth, or Gaia, will be our muse for the day as we journey around the wheel of creation and co-create in sacred circle.

Drawing from the earth-honoring traditions and the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the day will include group sharing, play, meditation, contemplative practices, and the creative process. Take away practices that can guide you on your soul path and provide meaningful ways for you to restore your spirit throughout the year.

To register contact me at Sacred Art Studio
amy[AT]sacredartstudio.net or 503.239.9671
www.sacredartstudio.net

Directions and what to bring will be provided upon registration.
Space is limited.

Reverence and Art as Prayer



I haven’t posted here in over a month. Hard to believe that much time has passed but we must surrender when the muse takes over and a deadline emerges! A synchronicity occurred where I was given the opportunity to show my paintings during the month of September, so the world dropped away as I immersed myself in the universal flow of creative energy in order to finish two large paintings. One of these is “The Annunciation.” shown here. It’s large, 4 x 4′ so she is so more beautiful and luminous in person, if you get the opportunity.

The Archangel Gabriel appears throughout the sacred texts in the Abrahamic tradition. To announce the birth of St. John the Baptist to Zechariah; to announce the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary; and finally, appearing to the Prophet Mohammed to reveal the Quran in the Islamic tradition. All these announced the birth of a new era in history. Here, I take this theme of annunciation to symbolize the birth of an emerging consciousness that is occurring around the globe, which is grounded in the recognition of our innate interconnectedness in the web of creation. The angel is depicted as female, or Gabriella, representative of the sacred feminine.

The show is up until the end of the month at the Doll Gardner Gallery inside the West Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Sanctuary. I’m showing with another sacred artist, Robin Urton, shown with me in the above photo, who does beautiful paintings on plexiglass. From our invitation:

Synchronicity brought Robin Urton and Amy Livingstone together, leading to an awareness of a shared artistic vision rooted in reverence for the earth. Drawing inspiration from a combination of personal reverie, sacred mythologies, and the world’s spiritual traditions, this exhibit reflects the sensibility of creating art as a sacred act. The intention of the work is to awaken hearts to beauty and the divine presence woven throughout the fabric of everyday life.

During my days and nights in the sanctuary of my studio, I thought a lot about prayer as my work is a form of meditation imbued with a sacred intention and an intense focus which I bring to the process–much like that of Tibetan monks who create elaborate sand mandalas. Part of this inquiry was prompted by my listening to a podcast with Krista Tippett on Speaking of Faith. In the past, prayer always entailed bargaining with an invisible omnipotent God and for nearly two decades, I had a strong aversion to the word itself. Twenty years ago, I prayed to God to save my brother who was diagnosed with AIDS. My prayers went unanswered and my brother died two years later. Being a lapsed Protestant, I figured why would “He” answer my prayers? When my mother died nine months later, I decided then there was no God otherwise how could God allow so much suffering. I was young at the time and didn’t have the wisdom to understand that suffering is a part of life, too. It wasn’t until I discovered Buddhism in the wake of these losses that I found some comfort around this truth. This didn’t prevent me from grieving for a very long period but those where also transformative years. Deep reflection and questioning of life’s greater mysteries. Why am I here? What is my purpose? What is the meaning of life? It was the beginning of my spiritual awakening and a shift in perspective that continues to inform my life.

What I have discovered and what the Speaking of Faith guests also affirmed for me was that prayer doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to a deity. Of course, it can be if that is part of a religious tradition such as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc. I find it beautiful that in Islam, Muslims stop what they are doing, turn towards Mecca, and pray to Allah (God) five times a day. For me, there is a deep sense of reverence imbued into everyday life in this practice. This is similar to the indigenous peoples of Peru, who ask permission and make an offering to the Apus (mountain spirits) or Pachamama (Mother Earth) before any endeavor to show reverence and respect. So I have reclaimed the word prayer for myself through the sacred act of creating art. Silence, stillness, contemplation, the paintbrush gliding along the canvas, gratitude for the gift that has been bestowed upon me in this life. All acts of prayer, praise. My offering to the healing of our hearts and our world. Our world is moving so fast and I do strongly believe that one of the most radical things we can do is to simply slow down. To be more present to life, to each other, and to the natural world. Awaken to beauty, the sacred. We don’t need to wait until we lose someone we love or face an illness to have a shift in perspective, we can choose gratitude—right here, right now. Caroline Myss has a wonderful video clip on this. Living in Gratitude. Reverence. Gratitude. Praise. Prayer. Art as prayer.
May all beings know peace. Aho.