What are Mandalas and why are they so magical?

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By Celeste Hawkins

Mandalas date back thousands of years and serve as a visual metaphor for the very essence of life itself. Many ancient cultures have embodied some form of circular design or pattern into their religious or spiritual symbols. These powerful patterns are innumerably related to living organisms within our universe such as; the flower of life, sacred geometry and chakras within the human body. Designs are vast but the mandala (Sanskrit for “circle”) represents the universe and the centre symbolizes perfection. Each mandala contains concentrated creative energy within its various geometric forms.

For example, the maze as religious analogy within Mandalas- symbolises a spiritual journey in the quest for unity with the absolute. Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung identified the mandala as a symbol of the human quest for perfection and is frequently used in psychotherapy as a means of achieving a complete understanding of the self.[i]

Melbourne artist Karen Scott has naturally worked with the Mandala since a young age and has helped thousands of people work through their inner and outer worlds during her guided workshops at Mandala Magic.



Karen Scott


On your website it says: “Through Mandalas we have connected to thousands of people opening and expanding our hearts and inspiring us with the desire to give.” Can you please discuss a bit more about that?

Mandalas have taken me on many journeys – both inward and outward. Sharing the creative process with another is a very special experience and that inspires me….inspires me to give more of my experience and knowledge of this art/life journey that I am on.

Traveling to countries such as Tibet, India, Indonesia, Cambodia and Europe I have seen many incredible mandalas and learned how this art is part of the ‘people and place’ . Life has shown me that we are connected and that we share this world. Art reinforces that belief for me, so we raise funds, work and give what we can to assist and support others in their life journey.



What sorts of people come to classes at the studio and why?

People from all walks of life attend mandala workshops, however the majority are women. Ages vary from 5 years to about 78 and they come to create mandalas for a variety of reasons. Being creative unlocks our potential and mandala art is something that creates an interest in others to try it – to explore. That is the beginning of discovery….


Bali Art Retreat

One of Karen’s workshops- Bali

Do people ever get stuck for ideas-and how would you help draw them out?

There is no limit to creativity. When we get stuck we need to change direction, look elsewhere and open up our possibilities. Creating conversation with the art can help or perhaps sitting quietly and observing, letting the eye move through the piece without judging. Sometimes inspiration may come from another person or images. When we create we are not alone – we have others and our self to support us through blocks.

Some people sit and meditate. Is Mandala making a form of meditation?

If meditation is being centered, if it connects us to the present moment, If it allows us to hear our inner self speak then yes, making mandalas is like meditation.


You have worked with a wide range of people-schools and community groups. Can you think of a group that really stands out?

SO many awesome groups and so many wonderful responses to this art.….

A corporate group of 100 people created mandalas with me as part of a two day seminar. Initially they were reluctant and not very receptive to the idea. Afterwards they were completely moved by the process and gave an overwhelmingly positive feedback.

The work you do-mandalas and mosaics are highly detailed. Do you recall what attracted you to creating such works? Were you seeing these kinds of works as a child or was it more of an intuitive thing?


 My great love when growing up (still is) was always the mini worlds around us – insects, plants and miniature landscapes that are at our feet, seldom noticed and so exquisite have always inspired me. I often say, “It is the little things that make a difference” and perhaps that is why I love detail.

I did not see any mandalas or mosaics as a child that I can recall, however I did come from an art background.

Would you consider yourself to be an art therapist?

I am not a certified art therapist nor do I work in the classical way of an art therapist.

Art therapists attend my classes and I train psychologists to use art (especially mandala and soul Journaling) as part of their practice in helping others to heal. My work with and through the art experience creates connection, empowers and inspires others to feel, to explore, to trust, accept and heal. It is awesome!


Karen Scott runs regular workshops at Mandala Magic

Address: 114 Morris Road, Upwey, Victoria -3158

Email: mandalamagic@iprimus.com.au

Phone: 0409 544 811



  1. [i] Gibson Clare, Signs and Symbols-An Illustrated Guide to Their Meaning and Origins, (Rowayton, CT: Saraband, 1996) 83,147



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