MANDALAS IN THE SKY: FLYING SAUCER SYMBOLISM AND EMERGING MYTHOLOGY - A Little Bit of Symbols: An Introduction to Symbolism - Henry Reed

A Little Bit of Symbols: An Introduction to Symbolism - Henry Reed (2016)


There is more to a story than simply a cast of characters and their personalities. There’s a plot. In a story, the status quo experiences something that creates a challenge. The situation enters a state of flux, of change, of development. At some point, there is an integration of the challenge and a restoration of harmony in a new, evolved arrangement. Things are not as they were before. Soon the cycle will repeat.

The story told by humanity’s symbols begins with a circle. It’s an empty circle. It’s a snake biting its tail. The breaking of the circle begins the cycle of creation. Duality drives the creative impulse, just as the vibration of electricity drives lightning. The story begins. The four directions create the opportunities and alternative starting points. As we travel around the circle, we accumulate experience and wisdom.

The source of this circulation of energy, originally expressed in the swastika symbol, is the Great Mystery, the Creator, or God. As creation evolves, gradually, the swastika moves from four arms to twelve and revolves around a center. The tree of life, with its many branches, expresses the completion of the lush physical creation. As life moves on, the mystery evolves. Mirror symbolism, such as the round pond into which Narcissus saw his beloved, continues the circle theme but in a new way. To say that God is within is not an unusual declaration, especially for those who’ve had mystical or spiritual experiences.

When we arrive at where we began, full circle, we understand the journey in a new way. Sleepwalking becomes mindful flow. Reflex becomes choice. Instinct becomes wisdom. Slaves become stewards. Creatures become cocreators. How does symbolism express this maturity of the mystery of the “I am” within?

Let’s say we’ve “been around the block” and have visited the four corners of life, so to speak. We’ve integrated the medicines (lessons) from each area of life. Borrowing from the Lakota vision of the “four quarters” described in Seven Arrows, we will gain from the north, wisdom—what animal would represent the wisdom obtained in life? To the west is introspection—what animal might represent how introspection operates in one’s life? To the south is innocence—what animal best resembles one’s use of this mode of consciousness? Finally, to the east is illumination—what animal carries that medicine? Having answered these questions, imagine a circle with an image of each of those four animals, arranged with north at the top. The result would be a personal “mandala,” a sacred “circle” that embraces the wholeness of the various parts.

Tibetan monks slowly create a mandala with colored sand. The mandala depicts a town with four gates. The design of the town reflects heaven, bringing heaven to Earth in a way that is complete. Opposites play with one another in this enactment. Although YouTube records it for posterity, the monks actually destroy the mandala once it’s finished. The sense of permanence and perfection is then opposed by its fragile brevity as the monks sweep it away.

Today, mandala coloring books abound. The designs are pleasant to contemplate. It’s peaceful to make them. For one seven-year period, I created and shared an Internet blog The Daily Mandala. In 2,556 different examples, it was my way of saying every morning, “The God in me waves to the God in you!”

What’s going on with these mandalas?

Once again, we have to thank that most curious of persons, Carl Jung, who brought the world’s attention to mandalas and made them quite popular. He would say that the mandala is the “Objective Psyche” speaking. It is saying, perhaps, something like, “Here the Infinite I am enjoys a mirror of momentary manifestation thanks to this specific example of being—may we continue to evolve our awareness of one another.” To go from the empty circle to the mandala is a journey in consciousness.

In a very illuminating story, Dr. Jung described the evolution of the mandala imagery in the dreams of a person going through psychoanalysis with another psychiatrist. The first appearance of the mandala symbol was that the dreamer put on a hat. The round shape of the hat and its relationship to a crown gave the hat its mandala quality. Other round things observed in later dreams were a coin and a ball. The mandala has a center, a focus, and radiates from there, such as in the person’s dream of a flower, a fountain, and a shooting star. There is often the suggestion of rotation, or going around a circle, as in the patient’s dream of a clock and of a circle dance. Finally, mandala imagery has reference to four or square, as in a dream of a tree in the center of a square garden, and of four people sitting at a round table.

The mandala is a symbol of getting it all together through the integration of the opposites. It is a soul print upon the human mind of the universal source of our design, uniquely expressed in an individual life. The ancient mystery of “squaring the circle” pertains to the task of bringing the boundless Heaven to Earth in its bounded four quarters. How might one create, with the sacred geometer’s compass and ruler, a square that matches a circle’s exact area? The impossibility of this task mirrored to Pythagoreans a spiritual truth: It is not possible to manifest in the four quarters of a lifetime the full scope of the immortal soul.

Today’s fascination with mandalas is some proof of the symbol’s continuing vitality. Dr. Jung saw yet another dimension to the mandala, based upon the public’s fascination with flying saucers. When flying saucers came to wide public attention during the 1950s, Dr. Jung noted that whether or not physical evidence confirmed their existence, it was clear that folks wanted to believe in flying saucers. To him, this psychological reality had spiritual implications of an emerging new mythology.

The exciting, stimulating, inspiring fantasy that one day flying saucers might land and introduce us to a new super being may be a thin disguise for an emerging new religion. The evolving myth has God transforming from an Old Man in the Sky to something alive within our hearts and minds. The intelligence that created the universe has also designed the mind that can perceive the creation and, ultimately, the Creator. Consciousness is fulfilling its role by evolving to recognize its ultimate Source. The mandala sighs, “Ah, so!”


It’s a whole wide world.

God’s autograph in nature

An expression of presence

Everything is in order.


A higher intelligence reveals itself.

Finding our way to the center

A spiritual view of all that is

A mirror of the creative forces