Banner Elk, NC
May Mandala Or Fertility
Drawing - Mixed Media On Illustration Board
May is not only Mother’s Day and May Day, which is a traditional holiday celebrating the spring, but it is also the month of my own birth. As such, I wanted to make a mandala having to do with fertility and birth. I use flowers because they are a symbol of life and the spring and also traditional May Day and Mother’s Day gifts. I focused on the whole cycle of birth, life, and death of the flower, for seeds are both their end and their beginning. Some flowers also turn into fruits or vegetables that carry their seeds.
May is a key month in the planting season and thus its weather a key determiner in the year’s harvest. That is why the center of the piece is a raindrop surrounded by tiny sprouts. Raindrops also fall onto the black ‘soil,’ dark soil being an indicator of fertility, in other areas of the image.
Inside the raindrop is a May Pole, which is part of May Day, a pagan ceremony that has come celebrate nature, the coming of spring, and also family and community in many cultures. It is also a phallic symbol and in some cultures connotes sexual union and thus birth and life. The raindrop fits inside the paisley shape, which is filled with the pattern of irises and lily leaves and surrounded by bulbs and corms, which are a type of ‘seed’ used by many flowers to proliferate. The paisley shape is adapted from the mango, which is often associated with fertility. The shape of the cornucopia is also an adaptation of the paisley shape, and in the cradle-like curled tip of the cornucopia I drew a red symbol called the ‘Seed of Life.’ Seeds are like eggs in essence, as they are both the start and the end of a life cycle. Butted together like this, the tips of the cornucopias appear both like horns, a symbol of male virility, and female reproductive system, nurturing the seeds of life in its womb. Just below, branching antlers mimic the branching roots of sprouted seeds mirrored on the opposite side of the piece. Antlers, like horns, are a symbol of virility as well as the coming of spring. Bunny rabbits and snakes, among many others not mentioned, are other animals associated with fertility and proliferation. Their eggs and babies can also be spotted nearby.
Inside the cornucopias there are of course eggs, apples, pomegranates, peaches, and figs, which are all symbols of fertility in many cultures. The flowers I chose to place in the bouquet each represent something specific. In the far corners of the piece, I included the dandelion because not only is it one of the first plants to be seen in the spring, but also because of it’s fascinating seed formation and extremely prolific nature. The shape inside the dandelions is a symbol for the lotus flower, a flower associated with birth, life, love, and numerous other similar ideas across numerous cultures. I also added lotus seedpods, which resemble watering can heads, and another small red seed cluster, which represents the seed formation of many plants and fruits. The lily of the valley is the month of May’s flower and a symbol of purity, spring, and life in pagan mythology. It is also one of my favorite flowers for it’s sweet smell and it’s shared birthday with myself. The jack-in-the pulpit and the trillium, or birthroot, are both plants native to areas I have lived in my whole life and also usually arrive in May. The jack-in-the-pulpit is also very symbolic in the phallic nature of its spathe, while the trillium’s trinity of leaves and petals connotes the ancient concept of family and of procreation, as it takes three to make a family unit. Sheafs of wheat are yet another almost universal symbol of fertility, as is rice, which I did not include, and the ribbon binding it ties this area into the May Pole theme. The bleeding heart is another May-flowering plant in my area. While drawing them upside-down I noticed that the flowers looked like dancing ladies! The kokopelli figure, or flute-playing figure, is a fertility deity. He hops along the tops of the dancing ladies, maestro of birth, life, and the spring and fall harvests.
December 29th, 2011
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