Mandala Magic Alignment 202021


Fertility symbols are seasonal, representing dying and awakening nature. Mother Earth rises as a young goddess in all her splendour in the spring and becomes an old hag in the fall …

– Marija Gimbutas

Hairst Basket

Basketry is an ancient art in all cultures and alongside pottery and weaving is closely associated with the work of the hearth and home.

Useful throughout the year, a basket is especially brought to mind here at Lughnasadh as a receptacle for the grain harvest which is well underway in the pastoral world.

As a container, it holds many mandala-like qualities – each is unique and carries the signature or essence of the maker within.

It is for this reason that I have offered the invitation to create a Hairst Basket as the foundation for the symbolic mandala of Lughnasadh.

In problematic times like those we’re experiencing in 2021, I’m also looking for soothing ways to work in my journal and there is certainly a beneficial aspect to working in a creative, repetitive motion as we would when engaged in hand-made basketry, pottery and weaving. In fact, in times not long gone in Scotland, basketry was regularly offered as occupational therapy for some hospital patients.

Replicating this movement on the page can also bring some of the benefits to the fore and you can adapt the idea to create your personal basket-weave on the page.

Archaeologists and historians have gathered plenty of evidence to suggest the harvest festivals of Old Europe were closely linked to the feminine and prior to the development of the scythe, the gathering of the harvest would also have been undertaken by women using a sickle, as it still is in many areas across the world today without access to heavy machinery .

In Scotland, Bride and the Cailleach are present in the stories and traditions once again, with rituals surrounding the festivals including customary sexual promiscuity, likely harking back to ancient fertility nuptials ‘designed to propitiate and placate the female spirits or deities who preside over the growth and yield of the crops.’1

At the centre of this mandala, I’ve invited in the ancient female figurine as a representation of this connection, understanding that our dominant culture has a damaged relationship with the feminine, the body and the land.

Putting this figure right at the core of the Hairst Basket, I hope to reconnect with the old ways once more and make a symbolic offering to the Ancestors right there on the page. A move to repair some of the damage, in one very small way.

No matter where we live or where our origins lie, we can find evidence of similar art and crafts, stories and traditions, rituals and ceremonies linked to the honouring of this stage in the natural lifecycle.

It is to be found in the moment, in the personal, in the culture and beyond : it is not lost, though it may be difficult to find at first glance.

The land, the language, the place names, the arts, crafts, poetry, stories, myths and songs all retain clues for us to reclaim this rightful understanding of how we might be in this place and time.

What symbols might you use to represent your experience of the same?



1: A Midsummer Eve’s Dream, A.D Hope, 1970


Gouache Gild

Gather Your Supplies

Here are the supplies I used in the demonstration, but please translate the exercise to use the materials you already have – there’s no requirement to stick to the same.

The basics you need to follow along are a sheet of paper, a compass and a pencil and some pencils, pens or paints to colour with.


  • Moleskine A4 watercolour journal
  • Ecobra Universal Master Bow Compass
  • Prismacolor Col-Erase Terra Cotta 20053
  • Prismacolor Col-Erase Carmine Red 20045
  • Linex 1217 T circles template 
  • Derwent black art eraser
  • Polyvine Meatal Leaf size acrylic adhesive
  • Nuvo gilding flakes, radiant gold
  • Mod Podge 21/4 in Gold Taklon Bristles brush applicator
  • Holbein Gouache : G529 naples yellow ; G601 raw sienna
  • Winsor + Newton Gouache flesh tint
  • Jackson’s studio synthetic round brush size 6 + 3
  • Daler Rowney round brush size 2
  • round brush size 10 (unknown brand)
    Westray Wifie

    Basket Weave Technique

    This video is 04:11 mins duration + supported by closed captions in English.
    Click on the CC button on the bottom right of the screen to toggle on/off.

    Step 1: Hairst Basket Construction

    This video is 03:47 mins duration + supported by closed captions in English.
    Click on the CC button on the bottom right of the screen to toggle on/off.

    Step 2: Hairst Basket Colouring

    This video is 03:38 mins duration + supported by closed captions in English.
    Click on the CC button on the bottom right of the screen to toggle on/off.

    Basket Weave

    PROMPTS : Hairst Basket

     STEP ONE : Hairst Basket Construction

    The basis for this mandala is the construction of a basket, using a basket weave technique as an external border. The centrepiece of the mandala is dedicated to the female body, represented by the prehistoric figurine.

    The design is therefore initially constructed from a series of concentric circles. The number you choose is dependent on your personal design preferences.

    If you wish to create a mandala that looks like mine, you might follow the directions below;

    • Draw one circle to contain the central figure, then another just a little outside of it, upon which to later add some small circles as a design feature.
    • Outside of these, draw another 4 concentric circles, making sure they are evenly spaced.
    • Next, divide your mandala into a grid, either using your compasses, or freehand like I have done. Make sure to end up with an even amount of dividing lines.
    • This will result in a series of almost-square boxes in between the external 4 concentric rings.
    • On each of the intersection points in these spaces, draw small, evenly sized and spaced circles. These will form the guidelines for your basket weave.
    • Begin in the external ring and moving in one direction only, draw a series of alternating pairs of horizontal and vertical lines in each of the grid boxes, on the inside of the small guide circles, until it is complete.
    • This replicates the over/under pattern of a plain weave and provides a criss-cross effect.
    • Move to the ring underneath and repeat, making sure to work in the opposite direction to the ring above i.e. if the square above contains a pair of horizontal lines, be sure to draw in a pair of vertical lines and vice versa.
    • Complete the third ring in the same manner, being sure to once again choose the opposite direction to the ring above.
    • Now it’s time to connect your ‘ribbons’ together at the top and bottom of each section.
    • Use a curve to work around and inside the guiding circles, connecting the left hand vertical line in one of the top squares to the right hand line of the next vertical line.
    • Connect the right hand vertical line to the left hand vertical line of the next square by curving up and over the small guide circle.
    • Repeat for the bottom section, moving between top and bottom so the ribbon of the weave is a continuous loop that moves in a zig zag pattern over and under the ‘warp’ ribbons that form the spaces between each of the concentric rings.

    Add in any other decorative elements or symbols in the central sections of your mandala.

    What symbols speak to you of this ripening time?

    What themes do you wish to represent in your basket?

    What speaks to you of the embodiment of this stage in the solar cycle?

    How does it relate to your personal circumstance or that of the world as you experience it in these times?

    If you would also like to include a representation of the feminine, what symbols of this are prominent in your traditions and geography? (perhaps visit my old Shape the Cosmos Pinterest board for inspiration?)

    Is there a history of archaeological finds or other symbolism that has a more direct connection for you that you can incorporate?

    e.g. you might have an artefact handed down through your family, or a photograph of a relative who embodied the feminine that you can include in the centre of your mandala.

    STEP TWO : Hairst Basket Colouring

    Colour your mandala as you see fit.

    Bear in mind the themes of Lughnasadh and if your spread is opposite your Treasure Star, like mine is, consider a continuation of the same materials and colour palette to tie in this symbolic mandala to your previous work.

    At this stage in the cycle, you are likely feeling more comfortable with a particular style of work. Build that in, or challenge yourself to something new.

    This is your journal, your cycle and your decision : make this piece your own.

    I chose not to add in any additional journaling as I’ve spent quite a bit of time journaling during the previous exercises for this module. If you wish to add in journaling to your design, the same goes – find out what works for you and build it in to your design!

    Basketed Wifie
    Hairst Basket Whole

    Module 6 : Lughnasadh