Electric Dreams

A View from the Bridge
September 2006

Exploring Mandorla Energy

Jennifer Star

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Star, Jennifer (2006 September). A View from the Bridge. September 2006:
Exploring Mandorla Energy. Electric Dreams 13(9).

Peace Bridge exploration of "mandorla" energy as it relates to peace started soon after I joined the Bridge in July. I had discovered a comment made by Kathy while searching through the 2006 DaFuMu dreaming section on the WDPB website, and I was able to find and correspond with Kathy (and the Bridge). Then for the next several weeks, spurred by the awareness of mandorla energy, numerous posts ensued on the Bridge related to the mandorla. The comments, insights, and relationships to mandorla energy come from a variety of areas such as:
  • Finding and dreaming peace during the escalation of violence in the Middle East
  • Favorite quotations
  • Relationship to the word "duende"
  • Dreaming the mandorla for "work" and "play"
  • Shadow elements in ourselves and the world
  • Examples of mandorla energies in everyday life
  • Working out Bridge issues
Kathy's original comment found on the WDPB website:

From my experience peace lies in the MIDDLE of those opposites (in Midland), for in the MIDDLE I can hold my awareness of BOTH possibilities AT the SAME TIME. When I do that there is peace, as from that position the former opposites transform themselves into something much more useful and something I can practically respond to?aware of the possibilities. My mind is at peace and I can act more fruitfully in this area of my life.

Jennifer's response on July 18th:

Last year I was made aware of the Mandorla (the center almond-shaped area in an ancient symbol of two circles connecting) by way of a friend who was facilitating a peace group. I did quite a bit of research on the mandorla as I have been using mandala imagery for quite a while. In my research I had the epiphany that peace was not the opposite of war, as many people project, but was rather, in the MIDDLE between collaboration and conflict. It has never made sense to me that Peace had an opposite. To me, Peace is a center point, a place of balance. I created a computer image from this epiphany that is attached for you to view. Your comment so fits with what I discovered, and I was happy to know someone else who gets it!

Here are some comments about the Mandorla I found on two websites:

"To step into the Mandorla is to move beyond 'either-or' thinking--even beyond ideas of common ground or compromise--and stand in the tension of opposites long enough for something new to emerge. In the realm of the Mandorla, the whole truly yields something greater than the sum of its parts, opening doors of possibility, discovery, and creativity."

"It demonstrates the principle of 'power with,' rather than 'power over,' and it stands as a signpost on the path of walking between opposites."

"Relational... When any two people come together, possibilities exist for both conflict and collaboration. Holding the idea of a Mandorla in a relationship creates a 'container' strong enough to carry multiple perspectives. Instead of destroying the relationship, difficulties can be transformed into new opportunities for learning, self-expressing, and mutual benefit."
-- Mandorla Resources International
( http://www.mandorla.com/context/what.html)

"The circles symbolize interacting but complementary opposites. The space within the overlap is the place in which we are called to 'remain', the 'liminal space' Richard Rohr speaks of... This is the place where you arrive after you leave one room and have not yet entered another. In this place, you are living on the threshold and this requires faith. All transformation takes place in liminal space."

"The Mandorla, known in both East and West, expresses the standpoint of the mystic. It symbolized for us the tensions of life, the tension of complementary opposites."

To elaborate a little bit more on the history and definition of mandorla, here is an informational piece found at another website:

"The Mandorla, a symbol that is all but unknown today. It was used during the times of medieval Christianity. It is an ancient symbol of two circles coming together, overlapping one another to form an almond shape in the middle. Jensen (1996) describes the Mandorla as similar to the image of two Mandalas (Sanskrit word for circle) merging together until an almond shape is formed in the center. Also known as the 'Vesica Piscis', symbolizing the interactions and interdependence of opposing worlds and forces. The circles may be taken to represent spirit and matter or heaven and earth (Baldock, 1990).

"Mandorla is the Italian word for almond. According to Biedermann (1994), the almond is an ancient symbol for the closing up of valuable contents in a hard, almost impenetrable shell.

"During the medieval times, the almond was interpreted as a symbol of the embryo enclosed in the uterus. The form of the almond which suggests a stylized vulva may have contributed to such an interpretation (Biedermann, 1994). It is also a variant of a halo which surrounds the whole body of the holy person (Bruce-Mitford, 1996).

"According to Fontana (1994), the Mandorla symbolizes power as well as spirituality, and is often appeared around the body of Christ to represent the Ascension (Fontana, 1994)."

July 19, Kathy dives in to utilize the mandorla energy for dealing with and dreaming peace for the Middle East conflict:

I think we need now especially to focus our dreaming minds on the rampant terror in the Middle East:
  • On what is happening in Iraq daily
  • On the terrible new escalation of violence and bombing of people in both Lebanon and Israel
  • On the growing, by media and political means, blaming of Iran
  • On the terrible anger and calls for retaliation
YET all of this has called forward such beautiful responses about peace as well.

Kotaro said:
If my Anger was on the map of Israel or Arab/Muslim, I have to be ashamed of it. I think Anger could be transformed into another kind of energy, much deeper prayers perhaps. I mean Anger is not composed of only negative energy but also positive one too.

I, Kathy, said:
Sadness for the horror of violence.
Sadness for the pain and suffering.
Sadness for the need to retaliate.

AND Jennifer - just at this time sends her most beautiful mandorla of peace.

Can we DaFuMu for peace - perhaps keeping in mind the horror of all those images of death and mutilation and destruction ALONGSIDE of the gentle beautiful thoughts of a "positive anger at it all", of a "call for peace because of it all" of a "sadness because of it all?. IF we can we will be holding our minds in that beautiful Middle that Jennifer has shown in her mandorla-the Middle where there is PEACE. Once we are there we can see more clearly how to act to create peace. Just being there ADDS to the PEACE in the world and perhaps shifts the balance.

Who would like to join in?

July 19, Patricia shares a quote that holds mandorla energy:

Jennifer quotes Kathy: "I can hold my awareness of BOTH possibilities AT the SAME TIME. When I do that there is peace . . . "

This is one of my favorite quotations:

"Papa's deep tolerance made us sense that everything in life might be possible, perhaps even forgivable, but that one must answer largely for oneself, be responsible, and yet not surprised if injustice were done. He intimated further that we should courageously attract that which was possibly impossible, to welcome it. The world consisted of the accessible, real, factual, of all that was limited; but also of all that was created by faith, all that was true and boundless. Only the 'dry-as-dust' rationalist lived and was governed by the first; the romantic and enthusiast by the second. But to combine the two ways, to weave them together with simple decency, that was the aim of the whole man. What made him whole was that he loosely controlled both the possible and impossible, reality and fantasy, the factual and the true, the restricted and the unrestrained, the bounded and the free--offsetting this duality by devoting all his will toward giving them equal play."
--Monika Mann

July 19, Jody supports Kathy's call for DaFuMu dreaming:

I just spent a long time writing to all of you in response to Kathy's call for a Saturday DAFUMU and Jennifer's beautiful evocation of a space in the middle with the mandorla image.

Know I send you all my many thoughts and love and big yes to joining in the space in the middle on Saturday DAFUMU for middle east and all the hottest spots on the planet.

May cooling rains, deep waters of our dreaming refresh our spirits so we may hold the middle space, be the middle space of peace for ourselves and others.

July 20, Anna shows us the relationship between "duende" and mandorla:

Lately the sense of 'duende' is very much with me--that word from spanish music and poetry that speaks of soulfulness, of how the light and dark are mingled; if either is ignored it's to the death of both, day without night, spring without winter--the mandorla seems to picture this in part. So, we have to take in the horror (so easy to 'say' it) and go forward not just FROM but WITH that--with that terrible awareness that in a part of each of us is that capability--and "what are we gonna do about it?" The classic question.

Everything we can from smallest to largest, most inner to most outer. From living peace in daily life to writing, protesting, taking whatever action comes to hand.

The admitting of the horrors is necessary to fuel the action--thus, duende.

My recent wave of this maybe will illustrate. Feeling how much I loved my children; being so strongly aware how I cannot keep them safe, 'make' them happy, and then in that realizing, a taste of freedom--free to give them their lives, and, applicable to this work here, free to do what small things I can do to help their happiness and safety.

July 23, Jennifer has a dream with mandorla energy, finding a "peaceful" balance between "work" and "play"

I had a very interesting dream this morning that had much anger in it, which is unusual for me in my dream time and awake time. When I look at the dream in relation to the intention of dreaming peace in the Middle East it makes some sense for me. I haven't processed this dream fully yet as I only get a vague feeling of the meaning. Actually, I am having a difficult time working with it and getting anything down in writing. I welcome any comments. Here is the dream...

I am at Matt's (a building contractor, and bookkeeping client of mine) home. He and many other people are there. Feels like a party, but Matt is at his desk trying to figure something out with regards to his business and finances. He keeps getting distracted by all the people that are there and they seem to not care if they are bothering him. Since I am his bookkeeper I try to help out, but the crowd of people is also bothering me. I take a stack of paperwork and leave to go to my office to get away from everyone. When I get to the office, which is a building owned by Matt, there are two couples--male/female--also just arriving there and they seem to be interested in kayaks that are hanging from the rafters of the open-sided building (reminds me of buildings in Hawaii). I ask them to please leave now as I need to work. They do not respond and continue to look around. I seem to be focused on the women as I get angry at the lack of response and rudeness. I make several attempts to explain why they must leave but they continue to not respond. Now I am very angry, fuming in fact, and don't know what to do.

So, I go to the computer and turn it on, then notice that a cable has been disconnected from the computer. I know that someone in the group of couples has done this. Even angrier now, I take the loose cable and begin swatting at one of the women, hitting her in the face and ranting at her at the same time. The violence finally ends and I reconnect the cable to the computer and it turns on in the way it is supposed to. When images come up on the screen, one of them is the American flag.

Now there is a new woman there, someone I know, (in the dream only) and the couples have asked her to take a picture of them. I think, "what next?" and feel very frustrated at the whole situation. I am now feeling ashamed of my behavior, anger, and violence and begin thinking about how I can approach the situation in a way that the couples will respond to my request that they leave since the anger and violence did not work. EOD

July 23, Rita H. responds to Jennifer's mandorla dream with her dream wisdom:

Here go some of my thoughts if it were my dream:

There seems to be conflict between work and playtime? In the first scene Matt is trying to work and there is a group of people partying around him who do not let him do his work. Then the dreamself tries to find a place to do work and again there are two couples who are interested in kayaking?

Maybe there is too much work being done and not enough playtime? The disconnection of the cable from the computer may even be sabotage activity to get me to stop working and have some fun with a physical activity?

When the cable is reconnected the American flag appears which makes me think of American conditioned values of productivity? Then a new female character appears who is interested in photography/ a creative outlet? And the dreamself is just not getting the message:))and keeps getting more upset. At the end of the dream the dreamself is trying to reframe the requests in a more pacific way but does not seem to get the message from all these throngs of people in her who want more fun, play, creativity and physical activity?

July 24, Anna adds her thoughts to Jennifer's dream:

A small thought following on Rita's thoughts about your dream. You say that the anger felt through it is unusual for you in dreaming or waking life. One understanding I have of anger is that it arises when energy is thwarted? it's NOT the uprising energy itself, but a response to its frustration. How else do we all feel but helpless, powerless, frustrated, and furious at times in the face of horrors we feel but feel also unable to change?

I wonder if maybe that wise Dreaming Self was sending the message that Play might be the way to get the Work done? There were couples interfering with the work (real people interfering with money management?). Perhaps a sense that it is in partnership that we best battle the disconnection that is War? You mentioned particularly that the couples were m/f, which might be read as alliance of polar energies? They were very interested in kayaks?I think of water energies as exactly what the sharpness of war is NOT. In a 'particle' universe we are separate, in a 'wave' universe the flow surrounds and connects us all, and a kayak is a vehicle in which we are most allied to the waves, as we manage its motion by shifts in out own hips!

These are just ideas though of course! It is a rich dream and I won't have your own resonances with it. Maybe at least my guesses might give you something to say yes! or No! to in exploring it.

Thank you for sending. Though I know I cannot read 'your' dream, it surely does connect to images of my own and ripple out. I am convinced, for instance, that the way to counter war is with what's been called "an army of lovers". To powerfully nourish what is good in the nascent culture we want, more than lop off what is rotten.

July 24, Jennifer interprets her dream, helped by Rita's (and Anna's) wisdom:

Thank you deeply for your uncanny sense of the deeper levels of my dreamself. What you say makes sense to me. These are the thoughts I've had in reviewing the dream as a personal work/play dream:

Matt is a fun-loving man, one who does take time out to play with his buddies and his young teen children. It was odd that he was having a party but not participating.

I, on the other hand, have a serious problem with being too serious and not playing enough. I have a hard time simply thinking of things to do that I think would be fun.

I also think the element of him being a building contractor is an indication that I need to build on a foundation of fun in order to move forward in a healthy way.

The couples and the kayaks: I really enjoy kayaking and the last time I did was with Craig in Hawaii two years ago for our 10th anniversary vacation. We had so much fun kayaking and snorkeling in the ocean! And we kayaked in a tandem kayak. Since my attention and anger was directed at the women, I can see how that is my own anger at my lack of being able to pursue more fun, and I am beating myself up about it.

The disconnected computer cable: I spend a lot of my time working at the computer. Sometimes I have a hard time tearing myself away from it to do something outside or creative. But I also love to work on the computer and carry out many creative projects there as well as work. Double edged sword...

The woman taking photos: Just like Craig and I did in Hawaii, we had someone take pictures of the two of us together, having fun. Interestingly enough, I just visited my father and his wife on Thursday last week and the one thing I noticed strongly was how my dad's wife took away little ways of his having fun, shooshing him and nudging him in his side. I realize now that my awareness of that is because I am in need of having fun and not shooshing myself.

July 26, Jennifer talks about embracing shadow elements:

In working with shadow elements in my life, those aspects I don't want to look at and hide away, I have found that they simply want to be acknowledged and honored for their contribution. When they are shunned and thrown out they will arise in my life in such a way I have to notice them, but often in a destructive manner, like a child throwing a temper tantrum. When I acknowledge the shadow, embrace it and love it, then a balance is achieved and the intensity of its presence calms. I know that there are some really big shadows in our world right now, and I am doing my best to love them just as I love the beauty of an undisturbed natural place or the smile of a happy child. It is the mandorla energy, the merging of opposites that helps us find that central place of peace seen.

August 1, Jennifer shares a poem:


Mystic space
Union of opposites
Living on the threshold
Standing in the tension of possibility,
discovery, creativity, transformation
A container strong enough to carry many
A signpost on the path of walking between opposites

Mandorlas in Daily Life...

Ponder on the 'feeling' of magic during these in-between times

' Dawn/Dusk - neither day or night
' Birth/Labor - neither pregnant or mother
' Twilight Sleep - neither asleep or awake

What other mandorla times
can you think of?

Jennifer Star
Summer Solstice 2005

August 2, Anna responds to the question in Jennifer's poem:

'What other mandorla times can you think of?'

Well...there is the obvious! When two are making love, neither one nor the other--autonomy/communion in action!

All the Rites of Passage really--between the veils as one dies, partaking of both realms; between child and adult.

I think mandorla is the exact human condition really. The chinese say, "between Heaven and Earth." There is power and beauty in accepting the limits of our embodiedness, as a river runs stronger between firm banks.

The moment of coming to an agreement in a fight--when the smaller tow of each participant is seen to partake also of the larger whole that serves both.

The moment of being highest on a swing--just as you begin the downward swoop.

The moment when the inspiration of a poem takes flesh--loses potential, gains actuality.

That sense of knowing that the past and future are one with me in this moment.

What is called an "ecotone," that rich region where ecologies meet. I did research on the intertidal zone long ago as a naturalist--wet, dry, sand, ocean, full.

The experience that the practicing of scales lets one riff free-er.

On and on...

Mandorla, duende - it is one of the essential notions. If we can embody this we can make peace.

August 2, Rita H. offers her wisdom:

I am reminded of not too long ago when I was having a difficult time assimilating the difficult political information and wanted more dreams on the bridge and I had that powerful collective dream of the Bridge that reflected that all was well on the dream bridge, it was thriving, growing and changing, and bringing in information about the inner and outer world and that I needed to take care of myself as I was in the process of grieving. That I could not return the Bridge to the first year of its life, when all of us were actively involved in the inner dreaming world and sharing our personal lives in depth and artistic expressions to come to terms with the 9/11th tragedy. That the Bridge has a life of its own, a river that flows in and out affected by all the participants at each moment in time. That what was important is that we each speak our truth and pay attention to what we can and let go of what does not resonate with us at the moment or we can't handle. Yet also express those opinions to the group so conversation is generated that acknowledges differences and we find a collective way. That the Bridge represents true freedom of speech and is able to handle a large diversity of opinions and grows in the process as an individual separate entity as we grow individually by participating in what we want to participate in and being the truth of who we are. I remember from my complaints and dreaming at the time, a vivid conversation ensued, like this one, and more dreams started flowing into the bridge. And I enjoyed that.

So let each of us continue expressing exactly what and who we are--moment to moment--bringing in our diverse opinions and allowing the Bridge to hold it all, as a sacred container, the way Jean envisioned it when she created it. And let each of us remember self care which is affected by who we are individually, what we love and prefer, what we can handle and not handle, participating in what we love and also giving ourselves the permission to take hiatuses from it as many of us have done, over and over, gone away and come back to this rich river of conversations that nourishes the world and nourishes us all.

And the Mandorla is exactly about that, is it not, holding the tension of opposites and creating a new shape and form in the process?

August 2, Anna shares an example of mandorla energy in response to Victoria's nickname, "Mermaid":

I grew up on Mermaid Lane and have always felt very connected to her (a mermaid). And have to say, isn't she exactly a mandorla?!

August 4, Anna responds to a post by Jennifer asking for introductions from Peace Bridge members, and talks about the difference between "fighting" and "hating":

...it's most natural to get to know one another in process,...a true flow. I'll share a few things it calls up for me, as part of the process of our knowing. One I feel strongly about is that for me, there's a big distinction between fighting and hating! Maybe it is our definition of 'fight' that is different though? You see this here on the Bridge--there are true, deep disagreements, and strongly stated at times. This joins us, I believe, rather than separating as hate does. To 'fight' as I'm using it, is to truly see the other as real--exactly as real as oneself--and holding some of that universal truth we all strive for. Thus I long for engagement with them! Hatred though turns the other into less than, nothing, flat, something only to be squashed so that my way can prevail. A fight can be hard--it calls for deep trust, trust that there IS that larger container holding both views. I guess my sense is that while we are all One, we are also each unique so that even when we are most connected, there will be difference. Best to explore and celebrate it than deny. Actually, I think you surely know this very well, as it is you who has brought us the mandorla!

August 5, Rita H. shares where she first learned about the mandorla:

I finally found the book of Robert A. Johnson where he addressed the Mandorla at length and where I first read about it. The name of the book is "Owning Your Own Shadow"...

I hope you have enjoyed this journey into the liminal space of the mandorla. If you would like to join us in discussion, just send a post to worlddreams-subscribe@yahoogroups.com