The phrase “Earth Peace Mandala” sounds awfully alterna-hippie. Brings to mind sage, and barefoot dreadlocked dancing, and the sounds of, say, Phish, or the Dead. Which sometimes is great for the worms, and sometimes is great for jokes.
Artist Veronica Ramirez created Earth Peace Mandalas along the route of the Sustainable Living Roadshow. She does indeed bless the circle first with sage, but she does not dance around barefoot, and she’s not necessarily a Phish fan. What she does create is a gathering space, a place for people to connect with something slow and beautiful, and she does it with foliage and flower cuttings she finds in each city.
There’s much about a big ol’ flower soil mandala that’s not designed for transport: at every city a series of about 12 boxes, tubs and bags were unloaded: pinecones, pebbles, corn and a heart-shaped rock make up the basic elements of each mandala. In contrast, most other gear can be characterized bu the EZ-up: designed to be lightweight, transportable, quick to set up and break down. When asked about her gear, Veronica simply says, “It’s a process.”
Which is the essence of mandala-making: the process. Traditional Buddhist mandalas are created with colored sand, following intricate lined patterns marked out on a level surface. The act of manipulating tiny grains of sand into endless and repeating forms is a kind of mediation in and of itself.The lines in such mandalas depict the four directions, significant gods, portions of legends, and symbolic colors.
Ramirez just uses sticks and petals. As she works, folks stop by, tuning out the music and surrounding carnival to help her pluck petals, strip branches, sift grains and spread them into a circular devotion of the planet. It gives a moment to pause and reflect, and to wonder for a moment at natural processes.