The Mandorla Through History
This age-old symbol appears in the images and mythos of cultures around the world, from the Igbo people of West Africa to old Celtic tribes of Europe. Ancient renderings of the shape represented the mysterious Feminine aspect of life as a sacred womb, a portal between the realm of spirit and the realm of matter through which all life passes into this world.
One of the most famous images of the Mandorla, also known as the vesica piscis, is found on the legendary Chalice Well in Glastonbury, England. Early Christians understood the meaning and power of the symbol as representing the coming together of Heaven and Earth and used it to make themselves known to each other. One person would trace a curved line or circle on a wall or the ground, and another would follow with another circle or line, overlapping the first to form a Mandorla. This stylized almond, or fish, shape carried a hidden message for those who wanted to communicate about a new kind of spirituality.
Later on, medieval artists and architects used the Mandorla as a halo to illustrate the union of Spirit and body in such figures as Christ, the Virgin Mary, and other holy ones. These artists and architects greatly honored aspects of the Sacred Feminine, picturing Mary in the Mandorla as often as her son, Jesus. (Glossary of Gothic Architecture)
We acknowledge the power of this Christian message and, at the same time, we honor the overlap - the Mandorla - between Christianity and other expressions of spirituality. As a symbol of unity and a "container" for conflict and creation, the Mandorla holds the space for spirit to express, grow and flourish in multiple cultural contexts.
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Mandorla Resources International
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