Meeting in the middle: Connecting with the power of the mandorla — Workshop

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Meeting in the middle: Connecting with the power of the mandorla — Workshop

A presentation by Dr Jennifer Selig and Dana Swain

Saturday, November 17, 2012 10am - 4.30pm
Venue: The Studio @ Pilgrims’ Retreat, 117 Ruddle Drive, Maleny, Sunshine Coast
Admission: Members & Concession: $85 • Non-members: $110

Please bring a plate for shared lunch.

Jung asserted “the most important of the fundamental instincts” was the “religious instinct for wholeness” (1964/1978, p. 38). He found the symbol for wholeness in the mandala, calling it “the magic circle” and “the modern symbol of order” (p. 20). The mandala “encompasses, protects, and defends the psychic totality against outside influences and seeks to unite inner opposites” (p. 20). The mandala works by ordering chaos, traditionally a masculine principle.

When we place two mandalas together, we come up with the mandorla.

Mandorla is the Italian word for almond, named for the almond-shape created when two circles overlap. The symbol is at least 2000 years old and can be found in cultures from the Ibgo people of West Africa to old Celtic tribes of Europe. In Latin it is vesica piscis, literally meaning “bladder of the fish.” The fish was an ancient symbol of Christ, who inaugurated in the age of Pisces with his birth. In pagan times, the mandorla was associated with the goddess Aphrodite.

The mandorla represents connection, which may also be a religious instinct. It is feminine without excluding the masculine.

In the mandorla, opposites overlap, and opposition dissolves. The mandorla teaches us to move beyond either-or thinking and move instead to find common ground. Mandorlas can inspire us to get creative, to collaborate, to compromise, to be compassionate, and to be conscious and critical of our personal and cultural assumptions and prejudices. Mandorlas allow us to release the rigidity of black and white thinking and instead see where we might be mostly right and partially wrong in those assumptions and prejudices.

This workshop will combine lecture, discussion, and expressive arts to explore the powerful symbol of the mandorla. To register for this seminar, download the registration form.
Please bring your own lunch. Attendance certificates will be issued.
Information (07) 3511 0167 or

Jennifer Leigh Selig, PhD, is chair of the MA/PhD program in Depth Psychology with an emphasis in Jungian and Archetypal Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California ( She is the author of numerous essays and books, including her two most recent books, Reimagining Education: Essays on Reviving the Soul of Learning, and The Soul Does Not Specialize: Revaluing the Humanities and the Polyvalent Imagination.

Dana Swain holds an M.A. in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness and is a movement-based expressive arts facilitator. She has worked with children from Northern Ireland and Angola using an arts-based approach, and has authored several articles on her work. Dana has lived in Africa, South America, and currently resides in Indonesia. She is pursuing her Ph. D. in Depth Psychology at Pacific Graduate Institute, California