Spinning Off Kilter – A Mandala

Spinning Off Kilter © 2016 Bo Mackison

Spinning Off Kilter © 2016 Bo Mackison

Kilter. A variation of the English word kelter, originating in the 1600s, which means order or alignment.

Off kilter. Out of balance or alignment.

Spinning off kilter, along for a wild ride. There is chaos in the out-of-balance and there is harmony, too.


Blessed Be the Night People – A Mandala

© 2016 Bo Mackison

Blessed Be the Night People © 2016 Bo Mackison

A mandala for insomniacs.

Blessed be the night
people, awake and listening
to starsong by moonlight.

Shine A Light


Working on my soon-to-be-offered workshop.

I’m practicing shining a light into the shadows.


Mandala as Container – The Present

Nesting © 2016 Bo Mackison

Nesting © 2016 Bo Mackison

I went on a solo writing retreat at the Christine Center in the Northwoods of Wisconsin for a few days. While there, I spent much time not writing, but instead creating personal art. I worked in the studio in conversation with other women led by Gabriel Uhlein OFM, artist and workshop facilitator. I’d intended to use my time in the mandala studio as a break from writing. Instead, allowing for and following the creative call, I spent many hours each day creating mandalas.

Following Gabriel’s suggestion, I spent studio time before beginning, naming an intention. And the intention that showed up? “Creative Path”

I did a series of 5 mandalas allowing for “whatever” to come forth. When I returned home, I paired the mandalas with Desert Wisdom Cards, then reflected on a different question for five consecutive days. I followed this with a freewrite keeping the intention “creative path” in mind.

Hope. A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison

Hope. A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison




Three eggs – physical, mental, spiritual.

Incubation. Waiting for birth, waiting to emerge, the wait. Snake protects, she guards in this time of transition.

Transition, threshold of staying safe in the nest, safe in the dark and protected, safe and hidden, and waiting, there is waiting. Now, it is time, the breaking open, come into the light, those first steps, that first vision.

Call upon protection, call upon the strength that is within. Hold onto hope. Yes this is a time of breaking open, a breaking, it feels too open, too out in the brightness. How can I see in this too bright place? My inclination is to hide, but instead I can unfurl a bit at a time. There is no need to break apart while breaking open. Open just a bit. Hold on. There is movement and strength in the tenderest of openings.

Transformation is damn scary work. Hold on. Ease in. Be brave.


Coming in the next post, Day 2. The Past and What Needs to Be Released

All Winter I Harvest



by Mary Oliver

All winter
two blue herons
hunkered in the frozen marsh,
like two columns of blue smoke.

What they ate
I can’t imagine,
unless it was the small laces
of snow that settled

in the ruckus of the cattails,
or the glazed windows of ice
under the tired
pitchforks of their feet—

so the answer is
they ate nothing,
and nothing good could come of that.
They were mired in nature, and starving.

Still, every morning
they shrugged the rime from their shoulders,
and all day they
stood to attention

in the stubbled desolation.
I was filled with admiration,
and, of course, empathy.

It called for a miracle.
Finally the marsh softened,
and their wings cranked open
revealing the old blue light,

so that I thought: how could this possibly be
the blunt, dark finish?
First one, then the other, vanished
into the ditches and upheavals.

All spring, I watched the rising blue-green grass,
above its gleaming and substantial shadows,
toss in the breeze,
like wings.

Five lines from Mary Oliver’s poem, Herons in Winter in the Frozen Marsh, and an interpretation of a different sort.


ALL WINTER I harvest patience, aware as the darkest dark inches towards light, as seconds of light replace seconds of darkness; from this emerges a daily practice of awareness, of the smallest of movements gathering, of self care, of perseverance, of gratitude.

THEY SHRUGGED THE RIME FROM THEIR SHOULDERS, let me brush the frost from mine, in anticipation of the coming warmth. The sun comes up each morning, visible to me or not, whether I feel its warmth or not. I will not cry out for warmth in this time of darkness and cold, but wrap my grandmother’s shawl about me, gather meanings of old that warm me, hold that warmth in the breast of my body, absorb her energy, matriarchal strength, and rest in the ease she offers.

IT CALLED FOR A MIRACLE but then, let me be honest with myself, each day I call for a miracle and each day I receive a miracle. I awake to yet another day, life continues, life anticipated, deeply desired.

INTO THE DITCHES AND UPHEAVALS, those times in life I’ve pitched forward, dropped to my knees, there where the true meat of living exists, seldom is raw life found in the land of endlessly smooth pathways. Ditches and upheavals are mines for discovery and recovery.

TOSS IN THE BREEZE the worries, toss in kindnesses and the tender swirling of sweet words, add respect, toss once again, gently. Let the refreshment settle on my shoulders, let the winds remind me to inhale and awaken.