Mandala as Container – The Past

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Emperor Flow © 2016 Bo Mackison

Second in a series of 5 mandalas created after naming “creative path” as my intention.  Each morning for five days I paired a mandala with a Desert Wisdom Card and then reflected on a question. I followed this with a freewrite keeping the intention “creative path” in mind.

Tumbleweed in Barbed Wire Fence

Challenge – A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison




Masculine energy. Power and control.

What needs to be released? The attempt to control in the midst of challenges. Let go, release the need to control, go with the flow.

There is power in intuition, in the allowing AND there is fear in the flow, in the release. The challenge is, and has been, to allow the flow and the ebb, the stagnation and the flood.

Fear? Allow the fear to flow, to move through, allow the fear to be acknowledged. In its acknowledgement is the allowance for its release?

Set aside the rules and regulations and tight control. Listen to intuition and invite sensuality. Embrace creative energy instead of dominance and rigidity. Accept support and nurturing.


Coming in the next post, Day 3. The Future and The Next Step

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

Choosing my Word for the Year using Desert Wisdom Cards — Part I

Desert Wisdom Cards Set III

Desert Wisdom Cards © 2014 Bo Mackison

Every year for the last six years i have chosen a word for the coming year – a word to guide me, inspire me, encourage me.

In choosing a word for the coming year, I first looked up my words I’ve chosen the last six years – Show Up, Balance, Possibilities, Weaving, Soul-centered, and Wisdom. Some of those words played more significant roles than others, especially the words WEAVING from 2012 and WISDOM from this year, but I always place each year’s word in a prominent place on my desk.

To pick a word for 2015, I pulled three of my Desert Wisdom Cards to help guide me. The cards pulled at random were:


Visibility – A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison


  • This is a word I have struggled with much of my life. I see that I used a similar word, SHOW UP, in 2009. I have made progress in this area – from doing art to claiming my role as artist, from creating art in the privacy of my studio to doing nationally juried art fairs and festivals, from making personal books to creating a series of Desert Wisdom Cards, and offering three different sets for sale while also creating and giving workshops based on them.
  • None of this was done without struggle, and there were times when I hunkered down and didn’t show my face for weeks (or even months) at a time. But I have made discernible progress in the process of becoming more VISIBLE, in SHOWING UP.
  • Since it is still something I do with difficulty and much encouraging self talk, it is well worth considering that my word for the coming year would advance my goal of being VISIBLE.



Clarity – A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison


  • Lucid, clear in thought, focused. Only in extra-ordinary moments do I capture the clarity I seek – the flow of my creative vision, the words coming together to state my full intentions, the awareness of my place in a tiny part of my world.
  • I tend to wander, find my bearings by examining lots of alternatives, so zeroing in on one clear goal has always been a challenge, improbable and infrequent.
  • Yet, I wish for clarity in vision and I can create small practices towards that goal.



Delight – A Desert Wisdom Card © 2014 Bo Mackison


  • Of all the cards in the Desert Wisdom Card Set, DELIGHT is one of two cards that make me cringe when I pull it as my card for the day. (The other card that throws me is BEAUTY!)
  • Given that response, a response which I choose to notice, how might I infuse the coming year with more instances that provoke/encourage DELIGHT?
  • DELIGHT is a spontaneous feeling. When I look at the past year, I experienced DELIGHT, especially when stunned by stark natural beauty or  greatly amused by the antics of my one year old granddaughter or my best dog, Gracie.
  • Hard to plan for DELIGHT, but easily noticed when it bubbles to the surface. Perhaps I need to hold the intention, then, to be more aware of DELIGHT in my daily life.

Taking all of this into consideration, my practices for 2015 will include furthering my personal work of showing up and being visible, adding small steps to gain clarity and focus, and paying attention to that which provokes delight in my life.

In Part II, I’ll examine choosing my word of the year in terms of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and trans-personal aspects.

And I’ll choose my word for the year.

Do you choose a word for the year? Share your process and/or your word in the comments, if so inspired.




Traveling with Tree Walkers – Through a Photograph, Into a Poem

Reflection in Sugar River

Tree Walkers © 2010 Bo Mackison

There is a photograph tacked upon my wall.
A photograph of the Sugar River.

If, by magical means, you could reach your hands through the print,
you could dip your hands in cool, running river-water, cold from autumn’s breath.

Then you’d pull your hands from the river through the frame, and be back in my room,
shaking droplets from your fingers, wiping dampness on your jeans.

I look at the photograph through creator’s eyes.
The reflection of two trees in the foreground, their trunks slender, their upside down branches split,
and I name them Tree Walkers.

Slipping through the photo paper, I stride along the river’s circuitous route
Tree Walkers at my side, my companions.

All is never what it seems and
what I need shows up in odd, inexplicable ways.

Today I have no need of clean hands, but I do need to travel with Tree Walkers.

Tuba Reflection – A Self Portrait

Self Portrait in Tuba Reflection

Tuba Reflection – Self Portrait ©2013 Bo Mackison

We keep on moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we are curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~ Walt Disney


The Main Street Philharmonic Marching Band.
Cardinal-red band uniforms, gold epaulets,
Shakos with white plumes.

A blue sky-fluffy cloud kind of day.
A tarnished tuba.
Sousa’s Fairest of the Fair.

Fantasy Land.
Where dreams come true, but still require hard work.

There’s always a new path to follow.
Explorations and adventures.

Take a photograph of the silver tuba,
and the photographer and her camera
shine in the reflection.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  Magical photos happen in magical places.