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A 2: Hidden Mandala Imagery in the Bible—Dylan Odhner

For good reason, mandalas are most usually associated with Buddhism, Hinduism, and other Eastern belief systems. But one of the great gifts offered by C. G. Jung—the Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist—was the idea that religious symbols the world over can often be linked to fundamental realities of the human psyche. This is not to psychologize away religious belief, but rather, to demonstrate that as human beings, we all draw from the same well; what Jungian's call the collective unconscious, and what Swedenborg might have traced back to the internal sense disseminated from the lost Ancient Word.

Put simply, a mandala—from the Sanskrit for “circle”—is a symmetrical design with an outer circle, four cardinal directions, and often a balanced number of segments radiating out from a center point. These images are used as a focus for meditation or prayer because the are seen as microcosms of the human mind, and quite literally as micro-cosmos... images of the perfect wholeness of the cosmos.

Though they are not depicted visually, I believe that mandalas appear throughout the Bible, from the descriptions of the Garden of Eden, to the Lord's birth, baptism and Crucifixion, to the Holy City New Jerusalem descending from the clouds in the book of Revelation.

This presentation will walk through a visual introduction to the religious and psychological meaning of mandala imagery. We will then dissect a number of Biblical scenes which I believe hold hidden mandalas. When viewed together, these mandala scenes highlight moments of divine manifestation, and cultural transformation.

Dylan Odhner graduated from the Academy of the New Church Boys School in 2005. After receiving a history degree in 2009, he continued on at Bryn Athyn College within the admissions office, where he advanced to Assistant Director. In 2015, Dylan shifted gears, and joined the Academy of the New Church Secondary Schools team, where he currently teaches Medieval History to sophomore boys, and Senior Project in tandem with Cory Boyce. In 2014, Dylan decided to feed a new growing passion for world mythology by enrolling in a Ph.D. program in Mythological Studies with an Emphasis in Jungian Depth Psychology. After three years of monthly trips to Pacifica Graduate Institute near Santa Barbara, California, Dylan received his Masters degree. He is currently working on his Doctoral Dissertation, which is tentatively titled ”Redeeming the Shadow of the Self: A Depth Psychological Cross-Cultural Investigation of the Foreshadow Archetype.”