The circle, an age-old symbol of eternity and wholeness, holds deep spiritual and magical significance. Delving into its ancient ties to community, the cycles of life, and the womb, let’s explore the circle’s rich tapestry of meanings and how you might incorporate it into your creative rituals when you art journal with the moon.
In my art rituals, I am drawn to the circle as much as I am drawn to the moon. It might be because the circle, in its most primal form, is a symbol that resonates deeply with my psyche and the rhythms of nature. It might be because as someone who practices creative moon rituals in her art journal, the circle mirrors the very celestial body I revere: the moon. Every lunar phase, from crescent to full, is displayed within the bounds of a circle. Just as the consistent, cyclical nature of the moon provides a sense of comfort, continuity, and connection so too does the circle. They both help to calm and soothe my highly sensitive nervous system.
Draw circles in your art journal during your moon rituals to calm, soothe and center yourself.
I asked AI why I might be so drawn to the circle in my art rituals and it suggested the following: within the confines of the circle, there are no beginnings or endings; it is a continuous loop that embodies the cycles of life, death, and rebirth. By repeatedly using the circle in your art, you might be subconsciously aligning yourself with these universal cycles, finding solace in their predictability and constancy amidst life’s chaos. I like that explanation. It resonates.
But maybe it’s because the circle evokes a sense of belonging, community, and shared experience. When I sketch or paint within a circle in my art journal, I might be feeling an inherent connection to ancestral traditions and the collective wisdom of ages past when we gathered around fires in circles, sharing stories.
Maybe it’s because the circle provides a boundary yet offers infinite possibilities within it. It’s a canvas that constrains and liberates at the same time – as all creative boundaries do. This duality can be entrancing, offering both a challenge and a familiar playground for creative expression. By being drawn to the circle, I’m exploring the depths of my subconscious (as Carl Jung and Susanne F. Fincher can attest), the vast expanse of the universe, and my intimate bond with the moon and its cycles—all within the embrace of a simple, yet profoundly symbolic shape.
Whatever the reason, and most likely it’s a little of all of the above and more I’m not even conscious of, I love working with the circle in my creative moon rituals when I art journal with the moon. I want to break down some of the spiritual significance and magical properties of the circle here for you to inspire you to work more intimately with the circle in your creative moon rituals as well.
The Circle and The Cycle of Life
In nature-based traditions, life is not viewed as a linear journey from birth to death but rather as an infinite loop. The circle is a potent symbol of this belief, symbolizing the eternal cycle of life, death, and rebirth. In this context, death is not an end but a transition, a doorway to a new beginning. This belief fosters a deep respect for life in all its phases and an understanding that every ending is, in essence, a new beginning.
Each cycle, whether observed in nature, human life, or abstract concepts, follows a predictable yet awe-inspiring pattern.
Life begins with birth, an emergence from a state of non-being into existence. This phase is synonymous with spring, where the seeds germinate, bursting forth with potential, optimism, and growth. As with a newborn or the fresh shoots in a forest, this phase is characterized by rapid growth, learning, and the wide-eyed wonder of discovery.
Growth follows next, a period of maturation and development. Like summer, it’s a time of fullness and exploration, akin to adolescence and young adulthood in human life. This stage is vibrant, dynamic, and holds the promise of life’s zenith, where plants, animals and beings come into their full power and potential.
The peak of the cycle is the climax of maturity, akin to late summer when the fruits are ripe and ready for harvest. In human terms, it parallels the stability and fullness of middle age, where wisdom is married to energy, offering the best of both worlds.
However, nothing remains static, and so follows the phase of decay or decline. It’s the autumn of the cycle, where the energy starts to wane, and preparations begin for the inevitable end. Just as leaves turn and fall, signifying a retreat back to the earth, older age in humans brings with it a slowing down, a reflection, and often a poignant acceptance of life’s impermanence.
The circle has no beginning or end which is how I imagine my soul to be – infinite.
Death, often feared and misunderstood, is the winter of the life cycle. It’s a cessation, a return to non-being. But in many traditions and philosophies, it’s not seen as an absolute end but as a profound transition. For without winter, spring cannot come.
From the stillness and cold of death comes transformation. It’s the deep, unseen processes that take place beneath the surface—the decaying leaves enriching the soil, the lessons from one life influencing the next, and the old giving way to the potential of the new.
Finally, rebirth heralds the return to life, completing the cycle and yet also beginning it anew. Like the first flowers after a long winter, rebirth signifies hope, renewal, and the eternal nature of existence.
This cyclical pattern—of birth, growth, maturity, decline, death, transformation, and rebirth—is an eternal dance, evident in all corners of the universe, reminding us of the interconnectedness of all things and the beautiful, relentless rhythm of existence and the circle, in its wholeness and wonder, encompass this entire sacred cycle.
The Circle and the Cycle of the Moon
Perhaps one of the most visible circles in our lives is the moon. Its cyclical dance from new moon to full moon back to new mirrors our own rhythms—physical, emotional, and spiritual. Many nature-based spiritual practices give special reverence to the lunar cycles and I’m no exception. I art journal with the moon to time my moments of reflection, manifestation, release, and growth. By syncing my spiritual and self-care practices and rituals with the moon’s phases, I tap into a deeper, primordial energy, allowing me to harness its power and wisdom.
Each moon phase represents a distinct moment in the lunar cycle, yet all are interconnected, one phase naturally giving way to the next in an eternal dance.
Starting with the New Moon, the moment of being in the void, representing a clean slate, potential, and the birth of new intentions. As the moon waxes into the Waxing Crescent, the moon begins to illuminate, mirroring our growing aspirations and the initial steps toward manifesting our desires. The First Quarter Moon, with half of its face illuminated, stands for challenges and decisions, the midpoint of action, much like a crossroad.
The moon continues to grow in light and power with the Waxing Gibbous phase. This phase signals refinement, adjustments, and the anticipation of culmination. Full illumination is the Full Moon. It represents completion, fruition, and realization. Emotions, intentions, and energies are at their peak.
However, after the fullness comes the wane. The Waning Gibbous or Disseminating Moon begins the process of introspection, gratitude, and sharing the wisdom or harvest of the full moon. As the light diminishes with the Last Quarter Moon, it signifies release, forgiveness, and the letting go of what no longer serves, mirroring a moment of existential decluttering. The Waning Crescent or Balsamic Moon, the last sliver of light before another new moon, represents surrender, rest, and recuperation.
Then, in the circle’s continuity, we return to the New Moon, starting the dance afresh. This cyclic pattern of the moon, represented by the circle, speaks of the perpetual balance between growth and decline, effort and rest, illumination and darkness. Through its phases, the moon offers a roadmap for introspection, action, and renewal, all beautifully encapsulated within the endless loop of the circle.
The Circle, The Cauldron and the Womb
On a more intimate scale, the circle has often been likened to the womb due to its enveloping, protective, and nurturing nature. The womb is where life begins, cradled in darkness, safe and surrounded, growing until it’s ready to emerge into the world. This protective cocoon is an emblem of creation, transformation, and rebirth — the very essence of life’s cyclic nature. In various spiritual traditions, circles have been drawn or visualized during rituals and ceremonies to create a protective barrier, channel divine energies, or mark sacred space. The very act of creating a circle, whether physically or energetically, can serve as an invitation for deeper introspection and connection to the divine feminine within and around us.
The cauldron’s circular and deep shape further amplifies the symbolism of the womb. Just as the womb holds the potential of life, the cauldron is a vessel that holds ingredients, energies, and intentions, melding them together to birth something new. Its form is a tangible representation of the alchemical processes that turn elements into something sacred and powerful.
Whether it’s for brewing potions, burning incense, or holding a sacred flame, the cauldron, with its circular embrace, focuses and magnifies the energies of the elements within. Its circular form serves as a protective boundary, ensuring that the magic created inside is pure and undisturbed.
Whenever I draw, paint or work within a circle in my art, I bring the magic of the womb, the cauldron and the divine feminine with me.
The Circle and the Wheel of the Year
In the northern hemisphere, nature is a perpetual cycle of seasons. Many nature-based spiritual practices use the circle to represent the Wheel of the Year, which encompasses the eight seasonal celebrations. These celebrations mark the Earth’s journey around the sun and the changing seasons, from the rebirth and freshness of spring to the abundance of summer, the harvests of autumn, and the deep introspection of winter. Each phase brings its own energy, its own lessons, and its own magic.
In March, when the Earth isn’t tilted toward or away from the Sun, day and night are of equal length. It’s the spring equinox or Ostara where we’re celebrating new life, rebirth, awakening and renewal.
In May, at the midpoint between the Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice we celebrate Beltane. Days are longer, the sun is growing in power and it traditionally heralds the peak of spring. It’s a time to celebrate passion, vitality, love, connection, desire, the fires of creativity and fertility.
Around June 20th-23rd the Sun is at its northernmost point in the sky, leading to the longest day and shortest night in the Northern Hemisphere. The Earth’s North Pole is tilted closest to the Sun and it’s the Summer Solstice, a time to celebrate reaching the peak of your power, the earth’s abundance, joy, fullness, the sun at its peak and the fulfillment of potential.
Around August 1st, Lughnasadh falls between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox and marks the beginning of the harvest season. It’s a time to celebrate all the hard work you do, enjoying the fruits of your labors, recognizing the sacrifices you need to make for future growth and the value of making preparations.
Around September 20th-23rd we reach Mabon or the Autumn Equinox, another point where day and night are of equal length. As with Ostara, the Earth is not tilted toward or away from the Sun. It’s a time to celebrate the harvest, gratitude, reflection, decline, decay, letting go and embracing the descent into the dark half of the year.
Samhain is celebrated around October 31st to November 1st. It’s the midpoint between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice and is often seen as the start of the winter season. It’s a time to honor the dead, celebrate the thinning of the veil, connect with your ancestors, remember and pay homage to those who came before you and communicate with the spirit world.
The circle, as Wheel of the Year, carries all of life and all of death then brings us back to life again.
Around December 20th-23rd, at the Winter Solstice or Yule, the Sun is at its southernmost point in the sky, leading to the shortest day and longest night in the Northern Hemisphere. The Earth’s North Pole is tilted furthest from the Sun and it’s a time to celebrate stillness, rebirth, embracing darkness to find the light within, renewal, hope and the promise of brighter days ahead.
Finally Imbolc, celebrated around February 1st-2nd, is a point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Traditionally, it marks the first signs of spring and the increasing strength of the Sun. It’s a time to observe stirrings, initiations, recognizing the first signs of life after winter’s death, blessings, purification and the flame of inspiration.
Picture the Wheel of the Year in your mind as a circle divided into eight equal pieces and each piece being marked like a spoke on a wheel. Each festival, or “spoke” on the wheel, is a touchstone, grounding us in the lessons and magic of the season. As the wheel turns, it reminds us that change is the only constant, and that each phase, whether of growth or decline, has its purpose and beauty. Now imagine those eight becoming invisible but the circle remaining as one shape. Through this circle, we learn to embrace the rhythm of life, celebrating and finding meaning in every twist and turn of our Earthly journey. By recognizing and honoring the seasons through the shape of the circle, I align myself with the Earth’s rhythms, forging a deeper connection with the land and its spirits.
The Circle as Mandala
One of my favorite ways to work with the sacred symbolism of the circle is to create mandalas. As Susanne F. Fincher describes in her book, Creating Mandalas, mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning center, circumference or magic circle. Mandalas have been a spiritual symbol and an artistic motif for centuries, revered for their representation of unity, wholeness, and the infinite.
At the heart of a mandala is the idea of the center, an axis upon which the world turns, reflecting the universe and our place within it. In many spiritual practices, mandalas serve as sacred spaces that capture divine energies and facilitate meditation, drawing the observer into a realm of introspection and connection with the Divine.
From a psychological perspective, Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, introduced the West to mandalas as a means to bridge the conscious and unconscious realms. Jung posited that creating mandalas allowed individuals to externalize their subconscious thoughts and feelings, making them tangible and thus more accessible for introspection. The very act of drawing or coloring a mandala can be therapeutic, grounding, and centering, especially during times of chaos or emotional upheaval. They act as mirrors, reflecting back the intricacies of one’s inner world and aiding in the process of self-discovery and healing. This is how I like to use them.
The circle is a mirror, reflecting back your inner world.
Incorporating mandalas into your art journal during moon rituals can be a transformative experience. As we explored earlier, the moon, with its phases and cyclical nature, is inherently connected to the concept of the circle and thus resonates deeply with mandalas. As you work with a mandala in your art journal under the guidance of the moon’s energy, you are creating a sacred space, a personal sanctuary that connects you to your subconscious realm. Begin by setting an intention, perhaps related to the specific phase of the moon or a personal challenge you’re facing. As you fill in your mandala, let your intuition guide your hand. Colors, patterns, and shapes may emerge, each resonating with emotions, memories, or insights from deep within. By the time your mandala is complete, you may find clarity, a renewed sense of purpose, or simply a deeper connection with your inner self. That is the magic of the circle and art.
As you can see, the circle isn’t just a circle to me. It draws on the power of the seasons, the Wheel of the Year, the womb, the cauldron, the goddess, the divine feminine, the cycle of life and the phases of the moon, just to name a few. From the Earth’s dance with the Sun to the nurturing embrace of the womb, the circle stands as a sacred symbol of life’s inherent cycles. It invites us to meditate on our connection to the universe and our place within it. As the moon waxes and wanes in the night sky, the circle encapsulates her phases, guiding our emotions, intentions, and energies in tandem with her. With so many meanings and influences, the circle becomes more than just a shape; it is a powerful symbol of unity, wholeness, and endless possibility.
The next time you turn the pages of your art journal and prepare for your moon ritual, let the circle inspire you. Embrace its teachings and its rhythms. Let it guide your hand and heart, and enjoy the magic that lies within its boundary.
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