Moon Mandala Feature with Vanessa Sage (interview)
In this interview, Vanessa Sage, PhD shares her gentle exploration of an embodied, spiritual lunar practice and the shared philosophy of poet Mary Oliver, that “my work is loving the world.” Speaking with Vanessa has such a calming effect - she holds beautiful, sacred space for those who enter her sphere. I've had the pleasure of guest teaching for the Sage Priestess Certification and experienced first-hand how she co-creates magical containers for learning and healing. All images in this article provided by Vanessa Sage.
April: Where are you right now? Where is the moon and what is she doing?
Vanessa: I am sitting in a sunny breezy room just before the summer solstice as the moon turns toward darkness. I’ve lit some sandalwood, and can feel my bare feet on hardwood floor below me. The moon has been large in the sky recently, and is heading towards a super moon at the end of the week. I look for her often and am always in awe of the way she moves across the sky.
A: Describe your relationship to creating moon mandalas... Where do you begin? What materials do you like to use?
Vanessa: I’ve done a few things. Sometimes I write a guiding quote in the middle of the mandala that I can return to each day, sometimes I collage my intention into the mandala, and sometimes I draw what comes, adding to it as the month goes on. Visual art is not my main creative practice so I approach it all with a sense of gentle exploration. I find the mandalas have evolved over time, and I imagine they will continue to do so.
If nothing comes for the month I give myself permission to let that be okay. Another thing I’ve done that has been so helpful is to take the elemental intentions I create each month and transfer them onto a crystal grid that I put on my altar.
A: What is one thing that helps you access your intuition?
Vanessa: The first thing I do is drop into my body. Intuition is something I experience in my feet, my breath and my heart. Drumming and journeying are a big part of my spiritual practice, and they help me feel really connected with my soul. I always receive very rich intuitive messages through drumming and journey work.
I also draw tarot and oracle cards almost every day and journal frequently. When I draw cards and journal I tend to emphasize a sense of allowing something bigger than me to come through. I ask my soul what I need to know and I do my best to listen. I trust what I hear in this soul-listening place. It has never steered me wrong.
A: In what ways does creating a new moon mandala enrich your life?
Vanessa: I view the whole process of tracking with the moon as integrated and part of the whole of my life. I see it as a living process with no end or beginning. Mandalas are powerful ways to connect within. They are the center, the edge and the whole with no beginning or end.
I drew a stick drawing of myself meditating in nature this month. After many cycles of intense activity, my intention this month was spaciousness and connection to nature. When I look at it I’m reminded of my intention, and it brings a smile to my face. Reminding me that my spiritual life can be full of joy, love and dandelion wishes blowing in the wind.
A: How has your creative process evolved over time?
Vanessa: My creative process is very much rooted in presence. The creative outlet I’ve practiced most in my life is writing (creative non-fiction, poetry and academic). All of my writing starts with sensing what is happening for me in the present moment. In a way, it’s a very Zen approach. Coming back over and over again to what is. I view it as embodied present writing. I have since brought this sense of awareness of the moment, of myself in my body, and how I am connected to my soul into my photography, graphic design and teaching.
A: What fuels your creative spark?
Vanessa: I walk the beauty way. It’s how I engage with the world. I’ve experienced great suffering and trauma in my life and my answer is to keep coming back to right here, right now. I feel great joy at simply noticing the unfolding of a flower or watching the way the surface of water changes with light and wind. I’m inspired by great poets such as Mary Oliver, and believe, like her, that “my work is loving the world.”
A: Would you be willing to give readers some ideas or inspiration for creating their own moon mandala?
Vanessa: Don’t worry about what it looks like. It can just be for you. Trust what comes without judgment. Watch your pen dance across the page or write down the first word that comes to you. There is no right way.
A: Three wishes ... and anything else you’d like to share...
May the light of moon guide your way
May you find the still place in the center of your life
May you sing to the world your most sacred song
Vanessa Sage's work focuses on self-compassion, inner-bravery, and discovering the mystery in our everyday lives. She offers spiritual and business mentorship, Priestess training, and tarot guidance to help you enchant your everyday, bring your imagination to life, and listen to your wild soul’s calling! She has a PhD in cultural anthropology, and spent many years studying Buddhism, pilgrimage, and alternative spirituality as an anthropologist of religion. You can find her at vanessasage.com and sagepriestess.com
Do you want to be more aligned with your natural rhythm and the cycles in nature?
Printed copies of the 2018 edition are SOLD OUT! Purchase digital version in the shop. This simple and beautiful circular calendar establishes the new moon as the starting point for each monthly cycle. It provides a structure for connecting to your inner wisdom and natural rhythms. This item sells out every year.
Big Blue Moon cover artwork by Jocelyn Mathewes from her Night Sky Cyanotype series.