In the products of the unconscious we discover mandala symbols, that is, circular and quaternity figures which express wholeness, and whenever we wish to express wholeness, we employ just such figures.

My mandalas were cryptograms concerning the state of the self which was presented to me anew each day…I guarded them like precious pearls….It became increasingly plain to me that the mandala is the center. It is the exponent of all paths. It is the path to the center, to individuation -- Memories, Dreams and Reflections

In view of the fact that all mandalas shown here were new and uninfluenced products, we are driven to the conclusion that there must be a transconscious disposition in every individual which is able to produce the same or very similar symbols at all times and in all places. Since this disposition is usually not a conscious possession of the individual I have called it the collective unconscious. -- Mandala Symbolism

The history of symbolism shows that everything can assume symbolic significance: natural objects (like stones, plants, animals, people, mountains and valleys, sun and moon, wind, water, and fire), or man-made things (like houses, boats, or cars), or even abstract forms (like numbers, or the triangle, the square, and the circle). In fact, the whole cosmos is a potential symbol -- Man and His Symbols

Carl Gustav Jung is credited with introducing the Eastern concept of the mandala to Western thought and believed this symbol represented the total personality - the Self. Jung noted that when a mandala image suddenly turned up in dreams or art, it was usually an indication of movement toward a new self-knowledge. He observed that his patients often spontaneously created circle drawings and had his own profound personal experience with mandala images. From 1916 through 1920, Jung created mandala paintings and sketches that he felt corresponded to his inner situation at the time [more about this and Jung's Red Book in a future post]. He believed that mandalas denoted a unification of opposites, served as expressions of the self, and represented the sum of who we are.