The MARI®

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What is the MARI®?

The Mandala Assessment Research Instrument (MARI®) is a cohesive and holistic assessment that uses color, symbols, and mandalas to reveal the truth of and to the participant in a way that is easily experienced and received. As understood by its creator, Joan Kellogg, the MARI® provides the participant with a comprehensive understanding of the unvarnished self with three different but connected tasks. The first task is to draw a mandala, (Sanskrit for circle). Each mandala is unique and the colors, symbols, and imagery used in the mandala will reveal information that can assist the participant in gaining self-knowledge. Symbols are found in all cultures and predate language; many have universal meanings. After completing a drawing of a mandala, the person completing a MARI® will view 39 symbols printed in black on transparent cards. Out of those symbols, the participant will choose nine cards: six that she likes, two she views as guiding symbols, and one that she dislikes. She removes the remaining cards. Then the participant chooses from 45 color cards, keeping her symbol cards in mind. The participant may place the symbol cards on and off the color cards in order to make the choices.

Once the participant has chosen the symbol and color cards, the MARI® Practitioner will interpret the participant’s choices. The Practitioner places the cards on a board that shows thirteen stages of development arranged in a sequence with three symbols at each stage that specifies the differing aspect of each stage. In the MARI®, this field is “the Great Round.” The Great Round offers a map of the human psyche and a visual picture of what is happening in a person’s life at the particular time the assessment is completed. The MARI® offers information from the unconscious that comes from an intuitive place.

The MARI® can provide information to an individual that was in the unconscious but comes forth by virtue of the use of symbol, color and the creation of the Mandala. The MARI® is a gentle method of surveying a life with the understanding that a person may be operating within several states or stages of the Great Round at one time, depending on what milestones or life issues are presenting themselves. The MARI® is also a way to provide clarity and understanding of issues that may reappear as the individual journeys the Great Round through great and small endeavors. Mandalas may also be attempts to illustrate a particular spiritual realization. It is clear what a rich and meaningful tradition the mandala has for human beings as a method of orientation, a spiritual practice, and a connection to the cosmic rhythms of the universe.

About the creator of the MARI®

Joan Kellogg, the creator of the MARI® became interested in mandalas and studied them writing on them for her Master’s thesis in 1969. Drawing mandalas and studying hundreds of them for nearly a decade, she found repetition in drawings at stages and color choices that people made. From her study, Kellogg created an organized structure that reflected her understanding of the human lifespan, which she called the Great Round. What developed from her work is the Mandala Assessment Research Instrument (MARI®) Card Test currently used today.

About this writer

I became interested in the MARI® as a result of my doctoral work. As a trained SoulCollage® facilitator I was looking for a way to understand my research on SoulCollage®. The MARI® was suggested by several people. A training to use the MARI® seemed to suddenly appear. Synchronicity…

My research included the study of archetypes, leading to Carl Jung.  This quote became real for me.  According to Jung, “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.”[1] When Jung split with Freud, he went through a period that he explained as a dark space. It was there he confronted his unconscious. He found drawing to be healing to the emotions he encountered.

Part of his emergence from this dark space came from his creation of mandalas. “While I was there, I sketched every morning in a notebook a small circular drawing, a mandala, which seemed to correspond to my inner situation at the time. With the help of these drawings I could observe my psychic transformations from day to day.”[2] Jung stated, “The mandala is an archetypal image whose occurrence is attested throughout the ages. It signifies the wholeness of self. This circular image represents the wholeness of the psychic ground, or to put it in mythic terms, the divinity incarnate in man.”[3] Jung was the first psychotherapist to use the mandala, but it has existed in all cultures since ancient times.[4] Jung discovered the mandala in Switzerland from the dreams and spontaneous artwork created by his patients especially during times of chaos and confusion. He also engaged in creating personal mandalas beginning in 1916. Jung used mandalas as part of his plan of care for his patients. In one of the first attempts undertaken to examine scientifically Jung’s theory that mandala creation promotes psychological health, Maralynn H.Slegelis found that those who drew inside a circle experienced more positive effect than those who drew within a square, “Jung saw mandalas as a useful tool to access unconscious by interpreting the symbols he found in his patient’s mandalas. He then expanded the knowledge he gleaned from the mandalas by encouraging patients to interpret them on their own which he felt increased their independence and possibly their healing.”[5]

Joan Kellogg, the creator of the MARI® became interested in mandalas and studied them writing on them for her Master’s thesis in 1969. Drawing mandalas and studying hundreds of them for nearly a decade, she found repetition in drawings at stages and color choices that people made. From her study, Kellogg created an organized structure that reflected her understanding of the human lifespan, which she called the Great Round. What developed from her work is the Mandala Assessment Research Instrument (MARI®) that I (and others) use today.

Art therapist Phyllis Frame later added the component of having a client pick their least preferred design card and color and then pick a second color that would make the design more desirable. This addition seemed to yield important information about denial or repression.[6] MARI® practitioners commonly refer to this card as the dislike card. Today, Dr. Michele Takei is the caretaker of the MARI®.  She has given us guidance cards, Stage 1 Again, the use of MARI® as a therapeutic tool and the transpersonal aspects of MARI®.

The MARI® can provide information to an individual that was in the unconscious but comes forth by virtue of the use of symbol, color and the creation of the Mandala. Also like SoulCollage® the MARI® is a gentle method of surveying a life with the understanding that a person may be operating within several states or stages of the Great Round at one time, depending on what milestones or life issues are presenting themselves. The MARI® is also a way to provide clarity and understanding of issues that may reappear as the individual journeys the Great Round through great and small endeavors. Mandalas may also be attempts to illustrate a particular spiritual realization. It is clear what a rich and meaningful tradition the mandala has for human beings as a method of orientation, a spiritual practice, and a connection to the cosmic rhythms of the universe.[7]

[1] Jung, Memories, Dream, Reflections 196

[2] Jung, Memories, Dream, Reflections, p. 195.

[3] Jung, Memories, Dream, Reflections, p. 334-335.

[4] Slegelis, The Arts in Psychotherapy.

[5] Slegelis, The Arts in Psychotherapy. p.302.

[6] Bruscia, Shultis, and Dennery. “A Comparison of Cardiac and Cancer Inpatients on the MARI Card Test” 2007.

[7] Fincher, Creating Mandalas for Insight, Healing, and Self-Expression, p. 13-16

 

 

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