Imagine an inexpensive art activity that that steers you straight into the heart of your own truth. Imagine a practice that encourages wholeness of body, mind and spirit as it provides you with an opportunity for play and adventure. Imagine a personal growth tool that grounds you at the same time that it gives you wings to fly. Now imagine accomplishing all of this with minimal materials (scissors, glue, mat board, magazine pictures) and in less than an hour!
This extraordinary tool for personal growth is SoulCollage®, a unique blend of spiritual practice and the fun of collage. Using intuition and imagination, you create a deck of collaged cards where each card reflects a different aspect of your unique self. The cards are then used to access your deep inner wisdom and to assist in answering the questions which arise from your life journey. And although SoulCollage® uses the traditional art form of collage, being an artist is not a prerequisite. The only requirement is a willingness to go within.
There are four suits in a SoulCollage® deck: The Committee (the inner voices in our minds), The Community (the family and friends who love and support us), The Companions (animal totems who lend us their energies for healing and growth), and The Council (archetypes who symbolize major life themes for us). Each card that one makes using the practice of SoulCollage® belongs to one of these suits.
The cards in your SoulCollage® deck name and honor all of your individual voices: the luminous and the clear, as well as the dark and the shadowy, because it is only in accepting every facet of ourselves that we can bring ourselves to wholeness.
The process of SoulCollage® has changed my life in many ways. I find that I am now more in touch with all of the voices inside of me, and that has afforded me a freedom that is most precious. Because I have given image and voice to the darker voices inside of me (the one who is angry, the one who feels like she isnt enough, the one who is focused on overachieving, the one who criticizes everything I do,) I have been able to integrate them into my personality with more fluidity and acceptance.
This healthy assimilation means that I feel more whole and complete than ever before. And this wholeness has led to some remarkable changes in my inner and outer lives: I have been able to leave a job I had for ten years because I finally could see that it no longer served me, I am more confident in my ability to give myself what I need, I am more in touch with my dreams and can now see that I have what it takes to make them come true, and I have been able to deal with my recovery from a serious illness (breast cancer) in a profound way that has grounded me into my authentic self and given me wings to rise above my fears of another diagnosis.
You can make a SoulCollage® card intentionally, where you identify an inner voice, a Companion animal, or a member of your Community and then set about finding the images for that card, focusing only on the card at hand.
Usually, however, the cards are made intuitively. Sometimes you will make a SoulCollage® card and not know what it means. This is all a part of the process, and the best thing to do is trust the process.
After making a card, it is time to find out what it has to say to you. You can do this with the I am the one who journaling exercise where you ask your card the following questions and then carefully recording the answers:
Who are you?
What do you have to give me?
What do you want from me?
If youre not comfortable with writing, this exercise can be done orally with a partner.
Here is an example of how the simple, fun act of making a collaged card like this can lead you deeper into your own inner wisdom. The very first SoulCollage® card I made had as its central image a little girl in a frilly white dress being dragged somewhere by an older woman in a dark drab dress. I was intrigued by this picture (from an advertisement) but I had no idea what it could mean. I trusted the process and cut out the image carefully, then laid it against several backgrounds until I found one that seemed to match its intensity: a close-up of an airplane near a suspension bridge. The crossed plains and wires of the bridge near the airplane spoke to me of crossroads and junctures, of confusion and chaos. Ahhh . Its meaning was already starting to make sense in my mind.
Then I did the I am the one who exercise out loud, with a partner. We both gazed reverently at the card Id created. Who are you? my partner asked.
I used my imagination to enter the image and spoke my answers as if I were the little girl. I could have answered in the words of the older woman, but I trusted my intuition which told me it was the little girl who had something to say to me.
I am the one who feels pulled in two directions, I replied. My partner wrote down everything I said. I am the one who is beautiful. I am the one who doesnt like getting all dressed up. I paused, waiting for the right words to come to me. I allowed several seconds between my answers. I am the one who doesnt want to go where this woman is taking me… I am the one who is turning away from where she is taking me because I dont want to go.
What do you have to give me? my partner prompted gently.
What do you have to give me? I asked the little girl on my card. I paused, waited, imagining what she would say to me in response to this question. I give you _______
What do you want from me? I heard my partner say next.
What do you want from me? I said to the image of the little girl, imagining her reply. I want you to realize that you dont have to go anywhere that you dont want to go. I want you to stop for a minute and turn around and listen to other voices when they call you in other directions. I want you to see that the woman who is dragging me is not holding on all that tightly. I want you to realize that you have a choice.
This exercise only took a few minutes, but when it was over, there were joyful tears of release and understanding in my eyes. For in making this card and then dialoging with it, I had given voice to the part of me who was longing to pull away from a job which had once served my needs but now was holding me back. I had been aware of that inner voice, but only vaguely.
The process of SoulCollage® had given me the tools I needed to name and honor that part of me, and in doing so I was able to make changes in my life that honored my authentic self and gave her room to grow. I was given roots with which to ground myself, and wings with which to let my spirit fly.