Monday, November 22, 2010

SoulCollage® Evolving: An Interview with Seena Frost

In June, 2004, I traveled to California (my very first trip to the west coast) to attend SoulCollage® facilitator training with Seena Frost.  I had discovered the SoulCollage® process by divine accident when I was searching for books on collage. What I loved about the process was that it gave me a way to access my own inner wisdom, instead of thinking that someone else had the answers I needed.
A new, expanded book about this intuitive self-discovery process called SoulCollage® Evolving has recently been published and this seemed like a perfect time to interview Seena and share what Seena had to say about her new book and the SoulCollage® process with others.

Catherine: Welcome Seena!  I'm honored to host this interview with you and excited about the new SoulCollage® Evolving book.  What are you most excited about in your new book?

Seena:  Let me just say what I am excited and pleased about, but not in an order of most to least. Number one, I love the new cover!  The fanning out of the cards is beautiful and it is an image that communicates so well what SoulCollage® represents. Plus each of those cards is by a different person. Second, I love the wide assortment of card images that were submitted and used, from people all over the world. Also there are many more photographs in this book of people actually doing the process, from reading the cards to walking the labyrinth, to gathering in conferences. And there is a wider age range represented. All in all I would sum this up by saying this new book gives the feel of a growing community, an evolving group of diverse people who love and are sharing this process.  

Catherine: I love the cover too!  Seena, what recommendations do you have for incorporating SoulCollage® cards into one's daily life?
Seena:  One strong recommendation is that you have a special place in your home where your cards can be out of their box and easily available should you want to draw one and consult it. If you keep your cards hidden away, it’s like hiding yourself away and who wants to do that? Be visible. Be present with every part of you. I have a little glass table in one corner of my office where my cards always sit in a pile, and I have my three Transpersonal cards sitting upright in a pattern there, and beside them the two cards I draw each morning.

Then, it’s good if you can do some small ritual with your cards each day, perhaps early in the morning, like drawing a couple of them as your ‘Neters’ of that day. If you have a weekly or monthly reading group that you attend--and I highly recommend you have one--then the cards of your reading can also be placed on a shelf or rack or other specially designed space, so you see them often as you go about your daily life. Journaling from these cards can be a ritual for those who love journaling, and if you do this, use the “I Am One Who...” format some of the time at least. Then also, journal synchronicities that occur and ideas that come up through the images. I imagine there are many other daily ways to use one’s cards! I’d like to hear some of them.  

Catherine: I love the idea of a ritual and doing this early in the day before one gets too busy.  Is it important to do the "I am One Who ..." exercise as soon as you have created a new card, and if so, why?
Seena:  I believe that to get the real juice from your images you will want to read from them sooner or later. Creating the cards is great fun, but speaking from the images is how the images reveal their deepest wisdom. Sometimes people make several cards at a sitting and don’t read them at all during that creative time. This might be especially true if you are working alone at home. Somehow speaking from the images works best when you are doing it with a witness, and perhaps that witness is scribing the words for you so you stay out of your left brain. Journaling, of course, is a good alternative.

Often, in readings, I watch people turn over a card that they have never read before, and then there is a big discovery about what these images were all about when they were chosen. So, my answer to this is that there is no hurry to read from your new cards, but, like a meal you have worked hard to cook, until you read from them, you have not yet “eaten” your creation and gotten its full nourishment. (Of course, you probably nibbled while you cooked so you may already have discovered the card’s energy in a beginning way.)

Catherine: I've read that James Hillman said that "Images are the only reality we apprehend directly."  How is it that images are able to help us access our inner wisdom?

Seena:  Images are sneaky! Somehow they can sneak around our ego defense system better than words can. Imagine this:  all your ego parts (those Neters that want to keep the status quo,) are standing arm in arm around the entrance to your unconscious. They will allow no trouble or surprise or change to come up from down there where your half-formed juicy parts are churning around, eager to leap out and manifest into form. These energies may have been sent below because when you were a child, they were too out of line. Or they may be energies that never were allowed to emerge, to be named and recognized because they were judged, by ego Neters, to have too much Shadow. However these are energies that Jung would call our ‘hidden gold’, despite their Shadow. Also down there are the Archetypal Energies that guide our Souls, urging us towards certain life paths. But They may be unrecognized thus far, and their guidance so strange and powerful that we fear and resist their urgings.

Now, with that picture in mind imagine that you are browsing through a mass of images, staying in your right brain and not looking for any special thing, not interpreting images as you glance at them. Just feeling them. Your vigilant ego defenders are looking over at the workshop leaders, wondering what they are planning to say that might upset things, and they fail to notice that meanwhile you have gathered up a handful of images, ones your inner, unconscious energies have indicated: “That one! No, that one there! Pick it up, darn you. I know you don’t know why, but trust me.” And you do. Then you go, sit down and make a card or two or three with these images. Still your ego defenders are “out to lunch” as they wait for words to come from a leaders’ mouth that will disrupt the status quo. They know how to quickly throw such words into the trash.

The next thing you know you are reading from your images, and even at this point, your ego defenders see you playing an innocent, not very serious game. Then, to every part’s surprise, up bubbles the voice of a long hidden energy, dislodged by an image, and now speaking in its own voice. Too late, ego defenders!  Images have struck again!  And oddly, these guys and gals seldom learn, even when the images turn up on cards to represent themselves, sometimes with a disrespectful twist!

Catherine: I have found that to be so true.  I think that is why I so often trust images more than words.  Seena, I have used the SoulCollage® process with adults.  Is it suitable for use with children and teenagers?

Seena:  The answer to this is a definite yes!  The new book has children and teenagers shown, creating cards and even reading from them. Doing a collaged card is easy for most anyone. Just have lots of images available that represent kids and animals with all kinds of expressions.

That may be one of the biggest challenges, the finding of images that speak to kids. They may not want to cut around the images very carefully but you can show them how tearing can make an interesting edge. I find that young kids will make sweet and cute cards, and then sort of by accident make one that has a kicker in it, some image of loneliness or shyness or anger. I have found that nonverbal kids in therapy will make cards and even speak from them or write from them. It is as though they feel this imaginative work is not exposing themselves. I don’t go into the suits with young kids but with teens it may work well to introduce them to how diverse their inner voices are. One child I knew, whose parent was making cards, wanted to make only Community cards. Another wanted to make 52 cards because that is how many are in a standard deck of playing cards. She did and took them to school to show! Perhaps teenage boys will need some role models doing it, boys or men they respect. But once they make a card that interests them and they can keep and show, they will be hooked. I find that kids are able to do the role playing from their images quite easily. Their imaginations are still intact and can be encouraged through doing this process. Get them to look for magazines for you and bring in assortments of images for others to choose from.

Catherine: Perhaps showing children how to trust their inner wisdom at an early age is very important.  Does everyone have the ability to access their intuition and inner wisdom through SoulCollage® or do you need to be artistic or talented to do this?
Seena:  Everyone has creative impulses within them. This is part of being a human being, to have the urge to manifest something unique and beautiful, whether a visual image, a lovely sound, an interesting construct, an arrangement of words. Of course this can get limited and even squashed by messages received very early in life, and many people never regain the sense that creativity is part of their psyches. So they don’t try, and they claim they are not creative.

SoulCollage® can shake up this resistance especially for those who were/are creative in a visual way, and it may allow them to rediscover something they had lost. (Not all have lost it, of course. Many who come to SoulCollage® already know they are visually creative!) Because we use collage, people who claim to be uncreative feel more comfortable seeing what they can just “put together,” and then they find their cards to be intriguing and surprising. When they actually read from the images they discover even more: they discover the power of their intuition and the wisdom of their less conscious parts.
There are people who will resist the “role-playing” of images, who will slip back continually into the objective third person and talk about the images rather than from them. It helps these people to be in a group where others are modeling the “I Am One Who…”, but it is best not to keep correcting those who are not ready yet to do this. They will still get something useful by talking about the images, and perhaps they will try the role-playing on their own at home in a journal. It is not a lack of talent that makes this hard for some people but often a need to protect a vulnerable part of themselves from surfacing. If they stay with the process, this may change. Plus, just the creating of a card may be important in freeing up the creative impulse in this person. I have known people who have made many cards and love their cards, but never read from them. We are all at various stages on our creative paths, and SoulCollage® opens different doors for each person.

Catherine: Seena, my last question.  What role do you think SoulCollage® can play in the healing of the planet?

Seena:  I think it has potential to do quite a bit if it continues to grow. The more people heal their own inner wars the better they will be at healing the wars in families and communities and nations. However that is only the beginning of what I think is possible. If enough people gather, using their images to find consciousness, they can become one more of the imaginal cells forming and joining up in our chaotic world to envision the butterfly that we could become. SoulCollagers can gather and show that cooperation is better than competition, that partnership is better than hierarchy or patriarchy, that knowing the One and the Many is far, far better than insisting on one way or the other.  Perhaps there can be a creative inclusiveness in SoulCollage® that will be catching. 

Catherine: Seena, thank you so much for making time to give me such thorough and thoughtful answers to these questions, and thank you for bringing SoulCollage® to the world.  I know it has changed my life. I love the idea that through SoulCollage® we can raise the consciousness of the planet by imagining a better world.

Here is some more information about the new book.

Seena’s first book, SoulCollage®, was a finalist for the Nautilus 2002 Book Awards for titles that contribute significantly to conscious living and positive social change. People loved it and SoulCollage® has grown into an extensive international community. "SoulCollage® Evolving" describes this new phase of SoulCollage®. Individuals and groups worldwide use this process with different age groups and in many socioeconomic, cultural, and religious contexts to discover their wisdom and change their world. 

This book explains: 
• How you can easily make and consult your own SoulCollage® cards 
• How you can work with the language of symbols, dreams, and archetypes 
• How you can let inner wisdom bubble up to answer your deepest questions 
• How you can create and nurture community with SoulCollage® 
• How you can learn ideas of how to use SoulCollage®.

If you want to find out a little more about SoulCollage® Seena has created a wonderful video which gives you all the basics for creating cards.

You can also access these great articles on SoulCollage®:

The SoulCollage® mantra is "Discover Your Wisdom, Change Your World".  So let's change the world. One card at a time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How my SoulCollage® Source card came into Being

In the SoulCollage® process the Source card is an attempt to describe that which is mysterious, holy, and without form. The Source card represents our connection to Oneness.  Or what some might call it the Divine or Spirit. This is what holds everything together.  As such it is hard to find an image that represents this mystery.

My card resulted while experimenting and playing (the best ways to learn) with my camera and a technique for photographing water droplets.  I knew immediately that this was my Source card.  Here I was playing with water droplets, a candle and a camera and it looked like I was photographing something in a different realm of space.  It spoke to me of mystery and connection at the same time.  I was in awe that water droplets could create this magic. And it felt so right that my Source card was created from one of my photographs.

I was honored that Seena Frost featured this card in the section on Transpersonal cards in her new book, SoulCollage Evolving because this card has such deep meaning to me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Writing Down Your Soul

There are certain books you discover that speak to you deeply and change your life.  This has happened to me on three occasions.  First, about ten years ago when I discovered God is at Eye Level: Photography as a Healing Art  by Jan Phillips.  Then about seven years ago when I discovered SoulCollage® by Seena Frost.  And now it has happened to me in the form of the book Writing Down Your Soul by Janet Conner.

I discovered the Writing Down Your Soul website where I was able to download the first chapter of the book for free and view videos about the deep soul writing process.  After reading the first chapter I immediately ordered the book. Reading it felt like quenching a deep thirst.  I think the world would change if we all used the deep writing process to connect to our inner wisdom.  This combined with my SoulCollage® process makes me feel like I have access to divine guidance. And it is as simple as sitting, writing and listening.

Then I registered for Janet's online teleclass. I loved Janet's authenticity and energy.  She shared so many of her personal experiences which brought the process to life.  I really wanted to share her deep soul writing process with others as it is a simple way to make a huge difference to your life.  This led to me ask Janet if I could interview her on my blog and I am excited to share her responses to my questions. Her answers really helped clarify some questions I had about "doing the process right".

Catherine:  Janet, how has your Writing Down Your Soul process changed your life and how might it change mine or the life of someone reading this interview?

Janet:  Catherine, the full answer to that question would take up a mile of your blog space!  The succinct answer is: COMPLETELY.  Deep soul writing has changed my life completely.  I don't even feel like I am the person I was before I picked up a pen.  Since I started soul writing in 1997, my career has changed dramatically from human resource consultant to published author-teacher-speaker.  My spiritual life has completely changed.  My relationship with God has changed.  My purpose has changed.  Pre-deep soul writing I didn't know why I was here;  I just got up and went to work because I thought I had to.  Now I am crystal clear about my divine purpose and I live it every single day.  My prayer life has changed.  But the most important thing that has changed is  my sense of trust. I trust this life now.  I trust that I am safe, guided, loved, and protected.  I trust that I am not alone. No, let me amend that. I KNOW that I am not alone.  And once you know that and you know that you know that, then life suddenly feels safe and even delicious.
Catherine:  I’ve always written in a journal, but felt I had to write neatly and slowly.  In Writing Down Your Soul you recommend writing fast.  Why is this?

Janet:   In deep soul writing, the last thing you want to do is write slowly and neatly. When you do that you’re giving way too much room on the page to all the old judgmental, critical voices you’ve built up in your head over the years—people like parents, old lovers, nasty bosses….anyone who told you life was hard, or you weren’t going to make it, or you weren’t good enough. It turns out that science can demonstrate that those old programs are real. They are actual neural pathways in your brain! (Who knew!) So when you write fast you get out in front of those old “tapes,” and give something new and wise and loving the opportunity to break through—what I call The Voice.

Catherine:   Is it good enough for me to just write in a journal whenever I feel the need, or is there a specific process that makes the practice of Writing Down Your Soul more powerful than simply writing in a journal?

Janet:    The scientific evidence shows that it takes a minimum of 30 days to build a new habit and the new neural pathway in your brain that supports that habit. So if you want the full benefits of deep soul writing (or any other spiritual practice or new habit in your life) show up every day for thirty days. Now, having said that, for heaven’s sake, don’t beat yourself up if guests come into town, or you have to work around the clock on an all-important contract, or some other time-consuming event pushes soul writing off your schedule for a day or two. Just come back to the practice. But at the outset make a commitment to write everyday. If you simply say, “I’ll get to it when I can,” you won’t. Not because you don’t want to; but because those old neural pathways are doing everything they can to push you away from this life-changing practice.

Catherine:   Do I have to write for a specific amount of time for the Writing Down Your Soul process to work?

Janet:   There is no magic amount of time. When I first started writing at the soul level, I was in the throes of a terrifying divorce and had LOTS to talk over with, “Dear God,” my divine Voice. So I wrote a lot. I’m sure there were days when I wrote for a couple of hours. Today, I probably write ten or fifteen minutes on average. When I have something big to talk over, I’ll drive ten minutes to my favorite sacred writing spot, St Michael’s Shrine in Tarpon Springs. I get major downloads on new programs and books sitting at St Michael’s. When I’m there, I write for a half hour or more. I think in the end, the individual soul writer knows on some level when to stop writing. It might be a feeling of completion, or a phrase might come through that indicates the writing session is over. For me, I know it’s time to stop when “TYG TYG TYG” comes through. That’s speed writing for “Thank you God, Thank you God, Thank you, God”.

Catherine:   And finally, I’ve noticed that your favorite poet is Hafiz as translated by Daniel Ladinsky.  Why do you find these poems so powerful and what is your very favorite Hafiz poem?

Janet:   A friend gave me a copy of Daniel Ladinsky’s Love Poems from God a few months before I started writing my book. Love Poems from God is a smorgasbord of 12 mystical poets from many centuries and traditions. I fell in love with it. And somehow it seemed that a few lines from a mystic were always the perfect illustration of a point I was trying to make in my book. Meister Eckhart, for example, has the PERFECT welcome to Writing Down Your Soul: “They can be a great help—words. They can become Spirit’s hands and lift and caress you.” THAT is the perfect description of the core truth of my book.

When my manuscript was complete, I asked for permission to quote from Daniel’s book. When he learned what Writing Down Your Soul was about, he not only gave me permission, he said I had to become best friends with Hafiz. And he sent me three books of Hafiz poetry: I Heard God Laughing, The Subject Tonight is Love, and The Gift. Oh boy, was Daniel ever right! From the moment I opened those books, Hafiz moved in! He’s now my best friend. I turn to him every time I teach, opening and closing my classes with words from Hafiz.

But a favorite???!! Oh, that’s SO hard. I love so many. But here’s one I read to everyone in my workshops just as they’re picking up a pen for the first time. I say, imagine the Voice sitting in front of you, smiling, and saying:
As soon as you opened your mouth
And I heard your soft

I knew we would be

The first time, dear pilgrim, I heard
You laugh,

I knew it would not take me long
To turn you back into

That takes your breath away, doesn’t it! It sounds so big, so amazing, but actually that’s exactly what deep soul writing and all profound spiritual practices do—they connect us with the truth of who we really are, divine beings. 

Catherine:  Janet, thank you so much for sharing so much of this amazing process.  I think deep soul writing will be something that I will always do as it feels like a very magical process of self-discovery and a deep way to access your inner wisdom.

(Note: Janet has a wonderful newsletter that always inspires me)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We and the Cosmos are One

I have been making a lot of new SoulCollage® cards recently - and a number of them seem to be related to the earth and the cosmos. 

This card says to me:
"I am the one who wishes to be guided by the ancient wise light of love."

"We and the cosmos are one.  The cosmos is a vast body, of which we are still parts.  The sun is a great heart whose tremors run through our smallest veins.  The moon is a great gleaming nerve-center from which we quiver forever.  Who knows the power that Saturn has over us or Venus?  But it is a vital power, rippling exquisitely through us all the time ...  Now all this is literally true, as men knew in the great past and as they will know again."
D.H. Lawrence