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.
Thank you, Catherine and Seena for this wonderful interview. I really resonated with the discussion about images sneaking past our ego defenses and allowing us to express something that is longing to come forward if it only had an opening! And we provide that opening every time we sit down with a galaxy of images and start choosing and then cutting and pasting.
I have found it to be the easiest way for me to access my inner child and soulful stirrings. I guess that is why so many of my SoulCollage images have illustrated my blogs because they are the stories my soul wants to tell. It starts with the images and ends with the words, which still end up being secondary to what the images say more powerfully and eloquently.
Thank you, Seena, for opening up a whole new world of art to so many; a way to connect to our souls and live more consciously.
What a wonderful interview...such insightful questions Catherine. I loved this line from Seena "If you keep your cards hidden away, it’s like hiding yourself away and who wants to do that?"
I also want to speak to working with teenagers, boys in particular...I have done this and the hard part, for some boys (and girls too, but not all) is stepping out of the third person perspective as Seena mentioned. What I would do was allow them to begin by talking about what they saw on the card and then gently ask them a question like "If you are the clock in this card...what is it you want to say?" And then suddenly, they "got it." I found that teens really loved not just the card making (which you would expect) but the readings as well. It felt safe and heart opening to them...something they couldn't do in other places/situations in their lives. I miss working with teens. They taught me SO much!!!
Thank you Seena and Cathrine for this beautiful interview!
Laura, thank you so much for sharing your experience with teenagers - I think this would work well with anyone who was having difficulty speaking from the place of the card.
Thank you Catherine and Seena - wonderful interview! I happened upon this process several years ago, and was immediately drawn to it as a powerful way in which to tap the wisdom and stories that our souls want to speak.
There's a story that Seena relates in her first book (taken from Women Who Run With the Wolves) about gathering the dry bones and singing over them to make them come alive - this really spoke to me about what Soul Collage is all about. Thanks so much!
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