Monday, July 25, 2011

A Guide Through the Shadows

For if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without (from "The Charge of the Goddess" by Doreen Valiente).                                                                                            
I've been scribbling away all day, trying to shape sentences to describe the experience of creating my first SoulCollage card. I am finding it difficult to enunciate. Maybe because I am still working to decipher the language of my soul which emerged from this creative exercise. Maybe because I am feeling vulnerable at the prospect of sharing it with the wider world. The SoulCollage process developed by Seena Frost is a simple yet powerful way of accessing the depths, and, like a powerful dream, illuminating archetypes both bright and shadowed.

I began with a stack of magazines (yes, I am a magazine junkie!), and tore out images that appealed to me for any reason. I tried not to think about the "why" of my choices. I just placed them in an empty shoebox and moved on.

 Once I had collected quite a few images, I lit a candle, some incense, and began looking through faces, landscapes, and animals until I found something that resonated with me in that moment. This turned out to be a woman with her hands covering her eyes. She seemed to me both beautiful and troubled. Next, my eyes landed on a jeweled skull. I placed it above her head, and was startled to find that I knew immediately the emotional place I had just created. I had not planned on intuiting something so dark. But I could not deny the authentic truth of it. I collaged these images over a larger photo of storm clouds, and left it to dry overnight. Still it felt unfinished.

I sat at my desk the next day holding the card in my hands. I felt agitated at first, not knowing where I should go with the visual symbolism. My eyes wandered to a dried leaf I had found a few months ago. I placed it in the collage. The green color did not match the energy of the card. I painted it black, worrying the whole time that I was ruining such a lovely leaf. But as I worked with this natural element, it became clear what else was needed: an owl! I still didn't spend time on the "why," I just searched until I found one that worked.

After adhering all of the pieces, I coated them with gel medium, and jotted down some first impressions. I was utterly floored. I thought, This is what my depression looks like. For the first time in a long while, I felt compassion for myself.

An important step in working with a SoulCollage card is to imagine entering the image, taking on its voice. Seena Frost encourages the use of the phrasing I-Am-One-Who to help source the meaning.

She Speaks:
I am One Who does not sleep
I am One Who is terrified, who lays awake in the night, hearing only cruel voices
I am One Who conjures old pain, who thinks of a failed life, too much time wasted
I am One Who feels like giving up, caving to shadow

Owl Speaks:
I am One Who sees in the Darkness
I am One Who speaks the language of the Night, yet I am not the voice of despair
I am One Who is Wise, your Guide through the shadows
Let me help you

In the next few days, I hope to "name" the card. Part of the naming process also involves assigning it to one of four suits: Committee, Community, Companion, or Council. To continue a healing dialogue with the message of this card, meditation and journaling seem necessary. As does placing Her under my pillow with a piece of moonstone and some dream herbs. She has much to teach me.

                   *                    *                    *                    *                   *                  *                   *

And speaking of teachers, I am SUPER excited to tell you about two upcoming e-courses I have signed up for! Beginning August 1st, is Live It To the Full's first offering called Emerge. The focus of this workshop is emerging from life's transitions through photography, writing, and meditation. The four weeks of instruction will be led by Liz Lamoreux, Vivienne McMaster, and Jennifer McGuiggan. It's going to be a lovely experience!

And then, on August 8th, I will be entering the wild and beautiful Pixie Campbell's SouLodge! When I read the description of her course, I cried. I have been feeling so isolated and "uprooted" here in Texas. An opportunity to connect with a circle of women, even if it is on the virtual plane, seems a much needed blessing. Pixie's work with stones, animal totems, and shamanic ritual speaks to my own spiritual practice, and I am feeling humbled by the path that has led me to her as teacher and guide.

One of my long-standing teachers and friends, Lis, is hosting an Art Bash on her blog during the month of August. Through her Painting With a Purpose Campaign 2011, she and her daughter will be raising money for Half the Sky Foundation, a charity organization that helps orphaned children in China. This is going to be an amazing event, with chances to win a magical painting made by Lis and her daughter, as well as art created by some other wildly talented artists! Check out all of the details at Dandelion Seeds and Dreams.


  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful and true post.

  2. I've seen a lot of SoulCollage cards and this one is so Owl! You are seeing in the dark, love, opening up to the voices that will soon carry the Skeleton Woman to safety. So much love.

  3. my internet connect is tweeky ... but i am so glad i got to read/see this! Thinking of you while I travel in the mountains ... stag, deer, mountain goat and hawk all are shadowing me (and I pulled owl today ... must be your influence!) It is so inspiring to see all that has manifested since you started art journaling and blogging! We so need an art date together! Much love and HOO HOO! xo lis

  4. oh, yes. owl. so drawn to owl. the seeker. is how i've seen her. what is it about soulcollage? have wanted to do it... you inspire me... (my little ramblings as a comment ~ grin) hugs.

  5. Beautifully written. You always inspire me with your tireless dedication to your creative self, even when life is tough or overwhelming. P.S. I read Jane Yolen's "Owl Moon" to Frida for her bedtime story last night---so magickal!

  6. for some reason (dark moon energy?) i felt a surge of connection reading your collage process.

    thank you so much for sharing it.