In the Spirit of Collage (Pt. 3 of 3)

The Collage/Tarot Connection and the Now

I’ve been a lover of the Tarot since I was 14 and bought my first deck. Over the years I have added new decks to my collection as well as a few oracle decks from time to time. The last time I counted there were nearly 60 decks in all. Many Tarot enthusiasts will easily have collections in the hundreds (if not more) and I’ll admit I want to go on a Tarot deck buying binge from time to time. The main reason I don’t (other than we live on a budget) is because I love browsing through all the different decks. I can spend (waste) hours visiting Tarot websites, reading reviews on blogs or Amazon, looking at different illustrations and concepts, reading about the artist and their vision and influence for the deck, get sucked into Pinterest, and so on and so on. I’ll know when I come across the right deck because it will find its way to me at the right time. It’s much more fun and mysterious than clicking to add decks to my Amazon cart (of course there’s plenty on my ‘wish list’…)

The Moon from Kat Black's Golden Tarot Deck

One of my favorite decks of all time is the Golden Tarot by Kat Black. She uses a computer collage technique with artwork taken from the late Middle Ages through the early Renaissance; a time period I have always been fascinated with and drawn to from a very early age. She pulls together pieces of different paintings from master artists of that time and creates collages with velvety rich symbolism that speaks to my heart of hearts. It has the most beautiful Death card I have ever seen in any Tarot deck and I love her interpretation of The Moon card.

I decided about a year and a half ago that I wanted to do something that combined my love of collage and love of Tarot to create some personal cards that made me feel good, maybe contemplative, or loving, nostalgic, perhaps even moody. I craved cards that embraced the human condition. More specifically, my human condition. I wanted sentimental and I wanted layers upon layers of emotion. I wanted love and sensitivity, but I also wanted there to be a sense of humor here and there to cut through all the seriousness. I wanted strong messages with a tender touch. I wanted collage cards that would speak to my soul, spark my inner flame, and help me with chakra alignment and meditation. I wanted something personal, something that I put together with pure intent to connect me spiritually to my guides, dreams, and power animals in universally profound ways.

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So when I set out to create my own set of “intuition cards” I knew I didn’t want to follow any of the typical rules or expectations of traditional Tarot or oracle decks. My goal was to create a simple set of 24 cards; a deck that I could easily be able to pull one card in the morning as a “card of the day” to focus on. I could also shuffle through and select a card or two for inspiration in writing or painting. I could fan them out face up and find just the right one with the energy I needed to focus on for a ritual, or simply take the one off the top to use as a journal prompt at the end of a long day. So if I followed my heart, these cards would not be based on Rider-Waite or any other esoteric symbolism. They would be uniquely mine, with the language of my personal symbolism being of my own creation, allowing for change and renewal over time.

I still use Tarot daily because giving Tarot readings is not only my profession, but I hold a deep appreciation and love for its ability to help transform lives. At times I will use it for personal readings when I am needing to see things from a different perspective. Sometimes I’ll just take out a deck I haven’t worked with in a while and shuffle the cards. I find comfort in the way they feel in my hands, and the vibration of their unique energy. It’s like becoming reaquainted with an old friend. I enjoy taking the time to look at each card individually before I bless them, wrap them and set them back in their special place with a warm feeling in my heart.

When using my intuitive cards, there is a very inward focus that occurs. Some of my favorite moments working with my cards are those especially quiet times in the morning after I’ve sent the kids off to school and my husband is at work, but before I start laundry or take phone calls in my studio office. It is then that I can light a candle in a calm environment and spend some time gazing at an intuitive card of my own creation while sipping on my coffee.DSCF5941

I have had some of these cards for quite a while and I noticed that they were starting to show signs of wear. I was worried about them peeling back just far enough that they would catch on other cards and possibly get torn. I had spray lacquered them several times over but I wanted something more durable. So I decided to research ways to safely seal or laminate paper collage work and came across the “SoulCollage” website. I had never heard of that term before but was intrigued by some of the articles I read. I found myself nodding while reading because not only was the philosophy resonating with me but I was also learning new creative ways to simplify the process of creating collage cards with less mess. Yes, there are many who enjoy computer collage and that’s fine, it’s just not my preference. Like I mentioned, I absolutely love Kat Black’s work but personally I’m more of a tactile sort of gal so I need the true physical act of cut and paste…you know, real scissors and sticky rubber cement glue that makes icky glue boogers on the tips of fingers. And we must not forget the glorious mess of hundreds of tiny slivers of trimmed paper all over the table, scattered on the floor, stuck throughout your hair, in your cleavage….

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When you begin to do collage, (more than likely before you realize you’re even thinking about doing it) you start to see your surroundings in a whole new light. You’ll find yourself uncontrollably or inexplicably tearing images from magazines, catalogues, advertisements, labels from packages, and illustrations taken from old ripped up books on their way to the recycle bin. You’ll find yourself grabbing a brochure from the parks and recreation site because it has wolves on the cover. You might see that the box of cereal has an interesting new logo. You may even be shocked to find yourself trying to quietly remove a page from a magazine while in the waiting room at the dentist office because you can’t bear to part with the image. You may never see one like it again! Do not fear, because there are always going to be plenty of images from a multitude of different sources. So much so in fact that in no time you’ll be needing a file box with folders labeled with categories to separate the mass of torn, ripped, crumpled, cut, and snipped papers with cool images on them. Organizing them further than broad categories will probably never happen. Just know that’s okay. Part of the therapeutic process of collage is being able to let go of perfectionism, even just a little. The purpose is not to limit but to promote spiritual growth by continuing to learn and connect to Spirit, and to open new ways for positive changes to happen.

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Under Construction

As I continue to move forward on adding to my Soul Cards I am thinking of branching out and trying to begin a Wheel of the Year deck. With Samhain coming up I have been flooded with Autumn/Halloween images from all over the place. My mom gave me her Better Homes and Gardens fall issue and the thing is now basically nothing but a tattered shell, and I loved every moment of it!

I truly believe that ANYONE could benefit from creating collage work whether it’s oracle-type cards, collage journals, a framed 8×10 piece of art or even a wall mural! Whatever works for you. It can be as involved or as simplistic as you want. Although the wall mural sounds cool, it’s best to start small. Another reason collage cards are a perfect place to start. I urge you to flip through an old magazine, tear out some pages with images that speak to you, go within yourself, then get to cutting and pasting~ Express Your Beautiful Self!

Be fearless to express yourself!

Be fearless to express yourself!

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

*There’s plenty of free articles and information about collage at http://www.soulcollage.com/
and free is always good!

In the Spirit of Collage (Pt. 2)

The Wisdom of the Womb

It would be nearly two decades before I would have the yearning to put together another collage and it came about while on bed rest when I was pregnant with my fourth child. I couldn’t seem to get jazzed about scrapbooking like some of my friends did. I found that there was way too much stuff to deal with and lug around, and strangely, I thought it seemed too structured (if that makes any sense). But I needed something to do.

So out of the blue I began gathering photos with pagan people/places/themes from old calendars, greeting cards, and torn from alternative magazines. These were added to the collection of pictures I had in a folder and stored over the years (for what exactly, I did not know, until that time of course). During the sorting process I recalled there being a large empty frame in the corner of the garage and asked my husband to bring it inside for me. Using the cardboard backing as the base for the collage, I went crazy on it. For the next several weeks I spent hours sorting through and cutting out pictures. I came across small trinkets like snakeskin found on the garden path, sand in the bottom of a bucket from a beach trip earlier in the year, an old spiderweb my toddler brought to me, unrefined sea salt, colorful beads, and other odds and ends to be used as embellishments. I found myself immersed in a therapeutic activity without ever consciously saying to myself, “gee, I’m making a collage”, I just did it and it helped those last five weeks go by a little bit faster. More importantly, it just felt good, like a balm for my soul.

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My “downtime collage” has now presided over my main altar as a backdrop for nearly six years and continues to inspire me in countless ways.

Pieces of Parenting: Sharing the Wisdom 

After taking all the precautions and strict bed rest, our last child was born at 32 weeks. My placenta had ruptured and at one point during the c-section, the outlook was dim for the two of us. What little I can remember of the things I saw, felt, and heard during that perilous time remains as ethereal wisps of fear that brush against my subconscious from time to time. To look at him today, no one would ever suspect he was born a preemie struggling on a ventilator in the NICU. Other than his mild asthma, his looks and build replicate his Poppa’s, who is a hefty ex-lineman football player. Needless to say, he is walking in his dad’s footsteps as the offensive lineman on the 3rd grade football team.

I feel blessed to experience life with my family. Our children are our biggest accomplishments, cherished little souls that we wistfully watch grow and mature into adults faster than we ever thought possible. Our oldest son (their older brother by 10+ years) recently left for college, so now it’s now just the four of us in the household (plus our familiars of course). It has taken some time to adjust, but we’re getting there, knowing that through love and acceptance we can weave any gaps left in our newly downsized household.

Collage as a Family Group Activity

My children love collage and have enjoyed making some of their own creations over the years. From there the idea to construct a big family collage to honor the Four Directions was born.

There Were 5 Rules:

  1. To find images that they felt represented the four directions
  2. Group them accordingly
  3. Cut only paper
  4. No glue fights
  5. Have Fun!

Though we live in the mundane world out of necessity, as a family we bring in as much magick as we can, tapping into the other realms through practice, patience, guidance and protection. What better time to create something together as a new start (and finally new bedrooms of their own to boot!); something that we each contribute to, sharing how we feel about our world at the moment and linking our emotions together in a visual way. What better way than a collage!

We could have used personal family photos for this project, but to truly tap into something deeper, something on the archetypal plane, we needed universal symbols, those things that spoke to us on several different levels. So we took the time and sifted through old stuffed folders of scraps torn or cut from magazines, catalogs, calendars, brochures, and whatever else we found, gathering new images as well. The process becomes a wonderful unifying experience, bringing intimate understanding between those involved.

An example that comes to mind is one child may set a photo of a bear on the table to be used in the direction of North. When explaining that they see the bear as a representation of Earth, it will in turn will resonate with the rest of us in some way by suggestion, personal affinity or connection, knowledge of the animal, etc.. If you were to ask us individually ‘why’ we see it as connected to North/Earth, you will more than likely receive different answers from each of us. Strength, courage, grounding, confidence, beauty, and so forth. Each answer blends harmoniously and the back of the bear image is coated with glue by one child and placed by the other, smoothed by me, and acknowledged by my husband. This creates teamwork and connection in a loving gift of sharing and mutual understanding.

Creating a family collage can be a powerful spiritual experience. 

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Gathering images and sharing ideas

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The finished product hangs happily on a wall in my Tarot office/art and craft studio/ritual space/massage table area/yoga room/library and reading place/writing space/eBay store and where we do many of our family rituals because obviously everything we need is right there!

We did a decent job on trying to keep the elements in their quarters; Earth has furry animals and outdoorsy activities. South has the sun, candles, and a cool dragon. East has outer-space, sky, clouds, pictures of people feeling inspired, dreaming, and singing. West is filled with watery things including Momma’s totem, the seahorse. That was a fun surprise because one of the kids snuck it on at the last minute. It makes everyone who sees it happy with the light, friendly, childlike, magickal imagery. It offers us all something we could use a little bit more of.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

In the Spirit of Collage (Pt. 1 of 3)

Reflections of a Teenage Dream

I first began to collage as a young teen, around the same time I began to study and read the Tarot. Now this was back in the 80’s so the photos used were ones developed with actual film, which means days, sometimes weeks would go by before I ever saw the end result of my attempt to capture the moment. There was no instant gratification and no way of knowing if the one you took was even going to turn out (unless you had a crappy Polaroid). You took one picture at a time, crossed your fingers, and prayed to the Photo Gods because you only got a total of 24 chances in a single roll of film. This made capturing raw moments much more random and rare than nowadays.

I found that thick poster paper or plain cardboard worked best as the base for my collage work. Before beginning I would take several minutes to gaze at the blank ‘canvas’ like I did before painting with my watercolors, imagining it as a smooth pond, knowing that the first photo (like the first stroke of the brush) would be the pebble that I tossed. Each photo would in someway be connected to others on a deeply spiritual level. I chose the images randomly from a big heap collected over months. I had no set intention, I just placed them where I felt they belonged. Even the shapes were cut haphazardly, notched and imperfect, just like the volatile teen I felt I was. Little did I know that those images were telling a story that only my subconscious was aware of at the time.

The collages were never intended to be anything fancy, just scissors and glue, time alone, raw teenage emotion, and an LP record playing loudly in the background. These pieces of memory held together by glue encompassed an abstract view of my emotional world at that time in a way that I was unable to do with words written in journals. I look at my old collages now and my mind reaches far beyond that moment suspended in time. Each snapshot intertwines with the other, which connects to another, and so on until the memories blend and I am transported back to a time that is not a time, and to a place that is not a place. It is from there that I can finally see the big picture clearly through my soul’s eyes.

Collage was my form of therapy during those difficult, sometimes unbearable teenage years. The end result displayed the jagged pieces of my world and I didn’t scrutinize or over think their lack of beauty, depth, or importance like I did with every other aspect of myself. They just became what they were.

I continued to do collage on and off and in between the changing times during those years as a rebellious runaway, a pregnancy and the choices to be made as a result, drug use, an abusive boyfriend, life in a crisis group home for girls, a stint in juvenile hall, hopelessly pining away for a first love, friends in rehab, and friends who decided to check out of life before their time. But there were also smiles, laughter, friendship, excitement, celebration, silliness, remnants of childhood wonder, magic, dreams, unconditional love, and hope for the future. When each collage was completed it would take up space on my bedroom wall to be displayed with the others that mingled with band posters, ticket stubs, and theme park souvenirs.

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Love to you all (and thanks to Facebook for helping us stay in touch) 

In my very first collage there’s trimmed snapshots of me and my horse, a couple of boyfriends, me nose to nose with my poodle, friends at the beach, a birthday wish, friends who partied, a trip to Hawaii, and another trip to an amusement park, and my dear friend R. holding the litter of puppies shortly before she decided to end her own life.

This collage may seem like nothing more than a collection of mishmash haphazardly thrown together but it actually weaves together the private story of a 3 month period of my life very well, saying so much without any words at all. The jumble is a language that is all my own, each experience deeply affecting me, and each event directly relating to the other.

Although I’ve decided to publicly share a little piece of my past, the emotional soul attachment is still privately mine because only I can connect the experiences of my feelings as they relate to the intricate web of my personal journey. That’s the beauty of collage, and even more so, the beauty of our individual memories.

What are some of the ways you have expressed yourself or chronicled events during times of joy, or difficulty?  How do you honor or cherish your memories?

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

Invitation Into the Spirit of Collage

For many years I have enjoyed working with collage and wanted to share with you how my practice has evolved over time. Because of the different stages in my collage journey I decided to write my experiences over three separate blog posts. I’ll begin with my first attempts at collage as a young teen looking to find an emotional outlet while trying to find myself. The second post will be about my renewed interest as a pregnant pagan mom on bedrest, and how having too much time on my hands was a blessing that led me back to something I enjoy. Finally I’ll share where I am at this point in my journey not only as a wife and mother but a woman who is beginning to come full circle in my process of self-improvement and spiritual growth and where collage plays an important role in that process.

I hope that you enjoy these posts and that they inspire you to try something new, rekindle an old hobby, or perhaps blend the two together in order to create something that is uniquely yours; something that gives you great joy and satisfaction. Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments, and advice. I would love to hear from you!

Simple Collage Cards

Simple Collage Cards