Jodi Blazek Gehr, Being Benedictine Blogger
Cultivate your creativity and spirituality through a variety of prayerful, creative, and contemplative practices including SoulCollage®, praying with art, poetry, music, and more.
SoulCollage® is an intuitive process using images to create personal cards. SoulCollage® helps name the parts of ourselves that we value and also want to work on as well as naming the parts of the Divine that we often overlook. A visual journal to discover your inner voice, this process can be a spiritual practice of tending soul while expressing self. People are amazed at the beauty of their cards and their ability to access their inner wisdom using images.
What is SoulCollage®?
Collage is a creative and intuitive act of cutting and pasting images. Easy and accessible for all ages, it is a powerful form of self-reflection and prayer. Images can guide you to a new awareness and reveal a deeper level of thought and feeling. If you have never tried creating a collage, you will be amazed at what you can learn from this process. Holding an image in prayer is powerful; it is much more than just a craft project.
Creativity is about the process, not the product. It’s not a competition and it’s not a race. It’s about listening to self and spirit.
How to create a SoulCollage® card:
Step One: To begin, gather some supplies—magazines, special photos and images, old calendars, scissors, glue sticks, pencil. Ideally, you will glue your images on a 5 x 8-inch card (available from SoulCollage® or from a hobby store cut into the desired size.) You may select any size you desire, but I’ve found that limiting the number of images and making critical decisions about what “belongs” in your collage is part of the practice. A working frame could be helpful in selecting the images that will fit on your card by cutting a 5 x 8-inch center out of a piece of cardstock or paper that is the same size as a SoulCollage® card.
Step Two: Begin looking at images and setting aside those that tug at your heart. Often images just gravitate to you, so there is no need to hurry the process. Be contemplative about exploring images, selecting those that speak to you either positively or negatively. Perhaps an image disturbs or disgusts you, or you do not understand what draws you to an image—don’t be afraid, just go with it. If an image speaks to you, set it aside for possible use. It can often feel that an image selects you when you surrender to the process. Don’t think too much—trust the process when images “pull” at you.
Step Three: When you find a collection you want to work with, start playing with two or three images that attract you and feel like they belong together. Loosely trim or tear them out of their original context and imaginatively place them in a new context by framing or fitting them together, using various arrangements and layering to increase an image’s visual power. Play with different backgrounds either horizontally or vertically. Let your intuition speak to you.
Step Four: There are no hard-and-fast rules in SoulCollage®, but you might consider a few tips. First, it is a good idea to limit each card to a few images that represent the same mood or energy, and second, try not to use words in your cards. Words tend to pin down the meaning of a card, instead of allowing an open interpretation when working with your card later.
Step Five: When it feels like your card is complete, cut carefully around the edges of final images, using smaller, sharp scissors for areas of detail. When gluing images down, use a lesser-quality magazine as a base, turning to a fresh page after gluing an image down (much less messy than a sticky kitchen table.) Smooth away wrinkles with a rolling pin, art roller or brayer and gently brush away glue rubbings.
Step Six: There are many ways to go deeper with creating, journaling, praying with or reading your cards since they are the reflection of your innermost thoughts and feelings. In the ancient prayerful practice of Lectio or Visio Divina, Latin for “divine seeing”, we allow words and images to speak into our hearts. See what you can learn by naming your card and journaling with “I Am One Who…” as a sentence starter. Using I am One Who Statements—A Great Light Has Come Upon the Earth.
Some Creative Card Practices:
- Create a card that expresses your prayer style, a prayerful expression, or an aspect of the Divine. For example: What names do you have for God? What are you praying for?
- Create a card when you are in a positive emotional state, a negative one. Ask God for help understanding your emotions.
- Find an image of an animal that draws you in. Think about why this image, this animal, appeals to you. We breathe life into our cards by speaking from them in the first person. What does your soul say?
- Find 2 or 3 backgrounds that speak to you. Set the same image in front of each of them. How does the meaning of your card change?
- “I am One Who” sharing. Roleplay in the first person rather than talking objectively about your card using “I am One Who…” Describe yourself as if you are the image. This is a different practice than writing “what this card means to me…” Consider where you are, what you are doing, what the image may want, need, fear, expect or intend. Keep saying IAOW…speak, speak, speak. It’s even better to practice this with someone who can write down what you say, or tape yourself and listen back. Speaking is more right brain, writing is left brain. Journaling is revealing, but speaking brings something new. “I said that?
- Praying with your cards. Draw a card a day to hold in your heart throughout the day. What insights do you get about how to pray today?
Creating with a Theme
Creating cards can be in response to prompts or themes, as in the Not-Just-For-Advent retreat, or can be intuitively created with no special purpose in mind. Here are some ideas based on the cards I have created:
- Create a card as a visual reminder of your Word of the Year
- 2016—Mercy Always We Begin Again
- 2017—Gentle Be Excessively Gentle: A New Year’s Un-Resolution
- 2018—Cushion 2018 Word of the Year
- 2019—You are Free New and Improved: Always We Begin Again
- Create a card to remember an important point in your spiritual journey or a significant dream.
- Create a visual personal “brand mark”—Pictures are worth a thousand words.
- Create a card to represent universal or archetypal energiesat play in your life, such as your Inner Monk, Inner Artist, Wounded Child, Crone, Survivor, etc. More on archetypes.
- For a loved one, to honor or in memory of.
- My daughter— Just Listen: Advice for a Quarter-Life Crisis, Jessica Becoming
- A dying friend— Circle of Friends
- My husband— A Marriage Made of Moments
- Cece— Cece: * A * * Snow * * Day * * Reflection * *
Journaling with Your Cards
- Responding to Questions—What gifts do have to give me? What message do you have for me? What do you need from me? What are you afraid of? More exciting possibilities here.
- Initiating Prayer—Standing in the Flow
- Writing Poetry— The Door is Open
Reading Your Cards
- A reading from my personal deck of cards— Be Excessively Gentle: A New Year’s Un-Resolution
- Insight from SoulCollage® for Reading Your Cards
SoulFully You Retreats are a safe, sacred space for your own creative process to emerge, in your own way, in your own time, to become SoulFully You. Attend a scheduled retreat or invite me to plan a special program or retreat (many themes below) for your organization or group. Half-Day, Full Day, or Overnight Retreats available. Blog posts about SoulCollage® HERE.
SoulFully You Retreat Themes
Self and Spirit—honoring different parts of our self and qualities of the Divine
Discover Your Inner Monk—cultivate a desire for silence, solitude, and seeking God
Discover Your Inner Artist—cultivating intuition and creativity
Personality and Prayer—a variety of prayer practices including music, creativity, words, movement and more.
Creativity as Prayer—a variety of creative prayer practices including SoulCollage®, creating mandalas and more.
Journey to Wisdom—what is wisdom, seeking God, using your SoulCollage® cards to access inner wisdom
Awaken Your Creativity— You are Created in God’s Image, using creativity to grow spiritually
Circle of Stones—Explore the power of spiritual friendships and contemplative practices to ground you in the present moment; a powerful retreat for a circle of friends.
Full Moon Retreats
Exploring Your Inner Mary
Lent and Advent Retreats
Benedictine Spirituality–prayer and work; obedience, stability, and conversion of life.
Contact me if interested in planning or attending a retreat.