Heather Conn reveals two favourite cards from her SoulCollage deck

The following article, which I wrote, appeared in the Sept. 26, 2016 issue of the global e-newsletter Soul Treasures, published by KaleidoSoul in Massachusetts.

Reader Kas Sobey-Knabb responded: “Heather, just wanted to reach out to you after reading your upbeat and lovely piece in Kaleidosoul Soul Songs.Enjoyed it and meeting your 2 Neters [symbolic guides]! Quite colorful and they have given me something new and refreshing.”

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SoulCollage facilitator Heather Conn with some of her 250 cards in 2013

Grieving my father’s death. Healing from incest. Transforming feelings about everyday situations and people. SoulCollage® has been my silent sanctuary of grace and empowerment for more than a decade. It allows me to surpass the limitations of written and spoken language and instead, immerse myself in archetypal forces, intuition, and the rich universal world of visual imagery.

If I have conflicted feelings about a situation or person, I feel related sensations in my body: an ache, a tightness, whatever. I don’t want to ignore that by “escaping” into my head. SoulCollage® provides a tactile way for me to keep or release the flow of any given energy in my body. When I create a card related to those feelings, I don’t stay in my head. I don’t try to tame or control these emotions through words. SoulCollage® gives them a different outlet, a form of creative self-expression that balances my intellectual life as a professional writer and editor.

I have loved making collages since childhood. When I saw Seena’s first SoulCollage® book at a women’s conference in Seattle, I couldn’t put it down. The four-color images of the cards spoke to me in every way possible. SoulCollage® incorporated so many of my favorite passions, including photography, spirituality, art, and archetypes. How could I not explore that?

I love SoulCollage® because it offers rewards similar to free-association or “wild mind” writing. I don’t have to know the answers to a dilemma; things don’t have to make sense. In free flow, I’m co-creating with my subconscious. I just start in and pick images that evoke a visceral response. This might make no sense at all to my Inner Critic, but that’s fine. I can stay in confusion or bewilderment or joy or grief or fear and honor that, without a label. Like the Fool, I can tap into wisdom or insights without conscious intent. To me, the card-making process, the finished card, and interacting with the card are all forms of true presence: engagement with my deepest, most authentic Self.

I love that SoulCollage honors equally all aspects of self, without making character traits positive or negative. This makes it easier for me to “own,” befriend, and transform them, rather than resist or deny them. This embracing of my otherwise split-off or buried parts of self is one of the most powerful and exciting aspects of SoulCollage®, in my view. It reinforces unconditional self-love and acceptance, which is at the core of healing and personal transformation. And the process is so accessible!

Like dream work, SoulCollage is a non-threatening medium that can enable others, with little or no exposure to it, to open up and share in ways they might not otherwise. I have witnessed this repeatedly with workshop participants, one-on-one clients, and my family. It is so rewarding to see and hear people making “aha” connections with images on a card, even if it is one that they didn’t make.

I made cards on my own for at least three years before receiving my SoulCollage® Facilitator’s training in 2008. I began offering workshops in 2009. Most of the time, I started making a card with a specific intention. For example, if I wanted to tap into archetypal Peace, I made a Peace card. Or if I wanted to represent a certain sub-personality, I would create a Committee Suit card for that. But in the last three years or so, I have given myself the freedom to create a card with no specific intention. Even when I’m finished a card, I’ll sometimes have no idea what it represents and I’m fine with that. My controlling self might niggle a little, but I can handle that.

As with dream work, I will review such cards weeks or months later and usually, the meaning or importance of certain symbols will be obvious. I love this delayed process of discovery. It reinforces that we are ever-changing, ever-growing beings and our rational brains aren’t the sum total of all we are. I encourage anyone creating SoulCollage® cards to combine both an intentional and non-intentional approach.

In a handful of cases, I have asked the person honored on a Community card I’ve made to sign the back of it. This way, I feel as if I’m making a connection with someone I admire. The signature imbues the card with that person’s spirit and energy, which adds a special touch. That makes it even more of a cherished keepsake.

You can find me at sunshinecoastsoulcollage.ca.

Here are my 2 favorite cards:

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My Source Card (Transpersonal)

I loved creating this card because it represents my sense of being a tiny speck in the Cosmos, part of infinite inter-being and the Great Mystery. It inspired me to use imagery of night skies with stars on other SoulCollage® cards to remind me of my interconnectedness with All That Is. When I cut out some of the background image, I liked the empty space that it left behind, so I decided to incorporate that into the card. I put black behind this space and left it open, to represent the Unknown.

The glowing circular white rows are a close-up photo of a backlit dandelion. I like the notion that something traditionally viewed as an unwanted weed can be a source of beauty and wonder, depending on your perspective. That reinforces to me that Source energy is everywhere, in everything, even in the last places where I might think to look for or find it. This image has inspired me to include pictures of dandelions gone to seed as a repeat motif on some of my cards. These silently remind me to find the beauty in everything.

img_2015My 6th Chakra Animal Guide

This card came together quickly and effortlessly. I loved the colors and sense of flow with it. Since I am drawn to the imagery of circles as a symbol of wholeness, I cut out a circle around the Dragonfly. I liked this card so much, I made it my business card image.

I am one who is with you always.

I am one who brings vibrant beauty to the glimmer of a moment.

For more information about SoulCollage, please see my website Sunshine Coast SoulCollage.

Join me Oct. 3 in Burnaby for FLOURISHING IN YOUR FAITH: A SOULCOLLAGE EXPLORATION

Life’s challenges can sometimes bring fear and doubt. How do you sustain your faith, allowing it to flourish? What symbols or metaphors represent your faith journey: e.g. a mighty rock, flowing river or immovable mountain? What does faith look and feel like for you? Who or what tests or strengthens it?

Please note that as a non-denominational activity, SoulCollage® is respectful of all faiths and cultures.
Come explore and celebrate your faith in a fun, hands-on creative process sponsored by the Brentwood Presbyterian Church in Burnaby. Trained SoulCollage® Facilitator Heather Conn will introduce you to the principles of SoulCollage® and help you create at least one 5×8 collage card that honours your contemplative process. Brentwood’s Minister Brian Fraser will assist at the event.

No art experience necessary. All supplies provided. Participants are welcome to bring paper images that hold personal meaning or significance and use them in their collage process.

Pre-registration and a non-refundable deposit of $25 are required to hold a space. Maximum number of participants: 16. You can register online using PayPal. See Sunshine Coast SoulCollage and use the first Pay Now button on the page.

Workshop details:
Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
$50 (please bring a bag lunch)
Brentwood Presbyterian Church, 1640 Delta Avenue, Burnaby
Phone: 604.291.7017
Email: info@brentwood

For more information, please call Heather Conn at 604-886-6520 or 1-800-601-5611.

Want more contemplative content? Read my blog

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Someone walks one of Les Blydo’s sand labyrinths in Spanish Banks, Vancouver, BC.

My blog features Spirituality as one of a dozen or so main topics. For the past five years, I have written weekly on subjects ranging from walking labyrinths, Jean Houston, and making a First Nations drum to mindfulness and Buddhist leader Thich Nhat Hanh.

To explore some of the spiritual themes of my blog, click here.

A new memoir: the art of spiritual writing

I recently completed a memoir that explores my path of spiritual exploration, including seven months of travel and meditation in India.

It proved challenging to articulate my spiritual voyage, attempting to transform words and experience from the abstract realm into something personalized, fresh, and universal.

Currently, I am seeking representation for this book No Letter in Your Pocket: Twenty Years Healing a Family Secret.

Celebrate yourself with SoulCollage(R)

A SoulCollage card: The Witness Self

 

I teach workshops on a process called SoulCollage®, a wonderful, intuitive form of self-discovery and celebration created by Seena Frost of California. A graduate of the Yale School of Theology, Seena drew on her work in the Human Potential Movement, archetypes, and Jungian sub-personalities to form a SoulCollage® movement. Now there are SoulCollage® workshop facilitators around the world. For more information on my workshops, please see Sunshine Coast SoulCollage. Seena’s website is www.soulcollage.com.

Relive my El Camino de Santiago journey through a new blog series

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— Heather Conn photo

 

For the next two to three months, I’ll be writing a series of weekly posts, with photographs, about my 800-kilometre walk along the El Camino in France and Spain. Each week, I’ll feature a new topic, from “creating sacred space” to “the Roman road.”

I look forward to a lively discussion with readers.

If you want to have the latest blog links for this series sent to you, please subscribe to my blog. Save your feet and savour the journey with me online instead.

Spirituality


Spirituality and writing for children

My children’s book Gracie’s Got a Secret (MW Books 2011) shares the concept of “letting go” with children and the “Don’t push the river” approach to life. This echoes the Taoist notion of “wu wei” or “action through inaction.” Find out more on my Gracie’s Got a Secret website.

I was invited to guest post on the former blog of the Times Colonist newspaper in Victoria, BC in 2012. The resulting feature, “Spirituality and Writing for Children” revealed how Gracie’s Got a Secret emerged out of my own journey of spiritual discovery.

Dharma by the Dozen: The Art of Spiritual Writing

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While a master’s student in creative nonfiction writing from 2007-2009, I wrote the essay Dharma by the Dozen: The Art of Spiritual Writing.

This paper identifies 12 characteristics found in the best writing on this topic. Here are just two examples:

 

  • Be as transparent as possible.
  • Use cultural and cross-genre literary sources to
    reinforce a point
    .

The essay addresses the work of Peter Matthiessen, Thich Nhat Hanh, Natalie Goldberg, Anne Lamott, Andrew Harvey, and Pema Chodron.

One of my mentors at Goucher College, Baltimore posted my essay on the Creative Nonfiction department’s intranet. If you would like a copy, please contact me.

Magazine feature Spirituality in the Workplace prompts praise

PeopleTalk cover spirituality

 

 

As we move towards more holistic work environments, employers will strive to honor and provide space and time for employees’ spiritual expression. To me, this is part of celebrating diversity and offering work-life balance.

While editor-in-chief of PeopleTalk magazine in Vancouver, I chose the theme Spirituality in the Workplace for the summer 2005 issue. I wrote the cover story for that issue, which also appeared on the website HRVoice.org.

“Thank you so much for the March 2005 magazine. It is the best. The magazine has given my clients a deeper understanding of the topic and the reasoning behind the coaching that I do. The acceptance of the material and the topic by my clients has been 100% positive.”

Steve Everson, MBA Professional Coach, Everson Coaching

Click this Think beyond Pandora’s box link to read my editorial in the same issue of PeopleTalk.