An Introduction to SoulCollage® with LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

 

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

Hello everyone and welcome my name is Dayna Schmidt-Johnson. I'm the community manager of the Writual Society and the house astrologer. Today we're going to be talking about SoulCollage®. It's an expressive arts practice that develops creativity and intuition encourages self discovery and provides personal guidance. If you've never heard of SoulCollage®, it's the practice of creating your own decks out of collage cards for their personal use from found images. Basically, if you're familiar with vision boards and you like using those you are going to love SoulCollage® And to tell us more about SoulCollage® and get us super excited to make our own is SoulCollage® facilitator, LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt, welcome, LeAnne.

LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

Thanks for having me, Dayna.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

So tell us, what is SoulCollage®? Please explain this to us. 

LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

Okay, great. Well, as you mentioned, it is an expressive arts practice, which involves gathering images that we intuitively select and then we collage them onto cards. It's a method, and then we follow that with a method of inquiry referred to as the 'I am one who' process. And that process helps individuals connect with their own inner wisdom, and parts of themselves that they might have lost touch with. So as our personal deck of cards grow, and we do many, many cards, we can then consult with them by forming questions and drawing a certain number of cards from our deck to receive guidance for our life. And it's somewhat similar to reading Tarot cards, but it's also different in some essential ways, which I know we'll talk about in a minute. To really explain what SoulCollage® is, I think it's important also to provide a little bit of background. So SoulCollage® was developed by marriage and family therapists Seena Frost, in the late 1980s. At that time, she was participating in Gene Houston's three year human capacities program. As her final project, she decided to honor each of the 130 members of her cohort in a special way. So she wrote their names onto index cards, and which she placed on her altar, and drew a card each morning, and this became what she called her netter of the day. She had first heard the word netter from Jean Houston, which is an Egyptian word that means an energy a presence that serves as a personal guide, ally, or challenger. So after she drew her daily card, she would then intuitively assign an archetype to that person, and add the name of the archetype to the card. And she also wrote a haiku for them at some point in the day. So at the end of the program, she presented her project to the group by reading the names of all the all the individuals in her group and their archetypes. And she gave each of the members their own card. So you can kind of imagine it wasn't really possible for her to know all 130 members of her cohort that intimately but even so, you know, a large number of the participants expressed to her their amazement of how spot on those intuitive choices of the archetypes were, and they reported back to her even years later, you know, the synchronicities that related back to that choice. So by that time, this has become such a meaningful daily practice, she really knew she had something. So she continued to make cards to represent her family and friends and her clients and continue the practice of drawing those cards every day. She eventually added collage images to the cards and began sharing her practice with her therapy groups. And in workshops, she had workshops in her living room, and she had a core group of regular participants. And with that group, she really further developed the method of creating the cards and inquiring of them and categorizing them into suits. So by 1998, Kylea Taylor and Jim Schofield were both publishers, and they attended one of her workshops. And immediately they knew they offered to publish your book, to which she famously replied, 'What book?' and but she did agree. And Jim suggested maybe that you know, something other than the netter card process might have a little bit more meaning for people and more traction for people. So they, with the blessing of our group, they decided on the name SoulCollage®, and they published the first book in 2001. And it was revised expanded in 2010. And what they found is as more and more people began to learn about SoulCollage®, more people were interested in teaching the methods. So Seena, Kylea, and Jim went into partnership to create a training program for facilitators. And they held the first training in Santa Cruz, California in 2003. And now here are 20 plus years later, we have over 5000 facilitators teaching this method in over 50 countries worldwide.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

That's absolutely amazing how much has grown. And you yourself are a facilitator. So how did you first discover SoulCollage®? And then what - what made you - what drew you to being a facilitator yourself?

LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

Yeah, so I first discovered SoulCollage® in 2012. And I was attending a free journaling course at the public library. And it just happened to be taught by someone who was also a SoulCollage® facilitator. Writing and journaling have always kind of been my primary form of self expression. But I've had some years of some personal challenges and you know, deep grief, and I just really wasn't able to find the words to help me process all the internal changes that were going on. Some people might call it a midlife crisis. It certainly was right on time for me in that at that point. And, you know, I needed some clarity around some pretty big life decisions that I wanted to make personally and also professionally. But as I said, this was in a drought of words, that just words were failing me. So I had tried to turn to photography as a creative outlet. And it was really helpful. You know, and not to be cliche, but you know, a picture is worth 1000 words. And that's really the basis of SoulCollage®, because we're focusing on images, and what we can have the images speak to us. And so, but I missed words, and I have wanted to get back into writing. So that's kind of how I ended up in the journaling course, I think I was kind of hoping to jar something loose somehow. And when my journaling teacher invited me to the SoulCollage® workshop that she and another facilitator were hosting, I was like, okay, yeah, that sounds good. And I guess you could say they had me at the word SoulCollage®, because I didn't know much about it. But the name really was compelling. So when I arrived at the home, when the workshop was being held, the first thing I saw were piles and piles of magazine images. So they instructed us to browse through and pick up whatever images that stood out for us without really taking time to consider why, after some introductions and feedbacks, basic instructions, we just went to work cutting out and arranging images on the cards, experimenting a little with the composition, and finally gluing everything down. I was really interested in how the energy of the images changed as I tried them out on different backgrounds. And I was really pleased with the end results, I felt like an instant artist, you don't have to have a lot of artistic ability to do SoulCollage®. And some people find that they actually do have some. But I did love my cards. And I really, I was very intrigued by the cards that I saw other people were making, too. So could have stopped there and felt like it was a great day to spend the day. But later when we were invited to speak from the perspective of the cards while partner wrote down what we said, I was absolutely blown away by what came out of my mouth. The words that I hadn't been able to access previously really came easily and with just surprising insights that I really could apply to what was going on in my life. At that time. I was blown away by how spot on it was what was going on. And I didn't know it at the time I was making the card that had anything to do with that. So why did I become a facilitator? Well, I'm a teacher at heart. So whenever I find something that's helpful in my own life, I'm eager to teach it to others. So I think the seeds were planted in that first workshop. But I continued to make cards on my own for a while and sometimes with friends that I had made in the workshop that I attended. And when I began my training to become a spiritual director at the Hayden Institute, I found that the SoulCollage® was really widely practiced to that community as well. And they always had supplies ready. And during our sharing times, people would show the cars that they made and speak about how meaningful the process was for them. So in hindsight, this made perfect sense because the Hayden program is deeply rooted in human psychology. And Carl Jung and Jungians such as James Hillman were a big influence on Senna's work in the development of SoulCollage®. So I think this was the first time though that I realized how widespread the practice was. And I was really happy to connect with others who love SoulCollage®, as much as I did. So after I graduated from the spiritual direction program in 2016, I decided to go straight into their dream work facilitator program. At the same time, I decided it was also probably the right moment to pursue the facilitator training, which I did in August of 2016, between the two programs. So during the training, something just clicked with, clicked with me. I just knew somehow that SoulCollage® was this missing link that kind of connected all these interests and experience that I had. And it was sort of forming the foundation of my vocational calling, which was something I was really deeply questioning at that time.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

So this process has really brought you a whole new change in lifestyle. I'm curious what are the benefits of SoulCollage® for those of us who are showing up to it for the first time?

LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

Great question. So I think the benefits of SoulCollage® are really best summed up in the organization's tagline, which we also developed in community, which is 'Discover your Wisdom, Change your World.' This is a method that puts us in direct communication with all those many parts that make up who we are. Some of those are in opposition of who we like to think we are. And you know, maybe for a variety of reasons, we might have suppressed those parts or even just left them behind as we go about meeting the demands of daily life and trying to be what we think we're supposed to be in the world. So to quote Dr. Jung, you know, when an inner situation is not a conscious it happens outside its fate. So SoulCollage® is a creative and fun way to make that inner situation conscious. And Seena put this really beautifully in her book. She drew on the story of Lolo buss singing over the bones that some may be familiar with, from Clarissa Pinkola Estes' book, 'Women Who Run with the Wolves.' And Seena described it this way, she said, you're gathering your various inner parts conscious and less conscious, lovable and irritating, beautiful and shadowy. And then you sing over them so that they can transform you into a freer, more vibrant soul. So it's it that is really at its core, what SoulCollage® is all about. And there are a multitude of applications and contexts where it can be used like individual and group therapy, art therapy, spiritual direction, dreamwork, grief work, addiction, recovery, addiction recovery, and many, many more.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

So you have mentioned that these are cards that you're creating in SoulCollage® and you said that they're similar to tarot, but different. Can you talk a little bit about that? How How are they different from tarot and oracle cards?

LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

Right. So in tarot there, you know, there is a specific structure and meaning that that is a tribute to the cards and tarot readers will read the cards, tell others what they mean. Of course, you can do that for yourself as well. But in SoulCollage®, no one ever interprets someone's SoulCollage® cards for someone else. We make our own cards from images that have meaning for us personally. And we speak to ourselves from the voice of this cards back to ourselves. And so this is really important because when we're creating a SoulCollage® card, what we're doing is we're coming in part, we're coming in touch with our inner self. And we don't always know when we select the images, what parts of those they represent. But as we go through the process of speaking from that card, and giving it voice, we discover that and so nobody can do that for someone else.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It's can't be there's no way that could be the same cards right the way they are in tarot. So then, how do you utilize these in a daily practice? The same way?

LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

Yeah, so like many so collectors, you know, I follow Seena's daily practice of drawing a card was she that became a part of the book and she talked about that. And I do also have a dedicated altar space in my own home where I keep my cards and I display my card of the day, or my netter of the day and she would split it and cards from different readings that I've done or recent readings that I've done. I also keep a running log of these daily draws it's really interesting to see patterns that emerge from cards that seem to come up maybe more frequently other Seena would oftentimes pick up the phone if it was the card representing somebody she knew she'd pick up the phone and say 'hey, I bought your car today, you know, is everything okay with you?', you know, so you know that it does allow a lot of synchronicity, you know, when you do that, and I also do a monthly reading at the new moon so we won't get into this today but the SoulCollage® deck there are four suits of the SoulCollage® deck and so when I do my monthly reading, I pull from each of the four, one card from each of the four suits and do some exercises with that. Sometimes I have a specific question. But other times I sometimes I just leave the question open to say okay, 'who who's who's coming with me? In this new lunar cycle; do you have wisdom to offer?' and I'm for these readings I also do combine it with tarot and oracle cards and so I'll draw some of those and it's really interesting how my cards have something to say about the tarot cards and and vice versa. So you know, putting them kind of, you know, as you know, in tarot, you can kind of put down clarifying cards. Well, there's a lot of clarification that happens between the two and I find that that I experienced a lot of synchronicity. When I do that, it's really amazing. We will, you'll hear you'll hear so well, as I say, a lot of times, you can't make this stuff up, right? Because it's like you get the right card at the right time. And then you know, so it really is a powerful process that way. I'm also really deeply interested in the application of SoulCollage®, and dream work was great, you know, I was interested in dream work, I went through the training. And again, it makes sense, because our dreams and the practice of SoulCollage® kind of share that same goal of bringing what's unconscious, to the surface, to our consciousness, you know, for our healing, and our wholeness and our highest good. So, and both of them communicate using languages symbol and metaphor. So, you know, in our dreams, the unconscious spring symbols to us and unusual contexts and situations, we wake up and we think, why was you know, why was this, you know, car in the lake and, you know, cat was sitting on the, you know, we don't know what what it's all about, right? But, but as we work with the symbols, we begin to start to uncover the deeper meaning. And so with SoulCollage®, we just rely on our intuition. It's just like one step above being asleep, right, we tried to turn our thinking brains off and use our intuition to guide us to images that we put in unusual contexts, that may not make sense immediately. But as we gain experience with the symbolic language of the unconscious, we can kind of get past those surface notions. SoulCollage® is a lot often been described as a waking dream for that reason. My project for the Hayden Dream Program was actually an ebook, which I walked through one of my own personal dreams, and applied the SoulCollage® method to answer the vocational question that was on my mind at that time. And it's available - my website will give you information about that. And I also lead dream circles four times a year and a year long group that I do and we practice, SoulCollage®, but also group protective dreamwork that we learned at the Hayden Institute, and other creative practices we use for that.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

Lovely. There's so much to this and so many applications, to SoulCollage®, so I can't wait to create our own and start applying it. I'm curious, what do you love so much about SoulCollage®?

LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

Well, there's so many things I love about SoulCollage®, I love how easy it is to get started, I love my cards, I just, you know, I look at them, sometimes I just sit and look at them. They're just they hold so much meaning and there's so much in them. And I love you know, even though it's just super fun, it's also really impactful. And it's immediately impactful. I mean, just after making your first card and giving it voice, I mean, the tears just come. And it's just, it's really, really helpful in my life. As a facilitator, I never get tired of witnessing that light that comes on in someone's eyes, you know, when they've kind of come in contact with something really deep and true about themselves and their own inner wisdom. And also the way I had one woman come up after a workshop and she's like, I didn't think I could create any kind of art and I just think this is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. You know, and and they are there that they have that effect on you. So and as I mentioned before, when I was telling a little bit about how discover, so collage, I mean, there's no question. It's changed my world in many, many ways. But what I love the most about it, is it has brought me into contact with an amazing community of souls that are deeply engaged in their own inner work, which I don't have to tell you is so important in these times to be doing our inner work because that's how the world gets changed with individual people doing their own work. And so, and of course, as a community manager yourself, I know you know how important it is to have a community of practice to support you and that way, but I would go so far to say that without community SoulCollage® would not have evolved into what it is or become and had the impact on the individual lives it had had without the groups of SoulCollage® as they've began practicing together, bearing witness to each other self discovery began in community you know, and it continues to evolve and community and, and that's my absolute favorite part.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

Yes, community is key to what we do the Writual Society sounds like to what you do with SoulCollage® and just to spirituality in and of itself, right connecting with one another is so, so important. Um, LeAnne, can you give us a little insight into what we're actually going to be doing in the workshop itself? Just a short overview?

LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

Sure. We have done last couple of years in our community, one of our facilitators and trainers Andrea Tueller, who works and lives in Switzerland, has done this card of the year process where we access our we do a meditation and we access our intuition and we select images intuitively that will create a card that will sort of guide us through the year, you know, from our, from our intuitive place, and so she gave me permission to recreate this for folks. And it's just bring your magazines, bring your images and just be ready to spend a couple of hours with us learning a little bit about SoulCollage®, and creating a card that will be a trusted guide throughout the year for you.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

Oh, I cannot wait, this is gonna be so much fun. And doing it with a whole bunch of people at the same time will be wonderful too. Thank you so much for being here today, LeAnne. So we'll we'll see you in January in the Writual Society for our very own SoulCollage® workshop. In the meantime, where can people find you or SoulCollage®? Sure.

LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

So you can find out more about SoulCollage® at the website Soulcollage.com or our community is community.soulcollage.com and you can find me on dreamersandmystics.com and we have Instagram for both.

Dayna Schmidt-Johnson

Perfect. We will seek you out and look for more information in the meantime. LeAnne, thanks so much again for being here today. Have a terrific day and we'll see you in the Society.

LeAnne Kittrell Nesbitt

Thank you.

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