Collaging Your Parts of Self

Over ten years ago, I made myself a deck of collage cards very similar to Seena Frost's "Soul Collage Cards" but without the various "suits." My "Self-Discovery Cards" answered many of my life’s questions and visually revealed my unfolding life story. In the article below I share how I collaged my way out of depression and into self-understanding.


Sample Lesson from the E-Course 100 Days of Art Journal Therapy


This expressive art exercise invites you to create visual representations of different parts of yourself so that you can better understand your inner landscape.
- Old magazines and books
- Scissors and glue stick
- Matte board/cardboard cut to size for your cards such as 5x7 inches or 6x6 inches if you prefer working in a square format. 
- Photocopies of your collage cards so that you can write and reflect upon them in your art journal.
Mapping Out Your Inner World

We each have a treasure trove of sub-personalities that live below our conscious awareness. Each personality part has its own goals and dreams for our happiness, and this often sets up conflicts within. We can preoccupy much of our life with inner struggles between opposing parts of self, not really understanding why we want something and then sabotage having it.
Our various parts of self can drive us crazy in their disparity. As we collage all of the various parts of self, we will find many polarities in our thinking that need to be sorted out and reconciled. To sort our our inner conflicts it is helpful to map out our inner world into "parts," so that we can start to recognize what aspects of our psyche are dominating our awareness at any given moment.
Recognizing our different parts of self is exciting work because it helps our inner incongruities to make rational sense. It can even be fun to identify our destructive parts of self because it dissipates their power. It is helpful to understand that even our "negative" parts of self are trying to get us closer to happiness, even if their methods are misaligned. Seeing our inner conflicts in visual form can be an enlightening way to reconcile, direct and integrate our different drives, fears, needs, and desires. 
The Ease of Spontaneous Collage
Making spontaneous collage cards can help you to map out your subconscious belief patterns so that you can work with them in a constructive way. Seena B. Frost who is the originator of the method called "Soul Collage" has written two informative books on the process of intuitive collage that divides the cards into structured suits if your prefer specific instructions.
For myself, I was not drawn to create suits when I made my own deck of cards. I simply felt called to sit down, when I noticed an emotional pattern dominating my psychology, and make a spontaneous collage card with imagery that felt strong in the moment.
Emotional Mapping with Your Cards
I went through a period of two years where I felt called to intensively map out my psyche through my collage cards, and I discovered at least 50 different parts of myself. Since then I have added a few new cards a year, and taken out a few cards that no longer feel "emotionally charged" from my deck.
Every time I felt an emotion that felt unknown to me, I would pull imagery from magazines that resonated with the feelings in my body. If you feel drawn to try this method, I encourage you to have a collage table ready with all of your materials so that you can sit down and collage from the immediacy of your emotional states.
Naming Your Cards
It is helpful to name the various aspects of your self on the back of each card. Each part of your personality has a life of its own with certain needs, goals, likes and dislikes. Naming these parts of self will support you to witness them without becoming them.
As you come to identify the patterns of your psyche, you can record your insights in your art journal. I found it interesting to photocopy my collage cards and record what emotional needs each card was expressing in my journal.
As each emotional need is healed and integrated into your conscious awareness, your cards may no longer be "active" and new layers will arise to heal and form into new cards. When you consciously meet your emotional needs, you will feel less conflicted, and your collection of emotionally "active" cards may simplify.
Using Your Collage Cards as an Awareness Tool
As you become more conscious of your mental and emotional patterns, you gradually will become larger than than your emotional states, and they will not overwhelm your life so much. Often, when I am in a conditioned pattern for example, the image of a particular collage card will immediately come to mind as visual resonance to my emotional state. 
As a growth tool, collage cards can help us to find the antidotes to unfulfilled emotional needs. For every difficult emotional pattern that we have, there is an opposite life affirming pattern that we can newly condition into our consciousness.

Intuitive Collage Gallery - My Journey Through Depression


1. Restraint

The Buddha statue with his hand up as if to say stop, the woman with her eyes serenely shut, the temple in the background. There is a centered, objective, clear observation of thoughts and emotions. 


2. Inner Masculine - Building Strength

The strong male hands minister to a drowning boy. The mother is nurturing her baby boy. Verdant growth, emerald greens and sky blues. Strength is ripening. The vitality of the birds, butterflies and animals and the sturdiness of the stone figures imply strongly forging ahead to create in concrete, beautiful and abundant ways.



3. Heart Opening and Self Love

White flowers evoke a startling purity and the iridescent red corridors speak to the rich unfolding of my heart. The image of the mother nurturing her child unconditionally evokes the possibility of loving myself completely.


 5. Limitation and Depression

The three goldfish swim around in a bowl going nowhere. The powerful figure with his head hanging low is brought to his hands and knees with crushing feelings of limitation. Yet there is the choice of strength and growth at all turns. The powerful face above looks forward with absolute certainty and strength.


6. The Choice: Abundance vs. Scarcity

Bright butterflies, flowers, and jewels, a colorful lantern all evoke opulence and a carefree abundance. There is a choice implied. The contrasting image is of bare branches, empty inside a woman’s body. Yet an opulent bejeweled hand points to the intuitive mind as a reminder to see the higher possibilities in every situation.



 7. Adventure into Feelings and New Growth

As the inner journey continues the mystery deepens. The cat stares enigmatically to the furthest reaches of the North and South Pole of the soul. The waters are deep and the lands are distant. Roots, new growth, break though ice though what has previously been frozen and inert. Feelings have more freedom and flight and fluidity.


8. Eternity and Integration

There is a wedding of the inner and the outer selves. The African mask glares with fierce determination to no longer abandon the true self. In tranquil water and blue sky, there is utter relaxation and freedom within this vow. There is a return to the original self prior to pain and problems. The higher spiritual self that witnesses our life cannot be hurt, and it innately understands emotional well being.