Getting Started with SoulCollage®: A New Facilitator's Journey by Catherine Williams

Finding SoulCollage® was a revelation.  I knew immediately that this was a path I would take from my first exposure when Facilitator Katherine Ziegler spread the images on the floor. I’m grateful to Katherine for opening the door and helping me get started in this remarkable, enriching practice.  She asked me to share my experience as a new practitioner, and I said, “Yes, of course.”

Then I got a bit overwhelmed with fears and concerns:

  • * Yikes!
     
  • * No one will relate.
     
  • * My challenges with getting started will seem trivial.
     
  • * Everyone else already knows how to have a successful practice.
     
  • * How do I clarify key themes? What is useful to say and what is not essential?

I’ve identified seven phases from that first exposure to the beginnings of a fledgling practice. They are not perfectly chronological, and may more accurately represent pieces of a puzzle. Any surprise that there’s a card for each one?

 

1.  Recognition – The first jolt of knowing the beauty and power of SoulCollage®:  This is for me!

It’s like finding simian ancestors who share your soul’s code, or like uncovering a secret library of wisdom. SoulCollage® brings together two significant avenues of endeavor in my life, collage-making and divination, into a powerful new synthesis. I appreciate how, unlike tarot or traditional forms of divination, in SoulCollage® the reader is the source of meaning. There’s no book with set interpretations of images.  Meaning arises through direct interaction between the card and one’s own knowing. My heart, head, and belly all say “Yes!” to this path.


 

2.  Exploration – Beginning a period of active engagement and learning

 All I wanted to do was make SoulCollage® cards and do readings. I took many classes from Kathy, learning valuable things, including:

  1. The basics of card making
     
  2. The power of intuition in the process 
     
  3. A card too crowded with images is hard to read.
     
  4. The importance of a safe, non-shaming, accepting group container—reading the cards brings up shadow and you may feel vulnerable
     
  5. It’s engaging and fun to make cards!

 

3.  Training – Becoming a SoulCollage® Facilitator - September 2011 

I was thrilled to go to the source and to meet Seena Frost, Kylea Taylor, and Audrey Chowdhury.  I gained a fuller understanding of SoulCollage® principles and practices.  I learned so much and emerged with a deeper appreciation and connection to the SoulCollage® community.


 

4.  Identification – Now that I’m a Facilitator, can I own the word “Soul” in SoulCollage®?

At first I avoided using the word and felt uncomfortable describing the reading process, fearing people would dismiss it—and me—as being too “woo-woo.” So I delved further into what “soul” means to me.  Among its many connotations, I most resonate with James Hillman’s views.  He says soul is the “imaginative possibility of our nature” that emerges at times when our routines, beliefs, and assumptions about who we are break down. For Hillman, one’s soul is involved when cooking (in the metaphorical sense), deepening, and creativity are happening. I see the soul in us as something forged from the full range of experience.  I believe it grows richer and deeper when we face the shadow, experience love and loss, and open to the rejected elements of ourselves and our world. I imagine soul as a source of strength, nourishment, creativity and meaning. I believe there is a spark of soul in everything.

Opening the discussion of soul to workshop participants has helped me feel more comfortable branding myself as a SoulCollage® Facilitator. Hearing other points of view helps me describe SoulCollage® in terms that different audiences can understand in their own ways. It’s not important that participants share my way of understanding soul. The goddess in this card is serene in the midst of roiling water and sky. She is offering something of value, something wholesome. To me, SoulCollage® is that offering. The essence of a SoulCollage® reading is like receiving a gift of wisdom and guidance from one’s own soul.

5.  Limitation – Two steps forward; self-doubt takes me one step back.


As I begin to lead workshops, the obstacles seem large. The inner critics hold forth, asserting:

  • “You’re too old to start something new!”
     
  • “The Bay Area doesn’t need one more SoulCollage® Facilitator.”
     
  • “You’ve failed before and you will fail again.”
     
  • “You lack the charisma, the marketing ability, the whatever ...” 

It helps to have cards, yes, for the critic(s) and for such parts as Fear, Resistance, Self-Sabotage.  I interact with these parts, doing active imagination work, and embodying them in movement to loosen their grip.  I come to feel more balanced, aware of the fear, yet also strengthened with excitement and resolve.

 

 

6.  Intention – I affirm my intention as if it is already done: “My SoulCollage® practice is thriving!”

Committing to develop the practice is committing to my own development. In a SoulCollage® reading, I ask this card, “What do I need to do to manifest my intention?” She responds, I Am One Who is willing to ride the waves, in smooth or choppy seas. I Am One Who works skillfully to channel wild creative energies.” She adds, “Be courageous and visible.  Acknowledge your particular gift and hold steady in your truth.”

7.  Action – Leading workshops, gaining confidence, and learning from practice.

Taking action to make it happen is a stretch. Recently, I consulted with a wise and successful creative arts teacher who suggested I tune in often to the way I will feel when I have a thriving practice.  This has been very worthwhile. The good feelings of happiness and expansiveness move me to want to keep the momentum going, to keep stretching. Her other great suggestions were to have a professional photograph taken for marketing materials (done), create a website (have begun exploring), determine realistically what kind of income I want/need from SoulCollage® workshops (have begun – very challenging), and explore different ways to market myself (begun). I also frequent the SoulCollage® Facilitators website for inspiration and for the abundant resources it offers.

I’m working to find a balance between my full-time job and my new SoulCollage® enterprise. If I feel overwhelmed, creating cards and doing readings bring me comfort and centering. I can return to the basic practices. To me, that’s the heart and, yes, the soul of it. That’s the ongoing revelation. 

 

Catherine has a Master’s Degree in Drama Therapy and has led workshops for over 20 years combining movement and drama therapy. She is currently completing the Enneagram Teacher Certification Training, and works full-time in affordable housing property management.