MaryAnn 'Mare' Johnston

Facilitator since November 1, 2013

MaryAnn 'Mare' Johnston
Redwood City, California 94061 (United States)
P 408-483-2782


MaryAnn ‘Mare’ Johnston is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, a second-generation American of Croatian and Azorean heritage. Her first memory is of being snatched from a playpen to dance; her parents bonded over the Big Band sound and filled their home with music. She cannot recall a time when she wasn’t clutching a pencil; she remembers being a shy girl encircled by rapt classmates who watched her draw. She was a fairy princess long before it was a thing, writing plays, poems, and short stories. She developed a love of books, and they served as nourishment, escape, and best friends.

Johnston is a singer, a songwriter, and a student of mandolin and upright bass. Her songs are bawdy and tender, salacious and melancholic. She may combine disparate elements with humorous results – a sweet cowboy lullaby turned naughty, a nostalgic song poking fun at intimate miscommunication, a gospel song exploring aging and sexuality. Johnston weaves visual art with her love of words and has illustrated her songs. A recurring theme is the witnessing and reframing of emotional pain.

As a Certified Music Practitioner, a therapeutic musician trained through New York-based Music for Healing & Transition Program, Johnston provides live music at bedside for the ill and actively dying. She is a SoulCollage® Facilitator, working in small groups, especially with families and women. Johnston holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Inquiry/Interdisciplinary Arts from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Description of SoulCollage® work

Memory is a sensory thing. It arrives, or we reach for it, in layers and fragments, interleaved bits, well- or dimly-lit. A droplet of melody touches our awareness, spreads and draws us into another time; sight, smell, touch follow our ears, put us there again, with the same emotions perhaps, or experiencing the scene from a spot removed.

When art opens us to returning to a known place, time, emotion, we are given back a bit of ourselves. When art nudges us into encounters with the unfamiliar, knowledge of that place, those emotions can be experienced in relative safety, with the freedom of a voyager, or a voyeur.

I facilitate small, safe, fun SoulCollage® workshops for SoulCollage® beginners and seasoned SoulCollage® practitioners. I will also work 1-on-1 with new or experienced users of SoulCollage®, exploring particular issues such as illness, grief and other significant transitions. I believe that accessing our memory, intuition, and somatic information opens us to our own wisdom. SoulCollage® is an ideal mode of tapping that wisdom. As we expand our unique SoulCollage® decks we also deepen our self-knowledge and self-acceptance. 

Personal work with own SoulCollage® cards

Working with my SoulCollage® cards has brought personal growth in both making and reading my unique deck.

When making my cards, I appreciate the shift from being mostly in my head (where a lot of us spend a lot of our time) to the intuitive space that allows me to respond to images and their arrangement without concern with 'rightness' or other judgments. I love paper and the tactile experience of making cards; the handling, cutting out, intuiting arrangement, and securing of each element is a meditative and relaxing practice. There is joy in focusing without straining for predetermined result!

In reading my cards, I am often led to be quite honest with myself, which often leads to being gentler with myself than I tend to be day-to-day. I have seen my strengths and my shadows with new perspectives, fresh appreciation and with greater balance. I have been shown insight into relationships past and present, both with the living and passed. I have been better able to claim my Community - individuals and other supportive elements that nurture and encourage.

It is gratifying to handle a SoulCollage® deck, those small, flat surfaces that contain aspects of you. Aesthetically, they can be delightful, deep, disturbing - and all of these are okay, as are all of your traits, pleasant and not so. Instead of looking to a commercially-produced tarot deck, interpreted by someone else, what fun to make your own deck and look to them for your own wisdom!