Ever heard of Artist Trading Cards, or ATCs? Well . . . they’ll take up all your time and eat the creative drive that you usually pour into your writing, so you may not want to start doing these, but basically they’re small cards (about the size of a playing card) that you draw, stamp, paint, or otherwise design and create . . . and then send them out to swap with other artists you meet through mailing lists or zines.
Okay, it’s offbeat, but it’s fun. If you know what mail art is or have ever done a postcard exchange/pen-pal thing, you get the picture (ha!) Anyhow, I did a couple of ATC exchanges last year, and it was enjoyable. It took up so much time and made such a mess to make the cards that I quit doing it, but I’m considering making a mess again in order to make a deck of what are called “Soul Collage Cards” or “Soul Cards” for short. They’re kind of a cross between a portable memory album, the Tarot, and ATCs.
Their spiel (paraphrased):
SoulCollage is a process through which you contact your intuition and create an incredible deck of cards which have deep personal meaning and which will help you with life’s questions. You’ll follow simple directions for making cards. The images you select–the images that select you–come straight through your Soul, bypassing the mind. Each card you make will reflect one facet of your Self and or Soul, while the evolving deck will reflect the whole panorama which is “you” as a whole Being.” Some of the images you choose will show pieces of your personality, the actors in your local story such as your “caretaker” or your “controller”, your “dancer” or your “silly child.” Other images will be more mysterious and mythic, images that will represent the archetypes who may be guiding you. These are the Great Ones who inevitably weave your local story into the Larger Story. These might include archetypes such as the “Creator”, or the “Warrior”, the “Wise, Old Woman”, or even the “Fool”.
You’ll then use the deck for self-discovery or exploration, “putting this and that into perspective in your life,” “discovering your inner wisdom,” healing yourself (therapeutic work), or divination. “Is this a return to superstition and magic? Not at all. It is a return to the valuing of intuition, and also a return to a more mystical understanding of reality. Answers are available to each person without dependence on psychics, gurus, well-known authors, or teachers to access our inner wisdom.”
There’s a website and the original book, if you’re interested in looking at this for yourself (or for one of your characters to pursue during a book as one of the subthreads!) I think it could spark creativity to pull one of the cards when you’re at a loss for what to write. You can think of many other uses, if you decide to do this. It would be a long-term project, of course . . . it takes me forever just to make ONE card. But that’s because I don’t do collage–I never did like it, and it’s not my style. I don’t use magazine images or whatnot. That means this stuff takes lots longer, but I get a more personal output.
Here is a 4-card reading I accidentally clicked into from the website. It’s kind of interesting. Remember, I clicked into it from a Google search on “soul” *just seeing what I would come up with*, and didn’t think of a question or have any purpose in mind for a reading of any kind when I clicked and got the screen. Hmm.
My card 1:
“Balance” Artist: Don Nix Suit: Committee
Description: I Am the One Who is constantly juggling and trying to balance competing and contradictory demands in life. “Most days I have several demands competing for my energy and attention. I am constantly trying to find a way to harmonize them, but no solution seems to last very long. The juggler is that part of me who has to keep juggling and keep trying to find a balance.”
Hmm. That could describe “What I’m Dealing With Now,” in the four-card reading that some Tarot or other card readers use.
Card 2: “Pearl of Emotion” Artist: Jeri Bodemar
Description: If one attends to deep feelings and pensive moods, often a pearl emerges from the grit and tears.
Card 2 is generally interpreted as what could happen in the near future if things continue as they are.
Card 3: “Emergence”
Description: Beauty and clarity come from deep within.
Card 3 is often seen as what you can do to try to discourage the events in card 2, or what not to do if you want them to happen. In this context, it seems to be a piece of general wisdom and advice.
Card 4: (and this is funny!)
“The Conformist” Artist: Marlene Warneke Suit: Committee
Description: I Am One Who conforms so that I may belong. I can fit into many situations easily. I am a great team player and I can become invisible if I need to.
Card 4 is what to do to try and encourage the events in card 2, or what not to do if you want to discourage them. Y’all know I’m a nonconformist who mocks conformity and its mindsets. We’ll think about this positional description for a while.
Then I asked where should I go from here and clicked for another reading with intention. I got:
1: “Clarity” Artist: Monica Ibarra Robbins
Description: I can see with clarity and sense the flight of transformation. Meaning: I had been experincing a time of darkness. A dear lady listened to me and guided me through the dark tunnel. Her patience, kindness and understanding allowed me to come out of my low.
2: “Dancing Fool” Artist: Seena Frost
Description: I Am the One Who grabs you and flings you into the Dance of Life…even when you want to sit on the sidelines. There are new steps to learn, and I will teach you…by doing them.
3: “The Laughing Witch” Artist: Mary Fenton
Description: I Am One Who knows all creatures in Earth’s Light, and Below, in darkest Dark. I hear no thing. I dance all Life. I watch all death. I birth all births. I relish all and laugh behind my hand.
4: “Great Mother” Artist: Pam Gonsalves
Description: I Am The One Who holds the Universe in her womb.
Okay, THAT one was a little weird. But you get the drift of how these things work. The website and book go into more detail about how they use the cards. I have my own notions about what I would do, and I wouldn’t use that “I am the one who” exercise because it’s just . . . well, it’s not for me. I do think I have some ideas, though.
Examples of suits I would choose for my cards: OUR KARASS, LOVES, PAST MENTORS OR TEACHERS, etc. Examples of what I might do with them: pull a card now and then to spark a paragraph of freewriting. Pull a card of the day to meditate upon now and then. I would not hesitate to have quotations on various cards for inspiration.
But it would take forever to actually *make up* this thing. I don’t know if I have time to devote to it. It’s fun to read about, just like skydiving and snow skiing. You don’t even have to break a leg to enjoy reading about this stuff!
Or just laugh. It takes all kinds! Look at the diversity of experience we can come across when we surf the ‘net with a keyword or two.