One thing I like to do at the cusp of a new year is to reflect on what is passing and what is coming in, using Soul Cards as a tool. This is a deck of 60 cards with art by Deborah Koff-Chapin. She has done two decks: Soul Cards I and Soul Cards II. This deck is Soul Cards I.
If anyone would like to play along, leave a comment on this post and I will pull two cards for you: one for 2011, and one for 2012. I will leave a reply for you, with your two cards illustrated. You should then reflect on your cards, and reply to this entry directly with your thoughts about the cards.
The cards have no titles or phrases on them, which makes them a challenge for us to interpret. There are several ways you can explore the cards to divine their meaning for you. The first is silent contemplation. Become aware of the shapes, textures and colors in the image without thinking about its meaning. Imagine you are looking at a photograph of a living being. Can you sense its presence? Notice any feelings or thoughts that arise as you are gazing at it. How does your experience of the images relate to your memories of the past year, or your goals and dreams for the new year?
Another way to try is written or verbally. Gaze at the card. Describe the shapes, colors and textures. What is the figure doing, feeling or knowing? How does this image affect you? Does a title come to mind? Can you describe the image in poetic terms? If you would like to enter a story telling mode, begin with "once upon a time" and allow a story to unfold.
You can also allow an image to speak for itself. Imagine you are facing a living being. Ask it to describe itself and speak its wisdom. Does it have a question for you? What challenge does it offer? What gift does it bring? Allow it to speak in the first person.
The third technique you might want to try is visualization. Begin with silent contemplation of the card. Close your eyes and see how clearly you can see it in your mind's eye. Imagine that it is alive. Allow the inner image to begin to change. Try not to control or judge what comes. Just notice the feelings your new image evokes. If it continues transforming, stay with it until you arrive at a sense of stability or completion.
If you want to spend more time with your cards, there are three other techniques you might want to try. The first is movement. After contemplating the card for a while, close your eyes. Imagine that you are the figure in the card. Let your body begin ti experience the atmosphere, colors, sounds, and muscular sensations of this figure. If you are comfortable doing so, assume the position of this figure with your own body. How does it feel? You can take this process further by beginning to move. Let the movements change organically as you stay true to the expression of the moment. Be aware of the feelings and thoughts that arise. Notice the sensations in your body. In what ways do you feel different now? Look at the card again. Do you have any new insights or perceptions?
You could also try dream incubation. Gaze deeply at the image and consider its relationship to the old year, or the new year. Open to the possibility of its influence on your dream life. Close your eyes, visualize the card image and imagine it is a portal to your dreams. Affirm that you will remember your dreams. When you awaken in the morning, gaze at the image on the card again. Allow dream impressions to return as you gaze. Record your dreams in your journal. Take note of any connections between the image, your dreams, and the old/new year.
Finally, you might try music. Establish a space in which you feel safe to explore and create sounds. Visually contemplate the card. As you gaze at it, listen to the sounds of the environment around you. After a moment, allow your awareness to include the sounds of your body (heartbeat, breathing) and eventually the sounds of your soul. It may help to close your eyes. Let your body create the sounds it desires. It may use your voice, your hands or legs, a musical instrument, whatever available - your body knows. You may begin to feel like you are being "sounded," sung, or played. Remember to keep listening.
Have fun, and I hope you'll contribute. If it was a good experience, we can try it again another time.