Article on Ritual Collage (Dreams Made Manifest)
"The wordless occurrences which are called forth [from the unconscious] demand to be individually shaped in and by each man’s life and work. They are images sprung from the life, the joys and sorrows, of our ancestors; and to life they seek to return, not in experience only, but in deed. Because of their opposition to the conscious mind they cannot be translated straight into our world; hence a way must be found that can mediate between conscious and unconscious reality. (Collected Works 7, para. 120.)"
C. G. Jung coined active imagination as a broad term for any number of individual practices one might use to tap into non-rational and unconscious material and access the liminal space between conscious and unconscious reality. Guided meditation is one method of active imagination—it helps to quiet the mind and access a deeper level of awareness. Like meditation, creating a collage can take one to a place outside of our logical thinking.
As a non-rational medium, collage is also effective at expressing feelings that one may be aware of, but which are difficult to articulate, or what is unconscious but intrudes in day-to-day life experiences. For example, when one is unable to logically understand his or her feelings—or feelings are beyond one’s capacity for words—a simple collage is very effective at revealing those feelings. In imaging them and expressing them onto paper (i.e., getting them outside of oneself), the feelings are transformed in some important way.
Requirements to create a ritual collage:
1. Magazines, scissors, glue sticks.
2. Genuine curiosity and openness to the process—it is not art; it’s process.
3. Expectation that something potent will emerge, without attachment to what that might be.
A finished collage is rich with symbolism and tells a vivid story of something that wants to be born into consciousness at this time.
Creating a Ritual Collage:
1. Notice how your body feels. Wherever in your body you feel tension, release it. Follow your breath in and out, relaxing a little more with each exhale.
2. Choose a magazine and turn the pages, pulling any images that evoke a response in your body—that draw or repel you. When you finish with a magazine, take another.
3. Work silently, as if the activity were sacred, but with no agenda other than to create a collage from the pictures you cut.
4. When you feel a sense of impatience, or boredom, or completion, leave the magazines and select a backing.
5. Trim the images in a way that feels right to you.
6. Move the images you have chosen around on the backing until you feel satisfied with the arrangement. Then, glue them down.
Engaging with Your Collage:
Once finished, place your collage someplace where you will see it often. Each day, spend a few minutes looking at and journaling about your collage: notice its tone, color scheme, shapes and image themes, and possible messages or interpretations captured in the collage.
What feelings are evoked in you when you gaze upon the imagery; what insights do you notice and what connections become evident?
Does your collage exhibit synchronicities between your feelings and other arenas of your life?
What might your collage be saying about you today and in the future?
Do you recall dreams that might be mirroring the messages in your collage?
Does the meaning or tone of your collage transform over time? What wants to emerge—be born—from your unconscious at this time?