OH: The Inner Adventure with Metaphoric Cards of Association
An article by Christine Gatineau
Christine Gatineau’s article “OH: « L’AVENTURE INTÉRIEURE » avec les jeux de cartes associatives article” (OH: The Inner Adventure with Metaphoric Cards of Association) was published in the 2010 issue of the French-language journal Synodies. A translation of the article into English is below.
About the Author
[Translated from the article.]
Christine Gatineau is the coordinator for OH Cards in France. She is the sales and marketing manager of Le Souffle d’Or, a publisher specializing in books and games for inner knowledge and self-help. She founded the “Festival of Games and fun tools for personal development” which first took place in Paris in May 2010. She has worked for five years with Moritz Egetmeyer, the creator and editor [publisher] of OH Cards, who studied humanistic psychology at Cold Mountain Institute, Canada, and is a trained psychotherapist. Christine translated the OH Cards manual Strawberries Beyond My Window into French: « Les Fraises derrière la fenêtre » (distributed by Le Souffle d’Or). She conducts workshops and training about associative cards. www.souffledor.fr
Additional Author Information
[Not from the article.]
Christine Gatineau is also an accredited Transformation Game® facilitator. Through her association, Zephyr Ludens, she organizes courses, workshops, and networking around games and tools, including OH workshops and seminars.
OH: The “Inner Adventure” with Metaphoric Cards of Association
Associative cards activate the subconscious. The process of bypassing the mind allows advancement into the depths of the psyche. It takes only a couple of seconds to trigger free and spontaneous associations in the mind and reveal the power of our inner images, bringing into view the presence of archetypes and energies within ourselves.
OH is a playful way to explore the subconscious, develop creativity and emotional skills, and bring us into contact with the essence of the self. A powerful process of transformation which magnifies our humanity.
In March 2010, an OH workshop was presented at the annual GRETT [Group for Research and Studies in Transpersonal Therapies] conference south of Paris, allowing participants to discover the ethics and basic principles of associative cards, by playing in small groups and experimenting with the effects and impacts of the OH process, including its transpersonal dimensions.
A PLAYFUL CROSS-CULTURAL TOOL PRAISED BY THERAPISTS
Associative cards are known throughout the word, benefitting from a growing reputation in more than 30 countries: [from] Canada, Australia, Germany, Israel, Belarus, Japan, … to Peru! This innovative genre includes 19 card decks. The most famous deck and also key to the whole metaphoric cards mosaic is the [original] OH Cards [deck]. It is possible to use this OH deck in conjunction with any of the other games in the series.
The concept of associative cards was inspired by principles of Gestalt therapy, humanistic psychology, and the work of Jung and Joseph Campbell on archetypes and myths.
Lovers of self-knowledge who are open to an individual as well as a collective perspective will be enticed by this tool, which is ideal for exploring the subconscious as a powerful lever for transformation. Many therapists, psychologists, care-givers, alternative health practitioners, kinesiologists, naturopaths, occupational therapists, art therapists, trainers, coaches, teachers, and mediators use these cards as a tool.
Éditions Le Souffle d’Or distributes these cards and supports their use in France. Word of mouth between professionals and fans does the rest! On the social media network Facebook there’s even now a group of French-speaking users (1) that has 150 members. It’s possible in this circle to exchange testimonies and tips, and to share questions.
ART, ARCHETYPES, ASSOCIATIONS OF IDEAS
The OH Cards were created by Ely Raman, a Canadian artist who had the desire to take art out of museums and galleries and make it accessible to all, and were influenced by his great passion for tarot cards, including the Rider-Waite deck.
Among Ely Raman’s friends and neighbours were therapists who contributed to the birth of the OH cards. They sensed that the cards had an enormous potential, and in the refining of principles there emerged a fun tool that could meet the needs of psychotherapists and professional coaches. After several modifications, the OH Cards were published in 1981 and are now available in 21 languages.
An advantage of working with OH Cards is that they’re quick and easy to learn how to use – no strategy, no competition, the rules of the game are simple and easily adaptable. For those who wish to use the cards in a professional context, it’s ideal to participate in a two-day OH seminar, which provides an immediate grasp of the Cards’ use (2).
Associative cards activate the subconscious. The process bypasses the mind to explore the depths of the psyche. It takes only a couple of seconds to trigger free and spontaneous associations in the mind and reveal the power of our inner images, bringing into view the presence of archetypes and energies within ourselves. Our associative ability is stimulated by combining words and images, or by using only pictures, offering us a form of training that constitutes true work on the inner self. The association of levels and ideas which are at first total strangers nourishes our creativity. Cards picked at random sometimes catapult a player at once into essential awareness, particularly regarding the influence of projections.
The original OH Cards consist of two decks of 88 cards [each]: one dedicated to words, the other to images, two fundamental poles of our daily lives.
The word cards offer key words without any illustration. These words from our contemporary vocabulary have strong suggestive powers, arousing reactions which are more emotional than intellectual and allowing broad space for interpretation.
For example: fear, share, father, cycle, slave, wonderful, give, resist, guilt, affection, etc. Each word is a springboard into personal experience.
The image cards offer motifs and designs which play on our feelings and intuition. Each player is free to interpret them according to their experiences, background, and vision of life: relationships, needs, joys, desires, events, fantasies, dreams, traumas, fears, emotions, solutions, etc. The images are open to interpretation, as in the Rorschach test. They speak at a subconscious level, provoking reactions that are sometimes difficult to put into words.
Players pick a combination of cards and tell what that spontaneously inspires in them, taking into account their current personal situation.
INNER ADVENTURE FOR ONE PLAYER OR FOR A GROUP
Playing alone with the cards, you can learn to observe and explore your feelings by reading the cards in a metaphoric and personal way. This is done in five steps: 1. Pick a word card and an image card, and put the image card on the word card; 2. What does this word mean to me?; 3. What do I see in this picture?; 4. How do I connect the image to the word?; 5. What does this mean to me?
When playing in a group, one player gives their interpretation of their cards and others can provide feedback to clarify the interpretation, while following a few simple instructions regarding mutual respect. The game can also be played in pairs.
Through the combination of word and image, through that connective tension, the unexpected and new emerges. Day after day, card users discover new interpretations that open up new horizons. The original OH deck can generate 7744 possible word and image combinations, thus constituting an endless feeding of the inner adventure. For those who desire to walk the path consciousness, associative cards show us the dynamics of being. Perfectly in tune with the times, they are springboard catalysts.
During his seminars, Moritz Egetmeyer, founder of OH Publishing, often insists on one of the characteristics of the game: “The OH process makes us evolve in our depths, makes us more open to change. It generates in us more confidence in our ability to trust synchronicity, to welcome the events and situations we encounter in our lives, and to integrate them. This helps us decrease fears of the future and let go of habits and beliefs that are obstacles.”
REVEALING THE TRANSPERSONAL DIMENSION
On the path to knowledge of self and others, associative cards are a great way to approach the concepts of self, ego, identity, and the understanding of relationships.
Who are we? What is our relationship to others? How do we live in our world? We find these issues at the heart of current transpersonal therapies.
A way to delve into the story of one’s life is through its events and biographical situations, which sometimes have been forgotten or about which emotions have note been expressed. This can make us aware of the presence of archetypes influencing the individual and collective subconscious.
The PERSONA and PERSONITA Cards in particular call on a subjective and objective understanding of human beings and behavioural conflicts. They show us how to see through the eyes of someone else, so we can identify others and develop our understanding of projections and prejudices. HABITAT Cards question our relationships to the world, nature, and the transcendental dimension.
The best way to tap into the transpersonal dimension of associative cards is to play in a group. Such card games activate modes of communication based on listening and mutual respect, strengthen relations between members of a group, and feed our awareness of our relationship to nature and the Earth to stimulate our humanity to emerge.
After a game or workshop of an hour of two, or at the end of a complete seminar, participants find that their communications are of a higher quality. Beyond the words said, a feeling of belonging emerges. A wonderful link is created. The 17 participants of the first OH training seminar that took place in France, in November 2009, saw this for themselves. They felt closely united. One of them wrote about their amazement at the discovery of “the game where everyone wins and no one passes on their turn.” Indeed, as we lower our persona masks, contact between players becomes intense. Emotion is present and able to be touched. For once, we experience the other person as they really are, with all their wounds, fears, dreams, and joys. This changes the quality of our listening. As feelings are expressed, we recognize them, having felt them ourselves during our own lives.
To recognize and experiment in supra-human dimensions allows us to move toward values of sharing, respect, and solidarity. The discovery of who we really are, of our essence, transforms our vision of self, of others, of our interpersonal relationships, and of the universe.
This psychological game systematically fosters togetherness and a high intensity of communication, which is often accompanied by amazing synchronicities. Then comes the great moment when the boundaries between game, psychology, and spirituality disappear. At that point, it’s possible to appreciate the beauty of the moment.
The more we practice, the more our experience becomes deep, subtle, and nourishing to the heart. The more we are able to say yes to opportunities and swim in the waves of life.
1. Metaphoric Cards on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=195199243718&ref=ts
Second seminar in France “Maps OH, with indoor adventure games Associative Cards” with MORITZ EGETMEYER and CHRISTINE GATINEAU, Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 November 2010, Paris. Info & registration: firstname.lastname@example.org. [For current information about workshops and seminars in France, contact Christine Gatineau at email@example.com.]
METAPHORIC CARDS OF ASSOCIATION
Associative cards particularly appropriate to transpersonal vision in its horizontal and vertical dimensions (*), and to the opening of the heart are:
Original OH Cards, associations of ideas, archetypes, subconscious, creative tension. The combination of word and image obtained by the random drawing of cards frees expression and encourages players to freely express creativity and emotions. These cards facilitate communication in the “I” mode in a context free of competition and judgement.
ECCO Cards, metaphoric perspective, projections, what I see, what is yours, what is mine, fears and joys, learning to meet, crisis situations.
HABITAT Cards: change of perspective, eco-psychology, individual and collective responsibility.
COPE Cards: coping strategies, exploring six basic resources (physical abilities, affect, knowledge and rationality, imagination, social skills, belief).
(*) Guérir l’égo, révéler l’être B. Blin and B. Chavas, ed. Trédaniel [publisher].