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Metaphoric Cards

Posted by Agnieszka from Sendzimir Foundation


Group size

1 - 24

Subgroup size


Is participant experience relevant?

It's okay if participants haven't seen the inside of a classroom in years.

Physical trust needed

Mental trust needed


Material Description

Metaphoric Cards. Check links, choose the cards and follow the instructions.
You need to buy a set of the cards in order to do the exercise.
See details here:
or http://www.oh-cards.com/index.php?article_id=4&clang=1

If you do not want do buy oh-cards you can also use cards from game called Dixit. The game is made up of 84 abstract art cards. Expansions are available that also have 85 cards, so there is a lot of variety available. The Dixit cards have beautiful pictures on them. These pictures look like they could be from an imaginary world's fairytales. The images instantly draw you in and encourage players to consider what is going on in the cards and what story the picture is telling.

The third option is that you can paint the cards by yourself or print your favourite pictures. Here you can see how it can be done:

Create materials quick and dirty

10 min

Create materials with love and care

1 week

Available material for free


Buy materials here




10 minutes - 2 hours

Experience level of the facilitator

routine as participant OR professional facilitator

Number of facilitators



Level of activation


Woo-Woo Level - How touchy-feely is this method?

From 1.Rationalist-Materialist "No feelings here, folks." to 5.Esoteric-Shamanic Bleeding Heart:

Innovation Phases:

2 Creating an Innovation-Friendly Culture
3 Fostering New Perspectives & Ways of Thinking
9 Evaluation

Method Category:

Appreciative / Community building
Collective Intelligence
Group communication
Social skills


Cards stimulate creativity and communication. They can be used as a co-creative, co-operative game designed to enhance communications, encourage expression, and stimulate imagination through a variety of interpretations.



There are different types of Metaphoric Cards. In general using cards is a way for people to exchange feelings, fantasies, and ideas within a framework that protects privacy and vulnerability. In this game everyone wins. Each deck can be used on its own or in conjunction with any (or all) of the other decks, like building blocks for creativity. Unlimited variations are possible. Easy-to-follow instructions for play and work are included with every deck.



Moritz Egetmeyer, OH Cards publisher and workshop leader




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. Cards are a playful way to explore the subconscious, develop creativity and emotional skills, and bring us into contact with the essence of the self.

You can use cards in many ways. It is useful for stimulating reflection and retrospection, for example:

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.

Groups seem to go more in depth about their ideas and feelings when they attach their thoughts to a symbol or picture. Because participants share about a card rather than directly about themselves they are often more willing to share. Often more reserved members are drawn to expressing themselves through the use of these symbols.

1 Examples of activities

1. As an introductory activity participants can choose the card that best represents a strength they bring to the group, or a goal they have for the day, course or program.
2. As a pre-brief in the early parts of a program, spread the cards out before the group and have them pick a card that best represents where they are at that moment. Ask them how they are feeling and to pick a card that matches where they are mentally coming into the day. Go around the group and ask each participant to share why they picked the card they did and why that card represents them or where they are.
3. Spread the cards out before the group and have them pick a card that best represents an experience or a feeling that they had during the activity or at the end of the day. You can do this at the end of the day or after an activity. Go around the group and ask each participant to share why they picked the card
they did and why that card represents them or an experience they have had. Participants can each pick their own card, then draw it or write about in their journal.


http://www.oh-cards-institute.org/methods/ http://www.oh-cards-institute.org/methods/, http://www.oh-cards-institute.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/OH-Cards-Quick-Start-Guide.pdf

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