In psychology the term “persona” or mask is associated with the qualities that are not specific to a person and that he pretends to have, with the feelings that a person does not have and that he demonstrates, and with social and psychological roles that he has to play a in his personal and social life.
One and the same person may put on masks like “Inaccessible Beauty”, “Kind Granny,” “Bad Boss”, “Fiery Dancer” and others in different situations.
One and the same woman puts on sympathy, sternness, coquetry, and indifference masks in four different situations. Masks tend to “adhere”. In some situations a person is truly aware that some qualities more or less successfully demonstrated by him at the moment are not the same ones that he really feels. In other cases, a person hides his feelings behind a mask protecting himself both against others and himself. “MASK” projective cards are designed purposefully for such cases. They offer the possibility to consider different personae, try to put masks on, provide the answer to such questions like which of them have long become familiar, which of them are still needed, which of them became too tight, what mask nearly has already replaced the real person and whether it is useful or whether it is better to doff it while there is yet time. “MASK” deck comprises 60 cards depicting five kinds of masks: character, carnival, theatrical, functional and mysterious ones. Character masks are known from modern culture; they identify some hero having his own character and history; we know them from books, movies or comics. Most often, character masks were intended for hiding of hero`s personality dictated by desire to conceal some secrets of his life, at the same time, character mask usually symbolizes the transition from one role and life to another. When hero put his mask on it gave him some superpower. In other cases, masks are closely related to a particular character and his features as we cognize it.
Carnival masks are most often associated with the notion of mask generally. Most often, we understand it like this in response to the word “mask” without any qualifying question. There are several different carnival cultures and traditions in the world. Carnival masks used in this deck were introduced to the world culture when derived from the Venetian Carnival. Historically, the aim of the Venetian Carnival was to forget social role for a while and find a lover for a night knowing no “ranks and names”. Each participant of the Carnival had to hide his personality and pretend to be someone else.
The range of masks allowed him to choose what exactly he wants to become this time.
Theatrical masks derive from the Japanese Noh theater. Their characters are lesser known in our countries, though it features heroes and villains, cunning fellows and simpletons, persons of title and soldiers, ghosts and deities. The keystone idea of a theatrical mask is the identification of a character, abilities and traits of a hero played by an actor on stage. Functional masks are designed for practical purposes. The purposes differ: the purpose of an infamous mask is to humiliate, the purpose of a surgical mask is to protect, the purpose of a death mask is to hold onto the past, the purpose of hijab is to shield against the male gaze, etc.
Mystical masks exist in the cultures of different peoples and their purpose is different. Some nations use to place them in the living room where they personify good deities and are used as amulets and talismans. On the contrary, devil mask should protect against malign forces. Shamans wore masks during their rituals. Wearing masks that represented deities during special ceremonies helped to gain the force of this deity and acquire some part of its power according to the beliefs of some nations.
Variants of using the cards:
- Choose a mask (persona) used most often by you in your opinion. Consider it. What do you want to tell others when using it? How do people respond to this mask? How do you respond to people when you see them wearing the same mask? When did you get this mask? What were the circumstances then? How could wearing this mask help you to achieve some goals then? Is it still relevant today? Do you feel comfortable wearing it? May be it is right time to get rid of it?
- Deliberately choose a card for each of your social roles. Comment on what is the relationship between the message you send relative to each role when wearing these masks and images on the cards. If some masks make you feel uncomfortable, choose another one that makes you feel more comfortable, and try to “put it on” instead. Check your feelings. Think about how this change could be projected on real life.
- Choose a mask that helps you to communicate with your partner. Put on the mask chosen by him for himself. Consider the cards and evaluate the peculiarities of your relationship dictated by the interaction of these masks. What may change if you choose another mask? Can you wear no mask at all?
- Draw a card for each of conflicting parties in order to study the current conflict in your life. How do people who hide behind these masks interact? What shades are dictated by the masks? How could you downplay tensions and help to resolve the conflict if you introduce some new masks? Which of these masks are available to you?
- Choose the masks that are usually put on by your family members. Tell about the emotions demonstrated and hidden behind each mask. How are the masks worn by your family members alike and how do they differ? What additional masks might help your family members to expand their opportunities?
- Draw a card randomly. Tell about the feelings of the person who wears this mask. Make up the story and write it down on behalf of the mask worn by different people, what happened to them finally.
© Eva Morozovsky