Images above: Astura/Allura (Council); Astura flanked by the 2 supporting cards; The Protector of the Young, (Council); Temenos, 1st Chakra (Companion).
Astura, Queen of the Night, teeth bared, is suddenly in my face, emerging out of space as if embodying darkness itself, charged with the secrets brewing there. She looks into my eyes with a question lingering behind her eyelids. Her sensuous, flexible, forever-young alter ego, Allura, immersed in the silent, velvety beauty of the night, is innocent of all but her dance: stretching her arms toward the Blood Moon, she offers praise and enticement as if to a lover.
"This Astura/Allura is a potent new Council Neter," I murmur to myself. I am more reluctant than usual to randomly slip her into my deck. So far she has only spoken a few words:
I inspire lovers with my magic, I embrace your dreams, I hide murderers in my folds. I always taste of the forbidden as I steal hours from your sleep. I know everything that takes place under the cover of my time. I am the Queen of the Night, everything is shrouded in mystery when seen through my eyes. I seduce it to reveal its hidden truth.
I am thrilled to have her in my deck and I am not surprised at her arrival. It is long overdue. My love affair with the night started when I was still a child negotiating between my fears and my fascination with the dark. I imagine this Neter, fresh from scissors and glue, entering the large family of my deck. It might be a bit daunting. I wonder how the other Neters will make room for her large presence. I need help to welcome her-someone who can initiate her and take the responsibility of introducing her to the others. Someone who understands who she is and the value of her complex gifts. I wonder if she senses it as clearly as I do. I will ask my inner wisdom - my veteran Neters will know what to do.
I prepare to pull two cards at random from my deck. I let my intention form in my third eye, then drop it into my heart. From there, I let it slide down into my arms until it reaches my fingertips, charged and ready to reach for two cards. I place them to flank Astura/Allura, the first on the left, the second on the right. I ask my Neters to come forward and help me receive the gifts of this new card and integrate her into the tribe. I want them to be seasoned godparents and illuminate for me her role in my deck. I want her to feel taken in, belonging in her entirety: her wild force, her attractive beauty, her raw mystery. I want to see her in context to better understand her interrelatedness within the whole of my deck.
When I turn over the card on the left, I find the deep piercing eyes of Temenos, The Snake, my First Chakra Companion. He unmasks the undeniable truth of my instinctual impulse to live. His compassionate yet unforgiving gaze bares my soul. His eyes offer a blatant reminder that within my nature there is a raw, fresh, potent and resolute energy that is freed even of my personal ownership. This place, beyond my mind's control, reverberates with an impulse to create shared by the entire universe. It links me to life's blind determination to continue to regenerate its creation over and over, eon after eon.
Temenos says to the Queen of the Night:
We know each other quite well, beautiful Lady, and I welcome you into this deck. It is in your embrace that lovers rediscover their passion. Your darkness allows unbridled shadow to follow its inevitable course. No one knows shadow's true colors if they have not traversed your landscape. I need you as you need me, in our Light and in our Shadow. I am your mate and your friend and I will invite your powers to be at the service of Life.
I shake my head in wonderment at the synchronicity of Temenos showing up on the left of Astura/Allura. This is the side of instinctual potency, the life force, and the underworld. It hosts a continuum of energy spanning from the burst of sexual vitality that manifests life, to the gold and the lead of the psychological shadow. The left side is also where self is affirmed against all odds, in a forward movement towards the physical evolution of the cosmos, where life is protected even while it is destroyed.
As I turn the card on the right, The Protector of the Young appears. Large, all-knowing eyes shine in his massive buffalo head. He is mild-mannered and self-possessed, but the sheer bulk of his body is ready to annihilate any threat endangering the wildly curious tiger cub who, courageously climbing over a rock, is gazing in rapture at the wide world.
The Protector of the Young speaks:
I thank you for coming, Queen of the Night. I will be your friend. I will remind you to use your fangs to protect the young, to let it be innocent in your arms, to cradle its growth in silence, to keep it safe with your darkness. Your services are needed just as Winter is needed to hibernate the seed.
One more reason to marvel at yet another uncannily appropriate appearance, on the right side of the Queen of the Night! This is the side of consciousness, of expansion of the self beyond selfishness and self-preservation. It is the side that invites us towards wisdom and transcendence even in the most trivial matters.
I gently start offering prompts to these three Neters, who all fall into a conversation. At times I am involved, asking questions, expressing my wonder and my doubts. Other times I witness the spontaneity of their unfolding exchange.
I always feel deeply enriched by this exercise to welcome my new cards. Only recently have I started incorporating it into the SoulCollage Facilitator® Trainings because I find it gives an experiential taste of the many ways we can apply creativity and imagination to the use of our decks.
SoulCollage® is in continuous evolution at many levels and through the contribution of countless individuals. Not only do we continue to discover new applications of the method in different disciplines and fields, we also see the deepening of already established uses. In my personal experience, and as a SoulCollage® Trainer, I continuously discover new nuances both in the conversations we can have with our Neters and that our Neters can have with each other. These sometimes subtle, yet potent discoveries each widen the field and expand the avenues that are intrinsically offered by SoulCollage®. Each Neter is a pathway towards better knowledge and acceptance of the larger Self, and each conversation is an opportunity to harmonize the many components of our life. These small steps anchor the wisdom of SoulCollage® and nurture more change. They mature the new cultural paradigm and deepen us into a wiser worldview. Each one of us-independent yet interconnected-expands for the benefit and pleasure of us all.
This ever-evolving nature of SoulCollage® has naturally been manifesting itself in the Trainings. The skeleton of the program remains the same, but there is new meat on the old bones! For example, the way the Training is presented has been adjusted to accommodate different group sizes and cultures. Or, especially since many Trainings have become longer (the Trainings that I and several other Trainers provide now start on Thursday at 2pm instead of Friday, while still ending with lunch on Sunday), there are new opportunities to implement various ways of using the cards and more time to practice facilitating. If a part of you is curious or wishes to freshen up its skills, I highly recommend taking the training again as a "Refresher." Many trained Facilitators have found that experience to be very enriching. In the meantime, I encourage you to welcome your new cards with the exercise I've depicted in this article. Applying cross-fertilization of conversations between Neters is valuable not only for healing purposes, but for a deeper understanding of the function of any one Neter, and to integrate existential aspects that have been explored through a series of readings and the making of new cards.
I am smiling now, looking at the representation of Indra's Net that Seena made and passed on to me. It is hanging above my bed. All of us interrelate on its infinite crossroads, as Facilitators, as SoulCollagers, and as human beings. Our Neters too are discovering their own interrelatedness, in a parallel, even more profoundly integrated Net.