XIII - Florinda Donner, Being-In-Dreaming
XIV - Florinda Donner-Grau, The Witch's Dream
XV - Interviews

XIII - Florinda Donner, Being-In-Dreaming

Florinda Donner, Being-In-Dreaming,
    An Initiation into the Sorcerers' World
    Harper Odysseys, Harper San Francisco, First Edition, 1991

What I haven't mentioned is the world of magic from which those Yaqui leaders operated. To them, the actions of wind and shadows, of animals and plants were as important as the doings of men. [e13] “All of us here are bound together by our struggle, by our deep affection for one another, and by the realization that without one another nothing is possible,” she said. [e32]
“No. She's not a magician,” Delia said. “She's a sorceress.” .... “Magicians are in a show,” she explained, gazing at me pointedly. “Sorcerers are in the world without being part of the world.” [e39]
“I wouldn't dare call you a liar,” Delia pronounced rather pompously. “I'd call you a dreamer.” .... “The sorcerers who reared me told me that it doesn't matter what one may say as long as one has the power to say it.” Her voice conveyed such enthusiasm and approval that I was sure someone was behind one of the doors listening to us. “And the way to get that power is from dreaming. You don't know this because you do it naturally, but when you are in a pinch, your mind goes instantly into dreaming.” ....
“.... one should never lie to be believed.”
“Why should one lie then?” I asked.
“For the sheer pleasure of it,” Delia promptly retorted .... “Do you know the saying, `If you are not lying to be believed, you can say anything you want, regardless of what anybody thinks of you'?” [e40f]
“The woman who taught me to dream could maintain two hundred dreams.” .... “Women are extremely practical. In order to sustain a dream, one must be practical, because the dream must pertain to practical aspects of oneself. My teacher's favorite dream was to dream of herself as a hawk. Another was to dream of herself as an owl. So depending on the time of the day, she could dream about being either one, and since she was dreaming while she was awake, she was really and absolutely a hawk or an owl.” [e46]
The secret of a woman's strength is her womb [e47]
“The sorcerers, on the contrary, understand freedom as the capacity to do the impossible, the unexpected - to dream a dream that has no basis, no reality in everyday life.” Her voice again became but a whisper as she added, “The knowledge of sorcerers is what is exciting and new. Imagination is what a woman needs to change the self and become a dreamer.” [e48]
“The womb is the center of our creative energy,” she explained, “to the point that, if there would be no more males in the world, women could continue to reproduce. And the world would then be populated by the female of the human species only.” She added that women reproducing unilaterally could only reproduce clones of themselves .... “Women, having then the ability and the organs for reproducing life, have also the ability to produce dreams with those same organs .... So, in a true woman's fashion, I act. I dream and leave the explanations to men.”
Esperanza claimed that originally the sorcerers she had told me about used to pass their knowledge on to their biological descendants or to people of their private choice, but the results had been catastrophic. Instead of enhancing this knowledge, these new sorcerers, who had been selected by arbitrary favoritism, confabulated to enhance themselves. They were finally destroyed, and their destruction nearly obliterated their knowledge. The few sorcerers who were left then decided that their knowledge should never again be passed on to their descendants or to people of their choice but to those selected by an impersonal power, which they called the spirit. [e49f]
Cautiousness blinds as surely as recklessness [e108]
“What makes people so vulnerable to his charm is that he is a generous man,” I went on. “And generosity is perhaps the only virtue that none of us can resist, because we are dispossessed, regardless of our background.” [e123]
“I'm your mother, not your dreaming teacher .... All that concerns you now is that remembering dreams has to do with physical pressure on the specific spot where a vision is stored.” ....
“Dreams are doors into the unknown,” Florinda said, stroking my head. “Naguals lead by means of dreams. And the act of dreaming with purpose is the art of sorcerers. The Nagual Mariano Aureliano has helped you to get into dreams that all of us dreamed.” ....
As the memory of that dream became clear in my mind, it also became clear that among those women no one was more, no one was less than the other. That one woman in each group was the leader was in no way a matter of power, of prestige, of accomplishment, but simply a matter of efficiency. I didn't know why, but I was convinced that all that mattered to them was the deep affection they had for each other. [e126f]
Normally, I slept in the nude, regardless of the climate [e130]
“How can I find them if I don't know them? It's impossible.”
“Not for a witch,” she remarked casually. “As I already said, you don't resemble them physically, but the glow inside you is as bright as the glow inside them. You will recognize them by that glow.” Her eyes were fixed on me intently, as if she could indeed see the glow inside me. “It's the glow of the sorcerers .” Her face was grave, her voice unusually low. [e135]
A rescuing thought suddenly occured to me, as if someone had just whispered it in my ear: when in doubt, one must separate the two tracks, the track for ordinary affairs and the track for dreams, since each has a different state of awareness. I felt elated, for I knew that the first track one should test is the track of dreams; if the situation at hand doesn't fit that track, then one is not dreaming.
My elation quickly vanished when I tried to test the track for dreams. I had no inkling of how to go about it or of what the track for dreams was, for that matter. And worse, I couldn't remember who had told me about it.
“I did,” Esperanza said just behind me. “You have moved a great deal in the realm of dreams. You nearly remembered what I told you last year, the day after the picnic. I said to you then that, when in doubt about whether you are in a dream or whether you are awake, you should test the track where dreams run on - meaning the awareness we have in dreams - by feeling the thing you are in contact with. If you are dreaming, your feeling comes back to you as an echo. If it doesn't come back, then you are not dreaming.” [e150]
“Dreaming-awake is the most sophisticated state humans can attain.” [e151]
“Nothing will ever be the same for me again,” I said softly.
Esperanz nodded. “You'll return to the world, but not to your world, to your old life,” she said, rising from the mat with the abrupt majesty small people command. She rushed toward the door, only to come to a sudden halt. “It's wildly exciting to do something without knowing why we are doing it,” she said, turning to look at me. “And it's even more exciting to set out to do something without knowing what the end result will be.”....
“Freedom is terribly frightening.” She spoke harshly, and before I had a chance to respond, she added gently, “Freedom requires spontaneous acts. You have no idea what it is to abandon yourself spontaneously .... ”
.... “Of course you didn't deliberate about it. But your acts of spontaneity are due to a lack of thought rather than to an act of abandon.” She stomped her foot to prevent me from interrupting her again. “A real spontaneous act is an act in which you abandon yourself completely but only after profound deliberation,” she went on. “An act where all the pros and cons have been taken into consideration and duly discarded, for you expect nothing, you regret nothing. With acts of that nature, sorcerers beckon freedom.” [e156]
All thought of my turmoil vanished as I gazed into his ominous left eye, with its terrible, merciless gaze. At that moment it no longer mattered what was the authentic truth and what was the illusion, the dream within a dream. I laughed out loud, feeling as light as the wind. I could feel an unbearable weight being lifted off my shoulders as I kept staring into his wizard's eye. I recognized it. Florinda, Mariano Aureliano, Esperanza, and the caretaker all had such an eye. Preordained for all time to be without feeling, without emotion, that eye mirrors emptiness. As if it had revealed enough, an inside lid - as in a lizard's eye - shut over the left pupil. [e163]
“We don't know what our fellow men would exactly do,” he explained patiently, “but we could write down a list of possibilities which would hold true. A very long list, I grant you, yet a finite list. In order to write down this list, we don't have to ask our fellow men for their preferences. All we have to do is place ourselves in their position and write down the possibilities pertinent to us. They'll be true to everybody, because we share them. Our subjective states are shared by all of us.” He said that our subjective knowledge of the world is known to us as common sense. It might be slightly different from group to group, from culture to culture, yet in spite of all these differences, common sense is sufficiently homogeneous to warrant the statement that the everyday world is an intersubjective world. [e165f]
“I don't know what they did to me,” I said. “I'm not quite sure whether I'm awake or dreaming even now. Florinda kept telling me that I was dreaming-awake.”
Isidoro Baltazar nodded, then said softly, “The Nagual Juan Matus refers to it as heightened awareness.” [e167]
~~A sorcerer is not only aware of different realities,” he went on, “but he uses that knowledge in practicalities. Sorcerers know - not only intellectually but also practically - that reality, or the world as we know it, consists only of an agreement extracted out of every one of us. That agreement could be made to collapse, since it's only a social phenomenon. And when it collapses, the whole world collapses with it.”
Seeing that I couldn't follow his argument, he tried to present it from another angle. He said that the social world defines perception to us in proportion to its usefulness in guiding us through the complexity of experience in everyday life. The social world sets limits to what we perceive, sets limits to what we are capable of perceiving. “To a sorcerer, perception can go beyond these agreed-upon parameters,” he stressed. “These parameters are constructed and buttressed by words, by language, by thoughts. That is, by agreement.” [e169]
“Contrary to what people believe,” he explained, “sorcerers are not practitioners of obscure esoteric rituals but stand ahead of our times. And the mode of our time is reason. We are reasonable men as a whole. Sorcerers, however, are men of reason, which is a different matter altogether. Sorcerers have a romance with ideas; they have cultivated reason to its limits, for they believe that only by fully understanding the intellect can they embody the principles of sorcery without losing sight of their own sobriety and integrity. This is where sorcerers differ drastically from us. We have very little sobriety and even less integrity.” [e170]
“There are no accidential meetings in the sorcerers' world” [e175]
“My help is exempt from calculation,” he continued. “I cannot invest in you, and neither, of course, can you invest in me or in the sorcerers' world. This is the basic premise of that world: nothing is done in it that might be construed as useful; only strategic acts are permitted. This is what the nagual Juan Matus taught me and the way I live: a sorcerer practices what he or she preaches. And yet nothing is done for practical reasons. When you get to understand and practice this, you will have closed the door behind you.” [e178]
“The world of sorcerers is a dream, a myth, yet it is as real as the everyday world,” Florinda proceeded. “In order to perceive and to function in the sorcerers' world, we have to take off the everyday mask that has been strapped to our faces since the day we were born and put on the second mask, the mask that enables us to see ourselves and our surroundings for what we really are: breathtaking events that bloom into transitory existence once and are never to be repeated again.
“You'll have to make that mask yourself.” She settled more comfortably on the bed and, cupping her hands around the mug, which I had refilled, took noisy little sips.
“How do I make this mask?” I asked.
“By dreaming your other self,” she murmured. “Certainly not by just having a new address, new clothes, new books.” [e183]
“The hardest thing to grasp about the sorcerers' world is that it offers total freedom.” She turned to face me and added softly, “But freedom is not free.”
“What does freedom cost?”
“Freedom will cost you the mask you have on,” she said. “The mask that feels so comfortable and is so hard to shed off, not because it fits so well but because you have been waring it for so long.” She stopped pacing about the room and came to stand in front of the card table.
“Do you know what freedom is?” she asked rethorically. “Freedom is the total absence of concern about yourself,” she said, sitting beside me on the bed. “And the best way to quit being concerned with yourself is to be concerned about others.” [e184]
“Sorcerers are bound to their world solely through their impeccability.” A definite gleam appeared in her eyes as she added, “Sorcerers have no interest to convert anyone to their views. There are no gurus or wise men among sorcerers, only naguals. They are the leaders, not because they know more or because they are in many way better sorcerers, but simply because they have more energy. I'm not necessarily referring to physical strength,” she qualified, “but to a certain configuration of their being that permits them to help anyone break the parameters of perception.” [e185]
“He will not tell you what you want to hear. He will not tell you how to behave, for, as you already know, there are neither rules nor regulations in the sorcerers' world.” She giggled gleefully, seemingly enjoying my growing frustration. “Always remember, there are only improvisations,” ....
Without opening her eyes, Florinda said, “If you watch him carefully, you'll see that Isidoro Baltazar doesn't seek love or approval. You'll see that he remains impassive under any conditions. He doesn't demand anything, yet he is willing to give anything of himself. He avidly seeks a signal from the spirit in the form of a kind word, an appropriate gesture, and when he gets it, he expresses his thanks by redoubling his efforts.
“Isidoro Baltazar doesn't judge. He fiercely reduces himself to nothing in order to listen, to watch, so that he can conquer and be humbled by his conquest or be defeated and enhanced by his defeat.
“If you watch carefully, you'll see that Isidoro Baltazar doesn't surrender. He may be vanquished, but he'll never surrender. And above all, Isidoro Baltazar is free.” ....
Following one of those flashes of intuition, I decided to feel with my seat the bed I was sitting on. And to my dumbfounded surprise, my buttocks felt as if they had sunk into the bed itself. For an instant, I was the bed, and the bed was reaching out to my buttocks. I relished this sensation for quite some time. I knew then that I was dreaming, and I understood with complete clarity that I had just felt what Esperanza had described as “my feeling being thrown back at me.” And then my whole being melted, or better yet, it exploded. [e186f]
The other planet - the dreamers - was composed of the other four women: Zuleica, Nélida, Hermelinda, and Clara. They had a more ethereal quality. It was not that they were less forceful or less energetic; it was rather that their energy was simply less apparent. They projected a sense of otherworldliness even when engaged in the most mundane activities. They were the specialists on another peculiar state of awareness they called “dreaming in worlds other than this world.” I was told that this was the most complex state of awareness women could reach. [e190]
According to the caretaker, this was the natural condition of power food: One could never get enough of it. He said that he cooked his own food - rice and beans with either chunks of pork, beef, or chicken - and ate only once a day but never at the same hour. [e197]
The Nagual Isidoro Baltazar, nevertheless, warned me about the fallaciousness of clear-cut goals and emotionally charged realizations. He said that they were worthless, because the real arena of a sorcerer is the day-to-day life, and there, superficial rationales do not withstand pressure. [e211]
And I realized that they were, of course, totally right in refusing to play our favourite intellectual game, that of pretending to be interested by asking so-called soul-searching questions, which usually have no meaning to us whatsoever. And the reason they have no meaning to us is that we don't have the energy to do anything about the answer we might hear, except to agree or disagree with it. [e213]
In the presence and company of any of those sorceresses, I experienced the most peculiar feeling that I was on a perpetual holiday. But that was but a mirage. They were on a perpetual warpath. And the enemy was the idea of the self [e214]
I had always considered myself an energetic person. However, I could not keep up with him. He was always in motion - or so it appeared - agile and active, ever ready to undertake some project. His vigor was simply incredible.
It was much later that I fully understood that the source of Isidoro Baltazar's boundless energy was his lack of concern with himself. It was his unwavering support, his imperceptible yet masterful machinations, that helped me stay on the right track. There was a lightheartedness in him, a pure delight in his subtle yet forceful influence, that made me change without my noticing that I was being led along a new path, a path on which I no longer had to play games or needed to pretend or use my womanly wiles to get my way. ....
There was only one condition he insisted upon: I was to work for no particular goal other than the edifying and pleasurable process of thinking. A startling proposition! I had never considered thinking in those terms or in any others ....
He believed that the thinking process was a private, almost secret rite and could not possibly occur outdoors in public view. He compared the process of thinking with leavened dough. It can only rise inside a room.
“The best way to understand anything, of course, is in bed,” he said to me once. He stretched out on his bed, propped his head against several pillows, and crossed the right leg over the left, resting the ankle on the raised knee of the left leg. ....
At those times, I asked Isidoro Baltazar about intuitive knowledge, about that sudden flash of insight, of understanding, that sorcerers are supposed to cultivate above all else.
He always said to me at those times that to know something only intuitively is meaningless. Flashes of insight need to be translated into some coherent thought, otherwise they are purposeless. He compared flashes of insight to sightings of inexplicable phenomena. Both wane as swiftly as they come. If they are not constantly reinforced, doubt and forgetfulness will ensue, for the mind has been conditioned to be practical and accept only that which is verifiable and quantifiable.
He explained that sorcerers are men of knowledge rather than men of reason. As such, they are a step ahead of Western intellectual men who assume that reality - which is often equated with truth - is knowable through reason. A sorcerer claims that all that is knowable through reason is our thought processes but that it is only by understanding our total being, at its most sophisticated and intricate level, that can we eventually erase the boundaries with which reason defines reality ....
Again and again, Isidoro Baltazar stressed that for one to silence one's rational side one first has to understand his or her thought process at its most sophisticated and intricate level. He believed that philosophy, beginning with classical Greek thought, provided the best way of illuminating this thought process. He never tired of repeating that, whether we are scholars or laymen, we are nonetheless members and inheritors of our Western intellectual tradition. And that means that regardless of our level of education and sophistication, we are captives of that intellectual tradition and the way it interprets what reality is.
Only superficially, Isidoro Baltazar claimed, are we willing to accept that what we call reality is a culturally determined construct. And what we need is to accept at the deepest level possible that culture is the product of a long, cooperative, highly selective, high developed, and, last but not least, highly coercive process that culminates in an agreement that shields us from other possibilities. Sorcerers actively strive to unmask the fact that reality is dictated and upheld by our reason; that ideas and thoughts stemming from reason become regimes of knowledge that ordain how we see and act in the world; and that incredible pressure is put on all of us to make certain ideologies acceptable to ourselves ....
Sorcerers teach that perception takes place in a place outside the sensorial realm. Sorcerers know that something more vast exists than what we have agreed our senses can perceive ....
Isidoro Baltazar said that sorcerers actively strive, all their lives, to break that frail blanket of human assumptions. However, sorcerers don't plunge into the darkness blindly. They are prepared. They know that whenever they leap into the unknown, they need to have a well-developed rational side. Only then will they be able to explain and make sense of whatever they might bring forth from their journeys into the unknown.
He added that I wasn't to understand sorcery through reading the works of philosophers. Rather, I was to see that both philosophy and sorcery are highly sophisticated forms of abstract knowledge ....
Isidoro Baltazar believed that philosophers are intellectual sorcerers. However, their probings and their pursuits always remain mental endeavors. Philosophers cannot act upon the world they understand and explain so well except in the culturally agreed-upon manner. Philosophers add to an already existing body of knowledge .... However, nothing of what they do philosophically will change their sensorial perception of the world, for philosophers work from within the social order. They uphold the social order even if intellectually they don't agree with it. Philosophers are sorcerers manqué.
Sorcerers also build upon an existing body of knowledge. However, they don't build upon this knowledge by accepting what has already been established and proven by other sorcerers. Sorcerers have to prove to themselves anew that that which already stands as accepted does indeed exist, does indeed yield to perceiving. To accomplish this monumental task, sorcerers need an extraordinary amount of energy, which they obtain by detaching themselves from the social order without retreating from the world. Sorcerers break the agreement that has defined reality, without breaking up in the process themselves. [e216ff]
If sorcerers were watching us, I thought dejectedly, they would know that something is wrong. They would know that Isidoro Baltazar and I are not equals. I am factual and final about my actions and decisions. For him, actions and decisions are fluid, whatever their outcome, and their finality is measured in that he assumes full responsibility for them, regardless of how trivial or how significant they are. [e222]
“If you want to draw strength from the sorcerers' world,” he said, “you can no longer work under such premises. Ulterior motives are not acceptable in this magical world of ours. If you want to be a graduate student, then you have to behave like a warrior, not like a woman who has been trained to please. You know, even when you are bestially nasty, you strive to please. Now, whenever you write, since you were not trained to do writing, you can certainly adapt a new mood: the warrior's mood.” ....
“You have to fight yourself. Every inch of the way. And you have to do it so artfully and so cleverly that no one will notice your struggle.” ....
Smiling, he shook his head. “Didn't you notice how I did it?” he asked, then proceeded to answer his own question. “I picked the thoughts out of thin air. I simply stretched my energy fibers and hooked those thoughts, as one hooks fish with a fishing line, from the immeasurable ocean of thoughts and ideas that is out there.” He made a wide gesture with his arms, as though to encompass the very air around him. [e234]
“Sorcerers break time's flux,” Florinda answered my thoughts. “Time, in the fashion we measure it, doesn't exist when one dreams the way sorcerers dream. Sorcerers stretch or compress time at will. For sorcerers, time is not a matter of minutes or hours or days but an altogether different matter ....
She added that time is always a factor of consciousness; that is, to be aware of time is a psychological state that we automatically transform into physical measurements. It is so ingrained in us that we can hear, even when we are not consciously aware of it, a clock ticking inside us, subliminally keeping track of time.
“In dreaming-awake, that capacity is absent,” she emphasized. “A thoroughly new, unfamiliar structure, which somehow is not to be understood or interpreted as we normally do with time, takes over.”
.... “Once you become adept at entering heightened awareness, as Mariano Aureliano calls it, you'll be aware then of whatever you wish because sorcerers are not involved in measuring time. They are involved in using it, in stretching or compressing it at will.” ....
“Are you implying that I might be dreaming-awake now?” I asked, knowing the answer before she responded. “If I am, what did I do to reach this state? What steps did I take?”
“The simplest step imaginable,” Florinda said. “You didn't let yourself be your usual self. That is the key that opens doors. We have told you many times and in many ways that sorcery is not at all what you think it is. To say that to stop yourself from being your usual self is sorcery's most complex secret sounds like idiocy, but it isn't. It is the key to power, therefore the most difficult thing a sorcerer does. And yet, it isn't something complex or impossible to understand. It doesn't boggle the mind, and for that reason no one can even suspect its importance or take it seriously ....” [e242f]
“There are no shortcuts to writing good term papers,” Esperanza said. “Not even with the aid of sorcery. You should know that without the preliminary reading, the note taking, and the writing and rewriting, you would never have been able to recognize the structure and order of your term paper in dreaming.” [e244]
“To do that took all the strength you had,” Nélida maintained. “While dreaming-awake, you channeled all your energy into a single purpose. All your concern and effort went into finishing your paper. Nothing else mattered to you at the moment. You had no other thoughts to interfere with your endeavor.” [e245]
“When dreaming-awake, we have access to direct knowledge.” [e246]
“Did you know that one of the basic differences between males and females is how they approach knowledge?” ....
“Men build knowledge step by step,” she explained, her pencil poised on the figure crowned with a cone. “Men reach up; they climb toward knowledge. Sorcerers say that men cone toward the spirit; they cone up toward knowledge. This coning process limits men on how far they can reach.” She retracted the cone on the first figure . “As you can see, men can only reach a certain height. Their path toward knowledge ends up in a narrow point: the tip of the cone.”
She looked at me sharply. “Pay attention,” she warned me and pointed her pencil to the second figure, the one with the inverted cone on its head. “As you can see, the cone is upside down, open like a funnel. Women are able to open themselves directly to the source, or rather, the source reaches them directly, in the broad base of the cone. Sorcerers say that women's connection to knowledge is expansive. On the other hand, men's connection is quite restricted.
“Men are close to the concrete,” she proceeded, “and aim at the abstract. Women are close to the abstract and yet try to indulge themselves with the concrete.”
“Why are women, being so open to knowledge or the abstract, considered inferior?” I interrupted her.
Esperanza gazed at me with rapt fascination. She rose swiftly, stretched like a cat until all her joints cracked, then sat down again.
“That women are considered inferior, or, at the very best, that female traits are equated as complementary to the male's, has to do with the manner in which males and females approach knowledge,” she explained. “Generally speaking, women are more interested in power over themselves than over others, a power which is clearly what males want.”
“Even among sorcerers,” Nélida interjected, and the women all laughed.
Esperanza went on to say that she believed that originally women saw no need to exploit their facility to link themselves broadly and directly to the spirit. They saw no necessity to talk about or intellectualize this natural capacity of theirs, for it was enough for them to put it in actio and to know that they had it.
“Men's incapacity to link themselves directly to the spirit was what drove them to talk about the process of reaching knowledge,” she stressed. “They haven't stopped talking about it. And it is precisely this insistence on knowing how they strive toward the spirit, this insistence on analyzing the process, that gave them the certainty that being rational is a typically male skill.” ....
“Women still have a direct link with the spirit. They have only forgotten how to use it, or rather, they have copied men's condition of not having it at all. For thousands of years, men have struggled to make sure that women forget it. Take the Holy Inquisition, for example. That was a systematic purge to eradicate the belief that women have a direct link to the spirit. All organized religion is nothing but a very successful maneuver to put women in a lower place. Religions invoke a divine law that says that women are inferior.” [e247f]
“What is the feminine side of reason, Esperanza?”
“Many things. One of them is definitely dreaming.” ....
“You need to act on your magical side,” she said.
“And what is that?”
“The womb.” she said this so distantly and calmly, as if she were not interested in my reaction, that I almost missed hearing it. Then suddenly, realizing the absurdity of her remark, I straightened up and looked at the others.
“The womb!” Esperanza repeated. “The womb is the ultimate feminine organ. It is the womb that gives women that extra edge, that extra force to channel their energy.”
She explained that men, in their quest for supremacy, have succeeded in reducing woman's mysterious power, her womb, to a strictly biological organ, whose only function is to reproduce, to carry man's seed.
As if obeying a cue, Nélida rose, walked around the table, and came to stand behind me. “Do you know the story of the Annunciation?” she whispered in my ear.
Giggling, I turned to face her. “I don't.”
In the same confidential whisper, she proceeded to tell me that in the Judeo-Christian tradition, men are the only ones who hear the voice of God. Women have been excluded from that privilege, with the exception of the virgin Mary.
Nélida said that an angel whispering to Mary was, of course, natural. What wasn't natural was the fact that all the angel had to say to Mary was that she would bear the son of God. The womb did not receive knowledge but rather the promise of God's seed. A male god, who engendered another male god in turn.
I wanted to think, to reflect on all that I had heard, but my mind was in a confused whirl. “What about male sorcerers?” I asked. “They don't have a womb, yet they are clearly connected to the spirit.”
Esperanza regarded me with undisguised pleasure, then looked over her shoulder, as though she were afraid to be overheard, and whispered, “Sorcerers are able to align themselves to intent, to the spirit, because they have given up what specifically defines their masculinity. And they are no longer males.” [e250f]
“Since dreaming, for a woman, is a matter of having energy at her disposal, the important thing is to convince her of the need to modify her deep socialization in order to acquire that energy. The act of making use of this energy is automatic; women dream sorcerers' dreams the instant they have the energy.” ....
“Dreaming is only for courageous women,” she whispered in my ear. Then she burst into loud laughter and added, “Or for those women who have no other choice, because their circumstances are unbearable - a category to which most women belong, without even knowing it.” [e259]
“You're not dreaming, my dear. This is the real me. I am your dreaming teacher. I am Zuleica. Esperanza is my other self. Sorcerers call it the dreaming body.” [e262]
There was an undeniable gleam of hardness but also of kindness in her eyes. It came to me in a flash, as if I had known it before, that her ruthlessness was, more than anything else, an inner discipline. Her relentless self-control had stamped her whole being with a most appealing elusiveness and secretiveness, not the secretiveness of covert and furtive behavior, but the secretiveness of the mysterious, the unknown. That was the reason I followed her around, whenever I saw her, like a puppy dog.
“You've had two transitions today,” Zuleica explained. “One from being normally awake to dreaming-awake and the other from dreaming-awake to being normally awake. The first was smooth and unnoticeable; the second was nightmarish. That's the normal state of affairs. All of us experience those transitions just like that.” ....
There was a glint in her eyes. “What is ordinarily done,” she said, “is to start dreaming by sleeping in a hammock or in some kind of a strapping contraption hanging from a roof beam or a tree. Suspended in that fashion, we don't have any contact with the ground. The ground grounds us, remember that. In that suspended position, a beginning dreamer can learn how energy shifts from being awake to dreaming and from dreaming a dream to dreaming-awake. ....” [e263f]
“In there, we find fluency and continuity as we do in the world of everyday life. In both states, the practical is dominant. We act efficiently in both states. What we can't do in the second attention, however, is to break what we experience into pieces so we can handle it, so we can feel secure, so we can understand it.” ....
“In the second attention,” she continued, “or as I prefer to call it, when dreaming-awake, one has to believe that the dream is as real as the everyday world. In other words, one has to acquiesce. For sorcerers, all worldly or otherworldly pursuits are ruled by irreproachable acts, and in back of all irreproachable acts lies acquiescence. And acquiescence is not acceptance. Acquiescence involves a dynamic element; it involves action.” Her voice was very soft, and there was a feverish gleam in her eyes as she finished. “The moment one begins dreaming-awake, a world of enticing, unexplored possibilities opens up. A world where the ultimate audacity becomes a reality. Where the unexpected is expected. That's the time when man's definive adventure begins. The world becomes limitless with possibilities and wonder.” ....
“Zuleica is a surem from the Bacatate Mountains,” I said with absolute conviction. “I've known about these creatures all along.” Seeing the astonishment in Florinda's face, I went on daringly, “Zuleica wasn't born like an ordinary human being. She was established. She's sorcery itself.”
“No,” Florinda contradicted me emphatically. “Zuleica was born. Esperanza wasn't.” She smiled down into my face and added, “This should be a worthy riddle for you.”
“I think I understand,” I murmured, “but I am too insensitive and can't formulate what I understand.”
“You're doing fine,” she chuckled softly. “Being as insensitive as you normally are, you must wait until you are really, really awake, 100 percent in order to understand. Now you are only 50 percent awake. The trick is to remain in heightened awareness. In heightened awareness, nothing is impossible to comprehend for us.” [e266ff]
His gaze told me that he didn't care if I gave in to either anger or tears.
To know that I had no audience gave me an instantaneous sense of equanimity. [e271]
“I'll never see Isidoro Baltazar?” I asked, hardly able to speak through my tears.
“I can't lie to you to spare your feelings. No, he'll never be back. Isidoro Baltazar was only a moment of sorcery. A dream that passed after being dreamed. Isidoro Baltazar, as the dream, is gone already.”
A small, almost wistful smile curved her lips. “What I don't know yet,” she continued, “is if the man, the new Nagual, is gone forever as well. You understand, of course, that even if he returns, he won't be Isidoro Baltazar. He'll be someone else you have to meet all over again.”
“Would he be unknown to me?” I asked, not quite sure wether I wanted to know.
“I don't know, my child,” she said with the weariness of uncertainty. “I simply don't know. I am a dream myself. And so is the new Nagual. Dreams like us are impermanent, for it is our impermanence that allows us to exist. Nothing holds us, except the dream.”
Blinded by my tears, I could barely see her.
“To ease your pain, sink deeper into yourself,” she said softly. “Sit up with your knees raised and grab your ankles with crossed arms, right ankle with the left hand. Put your head on your knees and let the sadness go.
“Let the earth soothe your pain. Let the earth's healing force come to you.”
I sat on the ground in exactly the manner she prescribed. Within moments my sadness vanished. A deep bodily sensation of wellbeing replaced my anguish. I lost sight of myself, in any context except the context of the moment at hand. Without my subjective memory I had no pain. [e272f]
“Women are very cagey. Remember, being reared to be a servant makes you extremely shifty and clever.” [e274]
“It's very hard to teach something so unsubstantial as dreaming,” Esperanza said. “Especially to women. We are extremely coy and clever. After all, we've been slaves all our lives; we know how to precisely manipulate things when we don't want anything to upset we have worked so hard to obtain: our status quo.”
“Do you mean that men don't?”
“They certainly do, but they are more overt. Women fight underhandedly. Their preferred fighting technique is the slave's maneuver: to turn the mind off. They hear without paying attention, and they look without seeing.” She added that to instruct women was an accomplishment worth of praise.
“We like the openness of your fighting,” she went on. “There is high hope for you. What we fear the most is the agreeable woman who doesn't mind the new and does everything you ask her to do and then turns around and denounces you as soon as she gets tired or bored with the newness.” ....
We walked in silence for a while, and then she said that the difference between a sorcerer and an ordinary person was that the former could enter into a state of dreaming-awake at will. She tapped my arm repeatedly, as if to emphasize her point, and in a confidential tone added, “And you are dreaming-awake because, in order to help you hone your energy, we have created a bubble around you since the first night you arrived.”
She went on to say that from the moment they first met me, they had nicknamed me Fosforito, little match. “You burn too fast and uselessly.” She gestured for me to remain quiet and added that I didn't know how to focus my energy. “It's deployed to protect and uphold the idea of yourself.” Again she motioned me to be silent, and said that what we think is our personal self is, in actuality, only an idea. She claimed that the bulk of our energy is consumed in defending that idea.
Esperanza's eyebrows lifted a little, an elated grin spreading across her face. “To reach a point of detachment, where the self is just an idea that can be changed at will, is a true act of sorcery and the most difficult of all,” she explained. “When the idea of the self retreats, sorcerers have the energy to align themselves with intent and be more than what we believe is normal.
“Women, because they have a womb, can focus their attention with great facility on something outside their dreams while dreaming,” she explained. “That's precisely what you have been doing all along, unbeknownst to yourself. That object becomes a bridge that connects you to intent.”
“And what object do I use?”
There was a flicker of impatience in her eyes. Then she said that it was usually a window or a light or even the bed. “You're so good at it, that's second nature with you,” she assured me. “That's why you have nightmares. I told you all this when you were in a deep state of dreaming-awake, and you understood that as long as you refuse to focus your attention on any object, prior to sleeping, you don't have bad dreams.
“You are cured, aren't you?” she asked.
My initial reaction, of course, was to contradict her. However, upon a moment's thought, I couldn't but agree with her. After my meeting with them in Sonora, I had been fairly free from nightmares.
“You'll never be really free from them as long as you persist in being yourself,” she pronounced. “What you should do, of course, is to exploit your dreaming talents deliberately and intelligently. That's why you're here. And the first lesson is that a woman must, through her womb, focus her attention on an object. Not an object from the dream itself, but an independent one, one from the world prior to the dream.
“Yet, it isn't the object that matters,” she hastened to point out. “What's important is the deliberate act of focusing on it, at will, prior to the dream and while continuing the dream.” She warned me that although it sounded simple enough, it was a formidable task that might take me years to accomplish. “What normally happens is that one awakens the instant one focuses one's attention on the outside object,” she said.
“What does it mean to use the womb?” I interjected. “And how is it done?”
“You are a woman,” Esperanza said softly. “You know how to feel with your womb.”
I wanted to contradict her, to explain that I didn't know any such thing. Before I could do so, she went on to explain that, in a woman, feelings originate in the womb.
“In men,” she claimed, “feelings originate in the brain.” She poked me in the stomach and added, “Think about it. A woman is heartless except with her brood because her feelings are coming from her womb.
“In order to focus your attention with your womb, get an object and put it on your belly or rub it on your genitalia.” She laughed uproariously at my look of dismay, then, in between fits of laughter, chided me. “I wasn't that bad. I could have said that you need to smear the object with your juices, but I didn't.
“Once you establish a deep familiarity with the object,” she continued, her tone serious again, “it'll always be there to serve you as a bridge.” ....
“There is no more time for you to waste,” she said. “It's very natural that in our stupidity we screw things up. Sorcerers know this better than anyone else. But they also know that there are no second chances. You must learn control and discipline because you have no more leeway for mistakes ....” [e276ff]
Every night since my arrival I dreamt the same dream, which I had forgotten about until that very moment. I dreamt that all the women sorcerers came to my room and drilled me in the sorcerers' rationales. They told me, on and on, that dreaming is the secondary function of the womb - the primary being reproduction and whatever is related to it. They told me that dreaming is a natural function in women, a pure corollary of energy. Given enough energy, the body of a woman by itself will awake the womb's secondary functions, and the woman will dream inconceivable dreams.
That needed energy, however, is like aid to an underdeveloped country: it never arrives. Something in the overall order of our social structures prevents that energy from being free so women can dream.
Were that energy free, the women sorcerers told me, it would simply overthrow the “civilized” order of things. But women's great tragedy is that their social conscience completely dominates their individual conscience. Women fear being different and don't want to stray too far from the comforts of the known. The social pressures put upon them not to deviate are simply too overpowering, and rather than change, they acquiesce to what has been ordained: women exist to be at the service of man. Thus they can never dream sorcery dreams, although they have the organic disposition for it.
Womanhood has destroyed women's chances. Whether it be tinted with a religious or a scientific slant, it still brands women with the same seal: their main function is to reproduce, and whether they have achieved a degree of political, social, or economic equality is ultimately immaterial. [e280]
Standing on the exact same spot where the caretaker had stood was Esperanza; she was stark naked.
“Where is the caretaker?” I shouted in a panic-stricken voice.
“I am the caretaker,” she said. [e284]
“The sorcerers' world has a natural barrier that dissuades timid souls,” she explained. “Sorcerers need tremendous strength to handle it. You see, it's populated by monsters, flying dragons, and demonic beings, which, of course, are nothing but impersonal energy. We, driven by our fears, make that impersonal energy into hellish creatures.” [e285]
“You and I were dreaming in a different world. That's why you didn't feel the water. That's the world where the nagual Elías found all his inventions. In that world, I can be either a man or a woman. And just like the nagual Elías brought his inventions to this world, I bring either Esperanza or the caretaker. Or rather, my impersonal energy does that.” [e286]
The nagual Mariano Aureliano had once told me that sorcerers, when they talk among themselves, speak of sorcery as a bird; they call it the bird of freedom. They say that the bird of freedom only flies in a straight line and never comes around twice. They also say that it is the nagual who lures the bird of freedom. It is he who entices the bird to shed its shadow on the warrior's path. Without that shadow, there is no direction. [e289]
The old Nagual and his party of sorcerers were ready, but I didn't know it. They had been preparing themselves nearly all their lives for the ultimate audacity: to dream-awake that they sneak past death - as we ordinarily know death to be - and cross over into the unknown, enhancing, without breaking, the unity of their total energy. [e290]
“I'm going to be with you only for a moment,” she said. “I'll come back later, though.”
I turned around and poured out all the anguish and despair that had accumulated in me.
Florinda stared at me. Her face reflected an immeasurable sadness. There were sudden tears in her eyes, tears that were gone as fast as they had come ....
“Tears are meaningless for sorcerers,” she said in her deep, husky voice. “When you joined the sorcerers' world you were made to understand that the designs of fate, no matter what they are, are merely challenges that a sorcerer must face without resentment or self-pity .... It is your challenge to rise above this. And as you know, challenges are not discussed or resented. Challenges are actively met. Sorcerer either succeed in meeting their challenges or they fail at it. And it doesn't really matter which, as long as they are in command .... Why don't you heed my suggestion and behave impeccably regardless of your feelings,” she retorted sternly .... “You don't need the Nagual to be an impeccable sorceress,” she remarked. “Your impeccability should lead you to him even if he's no longer in the world. To live impeccably within your circumstances is your challenge. Whether you see Isidoro Baltazar tomorrow or in a year or a the end of your life should make no difference to you.” [e291f]
“I didn't go with the Nagual Mariano Aureliano and his party. And neither did Zuleica. Do you know why?”
Numb with anticipation and fear, I stared at her, openmouthed. “No, Florinda. I don't,” I finally managed to say.
“We are here because we don't belong to that party of sorcerers,” she said, her voice now low and soft. “We do, but then we don't really. Our feelings are with another Nagual, the Nagual Julián, our teacher. The Nagual Mariano Aureliano is our cohort, and the Nagual Isidoro Baltazar, our pupil.
“Like yourself, we've been left behind. You, because you were not ready to get with them; we, because we need more energy to take a greater jump and join perhaps another band of warriors, a much older band. The Nagual Julián's.”
I could feel Florinda's aloneness and solitude like a fine mist settling all around me. I barely dared to breathe lest she stop talking. [e293]
“The world of sorcerers is a world of solitariness, yet in it, love is forever. Like my love for the Nagual Julián. We move in the world of sorcerers all by ourselves, accounting only for our acts, our feelings, our impeccability.” She nodded, as if to underline her words. “I've no longer any feelings. Whatever I had went away with the Nagual Julián. All I have left is my sense of will, of duty, of purpose ....” [e294]
“Where is your impeccable purpose? What happened to all the things you've learned with us?” [e295]
“To be in the sorcerers' world one has to dream superbly.” She looked away. An almost full moon hung over the distant mountains. “Most people don't have the wits nor the size of spirit to dream. They cannot help but see the world as ordinary and repetitious. And do you know why?” she asked, fixing me with her keen gaze. “Because if you don't fight to avoid it, the world is indeed ordinary and repetitious. Most people are so involved with themselves that they have become idiotic. Idiots have no desire to fight to avoid ordinariness and repetitiousness.
Zuleica rose from the bench and put on her sandals. She tied her shawl around her waist so her long skirt wouldn't drag, and walked to the middle of the patio. And I knew what she was going to do before she even started. She was going to spin. She was going to perform a dance in order to gather cosmic energy. Women sorcerers believe that by moving their bodies they can get the strength necessary to dream. [e297]
Everywhere they went, they carried the feeling, the mood of the house in their hearts. And that feeling and mood, whatever they were for each of them, gave them the strength to face the everyday world with wonder and delight. [e298]
“Myths are dreams of extraordinary dreamers,” she said. “You need a great deal of courage and concentration in order to maintain them. And above all, you need a great deal of imagination. You are living a myth, a myth that has been handed down to you for savekeeping.”
She spoke in a tone that was almost reverent. “You cannot be the recipient of this myth unless you are irreproachable. If you are not, the myth will simply move away from you.” ....
“Don't you remember that we share one another's dreams?” she whispered, pushing me back onto the mat. “I'm the one who brings you dreams.” [e299]
“Only if the Nagual is supported and upheld by his fellow dreamers can he lead them into other viable worlds from which he can entice the bird of freedom.” Her words faded in the shadows of the room as she added that the support Isidoro Baltazar needed was dreaming energy, not worldly feelings and actions.
After a long silence, she spoke again. “You have witnessed how the old Nagual, as well as Isidoro Baltazar, by their mere presence, affect whoever is around them, be it their fellow sorcerers or just bystanders, making them aware that the world is a mystery where nothing can be taken for granted under any circumstances.”
I nodded in agreement.
For a long time I had been at a loss to understand how Naguals could, by there mere presence, make such a difference. After careful observation, comparing opinions with others, and endless introspection, I concluded that their influence stemmed from their renunciation of worldly concerns. In our daily world, we also have examples of men and women who have left worldly concerns behind. We call them mystics, saints, religious people. But Naguals are neither mystics nor saints and are certainly not religious men. Naguals are worldly men without a shred of worldly concerns.
At a subliminal level, this contradiction has the most tremendous effect on whoever is around them. The minds if those who are around a Nagual can't grasp what is affecting them, yet they feel the impact in their bodies as a strange anxiety, an urge to break loose, or as a sense of inadequacy, as if something transcendental is taking place somewhere else, and they can't get to it.
But the Naguals' built-in capacity to affect others doesn't only depend on their lack of worldly concerns or on the force of their personalities but rather on the force of their unreproachful behaviour. Naguals are unreproachful in their actions and feelings, regardless of the ambushes - worldly or otherworldly - placed on their interminable path. It isn't that Naguals follow a prescribed pattern of rules and regulations in order to have unreproachful behavior, for there are none. But rather, they use their imaginations for adopting or adapting to whatever it takes to make their actions fluid.
For their deeds, Naguals, unlike average men, don't seek approval, respect, praise, or any kind of acknowledgement from anyone, including their fellow sorcerers. All they seek is their own sense of flawlessness, of innocence, of integrity.
It is this that makes a Nagual's company addictive. One becomes dependent on his freedom as one would to a drug. To a Nagual, the world is always brand new. In his company, one begins to look at the world as if it had never happened before.
“That's because Naguals have broken the mirror of self-reflection,” Zuleica said, as if she had followed my train of thoughts. “Naguals are able to see themselves in the mirror of fog, which reflects only the unknown. It is a mirror that no longer reflects our normal humanity, expressed in repetition, but reveals the face of infinity.
“Sorcerers believe that when the face of self-reflection and the face of infinity merge, a Nagual is totally ready to break the boundaries of reality and disappear as though he wasn't made of solid matter. Isidoro Baltazar had been ready for a long time.”
“He can't leave me behind!” I cried out. “That would be too unfair.”
“It's downright foolish to think in terms of fairness and unfairness,” Zuleica said. “In the sorcerers' world, there is only power. Didn't every one of us teach you that?”
“There are many things I learned,” I conceeded gloomily. After a few moments, I mumbled under my breath, “But they are not worth anything at the moment.”
“They are worth the most now,” she contradicted me. “If you have learned one thing, it's that at the bleakest moments warriors rally their power to carry on. A warrior doesn't succumb to despair.” ....
“Florinda is right,” Zuleica pronounced. “Our magical world has nothing to do with chants and incantations, with rituals and bizarre behavior. Our magical world, which is a dream, is willed into being by the concentrated desire of those who participate in it. It is held intact at every moment by the sorcerers' tenacious wills. The same way the everyday world is held together by everybody's tenacious will.” ....
“To dream your dream, you have to be dead.” ....
“No, no. To die means to cancel all your holdings, to drop everything you have, everything you are.”
“That's nothing new,” I said. “I did that the moment I joined your world.”
“Obviously you didn't. Otherwise you wouldn't be in such a mess. If you had died the way sorcery demands, you would feel no anguish now.” “What would I feel, then?”
“Duty! Porpose!”
“My anguish has nothing to do with my sense of purpose,” I shouted. “It's apart, independent. I am alive and feel sadness and love. How can I avoid that?”
“You're not supposed to avoid it,” Zuleica clarified, “but to overcome it. If warriors have nothing, they feel nothing.”
“What kind of an empty world is that?” I asked defiantly.
“Empty is the world of indulging, because indulging cuts off everything else except indulging.” She gazed at me eagerly, as if expecting me to aggree with her statement. “So it's a lopsided world. Boring, repetitious. For sorcerers, the antidote of indulging is dying. And they don't just think about it, they do it.”
A cold shiver went up my back. I swallowed and remained silent, looking at the splendid sight of the moon shining through the window. “I really don't understand what you're saying, Zuleica.”
“You understand me perfectly well,” she maintained. “Your dream began when you met me. Now it's time for another dream. But this time, dream dead. Your error was to dream alive.”
“What does that mean?” I asked restlessly. “Don't torment me with riddles. You, yourself, told me that only male sorcerers drive themselves nuts with riddles. You're doing the same to me now.”
Zuleica's laughter echoed from wall to wall. It rustled like dry leaves pushed by the wind. “To dream alive means to have hope. It means that you hold on to your dream for dear life. To dream dead means that you dream without hope. You dream without holding on to your dream.”
Not trusting myself to speak, all I could do was to nod.
Florinda had told me that freedom is a total absence of concern about oneself, a lack of concern achieved when the imprisoned bulk of energy within ourselves is untied. She had said that this energy is released only when we can arrest the exalted conception we have of ourselves, of our importance, an importance we feel must not be violated or mocked.
Zuleica's voice was clear but seemed to come from a great distance as she added, “The price of freedom is very high. Freedom can only be attained by dreaming without hope, by being willing to lose all, even the dream.
“For some of us, to dream without hope, to struggle with no goal in mind, is the only way to keep up the bird of freedom.” [e300ff]

XIV - Florinda Donner-Grau, The Witch's Dream

Florinda Donner-Grau, The Witch's Dream, A Healer's Way of Knowledge
    Arcana, Penguin Books, 1997, First published by Simon & Schuster, 1985
    With a Foreword by Carlos Castaneda

If there is something inside us that we don't know about, such as hidden resources, unsuspected guts and cunning, or nobility of the spirit in the face of sorrow and pain, it will come out if we are confronted by the unknown while we are alone, without friends, without familiar boundaries, without support. If nothing comes out of us under those circumstances, it's because we have nothing. And before you say you really care for the nagual's quest, you must first find out for yourself whether there ist something inside you. I demand that you do that. [e15] “I don't go for seemingly orderly arrangements of thought and deed. For me, order is different from arranging things neatly, I don't give a damn about stupidity and I have no patience. That's the mood.
.... Being in the nagual's world has nothing to do with my impatience,” she said, making a humorous, hopeless gesture. “You see, I'm impeccably impatient .... It means that I am, for instance, perfectly conscious that you are boring me now with your stupid insistence on having detailed instructions. My impatience tells me that I should stop you. But it is my impeccability that will make you shut up at once.
.... Males can build bridges with their words; women can't. You're imitating males now. Women have to make the bridge with their acts.
.... How can I give you instructions about something that doesn't yet exist? I'll give you, instead, instructions on how to arrange your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. With that in hand, you'll take care of any eventuality that might arise.” [e18f] She made it clear that I was wrong, because healing, she said, depended on the practitioner and not on a body of knowledge. She maintained that there was no such thing as non-Western healing practices, since healing, unlike medicine, was not a formalized discipline.
.... Florinda was convinced that a person who successfully restored health, whether a doctor or a folk healer, was someone who could alter the body's fundamental feelings about itself and its links with the world - that is, someone who offered the body, as well as the mind, new possibilities so that the habitual mold to which body and mind had learned to conform could be systematically broken down. Other dimensions of awareness would then become accessible, and the commonsense expectations of disease and health could become transformed as new bodily meanings became crystalized. [e25f]
Luck and strength are all that count in everything .... [e28]
“Those are unanswerable questions,” doña Mercedes replied. “But let's go to the kitchen and ask Candelaria. She's got more sense than the two of us together. I'm too old to have sense, and you're too educated.” [e65f]
“He had very little strength; that's why he was caught by that mysterious something I talked to you about; that something more mysterious than fate. Witches call it a witch's shadow.
.... When people are fading away, especially at the moment they die, they create with that mysterious something a link with other persons, a sort of continuity,” doña Mercedes explained. “That's why children turn out just like their parents. Or those who take care of old people follow into the steps of their wards.” [e67]
“Only by following in the spiritual footsteps of a healer can you be a healer yourself. That's what's called a junction, a link. Doña Mercedes has already told you that witches call it a shadow.
“Shadows are true for everything,” she continued, “and there is only one heir to anyone who has real knowledge. Victor Julio had real knowledge about killing dogs and made an unwitting link for Octavio Cantú. I've said to you that Octavio sat too long in Victor Julio's shadow and that doña Mercedes is giving me her shadow. By letting certain people tell you their stories, she is trying to put you, for an instant, under the shadow of all those people, so that you'll feel how the wheel of chance turns and how a witch helps that wheel move.”
.... “When a witch intervenes, we say it's the witch's shadow that turns the wheel of chance,” .... [e81f]
“Victor Julio also made a link, and he also moved the wheel of chance, but since Victor Julio wasn't a witch, the dream of Octavio Cantú - although it is both real and unreal as Miconi's dream - is longer and more painful.”
“How did Candelaria intervene?”
“Certain children,” doña Mercedes explained, “have the strength to wish something with great passion for a long period of time.” She settled back in her seat and closed her eyes. “Candelaria was such a child. She was born that way. She wished her father to stay, and she wished it without a single doubt. That dedication, that determination, is what witches call a witch's shadow. It was that shadow that wouldn't let Miconi go.”
.... “How did Miconi have such a detailed dream?”
“Miconi never wanted to leave, not really,” doña Mercedes replied. “So that offered an opening to Candelaria's unwavering wish. The details of the dream itself, well, that part had nothing to do with the witch's intervention; that was Miconi's imagination.” [e94f]
Compared to Florinda - and I could not avoid making the comparison - doña Mercedes and Candelaria were more simple pragmatists. They did not have an overall encompassing understanding of their actions. [e126]
“We can make our own link with one single act. It doesn't have to be as violent and desperate as Benito Santos' act, but it has to be as final. If that act is followed by a desire of tremendous strength, sometimes, like Benito Santos, we can be placed outside of morality.” [e157f]
“During a séance, chronological time is suspended,” he murmured in a slow, tired voice. “Spiritual time is a time of equilibrium that is neither reality nor a dream. Yet, it is a time that exists in space.” He emphasized that I had been plummeted into an event that had happened a long time ago. “The past has no time sequence,” he continued. “Today can be joined up with yesterday, with events of many years ago.” [e165f]
“Witchcraft is precisely the act of persuading reason to rise above itself or, if you wish, to move below itself.” ....
“A sorcerer chooses to be different from what he was raised to be,” he continued. “He has to understand that witchcraft is a lifelong task. A sorcerer, through witchcraft, weaves patterns like webs. Patterns that transmit invoked powers to some superior mystery. Human actions have an endless, spreading network of results; he accepts and reinterprets these results in a magical way.” He brought his face even closer to mine and lowered his voice to a soft whisper. “A sorcerer's hold on reality is absolute. His grip is so powerful, he can bend reality every which way in the service of his art. But he never forgets what reality is or was.” [e208]
“My pregnant belly was broad instead of pointed. My hair began to fall out. Blotches and blemishes appeared on my skin. My legs swelled. Those are the symptoms of carrying a girl.” [e212]
“I've had that gun for almost thirty years,” she went on. “I was going to kill Federico Mueller with it.”
“And you should do it now!” Candelaria hissed through clenched teeth.
.... “You brought Federico Mueller to my door,” she said to me. “And now I know that there is nothing to forgive. Nothing to understand. And he came back to make me realize just that. This is why I'll never mention what he did. He was dead, but he's not now.”
... And thus, Federico Mueller became part of the household. Doña Mercedes pampered him. She indulged him. [e231f]
“This place holds all their memories, all their feelings. Here, the three women can set back the clock to an ideal time that never was. The shadows of the past will dim the present and erase their frustrations.” [e280]
“Put on your yellow dress. Yellow suits you. It'll give you strength. Change quickly. You need nothing else. When you came to El Rincón you had only one dress; you should leave the same way.” [e280f]
“A witch has to have luck and strength to move the wheel of chance. Strength can be groomed, but luck can't be beckoned. It cannot be enticed. Luck, independent of witchcraft or human arrangements, makes its own choice.” She ran her fingers through my hair and over my face, feeling rather than seeing me, than added, “That's why witches are so attracted to it.” [e283]
With those stories, doña Mercedes proposed to show me that witches, or even ordinary people, are capable of using extraordinary forces that exist in the universe to alter the course of events, or the course of their lives, or the lives of other people. The course of events, she called “the wheel of chance”, and the process of affecting it, she called “the witch's shadow.”
She claimed that we can alter anything without directly intruding upon the process; and sometimes without even knowing that we are doing so.
.... In contrast, the stories selected by doña Mercedes make us aware of something that we not familiar with: They point to the incomprehensible possibility that without directly mediating, we can be more influential than we think in shaping the course of events.
.... “There are many ways of behaving when one is in a normal setting,” Florinda commented, “but when one is alone, in danger, in darkness, there is only one way: the warrior's way.”
Florinda said that I had discoverd the value of the warrior's way and the meaning of all it's premises. Under the impact of an unfamiliar life situation, I had found out that not to surrender means freedom, that not to feel selfimportant breeds an indomitable fierceness, and that to vanquish moral judgements brings an all-soothing humbleness that is not servitude. [e286f]

XV - Interviews

NOTE: Das Buch
Graciela Corvalán, Der Weg der Tolteken, Ein Gespräch mit Carlos Castaneda,
    Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt, 1987, 103 Seiten
wurde hier nicht aufgenommen (keine Anmerkungen gefunden)

in the original html-file: [Image]

Navigating Into the Unknown: An Interview with Carlos Castaneda for the magazine Uno Mismo,
    Chile and Argentina, February, 1997, by Daniel Trujillo Rivas
    Translated from Spanish. [Reprinted here with permission from Uno Mismo. Copyright 1997 Laugan Productions]
    [deutsche Version steht am 31mar2015 unter

See the January/February '98 issue of Utne Reader for excerpts from this interview and from another interview with Carlos Castaneda entitled “The World of Waking Dreams”, written by Michael Brennan
Question: Mr. Castaneda, for years you've remained in absolute anonymity. What drove you to change this condition and talk publicly about the teachings that you and your three companions received from the Nagual Juan Matus?
Answer: What compels us to disseminate don Juan Matus's ideas is a need to clarify what he taught us. For us, this is a task that can no longer be postponed. His other three students and I have reached the unanimous conclusion that the world to which Don Juan Matus introduced us is within the perceptual possibilities of all human beings. We've discussed among us what would be the appropriate road to take. To remain anonymous the way don Juan proposed to us? This option was not acceptable. The other road available was to disseminate don Juan's ideas: an infinitely more dangerous and exhausting choice, but the only one that, we believe, has the dignity don Juan imbued all his teachings with.
Q: Considering what you have said about the unpredictability of a warrior's actions, which we have corroborated for three decades, can we expect this public phase you're going through to last for a while? Until when?
A: There is no way for us to establish a temporal criteria. We live according to the premises proposed by don Juan and we never deviate from them. Don Juan Matus gave us the formidable example of a man who lived according to what he said. And I say it is a formidable example because it is the most difficult thing to emulate; to be monolithic and at the same time have the flexibility to face anything. This was the way don Juan lived his life. Within these premises, the only thing one can be is an impeccable mediator. One is not the player in this cosmic match of chess, one is simply a pawn on the chessboard. What decides everything is a conscious impersonal energy that sorcerers call intent or the Spirit.
Q: As far as I've been able to corroborate, orthodox anthropology, as well as the alleged defenders of the pre-Colombian cultural heritage of America, undermine the credibility of your work. The belief that your work is merely the product of your literary talent, which, by the way, is exceptional, continues to exist today. There are also other sectors that accuse you of having a double standard because, supposedly, your lifestyle and your activities contradict what the majority expect from a shaman. How can you clear up these suspicions?
A: The cognitive system of the Western man forces us to rely on preconceived ideas. We base our judgments on something that is always “a priori,” for example the idea of what is “orthodox.” What is orthodox anthropology? The one taught at university lecture halls? What is a shaman's behavior? To wear feathers on one's head and dance to the spirits?
For thirty years, people have accused Carlos Castaneda of creating a literary character simply because what I report to them does not concur with the anthropological “a priori,” the ideas established in the lecture halls or in the anthropological field work. However, what don Juan presented to me can only apply to a situation that calls for total action and, under such circumstances, very little or almost nothing of the preconceived occurs.
I have never been able to draw conclusions about shamanism because in order to do this one needs to be an active member in the shamans' world. For a social scientist, let's say for example a sociologist, it is very easy to arrive at sociological conclusions over any subject related to the Occidental world, because the sociologist is an active member of the Occidental world. But how can an anthropologist, who spends at the most two years studying other cultures, arrive at reliable conclusions about them? One needs a lifetime to be able to acquire membership in a cultural world. I've been working for more than thirty years in the cognitive world of the shamans of ancient Mexico and, sincerely, I don't believe I have acquired the membership that would allow me to draw conclusions or to even propose them.
I have discussed this with people from different disciplines and they always seem to understand and agree with the premises I'm presenting. But then they turn around and they forget everything they agreed upon and continue to sustain “orthodox” academic principles, without caring about the possibility of an absurd error in their conclusions. Our cognitive system seems to be impenetrable.
Q: What's the aim of you not allowing yourself to be photographed, having your voice recorded or making your biographical data known? Could this affect what you've achieved in your spiritual work, and if so how? Don't you think it would be useful for some sincere seekers of truth to know who you really are, as a way of corroborating that it is really possible to follow the path you proclaim?
A: With reference to photographs and personal data, the other three disciples of don Juan and myself follow his instructions. For a shaman like don Juan, the main idea behind refraining from giving personal data is very simple. It is imperative to leave aside what he called “personal history”. To get away from the “me” is something extremely annoying and difficult. What shamans like don Juan seek is a state of fluidity where the personal “me” does not count. He believed that an absence of photographs and biographical data affects whomever enters into this field of action in a positive, though subliminal way. We are endlessly accustomed to using photographs, recordings and biographical data, all of which spring from the idea of personal importance. Don Juan said it was better not to know anything about a shaman; in this way, instead of encountering a person, one encounters an idea that can be sustained; the opposite of what happens in the everyday world where we are faced only with people who have numerous psychological problems but no ideas, all of these people filled to the brim with “me, me, me.”
Q: How should your followers interpret the publicity and the commercial infrastructure a side of your literary work surrounding the knowledge you and your companions disseminate? What's your real relationship with Cleargreen Incorporated and the other companies (Laugan Productions, Toltec Artists)? I'm talking about a commercial link.
A: At this point in my work I needed someone able to represent me regarding the dissemination of don Juan Matus's ideas. Cleargreen is a corporation that has great affinity with our work, as are Laugan Productions and Toltec Artists. The idea of disseminating don Juan's teachings in the modern world implies the use of commercial and artistic media that are not within my individual reach. As corporations having an affinity with don Juan's ideas, Cleargreen Incorporated, Laugan Productions and Toltec Artists are capable of providing the means to disseminate what I want to disseminate.
There is always a tendency for impersonal corporations to dominate and transform everything that is presented to them and to adapt it to their own ideology. If it weren't for Cleargreen's, Laugan Productions' and Toltec Artists' sincere interest, everything don Juan said would have been transformed into something else by now.
Q: There are a great number of people who, in one way or another, “cling” to you in order to acquire public notoriety. What's your opinion on the actions of Victor Sanchez, who has interpreted and reorganized your teachings in order to elaborate a personal theory? And of Ken Eagle Feather's assertions that he has been chosen by don Juan to be his disciple, and that don Juan came back just for him?
A: Indeed there are a number of people who call themselves my students or don Juan's students, people I've never met and whom, I can guarantee, don Juan never met. Don Juan Matus was exclusively interested in the perpetuation of his lineage of shamans. He had four disciples who remain to this day. He had others who left with him. Don Juan was not interested in teaching his knowledge; he taught it to his disciples in order to continue his lineage. Due to the fact that they cannot continue don Juan's lineage, his four disciples have been forced to disseminate his ideas.
The concept of a teacher who teaches his knowledge is part of our cognitive system but it isn't part of the cognitive system of the shamans of ancient Mexico. To teach was absurd for them. To transmit his knowledge to those who were going to perpetuate their lineage was a different matter.
The fact that there are a number of individuals who insist in using my name or don Juan's name is simply an easy maneuver to benefit themselves without much effort.
Q: Let's consider the meaning of the word “spirituality” to be a state of consciousness in which human beings are fully capable of controlling the potentials of the species, something achieved by transcending the simple animal condition through a hard psychic, moral and intellectual training. Do you agree with this assertion? How is don Juan's world integrated into this context?
A: For don Juan Matus, a pragmatic and extremely sober shaman, “spirituality” was an empty ideality, an assertion without basis that we believe to be very beautiful because it is encrusted with literary concepts and poetic expressions, but which never goes beyond that.
Shamans like don Juan are essentially practical. For them there only exists a predatory universe in which intelligence or awareness is the product of life and death challenges. He considered himself a navigator of infinity and said that in order to navigate into the unknown like a shaman does, one needs unlimited pragmatism, boundless sobriety and guts of steel.
In view of all this, don Juan believed that “spirituality” is simply a description of something impossible to achieve within the patterns of the world of everyday life, and it is not a real way of acting.
Q: You have pointed out that your literary activity, as well as Taisha Abelar's and Florinda Donner-Grau's, is the result of don Juan's instructions. What is the objective of this?
A: The objective of writing those books was given by don Juan. He asserted that even if one is not a writer one still can write, but writing is transformed from a literary action into a shamanistic action. What decides the subject and the development of a book is not the mind of the writer but rather a force that the shamans consider the basis of the universe, and which they call intent. It is intent which decides a shaman's production, whether it be literary or of any other kind.
According to don Juan, a practitioner of shamanism has the duty and the obligation of saturating himself with all the information available. The work of shamans is to inform themselves thoroughly about everything that could possibly be related to their topic of interest. The shamanistic act consists of abandoning all interest in directing the course the information takes. Don Juan used to say, “The one who arranges the ideas that spring from such a well of information is not the shaman, it is intent. The shaman is simply an impeccable conduit.” For don Juan writing was a shamanistic challenge, not a literary task.
Q: If you allow me to assert the following, your literary work presents concepts that are closely related with Oriental philosophical teachings, but it contradicts what is commonly known about the Mexican indigenous culture. What are the similarities and the differences between one and the other?
A: I don't have the slightest idea. I'm not learned in either one of them. My work is a phenomenological report of the cognitive world to which don Juan Matus introduced me. From the point of view of phenomenology as a philosophical method, it is impossible to make assertions that are related to the phenomenon under scrutiny. Don Juan Matus' world is so vast, so mysterious and contradictory, that it isn't suitable for an exercise in linear exposition; the most one can do is describe it, and that alone is a supreme effort.
Q: Assuming that don Juan's teachings have become part of occult literature, what's your opinion about other teachings in this category, for example Masonic philosophy, Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism and disciplines such as the Cabala, the Tarot and Astrology when we compare them to nagualism? Have you ever had any contact with or maintain any contact with any of these or with their devotees?
A: Once again, I don't have the slightest idea of what the premises are, or the points of view and subjects of such disciplines. Don Juan presented us with the problem of navigating into the unknown, and this takes all of our available effort.
Q: Do some of the concepts of your work, such as the assemblage point, the energetic filaments that make up the universe, the world of the inorganic beings, intent, stalking and dreaming, have an equivalent in Western knowledge? For example, there are some people who consider that man seen as a luminous egg is an expression of the aura
A: As far as I know, nothing of what don Juan taught us seems to have a counterpart in Western knowledge.
Once, when don Juan was still here, I spent a whole year in search of gurus, teachers and wise men to give me an inkling of what they were doing. I wanted to know if there was something in the world of that time similar to what don Juan said and did.
My resources were very limited and they only took me to meet the established masters who had millions of followers and, unfortunately, I couldn't find any similarity.
Q: Concentrating specifically on your literary work, your readers find different Carlos Castanedas. We first find a somewhat incompetent Western scholar, permanently baffled at the power of old Indians like don Juan and don Genaro (mainly in The Teachings Of Don Juan, A Separate Reality, A Journey To Ixtlan, Tales Of Power, and The Second Ring Of Power.) Later we find an apprentice versed in shamanism (in The Eagle's Gift, The Fire from Within, The Power of Silence and, particularly, The Art Of Dreaming.) If you agree with this assessment, when and how did you cease to be one to become the other?
A: I don't consider myself a shaman, or a teacher, or an advanced student of shamanism; nor do I consider myself an anthropologist or a social scientist of the Western world. My presentations have all been descriptions of a phenomenon which is impossible to discern under the conditions of the linear knowledge of the Western world. I could never explain what don Juan was teaching me in terms of cause and effect. There was no way to foretell what he was going to say or what was going to happen. Under such circumstances, the passage from one state to another is subjective and not something elaborated, or premeditated, or a product of wisdom.
Q: One can find episodes in your literary work that are truly incredible for the Western mind. How could someone who's not an initiate verify that all those “separate realities” are real, as you claim?
A: It can be verified very easily by lending one's whole body instead of only one's intellect. One cannot enter don Juan's world intellectually, like a dilettante seeking fast and fleeting knowledge. Nor, in don Juan's world, can anything be verified absolutely. The only thing we can do is arrive at a state of increased awareness that allows us to perceive the world around us in a more inclusive manner. In other words, the goal of don Juan's shamanism is to break the parameters of historical and daily perception and to perceive the unknown. That's why he called himself a navigator of infinity. He asserted that infinity lies beyond the parameters of daily perception. To break these parameters was the aim of his life. Because he was an extraordinary shaman, he instilled that same desire in all four of us. He forced us to transcend the intellect and to embody the concept of breaking the boundaries of historical perception.
Q: You assert that the basic characteristic of human beings is to be “perceivers of energy.” You refer to the movement of the assemblage point as something imperative to perceiving energy directly. How can this be useful to a man of the 21st century? According to the concept previously defined, how can the attainment of this goal help one's spiritual improvement?
A: Shamans like don Juan assert that all human beings have the capacity to see energy directly as it flows in the universe. They believe that the assemblage point, as they call it, is a point that exists in man's total sphere of energy. In other words, when a shaman perceives a man as energy that flows in the universe, he sees a luminous ball. In that luminous ball, the shaman can see a point of greater brilliance located at the height of the shoulder blades, approximately an arm's length behind them. Shamans maintain that perception is assembled at this point; that the energy that flows in the universe is transformed here into sensory data, and that the sensory data is later interpreted, giving as a result the world of everyday life. Shamans assert that we are taught to interpret, and therefore we are taught to perceive.
The pragmatic value of perceiving energy directly as it flows in the universe for a man of the 21st century or a man of the 1st century is the same. It allows him to enlarge the limits of his perception and to use this enhancement within his realm. Don Juan said that to see directly the wonder of the order and the chaos of the universe would be extraordinary.
Q: You have recently presented a physical discipline called Tensegrity. Can you explain what is it exactly? What is its goal? What spiritual benefit can a person who practices it individually get?
A: According to what don Juan Matus taught us, the shamans who lived in ancient Mexico discovered a series of movements that when executed by the body brought about such physical and mental prowess that they decided to call those movements magical passes.
Don Juan told us that, through their magical passes, those shamans attained an increased level of consciousness which allowed them to perform indescribable feats of perception.
Through generations, the magical passes were only taught to practitioners of shamanism. The movements were surrounded with tremendous secrecy and complex rituals. That is the way don Juan learned them and that is the way he taught them to his four disciples.
Our effort has been to extend the teachings of such magical passes to anyone who wants to learn them. We have called them Tensegrity, and we have transformed them from specific movements pertinent only to each of don Juan's four disciples, to general movements suitable to anyone.
Practicing Tensegrity, individually or in groups, promotes health, vitality, youth and a general sense of well-being. Don Juan said that practicing the magical passes helps accumulate the energy necessary to increase awareness and to expand the parameters of perception.
Q: Besides your three cohorts, the people who attend your seminars have met other people, like the Chacmools, the Energy Trackers, the Elements, the Blue Scout . . . Who are they? Are they part of a new generation of seers guided by you? If this is the case, how could one become part of this group of apprentices?
A: Every one of these persons are defined beings who don Juan Matus, as director of his lineage, asked us to wait for. He predicted the arrival of each one of them as an integral part of a vision. Since don Juan's lineage could not continue, due to the energetic configuration of his four students, their mission was transformed from perpetuating the lineage into closing it, if possible, with a golden clasp.
We are in no position to change such instructions. We can neither look for nor accept apprentices or active members of don Juan's vision. The only thing we can do is acquiesce to the designs of intent.
The fact that the magical passes, guarded with such jealousy for so many generations, are now being taught, is proof that one can, indeed, in an indirect way, become part of this new vision through the practice of Tensegrity and by following the premises of the warriors' way.
Q: In Readers of Infinity, you've utilized the term “navigating” to define what sorcerers do. Are you going to hoist the sail to begin the definitive journey soon? Will the lineage of Toltec warriors, the keepers of this knowledge, end with you?
A: Yes, that is correct, don Juan's lineage ends with us.
Q: Here's a question that I've often asked myself: Does the warriors' path include, like other disciplines do, spiritual work for couples?
A: The warriors' path includes everything and everyone. There can be a whole family of impeccable warriors. The difficulty lies in the terrible fact that individual relationships are based in emotional investments, and the moment the practitioner really practices what she or he learns, the relationship crumbles. In the everyday world, emotional investments are not normally examined, and we live an entire lifetime waiting to be reciprocated. Don Juan said I was a diehard investor and that my way of living and feeling could be described simply: “I only give what others give me.”
Q: What aspirations of possible advancement should someone have who wishes to work spiritually according to the knowledge disseminated in your books? What would you recommend for those who wish to practice don Juan's teachings by themselves?
A: There's no way to put a limit on what one may accomplish individually if the intent is an impeccable intent. Don Juan's teachings are not spiritual. I repeat this because the question has come to the surface over and over. The idea of spirituality doesn't fit with the iron discipline of a warrior. The most important thing for a shaman like don Juan is the idea of pragmatism. When I met him, I believed I was a practical man, a social scientist filled with objectivity and pragmatism. He destroyed my pretensions and made me see that, as a true Western man, I was neither pragmatic nor spiritual. I came to understand that I only repeated the word “spirituality” to contrast it with the mercenary aspect of the world of everyday life. I wanted to get away from the mercantilism of everyday life and the eagerness to do this is what I called spirituality. I realized don Juan was right when he demanded that I come to a conclusion; to define what I considered spirituality. I didn't know what I was talking about.
What I'm saying might sound presumptuous, but there's no other way to say it. What a shaman like don Juan wants is to increase awareness, that is, to be able to perceive with all the human possibilities of perception; this implies a colossal task and an unbending purpose, which can not be replaced by the spirituality of the Western world.
Q: Is there anything you would like to explain to the South American people, especially to the Chileans? Would you like to make any other statement besides your answers to our questions?
A: I don't have anything to add. All human beings are at the same level. At the beginning of my apprenticeship with don Juan Matus, he tried to make me see how common man's situation is. I, as a South American, was very involved, intellectually, with the idea of social reform. One day I asked don Juan what I thought was a deadly question: How can you remain unmoved by the horrendous situation of your fellow men, the Yaqui Indians of Sonora?
I knew that a certain percentage of the Yaqui population suffered from tuberculosis and that, due to their economic situation, they couldn't be cured.
“Yes,” don Juan said, “It's a very sad thing but, you see, your situation is also very sad, and if you believe that you are in better condition than the Yaqui Indians you are mistaken. In general the human condition is in a horrifying state of chaos. No one is better off than another. We are all beings that are going to die and, unless we acknowledge this, there is no remedy for us.”
This is another point of the shaman's pragmatism: to become aware that we are beings that are going to die. They say that when we do this, everything acquires a transcendental order and measure.
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[Cleargreen Incorporated]
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Original Information © Copyright 1997-1999 Laugan Productions, Incorporated.
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in the original html-file: [Image]
Excerpt from an Interview with Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar and
Carol Tiggs
by Concha Labarta
Translated from Spanish. First appeared in Mas Alla, April 1, 1997,
[deutsche Version steht am 31mar2015 unter
All the answers were given by Carol Tiggs, Taisha Abelar and Florinda Donner-Grau.
Question: You were, along with Carlos Castaneda, students of don Juan Matus and his sorcerer cohorts. However, you remained in anonymity for years, and it was not until recently that you decided to speak about your own apprenticeship with don Juan. Why this long silence? And what's the reason for this change?
Answer: First of all, we would like to clarify that each one of us met the man Carlos Castaneda calls the Nagual don Juan Matus under a different name: Melchior Yaoquizque, John Michael Abelar and Mariano Aureliano. To avoid confusion, we always call him the old Nagual; not old in the sense of old age but in the sense of seniority, and above all, to differentiate him from the new Nagual, Carlos Castaneda.
Discussing our apprenticeship with the old Nagual wasn't at all part of the task he conceived for us. That's why we remained in absolute anonymity.
The return of Carol Tiggs in 1985 marked a total change in our goals and aspirations. She was traditionally in charge of guiding us through something which, for modern man, could be translated as space and time, but which, for the shamans of ancient Mexico, meant awareness. They conceived a journey through something they called the dark sea of awareness.
Traditionally, Carol Tiggs' role was to guide us to make that crossing. When she returned, she automatically transformed the insular goal of our private journey into something more far-reaching. That's why we decided to end our anonymity and teach the magical passes of the shamans of ancient Mexico.
Q: Was the instruction you received from don Juan similar to that of Carlos Castaneda? If it wasn't, what were the differences? How would each of you describe don Juan and his male and female cohorts?
A: The instruction given to us was not at all similar to that given to Carlos Castaneda for the simple reason that we are women. We have organs that men don't have: the ovaries and the uterus, organs of tremendous importance. The old Nagual's instruction for us consisted of pure action. Regarding the description of the old Nagual's male and female cohorts, all we can say at this moment in our lives is that they were exceptional beings. To talk about them as people of the everyday world would be inane for us at this time.
The least we can say is that all of them, and they were sixteen including the old Nagual, were in a state of exquisite vitality and youth. They were all old and yet at the same time, they weren't. When, out of curiosity and amazement, we asked the old Nagual what was the reason for their exorbitant vigor, he told us that what rejuvenated them every step of the way was their link with infinity.
Q: While many modern psychological and sociological trends advocate putting an end to the distance between the masculine and the feminine, we have read in your books that there are notable differences between men and women in the way they each access knowledge. Could you elucidate on this subject? How are you, and your experiences as female sorcerers, different from those of Carlos Castaneda?
A: The difference between male and female sorcerers in the lineage of the old Nagual is the simplest thing in the world. Like every other woman in the world, we have a womb. We have different organs from men: the uterus and the ovaries, which, according to sorcerers, make it easy for women to enter into exotic areas of awareness. According to sorcerers, there is a colossal force in the universe; a constant, perennial force which fluctuates but which doesn't change. They call this force awareness or the dark sea of awareness. Sorcerers assert that all living beings are attached to this force. They call this point of union the assemblage point. Sorcerers maintain that, due to the presence of the womb inside the body, women have the facility to displace the assemblage point to a new position.
We would like to emphasize that sorcerers believe that the assemblage point of every human being is located in the same place; three feet behind the shoulder blades. When sorcerers see human beings as energy, they perceive this point as a conglomerate of energy fields in the form of a luminous ball.
Sorcerers say that since the male sexual organs are outside the body, men don't have the same facility. Therefore, it would be absurd for sorcerers to try to erase or cloud these energetic differences. Regarding the behavior of male and female sorcerers in the social order, it is almost the same. The energetic difference makes the practitioners, men and women, behave in different ways. In the case of sorcerers, these differences are complementary. The female sorcerers' great facility to displace the assemblage point serves as a base for male sorcerers' actions, which are characterized by greater endurance and more unyielding purpose.
Q: We also have read in your books that Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar each represent a different category in the world of shamanism. One of you is a dreamer and the other a stalker. These are attractive and exotic terms but many people use them indiscriminately and interpret them in their own way. What's the real significance of such classifications? When it comes to action, what are the implications for Florinda Donner-Grau to be a dreamer and for Taisha Abelar to be a stalker?
A: Once again, as in the preceding question, the difference is very simple because it is dictated by each of our energies.
Florinda Donner-Grau is a dreamer because she has an extraordinary facility to displace the assemblage point. According to sorcerers, when the assemblage point, which is our point of attachment to the dark sea of awareness, is displaced, a new conglomerate of energy fields is assembled, a conglomerate similar to the habitual one, but different enough to guarantee the perception of another world which is not the world of everyday life.
The gift of Taisha Abelar as a stalker is her facility to fix the assemblage point in the new position to which it has been displaced. Without this facility to fix the assemblage point, the perception of another world is too fleeting; something very similar to the effect produced by certain hallucinogenic drugs: a profusion of images without rhyme or reason. Sorcerers believe that the effect of hallucinogenic drugs is to displace the assemblage point, but only in a very chaotic and temporary manner.
Q: In your most recent books, Being-In-Dreaming and The Sorcerers' Crossing, you talk about personal experiences that are difficult to accept. Accessing other worlds, traveling into the unknown, making contact with inorganic beings, are all experiences which challenge reason. The temptation is either not to believe such accounts at all, or to consider you as beings that are beyond good and evil, beings that are not touched by sickness, old age or death. What's the everyday reality for a female sorcerer? And how does living in chronological time fit with living in magical time?
A: Your question, Miss Labarta, is too abstract and farfetched. Please forgive our frankness. We are not intellectual beings and are not in any way capable of taking part in exercises in which the intellect engages words which in reality don't have any meaning. None of us, under any agreement, are beyond good and evil, sickness, or old age.
What happened to us was that we were convinced, by the old Nagual, that there are two categories of human beings. The great majority of us are beings which sorcerers call (in a pejorative manner, we would add) “the immortal ones.” The other category is the category of beings that are going to die.
The old Nagual told us that, like immortal beings, we never take death as a point of reference, and we therefore allow ourselves the inconceivable luxury of living our entire lives involved in words, descriptions, polemics, agreements and disagreements.
The other category is the category of sorcerers, of beings that are going to die, who cannot, at any time and or under any circumstances, allow themselves the luxury of making intellectual assertions. If we are anything, we are beings without any importance. And if we have anything, it is our conviction that we are beings that are going to die and that someday, we will have to face infinity. Our preparation is the simplest thing in the world: we prepare ourselves twenty-four hours a day to face this encounter with infinity.
The old Nagual succeeded in erasing in us our confounded idea of immortality and our indifference to life, and he convinced us that, as beings that are going to die, we can enlarge our options in life. Sorcerers maintain that human beings are magical beings, capable of stupendous actions and accomplishments once they rid themselves of ideologies that turn them into ordinary human beings.
Our accounts are, in reality, phenomenological descriptions of feats of perception that are available to all of us, especially to women, feats that are bypassed due to our habit of self-reflection. Sorcerers assert that the only thing that exists for us human beings, is Me, ME, and only ME. Under such conditions, the only thing possible is whatever concerns Me. And by definition whatever concerns Me, the personal `I', can lead only to anger and resentment.
Q: The physical presence of a teacher may not be indispensable but, in any case, it is of great help. You received direct instruction from don Juan and his cohorts to guide you into the world of shamanism. Do you really think that that world is accessible to anyone, even when they don't have a personal teacher?
A: In a way, the insistence on having a teacher is an aberration. The idea of the old Nagual was that he was helping us to break away from the dominion of the Me. With his jokes, and his terrifying sense of humor, he succeeded in making us laugh at ourselves. In this sense, we firmly believe that change is possible for anyone, a change similar to ours, for example, by practicing Tensegrity, without the need for a particular and personal teacher.
The old Nagual wasn't interested in teaching his knowledge. He was never a teacher or a guru. He couldn't have cared less about being one. The old Nagual was interested in perpetuating his lineage. If he guided us personally, it was to inculcate in us all the premises of sorcery that would allow us to continue his lineage. He expected that someday, it would be our turn to do the same.
Circumstances outside of our volition, or his, conspired to prevent the continuation of his lineage. In view of the fact that we cannot carry out the traditional function of continuing a sorceric lineage, we want to make this knowledge available. Since the Tensegrity practitioners are not called upon to perpetuate any shamanistic lineage, they have the possibility of accomplishing what we have accomplished, but via a different path.
Q: The possibility of an alternative form of death is one of the most striking points of don Juan Matus' teachings. According to what you have told us, he and his group attained that alternative death. What is your own interpretation of their disappearance, when they transformed themselves into awareness?
A: This may seem like a simple question, but it is very difficult to answer. We are practitioners of the teachings of the old Nagual. It appears to us that, with your question, you are soliciting a psychological justification, an explanation equivalent to the explanations of modern science.
Unfortunately we cannot give you an explanation outside of what we are. The old Nagual and his cohorts died an alternative death, which is possible for any one of us, if we have the necessary discipline.
All we can tell you is that the old Nagual and his people lived life professionally, meaning that they were responsible for all their acts, even the most minute ones, because they were extremely aware of everything they did. Under such conditions, to die an alternative death is not such a farfetched possibility.
Q: Do you feel ready to face the last jump? What do you expect in that universe, which you regard as impersonal, cold and predatorial?
A: What we expect is an endless fight and the possibility of witnessing infinity, either for a second or for five billion years.
Q: Some readers of Carlos Castaneda's literary works have reproached him for the lack of a bigger spiritual presence in his books, for never having used words like “love.” Is the world of a warrior really that cold? Don't you feel human emotions? Or do you perhaps give a different meaning to those emotions?
A: Yes, we give them a different meaning, and we don't use words like “love” or “spirituality” because the old Nagual convinced us that they are empty concepts. Not love or spirituality themselves, but the use of these two words. His line of argument was as follows: if we really consider ourselves immortal beings who can afford the luxury of living amongst gigantic contradictions and endless selfishness; if all that counts for us is immediate gratification, how can we make love or spirituality something authentic? For the old Nagual these concepts were manqué, lifeless, words that nobody is prepared to back up. He said that every time we are confronted with these contradictions, we solve them by saying that, as human beings, we are weak.
The old Nagual told us that, as a general rule, we human beings were never taught to love. We were taught only to feel gratifying emotions, pertinent exclusively to the personal Me. Infinity is sublime and without pity, he said, and there's no room for fallacious concepts, no matter how pleasant they may seem to us.
Q: It seems that the key to expanding our capabilities for perception lies in the amount of energy we have at our disposal, and that the energetic condition of modern man is very meager. What would be the essential premise for storing energy? Is this possible for someone who has to take care of a family, go to work every day, and participate fully in the social world? And what about celibacy as a way of saving energy, one of the most controversial points in your books?
A: Celibacy is recommended, the old Nagual told us, for the majority of us. Not for moral reasons, but because we don't have enough energy. He made us see how the majority of us have been conceived in the midst of marital boredom. As a pragmatic sorcerer, the old Nagual maintained that conception is something of final importance. He said that if the mother wasn't able to have an orgasm at the moment of conception, the result was something he called “a bored conception.” There is no energy under such conditions. The old Nagual recommended celibacy for those who have been conceived under such circumstances.
Another thing he recommended as a means of storing energy was the dissolution of patterns of behavior that lead to chaos, such as the incessant preoccupation with romantic courtship; the presentation and defense of the self in everyday life; excessive routines and, above all, the tremendous insistence on the concerns of the self.
If these points are achieved, any one of us can have the necessary energy to use time, space and the social order more intelligently.
Q: The magical passes of Tensegrity, which you consider to be of great importance, are your most recent contribution to those interested in don Juan Matus' world. What can Tensegrity bring to those who practice it? Can this be equated with any other physical discipline, or does it have its own characteristics?
A: What Tensegrity brings to those who practice it is energy. The difference between Tensegrity and any other system of physical exercises is that the intent of Tensegrity is something dictated by the shamans of ancient Mexico. This intent is the liberation of the being that is going to die.
Copyright 1997, Laugan Productions, reprinted with permission of Mas Alla
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Original Information © Copyright 1997-1999 Laugan Productions, Incorporated.
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