9. Kitap - Rüya Görme Sanatı

6 - Gölgelerin Dünyası

"Bu tuzaklara düşmek pohpohlanmaya ve güç vaatlerine dayanamamanın sonucu mudur?" diye sordum.
"Sadece onlara değil, organik olmayan varlıkların sunduğu hiçbi şeye dayanamamanın sonucu. Belirli bi noktanın ötesinde, büyücülerin onlar tarafından sunulan herhangi bi şeyi almamasının hiç yolu yoktur."
"Peki bu belirli nokta nedir, don Juan?"
"O nokta biz bireylere bağlı. Her birimiz için mücadele, o dünyadan sadece gerekeni almak adınadır; daha fazlasını değil. Neyin gerektiğini bilmek, büyücülerin hüneridir; fakat sadece gerekeni almak, en büyük başarılarıdır. Bu basit kuralı anlayamamak, bi tuzağın içine tepesi üstü düşmenin en emin yolu. "

(Kırmızı renkli yazıda çeviri hatası vardır. Aslında bu kelime 'almasının' olmalı.)


İngilizce :

"Are those pitfalls the result of succumbing to adulation or to promises of power?" I asked.
"Not only succumbing to those, but succumbing to anything offered by the inorganic beings. There is no way for sorcerers to accept anything offered by them, beyond a certain point."
"And what is that certain point, don Juan?"
"That point depends on us as individuals. The challenge is for each of us to take only what is needed from that world, nothing more. To know what's needed is the virtuosity of sorcerers, but to take only what's needed is their highest accomplishment. To fail to understand this simple rule is the surest way of plummeting into a pitfall."


Düzeltme :

"Bu tuzaklara düşmek pohpohlanmaya ve güç vaatlerine dayanamamanın sonucu mudur?" diye sordum.
"Sadece onlara değil, organik olmayan varlıkların sunduğu hiçbi şeye dayanamamanın sonucu. Belirli bi noktanın ötesinde, büyücülerin onlar tarafından sunulan herhangi bi şeyi almasının hiç yolu yoktur."
"Peki bu belirli nokta nedir, don Juan?"
"O nokta biz bireylere bağlı. Her birimiz için mücadele, o dünyadan sadece gerekeni almak adınadır; daha fazlasını değil. Neyin gerektiğini bilmek, büyücülerin hüneridir; fakat sadece gerekeni almak, en büyük başarılarıdır. Bu basit kuralı anlayamamak, bi tuzağın içine tepesi üstü düşmenin en emin yolu."

2

(11 konusuna, Tensegrity Türkiye cevap yazılmış)

7 Ağustos'ta Ay tutulması ve dolunay var. Buna istinaden, pratik grubumuzda Ay ile ilişki kurmamızı, ona danışmamızı, enerjisini hissetmemizi ve kulanmamızı sağlayan bir form yapacağız. Çalışma saat 20:00'da Skype üzerinden yapılacaktır. Katılmak isteyenler email veya özel mesaj gönderebilir.

3

(11 konusuna, Tensegrity Türkiye cevap yazılmış)

28 Temmuz, saat 20:00'da Online Pratik Grubu Buluşmamız gerçekleşecek. Katılımcıların kararıyla bir süre hayvan ve bitki dostlarımızla , Sonsuzluk Tiyatrosu ve Özetleme çalışmalarına vakit ayaracağız. İlgili yaşam formlarının, Tensegrity Formları ile.

Şamanizm denince akla gelen ilk kavramlardan biri "Animism"'dir. Hayvanlara dönüşen tanrı , insan ve büyücülerin öyküleri tüm kültürlerin mitolojilerini süsler. Hayvanlarla , bitkilerle , nehirlerle ve hayatla dostluk kuran insanlardan oluşan uygarlıkların hikayeleri hepimize ilham olmuştur. Anadolu öyle bir yerdir ki her bir bitki ve hayvanın o yöreye mal olmuş bir öyküsü ve insanlarla özel bir ilişkisi vardır.

Biz de , bir buçuk saatlik buluşmalarımızda insandan başka yaşam formlarının algısal dünyalarına gözatmak amacıyla kullandığımız bazı Tensegrity formlarını yapmak ve bu dostlarımızın çeşitli perspektiflerini kendi "insan" hayatımıza göz atmak için kullanabileceğimiz çalışmalara (Özetleme , Theather of Infinity gibi) yer ayırmak istedik.

Sizi de aramızda görmek isteriz.

http://www.sessizbilgi.com/dosya/files/2163676fjf5gt52hxsrui.jpg

4

(1 konusuna, English Version of tr-castaneda.com cevap yazılmış)

Our Facebook group : Tensegrity Türkiye

https://facebook.com/groups/1271401362946580

5

(1 konusuna, English Version of tr-castaneda.com cevap yazılmış)

You can read all the announcements here.

Excerpt from an Interview with Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar & Carol Tiggs

by Concha Labarta
Translated from Spanish. First appeared in Mas Alla, April 1, 1997, Spain.
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 1997-2013, Laugan Productions, reprinted with permission of Mas Alla

The Art Of Stalking True Freedom
Publication Date: 1994
Taisha Abelar In Conversation with Alexander Blair-Ewart, Part 1.

In the long years when Carlos Castaneda first informed the world of the wonders of American aboriginal spirit knowledge, many recognized that a tradition of great significance had begun to reveal itself to the world. Over the years Castaneda has progressively shown the all-engulfing world view of the Toltecs in its reformed state as a work of spiritual art, shaped by the new seers, who have survived the devastating encounter with European colonial civilization.

Taisha Abelar, author of the new book The Sorcerer's Crossing (Viking Arkana) is one of the new seers whose designation "stalker" balances the world of the "dreamer" [see Dimensions Feb '92 interview with the "dreamer" Florinda Donner]. It is with true delight that we witness the emergence into the world of a new and genuine way of the spirit.

Alexander Blair-Ewart: One meets people who have abandoned reason and logic, and the natural functions of the mind, and who end up in a kind of twilight zone of not really being able to derive any clarity about anything.

Taisha Abelar: Yes, and that was one of the major pitfalls of the old sorcerers, who emphasized dreaming techniques to shift the assemblage point, but they did not have the stalker's technique to balance that out. It's a question of balance, because unless you have the sobriety and the control, what's the point of moving the assemblage point? You move it and you get lost in those realms and you're never able to return to this level, which is what we're doing at this point. We're moving into other realms, but we're also returning to this reality, shifting back and forth. And we have that control.

Abe: So you also call that the 'day' and 'night' sides of consciousness. Is that correct?

Taisha: Yes, you can think of it like that. although, when you are in the night side, you are absolutely in the night side, and that becomes your day. But it's true. You want to be able to maintain an order, because what stalking does is that it has to fixate the assemblage point to a new position, wherever that is.

It could be out in a totally different reality. but you still want, within that, to maintain the sobriety and your consciousness, your awareness, that has to remain intact. And that's where your stalker's techniques come in, because if you lose that, either through fright or indulgence or just sheer ignorance, then you lose everything. It's like you say, you end up in this twilight zone, and you've lost the game, in other words. You want to be able to maintain the order, and in stalking you create the reality wherever you are by creating structure, by imputing order, be reasoning. You can reason even if you're in a totally different realm. You still maintain your awareness. You try to bring order to the inconceivable perceptions, the chaos that is the universe. And so wherever you move the assemblage point, the energy for maintaining your awareness intact has to also be there. So that's the prerequisite for shifting into different realities.

Abe: So your essential being hood, your essential humanity survives this transition into worlds of alternative reality?

Taisha: I wouldn't say your humanity, but...

Abe: ...I said your "essential" humanity...

Taisha: ...your luminous "double".

Abe: Yes.

Taisha: Your luminosity and your awareness, which is the assemblage point, stays intact elsewhere. But it's not human. It doesn't have to be human, and there's the error that we don't want to make. No, you leave everything that's human behind.

Abe: Now, most people would not really want to do that.

Taisha: Exactly, no, they don't. And there's a lot of interest in our work, and in Carlos Castaneda, and in don Juan. But they don't really want it. What they like is an intellectual curiosity, the possibility that there's something else out there, because we all have that as human beings.

Abe: So, in that sense, there's all of the work that Castaneda has published, and Florinda Donner. And now there's this book from you. And I have a hunch that there are going to be other books from other previously unheard of members of that spiritual school or tradition. And yet the books are going out there; literally millions of people, as you know, have read the books; hundreds of thousands of people have tried to do what is in them. And yet we're acknowledging here that this work, this sorcerer's path is really only for the few. Very very few people will actually walk this path. Why did you publish the book?

Taisha: Good question. There's a double answer here. First of all, one reason is that Carlos Castaneda and Florinda Donner, myself and Carol Tiggs, we're the last of don Juan's line; he's the last of that lineage, the end of the line. They didn't know at the time that they were training us--and I came into don Juan's world very young, when I first became an adult. I'd been with don Juan and then with Carlos Castaneda all my adult life--and they didn't know that Carlos Castaneda was going to be the next Nagual, and that he would have his structure of people according to the rule, which is very specific, and sets up the dreamers and stalkers, and it has a certain numerical configuration.

But they trained us in dreaming and stalking and many of the techniques that they use, they handed down to us. but then it turned out Carlos Castaneda is not at all a four-sided Nagual.

A Nagual is one that has four energetic compartments, and this is really a question of the energetic makeup of luminous beings. He's a three-sided Nagual, meaning his mission is different, and one of the major differences is that the Nagual woman who usually goes with the previous Nagual's group, in this case Carol Tiggs, she went with don Juan, but one day she came back. The Nagual Carlos' intent, or Florinda Donner's and mine, we literally hold her back into this reality. In other words, her assemblage point shifted back, so that she is now with us. Now that's absolutely unheard of in all the generations of Naguals and seers in don Juan's lineage. So, because she came back, she gave us that energy of actually writing about our experiences.

Abe: Carol Tiggs came back, and the idea was that she was going to go with don Juan Matus.
Taisha: And she did. When they left they took her.

Abe: And Carlos was supposed to find the next Nagual and the next Nagual woman. Then, when he would have taken her and the cycle would have continued. But now this unprecedented thing has occurred. What does it mean?

Taisha: The designs of the Spirit are absolutely different from what they were for don Juan. His group followed the rules, they had a certain training procedure. Although they were abstract, they were in a sense very concrete. They were practitioners of the things that were handed down to them by the previous group. And they handed these things down to us. But the things that we actually only really keep are the most abstract things, like the recapitulation, the idea of impeccability, the things that we do or are not doing, which is the total negation of practices or procedures, and I am going to talk about those. but your question is why is it coming out now, and why are we writing. The Nagual woman gave us this extra energy to bring these things out into the ordinary reality.

Otherwise, unless there's the energy, they would forever remain ideas. Although, we practice them; we are the ideas. There's no difference between what we say and what we do, and that's why we are able to move our assemblage points, because they're not only abstractions, but our bodies actually embody these things. So therefore our assemblage point moves. But unless the energy is there, one is not able to bring it out into this reality for other people to see. So a lot of these things, we've had, we've written down, we've had these things, we were taught them many many years ago.

The things that I write about happened many years ago. But there wasn't that energy to put it out, to give it a concrete form, in other words. The second reason is that, since there are no apprentices, so to speak, the design of the Spirit, and I repeat that, I keep saying that, because it's nothing that we decide...There's no way I can say, oh, I'm going to write this and do this, because I have no volition in that sense. The design of the Spirit decides that this should be coming out now, and so it is, and because, I would say, there is no next generation, in the traditional sense. So it has to be put out to whoever is out there.

And like you say, yes, there are thousands, maybe millions of people that are reading these things. And one of them could practice them and succeed in finding the way. And the reason I say that is because you don't need a teacher. Being abstract, the way all of us are in this last generation, we can see that all you need is like a minimal chance, and idea. Given the word, the possibility that this is what you can do, the recapitulation is like this, and then if somebody does it, they can move their assemblage point, and something will happen and the Spirit or the Intent itself will guide them and teach them. And that's already built into the recapitulation, into the not-doing exercises, into the books themselves. The intent is already there. Okay, so we said that most people won't want to leave the pack. They'll feel that this is not for them. That's the way it is, yes. But, there's some people out there that this will affect, and those are the people for whom the books are written, and who knows what will happen?

Abe: Can you talk in a more specific way about the 'recapitulation'?

Taisha: Okay. What it is is really a very very ancient technique handed down by the old sorcerer's in don Juan's lineage. But it was sort of forgotten by them, because they were more interested in power and having power over others, dominating people, that kind of thing. The furthest thing form their mind was the idea of losing self importance. But the technique was there, and the new sorcerers revived it, so to speak, and it was handed down, and it came to the Nagual Carlos and us. And we now consider it really the fundamental technique in sorcery of all the techniques we learned for moving the assemblage point.

The recapitulation is really the best one for modern man, and the reason we put so much emphasis on it--don Juan put the emphasis on it, too--is because anyone can do it. You don't have to be a "sorcerer's apprentice" or anything like that. Just any individual with minimal interest--they don't even have to be absolutely devoted or anything, but have some curiosity--can start this. It is a technique for erasing the idea of the self, or what the self is, in terms of all the memories and associations with people that one had during one's lifetime. And it's not just an idea. I mean, I say idea, but it's an energetic idea, because when one interacts with persons, energy is exchanged, of course.

Al lot of it is lost or left in things. Through concerns or deep emotions, it's left in the world and in people. And the strategy--because it is a sorcerer's strategy--is to regain that, to bring it back, so you can have it all with you now, in the present. Why leave it floating around in some mysterious past that kind of holds you fixed in the place where you are? So what you do is you sit, you find a place where you have some quiet and solitude, preferably a closet or big box or even a shower, because you want an enclosed space--the sorcerers used to have their recapitulation boxes, where they would bury themselves, or be in a cave. I started mine in a small cave. Something that encloses the energetic body, so that there's some pressure put on the luminous self. Before you sit, you make out your list.

You have a list of everyone that you've every met, encountered, had anything to do with throughout your life. So this takes some doing, and some remembering. This remembering, in itself, sort of loosens the assemblage point. So it's kind of like a preliminary exercise. By going back in your mind and remembering everybody that you've every known, you work from the present backwards, and you write down all the people that you've worked with, your family, your associates, everybody that you've had anything to do with. Actually you make two lists. First of all your sexual experiences.

Anyone that you've had any sexual dealings with. And sorcerers always say you start there, because that's the fundamental energy that's lost out there, and if you retrieve that, then that will give you the boost to do your other people. So you have your two lists, and then you sit in your recapitulation box, cave or closet, and you start the breathing.

The third element besides the lists and the box or the place is the breath. And the breath is very important, because the breathing is what disentangles the energy. And this is already set up by Intent. Our interaction with others is done with our energetic body, and the breath moves the luminous fibers. You start on your right shoulder, where you put your hand--actually I describe this in my book pretty well--but you start on your right shoulder, and when you have set up the scene of people and places in your mind, you've situated everything and you've visualized it to perfection in all its detail, then you have your chin on your right shoulder and you breath in, turning your head to your left shoulder, and then you exhale moving your head back to your right shoulder, and then bring you head to the centre. You sweep it; it's like a sweeping of the scene.

You just sweep the whole room or person or place, whatever. And you pull back whatever of that other person's energy was left in you. You exhale it and give it back. In a sense you detach yourself from that particular encounter. And you do this with everything.

FORMLESS AND PATTERNLESS:

After you've done it with your whole life, you detach pretty much from your remembered past. This is not an analysis, by the way. It's not meant to be like a real self analysis, but you can't help seeing in the way you act and behave and what is expected of you, a pattern forming, and absolute pattern emerging. And with the breath, you break that pattern. So what you essentially want to do is move into formless, patternless behavior, which is the way a sorcerer acts. He's absolutely fluid. And that brings us back to stalking.

A stalker is someone who makes himself unobtrusive, the art of being unobtrusive. He had no self, no pattern, nothing to assert, no point to make, no demands, no desires. And all this will be eliminated through the recapitulation. And then there's some other things that really need to be done with that, and that's quieting the internal dialogue.

So that when you're now here it this today, you have all your energy with you so that you don't persist in repeating that same patterns of behavior. And the way these patterns are ingrained in us is through that internal dialogue, in which we keep repeating certain things to ourselves, like "Oh, I'm no good" or "They don't like me" or "I have to be like this, prove myself here". Whatever goes through one's mind, which is a constant flow of thoughts or reaffirmations, really, of the self. And so, the sorcerers say that you really need to put a stop to that continual reinforcement of the self, which is that position of the assemblage point.

Now when you do the breathing with the recapitulation, by moving back into the past, moving forward into now, and that intense concentration that is needed to sit there and visualize these things, that shifts your assemblage point minutely. And whoever does the recapitulation will see that.

They'll see that oh, god, I'm doing this again, and ten years later doing it again. The same kind of relationships, again, the same type of man, the same type of woman. We know somebody who says he always picks difficult women. (laughter) I don't know what that means, but it's true. It's like this person is doomed to have difficult relationships. So patterns get repeated, no matter what they are, and whoever recapitulates will see that. So the seer within us gets to break out. And then, as you do this and you go back into your regular day to day life, you become more quiet, and then you do these techniques once a week to quiet the internal dialogue, and some of them are described in my book.

There's lots of things like this in Carlos Castaneda's books on gazing, certain gazing techniques. Or you can do a match gazing technique. You just hold up the flame for a moment, and then you douse the tip of it, and then you turn it upside down, after you've kind of cooled off the tip while it's still burning, turn it upside down and hold it in your left hand and look at the flame as it burns the bottom of the match in front of your eyes, and that quiets the mind.

You can use any minor meditation techniques. I wouldn't say go heavily into Oriental meditation techniques, because you're already doing recapitulation and you don't want to get fixed into any form. All we're doing now as abstract sorcerers is a minimal of technique so that we can get away from the self. We don't want to get heavier in the area of ego and ego enforcement, and "now we're meditators", or "now we're..."

Abe: So you don't want to build up an image of yourself, even as a spiritual person.

Taisha: No, you don't. You don't want to add to that. And when you look at how much you have to get rid of you'll be kind of careful not to add more. (laughter) And you don't want to add more in terms of becoming more important in other areas, just because you're getting rid of some of these old things. But you're putting that energy into fighting with your husband or wife. And that's where impeccability comes in. You want to maintain your daily behavior on an impeccable level, and that means you just do your best, your humble best. We're no longer interested in reasserting the ego or the self, or defending the self.

The brunt of energy really goes into defense of the self, because if it's attacked left and right...I mean, you can't go out of your house...even in your house, there's always something that is threatening, or your boss says something somebody looks at you the wrong way, and they gip you, this or that. Right away you have to go back and build up "I'm not that bad. They don't understand me." The mind rallies like lightning trying to patch up these things. No, you don't let it go.

You're not interesting in defense of the self anymore. You're interested in getting rid of the self, in culminating the self. And don Juan had a good adage. He said, "Eliminate the self and fear nothing." So, if you don't have a self there's absolutely nothing to fear, because all the fears, the disappointments, everything comes from the idea of the self, or certain expectations that aren't met. Not just negative things, but if good things happen, then you feel good, you know. So it goes both ways. Stalkers, then are really indifferent, they're detached, and that gets us back to how we started this conversation.

What stalkers really want to do is detach themselves from the self, which is saying that they want to detach the awareness from that position of the assemblage point where society, our parents, the sheer fact that we were born into a certain family, have certain relationships, has put us, has forced us, has imprisoned us, really.

So when we recapitulate and detach ourselves from everything that's every happened, we're floating. The assemblage point becomes free. It can move, and very harmoniously. It can move without the aid of drugs, without the aid of some external person or Nagual. Because any time you have something external, you're not free, you're dependent on that thing.

So the only thing that the modern sorcerer, or the stalker is really dependent on is something so abstract that he calls it the Spirit, the Unknown. By getting rid of the self, they give the self to the Eagle as a token. They give themselves in a symbolic death. And in that sense the Eagle, they say, allows the impeccable warrior to escape. And what that's metaphorically saying is that a person who has recapitulated and disentangled his energy from the expectations of the everyday world is able to move elsewhere.

He's able to do dreaming with control, because even in dreaming he has no self. And this differentiates, again, the old sorcerers from the modern ones. When the old sorcerers did dreaming, they had very heavy ego and then of course they got lost and trapped in different levels of dreaming. They weren't able to move out again, because they were too heavy. But they had their ideas of power and they became obsessive. The stalker is absolutely not obsessed with anything. He treats the whole world as 'controlled folly'.

What that means is that everything is there to be used. There's order; there's a structure. But it's not to be taken seriously, because there are other orders, other structures, an infinite number of layers to this onion of reality, and he can go elsewhere. But wherever he is, he creates his order and his structure, and when the Spirit moves him, something moves the assemblage point, and he moves elsewhere. And he's impeccable in his dreams, he's impeccable in this everyday reality, if and when he's here.

But a stalker begins here in the everyday world, and that's why this recapitulation is really for everyone. They begin here, right wherever anyone is. That's where they start. And they start with their list and their place, they sweep the past, then they make themselves quiet internally, so that they don't accumulate more of the debris, using certain gazing methods--and I don't mean acrobatics or anything like that-- but there's some sorcery passes that have been handed down.

Or just sitting quietly--you don't even have to call it meditating--just shut off the internal dialogue. And you elongate these moments of silence. And then you have the power that comes from sheer silence. That in itself will allow the assemblage point to move from your everyday state into heightened awareness. Then, that's when the practitioner--you don't even have to call them sorcerers-- that's when they enter heightened awareness. It's when they have that ability to have the silence extend itself into whatever they're doing.

And they're active. If you've working, if you're driving, do whatever, but do it silently, because you don't have the idea of the self impinging. And them, of course, you use the petty tyrants of the world, because okay, so you've recapitulated... and I have to mention here that there's not just one recapitulation...it's really an ongoing process, because after you're finished all the sexual encounters, then you do everybody whom you've encountered in your life.

Then you can go back to certain themes. Like you notice that there are still things like when you're working, or something happens during the day, you notice oh boy, that gave me a jolt, that really bothered me. Then you can see why did it bother you, and you can use certain themes. Like wanting to be liked seems to be so common. Everybody seems to want somebody to like them, support them, approve of them. That has to go, but that's a very strong driving force that keeps us in line, because as long as you still have that, it's just like the carrot being dangled in front of your nose. Whatever it is that somebody dangles out there that your body naturally would react to...

Abe: Would you say it's a major accomplishment, then, on that part of the would be seer when they reach a point where they are no longer concerned with whether or not they're liked?

Taisha: Yes, that's a major accomplishment. Absolutely. That is, for someone who is very concerned with that. Now, maybe there are the rare few that maybe just don't care, honestly. They have enough energy. And you know what that hinges on, really? Being liked, wanting to be liked? The sorcerers have a theory about the idea of the energy you were given at your conception. If your parents liked each other, and I mean sexually, if they had a very grand time, a great, great sexual experience, both of them, mother and father, when that child is conceived that child will have this great burst of energy.

And he may not care whether people really like him or not because he has this intrinsic sense of energetic well-being. but, if one of the parents are bored--the sorcerer don Juan always called them 'bored conceptions'--or if they were made out of a very boring experience, with not much flash. Or maybe the partners didn't even like each other, they just went through the motions of having sex because they were married and it was the thing to do Friday night, then that child will come out into the world with really a disadvantage.

And he will always feel that something is missing, and he wants to be liked. He wants his peers to like him, he wants his mama to like him, and she may not even like him at all. But that is not just theory, but it's something that sorcerers have arrived at through their seeing. They actually see how energetic a luminous being is. They can see how the energy moves. In some people it's very sluggish, stagnant, and of course that expresses itself in a very meek or low level zest for life. they sort of just barely get through the day. That kind of feeling. But others have a lot of energy. They meet everything as a challenge. Everything to them is an adventure.

They dominate people naturally. They have this charisma, sort of a mesmeric effect on others, and on things around them. And they may not have this need, they're not as needy as other people they want to be liked and are needy.

Abe: Of course, then that person who has all that energy, will attract all kinds of needy people who want to suck on it. (laughter)

Taisha: Exactly. And you attract those people. The sorcerers say that the self is really a metaphorical dagger that we stab ourselves with. but, it's alright as long as we bleed in company.

As long as there are others bleeding with us, we're okay. (laughter) As long as somebody else feels worse, we're happy. But the recapitulation will give those needy people...and I have to include myself in that category, because absolutely I was not a product of a zestful union...so those are demons and you will see them in the recapitulation. And that's why I say that the recapitulation is never done, because even when I was with don Juan and his people...okay with the, they had enough energy to cover up, let's say for my deficiency. Their energy would elevate me to this heightened level.

But the minute they were gone or even left the room, I would slump back to my own natural level, and then I would want attention. And all the apprentices were like that. And of course they would test us by ignoring us, or not speaking to us, or doing things with others when we wanted to be included. So when I say recapitulation, it has to be tried and tested in the everyday world. You can't just escape into the desert and do it, and then feel good and that's the end of it.

You have to get back with your mother, with your father. What do they do to you for you to react like the little girl, the little boy that wants mommy to do his laundry, to take care of his tummy? We still have those feelings. So, just recapitulation by itself is not enough. Stalkers stalk the self, and so when they're with people in the world, they're constantly stalking themselves and seeing what's happening.

End of Part 1.
© Copyright Dimensions Magazine
Publication Date: 1994

----------------------

The Art Of Stalking True Freedom
Publication Date: 1994
Taisha Abelar in conversation with Alexander Blair-Ewart, Part 2.

In the long years when Carlos Castaneda first informed the world of the wonders of American aboriginal spirit knowledge, many recognized that a tradition of great significance had begun to reveal itself to the world. Over the years Castaneda has progressively shown the all-engulfing worldview of the Toltecs in its reformed state as a work of spiritual art, shaped by the new seers, who have survived the devastating encounter with European colonial civilization.

Taisha Abelar is one of the new seers whose designation "stalker" balances the world of the "dreamer" [see Dimensions Feb.'92 interview with the "dreamer" Florinda Donner]. It is with true delight that we witness the emergence into the world of a new and genuine way of the spirit.

Alexander Blair-Ewart: Recognizing that this is a complex subject that can be understood only by people who are genuinely interested, can I get you to talk about stalking?

Taisha Abelar: That's a question that comes up often when I give lectures. People want to know exactly what is stalking. And there's two ways of approaching this. First, just a general definition is that a stalker is really someone who has made an art out of being unobtrusive. And that is he puts himself in the background, and there's a certain training that is involved in order to become unobtrusive, and I can tell you why it is necessary to be unobtrusive.

Let me give you a couple other ways of talking about stalking. It's designed to give the sorcerer or the practitioner a jolt, and by a jolt we mean a push or a slight burst of energy, so that the assemblage point shifts ever so slightly. Now, I think I have to talk about the assemblage point because that is exactly what the stalkers are aiming at. They're aiming to move or shift the assemblage point, and through that to change the perception of the world.

Perception, of course, can be changed through dreaming, but stalkers do it while they're awake. So the way sorcerers perceive the world is that they say that everything we see, while we are awake in this reality is a question of the position of the assemblage point. I'm sure you're familiar with Castaneda's books, and you know what the assemblage point is, but let me just describe it again. It is the focused awareness point of luminosity on the luminous cocoon (aura--ed). We believe that the human being's energetic body is a mass of fibers of light that have infinite number, and each one of those is a specific awareness. So that they're not just light like electricity, but they're actually light like awareness. And on the luminous egg shape that makes up the energetic body there is a point of extra luminosity where the concentration of the person, his awareness, is assembled, and that point of luminosity is about the size of a golf ball, from the point of view of the 'seer' who sees the person's luminous being. But it can change size; it also can change position on the luminous body.

Now, where that is located determines what is perceived, because there's a matching of the fibers that are lit up within the luminous body and the fibers that are out in the universe at large, because sorcerers also maintain, of course, that the universe us a whole is an infinite number of both energetic fibers, some of which are perceivable, and others which are absolutely beyond our capacities as human beings to perceive. But where the position of this assemblage point is, this lighted up area on the luminous being, when that matches what is outside, then perception takes place.

Abe: Would this apply to everyone?

Taisha: We all have our assemblage point at pretty much the same place, because as an infant is born, by virtue of the fact that he is going to be a human infant and a human being, a social person, he has to match the location of his assemblage point to that of other human beings in the world so that he can interact with them, and perceive the same world, the same segment of the possibility of perception that is open to him, so that we can all agree as to what we are perceiving.

Because our assemblage points are in the same place, we can have language, we can talk about trees and cars and solid walls and floors, and we can have a spatial and temporal continuity; we know that there was a yesterday, there'll be a tomorrow. All of that has to do with the position of the assemblage point. Time, our conception of everything we know to be so, is determined by where that heightened point of concentration awareness is located. And if by some anomaly it is not in the place where the human assemblage point ought to be, then these people are either sorcerers, (and we'll talk about that in a moment), or they're a candidate for the mentally ill.

So you find these people in asylums, because their assemblage points are not fixed at the position where other human beings have theirs fixed. Therefore they don't have this intersubjectivity in terms of perception. And they can't have the agreements to what constitutes reality.

There's a mandate, let's say, even a biological mandate that says that all human beings should have their assemblage point at this particular position so they can be what we call human. Animals have it at different places, and that's what fixes their species of animal. Trees have their assemblage point at a certain place in their luminous shell, and that makes them trees.

Abe: So could we also call the assemblage point the position of collective persona reality agreement?

Taisha: Exactly. It's our persona, it's our person. Now this person, sorcerers say, is not all that we are humanly capable of being. So we can we be more than just a social person. Now, in order to be more than what society, or what our birthright, has put forth for us, we have to move or shift the place of the assemblage point.

We have to move it out of its position where it is stuck. So, not only is the assemblage point capable of moving elsewhere, but when it does, other luminous intelligent fibers of awareness are lit up and matched with the universe, and therefore other realities are constituted, and these other realities are as real and solid as the one we are in now, because the reason this reality where we are now is what we call undeniably real is because of the agreement that we have that this is what the world is like.

And that is based on the fixation of the assemblage point. If it moves- and it does; it moves in dreams, by itself- we call that dream reality, to be separated of course from the waking state. So we acknowledge that there are other realms of experience, but we always refer to them from the position of everyday reality.

But sorcerers don't do that. They say that you can move the everyday reality while you're awake. You don't have to do dreaming... Dreaming, of course, is the control of the movement of the assemblage point in sleep, in dreams, and the fixation of it elsewhere.

Abe: And you can do it without being insane.

Taisha: Absolutely.

Abe: That in itself is an enormously revolutionary statement.

Taisha: Because our agreement says that yes, there's crazy people out there that have hallucinations. They see monsters and what not. But they're somehow deficient and in this sense, from the point of view of the social order, yes, they're deficient in the sense that they have not stabilized their assemblage point where everyone else has placed it. Somehow their assemblage point is in flux, it's constantly shifting, and therefore of course they're crazy because they're hallucinating, and they don't have the energy to maintain it at any one given position. If they did have that energy and the control, then they would be sorcerers, because they would be stalking that new position.

Abe: Yes, I see that.

Taisha: So what this all really boils down to is a question of having the energy to perceive more than we are allowed to perceive given the fact that we are born as human beings. Our social order doesn't allow us to venture into other realms except through insanity or through dreams, which they don't really count as real anyway.

So those are two avenues that are open, but they're not really viable avenues. Now sorcerers say you can move the assemblage point, provided you have enough energy to fix it at another position, because you don't want to end up crazy and absolutely lost in these worlds upon worlds that they maintain exist out there, like the layers of an onion. So what is needed is control, energy and fluidity. And what they call 'unbending intent'.

Now the fluidity enables one to shift the assemblage point to move away from the given spot that makes us persons, and we'll get back to this, because what this given spot that makes us persons really is what we call the self.

And that's where self-importance has to go out the window because as long as we maintain our allegiance to the self, what we're really doing is maintaining our allegiance to that particular position of the assemblage point. We'll never be able to perceive anything beyond what the taken-for-granted reality out there is. We're allowed only to perceive what is permissible by our given position within the social order.

So we need fluidity to move the assemblage point elsewhere, and then we need the stability, the concentration, the energy to fix it on another position. And this is what sorcery really is, the movement and the fixation, fixing again the assemblage point at the different positions, thereby lighting up different realities that are just as concrete and real as what we take as reality of the everyday world.

Abe: So sorcerers foster and cultivate energy in unique ways, and there's a way of fostering and cultivating dreaming energy, and your book is primarily about the way in which you foster and cultivate stalking energy. Would that be right?

Taisha: Precisely. There are techniques, there are devices that sorcerers do, and they include 'not doing' techniques, 'recapitulation', which is the fundamental technique of enabling the assemblage point to move off its spot of the self, things like 'losing personal history', which also enables one to move away from what our expectation or our idea is of the self.

Losing self- importance is the key, of course, because as I said, as long as we have this idea of a self, a strong self, an ego, a personality with which we interact with others in terms of an intersubjective agreement, they hold us. You see, the strength of the world, of the social order, is so gigantic through the agreement of billions of people holding that assemblage point at that particular spot.

Abe: So, at a really crass level, you could call it 'peer pressure', and at a universal level you could call it 'the spirit of the times'. Taisha: Yes. At a very individual level you could call it 'self-indulging' or one's idea of the self, and then peer pressure. Exactly, all that, and then at a larger level the language itself, on a cultural level, and we have to get to the family, because that's fundamental, and you have to break through each of those barriers- individual, peer, family, cultural- and then some gigantic collective unconsciousness that holds everything in place.

A sorcerer has to jump out of all of that onto a different level.

And then even behind this collective unconscious, you have the biological mandate that we're really trapped in this 'ape mold'. We have our biological drive, we need to be social, gregarious beings because we're social animals. Solitude is something that frightens people to death. I mean, that's one of the killers of neophytes, the idea that they have to have a solitary journey, a solitary quest, because the recapitulation is done in absolute solitude.

But people think, well, they can meditate together, do things together, as long as they still have a group consensus. But you see, it's that very group consensus that prevents the subtle movement of the assemblage point. So you do have to get beyond that force, and you have to have the energy, and the energy comes from all the things that I mentioned before, including impeccability, and also using your death. You give a death, because you'll end up giving a death anyway.

If you follow the sorcerer s path, if one wishes to move away from the self, from that given position of the assemblage point, and venture into the unknown, then it is like dying. The self has to capitulate, and it's a horrendous feeling. Emotionally, physically, it is like, you know, man against the universe.

Abe: And that death is protracted, isn't it? I mean, it doesn't happen in one miraculous moment. It's something that progressively occurs. It will take years. When do you know you've really done it? When do you know that you've finally died to that old self, or become what is called in the literature a 'formless warrior'?

Taisha: You have to be formless. You have to not have a self. First of all, like you say, it's not a sudden process, although it can be. The movement of the assemblage point can be, in some people, in some anomalous cases, sudden, or under a great shock all of a sudden it moves elsewhere, and a different reality is constituted in front of the person. All of a sudden he's somewhere else. But that usually doesn't last because it comes from an external force, and it usually shifts back. If it does last, he won't know what happened to him, and those are the cases for the asylums, the institutions. So, a gradual change is best
Abe: I take it that drugs, power plants, can also induce this?

Taisha: Yes, exactly. That too. Under the influence of psychotropic drugs you see different worlds, and the assemblage point is absolutely blasted out of its position. But you are not doing that, you don't have the control, again it's an external agent. The sheer presence of a Nagual moves the assemblage point, too. His impeccability can move the assemblage point in his students. He doesn't have to give them the slap on the back or anything like that.

Sheer energy can cause apprentices to assemble different worlds. But you see, there again, whenever we were in the presence of Don Juan and his people, their force made us do fantastic things. Those things 1 write about in my book. But, when I came back to Los Angeles and they weren't around, there I was. I had the force of the social order on top of me, and my assemblage point moved back into the 'first attention'.

And the tragedy, of course, is that unless you move your assemblage point back to the places that it was under the influence of don Juan and his people, you barely remember what you did or what those worlds consisted of. They're like dreams. So you have to store the energy to allow it to move into heightened awareness, so that you can maintain it there on your own, and venture. And then you move it further, and it's a gradual shift.

Abe: How do you store or keep the energy to move your assemblage point?

Taisha: The 'recapitulation' is the major one. I just want to mention that another way of moving it is sheer impeccability, by intending the movement. Intent is really a line, a force that connects one directly with the energy out there at large. And, because it has an intelligence, a guiding order of sorts. They call it the Spirit, the Eagle. But when man links his personal energy to the energy out there through impeccable acts, then the Spirit itself moves the assemblage point for him, because in a sense he has relinquished control.

He has relinquished himself, his ego. He has let go, and is allowing the guiding force of intent to move him. And all of these sorcery activities that I mentioned, the recapitulation, all the not-doings, all those have the sorcerer's intent already linked to them. So a person just has to do these things and let the intent take him, and his assemblage point will move, because these are ancient techniques that have been handed down from generations within Don Juan's lineage, and they have already that link to the Spirit out there inherent in them.

So the necessity of storing energy we already know, because that's the only way to get out of the mold that we are born into as humans. We always like to talk in terms of the human ape, because it really puts man in a proper perspective.

Abe: Are you using that, though, as a metaphor, in the sense that what I understand is that these luminous beings that we are actually, in the process of "time", took on the form that we now have, that at some point we intended ourselves human or flesh and blood, but that what we intrinsically are is something that comes from that vast 'out there', but that we haven't, in the normal sense of evolution, evolved from monkeys? I mean, is that something that you deal with at all? I accept the ape metaphor very well. But the theory of evolution has never managed to explain to me how come we have these other capacities in us.

Taisha: Ah hah. And what sorcerers say is that we are continually evolving. Therefore we should not stay or limit ourselves to that ape-like position of the assemblage point. As you say, within the luminosity of human beings is the potential for an infinite number of other possibilities. Yes, I would agree with you, that from the point of view of evolution we have sort of stopped there, and encrusted ourselves at that position. But the force of evolution continues.

Sorcerers are beings who at one time were human beings. But they have evolved to something else. They are no longer human beings in the strict sense of the word, because they can move their assemblage point elsewhere and maintain those positions, and actually change their form. They don't have to maintain their human form. They can move downwards, shift down to the animal level, and they can change shape into animals, into crows, into birds, or any other animal or entity. Or they can shift into inconceivable realms that have no physical counterparts, but are abstractions.

Abe: So there are old and new seers?

Taisha: What the new sorcerers are doing...there is a distinction between the old sorcerers and the new sorcerers in Don Juan's lineage, or the modern day sorcerers, Don Juan and his teacher the Nagual Julian, and Don Juan's apprentice, the new Nagual Carlos Castaneda. These are all modern day sorcerers, and what they're interested in is this evolution towards the abstract, away from any of these downward shifts that are so easy to do in dreaming when the assemblage point by itself finds these positions.

And for that reason all of the people associated with Carlos Castaneda, we're university graduates, educated, clear thinkers (hopefully). I mean, that is one of our tasks. An actual sorcery task is to be able to think coherently, to think clearly, to see where we are as human beings, and what our potential is, and be able to see and get to this level of actual truth, not only through reason, but using reason in its strictest sense, and not in the shoddy sense of reasoning something and then acting some other way totally in contradiction, which is what human beings do.

End of Part 2.

© Copyright Dimensions Magazine

An Exclusive Interview With Taisha Abelar of Carlos Castaneda's Elusive Sorcerer's Clan
"Reflections on don Juan by Carlos Castaneda"
Publication Date: October 1993

by Keith Nichols

Real root expansion of thought is one that causes us to reevaluate the way that we interpret our reality. Although at first it may only affect our intellectual perspectives, its repercussions over time carry through our culture and civilization, changing the forms of who we are and what we will be. Root expansions are rare because they entail a breaking of any ethos or system of thought. Since the late sixties, an interesting root expansion occurred with the entry of the sorcerer apprentice Carlos Castaneda and his books about the training he received under the Mexican Indian sorcerer named don Juan. His books are a hallmark of the present-day urge to return to a cultural ethos where wonder, magic, and spiritual abilities break the chains that strict reason and cynicism have placed upon our realities. Taisha Abelar, sorcerer and author of The Sorcerer's Crossing, is one of the members of Carlos Castaneda's sorcerers' party. In this interview she discusses her lineage, how they see the mechanics of the energy body, and some of her sorcerer's techniques for attaining spiritual and perceptual freedom by breaking the intellectual and energetic chains that bind.

"If you try to hold back your present knowledge about the consequences of Columbus' trip and project yourself into his situation, then you can begin to see that our present moon exploration must be like a tea party compared to what he went through. Moon exploration doesn't involve any real root exploration of thought....It's really just an expansion of what he did." Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Could you tell us how you got involved with sorcery?

Taisha Abelar: I met don Juan and his people when I was in my twenties. Most of my adult life was actually spent under their guidance and training. Don Juan belonged to a generation of sorcerers that have 27 Naguals, or spiritual leaders, behind him. Each Nagual had his certain apprentices that learned dreaming, stalking, and a number of other things. The techniques that we learned have a historical background that dates far back in this long line of sorcerers.

Are there any differences between the ancient and modern sorcerers?

Taisha: Yes, when we talk about the ancient sorcerers we think in terms of manipulating people, amassing power, and controlling the entities from other realms or realities. As this tradition was handed down, subsequent seers realized that the practices of the ancient sorcerers didn't lead to freedom. Instead, it lead to a dependence upon rituals and compulsive behavior, such as the amassing of power and the enhancement of the self. Yet these practices were very effective in making the sorcerers very powerful beings who could control other people, command the elements in nature (such as rain), transform themselves into different animals, or perform other feats of sorcery. Despite these powers, modern sorcerers realized that power alone didn't lead to true freedom. Instead, most of the ancient sorcerers became entrapped behind what we call the Second Gate of Dreaming.

Can you explain what you mean by the Second Gate of Dreaming?

Taisha: When the body changes energetically into the energy body, that energy can perceive "other realities," or other aspects of the universe. What is presented before us, or what we see now this room, that wall, the street outside is not the only reality that exists. Yet the modern seers saw that the ancient rituals and training didn't lead to the ultimate goal: freedom from entrapment within any reality; whatever that reality may be.

How have the techniques changed with the modern seers?

Taisha: The techniques that were handed down to us were the only ones that they saw were the most likely to enable the practitioner to attain total liberation. This total liberation for us is freedom from "humanness" or anything human, and the ability to utilize the total potential of oneself. These techniques are the recapitulation and certain dreaming practices.

When did the division between the ancient sorcerers and the modern sorcerers occur during history?

Taisha: The division came at the time of the Spanish Conquests of Mexico. When the Spaniards came, most of the ancient sorcerers were destroyed. In spite of their ability to turn into animals or harness the elements or manipulate allies, their power was unable to withstand the onslaught of the Spaniards. The ancient sorcerers were unable to affect the Spaniards because their culture was so strong and fixed that sorcery had almost no effect on them. The Spaniards were operating within a different cognitive field, or reality. Another turning point occurred within Don Juan's lineage in 1725 when an entity came into contact with the Nagual, Sebastian.

Who was that entity?

Taisha: We call him the Death-defier. He is really one of the ancient sorcerers who had survived many hundreds of years by being entrapped behind one of the Gates of Dreaming. His consciousness was still intact, but there was no way that he could escape because of his training. We learned that inorganic beings who inhabit certain realms of dreaming entrapped the male sorcerers who entered because they preyed on their energy. The only way the Death-defier could escape was by making a pact with different Naguals in Don Juan's lineage. From that point on, he merged with our lineage and gave gifts of power in exchange for their energy.

What kind of gifts did the Death-defier give?

Taisha: He gave different positions of what we call the Assemblage Point. We see that there is a place on the luminous cocoon or energetic body that is very bright. That place we call the Assemblage Point because it lights up filaments on lines of energy upon the energetic body. We have seen that when certain fibers light up, an alignment takes place with similar fibers outside the energetic body within the universe at large, that in turn, causes perception to occur. Sorcerers see that in order to perceive reality, this matching of the energetic filaments within and without the luminous cocoon always takes place. The Death-defier gave to this lineage the different positions of this Assemblage Point or the ability to perceive different realities, for each position lights up inconceivable possibilities. He gave each Nagual a different number of possible points, and these were handed down. The new sorcerers coming from this transition stage realized that sorcery really is a question of perception. A definition of sorcery is the ability to perceive more than the average human being, whose perception of the universe is limited because s/he has only one place of the Assemblage Point: the one into which s/he is born. As the seers became more experienced, they realized that any of these other positions were just as limiting as the reality to which man was born into. This had led us to realize that our goal is not to fix ourselves at any permanent position. This is what happened to the Death-defier; he was trapped at a certain position of the Assemblage Point.

How do you keep from being trapped?

Taisha: Our practices are geared toward not becoming fixated at any one particular position. The recapitulation is one such method. All of the ancients' practices enhanced the elf to such an extent that they were no longer able to move or be fluid. This was one of the principle reasons why they were trapped in the different realms. So now we seek fluidity.

What is recapitulation?

Taisha: The recapitulation is a method of bringing back all of the energy trapped in the world in order to have it available to use for other things. It enables one to see that the reality to which you're born isn't the only reality, but merely a fixation of energy. When an infant is born, his Assemblage Point is very erratic; he isn't able to perceive as a functional human being. As he matches the adults around him, his energetic body emulates their position. Energetically, he patterns himself on those who are around him. We all have the position of our Assemblage Points on more or less the same place, enabling us to perceive the same reality. The recapitulation enables you to move that point by using a psychic process of extending your breath to call back any energy you've left throughout your lifetime. Every epoch is characterized by what don Juan calls the "modality of the times": a specific pattern of ideas or cultural ethos. The modality of our times is what's on our televisions, in our books and newspapers. We're constantly bombarded with certain themes and ideas that we have to adhere to. Sorcerers call this ethos of our day the "poor baby, me" syndrome because everyone out there is dominated by that sentiment. It's not only a poor baby world, it's a poor baby universe with black holes consuming constellations and planets. Sorcerers see that our energy is constantly being consumed by something else. In order to go where we want to go, we have to have energy. In our waking state, all of our energy is used up in our waking concerns: our jobs, our families, or wherever we are. To move away from that position, we have to have extra energy. The recapitulation is the fundamental means of storing that energy.

How does one recapitulate?

Taisha: First, you make a list of everyone you've known in your lifetime, every person you've ever come across. That, in itself, is an endeavor of intense concentration. Just making the list loosens up things and enables you to focus your attention on something specific. When you have your list, find a place that puts pressure on the energetic body, like a closet. Sit comfortably and begin with the first person on your list. Work backward, recapitulating or visualizing all the situations in which you encountered this person, those interactions in which energy was exchanged. See yourself interacting and going through all sorts of energetic maneuvers in order to maintain the situation. We all construct our reality energetically. Even when we are just driving down the street, we're constructing. We take that act for granted and say that the street is always there. But really, we're all sorcerers who are constituting the world around us, and we're agreeing upon it's tacticity. [Sic.] Through recapitulating, you take back energy of the past that is lost in your personal history and hangs around you like a comet's tail of debris. To disentangle yourself from your remembered pasts, start at your right shoulder and, moving your head from right to left, breathe in. Then, turn your head back again and exhale, sending everything back that you no longer want to be connected with. Then bring the head back to the center again. You don't have the sensation with every image, but you breathe everything out deeply, sending out lines with each breath. When you have pulled your energy back, breathe that in as a clump and proceed on until there is no more energy left there. The scene will be vacuous, empty because there's no energetic component in it.

What effect does recapitulating have on your life?

Taisha: You'll find that your attachment with your family and friends will be lessened. You can still interact with them, but you're no longer attached to them because you won't have that energetic dependence upon them.

What is stalking?

Taisha: Stalking is the ability to fixate the Assemblage Point on any given position in order to give structure and coherence to chaotic perception. We're stalking our realities every day, every minute, finding out what it means to drive down this street or be in the mall. Stalking means to make our categorization schemes of objects and things that we know by names.

How do sorcerers see dreaming?

Taisha: Dreaming is a movement of the Assemblage Point that we do naturally when we sleep. That's our energetic body randomly moving. Dreaming for sorcerers is the control of one's dreams. You have to stalk your dreams, which is really just moving your point to a new location on purpose and holding it there for as long as your dreaming energy can allow you to do so. When you find yourself in a dream world, before it shifts away and turns into something else, you want to hold that reality and stalk it. If you're a very practiced stalker and dreamer then that reality can become your only reality. That's what happened to the ancient sorcerers when they became entrapped in another realm and could no longer return to our normal reality. In fact, time wiped out the reality into which they were born. Because they were able to sustain their energy within that reality for a longer period of time, hundreds of years they found themselves unable to return to our own because the modality was gone. When we stalk our realities, we never keep any of them as the primary reality. The minute we think that this or any other reality is the primary one, then we become imprisoned at that level, no matter where it may be.

What do you think is the significance of publishing The Sorcerers' Crossing and all of the other information about your lineage?

Taisha: The reason that you and I can even talk is because of the tremendous necessity of altering the modality of our culture. Sorcerers say that inside the modality of our day, the prognosis is totally negative. If change is to come, it has to come from outside to show that movement is possible. We have put out this information, not as information, but as a possibility. First of all, it's an idea that people can grab hold of in order to realize there is something out there besides our popular culture, dominated by the "poor baby" syndrome. We are imprisoned in this reality as much as the Death-defier is imprisoned behind the second Gate of Dreaming. The Death-defier has said that the position of mankind has been pretty much the same for thousands of years with only minute changes. There were shifts in the Renaissance when man's perception of God shifted, causing a perceptual shift of himself. Another shift must have occurred in the Grecian times when we went from being able to see and have contact with fairies and gods to believing it was a myth or a product of man's imagination. So, there are shifts from things that we no longer perceive. Our lineage's contact with the larger cultural ethos of man is causing another shift: away from reason and a confined sense of reality toward a system where everything is alive and has awareness that we can perceive.

Where do you see your group going after death?

Taisha: I see ourselves going into a never-ending revolution. We are merging with that inconceivable, unnamable force of which we are just a tiny speck. The less human we are energetically, the more we merge with the vastness. That might sound cold and heartless, but it's not. Sorcerers have feelings and tremendous affection, but they're almost impersonal. They're part of the energy that comes from a state of well-being. When your energetic body is in a healthy state, you have strong, positive feelings that come from the universe itself. Everything out there is aware and intelligent and is part of Intent itself. Affection is there; you need only link yourself to it to feel it. It doesn't stem from the personal self. These things are out there. It's not cold empty space. With the dreaming body you can move beyond the limitations of the body, take on different forms, and perceive reality from those configurations, which means you can go through walls and move into sheer energy that is our quest. When this merging takes place through evolution, we move into a different realm. We move away from anything human. Our apelike existence just falls away like prison bars and what remains is really inconceivable. The structure of language can't contain the vastness of silence that whispers to you directly without words. We won't stop knowing or becoming aware, because it'll trickle down from Intent. The awareness that fills you with wonder is our link to the vastness.

(The Sorcerers' Crossing, by Taisha Abelar, is available from Viking Penguin Press.
Keith Nichols is a freelance writer, clairvoyant, and editor located in Berkeley,
California.)

© Copyright Magical Blend Magazine

Being in Dreaming: an introduction to TOLTEC SORCERY an interview with Florinda Donner
by Brian S. Cohen

1992

Late one afternoon at a coffee shop in Tucson, a woman sporting a peculiar hairstyle sits at the counter and orders a hamburger. In an effort to humiliate the cook for allegedly refusing to serve an Indian friend of hers, she deftly deposits a large, dead cockroach on her meal and shrieks in revulsion. The cook picks up the food and studies the woman intently. "Either this cockroach fell from the ceiling, he replies, looking at her, "or it dropped out of her wig." Before the woman can reply, she is offered any meal, compliments of the house, and so she humbly enjoys a steak and baked potato. Yet when she gets to her salad, she notices a rather large spider crawling in her lettuce. Looking up, she sees the cook waving to her, a dazzling smile lighting his face.

Scenes like this one occur frequently in a society where many different cultures are vying for acceptance and control. Upon further inspection, however, this episode is not as straightforward as it seems. It is an introductory chapter into a world that we normally don't perceive, a parallel world inhabited by brujas and brujos—sorcerers descended from the Indians of the Oaxaca Valley prior to the Spanish conquest. You see, the cook's name is Joe Cortéz, known to his companions as Carlos Castaneda. The woman's friend is the nagual don Juan Matus.

Florinda Donner's introduction into this world, a world that we have filtered from our perception, a world that has been encrusted with layers of social norms and acceptance, pushed out of sight and forgotten, is the subject of her third book, Being-in-Dreaming (Harper-SanFrancisco, 1991). In it she tells her tale of the disruption of all her assumptions about space, time, reality, and femininity by a group of people who interact in a state of awareness that resides somewhere between being asleep and being awake. Drawn into this world through the energy of don Juan, Castaneda, and the female members of their group, Florinda experiences a clear, albeit confounding, perception of human ability and energy. Her experiences are not without discomfort, however, for she must reassess all her current knowledge and beliefs into a world that few are able to see.

I had the chance to speak with Florinda about her twenty-some years of association with don Juan and Castaneda, and it was easy to understand the benefits of being able to perceive that which we usually overlook. Highly spirited and energetic, Florinda is as comfortable talking about parallel realities as she is about her favorite pastime, going to the movies.

How do you describe yourself, and what are you currently doing?

Florinda Donner: I am an anthropologist who no longer practices anthropology, and I have an interest in non-Western healing practices. My work with the Yanomamo Indians in South America was the subject of my first book, Shabono. I then did another study in which I worked with a healer in Northern Venezuela. By that time I had already been exposed to the world of don Juan, and carried a desire to continue with it. I am no longer involved in academic research. What I am trying to do now, along with the other people who are involved in the same quest, is to work and live the way don Juan taught us, within a whole other world that he and his cohorts opened for us.

What is, or is there, an objective of sorcery?

Florinda: Sorcerers are interested in the inherent capacity to see energy directly. They describe their knowledge as the pursuit of this capacity to see the essence of things. What one normally does in everyday life is to perceive a world one already knows and just revalidate it. Apparently the job of civilization is to give one an a priori idea of thinking, and therefore no experiences are really new. People force their children to perceive the way they perceive, by hook or by crook. And once they have accomplished that, of course, their children are bona fide members of the group.

Once you are able to see energy in the environment around you, what do you do with that knowledge, that ability?

Florinda: Most people are limited in terms of what they see. What sorcerers, including myself, want to do is expand the limits, the parameters, of normal perception. Not only do sorcerers see energy directly, we relate to it differently than most people. Our whole spectrum of what we are capable of as human beings changes. One's choices in life are very limited, because the choices have been defined by the social order. Society sets up the options, and the individual does the rest, because the options are only those that have been made available. One's only source of possibilities, it seems, comes from within those limitations. Sorcerer, the emphasis in the everyday world is to stay within socially accepted boundaries of perception.

How do you go about teaching people to enhance their perception?

Florinda: Whether we are trained as a male or a female, we are conditioned to react in a certain manner. If we can stop that, or at least examine it, we can free up an enormous amount of energy. That energy can then be utilized for dreaming. For don Juan the whole thing always boils down to having enough energy. In the United States we are conditioned for instant gratification; we want an instant formula that will work right now. On one level the immediacy is extremely appealing, but, on the other hand, nothing is good unless you can push a button and have it instantly.

So, a sorcerer tries to re-channel this energy?

Florinda: Not only that, we try to break the barriers that block our potentials. It is possible to break those barriers by the rigor of self- examination. One of the first exercises all sorcerers do—one that I did not do for years because I did not believe in it—is a recapitulation of their lives with all the people with whom they have had any kind of interaction. They start working on the present and work toward the past, and, of course, they end up with their parents. They don't, however, make a psychological interpretation. Sorcerers want to feel how they have interacted, what kinds of emotions they felt. As they go further and further back in time, they realize that the repetitiveness of their way of perceiving or interacting is so horrendously boring that there is nothing special about them.

Don Juan says there is this parallel world existing around us, a force of energy that we don't let in because we are too busy with upholding what the social order dictates. Dreaming is one of the main techniques for perceiving this parallel world. This "second attention," as Castaneda calls it, takes a lot of energy, energy which can only be gained by canceling the idea of the self. In dreaming, basically what we want to accomplish is the same control we have over the everyday world. The dream becomes as real as our everyday life. The gains are gigantic, tremendous, in terms of what we are capable of being. We realize that we are energetic beings.

Is lucid dreaming something similar to being-in-dreaming?

Florinda: In Carlos' books, he talks a great deal about what the sorcerers call the "assemblage point." Perception takes place wherever that assemblage point becomes static. The greatest accomplishment of our human upbringing is to lock our assemblage point on its habitual position. Once immobilized there, our perception can be walked and guided to interpret what we perceive. We learn to perceive in terms of our system first; then in terms of our senses.

In dreaming, one sees the body as a luminous egg of energy. The assemblage point shifts inside the egg and assembles different perceptions; perceptions produced by the energy filaments that traverse the egg. In dreaming, prior to that moment that one falls asleep, the assemblage point starts to flutter. The sorcerer tries to control where that assemblage point fixes itself. The sorcerer is interested in manipulating it and using it at will. Someone who is adept at lucid dreaming can go into their dream and totally control it. And that is exactly what don Juan wants to do. Through dreaming it's possible to accomplish the ultimate goal of sorcery: to liberate perception from its social bindings in order to perceive energy directly.

One of the differences between your initial experiences and those of Castaneda is the use and non-use of drugs. There is no mention of drugs in your book.

Florinda: Carlos was given psychotropic plants because it was so difficult for him to break through the barriers of perception. For a man it is much more difficult, if for no other reason than because they are the upholders and shapers of our definition of reality.

The conceptualization of reason has been done exclusively by man. This has allowed men to belittle women's gifts and accomplishments. Even worse, it has allowed men to exclude feminine traits from their conceptualized ideals. Women have been reared to believe that only men can be rational and coherent. Men define the very nature of knowledge and from it they have excluded all that is feminine. Though maybe we don't verbalize it, women instinctively know that man's rationale is not our own. Our commitment to this man-made reality, therefore, is not as strong as the male's. This gives us the ability to weave in and out of the parallel worlds, or to go more easily with the flow. The importance of women healers in the shamanistic practices has been ignored in the shamanistic literature. In the history of Western Medicine the role of women is not even acknowledged.

So how do you feel about male sorcerers?

Florinda: Don Juan was the nagual of a group of 14 sorcerers. Castaneda is the nagual of a much smaller group. The male sorcerers know that without the female sorcerers, there is nothing. Don Juan and Castaneda are not the leaders in the sense that they are better or have more knowledge. The only reason that they are the leaders of their groups is that they have more energy. Don Juan knew that he did not have an inch of ground to stand on without the women. In that kind of relationship, men and women never take advantage of each other, because, energetically, they know that they need each other to such a large degree. The male sorcerers know that it is the female who has a direct link to whatever it is that is out there—knowledge, spirit, energy, whatever you want to call it.

Carlos' books reflect a different process, a process he is still going through. Men build knowledge step-by-step; they "cone" toward knowledge. This coning process limits men as to how far they can reach. The male wants the order, the structure, first. The female plunges into something, and then she makes order out of it. In women, the cone is inverted; it is open like a funnel. Women are able to open themselves directly to the source, or rather, the source reaches them directly.

When you first came across Castaneda, he was working as a cook in Tucson as part of a task assigned to him by don Juan. Did you have an assigned task?

Florinda: My task was to finish school, get a Ph.D., and continue to study. From the sorcerers point of view it is useless not to utilize what the world has to offer. The way the rational mind has been developed, and works, is one of the most exquisite things we have. To negate that is criminal. It is very important to be very well trained both from the perceptual level and the rational level, for we can only reject something, or find its flaws, if we understand it to perfection. I had always thought, "I don't care." Why should I go through with my academic education if I'm not going to use it?" the sorcerers made me see how important it is to embody rational knowledge the same way I embody sorcery. We cannot reject it, because the best that man has to offer is his intellectual achievements. All the people of this group have upper degrees, because when you plunge into the darkness, if your mind is not so keen and so well trained from a rational point of view, you cannot make sense out of what you find in the darkness.

Even if the object is to understand it from a non-rational point of view?

Florinda: In order for us to make sense as human beings, we have to be rational. If you have a keen intellect you can very easily go from one stage to another. From don Juan's point of view, we are "reasonable men," but not "men of reason." That is our own fault. We have the capacity for incredible intellectual possibilities. We haven't really profited from them because we don't take it's possibilities at face-value. The world of the sorcerer is a sophisticated world; it is not enough to understand its principles intuitively. One needs to absorb them intellectually. Contrary to what people believe, sorcerers are not practitioners of obscure, esoteric rituals. Sorcerers are men of reason. They 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 other people. Most people have very little sobriety and even less integrity.

That is quite a difficult change for most people to comprehend.

Florinda: Yes, because what we are trying to do is reduce our involvement with the world by changing our routine ways of interacting and being in the world. You see, we always want to be the protagonist, we always want to be the "I." Every story, everything we see, everything we perceive, everything we tell, is always through the "I." If you can curtail the "I," and truly see as a witness, it is more enchanting. The enjoyment of experiencing the ability of a human being is gigantic. Any kind of normal situation becomes an event, becomes a story. It is very interesting to let the other person be the protagonist.

That is not something that Western culture tends to allow.

Florinda: Of course. If you want to analyze it, the whole idea of the West is succeeding the "I," of seeing what you think. Yet what we don't see, which exists just as well, is limitless.

Your idea sound analogous to Buddhism's idea of no-self.

Florinda: Except that Buddhism is a system that works inside the social order. Sorcery doesn't work within the social order. To truly embody sorcery, one has to be almost outside the social order. It is not that one is a deviant, but that one has to extract oneself. One has to truly see, to look from the bridge. Trying to grow by retreating to a monastery or to the desert is useless. Only by being challenged by our daily life, by what we know, will we be able to change. The pressure always becomes such that we cannot uphold this new rationale, precisely because we are being pressured. And we are only going to be pressured by the world we know. The thing is not to hook into our routine ways. To accomplish that one needs energy. The important thing is to convince ourselves of the need to modify our deep socialization in order to acquire that energy.

So sorcery is action, not just thought.

Florinda: Exactly. Sorcery is not illusory; it is abstract. Sorcery is an abstract pursuit of re-making ourselves outside the parameters of what the social order has defined and allowed us to be.

We talked about the social value of sorcery before, but it doesn't seem that your work would have an effect on a large amount of people.

Florinda: We, as individuals, have to change in order for us to assume that we can change anybody else.

And we can't just have intellectual change.

Florinda: No. Intellectually we are willing to tease ourselves with the idea that culture predetermines who we are, how we behave, what we are willing to know, what we are able to feel. But we are not willing to embody this idea, to accept it as a concrete practical proposition. And the reason for this is that we are not willing to accept that culture also predetermines what we are able to perceive. On a practical level, we want everybody else to change, but we ourselves don't change. The civil wars in Central America, for instance, are not changes. They are merely switches in power. It is the same thing in this country. We haven't changed. The one hope is that people begin to realize that their predetermined world doesn't make sense. Collectively, we know that something is terribly wrong. What we have done to the Earth has already been done, and we can't change that. The Earth will continue its existence whether we are here or not. We are not doomed because the Earth is doomed; we are doomed because of our unwillingness to change.

To break with our habitual patterns, we need energy and the commitment that we truly want to do it. Don Juan was extremely forceful in the sense that he could practically grab you by the neck and put you into another world. Castaneda is different. All he is interested in is the person's commitment. It has to be your decision. He will not influence you. He will help you if something has to be explained, but he is not interested in coercion or in trying to brow-beat somebody into changing the world we live in. The change has to come from within first.

© Copyright Magical Blend Magazine

BEING-IN-DREAMING
February 1992

Florinda Donner in conversation with Alexander Blair-Ewart

Florinda Donner is a longtime colleague and fellow dream-traveler of Carlos Castaneda and the acclaimed author of The Witch's Dream and Shabono. Her latest book Being-In-Dreaming: An Initiation into the Sorcerer's World, an autobiographical account of her halting, sometimes unwilling, often bewildering initiation into the works of being-in-dreaming, has recently been released and will be available in Canada in the Spring. Anthropologist and sorceress, Florinda Donner lives in Los Angeles, California and Sonora, Mexico.

Alexander Blair-Ewart: Now, at the beginning of the book, you talk about how you become drawn into a living myth. Can you talk about that mythology?

Florinda Donner: It's a living myth. Well the myth of the Nagual is a myth, but a myth that is being relived over and over again. You see, the myth that exists is the myth that there is the Nagual and that he has his troop of people, apprentices, sorcerers. Actually I'm not an apprentice of Don Juan. I was an apprentice of Castaneda who was an apprentice of Don Juan. And I am one of the 'sisters' who were actually of the women of Florinda, and she gave me her name. So, in that sense, it is a myth which exists. They didn't care that I called them witches. It has no evil connotations for them . From the western point of view, the idea of a brujo, or a witch, has always a negative connotation. They couldn't care less, because for these people, the abstract quality of sorcery voids automotatically [sic] any positive or negative connotation of the term. We are apes on one level, but we have this other magical side. In that sense we relive a myth.

Abe: So the myth of the Nagual is that there is an unbroken lineage from the ancient Toltecs right down to modern times. I'm wondering if I can get you to talk about what the pattern of the myth actually is.

Florinda: Well, there is no pattern of the myth. That's why the whole thing is so baffling and so difficult. When I first got involved with these people my main quest, my main aberration, which I came to call it later, was that I wanted to have some rules and regulations about what the hell it is I had to do. There were none. There is no blueprint. Because each new group has to find their own way to deal with this idea of trying to break the barriers of perception. The only way we can break the barriers of perception, according to Don Juan, is that we need energy. All our energy is already deployed in the world to present the idea of self- what we are, who we want to be perceived as, how other people perceive us. So Don Juan says 90% of our energy is deployed in doing that, and nothing new can come to us. There's nothing open to us, because no matter how "egoless" we are, or we pretend to be, or we want to believe we are, we are not. Even let's say "enlightened" people, or gurus that I have met- at one time Carlos Castaneda was going around trying to meet gurus- and the ego of those people was so gigantic, in how they wanted to be perceived in the world . And that's, according to Don Juan, exactly what kills us. Nothing is open to us anymore.

Abe: A real Nagual, a real seer wouldn't care how the world perceives them, particularly, would they?

Florinda: No, they don't. But they still have to fight it. Castaneda has been at this for thirty years. I've been at this for over twenty years, and it's ongoing; it doesn't stop.

Abe: What's the nature of the battle? Because you use the language of the warrior. What's the nature of the battle? What are you fighting?

Florinda: The self.

Abe: The self.

Florinda: It's not even the self; it's an idea of the self, because if we would really get the self below the surface, we don't really know what it is. And it is possible to curtail this idea, this bombastic idea we have of the self. Because whether it's a negative idea or a positive idea doesn't really matter. The energy employed to sustain that idea is the same.

Abe: So there's tremendous emphasis in this tradition on overcoming what is called self-importance.

Florinda: Self-importance, exactly. That's the main battle. To shut off our internal dialogue. Because even if we're isolated someplace, we are still constantly talking to ourselves. That internal dialogue never stops. And what does the internal dialogue do? It always justifies itself, no matter what. We replay things, events, what we could have said or could have done, what we feel or don't feel. The emphasis is always on me. We're constantly spouting this mantra- me...me...me, silently or verbally.

Abe: So, an opening emerges when...

Florinda: ...when that dialogue shuts off. Automatically. We don't have to do anything. And the reason people reject Castaneda as not true is because it's too simple. But its sheer simplicity makes it the hardest thing there is to do for us. There are about six people in our world engaged in the same pursuit. And the difficulty we all have is totally shutting off that internal dialogue. It's fine if we're not threatened. But when certain buttons arc pushed, our reactions arc so
ingrained in us that it's so easy to go back on automatic pilot. You see, there's one great exercise that Don Juan prescribes- the idea of recapitulation. The idea is that you recapitulate your life, basically. And it's not a psychological recapitulation. You want to bring back that energy you left in all the interactions you've had with people throughout your life, and you start of course from the present moment and you go backwards in lime. But if you really do a good recapitulation, you discover, by the time you are three or four years old, you have learned all your reactions already. Then we become more sophisticated, we can hide them better, but basically the pattern has already been established, how we're going to interact with the world and with our fellow human beings.

Abe: So here is the image, then, or the awareness of a kind human being who is travelling a parallel path to the world of the Tonal, or the world of the person, the social person. This other world, his other opening, is something that has apparently always been there.

Florinda: Yes, it's always there. It's available to all of us. Nobody wants to tap into it, or people think they want to tap into it, but as Don Juan pointed out, the seeker is involved in something else, because a person who seeks already knows what he's seeking.

Abe: Yes, that's clear.

Florinda: The disappointment that so many people who are "seekers" have with Castaneda is because, when he talks to them, well, they have already made up their mind how things should be. And they are not open. Even if they're listening, they're not open to anything anymore, because they already know how it should be, what it is they're seeking.

Abe: My version of that is that I am not interested in self-improvement. I'm interested in self-realization, but not im- provement, and I'm not concerned with whether or not what I turn out to be in the process of recapitulation is something nice and spiritual and acceptable, because it's going to contain elements of madness as well as everything else.

Florinda: Exactly.

Abe: But this is a very deeply disturbing idea for most people.

Florinda: It is, yes, definitely. You see, we believe in this idea that we are basically energetic beings. Don Juan said everything hinges on how much energy we have. Our energy to fight, even to fight the idea of the self, requires an enormous amount of energy. And we go always to the easiest path. We go back to what we know, even us who have been involved in this for so long. It would be a lot easier just to say, oh, to hell with it, you know, I' m just going to indulge a little bit. But the thing is, that little bit of indulging would plunge you right back to point zero again.

Abe: Except for one thing that we both know, Florinda, which is this: that once you pass a certain point within yourself, if you have reached that silence, I believe, even for one moment, if its real...

Florinda: ...you can't stop it. Exactly. But to reach this moment of silence you need the energy. You can stop it, what Juan calls this momentary pause, this cubic centimetre of chance, and you can stop it immediately.

Abe: And once it's happened, you'll never be the same again.

Florinda: Absolutely.

Abe: And you might want to go back to your old ways and indulge, but you can 't get any satisfaction out of it.

Florinda: Exactly. No, you can't. There's no satisfaction. That's totally correct. I think, if we would really arrive...let's say a critical mass would arrive at that feeling or at that knowledge, we could change things in the world. The reason nothing can change is because we're not willing to change ourselves, whether it's political dogma, economic or social issues, it doesn't really matter. What the hell is the whole thing with the rainforest and the environment at the moment? How can we expect someone to change if we're not willing to change ourselves? Thc change is phony; the change is restructuring or replaying the pieces, but there's no change. Basically we are predatory beings, you see. That hasn't changed in us. We could use that predatory energy to change our course, but we're not willing to change ourselves.

Abe: Now, in the myth, the individual seer and/or Nagual is selected by providence, the unknown, the ineffable.

Florinda: ...actually selected. Carlos has been "tapped" energetically. Let's look at our energetic configuration....some people are basically energetically different. They call Carlos a three-pronged Nagual; Don Juan was a four-pronged Nagual. So what does that really entail? Basically, they have more energy than the rest of the group, and that's something very curious. Why the hell him, or why, for instance, are always the men Naguals? We have women Naguals in the lineage, but the men have more energy, the one's that have been selected so far. They're not better. There were people in Don Juan's world who were infinitely more spiritual, better prepared, bigger men of knowledge in the sense that they knew more, and it didn't make any difference. It is not that he is more or less than somebody else. It's just that he has that energy to lead.

Abe: And he can give some of that energy to somebody, too, and give them a boost.

Florinda: We draw from that energy, yes. It is not that you get that energy, but he has that energy, if nothing else, not to become whatever the world presents. For instance, in that sense, being with Castaneda for so long, the worldly goodies that have been presented to him are unbelievable. He has never wavered from his path. And I, personally, could say now, that if I had been put in that position for that many years, I could not honestly say that I would have been so impeccable. And you see, I have to acknowledge that, because the worst thing, of course, we can do is to try to hide certain things. And for me to have witnessed Castaneda's journey, I mean, there were incredible worldly things presented to him which he never took. And you see, for that you need energy. That's where energy comes in; that's when you need whoever is then the leader of the group to point out that way. Because if somebody else would have been the Nagual that doesn't have the energy, he would have succumbed.

Abe: Can a Nagual succumb and then recover?

Florinda: No. There is no chance.

Abe: How come?

Florinda: Go back to the myth. The eagle flies in a straight line. It doesn't turn around. You might be able to say okay, you have to run harder after it. But what does that mean? It's a metaphor.

Abe: So, the Nagual works in different ways to fulfill the unfolding of the myth.

Florinda: Don Juan had more people behind him. Energetically he had a larger mass, so he could practically pluck you in and put you some place. Carlos will not do that. For him, whatever the people he is working with- and there are six of us- it's a matter of decision. That's all. Our decision is all that counts, nothing else. He will not cajole us; he will not beg; he will not tell us what to do. We have to know. Having been exposed to this for so long, having been with Don Juan, any way we can try to walk on this path, that has to be enough for him. There was nothing he would do forcefully to make sure that we stayed on this path.

Abe: Different Naguals work in different ways. Is it true of Carlos Castaneda, I've heard him described as the Nagual of stalkers?

Florinda: Yes, but I would say...I don't know. He's a dreamer.

Abe: Yeah, that emerges, too.

Florinda: And then, what is this idea of dreaming, dreaming and being awake? It's a different state. It's not that you're zonked out. No, you are totally normal and coherent, but something in you plays energetically on a different level.

Abe: There's something in your eyes, too.

Florinda: Yes.

Abe: Something in your eyes that is too to learn to look at two worlds simultaneously.

Florinda: Exactly. And again this idea is that you have collapsed the barrier perception in terms of what we see; whatever we perceive has been defined us by the social order, no matter what. Intellectually we are willing to accept at perception is culturally defined, but we will not accept it on any other level. But it's absurd, because it exists on another level. And I can only say, because we been involved with these people- and certainly I'm also in the world- that is possible to see on those two levels and to be totally coherent in both, and impeccable on both levels.

Abe: Talk about impeccability. What is impeccability?

Florinda: You know exactly what you have to do. Especially for women, we are reared to be very petty beings. Women are so petty, it's unbelievable. And I'm not saying that men are not, but with men, no matter how we want to express it, men always are on the winning side. Whether they are losers or not, it's still male. Our world is a male world, regardless how well off they are or not, regardless whether or not they believe in any kind of feminist ideology, it doesn't really matter. But the men are the winners in our society.

Abe: In the book you talk about how women are actually enslaved by their attachment to the sexuality of men. Can you talk about that?

Florinda: Definitely. First of all, to me, one of the most shocking things which I denied and refused to believe for quite some time, was this idea of the fog created by sexual intercourse. They went even further to explain that basically what really goes on is that, when we have sexual intercourse, when the male ejaculates, not only do we get the semen, but in that moment of energetic outburst, what really happens is that they are what Don Juan calls 'energetic worms', filaments. And those filaments stay in the body for. From a biological point of view, those filaments ensure that the male returns to the same female and takes care of the offspring. Thc male will recognize that it is his offspring by the filaments at a total energetic level.

Abe: What is the exchange of energy in sexual intercourse?

Florinda: She feeds the man energetically. Don Juan believes that the women are the cornerstone for perpetuating the human species, and the bulk of that energy comes from women, not only to gestate, to give birth and nourish their offspring, but also to ensure the male's place in the whole process.

Abe: So, the woman is enslaved, then, by this fog. How does she release herself?

Florinda: If we talk about it from a biological point of view, is she enslaved? The sorcerers say yes, in the sense that she always views herself through the male. She has no option. I used to be excruciatingly mad about this whole discussion; I used to go over and over it with them, and go back to this whole idea, especially because this was in the early seventies when the women's movement was at its peak. And I said "No, women have come a long way. Look at what they have accomplished.", and they said, "No, they haven't accomplished anything." To them, the sexual revolution- and they were not prudes- they were not interested in morality, they were only interested in energy- so they said, that for women to be liberated sexually, in a way enslaved them even more, because suddenly they were feeding energetically not just one male, but many males.

Abe: That's interesting.

Florinda: So for them it was absurd, and whatever's happening at the moment, he foresaw that in the seventies. He said they're going to dive down on their noses. They're going to be weakened. And they are. The few women I've talked to- I've given certain lectures, and the books- and when I've talked about this, it's very interesting that the women do agree. And I first thought I would have a great deal of difficulty with this subject, but especially women who have gone through the process of having multiple lovers said they were exhausted, and they don't know why.

Abe: So we are talking about something beyond the sexual.

Florinda: Originally, beyond the the sexual aspect, the female, the womb ensures that the woman is the one that's closest to the spirit in this process of approaching knowledge as being-in- dreaming. The man cones upward, and by the sheer definition of the cone, it comes to a finite end. It's an energetic force. He strives because he is not close to the spirit, or whatever we want to call that great energetic force out there. According to the sorcerers, the woman is exactly the opposite. The cone is upside down. They have a direct link with it, because the womb for the sorcerer is not just an organ of reproduction; it is an organ for dreams, a second brain.

Abe: Or heart.

Florinda: Or heart, and they do apprehend knowledge directly. Yet we have never been allowed to define what knowledge is in our society or in any society. And the women who do create or help to formulate the body of knowledge, it has to be done in male terms. Let's say a woman does research. If they do not abide by the rules already established by the male consensus, they won't be published. They can deviate slightly, but always within that same matrix. It is not allowed for women to do anything else.

Abe: So the sorceress is removed from the hypnotism of all that.

Florinda: Of the social, yes. It's very interesting that you mention the idea of hypnotism, because Don Juan always said at the time when psychology produced Freud, we were too passive. We would have followed either Mesmer or Freud. We are mesmeric beings. We never really developed that other path...

Abe: Yes. The path of energy.

Florinda: ...and this would never have happened to us if Freud wouldn't have had the upper hand.

Abe: Well, he's lost it now.

Florinda: No, not really, because with all we do, who knows how many generations it takes? Let say he has been discredited intellectually, but our whole cultural baggage...We still talk in those terms, even people who don't even know who Freud is. It's part of our language, our culture.

Abe: Yes, I know. It's very frustrating, dealing with people who approach the whole of reality from this hackneyed psychological viewpoint.

Florinda: Yes. And they don't even know where it comes from. It's part of our cultural baggage.

Abe: So the sorceress is freed from this condition.

Florinda: Well, free in the sense that once you see what the social order really is- it's an agreement- at least you are more cautious in accepting that. People say, "Oh but look how different life is from your grandmother's or mother's time." I say, it's not. It's only different in degree. But nothing is dif- ferent. If I would have lived my life the way it had been established for me...yes, I was more educated, I had a better chance. But that's all. I still would have ended up the same way they had ended up. Married, frustrated, with children that by now I probably would hate, or they would hate me.

Abe: I keep trying to get you now to cross that line, and talk about what occurs now that you've realized that there is that thralldom and you begin to free yourself from it. What is it that opens up to perception?

Florinda: Everything.

Abe: Everything. Good.

Florinda: First of all, in your dreams you can see. For instance, my work is done in dreaming. Not that I don't have to do the work, but it comes in dreaming.

Abe: Now you're using the word dreaming in this very specific sense, which is in this tradition. Can you talk about what dreaming actually is?

Florinda: In the traditional sense, when we fall asleep, as soon as we start entering a dream, in that moment when we're half awake and half asleep, and still conscious, you know from Casta- neda's work that the assemblage point flutters, it starts shifting, and what the sorcerer wants to do is that he wants to use that natural (that happens to every one of us) shift to move into other realms. And for that you need an exquisite energy. Again it comes down to energy. We need an extraordinary amount of energy because you want to be conscious of that moment and use it without waking up.

Abe: Yes, a very high accomplishment.

Florinda: For me, it's very easy to enter, to use it. The thing is, I had no control at that time- although I have now- over when it was going to happen. But I could center into this state of what they call...I mean, the women were not interested in calling it the 'second attention'; they were interested in calling it 'dreaming awake', because it is the same thing. And you'd reach different levels, and what you do is that in that dreaming state eventually you have the same control you have in your daily life. And that's exactly what the sorcerers do. It's the same thing; there's no difference anymore.

Abe: So you are now able to exist in another reality?

Florinda: Well, I don't really know. You see, we don't have the language to talk about it, except to talk about it in known terms. So in a weird way, when I ask myself, "Do I exist in another reality?", yes and no. It's not quite right to really say that, because it is one reality. There is no difference. Let's say there are different layers, like an onion. But it's all the same. And it becomes very bizarre. How am I going to talk about it? In metaphors? Our metaphors are already so defined by what we already know.

Abe: Yes, the problem of language.

Florinda: You see we don't have the language to really talk about what then really happens when you are in the 'second attention', or when we 'dream awake' . Bul it is as real as any other reality. What is reality? It is, again, a consensus. And you see, the thing is, we only want to agree about this intellectually on one level. But it's more than just an intellectual agreement. Let's say, it can be more. And for that, again, we go back to that same thing- it all hinges on energy.

Abe: That's right. But it also hinges on something called 'intent'.

Florinda: Exactly. But in order to hook yourself to 'intent'...See, 'intent' is out there, it's this force- Don Juan was not interested in religion- but, in a weird way maybe it is exactly what we call God, the supreme being, the one force, the spirit. You see, each culture knows what it is. And the thing is, Don Juan, again, said you don't beg for it. You ask, and in order to ask for it, you need energy. Because not only do you need energy to hook yourself onto it, but you want to stay hooked.

Abe: Ycs. So, this thing of intent, I mean it's an easy word to say, but it's actually a quite complex operation.

Florinda: Yes, exactly, very complex. For Don Juan and his people, to talk about sorcery and witchcraft, with all those negative connotations, they couldn't care less what we called the practices. For them it was very very abstract. To them sorcery is an abstraction, and it was this idea of expanding the limits of perception. Because, for them, our choices in life are limited by the social order. We have boundless options, but by accepting these choices, of course, we set a limit to our limitless possibilities.

Abe: And yet the human being seems...

Florinda: ...constantly searching for that which has been...

Abe: ... lost...

Florinda: ....lost or caged in by the social order. They put blinds on us the moment we are born. Look at the way we coerce the child to perceive the way we perceive.

Abe: Yes, the transmission of culture.

Florinda: It's the most perfect example. Children truly perceive more, obviously, a great deal more. But they have to make some order out of that chaos, and we, of course, are the perennial teachers of what is proper to perceive within our group. And if they don't abide by that, my god, we shoot them with drugs, or lock them up in therapy with psychiatrists.

Abe: There have been these traditions, which have existed for a long, long time, and now in the last, say, twenty or thirty years in particular, we start to hear about them. Why did Castaneda write his books?

Florinda: Bccause it was a task; it was a sorceric task. That Don Juan impressed upon him. Castaneda is the last of his line. There is no one else. There's a group of Indians that we work with. You see, Don Juan, in a weird way made almost a mistake with Castaneda, when he first was put in touch, whatever the design or power of the spirit was which put Don Juan face to face with Castaneda. And he rallied right away. His circle of apprentices- and I think it's in Tales of Power and The Second Ring of Power, when he talks about the people in Oaxaca and the Little Sisters and all those people. And then, years later, Don Juan realizes that that's not the way Castaneda is going. Castaneda was even more abstract than Don Juan was. His path was a totally different path. And then when he gathered these other people, because the people that are with Castaneda, we all met Don Juan before we met Castaneda. Actually there was only five of us before- four of us and Castaneda.

Abe: So, there was the sorcerer's task of writing the books. What I'm trying to get at is, that this knowledge, just as knowl- edge, becomes available now and is available to millions of people in this form. What is the purpose of that?

Florinda: Well, somebody has to get hooked by it. And people do. For us, for our mentality as the westem ape, as Don Juan always called us, you see, we have to be hooked first intellectually, because obviously that's how our whole being works. When I was in school, I was just a step away from going into graduate school, and l had been in this world for two or three years, and I said, "What am I doing by continuing school? Why should I get a PhD.? It's absolutely redundant." And Don Juan and all the women said it's absolutely not redundant, because in order to reject something you have to understand it at its most sophisticated. Because for you to say you're not interested in philosophy, or you're not interested in anthropology, it's meaningless. You can only say it after you have at least have made some attempt to understand it. There's no reason to reject it, and when plunging into this world of the 'second attention' and 'dreaming awake', your mind has to be so well trained for you to emerge again, to come out with the knowledge. Because if you have not the brain or the mind to do it, you might as well just go throw stones in the desert; because it's meaningless. And for them it was extremely important that all of us are very well trained. Everyone working within this little group has a degree. There are historians, anthropologists, librarians.

Abe: So, the knowledge is made available to millions of people, and people become hooked by it.

Florinda: On one level, they will, yes.

Abe: And does that mean that the tradition has now begun to proliferate itself in that way, also?

Florinda: I don't know. If I go by Castaneda's mail, which he doesn't read, I would say yes. But then, most of the stuff... I mean I open letters from time to time, and they're mad, they're crackpots most of them. Some of them are very, very serious enquiries, and most of them are just truly cracked people. (laughter) I mean they're cracked. Like, "I am the new Nagual." or "I have been visited by you in dreams." I mean truly bizarre things.

Abe: Well, there are many levels to that, as you know. But I think that you women, you sorcerers there, and the whole Casta- nedan reality has actually affected the mass collective consciousness of, particularly, North America.

Florinda: It is as you say; the work is out there. There's a great many people reading it. And some people are truly very serious about it.

Abe: And some of them are people who are non-Natives who have become involved in Native spirituality. In a way, the work that has come from your group has had a tremendous quickening effect on Native spiritualities all over this continent, who have found a track back into their traditions.

Florinda: You see, the whole point of Don Juan was that you don't go back, because we are caught again in the myth and the rituals. And for Don Juan, myth and rituals...myth in the sense that yes, that you're part of this matrix, but not in the sense that you're going to live it by invoking certain rituals, certain powers that were, let's say, successful in the l9th century. Because, he said, that's exactly the fallacy, because originally a ritual is only to hook your attention. Once your attention is hooked, you drop it. As the apes that we are, we of course are very comforted by the ritual. People that truly transcend a certain knowledge do it by exactly getting out of it. Yet the rest of the mass is mesmerized by the ritual.

Abe: Seeing the truth of that and the fact that Castaneda describes you as the new seers, how does that emerge?

Florinda: The new seers? For the women it is very important, this idea that the womb is not just an organ of reproduction. In order to activate this, our intent has to be different. In order to change our intent we go back again to energy. You see, we don' t really know what it means to use the womb as an organ for being, an organ of light, of intuition. For us, intuition really is something that has already been defined. There is no real intuition anymore, because we intuit with our brains. Don Juan was interested in women, and people always ask, "Well, how come there's always so many women? Do you have orgies? Is there all kinds of stuff going on?" He said, "No, it's because the male doesn't have the womb. He needs that magical 'womb power' (laughter). " It's very important, you see.

Abe: Let me ask some technical questions there, if I may, on behalf of my female readers. Does the womb have to be fully functioning? I mean, if a woman had her tubes tied, would her womb still work?

Florinda: Yes, as long as she doesn't have a hysterectomy.

Abe: So long as the womb isn't removed...

Florinda: ...if the womb is there, yes.

Abe: Then it can work.

Florinda: Oh, absolutely. But the only thing is you need to summon that intent. Like certain of the Goddess cults- "When God Was A Woman"- and I was talking to some women a month ago, and they were all in goddess groups. And every month they go into the forest; they go someplace up to Sequoia and they groove in the forest, in the trees, and oh, they have a great time hanging out, debating, making rituals in the river. And I said, "But what the fuck are you doing? You go back home, and then you are the same assholes you were always. You open your legs whenever the master says "I need you"" And they were shocked. I mean, they quite dis- liked me, because they don't like to hear that. They said, "But we felt so good for three days." And I said, "But what's the point of feeling good for three days if your life continues the same way?" What are we resting from? Because our life is going to continue. Why don't we change? This idea of the rituals and even going back to the Native beliefs, it didn't even work back then, on one level. We were conquered.

Abe: So it's something that has to live now in a completely authentic way.

Florinda: It has to be fluid, and the practitioner has to be fluid to accept these changes. Even within us, things are changing constantly, and we're so comfortable in a certain groove, until something blasts us out of it. And we resent it, but we have to be fluid. Only energy will give us that fluidity.

Abe: How do you accummulate energy?

Florinda: To start off with, at least at the beginning, it was Don Juan's idea that the best energy that we have is our sexual energy. It's the only energy that we really have, and most of our sexual energy is squandered.

Abe: Now, is it the same for men and women?

Florinda: Of course it's the same for men and women. The only thing is with women you see that energetically the woman takes on the burden of feeding the man through their energetic fila- ments. So, in that sense, it's worse for women. And for the man too, because the man is hooked. Energetically he is hooked, no matter what. And we have all kinds of psychological explanations. People who we've had affairs with, and we can't get her out of our minds, whatever. You see, we have this gray barrage of description, but what really is going on is on a totally different level that we don't want to talk about because it's not part of our cultural kit.

Abe: So the primary way of accumulating energy, then, is to be celibate?

Florinda: Well, it's very difficult, but it would be a good try, at least to start out with.

Abe: If a woman was called to this way, if she got hooked, or a man got hooked by this tradition, how would they know? How would they know that they had been hooked by a tradition and not just by some damn obsession?

Florinda: For instance, Castaneda's books spell out very clearly...if you read Castaneda's books carefully, they're al- most manuals.

Abe: Yes, I know. And you read them again and again, and you finally understand what they're talking about

Florinda: You will know that something has changed, because you will feel it energetically. And then there's this whole idea that you can abandon this idea of the self. It's not that you're going to laugh at others. But you find them despicable, and yet you don't want to judge them, either, because who the hell are we to judge anybody anyway? But you know that you are not part of it, in the sense of the social agreement, and it's almost like a phony part of you that is clinging to you, because you do have to function in the world. You have to present a coherent idea Of the self. You know, Don Juan always said if some truthful change has taken place there is no way to be rejected, whatever it means to be rejected. I don' t know. By intent coming in contact with us? I don't really know. There have been two people that have come in contact with us, and they are there. I mean, we're never together anyway; each person lives on their own, and just from time to time we do get together. Originally we had this little class when Castaneda was here. He teaches certain very interesting movements, basically to store up energy. So, these people have been there for two years, and they're changing little by little. And it's amazing. You see, if you let something go, some- thing in you will know.

Abe: You have published this book, for instance, and I read it. Now I don't have a physical image of you, but my feelings form a sense of who you might be, or what you might be like. Now, does that energy field affect you, now that there's this book out there?

Florinda: One of the things that Don Juan made very clear to Castaneda...see, once the book is out, the book is out. It has nothing to do with you anymore. For you to be wondering, living in hope- is the book doing well or not doing well?- see, that's a very, very difficult thing to divorce yourself from. Because somehow you are involved. To truly let go is very very difficult. I had two other books- The Shabono and The Witches Dream- and it was very easy. With this one, because it's the first time I talk about my involvement with Don Juan, it's very difficult. And maybe because for the first time I'm talking more openly-- with the other ones I did absolutely nothing. With this one I am more involved. I have given lectures in bookstores to groups of people, which is very interesting, because, as you said before, there are a great many people who are truly very seriously interested, but intellectually, again.

Abe: Oh, I think I know a know people who've gone a little beyond intellect with it.

Florinda: There are, definitely. I do believe that, yes.

Abe: Because we talk about different kinds of luminous bodies. There are people who read these books and suddenly it's self recognition time.

Florinda: Precisely, yes.

Abe: Now these books, then, are affecting a change in the way people perceive themselves.

Florinda: Yes. Basically the goal is how we perceive the world, and breaking those parameters of perception, in terms of how we perceive ourselves, too. But, we don't want the focus on the 'I'. We want to be a witness. Because everything in our society is filtered through the 'I', through the 'me', we are incapable of telling a story or recounting an event without making us the main protagonist, always. You see, Don Juan was interested to let the event unfold itself, and then it becomes infinitely richer, because then it opens up. And even in the world, as an exercise, just become a witness; don't be the protagonist. It's amazing what opens up.

Abe: Now, on this long path, one of the things that's described in the literature is that the person, the seer and the Nagual, everybody, will reach a period of despondency, where they're sure it's going to fail, nothing's going to ultimately happen. And the reason I raise this is because I have a sense that this feeling is actually being shared by many people now. So, please talk to that for a moment.

Florinda: Yes, exactly. (laughter) I'm going to add to your depression (laughter). No, it is true. Something in us knows, and that's why there's the urgency with Don Juan. The imperative from the point of view of Nature is the perpetuation of the species, and we are no longer interested. We are interested in evolution, because evolution is an equal, if not a greater, imperative than procreation. Because if we don't evolve, if we don't mutate into something different, we are truly going to blast ourselves out of this planet, I think irredeemably. We have destroyed our resources, I mean totally. Whether we have fifty or a hundred more years in terms of time, as a planet, is immaterial. It doesn't really matter. We as a species are doomed. And in that sense, evolution is our only way out. And again, as Don Juan stresses, evolution is in the hands of women, not of men.

Abe: So, as a male, what do I do? I just sit here and wait for women to save the world?

Florinda: Yes and no. You see the man has to relinquish his power, and he's not going to do it, not peacefully. He's not. I'm not saying that, you know, you're beating your chest, saying "I will not relinquish my power". No, it's much more insidious than that.

Abe: Go into that. Talk about it.

Florinda: Well, I don't think it's ever stated. For instance, okay, here's these sensitive men who have been in men's groups, trying to come to terms with their spirituality, and have become totally in agreement with their wives, their partners, the female they are with- but not quite. There are certain things they will not relinquish, it's too threatening. Even this whole idea of the men's movement originally started out as a truly spiritual movement. But something in the male is threatened. It is this fear of relinquishing something that some of them do sense will have to be relinquished, for us as a species to go on. We certainly know that the female has to be given time, and has been given time in the past for something to evolve. For instance, for us to become erect, when the vagina had to change position, well, who had to adapt? The males. The penis had to grow larger. The female again needs time. And the male has to give her that time. From one point of view the male has to give the female time for the womb to try to switch into its secondary function.

Abe: And that can't happen if the man is relating to the woman sexually. Is that what you're saying?

Florinda: No. See, there have to be enough females who have that time that something will have to change in the womb. They have to drawn a new possibility. Don Juan said our evolution is intent. You see, that leap from the large reptiles to flying, this idea of wings, was intended. It was an act of intent

Abe: That's very interesting. So you feel that women all over the world currently, sisterhoods of different kinds, are intending a new human future?

Florinda: They're not aware of it. Some women, I think, are, totally.

Abe: So the man is now going to take a back seat in the evolution of the species.

Florinda: Exactly, right. Not a back seat. Again, those are words that define a positive/negative kind of connotation. No. You have to provide the time.

Abe: How can the man do that? Talk about that functionally.

Florinda: You see, we women are relegated to the status of second class citizens. No matter what power we have, we still don't have any real power. We don't decide anything. And even for us to talk in little groups, it's almost Iike banging against a huge iron door, because whoever decides, whoever's in power, is not going to relinquish this for the hell of it. Let's look in terms of politics, let's say Washington or your capital. I mean, do you think for a moment those men are going to even listen to what we're saying? Not in the least. But some kinds of pockets have to be found for something new to develop. Otherwise we're doomed. And this idea for us to save the planet, the environ- ment, all we are really thinking is that we as a species will not survive. The earth will certainly survive; it might go into some kind of horrendous winter, but eventually it will come out of it. But we as a species will not survive.

Abe: Why would a woman read this book Being-in-Dreaming?

Florinda: Very interesting, hmm. Well, if nothing else, I think people who have been interested in the Castaneda work, would be interested to see it presented from a female's perspective, from somebody who has been in that work for over twenty years. I do approach the problems differently, probably more directly. The thing is perception. Even our human bodies...the body is, again, a consequence of perception. We are trapped as persons; we are trapped in language, and that's exactly what the sorcerer, through energy, wants to get out of.

© Copyright February 1992 Dimensions Magazine

Of Sorcery and Dreams: An Encounter With Carlos Castaneda
By Michael Brenan
Publication Date: September 1997
Published in "The Sun"

Dreaming was once an extraordinary affair for me. When I was thirteen, I had frequent conscious dreams and out-of-body experiences. Typically, just prior to sleep, when my body was completely relaxed, I would shift without warning into a remarkable state of alertness. My physical body would feel numb and heavy, yet I would be entirely awake. Somehow I knew that it was then possible for me to leave my body.

Nearly every night over the next three years, I would drift toward sleep, only to wake up and venture into dream worlds of breathtaking clarity and beauty. I was fully conscious, and tremendously curious about everything I encountered. I experimented endlessly with my senses, and with my ability to manipulate these strange environments. But I could never determine whether the worlds I entered were objectively real, or merely projections.

At age sixteen, I took part in a pioneering research study headed by Stephen LaBerge. Using laboratory equipment and a series of prearranged signals, LaBerge demonstrated that humans had the ability to be conscious within a physical state of sleep. He called the phenomenon "lucid dreaming." Yet even this scientific validation did not entirely dispel my uncertainty, because it didn't explain, for example, how I could sometimes be simultaneously aware within both my physical body and this "other" body. In the end, I decided my questions were unanswerable for the moment, and the answers didn't matter much anyway. The sense of exhilaration, freedom, and joy I encountered in those inner worlds was the true value of the experience.

Before long, that same heightened state of awareness began to carry over into my ordinary day-to-day existence, imbuing it with richness and magic. Life became a waking dream. As this sensibility grew, it came into conflict with everything I was being taught. The priests who schooled me seemed to believe that the age of miracles had ended two thousand years before. Science suggested that everything could be reduced to base mechanics. And contemporary society counseled a safe and bloodless course of birth, school, work, and death, interspersed with vapid consumerism.

By the time I was seventeen, I had begun to feel that there was something wrong with me. I was beset by the usual adolescent insecurities, but on top of that, my perception of the world did not match up with that of my peers. My fears overwhelmed the spirit of beauty that I longed to articulate. To compensate for my perceived cowardice, I embarked on a roguish course, taking up with a bad crowd and acting out the turmoil inside me. In so doing I betrayed everything that was sacred to me, and my anguish was enormous. Over the next fifteen years, I suffered extended bouts of addiction, homelessness, and incarceration in jails and asylums. My dreams had deserted me, only to be replaced by a waking nightmare. I was committing slow-motion suicide, a process that reached its conclusion seven years ago, when I shared bloody needles with two fellow addicts in a Lower East Side tenement in New York City.

Since then, my junkie companions on that occasion have both died of AIDS. Now, sitting on the cusp of death myself, I find an empty space within me. Oddly, this emptiness carries with it a certain abandon and a delicious sense of anticipation - I have nothing to lose. My imminent mortality seems to offer a slim chance of recouping what I've lost: my experience of the world as a waking dream of great beauty and mystery.

It is in this state of mind that I receive an invitation to attend an Oakland workshop given by associates of Carlos Castaneda, and to write about it as a journalist. The purpose of the workshop is to teach a magical discipline Castaneda purportedly learned from the Yaqui seer don Juan Matus. According to Castaneda, the seers of ancient Mexico experienced states of enhanced awareness while dreaming. They learned to recreate these states white awake using a collection of precise movements called "sorcery passes."

Shrouded in secrecy, this discipline was passed down through twenty-seven generations of sorcerers, of which don Juan Matus was the last. Now Castaneda and a few of his cohorts claim to be the contemporary stewards of this ancient sorcerers' art, which Castaneda has named "tensegrity," after an architectural term for opposing forces in balance.

Another perspective, offered by Castaneda's critics, is that he is the inventor of this discipline, and of the myth of don Juan Matus. According to them, Castaneda's myth has its origins not in the preconquest world of the Toltecs, but in the summer of 1961, when the then-thirty-seven-year-old UCLA anthropology student ventured into the Sonoran desert in search of his Ph.D. There, beneath the broiling Mexican sun, Castaneda presumably cooked up his engaging tales of sorcery.

Despite high praise for Castaneda from respectable academic, scientific, and literary quarters, skeptics remain troubled by chronological inconsistencies in his books, by his refusal to bring forth don Juan for public scrutiny, and by the author's own inaccessibility. In the end, don Juan Matus seems destined to haunt us like a phantom glimpsed at the edge of our vision, quickening our hearts with the possibility that sorcery still exists.

Six years ago, a new dimension to the controversy arose when two women - Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar - wrote elegant, dreamlike books describing their own encounters with don Juan. Donner-Grau and Abelar revealed themselves to be colleagues of Castaneda. A third colleague, Carol Tiggs, was mentioned in Castaneda's latest book, The Art of Dreaming, in which he described how, while "dreaming together" with him in a Mexican hotel room, Tiggs disappeared from this world, borne on the wings of "intent." The "gales of infinity" blew her back to this dimension ten years later, when Castaneda discovered her wandering in a daze in Santa Monica's Phoenix Bookstore. Her improbable return had "ripped a hole in the fabric of the universe."

Castaneda, Donner-Grau, and Abelar were thoroughly disconcerted by the implications of this event. In the end, Tiggs persuaded her fellow travelers to adopt a radical new approach to their work: for the first time, they would present the teachings of don Juan openly, offering seekers the opportunity to explore in detail the legendary seer's fantastic practices.

They arrived at this unprecedented decision, they say, because they are the last of their lineage and will soon "ignite the fire from within and complete the somersault into the inconceivable." More, they are opening up their discipline out of gratitude to their teachers and benefactors, so that their ancient knowledge may live on.

Like many readers, I have been greatly moved and inspired by Castaneda's books - especially (for obvious reasons) his writings about the magical possibilities of dreams. At the same time, I have maintained a journalist's skepticism about the whole affair. But now the creatures molded by the myth of don Juan Matus have emerged from the fog of their inaccessibility and rustle through my awareness like windblown leaves. I go to hear their message bearing questions, doubts, anticipation, and a longing for magic to refute the soulless dreams of contemporary society.

The six female instructors, called "energy trackers," are standing in pairs atop three raised platforms in the Oakland Convention Center. They are dressed martial arts style, in loose-fitting pants and shirts, their hair cut short, all of them exuding an attractive strength and athleticism. They range in age from eleven to thirty-six, and come from Europe and America. Their manner is simultaneously friendly and no-nonsense. They are here to teach, and the three-hundred odd individuals surrounding them are here to learn.

Over the next two days the energy trackers demonstrate an elaborate series of movements - the "sorcery passes" Castaneda has written about. The movements have evocative names: Cracking a Nugget of Energy, Stepping over a Root of Energy, Shaking Off the Mud of Energy. I have years of hatha yoga practice, and can confirm some parallels between the two disciplines. Many movements also have a fierce, martial mood reminiscent of aikido and karate. But there are some unusual elements to the tensegrity system that I cannot place in any familiar context.

Among participants, there is an enormous mix of occupations - physicists, teachers, engineers, artists, laborers, biologists - and nationalities: Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, American, French. I speak to a variety of people, searching for testimony to the movements' effectiveness, and what I hear slowly begins to shake my doubts.

One man, who in his youth practiced karate for six years, says he finds the tensegrity movements uniquely powerful. "The more I'm exposed to tensegrity," he tells me, "the more I think that nobody could just make these movements up. There are too many of them, they're too sophisticated and systematic, and the results are just too powerful."

Mario, a Tarahumara Indian raised in northern Mexico who now lives in Los Angeles, says he and a group of Mexican and Indian friends have long gathered informally to practice strategies gleaned from Castaneda's books. Now, due to this more formal presentation of the teachings, they have increased their efforts. When Mario describes some of his dreaming adventures, I am struck by their evident similarity to the conscious dreams of my childhood.

"Recently, I found myself awake within a dream," Mario says. "I was beneath a tree on a hilltop; I am not sure where. My brother Joss, who lives in Oaxaca, was with me. He asked me what I had learned in the workshop I had attended. I told him, and we exchanged more information about our personal lives. I was fully conscious during the dream, but when I awoke I had forgotten something: Joss had told me something at the very end of the dream, and I could not recollect it.

"A week later, he called me from Mexico. Before I could speak he began describing the dream to me: the same hill, the same tree, the same conversation. I felt a chill, and a sense of awe. Then he asked if I remembered what he had told me at the end of our dream, Before he could say anything more, my ears began ringing loudly, and the forgotten scene replayed itself in a flash. He had thanked me for bringing him to this path."

Over the course of the weekend we hear from all three of Castaneda's fellow teachers. Speaking first, Florinda Donner-Grau looks out over the audience and smiles like a Cheshire cat. Her brush-cut blond hair and elegant cheekbones look strongly Teutonic, and she speaks with precise diction, as if each word were a delectable morsel:

"Don Juan Matus presented four faces to his four disciples. To Carlos Castaneda he was a fierce and fearsome presence of terrible import and beauty. To Taisha Abelar he was an enigmatic yet intensely familiar figure. For myself he was an abrupt intrusion into my world, at once unsettling and soothing. For Carol Tiggs he was a gentle, fatherly figure capable of tremendous affection."

She goes on to tell us that, in the world of sorcerers, women are gifted creatures by virtue of their affinity with the feminine nature of the universe. Using their womb, they are able to access universal energy and accomplish stupendous feats of transformation. But at the same time, women must contend with the immensely stupefying effects of their socialization. In short, they are trained from birth to be bimbos, and only by unyielding effort can they escape that fate.

"Don Juan asked me," Donner-Grau says, "in a very matter-of-fact tone, whether I wanted to be a stupid cunt for the rest of my life.... You must understand, I come from a very proper Spanish-German family. No one especially not a man - had ever used that word in my presence. I was horrified and insulted."

Given the delight with which she recounts the episode, I can only conclude that at some point she got over her mortification.

For me, the defining moment of her talk comes when she speaks of death:

"Death is your truest friend, and your most reliable advisor. If you have doubts about the course of your life, you have only to consult your death for the proper direction. Death will never lie to you.

Taisha Abelar is elegant yet energetic. I cannot place her accent, but her overall speech and appearance bring to mind a sixtyish Katharine Hepburn. I am intrigued by the differences between her dream experiences and mine.

"I was on the roof of a building," Abelar says,-"in the middle of a strange city. Suddenly, from above I heard a terrible racket, and I saw a black shape descending toward me out of the sky. I moved immediately, and as I did saw that the black shape was actually a helicopter, and the horrible noise was the sound of its blades slicing the air. If I had stayed another second on that roof, I would have been mincemeat."

At first I am puzzled by this, because in my conscious dreams I could manipulate the environment in extraordinary ways. I wonder why Abelar did not will the helicopter away, or make it burst into flames. Then it dawns on me: she's talking about transporting her physical body into those worlds.

For the next hour, she recounts wild tales that make me think her either insane or an accomplished liar. But everything in her manner suggests sobriety and sincerity, and I am forced to recognize a third, nearly inconceivable alternative: that she is faithfully reporting her experiences.

For her part, Carol Tiggs describes dreaming adventures every bit as bizarre and otherworldly as Abelar's, but most of her tales involve dreaming together with Carlos Castaneda. Like Castaneda, Tiggs identifies herself as a nagual, a Toltec term meaning "teacher" or "leader." The affinity that links a nagual woman and a nagual man and allows them to dream together is described in several of Castaneda's books. It is neither a romantic nor a sexual bond, but something much more profound.

Toward the end of her talk, Tiggs answers a question from the audience about Castaneda's health (word is that he's ill), and I sense the fierce affection between them. She grows still. Drawing a deep breath and releasing it slowly, she smiles as if through tears and says, "Our brother Carlos could not join us because he is battling an infection. We do not know the nature of his illness. A sorcerer cannot avail himself of traditional medicine; he must rely on the spirit, and on his own resources. Before a sorcerer reaches the threshold where his body no longer functions, he will choose, if he can, to kindle the awareness of his entire being, in order to leave this world intact and whole. And our brother Carlos has made a promise to include us in that final act. But we do not know if this is the time of his leaving."

She pauses, and when she speaks again, her voice is hushed with wonder. "We are here together, in a bubble outside of time, dreaming the dream of the ancient Toltecs. By your efforts, you have helped us to expand and accelerate into the unknown. We thank you, " she concludes softly, spreading her arms to the audience, "and we embrace you in the dream."

As I drive back to Portland Sunday night, I look for changes in myself and find instead that the discontent and emptiness that have plagued me for half my life have intensified tenfold. I remain outside the great mysteries, endlessly writing, endlessly doubting.

On top of this, my body erupts: my left testicle swells to twice its normal size, and chickenpox afflicts me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet. I go to a traditional Chinese doctor whose wisdom is derived from a long historical lineage. He takes my pulses and examines my tongue, then sits back and nods his head repeatedly, like a thirsty crane dipping for water, all the while murmuring in Chinese. He prepares a complex concoction of herbs, which I consume, summoning what gratitude I can for the plants that have given their lives for mine.

A few weeks pass, and I regain my equilibrium, but my doubts about Carlos Castaneda, which have never really left me, become more insistent. I vacillate between my memories of the practical results reported by the tensegrity practitioners, and knowledge of our ability to interpret myths in the fashion most befitting our needs.


Everything comes down to the authenticity of don Juan and his Toltec predecessors. Was don Juan Matus a myth invented by Carlos Castaneda, or was he a flesh-and-blood sorcerer of mythic proportion? I am aware that only one person can answer that question for me.

Then the seemingly impossible happens: my silent wish is granted, and I receive an unexpected invitation to meet with and interview Carlos Castaneda.

Given my shortcomings - I have led a life of indulgence, have written no grand epics, barely graduated high school, and know nothing of science or anthropology - I should be enormously intimidated. But instead, from the moment the invitation is extended, I experience a profound and soothing sense of surety. If Castaneda is merely an inventive rogue, then I will have lost nothing but my illusions. But if he is a bona fide heir to the legacy of Toltec seers, then I will have gained a gift of incalculable value - the possibility of restoring magic to the remainder of my life.

A lovely quietude comes over me in the wake of this realization, bringing with it a tremulous sense of anticipation and - most remarkable for me - an overwhelming ease and confidence. Everything has come full circle. There seems nothing left to do but greet the unknown.

I look up from the four single-spaced pages of questions I have prepared and glimpse a party of three weaving their way toward me through the Santa Monica restaurant. The woman who arranged the interview for me is in front. She introduces me to one of the energy trackers from the workshop, and then to the little man behind her - Carlos Castaneda. The ease of the last few days does not abandon me, and I greet Castaneda with a relaxed mixture of respect, affection, and professional skepticism.

He is gracious and unpretentious, and rolls up the sleeves of his rumpled white shirt with Old World courtliness as we settle into our seats. I fuss with my notes and study him with covert glances. From my research I know that he is Peruvian-born and at least seventy-one years old. He appears, however, to be in his early sixties. He is perhaps five-foot-two, with skin the color of burnished copper, a thatch of salt-and-pepper hair, and an elfin frame. His face is handsome and weathered, a symphony of angles and furrows that suggest classic Spanish features. His eyes are sharp and lucid, his expression by turns thoughtful, friendly, and playful. He offers me some bottled water, and this small gesture seems to embody generosity. I feel as if I am among friends.

For the next three hours I ask sporadic questions from my lengthy list, but mostly I am absorbed in listening and taking notes.

"This discipline is an internal affair," Castaneda says at one point. "There are techniques, but they must be fortified by a decision, and by a feeling from within. You need to arrive at that decision and feeling yourself. For me, it is a matter of daily renewal."

Talk of discipline prompts me to ask about something he once said: that quitting smoking could be a revolutionary act.

"You don't smoke, do you?" he inquires, frankly curious.

"In honor of this occasion," I reply, "I have left my smokes at home."

He seems unperturbed by my admission, and by the banality of my problems.

"I started smoking when I was eight," he says. "I wanted to be like these older Argentinian guys. You should have seen them; they were the coolest guys in the world." With an absurdly suave pantomime he mimics the coolest guys in the world, squinting his left eye and tilting his head to blow an invisible cloud of smoke into the air. "One day, don Juan told me to stop smoking. I replied that I liked smoking and would stop when I was ready. Then I tried to quit and couldn't; not the first time, or the second time. Even all these years later, I still find myself patting my breast pocket for the cigarettes that are no longer there. These routines are difficult, but not impossible, to break," he concludes. "You merely have to jump the - "

His last word is lost to the lilt of his accent. I let it pass and listen as he describes a woman friend of his who was dying in a hospital. (I have said nothing of my own illness at this point, nor does my appearance give any clue.)

"I loved this woman dearly," he says. "She was a tremendous friend. I asked don Juan what I could do for her. He described a strategy to me, and I passed it on to her. I told her she must push her illness away with her hand, with her intent, repeatedly, for as long as it took. She replied that she was too weak to lift her arm. 'Then use your foot!' I cried. 'Use your heart; use your mind! Intend it out of you!' But she no longer had the energy to do so."

Without prompting on my part, he begins talking about his recent illness, which he describes as "a vicious viral infection." I am spooked by the parallel to my own life, and momentarily stop taking notes in order to observe him. He matter-of-factly describes a bout with a deadly infection, and how his discipline compelled him to refuse the conventional treatments offered by a doctor. The upshot - that his apparently life-threatening condition resolved itself - is obvious from the fact that he now sits across from me, a bundle of energy.

"I have been reading a book by the ex-wife of Carl Sagan," he continues. "She has this theory about the viral nature of the body. She theorizes that, physically, we are simply sacks of viruses. We live in a predatory universe, and nothing is more predatory than viruses.

"We are creatures who will die," he adds, almost as a non sequitur, and it is too much for me. I have come here under the guise of a journalist, but in fact I've known all along that I am seeking a healing of the heart before I leave this earth. My time seems short, and before I can stop myself, I rudely interrupt him.

"I have a personal question," I begin.

"Please, please," he says kindly, beckoning with his hands. "Ask anything you like."

"Well," I say, "I hate melodrama. So I will just say that I have a health condition. There is a lot of leeway with it, but the conventional wisdom is that . . ." I look away, loath to appear manipulative or needy.

"Perhaps a few more seasons," I murmur. "A few more blows to my system, and-"

I flick my wrist as if sweeping dust from the table: poof, swish, gone.

What I have done seems terribly unprofessional to me; yet, I think childishly, he started it, with his books, with his straightforward assertions that in this day and age we are still capable of experiencing the world as magic. I feel a sense of displaced anger and longing, as well as the anguish that I have carried since I first turned my back on all that was sacred to me.

Holding my gaze intently yet dispassionately, Castaneda launches into another lengthy tale, this one about an alcoholic friend of his. He regards me from beneath slightly lowered lids, as if squinting into the sun. His eyes are keen and bright, like slivers of obsidian, yet their effect is neither hypnotic nor overpowering. Rather, they seem to hold a kind of open challenge.

"So, " he concludes, like a professor summarizing his wisdom, "I would move. I would jump the - ."

Again, I lose his last word, and my anxiety must be apparent, because he repeats slowly, "I would jump the groove."

He pauses to lift an invisible needle from a turntable, his eyes never leaving mine.

"I would change the groove," he says. "I would move."

My adolescent journals are full of this same metaphor. At that time, the one-track groove that the stylus followed on a record symbolized for me the habitual nature of my mind. Changing the groove meant changing those habits that robbed me of my ability to experience ordinary life as full of beauty and wonder. The three routines I most sought to change were my habit of picking my nose, my adolescent temper. and - hardest of all my endless capacity for rehashing old events in my mind instead of simply letting go.

Now, at age thirty-six, I find it is only my temper that has mellowed. I still pick my nose, and I am still capable of endlessly justifying, defending, and excusing my past actions. To these insipid routines I have added, over the past seven years, the habitual momentum of dying. I have known from the moment I shared that needle that a part of me was conspiring in my own death. In the interim, that same part has come to view AIDS as a fitting punishment for my sins, or perhaps as the articulation of my spiritual barrenness.

Yet, throughout it all, something resilient within me has refused to die. I prefer to call that inviolate something "spirit," and it is that same spirit that is aroused in me now as I listen to Castaneda's prescription for change. Death is the one inexorable fact in our transitory lives. Perhaps I will die a doddering old fool; perhaps I will die before the sun sets tonight. But I will die - that much is certain. In the meantime, what remains within my control is the groove of my life, the track upon which I choose to walk between the exclamation of my coming and the ellipsis of my going. At its purest, this track is trackless, like a path covered by freshly fallen snow.

And trodding such virgin paths is the most enduring image of my adolescent dreams. By speaking directly to that memory, Castaneda has reawakened it within my heart. Given the perilously low ebb I have reached in life, I can only describe this feat as a genuine act of sorcery.

Ah, but what of don Juan Matus, the mythic Yaqui seer whose bones I have come to exhume? Does he sit before me now, a trickster-teacher weaving deceptive tales of wisdom, folly, and truth? I do not know, and cannot say.

Three hours have passed, and Castaneda is gently signaling the end of our meeting by unrolling the sleeves of his weathered cotton shirt. There is still time for that final and most compelling journalistic question, but something within me lets it pass.

And then, unexpectedly, the silence is broken once more by Castaneda's lovely accent. His gaze is fixed in the distance, and he speaks softly, his words like those of a man confronting an insoluble mystery. Again, I study him for evidence of deception and come away empty-handed.

"If I could ask don Juan one final question," he begins slowly, "I would ask, How did he move me so? How did he touch my spirit so that every beat of my heart is filled with the feeling of this path?"

"Every beat of my heart," he repeats quietly, and for a brief moment his words seem to hang in the air like fog. Then his whispered phrase is touched by time, and disappears into the mystery that surrounds us.

© Copyright The Sun

Kindred Spirit Magazine - Carlos Castaneda Interview
Publication Date: June - August 1997

In the early 1960's, Carlos Castaneda made a profound impact on the world when he published his first of nine books, "The Teachings of Don Juan - A Yaqui Way of Knowledge." In this work he related his experiences as a sorcerer's apprentice under the guidance of a Yaqui Indian from Sonora, Mexico. As an anthropology student as UCLA, he encountered don Juan Matus while collecting information for his Ph.D. about the hallucinogenic cactus peyote. From the moment of the book's publication, Castaneda became a cult figure. Although he barely gives interviews Castaneda spoke out in February this year, and we thought you'd like to see what he had to say.

Castaneda's works presented a vision of 'the warrior's way', living impeccably, erasing personal history, using death as one's advisor and losing self-importance. Castaneda's interactions with don Juan and his fellow teachers and apprentices are intimately portrayed, revealing a serious Western scholar who becomes the target of jeers and criticisms, then puts aside his social paradigm, and awakens to the mysteries of the unknown.

Besides its pragmatic value, Castaneda's work has an indisputable literary quality. It is filled with poetry, magic and beauty. His nine books have greatly surpassed the best seller category and are translated into all major languages.

Castaneda's companions, Taisha Abelar and Florinda Donner-Grau, have also related their experiences with don Juan in "The Sorcerer's Crossing" and "Being-In-Dreaming." Carol Tiggs, a protagonist in some of Castaneda's books, as yet remains unpublished.

Carlos Castaneda's Tensegrity: Magical Passes from the Shamans of ancient Mexico

At present, Carlos Castaneda and his companions Taisha Abelar, Florinda Donner-Grau and Carol Tiggs are interested in making don Juan's world more accessible. Recently they have come forth with a discipline of physical movements taught to them by don Juan Matus and which they call Tensegrity. This modernized version of some movements called "magical passes", developed by Indian shamans who lived in Mexico in times prior to the Spanish Conquest, are designed to enhance perception and to physically strengthen the body. Tensegrity borrows a term from architecture to represent the quintessence of tensing and relaxing the muscles and tendons of the body. When applied to the body, this term describes most appropriately the interplay of tension and integrity that drives the magical passes.

Tensegrity seminars, ranging in length from weekends to week-long workshops, dedicate several hours daily to these movements. Also three videos have been released for the individual learner: Volume 1, Twelve Basic Movements to Gather Energy and Promote Well-Being; Volume 2, Redistributing Dispersed Energy, and Volume 3, Energetically Crossing from One Phylum to Another, all available through Cleargreen, Incorporated, Santa Monica, California or through www.castaneda.com (www.webb.com/Castaneda). Cleargreen will also publish a book on Tensegrity by Carlos Castaneda later this year.

In February this year Castaneda answered the questions presented to him by Daniel Trujillo Rivas for the Chilean and Argentinean magazine Uno Mismo:

Facing Carlos Castaneda, this unclassifiable writer surrounded by 30 years of legend and myth, was a terrifying moment for me. He has become one of the most important literary phenomena of the century, revolutionizing ideas about pre-Colombian American culture.

After nine books I still had many of the same questions about Castaneda I had at the beginning, starting with: Who is he really? An anthropologist? A gifted writer? A sorcerer's apprentice? Or an accomplished shaman in his own right? Now being able to speak to him personally I hoped to have some of these questions answered.

Q. 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?

A. Carlos Castaneda: What compels us to disseminate don Juan Matus' 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 amongst ourselves 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 available road 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 into all his teachings.

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 chess match, one is simply a pawn on the chessboard. What decides everything is a conscious impersonal force 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 cultural 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 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 in 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 a sociologist for example, 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. Why do you not allow yourself to be photographed, have your voice recorded or make your biographical data known? Could this affect, and if so how, what you've achieved in your spiritual work? 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 really is possible to follow the path you proclaim?

A. With reference to photographs and personal data, I and the other three disciples of don Juan 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 the shamans like don Juan seek is a state of fluidity where the personal "me" does not count. He believed that an absence of photography and biographical data affects whoever 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. This is the opposite of what happens in the everyday world where we are faced with people with psychological problems and without 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 such as Laugan Productions and 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' ideas. Cleargreen is a corporation that has great affinity with our work, as do 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 wasn't for the sincere interest of Cleargreen, Laugan Productions and Toltec Artists, 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 of the actions of Victor Sanchez, who has interpreted and reorganized your teachings in order to elaborate a personal theory? And what 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. 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 this 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 on 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 where 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. 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. One can find truly incredible episodes in your literary work. 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 surrounding us in a more inclusive manner. In other words, the goal of don Juan's shamanism is to break the parameters of historical and everyday 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 have recently presented a physical discipline called Tensegrity. Can you explain what it is exactly? What's 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 awareness 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 for anyone.

Practicing Tensegrity, individually or collectively, 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 whom 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 warrior's way.

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/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 up 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 cannot be replaced by the spirituality of the Western world.

© Copyright Kindred Spirit Magazine

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"TENSEGRITY" AND MAGICAL PASSES
Publication Date: July 1997
Carlos Castaneda interviewed for The New Times by Clair Baron

More than thirty years ago, as an anthropologist doing fieldwork among the Yaqui Indians in the state of Sonora, Mexico, Carlos Castaneda met a Mexican Indian shaman named don Juan Matus. Don Juan became his anthropological informant, and then his teacher. He introduced Carlos Castaneda into the cognitive world of the shamans who lived in Mexico in ancient times, and who were the founders of his lineage of shamans.

Carlos Castaneda has written about his apprenticeship with don Juan in nine best-selling books, beginning with The Teachings of don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge in 1968, and most recently, The Art of Dreaming in 1993. All nine books are still in print, and have been translated into more than seventeen languages. Scheduled to appear in 1998 is a new book from HarperCollins by the author, entitled Magical Passes: The Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico. Here, Carlos Castaneda provides the reader with direct instruction on the magical passes, a series of bodily movements taught to him by don Juan Matus. Tensegrity is the name given to the modern version of these movements, and the name of a series of three videos which have appeared over the last year and a half, drawing enthusiasts to filled-to-capacity workshops on Tensegrity in the U.S., Mexico, South America and Europe.

Clair: What is Tensegrity?

Carlos: Among the infinitude of things that don Juan taught me were some bodily movements which were discovered and used by the shamans of ancient Mexico to foster states of profound physical and mental well-being. He said that those movements were called magical passes by the shamans who discovered them, because their effect on the practitioners was so astounding. Through practicing these movements, those shamans were able to achieve a superb physical and mental balance.

I have labored for ten years to make a synthesis of those movements. The result has been something I have called Tensegrity: the modern version of the magical passes. The word Tensegrity is a combination of tension and integrity, the two driving forces of the magical passes.

Clair: You say that those movements were "discovered"...

Carlos: Don Juan explained to me that in specific states of heightened awareness called dreaming, those men and women were able to reach levels of optimum physical balance. They were also able to discover - in dreaming - the exact movements that allowed them to replicate, in their hours of vigil, those same levels of optimum physical balance.

Clair: Why weren't these movements mentioned in your earlier books?

Carlos: The magical passes became the most prized possession for the shamans of Mexican antiquity who discovered them. They surrounded them with rituals and mystery and taught them only to their initiates in the midst of tremendous secrecy. This was the manner in which don Juan Matus taught them to his students: Taisha Abelar, Florinda Donner-Grau, Carol Tiggs and myself. I never touched on the subject of the magical passes because they were taught to me in secrecy and to aid me in my personal need; that is to say that the passes that I learned were designed for me alone, to fit my physical constitution.

Each of his other students has a set of magical passes taught exclusively to them, exclusively geared to each of their energetic configurations - to their personalities. The four of us, being the last link of his lineage, came to the unanimous conclusion that any further secrecy about the magical passes was counter to the interest that we had in making don Juan's world available to our fellow men and women.

We decided, therefore, after a lifetime of silence, to join forces to deal with the magical passes and to rescue them from their obscure state. After years of effort, we succeeded in merging our four highly individualistic lines of magical passes into modified units of movements applicable to any physical constitution, and all of us together arrived at composites that fulfilled our innermost expectations. We call these composites Tensegrity.

Clair: What is the difference between the magical passes of Tensegrity and other forms of exercise like aerobics or calisthenics?

Carlos: The difference between the magical passes and aerobics or calisthenics is that the latter are designed to exercise the surface muscles of the body, while the magical passes are the interplay of relaxation and tension at a deep bodily level. The magical passes go beyond the musculature to the glandular system: the base of energy in the body.

Don Juan said that the movements were viewed as magical passes from the first moment that they were formulated. He described the "magic" of the movements as a subtle change that the practitioners experience on executing them; an ephemeral quality that the movement brings to their physical and mental states, a kind of shine, a light in the eyes. He spoke of this subtle change as a "touch of the spirit"; as if practitioners, through the movements, reestablish an unused link with the life force that sustains them. He further explained that the movements were called magical passes because by means of practicing them, shamans were transported, in terms of perception, to other states of being in which they could sense the world in an indescribable manner.

Clair: What would you say to those who have never done the movements? When can one expect "results"?

Carlos: The positive results are almost immediate, if one practices meticulously and daily - increased energy generates calmness, efficiency and purpose. We all want instant enlightenment, instant expertise; that's the flaw. Don Juan used to say the collective malady of our day is our total lack of purpose. He repeated to us endlessly that without sufficient energy there is no way of conceiving any kind of genuine purpose in our lives. The magical passes, by helping us store energy, help us to grasp the idea of purposefulness in our thoughts and actions.

Next year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of The Teachings of don Juan; Simon and Schuster will publish a special thirtieth-year edition of the book, complete with a new preface from the author.

Copyright 1997 New Times
There is a new series of brief and intensive workshops on Tensegrity in various U.S. cities, beginning with a one-day workshop in Seattle on July 19. It will be conducted by a team of two Tensegrity instructors who have been working in close contact with Carlos Castaneda for at least ten years. Participants will practice the magical passes presented on the three Tensegrity videos, plus a number of magical passes conducive to relaxation, and, at the same time, alertness - two conditions needed for the keen attention required to deal with the limited time.

© Copyright The New Times

My lunch with Carlos Castaneda
Publication Date: Mar/Apr 1996

By: Benjamin Epstein
Summary: Focuses on writer Carlos Castaneda. Reputation; Works; Use of magical passes; Discussion on Tensegrity; Views about religion and life.

One of the most elusive figures of modern times, Castaneda recently materialized, to great surprise, at a small conference in Anaheim, California. Reporter Benjamin Epstein was on hand to score a coup.

He is the 20th century's own sorcerer's apprentice. He is the invisible man, ephemeral, evanescent: now you see him, now you don't. He is a navigator making his way through a living universe in exquisite flux. Or as Carlos Castaneda himself might say, he is a moron, an idiot, a fart. It's been said that Jesus Christ was either the Son of God or the greatest liar who ever lived. Carlos Castaneda, who may have a cult following but says deities are the last thing people need, presents a similar conundrum. Critics grapple for middle ground: One called him a "sham-man bearing gifts . . . He lied to bring us the truth."

The jury has been out ever since books such as The Teachings of Don Juan took the public and academia by storm in the 1960s and 70s, and it's still out. Castaneda has now produced nine books he claims are based on his supernatural experiences with Don Juan Matus, a Yaqui seer. To remain invisible, he says, is the sorcerer's way. He never allows photographs or a tape recording of his voice. He only rarely grants interviews. In the 80s, he effectively vanished altogether. But the books continue to sell (8 million in 17 countries) and have never been out of print. In 1993, he began to give occasional seminars, and the following year The Art of Dreaming appeared.

Despite ads promoting "Carlos Castaneda's Tensegrity," even event organizers didn't know whether Castaneda would actually show up at a recent weekend seminar near Disneyland in Anaheim. Yet 400 devotees from around the world--about a third from California--paid $250 each to attend, whether Castaneda showed or not. They came to learn a series of "magical passes," movements intended to heighten perception.

"It is a thinking universe, a living universe, an exquisite universe!" Castaneda said, exuberantly kicking off the seminar. "We have to balance the linearity of the known universe with the nonlinearity of the unknown universe." The charismatic Castaneda proved amazingly convincing when describing life among inorganic beings, with whom he apparently spends a great deal of time; the assemblage point, a place about an arm's length behind our shoulder blades that can be shifted to visit other realms; and a predatory universe in which "flyers" incessantly feed on mankind's awareness, taking the sheen off our luminous eggs and leaving only a rubble of self-absorption and egomania.

He invents none of this, he insists. I'm not insane, you know. Well, maybe a little insane. But not ridiculously insane!"

He is also charming, energetic, fit, and funny. And at the conclusion of his opening talk, Castaneda responded to a request for an interview by unexpectedly inviting the writer to lunch.

Sitting in a coffee shop in Anaheim opposite Castaneda was enough to realign anybody's assemblage point: The writer later took his nonlinearity to heart, slipping easily between lunch and workshop talks, and indulging in the conversational format that Castaneda often used to elucidate his master's ideas. After all, Castaneda had replaced Don Juan as nagual, the head sorcerer, a being with double luminous spheres, and if it was good enough for one nagual, it's good enough for another.

At the table were several Tensegrity staffers and the three women chacmools who helped Castaneda compile the movements and who taught them step-by-step at the seminar.

"Is this what you've been doing all this time, magical passes?" I asked Castaneda.

"Noooo . . . . I was very chubby," he said. "Don Juan recommended an obsessive use of magical passes to keep my body at an optimum. So in terms of physical activity, yes, this is what we do. The movements also force our awareness to focus on the idea that we are spheres of luminosity, a conglomerate of energy fields held together by special glue."

"Is Tensegrity the Toltec t'ai chi? Yaqui yoga?" I asked.

"To compare Tensegrity with yoga or t'ai chi is not possible. It has a different origin and a different purpose. The origin is shamanic, the purpose is shamanic. It has to do with our reason for being. Our reason for being is to face infinity

"We're all going to face infinity, at the moment of dying," he said. "Why face it when we are weakest, when we are broken? Why not when we are strong? Why not now? You have to face it pragmatically No idealities allowed."

"Where would Jesus fit into all this? Where would Buddha fit in?"

"They are idealities," Castaneda replied. "They are too big, too gigantic to be real. They are deities. One is the Prince of Buddhism, the other is the Son of God . . . . Idealities cannot be used in a pragmatic movement.

"Allowing your perception to break the interpretation system--a tree ceases to be a tree and becomes sheer energy--that is a pragmatic maneuver. The things shamans deal with are extremely practical. They break down parameters of normal historical reality Magical passes are just one aspect of that."

Castaneda is very negative about religion. But these aren't your usual diatribes: "Leave Jesus on the cross. He's very happy there! Don Juan said, 'Don't bother him, leave him alone. Don't ask him "why are you there crucified." He'd go bananas trying to explain to you why.' So I did that. He said hello to me, and goodbye."

The waiter arrived to take our lunch orders. The only choices under discussion seemed to be top sirloin, prime rib, and filet mignon, hardly the snuggest fit with most New Age disciplines.

"The sorcerers say that whether you're eating lettuce or a steak, it's a sentient being," chacmool Kylie Lundahl explained. As it turned out, the chacmools, named for the gigantic, reclining guardian figures of the Mexican pyramids, were quite literally here today, gone tomorrow. Castaneda relieved them of their duties at the end of the seminar, during his closing remarks. Nobody ever said the warrior's way would be easy.

Castaneda ordered a melted cheese on rye with a side of bacon and fries.

Don Juan was once described as "an enigma wrapped in mystery wrapped in a tortilla," and Castaneda followed suit. His agent, Tracy Kramer, and Cleargreen, Inc., which organizes the seminars, are based in Santa Monica. Where Castaneda spends his time is unclear. If a passing remark at the seminar was to be taken literally, he pays property taxes somewhere.

"I don't live here," Castaneda said. "I'm not here at all. I always use the euphemism 'I've been in Mexico.' All of us divide our time between being here and being pulled by something that is not describable but that makes us visitors into another realm. But you start talking about that and you start sounding like total nincompoops.

"I had once an interview. First thing the interviewer said was, "They tell me you turned into a crow. Is that true? Hahahaha.' I tried to explain to him about intersubjectivity. 'Pfhhhh,' he said, 'tell me yes or no.' I said no."

"Why don't you allow yourself to be photographed or tape-recorded?" I asked.

"Recording is a way of fixing you in time," Castaneda answered. "The stagnant word, the stagnant picture, those are the antithesis of the sorcerer . . . . Maybe you've seen a drawing of Carlos Castaneda [by Richard Oden for Psychology Today in December 1977]. There was no photograph, so he drew it. This was 30 years ago. No good. He decided to draw it again. It was a flop."

Photographs are not all that stand still. "The Word of God is unchanging," he said. "It is a living universe. What is in flux is what is alive. An unchanging word must by definition pertain to a dead world. In a universe that is forced to change there is a written word not forced to change? That is the world of a taxidermist."

When Castaneda's melted-cheese sandwich arrived, the rye was marbled with pumpernickel. "What is this, chocolate bread?" he asked before sending it back. My own mind was worlds away, perhaps on a bench in Oaxaca.

"According to your book The Eagle's Gift, Don Juan Matus didn't die, he left, he 'burned from within.' Will you leave or will you die?"

"Since I'm a moron, I'm sure I'll die," Castaneda replied. "I wish I would have the integrity to leave the way he did . . . . I have this terrible fear that I won't. But I wish. I work my head off--both heads--toward that."

I recalled an article from at least a decade ago calling Castaneda the "godfather of the New Age."

"It was 'grandfather'!" he protested. "And I thought, please call me the uncle, or cousin, not grandfather! Uncle Charlie will do. I feel like hell, being the grandfather of anything. I'm fighting age, senility and old age, like you couldn't believe. I was senile when I met Don Juan, I've fought for 35 years . . . .

"To be young and youthful is nothing," said Castaneda. "To be old and youthful, that is sorcery!"

Castaneda, for whom ambiguity is a way of life to be ruthlessly pursued, is both. And his age is as good a place as any to get a sense of the man.

According to Contemporary Authors, Castaneda lists his birth date and place as December 25, 1931, Sao Paulo, Brazil; immigration records say December 25, but 1925, and Cajamarca, Peru; other sources cite the late 1930s. One New York Times article put him at 66 years old in 1981.

So he's somewhere between 60 and 80, most likely 64. Or 70. Similarly, otherwise reliable sources variously list the year he earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from UCLA as 1970 and 1973. In other words, this is one slippery organic being.

I asked about inorganic beings.

"They are possessors of consciousness but not possessors of an organism," Castaneda responded. "Why should awareness be the exclusive possession of organisms?"

The Art of Dreaming ends with Castaneda recounting an episode in the mid-70s when he and Carol Tiggs were "dreaming" in a hotel room in Mexico City, and Tiggs disappeared into those dreams. (She was on a journey in the "second attention," a state of consciousness not devoured by the "flyers.") According to Castaneda, she reappeared 10 years later in a bookstore in Santa Monica, where he was giving a talk.

It was the reconstituted Tiggs who provided the impetus to compile the "magical passes" of Tensegrity, According to Castaneda, Don Juan taught four disciples separate lines of ever-changing magical passes. The other two, Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar, have each published accounts of their apprenticeships, both markedly different from Castaneda's but endorsed by him.

Over the past 10 years, the group "fixed the passes," arriving at a consensus generic enough to be used by mankind. If the movements of Tensegrity (the name derives from an architectural term related to skeletal efficiency, happily combining "tension" and "integrity") often seem angular and fierce in character, they are intended to produce a jolt.

"I saw once a beautiful science fiction movie in which creatures from another planet appeared," Castaneda said, "veeeery slowly A change in perception is never like that. It is like this. Yank it out! You cancel the parameters of normal perception. You move into it like a robber bandit. Almost immediately, the robber bandit comes back. It's just a moment. But the moments get longer and longer."

The chacmools may have been erased, but not Tensegrity A new formation of warrior guardians were set to lead future seminars with lectures to be given by all four Don Juan disciples--and an inorganic being called the blue scout.

Don Juan's premise was that the world as we know it is only one version of reality, a set of culturally embedded "agreements" and "descriptions." Castaneda addressed the futility of the usual avenues of inquiry:

"If you seek with the mind, it will not take you anywhere, except to a tautological situation where you repeat the obvious. In science, the tautological questions prove themselves. That the art of our science. . . 'All these variables and nothing else.' We are champions of pseudo control--we reduce the problem to manageable science. What a fantasy!

"One day on my way to the cafeteria at UCLA, I didn't see people anymore, I saw energies, blobs, luminous spheres. It was dazzling. Before that, nothing existed except me, me, me. I went to talk to a psychiatrist I worked with. He very kindly prescribed a tranquilizer and said, 'Carlos, you're working too hard. Take two days off.' It was impossible to establish a dialogue with him."

Castaneda's own inquiries have led him from academic anthropology to practical hermeneutics, the science of interpretation; he launched a newsletter, The Warriors' Way: A Journal of Applied Hermeneutics, in January. Titles under consideration for a gigantic work in progress have included "Ethnohermeneutics" and "Phenomenological Anthropology."

"When sorcerers see, hermeneutics is the ultimate affair for us," Castaneda said. Seeing for the rest of us apparently involves only the visual sense, and then only minimally.

"When you look at me now, what do you see?" I asked.

"I have to be in a special mood to see," he said. "It is very difficult for me to see. I've got to get very somber, very heavy. If I'm lighthearted and I look at you I see nothing. Then I turn around and I see her, and what do I see? '1 joined the navy to see the world, and what do I see? I see the sea!'

"I know more than I want to know. It's hell, true hell. If you see too much, you become unbearable."

Castaneda ordered a cappuccino, then meticulously removed the foamed milk teaspoon by teaspoon.

According to Castaneda, most sorcerers must remain celibate in order to conserve energy. It all depends on the circumstances under which they were conceived."

Most of us are what we call BFs, the product of bored fucks," he explained. "How was I conceived? Was it in the middle of great sexual excitation, or was it nonsense, idiotic, pointless? Mine was stupid. The two people involved didn't know what they were doing. I was conceived behind a door, so I came out very nervous, watching. And this is the way I am, basically For me to make use of energy I don't have is lethal."

"What about married people?"

"That question has come up a lot. It's a question of energy," he said. "If you know you were not conceived in a state of real excitation, then no. On one level, it hasn't mattered if people are married. With the launching of Tensegrity, we don't really know what will happen."

"You don't know what is going to happen? Sounds irresponsible."

"How can you know?" he asked. "This is an implication of our syntactical system. Our syntax requires a beginning, development, and end. I was, I am, I will be. We are caught in that. How can we know what you will be capable of if you have sufficient energy?

"I am giving you a series of ideas, if you have the balls to take them seriously. Maybe you say this is idiotical, what kind of shit is this? Like the little boy victims [whining], 'But what is going to happen to me?' They'll never find out.

"The other three disciples--those farts--have balls; these are huge women with the biggest balls you've ever seen. Try to stop Taisha Abelar and see what happens. Try to stop Florinda."

The fourth disciple is no squeaker himself.

"Don Juan categorized people into three types," he said. "One was farts, like me, a smelly fart--very assertive, ready to tell you, 'Fuck you, are you sure that's the way to do it?' and Don Juan would very patiently assure me that, yes, he was sure. I don't have that patience myself. If somebody asks me am I sure, I go bananas because I'm not sure!

"The other, golden piss--the sweetest, wonderful beings. They could die for you, or so they say They won't, but they say it, which is very nice--nicer than the fart but then you die for him.

"The third type, puke. Not fart, not piss, just puke--the kind that doesn't have anything to give, but promises the world, and has you begging . . . .

"Fortunately I was fart. And Don Juan had a ball with this fart."


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