"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
the past twenty years, I have written a series of books about my
apprenticeship with a Mexican Yaqui Indian sorcerer, don Juan Matus. I
have explained in those books that he taught me sorcery, but not
as we understand sorcery in the context of our daily world: not
the use of supernatural powers over others; nor the calling of
spirits through charms, spells, or rituals to produce
supernatural effects. For don Juan, sorcery was the act of
embodying some specialized theoretical and practical premises about
the nature and role of perception in molding the universe around
Following don Juan's suggestion, I have refrained from using
the term shamanism, a category proper to anthropology, to
classify his knowledge. I have called it all along what he
himself called it: sorcery. On examination, however, I realized
that calling it sorcery obscures even more the already obscure
phenomena he presented to me in his teachings.
anthropological works, shamanism is described as a belief system of
some native people of northern Asia, prevailing also among
certain native North American Indian tribes, which maintains that
an unseen world of ancestral spiritual forces, good and evil, is
pervasive around us; and that these spiritual forces can be
summoned or controlled through the acts of practitioners who are
the intermediaries between the natural and supernatural realms.
Juan was indeed an intermediary between the natural world of
everyday life and an unseen world, which he called not the
supernatural but the second attention. His role as a teacher was
to make this configuration accessible to me. I have described in
my previous work his teaching methods to this effect as well as
the sorcery arts he made me practice. The most important of which
is called the art of dreaming.
Don Juan contended that our
world, which we believe to be unique and absolute, is only one in
a cluster of consecutive worlds arranged like the layers of an
onion. He asserted that even though we have been energetically
conditioned to perceive solely our world, we still have the capability
of entering into those other realms; which are as real, unique,
absolute, and engulfing as our own world is.
explained to me that, for us to perceive those other realms, not
only do we have to covet them, but we need to have sufficient energy
to seize them. Their existence is constant and independent of our
awareness, he said, but their inaccessibility is entirely a
consequence of our energetic conditioning. In other words, simply
and solely because of our conditioning, we are compelled to
assume that the world of daily life is the one and only possible
Believing that our energetic conditioning is correctable,
don Juan stated that sorcerers of ancient times developed a set
of practices designed to recondition our energetic capabilities
to perceive. They called this set of practices the art of
With the perspective time gives, I now realize that
the most fitting statement don Juan made about dreaming was to
call it the 'gateway to infinity'. I remarked at the time he said
it that the metaphor had no meaning to me.
"Let's then do
away with metaphors," he conceded. "Let's say that dreaming is
the sorcerers' practical way of putting ordinary dreams to use."
"But how can ordinary dreams be put to use?" I asked.
always get tricked by words," he said. "In my own case, my
teacher attempted to describe dreaming to me by saying that it is
the way sorcerers say good night to the world. He was, of course,
tailoring his description to fit my mentality. I'm doing the same
On another occasion don Juan said to me, "Dreaming
can only be experienced. Dreaming is not just having dreams;
neither is it daydreaming or wishing or imagining. Through
dreaming we can perceive other worlds which we can certainly
describe, but we can't describe what makes us perceive them. Yet
we can feel how dreaming opens up those other realms. Dreaming seems to
be a sensation; a process in our bodies; an awareness in our
In the course of his general teachings, don Juan
thoroughly explained to me the principles, rationales, and
practices of the art of dreaming. His instruction was divided
into two parts. One part was about dreaming procedures, and the
other part was about the purely abstract explanations of these
procedures. His teaching method was an interplay between enticing
my intellectual curiosity with the abstract principles of
dreaming, and guiding me to seek an outlet in its practices.
have already described all this in as much detail as I had been able
to. And I have also described the sorcerers' milieu in which don
Juan placed me in order to teach me his arts. My interaction in
this milieu was of special interest to me because it took place
exclusively in the 'second attention'. I interacted there with
the ten women and five men who were don Juan's sorcerer
companions and with the four young men and the four young women
who were his apprentices.
Don Juan gathered them
immediately after I came into his world. He made it clear to me
that they formed a traditional sorcerers' group- a replica of his
own party- and that I was supposed to lead them.
working with me he realized that I was different than he
expected. He explained that difference in terms of an energy
configuration seen only by sorcerer seers. Instead of having four
compartments of energy as he himself had, I had only three.
a configuration, which he had mistakenly hoped was a correctable
flaw, made me completely inadequate for interacting with or
leading those eight apprentices. I have written extensively about
Because of my configuration, it became imperative
for don Juan to gather another group of people more akin to my
energetic structure. I have never mentioned the second group of
apprentices: Don Juan did not permit me to do so. He argued that
they were exclusively in my field, and that the agreement I had
had with him was to write about his field; not mine.
group of apprentices was extremely compact. It had only three
members: a dreamer, Florinda Grau; a stalker, Taisha Abelar; and a
nagual woman, Carol Tiggs.
We interacted with one another
solely in the second attention. In the world of everyday life, we
did not have even a vague notion of one another. In terms of our
relationship with don Juan, however, there was no vagueness. He
put enormous effort into training all of us equally.
toward the end when don Juan's time was about to finish, the
psychological pressure of his departure started to collapse the
rigid boundaries of the second attention. The result was that our
interaction began to lapse into the world of everyday affairs;
and we met, seemingly, for the first time.
None of us,
consciously, knew about our deep and arduous interaction in the
second attention. Since all of us were involved in academic studies,
we ended up more than shocked when we found out we had met
before. This was and still is, of course, intellectually
inadmissible to us, yet we know that it was thoroughly within our
experience. We have been left, therefore, with the disquieting
knowledge that the human psyche is infinitely more complex than
our mundane or academic reasoning had led us to believe.
Once we asked don Juan, in unison, to shed light on our predicament. He said that he had two explanatory options.
option was to cater to our hurt rationality and patch it up by
saying that the second attention is a state of awareness as
illusory as elephants flying in the sky; and that everything we
thought we had experienced in that state was simply a product of
The other option was to explain it the way sorcerer dreamers understand it; as an energetic configuration of awareness.
the fulfillment of my dreaming tasks, however, the barrier of the
second attention remained unchanged. Every time I entered into
dreaming, I also entered into the second attention, and waking up
from dreaming did not necessarily mean I had left the second
For years I could remember only bits of my dreaming
experiences. The bulk of what I did was energetically unavailable
It took me fifteen years of uninterrupted work, from 1973
to 1988, to store enough energy to rearrange everything linearly
in my mind. I remembered then sequences upon sequences of
dreaming events, and I was able to fill in, at last, some seeming
lapses of memory. In this manner I captured the inherent
continuity of don Juan's lessons in the art of dreaming; a continuity
that had been lost to me because of his making me weave between
the awareness of our everyday life and the awareness of the
second attention. This work is a result of that rearrangement.
All this brings me to the final part of my statement: the reason for writing this book.
in possession of most of the pieces of don Juan's lessons in the
art of dreaming, I would like to explain in a future work the
current position and interest of his last four students: Florinda
Grau, Taisha Abelar, Carol Tiggs, and myself.
But before I
describe and explain the results of don Juan's guidance and
influence on us four, I must review, in light of what I know now, the
parts of don Juan's lessons in dreaming to which I did not have
The definitive reason for this work, however, was
given by Carol Tiggs. Her belief is that explaining the world
that don Juan made us inherit is the ultimate expression of our
gratitude to him and our commitment to his quest.
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
1. Sorcerers of Antiquity: An Introduction
early in our relationship, Don Juan stressed, time and time again,
that everything he was teaching me had been envisioned and worked
out by men he referred to as sorcerers of antiquity. He made it
very clear that there was a profound distinction between those
sorcerers and the sorcerers of modern times.
categorized sorcerers of antiquity as men who existed in Mexico
perhaps thousands of years before the Spanish Conquest; men whose
greatest accomplishment had been to build the structures of
sorcery, emphasizing practicality and concreteness. He rendered
them as men who were brilliant but lacking in wisdom.
sorcerers, by contrast, don Juan portrayed as men renowned for
their sound minds and their capacity to rectify the course of
sorcery if they deemed it necessary.
Don Juan explained to
me that the sorcery premises pertinent to dreaming were naturally
envisioned and developed by sorcerers of antiquity. Out of
necessity, for those premises are key in explaining and
understanding dreaming, I again have to write about and discuss
them. The major part of this book is, therefore, a reintroduction
and amplification of what I have presented in my previous works.
one of our conversations, don Juan stated that in order to
appreciate the position of dreamers and dreaming, one has to
understand the struggle of modern-day sorcerers to steer sorcery
away from concreteness toward the abstract.
"What do you call concreteness, don Juan?" I asked.
practical part of sorcery," he said. "The obsessive fixation of
the mind on practices and techniques, and the unwarranted
influence over people. All of these were in the realm of the
sorcerers of the past."
"And what do you call the abstract?"
search for freedom; freedom to perceive, without obsessions, all
that's humanly possible. I say that present-day sorcerers seek
the abstract because they seek freedom. They have no interest in
concrete gains. There are no social functions for them as there
were for the sorcerers of the past. So you'll never catch them
being the official seers, or the sorcerers in residence."
"Do you mean, don Juan, that the past has no value to modern-day sorcerers?"
certainly has value. It's the taste of that past which we don't like.
I personally detest the darkness and morbidity of the mind. I
like the immensity of thought. However, regardless of my likes
and dislikes, I have to give due credit to the sorcerers of
antiquity, for they were the first to find out and do everything
we know and do today.
Don Juan explained that sorcerers of
antiquity's most important attainment was to perceive the
energetic essence of things. This insight was of such importance
that it was turned into the basic premise of sorcery. Nowadays,
after lifelong discipline and training, sorcerers do acquire the
capacity to perceive the essence of things; a capacity they call
"What would it mean to me to perceive the energetic essence of things?" I once asked don Juan.
would mean that you perceive energy directly," he replied. "By
separating the social part of perception, you'll perceive the essence
of everything. Whatever we are perceiving is energy, but since we
can't directly perceive energy, we process our perception to fit
a mold. This mold is the social part of perception, which you
have to separate."
"Why do I have to separate it?"
it deliberately reduces the scope of what can be perceived and
makes us believe that the mold into which we fit our perception is all
that exists. I am convinced that for man to survive now, his
perception must change at its social base."
"What is this social base of perception, don Juan?"
physical certainty that the world is made of concrete objects. I
call this a social base because a serious and fierce effort is
put out by everybody to guide us to perceive the world the way we
"How then should we perceive the world?"
is energy. The whole universe is energy. The social base of our
perception should be the physical certainty that energy is all there
is. A mighty effort should be made to guide us to perceive energy
as energy. Then we would have both alternatives at our
"Is it possible to train people in such a fashion?" I asked.
Juan replied that it was possible and that this was precisely what
he was doing with me and his other apprentices. He was teaching
us a new way of perceiving; first, by making us realize we
process our perception to fit a mold; and second, by fiercely
guiding us to perceive energy directly. He assured me that this
method was very much like the one used to teach us to perceive
the world of daily affairs.
Don Juan's conception was that our
entrapment in processing our perception to fit a social mold
loses its power when we realize we have accepted this mold as an
inheritance from our ancestors without bothering to examine it.
perceive a world of hard objects that had either a positive or a
negative value must have been utterly necessary for our
ancestors' survival," don Juan said. "After ages of perceiving in
such a manner, we are now forced to believe that the world is
made up of objects."
"I can't conceive the world in any other
way, don Juan," I complained. "It is unquestionably a world of
objects. To prove it, all we have to do is bump into them."
"Of course it's a world of objects. We are not arguing that."
"What are you saying then?"
am saying that this is first a world of energy; then it's a world
of objects. If we don't start with the premise that it is a world
of energy, we'll never be able to perceive energy directly. We'll
always be stopped by the physical certainty of what you've just
pointed out: the hardness of objects."
His argument was
extremely mystifying to me. In those days, my mind would simply
refuse to consider any way to understand the world except the one
with which I was familiar. Don Juan's claims and the points he
struggled to raise were outlandish propositions that I could not
accept, but that I could not refuse either.
"Our way of
perceiving is a predator's way," he said to me on one occasion.
"A very efficient manner of appraising and classifying food and danger.
But this is not the only way we are able to perceive. There is
another mode; the one I am familiarizing you with; the act of
perceiving the essence of everything- energy itself- directly.
perceive the essence of everything will make us understand,
classify, and describe the world in entirely new, more exciting,
and more sophisticated terms."
That was don Juan's claim.
more sophisticated terms to which he was alluding were those he had
been taught by his predecessors; terms that correspond to sorcery
truths which have no rational foundation and no relation
whatsoever to the facts of our daily world; but which are
self-evident truths for the sorcerers who perceive energy
directly and see the essence of everything.
For such sorcerers,
the most significant act of sorcery is to see the essence of the
universe. Don Juan's version was that the sorcerers of antiquity-
the first ones to see the essence of the universe- described it
in the best manner. They said that the essence of the universe
resembles incandescent threads stretched into infinity in every
conceivable direction; luminous filaments that are conscious of
themselves in ways impossible for the human mind to comprehend.
seeing the essence of the universe, the sorcerers of antiquity went
on to see the energy essence of human beings. Don Juan stated
that they depicted human beings as bright shapes that resembled
giant eggs and called them luminous eggs.
see a human being," don Juan said, "they see a giant, luminous
shape that floats, making, as it moves, a deep furrow in the
energy of the earth, just as if the luminous shape had a taproot
that was dragging."
Don Juan had the impression that our
energy shape keeps on changing through time. He said that every
seer he knew, himself included, saw that human beings are shaped
more like balls or even tombstones than eggs. But, once in a
while, and for no reason known to them, sorcerers see a person
whose energy is shaped like an egg. Don Juan suggested that
people who are egglike in shape today are more akin to people of
In the course of his teachings, don Juan
repeatedly discussed and explained what he considered the
decisive finding of the sorcerers of antiquity. He called it the
crucial feature of human beings as luminous balls; a round spot
of intense brilliance, the size of a tennis ball, permanently
lodged inside the luminous ball, flush with its surface, about
two feet back from the crest of a person's right shoulder blade.
I had trouble visualizing this the first time don Juan described it
to me, he explained that the luminous ball is much larger than
the human body, that the spot of intense brilliance is part of
this ball of energy, and that it is located on a place at the
height of the shoulder blades, an arm's length from a person's
back. He said that the old sorcerers named it the assemblage
point after seeing what it does.
"What does the assemblage point do?" I asked.
makes us perceive," he replied. "The old sorcerers saw that in
human beings perception is assembled there, on that point. Seeing
that all living beings also have a point of brilliance, the old
sorcerers surmised that perception in general must take place on
that spot, in whatever pertinent manner."
"What did the old sorcerers see that made them conclude that perception takes place on the assemblage point?" I asked.
answered that, first, they saw that out of the millions of the
universe's luminous energy filaments passing through the entire
luminous ball, only a small number pass directly through the
assemblage point, as should be expected since it is small in
comparison with the whole.
Next, they saw that a spherical extra
glow, slightly bigger than the assemblage point, always surrounds
it, greatly intensifying the luminosity of the filaments passing
directly through that glow.
Finally, they saw two things. One,
that the assemblage points of human beings can dislodge
themselves from the spot where they are usually located.
two, that when the assemblage point is on its habitual position,
perception and awareness seem to be normal, judging by the normal
behavior of the subjects being observed. But when their
assemblage points and surrounding glowing spheres are on a
different position than the habitual one, their unusual behavior
seems to be the proof that their awareness is different; that
they are perceiving in an unfamiliar manner.
The conclusion the
old sorcerers drew from all this was that the greater the
displacement of the assemblage point from its customary position, the
more unusual the consequent behavior and, evidently, the
consequent awareness and perception.
"Notice that when I
talk about seeing, I always say "having the appearance of" or
"seemed like," don Juan warned me. "Everything one sees is so
unique that there is no way to talk about it except by comparing
it to something known to us."
He said that the most
adequate example of this difficulty was the way sorcerers talk
about the assemblage point and the glow that surrounds it. They
describe them as brightness, yet it cannot be brightness, because
seers see them without their eyes. They have to fill out the
difference, however, and say that the assemblage point is a spot
of light and that around it there is a halo; a glow. Don Juan
pointed out that we are so visual, so ruled by our predator's
perception, that everything we see must be rendered in terms of
what the predator's eye normally sees.
After seeing what the
assemblage point and its surrounding glow seemed to be doing, don
Juan said that the old sorcerers advanced an explanation. They
proposed that in human beings the assemblage point, by focusing its
glowing sphere on the universe's filaments of energy that pass
directly through it, automatically and without premeditation
assembles those filaments into a steady perception of the world.
"How are those filaments you talk about assembled into a steady perception of the world?" I asked.
one can possibly know that," he emphatically replied. "Sorcerers see
the movement of energy, but just seeing the movement of energy
cannot tell them how or why energy moves."
Don Juan stated
that, seeing that millions of conscious energy filaments pass
through the assemblage point, the old sorcerers postulated that
in passing through it they come together, amassed by the glow
that surrounds it. After seeing that the glow is extremely dim in
people who have been rendered unconscious or are about to die,
and that it is totally absent from corpses, they were convinced
that this glow is awareness.
"How about the assemblage point? Is it absent from a corpse?" I asked.
answered that there is no trace of an assemblage point on a dead
being, because the assemblage point and its surrounding glow are
the mark of life and consciousness. The inescapable conclusion of
the sorcerers of antiquity was that awareness and perception go
together and are tied to the assemblage point and the glow that
"Is there a chance that those sorcerers might have been mistaken about their seeing?" I asked.
can't explain to you why, but there is no way sorcerers can be
mistaken about their seeing," don Juan said, in a tone that
admitted no argument. "Now, the conclusions they arrive at from
their seeing might be wrong, but that would be because they are
naive; uncultivated. In order to avoid this disaster, sorcerers
have to cultivate their minds, in whatever form they can."
softened up then and remarked that it certainly would be infinitely
safer for sorcerers to remain solely at the level of describing
what they see, but that the temptation to conclude and explain,
even if only to oneself, is far too great to resist.
effect of the assemblage point's displacement was another energy
configuration the sorcerers of antiquity were able to see and study.
Don Juan said that when the assemblage point is displaced to
another position, a new conglomerate of millions of luminous
energy filaments come together on that point. The sorcerers of
antiquity saw this and concluded that since the glow of awareness
is always present wherever the assemblage point is, perception is
automatically assembled there. Because of the different position
of the assemblage point, the resulting world, however, cannot be
our world of daily affairs.
Don Juan explained that the old sorcerers were capable of distinguishing two types of assemblage point displacement.
was a displacement to any position on the surface or in the interior
of the luminous ball; this displacement they called a shift of
the assemblage point.
The other was a displacement to a
position outside the luminous ball; they called this displacement
a movement of the assemblage point. They found out that the
difference between a shift and a movement was the nature of the
perception each allows.
Since the shifts of the assemblage point
are displacements within the luminous ball, the worlds engendered
by them, no matter how bizarre or wondrous or unbelievable they
might be, are still worlds within the human domain. The human
domain is the energy filaments that pass through the entire
By contrast, movements of the assemblage point,
since they are displacements to positions outside the luminous
ball, engage filaments of energy that are beyond the human realm.
Perceiving such filaments engenders worlds that are beyond
comprehension, inconceivable worlds with no trace of human
antecedents in them.
The problem of validation always played a
key role in my mind in those days. "Forgive me, don Juan," I said
to him on one occasion, "but this business of the assemblage
point is an idea so farfetched, so inadmissible that I don't know
how to deal with it or what to think of it."
"There is only one
thing for you to do," he retorted. "See the assemblage point! It
isn't that difficult to see. The difficulty is in breaking the
retaining wall we all have in our minds that holds us in place. To
break it, all we need is energy. Once we have energy, seeing
happens to us by itself. The trick is in abandoning our fort of
self-complacency and false security."
"It is obvious to me, don Juan, that it takes a lot of knowledge to see. It isn't just a matter of having energy."
is just a matter of having energy, believe me. The hard part is
convincing yourself that it can be done. For this, you need to trust
the nagual. The marvel of sorcery is that every sorcerer has to
prove everything with his own experience. I am telling you about
the principles of sorcery, not with the hope that you will
memorize them, but with the hope that you will practice them."
Juan was certainly right about the need for trusting. In the
beginning stages of my thirteen-year apprenticeship with him, the
hardest thing for me was to affiliate myself with his world and
his person. This affiliating meant that I had to learn to trust
him implicitly and accept him without bias as the nagual.
Juan's total role in the sorcerers' world was synthesized in the
title accorded to him by his peers. He was called the nagual. It
was explained to me that this concept refers to any person, male
or female, who possesses a specific kind of energy configuration
which to a seer appears as a double luminous ball. Seers believe
that when one of these people enters into the sorcerers' world,
that extra load of energy is turned into a measure of strength
and the capacity for leadership. Thus, the nagual is the natural
guide; the leader of a party of sorcerers.
At first, to feel
such a trust for don Juan was quite disturbing to me, if not
altogether odious. When I discussed it with him, he assured me that
to trust his teacher in such a manner had been just as difficult
"I told my teacher the same thing you are saying to me
now," don Juan said. "He replied that without trusting the nagual
there is no possibility of relief, and thus no possibility of
clearing the debris from our lives in order to be free."
Juan reiterated how right his teacher had been. And I reiterated
my profound disagreement. I told him that my being reared in a
stifling religious environment had had dreadful effects on me,
and that his teacher's statements and his own acquiescence to his
teacher reminded me of the obedience dogma that I had to learn as
a child, and that I abhorred.
"It sounds like you're voicing a religious belief when you talk about the nagual," I said.
may believe whatever you want," don Juan replied undauntedly. "The
fact remains, there is no game without the nagual. I know this
and I say so. And so did all the naguals who preceded me. But
they didn't say it from the standpoint of self-importance, and
neither do I.
"To say there is no path without the nagual is to
refer totally to the fact that the man, the nagual, is a nagual
because he can reflect the abstract, the spirit, better than
others. But that's all. Our link is with the spirit itself and
only incidentally with the man who brings us its message."
learn to trust don Juan implicitly as the nagual, and this, as he
had stated it, brought me an immense sense of relief and a
greater capacity to accept what he was striving to teach me.
his teachings, he put a great emphasis on explaining and discussing
the assemblage point. I asked him once if the assemblage point
had anything to do with the physical body.
"It has nothing
to do with what we normally perceive as the body," he said. "It's
part of the luminous egg, which is our energy self."
"How is it displaced?" I asked.
energy currents. Jolts of energy, originating outside or inside
our energy shape. These are usually unpredictable currents that
happen randomly, but with sorcerers they are very predictable
currents that obey the sorcerer's intent."
"Can you yourself feel these currents?"
sorcerer feels them. Every human being does, for that matter, but
average human beings are too busy with their own pursuits to pay
any attention to feelings like that."
"What do those currents feel like?"
a mild discomfort, a vague sensation of sadness followed
immediately by euphoria. Since neither the sadness nor the
euphoria has an explainable cause, we never regard them as
veritable [* veritable- a word modifier that has little meaning
except to intensify the meaning it modifies] onslaughts [*
onslaught- the rapid and continuous delivery of linguistic
communication (spoken or written)] of the unknown but as
unexplainable, ill-founded moodiness."
"What happens when
the assemblage point moves outside the energy shape? Does it hang
outside? Or is it attached to the luminous ball?"
"It pushes the contours of the energy shape out, without breaking its energy boundaries."
Juan explained that the end result of a movement of the assemblage
point is a total change in the energy shape of a human being.
Instead of a ball or an egg, he becomes something resembling a
smoking pipe. The tip of the stem is the assemblage point, and
the bowl of the pipe is what remains of the luminous ball. If the
assemblage point keeps on moving, a moment comes when the
luminous ball becomes a thin line of energy.
Don Juan went on to
explain that the old sorcerers were the only ones who
accomplished this feat of energy shape transformation.
I asked him whether in their new energetic shape those sorcerers were still men.
course they were still men," he said. "But I think what you want to
know is if they were still men of reason, trustworthy persons.
Well, not quite."
"In what way were they different?"
their concerns. Human endeavors and preoccupations had no meaning
whatsoever to them. They also had a definite new appearance."
"Do you mean that they didn't look like men?"
very hard to tell what was what about those sorcerers. They
certainly looked like men. What else would they look like? But
they were not quite like what you or I would expect. Yet if you
pressed me to tell in what way they were different, I would go in
circles, like a dog chasing its tail."
"Have you ever met one of those men, don Juan?"
"Yes, I have met one."
"What did he look like?"
"As far as looks, he looked like a regular person. Now, it was his behavior that was unusual."
"In what way was it unusual?"
I can tell you is that the behavior of the sorcerer I met is
something that defies the imagination. But to make it a matter of
merely behavior is misleading. It is really something you must
see to appreciate."
"Were all those sorcerers like the one you met?"
not. I don't know how the others were, except through sorcerers'
stories handed down from generation to generation. And those stories
portray them as being quite bizarre."
"Do you mean monstrous?"
at all. They say that they were very likable but extremely scary.
They were more like unknown creatures. What makes mankind
homogeneous is the fact that we are all luminous balls. And those
sorcerers were no longer balls of energy but lines of energy that
were trying to bend themselves into circles, which they couldn't
"What finally happened to them, don Juan? Did they die?"
stories say that because they had succeeded in stretching their
shapes, they had also succeeded in stretching the duration of
their consciousness. So they are alive and conscious to this day.
There are stories about their periodic appearances on the earth."
"What do you think of all this yourself, don Juan?"
is too bizarre for me. I want freedom. Freedom to retain my
awareness and yet disappear into the vastness. In my personal
opinion, those old sorcerers were extravagant, obsessive,
capricious men who got pinned down by their own machinations. [*
machination- a crafty and involved plot to achieve your (usually
"But don't let my personal feelings sway you.
The old sorcerers' accomplishment is unparalleled. If nothing
else, they proved to us that man's potentials are nothing to
Another topic of don Juan's explanations was the
indispensability of energetic uniformity and cohesion for the
purpose of perceiving. His contention was that mankind perceives
the world we know, in the terms we do, only because we share
energetic uniformity and cohesion.
He said that we automatically
attain these two conditions of energy in the course of our
rearing and that they are so taken for granted we do not realize
their vital importance until we are faced with the possibility of
perceiving worlds other than the world we know. At those moments, it
becomes evident that we need a new appropriate energetic
uniformity and cohesion to perceive coherently and totally.
asked him what uniformity and cohesion were, and he explained that
man's energetic shape has uniformity in the sense that every
human being on earth has the form of a ball or an egg. And the
fact that man's energy holds itself together as a ball or an egg
proves it has cohesion.
He said that an example of a new
uniformity and cohesion was the old sorcerers' energetic shape
when it became a line: every one of them uniformly became a line
and cohesively remained a line. Uniformity and cohesion at a line
level permitted those old sorcerers to perceive a homogeneous new
"How are uniformity and cohesion acquired?" I asked.
"The key is the position of the assemblage point, or rather the fixation of the assemblage point," he said.
did not want to elaborate any further at that time, so I asked him
if those old sorcerers could have reverted to being egglike. He
replied that at one point they could have, but that they did not.
And then the line cohesion set in and made it impossible for them
to go back.
He believed that what really crystallized that line
cohesion and prevented them from making the journey back was a
matter of choice and greed. The scope of what those sorcerers
were able to perceive and do as lines of energy was
astronomically greater than what an average man or any average
sorcerer can do or perceive.
He explained that the human domain
when one is an energy ball is whatever energy filaments pass
through the space within the ball's boundaries. Normally, we
perceive not all the human domain but perhaps only one thousandth
He was of the opinion that, if we take this into
consideration, the enormity of what the old sorcerers did becomes
apparent. They extended themselves into a line a thousand times
the size of a man as an energy ball and perceived all the energy
filaments that passed through that line.
On his insistence, I
made giant efforts to understand the new model of energy
configuration he was outlining for me. Finally, after much
pounding, I could follow the idea of energy filaments inside the
luminous ball and outside it. But if I thought of a multitude of
luminous balls, the model broke down in my mind. In a multitude
of luminous balls, I reasoned, the energy filaments that are
outside one of them will perforce be inside the adjacent one. So
in a multitude there could not possibly be any energy filaments
outside any luminous ball.
"To understand all this certainly
isn't an exercise for your reason," he replied after carefully
listening to my arguments. "I have no way of explaining what
sorcerers mean by filaments inside and outside the human shape.
When seers see the human energy shape, they see one single ball
of energy. If there is another ball next to it, the other ball is
seen again as a single ball of energy.
"The idea of a
multitude of luminous balls comes from your knowledge of human
crowds. In the universe of energy, there are only single
individuals, alone, surrounded by the boundless.
"You must see that for yourself!"
argued with don Juan then that it was pointless to tell me to see it
for myself when he knew I could not. And he proposed that I
borrow his energy and use it to see.
"How can I do that? Borrow your energy."
"Very simple. I can make your assemblage point shift to another position more suitable to perceiving energy directly."
was the first time, in my memory, that he deliberately talked
about something he had been doing all along: making me enter into
some incomprehensible state of awareness that defied my idea of
the world and of myself, a state he called the second attention.
to make my assemblage point shift to a position more suitable to
perceiving energy directly, don Juan slapped my back, between my
shoulder blades, with such a force that he made me lose my
breath. I thought that I must have fainted or that the blow had
made me fall asleep. Suddenly, I was looking or I was dreaming I
was looking at something literally beyond words. Bright strings
of light shot out from everywhere, going everywhere, strings of
light which were like nothing that had ever entered my thoughts.
I recovered my breath, or when I woke up, don Juan expectantly
asked me, "What did you see?" And when I answered, truthfully,
"Your blow made me see stars," he doubled up laughing.
He remarked that I was not ready yet to comprehend any unusual perception I might have had.
made your assemblage point shift," he went on, "and for an instant
you were dreaming the filaments of the universe. But you don't
yet have the discipline or the energy to rearrange your
uniformity and cohesion. The old sorcerers were the consummate
masters of that rearranging. That was how they saw everything
that can be seen by man."
"What does it mean to rearrange uniformity and cohesion?"
means to enter into the second attention by retaining the
assemblage point on its new position and keeping it from sliding
back to its original spot."
Don Juan then gave me a
traditional definition of the second attention. He said that the
old sorcerers called the result of fixing the assemblage point on
new positions the second attention and that they treated the
second attention as an area of all-inclusive activity, just as
the attention of the daily world is.
He pointed out that
sorcerers really have two complete areas for their endeavors: a
small one, called the first attention or the awareness of our
daily world or the fixation of the assemblage point on its
habitual position; and a much larger area, the second attention
or the awareness of other worlds or the fixation of the
assemblage point on each of an enormous number of new positions.
Juan helped me to experience inexplicable things in the second
attention by means of what he called a sorcerer's maneuver:
tapping my back gently or forcefully striking it at the height of
my shoulder blades. He explained that with his blows he displaced
my assemblage point.
From my experiential position, such
displacements meant that my awareness used to enter into a most
disturbing state of unequaled clarity, a state of super
consciousness, which I enjoyed for short periods of time and in
which I could understand anything with minimal preambles. It was
not quite a pleasing state. Most of the time it was like a
strange dream, so intense that normal awareness paled by
Don Juan justified the indispensability of such a
maneuver, saying that in normal awareness a sorcerer teaches his
apprentices basic concepts and procedures and in the second
attention he gives them abstract and detailed explanations.
apprentices do not remember these explanations at all, yet they
somehow store them, faithfully intact, in their memories. Sorcerers
have used this seeming peculiarity of memory and have turned
remembering everything that happens to them in the second
attention into one of the most difficult and complex traditional
tasks of sorcery.
Sorcerers explain this seeming peculiarity of
memory, and the task of remembering, saying that every time
anyone enters into the second attention, the assemblage point is
on a different position. To remember, then, means to relocate the
assemblage point on the exact position it occupied at the time
those entrances into the second attention occurred.
assured me not only that sorcerers have total and absolute recall
but that they relive every experience they had in the second attention
by this act of returning their assemblage point to each of those
specific positions. He also assured me that sorcerers dedicate a
lifetime to fulfilling this task of remembering.
second attention, don Juan gave me very detailed explanations of
sorcery knowing that the accuracy and fidelity of such instruction
will remain with me, faithfully intact, for the duration of my
About this quality of faithfulness he said, "Learning
something in the second attention is just like learning when we
were children. What we learn remains with us for life. "It's
second nature with me," we say when it comes to something we've
learned very early in life."
Judging from where I stand today, I
realize that don Juan made me enter, as many times as he could,
into the second attention in order to force me to sustain, for
long periods of time, new positions of my assemblage point and to
perceive coherently in them. That is to say, he aimed at forcing me
to rearrange my uniformity and cohesion.
countless times in perceiving everything as precisely as I
perceive in the daily world. My problem was my incapacity to make a
bridge between my actions in the second attention and my
awareness of the daily world. It took a great deal of effort and
time for me to understand what the second attention is. Not so
much because of its intricacy and complexity, which are indeed
extreme, but because, once I was back in my normal awareness, I
found it impossible to remember not only that I had entered into
the second attention but that such a state existed at all.
monumental breakthrough that the old sorcerers claimed, and that
don Juan carefully explained to me, was to find out that the
assemblage point becomes very easily displaced during sleep.
realization triggered another one: that dreams are totally
associated with that displacement. The old sorcerers saw that the
greater the displacement, the more unusual the dream. Or vice
versa: the more unusual the dream, the greater the displacement.
Juan said that this observation led them to devise extravagant
techniques to force the displacement of the assemblage point, such
as ingesting plants that can produce altered states of
consciousness; subjecting themselves to states of hunger,
fatigue, and stress; and especially controlling dreams. In this
fashion, and perhaps without even knowing it, they created
One day, as we strolled around the plaza in the city
of Oaxaca, don Juan gave me the most coherent definition of
dreaming from a sorcerer's standpoint.
dreaming as an extremely sophisticated art," he said, "the art of
displacing the assemblage point at will from its habitual position
in order to enhance and enlarge the scope of what can be
He said that the old sorcerers anchored the art of
dreaming on five conditions they saw in the energy flow of human
One, they saw that only the energy filaments that pass
directly through the assemblage point can be assembled into
Two, they saw that if the assemblage point
is displaced to another position, no matter how minute the
displacement, different and unaccustomed energy filaments begin
to pass through it; engaging awareness and forcing the assembling
of these unaccustomed energy fields into a steady, coherent
Three, they saw that, in the course of ordinary
dreams, the assemblage point becomes easily displaced by itself
to another position on the surface or in the interior of the
Four, they saw that the assemblage point can be
made to move to positions outside the luminous egg, into the
energy filaments of the universe at large.
And, five, they
saw that through discipline it is possible to cultivate and
perform, in the course of sleep and ordinary dreams, a systematic
displacement of the assemblage point.
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
2. The First Gate of Dreaming
a preamble [* preamble- a preliminary introduction] to his first
lesson in dreaming, don Juan talked about the second attention as
a progression: beginning as an idea that comes to us more like a
curiosity than an actual possibility; turning into something that
can only be felt, as a sensation is felt; and finally evolving
into a state of being, or a realm of practicalities, or a
preeminent force that opens for us worlds beyond our wildest
When explaining sorcery, sorcerers have two options.
One is to speak in metaphorical terms and talk about a world of
magical dimensions. The other is to explain their business in
abstract terms proper to sorcery. I have always preferred the
latter, although neither option will ever satisfy the rational
mind of a Western man.
Don Juan told me that what he meant by
his 'metaphorical description of the second attention as a
progression' was that, being a by-product of a displacement of
the assemblage point, the second attention does not happen
naturally but must be intended; beginning with intending it as an idea
and ending up with intending it as a steady and controlled
awareness of the assemblage point's displacement.
going to teach you the first step to power," don Juan said,
beginning his instruction in the art of dreaming. "I'm going to
teach you how to set up dreaming."
"What does it mean to set up dreaming?"
set up dreaming means to have a precise and practical command over
the general situation of a dream. For example, you may dream that
you are in your classroom. To set up dreaming means that you
don't let the dream slip into something else. You don't jump from
the classroom to the mountains, for instance. In other words, you
control the view of the classroom and don't let it go until you
"But is it possible to do that?"
it's possible. This control is no different from the control we
have over any situation in our daily lives. Sorcerers are used to it,
and get it every time they want or need to. In order to get used
to it yourself, you must start by doing something very simple.
Tonight, in your dreams, you must look at your hands."
much more was said about this in the awareness of our daily world. In
my recollection of my experiences in the second attention,
however, I found out that we had a more extensive exchange. For
instance, I expressed my feelings about the absurdity of the
task, and don Juan suggested that I should face it in terms of a
quest that was entertaining, instead of solemn and morbid.
as heavy as you want when we talk about dreaming," he said.
"Explanations always call for deep thought. But when you actually
dream, be as light as a feather. Dreaming has to be performed
with integrity and seriousness, but in the midst of laughter and
with the confidence of someone who doesn't have a worry in the
world. Only under these conditions can our dreams actually be
turned into dreaming."
Don Juan assured me that he had selected
my hands arbitrarily as something to look for in my dreams and
that looking for anything else was just as valid. The goal of the
exercise was not finding a specific thing but engaging my
Don Juan described the dreaming attention as
the control one acquires over one's dreams upon fixating the
assemblage point on any new position to which it has been
displaced during dreams. In more general terms, he called the
dreaming attention an incomprehensible facet of awareness that exists
by itself waiting for a moment when we would entice it; a moment
when we would give it purpose. It is a veiled faculty that every
one of us has in reserve but that we never have the opportunity
to use in everyday life.
My first attempts at looking for my
hands in my dreams were a fiasco. After months of unsuccessful
efforts, I gave up and complained to don Juan again about the
absurdity of such a task.
"There are seven gates," he said as a
way of answering, "and dreamers have to open all seven of them;
one at the time. You're up against the first gate that must be
opened if you are to dream."
"Why didn't you tell me this before?"
would've been useless to tell you about the gates of dreaming before
you smacked your head against the first one. Now you know that it
is an obstacle and that you have to overcome it."
explained that there are entrances and exits in the energy flow
of the universe and that, in the specific case of dreaming, there
are seven entrances experienced as obstacles; which sorcerers
call the seven gates of dreaming.
"The first gate is a
threshold we must cross by becoming aware of a particular
sensation before deep sleep," he said. "A sensation which is like
a pleasant heaviness that doesn't let us open our eyes. We reach that
gate the instant we become aware that we're falling asleep;
suspended in darkness and heaviness."
"How do I become aware that I am falling asleep? Are there any steps to follow?"
"No. There are no steps to follow. One just intends to become aware of falling asleep."
"But how does one intend to become aware of it?"
or intending is something very difficult to talk about. I or
anyone else would sound idiotic trying to explain it. Bear that
in mind when you hear what I have to say next: Sorcerers intend
anything they set themselves to intend, simply by intending it."
"That doesn't mean anything, don Juan."
close attention. Someday it'll be your turn to explain. The
statement seems nonsensical because you are not putting it in the
proper context. Like any rational man, you think that
understanding is exclusively the realm of our reason; of our mind.
sorcerers, because the statement I made pertains to intent and
intending, understanding it pertains to the realm of energy.
Sorcerers believe that if one would intend that statement for the
energy body, the energy body would understand it in terms
entirely different from those of the mind. The trick is to reach
the energy body. For that you need energy."
"In what terms would the energy body understand that statement, don Juan?"
"In terms of a bodily feeling which is hard to describe. You'll have to experience it to know what I mean."
wanted a more precise explanation, but don Juan slapped my back and
made me enter into the second attention. At that time, what he
did was still utterly mysterious to me. I could have sworn that
his touch hypnotized me.
I believed he had instantaneously put
me to sleep, and I dreamt that I found myself walking with him on
a wide avenue lined with trees in some unknown city. It was such
a vivid dream, and I was so aware of everything that I
immediately tried to orient myself by reading signs and looking at
people. It definitely was not any English- or Spanish-speaking
city, but it was a Western city. The people seemed to be northern
Europeans, perhaps Lithuanians. I became absorbed in trying to
read billboards and street signs.
Don Juan nudged me
gently. "Don't bother with that," he said. "We are nowhere
identifiable. I've just lent you my energy so you would reach
your energy body, and with it you've just crossed into another
world. This won't last long, so use your time wisely.
"Look at everything, but without being obvious. Don't let anyone notice you."
walked in silence. It was a block-long walk which had a remarkable
effect on me. The more we walked, the greater my sensation of
visceral anxiety. My mind was curious, but my body was alarmed. I
had the clearest understanding that I was not in this world.
we got to an intersection and stopped walking, I saw that the trees
on the street had been carefully trimmed. They were short trees
with hard-looking, curled leaves. Each tree had a big square
space for watering. There were no weeds or trash in those spaces,
as one would find around trees in the city, only charcoal black,
The moment I focused my eyes on the curb, before I
stepped off it to cross the street, I noticed that there were no
cars. I tried desperately to watch the people who milled around
us; to discover something about them that would explain my
anxiety. As I stared at them, they stared back at me. In one
instant a circle of hard blue and brown eyes had formed around us.
certainty hit me like a blow: This was not a dream at all. We were in
a reality beyond what I know to be real. I turned to face don
Juan. I was about to realize what was different about those
people, but a strange dry wind that went directly to my sinuses
hit my face, blurred my view, and made me forget what I wanted to
tell don Juan.
The next instant, I was back where I had started from: don Juan's house. I was lying on a straw mat, curled up on my side.
"I lent you my energy, and you reached your energy body," don Juan said matter-of-factly.
heard him talk, but I was numb. An unusual itching on my solar plexus
kept my breaths short and painful. I knew that I had been on the
verge of finding something transcendental about dreaming and
about the people I had seen, yet I could not bring whatever I
knew into focus.
"Where were we, don Juan?" I asked. "Was it all a dream? A hypnotic state?"
wasn't a dream," he replied. "It was dreaming. I helped you reach
the second attention so that you would understand intending as a
subject not for your reason but for your energy body.
this point, you can't yet comprehend the importance of all this;
not only because you don't have sufficient energy, but because
you're not intending anything. If you were, your energy body
would comprehend immediately that the only way to intend is by
focusing your intent on whatever you want to intend. This time I
focused it for you on reaching your energy body."
"Is the goal of dreaming to intend the energy body?" I asked, suddenly empowered by some strange reasoning.
can certainly put it that way," he said. "In this particular
instance, since we're talking about the first gate of dreaming,
the goal of dreaming is to intend that your energy body becomes
aware that you are falling asleep. Don't try to force yourself to
be aware of falling asleep. Let your energy body do it. To intend
is to wish without wishing, to do without doing.
the challenge of intending," he went on. "Put your silent
determination without a single thought into convincing yourself that
you have reached your energy body, and that you are a dreamer.
Doing this will automatically put you in the position to be aware
that you are falling asleep."
"How can I convince myself that I am a dreamer when I am not?"
you hear that you have to convince yourself, you automatically
become more rational. How can you convince yourself you are a
dreamer when you know you are not? Intending is both: the act of
convincing yourself you are indeed a dreamer, although you have
never dreamt before; and the act of being convinced."
"Do you mean I have to tell myself I am a dreamer and try my best to believe it? Is that it?"
it isn't. Intending is much simpler and, at the same time,
infinitely more complex than that. It requires imagination,
discipline, and purpose. In this case, to intend means that you
get an unquestionable bodily knowledge that you are a dreamer.
You feel you are a dreamer with all the cells of your body."
Juan added in a joking tone that he did not have sufficient energy
to make me another loan for intending, and that the thing I
should do was reach my energy body on my own. He assured me that
intending the first gate of dreaming was one of the means
discovered by the sorcerers of antiquity for reaching the second
attention and the energy body.
After telling me this, he
practically threw me out of his house; commanding me not to come
back until I had intended the first gate of dreaming.
home, and every night for months I went to sleep intending with
all my might to become aware that I was falling asleep and to see my
hands in my dreams. The other part of the task, to convince
myself that I was a dreamer and that I had reached my energy
body, was totally impossible for me.
Then, one afternoon
while taking a nap, I dreamt I was looking at my hands. The shock
was enough to wake me up. It proved to be a unique dream that
could not be repeated. Weeks went by, and I was unable either to
become aware that I was falling asleep or to find my hands. I
began to notice, however, that I was having in my dreams a vague
feeling that there was something I should have been doing but
could not remember. This feeling became so strong that it kept on
waking me up at all hours of the night.
When I told don Juan about my futile attempts to cross the first gate of dreaming, he gave me some guidelines.
ask a dreamer to find a determined item in his dreams is a
subterfuge," he said. "The real issue is to become aware that one
is falling asleep. And, strange as it may seem, that doesn't
happen by commanding oneself to be aware that one is falling
asleep, but by sustaining the sight of whatever one is looking at
in a dream."
He told me that dreamers take quick, deliberate
glances at everything present in a dream. If they focus their
dreaming attention on something specific, it is only as a point
of departure. From there, dreamers move on to look at other items
in the dream's content; returning to the point of departure as
many times as possible.
After a great effort, I indeed found
hands in my dreams, but they never were mine. They were hands
that only seemed to belong to me, hands that changed shape,
becoming quite nightmarish at times. The rest of my dreams'
content, nonetheless, was always pleasantly steady. I could
almost sustain the view of anything I focused my attention on.
went on like this for months until one day when my capacity to
dream changed seemingly by itself. I had done nothing special
besides my constant earnest determination to be aware that I was
falling asleep and to find my hands.
I dreamt I was
visiting my hometown. Not that the town I was dreaming about
looked at all like my hometown, but somehow I had the conviction that
it was the place where I was born. It all began as an ordinary,
yet very vivid dream. Then the light in the dream changed. Images
became sharper. The street where I was walking became noticeably
more real than a moment before. My feet began to hurt. I could
feel that things were absurdly hard. For instance, on bumping
into a door, not only did I experience pain on the knee that hit
the door, but I was also enraged by my clumsiness.
realistically walked in that town until I was completely exhausted. I
saw everything I could have seen had I been a tourist walking
through the streets of a city. There was no difference whatsoever
between that dream walk and any walk I had actually taken on the
streets of a city I visited for the first time.
you went a bit too far," don Juan said after listening to my
account. "All that was required was your awareness of falling asleep.
What you've done is equivalent to bringing a wall down just to
squash a mosquito sitting on it."
"Do you mean, don Juan, that I flubbed it?"
But apparently you're trying to repeat something you did before. When
I made your assemblage point shift, and you and I ended up in
that mysterious city, you were not asleep. You were dreaming, but
not asleep; meaning that your assemblage point didn't reach that
position through a normal dream. I forced it to shift.
"You certainly can reach the same position through dreaming, but I wouldn't advise you to do that at this time."
"Is it dangerous?"
how! Dreaming has to be a very sober affair. No false movement can
be afforded. Dreaming is a process of awakening, of gaining
control. Our dreaming attention must be systematically exercised
because it is a door to the second attention."
"What's the difference between the dreaming attention and the second attention?"
second attention is like an ocean, and the dreaming attention is like
a river feeding into it. The second attention is the condition of
being aware of total worlds, total like our world is total, while
the dreaming attention is the condition of being aware of the
items of our dreams."
He heavily stressed that the dreaming
attention is the key to every movement in the sorcerers' world.
He said that among the multitude of items in our dreams, there
exist real energetic interferencesl; things that have been put in
our dreams extraneously by an alien force. To be able to find them
and follow them is sorcery.
The emphasis he put on those
statements was so pronounced that I had to ask him to explain
them. He hesitated for a moment before answering.
if not a door, a hatch into other worlds," he began. "As such,
dreams are a two-way street. Our awareness goes through that hatch
into other realms, and those other realms send scouts into our
"What are those scouts?"
"Energy charges that
get mixed with the items of our normal dreams. They are bursts of
foreign energy that come into our dreams, and we interpret them
as items familiar or unfamiliar to us."
"I am sorry, don Juan, but I can't make heads or tails out of your explanation."
can't because you're insisting on thinking about dreams in terms
known to you; as what occurs to us during normal sleep.
I am insisting on giving you another version: a hatch into other
realms of perception. Through that hatch, currents of unfamiliar
energy seep in. Then the mind or the brain or whatever takes
those currents of energy and turns them into parts of our dreams."
He paused, obviously to give my mind time to take in what he was telling me.
are aware of those currents of foreign energy," he continued.
"They notice them and strive to isolate them from the normal items of
"Why do they isolate them, don Juan?"
they come from other realms. If we follow them to their source,
they serve us as guides into areas of such mystery that sorcerers
shiver at the mere mention of such a possibility."
"How do sorcerers isolate them from the normal items of their dreams?"
the exercise and control of their dreaming attention. At one moment,
our dreaming attention discovers them among the items of a dream
and focuses on them. Then the total dream collapses; leaving only
the foreign energy."
Don Juan refused to explain the topic any
further. He went back to discussing my dreaming experience and
said that, all in all, he had to take my dream as being my first
genuine attempt at dreaming; and that this meant I had succeeded
in reaching the first gate of dreaming.
discussion at a different time, he abruptly brought up the
subject again. He said, "I'm going to repeat what you must do in your
dreams in order to pass the first gate of dreaming.
you must focus your gaze on anything of your choice as the
starting point. Then shift your gaze to other items and look at
them in brief glances. Focus your gaze on as many things as you
can. Remember that if you glance only briefly, the images don't
shift. Then go back to the item you first looked at."
"What does it mean to pass the first gate of dreaming?"
reach the first gate of dreaming by becoming aware that we are
falling asleep, or by having, like you did, a gigantically real
dream. Once we reach the gate, we must cross it by being able to
sustain the sight of any item of our dreams."
"I can almost look steadily at the items of my dreams, but they dissipate too quickly."
is precisely what I am trying to tell you. In order to offset the
evanescent [* evanescent- tending to vanish like vapour] quality of
dreams, sorcerers have devised the use of the starting point item.
time you isolate it and look at it, you get a surge of energy, so
at the beginning don't look at too many things in your dreams.
Four items will suffice. Later on, you may enlarge the scope
until you can cover all you want; but as soon as the images begin
to shift and you feel you are losing control, go back to your
starting point item and start all over again."
"Do you believe that I really reached the first gate of dreaming, don Juan?"
"You did, and that's a lot. You'll find out, as you go along, how easy it'll be to do dreaming now."
I thought don Juan was either exaggerating or giving me incentive. But he assured me he was being on the level.
most astounding thing that happens to dreamers," he said, "is that
on reaching the first gate, they also reach the energy body."
"What exactly is the energy body?"
"It's the counterpart of the physical body. A ghostlike configuration made of pure energy."
"But isn't the physical body also made out of energy?"
course it is. The difference is that the energy body has only
appearance but no mass. Since it's pure energy, it can perform
acts that are beyond the possibilities of the physical body."
"Such as what for example, don Juan?"
as transporting itself in one instant to the ends of the universe.
And dreaming is the art of tempering the energy body; of making
it supple and coherent by gradually exercising it.
dreaming, we condense the energy body until it's a unit capable
of perceiving. Its perception, although affected by our normal
way of perceiving the daily world, is an independent perception.
It has its own sphere."
"What is that sphere, don Juan?"
The energy body deals with energy in terms of energy. There are
three ways in which it deals with energy in dreaming: it can perceive
energy as it flows; or it can use energy to boost itself like a
rocket into unexpected areas; or it can perceive as we ordinarily
perceive the world."
"What does it mean to perceive energy as it flows?"
means to 'see'. It means that the energy body sees energy directly as
a light; or as a vibrating current of sorts; or as a disturbance.
Or it feels it directly as a jolt, or as a sensation that can
even be pain."
"What about the other way you talked about, don Juan? The energy body using energy as a boost."
energy is its sphere, it is no problem for the energy body to use
currents of energy that exist in the universe to propel itself. All it
has to do is isolate them, and off it goes with them."
stopped talking and seemed to be undecided as if he wanted to add
something, but was not sure about it. He smiled at me, and just as I
was beginning to ask him a question, he continued his explanation.
mentioned to you before that sorcerers isolate in their dreams
scouts from other realms," he said. "Their energy bodies do that.
They recognize energy and go for it. But it isn't desirable for
dreamers to indulge in searching for scouts. I was reluctant to
tell you about it because of the facility with which one can get
swayed by that search."
Don Juan then quickly went on to another
subject. He carefully outlined for me an entire block of
practices. At the time, I found that on one level it was all
incomprehensible to me. Yet on another level it was perfectly
logical and understandable.
He reiterated that reaching with
deliberate control the first gate of dreaming is a way of
arriving at the energy body. But to maintain that gain is
predicated on energy alone. Sorcerers get that energy by redeploying,
in a more intelligent manner, the energy they have and use for
perceiving the daily world.
When I urged don Juan to
explain it more clearly, he added that we all have a determined
quantity of basic energy. That quantity is all the energy we
have, and we normally use all of it for perceiving and dealing with
our engulfing world.
He repeated various times, to
emphasize it, that there is no more energy for us anywhere. And
since our available energy is already engaged, there is not a
single bit left in us for any extraordinary perception; such as
"Where does that leave us?" I asked.
"It leaves us to scrounge energy for ourselves wherever we can find it," he replied.
Juan explained that sorcerers have a scrounging method. They
intelligently redeploy their energy by cutting down anything they
consider superfluous [* superfluous- serving no useful purpose;
having no excuse for being] in their lives. They call this method
the sorcerers' way. In essence, the sorcerers' way, as don Juan
put it, is a chain of behavioral choices for dealing with the
world; choices much more intelligent than those our progenitors
[* progenitor- an ancestor in the direct line] taught us. These
sorcerers' choices are designed to revamp our lives by altering our
basic reactions about being alive.
"What are those basic reactions?" I asked.
are two ways of facing our being alive," he said. "One is to
surrender to it, either by acquiescing to its demands or by fighting
those demands. The other is by molding our particular life
situation to fit our own configurations."
"Can we really mold our life situation, don Juan?"
particular life situation can be molded to fit one's
specifications," don Juan insisted. "Dreamers do that. A wild
statement? Not really, if you consider how little we know about
He said that his interest as a teacher was to get me
thoroughly involved with the themes of life and being alive- that
is to say, with the difference between life, as a consequence of
biological forces; and the act of being alive, as a matter of
"When sorcerers talk about molding one's life
situation," don Juan explained, "they mean molding the awareness
of being alive. Through molding this awareness, we can get enough
energy to reach and sustain the energy body, and with it we can
certainly mold the total direction and consequences of our lives."
Juan ended our conversation about dreaming by admonishing [*
admonishing- counsel in terms of someone's behaviour] me not merely to
think about what he had told me, but to turn his concepts into a
viable way of life by a process of repetition.
that everything new in our lives, such as the sorcerers' concepts
he was teaching me, must be repeated to us to the point of exhaustion
before we open ourselves to it. He pointed out that repetition is
the way our progenitors socialized us to function in the daily
As I continued my dreaming practices, I gained the
capability of being thoroughly aware that I was falling asleep,
as well as the capability of stopping in a dream to examine at
will anything that was part of that dream's content. To
experience this was for me no less than miraculous.
stated that as we tighten the control over our dreams, we tighten
the mastery over our dreaming attention. He was right in saying that
the dreaming attention comes into play when it is called; when it
is given a purpose.
Its coming into play is not really a
process as one would normally understand a process as an ongoing
system of operations, or a series of actions or functions that
bring about an end result.
The dreaming attention is rather an awakening. Something dormant becomes suddenly functional.
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
3. The Second Gate of Dreaming
found out by means of my dreaming practices that a dreaming teacher
must create a didactic [* didactic- instructive (especially
excessively)] synthesis in order to emphasize a given point. In
essence, what don Juan wanted with my first dreaming task was to
exercise my dreaming attention by focusing it on the items of my
To this effect he used as a spearhead the idea of being
aware of falling asleep. His subterfuge was to say that the only
way to be aware of falling asleep is to examine the elements of
I realized, almost as soon as I had begun my
dreaming practices, that exercising the dreaming attention is the
essential point in dreaming. To the mind, however, it seems
impossible that one can train oneself to be aware at the level of
Don Juan said that the active element of such training
is persistence; and that the mind and all its rational defenses
cannot cope with persistence. Sooner or later, he said, the
mind's barriers fall under persistence's impact, and the dreaming
As I practiced focusing and holding my
dreaming attention on the items of my dreams, I began to feel a
peculiar self-confidence so remarkable that I sought a comment
from don Juan.
"It is your entering into the second attention
that gives you that sense of self-assurance," he said. "This
calls for even more sobriety on your part. Go slowly, but don't
stop; and above all, don't talk about it. Just do it!"
him that in practice I had corroborated what he had already told
me; that if one takes short glances at everything in a dream, the
images do not dissolve. I commented that the difficult part is to
break the initial barrier that prevents us from bringing dreams
to our conscious attention.
I asked don Juan to give me his
opinion on this matter because I earnestly believed that this
barrier is a psychological one created by our socialization; a
barrier which puts a premium on disregarding dreams.
barrier is more than socialization," he replied. "It's the first
gate of dreaming. Now that you've overcome it, it seems stupid to
you that we can't stop at will and pay attention to the items of
our dreams. That's a false certainty. The first gate of dreaming
has to do with the flow of energy in the universe. It's a natural
Don Juan made me agree then that we would talk about
dreaming only in the second attention and as he saw fit. He
encouraged me to practice in the meantime; and he promised me no
interference on his part.
As I gained proficiency in setting up
dreaming, I repeatedly experienced sensations that I deemed of
great importance, such as the feeling that I was rolling into a
ditch just as I was falling asleep. Don Juan never told me that
they were nonsensical sensations but let me record them in my notes.
realize now how absurd I must have appeared to him. Today, if I
were teaching dreaming, I would definitely discourage such a
behavior. Don Juan merely made fun of me, calling me a covert
egomaniac who professed to be fighting self-importance yet kept a
meticulous, superpersonal diary called 'My Dreams'.
time he had an opportunity, don Juan pointed out that the energy
needed to release our dreaming attention from its socialization prison
comes from redeploying our existing energy. Nothing could have
The emergence of our dreaming attention is a direct
corollary [* corollary- a practical consequence that follows
naturally] of revamping our lives. Since we have, as don Juan
said, no way to plug-into any external source for a boost of
energy, we must redeploy our existing energy by any means
Don Juan insisted that the sorcerers' way is the best
means to oil, so to speak, the wheels of energy redeployment; and
that of all the items in the sorcerers' way, the most effective
is 'losing self-importance'.
He was thoroughly convinced that
losing self-importance is indispensable for everything sorcerers
do. For this reason, he put an enormous emphasis on guiding all
his students to fulfill this requirement. He was of the opinion
that self-importance is not only the sorcerers' supreme enemy, but
the nemesis of mankind.
Don Juan's argument was that most
of our energy goes into upholding our importance. This is most
obvious in our endless worry about the presentation of the self;
about whether or not we are admired or liked or acknowledged.
reasoned that if we were capable of losing some of that importance,
two extraordinary things would happen to us. One, we would free
our energy from trying to maintain the illusory idea of our
grandeur; and, two, we would provide ourselves with enough energy
to enter into the second attention to catch a glimpse of the
actual grandeur of the universe.
It took me more than two years
to be able to focus my unwavering dreaming attention on anything
I wanted. I became so proficient that I felt as if I had been
doing it all my life. The eeriest part was that I could not
conceive of not having had that ability.
Yet I could remember
how difficult it had been even to think of this as a possibility.
It occurred to me that the capability of examining the contents
of one's dreams must be the product of a natural configuration of our
being; similar perhaps to our capability of walking. We are
physically conditioned to walk only in one manner, bipedally, yet
it takes a monumental effort for us to learn to walk.
new capacity of looking in glances at the items of my dreams was
coupled with a most insistent nagging to remind myself to look at
the elements of my dreams. I knew about my compulsive bent of
character, but in my dreams my compulsiveness was vastly
augmented. It became so noticeable that not only did I resent
hearing my nagging at myself, but I also began to question
whether it was really my compulsiveness or something else. I even
thought I was losing my mind.
"I talk to myself endlessly in my dreams; reminding myself to look at things," I said to don Juan.
had all along respected our agreement that we would talk about
dreaming only when he brought up the subject. However, I thought
that this was an emergency.
"Does it sound to you like it's not you but someone else?" he asked.
"Come to think of it, yes. I don't sound like myself at those times."
it's not you. It's not time yet to explain it. But let's say that
we are not alone in this world. Let's say that there are other
worlds available to dreamers; total worlds.
other total worlds, energetic entities sometimes come to us. The
next time you hear yourself nagging at yourself in your dreams, get
really angry and yell a command. Say, Stop it!"
into another challenging arena: to remember in my dreams to shout
that command. I believe that, perhaps, out of being so tremendously
annoyed at hearing myself nagging, I did remember to shout, "Stop
it." The nagging ceased instantly, and never again was repeated.
"Does every dreamer experience this?" I asked don Juan when I saw him again.
"Some do," he answered, uninterestedly.
began to rant about how strange it had all been. He cut me off,
saying, "You are ready now to get to the second gate of dreaming."
seized the opportunity to seek answers for questions I had not been
able to ask him. What I had experienced the first time he made me
dream had been foremost in my mind. I told don Juan that I had
observed the elements of my own dreams to my heart's content, and
never had I felt anything even vaguely similar in terms of
clarity and detail.
"The more I think about it," I said, "the
more intriguing it becomes. Watching those people in that dream,
I experienced a fear and revulsion impossible to forget. What was
that feeling, don Juan?"
"In my opinion, your energy body hooked
onto the foreign energy of that place and had the time of its
life. Naturally, you felt afraid and revolted. You were examining
alien energy for the first time in your life.
"You have a
proclivity for behaving like the sorcerers of antiquity. The
moment you have the chance, you let your assemblage point go. That time
your assemblage point shifted quite a distance. The result was
that you, like the old sorcerers, journeyed beyond the world we
know. A most real but dangerous journey."
I bypassed the
meaning of his statements in favor of my own interest and asked
him, "Was that city perhaps on another planet?"
explain dreaming by way of things you know or suspect you know,"
he said. "All I can tell you is that the city you visited was not in
"Where was it, then?"
"Out of this
world, of course. You're not that stupid. That was the first
thing you noticed. What got you going in circles is that you can't
imagine anything being out of this world."
"Where is out of this world, don Juan?"
me, the most extravagant feature of sorcery is that configuration
called 'out of this world'. For instance, you assumed that I was seeing
the same things you did. The proof is that you never asked me
what I saw. You and only you saw a city and people in that city.
I didn't see anything of the sort. I saw energy. So, out of this
world was for you alone, on that occasion, a city."
"But then, don Juan, it wasn't a real city. It existed only for me in my mind."
That's not the case. Now you want to reduce something transcendental
[* transcendental- existing outside of or not in accordance with
nature] to something mundane. [* mundane- found in the ordinary
course of events] You can't do that. That journey was real. You
saw it as a city. I saw it as energy. Neither of us is right or
"My confusion comes when you talk about things being
real. You said before that we reached a real place. But if it was
real, how can we have two versions of it?"
We have two versions because we had, at that time, two different
rates of uniformity and cohesion. I have explained to you that
those two attributes are the key to perceiving."
"Do you think that I can go back to that particular city?"
got me there. I don't know. Or perhaps I do know but can't explain
it. Or perhaps I can explain it but I don't want to. You'll have
to wait and figure out for yourself which is the case."
He refused any further discussion.
get on with our business," he said. "You reach the second gate of
dreaming when you wake up from a dream into another dream. You can have
as many dreams as you want or as many as you are capable of, but
you must exercise adequate control and not wake up in the world
I had a jolt of panic. "Are you saying that I should never wake up in this world?" I asked.
I didn't mean that. But now that you have pointed it out, I have
to tell you that it is an alternative. The sorcerers of antiquity
used to do that; never wake up in the world we know. Some of the
sorcerers of my line have done it too. It certainly can be done,
but I don't recommend it. What I want is for you to wake up
naturally when you are through with dreaming. But while you are
dreaming, I want you to dream that you wake up in another dream."
heard myself asking the same question I had asked the first time he
told me about setting up dreaming. "But is it possible to do
Don Juan obviously caught on to my mindlessness and
laughingly repeated the answer he had given me before. "Of course
it's possible. This control is no different from the control we
have over any situation in our daily lives."
I quickly got over
my embarrassment and was ready to ask more questions. Don Juan
anticipated me, and began to explain facets of the second gate of
dreaming; an explanation that made me yet more uneasy.
one problem with the second gate," he said. "It's a problem that
can be serious- depending on one's bent of character. If our tendency
is to indulge in clinging to things or situations, we are in for
a sock in the jaw."
"In what way, don Juan?"
for a moment. You've already experienced the outlandish joy of
examining your dreams' contents. Imagine yourself going from dream to
dream; watching everything; examining every detail. It's very
easy to realize that one may sink to mortal depths. Especially if
one is given to indulging."
"Wouldn't the body or the brain naturally put a stop to it?"
it's a natural sleeping situation, meaning normal, yes. But this is
not a normal situation. This is dreaming. A dreamer on crossing
the first gate has already reached the energy body. So what is
really going through the second gate, hopping from dream to
dream, is the energy body."
"What's the implication of all this, don Juan?"
implication is that on crossing the second gate you must intend a
greater and more sober control over your dreaming attention; the only
safety valve for dreamers."
"What is this safety valve?"
will find out for yourself that the true goal of dreaming is to
perfect the energy body. A perfect energy body, among other
things of course, has such a control over the dreaming attention
that it makes it stop when needed. This is the safety valve
dreamers have. No matter how indulging they might be, at a given
time, their dreaming attention must make them surface."
started all over again on another dreaming quest. This time the goal
was more elusive; and the difficulty even greater. Exactly as
with my first task, I could not begin to figure out what to do. I
had the discouraging suspicion that all my practice was not going
to be of much help this time. After countless failures, I gave up
and settled down to simply continue my practice of fixing my
dreaming attention on every item of my dreams. Accepting my
shortcomings seemed to give me a boost, and I became even more
adept at sustaining the view of any item in my dreams.
went by without any change. Then one day something changed. As I
was watching a window in a dream- trying to find out if I could
catch a glimpse of the scenery outside the room- some windlike
force, which I felt as a buzzing in my ears, pulled me through
the window to the outside.
Just before that pull, my dreaming
attention had been caught by a strange structure some distance
away. It looked like a tractor. The next thing I knew, I was
standing by it; examining it.
I was perfectly aware that I was
dreaming. I looked around to find out if I could tell from what
window I had been looking. The scene was that of a farm in the
countryside. No buildings were in sight. I wanted to ponder this.
However, the quantity of farm machinery lying around, as if abandoned,
took all my attention.
I examined mowing machines,
tractors, grain harvesters, disk plows, thrashers. There were so
many that I forgot my original dream. What I wanted then was to
orient myself by watching the immediate scenery. There was
something in the distance that looked like a billboard and some
telephone poles around it.
The instant I focused my
attention on that billboard, I was next to it. The steel
structure of the billboard gave me a fright. It was menacing. On
the billboard itself was a picture of a building. I read the
text. It was an advertisement for a motel. I had a peculiar
certainty that I was in Oregon or northern California.
looked for other features in the environment of my dream. I saw
mountains very far away and some green, round hills not too far.
On those hills were clumps of what I thought were California oak
trees. I wanted to be pulled by the green hills, but what pulled
me were the distant mountains. I was convinced that they were the
All my dreaming energy left me on those mountains. But
before it did, I was pulled by every possible feature. My dream
ceased to be a dream. As far as my capacity to perceive was
concerned, I was veritably in the Sierras, zooming into ravines,
boulders, trees, caves. I went from scarp faces to mountain peaks
until I had no more drive and could not focus my dreaming
attention on anything. I felt myself losing control. Finally, there was
no more scenery, just darkness.
"You have reached the
second gate of dreaming," don Juan said when I narrated my dream
to him. "What you should do next is to cross it. Crossing the
second gate is a very serious affair. It requires a most
I was not sure I had fulfilled the
task he outlined for me because I had not really woken up in
another dream. I asked don Juan about this irregularity.
mistake was mine," he said. "I told you that one has to wake up
in another dream, but what I meant is that one has to change
dreams in an orderly and precise manner, the way you have done it.
the first gate, you wasted a lot of time looking exclusively for
your hands. This time, you went directly to the solution without
bothering to follow the given command of waking up in another
Don Juan said that there are two ways of properly crossing the second gate of dreaming.
is to wake up in another dream, that is to say, to dream that one
is having a dream, and then dream that one wakes up from it.
The alternative is to use the items of a dream to trigger another dream; exactly as I had done.
as he had been doing all along, don Juan let me practice without
any interference on his part; and I corroborated the two
alternatives he described. Either I dreamt that I was having a
dream from which I dreamt I woke up, or I zoomed from a definite
item accessible to my immediate dreaming attention to another one
not quite accessible.
Or I entered into a slight variation of
the second: I gazed at any item of a dream, maintaining the gaze
until the item changed shape, and by changing shape it pulled me
into another dream through a buzzing vortex. Never was I capable,
however, of deciding beforehand which of the three I would follow.
dreaming practices always ended by my running out of dreaming
attention, and by my finally waking up, or by my falling into
dark, deep slumber.
Everything went smoothly in my practices.
The only disturbance I had was a peculiar interference; a jolt of
fear or discomfort I had begun to experience with increasing
My way of discarding it was to believe that it was
related to my ghastly eating habits; or to the fact that, in
those days, don Juan was giving me a profusion of hallucinogenic
plants as part of my training. Those jolts became so prominent,
however, that I had to ask don Juan's advice.
"You have entered
now into the most dangerous facet of the sorcerers' knowledge,"
he began. "It is sheer dread; a veritable nightmare. I could joke
with you and say that I didn't mention this possibility to you out
of regard for your cherished rationality, but I can't. Every
sorcerer has to face it. Here is where, I fear, you might very
well think you're going off the deep end."
Don Juan very
solemnly explained that life and consciousness, being exclusively
a matter of energy, are not solely the property of organisms. He
said that sorcerers have seen that there are two types of conscious
beings roaming the earth: the organic and the inorganic.
comparing one with the other, sorcerers have seen that both are
luminous masses crossed from every imaginable angle by millions
of the universe's energy filaments. They are different from each
other in their shape and in their degree of brightness.
beings are long and candlelike but opaque; whereas organic beings
are round and by far the brighter. Another noteworthy difference, which
don Juan said sorcerers have seen, is that the life and
consciousness of organic beings is short-lived because they are
made to hurry; whereas the life of inorganic beings is infinitely
longer, and their consciousness infinitely more calm and deeper.
find no problem interacting with them," don Juan went on.
"Inorganic beings possess the crucial ingredient for interaction;
"But do these inorganic beings really exist? Like you and I exist?" I asked.
course they do," he replied. "Believe me, sorcerers are very
intelligent creatures. Under no condition would they toy with
aberrations of the mind, and then take them for real."
"Why do you say they are alive?"
sorcerers, having life means having consciousness. It means having
an assemblage point and its surrounding glow of awareness; a
condition that points out to sorcerers that the being in front of
them, organic or inorganic, is thoroughly capable of perceiving.
Perceiving is understood by sorcerers as the precondition of
"Then the inorganic beings must also die. Is that true, don Juan?"
They lose their awareness just like we do, except that the length
of their consciousness is staggering to the mind."
"Do these inorganic beings appear to sorcerers?"
very difficult to tell what is what with them. Let's say that
those beings are enticed by us; or better yet, compelled to
interact with us."
Don Juan peered at me most intently. "You're
not taking in any of this at all," he said with the tone of
someone who has reached a conclusion.
"It's nearly impossible for me to think about this rationally," I said.
warned you that the subject will tax your reason. The proper thing to
do then is to suspend judgment and let things take their course;
meaning that you let the inorganic beings come to you."
"Are you serious, don Juan?"
serious. The difficulty with inorganic beings is that their
awareness is very slow in comparison with ours. It will take years for
a sorcerer to be acknowledged by inorganic beings. So, it is
advisable to have patience and wait. Sooner or later they show
up, but not like you or I would show up. Theirs is a most
peculiar way to make themselves known."
"How do sorcerers entice them? Do they have a ritual?"
they certainly don't stand in the middle of the road and call out
to them with trembling voices at the stroke of midnight, if
that's what you mean."
"What do they do then?"
entice them in dreaming. I said that what's involved is more than
enticing them. By the act of dreaming, sorcerers compel those beings
to interact with them."
"How do sorcerers compel them by the act of dreaming?"
is sustaining the position where the assemblage point has shifted
in dreams. This act creates a distinctive energy charge which attracts
their attention. It's like bait to fish: They'll go for it.
Sorcerers, by reaching and crossing the first two gates of
dreaming, set bait for those beings and compel them to appear.
"By going through the two gates, you have made your bidding known to them. Now, you must wait for a sign from them."
"What would the sign be, don Juan?"
the appearance of one of them, although that seems too soon. I am
of the opinion that their sign will be simply some interference in
your dreaming. I believe that the jolts of fear you are
experiencing nowadays are not indigestion, but energy jolts sent
to you by the inorganic beings."
"What should I do?"
"You must gauge your expectations."
could not understand what he meant. He carefully explained that our
normal expectation when engaging in interaction with our fellow
men, or with other organic beings, is to get an immediate reply
to our solicitation.
With inorganic beings, however, since they
are separated from us by a most formidable barrier- energy that
moves at a different speed- sorcerers must gauge their
expectations and sustain the solicitation for as long as it takes
to be acknowledged.
"Do you mean, don Juan, that the solicitation is the same as the dreaming practices?"
But for a perfect result, you must add to your practices the intent
of reaching those inorganic beings. Send a feeling of power and
confidence to them; a feeling of strength; of detachment.
at any cost, sending a feeling of fear or morbidity. They are
pretty morbid by themselves. To add your morbidity to them is
unnecessary, to say the least."
"I'm not clear, don Juan, about the way they appear to sorcerers. What is the peculiar way they make themselves known?"
do, at times, materialize themselves in the daily world right in
front of us. Most of the time, though, their invisible presence
is marked by a bodily jolt; a shiver of sorts that comes from the
marrow of the bones."
"What about in dreaming, don Juan?"
dreaming we have the total opposite. At times, we feel them the way
you are feeling them; as a jolt of fear. Most of the time, they
materialize themselves right in front of us. Since at the
beginning of dreaming we have no experience whatsoever with them,
they might imbue us with fear beyond measure. That is a real
danger to us. Through the channel of fear, they can follow us to
the daily world- with disastrous results for us."
"In what way, don Juan?"
can settle down in our lives, and we would have to be mavericks
to deal with it. Inorganic beings can be worse than a pest.
Through fear they can easily drive us raving mad."
"What do sorcerers do with inorganic beings?"
mingle with them. They turn them into allies. They form
associations; create extraordinary friendships. I call them vast
enterprises where perception plays the uppermost role. We are
social beings. We unavoidably seek the company of consciousness.
"With inorganic beings, the secret is not to fear them. And this must be done from the beginning.
intent one has to send out to them has to be of power and abandon.
In that intent one must encode the message "I don't fear you.
Come to see me. If you do, I'll welcome you. If you don't want to
come, I'll miss you." With a message like this, they'll get so
curious that they'll come for sure."
"Why should they come to seek me, or why on earth should I seek them?"
whether they like it or not, in their dreaming seek associations
with other beings. This may come to you as a shock, but dreamers
automatically seek groups of beings; nexuses [* nexuses- connected
series or groups] of inorganic beings in this case. Dreamers seek
"This is very strange to me, don Juan. Why would dreamers do that?"
novelty for us is the inorganic beings. And the novelty for them is
one of our kind crossing the boundaries of their realm. The thing
you must bear in mind from now on is that inorganic beings, with
their superb consciousness, exert a tremendous pull over dreamers
and can easily transport them into worlds beyond description.
sorcerers of antiquity used them, and they are the ones who coined
the name 'allies'. Their allies taught them to move the
assemblage point out of the egg's boundaries into the non-human
universe. So when they transport a sorcerer, they transport him
to worlds beyond the human domain."
As I heard him talk, I was plagued by strange fears and misgivings; which don Juan promptly realized.
are a religious man to the end." He laughed. "Now, you're feeling
the devil breathing down your neck. Think about dreaming in these
terms: Dreaming is perceiving more than what we believe it is
possible to perceive."
In my waking hours, I worried about
the possibility that inorganic conscious beings really existed.
When I was dreaming, however, my conscious worries did not have
much effect. The jolts of physical fear continued, but whenever
they happened a strange calmness always trailed behind; a calmness that
took control of me and let me proceed as if I had no fear at all.
seemed at that time that every breakthrough in dreaming happened to
me suddenly; without warning. The presence of inorganic beings in
my dreams was no exception.
It happened while I was
dreaming about a circus I knew in my childhood. The setting
looked like a town in the mountains in Arizona. I began to watch
people with the vague hope I always had that I would see again the
people I had seen the first time don Juan made me enter into the
As I watched them, I felt a sizable jolt of
nervousness in the pit of my stomach. It was like a punch. The
jolt distracted me, and I lost sight of the people, the circus,
and the mountain town in Arizona.
In their place stood two
strange-looking figures. They were thin, less than a foot wide,
but long, perhaps seven feet. They were looming over me like two
I knew that it was a dream, but I also knew that I was seeing.
Juan had discussed seeing in my normal awareness and in the
second attention as well. Although I had been incapable of
experiencing it myself, I thought I had understood the idea of
directly perceiving energy.
In that dream, looking at those two
strange apparitions, I realized that I was seeing the energy
essence of something unbelievable.
I remained very calm. I did
not move. The most remarkable thing to me was that they didn't
dissolve or change into something else. They were cohesive beings
that retained their candlelike shape. Something in them was
forcing something in me to hold the view of their shape. I knew
it because something was telling me that if I did not move, they
would not move either.
It all came to an end, at a given moment,
when I woke up with a fright. I was immediately besieged by
fears. A deep preoccupation took hold of me. It was not
psychological worry, but rather a bodily sense of anguish and
sadness with no apparent foundation.
The two strange shapes
appeared to me from then on in every one of my dreaming sessions.
Eventually, it was as if I dreamt only to encounter them. They
never attempted to move toward me or to interfere with me in any way.
just stood there immobile in front of me for as long as my dream
lasted. Not only did I never make any effort to change my dreams, but I
even forgot the original quest of my dreaming practices.
When I finally discussed with don Juan what was happening to me, I had spent months solely viewing the two shapes.
are stuck at a dangerous crossroad," don Juan said. "It isn't right
to chase these beings away, but it isn't right either to let them
stay. For the time being, their presence is a hindrance to your
"What can I do, don Juan?"
"Face them, right now, in the world of daily life, and tell them to come back later when you have more dreaming power."
"How do I face them?"
"It's not simple, but it can be done. It requires only that you have enough guts, which of course you do."
waiting for me to tell him that I had no guts at all, he took me
to the hills. He lived then in northern Mexico, and he had given
me the total impression he was a solitary sorcerer; an old man
forgotten by everybody and completely outside the main current of
I had surmised, however, that he was intelligent
beyond measure. And because of this I was willing to comply with
what I half-believed were mere eccentricities.
cunningness of sorcerers, cultivated through the ages, was don
Juan's trademark. He made sure that I understood all I could in
my normal awareness; and he also made sure that I entered into
the second attention where I understood, or at least passionately
listened to, everything he taught me.
In this fashion, he
divided me in two. In my normal consciousness, I could not
understand why or how I was more than willing to take his
eccentricities seriously. In the second attention, it all made
sense to me.
His contention was that the second attention is
available to all of us. But by willfully holding on to our
half-cocked rationality- some of us more fiercely than others- we
keep the second attention at arm's length. His idea was that
dreaming brings down the barriers that surround and insulate the
The day he took me to the hills of the Sonoran
desert to meet the inorganic beings, I was in my normal state of
awareness. Yet somehow I knew I had to do something that was
certainly going to be unbelievable.
It had rained lightly in the
desert. The red dirt was still wet, and as I walked it got
clumped up in the rubber soles of my shoes. I had to step on
rocks to remove the heavy chunks of dirt. We walked in an easterly
direction climbing toward the hills. When we got to a narrow
gully between two hills, don Juan stopped.
"This is for sure an ideal place to summon your friends," he said.
"Why do you call them my friends?"
have singled you out themselves. When they do that, it means that
they seek an association. I've mentioned to you that sorcerers
form bonds of friendship with them. Your case seems to be an
example. And you don't even have to solicit them."
"What does such a friendship consist of, don Juan?"
consists of a mutual exchange of energy. The inorganic beings
supply their high awareness, and sorcerers supply their
heightened awareness and high energy. The positive result is an
even exchange. The negative one is dependency on both parties.
old sorcerers used to love their allies. In fact, they loved
their allies more than they loved their own kind. I can foresee
terrible dangers in that."
"What do you recommend I do, don Juan?"
"Summon them. Size them up, and then decide yourself what to do."
"What should I do to summon them?"
your dream view of them in your mind. The reason they have
saturated you with their presence in your dreams is that they
want to create a memory of their shape in your mind. And this is
the time to use that memory." Don Juan forcefully ordered me to
close my eyes and keep them closed.
Then he guided me to sit
down on some rocks. I felt the hardness and the coldness of the
rocks. The rocks were slanted; it was difficult to keep my
"Sit here and visualize their shape until they are just
like they are in your dreams," don Juan said in my ear. "Let me
know when you have them in focus."
It took me very little
time and effort to have a complete mental picture of their shape
just like in my dreams. It did not surprise me at all that I
could do it.
What shocked me was that, although I tried
desperately to let don Juan know I had pictured them in my mind,
I could not voice my words or open my eyes. I was definitely
awake. I could hear everything.
I heard don Juan say, "You can open your eyes now."
opened them with no difficulty. I was sitting cross-legged on some
rocks, which were not the same ones I had felt under me when I
sat down. Don Juan was just behind me to my right. I tried to
turn around to face him, but he forced my head to remain straight.
And then I saw two dark figures, like two thin tree trunks, right in front of me. I stared at them openmouthed.
were not as tall as in my dreams. They had shrunk to half their
size. Instead of being shapes of opaque luminosity, they were now
two condensed, dark, almost black, menacing sticks.
"Get up and grab one of them," don Juan ordered me, "and don't let go, no matter how it shakes you."
definitely did not want to do anything of the sort, but some unknown
drive made me stand up against my will. I had at that moment the
clear realization that I would end up doing what don Juan had
ordered me to- although I had no conscious intention of doing so.
I advanced toward the two figures, my heart pounding nearly out
of my chest. I grabbed the one to my right. What I felt was an
electric discharge that almost made me drop the dark figure.
Don Juan's voice came to me as if he had been yelling from a distance away. "You drop it and you're done for," he said.
held on to the figure, which twirled and shook; not like a massive
animal would, but like something quite fluffy and light, although
strongly electrical. We rolled and turned on the sand of the
gully for quite some time. It gave me jolt after jolt of some
sickening electric current.
I thought it was sickening because I
fancied it to be different from the energy I had always
encountered in our daily world. When it hit my body, it tickled
me and made me yell and growl like an animal; not in anguish, but
in a strange anger.
It finally became a still, almost
solid form under me. It lay inert. I asked don Juan if it was
dead, but I did not hear my voice.
"Not a chance," said someone
laughing; someone who was not don Juan. "You've just depleted its
energy charge. But don't get up yet. Lie there just a moment
I looked at don Juan with a question in my eyes. He was
examining me with great curiosity. Then he helped me up. The dark
figure remained on the ground. I wanted to ask don Juan if the
dark figure was all right. Again, I could not voice my question.
I did something extravagant. I took it all for real. Up to that
moment something in my mind was preserving my rationality by
taking what was happening as a dream; a dream induced by don
I went to the figure on the ground and
tried to lift it up. I could not put my arms around it because it
had no mass. I became disoriented. The same voice, which was not
don Juan's, told me to lie down on top of the inorganic being. I
did it, and both of us got up in one motion, the inorganic being
like a dark shadow attached to me. It gently separated from me
and disappeared, leaving me with an extremely pleasant feeling of
It took me more than twenty-four hours to regain
total control of my faculties. I slept most of the time. Don Juan
checked me from time to time by asking me the same question, "Was
the inorganic being's energy like fire or like water?"
throat seemed scorched. I could not tell him that the energy jolts I
had felt were like jets of electrified water. I have never felt
jets of electrified water in my life. I am not sure if it is
possible to produce them or to feel them; but that was the image
playing in my mind every time don Juan asked his key question.
Juan was asleep when I finally knew I was completely recovered.
Knowing that his question was of great importance, I woke him up
and told him what I had felt.
"You are not going to have
helping friends among the inorganic beings, but raather
relationships of annoying dependence," he stated. "Be extremely
careful. Watery inorganic beings are more given to excesses.
old sorcerers believed that the watery inorganic beings were more
loving, more capable of imitating, or perhaps were even capable of
having feelings- as opposed to the fiery ones, who were thought
to be more serious and more contained, but also more pompous."
"What's the meaning of all this for me, don Juan?"
meaning is too vast to discuss at this time. My recommendation is
that you vanquish fear from your dreams and from your life in
order to safeguard your unity. The inorganic being you depleted
of energy and then recharged again was thrilled out of its
candlelike shape with it. It'll come to you for more."
"Why didn't you stop me, don Juan?"
"You didn't give me time. Besides, you didn't even hear me shouting at you to leave the inorganic being on the ground."
"You should have lectured me beforehand the way you always do about all the possibilities."
didn't know all the possibilities. In matters of the inorganic beings,
I am nearly a novice. I refused that part of the sorcerers'
knowledge on the ground that it is too cumbersome and capricious.
[* capricious- changeable: determined by chance or impulse or
whim rather than by necessity or reason] I don't want to be at
the mercy of any entity, organic or inorganic."
That was the end
of our exchange. I should have been worried because of his
definitely negative reaction, but I was not. I somehow was certain
that whatever I had done was all right.
I continued my dreaming practices without any interference from the inorganic beings.
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
4. The Fixation of the Assemblage Doing
our agreement had been to discuss dreaming only when don Juan
considered it necessary, I rarely asked him about it and never insisted
on continuing my questions beyond a certain point. I was more
than eager, therefore, to listen to him whenever he decided to
take up the subject. His comments or discussions on dreaming were
invariably cushioned in other topics of his teachings, and they
were always suddenly and abruptly brought in.
engaged in some unrelated conversation once while I was visiting
with him in his house, when without any preamble he said that, by means
of their dreaming contacts with inorganic beings, the old
sorcerers became immensely well-versed in the manipulation of the
assemblage point; a vast and ominous subject.
immediately grabbed the opportunity and asked don Juan for an estimate
of the time when the old sorcerers might have lived. At various
opportunities before, I had asked the same question, but he never
gave me a satisfactory answer. I was confident, however, that at
the moment, perhaps because he had brought up the subject
himself, he might be willing to oblige me.
"A most trying
subject," he said. The way he said it made me believe he was
discarding my question. I was quite surprised when he continued
talking. "It'll tax your rationality as much as the topic of
inorganic beings. By the way, what do you think about them now?"
"I have let my opinions rest," I said. "I can't afford to think one way or another."
My answer delighted him. He laughed and commented on his own fears of and aversions to the inorganic beings.
have never been my cup of tea," he said. "Of course, the main
reason was my fear of them. I was unable to get over it when I
had to, and then it became fixed."
"Do you fear them now, don Juan?"
"It's not quite fear I feel but revulsion. I don't want any part of them."
"Is there any particular reason for this revulsion?"
best reason in the world: we are antithetical. [* antithetical-
sharply contrasted in character or purpose] They love slavery,
and I love freedom. They love to buy, and I don't sell."
became inexplicably agitated and brusquely told him that the subject
was so farfetched for me that I could not take it seriously.
stared at me, smiling, and said, "The best thing to do with
inorganic beings is what you do: deny their existence, but visit
with them regularly and maintain that you are dreaming; and that
in dreaming anything is possible. This way you don't commit
I felt strangely guilty, although I could not figure
out why. I felt compelled to ask, "What are you referring to, don
"To your visits with the inorganic beings," he replied dryly.
"Are you kidding? What visits?"
didn't want to discuss this, but I think it's time I tell you that
the nagging voice you heard, reminding you to fix your dreaming
attention on the items of your dreams, was the voice of an
I thought don Juan was completely irrational. I became so irritated that I even yelled at him.
laughed at me and asked me to tell him about my irregular
dreaming sessions. That request surprised me. I had never
mentioned to anyone that every so often I used to zoom out of a
dream, pulled by a given item, but instead of my changing dreams,
as I should have, the total mood of the dream changed and I would
find myself in a dimension unknown to me.
I soared in it,
directed by some invisible guide, which made me twirl around and
around. I always awoke from one of these dreams still twirling, and
I continued tossing and turning for a long time before I fully
"Those are bona fide meetings you are having with your inorganic being friends," don Juan said.
did not want to argue with him, but neither did I want to agree.
I remained silent. I had forgotten my question about the old
sorcerers, but don Juan picked up the subject again.
understanding is that the old sorcerers existed perhaps as far back
as ten thousand years ago," he said, smiling and watching my
Basing my response on current archaeological data on
the migration of Asiatic nomadic tribes to the Americas, I said
that I believed his date was incorrect. Ten thousand years was
too far back.
"You have your knowledge and I have mine," he
said. "My knowledge is that the old sorcerers ruled for four
thousand years, from seven thousand to three thousand years ago.
Three thousand years ago, they went to nothing. And from then on,
sorcerers have been regrouping and restructuring what was left of
the old ones."
"How can you be so sure about your dates?" I asked.
"How can you be so sure about yours?" he retorted.
told him that archaeologists have foolproof methods to establish the
date of past cultures. Again he retorted that sorcerers have
foolproof methods of their own.
"I'm not trying to be
contrary or argue you down," he continued, "but someday soon you
may be able to ask someone who knows for sure."
"No one can know this for sure, don Juan."
is another of those impossible things to believe, but there is
somebody who can verify all this. You'll meet that person someday."
"Come on, don Juan, you've got to be joking. Who can verify, what happened seven thousand years ago?"
simple, one of the old sorcerers we've been talking about. The one
I met. He's the one who told me all about the old sorcerers. I
hope you remember what I am going to tell you about that
particular man. He is the key to many of our endeavors, and he's
also the one you have to meet."
I told don Juan that I was
hanging on every word he said, even though I did not understand
what he was saying. He accused me of humoring him, and of not
believing a word about the old sorcerers. I admitted that in my state
of daily consciousness, of course, I had not believed those
farfetched stories. But neither had I in the second attention,
although there I should have had a different reaction.
when you ponder what I said does it become a farfetched story,"
he remarked. "If you don't involve your common sense, it remains
purely a matter of energy."
"Why did you say, don Juan, that I am going to meet one of the old sorcerers?"
you are. It is vital that the two of you meet someday. But, for
the moment, just let me tell you another farfetched story about
one of the naguals of my line, the nagual Sebastian."
Juan told me then that the nagual Sebastian had been a sexton [*
sexton- an officer of the church who is in charge of sacred
objects] in a church in southern Mexico around the beginning of
the eighteenth century.
In his account, don Juan stressed how
sorcerers, past or present, seek and find refuge in established
institutions, such as the Church. It was his idea that because of
their superior discipline, sorcerers are trustworthy employees,
and that they are avidly sought by institutions that are always
in dire need of such persons. Don Juan maintained that as long as no
one is aware of the sorcerers' doings, their lack of ideological
sympathies makes them appear as model workers.
continued his story and said that one day while Sebastian was
performing his duties as a sexton, a strange man came to the church; an
old Indian who seemed to be ill. In a weak voice he told
Sebastian that he needed help. The nagual thought that the Indian
wanted the parish priest, but the man, making a great effort,
addressed the nagual. In a harsh and direct tone, he told him
that he knew that Sebastian was not only a sorcerer but a nagual.
quite alarmed by this sudden turn of events, pulled the Indian
aside and demanded an apology. The man replied that he was not there
to apologize, but to get specialized help. He needed, he said, to
receive the nagual's energy in order to maintain his life, which,
he assured Sebastian, had spanned thousands of years but at the
moment was ebbing away.
Sebastian, who was a very intelligent
man, unwilling to pay attention to such nonsense, urged the
Indian to stop clowning around. The old man became angry and
threatened Sebastian with exposing him and his group to the
ecclesiastical [* ecclesiastical- of or associated with a church]
authorities if he did not comply with his request.
reminded me that those were the times when the ecclesiastical
authorities were brutally and systematically eradicating heretical
practices among the Indians of the New Worlds. The man's threat
was not something to be taken lightly. The nagual and his group
were indeed in mortal danger.
Sebastian asked the Indian how he
could give him energy. The man explained that naguals, by means
of their discipline, gain a peculiar energy that they store in
their bodies and that he would get it painlessly from Sebastian's
energy center on his navel. In return for it, Sebastian would get not
only the opportunity to continue his activities unscathed, but
also a gift of power.
The knowledge that he was being
manipulated by the old Indian did not sit right with the nagual,
but the man was inflexible and the old Indian left him no
alternative but to comply with his request.
Don Juan assured me
that the old Indian was not exaggerating about his claims at all.
He turned out to be one of the sorcerers of ancient times; one of
those known as the death defiers. He had apparently survived to
the present by manipulating his assemblage point in ways that
only he knew about.
Don Juan said that what transpired
between Sebastian and that man later became the ground for an
agreement that had bound all six naguals who followed Sebastian.
The death defier kept his word; in exchange for energy from every
one of those naguals, he made a donation to the giver; a gift of
power. Sebastian had to accept such a gift, although reluctantly; he
had been cornered and had no other choice. All the other naguals
who followed him, however, gladly and proudly accepted their
Don Juan concluded his story, saying that over time the
death defier came to be known as the tenant. And for over two
hundred years, the naguals of don Juan's line honored that
binding agreement; creating a symbiotic relationship that changed
the course and final goal of their lineage.
Don Juan did not
care to explain the story any further, and I was left with a
strange sensation of truthfulness, which was more bothersome to me than
I could have imagined.
"How did he get to live that long?" I asked.
one knows," don Juan replied. "All we've known about him, for
generations, is what he tells us. The death defier is the one I asked
about the old sorcerers, and he told me that they were at their
peak three thousand years ago."
"How do you know he was telling you the truth?" I asked.
Juan shook his head in amazement, if not revulsion. "When you're
facing that inconceivable unknown out there," he said, pointing
all around him, "you don't fool around with petty lies. Petty
lies are only for people who have never witnessed what's out
there waiting for them."
"What's waiting for us out there, don Juan?"
His answer, a seemingly innocuous phrase, was more terrifying to me than if he had described the most horrendous thing.
utterly impersonal," he said. He must have noticed that I was
coming apart. He made me change levels of awareness to make my
A few months later, my dreaming practices
took a strange turn. I began to get, in my dreams, replies to
questions I was planning to ask don Juan. The most impressive
part of this oddity was that it quickly lapsed into my waking
One day, while I was sitting at my desk, I got a reply to
an unvoiced question about the realness of inorganic beings. I
had seen inorganic beings in dreams so many times I had begun to
think of them as real. I reminded myself I had even touched one,
in a state of seminormal consciousness in the Sonoran desert. And
my dreams had been periodically deviated to views of worlds I
seriously doubted could have been products of my mentality.
wished to give don Juan my best shot, in terms of a concise query, so
I molded a question in my mind: If one is to accept that
inorganic beings are as real as people, where, in the physicality
of the universe, is the realm in which they exist?
formulating the question to myself, I heard a strange laughter,
just as I had the day I wrestled with the inorganic being. Then a
man's voice answered me. "That realm exists in a particular
position of the assemblage point," it said. "Just like your world
exists in the habitual position of the assemblage point."
last thing I wanted was to enter into a dialogue with a
disembodied voice, so I stood up and ran out of my house. The
thought occurred to me that I was losing my mind. Another worry
to add to my collection of worries.
The voice had been so clear
and authoritative that it not only intrigued me but terrified me.
I waited with great trepidation for oncoming barrages of that
voice, but the event was never repeated. At the first opportunity
I had, I consulted with don Juan.
He was not impressed in the least.
must understand, once and for all, that things like this are very
normal in the life of a sorcerer," he said. "You are not going mad. You
are simply hearing the voice of the dreaming emissary. Upon
crossing the first or second gate of dreaming, dreamers reach a
threshold of energy and begin to see things or to hear voices.
Not really plural voices, but a singular voice. Sorcerers call it
the voice of the dreaming emissary."
"What is the dreaming emissary?"
energy that has conciseness. Alien energy that purports to aid
dreamers by telling them things. The problem with the dreaming emissary
is that it can tell only what the sorcerers already know or
should know, were they worth their salt."
"To say that
it's alien energy that has conciseness doesn't help me at all,
don Juan. What kind of energy- benign, malignant, right, wrong, what?"
just what I said, alien energy. An impersonal force that we turn
into a very personal one because it has voice. Some sorcerers
swear by it. They even see it. Or, as you yourself have done,
they simply hear it as a man's or a woman's voice. And the voice
can tell them about the state of things, which most of the time
they take as sacred advice."
"Why do some of us hear it as a voice?"
see it or hear it because we maintain our assemblage points fixed on
a specific new position. The more intense this fixation, the more
intense our experience of the emissary. Watch out! You may see it
and feel it as a naked woman."
Don Juan laughed at his own remark, but I was too scared for levity.
"Is this force capable of materializing itself?" I asked.
he replied. "And it all depends on how fixed the assemblage point
is. But, rest assured, if you are capable of maintaining a degree
of detachment, nothing happens. The emissary remains what it is:
an impersonal force that acts on us because of the fixation of
our assemblage points."
"Is its advice safe and sound?"
"It cannot be advice. It only tells us what's what, and then we draw the inferences ourselves."
I told don Juan then about what the voice had said to me.
just like I said," don Juan remarked. "The emissary didn't tell
you anything new. Its statements were correct, but it only seemed
to be revealing things to you. What the emissary did was merely
repeat what you already knew."
"I'm afraid I can't claim that I knew all that, don Juan."
you can. You know now infinitely more about the mystery of the
universe than what you rationally suspect. But that's our human malady,
to know more about the mystery of the universe than we suspect."
experienced this incredible phenomenon all by myself without don
Juan's coaching made me feel elated. I wanted more information about
the emissary. I began to ask don Juan whether he also heard the
He interrupted me and with a broad smile
said, "Yes, yes. The emissary also talks to me. In my youth I
used to see it as a friar with a black cowl. A talking friar who
used to scare the daylights out of me every time. Then, when my
fear was more manageable, it became a disembodied voice which
tells me things to this day."
"What kinds of things, don Juan?"
I focus my intent on; things I don't want to take the trouble of
following up myself. Like, for example, details about the behavior of
my apprentices. What they do when I am not around. It tells me
things about you, in particular. The emissary tells me everything
At that point, I really did not care for the direction
our conversation had taken. I frantically searched my mind for
questions about other topics while he roared with laughter.
"Is the dreaming emissary an inorganic being?" I asked.
say that the dreaming emissary is a force that comes from the
realm of inorganic beings. This is the reason dreamers always
"Do you mean, don Juan, that every dreamer hears or sees the emissary?"
"Everyone hears the emissary. Very few see it or feel it."
"Do you have any explanation for this?"
Besides, I really don't care about the emissary. At one point in
my life, I had to make a decision whether to concentrate on the
inorganic beings and follow in the footsteps of the old
sorcerers, or to refuse it all. My teacher the nagual Julian
helped me make up my mind to refuse it. I've never regretted that
"Do you think I should refuse the inorganic beings myself, don Juan?"
did not answer me. Instead, he explained that the whole realm of
inorganic beings is always poised to teach. Perhaps because inorganic
beings have a deeper consciousness than ours, they feel compelled
to take us under their wings.
"I didn't see any point in becoming their pupil," he added. "Their price is too high."
"What is their price?"
"Our lives, our energy, our devotion to them. In other words, our freedom."
"But what do they teach?"
pertinent to their world. The same way we ourselves would teach
them, if we were capable of teaching them, things pertinent to our
world. Their method, however, is to take our basic self as a
gauge of what we need and then teach us accordingly. A most
"I don't see why it would be dangerous."
someone was going to take your basic self as a gauge, with all
your fears and greed and envy, et cetera, et cetera, and teach
you what fulfills that horrible state of being, what do you think
the result would be?"
I had no comeback. I thought I understood perfectly well the reasons for his rejection.
problem with the old sorcerers was that they learned wonderful
things, but it was on the basis of their unadulterated lower
selves," don Juan went on. "The inorganic beings became their
allies, and by means of deliberate examples, their allies taught
the old sorcerers marvels. Their allies performed the actions,
and the old sorcerers were guided step by step to copy those
actions; but the old sorcerers did so without changing anything
about their basic nature."
"Do these relationships with inorganic beings exist today?"
can't answer that truthfully. All I can say is that I can't conceive
of having a relationship like that myself. Involvements of this
nature curtail our search for freedom by consuming all our
available energy. In order to really follow their allies'
example, the old sorcerers had to spend their lives in the realm
of the inorganic beings. The amount of energy needed to
accomplish such a sustained journey is staggering."
"Do you mean, don Juan, that the old sorcerers were able to exist in those realms like we exist here?"
quite like we exist here, but certainly they lived: They retained
their awareness; their individuality. The dreaming emissary
became the most vital entity for those sorcerers. If a sorcerer
wants to live in the realm of the inorganic beings, the emissary
is the perfect bridge. It speaks, and its bent is to teach; to
"Have you ever been in that realm, don Juan?"
times. And so have you. But there is no point in talking about it
now. You haven't cleared all the debris from your dreaming attention
yet. We'll talk about that realm some day."
"Do I gather, don Juan, that you don't approve of or like the emissary?"
neither approve of it nor like it. It belongs to another mood; the
old sorcerers' mood. Besides, its teachings and guidance in our
world are nonsense. And for that nonsense the emissary charges us
enormities in terms of energy. One day you will agree with me.
In the tone of don Juan's words, I caught a veiled
implication of his belief that I disagreed with him about the
emissary. I was about to confront him with it when I heard the
emissary's voice in my ears.
"He's right," the voice said. "You
like me because you find nothing wrong with exploring all
possibilities. You want knowledge: Knowledge is power. You don't
want to remain safe in the routines and beliefs of your daily
The emissary said all that in English with a marked
Pacific Coast intonation. Then it shifted into Spanish. I heard a
slight Argentine accent. I had never heard the emissary speaking
like this before. It fascinated me. The emissary told me about
fulfillment; knowledge; about how far away I was from my
birthplace; about my craving for adventure and my near obsession
with new things; new horizons. The voice even talked to me in
Portuguese with a definite inflection from the southern pampas.
hear that voice pouring out all this flattery not only scared me,
but nauseated me. I told don Juan, right on the spot, that I had
to stop my dreaming training. He looked up at me, caught by
surprise. But when I repeated what I had heard, he agreed I
should stop, although I sensed he was doing it only to appease me.
few weeks later, I found my reaction a bit hysterical, and my decision
to withdraw unsound. I went back to my dreaming practices. I was
sure don Juan was aware that I had canceled out my withdrawal.
On one of my visits to him, quite abruptly, he spoke about dreams.
because we haven't been taught to emphasize dreams as a genuine
field for exploration doesn't mean they are not one," he began.
"Dreams are analyzed for their meaning or are taken as portents,
but never are they taken as a realm of real events."
my knowledge, only the old sorcerers did that," don Juan went on,
"but at the end they flubbed it. They got greedy, and when they
came to a crucial crossroads, they took the wrong fork. They put
all their eggs in one basket: the fixation of the assemblage
point on the thousands of positions it can adopt."
Juan expressed his bewilderment at the fact that out of all the
marvelous things the old sorcerers learned exploring those thousands
of positions, only the art of dreaming and the art of stalking
remain. He reiterated that the art of dreaming is concerned with
the displacement of the assemblage point. Then he defined
stalking as the art that deals with the fixation of the
assemblage point on any location to which it is displaced.
fixate the assemblage point on any new spot means to acquire
cohesion," he said. "You have been doing just that in your
"I thought I was perfecting my energy body," I said, somehow surprised at his statement.
are doing that and much more, you are learning to have cohesion.
Dreaming does it by forcing dreamers to fixate the assemblage point.
The dreaming attention, the energy body, the second attention,
the relationship with inorganic beings, and the dreaming emissary
are but by-products of acquiring cohesion. In other words, they
are all by-products of fixating the assemblage point on a number
of dreaming positions."
"What is a dreaming position, don Juan?"
"Any new position to which the assemblage point has been displaced during sleep."
"How do we fixate the assemblage point on a dreaming position?"
sustaining the view of any item in your dreams, or by changing dreams
at will. Through your dreaming practices, you are really
exercising your capacity to be cohesive. That is to say, you are
exercising your capacity to maintain a new energy shape by
holding the assemblage point fixed on the position of any
particular dream you are having."
"Do I really maintain a new energy shape?"
exactly, and not because you can't but only because you are
shifting the assemblage point instead of moving it. Shifts of the
assemblage point give rise to minute changes which are
practically unnoticeable. The challenge of shifts is that they
are so small and so numerous that to maintain cohesiveness in all
of them is a triumph."
"How do we know we are maintaining cohesion?"
"We know it by the clarity of our perception. The clearer the view of our dreams, the greater our cohesion."
said then that it was time for me to have a practical application of
what I had learned in dreaming. Without giving me a chance to ask
anything, he urged me to focus my attention, as if I were in a
dream, on the foliage of a desert tree growing nearby: a mesquite
"Do you want me to just gaze at it?" I asked.
don't want you to just gaze at it. I want you to do something
very special with that foliage," he said. "Remember that, in your
dreams, once you are able to hold the view of any item, you are
really holding the dreaming position of your assemblage point.
Now, gaze at those leaves as if you were in a dream, but with a
slight yet most meaningful variation. You are going to hold your
dreaming attention on the leaves of the mesquite tree in the
awareness of our daily world."
My nervousness made it impossible
for me to follow his line of thought. He patiently explained that
by staring at the foliage, I would accomplish a minute
displacement of my assemblage point. Then, by summoning my
dreaming attention through staring at individual leaves, I would
actually fixate that minute displacement, and my cohesion would
make me perceive in terms of the second attention. He added, with
a chuckle, that the process was so simple it was ridiculous.
Juan was right. All I needed was to focus my sight on the leaves,
maintain it, and in one instant I was drawn into a vortex-like
sensation, extremely like the vortexes in my dreams. The foliage
of the mesquite tree became a universe of sensory data. It was as
if the foliage had swallowed me, but it was not only my sight
that was engaged. If I touched the leaves, I actually felt them.
I could also smell them. My dreaming attention was multisensorial
instead of solely visual, as in my regular dreaming.
begun as gazing at the foliage of the mesquite tree had turned
into a dream. I believed I was in a dreamt tree, as I had been in
trees of countless dreams. And, naturally, I behaved in this
dreamt tree as I had learned to behave in my dreams: I moved from
item to item, pulled by the force of a vortex that took shape on
whatever part of the tree I focused my multisensorial dreaming
attention. Vortexes were formed not only on gazing, but also on
touching anything with any part of my body.
In the midst of this
vision or dream, I had an attack of rational doubts. I began to
wonder if I had really climbed the tree in a daze and was
actually hugging the leaves, lost in the foliage, without knowing
what I was doing. Or perhaps I had fallen asleep, possibly
mesmerized by the fluttering of leaves in the wind, and was
having a dream.
But just like in dreaming, I didn't have enough
energy to ponder for too long. My thoughts were fleeting. They
lasted an instant, and then the force of direct experience
blanketed them out completely.
A sudden motion around me shook
everything and virtually made me emerge from a clump of leaves as
if I had broken away from the tree's magnetic pull.
I was facing
then, from an elevation, an immense horizon. Dark mountains and
green vegetation surrounded me. Another jolt of energy made me shake
from my bones out.
Then I was somewhere else. Enormous
trees loomed everywhere. They were bigger than the Douglas firs
of Oregon and Washington State. Never had I seen a forest like
that. The scenery was such a contrast to the aridness of the
Sonoran desert that it left me with no doubt that I was having a dream.
held on to that extraordinary view, afraid to let go, knowing that it
was indeed a dream and would disappear once I had run out of
dreaming attention. But the images lasted even when I thought I
should have run out of dreaming attention. A horrifying thought
crossed my mind then: What if this was neither a dream nor the
Frightened, as an animal must experience fright, I
recoiled into the clump of leaves I had emerged from. The
momentum of my backward motion kept me going through the tree
foliage and around the hard branches. It pulled me away from the
tree, and in one split second I was standing next to don Juan, at
the door of his house, in the desert in Sonora.
realized I had entered again into a state in which I could think
coherently, but I could not talk. Don Juan told me not to worry. He
said that our speech faculty is extremely flimsy, and attacks of
muteness are common among sorcerers who venture beyond the limits
of normal perception.
My gut feeling was that don Juan had taken
pity on me and had decided to give me a pep talk. But the voice
of the dreaming emissary, which I clearly heard at that instant,
said that in a few hours and after some rest, I was going to be
Upon awakening I gave don Juan, at his request,
a complete description of what I had seen and done. He warned me
that it was not possible to rely on my rationality to understand
my experience, not because my rationality was in any way
impaired, but because what had taken place was a phenomenon
outside the parameters of reason.
I, naturally, argued that
nothing can be outside the limits of reason. Things can be
obscure, but sooner or later reason always finds a way to shed
light on anything. And I really believed this.
Don Juan, with
extreme patience, pointed out that reason is only a by-product of
the habitual position of the assemblage point. Therefore, knowing
what is going on, being of sound mind, having our feet on the
ground- sources of great pride to us and assumed to be a natural
consequence of our worth- are merely the result of the fixation
of the assemblage point on its habitual place. The more rigid and
stationary it is, the greater our confidence in ourselves; the
greater our feeling of knowing the world; of being able to
He added that what dreaming does is give us the
fluidity to enter into other worlds by destroying our sense of
knowing this world. He called dreaming a journey of unthinkable
dimensions; a journey that, after making us perceive everything
we can humanly perceive, makes the assemblage point jump outside
the human domain and perceive the inconceivable.
"We are back
again," he went on, "harping on the most important topic of the
sorcerers' world; the position of the assemblage point. The old
sorcerers' curse, as well as mankind's thorn in the side."
"Why do you say that, don Juan?"
both the old sorcerers fell prey and mankind in general falls
prey to the position of the assemblage point: the old sorcerers
because, although they knew all about the assemblage point, they
fell for its facility to be manipulated; mankind in general,
because by not knowing that the assemblage point exists, we are
obliged to take the by-product of its habitual position as
something final and indisputable.
"You must avoid falling into
those traps," he continued. "It'd be really disgusting if you
sided with mankind as if you didn't know about the existence of
the assemblage point. But it'd be even more insidious if you
sided with the old sorcerers and cynically manipulate the assemblage
point for gain."
"I still don't understand. What is the connection of all this with what I experienced yesterday?"
you were in a different world. But if you ask me where that world
is, and I tell you that it is in the position of the assemblage
point, my answer won't make any sense to you."
Don Juan's argument was that I had two choices.
was to follow mankind's rationales and be faced with a predicament:
My experience would tell me that other worlds exist, but my
reason would say that such worlds do not and cannot exist.
other choice was to follow the old sorcerers' rationales, in which
case I would automatically accept the existence of other worlds,
and my greed alone would make my assemblage point hold on to the
position that creates those worlds. The result would be another
kind of predicament; that of having to move physically into
visionlike realms, driven by expectations of power and gain.
was too numb to follow his argument, but then I realized I did not have
to follow it because I agreed with him completely despite the
fact that I did not have a total picture of what I was agreeing
about. Agreeing with him was rather a feeling that came from far
away; an ancient certainty I had lost which was now slowly
finding its way back to me.
The return to my dreaming practices
eliminated these turmoils, but created new ones. For example,
after months of hearing it daily, I stopped finding the dreaming
emissary's voice an annoyance or a wonder. It became a matter of
course for me.
And I made so many mistakes influenced by what it
said that I almost understood don Juan's reluctance to take it
seriously. A psychoanalyst would have had a field day
interpreting the emissary according to all the possible
permutations of my intrapersonal dynamics.
Don Juan maintained a
steadfast view on the dreaming emissary: It is an impersonal but
constant force from the realm of inorganic beings. Thus, every
dreamer experiences it, in more or less the same terms. If we
choose to take its words as advice, we are incurable fools.
I was definitely one of them. There was no way I could have
remained impassive being in direct contact with such an
extraordinary event: a voice that clearly and concisely told me
in three languages hidden things about anything or anyone I
focused my attention on. Its only drawback, which was of no
consequence to me, was that we were not synchronized. The
emissary used to tell me things about people or events when I had
honestly forgotten I had been interested in them.
don Juan about this oddity, and he said that it had to do with
the rigidity of my assemblage point. He explained that I had been
reared by old adults and that they had imbued me with old
people's views. Therefore, I was dangerously righteous. His urge
to give me potions of hallucinogenic plants was but an effort, he
said, to shake my assemblage point and allow it to have a minimal
margin of fluidity.
"If you don't develop this margin," he went
on, "either you'll become more righteous or you'll become a
hysterical sorcerer. My interest in telling you about the old
sorcerers is not to bad-mouth them but to pit them against you.
Sooner or later, your assemblage point will be more fluid, but
not fluid enough to offset your facility to be like them:
righteous and hysterical."
"How can I avoid all that, don Juan?"
is only one way. Sorcerers call it sheer understanding. I call it
a romance with knowledge. It's the drive sorcerers use to know,
to discover, to be bewildered."
Don Juan changed the
subject and continued to explain the fixation of the assemblage
point. He said that seeing children's assemblage points
constantly fluttering as if moved by tremors and changing their place
with ease, the old sorcerers came to the conclusion that the
assemblage point's habitual location is not innate but brought
about by habituation. Seeing also that only in adults is it fixed
on one spot, they surmised that the specific location of the
assemblage point fetters a specific way of perceiving. Through
usage, this specific way of perceiving becomes a system of
interpreting sensory data.
Don Juan pointed out that since we
are drafted into that system by being born into it, from the
moment of our birth we imperatively strive to adjust our
perceiving to conform to the demands of this system; a system that
rules us for life. Consequently, the old sorcerers were
thoroughly right in believing that the act of countermanding that
system and perceiving energy directly is what transforms a person
into a sorcerer.
Don Juan expressed wonder at what he called the
greatest accomplishment of our human upbringing: The ability to
lock our assemblage point on its habitual position. And
furthermore, once it is immobilized there, our perception can be
coached and guided to interpret what we perceive. In other words,
we can then be guided to perceive more in terms of our system than
in terms of our senses.
He assured me that human
perception is universally homogeneous, because the assemblage
points of the whole human race are fixed on the same spot.
went on to say that sorcerers prove all this to themselves when they
see that at the moment the assemblage point is displaced beyond a
certain threshold, and new filaments of energy begin to be
perceived, there is no sense to what we perceive. The immediate
cause is that new sensory data has rendered our conventional
system inoperative; our formerly established system can no longer
be used to interpret what we are newly perceiving.
without our customary system is, of course, chaotic," don Juan
continued. "But strangely enough, when we think we have truly lost
our bearings, our old system rallies. It comes to our rescue and
transforms our new incomprehensible perception into a thoroughly
comprehensible new world. Just like what happened to you when you
gazed at the leaves of the mesquite tree."
"What exactly happened to me, don Juan?"
perception was chaotic for a while. Everything came to you at
once, and your system for interpreting the world didn't function.
Then, the chaos cleared up, and there you were in front of a new
"We are again, don Juan, at the same place we were
before. Does that world exist, or is it merely my mind that
"We certainly are back, and the answer is still
the same. It exists in the precise position your assemblage point
was at that moment. In order to perceive it, you needed cohesion,
that is, you needed to maintain your assemblage point fixed on
that position; which you did. The result was that you totally
perceived a new world for a while."
"But would others perceive that same world?"
they had uniformity and cohesion, they would. Uniformity is to hold,
in unison, the same position of the assemblage point. The old
sorcerers called the entire act of acquiring uniformity and
cohesion outside the normal world stalking perception.
art of stalking," he continued, "as I have already said, deals with
the fixation of the assemblage point. The old sorcerers
discovered, through practice, that important as it is to displace
the assemblage point, it is equallly important to make it stay
fixed on its new position, wherever that new position might be."
explained that if the assemblage point does not become stationary,
there is no way that we can perceive coherently. We would
experience then a kaleidoscope of disassociated images. This is
the reason the old sorcerers put as much emphasis on stalking as
they did on dreaming. One art cannot exist without the other,
especially for the kinds of activities in which the old sorcerers
"What were those activities, don Juan?"
"The old sorcerers called them the intricacies of the second attention, or the grand adventure of the unknown."
Juan said that these activities stem from the displacements of
the assemblage point. Not only had the old sorcerers learned to
displace their assemblage points to thousands of positions on the
surface or on the inside of their energy masses, but they had
also learned to fixate their assemblage points on those
positions; and thus retain their cohesiveness indefinitely.
"What was the benefit of that, don Juan?"
"We can't talk about benefits. We can talk only about end results."
explained that the cohesiveness of the old sorcerers was such that
it allowed them to become perceptually and physically everything
the specific position of their assemblage points dictated. They
could transform themselves into anything for which they had a
specific inventory. An inventory is, he said, all the details of
perception involved in becoming, for example, a jaguar, a bird,
an insect, et cetera, et cetera.
"It's very hard for me to believe that this transformation can be possible," I said.
"It is possible," he assured me. "Not so much for you and me, but for them. For them, it was nothing."
said that the old sorcerers had superb fluidity. All they needed was
the slightest shift of their assemblage points, the slightest
perceptual cue from their dreaming, and they would
instantaneously stalk their perception, rearrange their
cohesiveness to fit their new state of awareness, and be an
animal, another person, a bird, or anything.
"But isn't that what mentally ill people do? Make up their own reality as they go along?" I said.
it isn't the same. Insane people imagine a reality of their own
because they don't have any preconceived purpose at all. Insane
people bring chaos into the chaos. Sorcerers, on the contrary,
bring order to the chaos. Their preconceived, transcendental
purpose is to free their perception.
Sorcerers don't make up the
world they are perceiving. They perceive energy directly. And
then they discover that what they are perceiving is an unknown
new world which can swallow them whole because it is as real as
anything we know to be real."
Don Juan then gave me a new
version of what had happened to me as I gazed at the mesquite
tree. He said that I began by perceiving the energy of the tree.
On the subjective level, however, I believed I was dreaming because
I employed dreaming techniques to perceive energy.
asserted that to use dreaming techniques in the world of everyday
life was one of the old sorcerers' most effective devices. It
made perceiving energy directly dreamlike, instead of totally
chaotic, until a moment when something rearranged perception and
the sorcerer found himself facing a new world- the very thing
that had happened to me.
I told him about the thought I'd had,
which I had barely dared to think: that the scenery I was viewing
was not a dream, nor was it our daily world.
"It wasn't," he
said. "I've been saying this to you over and over, and you think
that I am merely repeating myself. I know how difficult it is for
the mind to allow mindless possibilities to become real. But new
worlds exist! They are wrapped one around the other, like the
skins of an onion. The world we exist in is but one of those
"Do you mean, don Juan, that the goal of your teaching is to prepare me to go into those worlds?"
I don't mean that. Those journeys are the antecedents [*
antecedent- someone from whom you are descended; something which
preceedes and causes another result] of the sorcerers of today.
go into those worlds only as an exercise. We do the same dreaming
that the old sorcerers used to do, but at one moment we deviate
into new ground. The old sorcerers preferred the shifts of the
assemblage point, so they were always on more or less known,
predictable ground. We prefer the movements of the assemblage
point. The old sorcerers were after the human unknown. We are
after the nonhuman unknown."
"I haven't gotten to that yet, have I?"
You are only beginning. And at the beginning everyone has to go
through the old sorcerers' steps. After all, they were the ones
who invented dreaming."
"At what point will I then begin to learn the new sorcerers' brand of dreaming?"
have enormous ground yet to cover. Years from now perhaps. Besides,
in your case, I have to be extraordinarily careful. In character,
you are definitely linked to the old sorcerers. I've said this to
you before, but you always manage to avoid my probes.
"Sometimes I even think that some alien energy is advising you, but then I discard the idea. You are not devious."
"What are you talking about, don Juan?"
"You've done, unwittingly, two things that worry the hell out of me.
"You traveled with your energy body to a place outside this world the first time you dreamt; you even walked there!
then you traveled with your energy body to another place outside
this world, but parting from the awareness of the daily world."
"Why would that worry you, don Juan?"
is too easy for you. That is a damnation if we don't watch it. It
leads to the human unknown. As I said to you, modern-day sorcerers
strive to get to the nonhuman unknown."
"What can the nonhuman unknown be?"
from being human. Inconceivable worlds that are outside the band
of man but that we still can perceive. This is where modern
sorcerers take the side road. Their predilection is what's
outside the human domain. And what are outside that domain are
all-inclusive worlds; not merely the realm of birds or the realm
of animals or the realm of man- even if it be the unknown man.
"What I am talking about are worlds, like the one where we live; total worlds with endless realms."
"Where are those worlds, don Juan? In different positions of the assemblage point?"
In different positions of the assemblage point, but positions
sorcerers arrive at with a movement of the assemblage point, not a
Entering into those worlds is the type of dreaming only
sorcerers of today do. The old sorcerers stayed away from it
because it requires a great deal of detachment and no
self-importance whatsoever. A price they couldn't afford to pay.
"For the sorcerers who practice dreaming today, dreaming is freedom to perceive worlds beyond the imagination."
"But, what's the point of perceiving all that?"
already asked me, today, the same question. You speak like a true
merchant. What's the risk? you ask. What's the percentage gain to
my investment? Is it going to better me?"
"There is no way
to answer that. The merchant mind does commerce. But freedom
cannot be an investment. Freedom is an adventure with no end in
which we risk our lives and much more for a few moments of something
beyond words; beyond thoughts or feelings."
"I didn't ask
that question in that spirit, don Juan. What I want to know is
what can be the driving force to do all this for a lazy bum like
"To seek freedom is the only driving force I know.
Freedom to fly off into that infinity out there. Freedom to
dissolve; to lift off; to be like the flame of a candle, which,
in spite of being up against the light of a billion stars,
remains intact, because it never pretended to be more than what
it is: a mere candle."
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
5. The World of Inorganic Beings
to my agreement to wait for don Juan to initiate any comment on
dreaming, only in cases of necessity did I ask him for advice.
Ordinarily, though, he not only seemed reluctant to touch the
subject but was somehow displeased with me about it. In my
estimation, a confirmation of his disapproval was the fact that
whenever we talked about my dreaming activities, he always
minimized the import of anything I had accomplished.
For me, at
that time, the animate existence of inorganic beings had become
the most crucial aspect of my dreaming practices. After encountering
them in my dreams, and especially after my bout with them in the
desert around don Juan's house, I should have been more willing
to take their existence as a serious affair. But all these events
had quite the opposite effect on me. I became adamant and
doggedly denied the possibility that they existed.
Then I had a
change of heart and decided to conduct an objective inquiry about
them. The method of this inquiry required that I first compile a
record of everything that transpired in my dreaming sessions, then use
that record as a matrix to find out if my dreaming proved or
disproved anything about the inorganic beings. I actually wrote
down hundreds of pages of meticulous but meaningless details when
it should have been clear to me that the evidence of their
existence had been gathered almost as soon as I had started my
It took but a few sessions for me to discover that what
I thought to be don Juan's casual recommendation- to suspend
judgment and let the inorganic beings come to me- was, in fact,
the very procedure used by the sorcerers of antiquity to attract
them. By leaving me to find it out for myself, don Juan was
simply following his sorcery training. He had remarked time and
time again that it is very difficult to make the self give up its
strongholds except through practice. One of the self's strongest
lines of defense is indeed our rationality, and this is not only
the most durable line of defense when it comes to sorcery actions
and explanations but also the most threatened. Don Juan believed
that the existence of inorganic beings is a foremost assailant of
In my dreaming practices, I had an established
course, which I followed every single day without deviation. I
aimed first at observing every conceivable item of my dreams,
then at changing dreams. I can say in sincerity that I observed
universes of detail in dreams upon dreams.
As a matter of
course, at one given moment my dreaming attention began to wane,
and my dreaming sessions ended: either in my falling asleep and
having regular dreams in which I had no dreaming attention
whatsoever; or in my waking up and not being able to sleep at all.
time to time, however, as don Juan had described it, a current of
foreign energy, a scout, as he called it, was injected into my dreams.
Being forewarned helped me to adjust my dreaming attention and be
on the alert. The first time I noticed foreign energy, I was
dreaming about shopping in a department store. I was going from
counter to counter looking for antiques. I finally found one. The
incongruence of looking for antiques in a department store was so
obvious that it made me chuckle, but since I had found one, I
forgot about that incongruence. The antique was the handle of a
walking stick. The salesman told me that it was made of iridium, which
he called one of the hardest substances in the world. It was a
carved piece: the head and shoulders of a monkey. It looked like
jade to me. The salesman was insulted when I insinuated that it
might be jade, and to prove his point he hurled the object, with
all his strength, against the cement floor. It did not break but
bounced like a ball and then sailed away, spinning like a
Frisbee. I followed it. It disappeared behind some trees. I ran to look
for it, and I found it, stuck on the ground. It had been
transformed into an extraordinarily beautiful, deep green and
black, full-length walking stick.
I coveted it. I grabbed it and
struggled to pull it out of the ground before anyone else came
along. But, hard as I tried, I could not make it budge. I was
afraid I would break it if I attempted to pry it loose by shaking
it back and forth. So I began to dig around it with my bare
hands. As I kept on digging, it kept on melting, until only a
puddle of green water was left in its place. I stared at the
water; it suddenly seemed to explode. It turned into a white
bubble, and then it was gone. My dream continued into other
images and details, which were not outstanding, although they were
When I told don Juan about this dream, he
said, "You isolated a scout. Scouts are more numerous when our
dreams are average, normal dreams. The dreams of dreamers are
strangely free from scouts. When they appear, they are
identifiable by the strangeness and incongruity surrounding them."
"Incongruity, in what manner, don Juan?"
"Their presence doesn't make any sense."
"Very few things make sense in a dream."
in average dreams are things nonsensical. I would say that this is
so because more scouts are injected then, because average people
are subject to a greater barrage from the unknown."
"Do you know why is that so, don Juan?"
my opinion, what takes place is a balance of forces. Average people
have stupendously strong barriers to protect themselves against
those onslaughts. Barriers such as worries about the self. The
stronger the barrier, the greater the attack.
by contrast, have fewer barriers and fewer scouts in their
dreams. It seems that in dreamers' dreams nonsensical things
disappear, perhaps to ensure that dreamers catch the presence of
Don Juan advised me to pay close attention and remember
every single possible detail of the dream I had had. He even made
me repeat what I had told him.
"You baffle me," I said.
"You don't want to hear anything about my dreaming, and then you
do. Is there any order to your refusals and acceptances?"
bet there is order behind all this," he said. "Chances are, you'll
do the same someday to another dreamer. Some items are of key
importance because they are associated with the spirit. Others
are entirely unimportant because they are associated with our
"The first scout you isolate will always be present; it could be in any form, even iridium. By the way, what's iridium?"
"I don't really know," I said in total sincerity.
"There you are! And what will you say if it turns out to be one of the strongest substances in the world?"
Don Juan's eyes shone with delight while I nervously laughed at that absurd possibility- which I later learned was true.
began to notice from then on the presence of incongruous items in
my dreams. Once I had accepted don Juan's categorization of
foreign energy in dreams, I totally agreed with him that
incongruous items were foreign invaders of my dreams. Upon
isolating them, my dreaming attention always focused on them with
an intensity that did not occur under any other circumstances.
thing I noticed was that every time foreign energy invaded my
dreams, my dreaming attention had to work hard to turn it into a
known object. The handicap of my dreaming attention was its
inability to accomplish fully such a transformation. The end
result was a bastardized item, nearly unknown to me. The foreign
energy then dissipated quite easily, the bastardized item
vanished, turning into a blob of light, which was quickly
absorbed by other pressing details of my dreams.
When I asked
don Juan to comment on what was happening to me, he said, "At
this point in your dreaming, scouts are reconnoiterers sent by the
inorganic realm. They are very fast, meaning that they don't stay
"Why do you say that they are reconnoiterers, don Juan?"
come in search of potential awareness. They have consciousness
and purpose, although it is incomprehensible to our minds,
comparable perhaps to the consciousness and purpose of trees. The
inner speed of trees and inorganic beings is incomprehensible to
us because it is infinitely slower than ours."
"What makes you say that, don Juan?"
trees and inorganic beings last longer than we do. They are made
to stay put. They are immobile, yet they make everything move
"Do you mean, don Juan, that inorganic beings are stationary like trees?"
What you see in dreaming as bright or dark sticks are their
projections. What you hear as the voice of the dreaming emissary is
equally their projection. And so are their scouts."
some unfathomable reason, I was overwhelmed by these statements. I
was suddenly filled with anxiety. I asked don Juan if trees also
had projections like that."
"They do," he said. "Their
projections are, however, even less friendly to us than those of
the inorganic beings. Dreamers never seek them, unless they are
in a state of profound amenity with trees, which is a very
difficult state to attain. We have no friends on this earth, you
know." He chuckled and added, "It's no mystery why."
"It may not be a mystery to you, don Juan, but it certainly is to me."
"We are destructive. We have antagonized every living being on this earth. That's why we have no friends."
felt so ill at ease that I wanted to stop the conversation altogether.
But a compulsive urge made me return to the subject of inorganic
"What do you think I should do to follow the scouts?" I asked.
"Why in the world would you want to follow them?"
"I am conducting an objective inquiry about inorganic beings."
"You're pulling my leg, aren't you? I thought you were unmovable on your stand that inorganic beings don't exist."
His scoffing tone and cackling laughter told me what his thoughts and feelings about my objective inquiry were.
"I've changed my mind, don Juan. Now I want to explore all those possibilities."
the realm of inorganic beings was the old sorcerers' field. To
get there, they tenaciously fixed their dreaming attention on the items
of their dreams. In that fashion, they were able to isolate the
scouts. And when they had the scouts in focus, they shouted their
intent to follow them. The instant the old sorcerers voiced that
intent, off they went, pulled by that foreign energy."
"Is it that simple, don Juan?"
He did not answer. He just laughed at me as if daring me to do it.
home, I tired of searching for don Juan's true meanings. I was
thoroughly unwilling to consider that he might have described an
actual procedure. After running out of ideas and patience, one
day I let my guard down. In a dream I was having then, I was
baffled by a fish that had suddenly jumped out of a pond I was
walking by. The fish twitched by my feet, then flew like a
colored bird, perching on a branch, still being a fish. The scene was
so outlandish that my dreaming attention was galvanized. I
instantly knew it was a scout. A second later, when the fish-bird
turned into a point of light, I shouted my intent to follow it,
and, just as don Juan had said, off I went into another world.
flew through a seemingly dark tunnel as if I were a weightless
flying insect. The sensation of a tunnel ended abruptly. It was
exactly as if I had been spewed out of a tube and the impulse had
left me smack against an immense physical mass. I was almost
touching it. I could not see the end of it in any direction I
looked. The entire thing reminded me so much of science fiction
movies that I was utterly convinced I was constructing the view
of that mass myself, as one constructs a dream. Why not? The thought
I had was that, after all, I was asleep, dreaming.
settled down to observe the details of my dream. What I was viewing
looked very much like a gigantic sponge. It was porous and
cavernous. I could not feel its texture, but it looked rough and
fibrous. It was dark brownish in color. Then I had a momentary
jolt of doubt about that silent mass being just a dream. What I
was facing did not change shape. It did not move either. As I
looked at it fixedly, I had the complete impression of something
real but stationary. It was planted somewhere, and it had such a
powerful attraction that I was incapable of deviating my dreaming
attention to examine anything else, including myself. Some
strange force, which I had never before encountered in my
dreaming, had me riveted down.
Then I clearly felt that the mass
released my dreaming attention. All my awareness focused on the
scout that had taken me there. It looked like a firefly in the
darkness, hovering over me, by my side. In its realm, it was a
blob of sheer energy. I was able to see its energetic sizzling. It
seemed to be conscious of me. Suddenly, it lurched onto me and
tugged me or prodded me. I did not feel its touch, yet I knew it
was touching me. That sensation was startling and new, it was as
if a part of me that was not there had been electrified by that
touch, ripples of energy went through it, one after another.
that moment on, everything in my dreaming became much more real. I
had a very difficult time keeping the idea that I was dreaming a
dream. To this difficulty, I had to add the certainty I had that
with its touch the scout had made an energetic connection with
me. I knew what it wanted me to do the instant it seemed to tug
me or shove me.
The first thing it did was to push me through a
huge cavern or opening into the physical mass I had been facing.
Once I was inside that mass, I realized that the interior was as
homogeneously porous as the outside but much softer looking, as
if the roughness had been sanded down. What I was facing was a
structure that looked something like the enlarged picture of a
beehive. There were countless geometric-shaped tunnels going in
every direction. Some went up or down, or to my left or my right.
They were at angles with one another, or going up or down on
steep or mild inclines.
The light was very dim, yet everything
was perfectly visible. The tunnels seemed to be alive and
conscious: They sizzled. I stared at them, and the realization
that I was seeing hit me. Those were tunnels of energy. At the
instant of this realization, the voice of the dreaming emissary
roared inside my ears, so loudly I could not understand what it
said. "Lower it down," I yelled with unusual impatience and
became aware that if I spoke, I blocked my view of the tunnels
and entered into a vacuum where all I could do was hear.
emissary modulated its voice and said, "You are inside an
inorganic being. Choose a tunnel and you can even live in it."
The voice stopped for an instant, then added, "That is, if you
want to do it."
I could not bring myself to say anything. I was
afraid that any statement of mine might be construed as the
opposite of what I meant.
"There are endless advantages for
you," the emissary's voice continued. "You can live in as many
tunnels as you want. And each one of them will teach something
different. The sorcerers of antiquity lived in this manner and
learned marvelous things."
I sensed without any feeling that the
scout was pushing me from behind. It appeared to want me to move
onward. I took the tunnel to my immediate right. As soon as I was
in it, something made me aware that I was not walking on the
tunnel; I was hovering in it, flying. I was a blob of energy no
different from the scout.
The voice of the emissary sounded
inside my ears again. "Yes, you are just a blob of energy," it
said. Its redundancy brought me an intense relief. "And you are
floating inside one inorganic being," it went on. "This is the
way the scout wants you to move in this world. When it touched
you, it changed you forever. You are practically one of us now.
If you want to stay here, just voice your intent." The emissary
stopped talking, and the view of the tunnel returned to me. But
when it spoke again, something had been adjusted. I did not lose
sight of that world and I still could hear the emissary's voice.
"The ancient sorcerers learned everything they knew about dreaming
by staying here among us," it said.
I was going to ask if
they had learned everything they knew by just living inside those
tunnels, but before I voiced my question the emissary answered
it. "Yes, they learned everything by just living inside the
inorganic beings," it said. "To live inside them, all the old
sorcerers had to do was say they wanted to, just like all it took
for you to get here was to voice your intent, loud and clear."
scout pushed against me to signal me to continue moving. I
hesitated, and it did something equivalent to shoving me with
such a force that I shot like a bullet through endless tunnels. I
finally stopped because the scout stopped. We hovered for an
instant. Then we dropped into a vertical tunnel. I did not feel
the drastic change of direction. As far as my perception was
concerned, I was still moving seemingly parallel to the ground.
changed directions many times with the same perceptual effect on me.
I began to formulate a thought about my incapacity to feel that I
was moving up or down when I heard the emissary's voice. "I think
you'll be more comfortable if you crawl rather than fly," it
said. "You can also move like a spider or a fly, straight up or
down or upside down."
Instantaneously, I settled down. It was as
if I had been fluffy and suddenly I got some weight, which
grounded me. I could not feel the tunnel's walls, but the
emissary was right about my being more comfortable when crawling.
this world you don't have to be pinned down by gravity," it said.
Of course, I was able to realize that myself. "You don't have to
breathe either," the voice went on. "And, for your convenience
alone, you can retain your eyesight and see as you see in your
world." The emissary seemed to be deciding whether to add more.
It coughed, just like a man clearing his throat, and said, "The
eyesight is never impairedf. Therefore, a dreamer always speaks
about his dreaming in terms of what he sees."
The scout pushed
me into a tunnel to my right. It was somehow darker than the
others. To me, at a preposterous level, it seemed cozier than the
others, more friendly or even known to me. The thought crossed my mind
that I was like that tunnel or that the tunnel was like me.
"You two have met before," the emissary's voice said.
"I beg your pardon," I said. I had understood what it said, but the statement was incomprehensible."
two wrestled, and because of that you now carry each other's energy."
I thought that the emissary's voice carried a touch of malice or
"No, it isn't sarcasm," the emissary said. "I am glad that you have relatives here among us."
"What do you mean by relatives?" I asked.
"Shared energy makes kinship," it replied. "Energy is like blood."
I was unable to say anything else. I clearly felt pangs of fear.
"Fear is something that is absent in this world," the emissary said.
And that was the only statement that was not true.
dreaming ended there. I was so shocked by the vividness of
everything, and by the impressive clarity and continuity of the
emissary's statements, that I could not wait to tell don Juan. It
surprised and disturbed me that he did not want to hear my
account. He did not say so, but I had the impression that he
believed all of it had been a product of my indulging personality.
"Why are you behaving like this with me?" I asked. "Are you displeased with me?"
I am not displeased with you," he said. "The problem is that I
can't talk about this part of your dreaming. You are completely
by yourself in this case. I have said to you that inorganic
beings are real. You are finding out how real they are. But what
you do with this finding is your business, yours alone. Someday
you'll see the reason for my staying away."
"But isn't there something you can tell me about that dream?" I insisted.
I can say is that it wasn't a dream. It was a journey into the
unknown. A necessary journey, I may add, and an ultrapersonal one."
He changed the subject then and began to talk about other aspects of his teachings.
that day on, in spite of my fear and don Juan's reluctance to
advise me, I became a regular dream traveler to that spongy
world. I discovered right away that the greater my capacity to
observe the details of my dreams, the greater my facility to
isolate the scouts.
If I chose to acknowledge the scouts as foreign energy, they remained within my perceptual field for a while.
If I chose to turn the scouts into quasi known objects, they stayed even longer, changing shapes erratically.
if I followed them, by revealing out loud my intent to go with them,
the scouts veritably transported my dreaming attention to a world
beyond what I can normally imagine.
Don Juan had said that
inorganic beings are always poised to teach. But he had not told
me that dreaming is what they are poised to teach. He had stated
that the dreaming emissary, since it is a voice, is the perfect
bridge between that world and ours. I found out that the dreaming
emissary was not only a teacher's voice but the voice of a most
subtle salesman. It repeated on and on, at the proper time and
occasion, the advantages of its world. Yet it also taught me
invaluable things about dreaming. Listening to what it said, I
understood the old sorcerers' preference for concrete practices.
perfect dreaming, the first thing you have to do is shut off your
internal dialogue," it said to me one time. "For best results in
shutting it off, put between your fingers some two to three inch
long quartz crystals or a couple of smooth, thin river pebbles.
Bend your fingers slightly, and press the crystals or pebbles
The emissary said that metal pins, if they were the
size and width of one's fingers, were equally effective. The
procedure consisted of pressing at least three thin items between
the fingers of each hand and creating, an almost painful pressure
in the hands. This pressure had the strange property of shutting
off the internal dialogue. The emissary's expressed preference
was for quartz crystals. It said that they gave the best results,
although with practice anything was suitable.
asleep at a moment of total silence guarantees a perfect entrance
into dreaming," said the emissary's voice, "and it also guarantees
the enhancing of one's dreaming attention."
"Dreamers should wear a gold ring," said the emissary to me another time, "preferably fitted a bit tight."
emissary's explanation was that such a ring serves as a bridge
for surfacing from dreaming back into the daily world or for
sinking from our daily awareness into the inorganic beings' realm.
"How does this bridge work?" I asked. I had not understood what was involved.
contact of the fingers on the ring lays the bridge down," the
emissary said. "If a dreamer comes into my world wearing a ring,
that ring attracts the energy of my world and keeps it; and when
that energy is needed, that energy transports the dreamer back to
this world through the ring's releasing it into the dreamer's
"The pressure of that ring around a finger serves
equally well to ensure a dreamer's return to his world. It gives
him a constant, familiar sense on his finger."
another dreaming session, the emissary said that our skin is the
perfect organ for transposing energy waves from the mode of the daily
world to the mode of the inorganic beings and vice versa. It
recommended that I keep my skin cool and free from pigments or
It also recommended that dreamers wear a tight belt or
headband or necklace to create a pressure point that serves as a
skin center of energy exchange. The emissary explained that the
skin automatically screens energy, and that what we need to do to
make the skin not only screen but exchange energy from one mode
to the other is to express our intent out loud, in dreaming.
day the emissary's voice gave me a fabulous bonus. It said that,
in order to ensure the keenness and accuracy of our dreaming
attention, we must bring it from behind the roof of the mouth,
where an enormous reservoir of attention is located in all human
beings. The emissary's specific directions were to practice and
learn the discipline and control necessary to press the tip of
the tongue on the roof of the mouth while dreaming. This task is
as difficult and consuming, the emissary said, as finding one's
hands in a dream. But, once it is accomplished, this task gives
the most astounding results in terms of controlling the dreaming
I received a profusion of instructions on every
conceivable subject, instructions that I promptly forgot if they
were not endlessly repeated to me. I sought don Juan's advice on
how to resolve this problem of forgetting.
His comment was as brief as I had expected. "Focus only on what the emissary tells you about dreaming," he said.
the emissary's voice repeated enough times, I grasped with
tremendous interest and fervor. Faithful to don Juan's recommendation,
I only followed its guidance when it referred to dreaming and I
personally corroborated the value of its instruction. The most
vital piece of information for me was that the dreaming attention
comes from behind the roof of the mouth. It took a great deal of
effort on my part to feel in dreaming that I was pressing the
roof of my mouth with the tip of my tongue. Once I accomplished
this, my dreaming attention took on a life of its own and became,
I may say, keener than my normal attention to the daily world.
did not take much for me to deduce how deep must have been the
involvement of the old sorcerers with the inorganic beings. Don
Juan's commentaries and warnings about the danger of such an
involvement became more vital than ever. I tried my best to live
up to his standards of self-examination with no indulgence. Thus,
the emissary's voice and what it said became a superchallenge for
me. I had to avoid, at all cost, succumbing to the temptation of
the emissary's promise of knowledge, and I had to do this all by
myself since don Juan continued to refuse to listen to my
"You must give me at least a hint about what I should do," I insisted on one occasion when I was bold enough to ask him.
"I can't," he said with finality, "and don't ask again. I've told you, in this instance, dreamers have to be left alone."
"But you don't even know what I want to ask you."
yes I do. You want me to tell you that it is all right to live in one
of those tunnels, if for no other reason than just to know what
the emissary's voice is talking about."
I admitted that
this was exactly my dilemma. If nothing else, I wanted to know
what was implied in the statement that one can live inside those
"I went through the same turmoil myself," don Juan went
on, "and no one could help me because this is a superpersonal and
final decision; a final decision made the instant you voice your
desire to live in that world. In order to get you to voice that
desire, the inorganic beings are going to cater to your most
"This is really diabolical, don Juan."
can say that again. But not just because of what you are thinking.
For you, the diabolical part is the temptation to give in,
especially when such great rewards are at stake. For me, the
diabolical nature of the inorganic beings' realm is that it might
very well be the only sanctuary dreamers have in a hostile
"Is it really a haven for dreamers, don Juan?"
definitely is for some dreamers. Not for me. I don't need props
or railings. I know what I am. I am alone in a hostile universe,
and I have learned to say. So be it!"
That was the end of
our exchange. He had not said what I wanted to hear, yet I knew
that even the desire to know what it was like to live in a tunnel
meant almost to choose that way of life. I was not interested in such
a thing. I made my decision right then to continue my dreaming
practices without any further implications. I quickly told don
Juan about it.
"Don't say anything," he advised me. "But do
understand that if you choose to stay, your decision is final.
You'll stay there forever."
It is impossible for me to judge
objectively what took place during the countless times I dreamt
of that world. I can say that it appeared to be a world as real
as any dream can be real. Or I can say that it appeared to be as
real as our daily world is real. Dreaming of that world, I became
aware of what don Juan had said to me many times: that under the
influence of dreaming, reality suffers a metamorphosis. I found
myself then facing the two options which, according to don Juan,
are the options faced by all dreamers: either we carefully revamp
or we completely disregard our system of sensory input
For don Juan, to revamp our interpretation
system meant to intend its reconditioning. It meant that one
deliberately and carefully attempts to enlarge its capabilities.
By living in accordance with the sorcerers' way, dreamers save
and store the necessary energy to suspend judgment and thus
facilitate that intended revamping. He explained that if we choose
to recondition our interpretation system, reality becomes fluid,
and the scope of what can be real is enhanced without endangering
the integrity of reality. Dreaming, then, indeed opens the door
into other aspects of what is real.
If we choose to
disregard our system, the scope of what can be perceived without
interpretation grows inordinately. The expansion of our
perception is so gigantic that we are left with very few tools
for sensory interpretation, and thus leaves a sense of an
infinite realness that is unreal; or an infinite unrealness that
could very well be real but is not.
For me, the only acceptable
option was reconstructing and enlarging my interpretation system.
In dreaming the inorganic beings' realm, I was faced with the
consistence of that world from dream to dream; from isolating the
scouts through listening to the dreaming emissary's voice to going
through tunnels. I went through them without feeling anything,
yet being aware that space and time were constant, although not
in terms discernible by rationality under normal conditions.
However, by noticing the difference or the absence or profusion
of detail in each tunnel, or by noticing the sense of distance
between tunnels, or by noticing the apparent length or width of
each tunnel in which I traveled, I arrived at a sense of
The area where this reconstruction
of my interpretation system had the most dramatic effect was the
knowledge of how I related to the world of the inorganic beings.
In that world, which was real to me, I was a blob of energy.
Thus, I could whiz in the tunnels, like a fast-moving light, or I
could crawl on their walls, like an insect. If I flew, a voice told me
not arbitrary but consistent information about details on the
walls on which I had focused my dreaming attention. Those details
were intricate protuberances, like the Braille system of writing.
When I crawled on the walls, I could see the same details with
greater accuracy and hear the voice giving me more complex
The unavoidable consequence for me was the
development of a dual stand. On the one hand, I knew I was
dreaming a dream; on the other, I knew I was involved in a
pragmatic journey, as real as any journey in the world. This bona
fide split was a corroboration of what don Juan had said: that
the existence of inorganic beings is the foremost assailant of
Only after I had really suspended judgment did
I get any relief. At one moment, when the tension of my untenable
position- seriously believing in the attestable existence of
inorganic beings, while seriously believing that it was only a
dream- was about to destroy me, something in my attitude changed
drastically, but without any solicitation on my part.
maintained that my energy level, which had been steadily growing,
one day reached a threshold that allowed me to disregard assumptions
and prejudgments about the nature of man, reality, and
perception. That day I became enamored with knowledge, regardless
of logic or functional value, and, above all, regardless of
When my objective inquiry into the subject
of inorganic beings no longer mattered to me, don Juan himself
brought up the subject of my dream journey into that world. He
said, "I don't think you are aware of the regularity of your
meetings with inorganic beings."
He was right. I had never bothered to think about it. I commented on the oddity of my oversight.
isn't an oversight," he said. "It's the nature of that realm to
foster secretiveness. Inorganic beings veil themselves in
mystery, darkness. Think about their world: stationary, fixed to
draw us like moths to a light or a fire.
something the emissary hasn't dared to tell you so far: that the
inorganic beings are after our awareness or the awareness of any being
that falls into their nets. They'll give us knowledge, but
they'll extract a payment: our total being."
"Do you mean, don Juan, that the inorganic beings are like fishermen?"
At one moment, the emissary will show you men who got caught in
there or other beings that are not human that also got caught in there."
and fear should have been my response. Don Juan's revelations
affected me deeply, but in the sense of creating uncontainable
curiosity. I was nearly panting.
"Inorganic beings can't
force anyone to stay with them," don Juan went on. "To live in
their world is a voluntary affair. Yet they are capable of
imprisoning any one of us by catering to our desires, by pampering
and indulging us. Beware of awareness that is immobile. Awareness
like that has to seek movement, and it does this, as I've told
you, by creating projections, phantasmagorical projections at
I asked don Juan to explain what 'phantasmagorical
projections' meant. He said that inorganic beings hook onto
dreamers' innermost feelings and play them mercilessly. They
create phantoms to please dreamers or frighten them. He reminded
me that I had wrestled with one of those phantoms. He explained
that inorganic beings are superb projectionists, who delight in
projecting themselves like pictures on the wall.
sorcerers were brought down by their inane trust in those
projections," he continued. "The old sorcerers believed their allies
had power. They overlooked the fact their allies were tenuous
energy projected through worlds, like in a cosmic movie."
are contradicting yourself, don Juan. You yourself said that the
inorganic beings are real. Now you tell me that they are mere pictures."
meant to say that the inorganic beings, in our world, are like
moving pictures projected on a screen; and I may even add that
they are like moving pictures of rarefied energy projected
through the boundaries of two worlds."
"But what about inorganic beings in their world? Are they also like moving pictures?"
a chance. That world is as real as our world. The old sorcerers
portrayed the inorganic beings' world as a blob of caverns and
pores floating in some dark space. And they portrayed the
inorganic beings as hollow canes bound together, like the cells
of our bodies. The old sorcerers called that immense bundle the
labyrinth of penumbra." [* penumbra- a fringe region of partial
shadow around a region of complete shadow]
"Then every dreamer sees that world in the same terms, right?"
"Of course. Every dreamer sees it as it is. Do you think you are unique?"
confessed that something in that world had been giving me all along
the sensation I was unique. What created this most pleasant and
clear feeling of being exclusive was not the voice of the
dreaming emissary, or anything I could consciously think about.
exactly what floored the old sorcerers," don Juan said. "The
inorganic beings did to them what they are doing to you now; they
created for them the sense of being unique, exclusive plus a more
pernicious [* pernicious- exceedingly harmful] sense yet: the
sense of having power. Power and uniqueness are unbeatable as
corrupting forces. Watch out!"
"How did you avoid that danger yourself, don Juan?"
"I went to that world a few times, and then I never went back."
Juan explained that in the opinion of sorcerers, the universe is
predatorial, and sorcerers more than anyone else have to take this
into account in their daily sorcery activities. His idea was that
consciousness is intrinsically compelled to grow, and the only
way it can grow is through strife; through life-or-death
"The awareness of sorcerers grows when they do
dreaming," he went on. "And the moment it grows, something out
there acknowledges its growth, recognizes it and makes a bid for
it. The inorganic beings are the bidders for that new, enhanced
awareness. Dreamers have to be forever on their toes. They are
prey the moment they venture out in that predatorial universe."
"What do you suggest I do to be safe, don Juan?"
on your toes every second! Don't let anything or anybody decide for
you. Go to the inorganic beings' world only when you want to go."
don Juan, I wouldn't know how to do that. Once I isolate a scout,
a tremendous pull is exerted on me to go. I don't have a chance in hell
to change my mind."
"Come on! Who do you think you're kidding? You can definitely stop it. You haven't tried to, that's all."
earnestly insisted that it was impossible for me to stop. He did
not pursue the subject any longer, and I was thankful for that. A
disturbing feeling of guilt had begun to gnaw at me. For some
unknown reason, the thought of consciously stopping the pull of
the scouts had never occurred to me.
As usual, don Juan
was correct. I found out that I could change the course of my
dreaming by intending that course. After all, I did intend for
the scouts to transport me to their world. It was feasible that
if I deliberately intended the opposite, my dreaming would follow
the opposite course.
With practice, my capacity to intend
my journeys into the inorganic beings' realm became
extraordinarily keen. An increased capacity to intend brought
forth an increased control over my dreaming attention. This
additional control made me more daring. I felt that I could
journey with impunity, because I could stop the journey any time
I wanted to.
"Your confidence is very scary" was don Juan's
comment when I told him, at his request, about the new aspect of
my control over my dreaming attention.
"Why should it be scary?" I asked. I was truly convinced of the practical value of what I had found out.
yours is the confidence of a fool," he said. "I am going to tell
you a sorcerers' story that is apropos. [* apropos- of an appropriate
or relevant nature] I didn't witness it myself, but my teacher's
teacher, the nagual Elias, did."
Don Juan said that the
nagual Elias and the love of his life, a sorceress named Amalia,
were lost, in their youth, in the inorganic beings' world.
never heard don Juan talk about sorcerers being the love of
anybody's life. His statement startled me. I asked him about this
"It's not an inconsistency. I have simply
refrained all along from telling you stories of sorcerers'
affection," he said. "You've been so oversaturated with love all
your life that I wanted to give you a break.
"Well, the nagual
Elias and the love of his life, the witch Amalia, got lost in the
inorganic beings' world," don Juan went on. "They went there not
in dreaming but with their physical bodies."
"How did that happen, don Juan?"
teacher, the nagual Rosendo, was very close in temperament and
practice to the old sorcerers. He intended to help Elias and Amalia,
but instead he pushed them across some deadly boundaries. The
nagual Rosendo didn't have that crossing in mind. What he wanted
to do was to put his two disciples into the second attention, but
what he got as a result was their disappearance."
said that he was not going to go into the details of that long
and complicated story. He was only going to tell me how they
became lost in that world. He stated that the nagual Rosendo's
miscalculation was to assume that the inorganic beings are not,
in the slightest, interested in women. His reasoning was correct
and was guided by the sorcerers' knowledge that the universe is
markedly female and that maleness, being an offshoot of
femaleness, is almost scarce, thus, coveted.
Don Juan made a
digression and commented that perhaps that scarcity of males is
the reason for men's unwarranted dominion on our planet. I wanted
to remain on that topic, but he went ahead with his story. He
said that the nagual Rosendo's plan was to give instruction to
Elias and Amalia exclusively in the second attention. And to that
effect, he followed the old sorcerers' prescribed technique. He
engaged a scout, in dreaming, and commanded it to transport his
disciples into the second attention by displacing their
assemblage points on the proper position.
powerful scout could displace their assemblage points on the
proper position with no effort at all. What the nagual Rosendo did
not take into consideration was the trickery of the inorganic
beings. The scout did displace the assemblage points of his
disciples, but it displaced them on a position from which it was
easy to transport them bodily into the realm of the inorganic
"Is this possible, to be transported bodily?" I asked.
is possible," he assured me. "We are energy that is kept in a
specific shape and position by the fixation of the assemblage
point on one location. If that location is changed, the shape and
position of that energy will change accordingly. All the
inorganic beings have to do is to place our assemblage point on
the right location, and off we go, like a bullet, shoes, hat, and
"Can this happen to any one of us, don Juan?"
certainly. Especially if our sum total of energy is right.
Obviously, the sum total of the combined energies of Elias and
Amalia was something the inorganic beings couldn't overlook. It
is absurd to trust the inorganic beings. They have their own
rhythm, and it isn't human."
I asked don Juan what exactly the
nagual Rosendo did to send his disciples to that world. I knew it
was stupid of me to ask, knowing that he was going to ignore my
question. My surprise was genuine when he began to tell me.
steps are simplicity itself," he said. "He put his disciples inside
a very small, closed space, something like a closet. Then he went
into dreaming, called a scout from the inorganic beings' realm by
voicing his intent to get one, then voiced his intent to offer
his disciples to the scout.
"The scout, naturally,
accepted the gift and took them away, at an unguarded moment,
when they were making love inside that closet. When the nagual
opened the closet, they were no longer there."
explained that making gifts of their disciples to the inorganic
beings was precisely what the old sorcerers used to do. The nagual
Rosendo did not mean to do that, but he got swayed by the absurd
belief that the inorganic beings were under his control.
maneuvers are deadly," don Juan went on. "I beseech you to be
extraordinarily aware. Don't get involved in having some idiotic
confidence in yourself."
"What finally happened to the nagual Elias and Amalia?" I asked.
"The nagual Rosendo had to go bodily into that world and look for them," he replied.
"Did he find them?"
did, after untold struggles. However, he could not totally bring
them out. So the two young people were always semiprisoners of
"Did you know them, don Juan?"
"Of course I knew them, and I assure you, they were very strange."
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
6. The Shadows' World
must be extremely careful, for you are about to fall prey to the
inorganic beings," don Juan said to me, quite unexpectedly, after we
had been talking about something totally unrelated to dreaming.
His statement caught me by surprise. As usual, I attempted to defend myself.
"You don't have to warn me. I'm very careful," I assured him.
inorganic beings are plotting," he said. "I sense that, and I
can't console myself by saying that they set traps at the
beginning and, in this manner, undesirable dreamers are
effectively and permanently screened out."
The tone of his voice was so urgent that I immediately had to reassure him I was not going to fall into any trap.
must seriously consider that the inorganic beings have astounding
means at their disposal," he went on. "Their awareness is superb.
In comparison, we are children, children with a lot of energy,
which the inorganic beings covet."
I wanted to tell him
that, on an abstract level, I had understood his point and his
concern, but, on a concrete plane, I saw no reason for his
warning, because I was in control of my dreaming practices.
few minutes of uneasy silence followed before don Juan spoke again.
He changed the subject and said that he had to bring to my
attention a very important issue of his dreaming instruction, an
issue that had, so far, bypassed my awareness.
already understand that the gates of dreaming are specific
obstacles," he said, "but you haven't understood yet that
whatever is given as the exercise to reach and cross a gate is
not really what that gate is all about."
"This is not clear to me at all, don Juan."
mean that it's not true to say, for example, that the second gate
is reached and crossed when a dreamer learns to wake up in
another dream, or when a dreamer learns to change dreams without
waking up in the world of daily life."
"Why isn't it true, don Juan?"
the second gate of dreaming is reached and crossed only when a
dreamer learns to isolate and follow the foreign energy scouts."
"Why then is the idea of changing dreams given at all?"
up in another dream or changing dreams is the drill devised by
the old sorcerers to exercise a dreamer's capacity to isolate and
follow a scout."
Don Juan stated that following a scout is
a high accomplishment and that when dreamers are able to perform
it, the second gate is flung open and the universe that exists
behind it becomes accessible to them. He stressed that this
universe is there all the time but that we cannot go into it because
we lack energetic prowess and that, in essence, the second gate
of dreaming is the door into the inorganic beings' world, and
dreaming is the key that opens that door.
"Can a dreamer isolate a scout directly, without having to go through the drill of changing dreams?" I asked.
not at all," he said. "The drill is essential. The question here
is whether this is the only drill that exists. Or can a dreamer
follow another drill?"
Don Juan looked at me quizzically. It seemed that he actually expected me to answer the question.
too difficult to come up with a drill as complete as the one the
old sorcerers devised," I said, without knowing why but with
Don Juan admitted that I was
absolutely right and said that the old sorcerers had devised a
series of perfect drills to go through the gates of dreaming into
the specific worlds that exist behind every gate. He reiterated
that dreaming, being the old sorcerers' invention, has to be
played by their rules. He described the rule of the second gate in
terms of a series of three steps: one, through practicing the
drill of changing dreams, dreamers find out about the scouts;
two, by following the scouts, they enter into another veritable
universe; and three, in that universe, by means of their actions,
dreamers find out, on their own, the governing laws and
regulations of that universe.
Don Juan said that in my dealings
with the inorganic beings, I had followed the rule so well that
he feared devastating consequences. He thought that the
unavoidable reaction on the part of the inorganic beings was going to
be an attempt to keep me in their world.
"Don't you think
that you are exaggerating, don Juan?" I asked. I could not
believe that the picture was as bleak as he was painting it.
am not exaggerating at all," he said, in a dry, serious tone.
"You'll see. The inorganic beings don't let anyone go, not
without a real fight."
"But what makes you think they want me?"
already shown you too many things. Do you really believe that
they are going to all this trouble just to entertain themselves?"
Juan laughed at his own remark. I did not find him amusing. A
strange fear made me ask him whether he thought I should
interrupt or even discontinue my dreaming practices.
have to continue your dreaming until you have gone through the
universe behind the second gate," he said. "I mean that you alone
must either accept or reject the lure of the inorganic beings.
That is why I remain aloof and hardly ever comment on your
I confessed to him that I had been at a
loss to explain why he was so generous in elucidating other
aspects of his knowledge and so miserly with dreaming.
was forced to teach you dreaming," he said, "only because that is
the pattern set out by the old sorcerers. The path of dreaming is
filled with pitfalls, and to avoid those pitfalls or to fall into
them is the personal and individual affair of each dreamer, and I
may add that it is a final affair."
"Are those pitfalls the result of succumbing to adulation or to promises of power?" I asked.
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?"
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
"What happens if you fall, don Juan?"
fall, you pay the price, and the price depends on the
circumstances and the depth of the fall. But there is really no
way of talking about an eventuality of this sort, because we are
not facing a problem of punishment. Energetic currents are at
stake here, energetic currents which create circumstances that
are more dreadful than death. Everything in the sorcerers' path
is a matter of life or death, but in the path of dreaming this
matter is enhanced a hundred fold."
I reassured don Juan that I
always exercised the utmost care in my dreaming practices, and
that I was extremely disciplined and conscientious.
"I know that
you are," he said. "But I want you to be even more disciplined
and handle everything related to dreaming with kid gloves. Be, above
all, vigilant. I can't foretell where the attack will come from."
"Are you seeing, as a seer, imminent danger for me, don Juan?"
have seen imminent danger for you since the day you walked in
that mysterious city the first time I helped you round up your
"But do you know specifically what I should do and what I should avoid?"
I don't. I only know that the universe behind the second gate is
the closest to our own, and our own universe is pretty crafty and
heartless. So the two can't be that different."
persisted in asking him to tell me what was in store for me. And
he insisted that, as a sorcerer, he sensed a state of general
danger but that he could not be more specific.
universe of the inorganic beings is always ready to strike," he
went on. "But so is our own universe. That's why you have to go
into their realm exactly as if you were venturing into a war
"Do you mean, don Juan, that dreamers always have to be afraid of that world?"
I don't mean that. Once a dreamer goes through the universe behind
the second gate, or once a dreamer refuses to consider it as a
viable option, there are no more headaches."
stated that only then are dreamers free to continue. I was not
sure what he meant; he explained that the universe behind the
second gate is so powerful and aggressive that it serves as a
natural screen or a testing ground where dreamers are probed for
their weaknesses. If they survive the tests, they can proceed to
the next gate; if they do not, they remain forever trapped in
I was left choking with anxiety but, in spite of
my coaxing, that was all he said. When I went home, I continued
my journeys to the inorganic beings' realm, exerting great care.
My carefulness seemed only to increase my sense of enjoying those
journeys. I got to the point that the mere contemplation of the
inorganic beings' world was enough to create an exultation
impossible to describe. I feared that my delight was going to end
sooner or later, but it was not so. Something unexpected made it
even more intense.
On one occasion, a scout guided me very
roughly through countless tunnels, as if searching for something,
or as if it were trying to draw all my energy out and exhaust me.
By the time it finally stopped, I felt as if I had run a
marathon. I seemed to be at the edge of that world. There were no
more tunnels, only blackness all around me. Then something lit up
the area right in front of me. Light shone from an indirect
source. It was a subdued light that rendered everything diffusely
gray or brownish. When I became used to the light, I vaguely
distinguished some dark, moving shapes. After a while, it seemed
to me that focusing my dreaming attention on those moving shapes
made them substantial. I noticed that there were three types: some of
them were round, like balls; others were like bells; and others
yet like gigantic, undulating candle flames. All of them were
basically round and the same size. I judged that they were three
to four feet in diameter. There were hundreds, perhaps even
thousands of them.
I knew that I was having a strange,
sophisticated vision, yet those shapes were so real that I found
myself reacting with genuine queasiness. I got the nauseating
feeling of being over a nest of giant, round, brown and grayish
bugs. I felt somehow safe, though, hovering above them. I discarded
all these considerations, however, the moment I realized that it
was idiotic of me to feel safe or ill at ease, as if my dream
were a real-life situation. However, as I observed those buglike
shapes squirm, I became very disturbed at the idea that they were
about to touch me.
"We are the mobile unit of our world," the
emissary's voice said, all of a sudden. "Don't be afraid. We are
energy, and, for sure, we're not intending to touch you. It would
be impossible anyway. We are separated by real boundaries."
a long pause, the voice added, "We want you to join us. Come down
to where we are. And don't be ill at ease. You are not ill at
ease with the scouts and certainly not with me. The scouts and I
are just like the others. I am bell-shaped, and scouts are like
That last statement was definitely a cue of
sorts for my energy body. On hearing it, my queasiness and fear
vanished. I descended to their level, and the balls and bells and
candle flames surrounded me. They came so close to me that they
would have touched me had I had a physical body. Instead, we went
through one another, like encapsulated air puffs.
I had, at that
point, an unbelievable sensation. Although I did not feel
anything with or in my energy body, I was feeling and recording the
most unusual tickling somewhere else; soft, airlike things were
definitely going through me, but not right there. The sensation
was vague and fast and did not give me time to catch it fully.
Instead of focusing my dreaming attention on it, I became
entirely absorbed in watching those oversized bugs of energy.
At the level where we were, it seemed to me that there was a commonality between the shadow entities and myself: size.
it was because I judged them to be the same size as my energy
body that I felt almost cozy with them. On examining them, I
concluded that I did not mind them at all. They were impersonal,
cold, detached, and I liked that immensely. I wondered for an
instant whether my disliking them one minute and liking them the
next was a natural consequence of dreaming or a product of some
energetic influence those entities were exerting on me.
are most likable," I said to the emissary, at the very moment I
was overpowered by a wave of profound friendship or even
affection for them.
No sooner had I spoken my mind than the dark
shapes scurried away, like bulky guinea pigs, leaving me alone in
"You projected too much feeling and scared them
off," the emissary's voice said. "Feeling is too hard for them,
and for me for that matter." The emissary actually laughed shyly.
dreaming session ended there. On awakening, my first reaction was to
pack my bag to go to Mexico and see don Juan. However, an
unexpected development in my personal life made it impossible for
me to travel, in spite of my frantic preparations to leave. The
anxiety resulting from this setback interrupted my dreaming
practices altogether. I did not engage my conscious volition to
stop them. I had unwittingly put so much emphasis on this
specific dream that I simply knew if I could not get to don Juan there
was no point in continuing dreaming.
After an interruption
that lasted over half a year, I became more and more mystified by
what had happened. I had no idea that my feelings alone were
going to stop my practices. I wondered then if the desire would
be sufficient to reinstate it. It was! Once I had formulated the
thought of reentering dreaming, my practices continued as if they
had never been interrupted. The scout picked up where we had left
off and took me directly to the vision I'd had during my last
"This is the shadows' world," the emissary's voice said
as soon as I was there. "But, even though we are shadows, we shed
light. Not only are we mobile but we are the light in the
tunnels. We are another kind of inorganic being that exists here.
There are three kinds: one is like an immobile tunnel, the other
is like a mobile shadow. We are the mobile shadows. The tunnels
give us their energy, and we do their bidding."
stopped talking. I felt it was daring me to ask about the third
kind of inorganic being. I also felt that if I did not ask, the
emissary would not tell me.
"What's the third kind of inorganic being?" I said.
The emissary coughed and chuckled. To me, it sounded like it relished being asked.
that's our most mysterious feature," it said. "The third kind is
revealed to our visitors only when they choose to stay with us."
"Why is that so?" I asked.
"Because it takes a great deal of energy to see them," the emissary answered. "And we would have to provide that energy."
knew that the emissary was telling me the truth. I also knew that
a horrendous danger was lurking. Yet I was driven by a curiosity
without limits. I wanted to see that third kind.
The emissary seemed to be aware of my mood.
"Would you like to see them?" it asked casually.
"Most certainly," I said.
"All you have to do is to say out loud that you want to stay with us," the emissary said with a nonchalant intonation.
"But if I say that, I have to stay, right?" I asked.
"Naturally," the emissary said in a tone of ultimate conviction. "Everything you say out loud in this world is for keeps."
could not help thinking that, if the emissary had wanted to trick me
into staying, all it had to do was lie to me. I would not have
known the difference.
"I cannot lie to you, because a lie
doesn't exist," the emissary said, intruding into my thoughts. "I
can tell you only about what exists. In my world, only intent
exists; a lie has no intent behind it; therefore, it has no
I wanted to argue that there is intent even behind
lies, but before I could voice my argument, the emissary said
that behind lies there is intention but that that intention is
I could not keep my dreaming attention focused on
the argument the emissary was posing. It went to the shadow
beings. Suddenly, I noticed that they had the appearance of a
herd of strange, childlike animals. The emissary's voice warned
me to hold my emotions in check, for sudden bursts of feelings
had the capacity to make them disperse, like a flock of birds.
"What do you want me to do?" I asked.
down to our side and try to push or pull us," the emissary's
voice urged me. "The quicker you learn to do that, the quicker
you'll be able to move things around in your world by merely
looking at them."
My merchant's mind went berserk with
anticipation. I was instantly among them, desperately trying to
push them or pull them. After a while, I thoroughly exhausted my
energy. I then had the impression that I had been trying to do
something equivalent to lifting a house with the strength of my
Another impression I had was that the more I exerted
myself, the greater the number of shadows. It was as if they were
coming from every corner to watch me, or to feed on me. The
moment I had that thought, the shadows again scurried away.
are not feeding on you," the emissary said. "We all come to feel
your energy, very much like what you do with sunlight on a cold
The emissary urged me to open up to them by canceling out
my suspicious thoughts. I heard the voice, and as I listened to
what it was saying, I realized that I was hearing, feeling, and
thinking exactly as I do in my daily world. I slowly turned to
see around me. Taking the clarity of my perception as a gauge, I
concluded that I was in a real world.
The emissary's voice
sounded in my ears. It said that for me the only difference
between perceiving my world and perceiving theirs was that
perceiving their world started and ended in the blink of an eye;
perceiving mine did not, because my awareness- together with the
awareness of an immense number of beings like me who held my
world in place with their intent- was fixed on my world. The
emissary added that perceiving my world started and ended the
same way for the inorganic beings, in the blink of an eye, but
perceiving their world did not, because there were immense
numbers of them holding it in place with their intent.
that instant the scene started to dissolve. I was like a diver,
and waking up from that world was like swimming up to reach the
In the following session, the emissary began its
dialogue with me by restating that a totally coordinated and
coactive relationship existed between mobile shadows and
stationary tunnels. It finished its statement saying, "We can't
exist without each other."
"I understand what you mean," I said.
was a touch of scorn in the emissary's voice when it retorted that
I could not possibly understand what it means to be related in
that fashion, which was infinitely more than being dependent. I
intended to ask the emissary to explain what it meant by that,
but the next instant I was inside of what I can only describe as
the very tissue of the tunnel. I saw some grotesquely merged,
glandlike protuberances that emitted an opaque light. The thought
crossed my mind that those were the same protuberances that had
given me the impression of being like Braille. Considering that they
were energy blobs three to four feet in diameter, I began to
wonder about the actual size of those tunnels.
is not like size in your world," the emissary said. "The energy
of this world is a different kind of energy; its features don't
coincide with the features of the energy of your world, yet this
world is as real as your own."
The emissary went on to say
that it had told me everything about the shadow beings when it
described and explained the protuberances on the tunnels' walls.
I retorted that I had heard the explanations but I had not paid
attention to them because I believed that they did not pertain directly
"Everything here, in this realm, pertains directly to dreaming," the emissary stated.
wanted to think about the reason for my misjudgment, but my mind
became blank. My dreaming attention was waning. I was having
trouble focusing it on the world around me. I braced myself for
waking up. The emissary started to speak again, and the sound of
its voice propped me up. My dreaming attention perked up
"Dreaming is the vehicle that brings dreamers to
this world," the emissary said, "and everything sorcerers know
about dreaming was taught to them by us. Our world is connected
to yours by a door called dreams. We know how to go through that
door, but men don't. They have to learn it."
The emissary's voice went on explaining what it had already explained to me before.
protuberances on the tunnels' walls are shadow beings," it said. "I
am one of them. We move inside the tunnels, on their walls,
charging ourselves with the energy of the tunnels, which is our
An idle thought crossed my mind: I was really incapable
of conceiving a symbiotic relationship such as the one I was
"If you would stay among us, you would certainly
learn to feel what it is like to be connected as we are
connected," the emissary said.
The emissary seemed to be waiting
for my reply. I had the feeling that what it really wanted was
for me to say that I had decided to stay.
"How many shadow
beings are in each tunnel?" I asked to change the mood and
immediately regretted it because the emissary began to give me a
detailed account of the numbers and functions of the shadow
beings in each tunnel. It said that each tunnel had a specific
number of dependent entities, which performed specific functions
having to do with the needs and expectations of the supporting
I did not want the emissary to go into more detail. I
reasoned that the less I knew about the tunnel and shadow beings
the better off I was. The instant I formulated that thought, the
emissary stopped, and my energy body jerked as if it had been
pulled by a cable. The next moment, I was fully awake, in my bed.
then on, I had no more fears that could have interrupted my
practices. Another idea had begun to rule me: the idea that I had
found unparalleled excitation. I could hardly wait every day to
start dreaming and have the scout take me to the shadows' world.
The added attraction was that my visions of the shadows' world
became even more true to life than before. Judged by the
subjective standards of orderly thoughts, orderly visual and
auditory sensory input, orderly responses on my part, my experiences,
for as long as they lasted, were as real as any situation in our
daily world. Never had I had perceptual experiences in which the
only difference between my visions and my everyday world was the
speed with which my visions ended. One instant I was in a
strange, real world, and the next instant I was in my bed.
craved don Juan's commentaries and explanations, but I was still
marooned in Los Angeles. The more I considered my situation, the
greater my anxiety: I even began to sense that something in the
inorganic beings' realm was brewing at tremendous speed.
my anxiety grew, my body entered into a state of profound fright,
although my mind was ecstatic in the contemplation of the shadows'
world. To make things worse, the dreaming emissary's voice lapsed
into my daily consciousness. One day while I was attending a
class at the university, I heard the voice say, over and over,
that any attempt on my part to end my dreaming practices would be
deleterious to my total aims. It argued that warriors do not shy
away from a challenge and that I had no valid rationale for
discontinuing my practices. I agreed with the emissary. I had no
intention of stopping anything, and the voice was merely reaffirming
what I felt.
Not only did the emissary change but a new
scout appeared on the scene. On one occasion, before I had begun
to examine the items of my dream, a scout had literally jumped in
front of me and aggressively captured my dreaming attention. The
notable feature of this scout was that it did not need to go
through any energetic metamorphosis. It was a blob of energy from the
start. In the blink of an eye, the scout transported me, without
my having to voice my intent to go with it, to another part of
the inorganic beings' realm: the world of the saber-toothed
I have described in my other works glimpses of those
visions. I say glimpses because I did not have sufficient energy
then to render these perceived worlds comprehensible to my linear
My nightly visions of the saber-toothed tigers occurred
regularly for a long time, until one night when the aggressive
scout that had taken me for the first time to that realm suddenly
appeared again. Without waiting for my consent, it took me to the
I heard the emissary's voice. It immediately went into
the longest and most poignant sales pitch I had heard so far. It
told me about the extraordinary advantages of the inorganic
beings' world. It spoke of acquiring knowledge that would
definitely stagger the mind and about acquiring it by the
simplest act, of staying in those marvelous tunnels. It spoke of
incredible mobility, of endless time to find things, and, above
all, of being pampered by cosmic servants that would cater to my
"Aware beings from the most unbelievable
corners of the cosmos stay with us," the emissary said, ending
its talk. "And they love their stay with us. In fact, no one
wants to leave."
The thought that crossed my mind at that moment
was that servitude was definitely antithetical [* antithetical-
sharply contrasted in character or purpose] to me. I had never
been at ease with servants or with being served.
The scout took
over and made me glide through many tunnels. It came to a halt in
a tunnel that seemed somehow larger than the others. My dreaming
attention became riveted on the size and configuration of that tunnel,
and it would have stayed glued there had I not been made to turn
around. My dreaming attention focused then on a blob of energy a
bit bigger than the shadow entities. It was blue, like the blue
in the center of a candle's flame. I knew that this energy
configuration was not a shadow entity and that it did not belong
I became absorbed in sensing it. The scout signaled me to
leave, but something was making me impervious to its cues. I
remained, uneasily, where I was. However, the scout's signaling
broke my concentration, and I lost sight of the blue shape.
a considerable force made me spin around and put me squarely in
front of the blue shape. As I gazed at it, it turned into the figure of
a person: very small, slender, delicate, almost transparent. I
desperately attempted to determine whether it was a man or a
woman, but, hard as I tried, I could not.
My attempts to
ask the emissary failed. It flew away quite abruptly, leaving me
suspended in that tunnel, facing now an unknown person. I tried to
talk to that person the way I talked to the emissary. I got no
response. I felt a wave of frustration at not being able to break
the barrier that separated us. Then I was besieged by the fear of
being alone with someone who might have been an enemy.
had a variety of reactions triggered by the presence of that stranger.
I even felt elation, because I knew that the scout had finally
shown me another human being caught in that world. I only
despaired at the possibility that we were not able to communicate
perhaps because that stranger was one of the sorcerers of
antiquity and belonged to a time different from mine.
more intense my elation and curiosity, the heavier I became, until
a moment in which I was so massive that I was back in my body,
and back in the world. I found myself in Los Angeles, in a park
by the University of California. I was standing on the grass,
right in the line of people playing golf.
The person in
front of me had solidified at the same rate. We stared at each
other for a fleeting instant. It was a girl, perhaps six or seven years
old. I thought I knew her. On seeing her, my elation and
curiosity grew so out of proportion that they triggered a
reversal. I lost mass so fast that in another instant I was again
a blob of energy in the inorganic beings' realm. The scout came
back for me and hurriedly pulled me away.
I woke up with a jolt
of fright. In the process of surfacing into the daily world,
something had let a message slip through. My mind went into a
frenzy trying to put together what I knew or thought I knew. I
spent more than forty-eight continuous hours attempting to get at
a hidden feeling or a hidden knowledge that had gotten stuck to
me. The only success I had was to sense a force- I fancied it to
be outside my mind or my body- that told me not to trust my
After a few days, a dark and mysterious
certainty began to get hold of me, a certainty that grew by
degrees until I had no doubt about its authenticity: I was sure
that the blue blob of energy was a prisoner in the inorganic
I needed don Juan's advice more desperately than
ever. I knew that I was throwing years of work out the window,
but I couldn't help it: I dropped everything I was doing and ran
"What do you really want?" don Juan asked me as a way to contain my hysterical babbling.
I could not explain to him what I wanted because I did not know it myself.
"Your problem must be very serious to make you run like this," don Juan said with a pensive expression.
"It is, in spite of the fact that I can't figure out what my problem really is," I said.
asked me to describe my dreaming practices in all the detail that
was pertinent. I told him about my vision of the little girl and
how it had affected me at an emotional level. He instantly
advised me to ignore the event and regard it as a blatant
attempt, on the part of the inorganic beings, to cater to my
fantasies. He remarked that if dreaming is overemphasized, it
becomes what it was for the old sorcerers: a source of
For some inexplicable reason, I was
unwilling to tell don Juan about the realm of the shadow
entities. It was only when he discarded my vision of the little
girl that I felt obliged to describe to him my visits to that
world. He was silent for a long time, as if he were overwhelmed.
he finally spoke, he said, "You are more alone than I thought,
because I can't discuss your dreaming practices at all. You are
at the position of the old sorcerers. All I can do is to repeat
to you that you must exercise all the care you arc able to muster
"Why do you say that I am at the position of the old sorcerers?"
told you repeatedly that your mood is dangerously like the old
sorcerers'. They were very capable beings. Their flaw was that they
took to the inorganic beings' realm like fish take to the water.
You are in the same boat. You know things about it that none of
us can even conceive. For instance, I never knew about the
shadows' world, and neither did the nagual Julian. Nor did the
nagual Elias, in spite of the fact that he spent a long time in
the world of the inorganic beings."
"But what difference does knowing the shadows' world make?"
great deal of difference. Dreamers are taken there only when the
inorganic beings are sure the dreamers are going to stay in that world.
We know this through the old sorcerers' stories."
assure you, don Juan, that I have no intention whatsoever of
staying there. You talk as if I am just about to be lured by
promises of service or promises of power. I am not interested in
either, and that's that."
"At this level, it isn't that easy
anymore. You've gone beyond the point where you could simply
quit. Besides, you had the misfortune of being singled out by a
watery inorganic being. Remember how you tumbled with it? And how
it felt? I told you then that watery inorganic beings are the
most annoying. They are dependent and possessive, and once they
sink their hooks, they never give up."
"And what does that mean in my case, don Juan?"
means real trouble. The specific inorganic being who's running the
show is the one you grabbed that fatal day. Over the years, it
has grown familiar with you. It knows you intimately."
I sincerely remarked to don Juan that the mere idea that an inorganic being knew me intimately made me sick to my stomach.
dreamers realize that the inorganic beings have no appeal," he
said, "it is usually too late for them, because by then the
inorganic beings have them in the bag."
I felt in the
depths of me that he was talking abstractly, about dangers that
might exist theoretically but not in practice. I was secretly
convinced there was no danger of any sort.
"I am not going to allow the inorganic beings to lure me in any way, if that's what you're thinking," I said.
am thinking that they are going to trick you," he said. "Like
they tricked the nagual Rosendo. They are going to set you up,
and you won't see the trap or even suspect it. They are smooth
operators. Now they have even invented a little girl."
"But there is no doubt in my mind that the little girl exists," I insisted.
is no little girl," he snapped. "That bluish blob of energy is a
scout; an explorer caught in the inorganic beings' realm. I've said to
you that the inorganic beings are like fishermen: They attract
and catch awareness."
Don Juan said that he believed,
without a doubt, that the bluish blob of energy was from a
dimension entirely different from ours; a scout that got stranded
and caught like a fly in a spider's web.
I did not appreciate
his analogy. It worried me to the point of physical discomfort. I
did mention this to don Juan, and he told me that my concern with
the prisoner scout was making him feel very close to despair.
"Why does this bother you?" I asked.
"Something is brewing in that confounded world," he said. "And I can't figure out what it is."
I remained with don Juan and his companions, I did not dream at
all about the inorganic beings' world. As usual, my practice was
to focus my dreaming attention on the items of my dreams and to
change dreams. As a way to offset my concerns, don Juan made me
gaze at clouds and at faraway mountain peaks. The result was an
immediate feeling of being level with the clouds, or the feeling
that I was actually at the faraway mountain peaks.
"I am very
pleased, but very worried," don Juan said as a comment on my
effort. "You are being taught marvels, and you don't even know it. And
I don't mean that you are being taught by me."
"You are talking about the inorganic beings, true?"
the inorganic beings. I recommend that you don't gaze at
anything; gazing was the old sorcerers' technique. They were able
to get to their energy bodies in the blink of an eye, simply by
gazing at objects of their predilection. A very impressive
technique, but useless to modern sorcerers. It does nothing to
increase our sobriety or our capacity to seek freedom. All it
does is pin us down to concreteness; a most undesirable state."
Juan added that, unless I kept myself in check, by the time I had
merged the second attention with the attention of my everyday
life, I was going to be an insufferable man. There was, he said,
a dangerous gap between my mobility in the second attention and
my insistence on immobility in my awareness of the daily world.
He remarked that the gap between the two was so great that in my
daily state I was nearly an idiot, and in the second attention I
was a lunatic.
Before I went home, I took the liberty of
discussing my dreaming visions of the shadows' world with Carol
Tiggs, although don Juan had advised me not to discuss them with
anybody. She was most understanding and most interested, since
she was my total counterpart. Don Juan was definitely annoyed with
me for having revealed my troubles to her. I felt worse than
ever. Self-pity possessed me, and I began to complain about
always doing the wrong thing.
"You haven't done anything yet," don Juan snapped at me. "That much, I know."
he right! On my next dreaming session, at home, all hell broke loose.
I reached the shadows' world, as I had done on countless
occasions: The difference was the presence of the blue energy
shape. It was among the other shadow beings. I felt it was
possible that the blob had been there before and I hadn't noticed
it. As soon as I spotted it, my dreaming attention was
inescapably attracted to that blob of energy. In a matter of seconds, I
was next to it. The other shadows came to me, as usual, but I
paid no attention to them.
All of a sudden, the blue,
round shape turned into the little girl I had seen before. She
craned her thin, delicate, long neck to one side and said in a
barely audible whisper, "Help me!" Either she said that or I
fantasized that she said it. The result was the same: I stood
frozen, galvanized by genuine concern. I experienced a chill, but
not in my energy mass. I felt a chill in another part of me. This
was the first time I was completely aware that my experience was
thoroughly separate from my sensorial feelings. I was
experiencing the shadows' world, with all the implications of what
I normally consider experiencing: I was able to think, to assess,
to make decisions; I had psychological continuity; in other
words, I was myself. The only part of me that was missing was my
sensorial self. I had no bodily sensations. All my input came
through seeing and hearing. My rationality then considered a
strange dilemma: seeing and hearing were not physical faculties
but qualities of the visions I was having.
"You are really
seeing and hearing," the emissary's voice said, erupting into my
thoughts. "That is the beauty of this place. You can experience
everything through seeing and hearing, without having to breathe. Think
of it! You don't have to breathe! You can go anywhere in the
universe and not breathe."
A most disquieting ripple of
emotion went through me, and, again, I did not feel it there, in
the shadows' world. I felt it in another place. I became
enormously agitated by the obvious yet veiled realization that there
was a live connection between the me that was experiencing and a
source of energy, a source of sensorial feeling located somewhere
else. It occurred to me that this somewhere else was my actual
physical body, which was asleep in my bed.
At the instant of
this thought, the shadow beings scurried away, and the little
girl was alone in my field of vision. I watched her and became
convinced that I knew her. She seemed to falter as if she were about
to faint. A boundless wave of affection for her enveloped me.
tried to speak to her, but I was incapable of uttering sounds. It
became clear to me then that all my dialogues with the emissary
had been elicited and accomplished by the emissary's energy. Left
to my own devices, I was helpless. I attempted next to direct my
thoughts to the little girl. It was useless. We were separated by
a membrane of energy I could not pierce.
The little girl seemed
to understand my despair and actually communicated with me,
directly into my thoughts. She told me, essentially, what don
Juan had already said: that she was a scout caught in the webs of
that world. Then she added that she had adopted the shape of a
little girl because that shape was familiar to me and to her; and
that she needed my help as much as I needed hers. She said this
to me in one clump of energetic feeling, which was like words
that came to me all at once. I had no difficulty understanding
her, although this was the first time anything of the sort had
happened to me.
I did not know what to do. I tried to convey to
her my sensation of incapacity. She seemed to comprehend me
instantly. She silently appealed to me with a burning look. She
even smiled as if to let me know that she had left it up to me to
extricate her from her bonds. When I retorted, in a thought, that
I had no abilities whatsoever, she gave me the impression of a
hysterical child in the throes of despair.
I frantically tried
to talk to her. The little girl actually cried, like a child her
age would cry, out of desperation and fear. I couldn't stand it.
I charged at her, but with no effective result. My energy mass
went through her. My idea was to lift her up and take her with me.
attempted the same maneuver over and over until I was exhausted. I
stopped to consider my next move. I was afraid that my dreaming
attention was going to wane, and then I would lose sight of her.
I doubted that the inorganic beings would bring me back to that
specific part of their realm. It seemed to me that this was going
to be my last visit to them: the visit that counted.
I did something unthinkable. Before my dreaming attention vanished,
I yelled loud and clear my intent to merge my energy with the
energy of that prisoner scout and set it free.
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
7. The Blue Scout
was dreaming an utterly nonsensical dream. Carol Tiggs was by my side.
She was speaking to me, although I could not understand what she
said. Don Juan was also in my dream, as were all the members of
his party. They seemed to be trying to drag me out of a foggy,
After a serious effort, during which I lost and
regained sight of them various times, they succeeded in
extricating me from that place. Since I could not conceive the
sense of all that endeavor, I finally figured that I was having a
normal, incoherent dream.
My surprise was staggering when I woke
up and found myself in bed, in don Juan's house. I was incapable
of moving. I had no energy at all. I did not know what to think,
although I immediately sensed the gravity of my situation. I had
the vague feeling that I had lost my energy because of fatigue
caused by dreaming.
Don Juan's companions seemed to be extremely
affected by whatever was happening to me. They kept on coming
into my room, one at a time. Each stayed for a moment, in
complete silence, until someone else showed up. It appeared to me
that they were taking turns watching over me. I was too weak to
ask them to explain their behavior.
During the subsequent days,
I began to feel better, and they started to talk to me about my
dreaming. At first, I did not know what they wanted of me. Then
it dawned on me, because of their questions, that they were
obsessed with the shadow beings. Every one of them appeared to be
scared and said to me more or less the same thing. They insisted
that they had never been in the shadows' world. Some of them even
claimed that they did not know it existed. Their claims and
reactions increased my sense of bewilderment and my fear.
questions everyone asked were, "Who took you into that world? Or how
did you even begin to know how to get there?" When I told them
that the scouts had shown me that world, they could not believe
me. Obviously, they had surmised that I had been there, but since
it was not possible for them to use their personal experience as
a reference point, they were unable to fathom what I was saying.
Yet they still wanted to know all I could tell them about the
shadow beings and their realm. I obliged them. All of them, with
the exception of don Juan, sat by my bed, hanging on every word I
said. However, every time I asked them about my situation, they
scurried away, just like the shadow beings.
disturbing reaction, which they never had before, was that they
frantically avoided any physical contact with me. They kept their
distance, as if I were carrying the plague. Their reaction
worried me so much that I felt obliged to ask them about it. They
denied it. They seemed insulted and even went so far as to insist
on proving to me that I was wrong. I laughed heartily at the
tense situation that ensued. Their bodies went rigid every time
they tried to embrace me.
Florinda Grau, don Juan's closest
cohort, was the only member of his party who lavished physical
attention on me and tried to explain to me what was going on. She
told me that I had been discharged of energy in the inorganic
beings' world and charged again, but that my new energetic charge was a
bit disturbing to the majority of them.
Florinda used to
put me to bed every night, as if I were an invalid. She even
spoke to me in baby talk, which all of them celebrated with gales
of laughter. But regardless of how she made fun of me, I
appreciated her concern, which seemed to be real.
written about Florinda before in connection with my meeting her.
She was by far the most beautiful woman I had ever met. Once I
said to her, and I really meant it, that she could have been a
fashion magazine model.
"Of a magazine of nineteen ten," she retorted.
although she was old, was not old at all. She was young and
vibrant. When I asked don Juan about her unusual youthfulness, he
replied that sorcery kept her in a vital state. Sorcerers'
energy, he remarked, was seen by the eye as youth and vigor.
satisfying their initial curiosity about the shadows' world, don
Juan's companions stopped coming into my room, and their
conversation remained at the level of casual inquiries about my
health. Every time I tried to get up, however, there was someone
around who gently put me back to bed. I did not want their
ministrations, yet it seemed that I needed them; I was weak. I
accepted that. But what really took its toll on me was not having
anyone explain to me what I was doing in Mexico when I had gone
to bed to dream in Los Angeles. I asked them repeatedly. Every
one of them gave me the same answer, "Ask the nagual. He's the
only one who can explain it."
Finally, Florinda broke the ice. "You were lured into a trap: That's what happened to you," she said.
"Where was I lured into a trap?"
the world of the inorganic beings, of course. That has been the
world you've been dealing with for years. Isn't that so?"
"Most definitely, Florinda. But can you tell me about the kind of trap it was?"
"Not really. All I can tell you is that you lost all your energy there. But you fought very well."
"Why am I sick, Florinda?"
are not sick with an illness: You were energetically wounded. You
were critical, but now you are only gravely wounded."
"How did all this happen?"
"You entered into a mortal combat with the inorganic beings, and you were defeated."
"I don't remember fighting anyone, Florinda."
you remember or not is immaterial. You fought and were
outclassed. You didn't have a chance against those masterful
"I fought the inorganic beings?"
"Yes. You had a mortal encounter with them. I really don't know how you have survived their death blow."
She refused to tell me anything else and hinted that the nagual was coming to see me any day.
next day don Juan showed up. He was very jovial and supportive.
He jokingly announced that he was paying me a visit in his
capacity of energy doctor. He examined me by gazing at me from
head to toe.
"You're almost cured," he concluded.
"What happened to me, don Juan?" I asked.
"You fell into a trap the inorganic beings set for you," he answered.
"How did I end up here?"
there is the big mystery, for sure," he said and smiled jovially,
obviously trying to make light of a serious matter. "The inorganic
beings snatched you, body and all. First they took your energy
body into their realm when you followed one of their scouts; and
then they took your physical body."
Don Juan's companions
seemed to be in a state of shock. One of them asked don Juan
whether the inorganic beings could abduct anyone. Don Juan
answered that they certainly could. He reminded them that the
nagual Elias was taken into that universe, and he definitely did
not intend to go there.
All of them assented with a nod. Don
Juan continued speaking to them, referring to me in the third
person. He said that the combined awareness of a group of
inorganic beings had first consumed my energy body by forcing an
emotional outburst from me: to free the blue scout. Then the
combined awareness of the same group of inorganic beings had
pulled my inert physical mass into their world. Don Juan added
that without the energy body one is merely a lump of organic
matter that can be easily manipulated by awareness.
inorganic beings are glued together, like the cells of the body,"
don Juan went on. "When they put their awareness together, they
are unbeatable. It's nothing for them to yank us out of our
moorings and plunge us into their world. Especially if we make
ourselves conspicuous and available, like he did."
Their sighs and gasps echoed against the walls. All of them seemed to be genuinely frightened and concerned.
wanted to whine and blame don Juan for not stopping me, but I
remembered how he had tried to warn me, to deviate me, time and
time again, to no avail. Don Juan was definitely aware of what
was going on in my mind. He gave a knowing smile.
reason you think you're sick," he said, addressing me, "is that
the inorganic beings discharged your energy and gave you theirs.
That should have been enough to kill anyone. As the nagual, you
have extra energy; therefore, you barely survived."
mentioned to don Juan that I remembered bits and pieces of quite
an incoherent dream, in which I was in a yellow-fogged world. He,
Carol Tiggs, and his companions were pulling me out.
inorganic beings' realm looks like a yellow fog world to the
physical eye," he said. "When you thought you were having an
incoherent dream, you were actually looking with your physical
eyes for the first time at the inorganic beings' universe. And,
strange as it may seem to you, it was also the first time for us.
We knew about the fog only through sorcerers' stories, not
Nothing of what he was saying made sense to
me. Don Juan assured me that because of my lack of energy, a more
complete explanation was impossible. I had to be satisfied, he
said, with what he was telling me and how I understood it.
"I don't understand it at all," I insisted.
"Then you haven't lost anything," he said. "When you get stronger, you yourself will answer your questions."
confessed to don Juan that I was having hot flashes. My temperature
would rise suddenly, and while I felt hot and sweaty, I had
extraordinary but disturbing insights into my situation.
Juan scanned my entire body with his penetrating gaze. He said that
I was in a state of energetic shock. Losing energy had
temporarily affected me, and what I interpreted as hot flashes
were, in essence, blasts of energy during which I momentarily
regained control of my energy body and knew everything that had
happened to me.
"Make an effort, and tell me yourself what happened to you in the inorganic beings' world," he ordered me.
told him that the clear sensation I got, from time to time, was that
he and his companions had gone into that world with their
physical bodies and had snatched me out of the inorganic beings'
"Right!" he exclaimed. "You're doing fine. Now, turn that sensation into a view of what happened."
was unable to do what he wanted, hard as I tried. Failing made me
experience an unusual fatigue which seemed to dry up the inside of my
body. Before don Juan left the room, I remarked to him that I was
suffering from anxiety.
"That means nothing," he said, unconcerned. "Gain back your energy, and don't worry about nonsense."
than two weeks went by, during which I slowly gained back my
energy. However, I kept on worrying about everything. I worried
mainly about being unknown to myself, especially about a streak
of coldness in me that I had not noticed before; a sort of
indifference; a detachment that I had attributed to my lack of
energy until I regained it. Then I realized that detachment was a
new feature of my being; a feature that had me permanently out of
synchronization. To elicit the feelings I was accustomed to, I had
to summon them up and actually wait a moment until they made
their appearance in my mind.
Another new feature of my
being was a strange longing that took hold of me from time to
time. I longed for someone I did not know. It was such an
overpowering and consuming feeling that when I experienced it, I had to
move around the room incessantly to alleviate it. The longing
remained with me until I made use of another newcomer in my life:
a rigid control of myself so new and powerful that it only added
more fuel to my worrying.
By the end of the fourth week,
everybody felt that I was finally cured. They cut down their
visits drastically. I spent much of the time alone, sleeping. The
rest and relaxation I was getting was so complete that my energy
began to increase remarkably. I felt like my old self again. I
even began to exercise.
One day around noon, after a light
lunch, I returned to my room to take a nap. Just before I sank
into a deep sleep, I was tossing in my bed trying to find a more
comfortable spot, when a strange pressure on my temples made me
open my eyes. The little girl of the inorganic beings' world was
standing by the foot of my bed, peering at me with her cold,
steel blue eyes.
I jumped out of bed and screamed so loudly that
three of don Juan's companions were in the room before I had
stopped my scream. They were aghast. They watched in horror as
the little girl came to me and was stopped by the boundaries of
my luminous physical being. We looked at each other for an
eternity. She was telling me something, which I could not comprehend
at first but which in the next moment became as clear as a bell.
She said that for me to understand what she was saying, my
awareness had to be transferred from my physical body into my
Don Juan came into the room at that moment. The
little girl and don Juan stared at each other. Without a word,
don Juan turned around and walked out of the room. The little
girl swished past the door after him. The commotion this scene
created among don Juan's companions was indescribable. They lost
all their composure. Apparently, all of them had seen the little girl
as she left the room with the nagual.
I myself seemed to
be on the verge of exploding. I felt faint and had to sit down. I
had experienced the presence of the little girl as a blow on my
solar plexus. She bore an astonishing likeness to my father. Waves
of sentiment hit me. I wondered about the meaning of this until I
was actually sick.
When don Juan returned to the room, I
had gained minimal control over myself. The expectation of
hearing what he had to say about the little girl was making my
breathing very difficult. Everybody was as excited as I was. They
all talked to don Juan at once and laughed when they realized what
they were doing. Their main interest was to find out whether
there was any uniformity in the way they had perceived the
scout's appearance. Everybody was in agreement that they had seen
a little girl, six to seven years old, very thin, with angular,
beautiful features. They also agreed that her eyes were steel
blue and burning with a mute emotion: Her eyes, they said,
expressed gratitude and loyalty.
Every detail they described
about the little girl I corroborated myself. Her eyes were so
bright and overpowering that they had actually caused me
something like pain. I had felt the weight of her look on my chest.
serious query, which don Juan's companions had and which I echoed
myself, was about the implications of this event. All agreed that
the scout was a portion of foreign energy that had filtered
through the walls separating the second attention and the
attention of the daily world. They asserted that; since they were
not dreaming and yet all of them had seen the alien energy
projected into the figure of a human child; that child had existence.
argued that there must have been hundreds, if not thousands, of
cases in which foreign energy slips unnoticed through natural
barriers into our human world, but that in the history of their
lineage there was no mention whatsoever of an event of this
nature. What worried them the most was that there were no
sorcerers' stories about it.
"Is this the first time in the history of mankind that this has happened?" one of them asked don Juan.
"I think it happens all the time," he replied, "but it has never happened in such an overt, volitional way."
"What does it mean to us?" another one of them asked don Juan.
"Nothing to us, but everything to him," he said and pointed at me.
of them then entered into a most disturbing silence. Don Juan paced
back and forth for a moment. Then he stopped in front of me and
peered at me, giving all the indications of someone who cannot
find words to express an overwhelming realization.
can't even begin to assess the scope of what you've done," don
Juan finally said to me in a tone of bewilderment. "You fell into
a pitfall, but it wasn't the kind of pitfall I was worrying
about. Your pitfall was designed for you alone, and it was
deadlier than anything I could have thought of. I worried about
your falling prey to flattery and being served. What I never
counted on was that the shadow beings would set a trap using your
inherent aversion to chains."
Don Juan had once made a
comparison of his reaction and mine, in the sorcerers' world, to
the things that pressed us the most. He said, without making it
sound like a complaint, that although he wanted and tried to, he
had never been able to inspire the kind of affection his teacher, the
nagual Julian, inspired in people.
"My unbiased reaction,
which I am putting on the table for you to examine, is to be able
to say, and mean it: it's not my fate to evoke blind and total
affection. So be it!"
"Your unbiased reaction," he went on, "is that you can't stand chains, and you would forfeit your life to break them."
I sincerely disagreed with him and told him that he was exaggerating. My views were not that clear.
worry," he said laughing, "sorcery is action. When the time
comes, you'll act your passion the same way I act mine. Mine is
to acquiesce to my fate, not passively, like an idiot, but
actively, like a warrior. Yours is to jump without either
capriciousness or premeditation to cut someone else's chains."
Juan explained that upon merging my energy with the scout I had
truthfully ceased to exist. All my physicalness had then been
transported into the inorganic beings' realm and, had it not been
for the scout who guided don Juan and his companions to where I
was, I would have died or remained in that world, inextricably
"Why did the scout guide you to where I was?" I asked.
scout is a sentient being from another dimension," he said. "It's
a little girl now, and as such she told me that in order to get
the necessary energy to break the barrier that had trapped her in
the inorganic beings' world, she had to take all of yours. That's
her human part now. Something resembling gratitude drove her to
me. When I saw her, I knew instantly that you were done for."
"What did you do then, don Juan?"
"I rounded up everyone I could get hold of, especially Carol Tiggs, and off we went into the inorganic beings' realm."
"Why Carol Tiggs?"
the first place, because she has endless energy, and, in the
second place, because she had to familiarize herself with the
scout. All of us got something invaluable out of this experience.
You and Carol Tiggs got the scout. And the rest of us got a
reason to round up our physicality and place it on our energy
bodies: We became energy."
"How did all of you do that, don Juan?"
displaced our assemblage points, in unison. Our impeccable intent
to save you did the work. The scout took us, in the blink of an
eye, to where you were lying, half dead, and Carol dragged you
His explanation made no sense to me. Don Juan laughed when I tried to raise that point.
"How can you understand this when you don't even have enough energy to get out of your bed?" he retorted.
confided to him that I was certain I knew infinitely more than I
rationally admitted but that something was keeping a tight lid on my
"Lack of energy is what has put a tight lid on your
memory," he said. "When you have sufficient energy, your memory
will work fine."
"Do you mean that I can remember everything if I want to?"
quite. You may want as much as you like, but if your energy level
is not on a par with the importance of what you know, you might
as well kiss your knowledge good-bye: it'll never be available to
"So what's the thing to do, don Juan?"
"Energy tends to be cumulative: If you follow the warrior's way impeccably, a moment will come when your memory opens up."
confessed that hearing him talk gave me the absurd sensation that I
was indulging in feeling sorry for myself; that there was nothing
wrong with me.
"You are not just indulging," he said. "You were
actually energetically dead four weeks ago. Now you are merely
stunned. Being stunned and lacking energy is what makes you hide
your knowledge. You certainly know more than any of us about the
inorganic beings' world. That world was the exclusive concern of
the old sorcerers. All of us have told you that only through
sorcerers' stories do we know about it. I sincerely say that it
is more than strange to me that you've become, in your own right,
another source of sorcerers' stories for us."
that it was impossible for me to believe I had done something he
had not. But I could not believe either that he was merely humoring me.
am not flattering or humoring you," he said, visibly annoyed. "I
am stating a sorcery fact. Knowing more than any of us about that
world shouldn't be a reason for feeling pleased. There's no
advantage in that knowledge. In fact, in spite of all you know,
you couldn't save yourself. We saved you, because we found you.
But without the aid of the scout, there was no point in even
trying to find you. You were so infinitely lost in that world
that I shudder at the mere thought."
In my state of mind, I did
not find it strange in the least that I actually saw a ripple of
emotion going through all of don Juan's companions and
apprentices. The only one who remained unaltered was Carol Tiggs. She
seemed to have fully accepted her role. She was one with me.
did free the scout," don Juan continued, "but you gave up your
life. Or, worse yet, you gave up your freedom. The inorganic
beings let the scout go in exchange for you."
hardly believe that, don Juan. Not that I doubt you, you
understand, but you describe such an underhanded maneuver that I
"Don't consider it underhanded and you have the
whole thing in a nutshell. The inorganic beings are forever in
search of awareness and energy. If you supply them with the
possibility of both, what do you think they'll do? Blow you
kisses from across the street?"
I knew that don Juan was right. However, I could not hold that certainty for too long: Clarity kept drifting away from me.
Juan's companions continued asking him questions. They wanted to know
if he had given any thought to what to do with the scout.
I have. It is a most serious problem, which the nagual here has
to resolve," he said, pointing at me. "He and Carol Tiggs are the
only ones who can free the scout. And he knows it too."
Naturally, I asked him the only possible question, "How can I free it?"
of my telling you how, there is a much better and more just way
of finding out," don Juan said with a big smile. "Ask the
emissary. The inorganic beings cannot lie, you know."
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
8. The Third Gate of Dreaming
third gate of dreaming is reached when you find yourself in a
dream, staring at someone else who is asleep. And that someone
else turns out to be you," don Juan said.
My energy level
was so keyed up at the time that I went to work on the third task
right away although he did not offer any more information about
it. Journeying to the realm of inorganic beings was no longer an
issue for me.
The first thing I noticed in my dreaming practices
was that a surge of energy immediately rearranged the focus of my
dreaming attention. Its focus was now on waking up in a dream and
seeing myself sleeping.
Very soon after, I found myself in a
dream looking at myself asleep. I immediately reported it to don
Juan. The dream had happened while I was at his house.
are two phases to each of the gates of dreaming," he said. "The
first, as you know, is to arrive at the gate: The second is to cross
it. By dreaming what you've dreamt- that you saw yourself asleep-
you arrived at the third gate. The second phase is to move around
once you've seen yourself asleep.
"At the third gate of
dreaming," he went on, "you begin to deliberately merge your
dreaming reality with the reality of the daily world. This is the
drill, and sorcerers call it completing the energy body. The merge
between the two realities has to be so thorough that you need to
be more fluid than ever. Examine everything at the third gate
with great care and curiosity."
I complained that his recommendations were too cryptic and were not making any sense to me.
"What do you mean by great care and curiosity?" I asked.
tendency at the third gate is to get lost in detail," he replied.
"To view things with great care and curiosity means to resist the
nearly irresistible temptation to plunge into detail.
"The given drill at the third gate, as I said, is to consolidate the energy body.
begin forging the energy body by fulfilling the drills of the
first and second gates. When they reach the third gate, the energy body
is ready to come out, or perhaps it would be better to say that
it is ready to act. Unfortunately, this also means that it's
ready to be mesmerized by detail."
"What does it mean to be mesmerized by detail?"
energy body is like a child who's been imprisoned all its life.
The moment it is free, it soaks up everything it can find, and I
mean everything. Every irrelevant, minute detail totally absorbs
the energy body."
An awkward silence followed. I had no
idea what to say. I had understood him perfectly, I just didn't
have anything in my experience to give me an idea of exactly what
it all meant.
"The most asinine detail becomes a world for the
energy body," don Juan explained. "The effort that dreamers have
to make to direct the energy body is staggering. I know that it
sounds awkward to tell you to view things with care and
curiosity, but that is the best way to describe what you should
do. At the third gate, dreamers have to avoid a nearly
irresistible impulse to plunge into everything, and they avoid it
by being so curious, so desperate to get into everything that
they don't let any particular thing imprison them."
Juan added that his recommendations, which he knew sounded absurd to
the mind, were directly aimed at my energy body. He stressed over
and over that my energy body had to unite all its resources in
order to act.
"But hasn't my energy body been acting all along?" I asked.
of it has, otherwise you wouldn't have journeyed to the inorganic
beings' realm," he replied. "Now your entire energy body has to be
engaged to perform the drill of the third gate. Therefore, to
make things easier for your energy body, you must hold back your
"I am afraid you are barking up the wrong tree," I
said. "There is very little rationality left in me after all the
experiences you've brought into my life."
anything," don Juan replied. "At the third gate, rationality is
responsible for the insistence of our energy bodies on being obsessed
with superfluous detail. At the third gate, then, we need
irrational fluidity; irrational abandon to counteract that
Don Juan's statement that each gate is an obstacle
could not have been more truthful. I labored to fulfill the drill
of the third gate of dreaming more intensely than I had on the
other two tasks combined. Don Juan put tremendous pressure on me.
Besides, something else had been added to my life: a true sense
of fear. I had been normally and even excessively afraid of one
thing or another throughout my life, but there had been nothing in
my experience comparable to the fear I felt after my bout with
the inorganic beings. Yet all this wealth of experience was
inaccessible to my normal memory. Only in the presence of don
Juan were those memories at my disposal.
I asked him about this
strange situation once when we were at the National Museum of
Anthropology and History in Mexico City. What had prompted my
question was that, at the moment, I had the odd ability to
remember everything that had happened to me in the course of my
association with don Juan. And that made me feel so free, so
daring and light-footed that I was practically dancing around.
"It just happens that the presence of the nagual induces a shift of the assemblage point," he said.
guided me then into one of the display rooms of the museum and said
that my question was apropos to what he had been planning to tell
"My intention was to explain to you that the position of the
assemblage point is like a vault where sorcerers keep their
records," he said. "I was tickled pink when your energy body felt
my intent and you asked me about it. The energy body knows
immensities. Let me show you how much it knows."
me to enter into total silence. He reminded me that I was already
in a special state of awareness because my assemblage point had
been made to shift by his presence. He assured me that entering
into total silence was going to allow the sculptures in that room
to make me see and hear inconceivable things.
apparently to increase my confusion, that some of the
archaeological pieces in that room had the capacity to produce,
by themselves, a shift of the assemblage point, and that if I
reached a state of total silence I would be actually witnessing
scenes pertaining to the lives of the people who made those
He then began the strangest tour of a museum I have ever
taken. He went around the room, describing and interpreting
astounding details of every one of the large pieces. According to
him, every archaeological piece in that room was a purposeful
record left by the people of antiquity, a record that don Juan as
a sorcerer was reading to me as one would read a book.
piece here is designed to make the assemblage point shift," he
went on. "Fix your gaze on any of them, silence your mind, and
find out whether or not your assemblage point can be made to
"How would I know that it has shifted?"
"Because you would see and feel things that are beyond your normal reach."
I gazed at the sculptures and saw and heard things that I would be at a loss to explain.
the past, I had examined all those pieces with the bias of
anthropology; always bearing in mind the descriptions of scholars
in the field. Their descriptions of the functions of those
pieces, rooted in modern man's cognition of the world, appeared
to me, for the first time, to be utterly prejudiced if not
What don Juan said about those pieces, and what I heard
and saw myself while gazing at them was the farthest thing from
what I had always read about them.
My discomfort was so
great that I felt obliged to apologize to don Juan for what I
thought was my suggestibility. He did not laugh or make fun of me.
He patiently explained that sorcerers were capable of leaving
accurate records of their findings in the position of the
He maintained that when it comes to getting to
the essence of a written account, we have to use our sense of
sympathetic or imaginative participation to go beyond the mere
page into the experience itself.
However, in the sorcerers'
world, since there are no written pages, total records, which can
be relived instead of read, are left in the position of the
To illustrate his argument, don Juan talked
about the sorcerers' teachings for the second attention. He said
that they are given when the apprentice's assemblage point is on
a place other than the normal one. The position of the assemblage
point becomes, in this manner, the record of the lesson. In order
to play the lesson back, the apprentice has to return his
assemblage point to the position it occupied when the lesson was
given. Don Juan concluded his remarks by reiterating that to
return the assemblage point to all the positions it occupied when
the lessons were given is an accomplishment of the highest
For nearly a year, don Juan did not ask me anything
about my third dreaming task. Then one day, quite abruptly, he
wanted me to describe to him all the nuances of my dreaming
The first thing I mentioned was a baffling
recurrence. For a period of months, I had dreams in which I found
myself staring at me, sleeping in my bed. The odd part was the
regularity of those dreams; they happened every four days, like
During the other three days, my dreaming was what it
always had been so far: I examined every possible item in my
dreams, I changed dreams, and occasionally, driven by a suicidal
curiosity, I followed the foreign energy scouts, although I felt
extremely guilty doing this. I fancied it to be like having a
secret drug addiction. The realness of that world was
irresistible to me.
Secretly, I felt somehow exonerated
from total responsibility, because don Juan himself had suggested
that I ask the dreaming emissary about what to do to free the
blue scout trapped among us. He meant for me to pose the question
in my everyday practice, but I construed his statement to imply
that I had to ask the emissary while I was in its world. The question
I really wanted to ask the emissary was whether the inorganic
beings had set a trap for me.
The emissary not only told
me that everything don Juan had said was true but also gave me
instructions on what Carol Tiggs and I had to do to liberate the
"The regularity of your dreams is something that I rather expected," don Juan remarked, after listening to me.
"Why did you expect something like that, don Juan?"
"Because of your relationship with the inorganic beings."
"That's over and forgotten, don Juan," I lied, hoping he would not pursue the subject any further.
are saying that for my benefit, aren't you? You don't need to; I
know the true story. Believe me, once you get to play with them,
you are hooked. They'll always be after you. Or, what's worse
yet, you'll always be after them."
He stared at me, and my guilt must have been so obvious that it made him laugh.
only possible explanation for such regularity is that the
inorganic beings are catering to you again," don Juan said in a
I hurried to change the subject and told him that
another nuance of my dreaming practices worth mentioning was my
reaction to the sight of myself lying sound asleep. That view was
always so startling that it either glued me to the spot until the
dream changed, or frightened me so profoundly that it made me
wake up screaming at the top of my voice. I had gotten to the
point where I was afraid to go to sleep on the days I knew I was going
to have that dream.
"You are not yet ready for a true
merging of your dreaming reality and your daily reality," he
concluded. "You must recapitulate your life further."
done all the recapitulating possible," I protested. "I've been
recapitulating for years. There is nothing more I can remember about
"There must be much more," he said adamantly, "otherwise, you wouldn't wake up screaming."
did not like the idea of having to recapitulate again. I had done it,
and I believed I had done it so well that I did not need to touch
the subject ever again.
"The recapitulation of our lives
never ends, no matter how well we've done it once," don Juan
said. "The reason average people lack volition in their dreams is
that they have never recapitulated and their lives are filled to
capacity with heavily loaded emotions like memories, hopes, fears,
et cetera, et cetera.
"Sorcerers, in contrast, are
relatively free from heavy, binding emotions, because of their
recapitulation. And if something stops them, as it has stopped
you at this moment, the assumption is that there still is
something in them that is not quite clear."
"To recapitulate is too involving, don Juan. Maybe there is something else I can do instead."
There isn't. Recapitulating and dreaming go hand in hand. As we
regurgitate our lives, we get more and more airborne."
had given me very detailed and explicit instructions about the
recapitulation. It consisted of reliving the totality of one's
life experiences by remembering every possible minute detail of
them. He saw the recapitulation as the essential factor in a
dreamer's redefinition and redeployment of energy.
recapitulation sets free energy imprisoned within us; and without
this liberated energy, dreaming is not possible." That was his
Years before, don Juan had coached me to make a list
of all the people I had met in my life, starting at the present.
He helped me to arrange my list in an orderly fashion, breaking
it down into areas of activity, such as jobs I had had, schools I
had attended. Then he guided me to go, without deviation, from
the first person on my list to the last one, reliving every one of
my interactions with them.
He explained that
recapitulating an event starts with one's mind arranging
everything pertinent to what is being recapitulated. Arranging
means reconstructing the event, piece by piece; starting by
recollecting the physical details of the surroundings; then going
to the person with whom one shared the interaction; and then
going to oneself- to the examination of one's feelings.
Juan taught me that the recapitulation is coupled with a natural,
rhythmical breathing. Long exhalations are performed as the head
moves gently and slowly from right to left; and long inhalations
are taken as the head moves back from left to right. He called
this act of moving the head from side to side 'fanning the
event'. The mind examines the event from beginning to end while
the body fans, on and on, everything the mind focuses on.
Juan said that the sorcerers of antiquity, the inventors of the
recapitulation, viewed breathing as a magical, life-giving act and used
it, accordingly, as a magical vehicle; the exhalation, to eject
the foreign energy left in them during the interaction being
recapitulated; and the inhalation to pull back the energy that
they themselves left behind during the interaction.
of my academic training, I took the recapitulation to be the
process of analyzing one's life. But don Juan insisted that it
was more involved than an intellectual psychoanalysis. He
postulated the recapitulation as a sorcerer's ploy to induce a
minute but steady displacement of the assemblage point. He said
that the assemblage point, under the impact of reviewing past
actions and feelings, goes back and forth between its present site and
the site it occupied when the event being recapitulated took
Don Juan stated that the old sorcerers' rationale behind
the recapitulation was their conviction that there is an
inconceivable dissolving force in the universe, which makes
organisms live by lending them awareness. That force also makes
organisms die in order to extract the same lent awareness; which
organisms have enhanced through their life experiences.
explained the old sorcerers' reasoning. They believed that since
it is our life experience this force is after, it is of supreme
importance that it can be satisfied with a facsimile of our life
experience: the recapitulation. Having had what it seeks, the
dissolving force then lets sorcerers go, free to expand their
capacity to perceive and reach with it the confines of time and
When I started again to recapitulate, it was a great
surprise to me that my dreaming practices were automatically
suspended the moment my recapitulation began. I asked don Juan
about this unwanted recess.
"Dreaming requires every bit of our
available energy," he replied. "If there is a deep preoccupation
in our life, there is no possibility of dreaming."
"But I have been deeply preoccupied before," I said, "and my practices were never interrupted."
must be then that every time you thought you were preoccupied, you
were only egomaniacally disturbed," he said, laughing. "To be
preoccupied, for sorcerers, means that all your energy sources
are taken on. This is the first time you've engaged your energy
sources in their totality. The rest of the time, even when you
recapitulated before, you were not completely absorbed."
Juan gave me this time a new recapitulation pattern. I was supposed
to construct a jigsaw puzzle by recapitulating, without any
apparent order, different events of my life.
"But it's going to be a mess," I protested.
it won't be," he assured me. "It'll be a mess if you let your
pettiness choose the events you are going to recapitulate.
Instead, let the spirit decide. Be silent, and then get to the
event the spirit points out."
The results of that pattern of
recapitulation were shocking to me on many levels. I was very
impressed to find out that, whenever I silenced my mind, a
seemingly independent force immediately plunged me into a most
detailed memory of some event in my life. But it was even more
impressive that a very orderly configuration resulted. What I
thought was going to be chaotic turned out to be extremely
I asked don Juan why he had not made me recapitulate
in this manner from the start. He replied that there are two
basic rounds to the recapitulation; that the first is called
formality and rigidity; and the second fluidity.
I had no
inkling about how different my recapitulation was going to be
this time. The ability to concentrate, which I had acquired by
means of my dreaming practices, permitted me to examine my life
at a depth I would never have imagined possible.
me over a year to view and review all I could about my life
experiences. At the end, I had to agree with don Juan: There had
been immensities of loaded emotions hidden so deeply inside me as
to be virtually inaccessible.
The result of my second
recapitulation was a new, more relaxed attitude. The very day I
returned to my dreaming practices, I dreamt I saw myself asleep.
I turned around and daringly left my room, penuriously going down a
flight of stairs to the street.
I was elated with what I
had done and reported it to don Juan. My disappointment was
enormous when he did not consider this dream part of my dreaming
practices. He argued that I had not gone to the street with my
energy body, because if I had I would have had a sensation other
than walking down a flight of stairs.
"What kind of sensation are you talking about, don Juan?" I asked, with genuine curiosity.
have to establish some valid guide to find out whether you are
actually seeing your body asleep in your bed," he said instead of
answering my question. "Remember, you must be in your actual
room, seeing your actual body. Otherwise, what you are having is
merely a dream. If that's the case, control that dream, either by
observing its detail or by changing it."
I insisted he tell me more about the valid guide he had referred to, but he cut me short.
"Figure out a way to validate the fact that you are looking at yourself," he said.
"Do you have any suggestions as to what can be a valid guide?" I insisted.
your own judgment. We are coming to the end of our time together.
You have to be on your own very soon." He changed the subject
then, and I was left with a clear taste of my ineptitude. I was
unable to figure out what he wanted or what he meant by a valid
In the next dream in which I saw myself asleep, instead
of leaving the room and walking down the stairs, or waking up
screaming, I remained glued, for a long time, to the spot from
which I watched. Without fretting or despairing, I observed the
details of my dream. I noticed then that I was asleep wearing a
white T-shirt that was ripped at the shoulder. I tried to come closer
and examine the rip, but moving was beyond my capabilities. I
felt a heaviness that seemed to be part of my very being. In
fact, I was all weight. Not knowing what to do next, I instantly
entered into a devastating confusion. I tried to change dreams,
but some unaccustomed force kept me staring at my sleeping body.
the midst of my turmoil, I heard the dreaming emissary saying that
not having control to move around was frightening me to the point
that I might have to do another recapitulation. The emissary's
voice and what it said did not surprise me at all. I had never
felt so vividly and terrifyingly unable to move. I did not,
however, give in to my terror. I examined it and found out that
it was not a psychological terror but a physical sensation of
helplessness, despair, and annoyance. It bothered me beyond words that
I was not capable of moving my limbs. My annoyance grew in
proportion to my realization that something outside me had me
brutally pinned down. The effort I made to move my arms or legs
was so intense and single-minded that at one moment I actually
saw one leg of my body, sleeping on the bed, flung out as if
My awareness was then pulled into my inert, sleeping
body, and I woke up with such a force that it took more than half
an hour to calm myself down. My heart was beating almost
erratically. I was shivering, and some of the muscles in my legs
twitched uncontrollably. I had suffered such a radical loss of
body heat that I needed blankets and hot-water bottles to raise
Naturally, I went to Mexico to ask don
Juan's advice about the sensation of paralysis, and about the
fact that I really had been wearing a ripped T-shirt, thus, I had
indeed seen myself asleep. Besides, I was deadly afraid of
hypothermia. He was reluctant to discuss my predicament. All I got out
of him was a caustic remark.
"You like drama," he said
flatly. "Of course you really saw yourself asleep. The problem is
that you got nervous because your energy body has never been
consciously in one piece before. If you ever get nervous and cold
again, hold on to your dick. That will restore your body
temperature in a jiffy and without any fuss."
I felt a bit
offended by his crassness. However, the advice proved effective.
The next time I became frightened, I relaxed and returned to
normal in a few minutes, doing what he had prescribed. In this manner,
I discovered that if I did not fret and kept my annoyance in
check, I did not panic. To remain controlled did not help me
move, but it certainly gave me a deep sensation of peace and
After months of useless efforts at walking, I sought
don Juan's comments once again, not so much for his advice this
time but because I wanted to concede defeat. I was up against an
impassable barrier, and I knew with indisputable certainty that I
"Dreamers have to be imaginative," don Juan said
with a malicious grin. "Imaginative you are not. I didn't warn
you about having to use your imagination to move your energy body
because I wanted to find out whether you could resolve the riddle
by yourself. You didn't, and your friends didn't help you either."
the past, I had been driven to defend myself viciously whenever
he accused me of lacking imagination. I thought I was
imaginative, but having don Juan as a teacher had taught me, the
hard way, that I am not. Since I was not going to engage my
energy in futile defenses of myself, I asked him instead, "What
is this riddle you are talking about, don Juan?"
"The riddle of
how impossible and yet how easy it is to move the energy body.
You are trying to move it as if you were in the daily world. We
spend so much time and effort learning to walk that we believe
our dreaming bodies should also walk. There is no reason why they
should, except that walking is foremost in our minds."
marveled at the simplicity of the solution. I instantly knew that don
Juan was right. I had gotten stuck again at the level of
interpretation. He had told me I had to move around once I
reached the third gate of dreaming, and to me moving around meant
walking. I told him that I understood his point.
"It isn't my
point," he curtly answered. "It's a sorcerers' point. Sorcerers
say that at the third gate the entire energy body can move like
energy moves: fast and directly. Your energy body knows exactly
how to move. It can move as it moves in the inorganic beings'
"And this brings us to the other issue here," don Juan
added with an air of pensiveness. "Why didn't your inorganic
being friends help you?"
"Why do you call them my friends, don Juan?"
are like the classic friends who are not really thoughtful or kind
to us but not mean either. The friends who are just waiting for
us to turn our backs so they can stab us there."
I understood him completely and agreed with him one hundred percent.
"What makes me go there? Is it a suicidal tendency?" I asked him, more rhetorically than not.
don't have any suicidal tendency," he said. "What you have is a
total disbelief that you were near death. Since you were not in
physical pain, you can't quite convince yourself you were in
His argument was most reasonable, except that I
did believe a deep, unknown fear had been ruling my life since my
bout with the inorganic beings. Don Juan listened in silence as I
described to him my predicament. I could not discard or explain
away my urge to go to the inorganic beings' world, in spite of
what I knew about it.
"I have a streak of insanity," I said. "What I do doesn't make sense."
does make sense. The inorganic beings are still reeling you in, like
a fish hooked at the end of a line," he said. "They throw
worthless bait at you from time to time to keep you going. To
arrange your dreams to occur every four days without fail is
worthless bait. But they didn't teach you how to move your energy
"Why do you think they didn't?"
"Because when your
energy body learns to move by itself, you'll be thoroughly out of
their reach. It was premature of me to believe that you are free
from them. You are relatively but not completely free. They are
still bidding for your awareness."
I felt a chill in my back. He had touched a sore spot in me.
"Tell me what to do, don Juan, and I'll do it," I said.
impeccable. I have told you this dozens of times. To be impeccable
means to put your life on the line in order to back up your
decisions, and then to do quite a lot more than your best to
realize those decisions. When you are not deciding anything, you
are merely playing roulette with your life in a helter-skelter
Don Juan ended our conversation, urging me to ponder what he had said.
the first opportunity I had, I put don Juan's suggestion about moving
my energy body to the test. When I found myself looking at my
body asleep, instead of struggling to walk toward it I simply
willed myself to move closer to the bed. Instantly, I was nearly
touching my body. I saw my face. In fact, I could see every pore
in my skin. I cannot say that I liked what I saw. My view of my
own body was too detailed to be aesthetically pleasing. Then
something like a wind came into the room, totally disarranged
everything, and erased my view.
During subsequent dreams, I
entirely corroborated that the only way the energy body can move
is to glide or soar. I discussed this with don Juan. He seemed
unusually satisfied with what I had done, which certainly
surprised me. I was accustomed to his cold reaction to anything I
did in my dreaming practices.
"Your energy body is used to
moving only when something pulls it," he said. "The inorganic
beings have been pulling your energy body right and left, and
until now you have never moved it by yourself with your own volition.
It doesn't seem like you've done much, moving the way you did,
yet I assure you that I was seriously considering ending your
practices. For a while, I believed you were not going to learn
how to move on your own."
"Were you considering ending my dreaming practices because I am slow?"
not slow. It takes sorcerers forever to learn to move the energy
body. I was going to end your dreaming practices because I have no
more time. There are other topics, more pressing than dreaming,
on which you can use your energy."
"Now that I've learned how to move my energy body by myself, what else should I do, don Juan?"
"Continue moving. Moving your energy body has opened up a new area for you; an area of extraordinary exploration."
urged me again to come up with an idea to validate the faithfulness of
my dreams; that request did not seem as odd as it had the first
time he voiced it.
"As you know, to be transported by a
scout is the real dreaming task of the second gate," he
explained. "It is a very serious matter, but not as serious as
forging and moving the energy body. Therefore, you have to make sure,
by some means of your own, whether you are actually seeing
yourself asleep or whether you are merely dreaming that you're
seeing yourself asleep. Your new extraordinary exploration hinges
on really seeing yourself asleep."
After some heavy pondering
and wondering, I believed that I had come up with the right plan.
Having seen my ripped T-shirt gave me an idea for a valid guide.
I started from the assumption that, if I were actually observing
myself asleep, I would also be observing whether I had the same
sleeping attire I had gone to bed in, an attire that I had
decided to change radically every four days. I was confident that
I was not going to have any difficulty in remembering, in dreams,
what I was wearing when I went to bed; the discipline I had
acquired through my dreaming practices made me think that I had
the ability to record things like this in my mind and remember
them in dreams.
I engaged my best efforts to follow this guide,
but the results did not pan out as I thought they would. I lacked
the necessary control over my dreaming attention, and I could not
quite remember the details of my sleeping attire. Yet something
else was definitely at work. Somehow I always knew whether my
dreams were ordinary dreams or not. The outstanding aspect of the
dreams that were not just ordinary dreams was that my body lay
asleep in bed while my consciousness observed it.
notable feature of these dreams was my room. It was never like my room
in the daily world but an enormous empty hall with my bed at one
end. I used to soar over a considerable distance to be at the
side of the bed where my body lay. The moment I was next to it, a
windlike force used to make me hover over it, like a hummingbird.
At times the room used to vanish; disappear piece by piece until
only my body and the bed were left. At other times, I used to
experience a complete loss of volition. My dreaming attention
seemed then to function independently of me. Either it was
completely absorbed by the first item it encountered in the room
or it seemed unable to decide what to do. In those instances, I
had the sensation that I was helplessly floating, going from item
The voice of the dreaming emissary explained to me once
that all the elements of the dreams, which were not just
commonplace dreams, were really energy configurations different
from those of our normal world. The emissary's voice pointed out
that, for example, the walls were liquid. It urged me then to
plunge into one of them.
Without thinking twice, I dived into a
wall as if I were diving into a huge lake. I did not feel the
waterlike wall; what I felt was not a physical sensation of
plunging into a body of water either. It was more like the
thought of diving and the visual sensation of going through liquid
matter. I was going, head-first, into something that opened up,
like water does, as I kept moving downward.
of going down, headfirst, was so real that I began to wonder how
long or how deep or how far I was diving. From my point of view, I
spent an eternity in there. I saw clouds and rocklike masses of
matter suspended in a waterlike substance. There were some
glowing, geometric objects that resembled crystals, and blobs of
the deepest primary colors I had ever seen. There were also zones
of intense light and others of pitch blackness. Everything went
by me, either slowly or at a fast speed. I had the thought that I
was viewing the cosmos. At the instant of that thought, my speed
increased so immensely that everything became blurred, and all of a
sudden, I found myself awake with my nose smack against the wall
of my room.
Some hidden fear urged me to consult with don Juan. He listened to me, hanging on every word.
need to do some drastic maneuvering at this point," he said. "The
dreaming emissary has no business interfering with your dreaming
practices. Or rather, you should not, under any conditions,
permit it to do so."
"How can I stop it?"
simple but difficult maneuver. Upon entering into dreaming, voice
out loud your desire not to have the dreaming emissary anymore."
"Does that mean, don Juan, that I will never hear it again?"
"Positively. You'll get rid of it forever."
"But is it advisable to get rid of it forever?"
"It most certainly is, at this point."
those words, don Juan involved me in a most disturbing dilemma. I
did not want to put an end to my relationship with the emissary,
but, at the same time, I wanted to follow don Juan's advice. He
noticed my hesitation.
"I know it's a very difficult affair," he
conceded, "but if you don't do it, the inorganic beings will
always have a line on you. If you want to avoid this, do what I
said, and do it now."
During my next dreaming session, as I
prepared myself to utter my intent, the emissary's voice
interrupted me. It said, "If you refrain from stating your
request, I promise you never to interfere with your dreaming
practices and talk to you only if you ask me direct questions."
instantly accepted its proposition and sincerely felt that it was a
good deal. I was even relieved it had turned out this way. I was
afraid, however, that don Juan was going to be disappointed.
was a good maneuver," he remarked and laughed. "You were sincere:
You really intended to voice your request. To be sincere is all
that was required. There was, essentially, no need for you to
eliminate the emissary. What you wanted was to corner it into
proposing an alternative way, convenient to you. I am sure the
emissary won't interfere anymore."
He was right. I continued my
dreaming practices without any meddling from the emissary. The
remarkable consequence was that I began to have dreams in which
my dream rooms were my room in the daily world, with one
difference: In the dreams, my room was always so slanted and so
distorted that it looked like a giant cubist painting: Obtuse and
acute angles were the rule instead of the normal right angles of
walls, ceiling, and floor. In my lopsided room, the very slant
created by the acute or obtuse angles was a device to display
prominently some absurd, superfluous, but real detail; for
example, intricate lines in the hardwood floor; or weather
discolorations in the wall paint, or dust spots on the ceiling;
or smudged fingerprints on the edge of a door.
dreams, I unavoidably got lost in the waterlike universes of the
detail pointed out by the slant. During my entire dreaming practices,
the profusion of detail in my room was so immense and its pull so
intense that it instantly made me dive into it.
At the first free moment I had, I was at don Juan's place, consulting him about this state.
"I can't overcome my room," I said to him after I had given him the details of my dreaming practices.
"What gives you the idea you have to overcome it?" he asked with a grin.
"I feel that I have to move beyond my room, don Juan."
you are moving beyond your room. Perhaps you should ask yourself
whether you are caught again in interpretations. What do you think
moving means in this case?"
I told him walking from my
room to the street had been such a haunting dream for me that I
felt a real need to do it again.
"But you are doing greater
things than that," he protested. "You are going to unbelievable
regions. What else do you want?"
I tried to explain to him that
I had a physical urge to move away from the trap of detail. What
upset me the most was my incapacity to free myself from whatever
caught my attention. To have a modicum of volition was the bottom
line for me.
A very long silence followed. I waited to hear more
about the trap of detail. After all, he had warned me about its
"You are doing fine," he finally said. "Dreamers take a
very long time to perfect their energy bodies. And this is
exactly what's at stake here; perfecting your energy body."
Juan explained that the reason my energy body was compelled to
examine detail and get inextricably stuck in it was its
inexperience; its incompleteness. He said that sorcerers spend a
lifetime consolidating the energy body by letting it sponge up
"Until the energy body is complete and
mature, it is self-absorbed," don Juan went on. "It can't get
free from the compulsion to be absorbed by everything. But if one
takes this into consideration, instead of fighting the energy
body as you're doing now, one can lend it a hand."
"How can I do that, don Juan?"
"By directing its behavior, that is to say, by stalking it."
explained that since everything related to the energy body depends on
the appropriate position of the assemblage point, and since
dreaming is nothing else but the means to displace it, stalking
is, consequently, the way to make the assemblage point stay put
on the perfect position; in this case, the position where the
energy body can become consolidated and from which it can finally
Don Juan said that the moment the energy body can move
on its own, sorcerers assume that the optimum position of the
assemblage point has been reached. The next step is to stalk it,
that is, to fixate it on that position in order to complete the
energy body. He remarked that the procedure is simplicity itself.
One intends to stalk it.
Silence and looks of expectation
followed that statement. I expected him to say more, and he
expected me to have understood what he had said. I had not.
your energy body intend to reach the optimum dreaming position,"
he explained. "Then, let your energy body intend to stay at that
position and you will be stalking."
He paused, and with his eyes urged me to consider his statement.
is the secret, but you already know that," he said. "Sorcerers
displace their assemblage points through intending; and fixate
them, equally, through intending. And there is no technique for
intending. One intends through usage."
To have another of
my wild assumptions about my worth as a sorcerer was unavoidable
at that point. I had boundless confidence that something was
going to put me on the right track to intend the fixation of my
assemblage point on the ideal spot. I had accomplished in the
past all kinds of successful maneuvers without knowing how I
performed them. Don Juan himself had marveled at my ability or my
luck, and I was sure this was going to be one of those instances.
I was gravely mistaken. No matter what I did, or how long I
waited, I had no success whatsoever in fixing my assemblage point
on any spot, much less on the ideal one.
After months of serious but unsuccessful struggling, I gave up.
really believed I could do it," I said to don Juan, the moment I was
in his house. "I am afraid that nowadays I am more of an
egomaniac than ever."
"Not really," he said with a smile. "What
happens is that you are caught in another of your routinary
misinterpretations of terms. You want to find the ideal spot, as
if you were finding your lost car keys. Then you want to tie your
assemblage point, as if you were tying your shoes. The ideal spot
and the fixation of the assemblage point are metaphors. They have
nothing to do with the words used to describe them."
asked me then to tell him the latest events of any dreaming
practices. The first thing I mentioned was that my urge to be
absorbed by detail had subsided notably. I said that perhaps
because I moved in my dreams, compulsively and incessantly, the
movement might have been what always managed to stop me before I
plunged into the detail I was observing. To be stopped in that
fashion gave me the opportunity to examine the act of being
absorbed by detail. I came to the conclusion that inanimate matter
actually possesses an immobilizing force, which I saw as a beam
of dull light that kept me pinned down. For example, many times
some minute mark on the walls or in the wood lines of the
hardwood floor of my room used to send a line of light that
transfixed me. From the moment my dreaming attention was focused
on that light, the whole dream rotated around that minute mark. I saw
it enlarged perhaps to the size of the cosmos. That view used to
last until I woke up, usually with my nose pressed against the
wall or the wood floor. My own observations were that, in the
first place, the detail was real, and, in the second place, I
seemed to have been observing it while I was asleep.
smiled and said, "All this is happening to you because the
forging of your energy body was completed the moment it moved by
itself. I didn't tell you that, but I insinuated it. I wanted to
know whether or not you were capable of finding it out by
yourself, which, of course, you did."
I had no idea what he meant. Don Juan scrutinized me in his usual manner. His penetrating gaze scanned my body.
"What exactly did I find out by myself, don Juan?" I was forced to ask.
"You found out that your energy body had been completed," he answered.
"I didn't find out anything of the kind, I assure you."
you did. It started some time ago, when you couldn't find a guide
to validate the realness of your dreams, but then something went
to work for you and let you know whether you were having a
regular dream. That something was your energy body. Now, you
despair that you couldn't find the ideal spot to fix your
assemblage point. And I tell you that you did. The proof is that,
by moving around, your energy body curtailed its obsession with
I was nonplussed. [* nonplussed- filled with bewilderment] I could not even ask one of my feeble questions.
comes next for you is a sorcerers' gem," don Juan went on. "You
are going to practice seeing energy in your dreaming. You have
fulfilled the drill for the third gate of dreaming: moving your
energy body by itself. Now you are going to perform the real
task: seeing energy with your energy body.
"You have seen energy
before," he went on, "many times, in fact. But each of those
times, seeing was a fluke. Now you are going to do it deliberately.
have a rule of thumb," he continued. "If their energy body is
complete, they see energy every time they gaze at an item in the
daily world. In dreams, if they see the energy of an item, they
know they are dealing with a real world, no matter how distorted
that world may appear to their dreaming attention. If they can't
see the energy of an item, they are in an ordinary dream and not
in a real world."
"What is a real world, don Juan?"
world that generates energy; the opposite of a phantom world of
projections, where nothing generates energy, like most of our dreams,
where nothing has an energetic effect."
Don Juan then gave
me another definition of dreaming: a process by which dreamers
isolate dream conditions in which they can find energy-generating
He must have noticed my bewilderment. He laughed and
gave another, even more convoluted definition: dreaming is the
process by which we intend to find adequate positions of the
assemblage point; positions that permit us to perceive
energy-generating items in dreamlike states.
He explained that
the energy body is also capable of perceiving energy that is
quite different from the energy of our own world; as in the case of
items of the inorganic beings' realm, which the energy body
perceives as sizzling energy.
He added that in our world nothing sizzles. Everything here wavers.
now on," he said, "the issue of your dreaming is going to be to
determine whether the items on which you focus your dreaming attention
are energy generating, mere phantom projections, or generators of
Don Juan admitted that he had hoped I was
going to come up with the idea of seeing energy as the gauge to
determine whether or not I was observing my real body asleep. He
laughed at my spurious device of putting on elaborate sleeping
attire every four days. He said that I'd had, at my fingertips,
all the information necessary to deduce what was the real task of
the third gate of dreaming and to come up with the right idea,
but that my interpretation system had forced me to seek contrived
solutions that lacked the simplicity and directness of sorcery.
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
9. The New Area of Exploration
Juan told me that in order to see in dreaming not only did I have
to intend seeing but I had to put my intent into loud words. For
reasons he refused to explain, he insisted that I had to speak
up. He conceded that there are other means to accomplish the same
result, but he asserted that voicing one's intent is the simplest
and most direct way.
The first time I put into words my intent
to see, I was dreaming of a church bazaar. There were so many
articles that I could not make up my mind which one to gaze at. A
giant, conspicuous vase in a corner made up my mind for me. I
gazed at it, voicing my intent to see. The vase remained in my
view for an instant, then it changed into another object.
gazed at as many things as I could in that dream. After I voiced my
intent to see, every item I had chosen to gaze at vanished or
turned into something else, as had happened all along in my
dreaming practices. My dreaming attention was finally exhausted,
and I woke up tremendously frustrated, almost angry.
months on end, I actually gazed at hundreds of items in my dreams
and deliberately voiced my intent to see, but nothing ever
happened. Tired of waiting, I finally had to ask don Juan about
"You need to have patience. You are learning to do something
extraordinary," he remarked. "You are learning to intend to see
in your dreams. Someday you will not have to voice your intent:
You'll simply will it, silently."
"I think I have not understood
the function of whatever I am doing," I said. "Nothing happens
when I shout my intent to see. What does that mean?"
that your dreams, so far, have been ordinary dreams: They have
been phantom projections; images that have life only in your
He wanted to know exactly what had
happened to the items on which I had focused my gaze. I said that
they had vanished or changed shape or even produced vortexes that
eventually changed my dreams.
"It has been like that in all my
daily dreaming practices," I said. "The only thing out of the
ordinary is that I am learning to yell in my dreams, at the top
of my voice."
My last statement threw don Juan into a genuine
fit of belly laughter, which I found disconcerting. I failed to
find the humor of my statement or the reason for his reaction.
you'll appreciate how funny all this is," he said as an answer to
my silent protest. "In the meantime, don't give up or get discouraged.
Keep on trying. Sooner or later, you'll hit the right note."
usual, he was right. A couple of months later, I hit the jackpot. I had
a most unusual dream. It started with the appearance of a scout
from the inorganic beings' world. The scouts as well as the
dreaming emissary had been strangely absent from my dreams. I had
not missed them or pondered their disappearance. In fact, I was
so at ease without them, I had even forgotten to ask don Juan
about their absence.
In that dream, the scout had been, at
first, a gigantic yellow topaz which I had found stuck in the
back of a drawer. The moment I voiced my intent to see, the topaz
turned into a blob of sizzling energy. I feared that I would be
compelled to follow it, so I moved my gaze away from the scout
and focused it on an aquarium with tropical fish. I voiced my
intent to see and got a tremendous surprise. The aquarium emitted
a low, greenish glow and changed into a large surrealist portrait
of a bejeweled woman. The portrait emitted the same greenish glow
when I voiced my intent to see.
As I gazed at that glow, the
whole dream changed. I was walking then on a street in a town
that seemed familiar to me: It might have been Tucson. I gazed at
a display of women's clothes in a store window and spoke out loud
my intent to see. Instantly, a black mannequin, prominently displayed,
began to glow. I gazed next at a saleslady who came at that
moment to rearrange the window. She looked at me. After voicing
my intent, I saw her glow. It was so stupendous that I was afraid
some detail in her splendorous glow would trap me, but the woman
moved inside the store before I had time to focus my total
attention on her. I certainly intended to follow her inside,
however, my dreaming attention was caught by a moving glow. It came to
me charging, filled with hatred. There was loathing in it and
viciousness. I jumped backward. The glow stopped its charge. A
black substance swallowed me, and I woke up.
were so vivid that I firmly believed I had seen energy and my
dream had been one of those conditions that don Juan had called
dreamlike, energy-generating. The idea that dreams can take place
in the consensual reality of our daily world intrigued me, just
as the dream images of the inorganic beings' realm had intrigued
"This time, you not only saw energy but crossed a dangerous boundary," don Juan said, after hearing my account.
reiterated that the drill for the third gate of dreaming is to make
the energy body move on its own. In my last session, he said, I
had unwittingly superseded the effect of that drill and crossed
into another world.
"Your energy body moved," he said. "It
journeyed by itself. That kind of journeying is beyond your
abilities at this moment, and something attacked you."
"What do you think it was, don Juan?"
"This is a predatorial universe. It could have been one of thousands of things existing out there."
"Why do you think it attacked me?"
"For the same reason the inorganic beings attacked you: because you made yourself available."
"Is it that clear-cut, don Juan?"
It's as clear-cut as what you would do if a strange-looking
spider crept across your desk while you were writing. You'd squash it
out of fright, rather than admire it or examine it."
at a loss and searched for words to ask the proper question. I
wanted to ask him where my dream had taken place, or what world I
was in in that dream. But those questions did not make any sense.
I could gather that myself. Don Juan was very understanding.
"You want to know where your dreaming attention was focused, don't you?" he asked with a grin.
was exactly how I wanted to word my question. I reasoned that in
the dream under consideration, I must have been looking at some
real object- just like what had happened when I saw in dreams the
minute details on the floor or the walls or the door of my room;
details that I later had corroborated existed.
said that in special dreams, like the one I'd had, our dreaming
attention focuses on the daily world, and that it moves instantly from
one real object to another in the world. What makes this movement
possible is that the assemblage point is on the proper dreaming
position. From that position, the assemblage point gives the
dreaming attention such fluidity that it can move in a split
second over incredible distances, and in doing so it produces a
perception so fast, so fleeting that it resembles an ordinary
Don Juan explained that in my dream I had seen a real
vase, and then my dreaming attention had moved over distances to
see a real surrealist painting of a bejeweled woman. The result,
with the exception of seeing energy, had been very close to an
ordinary dream in which items, when gazed at, quickly turn into
"I know how disturbing this is," he went on,
definitely aware of my bewilderment. "For some reason pertinent
to the mind, to see energy in dreaming is more upsetting than
anything one can think of."
I remarked that I had seen energy in dreaming before, yet it had never affected me like this.
your energy body is complete and functioning," he said. "Therefore,
the implication that you see energy in your dream is that you are
perceiving a real world through the veil of a dream. That's the
importance of the journey you took. It was real. It involved
energy-generating items that nearly ended your life."
"Was it that serious, don Juan?"
bet! The creature that attacked you was made of pure awareness and
was as deadly as anything can be. You saw its energy. I am sure
that you realize by now that unless we see in dreaming, we can't
tell a real energy-generating thing from a phantom projection.
So, even though you battled the inorganic beings and indeed saw
the scouts and the tunnels, your energy body doesn't know for
sure if they were real; meaning energy generating. You are
ninety-nine but not one hundred percent sure."
Don Juan insisted
on talking about the journey I had taken. For inexplicable
reasons, I was reluctant to deal with that subject. What he was
saying produced an instantaneous reaction in me. I found myself
trying to come to grips with a deep, strange fear: It was dark
and obsessive in a nagging, visceral way.
went into another layer of the onion," don Juan said, finishing a
statement to which I had not paid attention.
"What is this other layer of the onion, don Juan?"
world is like an onion, it has many skins. The world we know is but
one of them. Sometimes, we cross boundaries and enter into
another skin; another world, very much like this one, but not the
same. And you entered into one all by yourself."
"How is this journey you're talking about possible, don Juan?"
is a meaningless question, because no one can answer it. In the
view of sorcerers, the universe is constructed in layers which
the energy body can cross. Do you know where the old sorcerers
are still existing to this day? In another layer; in another skin
of the onion."
"For me, the idea of a real, pragmatic journey taken in dreams is very difficult to understand or to accept, don Juan."
have discussed this topic to exhaustion. I was convinced you
understood that the journey of the energy body depends
exclusively on the position of the assemblage point."
told me that, and I have been mulling it over and over. Still,
saying that the journey is in the position of the assemblage point
doesn't say anything to me."
"Your problem is your
cynicism. I was just like you. Cynicism doesn't allow us to make
drastic changes in our understanding of the world. It also forces
us to feel that we are always right."
I understood his point to perfection, but I reminded him about my fight against all that.
propose that you do one nonsensical thing that might turn the tide,"
he said. "Repeat to yourself incessantly that the hinge of
sorcery is the mystery of the assemblage point. If you repeat
this to yourself long enough, some unseen force takes over and
makes the appropriate changes in you."
Don Juan did not give me
any indication that he was being facetious. [* facetious-
cleverly amusing in tone] I knew he meant every word of it. What
bothered me was his insistence that I repeat the formula ceaselessly
to myself. I caught myself thinking that all of it was asinine.
"Cut your cynical attitude," he snapped at me. "Repeat this in a bona fide manner.
mystery of the assemblage point is everything in sorcery," he
continued, without looking at me. "Or rather, everything in sorcery
rests on the manipulation of the assemblage point. You know all
this, but you have to repeat it."
For an instant, as I
heard his remarks, I thought I was going to die of anguish. An
incredible sense of physical sadness gripped my chest and made me
scream with pain. My stomach and diaphragm seemed to be pushing
up, moving into my chest cavity. The push was so intense that my
awareness changed levels, and I entered into my normal state.
Whatever we had been talking about became a vague thought about
something that might have happened, but actually had not
according to the mundane reasoning of my everyday-life
The next time don Juan and I talked about
dreaming, we discussed the reasons I had been unable to proceed
with my dreaming practices for months on end. Don Juan warned me
that to explain my situation he had to go in a roundabout way. He
pointed out, first, that there is an enormous difference between
the thoughts and deeds of the men of antiquity and those of
modern men. Then he pointed out that the men of ancient times had
a very realistic view of perception and awareness because their
view stemmed from their observations of the universe around them.
Modern men, in contrast, have an absurdly unrealistic view of
perception and awareness because their view stems from their
observations of the social order and from their dealings with it.
"Why are you telling me this?" I asked.
you are a modern man involved with the views and observations of
men of antiquity," he replied. "And none of those views and
observations are familiar to you. Now more than ever you need
sobriety and aplomb. [* aplomb- great coolness and composure
under strain] I am trying to make a solid bridge- a bridge you
can walk on, between the views of men of ancient times and those
of modern men."
He remarked that of all the transcendental
observations of the men of ancient times, the only one with which
I was familiar, because it had filtered down to our day, was the
idea of selling our souls to the devil in exchange for
immortality; which he admitted sounded to him like something
coming straight out of the relationship of the old sorcerers with
the inorganic beings. He reminded me how the dreaming emissary
had tried to induce me to stay in its realm by offering me the
possibility of maintaining my individuality and self-awareness
for nearly an eternity.
"As you know, succumbing to the lure of
the inorganic beings is not just an idea: It's real," don Juan
went on. "But you haven't yet fully realized the implication of
that realness. Dreaming, likewise, is real: It is an
energy-generating condition. You hear my statements and you
certainly understand what I mean, but your awareness hasn't
caught up with the total implication of it yet."
said that my rationality knew the import of a realization of this
nature, and during our last talk it had forced my awareness to
change levels. I ended up in my normal awareness before I could
deal with the nuances of my dream. My rationality had further
protected itself by suspending my dreaming practices.
"I assure you that I am fully aware of what an energy-generating condition means," I said.
I assure you that you are not," he retorted. "If you were, you
would measure dreaming with greater care and deliberation. Since
you believe you are just dreaming, you take blind chances. Your
faulty reasoning tells you that no matter what happens, at a
given moment the dream will be over and you will wake up."
was right. In spite of all the things I had witnessed in my
dreaming practices, somehow I still retained the general sense
that all of it had been a dream.
"I am talking to you
about the views of men of antiquity and the views of modern man,"
don Juan went on, "because your awareness, which is the awareness
of modern man, prefers to deal with an unfamiliar concept as if
it were an empty ideality.
"If I left it up to you, you'd
regard dreaming as an idea. Of course, I'm sure you take dreaming
seriously, but you don't quite believe in the reality of
"I understand what you are saying, don Juan, but I don't understand why you are saying it."
am saying all this because you are now, for the first time, in the
proper position to understand that dreaming is an
energy-generating condition. For the first time, you can
understand now that ordinary dreams are the honing devices used
to train the assemblage point to reach the position that creates
this energy-generating condition we call dreaming."
He warned me
that since dreamers touch and enter real worlds of all-inclusive
effects, they ought to be in a permanent state of the most
intense and sustained alertness: Any deviation from total alertness
imperils the dreamer in ways more than dreadful.
again, at this point, to experience a movement in my chest
cavity, exactly as I had felt the day my awareness changed levels
by itself. Don Juan forcibly shook me by the arm.
dreaming as something extremely dangerous!" he commanded me. "And
begin that now! Don't start any of your weird maneuvers."
His tone of voice was so urgent that I stopped whatever I was, unconsciously, doing.
"What is going on with me, don Juan?" I asked.
going on with you is that you can displace your assemblage point
quickly and easily," he said. "Yet that ease has the tendency to make
the displacement erratic. Bring your ease to order; and don't
allow yourself even a fraction of an inch leeway."
easily have argued that I did not know what he was talking about;
but I knew. I also knew I had only a few seconds to round up my energy
and change my attitude; and I did.
This was the end of our
exchange that day. I went home, and for nearly a year I
faithfully and daily repeated what don Juan had asked me to say;
that the hinge of sorcery is the mystery of the assemblage point.
results of my litany-like invocation were incredible. I was
firmly convinced that it had the same effect on my awareness that
exercise has on the muscles of the body. My assemblage point
became more agile; which meant that seeing energy in dreaming
became the sole goal of my practices. My skill at intending to
see grew in proportion to my efforts. A moment came when I was
able just to intend seeing without saying a word; and actually
experience the same result as when I voiced out loud my intent to see.
Juan congratulated me on my accomplishment. I, naturally, assumed he
was being facetious. He assured me that he meant it, but
beseeched me to continue shouting- at least whenever I was at a
loss. His request did not seem odd to me. On my own, I had been
yelling in my dreams at the top of my voice every time I deemed
I discovered that the energy of our world wavers.
It scintillates. Not only living beings but everything in our
world glimmers with an inner light of its own. Don Juan explained
that the energy of our world consists of layers of shimmering
The top layer is whitish; another, immediately adjacent to it, is chartreuse; and another one, more distant yet, is amber.
found all those hues, or rather I saw glimmers of them whenever items
that I encountered in my dreamlike states changed shapes.
However, a whitish glow was always the initial impact of seeing
anything that generated energy.
"Are there only three different hues?" I asked don Juan.
is an endless number of them," he replied, "but for the purposes of
a beginning order, you should be concerned with those three.
Later on, you can get as sophisticated as you want and isolate
dozens of hues if you are able to do it.
layer is the hue of the present position of mankind's assemblage
point," don Juan continued. "Let's say that it is a modern hue.
Sorcerers believe that everything man does nowadays is tinted with
that whitish glow. At another time, the position of mankind's
assemblage point made the hue of the ruling energy in the world
chartreuse; and at another time, more distant yet, it made it
amber. The color of sorcerers' energy is amber; which means that
they are energetically associated with the men who existed in a
"Do you think, don Juan, that the present whitish hue will change someday?"
man is capable of evolving. The grand task of sorcerers is to
bring forth the idea that, in order to evolve, man must first
free his awareness from its bindings to the social order. Once
awareness is free, intent will redirect it into a new
"Do you think sorcerers will succeed in that task?"
have already succeeded. They themselves are the proof. To
convince others of the value and import of evolving is another
The other kind of energy I found present in our world
but alien to it was the scouts' energy; the energy don Juan had
called sizzling. I encountered scores of items in my dreams that,
once I saw them, turned into blobs of energy that seemed to be
frying; bubbling with some heatlike inner activity.
mind that not every scout you are going to find belongs to the
realm of inorganic beings," don Juan remarked. "Every scout you have
found so far, except for the blue scout, has been from that
realm; but that was because the inorganic beings were catering to
you. They were directing the show. Now you are on your own. Some
of the scouts you will encounter are going to be, not from the
inorganic beings' realm, but from other even more distant levels
"Are the scouts aware of themselves?" I asked.
"Most certainly," he replied.
"Then why don't they make contact with us when we are awake?"
do. But our great misfortune is to have our consciousness so
fully engaged that we don't have time to pay attention. In our
sleep, however, the two-way-traffic trapdoor opens: We dream. And
in our dreams, we make contact."
"Is there any way to tell whether the scouts are from a level besides the inorganic beings' world?"
greater their sizzling, the farther they come from. It sounds
simplistic, but you have to let your energy body tell you what is what.
I assure you, it'll make very fine distinctions and unerring
judgments when faced with alien energy."
He was right
again. Without much ado, my energy body distinguished two general
types of alien energy. The first was the scouts from the
inorganic beings' realm. Their energy fizzled mildly. There was
no sound to it, but it had all the overt appearance of
effervescence, or of water that is starting to boil.
energy of the second general type of scouts gave me the impression
of considerably more power. Those scouts seemed to be just about
to burn. They vibrated from within as if they were filled with
My encounters with the alien energy were always
fleeting because I paid total attention to what don Juan
recommended. He said, "Unless you know exactly what you are doing
and what you want out of alien energy, you have to be content
with a brief glance. Anything beyond a glance is as dangerous and
as stupid as petting a rattlesnake."
"Why is it dangerous, don Juan?" I asked.
are always very aggressive and extremely daring," he said. "They
have to be that way in order to prevail in their explorations.
Sustaining our dreaming attention on them is tantamount to
soliciting their awareness to focus on us. Once they focus their
attention on us, we are compelled to go with them. And that, of
course, is the danger. We may end up in worlds beyond our
Don Juan explained that there are many
more types of scouts than the two I had classified, but that at
my present level of energy I could only focus on three. He
described the first two types as the easiest to spot. Their
disguises in our dreams are so outlandish, he said, that they
immediately attract our dreaming attention. He depicted the
scouts of the third type as the most dangerous in terms of
aggressiveness and power- and because they hide behind subtle
"One of the strangest things dreamers find, which you
yourself will find presently," don Juan continued, "is this third
type of scout. So far, you have found samples of only the first
two types, but that's because you haven't looked in the right
"And what is the right place, don Juan?"
have again fallen prey to words; this time the culprit word is
'items', which you have taken to mean only things, objects. Well,
the most ferocious scout hides behind people in our dreams. A
formidable surprise was in store for me in my dreaming when I
focused my gaze on the dream image of my mother. After I voiced
my intent to see, she turned into a ferocious, frightening bubble
of sizzling energy."
Don Juan paused to let his statements sink
in. I felt stupid for being disturbed at the possibility of
finding a scout behind the dream image of my mother.
annoying that they are always associated with the dream images of
our parents or close friends," he went on. "Perhaps that's why we
often feel ill at ease when we dream of them." His grin gave me
the impression that he was enjoying my turmoil. "A rule of thumb
for dreamers is to assume that the third type of scout is present
whenever they feel perturbed by their parents or friends in a
dream. Sound advice is to avoid those dream images. They are
"Where does the blue scout stand in relation to the other scouts?" I asked.
energy doesn't sizzle," he replied. "It is like ours; it wavers,
but it is blue instead of white. Blue energy doesn't exist in a
natural state in our world.
"And this brings us to something we've never talked about. What color were the scouts you've seen so far?"
the moment he mentioned it, I had never thought about this. I told
don Juan that the scouts I had seen were either pink or reddish.
And he said that the deadly scouts of the third type were bright
I found out myself that the third type of scout is
outright scary. Every time I found one of them, it was behind the
dream images of my parents, especially of my mother. Seeing it
always reminded me of the blob of energy that had attacked me in
my first deliberate seeing dream. Every time I found it, the
alien exploring energy actually seemed about to jump on me. My
energy body used to react with horror even before I saw it.
our next discussion of dreaming, I queried don Juan about the
total absence of inorganic beings in my dreaming practices.
"Why don't they show up anymore?" I asked.
only show themselves at the beginning," he explained. "After
their scouts take us to their world, there is no necessity for
the inorganic beings' projections. If we want to see the
inorganic beings, a scout takes us there. For no one, and I mean
no one, can journey by himself to their realm."
"Why is that so, don Juan?"
world is sealed. No one can enter or leave without the consent of
the inorganic beings. The only thing you can do by yourself once
you are inside is, of course, voice your intent to stay. To say
it out loud means to set in motion currents of energy that are
irreversible. In olden times, words were incredibly powerful. Now
they are not. But in the inorganic beings' realm, words haven't
lost their power."
Don Juan laughed and said that he had no
business saying anything about the inorganic beings' world
because I really knew more about it than he and all his
"There is one last issue related to that world that we haven't discussed," he said.
He paused for a long while, as if searching for the appropriate words.
the final analysis," he began, "my aversion to the old sorcerers'
activities is very personal. As a nagual, I detest what they did.
They cowardly sought refuge in the inorganic beings' world. They
argued that in a predatorial universe poised to rip us apart, the
only possible haven for us is in that realm."
"Why did they believe that?" I asked.
it's true," he said. "Since the inorganic beings can't lie, the
sales pitch of the dreaming emissary is all true. That world can give
us shelter and prolong our awareness for nearly an eternity."
"The emissary's sales pitch, even if it's the truth, has no appeal to me," I said.
"Do you mean you will chance a road that might rip you apart?" he asked with a note of bewilderment in his voice.
assured don Juan that I did not want the inorganic beings' world no
matter what advantages it offered. My statement seemed to please
him to no end.
"You are ready then for one final statement about
that world. The most dreadful statement I can make," he said, and
tried smile, but did not quite make it.
Don Juan searched in my eyes, I suppose for a glimmer agreement or comprehension. He was silent for a moment.
energy necessary to move the assemblage points of sorcerers comes
from the realm of inorganic beings," he said, as if he were
hurrying to get it over with.
My heart nearly stopped. I felt a vertigo and had to stomp my feet on the ground not to faint.
Juan went on, "This is the truth, and the legacy of the old sorcerers
to us. They have us pinned down to this day. This is the reason I
don't like them. I resent having to dip into one source alone.
Personally, I refuse to do it.
"And I have tried to steer
you away from it; but with no success because something pulls you
to that world, like a magnet."
I understood don Juan better than
I could have thought. Journeying to that world had always meant
to me, at an energetic level, a boost of dark energy. I had even
thought of it in those terms, long before don Juan voiced his
"What can we do about it?" I asked.
have dealings with them," he answered, "and yet we can't stay
away from them. My solution has been to take their energy but not
give in to their influence. This is known as the ultimate
stalking. It is done by sustaining the unbending intent of
freedom even though no sorcerer knows what freedom really is."
"Can you explain to me, don Juan, why sorcerers have to take energy from the realm of inorganic beings?"
is no other viable energy for sorcerers. In order to maneuver the
assemblage point in the manner they do, sorcerers need an inordinate
amount of energy."
I reminded him of his own statement: that a redeployment of energy is necessary in order to do dreaming.
is correct," he replied. "To start dreaming sorcerers need to
redefine their premises and save their energy, but that
redefining is valid only to have the necessary energy to set up
dreaming. To fly into other realms, to see energy, to forge the
energy body, et cetera, et cetera, is another matter. For those
maneuvers, sorcerers need loads of dark, alien energy."
"But how do they take it from the inorganic beings' world?"
the mere act of going to that world. All the sorcerers of our line
have to do this. However, none of us is idiotic enough to do what
you've done. But this is because none of us has your
proclivities." [* proclivities- natural inclinations]
Juan sent me home to ponder what he had revealed to me. I had
endless questions, but he did not want to hear any of them.
"All the questions you have, you can answer yourself," he said as he waved good-bye to me.
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
10. Stalking the Stalkers
home, I soon realized that it was impossible for me to answer any of
my questions. In fact, I could not even formulate them. Perhaps
that was because the boundary of the second attention had begun
to collapse on me: This was when I met Florinda Grau and Carol
Tiggs in the world of everyday life. The confusion of not knowing
them at all yet knowing them so intimately that I would have died
for them at the drop of a hat was most deleterious to me. I had
met Taisha Abelar a few years before, and I was just beginning to
get used to the confounded feeling of knowing her without having
the vaguest idea of how. To add two more people to my overloaded
system proved too much for me. I got ill out of fatigue and had to seek
don Juan's aid. I went to the town in southern Mexico where he
and his companions lived.
Don Juan and his fellow
sorcerers laughed uproariously at the mere mention of my
turmoils. Don Juan explained to me that they were not really
laughing at me, but at themselves. My cognitive problems reminded
them of the ones they had had when the boundary of the second
attention had collapsed on them just as it had on me. Their
awareness, like mine, had not been prepared for it, don Juan said.
sorcerer goes through the same agony," don Juan went on.
"Awareness is an endless area of exploration for sorcerers and
man in general. In order to enhance awareness, there is no risk
we should not run; no means we should refuse. Bear in mind,
however, that only in soundness of mind can awareness be
Don Juan reiterated, then, that his time was coming
to an end, and that I had to use my resources wisely to cover as
much ground as I could before he left. Talk like that had used to
throw me into states of profound depression. But as the time of
his departure approached, I had begun to react with more
resignation. I had no longer felt depressed, but I still panicked.
else was said after that. The next day, at his request, I drove
don Juan to Mexico City. We arrived around noon and went directly
to the hotel del Prado, in the Paseo Alameda, the place he
usually lodged when he was in the city. Don Juan had an
appointment with a lawyer that day at four in the afternoon.
Since we had plenty of time, we went to have lunch in the famous
Cafe Tacuba, a restaurant in the heart of downtown where it was
purported that real meals were served.
Don Juan was not
hungry. He ordered only two sweet tamales, while I gorged myself
on a sumptuous feast. He laughed at me and made signs of silent
despair at my healthy appetite.
"I'm going to propose a line of
action for you," he said in a curt tone when we had finished our
lunch. "It's the last task of the third gate of dreaming, and it
consists of stalking the stalkers; a most mysterious maneuver. To
stalk the stalkers means to deliberately draw energy from the
inorganic beings' realm in order to perform a sorcery feat."
"What kind of sorcery feat, don Juan?"
journey; a journey that uses awareness as an element of the
environment," he explained. "In the world of daily life, water is
an element of the environment that we use for traveling. Imagine
awareness being a similar element that can be used for traveling.
Through the medium of awareness, scouts from all over the
universe come to us, and vice versa; via awareness, sorcerers go
to the ends of the universe."
There had been certain concepts,
among the hosts of concepts don Juan had made me aware of in the
course of his teachings, that attracted my full interest without
any coaxing. This was one.
"The idea that awareness is a physical element is revolutionary," I said in awe.
didn't say it's a physical element," he corrected me. "It's an
energetic element. You have to make that distinction. For
sorcerers who see, awareness is a glow. They can hitch their
energy body to that glow and go with it."
"What's the difference between a physical and an energetic element?" I asked.
difference is that physical elements are part of our
interpretation system, but energetic elements are not. Energetic
elements, like awareness, exist in our universe. But we, as
average people, perceive only the physical elements because we
were taught to do so. Sorcerers perceive the energetic elements
for the same reason: They were taught to do so."
explained that the use of awareness as an energetic element of
our environment is the essence of sorcery; that in terms of
practicalities, the trajectory of sorcery is, first, to free the
existing energy in us by impeccably following the sorcerers'
path; second, to use that energy to develop the energy body by
means of dreaming; and, third, to use awareness as an element of
the environment in order to enter with the energy body and all
our physicality into other worlds.
"There are two kinds of
energy journeys into other worlds," he went on. "One is when
awareness picks up the sorcerer's energy body and takes it
wherever it may; and the other is when the sorcerer decides, in
full consciousness, to use the avenue of awareness to make a
journey. You've done the first kind of journeying. It takes an
enormous discipline to do the second."
After a long silence, don
Juan stated that in the life of sorcerers there are issues that
require masterful handling; and that dealing with awareness as an
energetic element open to the energy body is the most important,
vital, and dangerous of those issues.
I had no comment. I was suddenly on pins and needles; hanging on every one of his words.
yourself, you don't have enough energy to perform the last task of
the third gate of dreaming," he went on, "but you and Carol Tiggs
together can certainly do what I have in mind."
deliberately egging me on with his silence to ask what he had in
mind. I did. His laughter only increased the ominous mood.
want you two to break the boundaries of the normal world, and
using awareness as an energetic element, enter into another," he
said. "This breaking and entering amounts to stalking the
stalkers. Using awareness as an element of the environment
bypasses the influence of the inorganic beings, but it still uses
He did not want to give me any more information-
in order not to influence me- he said. His belief was that the
less I knew beforehand the better off I would be. I disagreed,
but he assured me that, in a pinch, my energy body was perfectly
capable of taking care of itself.
We went from the restaurant to
the lawyer's office. Don Juan quickly concluded his business, and
we were, in no time at all, in a taxi on our way to the airport.
Don Juan informed me that Carol Tiggs was arriving on a flight
from Los Angeles, and that she was coming to Mexico City
exclusively to fulfill this last dreaming task with me.
"The valley of Mexico is a superb place to perform the kind of sorcery feat you are after," he commented.
"You haven't told me yet what the exact steps to follow are," I said.
didn't answer me. We did not speak any more, but while we waited for
the plane to land, he explained the procedure I had to follow. I
was to go to Carol's room at the Regis Hotel across the street
from our hotel, and after getting into a state of total inner
silence with her, we had to slip gently into dreaming; voicing
our intent to go to the realm of the inorganic beings.
interrupted to remind him that I always had to wait for a scout to show
up before I could manifest out loud my intent to go to the
inorganic beings' world.
Don Juan chuckled and said, "You
haven't dreamt with Carol Tiggs yet. You'll find out that it's a
treat. Sorceresses don't need any props. They just go to that
world whenever they want to; for them, there is a scout on
I could not bring myself to believe that
a sorceress would be able to do what he was asserting. I thought
I had a degree of expertise in handling the inorganic beings'
world. When I mentioned to him what was going through my mind, he
retorted that I had no expertise whatsoever when it came to what
sorceresses are capable of.
"Why do you think I had Carol Tiggs
with me to pull you bodily out of that world?" he asked. "Do you
think it was because she's beautiful?"
"Why was it, don Juan?"
"Because I couldn't do it myself; and for her, it was nothing. She has a knack for that world."
"Is she an exceptional case, don Juan?"
in general have a natural bent for that realm; sorceresses are,
of course, the champions, but Carol Tiggs is better than anyone I
know because she, as the nagual woman, has superb energy."
thought I had caught don Juan in a serious contradiction. He had told
me that the inorganic beings were not interested at all in women.
Now he was asserting the opposite.
"No. I'm not asserting
the opposite," he remarked when I confronted him. "I've said to
you that the inorganic beings don't pursue females; they only go
after males. But I've also said to you that the inorganic beings
are female, and that the entire universe is female to a large
degree. So draw your own conclusions."
Since I had no way
to draw any conclusions, Don Juan explained to me that
sorceresses, in theory, come and go as they please in that world
because of their enhanced awareness and their femaleness.
"Do you know this for a fact?" I asked.
women of my party have never done that," he confessed, "not
because they can't but because I dissuaded them. The women of
your party, on the other hand, do it like changing skirts."
felt a vacuum in my stomach. I really did not know anything about
the women of my party. Don Juan consoled me saying that my
circumstances were different from his; as was my role as a
nagual. He assured me that I did not have it in me to dissuade
any of the women of my party, even if I stood on my head.
the taxi drove us to her hotel, Carol delighted don Juan and me with
her impersonations of people we knew. I tried to be serious and
questioned her about our task. She mumbled some apologies for not
being able to answer me with the seriousness I deserved. Don Juan
laughed uproariously when she mimicked my solemn tone of voice.
registering Carol at the hotel, the three of us meandered around
downtown looking for secondhand bookstores. We ate a light dinner at
the Sanborn's restaurant in the House of Tiles. About ten
o'clock, we walked to the Regis Hotel. We went directly to the
elevator. My fear had sharpened my capacity to perceive details.
The hotel building was old and massive. The furniture in the
lobby had obviously seen better days. Yet there was still, all
around us, something left of an old glory that had a definite appeal.
I could easily understand why Carol liked that hotel so much.
we got into the elevator, my anxiety mounted to such heights that
I had to ask don Juan for last-minute instructions.
"Tell me again how we are going to proceed," I begged.
Juan pulled us to the huge, ancient stuffed chairs in the lobby
and patiently explained to us that, once we were in the world of
the inorganic beings, we had to voice our intent to transfer our
normal awareness to our energy bodies. He suggested that Carol
and I voice our intent together, although that part was not
really important. What was important, he said, was that each of
us intend the transfer of the total awareness of our daily world
to our energy body.
"How do we do this transference of awareness?" I asked.
awareness is purely a matter of voicing our intent and having the
necessary amount of energy," he said. "Carol knows all this. She's
done it before. She entered physically into the inorganic beings'
world when she pulled you out of it, remember? Her energy will do
the trick. It'll tip the scales."
"What does it mean to tip the scales? I am in limbo, don Juan."
Juan explained that to tip the scales meant to add one's total
physical mass to the energy body. He said that using awareness as
a medium to make the journey into another world is not the result
of applying any techniques, but is rather the corollary of
intending and having enough energy. The bulk of energy from Carol
Tiggs added to mine- or the bulk of my energy added to Carol's-
was going to make us into one single entity; energetically
capable of pulling our physicality and placing it on the energy
body in order to make that journey.
"What exactly do we
have to do in order to enter into that other world?" Carol asked.
Her question scared me half to death: I thought she knew what was
"Your total physical mass has to be added to your
energy body," don Juan replied, looking into her eyes. "The great
difficulty of this maneuver is to discipline the energy body, a
thing the two of you have already done. Lack of discipline is the
only reason the two of you may fail in performing this feat of
ultimate stalking. Sometimes, as a fluke, an average person ends
up performing it and entering into another world. But this is
immediately explained away as insanity or hallucination."
would have given anything in the world for don Juan to continue
talking. But he put us in the elevator, and we went up to the
second floor to Carol's room despite my protests and my rational
need to know. Deep down, however, my turmoil was not so much that
I needed to know: The bottom line was my fear. Somehow, this
sorcerers' maneuver was more frightening to me than anything I
had done so far.
Don Juan's parting words to us were "Forget the
self and you will fear nothing." His grin and the nodding of his
head were invitations to ponder the statement.
laughed and began to clown; imitating don Juan's voice as he gave
us his cryptic instructions. Her lisping added quite a bit of
color to what don Juan had said. Sometimes I found her lisping
adorable. Most of the time, I detested it. Fortunately, that
night her lisping was hardly noticeable.
We went to her room and
sat down on the edge of the bed. My last conscious thought was
that the bed was a relic from the beginning of the century.
Before I had time to utter a single word, I found myself in a
strange-looking bed. Carol was with me. She half sat up at the same
time I did. We were naked, each covered with a thin blanket.
"What's going on?" she asked in a feeble voice.
"Are you awake?" I asked inanely.
"Of course I am awake," she said in an impatient tone.
"Do you remember where we were?" I asked. There was a long silence, as she obviously tried to put her thoughts in order.
"I think I am real, but you are not," she finally said. "I know where I was before this. And you want to trick me."
thought she was doing the same thing herself: that she knew what was
going on and was testing me or pulling my leg. Don Juan had told
me that her demons and mine were caginess and distrust. I was
having a grand sample of that.
"I refuse to be part of any
shit where you are in control," she said. She looked at me with
venom in her eyes. "I am talking to you, whoever you are."
took one of the blankets we had been covered with and wrapped
herself with it. "I am going to lie here and go back to where I
came from," she said, with an air of finality. "You and the
nagual go and play with each other."
"You have to stop this nonsense," I said forcefully. "We are in another world."
didn't pay any attention and turned her back to me like an
annoyed, pampered child. I did not want to waste my dreaming
attention in futile discussions of realness. I began to examine
my surroundings. The only light in the room was moonlight shining
through the window directly in front of us. We were in a small
room, on a high bed. I noticed that the bed was primitively
constructed. Four thick posts had been planted in the ground, and
the bed frame was a lattice, made of long poles attached to the
posts. The bed had a thick mattress, or rather a compact
mattress. There were no sheets or pillows. Filled burlap sacks
were stacked up against the walls. Two sacks by the foot of the
bed, staggered one on top of the other, served as a stepladder to
climb onto it.
Looking for a light switch, I became aware that
the high bed was in a corner, against the wall. Our heads were to
the wall; I was on the outside of the bed and Carol on the
inside. When I sat on the edge of the bed, I realized that it was
perhaps over three feet above the ground.
Carol sat up suddenly
and said with a heavy lisp, "This is disgusting! The nagual
certainly didn't tell me I was going to end up like this."
didn't know it either," I said. I wanted to say more and start a
conversation, but my anxiety had grown to extravagant proportions.
"You shut up," she snapped at me, her voice cracking with anger. "You don't exist. You're a ghost. Disappear! Disappear!"
lisping was actually cute and distracted me from my obsessive fear.
I shook her by the shoulders. She yelled, not so much in pain as
in surprise or annoyance.
"I'm not a ghost," I said. "We made the journey because we joined our energy."
Tiggs was famous among us for her speed in adapting to any
situation. In no time at all, she was convinced of the realness
of our predicament and began to look for her clothes in the
semidarkness. I marveled at the fact that she was not afraid. She
became busy, reasoning out loud where she might have put her
clothes had she gone to bed in that room.
"Do you see any chair?" she asked.
faintly saw a stack of three sacks that might have served as a table
or high bench. She got out of the bed, went to it, and found her
clothes and mine, neatly folded, the way she always handled
garments. She handed my clothes to me: They were my clothes, but
not the ones I had been wearing a few minutes before, in Carol's
room at the Regis Hotel.
"These are not my clothes," she lisped. "And yet they are mine. How strange!"
dressed in silence. I wanted to tell her that I was about to burst
with anxiety. I also wanted to comment on the speed of our
journey, but in the time I had taken to dress, the thought of our
journey had become very vague. I could hardly remember where we
had been before waking up in that room. It was as if I had dreamt
the hotel room. I made a supreme effort to recollect, to push
away the vagueness that had begun to envelop me. I succeeded in
dispelling the fog, but that act exhausted all my energy. I ended up
panting and sweating.
"Something nearly, nearly got me,"
Carol said. I looked at her. She, like me, was covered with
perspiration. "It nearly got you too. What do you think it is?"
"The position of the assemblage point," I said with absolute certainty.
did not agree with me. "It's the inorganic beings collecting
their dues," she said shivering. "The nagual told me it was going
to be horrible, but I never imagined anything this horrible."
was in total agreement with her; we were in a horrifying mess, yet I
could not conceive what the horror of that situation was. Carol
and I were not novices: We had seen and done endless things, some
of them outright terrifying. But there was something in that
dream room that chilled me beyond belief.
"We are dreaming, aren't we?" Carol asked.
hesitation, I reassured her that we were, although I would have
given anything to have don Juan there to reassure me of the same thing.
"Why am I so frightened?" she asked me, as if I were capable of rationally explaining it.
I could formulate a thought about it, she answered her question
herself. She said that what frightened her was to realize, at a body
level, that perceiving is an all-inclusive act when the
assemblage point has been immobilized on one position. She
reminded me that don Juan had told us that the power our daily
world has over us is a result of the fact that our assemblage
point is immobile on its habitual position. This immobility is
what makes our perception of the world so inclusive and overpowering
that we cannot escape from it. Carol also reminded me about
another thing the nagual had said: that if we want to break this
totally inclusive force, all we have to do is dispel the fog,
that is to say, displace the assemblage point by intending its
I had never really understood what don Juan meant
until the moment I had to bring my assemblage point to another
position, in order to dispel that world's fog, which had begun to
Carol and I, without saying another word, went to
the window and looked out. We were in the country. The moonlight
revealed some low, dark shapes of dwelling structures. By all
indications, we were in the utility or supply room of a farm or a
big country house.
"Do you remember going to bed here?" Carol asked.
almost do," I said and meant it. I told her I had to fight to keep
the image of her hotel room in my mind as a point of reference.
"I have to do the same," she said in a frightened whisper. "I know that if we let go of that memory, we are goners."
she asked me if I wanted us to leave that shack and venture outside.
I did not. My apprehension was so acute that I was unable to
voice my words. I could only give her a signal with my head.
are so very right not to want to go out," she said. "I have the
feeling that if we leave this shack, we'll never make it back."
I was going to open the door and just look outside, but she stopped me.
"Don't do that," she said. "You might let the outside in."
thought that crossed my mind at that instant was that we had been
placed inside a frail cage. Anything, such as opening the door,
might upset the precarious balance of that cage. At the moment I
had that thought, both of us had the same urge. We took off our
clothes as if our lives depended on that. We then jumped into the
high bed without using the two sack steps- only to jump down from
it in the next instant.
It was evident that Carol and I had the
same realization at the same time. She confirmed my assumption
when she said, "Anything that we use belonging to this world can
only weaken us. If I stand here naked and away from the bed and
away from the window, I don't have any problem remembering where
I came from. But if I lie in that bed or wear those clothes or
look out the window, I am done for."
We stood in the
center of the room for a long time, huddled together. A weird
suspicion began to fester in my mind. "How are we going to return
to our world?" I asked, expecting her to know.
reentry into our world is automatic if we don't let the fog set
in," she said with the air of a foremost authority; which was her
And she was right. Carol and I woke up, at the same
time, in the bed of her room in the Regis Hotel. It was so
obvious we were back in the world of daily life that we didn't
ask questions or make comments about it. The sunlight was nearly
"How did we get back?" Carol asked. "Or rather, when did we get back?"
I had no idea what to say or what to think. I was too numb to speculate, which was all I could have done.
you think that we just returned?" Carol insisted. "Or maybe we've
been asleep here all night. Look! We're naked. When did we take
our clothes off?"
"We took them off in that other world," I said and surprised myself with the sound of my voice.
My answer seemed to stump Carol. She looked uncomprehendingly at me and then at her own naked body.
sat there without moving for an endless time. Both of us seemed to
be deprived of volition. But then, quite abruptly, we had the
same thought at exactly the same time. We got dressed in record
time, ran out of the room, went down two flights of stairs,
crossed the street, and rushed into don Juan's hotel.
and excessively out of breath, since we had not really exerted
ourselves physically, we took turns explaining to him what we had done.
He confirmed our conjectures.
"What you two did was about the most dangerous thing one can imagine," he said.
addressed Carol and told her that our attempt had been both a
total success and a fiasco. We had succeeded in transferring our
awareness of the daily world to our energy bodies, thus making
the journey with all our physicality, but we had failed in
avoiding the influence of the inorganic beings. He said that
ordinarily dreamers experience the whole maneuver as a series of
slow transitions, and that they have to voice their intent to use
awareness as an element. In our case, all those steps were dispensed
with. Because of the intervention of the inorganic beings, the
two of us had actually been hurled into a deadly world with a
most terrifying speed.
"It wasn't your combined energy that made
your journey possible," he continued. "Something else did that.
It even selected adequate clothes for you."
"Do you mean,
nagual, that the clothes and the bed and the room happened only
because we were being run by the inorganic beings?" Carol asked.
bet your life," he replied. "Ordinarily, dreamers are merely
voyeurs. The way your journey turned out, you two got a ringside
seat and lived the old sorcerers' damnation. What happened to
them was precisely what happened to you. The inorganic beings
took them to worlds from which they could not return. I should
have known, but it didn't even enter my mind that the inorganic
beings would take over and try to set up the same trap for you
"Do you mean they wanted to keep us there?" Carol asked.
"If you had gotten outside that shack, you'd now be meandering hopelessly in that world," don Juan said.
explained that since we entered into that world with all our
physicality, the fixation of our assemblage points on the
position preselected by the inorganic beings was so overpowering
that it created a sort of fog that obliterated any memory of the
world we came from. He added that the natural consequence of such
an immobility, as in the case of the sorcerers of antiquity, is
that the dreamer's assemblage point cannot return to its habitual
"Think about this," he urged us. "Perhaps this is
exactly what is happening to all of us in the world of daily
life. We are here, and the fixation of our assemblage point is so
overpowering that it has made us forget where we came from, and
what our purpose was for coming here."
Don Juan did not want to
say any more about our journey. I felt that he was sparing us
further discomfort and fear. He took us to eat a late lunch. By
the time we reached the restaurant, a couple of blocks down Francisco
Madero Avenue, it was six o'clock in the afternoon. Carol and I
had slept, if that is what we did, about eighteen hours.
don Juan was hungry. Carol remarked with a touch of anger that he
was eating like a pig. Quite a few heads turned in our direction
on hearing don Juan's laughter.
It was a warm night. The sky was clear. There was a soft, caressing breeze as we sat down on a bench in the Paseo Alameda.
is a question that's burning me," Carol said to don Juan. "We
didn't use awareness as a medium for traveling, right?"
"That's true," don Juan said and sighed deeply. "The task was to sneak by the inorganic beings, not be run by them."
"What's going to happen now?" she asked.
are going to postpone stalking the stalkers until you two are
stronger," he said. "Or perhaps you'll never accomplish it. It
doesn't really matter: If one thing doesn't work, another will.
Sorcery is an endless challenge."
He explained to us
again, as if he were trying to fix his explanation in our minds,
that in order to use awareness as an element of the environment,
dreamers first have to make a journey to the inorganic beings' realm.
Then they have to use that journey as a springboard, and, while
they are in possession of the necessary dark energy, they have to
intend to be hurled through the medium of awareness into another
"The failure of your trip was that you didn't have time
to use awareness as an element for traveling," he went on.
"Before you even got to the inorganic beings' world, you two were
already in another world."
"What do you recommend we do?" Carol
asked. "I recommend that you see as little of each other as
possible," he said. "I'm sure the inorganic beings will not pass
up the opportunity to get you two, especially if you join forces."
Carol Tiggs and I deliberately stayed away from each other from then
on. The prospect that we might inadvertently elicit a similar
journey was too great a risk for us. Don Juan encouraged our
decision by repeating over and over that we had enough combined
energy to tempt the inorganic beings to lure us again.
Juan brought my dreaming practices back to seeing energy in
energy-generating dreamlike states. In the course of time, I saw
everything that presented itself to me. I entered in this manner
into a most peculiar state: I became incapable of rendering
intelligently what I saw. My sensation was always that I had
reached states of perception for which I had no lexicon. [*
lexicon- (1.) a lamgauge user's knowledge of words (2.) a
reference book containing an alphabetical list of words]
Juan explained my incomprehensible and indescribable visions as
my energy body using awareness as an element not for journeying,
because I never had enough energy, but for entering into the
energy fields of inanimate matter or of living beings.
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
11. The Tenant
were no more dreaming practices for me, as I was accustomed to
having them. The next time I saw don Juan, he put me under the
guidance of two women of his party: Florinda and Zuleica- his two
closest cohorts. Their instruction was not at all about the gates
of dreaming but about different ways to use the energy body, and
it did not last long enough to be influential. They gave me the
impression that they were more interested in checking me out than
in teaching me anything.
"There is nothing else I can teach you
about dreaming," don Juan said when I questioned him about this
state of affairs. "My time on this earth is up. But Florinda will
stay. She's the one who will direct, not only you, but all my
"Will she continue my dreaming practices?"
don't know that, and neither does she. It's all up to the spirit.
The real player. We are not players ourselves. We are mere pawns
in its hands. Following the commands of the spirit, I have to
tell you what the fourth gate of dreaming is, although I can't
guide you anymore."
"What's the point of whetting my appetite? I'd rather not know."
spirit is not leaving that up to me or to you. I have to outline
the fourth gate of dreaming for you, whether I like it or not."
Juan explained that, at the fourth gate of dreaming, the energy
body travels to specific, concrete places and that there are
three ways of using the fourth gate: one, to travel to concrete
places in this world; two, to travel to concrete places out of
this world; and, three, to travel to places that exist only in
the intent of others. He stated that the last one is the most
difficult and dangerous of the three and was, by far, the old
"What do you want me to do with this knowledge?" I asked.
"Nothing for the moment. File it away until you need it."
"Do you mean that I can cross the fourth gate by myself, without help?"
"Whether or not you can do that is up to the spirit."
abruptly dropped the subject, but he did not leave me with the
sensation that I should try to reach and cross the fourth gate by
Don Juan then made one last appointment with me to give
me, he said, a sorcerers' send-off: the concluding touch of my
dreaming practices. He told me to meet him in the small town in
southern Mexico where he and his sorcerer companions lived.
arrived there in the late afternoon. Don Juan and I sat in the patio
of his house on some uncomfortable wicker chairs fitted with
thick, oversize pillows. Don Juan laughed and winked at me. The
chairs were a gift from one of the women members of his party.
The chairs had been bought for him in Phoenix, Arizona, and with
great difficulty brought into Mexico. He said we simply had to
sit as if nothing was bothering us, especially him.
asked me to read to him a poem by Dylan Thomas, which he said had
the most pertinent meaning for me at that point in time.
I have longed to move away
From the hissing of the spent lie
And the old terrors' continual cry
Growing more terrible as the day
Goes over the hill into the deep sea...
I have longed to move away but am afraid;
Some life, yet unspent, might explode
Out of the old lie burning on the ground,
And, crackling into the air, leave me half-blind.
Juan stood up and said that he was going for a walk in the plaza, in
the center of town. He asked me to come along. I immediately
assumed that the poem had evoked a negative response in him and
he needed to dispel it.
We reached the square plaza without
having said a word. We walked around it a couple of times, still
not talking. There were quite a number of people, milling around
the stores on the streets facing the east and north sides of the
park. All the streets around the plaza were unevenly paved. The
houses were massive, one-story adobe buildings with tiled roofs,
whitewashed walls, and blue or brown painted doors. On a side
street, a block away from the plaza, the high walls of the
enormous colonial church, which looked like a Moorish mosque,
loomed ominously over the roof of the only hotel in town. On the
south side, there were two restaurants, which inexplicably
coexisted side by side, doing good business, serving practically
the same menu at the same prices.
I broke the silence and asked don Juan whether he also found it odd that both restaurants were just about the same.
"Everything is possible in this town," he replied.
The way he said it made me feel uneasy.
"Why are you so nervous?" he asked, with a serious expression. "Do you know something you're not telling me?"
"Why am I nervous? That's a laugh. I am always nervous around you, don Juan. Sometimes more so than others."
He seemed to be making a serious effort not to laugh.
are not really the most friendly beings on earth," he said in a
tone of apology. "I learned this the hard way, being pitted against
my teacher, the terrible nagual Julian. His mere presence used to
scare the daylights out of me. And when he used to zero in on me,
I always thought my life wasn't worth a plug nickel."
"Unquestionably, don Juan, you have the same effect on me."
He laughed openly. "No, no. You are definitely exaggerating. I'm an angel in comparison."
"You may be an angel in comparison, except that I don't have the nagual Julian to compare you with."
He laughed for a moment, then became serious again.
"I don't know why, but I definitely feel scared," I explained.
"Do you feel you have reason to be scared?" he asked and stopped walking to peer at me.
tone of voice and his raised eyebrows gave me the impression he
suspected that I knew something I was not revealing to him. He was
clearly expecting a disclosure on my part.
"Your insistence makes me wonder," I said. "Are you sure you are not the one who has something up his sleeve?"
do have something up my sleeve," he admitted and grinned. "But that's
not the issue. The issue is that there is something in this town
awaiting you. And you don't quite know what it is; or you do know
what it is but don't dare to tell me; or you don't know anything
about it at all."
"What's waiting for me here?"
of answering me, don Juan briskly resumed his walking, and we
kept going around the plaza in complete silence. We circled it
quite a few times, looking for a place to sit. Then, a group of
young women got up from a bench and left.
"For years now,
I have been describing to you the aberrant practices of the
sorcerers of ancient Mexico," don Juan said as he sat down on the bench
and gestured for me to sit by him.
With the fervor of
someone who has never said it before, he began to tell me again
what he had told me many times; that those sorcerers, guided by
extremely selfish interests, put all their efforts into perfecting
practices that pushed them further and further away from sobriety
or mental balance, and that they were finally exterminated when
their complex edifices of beliefs and practices became so
cumbersome that they could no longer support them.
sorcerers of antiquity, of course, lived and proliferated in this
area," he said, watching my reaction. "Here in this town. This town
was built on the actual foundations of one of their towns. Here
in this area, the sorcerers of antiquity carried on all their
"Do you know this for a fact, don Juan?"
"I do, and so will you, very soon."
mounting anxiety was forcing me to do something I detested; to focus
on myself. Don Juan, sensing my frustration, egged me on.
"Very soon, we'll know whether or not you're really like the old sorcerers, or like the new ones," he said.
"You are driving me nuts with all this strange and ominous talk," I protested.
with don Juan for thirteen years had conditioned me, above
everything else, to conceive of panic as something that was just
around the corner at all times, ready to be released.
Juan seemed to vacillate. I noticed his furtive glances in the
direction of the church. He was even distracted. When I talked to
him, he was not listening. I had to repeat my question.
"Are you waiting for someone?"
I am," he said. "Most certainly I am. I was just sensing the
surroundings. You caught me in the act of scanning the area with my
"What did you sense, don Juan?"
energy body senses that everything is in place. The play is on
tonight. You are the main protagonist. I am a character actor
with a small but meaningful role. I exit in the first act."
"What in the world are you talking about?"
He did not answer me. He smiled knowingly.
preparing the ground," he said. "Warming you up, so to speak,
harping on the idea that modern-day sorcerers have learned a hard
lesson. They have realized that only if they remain totally
detached can they have the energy to be free. Theirs is a
peculiar type of detachment which is born not out of fear or
indolence, but out of conviction."
Don Juan paused and stood up, stretched his arms in front of him, to his sides, and then behind him.
the same," he advised me. "It relaxes the body; and you have to be
very relaxed to face what's coming to you tonight." He smiled
"Either total detachment or utter indulging is coming
to you tonight. It is a choice that every nagual in my line has
to make." He sat down again and took a deep breath. What he had
said seemed to have taken all his energy.
"I think I can
understand detachment and indulging," he went on, "because I had
the privilege of knowing two naguals: my benefactor, the nagual
Julian, and his benefactor, the nagual Elias. I witnessed the
difference between the two. The nagual Elias was detached to the
point that he could put aside a gift of power. The nagual Julian
was also detached, but not enough to put aside such a gift."
by the way you're talking," I said, "I would say that you are
going to spring some sort of test on me tonight. Is that true?"
don't have the power to spring tests of any sort on you, but the
spirit does." He said this with a grin, then added, "I am merely
"What is the spirit going to do to me, don Juan?"
I can say is that tonight you're going to get a lesson in dreaming
the way lessons in dreaming used to be; but you are not going to
get that lesson from me. Someone else is going to be your teacher
and guide you tonight."
"Who is going to be my teacher and guide?"
"A visitor who might be a horrendous surprise to you, or no surprise at all."
"And what's the lesson in dreaming I am going to get?"
a lesson about the fourth gate of dreaming. And it is in two
parts. The first part I'll explain to you presently. The second
part nobody can explain to you because it is something that
pertains only to you. All the naguals of my line got this
two-part lesson, but no two of those lessons were alike: They
were tailored to fit those naguals' personal bents of character."
"Your explanation doesn't help me at all, don Juan. I am getting more and more nervous."
remained quiet for a long moment. I was shaken up and fidgety, and
did not know what else to say without actually nagging.
you already know, for modern-day sorcerers to perceive energy
directly is a matter of personal attainment," don Juan said. "We
maneuver the assemblage point through self-discipline. For the
old sorcerers, the displacement of the assemblage point was a
consequence of their subjugation to others, their teachers, who
accomplished those displacements through dark operations and gave
them to their disciples as gifts of power.
"It's possible for
someone with greater energy than ours to do anything to us," he
went on. For example, the nagual Julian could have turned me into
anything he wanted; a fiend or a saint. But he was an impeccable nagual
and let me be myself. The old sorcerers were not that impeccable;
and by means of their ceaseless efforts to gain control over
others, they created a situation of darkness and terror that was
passed on from teacher to disciple."
He stood up and swept his gaze all around us.
you can see, this town isn't much," he continued, "but it has a
unique fascination for the warriors of my line. Here lies the
source of what we are, and the source of what we don't want to be.
I am at the end of my time, I must pass on to you certain ideas;
recount to you certain stories; put you in touch with certain beings
right here in this town, exactly as my benefactor did with me."
Juan said that he was reiterating something I already was familiar
with, that whatever he was and everything he knew were a legacy
from his teacher, the nagual Julian. He in turn inherited
everything from his teacher, the nagual Elias. The nagual Elias
from the nagual Rosendo; he from the nagual Lujan; the nagual
Lujan from the nagual Santisteban; and the nagual Santisteban
from the nagual Sebastian.
He told me again, in a very formal
tone, something he had explained to me many times before; that
there were eight naguals before the nagual Sebastian, but that
they were quite different. They had a different attitude toward
sorcery; a different concept of it, although they were still
directly related to his sorcery lineage.
"You must recollect now, and repeat to me, everything I've told you about the nagual Sebastian," he demanded.
request seemed odd to me, but I repeated everything I had been told
by him or by any of his companions about the nagual Sebastian and
the mythical old sorcerer, the death defier, known to them as the
"You know that the death defier makes us gifts of power
every generation," don Juan said. "And the specific nature of
those gifts of power is what changed the course of our lineage."
explained that the tenant, being a sorcerer from the old school,
had learned from his teachers all the intricacies of shifting his
assemblage point. Since he had perhaps thousands of years of
strange life and awareness- ample time to perfect anything- he
knew now how to reach and hold hundreds, if not thousands of
positions of the assemblage point. His gifts were like both maps
for shifting the assemblage point to specific spots, and manuals
on how to immobilize it on any of those positions and thus
Don Juan was at the peak of his
raconteur's form. I had never seen him more dramatic. If I had
not known him better, I would have sworn that his voice had the
deep and worried inflection of someone gripped by fear or
preoccupation. His gestures gave me the impression of a good
actor portraying nervousness and concern to perfection.
Juan peered at me, and in the tone and manner of someone making a
painful revelation, he said that, for instance, the nagual Lujan
received from the tenant a gift of fifty positions. He shook his
head rhythmically, as if he were silently asking me to consider
what he had just said. I kept quiet.
"Fifty positions!" he
exclaimed in wonder. "For a gift, one or, at the most, two
positions of the assemblage point should be more than adequate."
He shrugged his shoulders, gesturing bewilderment.
was told that the tenant liked the nagual Lujan immensely," he
continued. "They struck up such a close friendship that they were
practically inseparable. I was told that the nagual Lujan and the
tenant used to stroll into the church over there every morning
for early mass."
"Right here, in this town?" I asked, in total surprise.
"Right here," he replied. "Possibly they sat down on this very spot, on another bench, over a hundred years ago."
"The nagual Lujan and the tenant really walked in this plaza?" I asked again, unable to overcome my surprise.
bet!" he exclaimed. "I brought you here tonight because the poem
you were reading to me cued me that it was time for you to meet
Panic overtook me with the speed of wildfire. I had to breathe through my mouth for a moment.
have been discussing the strange accomplishments of the sorcerers
of ancient times," don Juan continued. "But it's always hard when
one has to talk exclusively in idealities without any firsthand
knowledge. I can repeat to you from now until doomsday something
that is crystal clear to me but impossible for you to understand
or believe because you don't have any practical knowledge of it."
He stood up and gazed at me from head to toe.
go to church," he said. "The tenant likes the church and its
surroundings. I'm positive this is the moment to go there."
few times in the course of my association with don Juan had I felt
such apprehension. I was numb. My entire body trembled when I
stood up. My stomach was tied in knots, yet I followed him
without a word when he headed for the church- my knees wobbling
and sagging involuntarily every time I took a step. By the time
we had walked the short block from the plaza to the limestone
steps of the church portico, I was about to faint. Don Juan put
his arm around my shoulders to prop me up.
"There's the tenant," he said as casually as if he had just spotted an old friend.
looked in the direction he was pointing and saw a group of five women
and three men at the far end of the portico. My fast and panicked
glance did not register anything unusual about those people. I
couldn't even tell whether they were going into the church or
coming out of it. I noticed, though, that they seemed to be
congregated there accidentally. They were not together. By the
time don Juan and I reached the small door cut out in the
church's massive wooden portals, three women had entered the
church. The three men and the other two women were walking away.
I experienced a moment of confusion and looked at don Juan for
directions. He pointed with a movement of his chin to the holy
"We must observe the rules and cross ourselves," he whispered.
the tenant?" I asked, also in a whisper. Don Juan dipped the tips
of his fingers in the basin, and made the sign of the cross. With
an imperative gesture of the chin, he urged me to do the same.
"Was the tenant one of the three men who left?" I whispered nearly in his ear.
"No," he whispered back. "The tenant is one of the three women who stayed. The one in the back row."
At that moment, a woman in the back row turned her head toward me, smiled, and nodded at me.
I reached the door in one jump and ran out.
Don Juan ran after me. With incredible agility, he overtook me and held me by the arm.
"Where are you going?" he asked, his face and body contorting with laughter.
held me firmly by the arm as I took big gulps of air. I was
veritably choking. Peals of laughter came out of him, like ocean
waves. I forcefully pulled away and walked toward the plaza. He
"I never imagined you were going to get so upset," he said, as new waves of laughter shook his body.
"Why didn't you tell me that the tenant is a woman?"
sorcerer in there is the death defier," he said solemnly. "For such
a sorcerer so versed in the shifts of the assemblage point, to be
a man or a woman is a matter of choice or convenience. This is
the first part of the lesson in dreaming I said you were going to
get. And the death defier is the mysterious visitor who's going
to guide you through it."
He held his sides as laughter made him
cough. I was speechless. Then a sudden fury possessed me. I was
not mad at don Juan or myself or anyone in particular. It was a
cold fury which made me feel as if my chest and all my neck
muscles were going to explode.
"Let's go back to the church," I shouted, and I didn't recognize my own voice.
now," he said softly. "You don't have to jump into the fire just
like that. Think. Deliberate. Measure things up. Cool that mind
of yours. Never in your life have you been put to such a test.
You need calmness now.
"I can't tell you what to do," he
continued. "I can only, like any other nagual, put you in front
of your challenge, after telling you, in quite oblique terms,
everything that is pertinent. This is another of the nagual's
maneuvers: to say everything without saying it, or to ask without
I wanted to get it over with quickly. But don Juan said
that a moment's pause would restore whatever was left of my
self-assurance. My knees were about to give in. Solicitously, don
Juan made me sit down on the curb. He sat next to me.
first part of the dreaming lesson in question is that maleness
and femaleness are not final states but are the result of a
specific act of positioning the assemblage point," he said. "And
this act is, naturally, a matter of volition and training. Since
it was a subject close to the old sorcerers' hearts, they are the
only ones who can shed light on it."
Perhaps because it was the
only rational thing to do, I began to argue with don Juan. "I
can't accept or believe what you are saying," I said. I felt heat
rising to my face.
"But you saw the woman," don Juan retorted. "Do you think that all of this is a trick?"
"I don't know what to think."
being in the church is a real woman," he said forcefully. "Why
should that be so disturbing to you? The fact that she was born a
man attests only to the power of the old sorcerers' machinations.
This shouldn't surprise you. You have already embodied all the
principles of sorcery."
My insides were about to burst with
tension. In an accusing tone, don Juan said that I was just being
argumentative. With forced patience but real pomposity, I
explained to him the biological foundation of maleness and
"I understand all that," he said. "And you're right
in what you're saying. Your flaw is to try to make your
"What we're talking about are basic
principles," I shouted. "They'll be pertinent to man here or in
any other place in the universe."
"True. True," he said in a
quiet voice. "Everything you say is true as long as our
assemblage point remains on its habitual position. But the moment
it is displaced beyond certain boundaries and our daily world is
no longer in function, none of the principles you cherish has the
total value you're talking about.
"Your mistake is to
forget that the death defier has transcended those boundaries
thousands upon thousands of times. It doesn't take a genius to
realize that the tenant is no longer bound by the same forces that bind
I told him that my quarrel, if it could be
called a quarrel, was not with him, but with accepting the
practical side of sorcery, which up to that moment had been so
farfetched that it had never posed a real problem to me. I
reiterated that, as a dreamer, it was within my experience to attest
that in dreaming anything is possible. I reminded him that he
himself had sponsored and cultivated this conviction together
with the ultimate necessity for soundness of mind. What he was
proposing as the tenant's case was not sane. It was a subject
only for dreaming; certainly not for the daily world. I let him
know that to me it was an abhorrent and untenable proposition.
"Why this violent reaction?" he asked with a smile.
question caught me off guard. I felt embarrassed. "I think it
threatens me at the core," I admitted. And I meant it. To think
that the woman in the church was a man was somehow nauseating to
A thought played in my mind: perhaps the tenant is a
transvestite. I queried don Juan, in earnest, about this
possibility. He laughed so hard he seemed about to get ill.
too mundane a possibility," he said. "Maybe your old friends
would do such a thing. Your new ones are more resourceful and
less masturbatory. I repeat. That being in the church is a woman.
It is a she. And she has all the organs and attributes of a
female." He smiled maliciously "You've always been attracted to
women, haven't you? It seems that this situation has been
tailored just for you."
His mirth was so intense and childlike
that it was contagious. We both laughed. He, with total abandon.
I, with total apprehension.
I came to a decision then. I stood
up and said out loud that I had no desire to deal with the tenant
in any form or shape. My choice was to bypass all this business
and go back to don Juan's house and then home.
Don Juan said
that my decision was perfectly all right with him, and we started
back to his house. My thoughts raced wildly. Am I doing the right
thing? Am I running away out of fear? Of course, I immediately
rationalized my decision as the right and unavoidable one. After
all, I assured myself, I was not interested in acquisitions, and
the tenant's gifts were like acquiring property. Then doubt and
curiosity hit me. There were so many questions I could have asked
the death defier.
My heart began to pound so intensely I felt it
beating against my stomach. The pounding suddenly changed into
the emissary's voice. It broke its promise not to interfere and
said that an incredible force was accelerating my heart beat in
order to drive me back to the church; to walk toward don Juan's
house was to walk toward my death.
I stopped walking and hurriedly confronted don Juan with the emissary's words. "Is this true?" I asked.
"I am afraid it is," he admitted sheepishly.
didn't you tell me yourself, don Juan? Were you going to let me
die because you think I am a coward?" I asked in a furious mood.
were not going to die just like that. Your energy body has
endless resources. And it had never occurred to me to think
you're a coward. I respect your decisions, and I don't give a
damn about what motivates them.
"You are at the end of the road,
just like me. So be a true nagual. Don't be ashamed of what you
are. If you were a coward, I think you would have died of fright
years ago. But if you're too afraid to meet the death defier,
then die rather than face him. There is no shame in that."
"Let's go back to the church," I said, as calmly as I could.
we're getting to the crux of the matter!" don Juan exclaimed.
"But first, let's go back to the park and sit down on a bench and
carefully consider your options. We can spare the time: Besides,
it's too early for the business at hand."
We walked back to the park and immediately found an unoccupied bench and sat down.
have to understand that only you, yourself, can make the decision
to meet or not to meet the tenant, or to accept or reject his
gifts of power," don Juan said. "But your decision has to be
voiced to the woman in the church, face to face and alone;
otherwise it won't be valid."
Don Juan said that the tenant's
gifts were extraordinary but that the price for them was
tremendous. And that he himself did not approve of either, the
gifts or the price.
"Before you make your real decision," don
Juan continued, "you have to know all the details of our
transactions with that sorcerer."
"I'd rather not hear about this anymore, don Juan," I pleaded.
"It's your duty to know," he said. "How else are you going to make up your mind?"
"Don't you think that the less I know about the tenant the better off I'll be?"
This is not a matter of hiding until the danger is over. This is
the moment of truth. Everything you've done and experienced in
the sorcerers' world has channeled you to this spot. I didn't
want to say it because I knew your energy body was going to tell
you, but there is no way to get out of this appointment. Not even
by dying. Do you understand?" He shook me by the shoulders. "Do
you understand?" he repeated.
I understood so well that I asked
him if it would be possible for him to make me change levels of
awareness in order to alleviate my fear and discomfort. He nearly
made me jump with the explosion of his "no".
"You must face the
death defier in coldness and with ultimate premeditation," he
went on. "And you can't do this by proxy."
Don Juan calmly began
to repeat everything he had already told me about the death
defier. As he talked, I realized that part of my confusion was
the result of his use of words. He rendered 'death defier' in
Spanish as el desafiante de la muerte, and 'tenant' as el
inquilino, both of which automatically denote a male. But in
describing the relationship between the tenant and the naguals of
his line, don Juan kept on mixing the Spanish-language male and
female gender denotation, creating a great confusion in me.
said that the tenant was supposed to pay for the energy he took from
the naguals of our lineage, but that whatever he paid has bound
those sorcerers for generations. As payment for the energy taken
from all those naguals, the woman in the church taught them
exactly what to do to displace their assemblage point to some
specific positions, which she herself had chosen. In other words,
she bound every one of those men with a gift of power consisting
of a preselected, specific position of the assemblage point and
all its implications."
"What do you mean by 'all its implications', don Juan?"
mean the negative results of those gifts. The woman in the church
knows only of indulging. There is no frugality, no temperance in
that woman. For instance, she taught the nagual Julian how to
arrange his assemblage point to be, just like her, a woman.
Teaching this to my benefactor, who was an incurable voluptuary,
was like giving booze to a drunkard."
"But isn't it up to each one of us to be responsible for what we do?"
indeed. However, some of us have more difficulty than others in
being responsible. To augment that difficulty deliberately, as
that woman does, is to put too much unnecessary pressure on us."
"How do you know the woman in the church does this deliberately?"
has done it to every one of the naguals of my line. If we look at
ourselves fairly and squarely, we have to admit that the death defier
has made us, with his gifts, into a line of very indulging,
I could not overlook his inconsistency of language usage any longer, and I complained to him.
have to speak about that sorcerer as either a male or a female, but
not as both," I said harshly. "I'm too stiff, and your arbitrary
use of gender makes me all the more uneasy."
"I am very
uneasy myself," he confessed. "But the truth is that the death
defier is both: male and female. I've never been able to take
that sorcerer's change with grace. I was sure you would feel the
same way, having seen him as a man first."
reminded me of a time, years before, when he took me to meet the
death defier and I met a man, a strange Indian who was not old but not
young either and was very slightly built. I remember mostly his
strange accent and his use of one odd metaphor when describing
things he allegedly had seen. He said, mis ojos se pasearon, "my
eyes walked on". For instance, he said, "My eyes walked on the
helmets of the Spanish conquerors."
The event was so fleeting in
my mind that I had always thought the meeting had lasted only a
few minutes. Don Juan later told me that I had been gone with the
death defier for a whole day.
"The reason I was trying to find
out from you earlier whether you knew what was going on," don
Juan continued, "was because I thought that years ago you had
made an appointment with the death defier yourself."
giving me undue credit, don Juan. In this instance, I really
don't know whether I am coming or going. But what gave you the
idea that I knew?"
"The death defier seemed to have taken a
liking to you. And that meant to me that he might have already
given you a gift of power, although you didn't remember it. Or he
might have set up your appointment with him, as a woman. I even
suspected she had given you precise directions."
remarked that the death defier, being definitely a creature of
ritual habits, always met the naguals of his line first as a man, as it
had happened with the nagual Sebastian, and subsequently as a
"Why do you call the death defier's gifts, gifts of
power? And why the mystery?" I asked. "You yourself can displace
your assemblage point to whatever spot you want, isn't that so?"
are called gifts of power because they are products of the
specialized knowledge of the sorcerers of antiquity," he said.
"The mystery about the gifts is that no one on this earth, with
the exception of the death defier, can give us a sample of that
knowledge. And, of course, I can displace my assemblage point to
whatever spot I want, inside or outside man's energy shape. But
what I can't do, and only the death defier can, is to know what
to do with my energy body in each one of those spots in order to get
total perception, total cohesion."
He explained, then,
that modern-day sorcerers do not know the details of the
thousands upon thousands of possible positions of the assemblage point.
"What do you mean by details?" I asked.
ways of treating the energy body in order to maintain the
assemblage point fixed on specific positions," he replied.
took himself as an example. He said that the death defier's gift of
power to him had been the position of the assemblage point of a
crow and the procedures to manipulate his energy body to get the
total perception of a crow. Don Juan explained that total
perception- total cohesion was what the old sorcerers sought at
any cost, and that, in the case of his own gift of power, total
perception came to him by means of a deliberate process he had to
learn, step by step, as one learns to work a very complex machine.
Juan further explained that most of the shifts modern-day
sorcerers experience are mild shifts within a thin bundle of
energetic luminous filaments inside the luminous egg, a bundle
called the band of man; or the purely human aspect of the
universe's energy. Beyond that band, but still within the
luminous egg, lies the realm of the grand shifts; or movements.
When the assemblage point shifts to any spot on that area, perception
is still comprehensible to us, but extremely detailed procedures
are required for perception to be total.
beings tricked you and Carol Tiggs in your last journey by
helping you two to get total cohesion on a grand shift," don Juan
said. "They displaced your assemblage points to the farthest
possible spot, then helped you perceive there as if you were in
your daily world: A nearly impossible thing. To do that type of
perceiving a sorcerer needs pragmatic knowledge, or influential
"Your friends would have betrayed you in the end and
left you and Carol to fend for yourselves and learn pragmatic
measures in order to survive in that world. You two would have
ended filled to the brim with pragmatic procedures, just like
those most knowledgeable old sorcerers.
"Every grand shift has
different inner workings," he continued, "which modern sorcerers
could learn if they knew how to fixate the assemblage point long
enough at any grand shift. Only the sorcerers of ancient times had
the specific knowledge required to do this."
Don Juan went
on to say that the knowledge of the specific procedures involved
in shifts was not available to the eight naguals who preceded the
nagual Sebastian, and that the tenant showed the nagual Sebastian how
to achieve total perception on ten new positions of the
assemblage point. The nagual Santisteban received seven, the
nagual Lujan fifty, the nagual Rosendo six, the nagual Elias
four, the nagual Julian sixteen, and he was shown two: That made
a total of ninety-five specific positions of the assemblage point
that his lineage knew about. He said that if I asked him whether
he considered this an advantage to his lineage, he would have to
say no because the weight of those gifts put them closer to the
old sorcerers' mood.
"Now it's your turn to meet the
tenant," he continued. "Perhaps the gifts he will give you will
offset our total balance and our lineage will plunge into the
darkness that finished off the old sorcerers."
"This is so horribly serious, it's sickening," I said.
most sincerely sympathize with you," he retorted with a serious
expression. "I know it's no consolation to you if I say that this is
the toughest trial of a modern nagual. To face something so old
and mysterious as the tenant is not awe-inspiring but revolting.
At least it was to me, and still is."
"Why do I have to continue with it, don Juan?"
without knowing it, you accepted the death defier challenge. I
drew an acceptance from you in the course of your apprenticeship, in
the same manner my teacher drew one from me, surreptitiously.
[* surreptitiously- in a manner marked by quiet and caution and
secrecy; taking pains to avoid being observed]
through the same horror, only a little more brutally than you."
He began to chuckle. "The nagual Julian was given to playing
horrendous jokes. He told me that there was a very beautiful and
passionate widow who was madly in love with me. The nagual used
to take me to church often, and I had seen the woman staring at
me. I thought she was a good-looking woman, and I was a horny
young man. When the nagual said that she liked me, I fell for it.
My awakening was very rude."
I had to fight not to laugh at don
Juan's gesture of lost innocence. Then the idea of his
predicament hit me, as being not funny but ghastly.
"Are you sure, don Juan, that that woman is the tenant?" I asked, hoping that perhaps it was a mistake or a bad joke.
"I am very, very sure," he said. "Besides, even if I were so dumb as to forget the tenant, my seeing can't fail me."
"Do you mean, don Juan, that the tenant has a different type of energy?"
"No, not a different type of energy, but certainly different energy features than a normal person."
"Are you absolutely sure, don Juan, that that woman is the tenant?" I insisted, driven by a strange revulsion and fear.
"That woman is the tenant!" don Juan exclaimed in a voice that admitted no doubts.
We remained quiet. I waited for the next move in the midst of a panic beyond description.
have already said to you that to be a natural man or a natural woman is
a matter of positioning the assemblage point," don Juan said. "By
natural I mean someone who was born either male or female. To a
seer, the shiniest part of the assemblage point faces outward, in
the case of females; and inward, in the case of males. The
tenant's assemblage point was originally facing inward, but he
changed it by twisting it around and making his egglike energy
shape look like a shell that has curled up on itself."
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
12. The Woman in the Church
Juan and I sat in silence. I had run out of questions, and he seemed
to have said to me all that was pertinent. It could not have been
more than seven o'clock, but the plaza was unusually deserted. It
was a warm night. In the evenings, in that town, people usually
meandered around the plaza until ten or eleven.
I took a
moment to reconsider what was happening to me. My time with don
Juan was coming to an end. He and his party were going to fulfill
the sorcerers' dream of leaving this world and entering into
inconceivable dimensions. On this basis of my limited success in
dreaming, I believed that the claims were not illusory but
extremely sober, although contrary to reason. They were seeking
to perceive the unknown, and they had made it.
Don Juan was
right in saying that, by inducing a systematic displacement of
the assemblage point, dreaming liberates perception; enlarging the
scope of what can be perceived. For the sorcerers of his party,
dreaming had not only opened the doors of other perceivable
worlds, but prepared them for entering into those realms in full
awareness. Dreaming for them had become ineffable; [* ineffable-
defying expression or description] unprecedented; something whose
nature and scope could only be alluded to, as when don Juan said
that it is the gateway to the light and to the darkness of the
There was only one thing pending for them: my
encounter with the death defier. I regretted that don Juan had
not given me notice so that I could prepare myself better. But he
was a nagual who did everything of importance on the spur of the
moment, without any warning.
For a moment, I seemed to be doing
fine, sitting with don Juan in that park, waiting for things to
develop. But then my emotional stability suffered a downward
swing and, in the twinkling of an eye, I was in the midst of a
dark despair. I was assailed by petty considerations about: my
safety, my goals, my hopes in the world, my worries. Upon
examination, however, I had to admit that perhaps the only true
worry I had was about my three cohorts in don Juan's world. Yet,
if I thought it out, even that was no real worry to me. Don Juan
had taught them to be the kind of sorceresses who always knew
what to do, and, most important, he had prepared them always to
know what to do with what they knew.
Having had all the
possible worldly reasons for feeling anguish stripped off me a
long time ago, all I had been left with was concern for myself. And
I gave myself to it shamelessly. One last indulging for the road;
the fear of dying at the hands of the death defier. I became so
afraid that I got sick to my stomach. I tried to apologize, but
don Juan laughed.
"You're not in any way unique at barfing out of fear," he said. "When I met the death defier, I wet my pants. Believe me."
I waited in silence for a long, unbearable moment.
you ready?" he asked. I said yes. And he added, standing up, "Let's
go then and find out how you are going to stand up in the firing
He led the way back to the church. To the best of my
ability, all I remember of that walk, to this day, is that he had
to drag me bodily the whole way. I do not remember arriving at
the church or entering it. The next thing I knew, I was kneeling
on a long, worn-out wooden pew next to the woman I had seen
earlier. She was smiling at me. Desperately, I looked around, trying
to spot don Juan, but he was nowhere in sight. I would have flown
like a bat out of hell had the woman not restrained me by
grabbing my arm.
"Why should you be so afraid of poor little me?" the woman asked me in English.
stayed glued to the spot where I was kneeling. What had taken me
entirely and instantaneously was her voice. I cannot describe
what it was about its raspy sound that called out the most
recondite memories in me. It was as if I had always known that
I remained there immobile, mesmerized by that sound. She
asked me something else in English, but I could not make out what
she was saying. She smiled at me, knowingly.
"It's all right," she whispered in Spanish. She was kneeling to my right. "I understand real fear. I live with it."
was about to talk to her when I heard the emissary's voice in my
ear. "That is the voice of Hermelinda, your wet nurse," it said.
The only thing I had ever known about Hermelinda was the story I
was told of her being accidentally killed by a runaway truck.
That the woman's voice next to me would stir such deep, old
memories was shocking to me. I experienced a momentary agonizing
"I am your wet nurse!" the woman exclaimed softly. "How
extraordinary! Do you want my breast?" Laughter convulsed her
I made a supreme effort to remain calm, yet I knew that I
was quickly losing ground and that in no time at all I was going
to take leave of my senses.
"Don't mind my joking," the woman
said in a low voice. "The truth is that I like you very much. You
are bustling with energy. And we are going to get along fine."
older men knelt down right in front of us. One of them turned
curiously to look at us. She paid no attention to him and kept on
whispering in my ear.
"Let me hold your hand," she pleaded. But her plea was like a command. I surrendered my hand to her, unable to say no.
"Thank you. Thank you for your confidence and your trust in me," she whispered.
sound of her voice was driving me mad. Its raspiness was so exotic,
so utterly feminine. Not under any circumstances would I have
taken it for a man's voice laboring to sound womanly. It was a
raspy voice, but not a throaty or harsh-sounding one. It was more
like the sound of bare feet softly walking on gravel.
made a tremendous effort to break an invisible sheet of energy that
seemed to have enveloped me. I thought I succeeded. I stood up,
ready to leave, and I would have had not the woman also stood up
and whispered in my ear, "Don't run away. There is so much I have
to tell you."
I automatically sat down; stopped by curiosity.
Strangely, my anxiety was suddenly gone, and so was my fear. I
even had enough presence to ask the woman, "Are you really a
She chuckled softly, like a young girl. Then she voiced a convoluted sentence.
you dare to think that I would transform myself into a fearsome man
and cause you harm, you are gravely mistaken," she said,
accentuating even more that strange, mesmeric voice. "You are my
benefactor. I am your servant, as I have been the servant of all
the naguals who preceded you."
Gathering all the energy I could, I spoke my mind to her.
are welcome to my energy," I said. "It's a gift from me to you, but
I don't want any gifts of power from you. And I really mean this."
can't take your energy for free," she whispered. "I pay for what I
get, that's the deal. It's foolish to give your energy for free."
been a fool all my life. Believe me," I said. "I can surely afford
to make you a gift. I have no problem with it. You need the
energy, take it. But I don't need to be saddled with
unnecessaries. I have nothing and I love it."
"Perhaps," she said pensively.
I asked her whether she meant that 'perhaps' she would take my
energy, or that she did not believe I had nothing and loved it.
giggled with delight and said that she might take my energy since I
was so generously offering it, but that she had to make a
payment. She had to give me a thing of similar value.
heard her speak, I became aware that she spoke Spanish with a
most extravagant foreign accent. She added an extra phoneme to
the middle syllable of every word. Never in my life had I heard
anyone speak like that.
"Your accent is quite extraordinary," I said. "Where is it from?"
nearly eternity," she said and sighed. We had begun to connect. I
understood why she sighed. She was the closest thing to permanent,
while I was temporary. That was my advantage. The death defier
had worked herself into a corner, and I was free.
examined her closely. She seemed to be between thirty-five and forty
years old. She was a dark, thoroughly Indian woman, almost husky,
but not fat or even hefty. I could see that the skin of her
forearms and hands was smooth, the muscles, firm and youthful. I
judged that she was five feet, six or seven inches tall. She wore
a long dress, a black shawl, and guaraches. In her kneeling
position, I could also see her smooth heels and part of her
powerful calves. Her midsection was lean. She had big breasts that she
could not or perhaps did not want to hide under her shawl. Her
hair was jet black and tied in a long braid. She was not
beautiful, but she was not homely either. Her features were in no
way outstanding. I felt that she could not possibly have
attracted anybody's attention; except for her eyes, which she
kept low, hidden beneath downcast eyelids. Her eyes were magnificent,
clear, peaceful. Apart from don Juan's, I had never seen eyes
more brilliant, more alive.
Her eyes put me completely at
ease. Eyes like that could not be malevolent. I had a surge of
trust and optimism and the feeling that I had known her all my
life. But I was also very conscious of something else; my
emotional instability. It had always plagued me in don Juan's
world, forcing me to be like a yo-yo. I had moments of total
trust and insight only to be followed by abject doubts and
distrust. This event was not going to be different. My suspicious
mind suddenly came up with the warning thought that I was falling
under the woman's spell.
"You learned Spanish late in life,
didn't you?" I said, just to get out from under my thoughts and
to avoid her reading them.
"Only yesterday," she retorted and
broke into a crystalline laughter, her small, strangely white
teeth, shining like a row of pearls.
People turned to look at us. I lowered my forehead as if in deep prayer. The woman moved closer to me.
"Is there a place where we could talk?" I asked.
are talking here," she said. "I have talked here with all the naguals
of your line. If you whisper, no one will know we are talking."
was dying to ask her about her age. But a sobering memory came to
my rescue. I remembered a friend of mine who for years had been
setting up all kinds of traps to make me confess my age to him. I
detested his petty concern, and now I was about to engage in the
same behavior. I dropped it instantly.
I wanted to tell
her about it, just to keep the conversation going. She seemed to
know what was going through my mind. She squeezed my arm in a
friendly gesture, as if to say that we had shared a thought.
"Instead of giving me a gift, can you tell me something that would help me in my way?" I asked her.
She shook her head. "No," she whispered. "We are extremely different. More different than I believed possible."
got up and slid sideways out of the pew. She deftly genuflected as
she faced the main altar. She crossed herself and signaled me to
follow her to a large side altar to our left.
We knelt in front of a life-size crucifix. Before I had time to say anything, she spoke.
been alive for a very, very long time," she said. "The reason I
have had this long life is that I control the shifts and
movements of my assemblage point. Also, I don't stay here in your
world too long. I have to save the energy I get from the naguals
of your line."
"What is it like to exist in other worlds?" I asked.
like in your dreaming, except that I have more mobility. And I
can stay longer anywhere I want. Just like if you would stay as
long as you wanted in any of your dreams."
"When you are in this world, are you pinned down to this area alone?"
"No. I go everywhere I want."
"Do you always go as a woman?"
been a woman longer than a man. Definitely, I like it much better.
I think I've nearly forgotten how to be a man. I am all female!"
She took my hand and made me touch her crotch. My heart was pounding in my throat. She was indeed a female.
"I can't just take your energy," she said, changing the subject. "We have to strike another kind of agreement."
wave of mundane reasoning hit me then. I wanted to ask her where
she lived when she was in this world. I did not need to voice my
question to get an answer.
"You're much, much younger than
I," she said, "and you already have difficulty telling people
where you live. And even if you take them to the house you own or
pay rent on, that's not where you live."
"There are so many things I want to ask you, but all I do is think stupid thoughts," I said.
don't need to ask me anything," she went on. "You already know what
I know. All you needed was a jolt in order to claim what you
already know. I am giving you that jolt."
Not only did I
think stupid thoughts but I was in a state of such suggestibility
that no sooner had she finished saying that I knew what she knew
than I felt I knew everything, and I no longer needed to ask any
more questions. Laughingly, I told her about my gullibility.
not gullible," she assured me with authority. "You know
everything, because you're now totally in the second attention.
For a moment, I could not focus my sight. It was
exactly as if water had gotten into my eyes. When I arranged my
view, I knew that something portentous had happened. The church
was different, darker, more ominous, and somehow harder. I stood
up and took a couple of steps toward the nave. [* nave- the
central area of a church] What caught my eye were the pews: They
were made not out of lumber but out of thin, twisted poles. These
were homemade pews, set inside a magnificent stone building.
Also, the light in the church was different. It was yellowish,
and its dim glow cast the blackest shadows I had ever seen. It
came from the candles of the many altars. I had an insight about
how well candlelight mixed with the massive stone walls and
ornaments of a colonial church.
The woman was staring at me. The
brightness of her eyes was most remarkable. I knew then that I
was dreaming and she was directing the dream. But I was not
afraid of her or of the dream. I moved away from the side altar
and looked again at the nave of the church. There were people
kneeling in prayer there.
Lots of them, strangely small,
dark, hard people. I could see their bowed heads all the way to
the foot of the main altar. The ones who were close to me stared
at me, obviously, in disapproval. I was gaping at them and at
everything else. I could not hear any noise, though. People moved, but
there was no sound.
"I can't hear anything," I said to the woman, and my voice boomed, echoing as if the church were a hollow shell.
Nearly all the heads turned to look at me. The woman pulled me back into the darkness of the side altar.
"You will hear if you don't listen with your ears," she said. "Listen with your dreaming attention."
appeared that all I needed was her insinuation. I was suddenly flooded
by the droning sound of a multitude in prayer. I was instantly
swept up by it. I found it the most exquisite sound I had ever
heard. I wanted to rave about it to the woman, but she was not by
my side. I looked for her. She had nearly reached the door. She
turned there to signal me to follow her. I caught up with her at
the portico. [* portico- a porch or entrance to a building
consisting of a covered and often columned area] The streetlights
were gone. The only illumination was moonlight. The facade of the
church was also different; it was unfinished. Square blocks of
limestone lay everywhere. There were no houses or buildings
around the church. In the moonlight the scene was eerie.
"Where are we going?" I asked her.
"Nowhere," she replied. "We simply came out here to have more space, more privacy. Here we can talk our little heads off."
She urged me to sit down on a quarried, half-chiseled piece of limestone.
second attention has endless treasures to be discovered," she
began. "The initial position in which the dreamer places his body
is of key importance. And right there is the secret of the
ancient sorcerers, who were already ancient in my time. Think
She sat so close to me that I felt the heat of her
body. She put an arm around my shoulder and pressed me against
her bosom. Her body had a most peculiar fragrance: It reminded me
of trees or sage. It was not that she was wearing perfume: Her
whole being seemed to exude that characteristic odor of pine
forests. Also the heat of her body was not like mine or like that
of anyone else I knew. Hers was a cool, mentholated heat; even;
balanced. The thought that came to my mind was that her heat
would press on relentlessly but knew no hurry.
then to whisper in my left ear. She said that the gifts she had
given to the naguals of my line had to do with what the old sorcerers
used to call the twin positions. That is to say, the initial
position in which a dreamer holds his physical body to begin
dreaming is mirrored by the position in which he holds his energy
body, in dreams, to fixate his assemblage point on any spot of
his choosing. The two positions make a unit, she said, and it
took the old sorcerers thousands of years to find out the perfect
relationship between any two positions. She commented, with a
giggle, that the sorcerers of today will never have the time or
the disposition to do all that work, and that the men and women
of my line were indeed lucky to have her to give them such gifts.
Her laughter had a most remarkable, crystalline sound.
had not quite understood her explanation of the twin positions. Boldly,
I told her that I did not want to practice those things but only
know about them as intellectual possibilities.
"What exactly do you want to know?" she asked softly.
to me what you mean by the twin positions, or the initial
position in which a dreamer holds his body to start dreaming." I
"How do you lie down to start your dreaming?" she asked.
"Any which way. I don't have a pattern. Don Juan never stressed this point."
I do stress it," she said and stood up. She changed positions.
She sat down to my right and whispered in my other ear that, in
accordance with what she knew, the position in which one places
the body is of utmost importance. She proposed a way of testing
this by performing an extremely delicate but simple exercise.
your dreaming by lying on your right side, with your knees a bit
bent," she said. "The discipline is to maintain that position and
fall asleep in it. In dreaming, then, the exercise is to dream
that you lie down in exactly the same position and fall asleep
"What does that do?" I asked.
"It makes the
assemblage point stay put, and I mean really stay put, in
whatever position it is at the instant of that second falling asleep."
"What are the results of this exercise?"
"Total perception. I am sure your teachers have already told you that my gifts are gifts of total perception."
"Yes. But I think I am not clear about what total perception means," I lied.
ignored me and went on to tell me that the four variations of the
exercise were to fall asleep lying on the right side, the left, the
back, and the stomach. Then in dreaming the exercise was to dream
of falling asleep a second time in the same position as the
dreaming had been started. She promised me extraordinary results,
which she said, were not possible to foretell.
She abruptly changed the subject and asked me, "What's the gift you want for yourself?"
"No gift for me. I've told you that already."
"I insist. I must offer you a gift, and you must accept it. That is our agreement."
"Our agreement is that we give you energy. So take it from me. This one is on me. My gift to you."
woman seemed dumbfounded. And I persisted in telling her it was
all right with me that she took my energy. I even told her that I
liked her immensely. Naturally, I meant it. There was something
supremely sad, and at the same time something supremely appealing
"Let's go back inside the church," she muttered.
"If you really want to make me a gift," I said, "take me for a stroll in this town, in the moonlight."
She shook her head affirmatively. "Provided that you don't say a word," she said.
"Why not?" I asked, but I already knew the answer.
"Because we are dreaming," she said. "I'll be taking you deeper into my dream."
explained that as long as we stayed in the church, I had enough
energy to think and converse, but that beyond the boundaries of
that church it was a different situation.
"Why is that?" I asked daringly.
a most serious tone, which not only increased her eeriness but
terrified me, the woman said, "Because there is no out there.
This is a dream. You are at the fourth gate of dreaming, dreaming
She told me that her art was to be capable of
projecting her intent, and that everything I saw around me was
her intent. She said in a whisper that the church and the town
were the results of her intent: They did not exist, and yet they
did. She added, looking into my eyes, that this is one of the
mysteries of intending in the second attention the twin positions
of dreaming. It can be done, but it cannot be explained or
She told me then that she came from a line of
sorcerers who knew how to move about in the second attention by
projecting their intent. Her story was that the sorcerers of her
line practiced the art of projecting their thoughts in dreaming
in order to accomplish the truthful reproduction of any object or
structure or landmark or scenery of their choice.
She said that
the sorcerers of her line used to start by gazing at a simple
object and memorizing every detail of it. They would then close their
eyes and visualize the object and correct their visualization
against the true object until they could see it, in its
completeness, with their eyes shut. The next thing in their
developing scheme was to dream with the object and create in the
dream, from the point of view of their own perception, a total
materialization of the object. This act, the woman said, was called
the first step to total perception.
From a simple object,
those sorcerers went on to take more and more complex items.
Their final aim was for all of them together to visualize a total
world, then dream that world; and thus re-create a totally veritable
realm where they could exist.
"When any of the sorcerers
of my line were able to do that," the woman went on, "they could
easily pull anyone into their intent; into their dream. This is
what I am doing to you now, and what I did to all the naguals of
The woman giggled. "You better believe it," she said, as if I did not.
populations disappeared in dreaming like that. This is the reason
I said to you that this church and this town are one of the
mysteries of intending in the second attention."
"You say that whole populations disappeared that way. How was it possible?" I asked.
visualized and then re-created in dreaming the same scenery," she
replied. "You've never visualized anything, so it's very dangerous for
you to go into my dream."
She warned me, then, that to
cross the fourth gate and travel to places that exist only in
someone else's intent was perilous, since every item in such a
dream had to be an ultimately personal item.
"Do you still want to go?" she asked.
said yes. Then she told me more about the twin positions. The essence
of her explanation was that if I were, for instance, dreaming of
my hometown, and my dream had started when I lay down on my right
side, I could very easily stay in the town of my dream if I would
lie on my right side in the dream, and dream that I had fallen
asleep. The second dream not only would necessarily be a dream of
my hometown, but would be the most concrete dream one can imagine.
was confident that in my dreaming training I had gotten countless
dreams of great concreteness, but she assured me that every one
of them had to be a fluke. For the only way to have absolute
control of dreams was to use the technique of the twin positions.
"And don't ask me why," she added. "It just happens. Like everything else."
made me stand up and admonished me again not to talk or stray from
her. She took my hand gently, as if I were a child; and headed
toward a clump of dark silhouettes of houses. We were on a
cobbled street. Hard river rocks had been pounded edgewise into
the dirt. Uneven pressure had created uneven surfaces. It seemed
that the cobblers had followed the contours of the ground without
bothering to level it.
The houses were big, whitewashed,
one-story, dusty buildings with tiled roofs. There were people
meandering quietly. Dark shadows inside the houses gave me the
feeling of curious but frightened neighbors gossiping behind
doors. I could also see the flat mountains around the town.
to what had happened to me all along in my dreaming, my mental
processes were unimpaired. My thoughts were not pushed away by the
force of the events in the dream. My mental calculations told me
I was in the dream version of the town where don Juan lived, but
at a different time. My curiosity was at its peak. I was actually
with the death defier in her dream. But was it a dream? She
herself had said it was a dream. I wanted to watch everything, to
be superalert. I wanted to test everything by seeing energy. I
felt embarrassed, but the woman tightened her grip on my hand as
if to signal me that she agreed with me.
Still feeling absurdly
bashful, I automatically stated out loud my intent to see. In my
dreaming practices, I had been using all along the phrase "I want
to see energy." Sometimes, I had to say it over and over until I
got results. This time, in the woman's dream town, as I began to
repeat it in my usual manner, the woman began to laugh. Her
laughter was like don Juan's: a deep, abandoned belly laugh.
"What's so funny?" I asked, somehow contaminated by her mirth.
Matus doesn't like the old sorcerers in general and me in
particular," the woman said between fits of laughter. "All we
have to do, in order to see in our dreams, is to point with our
little finger at the item we want to see. To make you yell in my
dream is his way to send me his message. You have to admit that
he's really clever." She paused for a moment, then said in the
tone of a revelation, "Of course, to yell like an asshole works too."
sorcerers' sense of humor bewildered me beyond measure. She laughed
so hard she seemed to be unable to proceed with our walk. I felt
stupid. When she calmed down and was perfectly poised again, she
politely told me that I could point at anything I wanted in her
dream, including herself.
I pointed at a house with the little
finger of my left hand. There was no energy in that house. The
house was like any other item of a regular dream. I pointed at
everything around me with the same result.
"Point at me," she urged me. "You must corroborate that this is the method dreamers follow in order to see."
was thoroughly right. That was the method. The instant I pointed
my finger at her, she was a blob of energy. A very peculiar blob
of energy, I may add. Her energetic shape was exactly as don Juan
had described it: It looked like an enormous seashell, curled
inwardly along a cleavage that ran its length.
"I am the
only energy-generating being in this dream," she said. "So the
proper thing for you to do is just watch everything."
moment I was struck, for the first time, by the immensity of don
Juan's joke. He had actually contrived to have me learn to yell in
my dreaming so that I could yell in the privacy of the death
defier's dream. I found that touch so funny that laughter spilled
out of me in suffocating waves.
"Let's continue our walk," the woman said softly when I had no more laughter in me.
were only two streets that intersected: Each had three blocks of
houses. We walked the length of both streets, not once but four times.
I looked at everything and listened with my dreaming attention
for any noises. There were very few, only dogs barking in the
distance, or people speaking in whispers as we went by.
dogs barking brought me an unknown and profound longing. I had to
stop walking. I sought relief by leaning my shoulder against a
wall. The contact with the wall was shocking to me, not because
the wall was unusual but because what I had leaned on was a solid
wall, like any other wall I had ever touched. I felt it with my
free hand. I ran my fingers on its rough surface. It was indeed a
Its stunning realness put an immediate end to my longing
and renewed my interest in watching everything. I was looking,
specifically, for features that could be correlated with the town
of my day. However, no matter how intently I observed, I had no
success. There was a plaza in that town, but it was in front of
the church, facing the portico.
In the moonlight the mountains
around the town were clearly visible and almost recognizable. I
tried to orient myself, observing the moon and the stars, as if I
were in the consensual reality of everyday life. It was a waning
moon, perhaps a day after full. It was high over the horizon. It
must have been between eight and nine in the evening. I could see
Orion to the right of the moon: Its two main stars, Betelgeuse
and Rigel, were on a horizontal straight line with the moon. I
estimated it to be early December. My time was May. In May, Orion
is nowhere in sight at that time. I gazed at the moon as long as
I could. Nothing shifted. It was the moon as far as I could tell.
The disparity in time got me very excited.
As I reexamined the
southern horizon, I thought I could distinguish the bell-like
peak visible from don Juan's patio. I tried next to figure out
where his house might have been. For one instant I thought I found it.
I became so enthralled that I pulled my hand out of the woman's
grip. Instantly, a tremendous anxiety possessed me. I knew that I
had to go back to the church, because if I did not I would simply
drop dead on the spot. I turned around and bolted for the church.
The woman quickly grabbed my hand and followed me.
approached the church at a running pace, I became aware that the
town in that dreaming was behind the church. Had I taken this
into consideration, orientation might have been possible. As it
was, I had no more dreaming attention. I focused all of it on the
architectural and ornamental details on the back of the church. I
had never seen that part of the building in the world of everyday
life, and I thought that if I could record its features in my
memory, I could check them later against the details of the real church.
was the plan I concocted on the spur of the moment. Something
inside me, however, scorned my efforts at validation. During all
my apprenticeship, I had been plagued by the need for
objectivity, which had forced me to check and recheck everything
about don Juan's world. Yet it was not validation per se that was
always at stake, but rather the need to use this drive for
objectivity as a crutch to give me protection at the moments of most
intense cognitive disruption: When it was time to check what I
had validated, I never went through with it.
church, the woman and I knelt in front of the small altar on the
left side, where we had been, and the next instant, I woke up in
the well-illuminated church of my day.
The woman crossed herself and stood up. I did the same automatically. She took my arm and began to walk toward the door.
wait," I said and was surprised that I could talk. I could not
think clearly, yet I wanted to ask her a convoluted question.
What I wanted to know was how anyone could have the energy to
visualize every detail of a whole town.
Smiling, the woman
answered my unvoiced question: She said that she was very good at
visualizing because after a lifetime of doing it, she had many,
many lifetimes to perfect it. She added that the town I had
visited and the church where we had talked were examples of her
recent visualizations. The church was the same church where
Sebastian had been a sexton. She had given herself the task of
memorizing every detail of every corner of that church and that
town, for that matter, out of a need to survive.
She ended her talk with a most disturbing afterthought.
you know quite a bit about this town, even though you've never
tried to visualize it," she said, "you are now helping me to
intend it. I bet you won't believe me if I tell you that this
town you are looking at now doesn't really exist, outside your
intent and mine."
She peered at me and laughed at my sense of horror, for I had just fully realized what she was saying.
"Are we still dreaming?" I asked, astonished.
are," she said. "But this dreaming is more real than the other,
because you're helping me. It is not possible to explain it
beyond saying that it is happening. Like everything else." She
pointed all around her. "There is no way to tell how it happens,
but it does. Remember always what I've told you: This is the
mystery of intending in the second attention."
She gently pulled
me closer to her. "Let's stroll to the plaza of this dream," she
said. "But perhaps I should fix myself a little bit so you'll be
more at ease."
I looked at her uncomprehendingly as she expertly
changed her appearance. She did this with very simple, mundane
maneuvers. She undid her long skirt, revealing the very average
midcalf skirt she was wearing underneath. She then twisted her
long braid into a chignon and changed from her guaraches into
inch-heel shoes she had in a small cloth sack.
She turned over
her reversible black shawl to reveal a beige stole. She looked
like a typical middle-class Mexican woman from the city, perhaps on
a visit to that town.
She took my arm with a woman's aplomb [* aplomb- great coolness and composure under strain] and led the way to the plaza.
"What happened to your tongue?" she said in English. "Did the cat eat it?"
was totally engrossed in the unthinkable possibility that I was still
in a dream; what is more, I was beginning to believe that if it
were true, I ran the risk of never waking up.
nonchalant tone that I could not recognize as mine, I said, "I
didn't realize until now that you spoke in English to me before.
Where did you learn it?"
"In the world out there. I speak
many languages." She paused and scrutinized me. "I've had plenty
of time to learn them. Since we're going to spend a lot of time
together, I'll teach you my own language sometime."
She giggled, no doubt at my look of despair.
I stopped walking. "Are we going to spend a lot of time together?" I asked, betraying my feelings.
replied in a joyful tone, "Of course. You are- and I should say
very generously- going to give me your energy, for free. You said
that yourself, didn't you?"
I was aghast.
the problem?" the woman asked, shifting back into Spanish. "Don't
tell me that you regret your decision. We are sorcerers. It's too late
to change your mind. You are not afraid, are you?"
again more than terrified, but if I had been put on the spot to
describe what terrified me, I would not have known. I was certainly
not afraid of being with the death defier in another dream, or of
losing my mind, or even my life.
Was I afraid of evil? I
asked myself. But the thought of evil could not withstand
examination. As a result of all those years on the sorcerers'
path, I knew without the shadow of a doubt that in the universe only
energy exists: Evil is merely a concatenation of the human mind,
overwhelmed by the fixation of the assemblage point on its
Logically, there was really nothing for me to
be afraid of. I knew that, but I also knew that my real weakness
was to lack the fluidity to fix my assemblage point instantly on
any new position to which it was displaced. The contact with the
death defier was displacing my assemblage point at a tremendous
rate, and I did not have the prowess to keep up with the push.
The end result was a vague pseudo-sensation of fearing that I might not
be able to wake up.
"There is no problem," I said. "Let's continue our dream walk."
linked her arm with mine, and we reached the park in silence. It was
not at all a forced silence. But my mind was running in circles.
How strange, I thought: Only a while ago I had walked with don
Juan from the park to the church in the midst of the most
terrifying normal fear. Now I was walking back from the church to
the park with the object of my fear; and I was more terrified
than ever, but in a different, more mature, more deadly manner.
fend off my worries, I began to look around. If this was a dream, as
I believed it was, there was a way to prove or disprove it. I
pointed my finger at the houses, at the church, at the pavement
in the street. I pointed at people. I pointed at everything.
Daringly, I even grabbed a couple of people, whom I seemed to
scare considerably. I felt their mass. They were as real as
anything I consider real, except that they did not generate
energy. Nothing in that town generated energy. Everything seemed
real and normal, yet it was a dream.
I turned to the woman, who was holding on to my arm, and questioned her about it.
"We are dreaming," she said in her raspy voice and giggled.
"But how can people and things around us to be so real, so three-dimensional?"
mystery of intending in the second attention!" she exclaimed
reverently. "Those people out there are so real that they even
That was the last stroke. I did not want
to question anything else. I wanted to abandon myself to that
dream. A considerable jolt on my arm brought me back to the
moment. We had reached the plaza. The woman had stopped walking
and was pulling me to sit down on a bench. I knew I was in trouble when
I did not feel the bench underneath me as I sat down. I began to
spin. I thought I was ascending. I caught a most fleeting glimpse
of the park, as if I were looking at it from above.
"This is it!" I yelled. I thought I was dying. The spinning ascension turned into a twirling descent into blackness.
"The Art of Dreaming" - ©1993 by Carlos Castaneda
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13. Flying on the Wings of Intent
"Make an effort, nagual," a woman's voice urged me. "Don't sink. Surface, surface. Use your dream techniques!"
mind began to work. I thought it was the voice of an English speaker,
and I also thought that if I were to use dreaming techniques, I
had to find a point of departure to energize myself.
"Open your eyes," the voice said. "Open them now. Use the first thing you see as a point of departure."
made a supreme effort and opened my eyes. I saw trees and blue sky. It
was daytime! A blurry face was peering at me. But I could not
focus my eyes. I thought that it was the woman in the church
looking at me.
"Use my face," the voice said. It was a familiar
voice, but I could not identify it. "Make my face your home base;
then look at everything," the voice went on.
My ears were
clearing up, and so were my eyes. I gazed at the woman's face,
then at the trees in the park, at the wrought-iron bench, at people
walking by, and back again at her face.
In spite of the
fact that her face changed every time I gazed at her, I began to
experience a minimum of control. When I was more in possession of
my faculties, I realized that a woman was sitting on the bench, holding
my head on her lap. And she was not the woman in the church: She
was Carol Tiggs.
"What are you doing here?" I gasped.
fright and surprise were so intense that I wanted to jump up and run,
but my body was not ruled at all by my mental awareness.
Anguishing moments followed in which I tried desperately but
uselessly to get up. The world around me was too clear for me to
believe I was still dreaming, yet my impaired motor control made
me suspect that this was really a dream. Besides, Carol's
presence was too abrupt: There were no antecedents to justify it.
I attempted to will myself to get up, as I had done hundreds of
times in dreaming, but nothing happened. If I ever needed to be
objective, this was the time. As carefully as I could, I began to
look at everything within my field of vision with one eye first.
I repeated the process with the other eye. I took the consistency
between the images of my two eyes as an indication that I was in
the consensual reality of everyday life.
Next, I examined Carol.
I noticed at that moment that I could move my arms. It was only
my lower body that was veritably paralyzed. I touched Carol's
face and hands: I embraced her. She was solid and, I believed, the
real Carol Tiggs. My relief was enormous because for a moment, I
had had the dark suspicion that she was the death defier
masquerading as Carol.
With utmost care, Carol helped me to sit
up on the bench. I had been sprawled on my back, half on the
bench and half on the ground. I noticed then something totally
out of the norm. I was wearing faded blue Levi's, and worn brown
leather boots. I also had on a Levi's jacket and a denim shirt.
"Wait a minute," I said to Carol. "Look at me! Are these my clothes? Am I myself?"
laughed and shook me by the shoulders, the way she always did to
denote camaraderie; manliness; that she was one of the boys.
"I'm looking at your beautiful self," she said in her funny forced falsetto. "Oh massa, who else could it possibly be?"
"How in the hell can I be wearing Levi's and boots?" I insisted. "I don't own any."
"Those are my clothes you are wearing. I found you naked!"
the church, about an hour ago. I came to the plaza here to look
for you. The nagual sent me to see if I could find you. I brought
the clothes, just in case."
I told her that I felt terribly vulnerable and embarrassed to have wandered around without my clothes.
enough, there was no one around," she assured me, but I felt she
was saying it just to ease my discomfort. Her playful smile told me so.
"I must have been with the death defier all last night, maybe even longer," I said. "What day is it today?"
"Don't worry about dates," she said, laughing. "When you are more centered, you'll count the days yourself."
humor me, Carol Tiggs. What day is it today?" My voice was a
gruff, no-nonsense voice that did not seem to belong to me.
the day after the big fiesta," she said and slapped me gently on
my shoulder. "We all have been looking for you since last night."
"But what am I doing here?"
took you to the hotel across the plaza. I couldn't carry you all the
way to the nagual's house: You ran out of the room a few minutes
ago, and we ended up here."
"Why didn't you ask the nagual for help?"
"Because this is an affair that concerns only you and me. We must solve it together."
That shut me up. She made perfect sense to me. I asked her one more nagging question.
"What did I say when you found me?"
said that you had been so deeply into the second attention and for
such a long time that you were not quite rational yet. All you
wanted to do was to fall asleep."
"When did I lose my motor control?"
a moment ago. You'll get it back. You yourself know that it is
quite normal, when you enter into the second attention and
receive a considerable energy jolt, to lose control of your
speech or of your limbs."
"And when did you lose your lisping,
Carol?" I caught her totally by surprise. She peered at me and
broke into a hearty laugh.
"I've been working on it for a long
time," she confessed. "I think that it's terribly annoying to
hear a grown woman lisping. Besides, you hate it."
that I detested her lisping was not difficult. Don Juan and I had
tried to cure her, but we had concluded she was not interested in
getting cured. Her lisping made her extremely cute to everyone,
and don Juan's feelings were that she loved it and was not going
to give it up. Hearing her speak without lisping was tremendously
rewarding and exciting to me. It proved to me that she was
capable of radical changes on her own; a thing neither don Juan
nor I was ever sure about.
"What else did the nagual say to you when he sent you to look for me?" I asked.
"He said you were having a bout with the death defier."
In a confidential tone, I revealed to Carol that the death defier was a woman. Nonchalantly, she said that she knew it.
"How can you know it?" I shouted. "No one has ever known this, apart from don Juan. Did he tell you that himself?"
course he did," she replied, unperturbed by my shouting. "What you
have overlooked is that I also met the woman in the church. I met
her before you did. We amiably chatted in the church for quite a
I believed Carol was telling me the truth. What she was
describing was very much what don Juan would do. He would in all
likelihood send Carol as a scout in order to draw conclusions.
"When did you see the death defier?" I asked.
couple of weeks ago," she replied in a matter-of-fact tone. "It was
no great event for me. I had no energy to give her, or at least
not the energy that woman wants."
"Why did you see her then? Is dealing with the nagual woman also part of the death defier's and sorcerers' agreement?"
saw her because the nagual said that you and I are interchangeable,
and for no other reason. Our energy bodies have merged many
times. Don't you remember?
"The woman and I talked about
the ease with which we merge. I stayed with her maybe three or
four hours, until the nagual came in and got me out."
stay in the church all that time?" I asked, because I could
hardly believe that they had knelt in there for three or four
hours only talking about the merging of our energy bodies.
took me into another facet of her intent," Carol conceded after a
moment's thought. "She made me see how she actually escaped her
Carol related then a most intriguing story. She said
that according to what the woman in the church had made her see,
every sorcerer of antiquity fell, inescapably, prey to the
inorganic beings. The inorganic beings, after capturing them,
gave them power to be the intermediaries between our world and
their realm, which people called the netherworld.
defier was unavoidably caught in the nets of the inorganic
beings. Carol estimated that he spent perhaps thousands of years
as a captive, until the moment he was capable of transforming
himself into a woman. He had clearly seen this as his way out of
that world the day he found out that the inorganic beings regard
the female principle as imperishable. They believe that the
female principle has such a pliability and its scope is so vast
that its members are impervious to traps and setups and can hardly be
held captive. The death defier's transformation was so complete
and so detailed that she was instantly spewed out of the
inorganic beings' realm.
"Did she tell you that the inorganic beings are still after her?" I asked.
they are after her," Carol assured me. "The woman told me she has
to fend off her pursuers every moment of her life."
"What can they do to her?"
she was a man and pull her back to captivity, I suppose. I think
she fears them more than you can think it's possible to fear anything."
Carol told me that the woman in the church was thoroughly aware
of my run-in with the inorganic beings and that she also knew
about the blue scout.
"She knows everything about you and
me," Carol continued. "And not because I told her anything, but
because she is part of our lives and our lineage. She mentioned
that she had always followed all of us, you and me in particular."
related to me the instances that the woman knew in which Carol and
I had acted together. As she spoke, I began to experience a
unique nostalgia for the very person who was in front of me:
Carol Tiggs. I wished desperately to embrace her. I reached out
to her, but I lost my balance and fell off the bench.
helped me up from the pavement and anxiously examined my legs and
the pupils of my eyes, my neck and my lower back. She said that I
was still suffering from an energetic jolt.
She propped my head on her bosom and caressed me as if I were a malingering child she was humoring.
After a while I did feel better: I even began to regain my motor control.
do you like the clothes I am wearing?" Carol asked me all of a
sudden. "Am I overdressed for the occasion? Do I look all right
Carol was always exquisitely dressed. If there was
anything certain about her, it was her impeccable taste in
clothes. In fact, as long as I had known her, it had been a
running joke between don Juan and the rest of us that her only
virtue was her expertise at buying beautiful clothes and wearing
them with grace and style.
I found her question very odd and made a comment.
"Why would you be insecure about your appearance? It has never bothered you before. Are you trying to impress someone?"
"I'm trying to impress you, of course," she said.
this is not the time," I protested. "What's going on with the
death defier is the important matter, not your appearance."
be surprised how important my appearance is." She laughed. "My
appearance is a matter of life or death for both of us."
are you talking about? You remind me of the nagual setting up my
meeting with the death defier. He nearly drove me nuts with his
"Was his mysterious talk justified?" Carol asked with a deadly serious expression.
"It most certainly was," I admitted.
is my appearance. Humor me. How do you find me? Appealing,
unappealing, attractive, average, disgusting, overpowering,
I thought for a moment and made my assessment. I found
Carol very appealing. This was quite strange to me. I had never
consciously thought about her appeal.
"I find you divinely beautiful," I said. "In fact, you're downright stunning."
"Then this must be the right appearance." She sighed.
I was trying to figure out her meanings, when she spoke again. She asked, "What was your time with the death defier like?"
succinctly told her about my experience, mainly about the first dream.
I said that I believed the death defier had made me see that
town, but at another time in the past.
"But that's not possible," she blurted out. "There is no past or future in the universe. There is only the moment."
"I know that it was the past," I said. "It was the same church, but a different town."
for a moment," she insisted. "In the universe there is only
energy, and energy has only a here and now, an endless and
ever-present here and now."
"So what do you think happened to me, Carol?"
the death defier's help, you crossed the fourth gate of dreaming,"
she said. "The woman in the church took you into her dream, into
her intent. She took you into her visualization of this town.
Obviously, she visualized it in the past, and that visualization
is still intact in her- as her present visualization of this town
must be there too."
After a long silence she asked me another question.
"What else did the woman do with you?"
I told Carol about the second dream. The dream of the town as it stands today.
you are," she said. "Not only did the woman take you into her
past intent but she further helped you cross the fourth gate by
making your energy body journey to another place that exists
today, only in her intent."
Carol paused and asked me whether
the woman in the church had explained to me what intending in the
second attention meant.
I did remember her mentioning but not
really explaining what it meant to intend in the second
attention. Carol was dealing with concepts don Juan had never
"Where did you get all these novel ideas?" I asked, truly marveling at how lucid she was.
a noncommittal tone, Carol assured me that the woman in the church
had explained to her a great deal about those intricacies.
are intending in the second attention now," she continued. "The woman
in the church made us fall asleep; you here, and I in Tucson. And
then we fell asleep again in our dream. But you don't remember
that part, while I do. The secret of the twin positions. Remember
what the woman told you; the second dream is intending in the
second attention: the only way to cross the fourth gate of
After a long pause, during which I could not
articulate one word, she said, "I think the woman in the church
really made you a gift, although you didn't want to receive one.
Her gift was to add her energy to ours in order to move backward
and forward on the here-and-now energy of the universe."
extremely excited. Carol's words were precise, apropos. She had
defined for me something I considered undefinable, although I did not
know what it was that she had defined. If I could have moved, I
would have leapt to hug her. She smiled beatifically as I kept on
ranting nervously about the sense her words made to me. I
commented rhetorically that don Juan had never told me anything
"Maybe he doesn't know," Carol said, not offensively but conciliatorily.
did not argue with her. I remained quiet for a while, strangely void
of thoughts. Then my thoughts and words erupted out of me like a
volcano. People went around the plaza, staring at us every so
often or stopping in front of us to watch us. And we must have
been a sight; Carol Tiggs kissing and caressing my face while I
ranted on and on about her lucidity and my encounter with the
When I was able to walk, she guided me across the
plaza to the only hotel in town. She assured me that I did not
yet have the energy to go to don Juan's house, but that everybody
there knew our whereabouts.
"How would they know our whereabouts?" I asked.
nagual is a very crafty old sorcerer," she replied, laughing. "He's
the one who told me that if I found you energetically mangled, I
should put you in the hotel rather than risk crossing the town
with you in tow."
Her words and especially her smile made me
feel so relieved that I kept on walking in a state of bliss. We
went around the corner to the hotel's entrance, half a block down
the street, right in front of the church. We went through the
bleak lobby, up the cement stairway to the second floor, directly
to an unfriendly room I had never seen before. Carol said that I
had been there: However, I had no recollection of the hotel or the
room. I was so tired, though, that I could not think about it. I
just sank into the bed, face down. All I wanted to do was sleep,
yet I was too keyed up. There were too many loose ends, although
everything seemed so orderly. I had a sudden surge of nervous
excitation and sat up.
"I never told you that I hadn't accepted the death defier's gift," I said, facing Carol. "How did you know I didn't?"
but you told me that yourself," she protested as she sat down next
to me. "You were so proud of it. That was the first thing you
blurted out when I found you."
This was the only answer, so far, that did not quite satisfy me. What she was reporting did not sound like my statement.
"I think you read me wrong," I said. "I just didn't want to get anything that would deviate me from my goal."
"Do you mean you didn't feel proud of refusing?"
"No. I didn't feel anything. I am no longer capable of feeling anything, except fear."
stretched my legs and put my head on the pillow. I felt that if I
closed my eyes or did not keep on talking I would be asleep in an
instant. I told Carol how I had argued with don Juan at the
beginning of my association with him about his confessed motive
for staying on the warrior's path. He had said that fear kept him
going in a straight line, and that what he feared the most was to
lose the nagual; the abstract; the spirit.
"Compared with losing
the nagual, death is nothing," he had said with a note of true
passion in his voice. "My fear of losing the nagual is the only
real thing I have; because without it, I would be worse than
I said to Carol that I had immediately contradicted don
Juan and bragged that since I was impervious to fear, if I had to
stay within the confines of one path, the moving force for me had
to be love.
Don Juan had retorted that when the real pull comes,
fear is the only worthwhile condition for a warrior. I secretly
resented him for what I thought was his covert narrow-mindedness.
wheel has done a full turn," I said to Carol, "and look at me now.
I can swear to you that the only thing that keeps me going is the
fear of losing the nagual."
Carol stared at me with a strange look I had never seen in her.
dare to disagree," she said softly. "Fear is nothing compared
with affection. Fear makes you run wildly: Love makes you move
"What are you saying, Carol Tiggs? Are sorcerers people in love now?"
did not answer. She lay next to me and put her head on my shoulder.
We stayed there in that strange unfriendly room for a long time;
in total silence.
"I feel what you feel," Carol said abruptly. "Now, try to feel what I feel. You can do it. But let's do it in the dark."
stretched her arm up and turned off the light above the bed. I sat
up straight in one single motion. A jolt of fright had gone
through me like electricity. As soon as Carol had turned off the
light, it was nighttime inside that room. In the middle of great
agitation, I asked Carol about it.
"You're not all together
yet," she said reassuringly. "You had a bout of monumental
proportions. Going so deeply into the second attention has left
you a little mangled, so to speak. Of course, it's daytime, but your
eyes can't yet adjust properly to the dim light inside this room."
or less convinced, I lay down again. Carol kept on talking, but I
was not listening. I felt the sheets. They were real sheets. I
ran my hands on the bed. It was a bed! I leaned over and ran the
palms of my hands on the cold tiles of the floor. I got out of
bed and checked every item in the room and in the bathroom.
Everything was perfectly normal, perfectly real. I told Carol
that when she turned off the light, I had the clear sensation I
"Give yourself a break," she said. "Cut this investigatory nonsense, and come to bed and rest."
opened the curtains of the window to the street. It was day-time
outside, but the moment I closed them it was nighttime inside.
Carol begged me to come back to bed. She feared that I might run
away and end up in the street, as I had done before. She made
sense. I went back to bed without noticing that not even for a
second had it entered my mind to point at things. It was as if
that knowledge had been erased from my memory.
The darkness in
that hotel room was most extraordinary. It brought me a delicious
sense of peace and harmony. It brought me also a profound
sadness; a longing for human warmth; for companionship. I felt
more than bewildered. Never had anything like this happened to
me. I lay in bed, trying to remember if that longing was
something I knew. It was not. The longings I knew were not for
human companionship: They were abstract: They were rather a sort
of sadness for not reaching something undefined.
"I am coming apart," I said to Carol. "I am about to weep for people."
thought she would understand my statement as being funny. I intended it
as a joke. But she did not say anything: She seemed to agree with
me. She sighed. Being in an unstable state of mind, I became
instantly swayed toward emotionality. I faced her in the darkness
and muttered something that in a more lucid moment would have
been quite irrational to me.
"I absolutely adore you," I said.
like that among the sorcerers of don Juan's line was unthinkable.
Carol Tiggs was the nagual woman. Between the two of us, there
was no need for demonstrations of affection. In fact, we did not
even know what we felt for each other. We had been taught by don
Juan that among sorcerers there was no need or time for such
Carol smiled at me and embraced me. And I was filled
with such a consuming affection for her that I began to weep
"Your energy body is moving forward on the
universe's luminous filaments of energy," she whispered in my
ear. "We are being carried by the death defier's gift of intent."
had enough energy to understand what she was saying. I even questioned
her about whether she, herself, understood what it all meant. She
hushed me and whispered in my ear.
"I do understand: The
death defier's gift to you was the wings of intent. And with
them, you and I are dreaming ourselves in another time. In a time
yet to come."
I pushed her away and sat up. The way Carol was
voicing those complex sorcerers' thoughts was unsettling to me.
She was not given to take conceptual thinking seriously. We had
always joked among ourselves that she did not have a
"What's the matter with you?" I asked.
"Yours is a new development for me: Carol the sorceress
philosopher. You are talking like don Juan."
"Not yet." She
laughed. "But it's coming. It's rolling, and when it finally hits
me, it'll be the easiest thing in the world for me to be a
sorceress philosopher. You'll see. And no one will be able to
explain it because it will just happen."
An alarm bell rang in my mind.
"You're not Carol!" I shouted. "You're the death defier masquerading as Carol. I knew it."
Carol laughed, undisturbed by my accusation.
be absurd," she said. "You're going to miss the lesson. I knew
that, sooner or later, you were going to give in to your
indulging. Believe me, I am Carol. But we're doing something
we've never done: We are intending in the second attention as the
sorcerers of antiquity used to do."
I was not convinced, but I
had no more energy to pursue my argument because something like
the great vortexes of my dreaming was beginning to pull me in. I
heard Carol's voice faintly, saying in my ear, "We are dreaming
ourselves. Dream your intent of me. Intend me forward! Intend me
With great effort, I voiced my innermost thought.
"Stay here with me forever," I said with the slowness of a tape
recorder on the blink. She responded with something
incomprehensible. I wanted to laugh at my voice, but then the
vortex swallowed me.
When I woke up, I was alone in the hotel
room. I had no idea how long I had slept. I felt extremely
disappointed at not finding Carol by my side. I hurriedly dressed
and went down to the lobby to look for her. Besides, I wanted to
shake off some strange sleepiness that had clung to me.
desk, the manager told me that the American woman who had rented
the room had just left a moment ago. I ran out to the street,
hoping to catch her, but there was no sign of her. It was midday:
The sun was shining in a cloudless sky. It was a bit warm.
walked to the church. My surprise was genuine but dull at finding out
that I had indeed seen the detail of its architectural structure
in that dream. Uninterestedly, I played my own devil's advocate
and gave myself the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps don Juan and I
had examined the back of the church and I did not remember it. I
thought about it. It did not matter. My validation scheme had no
meaning for me anyway. I was too sleepy to care.
From there I
slowly walked to don Juan's house, still looking for Carol. I was
sure I was going to find her there waiting for me. Don Juan received
me as if I had come back from the dead.
He and his companions were in the throes of agitation as they examined me with undisguised curiosity.
have you been?" don Juan demanded. I could not comprehend the
reason for all the fuss. I told him that I had spent the night
with Carol in the hotel by the plaza because I had no energy to
walk back from the church to their house, but that they already
"We knew nothing of the sort," he snapped.
Carol tell you she was with me?" I asked in the midst of a dull
suspicion, which, if I had not been so exhausted, would have been
No one answered. They looked at one another,
searchingly. I faced don Juan and told him I was under the
impression he had sent Carol to find me. Don Juan paced the room
up and down without saying a word.
"Carol Tiggs hasn't been with us at all," he said. "And you've been gone for nine days."
fatigue prevented me from being blasted by those statements. His tone
of voice and the concern the others showed were ample proof that
they were serious. But I was so numb that there was nothing for
me to say.
Don Juan asked me to tell them, in all possible
detail, what had transpired between the death defier and me. I
was shocked at being able to remember so much, and at being able
to convey all of it in spite of my fatigue. A moment of levity
broke the tension when I told them how hard the woman had laughed
at my inane yelling my intent to see in her dream.
"Pointing the little finger works better," I said to don Juan, but without any feeling of recrimination.
Juan asked if the woman had any other reaction to my yelling
besides laughing. I had no memory of one, except her mirth and
the fact that she had commented how intensely he disliked her.
"I don't dislike her," don Juan protested. "I just don't like the old sorcerers' coerciveness."
everybody, I said that I personally had liked that woman
immensely and unbiasedly. And that I had loved Carol Tiggs as I
never thought I could love anyone. They did not seem to
appreciate what I was saying. They looked at one another as if I
had suddenly gone crazy.
I wanted to say more to explain myself.
But don Juan, I believed just to stop me from babbling idiocies,
practically dragged me out of the house and back to the hotel;
accompanied by two of his companions.
The same manager I had
spoken to earlier obligingly listened to our description of Carol
Tiggs, but he flatly denied ever having seen her or me before. He
even called the hotel maids: They corroborated his statements.
can the meaning of all this be?" don Juan asked out loud. It seemed
to be a question addressed to himself. He gently ushered me out
of the hotel. "Let's get out of this confounded place," he said.
we were outside, he ordered me not to turn around to look at the
hotel or at the church across the street, but to keep my head
down. I looked at my shoes and instantly realized I was no longer
wearing Carol's clothes but my own. I could not remember,
however, no matter how hard I tried, when I had changed clothes.
I figured that it must have been when I woke up in the hotel
room. I must have put on my own clothes then, although my memory
By then we had reached the plaza. Before we
crossed it to head off to don Juan's house, I explained to him
about my clothes. He shook his head rhythmically, listening to
every word. Then he sat down on a bench, and, in a voice that
conveyed genuine concern, he warned me that, at the moment, I had
no way of knowing what had transpired in the second attention
between the woman in the church and my energy body. My
interaction with the Carol Tiggs of the hotel had been just the
tip of the iceberg.
"It's horrendous to think that you were in
the second attention for nine days," don Juan went on. "Nine days
is just a second for the death defier, but an eternity for us."
Before I could protest or explain or say anything, he stopped me with a comment.
this," he said. "If you still can't remember all the things I
taught you and did with you in the second attention, imagine how much
more difficult it must be to remember what the death defier
taught you and did with you. I only made you change levels of
awareness; the death defier made you change universes."
felt meek and defeated. Don Juan and his two companions urged me to
make a titanic effort and try to remember when I changed my
clothes. I could not. There was nothing in my mind: no feelings,
no memories. Somehow, I was not totally there with them.
nervous agitation of don Juan and his two companions reached a
peak. Never had I seen him so discombobulated. There had always
been a touch of fun, of not quite taking himself seriously in
everything he did or said to me. Not this time, though.
I tried to think, bring forth some memory that would shed light
on all this; and again I failed, but I did not feel defeated; an
improbable surge of optimism overtook me. I felt that everything
was coming along as it should.
Don Juan's expressed
concern was that he knew nothing about the dreaming I had done
with the woman in the church. To create a dream hotel, a dream
town, a dream Carol Tiggs was to him only a sample of the old
sorcerers' dreaming prowess; the total scope of which defied
Don Juan opened his arms expansively and finally smiled with his usual delight.
can only deduce that the woman in the church showed you how to do
it," he said in a slow, deliberate tone. "It's going to be a
giant task for you to make comprehensible an incomprehensible
maneuver. It has been a masterful movement on the chessboard,
performed by the death defier as the woman in the church. She has
used Carol's energy body and yours to lift off, to break away
from her moorings. She took you up on your offer of free energy."
he was saying had no meaning to me: Apparently, it meant a great
deal to his two companions. They became immensely agitated.
Addressing them, don Juan explained that the death defier and the
woman in the church were different expressions of the same
energy; the woman in the church was the more powerful and complex
of the two. Upon taking control, she made use of Carol Tiggs's
energy body, in some obscure, ominous fashion congruous with the
old sorcerers' machinations, and created the Carol Tiggs of the hotel,
a Carol Tiggs of sheer intent. Don Juan added that Carol and the
woman may have arrived at some sort of energetic agreement during
At that instant, a thought seemed to find its way
to don Juan. He stared at his two companions, unbelievingly.
Their eyes darted around, going from one to the other. I was sure
they were not merely looking for agreement, for they seemed to
have realized something in unison.
"All our speculations are
useless," don Juan said in a quiet, even tone. "I believe there
is no longer any Carol Tiggs. There isn't any woman in the church
either: Both have merged and flown away on the wings of intent, I
"The reason the Carol Tiggs of the hotel was
so worried about her appearance was because she was the woman in
the church, making you dream a Carol Tiggs of another kind; an
infinitely more powerful Carol Tiggs. Don't you remember what she
said? "Dream your intent of me. Intend me forward."
"What does this mean, don Juan?" I asked stunned.
"It means that the death defier has seen her total way out. She has caught a ride with you. Your fate is her fate."
"Meaning what, don Juan?"
"Meaning that if you reach freedom so will she."
"How is she going to do that?"
Carol Tiggs. But don't worry about Carol." He said this before I
voiced my apprehension. "She's capable of that maneuver and much more."
were piling up on me. I already felt their crushing weight. I had
a moment of lucidity and asked don Juan, "What is going to be the
outcome of all this?"
He did not answer. He gazed at me,
scanning me from head to toe. Then he slowly and deliberately
said, "The death defier's gift consists of endless dreaming
possibilities. One of them was your dream of Carol Tiggs in
another time, in another world; a more vast world; open-ended; a
world where the impossible might even be feasible. The
implication was not only that you will live those possibilities
but that one day you will comprehend them."
He stood up, and we
started to walk in silence toward his house. My thoughts began to
race wildly. They were not thoughts, actually, but images; a
mixture of memories of the woman in the church and of Carol Tiggs
talking to me in the darkness in the dream hotel room. A couple
of times I was near to condensing those images into a feeling of
my usual self, but I had to give it up: I had no energy for such
Before we arrived at the house, don Juan stopped walking
and faced me. He again scrutinized me carefully, as if he were
looking for signs in my body. I then felt obliged to set him
straight on a subject I believed he was deadly wrong about.
was with the real Carol Tiggs at the hotel," I said. "For a moment,
I myself believed she was the death defier, but after careful
evaluation, I can't hold on to that belief. She was Carol. In
some obscure, awesome way she was at the hotel, as I was there at
the hotel myself."
"Of course she was Carol," don Juan agreed.
"But not the Carol you and I know. This one was a dream Carol,
I've told you, a Carol made out of pure intent. You helped the
woman in the church spin that dream. Her art was to make that
dream an all-inclusive reality; the art of the old sorcerers; the
most frightening thing there is. I told you that you were going to get
the crowning lesson in dreaming, didn't I?"
"What do you think happened to Carol Tiggs?" I asked.
"Carol Tiggs is gone," he replied. "But someday you will find the new Carol Tiggs, the one in the dream hotel room."
"What do you mean she's gone?"
"She's gone from the world," he said.
felt a surge of nervousness cut through my solar plexus. I was
awakening. The awareness of myself had started to become familiar
to me, but I was not yet fully in control of it. It had begun,
though, to break through the fog of the dream: It had begun as a
mixture of not knowing what was going on and the foreboding
sensation that the incommensurable was just around the corner.
must have had an expression of disbelief because don Juan added in
a forceful tone, "This is dreaming. You should know by now that
its transactions are final. Carol Tiggs is gone."
"But where do you think she went, don Juan?"
the sorcerers of antiquity went. I told you that the death
defier's gift was endless dreaming possibilities. You didn't want
anything concrete, so the woman in the church gave you an
abstract gift: the possibility of flying on the wings of intent."
### "The Art of Dreaming" - Copyright 1993 by Carlos Castaneda ###