The Tenant; Maleness and Femaleness are the Result of a Specific Act of Positioning the Assemblage Point; The Twin Positions
There 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 other apprentices.”
“Will she continue my dreaming practices?”
“I 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.”
“The 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.”
Don 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 sorcerers’ predilection.
“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.”
He 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 myself.
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.
I 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, and we simply had to sit as if nothing was bothering us, especially him. The chairs had been bought for him in Phoenix, Arizona, and with great difficulty brought into Mexico.
Don Juan 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.
Don 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.
“Naguals 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.
His 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?”
“I 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?”
Instead 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.
“The 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 dealings.”
“Do you know this for a fact, don Juan?”
“I do, and so will you, very soon.”
My 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.
Being 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.
Don 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?”
“Yes, 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 energy body.”
“What did you sense, don Juan?”
“My 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.
“I’m 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.
“Do 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 broadly.
“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.”
“Judging 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?”
“I 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 its agent.”
“What is the spirit going to do to me, don Juan?”
“All 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?”
“It’s 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.”
We remained quiet for a long moment. I was shaken up and fidgety and did not know what else to say without actually nagging.
“As 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.
“As 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.
“Since 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.”
Don 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.
His 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 tenant.
“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.”
He 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 acquire cohesion.
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.
Don 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.
“I 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.
“You 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 the tenant.”
Panic overtook me with the speed of wildfire. I had to breathe through my mouth for a moment.
“We 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.
“Let’s go to church,” he said. “The tenant likes the church and its surroundings. I’m positive this is the moment to go there.”
Very 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.
I 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 water font.
“We must observe the rules and cross ourselves,” he whispered.
“Where’s 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.
He 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 followed me.
“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?”
“That 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, 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 asking.”
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.
“The 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.”
“That 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 femaleness.
“I understand all that,” he said. “And you’re right in what you’re saying. Your flaw is to try to make your assessments universal.”
“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 you now.”
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.
His 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 me.
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.
“That’s 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.
“Why 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.
“You 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.
“Now 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.
“You 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?”
“No. 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.
He 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?”
“I 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?”
“Yes, 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?”
“She 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, dependent sorcerers.”
I could not overlook his inconsistency of language usage any longer, and I complained to him.
“You 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.”
Don Juan 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.”
“You were 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.”
Don Juan 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 woman.
“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?”
“They 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.
“Particular ways of treating the energy body in order to maintain the assemblage point fixed on specific positions,” he replied.
He 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.
Don 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. 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.
“The inorganic 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 friends.”
“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 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.
“I 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?”
“Because, 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.
“I went 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.
“I 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 Woman In The Church
Don 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 the 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, 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 universe.
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.
“Are 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 line.”
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. I 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 voice.
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.”
I was about to talk to her when I heard the emissary’s voice in my ear. “It’s 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 would stir such deep, old memories was shocking to me. I experienced a momentary agonizing anxiety.
“I am your wet nurse!” the woman exclaimed softly. “How extraordinary! Do you want my breast?” Laughter convulsed her body.
I made a supreme effort to remain calm, yet I knew that I was quickly losing ground and in no time at all 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.”
Two 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.
The 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.
I 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 woman?”
She chuckled softly, like a young girl. Then she voiced a convoluted sentence.
“If 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.
“You 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.”
“I 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.”
“I’ve 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.
Aggressively, 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.
She 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.
As I 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?”
“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.
I 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.
“We 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.”
I 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.”
She 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.
“I’ve 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.
“It’s 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?”
“I’ve 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.”
Another 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.
“You 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.
“You’re not gullible,” she assured me with authority. “You know everything, because you’re now totally in the second attention. Look around!”
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. 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.”
It 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. 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.
“The 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 about it.”
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.
She began 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.
I 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.
“Explain to me what you mean by the twin positions, or the initial position in which a dreamer holds his body to start dreaming.” I said.
“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.”
“Well, 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.
“Start 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 again.”
“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.
She 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.”
The 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, supremely appealing about her.
“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.”
She 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.
In 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 my dream.”
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, 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 comprehended.
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 your line.”
The woman giggled. “You better believe it,” she said, as if I did not.
“Whole 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.
“They 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.
I 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.
She 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.”
She 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.
Contrary 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. And 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 super-alert. 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.
“Juan 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.”
The 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.”
She 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.”
At that 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.
There 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.
The 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 wall!
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 re-examined 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.
As we 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.
That 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 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.
Inside the 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, 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.
“Since 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.
“We 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 mid-calf 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 and led the way to the plaza.
“What happened to your tongue?” she said in English. “Did the cat eat it?”
I 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.
In a 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.
“Of course,” she replied in a joyful tone. “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.
“What’s 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?”
I was 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 habitual position. 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.”
She 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.
To 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?”
“The mystery of intending in the second attention!” she exclaimed reverently. “Those people out there are so real that they even have thoughts.”
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.
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!”
My 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.”
I 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.
My 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.
Cautiously, 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’d 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?”
Carol 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!”
“Around 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.
“Strangely 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.”
“Don’t 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.
“It’s 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?”
“I 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?”
“You 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?”
“Only 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.”
Admitting 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?”
“Of 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 while.”
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.
“A 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?”
“I 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.”
“Did you 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.
“She took me into another facet of her intent,” Carol conceded after a moment’s thought. “She made me see how she actually escaped her captors.”
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.
The death 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.
“Naturally 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?”
“Realize 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.”
Nonchalantly, 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.”
Carol 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.
Carol 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.
“How 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 to you?”
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.
“But this is not the time,” I protested. “What’s going on with the death defier is the important matter, not your appearance.”
“You’d be surprised how important my appearance is.” She laughed. “My appearance is a matter of life or death for both of us.”
“What 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 mysterious talk.”
“Was his mysterious talk justified?” Carol asked with a deadly serious expression.
“It most certainly was,” I admitted.
“So is my appearance. Humor me. How do you find me? Appealing, unappealing, attractive, average, disgusting, overpowering, bossy?”
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?”
I 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.”
“Think 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?”
“With 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.
“There 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 spoken about.
“Where did you get all these novel ideas?” I asked, truly marveling at how lucid she was.
In a noncommittal tone, Carol assured me that the woman in the church had explained to her a great deal about those intricacies.
“We 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 dreaming.”
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.”
I got 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 similar.
“Maybe he doesn’t know,” Carol said, not offensively but conciliatorily.
I 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 death defier.
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. “The 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?”
“Oh, 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.”
I 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 dead.”
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.
“The 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.
“I dare to disagree,” she said softly. “Fear is nothing compared with affection. Fear makes you run wildly; love makes you move intelligently.”
“What are you saying, Carol Tiggs? Are sorcerers people in love now?”
She 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.”
Carol 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 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.”
More 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 was dreaming.
“Give yourself a break,” she said. “Cut this investigatory nonsense and come to bed and rest.”
I 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.”
I 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.
Talk 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 feelings.
Carol smiled at me and embraced me. And I was filled with such a consuming affection for her that I began to weep involuntarily.
“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.”
I 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 philosopher’s mind.
“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.
“Don’t 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, for 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 forward!”
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.
At the 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.
I 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.
“Where 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 knew this.
“We knew nothing of the sort,” he snapped.
“Didn’t 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 alarming.
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.”
My 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 in her dream, my intent to see.
“Pointing the little finger works better,” I said to don Juan, but without any feeling of recrimination.
Don 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.”
Addressing 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.
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.
“What 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.
When 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 was blank.
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.
“Consider 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.”
I 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.
The 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.
Again, 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 human imagination.
Don Juan opened his arms expansively and finally smiled with his usual delight.
“We 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.”
What 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 their meeting.
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 believe, forward.
“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?”
“Through 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.”
Immensities 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 a task.
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.
“I 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.
I 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.
I 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?”
“Wherever 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.”