KPFK Radio Interview (1993)
John Martinez: Taisha Abelar is author of The Sorcerers’ Crossing, A Woman’s Journey. She tells of her experience, how she became acquainted with sorcerers and the actual practice of sorcery. A colleague of Carlos Castaneda, Carol Tiggs, and Florinda Donner‐Grau, Taisha Abelar in the following interview speaks on the validity of experiences in the non‐ordinarily reality and explains in detail the sorceric process, as well as sorcerers’ perspectives with implications regarding the social order, feminism and freedom.
Once again the author of The Sorcerers’ Crossing, Taisha Abelar. And we are here with Taisha Abelar, author of The Sorcerers’ Crossing, A Woman’s Journey. First of all, Ms. Abelar, welcome to KPFK.
Taisha: Yes, it’s a great pleasure to be here and be given the opportunity to talk about my work and some of the concepts of sorcery.
John: Taisha, if you could please start off with a short biography of yourself, your life prior to the actual material that’s listed in the book to give our readers a background of who, exactly, Taisha Abelar is.
Taisha: I mean the closest Taisha Abelar that ‐‐ the question you just asked don’t really refer to Taisha Abelar because Taisha Abelar is a sorceric name that was given to me upon completing a certain amount of training. And the training that was involved was really moving the assemblage point ‐‐ and I’ll talk about that ‐‐ to another position. So that’s the position that I’m speaking to you from at this point, is the sorcerer’s position, the position of a sorceress.
And that is who Taisha Abelar is.
Prior to that I was an ordinary person. I entered Don Juan’s world when I was in my early 20’s and I had no special qualifications. I was just an ignorant young woman who had absolutely no interest in anything except finding a romance or being liked, worried about what people say about you. I had no academic training whatsoever.
So my background before coming into Don Juan’s world is really comparable to anyone, any person. So I’m often asked the question, well, do you have any special qualifications in your past that made you open to this, or were you selected somehow? No, just think of myself as just a normal, regular person who somehow stumbled into Don Juan’s world.
Or from my point of view it was stumbling because I was simply in the desert. I used to do drawing and I was doing some sketches and a woman approached me. And we started talking and I thought she was a very interesting person because she said she’d been in China and she had done martial arts. And prior to entering Don Juan’s world, I did do some martial arts.
So that was some background. I was interested in movement and also drawing, but other than that there was nothing else of interest. She invited me to go with her to Mexico to stay with her for a few days and I accepted because I thought we were going to talk about Buddhism and oriental philosophy and things like that.
And so I went with her. I stayed with her a few days in Mexico and the days turned into weeks and eventually months and then she put me to doing this series of exercises which ‐‐ she said she took one look at me and she saw I was energetically depleted, and therefore I should do this training that she was showing me. And I had no idea that this was sorcery.
There was a cave near her house and I would go every day and sit in the cave. And she said I should do this process of recounting my life. And I didn’t know that this was really an ancient sorceric technique called the recapitulation. And it merely involved breathing in the memories of the past, pulling back the energy of one’s past history.
And I bring this up now because what happened during that procedure was that slowly I began to lose myself as I was as an ordinary person in the world. So that’s the recapitulation sort of wiped out one’s human self or one’s regular self in terms of past, in terms of where one was born. All those things get dissolved and you lose your personal history so that you could build up your sorcerer’s persona, personality.
So then I met Don Juan. When I had stored enough energy I was introduced to Don Juan Matus and some of his other cohorts, his colleagues, and they taught me some of the other techniques that were involved in sorcery.
And one of the things, the stipulations, was going back to my state at that time, was since I had no interest in education or knowledge or ‐‐ I couldn’t think; I couldn’t talk, prior to coming into this world. I was one of these people that I grew up learning you shouldn’t speak unless you’re spoken to, children should be seen but not heard. So there was no way of really expressing oneself ‐‐ couldn’t have any idea of conceptualizing. Abstract thought was so foreign to me because I was only interested in the pragmatic things of everyday life, of meeting people, finding love, whatever interests women at that age.
So I was not unusual in that sense. So given as part of my training, they gave me the mandate of going to the university and receiving an education as part of the sorcerer’s training. And the reason for that was not only to be able to alter the expectations that society has of women in terms of well, it’s men should be educated and should get jobs and careers and things, but women well, it’s sort of left up to them. If they want to, yes; if they don’t, that’s okay, too, because their fate is really already pre-set in terms of finding a husband, getting married, and having families and things like that, which was also my destiny.
So by receiving an education it had two aspects. One was that it sort of undermined my own expectations of my possibilities, my capabilities, or the expectations others had of me. And second, it gave me the opportunity to be able to think analytically, to conceptualize, to understand what sorcery is. Because even though they were teaching us techniques, certain practices, procedures, they also were giving us very abstract concepts as to what is sorcery. Why even be interested in something like this, how do sorcerers perceive the world, how do they see reality. And that requires a very keen intellect to be able to grasp the essence of what it is they’re saying.
Otherwise you’re at a certain level and you look at sorcery the way, let’s say, anthropologists look at it, just from the outside and just see the surface of it. And you think sorcery involves chanting, curing, dances, wearing masks, doing weird ritualistic things. Those are our conceptions from the point of view of our society of what sorcery is and what sorcerers do.
I didn’t know anything about sorcery at that time and I didn’t even know that that’s what they were teaching me, but it came out little by little. And as it came out, I had to understand not the superficial gloss of what sorcery is but what it really entails, and for that you have to have a very keen intellect and a deep education to be able to grasp those concepts.
John: Taisha, could you ‐‐ I know Carlos Castaneda, who has written about the Yaqui way of knowledge and his quest to be a man of knowledge, and with the ingestion of peyote his work was popular in the late 60s and early 70s and is still read widely today. I know Castaneda writes your forward in your book. Could you address some of the issues that are constantly raised with Castaneda, first of all that it is fictional, his work, and that it promotes or gives the okay for what is now called illicit drug use and abuse. Could you mention anything in terms of Castaneda’s influence now 20 years later?
Taisha: Absolutely, because the training that I received in Don Juan’s world was very similar to the training Carlos Castaneda received, because we’re really a group of very few that were trained by Don Juan himself and his associates. And that’s myself, Florinda Donner, who writes about her training in Being‐in‐ Dreaming and Carol Tiggs and just a very handful of people, and we all received basically the same training.
But the works of Carlos Castaneda, of course, came out very early in the 60s and people read his works. And the first two books, The Teachings of Don Juan and A Separate Reality deal with the use of drugs ‐‐ well, not drugs but hallucinogenic plants. These are hallucinogenic substances that we call like mind‐altering drugs, things like that.
Now there’s several reasons. I can address this issue first and then go on to the validity of things later. The reason for Don Juan exposing Carlos Castaneda to these drugs in his training is twofold. One is because Carlos Castaneda was the new nagual. He was the one that was seen at that time to be a leader of a new group, although that altered dramatically. There is really no group at this point.
Something along the course of the training made Don Juan and his people realize that this generation is not the same as his generation. So there was marked, marked changes in his training as opposed to the traditional sense of training a sorcerer, but he did want to pass on ‐‐ at that point Don Juan thought that he would pass on the tradition of the use and how to prepare these plants because that was part of the sorcery tradition for Don Juan. And it was his duty to pass it on to his apprentice. So he taught him all the lore, all the preparation, the detail of the use of these plants.
Then the second reason was that the purpose of using the plants is to what sorcerers say, to move the assemblage point. I think I have to mention what the assemblage point is at this point because it will be coming up and otherwise it won’t be clear to the listener.
When a sorcerer sees the energetic body of a person, they see a spot of luminosity, very intense, made of very brilliant light. And that is situated in a certain point on the energetic body and it lights up certain energetic filaments that are matched with the energetic fibers in the universe at large. So because there’s an infinite number of possibilities making up the universe and also making up our energetic bodies, only a very select few ‐‐ one band ‐‐ gets matched to what’s outside in making, let’s say, the perceptions that are out in the universe.
When that matching takes place, sorcerers say perception takes place; we constitute our reality. And that is dependent on the position of the assemblage point. So we are all born into a certain place. We have our assemblage points at a certain place that we can agree upon as to what we see, we can agree upon as to what we are perceiving.
The use of drugs, or the psychotropic plants, moves the assemblage point to a different position and lights up different filaments so that we perceive different things. Drugs through chemical reactions ‐‐ they affect the energetic body and you have different perceptions, you perceive things.
Now the reason Don Juan had Carlos exposed to the psychotropic plants was because of not just tradition, but as a rational being, it was very difficult for him to move his assemblage point using natural methods or the other sorceric practices. He had to be jolted out of that position fast, and that’s what these the plants do, the use of the smoke or peyote. They move the assemblage point violently and very drastically to another position.
The dangers involved are tremendous, however. One is that there’s no control. There is no telling where is it going to move, what universes are you going to perceive under the influence of the little smoke or in our day just drugs, whether it’s marijuana, even tobacco ‐‐ doesn’t have to be cocaine, things like that. The dangers are the same. We have no control as to what is going to happen to our perception of reality. And the physical dangers of the harm it does to the body, how harmful it is to the energetic body because it drains energy.
Any time you have an experience of moving the assemblage point, unless you do it with control, it’s energetically depleting and you ‐‐ of course, the ultimate danger is that you can either die or go crazy or lose your mind, whatever.
These things happen. We see that every day.
But Don Juan, of course, when he gave the tradition of the plants to Carlos Castaneda, he was always there and Don Genaro flanking him, to make sure that they knew where his assemblage point was moving. They knew exactly what realities he was lighting up through their seeing and they supplied the control to him that he was unable to supply himself because he was under the influence of something else, an external force. So they supplied the control and made sure that nothing happened to him, nothing bad happened to him, and to make sure that he could come back, that his assemblage point could move back, which it usually naturally does when the effects wear off.
But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes sorcerers get lost in other realms and they just don’t wake up; they don’t come back; and they die. So there’s extreme danger involved there. And to do this without a guide or leader is suicidal, really.
So the purpose is to get out of the rational fixation that we have, that this reality is the way it is; which from our point of view is a given, but from the point of view of sorcerers, it’s an act of creation.
And phenomenologists also ‐‐ okay, I’m going to talk a little bit about phenomenology and then talk about the validity of his work. So we will hit both questions.
Just to conclude the part about the psychotropic plants, our training did not include any of these, the use of drugs or the peyote. That includes Florinda Donner, Carol Tiggs. Women do not have to be drastically jolted out of their hold on reality. Their assemblage points are very fluid and they move automatically. All of ours move during sleep when we dream, but, of course, they just jump back and forth and we have no control. But it’s a natural movement of the assemblage point in sleep.
The women when they menstruate, their assemblage points get displaced very slightly. But they may see things; they may catch glimpses; they may hear things; they get emotionally very, very sensitive, because their assemblage point is being displaced monthly. They can use that natural displacement to do dreaming and to do sorcery, which is what the women, the female sorcerers do.
So only in rare cases and because Carlos Castaneda was the nagual, was he given the plants to actually understand and to use. His first two books deal with that work, but after that you don’t hear much about them anymore. And you don’t because he no longer ‐‐ his assemblage point was loosened enough so that it could move through other means, softer means, more natural means. And the rest of his training, all the other books, deal with the movement of the assemblage point using other sorceric means.
So I was going to talk a little bit about our conception of reality and the sorcerer’s conception of reality because it ties in with the movement of the assemblage point. The sorcerers maintain that whatever we perceive in front of us is determined by the placement of that assemblage point. And we are born into that reality as children. Of course the assemblage point is erratic. Infants, they can’t speak; they don’t have language. They perceive the world differently. But as they grow, their perception of the world matches that of everyone around them so there’s a matching that takes place.
Phenomenologists say that the facticity of the world is constructed; it’s not a given although we assume that it is. Phenomenologists take that tacit agreement that we have of everyday life, that there was a yesterday in terms of temporality and spaciality and intersubjectivity that we can agree upon what others in the room are doing.
Phenomenologists take those assumptions or taken‐for‐grantedness of those things and turn them into their phenomena for investigation.
The fact that we know that there was a natural history to things ‐‐ let’s see, I’ll give you some examples just to make this clearer. So that we know that, let’s say, that door over there didn’t just appear, we know that it was there before we came into the room. We know that it’s going to remain there after we leave. That’s a temporal continuity that’s built into their perception of reality. Spatial continuity is built in.
We know that there is a street outside and beyond the street there is buildings, even though we don’t directly perceive them. We know that there is an ocean a certain number of miles. We have mapped out our space, our spatial realm. Reality is based on our conception of space and time and the certainty that we have that other people also know that we’re in a room. We built up the same glosses based on our language, of door, of street, of house.
Now sorcerers, they look at perception immediately. Instead of working on glosses the way we do in our everyday lives ‐‐ we don’t perceive directly. We have already filtered perception through language, through our culture, through our past experience. We’re not perceiving immediately. The sorcerers training is to get oneself back to that immediate perception of reality.
They ask the same questions as phenomenologists do: What is perception, what is reality, what is agreement. But they say that perception is really a question of having the assemblage point on the same position. Or let’s say agreement is everyone having the assemblage point on the same place. When that moves, other realities just as real as the one we’re in now are constituted.
The validity of anything can only be determined by actual experience. Everything that we do in our daily lives is real because we have experienced it or others have experienced it, and we share ‐‐ we have an intersubjective agreement and a common language that enables us to understand what it is we are talking about.
For example, an astronaut or a man walking on the moon, we saw that on television; we read papers; we even heard them speaking the “giant step for mankind” words that now have become so famous. So even though we didn’t see them on the moon, we look up at the moon at night and say well, men were up there. Now is that a leap of faith? No, not exactly, not like the virgin birth or the immaculate conception. It’s based upon the work of the men in NASA, the aerospace industry.
Each subgroup has what phenomenologists or even sociologists call membership in their group. They’re able to validate their small segment. It’s like layers and layers, like the layers of the astronaut suit. They have 24 or 25 layers in their suits. To me that defies imagination. We’re used to thinking of a single layer duofold, two‐ply wool and cotton.
But no, they have 18, 20 layers, each one doing something very specific. The people that made those suits knew what they were doing, what they are talking about. We have to assume that they do because we don’t have that direct knowledge.
Everyone working together with the tremendous concentration, years and years of training, have been able to make this feat reasonable, valid experience that there were men on the moon that now no one questions. But sorcery also takes years and years of training. You can’t just say, lie down and all of a sudden you’re a crow or something like that.
Of course, that sounds absurd, and it is absurd. From the point of view of our everyday lives, from the reality of our being‐in‐the‐world, the feats of sorcery are tales of energy, tales of power. They are only tales and therein arises the question of doubt and stories that people say that Carlos Castaneda’s work, our work, is really basically fiction, they’re tales. Well, from the point of view of everyday life, yes, because there’s no way the average person has validated these things unless he gains membership.
But we can’t go walking on the moon. That’s not open to us. But to be a sorcerer or sorceress, yes, it’s open to us.
Anyone can validate for himself or herself what Carlos Castaneda or I am writing about in our books, because we don’t just describe these other realities and say, oh, yes, they are out there and take it on faith. No, by describing them we’re really being phenomenologists. We’re describing what happened to us physically from the point of view of our physicality, our energetic body. We experienced those.
For us they’re not tales of power, tales of energy, they’re actually descriptions to the best of our ability. Depending on how much energy we have, we’re able to describe these other positions of the assemblage point that we have moved to. And later on I want to be sure to talk about exactly how you can move your assemblage point.
The things that are in the book, the work, are guidelines. They tell everyone that if you do these things, if you practice the recapitulation, if you practice not‐doing, if you practice losing your personal history, if you practice gazing, your assemblage point will move and your body will know. You will know with your very being what it is that sorcerers are talking about.
The validity is there, there for anyone to discover, but it’s a process of creation just as putting a man on the moon is really a process of creation. It just doesn’t happen at a snap of a finger. It takes tremendous energy, conceptual, mental power, mathematics, physics, astrophysics, physical training of astronauts. All of that gets put together to perform one single feat.
The same thing with sorcery. It takes years, our lives. I was in my early 20s when I came into Don Juan’s world. From that moment on every single thing that I have done has been a training, sorcery training, and that includes going to the university. That was a mandate that they gave me. They said, “you have to cultivate a romance with knowledge”.
And I had to do the university training, receive a Ph.D., not from the point of view of the everyday person in the world the way people usually just go to school.
No, it was an exercise in stalking. I had to use petty tyrants that came around, professors. I had to curtail expectations that I grew up with through recapitulating. Recapitulating really enables you to see what your patterns are, your patterns of behavior and what your expectations are. So you apply what you learned through recapitulating. You apply it to your everyday life, your being in the world. And as you apply it, you’re validating the sorcerer’s position, rather than validating the position of everyday life, the position of your parents, the position of your peers, of what society tells you.
We’re always validating that through our behavior and our thoughts and our language, our internal dialog. We keep repeating over and over the things that we should be repeating ‐‐ it’s like a little circle ‐‐ to make sure that nothing else comes in. We’re already loaded to maximum capacity in terms of our perception. It’s a bubble. It’s sealed so there is no escape. An opening has to come from outside, from another position of the assemblage point.
Don Juan gave us the entrance, the opening. He calls it the cubic centimeter of chance that pops up. And you either ‐‐ well, either you’re so enthralled with yourself that you don’t even see it, or you don’t grasp it because of reasons of your own: You’re too rational or too knowledgeable in the sense that you already know everything and you’re closed minded, let’s say. Or you do grasp it. And the people associated with us, Don Juan, we did grasp that quarter centimeter of chance. And we are continuing to validate everything that he had said sorcery is and the potentiality of being more than what was allotted in terms of being born into the world, into a certain position.
John: If you would, just to finalize this point, there are critics in society that criticize Castaneda for his work and simplify it and say that it promotes drug use and abuse. Are they simply just showing their ignorance in terms of the context of Castaneda’s path to knowledge?
Taisha: What they’re doing is looking at reading the books or looking at maybe they haven’t even read some of the books ‐‐ maybe they haven’t even read the books, maybe just the first two books and stopped there, because the first two books, as I said, deal just with the tradition of the psychotropic plants. But before they say anything, absolutely they should read all the books to see what the context is.
They’re also speaking in terms from the point of view of everyday life, from the position that yes, drugs are bad. I don’t think there is really a disagreement here in terms of drug use.
By we, I mean Carlos Castaneda and anyone practicing sorcery, we lead absolutely pure lives. And we’re very careful of what we eat because anything that affects the energy body curtails the chances of sobriety, of control. If it affects the energetic body deleteriously, then you lack the control of what sorcerers call stalking, the stalker’s ability.
And stalking is really the ability to take a new position of the assemblage point ‐‐ or it doesn’t have to be a different one, it can be the one where we are ‐‐ and look at its ramifications, but for that you need energy. You need energy to observe what is reality, to rather than blindly going in and letting things happen to you, being at the mercy of the modality of the day, which is what Don Juan calls this particular point of where our assemblage point is.
We were born into that as characterized by the modality of our time. We are at the mercy of that whatever tumbles down on us, whatever our parents or peers, education system, whatever we hear and read in books and radios, newspapers. It all tells us certain things of what we can do and what we can be. So we are absolutely affected by that.
But to look at it, you have to have energy rather than be at the mercy of it. So let’s say people who grew up, or the peers say yes, use marijuana, do this, do that. They don’t have the energy to resist to ‐‐ I don’t mean resist, but to question. They’re sucked in by whatever their environment says and does. And they go with it no matter if it’s suicidal or what.
Sorcery says the exact opposite. It says no, you question. You don’t accept anything. You don’t accept religious dogma; you don’t accept what your friends say when they slip you a little packet of cocaine or whatever. But who can actually question these things? Only someone who has a strength that comes from elsewhere. And where is this elsewhere?
Sorcerers say it’s the energy body.
Every one of us has really two positions of the assemblage point: One, the one that is given to us, the one by our parents, the one we are born into, the one that makes this particular reality manifest itself and keep on going and be the force that makes us accept it as the one and only reality.
But we all have an energetic body in like a phantom position ‐‐ sorcerers call it the double ‐‐ another position we sort of activate in dreams, with intuition. We all have the feeling there is something else there but we don’t have the energy to grasp it. Or we feel we might want to be different or more coherent, more clear, more alive. But we don’t.
We can’t because of the burden of society, our work, the concerns of everyday life, our worries about ourselves, what is going to happen to me, me, myself, and I, are of primary concern. We don’t have energy for anything else.
But Don Juan says yes ‐‐ or sorcerers, not just Don Juan. There is another position that we can all have and we should activate it. We should use that as a balance and that’s what’s going to give us the energy to not be swayed by everyday life. It’s going to give us ‐‐ it enables us to have a little perch, a little platform outside of the quagmire, let’s say, where we are and enables us to see from a different perspective.
Where is this other perspective? It’s another position of the assemblage point outside. And how do you get to it? How do you reinforce it? Because this is what sorcerers want to do. They want to be able to perceive more. It’s a question of perceiving. They want to perceive more than is permissible or allowable from the point of view of our everyday reality.
Our reality says no, trees are trees, the house is there, you know there is an ocean. We have a system of glosses set up and those are like rigid. They’re not flexible. Sorcery training enables the mind, the body, to acquire a flexibility of ‐‐ drugs or psychotropic plants move the assemblage point. Then it moves right back and you’re again stuck worse off than before because you’re energetically depleted; you have harmed your body; you’ve lost a sense of control, command. And you keep reinforcing that and you’re not really going to be able to activate this energetic body. You’re destroying it, in fact.
So the other methods of training, the recapitulation, is one of the key methods. And we all do it, all of us that train in sorcery. We practice; we do the recapitulation. Carlos Castaneda recapitulates constantly, constantly. All of us do.
What it is, is you’re ‐‐ pragmatically it has two layers. By pragmatically, what it is, is you make a list of everyone you’ve ever known in your life, and you sit and you visualize from today, moving backwards, all the experiences that constitute your life, the memory of what you are, what makes up your persona, what you are.
And that, of course, includes your interaction with your family, your friends. All of that is intrinsically related to what makes you you because you have that intersubjectivity. You don’t live in a vacuum and neither do sorcerers. But your assemblage point and your energy is constantly being bombarded by what others tell you and you respond, so there is this interaction.
What the recapitulation does is it allows you to look at that and to extricate your energy from your remembered self, from your past actions. So you close your eyes and you visualize your activities, very systematically. You have your list and you work backwards and you use the breathing, because breathing is a very subtle method of inhaling. You bring back the energy; you visualize; you begin on your ‐‐. Very specifically here I’m going to describe it, although it is described in The Sorcerers’ Crossing. Begin on your right shoulder. You have your visualized scene and you inhale, moving your head to your left shoulder. And then you exhale everything that is extraneous to you, everything that they have poured on you verbally, physically, that you no longer want, because this is all in the past anyway. You push it; you exhale it. You give it back as you’re moving your head back to your right shoulder and then you bring your head to the center. And you just continue sweeping the scenes in your memory and you’re cleansing.
What you’re doing is bringing back the energy that is trapped there so you can use it in the present. And where does it go? Of course you have to be very careful that you don’t put it back into, like again reinforcing the self, but use it to build up your energetic body, to be able to have that extra energy so you can see what life is, what it is that you’re doing. You have some control over your existence.
The recapitulation in an abstract sense, because sorcerers are very abstract, in fact, is so abstract that at this point, our bodies are really an idea. We’re no longer at the position of the assemblage point of the facticity of the world that we have our physical body. The bench is here; the tree is there, no. We’ve questioned all that and we’ve seen that through the recapitulation, these things are only a matter of agreement. We were told this and our bodies themselves have responded to the agreement that we had no choice in because we were born into it.
So on an abstract level, what the recapitulation does is it builds another, a little platform for you to work off of, because while you’re remembering the past, your energetic past, and you’re working back, you are also working at two places at the same time. You’re moving from here, from your energetic body, to these, the memories of the facticity of yourself, of what constituted your world. And you can see your patterns repeating themselves. You can hear what your parents told you and you see.
All of a sudden you see, but what is it that sees? Not you in the world, but this other being, the seer. Don Juan calls it the seer in you that’s waking up. You’re activating this phantom position of the assemblage point that we all have, but you’re making it stronger. You’re using it for once. Within your culture we’re not allowed to use it. We don’t even acknowledge that it’s there.
Everything has all our concern, because of the modality of our day, really has gone into our immediate needs and wants and we don’t even have a choice in the matter. This other position gets activated, becomes stronger, and then we’re able to actually question and break through the barriers of perception that have been set up through the concerns of our everyday life.
John: Taisha, you’ve talked now about terms and concepts within your book. Could you give us a general overview of your book in terms of the themes in your book, the issues raised, concepts. We can start like that.
Taisha: Basically the first half of it deals with the recapitulation and it tells, explains in detail, how it’s done and my own experiences with it and the difficulties in doing it and the procedures. And so that in itself gives the reader an opportunity to try it themselves. It’s an invitation, really, for anyone, because sorcerers are not an elite group ‐‐ that you have to be selected or run into Don Juan or have a sorcerer as a leader.
No, anyone can pick up these books and do the things, the practices that are described in them. And that again is a means of validating what it is that we’re talking about through your own experiences.
So the first part of the book is dealing with the recapitulation. And I was also, as I said, when I had enough energy, I was introduced to Don Juan and some of the other members of his group. And that’s also described in the book, my encounters with them and the things that they taught me.
I was given certain practices that included gazing techniques, not‐doing techniques. There are sorcery passes which work directly on the energy body, certain movements and breathing that activate again or cleanse the energy body and activate certain energy centers so that the assemblage point can move with fluidity.
And then the second part of the book, I suppose sort of near the middle, was because they thought I was ready to make what they call the sorcerer’s crossing, the great crossing, which all it is is a movement of the assemblage point, a displacement, because through the recapitulation it prepares you for that.
I was living or staying in this house and there was a left portion of the house that was always alluded to but I was never allowed to enter. And so at one point they decided yes, I’m ready to meet the other members of the party who were waiting for me on the left side of the house, which is really a movement of the assemblage point into a different reality because the left side of the house didn’t exist in this realm as we know it.
And so I went through a series of techniques and energetic movements invoking intent. My energy body was able to activate itself, of course, also with the help of Nelida, who was there beside me. I activated my energy body, meaning I shifted my assemblage point. But rather than moving it harmoniously to a certain position they had expected me to, where they were waiting for me, I sort of shot out and had no recollection of where actually my assemblage point ended up. And I could not remember the details of my perceptual realm. That’s the drawback. That happens also under some cases where there’s no control. It’s an erratic shift. In order words, my assemblage point shifted too erratically.
And so the second part of the book deals with different type of training. I found myself in a grove of trees in a tree house in the front part of the house. At that point I didn’t know how I had gotten there. I just assumed that somebody had hoisted me up in a harness and I was up in a tree house. But what I didn’t know then was that I did not wake up.
My assemblage point didn’t move back to its normal position. It was a position where ‐‐ in another reality but not very far removed. I had come back from my wanderings and in that position ‐‐ so the second part of the training really dealt with stalking, which was to stabilize the position of the assemblage point wherever it is.
In my case this was in this grove of trees in the tree house in the front part of the house. But the training itself ‐‐ and it was conducted under the guidance of Emilito who also didn’t exist in the reality of everyday life. He was in a position of the assemblage point, a dream position. So I had woken up in a dream position in a different place, but I had to cultivate stalkers technique in order to maintain that position and achieve a certain control over my energetic body.
And that training was very, very important for subsequent things that would be happening, because again, it doesn’t make any difference at all if you move your assemblage point. Unless you can stabilize it at another position and stalk that reality, you have again, random glimpses, like what happens under, I suppose, under the influence of drugs. You have glimpses of random occurrences of monsters appearing or your assemblage point hops around and that’s what’s deleterious to the energetic body.
So you have to be able to stabilize it at another position. So the stalkers training ‐ which was very, very important in my case because my assemblage point was erratic ‐ was to explore the ramifications of a different reality. And in my case it was the realm of the trees in the tree house. But that tree house existed because other members of the sorcery group also ‐‐ whoever had that same problem, namely Zuleica, one of Don Juan’s cohorts who was really Emilito, because Emilito was Zuleica’s dream body in this other position. So whoever had the problem of erratic assemblage point movements was hoisted up in the harness, put in a tree house to learn to stabilize.
And why did they put them in trees? Because being surrounded by trees, being elevated from the ground, forces the body to develop a new relationship between what really was our energy body, but it really was as real and solid as our physical body and the ground and gravity. So by being in the trees, by climbing branches, by again recapitulating in the trees, by gazing in trees and all the other activities that you practiced in the trees off the ground, enabled me to explore a new position of the assemblage point, and was very limited because I never left the trees, the tree house. I stayed ‐‐ well, I would come down and enter the main house, you know, if I had to go to the restroom, the bathroom, but I would go right back up and my food would be hoisted up. Emilito would hoist up my food.
So well, all of my time was spent off the ground. I would sleep in the trees. And the concentration and sobriety it takes to climb trees is so intense, because any wrong movement you would fall, forced me keep all my attention focused on my immediate activity rather than letting my brain shift around in terms of past, present and future the way we do now at this position of the assemblage point.
We’re hardly ever focus on the here and now where half of us is ‐‐ half of our energy is locked up in the past, past actions. The other is sort of projecting into some unknown future and not much of us is really engaged in whatever we’re doing at this moment. But my being in the trees, everything, was ‐‐ and, of course, also having recapitulated already, there was no past, there was no temporal horizon.
So the sorcerers were really disrupting the spatial and temporal agreement that we have learned in our bodies by being in an enclosed space surrounded by something where you couldn’t see the horizon. There was no spatial distance. You couldn’t see very far, the trees were so dense. So there was no space in terms of distance and also there ‐‐ I could not assume the way we assume from this position of the assemblage point that yes, there’s houses outside; there’s streets; there’s the ocean. I had no idea what was beyond the grove of trees. In fact, it was like a void.
All I had, my entire, quote, universe at that point were the trees. So the sorcery training had effectively disrupted the spatial and temporal continuity. There was not this here and there perspective that we have in our daily lives because we’re ‐‐ like when we’re sitting here from the point of view of everyday life there is always a there because we’re here obviously. And we can get up and walk over there or we can imagine the there even if we can’t get to it.
We can get to it by plane or train. I mean there is not ‐‐ I can’t see it, but intentionality from the point of view of phenomenology makes us fill in the gaps, fill in the spatial blocks or deficiencies, but not in the sorcerers world. In the sorcerers world in the trees, whatever was in front of me was all there was to the world at that particular point. And that was a way of training to focus on what it is that you’re doing.
Later, I used that stupendous training in my academic work to concentrate on what it is that I’m doing, not to assume that there’s a university there somewhere. No, from the point of view of the trees and the tree house, the world of everyday life no longer existed. It was completely demolished or disappeared because there was no guarantee that I would ever come back either.
So the instructions, the things that I had to do, the recapitulation from the tree house was again a different layer of getting back anything that was left dangling in the past or other spaces, other areas, to bring everything in, to consolidate the energy body. And only by consolidating the energy body can you lean on it and use it. And so that was really the second part of my training.
I was given, also, dreaming tasks that I did from the tree house because after a while the immediacy of everything makes you want to expand. It’s all right to be totally immediate but you also can from that position move the assemblage point elsewhere. So the second stage was to dream from the tree house which was already a dreaming position. So you use dream positions, use your energy body, to move.
The training of stalkers is to be absolutely fluid, to maintain a position of the assemblage point, but then also be able to move from that. But then wherever you are moving to, you move with sobriety and control and the same amount of discipline, and you explore your new reality in order to make that real. We create our reality as we move. As the assemblage point gets displaced, new realities get created in front of our eyes.
But we have to interact with them. So reality ‐‐ let’s go back to our, to the reality of everyday life. It is not just there. It’s there because we’re interacting with it. We know that there is a here and there because we’re moving through the room bypassing the furniture to get someplace. We’re in it. We’re creating this reality as we do things, as we think, as we’re ‐‐ but we’re creating it within the limits set up with our linear mind and our rational predilection.
This assemblage point limits to a great extent what it is that we can do from this point. We can’t go through the wall, in other words, because it’s solid. We know that it’s there. But through gazing, which I did in the trees ‐‐ let’s say, part of the training is gazing techniques because gazing is a very easy way ‐‐ basically anyone can do this ‐‐ a very fundamental way of realizing the validity of what I’m talking about.
See, all you do is look at a tree, a little plant. You start gazing at the leaves and pretty soon it becomes two dimensional. We’re fleshing out the back of it. We don’t see it. Intentionality says that a leaf has a front, side and a back to it and has little veins through it. Botanists have many, many layers of intricate knowledge about trees and plants that we may not have, but there is definite layers of knowledge of something that we can agree upon. But when you start gazing at trees or leaves or gravel or whatever, you see just what is given to your energetic body, the immediacy. You really see; that’s what you see. That is why sorcerers call it seeing, because that is when you’re really seeing. You’re placing your energy body at the disposition of the energy that emanates from what is out there and you’re matching in a different way so that you’re seeing energy. So you’re looking at a tree or gazing at it and all of a sudden you realize no, it’s not a fact; it’s not solid; it’s moving. It doesn’t have a back to it the way we think, or roots. We don’t see that; we see swirls of light.
All of a sudden these leaves start to glow and you’re seeing swirls of energy and you’re saying oh, that is what a tree is. I had no idea until I started experimenting, playing around with this, some of these things. And if you try it you will also say oh, there is more to a tree than the gloss, tree. Really a tree is energetically alive just as the human body, just as we are energetically alive. And we can do infinitely more things than we were taught or we learned we’re capable of doing with our physical bodies.
Gazing enables us to engage our energetic selves, a different position of the assemblage point, and that phantom position gets stronger and stronger. And then we see trees moving. All of a sudden we can shift them by focusing our energy on them and they’re not rooted in one spot. Sorcerers say that entire groves of trees can all of a sudden be elsewhere.
Now, it’s a tale of energy again, but they’ve actually seen, because when the world is fluid, nothing is rooted, is given, is a fact. It’s in constant motion and that’s the way the world is. That’s the way reality is. It’s we who make it limited, solid, factual. We impose on it its limitations. But there’s no reason ‐‐ to expand your capabilities as sentient beings and use other aspects that we haven’t even conceived of, that it’s possible to use or to see the world in different terms.
John: Taisha, you’re touching on these terms and concepts in your book, dreaming, stalking, assemblage point, recapitulating. Are there ‐ or would it be too limited to try to attempt to do this? Are there any correlations in terms of analystic terms and concepts in science that are similar to these terms and concepts in your book?
Taisha: Yes, there are correlates, and I talked extensively about one coming from philosophy, namely phenomenology. I don’t need to go back into that, but phenomenologists, they know theoretically or they intuit that this is the way perception is, this is the way we ought to approach when we talk about reality and perception ‐‐ we should suspend judgment meaning not impose the facticity of our world onto what we are talking about. But when it’s applied and in even phenomenology many, many people are familiar with that.
In fact, anthropologists, sociologists are very familiar with those concepts. But when they, let’s say, go out and do field work or even live their daily lives, they never venture beyond the theoretical stage of using these things. They’re scary because what sorcery does, for example, it disrupts the comforts or the certainty of everyday life that the world is such and such. It disrupts it and some of us don’t want that disruption.
It creates great dissonance and very unsettling and it has to be done systematically. Otherwise can you absolutely freak out if all of a sudden just, you know, the wall disappears and you find yourself elsewhere without having actually walked over there. You wake up, you know, down the block, and say where am I. I mean it’s very disrupting.
So the concepts are there. Phenomenology, anthropology use some of it in terms of actually going into other cultures, studying other realities. But they study it. The word study for them takes on sort of an academic sense of armchair theorizing. Although I’m sure anthropologists don’t want to consider themselves armchair theorists anymore. That was in the 19th century. But in a way they’re still doing it from hotel rooms or if they go into the field they may ‐‐ they still have a preset theory that they want to explore. They’re not going in having suspended judgment as phenomenologists recommend one should do. And definitely they don’t want to apply it to their daily lives and actually become something else, something other than they are.
And you can’t study sorcery or understand what sorcerers do without giving up some of your holdings in the everyday world, without actually altering your ideas on the nature of what it is that you are, what it is that you do in your everyday life. If you’re always using those assumptions to interpret what ‐‐ let’s say Don Juan does ‐‐ and this is what happened with Carlos Castaneda’s books, those assumptions were used to say oh, he is doing this and like he is doing, because whoever is saying these things hasn’t validated for themselves what this other realm takes. But there is other areas of ‐‐ like Eastern philosophy, they have some of the same concepts again of altering other realities, of being aware of the here and now. They have the term “the great crossing.”
In fact, I was going to call my book “the great crossing” but that term is a very specific term used in Buddhist philosophy which is not what sorcery is. Although getting back to your question, on a theoretical level, it may appear the same. They’re interested in exploring perception, expanding perception, of awakening the energetic body. Some of the techniques are very similar, quieting the internal dialog, using meditation. But the difference is that ‐‐ what a practitioner has to do is relinquish his mode of linear thinking and unless that is done and relinquished, the attachment to the self stays the fundamental obstacle ‐‐ and the Eastern disciplines talk about that too. But all I can say is that we actually do that.
We spend a lifetime with it and we are still engaged in this procedure of actually doing that very thing, relinquishing the attachment to the world of everyday life, our humanness, that assemblage point into which we were born, and moving away and exploring these other dimensions. So we’re doing ‐‐ so the difference then, I think that the concepts, yes, that they’re there. They’re not unique in that sense, but the practices ‐‐ you can’t just have a concept without actually engaging in doing, because a concept by itself doesn’t mean anything. It has to be a bodily experience.
And sorcery is really designed that you do these practices, you get the bodily experience, rather than just talking philosophically about something the way philosophers do or sometimes Oriental philosophers or even the physicists, the new age physics. I don’t want to talk about it because I’m not really familiar with physics. I’m not a physicist. But they touch upon certain areas of indeterminacy, of limits of perception, of light, of what it means to see things. For example, an object to a physicist from their studies and experiments realizes it is not solid at all. That has to do with your perspective and size.
So solidity of something is only because we are human beings and we can see something. A bee or a bat would have a totally different perspective of, let’s say, a tree or a log or a piece of wood. He would see it totally different. So physicists explore the limits of reality, of what constitutes it. And there’s books that combine Eastern wisdom with physics. And so there is that connection.
But I don’t know of any physicists who actually would practice all the things that he knows intellectually in his daily life. When he comes home he still sits down on that old chair and he has his wife there and he has his same behaviors, sociologists, too. They understand certain concepts that are similar to sorcery but sorcery is not just a concept. Sorcery is an abstract way of life so that the totality of your being becomes as abstract as those concepts. So when we say that the energetic body is luminous, is composed of fluid filaments, that is what a sorcerer is. He’s not just saying it. He is it because he uses it and his reality is based on that, the utilization of those filaments of light.
For example, a good example is from one of the books of Carlos Castaneda, when Don Genaro jumped over the waterfall. From the point of view of somebody just watching, in this case Carlos Castaneda in his early days, he just saw ‐‐ well, he saw half and half, just he saw somebody sort of jumping, very agile, doing weird things, antics, gyrations, acrobatics. Now, of course, if he would see the same thing he would know exactly what’s taking place because he himself could do it. His body can understand because he can cast out his lines, fibers of light, and tie them to places. The recapitulation enables you to do that, too, to cast your fibers, energetic beams, back into the past and tie them on things or untie them. Basically you would dislodge the energy that’s tied there. So yes, there’s parallels but not really from the point of view of actual practice.
John: Going now to your book again, you’ve mentioned what sorcery is briefly and what sorcerers do. Could you give a perspective ‐‐ this depends again on the milieu of the actual sorcerers themselves. Is there a sexual dichotomy between the male and female sorcerers? Is there anything in terms of the feminist concept? Could you give an explanation, a description of what a sorcerer’s ‐‐ their role is. Are they still part of a social cultural milieu? Is there sort of an ethos, a world view that sorcerers hold in terms of how they see reality? Can you give more in terms of an in-depth description of sorcery and sorcerers?
Taisha: Uh‐huh, yes. There’s several questions there. Let’s just start with a definition of sorcery because that’s very basic. Sorcery, basically, is the ability to perceive more than is allotted from the world into which we were born. They try to expand perception and they do it in ‐‐ they have certain techniques, dreaming, stalking, gazing techniques.
Many of these, in fact, all of them are described in the books, the techniques. But they all lead to displacements of the assemblage point and giving up your holding on the world of everyday life so that you are able to perceive more. How can you perceive another reality if you are only given to perceiving this one. I mean it’s a contradiction. It can’t be done. You have to let go. It’s like the monkey who is putting his fist in a bottle and he’s grabbing a fist full of nuts. He can’t pull his hand out to go elsewhere. He is stuck there, but if he lets go of what he is grasping he can slip his hand out and be free. So sorcerers, all they’re doing is they’re letting go of their holdings, the handful of nuts that we all grasp on and which consists of the expectations we have of ourselves and what we were taught that the world is like. So you let go of that and by the very fact that you are letting go, something else comes in; something else slips in. And that’s what sorcerers do.
Now the training is basically the same for everyone, except I did mention that Carlos Castaneda, being the nagual, was trained in the uses of the psychotropic plants at the very initial stages. After that he was also trained ‐‐ did many recapitulations as we all do. That’s fundamental.
The first thing that anyone does ‐‐ forget the marijuana, forget taking anything. You sit down and do a thorough recapitulation. That in itself will set you up and give you the possibility of moving elsewhere. Recapitulating your life is letting go of that handful of nuts that you’re grasping on or whatever. As you let it go it’s very painful because all our lives we’re taught to hold on. The stronger your hold, the better person you are, the more ego strength you have.
So sorcerers teach the opposite. That’s why we call sorcery training not‐doing, because they don’t really do anything in particular. They just not‐do the things that we were trained to do. So it’s very simple, but in its simplicity it becomes almost impossible and there’s very few takers, of course.
People think that everyone wants to join Carlos Castaneda and his, quote, group. And the few people whose ‐‐ let’s say their paths cross and somehow ‐‐ not that they’re invited to be a member of any group but some of this ‐‐ maybe they’re told to recapitulate or something.
Do they do it? No, because to recapitulate you have to take energy away from your daily life. And what, you have to take it away from the nights out on dates or whatever, going to the disco or watching TV or worrying about work or someplace or worrying about yourself. The energy to recapitulate has to come from somewhere because you have to first of all just make time. Physically you have to have time to do it.
So the opportunity is there really for anyone but the willingness has to be also balanced, has to come with the opportunity to actually do it. So otherwise it becomes only a tale of energy that you think about.
And we all have this idea that oh, I wish I would be different; I wish I could do this, but you don’t have the energy. With the recapitulation as a method of training you get the energy; you make the energy; you no longer are wishing, you’re intending. But intent is very different from wishing. Intent is hooking up your energy, your purpose, to something that’s already set up by the sorcerers. And if you hook to that, via, let’s say the recapitulation, it pulls you. But you do have to do it.
This thing about another technique is gazing. I used to watch television a great deal when I first entered Don Juan’s realm. And they told me well, okay, you spend what ‐‐ and this is true for anyone. We spend maybe what, two hours. They have done studies ‐‐ maybe two hours a day watching television. He said okay, watch television, but don’t turn it on.
So there I was sitting in front of the television set gazing at the television. So that’s an act of not‐doing. That’s an example of not‐doing. And you do your own not‐doings, make up your not‐doings, whether it’s looking at a little match and inhaling the light ‐‐ that’s a not‐doing ‐‐ or gazing at something.
So I found that when I was gazing at the television set ‐‐ of course, in private, you don’t right there. If you start doing this in public and with someone around, they will start wondering what is the matter with you. So you do these things but you don’t spread them around because everyone is going to judge you from the point of view of their perspective.
And the reality of everyday life is like Alcatraz. I mean there is no escaping. There is wardens and guards making sure that you don’t get off that rock. So anybody who wants to venture into that shark‐infested‐waters ‐‐ and there is no guarantees that you will ever make it anywhere.
You do have to practice stalking and be very unobtrusive. A stalker, to give a definition of a stalker, is someone ‐‐ well, one of the definitions is someone who really makes it an art of being invisible. So you can get off the rock as long as nobody sees you. It’s as simple as that. Nothing’s holding you there really. You just let go of that handful of nuts. But make sure nobody sees you. You do it gradually. Otherwise they’re going to make sure ‐‐ they’re going to put impediments in your path, guaranteed.
So as I was gazing at the television and there right there you see that the facticity of what a TV set is is taken for granted because the thing starts dissolving, starts becoming two dimensional. The idea of three dimensional space is an assumption, is something that we learn as children, as infants, really to see three dimensionality. So that children when they cross the street or speak is something that children learn. They know that those cars are moving fast.
For a little infant or toddlers they don’t know that. That’s why the mother always has to say don’t cross the street, cars are coming. They don’t know what a car is capable of doing because they don’t have the gloss, car, yet. They’ll get it soon, hopefully not the hard way. But if they burn their finger on a flame, they’ll realize what is heat and what the properties of fire is.
Even that is not a given fact because there’s people that can walk on coals and not get burned. We learn the parameters of our reality. So gazing disrupts the facticity of our reality of everyday life.
Let me talk a little bit about women. I was trained by yes, basically the female members of Don Juan’s group. Emilito, who to me, I mean he was absolutely male but he was Zuleica’s dream body. Your dreaming would be anything male, female and of course, I was also trained by Don Juan himself because there were certain things that we needed to know and be able to understand because our ‐‐ Florinda Donner, Carlos Castaneda, Carol Tiggs ‐‐ our situation was not the same as his situation where he had the four dreamers, the four stalkers, and really the rule kind of governed how they would proceed.
Our training didn’t follow the rule except in a very minimal sense. Whenever he trained Carlos Castaneda, he would ask the omens and that’s pointed out in the books. He would look at the omens to see well, should we proceed like this or this. And the omens would say no, don’t follow the rule, just let the thing happen and the same way with us.
We were trained in specific things but never by any rule. I mean I don’t ‐‐ we all had to recapitulate but we could do it any way that suited us. I happen to ‐‐ I like being in enclosed spaces. I did it in a cave but Florinda Donner, you couldn’t put her in a cave. She recapitulated walking down the street or just when something triggers something, maybe a memory of the past, and we still have a little agitation of some sort, we recapitulate it. We’re on the spot wherever we are.
Or the sorcery passes. They’re techniques, bodily movements to activate the energy body. But there’s hundreds of them. So you do the ones that suit you. There’s really no rigid rule of training. And the reason being is because in order to move the assemblage point you have to be fluid. I personally was given very heavy training in stalkers’ techniques and stalking because my assemblage point was very erratic and so I needed that training.
Other people don’t need the training. They have a natural bent for something, Florinda Donner for her dreaming and she discusses her training in Being‐in‐Dreaming. She has a very natural bend. Her assemblage point moves when she is sitting in front of me. All of a sudden her assemblage point is moving and she is amalgamating other bits of reality that come in very, very easily.
Women get to the ‐‐ females have a very natural facility for moving the assemblage point by two things, one biologically. They do have the cycles; they menstruate. Chemically things in their bodies change so that it gives them a chance to let other stimuli in. It just trickles in. They have wombs and there is something about the womb that as an organ is able to ‐‐ it has like a secondary function. It can sense and understand directly.
And we all say, well, women are more intuitive than men. We have that coming into our daily jargon and we have slogans: Women are more intuitive, they are so sensitive when they menstruate, and this and that. It’s true but women can use it instead of being put down or it’s a negative thing. They can use it to do sorcery, to recapitulate, to heighten their concentration when they’re recapitulating. They will have a hard time reading phenomenology when they menstruate, but they will have an easy time doing dreaming. So they can do their dreaming during that time of the month.
The second reason it’s easier for women is because our society doesn’t make that many demands on them as it does on men. Men, boys, you know, mothers raise their children to educate them. They pour a great deal of attention on them, the males, because they’re the ones that have to perpetuate the social order. They are the ones that get the education so they can teach and perpetuate whatever aspect that they’re trained in, whether it’s science or medicine, law.
Although now that’s changing, of course. Women also are anything into those fields but basically for the wrong reasons. Women are going into these fields so they can be like men, equal with men. It’s functional from the point of view of the social order. They’re stabilizing their position because now they’re lawyers and doctors. But it’s not functional from the point of true sorcery because now they’re making new ties, stronger links to the social order. So it has, of course, advantages and disadvantages.
Not to say that a sorcerer or somebody training in sorcery can’t become a lawyer or a doctor. Every one of us, Florinda Donner, Carol Tiggs, we received a university education in order to be able to think abstractly and communicate, but not to be the bastions of the social order, you know, anthropology professors, lawyers or doctors.
Carol Tiggs has a tremendous knowledge in acupuncture, medicine of the body, the physical body and the energetic body, comparable to any doctor. She got that from the point of view of her sorcery training, so she can use that to move away. So women have a better, really, a better chance of moving out of the social order, off that Alcatraz rock because nobody is going to miss them that much.
Their function really is to perpetuate the family, not the social order. They have to “stand by” their man as the song goes, to uphold him under all circumstances. We’re trained really to teach our children to be upstanding citizens and this and that, or to mourn them if they go astray, but they would only go astray within the structure. There is room for deviance, of course.
So the position of women in the everyday life, the world of everyday life, is a two‐sided position. One, you can look at it in a negative way because women are, as I said, are there to really support the men. Behind every great man, we say, there is a woman. A woman should stay in the house and raise the family. So there’s limits imposed on her in terms of education. She has less opportunities than men do. The demands or expectations of her reality gravitate around home.
But as I said, now it is changing, that women are going into work and academic areas. But they go in there with a double burden that now they have the home and they have the academic and their careers. So there is even less of a chance for them to have any extra energy to practice sorcery techniques. But on the other hand, women have a natural facility to expand perception, to move into other realities.
And Don Juan and the female members under which I was trained, they played on this natural facility. So we did the recapitulation; we did gazing techniques and especially dreaming techniques; and we utilized the times of our monthly cycle. We used that instead of just feeling bad and staying in bed a day or having cramps or premenstrual blues that are things that women have learned that they ought to have ‐‐ no, we used the changes, the natural changes that take place in order to displace the assemblage point and to do dreaming and stalking.
So there’s really not ‐‐ I can’t say there is a real difference in training between men and women, but each person in Don Juan’s world and the way they trained us, depends on our predilection, on our natural capabilities. Like some women are fantastic dreamers as I said. The men, the males would go out more ‐‐ they were botanists for example, like Don Vicente. They would interact more within the world as stalkers.
But that doesn’t mean that women weren’t trained as stalkers. Since we had to come back and be in the world of everyday life ‐‐ we couldn’t just stay in a cave dreaming ‐‐ we had to perfect our stalking techniques, being with people, using people as petty tyrants or seeing the world as controlled folly through gazing. Gazing is what enables one to really see that the world is not facts but energy. And gazing combined with the recapitulation ‐‐ really it’s like it pulls the rug out from reality itself.
As I said, work or go to the university, but we always did it from the standpoint of this other platform that we had constructed, that we could lean on, which was our energetic body. We acted in the world as controlled folly. Women have a really easy way of entering that, a natural way, because they don’t have that real strong affiliation to abstraction, ideas. They are very pragmatic.
And if somebody says ‐‐ well, this is too absurd, this example. But what if the earthquake in Florida or something ‐‐ they would say well, at least it’s not here and if it’s not here, that’s okay. They wouldn’t say it but they’re more immediate. In order to be concerned for humanity as an abstraction, it’s mostly males. Males are the priests; males are the politicians; males are in the army dealing with global scales. Males are the astronauts and in physics and aerodynamics.
So women, the way ‐‐ what we have learned from the position of this assemblage point into which we are born is that women are pragmatic and deal with immediate situations that have to do with the family, children, education, concerns of the husband, this type of thing. So that’s easy to relinquish, just ‐‐ I’m not saying leave your husband, but, if you’re not married, don’t get a husband. Then you don’t have to worry about children, family. Then you have all your energy left to do sorcery because nobody’s going to care that much if you don’t become an astrophysicist, or at least your mother isn’t. But if your son doesn’t become a doctor or something good, she is going to worry. So you have more freedom. Females have more freedom.
But the training is basically the same. But everyone as I said has their own predilection to what they emphasize, what they enter. But the point of all of training really is to disrupt the taken‐for‐granted continuity of everyday life so that you can move into a different reality.
And where is this other reality? There’s a position of the assemblage point that is very close to that of everyday life, the twin position, and that amalgamates a twin reality, a different reality. And you enter it by energizing your double, the assemblage point that governs the energetic body.
And sorcerers maintain that the universe is really braids of perception. It’s like a braid that folds in upon itself and each braid is complete; it’s a bubble; it’s a reality in itself.
We were born into one of those bubbles, but that braid continues and there’s a certain area where it overlaps with another reality. Or at least if you break through that barrier, the wall of fog that they talk about, it overlaps and that can slip out. So that’s the first place that sorcerers, dreamers enter. And there you find yourself very naturally, very harmoniously, in a separate reality, a different reality.
Women can enter that very easily. They have no problem at all. So there is the advantage of really being female. And Don Juan and the sorcerers say that the universe, the whole universe, is female. The female energy, it can match other areas of the universe easier than a male energy that is rigid and incapable of relinquishing control ‐‐ but because men are thought to be in control and command of any situation. So it’s very difficult for them to let go, to give up, to accept, to be taken into some of these other realms, whereas it’s much easier for females to do this.
John: Am I limiting the perspective of the sorcerers by asking these things in terms of phrasing the questions in a feminist perspective, Taisha, within the context of sorcery and being a woman, the benefits that you acquire from sorcery?
Taisha: It’s a valid question. Sometimes we’re asked that and then we say, well, if you ‐‐ it’s like being in a store, an expensive store, where the salesperson comes up, and you ask how much is this suit and he says well, if you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it. So sometimes we think that, well, if you have to ask why even do this or get involved in it, then it’s really not for you.
But it’s a valid question because we, from our position of the assemblage point, we do ask, well, what’s in it for me, why do it. We’re grown up to have merchant mentalities, merchant minds to see the value of something. So in that respect there is an immediate value in sorcery and you would experience it by doing it.
And you can really approach this question two ways. One is by looking at do I want to stay at this particular position of the assemblage point into which I was born, into this reality. And most people would answer that there is something not quite right with it. The modality of our day is, according to the sorcerers, is really deteriorating. It’s on a downhill course, heading for destruction.
Generally speaking, and also individually in terms of our own well‐being. There’s a list of hundreds of diseases that could attack us any moment and guaranteed one of them is going to get us in the end because we are all destined to die unless we practice sorcery. And sorcerers say that by moving the assemblage point, entering some of these other realities, your awareness remains intact and you escape this inevitable physical death that is really inevitable only from a position of the assemblage point.
And they can say that because the physical body is something that is closely tied or limited to our perception of reality. You change that perception of reality and by the same token you’re changing the perception of your physical body and you’re activating other aspects of your total potentiality. The physical body that’s going to be ravaged by disease and death is only really a consequence of the position of the assemblage point.
So we have a feeling, every one of us has a feeling, that there is something more out there, that they wish they could do this. They wish they could be different. They wish they could have more energy but immediately what we do is we interpret that desire, that longing, that intuitive knowledge. We translate that into human terms, like I wish I could get a better job; I wish I could have a better relationship or more intense relationship; I wish things would be different at work or at home. We translate that discontent or whatever or energetic low into control, not really a control but it’s a say in what our destiny is. And as I was coming here, I saw a billboard and it said ‐‐ I’m going to read it to you. It says, most people’s plans for the future always fall a little bit short. And that was the billboard for a mortuary. And I said that’s right; that’s exactly it. I mean, our plans, they always fall short, not just a little bit, I mean way off the mark.
So sorcerers say no, don’t be content with having your plans fall short and grumble and end up in the grave. Sorcerers think big. They think so big that they’re abstractions. They make a leap into the infinite. They leap beyond reality that always makes our expectations fall short, makes us die disappointed, disgruntled or happy, but still dead. It doesn’t matter if you die happy, rich, whatever, you still end up in the same place.
The fate of our parents is waiting for us. And we know that; we see it. We can see them get old, ill, lose the clarity, awareness. So sorcerers offer, through their training, an alternative in that they say no, think, grasp for everything that you can possibly be. Don’t limit yourself to what you have learned and what your language, your linear mode of thinking says that’s all you can be. Because our linear mode, it says it goes from birth and it ends up in death. That’s a linear way of thinking, based on our culture. The modality of your day, which is the super‐rational, linear and heading for destruction.
Sorcerers say, no, don’t accept that. Question, question everything. Even question the facticity that that wall is there. Gaze at it and find out what is that wall. And then you see the energy that makes up the wall and that it’s fluid, that you are fluid as sentient beings; reality is fluid.
I can definitely say that to have energy, to be energetically alive, to be able to utilize your energetic body, to have an alternative, to be clear, sober, is definitely better, superior than to be always in a state of lethargy, confusion, disappointment, or ecstatic highs and then deep lows, of the feeling of being trapped, that many people have by our jobs. They can only escape river rafting down the Colorado.
Sorcerers say no, don’t limit yourself to that kind of escape or drugs or whatever, smoke, cigarettes or sex or whatever. Those are forms of escaping, in a way, the limits of our everyday lives. Sorcerers say no, don’t settle for just crumbs. Take everything. They’re as greedy as can be. They take ‐‐ they want to be alive with the totality of themselves. And everyone has this potential, the opportunity.
But let’s say a sorcerer has the courage to not just wish but to actually put into practice through recapitulating ones life, through letting go of the handful of crumbs that we cling to, letting go so you can pull your hand out so you can see the vastness that is in front of us, to be able to perceive other things that were inconceivable from the point of view of everyday life, absolutely inconceivable, but perfectly valid and agreeable ‐‐ you can reach an agreement ‐‐ from the point of view of sorcerers.
So they journey into the vastness, into ‐‐ what they’re really saying is they’re displacing their assemblage point by storing energy. And all the techniques that are listed, that are described in the books, are really ways of storing energy, because unless you have the energy, you can’t even ‐‐ I mean you can’t even have a good day at work, let alone see your boss as a petty tyrant.
In order to do that you have to stand on a platform of the energetic self and laugh, be able to laugh at what you see around you and see it as controlled folly. Otherwise, you’re forever condemned to see it, to take the world that was given to us as real. And sorcerers say no, it’s not real. They say that there is this possibility and they turn the possibility into pragmatic action.
So they don’t talk about it or theorize it like physicists, philosophers, eastern Oriental philosophers, but they turn it into pragmatic action. And so they say, the impetus they get, they take the techniques that are in the book. We offer them as an opening for anyone that wants to take them. And it’s like we’re casting a ladder and each one of those rungs are something, a technique of not‐doing, as I said before, quieting the internal dialog or recapitulating.
And as you claim it ‐‐ anyone can do these things, and you don’t have to worry about doing them correctly ‐‐ or I don’t know if the breathing is exactly like this. This there is no rule. Look at the books; get what you can; and then trust that your energetic body will guide you, will tell you what to do, and do it.
Don’t get discouraged but you just do it. And the more you do, the more you see the validity of what sorcery is and what we’re talking about. You’ll see it for yourself and you’ll also, of course, see the utility because you’re not going to feel those pangs of disappointment that ravage you whenever something goes wrong. All of a sudden you feel light like the burden has been lifted off your shoulders.
You’ll see the advantage daily as you practice some of these techniques. The sorcerers have a saying. There is a song, a Mexican tune called “Valentina”. And in it there is a line that says if you’re going to die tomorrow, you may as well die today. And so that’s what motivates sorcerers. They know we’re going to die. I mean from the point of view of everyday life, that’s all that awaits us. So you may as well take that leap and die now and then you’ll find yourself in another realm and you’ll see that alternatives are waiting for you, for your bewilderment and for your delight.
John: Taisha, in terms of being in the Judeo‐Christian context there is a myth how the world originated, how the universe and life originated and how it will end in terms of a son of God coming back and a new heaven. Is there any concern with the origins of life within sorcery, where life is going in terms of humanity? How would a sorcerer address that?
Taisha: That’s a very powerful question from the point of view of everyday life because, of course, we are concerned as to what our future will be. Every culture has its own myths as to how the world was created. And some cultures have like six, seven periods of destruction and the world was recreated and now we’re in the fifth sun, different cycles. These are myths that are valid within each cultural framework to try to explain the course of humanity, where humanity is going.
But from the point of view of sorcerers, sorcery is really concerned with where the individual is going rather than the abstraction called culture or humanity, society, because as we all know, these things are made up of individual people and society isn’t going to go anywhere that people aren’t going to go. So sorcerers are concerned with the fate of individual beings, as people specifically.
And all these books were written, really, as a guideline so that any individual person who wishes to alter his fate, let’s say, or have a chance to escape the natural course of evolution, whatever it may be. Sorcerers really don’t speculate that much as to where it’s going in the future. They don’t spend their time prognosticating what the future will hold because they are concerned with activating their energy body so that they can maintain their awareness no matter where they find themselves.
Future, past, this linear way of thinking, doesn’t really apply to the sorcerer’s world. But you can think of it in the terms that wherever a sorcerer is, he is going to be there with the totality of himself, energetically intact, which means there’s no concern as to what happened in some past because there is no past. He has recapitulated his life and he regrouped that energy to move in the immediate present.
And the ancient sorcerers used to have a different conception more in tune with the myths of different cultures, that there is a future time or a past time, a dreaming time. And we, our anthropologists at least, talk about a dreaming time. And they think of it as a maybe vague time in a chronological past prior to written documents. Or in China we have the yellow emperor and his mythical kingdom, or prior to him there were four mythical emperors and we think of it in terms of a linear progression or, I mean, a linear movement backwards to some unknown point. But that’s again thinking in linear terms.
This is very easy to think that way and then, if you do, you come up with worries as to what will the future hold. But a sorcerer and everything I’ve said so far really, using the phenomenological perspective of expanding perception and of realizing that space and time are really a question of intentionality that we have encoded in our bodies so that we’re incapable of perceiving just generally, but we have to perceive an object. And that object already has its future and its past by the mere fact that we’re perceiving this reality.
Sorcerers, when they disrupt these taken‐for‐granted concepts, they also disrupt the idea that there is some future out there waiting for us. No, nothing is waiting. If there is anything waiting for us, it’s that shark‐infested water after we jump off Alcatraz. And what’s in that water are, first of all, inorganic beings. There is other entities besides sentient human beings in the universe at large.
Dreamers go into realms or layers, not temporal or spatial layers, but just layers, energetic layers. The more energy you have, the more you move and transform yourself. But you’re not moving in space and time the way the ancient sorcerers believed. They had an old different model of what takes place. They thought you were actually physically descending into the earth into different layers or you were ascending into seven layers in the sky. And this is also a model, sort of an eastern model of Buddhism where you have different layers of saints and holy personages, and then you come down to man and have the demons. Everything is layered. That is a linear model.
The ancient sorcerers used to think, yes, you descend into these other murky depths. But sorcerers have realized that this is not the way the reality is. It’s a question of energy, energetically transforming whatever is in front of you. So you don’t move at all. You just ‐‐ everything moves at the same time. So it’s not you’re here and something else is there. There’s no here and there. They dissolved that right off. I learned to dissolve that in the trees.
We are always here now, in other words, but the here and the now is not always the same. I mean that’s where stalking comes in. Stalkers find out what is this here, what does this now consist of, of this new dream position. And it’s always changing, but we’re always here now.
Sorcery has many contradictions, seeming contradictions, because our rational minds can’t conceive this. The concern then is not the fate of the world or humanity, because they see ‐‐ as I said, reality of everyday life is in just one, let’s say, a hair of a braid. And sorcerers want to move elsewhere. But whatever happens after they moved is no longer their concern energetically.
In terms of the fate of earth ‐‐ we can look at it in terms of astronomy. They tell us we find galaxies, total constellations of vast, vast, an unending universe, let’s say, and each one is a world in its own. So the fate of one speck of dust isn’t going to make any difference from the perspective of the whole.
And what sorcerers do is they take the grand perspective. It’s going to mean a lot if we’re here and an earthquake hits us or the nuclear bomb drops on top of us. It will mean a great deal to us but we won’t be around to mourn, but from a broad perspective, if a sorcerer has moved away, those contingencies no longer enter into his stalkers world. But the concern there is that every individual can move away and explore his potential.
So this isn’t an unhumanistic statement, because on the other hand, they contradict themselves and are very concerned and they say we’ve written these books so in case there’s someone else who might be interested so they could grab hold of this ladder and experience some of these things.
Once the sorcerer moves away from the reality of everyday life, his interaction with his fellow man changes. And so we can address for a moment how he sees society ‐‐ not society at large, although sorcerers do make statement as to the modality of our day and they see that there are certain tendencies. They call it the “poor baby” syndrome that characterizes the modality of our times, but that is again related to the individual. The individual and everything we do or say or expect, we always turn it back so self reflection as to “poor baby, me” ‐ what is going to help me. That is the modality of time. But it’s an expression of an individual practice of what people actually do.
When a sorcerer moves away, he moves away from the concern of the self. He actually moves to a position the stalkers call of ruthlessness or detachment. And as he detaches himself, what he’s really doing, he’s no longer able to have this intersubjectivity with his fellow man. And that’s why it’s difficult for him to interact with people because people cannot read upon a sorcerer their expectations.
They think he’s weird, there is something wrong. He is coming from somewhere they don’t know where, and that is true. He is coming from somewhere other than from where they are. So the intersubjectivity, the possibility for communication, breaks down.
So if a sorcerer has to remain in the world with people, the only way he can do this is through what they call controlled folly, through stalking himself and others, through seeing everything as energy, as having no deep ultimate significance of human meaning, of concern, because all that comes from really a concern with the self.
A sorcerer no longer has a self to worry about and he can no longer be intersubjective in the sense of matching that self‐concern. And other people can’t read the self‐concern in him as they do in themselves, so they see there is something strange. They don’t have that looking glass, that mirror, they can see themselves in.
So a sorcerer can only interact in terms of controlled folly. And Don Juan, that’s how he interacted with people, all of the members of the sorcery group. Now that’s how we interact. Carlos Castaneda rarely sees people at all, because there comes a point where you move so far away from the assemblage point of everyday life that you no longer have any interest in anything of the daily world in interacting with people. And neither do you have the interest but you’re almost physically incapable of or you would frighten the person if you suddenly would appear in the room because what happens when you move your assemblage point, you’re activating, as I said, your energy body and it can disappear from the everyday realm. So as a sorcerer moves away, he moves away from, quote, the reality of everyday life. He essentially becomes invisible.
And that’s the stalkers training. We become more and more invisible until there comes a time when we can walk down the street, if that’s still there, and nobody will see us, because we have quieted the internal dialog that keeps reaffirming that I am in the world; I am so and so; I am such and such a person; I am me, you know. That concern has been placed off and you’ve used the energy to actually enter a different reality. And you find yourself, one day, very harmoniously in another realm where there’s people but these people are not the people of the everyday life.
You have moved into another braid of that universe of awareness and there’s other things there. It’s not void. It’s not that okay, this reality of everyday life into which we were born and there’s nothing. That’s what we would sort of like to think, or there’s heaven or hell out there elsewhere. But that’s really part of our own linear thinking. But then for the eastern people say that okay, there is void, there is nothing.
No there’s an infinite number of fibers, of energetic fibers of awareness that you can experience empirically. And you see other things. Dreamers go into realms and realms of other universes where there’s different planetary configurations, other dogs, animals with three legs, all kinds of organic forms that aren’t found in this reality. They have a table of elements, the periodic table of elements, different elements than in this realm that aren’t known to our physicists and chemists. And those things make up different combinations of things. So a stalker, when his position of the assemblage point has shifted, he starts to stalk and describe this other reality.
Carlos Castaneda has spent a great deal of his time, lately, dreaming and exploring some of these other areas. That’s why he is not in the realm of everyday life. He will have a book coming out on the gates of dreaming, and describing the actual procedures, how to get out of the reality of everyday life and into some of these other realms (The Art of Dreaming). So that’s what sorcerers do. But the reality of everyday life loses its importance.
John: If you could briefly state your position or stage right now in the process of sorcery, how you intertwine the writer with ‐‐ I am assuming primarily, predominantly an oral tradition of sorcery in terms of obtaining knowledge. So anything you would like to, Taisha, in terms of summarizing where you are as a writer, where it’s going, your path of knowledge, where you are now and any other notes that you have.
Taisha: I can talk a little bit about writing, how these books are written or how I wrote my books. As you can tell, it deals with the very beginning stages of my training and so it took me years and years to write this. And why is it coming out now after so much time has elapsed. And the reason there is that because we don’t ‐‐ and I’m speaking for myself, Florinda Donner, Carol Tiggs who have books printed.
We don’t really write them the way people would write books in a linear fashion doing research and writing down the information or fictitiously imagining characters, outlining plot line and then coming up with their story. So we don’t write in either of those fashions because our works aren’t really written from the rational mind in the linear mode from the point of view of everyday life. They come from another position of the assemblage point. And everything that we’ve learned, all the training, at least most of the training that we have undergone, took place at a different position of the assemblage point.
Emilito who taught me, who was my second teacher and who really trained me in stalking, well he did not exist in the world of everyday life. So the bulk of my training came from a dream position. And that’s why I started, when I started this talk, talked to you, I said that Taisha Abelar is really a dream position, that she wasn’t born into the world of everyday life.
Whatever Taisha Abelar is and whatever I can say to you now is coming from elsewhere, from another position. And the energy that it took to not only experience whatever happened or whatever took place ‐‐ and then you needed a second layer of energy to be able to remember them, because there is much, much that happened in areas that I have no recollection. So my task now is to go back to them.
And the more energy I store, the more I can recollect and bring those things to the surface so that I can write them.
And in a way, what we’re doing is translation of something that’s always here and now, circular, a different layer, energetic layer. We’re translating it in a linear mode to the best of our ability through speaking, which is linear, and through writing.
So our books then are a translation of what our experiences were so that we can present them coherently. And there again was the importance of an academic education so that there was a root, a foundation, that I could now use and rely and not just say oh, this is fantastic. I mean, I saw fantastic things, I can’t even talk about, because, when you are seeing those things, you cannot talk, believe me.
And when I think about them now, every so often I get tongue tied if I really start to move my assemblage point back. I’m holding it now throughout this whole conversation at a certain position because of my stalkers training and only because of my stalkers training.
The minute I leave here, my assemblage point is moving elsewhere. Believe me, I’m going to go back where I came from, the here and now of another reality. And there I won’t be able to speak in this fashion. So while this short time that I’m here, what I wanted to do is really to be able to convey and express to whoever is interested in understanding some of these concepts, the very difficult and yet very simple concept of what sorcery is.
And our books have the same purpose of trying to open this knowledge to the public because we really don’t have apprentices. The rule that governed Don Juan’s circle, his group, no longer holds.
The few people that were trained by him were trained in total fluidity and total sobriety so that we would be able to move our assemblage points from multiple, multiple positions with fluidity and with total consciousness and awareness and sobriety. And eventually we will move into total freedom where we won’t be held in any one particular place. It will be so fluid that wherever the powers take us, the power of intent, that there that is where we are anything to end up.
John: Speaking with Taisha Abelar, her book The Sorcerers’ Crossing, A Woman’s Journey. Taisha, thank you for taking time to speak with KPFK.
Taisha: Okay. It was my pleasure to be here.
John: This interview with Taisha Abelar took place February of this year at the office of Toltec Artists Incorporated in Los Angeles.
Copyright 1993 KPFK RADIO