(The Secret of the Plumed Serpent)
When I told my companions that I had decided to relate part of my experience of living with them in a new book, the Atocayo warned me about the dangers of fame and fortune. He said it was important to watch out lest my intention to help others should become the ultimate objective of my path.
“Many betray the intent of freedom,” he said, “for hope of wealth or desire to be famous, loved and admired by others. The real warrior has an insatiable thirst for freedom and infinite curiosity about everything; he is thus always experimenting and learning. That keeps him on the straight path and makes him humble before this splendour in which we are immersed.
Even when sharing his achievements with others, the warrior does not get bogged down in the mire of personal importance, simply because he has no time to lose. He knows very well that Death is at his heels, urging him to keep experimenting and enjoying the world.”
He also told me I had to be extremely detached if I was planning on facing that challenge, and charged me never to reveal the identities of my companions in my writings.
“Opening up to people has a very high price.” he said, and gave me Carlos as an example.
“Although he was a formidable warrior, he paid with his own life and perhaps even with his freedom for having become accessible.”
He made that comment because, according to some seers who had been in contact with him in the other world, Carlos had adopted ‘the emergency plan’. Once the deterioration of his physical body had begun, he joined the other seers of his lineage in the graveyard of the Naguals.
Carlos had previously touched very briefly on the topic of the graveyard of the Naguals, never completely clarifying the meaning of that elusive concept. I had been waiting long for an opportunity to ask him about it.
That afternoon, after he had finished with his commitments, we met in a restaurant with a few small tables on the pavement. After the meal, we went for a walk to a nearby park. When we got closer, I remained spellbound for a moment, watching water form a transparent dome as it gushed out of a fountain. I had to make a conscious effort to break its allure.
We sat down on a nearby bench and I asked hurriedly:
“Carlos, what is the real goal of sorcerers?”
As he began to speak, I realized I had forgotten my notebook in the restaurant, but I said nothing to Carlos lest I disturb the flow of the ideas he was expounding. In the course of his explanation, he mentioned that don Juan had given him a task the full details of which he did not wish to disclose at that particular time. Finally, he said that, should he fail in his task, his teacher had promised to try and come back from wherever he was to fetch him.
My face must have been showing anxiety because Carlos asked, as if reading my mind:
“Where are your notes?”
I confessed I had left them in the restaurant and asked him for permission to go and get them. I ran back and recovered the notes without any problems. On return, trying to recapture the thread of our conversation, I asked:
“And where do you believe don Juan might be now?”
“I’m sure that he and his warriors have gone to join the other seers of his lineage in the dome of the Naguals.” Seeing my inquisitive look, Carlos added:
“The last time we were together, I saw all of them dissolve into thin air. Don Juan had chosen a mountain top as the place from which to embark on his definitive journey; in that place, I and the other apprentices took our final leave of him.”
“After his departure I remained adrift for years, not knowing whether I was coming or going. Finally I started remembering everything that had transpired, and it took me many more years to be able to understand what I had remembered. Even now, new memories of the time under the Nagual Juan Matus’ tutelage keep cropping up.”
“At one time I was more than confused: can you imagine what it means to have two different memories of the same event? I was on the verge of losing my sanity when finally the answers came; after years of struggle, I managed to establish some order in the chaos of my memories.”
“If you look carefully, you’ll see that in my books I described some events from the point of view of different levels of awareness; I did that because on each level I saw and interpreted differently whatever was happening to me. That is the mystery of heightened awareness. In those moments one lives with such intensity that it takes one years to re-align the memory.”
Carlos reflected in silence for a moment and then went on:
“On one occasion, don Juan took me to a secluded place deep in the mountains and gave me his pipe to smoke. While I was under the power of the smoke, he showed me a colony of red insects. Extraordinary visions that at the time made no sense to me followed: I felt that I was flying towards a gigantic white dome.”
“Later, don Juan explained the meaning of what had happened. The seers of antiquity, he said, had created a refuge in the dreaming world, based on the structural organization of those bugs. He revealed to me that he and his group planned to go there after they left this world.”
I was astonished to hear Carlos say that. Until then, I had believed that his teacher and his party of warriors had gone to the third attention. A thousand questions came to my mind at that instant, but I did not know where to begin. I remained absorbed for a moment, considering the implications of what he had revealed.
Carlos must have noticed my amazement, because he opened his mouth wide in a caricature of my expression. Then he added, smiling:
“I was left gaping, too, when I heard that. Don Juan told me that the ancients had discovered the form of existence created by those insects completely by chance during one of their gazing practices. Having thoroughly observed them, they got so intrigued that they ended up moving their assemblage points to the position of those little bugs, transforming physically into them. Thus they discovered that the social organization created by those beings was perfection itself. Consequently, they built a replica of that structure at a location in the other world.”
I was very interested to know how and when the ancient ones had created that place.
“The sorcerers of antiquity tell that, in their distant past, a very powerful Nagual pair existed; they, it is said, were the founders of our tradition. Those sorcerers were such teachers of dreaming that they managed to teach their art to their entire people. They say that, with time, those people become so skilled at dreaming that, for them, there was no longer any difference between being awake and dreaming; they acted in both realms with equal control. Under the supervision of the Nagual pair, that nation of dreamers managed to recreate their cities inside their visions of collective dreaming and, when the moment came, they chose to go and live in the world of their creation. One day, they simply vanished from the face of the earth.”
Having said that, Carlos kept looking at me as if assessing my reaction. I was fascinated by what he had told me and just wanted him to keep on speaking. After a moment, he continued:
“In the course of time, going to that place became a priority goal for many sorcerers. Whole lineages met up there. The place thus became known for many as ‘the refuge’ or ‘the sanctuary’. As the number of residents increased, their community transformed into an enormous bubble of collective dreaming maintained to this very day by the intent of a large number of sorcerers keeping their assemblage points fixed on that position in unison.”
“Where is that place?”
“They are placed somewhere out there, in that immensity,” he said and gestured with his arm, indicating the infinite space. “Dreamers who travel to that place see it as an enormous white dome.”
“But are they on another planet?”
He smiled slightly before answering.
“As I have told you, they exist in another position of the assemblage point. Over time, they transformed that place into a fantastic base where they accumulated their resources. Taking advantage of their inorganic existence, they venture from there through the entire cosmos, exploring the most incredible possibilities of perception. They can do that because in their condition time passes differently and the known laws of space-time do not apply. That is how they managed to escape the wear and tear of biological existence and are still alive today. Because they’ve managed to link directly with the awareness of the Earth, they can go on existing for near-eternity, as long as our planet exists.”
“And why did they do that?”
“Their goal was to survive at any cost and, to defy death, they chose to transform themselves into a special type of inorganic being. However, aware of the predatory conditions that rule out there, they conspired to create a refuge in the other world.”
Staring fixedly into my eyes, he added:
“You already know that the Universe at large is predatory. Once you pass to the other side, you become subject to its laws and the groups of inorganics that rule there. On many occasions real battles have broken out among them for the awareness of the inhabitants. By creating their ‘hive’, the ancient seers have managed to retain a high level of independence, and even if it does not free them completely from the influence of the inorganic kingdom, at least they are not its slaves.”
The Sorcerers’ Option
Carlos maintained that a ferocious war over awareness was waged throughout the cosmos, in some ways comparable to the petty wars we in our world fought over food and material goods. He said that this tremendous battle to evolve and to prevail raged on all the levels of existence with equal savage intensity. We ourselves fought one another in that selfsame battle at that very moment.
“Aware of the situation, the warrior plans the strategy of his life in the best possible way to avoid wear and tear. By staying alert, the warrior avoids falling victim to attacks, considerably enlarging his energy at the same time.”
On that occasion I asked Carlos to explain to me in more detail the concept he called the sorcerers’ option. From his books I had understood that those who did not achieve total freedom were consumed by the Eagle when they died and that was the end of their story.
“In fact, a large scale of possibilities exists for those who die, ranging from instant loss of awareness at the moment of transition to maintaining the memory of self for a certain period of time. Like life, death touches us all but it is not the same for all. Through their investigations, sorcerers discovered ways of extending the duration of individual awareness to its maximum.”
“Does that mean that they became immortal?”
“Not at all. What I’m saying is that sorcerers managed to find a way of suspending death, not of cancelling it. For them, to die does not have the same meaning it has for ordinary people. For them, the opposite of dying is not immortality, but continued existence. The trick lies in understanding that to be alive does not necessarily mean being an organism; rather, it means being aware. Seers throughout the ages have always been hugely interested in this topic because it has to do with the real purpose of our existence. The ancients used their seeing to investigate it and discovered that energy initially took physical form in order to evolve.
Next, the sorcerers observed that, although biological life lasted a limited period of time after which it ceased to exist, the energy that animated matter was eternal. They saw that it was possible, by means of discipline and self-determination, to train that bundle of energy that forms us to become aware of itself.
Joining their two discoveries together, those sorcerers-seers proposed to remain aware forever. That is what they referred to when they spoke of attaining freedom: what they were really trying to do was prolong the individuality of awareness as much as they could.
Theirs is a phenomenal battle, with the flame of awareness bravely and unceasingly struggling to stay alight. Indeed it is as it has been said, the light of a candle against the glare of a billion stars.”
The Ultimate Manoeuvre
The next time I had the opportunity to speak to Carlos, I said that, having considered what he had told me the last time, I had new questions. He looked at me inquisitively, and arched his eyebrows as if to say “let’s hear them”.
My curiosity had to do with the way of life and the activities of those who had transformed themselves into inorganic entities. I asked Carlos how they had achieved the transformation.
“That is a personal matter,” he replied. “Each lineage has its own goals and its own methods of achieving them. There are sorcerers who have transformed themselves into trees or have buried themselves alive to defy death; other groups believe that body is an obstacle, which is why they free themselves of their physical part at the moment of leaving. Don Juan and his party did not leave even their ashes behind; they left with everything and their sandals. In a most elegant way, they dissolved into thin air.
Warriors of total freedom, on the other hand, merge with the emanations at large and disappear forever, consumed by fire from within. They are never heard of again; theirs is truly a journey of no return.
Some of them believe that it is still possible to preserve the sense of individuality in that condition. Others think that, instead of being total freedom, merging with emanations at large means total death and nothing more. No one knows what really happens. There are few stories about warriors who opted for that final manoeuvre. The Nagual Julian Osorio was one of them.
But the vast majority chooses other, less definitive options, like joining the world of the inorganic beings for example, while knowing full well that their choice implies serious disadvantages, since in that world, like in ours, the individual serves the collective and ends up exchanging the chance of remaining aware for slavery.
Another option, of course, is what I‘ve already told you: to try and reach the Dome of the Naguals. Those who took that option are still alive, but the moment will come when they will have to relinquish awareness and return all the experience they’d acquired to its original owner.
That is why they call the Dome the graveyard of the Naguals: because regardless of how long they manage to survive, one day they will have to die.”
The Nagual’s Plan
During one of our final meetings, Carlos confessed he was feeling a bit sick. Jokingly, he said he was still waiting for the potion I had gone to fetch him years ago. We both had a good laugh, especially when he told me that, at the time he’d phoned me to ask me to get it, he had not even been in Mexico.
Taking advantage of the rare opportunity to talk to him privately, I asked him why he charged for his seminars, knowing full well that he had no need of money. I was aware that even though it was not always apparent, the Nagual had a purpose behind everything he did.
“As you know, in the past, Naguals like me helped entire cities pass to the other side where they still exist today. I didn’t want to make an open commitment to the public, but our goal is to prepare as many warriors, in as short a period of time as possible, to make the crossing. You are the witness, Armando, that for many years I offered my knowledge freely, without charging a fee. However, the circumstances have now changed. The Nagual is a provider, and it is his duty to ensure that the members of his party do not lack anything. On the other hand, there is the decision we made, following omens, to teach don Juan’s legacy of freedom to everyone. That is why currently we charge for the seminars.
When one learns to intend in dreaming, the possibilities are limitless. We wish to create a place in the other world, free of inorganic beings and unburdened by the old sorcerers’ tradition. We look forward to establishing a more democratic place, with fewer ritualistic procedures; a place where individual rights are respected, and most importantly, where no one is anyone’s slave.
We believe it is possible to create a modern version of what the ancient sorcerers accomplished, but according to our own rules. Florinda and the other witches working together are capable of creating what we call the ‘cosmic vagina’, an opening in space-time. Our plan is to leave the world through that passageway.
Many scholars laugh when I say this, just as, in his time, they laughed at Christopher Columbus when he said that the world was round and that unknown civilizations existed on the other side of the ocean.
It is true that the price is high, both in energy and in dispensing with rationality. Yet it is not impossible to pay, so that sorcerers’ experience is placed within everyone’s reach. All that is required is unbending intent of what one seeks.
I know it is supreme audacity on our part, trying to send thousands of warriors to the other world. What a stir that would cause today, with the modern means of communication! Can you imagine? Yes, my critics would believe me then!
Don Juan taught, and I have personally been able to corroborate, that the universe is composed of many layers, or dimensions, if you prefer to call them that. Many possibilities exist. It is truly a shame to waste our entire lives on a single and exclusive world view. There are whole worlds waiting to be explored by the Columbuses of our time, and there are many that are infinite.”