(The Sorcerers’ Crossing by Taisha Abelar)
After more than eight months of faithfully practicing the recapitulation, I was able to do it all day long without fretting or becoming distracted.
One day, while I was visualizing the buildings where I attended the last year of high school, the classrooms, and the teachers I had, I became so involved in going down the aisles and seeing where my classmates sat, that I ended up talking to myself.
“If you talk to yourself, you can’t breathe correctly,” I heard a man’s voice say. I was so startled that I bumped my head against the cave wall.
I opened my eyes, and the image of the classroom faded as I turned to look at the cave’s entrance. Outlined against the opening, I saw a man squatting.
I immediately knew that he was the master sorcerer; the man I had once seen in the hills.
He wore the same green windbreaker and trousers, but this time I could see his profile. He had a prominent nose and a mildly sloping forehead.
“Don’t stare,” I heard the master sorcerer say. His voice was low, and rumbled like a stream over gravel:
“If you want to learn more about breathing, remain very quiet and regain your equilibrium.”
I continued taking deep breaths until his presence no longer frightened me, and I became, instead, relieved that I was finally making his acquaintance.
He sat down cross-legged at the cave entrance, and leaned in the way Clara always did. “Your movements are too jerky,” he said in a low murmur. “Breathe like this.”
He inhaled deeply as he gently turned his head to the left.
Then he exhaled thoroughly as he smoothly turned his head to the right.
Finally, he moved his head from his right shoulder to the left and back to the right again without breathing, and then back to the center.
I copied his movements inhaling and exhaling as completely as I could.
“That’s more like it,” he said. “When exhaling, throw out all the thoughts and feelings you are reviewing.
“Don’t just turn your head with your neck muscles. Guide it with the invisible energy lines from your midsection.”
“Enticing those lines to come out is one of the accomplishments of the recapitulation.”
He explained that just below the navel was a key center of power, and that all body movements, including one’s breathing, had to engage this point of energy.
He suggested I synchronize the rhythm of my breathing with the turning of my head, so that together they could entice the invisible energy lines from my abdomen to extend outward into infinity.
“Are those lines a part of my body or am I to imagine them?” I asked.
He shifted his position on the ground before answering.
He said, “Those invisible lines are a part of your soft body; your double.”
“The more energy you entice out by manipulating those lines, the stronger your double will become.” “What I wanted to know was, are they real or just imaginary?”
“When perception expands, nothing is real and nothing is imaginary,” he said. “There is only perception.”
“Close your eyes and find out for yourself.”
I didn’t want to shut my eyes. I wanted to see what he was doing in case he made any sudden moves. But, my body grew limp and heavy, and my eyes began to droop shut in spite of my efforts to keep them open.
“What is the double?” I managed to ask before I drifted off into a drowsy stupor.
“That’s a good question,” he said. “It means that a part of you is still alert and listening.”
I sensed him take a deep breath and inflate his chest.
After slowly exhaling, he said, “The physical body is a covering; a container, if you will. By concentrating on your breathing, you can make the solid body dissolve so that only the soft, ethereal part is left.”
He corrected himself, saying that it is not that the physical body dissolves, but that by changing the fixation of our awareness we begin to realize that it was never solid in the first place.
This realization, he said, is the exact reversal of what took place as we matured.
As infants, we were totally aware of our double. As we grew up, we learned to put increasingly more emphasis on the physical side and less on our ethereal being.
As adults we are completely unaware that our soft side exists.
He explained, “The soft body is a mass of energy. Usually, we are aware only of its hard, outer casing.
“We become aware of our ethereal side by allowing our intent to shift back to it.”
He stressed that our physical body is inseparably linked with its ethereal counterpart, but that link has been clouded over by our thoughts and feelings which are focused exclusively on our physical body.
In order to shift our awareness from our hard appearance to its fluid counterpart, we must first dissolve the barrier that separates the two aspects of our being.
I wanted to ask him how that could be done, but I found it impossible to voice my thoughts.
“The recapitulation helps to dissolve our preconceptions,” he said, answering me, “but it takes skill and concentration to reach the double.”
“Right now you are using your ethereal part to some extent. You are half asleep, but some part of you is awake and alert. It can hear me and sense my presence.”
He warned me that there is considerable danger involved in releasing the energy that is locked within us, because the double is vulnerable and can easily become injured in the process of shifting our awareness to it.
He cautioned me, “You can inadvertently create an opening in the ethereal net and lose vast amounts of energy; precious energy that is necessary to maintain a certain level of clarity and control in your life.”
“What is that ethereal net?” I mumbled, as if talking in my sleep.
“The ethereal net is the luminosity that surrounds the physical body,” he explained:
“This web of energy gets torn to shreds during daily living. Huge portions of it become lost or entwined in other people’s bands of energy.”
“If a person loses too much vital force, he becomes ill or dies.”
His voice had lulled me so thoroughly that I was breathing from my stomach as if in a deep sleep. I had slumped against the side of the cave, but I didn’t feel its hard walls.
“Breathing works on both the physical and ethereal levels,” he explained, “it repairs any damage in the ethereal net and keeps it strong and pliant.”
I wanted to ask something about my recapitulation, but I couldn’t formulate the words; they seemed so far away.
Without my asking, he again supplied the answer.
“This is what you’ve been doing for the past months with your recapitulation.
“You are retrieving filaments of your energy from your ethereal net that have become lost or entangled as a result of your daily living.
“By focusing on that interaction, you are pulling back all that you dispersed over twenty years and in thousands of places.”
I wanted to ask him whether the double had a specific shape or, color. I was thinking of auras.
He didn’t reply.
After a long silence, I forced my eyes open and saw that I was alone in the cave.
I strained to peer through the dark to the light at the opening where I had first seen him outlined against the entrance.
I suspected that he had slipped away and was waiting nearby for me to crawl out. As I looked, a bright patch of light appeared, hovering about two feet from me.
The illusion startled me, yet at the same time it enthralled me so that I couldn’t turn my eyes away.
I had the irrational certainty that the light was alive, conscious and aware that my attention was focused on it.
Suddenly the glowing sphere expanded to twice its size and became encircled by an intense purple ring.
Frightened, I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping that the light would disappear so I could leave the cave without passing through it.
My heart pounded loudly in my chest and I was perspiring. My throat was dry and constricted. With great effort, I slowed down my breathing.
When I opened my eyes, the light had vanished.
I was tempted to explain away the entire event as a dream, for I often dozed off during my recapitulation, but the memory of the master sorcerer and what he had said was so vivid that I was almost certain it all had been real.
Cautiously I crawled out of the cave, put on my shoes and took the shortcut to the house. Clara was standing by the living room door as if she were expecting me.
Panting, I blurted out that I had either just spoken with the master sorcerer or I had had a most vivid dream about him.
She smiled and pointed with a subtle movement of her chin to the armchair.
My mouth fell open: There he was; the same man who had been with me in the cave only minutes before, except that he was wearing different clothes. Now he had on a gray cardigan sweater, a sports shirt and tailored trousers.
He was much older than I thought, but also much more vital.
It was impossible for me to tell his age; he may have been forty or seventy. He appeared to be extremely strong, and neither lean nor corpulent. He was dark, and looked Indian. He had a prominent nose, a strong mouth, a square chin and sparkling black eyes, which had the same intense look I had seen in the cave. All of these features were accentuated by a thick, lustrous crop of white hair.
The remarkable effect of his hair was that it didn’t turn him into an old man, as white hair ordinarily does. I remembered how old my father looked when his hair turned silver and how he covered it with dyes and hats; all to no avail because old age was in his face, in his hands, in his whole body.
“Taisha, let me introduce you. This is Mr. John Michael Abelar,” Clara said to me.
The man politely stood up and extended his hand. “Very glad to meet you, Taisha,” he said in perfect English as he gave my hand a strong shake.
I wanted to ask him what he was doing here, and how he had changed his clothes so fast; and whether or not he had really been in the cave.
A dozen other questions ran through my mind, but I was too shocked and intimidated to ask any of them.
I pretended to be calm and not nearly as unsettled as I was.
I commented on how well he spoke English, and how clearly he had expressed himself when he talked to me in the cave.
“It’s nice of you to say so,” he said, with a disarming smile. “But I ought to speak English well. I’m a Yaqui Indian. I was bom in Arizona.”
“Do you live in Mexico, Mr. Abelar?” I asked awkwardly. “Yes. I live in this house,” he replied. “I live here with Clara.”
He looked at her in a way I could only describe as sheer affection.
I didn’t know what to say. I felt self-conscious, embarrassed for some unknown reason.
“We are not man and wife,” Clara said, as if to put me at ease, and at that both of them broke out laughing.
Rather than lightening things up, their laughter made me feel even more self-conscious. Then to my dismay, I recognized the emotion I was feeling: It was pure jealousy.
In an inexplicable possessive impulse, I felt that he belonged to me. I tried to conceal my embarrassment by quickly asking some trivial questions. “Have you lived in Mexico for a long time?”
“Yes, I have,” he said.
“Are you planning to return to the United States?”
He fixed me with his fierce eyes, then smiled and said in a charming way, “Those details are unimportant, Taisha.
“Why don’t you ask me about the topic we discussed in the cave? Was anything unclear?”
At Clara’s suggestion, we sat down; Clara and I on the sofa, and Mr. Abelar on the winged chair. I asked him if he would tell me more about the double. The concept interested me enormously.
“Some persons are masters of the double,” he began. “They can not only focus their awareness on it but also spur it into action.
“The majority of us, however, are scarcely aware that our ethereal side exists.” “What does the double do?” I asked.
“Anything we want it to do. It can jump over trees, or fly through the air, or become large or small, or take the shape of an animal; or it can become aware of people’s thoughts, or become a thought and hurl itself in an instant over vast distances.”
“It can even act like the self,” Clara interjected, looking straight at me:
“If you know how to use it, you can appear in front of someone and talk to him as if you were really there.”
Mr. Abelar nodded. “In the cave, you were able to perceive my presence with your double. “It was only when your reason woke up that you doubted that your experience had been real.” “I’m still doubting,” I said. “Were you really there?”
“Of course,” he replied with a wink, “as much as I’m really here.”
For a moment I wondered if I was dreaming now, but my reason assured me I couldn’t possibly be. Just to make certain, I touched the table. It felt solid.
“How did you do it?” I asked, leaning back on the sofa.
Mr. Abelar was silent for a moment as if choosing his words. “I let go of my physical body and allowed my double to take over,” he said:
“If our awareness is tied to the double, we are not affected by the laws of the physical world; rather, we are governed by ethereal forces.
“But as long as awareness is tied to the physical body, our movements are limited by gravity and other constraints.”
I still didn’t understand if that meant that he could be in two places at once. He seemed to sense my confusion.
“Clara tells me you are interested in martial arts,” Mr. Abelar said. “The difference between the average person and an expert in kung fu is that the latter has learned to control his soft body.”
“My karate teachers used to tell me the same,” I said. “They insisted that martial arts trained the soft side of the body, but I could never understand what they meant.”
“What they probably meant was that when an expert practitioner attacks, he strikes the vulnerable points of his enemy’s soft body,” he said:
“It’s not the power of the physical body that is destructive, but the opening he makes in his enemy’s ethereal body.
“He can hurl into that opening a force that rips through the ethereal net to cause major damage.
“A person may receive what seems at the time only a gentle hit, but hours or perhaps days later, the person may die from that blow.”
“That’s right,” Clara agreed. “Don’t be fooled by the outward movements or by what you see. It’s what you don’t see that counts.”
From my karate teachers, I had often heard similar tales.
When I had asked them how those feats were performed, they couldn’t give me a coherent explanation.
I had thought at the time that it was because my teachers were Japanese and couldn’t express such intricacies of thought in English.
Now Mr. Abelar was explaining something similar, and although his command of English was perfect, I still couldn’t understand what he meant by the soft body or the double, and how to tap its mysterious powers.
I wondered if Mr. Abelar was a martial artist, but before I could ask him, he continued. “True martial artists, as Clara has described them to me from her training in China, are interested in mastering the control of their soft body,” he said:
“The double is controlled not by our intellect but by our intent. “There is no way to think about it or to understand it rationally.
“It has to be felt, for it is linked to some luminous lines of energy crisscrossing the universe.”
He touched his head and pointed upward. “For instance, a line of energy that extends up from the top of the head gives the double its purpose and direction.
“That line suspends and pulls the double whichever way it wants to go.
“If it wants to go up, all it has to do is to intend up. If it wants to sink into the ground, it just intends down. It’s that simple.”
At that point Clara asked me whether I remembered what she had told me in the garden the day we were doing the sun breathing exercises: how the crown of the head always needed to be protected.
I told her I remembered very clearly- ever since then, I was afraid to leave the house without a hat. She then asked me if I was able to follow what Mr. Abelar was saying.
I assured her that I was having no trouble understanding him even though I didn’t comprehend the concepts; and paradoxically, I found what he was saying incomprehensible, yet also familiar and believable.
Clara nodded and said that was so because he was directly addressing a part of me that was not quite rational and had the ability to grasp things directly, especially if a sorcerer spoke to it directly.
What Clara said was true.
There was something about Mr. Abelar that put me even more at ease than Clara did.
It wasn’t his polite and soft-spoken manner, but something in the intensity of his eyes that forced me to listen and follow his explanations, despite the fact that rationally they seemed nonsensical.
I heard myself asking questions as if I knew what I was talking about. “Would I be able to reach my soft body some day?” I asked Mr. Abelar. “The question is, Taisha, do you want to reach it?”
For a moment I hesitated.
From my recapitulation, I had found out that I’m complacent and cowardly, and that my first reaction is to avoid anything that is too troublesome or frightening.
But I also had an intense curiosity to experience things out of the ordinary, and as Clara had once told me, I possessed a certain reckless daring.
“I’m very curious about the double,” I said, “so I definitely do want to get to it.” “At any price?”
“Anything short of selling my body,” I said lamely.
At that they both burst out laughing so hard I thought they were going to convulse right there on the floor.
I hadn’t meant to be facetious either, for in truth, I wasn’t certain what secret plans they had for me.
As if sensing my train of thought, Mr. Abelar said that it was time to acquaint me with certain premises of their world. He straightened up and assumed a serious demeanor.
“The involvements of men and women are no longer our concern,” he said. “That means we are not interested in man’s morality, immorality or even amorality. All our energy is poured into exploring new paths.”
“Can you give me an example of a new path, Mr. Abelar?” I asked. “Certainly. How about the task you are engaged in; the recapitulation?
The reason I’m talking to you now is because by means of the recapitulation you have stored enough energy to break certain physical boundaries.
You have perceived, if only for an instant, inconceivable things that are not part of your normal inventory, to use Clara’s terminology.”
I warned him, “My normal inventory is pretty weird.
“I’m beginning to see from recapitulating the past that I was crazy. In fact, I still am crazy. “The proof of it is that I’m here and I can’t tell if I’m awake or dreaming.”
At that they both burst out laughing again as if they were watching a comedy program and the comedian had just dropped his punchline.
“I know very well how crazy you are,” Mr. Abelar said with a note of finality, “but not because you’re here with us.
“More than crazy, you’re indulgent. Nevertheless, since the day you came here, contrary to what you might think, you haven’t indulged as much as you had in the past.
“So in all fairness, I’d say that some of the things Clara tells me you did, like entering what we call the shadows’ world wasn’t indulging or being crazy.
“It was a new path; something unnamed and unimaginable from the point of view of the normal world.”
A long silence followed that made me fidget uneasily.
I wanted to say something to break the spell, but I couldn’t think of anything. What made it worse was that Mr. Abelar kept giving me sideward glances.
Then he whispered something to Clara and they both laughed softly; irritating me no end because there was no doubt in my mind they were laughing at me.
“Maybe I’d better go to my room,” I said, getting up. “Sit down, we’re not through yet,” Clara said.
“You have no idea how much we appreciate your being here with us,” Mr. Abelar said all of a sudden. “We find you humorous because you are so eccentric.
“Soon you will meet another member of our party; someone who is as eccentric as you are, but much older.
“Seeing you reminds us of her when she was young; that’s why we laugh. Please forgive us.” I hated being laughed at, but his apology was so genuine that I accepted it.
Mr. Abelar resumed talking about the double as if nothing else had been said.
“As we let go of our ideas of the physical body, little by little or all at once,” he said, “awareness begins to shift to our soft side.
“In order to facilitate this shift, our physical side must remain absolutely still, suspended as if it were in deep sleep.
“The difficulty lies in convincing our physical body to cooperate, for it rarely wants to give up its control.”
“How do I let go of my physical body, then?” I asked.
“You fool it,” he said. “You let your body feel as if it were sound asleep. You deliberately quiet it by removing your awareness from it.
“When your body and mind are at rest, your double wakes up and takes over.”
“I don’t think I follow you,” I said.
Clara snapped, “Don’t play the devil’s advocate with us, Taisha. You must have done this in the cave. In order for you to have perceived the nagual, you must have used your double. You were asleep and yet aware at the same time.”
What caught my attention in Clara’s statement was the way she had spoken of Mr. Abelar: She had called him ‘the nagual.’
I asked her what that word meant.
“John Michael Abelar is the nagual,” she said proudly. “He is my guide; the source of my life and well-being.
“He is not my man by any stretch of the imagination and yet he is the love of my life. “When he is all that for you, he’ll then be the nagual for you also.
“In the meantime, he’s Mr. Abelar, or even John Michael.”
Mr. Abelar laughed, as if Clara had said those things only in jest, but Clara held my gaze long enough to let me know that she had meant every word of it.
The silence that followed was finally broken by Mr. Abelar.
“In order to activate the soft body, you have to first open certain body centers that function like gates,” he continued:
“When all the gates are open, your double can emerge from its protective covering. “Otherwise, it will forever remain encased within its outer shell.”
He asked Clara to get a mat out of the closet.
He spread it on the floor and told me to lie face up with my arms at my sides. “What are you going to do to me?” I asked suspiciously.
“Not what you think,” he snapped.
Clara giggled. “Taisha is really wary of men,” she explained to Mr. Abelar.
“It hasn’t done her any good,” he replied, making me feel utterly self-conscious.
Then, facing me, he explained he was going to show me a simple method for shifting awareness from my physical body to the ethereal net that surrounds it.
“Lie down and close your eyes, but don’t fall asleep,” he ordered.
Embarrassed, I did as he asked, feeling strangely vulnerable lying down in front of them.
He knelt down beside me and spoke in a soft voice. “Imagine lines extending out from the sides of your body, beginning at your feet,” he said.
“What if I can’t imagine them?”
“If you want to, you certainly can,” he said. “Use all your strength to intend the lines into existence.”
He elaborated that it was not really imagining those lines that was involved, but rather a mysterious act of pulling them out from the side of the body, beginning at the toes and continuing all the way up to the top of the head.
He said that I should also feel lines emanating from the soles of my feet going downward and wrapping around the length of my body to the back of my head; and also other lines that radiated from my forehead upward and downward, along the front of my body to my feet, thus forming a net or a cocoon of luminous energy.
“Practice this until you can let go of your physical body and can place your attention at will on your luminous net,” he said. “Eventually, you’ll be able to cast and sustain that net with a single thought.”
I tried to relax. I found his voice soothing. It had a mesmerizing quality. At times it seemed to come from very close, and at other times from far away.
He cautioned me that if there was a place in my body where the net felt tight or where it was difficult to stretch the lines out or where the lines recoiled, that was the place where my body was weak or injured.
“You can heal those parts by allowing the double to spread out the ethereal net,” he said. “How do I do that?”
He replied, “By intending it, but not with your thoughts. Intend it with your intent, which is the layer beneath your thoughts.
“Listen carefully: Look for it beneath the thoughts; away from them.
“Intent is so far away from thoughts that we can’t talk about it: We can’t even feel it, but we can certainly use it.”
I couldn’t even conceive how to intend with my intent.
Mr. Abelar said that I shouldn’t have too much difficulty casting my net because for the past few months, unknowingly, I had been projecting just such ethereal lines during my recapitulation.
He suggested that I begin by concentrating on my breathing.
After what seemed to be hours, during which time I must have dozed off once or twice, I could eventually feel an intense tingling heat in my feet and head.
The heat expanded to form a ring encircling my body lengthwise.
In a soft voice, Mr. Abelar reminded me that I should focus my attention on the heat outside my body and try to stretch it out, pushing it out from within and allowing it to expand.
I focused on my breathing until all the tension in me vanished.
As I relaxed even more, I let the tingling heat find its own course.
It didn’t move outward or expand; it contracted instead, until I felt I was lying on a gigantic balloon, floating in space.
I experienced a moment of panic. My breathing stopped and for an instant I was suffocating. Then something outside of myself took over and began to breathe for me.
Waves of lulling energy surrounded me, expanding and contracting until everything went black and I could no longer focus my awareness on anything.