(The Sorcerers’ Crossing by Taisha Abelar)
Weeks went by, then months. I didn’t really pay attention to dates and time. Clara, Manfred and I lived in perfect harmony. Clara had ceased to insult me, or perhaps it was that I had ceased to feel insulted.
I spent all my time recapitulating and practicing kung fu with Clara and with Manfred, who, at one hundred pounds of bone and muscle, was a mighty dangerous opponent.
I was certain that to be rammed with his head was equivalent to being punched by a prize fighter. The one thing that worried me was a contradiction I found difficult to resolve.
While Clara maintained that my energy was unmistakably on the rise because I could now have conversations with Manfred, I believed the opposite was true; that I was slowly going over the deep end.
Whenever Manfred and I were alone, a bond of indescribable affection would possess me.
I actually adored him, and it was this blind feeling of love that created a bridge between us so he could, at times, transmit his thoughts and moods to me.
I knew Manfred’s feelings were simple and direct like a child’s.
He experienced happiness, discomfort, pride in any accomplishment, and fear of everything; which was instantly turned to wrath.
But the traits that I found most admirable in him were his courage and his capacity for compassion. I sensed that he actually felt sorry for Clara for looking like a toad.
With respect to courage, Manfred was unique. His was the courage of an evolved consciousness aware of his imprisonment.
To me, Manfred was alone beyond comprehension, and no one can face that imposed solitude the way he did without possessing peerless courage.
One afternoon, upon returning from the cave, I sat down to rest under the shade of the zapote tree. Manfred came to me and lay across my legs and fell instantly asleep.
Listening to his snoring and feeling his warm weight in my lap made me drowsy.
I must have fallen asleep, because I suddenly woke up from a dream in which I was arguing with my mother over the advantages of not putting the silverware away after washing them.
Mr. Abelar was staring at me with fierce, cold eyes.
His gaze, the posture of his body, his extremely defined features, and his concentration gave me the total impression that he was an eagle. He imbued me with awe and fear.
The temperature and the light had changed. It was almost dark: Twilight shadows had fallen over the patio.
“What happened?” I asked.
“What happened is that Manfred’s got hold of you and is using your energy like a fiend,” he said with a broad smile. “He did the same with me.
“There seems to be a genuine rapport between you two. Try calling him sapito and let’s see if he gets angry.”
“No. I can’t do that,” I said, running my fingers on Manfred’s head. “He’s beautiful and solitary and in no way does he resemble a t-o-a-d.”
I found it absurd that I had actually spelled the word, but something in me didn’t want to risk offending Manfred.
“Toads are also beautiful and solitary,” Mr. Abelar said with a glint.
Spurred by a sudden curiosity, I leaned over to Manfred and whispered in his ear, “Sapito,” having only the best of feelings. Manfred yawned, as if bored with my empathy.
Mr. Abelar laughed. “Let’s go into the house,” he said, “before Manfred saps all your energy. Besides, it’s warmer there.”
I pushed Manfred off my lap and followed Mr. Abelar inside the house.
I sat down very formally in the living room, acutely self-conscious at being alone with a man in a dark, empty house.
Mr. Abelar lit the gasoline lantern, then sat on the sofa a respectable distance away and said, “I understand you wanted to ask me some questions. Now is a good time, so go ahead and ask them.”
For an instant my mind went blank. Being confronted so directly with his intense stare made me lose my composure.
Finally, I asked, “What happened to me the night I met you, Mr. Abelar? Clara felt she couldn’t explain it to me adequately, and I don’t remember much about it.”
“Your double took over,” he said matter-of-factly, “and you lost control of your everyday self.” “What do you mean, I lost control?” I asked, worried. “Did I do anything I shouldn’t have?” “Nothing that you couldn’t tell your mother about,” he chuckled.
His eyes sparkled, full of mischief. “Seriously, Taisha, all you did was to cast your luminous net as far as you were able to. You learned how to rest on that invisible hammock that is actually a part of you. Someday, as you become more adept, you may begin to use its lines to move and alter things.”
“Is the double inside or outside the physical body?” I asked. “That night, it seemed to me that, for a moment, something clearly outside of myself had taken over.”
“It’s both,” Mr. Abelar said. “It is inside and outside the physical body at the same time.
“How can I put it? In order to command it, the part of it that is outside floating freely has to be linked to the energy that is housed inside the physical body.
“The external force is beckoned and held by an unwavering concentration, while the internal energy is released by opening some mysterious gates in and around the body.”
“When the two sides merge, the force that is produced allows one to perform inconceivable feats.”
“Where are those mysterious gates you’re talking about?” I asked, incapable of meeting his gaze directly.
“Some are close to the skin, others are deep inside the body,” Mr. Abelar replied. “There are seven main gates. When they are closed, our inner energy remains locked within the physical body.
“The presence of the double inside us is so subtle that we can go through our entire lives without ever knowing that it is there.
“However, if one is going to release it, the gates must be opened and this is done through the recapitulation and the breathing exercises Clara showed you.”
Mr. Abelar promised that he himself would guide me to deliberately open the first gate after I had successfully accomplished the abstract flight.
He emphasized that in order to open the gates, a complete change of attitude is necessary because our preconceived notion that we are solid is what keeps the double imprisoned rather than any physical structure of the body itself.
“Couldn’t you describe to me where the gates are so I can open them myself?”
He looked at me and shook his head. “To tamper haphazardly with the power behind the gates is foolish and dangerous,” he warned:
“The double must be released gradually; harmoniously. “A prerequisite, however, is that one remains celibate.” “Why is celibacy important?” I asked.
“Didn’t Clara tell you about the luminous worms a man leaves inside a woman’s body?” “Yes,” I said, ill at ease and embarrassed. “But I must confess I didn’t really believe her.”
“That was a mistake,” he said, annoyed. “For without a thorough recapitulation first, you would literally be opening a can of worms. And to have sex would only be adding more fuel to the fire.”
He laughed heartily making me feel ridiculous.
“Seriously, though, storing sexual energy is the first step in the journey toward the ethereal body; the journey into awareness and total freedom.”
Just then, Clara entered the living room wearing a white flowing kaftan that made her look like a huge toad.
I began to snicker for thinking such a disrespectful thought, and immediately glanced over at Mr. Abelar, who I could have sworn was thinking the same thing.
Clara sat down on the armchair and smiled at both of us sitting awkwardly on the couch.
“Have you gotten to the subject of the gates yet?” she asked Mr. Abelar curiously. “Is that why Taisha is pressing her legs together so tightly?”
Mr. Abelar nodded in utter seriousness. “I was just about to tell her that an enormous gate is in the sexual organs. But I don’t think she will understand what I’m talking about. She still has quite a few misconceptions in that department.”
Simultaneously, they both broke out in such peals of laughter that I felt utterly disconnected. I resented being laughed at and talked about as if I weren’t in the room.
I was about to tell them that they didn’t understand me at all, when Clara spoke again, this time addressing me.
“Do you understand why we are recommending that you remain celibate?” she asked. “To journey to freedom,” I said, repeating Mr. Abelar.
I boldly asked Clara if she and Mr. Abelar were celibate, or if they were just recommending behavior they were not prepared to practice themselves.
“I told you we are not man and wife,” Clara replied, not the least bit perturbed. “We are sorcerers interested in power; in gathering energy, not losing it.”
I turned to Mr. Abelar and asked him if he really was a sorcerer and what that entailed.
He didn’t answer me, but looked at Clara as if he were asking her permission to divulge something. Clara nodded her almost imperceptible assent.
“I don’t feel at ease with the word ‘sorcerer,'” Mr. Abelar said, “because it connotes beliefs and actions that are not part of what we do.”
“What exactly do you do?”, I asked. “Clara said only you could tell me.”
Mr. Abelar straightened his back and gave me a frightening look that jolted me to attention.
He began formally, “We are a group consisting of sixteen people, myself included, and one being: Manfred. Ten of the people are women.
“All of us do the same thing: We have dedicated our lives to developing our double. “We use our ethereal bodies and defy many of the natural laws of the physical world.
“Now, if that’s being a sorcerer, then all of us are sorcerers. If not, then we’re not. Does that make things any clearer?”
“Since you are teaching me about the double, am I going to be a sorceress too?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he replied, scanning me curiously:
“It’ll all depend on you. It is always up to us individually to fulfill or to nub our fate.”
“But Clara said everyone in this house has a purpose for being here. Why was I selected?” I asked. “Why me in particular?”
“That’s a very difficult question to answer,” Mr. Abelar said, smiling. “Let’s say that we are compelled to include you.
“Do you remember that night, about five years ago, when you were caught in a compromising situation with a young man?”
I immediately began to sneeze, my usual reaction when I felt threatened.
During my recapitulating I had remembered time and again being in compromising situations.
Since I was fourteen, I had been obsessed with boys and had aggressively run after them, as I had run after my brothers as a child.
I wanted desperately to be loved by anyone because I knew my family didn’t like me. But I always ended up scaring off my would-be suitors before they could get too close. My aggressiveness made everyone think I was a loose woman; capable of anything.
Consequently, I had the worst reputation imaginable in spite of the fact that I hadn’t done even half of the things my friends and family attributed to me.
“You were caught on the food counter where you worked in the concession stand of a drive-in theater in California. Remember?” I heard Mr. Abelar say.
How could I possibly not remember? That was by far one of the worst experiences of my life. And because it was so sensitive, I had put off recapitulating it deeply; always skirting its fringes.
I had at that time a high school summer job selling hot dogs and soft drinks in a drive-in theater.
Near the end of the summer, Kenny, the young man who managed the concession stand, told me that he loved me.
Up to that moment, I had been indifferent to him because I had my eye on the boss, who was handsome and rich.
Unfortunately, the boss was interested in Rita, my red-headed nemesis, who was nineteen and gorgeous.
Every night soon after the movie began, she would slip into the boss’s office and lock the door.
When she emerged just before intermission, her pink and white checkered uniform was wrinkled and her hair was limp and tangled.
I acutely envied Rita for all the attention she was getting.
What made it even worse was her promotion to running the cash register, while I had to continue passing out popcorn and serving soft drinks at the counter.
When Kenny told me that I was beautiful and desirable, I began to think of him in a different light.
I overlooked the fact that he had severe acne, drank beer by the gallon, listened to country music, wore boots, and spoke with a heavy Texan drawl.
All of a sudden I found him manly and affectionate, and all I cared to know about him was that his parents were Catholic and didn’t know that he smoked marijuana.
I was beginning to fall in love with him, and didn’t want personal details to stand in the way.
Kenny became incensed when I told him that I had to quit working at the end of the week because my family was leaving for a holiday in Germany, and I had to go with them.
He said my parents were deliberately trying to separate us.
He took my hand and swore that he couldn’t live without me. He proposed marriage; but I was not quite sixteen so I told him that we would have to wait.
He embraced me passionately and said that the least we could do was to have sex.
I didn’t know if he meant sometime before I left for Germany or right then; but I thoroughly agreed with him, and I opted for right then.
We had about twenty minutes until the show broke, so I moved the rest of the buns from the worktable and began taking off my clothes.
He was frightened. He shook like a little boy, although he was twenty-two.
We hugged and kissed, but before anything else could happen, we were interrupted by an old man who burst into the room.
Upon seeing us in such a compromising situation, he grabbed a broom, hit me on the back with the straw side.
The old man chased me half-naked into the foyer; in full view of the people who had lined up at the snack shop. They laughed and jeered at me.
The worst part was that I recognized two of my teachers from school. They were as shocked to see me as I was to see them.
One of my teachers reported the incident to the principal, who in turn informed my parents. By the time everyone finished gossiping, I was the laughingstock of the school.
For years afterward, I hated that horrid old man who took it upon himself to be my moral judge. I thought he had actually ruined my life, for I was never allowed to see Kenny again.
“I was that man,” Mr. Abelar said, as if he had been following my thoughts.
At that moment, the full impact of remembering my public humiliation struck me. To have the person responsible for it in front of me was more than I could bear.
I began to weep out of sheer frustration.
The worst part was, that Mr. Abelar didn’t seem at all sorry for what he had done. “I’ve been looking for you ever since that night,” Mr. Abelar said, grinning slyly.
I read all kinds of kinky sexual nuances into his look and words. My heart was about to explode out of wrath and fear. I knew then that Clara had brought me to Mexico for sinister reasons, centering on some secret scheme the two of them had been hatching from the start that included plenty of aberrant sex. I didn’t believe their claim of celibacy, not for an instant.
“What do you intend to do to me?” I asked, my voice cracking with fear.
Clara looked at me puzzled then began to laugh as if she had understood all that had been going through my mind.
Mr. Abelar imitated my cracked voice as he asked Clara the same question, “What do you intend to do to me?”
Then his booming laughter joined Clara’s to reverberate throughout the house. I heard Manfred’s howls from his room: It sounded like he too was laughing.
I was more than miserable. I was devastated.
I got up to leave, but Mr. Abelar pushed me back onto the couch.
“Shame and self-importance make terrible companions,” he said seriously: “You haven’t recapitulated that incident or you wouldn’t be in such a state now.” Then softening his fierce stare to an almost kind look.
He added, “There’s nothing Clara and I want to do to you. You’ve done more than enough yourself. “That night, I was looking for the rest room and opened a door for employees only.
Since a nagual never makes such a careless mistake because he is always aware of what he does, I had to assume that I was fated to find you, and that you had a special significance for me.
Seeing you there half naked, about to give yourself to a weak man who might have destroyed your life, I acted in a very specific manner and hit you with the broom.”
“What you did was to make me the laughingstock of my family and friends,” I yelled. “Perhaps. But, I also grabbed your ethereal body and tied an energy line around it,” he said: “From that day on, I’ve always known where you were.
“Yet it has taken me five years to get you in a position where you would listen to what I have to say,” For the first time, what he was saying registered.
I stared at him incredulously.
“You mean you’ve known where I was all the time?” I asked. “I’ve been tracking your every move,” he said definitely.
“You mean you’ve been spying on me.” The implications of what he was saying were slowly rising to the surface.
“Yes, in a manner of speaking,” he admitted. “Did Clara also know I lived in Arizona?” “Naturally. We all knew where you were.”
“Then, it was not by accident that Clara found me in the desert that day,” I gasped. I turned to Clara, furious. “You knew I would be there, didn’t you?”
Clara nodded. “I admit it. You went there so regularly it wasn’t hard to follow you.”
“But you told me that you just happened to be there,” I shouted. “You lied to me; you tricked me into coming to Mexico with you. And you’ve been lying to me ever since; laughing behind my back for God only knows what reason.”
All my doubts and suspicions that had not had expression for months finally surfaced and exploded. “This has been nothing but a joke to you,” I yelled, “to see how stupid and gullible I am.”
Mr. Abelar gave me a ferocious look, but that didn’t stop me from staring right back at him. He tapped me on the top of my head to quiet me.
“You’re deadly wrong, young lady,” he said sternly. “All this has not been a joke to us. “It’s true we laugh a great deal at your idiocies, but none of our actions are lies or tricks. “They are utterly serious: In fact, they are a matter of life or death to us.”
He was so earnest and looked so commanding that the bulk of my anger dissipated, leaving in its place a hopeless bewilderment.
“What did Clara want with me?” I asked, looking at Mr. Abelar.
“I entrusted Clara with a most delicate mission; that of bringing you home,” he explained. “And she succeeded.
“You followed her, obeying your own inner drive.
“It was extremely difficult to get you to accept an invitation from anyone; but from a total stranger, it’s nearly impossible.
“But she did it. Hers was a masterful stroke! I have only praise and admiration for a job well done.” Clara jumped up to her feet and took a graceful bow.
Assuming a solemn expression as she sat down again, she said, “Leaving all joking aside, the nagual is right. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done in my life.
“For a while there, I thought you were going to let your suspicious nature get the better of you and tell me to get lost. I even had to lie and tell you that I have a secret Buddhist name.”
“You don’t have one?”
“No, I don’t. My desire for freedom has burned every secret in me.”
“But I’m still not clear as to how Clara knew where to find me,” I said, looking at Mr, Abelar. “How did she know I was in Arizona at that particular time?”
“By means of your double,” Mr. Abelar replied, as if it were the most obvious thing.
The instant he said that, my mind cleared and I understood exactly what he meant. In fact, I knew it was the only possible way they could have kept track of me.
“I tied an energy line to your ethereal body the night I burst in on you,” he explained: “Since the double is composed of pure energy, it isn’t that difficult to mark it.
“I had felt that, given the circumstances of our meeting, it was the least I could do for you as a form of protection.”
Mr. Abelar looked at me, waiting for me to ask a question.
But my mind was too busy trying to remember more details of what had happened that night when he had run into the room.
“Aren’t you going to ask me how I marked you?” he said, gazing at me intently.
My ears popped. The room became energized and everything fell into place. I didn’t have to ask Mr. Abelar how he had done it, I already knew it.
I exclaimed, “You marked me when you hit me with the broom!”
It was perfectly clear, but when I thought about it, it made no sense whatsoever, for it didn’t explain anything.
Mr. Abelar nodded, pleased that I had arrived at that realization myself.
“That’s right. I marked you when I struck your upper back with the broom as I chased you out the door.
“I left a particular energy inside you.
“And this energy has been lodged in you ever since that night.”
Clara came over and scrutinized me. “Haven’t you noticed, Taisha, that your left shoulder is higher than the right?”
I had been aware that one of my shoulder blades protruded more than the other, causing my neck and shoulders to be tense.
“I thought I was born that way,” I said.
“Nobody is born with the nagual’s mark,” Clara laughed. “The nagual’s energy is lodged behind your left shoulder blade.
“Think about it. Your shoulders got out of alignment after the nagual struck you with the broom.”
I had to admit that it had been around the time I had had my summer job in the drive-in theater that my mother first noticed that there was something wrong with my upper back.
She was fitting a sundress she was sewing for me and saw that it didn’t fit properly.
She was shocked to find that the flaw was not in the dress but in my shoulder blades: One was definitely higher than the other.
The next day she had the family doctor examine my back. He concluded that my spine was slightly curved to one side.
He diagnosed my condition as congenital scoliosis, but assured my mother that the curvature was so slight that we shouldn’t concern ourselves with it.
“It’s a good thing the nagual didn’t leave too much energy in you,” Clara teased, “otherwise you’d be a hunchback.”
I turned to face Mr. Abelar.
I felt the muscles in my back tense, the way they usually did when I was nervous. “Now that you have me reeled in, what are your intentions?” I asked.
Mr. Abelar took a step closer. He fixed me with his cold stare.
“All I’ve wanted, since the day I found you, was to do the same thing I did for you that night,” he replied solemnly, “to open the door and chase you out.
“This time, I want to open the door of the daily world and chase you out to freedom.” His words and mood unleashed a wealth of feelings.
For as long as I can remember, I had been always searching; looking out of windows and peering down streets as if something or someone was around the comer waiting for me.
I’ve always had premonitions; dreams of escaping, although I didn’t know from what. It was this feeling that had compelled me to follow Clara to an unknown destination.
And this feeling was also what prevented me from leaving in spite of the impossibility of my tasks. As I held Mr. Abelar’s gaze, an indescribable wave of well-being enveloped me.
I knew that I had at last found what I had been looking for.
Following an impulse of the purest affection, I leaned over and kissed his hand.
Out of the unsuspected depth of me, I muttered something that had no rational but only an emotional significance.
“You are the nagual to me, too,” I said.
His eyes were shining; happy we had finally come to an understanding.
He ruffled my hair in an affectionate way, and all my pent-up fears and frustrations exploded in a deluge of anguished tears.
Clara got up and handed me a handkerchief.
She said, “The way to get you out of this sad mood is to make you angry or to make you think. “I’m going to do both by telling you this.
“Not only did I know where to find you in the desert, but do you remember that hot, stuffy little apartment you asked me to move your things out of? “Well, the building is owned by my cousin.”
I looked at Clara shocked, unable to utter a single word, Clara’s and Mr. Abelar’s laughter was like a giant explosion reverberating inside my head.
I couldn’t have been more surprised at anything they might have said or sprung on me.
As my initial numbness subsided, instead of becoming angry for being manipulated, I was filled with awe at the incredible precision of their maneuvering and at the immensity of their control which, I finally realized, was not control over me but over themselves.