(The Sorcerers’ Crossing by Taisha Abelar)
Nelida was patiently waiting for me at the back door. It had taken me hours to calm down. It was late afternoon. I followed her inside the house. In the hall just outside the living room, she stopped so abruptly that I nearly collided with her.
Nelida turned to face me, and said, “As Clara told you, I live in the left side of the house. I’m going to take you there, but first let’s go in the living room, and sit down for a while so you can catch your breath.”
I was panting and my heart was beating disturbingly fast.
“I’m in good physical condition,” I assured her. “I practiced kung fu with Clara every day. But right now I’m not feeling very well.”
“Don’t worry about being out of breath,” Nelida said reassuringly:
“The energy of my body is pressing on you. That extra pressure is what’s making your heart beat faster.”
“When you get used to my energy, it will no longer bother you.”
She took my hand, and guided me to sit on a cushion on the floor with my back propped against the front of the sofa.
“When you are agitated as you are now, prop your lower back against a piece of furniture. Or, bend your arms backward; pressing your hands against the top of your kidneys.”
To sit on the floor with my back propped in that fashion had a definite relaxing effect on me. In a few moments I was breathing normally and my stomach was no longer tied in knots.
I watched Nelida pace back and forth in front of me.
“Now, let’s understand something once and for all,” she said as she continued her relaxed, easy stride.
“When I say that I’m responsible for you, I mean that I am in charge of your ultimate freedom. So don’t give me any more nonsense about your struggle for independence.”
“I’m not interested in your capricious fight against your family. Even though you’ve been at odds with them all your life, your fight has had no purpose or direction.”
“It’s time to give your natural strength and compulsive drive a worthy cause.”
Her pacing, I noticed, was not nervous at all. It seemed to be, rather, a way of trapping my attention, for it had put me completely at ease yet kept me attentive.
I asked her once more if I would ever see Clara and Manfred.
Nelida looked at me with a pitiless gaze that sent chills through me.
“No, you won’t see them,” she said. “At least not in this world. Both of them have done their impeccable best to prepare you for the great flight. Only if you are successful in awakening the double and crossing over into the abstract will you meet again.”
“If not, they will become memories that you will talk about with others for a while, or keep to yourself, then gradually forget.”
I swore to her that I would never forget Clara or Manfred; that they would be a part of me always, even if I never saw them again.
And although something in me knew that that would be so, I couldn’t bear such a final separation. I wanted to weep as I had done so easily all my life.
But, somehow my sorcery pass with the crystals had worked: Weeping had fallen off me. Now when I really needed to cry, I couldn’t.
I was hollow inside. I was what I’ve always been: cold. Except that now I had no more pretenses.
I remember what Clara had told me; that coldness is not cruelty or heartlessness, but an unbending detachment.
At last I knew what it meant to be without pity.
“Don’t focus on your loss,” Nelida said, sensing my mood. “At least not for the time being. Let’s deal, rather, with helpful ways to gather energy to attempt the inevitable: the abstract flight.”
“You know now that you belong to us; to me in particular. You must try today to come to my side of the house.”
Nelida took off her shoes, and sat down in an armchair across from me.
In one graceful movement, she raised her knees to her chest and planted her feet on the seat. Her full skirt was pulled over her calves so that only her ankles and feet showed.
“Now, try not to be bashful, judgy or kinky,” she said.
Then before I could respond, she lifted her skirt and spread her legs apart.
“Look at my vagina,” she ordered:
“The hole between the legs of a woman is the energetic opening of the womb; an organ that is at the same time powerful and resourceful.”
To my horror, Nelida had no underwear on.
I could see right into her crotch.
I wanted to look away but I was mesmerized. I could only stare with my mouth half open. She was hairless, and her abdomen and legs were hard and smooth with absolutely no wrinkles or fat.
“Since I’m not in the world as a female, my womb has acquired a different mood than the mood of an average, undisciplined woman,” Nelida said, without a hint of embarrassment. “So you simply shouldn’t see me in a derogatory light.”
She was indeed beautiful and I felt a jolt of sheer envy.
I was at least one third her age and I couldn’t possibly have looked that good in a similar position.
In fact, I wouldn’t dream of letting anyone see me naked. I always wore long bathrobes, as if I had something to hide.
Remembering my own shyness, I politely looked away, but not before I got an eyeful of what I can only call sheer energy- the area around her vagina seemed to radiate a force that if I stared at it made me dizzy.
I shut my eyes and didn’t care what she thought of me.
Nelida’s laughter was like an endless cascade of water, soft and bubbly.
“You are perfectly relaxed now,” she said:
“Look at me again, and take a few deep breaths to charge yourself.”
“Wait just a moment, Nelida,” I said, struck by sudden fear; not fear of looking at her vagina, but of what I had just realized.
Showing me her nakedness had done something inconceivable to me: It had soothed my anguish, and made me abandon all my prudishness.
In one instant, I had become extraordinarily familiar with Nelida.
Stammering pitifully, I told her what I had just realized.
“That’s exactly what the energy from the womb is supposed to do,” Nelida said cheerfully:
“Now really, you must look at me and breathe deeply. After that, you can analyze things to your heart’s content.”
I did as she said, and felt no shyness at all.
Breathing in her energy made me feel strangely invigorated as if a bond had formed between us that needed no words.
“You can accomplish wonders by controlling and circulating the energy from the womb,” Nelida said, pulling her skirt over her calves again.
Nelida explained that the womb’s primary function is reproduction in order to perpetuate our species.
But, she said, unbeknownst to women, the womb also has subtle and sophisticated secondary functions; and it was these that she and I were interested in developing.
I was so pleased when Nelida had included me in her statement that I actually experienced a tickling sensation inside my stomach.
I listened attentively as she explained that the most important secondary function of the womb is to serve as a guiding unit for the double.
Whereas males have to rely on a mixture of reason and intent to guide their doubles, females have at their disposal their womb; a powerful source of energy with an abundance of mysterious attributes and functions all designed to protect and nurture the double.
“All this is possible, of course, if you have rid yourself of all the encumbering energy men have left inside you,” she said:
“A thorough recapitulation of all your sexual activity will take care of that.”
She emphasized that using the womb is an extremely powerful and direct method of reaching the double.
She reminded me of the sorcery pass I had learned in which one breathes directly with the opening of the vagina.
“The womb is the way female animals sense things and regulate their bodies,” she said:
“Through the womb, women can generate and store power in their doubles to build or destroy; or to become one with everything around them.”
Again I felt a tingle in my abdomen; a mild vibration that spread this time to my genitals and inner thighs.
“Another way of reaching the double, also called the other, besides using the energy of the womb, is through movement,” Nelida continued:
“This is the reason why Clara taught you the sorcery passes.”
“There are two passes that you must use today to prepare yourself adequately for what is to come.”
She walked to the closet, pulled out a straw mat, unrolled it on the floor and told me to lie on it.
When I was flat on my back, she asked me to bend my knees a bit, fold my arms across my chest, and roll once to my right side and then once to my left.
She made me repeat this movement seven times. As I rolled, I was to slowly curl my spine at the shoulders.
She told me then to sit cross-legged once more on the floor leaning my back against the couch, while she took her seat on the armchair.
Slowly and softly, she inhaled through her nose.
Then she gracefully wiggled her left arm and hand out and upward as if she were boring a hole in the air with her hand. Then she reached in, grasped something and pulled her arm back, giving me the total impression of a long rope being retrieved from a hole in the air.
She then did the same movements with her right arm and hand.
As she performed her sorcery pass, I recognized it to be a movement of the same nature as the ones Clara had shown me, but it was different too; lighter, smoother, more energetically charged.
Clara’s sorcery passes were like martial art movements: They were graceful and filled with internal strength.
Nelida’s passes were ominous, threatening, and yet, at the same time a pleasure to watch: They radiated a nervous energy but they were not agitated.
While she executed her pass, Nelida’s face was like a beautiful mask. Her features were symmetrical, perfect.
Watching her exquisite movements done with utter aloofness and detachment, I remembered what Clara had said about Nelida having no pity.
“This pass is for gathering energy from the vastness that lies just behind all that we see,” she said:
“Try making a hole. Reach behind the facade of visible forms, and grasp the energy that sustains us. Do it now.”
I tried to replicate her swift, graceful movements, but felt stiff and clumsy in comparison.
I couldn’t feel I was reaching through a hole and grasping energy, not by any stretch of the
Nevertheless, after I had finished the pass, I felt strong and bursting with energy.
“It doesn’t really take much to communicate or reach the ethereal body,” Nelida went on.
“Sound is a powerful way of attracting the ethereal body’s attention in addition to using the womb and movement.”
She explained that by systematically directing words to our source of awareness- the double- one can receive a manifestation of that source.
“Provided, of course, that we have enough energy,” she added:
“If we do, it may take only a few selected words or a sustained sound to open something unthinkable in front of us.”
“How exactly can we direct those words to the double?” I asked.
Nelida extended her arms in a sweeping gesture.
“The double is nearly infinite,” she said.
“For just as the physical body is in communication with other physical bodies, the double is in communication with the universal life force.”
Abruptly Nelida stood up. “We’ve done our sorcery passes and also plenty of talking,” she said.
“Now let’s see if we can act.
“I want you to stand in front of the door leading to the left side of the house.”
“I want you to remain very quiet, but acutely aware of everything around you.”
I followed her down the hall to the door that had always been closed. Clara had explained to me that it was kept closed even when all of the family members were present in the house.
Since Clara had made me promise that I would never under any circumstances try to open it, no matter how curious I became, I never paid much attention to the door.
As I looked at it now, I could see nothing unusual: It was just a common wooden door much like all the others in the house.
Nelida carefully opened it.
There was a hallway, just like the right-side hallway that led to the other side of the house.
“I want you to repeat one word,” Nelida said, standing close behind me.
“The word is ‘intent.’ I want you to say ‘intent’ three or four times or even more, but bring it out from the depths of you.”
“From the depths of me?”
“Allow the word to burst out from your midsection loud and clear.”
“In fact, you should shout the word ‘intent’ with all your strength.”
I hated to shout and I disliked it when people raised their voices at me. As a child, I learned it was impolite to shout and I dreaded to hear my parents arguing in loud voices.
“Don’t be bashful,” Nelida said. “Shout as loud and as many times as it’s needed.”
“How will I know when to stop?”
“You stop when something happens, or when I tell you to stop because nothing has happened. Do it! Now!”
I said the word ‘intent’. My voice sounded hesitant, feeble, unsure. Even to my ear, it lacked conviction.
But, I kept on repeating it; each time with more vigor.
My voice became not deep but shrill and loud, until I shocked myself into a near faint with a hair-raising scream that wasn’t my own; and yet I had heard it before.
It was the same shrill noise I had heard the day Clara and Manfred had dashed into the house; leaving me under the tree.
I began to shiver, and became so dizzy that I slumped down on the spot and leaned against the door frame.
“Don’t move!” Nelida ordered; but it was too late: I was already limp on the floor.
“Too bad you moved when you should have stayed put,” Nelida said sternly, but added a smile when she saw I was about to pass out.
She squatted next to me, and rubbed my hands and neck to revive me.
“What did you make me shout for?” I muttered, straightening up against the wall.
“We were trying to catch the attention of your double,” Nelida said:
“Seemingly, there are two levels to the universal awareness: the level of the visible, of order, and of everything that can be thought or named; and the unmanifested level of energy that creates and sustains all things.”
“Because we rely on language and reason,” Nelida continued, “it is the level of the visible that we regard as reality.”
“It appears to have an order, and is stable and predictable. Yet in actuality, it is elusive, temporary and ever changing. What we judge as permanent reality is only the surface appearance of an unfathomable force.”
I felt so drowsy, I could barely follow her words. I yawned several times to take in more air. Nelida laughed when I opened my eyes wide in an exaggerated manner to give her the impression I was paying full attention.
“What you and I want to do with all this shouting,” she went on, “is to catch the attention, not of the visible reality, but rather the attention of the unseen; the force that is the source of your existence; a force that we hope will carry you across the chasm.”
I wanted to listen to what she was saying, but a strange thought kept distracting me.
Just before I had slumped to the floor, I had caught a glimpse of a rare sight. I had noticed that the air in the hall behind that door was bubbling, just like it had in the darkness of my room the first night I had slept in the house.
As Nelida continued speaking, I turned to look into the hallway again, but she moved in front of me and blocked my view.
She bent over and picked up a leaf that, while I was shouting, must have fallen out of the protective bundle Clara had tied around my midsection.
“Perhaps this leaf will help clarify things,” she said, holding it up for me to see. She talked fast, as if she knew my attention was waning and she wanted to get as much in as she could before my mind wandered off again.
“Its texture is dry and brittle: Its shape is flat and round: Its color is brown with a touch of crimson. We can recognize it as a leaf because of our senses; our instruments of perception, and our thought that gives things names.”
“Without them, the leaf is abstract, pure, undifferentiated energy.”
“The same unreal, ethereal energy that flows through this leaf flows through and sustains everything.”
“We, like everything else, are real on the one hand, and only appearances on the other.”
She carefully put the leaf back on the floor as if it were so fragile that it would shatter at the slightest touch.
Nelida paused for a moment as if to wait for my mind to assimilate what she had said, but my attention was again drawn through the open door to the hallway where I saw filaments of light streaming through a large window at the end of the hall.
I caught a fleeting glimpse of men and women; that is, three or four people for an instant had stuck their heads out of doors opening onto the hallway.
They all seemed to have been awakened at once by my shouts, and had poked their heads out of their bedrooms to see what all the commotion was about.
“You’re certainly undisciplined,” Nelida barked at me. “Your attention span is much too short.”
I tried to tell Nelida what I had seen, but she subdued me with one look.
I felt a chill going up my spine into my neck and I ended up shivering involuntarily. It was then, as I sat there confused and defenseless, that the strangest thought thus far occurred to me.
Nelida seemed familiar to me because I had seen her in a dream.
In fact, I had seen her not in one dream, but in a series of recurring dreams, and the people in the hall…
“Don’t let your mind go beyond this point!” Nelida shouted at me.
“Don’t you dare: Do you hear me? Don’t you dare to wander away!”
“I want your undivided attention here with me.”
She pulled me to my feet and told me to gather my wits.
I did my best to gather them because I was definitely intimidated by her.
I had always taken pride in believing that no one could dominate me, yet one look from this woman could stop my thoughts and fill me with awe and dread at the same time.
Nelida gave me a firm knock on the top of my head with a knuckle.
It sobered me up as easily as her shouts had unsettled me.
“I’ve been talking my head off because Clara assured me that talking is the best way to relax you and pique your interest,” she said. “I want you ready to go through this door at any cost.”
I told her that I had the certainty that I had seen her in my dreams. And, that was not all: I had the feeling that the people that had poked their heads into the hall were also known to me.
When I mentioned the people, Nelida stepped back and scrutinized me as if looking for markings on my body.
She was silent for a moment; perhaps considering whether or not to divulge something.
“We are a group of sorcerers, as the nagual and Clara have already told you.”
“We are a lineage, but not a family lineage.”
“In this house there are two branches of that lineage. Each has eight members. The members of Clara’s branch are the Graus, and the members of my branch are the Abelars.
Our origin is lost in time. We count ourselves by generations. I am a member of the generation in power, and that means I can teach what my group knows to someone who is like me; in this case, you. You are an Abelar.”
She stood behind me and turned me in the direction of the hallway.
“Now, no more talking. Face the hallway and shout again the word ‘intent.’ I think you are ready to meet all of us in person.”
I shouted “intent” three times.
This time my voice didn’t screech, but resonated loudly beyond the walls of the house.
On the third shout, the air in the hall began to fizzle. Billions of tiny bubbles sparkled and glowed as if they had all lit up at the same instant.
I heard a soft hum that reminded me of the sound of a muffled generator.
Its mesmeric purr drew me inside past the threshold where Nellda and I had been standing.
My ears were plugged and I had to swallow repeatedly to unplug them.
Then the humming stopped and I found myself in the middle of a hallway that was the exact mirror image of the hallway in the right side of the house where my room was.
Only this hallway was full of people. They all had come out of their rooms, and were staring at me as if I had dropped in from another planet; materializing right in front of their very eyes.