(The Sorcerers’ Crossing by Taisha Abelar)
I was awakened by a sharp poke in my ribs.
The caretaker was nudging me with a walking stick.
“Wake up, it’s already afternoon,” he said. “Didn’t you sleep well last night in the tree house?”
As I opened my eyes, a beam of light kindled the treetop with orange hues.
The caretaker’s face, too, was lit up by an eerie glow that made him look ominous.
He had on the same blue coveralls he had worn the day before, and tied to his belt were three gourds.
I sat up and watched as he carefully removed the stopper of the largest gourd, lifted it to his mouth, and took a gulp. Then he smacked his lips with satisfaction.
“Didn’t you sleep well last night?” he asked again, peering at me curiously.
“Are you kidding?” I moaned. “I can truthfully say it was one of the worst nights of my life.”
A torrent of whining complaints began pouring out of me.
I stopped, horrified, when I realized that I sounded just like my mother.
Whenever I would ask her how she had slept, she would give me a similar discourse of discontent. I had hated her for that, and to think I was doing the same thing!
“Please, Emilito, forgive me for my petty outburst,” I said. “It’s true that I didn’t sleep a wink, but I’m fine.”
“I heard you screaming like a banshee,” he ventured. “I thought you were either having nightmares or falling out of the tree.”
“I thought I was falling out of the tree,” I said, wanting sympathy. “I nearly died of fright.
“But then a strange thing happened and I got through the night.”
“What strange thing happened?” he asked, curious, sitting down on the ground a safe distance from me.
I saw no reason not to tell him, so I described in as much detail as I could the events of the night, culminating with the light that came to save me.
Emilito listened with genuine interest, nodding at the appropriate times as if he understood the feelings I was describing.
“I’m very glad to hear that you are so resourceful,” he said. “I really didn’t expect you to make it through the night. I thought you would faint. What this all boils down to is that you’re not as bad off as they said you were.”
“Who said I was bad off?”
“Nelida and the nagual. They left me specific instructions not to interfere with your healing.”
“That’s why I didn’t come to help you last night, even though I was greatly tempted- if for no other reason than to get some peace and quiet.”
He took another gulp from his gourd. “Do you want to take a swig?” he offered, holding it out for me to take.
“What’s in the gourd?” I asked, wondering if it was liquor; in which case, I wouldn’t have minded having a sip.
He hesitated for a moment, then he turned the gourd upside down and gave it a few strong shakes.
“It’s empty,” I scoffed. “You were trying to trick me.”
He shook his head. “It only seems empty,” he retorted.
“It’s filled to the brim with the strangest drink of all.
“Now, do you or don’t you want to drink from it?”
“I don’t know,” I said.
For an instant, I wondered if he was toying with me. Seeing him in his neatly ironed blue coveralls with gourds tied to his belt, I had the impression that he was an escapee from a mental institution.
He shrugged and stared at me; wide-eyed.
I watched as he recorked the gourd, and securely tied it to his belt with a thin leather thong.
“All right, let me have a sip,” I said, driven by curiosity, and a sudden urge to find out what his game was.
He uncorked the gourd again, and handed it to me.
I shook it and peered inside. It was indeed empty.
But, when I put it to my lips, I had a most unfamiliar oral sensation.
Whatever flowed into my mouth was somehow liquid, but it wasn’t anything like water. It was more like a dry, almost bitter pressure that suffocated me for an instant, and then filled my throat and my entire body with a cool warmth.
It occurred to me that the gourd had a fine powder that had gotten into my mouth. To find out if that was true, I shook it onto the palm of my hand, but nothing came out.
The caretaker said, noting my surprise, “There is nothing in the gourd that the eyes can see.”
I took another imaginary sip, and was jolted nearly out of my shoes.
Something electric flowed through me and made my toes tingle.
The tingling went up my legs to my spine like a lightning bolt, and when it entered my head I nearly passed out.
I saw the caretaker jumping up and down laughing like a prankster.
I grabbed onto the ground to steady myself with my hands.
When I had somewhat regained my equilibrium, I confronted him angrily. “What the hell is in this gourd?” I demanded.
In a serious tone, he said, “What’s in it is called ‘intent.
“Clara told you a little about it. It’s now up to me to tell you a bit more.”
“What do you mean that it’s now up to you, Emilito?”
“I mean that I’m your new usher. Clara did part of that work and I must do the rest.”
My first reaction was simply not to believe him.
He himself had said that he was merely a hired hand and not part of the group. It was obvious that this was a prank, and I wasn’t going to fall for any more of his tricks.
“You’re just pulling my leg, Emilito,” I said, forcing a laugh.
“I am now,” he said, and leaped over and actually gave my leg a yank.
Before I could get up, he celebrated his own joke by tugging my leg again.
He was so animated that he hopped around in a squatting position like a rabbit; laughing playfully.
“You don’t like your teacher to pull your leg?” he giggled.
I didn’t like him to touch me, period, and definitely not my leg.
But I didn’t like Clara to touch me either.
I began to toy with the idea of why I didn’t like to be touched. Despite my having recapitulated all my encounters with people, my feeling regarding physical contact was as strong as ever.
I filed this problem away for future examination because the caretaker had settled down, and was beginning to explain something that needed all my attention.
“I’m your teacher,” I heard him say. “Besides Clara, Nelida and the nagual, you have me to guide you.”
“You’re a mass of misinformation, that’s what you are,” I snapped. “You yourself told me that you’re merely a hired caretaker. So what’s this business that you’re my teacher?”
“It’s true. I really am your other teacher,” he said seriously.
“What could you possibly have to teach me?” I shouted, disliking the prospect immensely.
“What I have to teach you is called ‘stalking with the double,'” he said, blinking like a bird.
“Where are Clara and Nelida?” I demanded.
“They are gone. Nelida said that in her note, didn’t she?”
“I know they are gone, but where exactly did they go?”
“Oh, they went to India,” he said with a grin that looked like an uncomfortable desire to burst out laughing.
“Then they won’t be back for months,” I said, feeling vicious.
“Right. You and I are alone. Not even the dog is here. You have, therefore, two options open to you.”
“You can either pack your junk and leave, or you can remain here with me and settle down to work.”
“I don’t advise you to do the former, because you don’t have any place to go.”
“I don’t have any intention of leaving,” I informed him. “Nelida left me in charge to take care of the house and that’s what I’m going to do.”
“Good, I’m glad you’ve decided to follow the sorcerers’ intent,” he said.
Since it must have been obvious to him that I hadn’t understood, he explained that the intent of sorcerers differs from that of average people in that sorcerers have learned to focus their attention with infinitely more force and precision.
“If you are my teacher, can you give me a concrete example to illustrate what you mean?” I asked, staring at him.
He thought for a moment as he looked around.
His face lit up and he pointed at the house. “This house is a good example,” he said. “It is the result of the intent of countless sorcerers who amassed energy and pooled it over many generations.”
“By now, this house is no longer just a physical structure, but a fantastic field of energy. The house itself could be destroyed ten times over, which it has been, but the essence of the sorcerers’ intent is still intact because it is indestructible.”
“What happens when the sorcerers want to leave?” I asked. “Is their power trapped here forever?”
“If the spirit tells them to leave,” Emilito said, “they are capable of lifting off the intent from the present spot where the house stands and placing it somewhere else.”
“I have to agree that the house is really spooky,” I said and told him how it had resisted my detailed measurements and calculations.
“What makes this house spooky is not the disposition of the rooms or walls or patios,” the caretaker remarked, “but the intent that generations of sorcerers poured into it.”
“In other words, the mystery of this house is the history of the countless sorcerers whose intent went into building it.”
“You see, they not only intended it, but constructed it themselves, brick by brick, stone by stone. Even you have already contributed your intent and your work to it.”
“What could my contribution be?” I asked, sincerely taken aback by Emilito’s statement. “You can’t possibly mean that crooked garden path I laid.”
He said, laughing, “No one in his right mind could call that a contribution. No. You’ve made a few others.”
He remarked that on the mundane level of bricks and structures, he considered my contribution to be the careful electric wiring, the pipe fitting, and the cement casing for the water pump I had installed to pump water from the stream up the hill to the vegetable garden.
“On the more ethereal level of energy flow,” he went on, “I can tell you in all sincerity that one of your contributions is that never before have we witnessed in this house anyone merging her intent with Manfred.”
At that moment something popped into my mind. “Are you the one who can call him ‘toad’ to his face?” I asked. “Clara once told me that someone could do it.”
The caretaker’s face beamed as he nodded. “Yes, I’m the one. I found Manfred when he was a puppy. He had been either abandoned or he had run away; perhaps from a motor home in the area.”
“When I found him he was almost dead.”
“Where did you find him?” I asked.
“On Highway 8, about sixty miles from Gila Bend, Arizona. I had stopped on the side of the road to go to the bushes and I actually pissed on him.”
“He was lying there almost dead from dehydration. What impressed me the most was that he had not run onto the highway as he could have done so easily.”
“And, of course, that he was lying right where I went to piss.”
“Then what happened?” I asked.
I was so overtaken with sympathy for poor Manfred’s plight that I forgot all my anger at the caretaker.
“I took Manfred home and put him in water, but didn’t let him drink,” the caretaker said. “And then I offered him to the sorcerers’ intent.”
Emilito said that it was up to the sorcerers’ intent to decide not only whether Manfred lived or died, but whether Manfred would be a dog or something else.
He lived and became something more than a dog.
“The same thing happened to you,” he continued. “Maybe that’s why the two of you got along so well.”
“The nagual found you spiritually dehydrated, ready to make a shambles of your life. Since he was in the drive-in movie with Nelida, it was up to them to offer you to the sorcerers’ intent, which they did.”
“How did they offer me to the sorcerers’ intent?” I asked.
“Didn’t they already tell you?” he asked, surprised.,
I considered for a moment before replying, “I don’t think so.”
“The nagual and Nelida called intent out loud, no doubt right there by the concession stand, and announced that they were putting their lives on the line for you without hesitation or regrets; without holding anything back.”
“And both of them knew at once that they couldn’t take you with them at that time, but would have to follow you around wherever you went. So you can say now that the sorcerers’ intent took you in.”
“The nagual’s and Nelida’s invocation worked. Look where you are! Talking to yours truly.”
He looked at me to see if I was following his argument.
I stared back with a silent plea for a more precise elucidation of the sorcerers’ intent.
He shifted to a more personal level and said that if he would take all the things I had said to Clara about myself as an example of intending, he would conclude that my intent is one of total defeat.
He said that I had, in a sustained fashion, always intended to be a crazy, desperate loser.
“Clara told me everything you told her about yourself,” he said, clicking his tongue.
“For instance, I would say that you jumped into that arena in Japan not to demonstrate your martial arts skills, but to prove to the world that your intent is to lose.”
He pounced on me, saying that everything I did was tainted by defeat.
Therefore the most important thing I had to do now was to set up a new intent.
He explained that this new intent was called sorcerers’ intent because it isn’t just the intent of doing something new, but the intent of joining something already established: an intent that reaches out to us through thousands of years of human toil.
He said that in that sorcerers’ intent there wasn’t room for defeat, for sorcerers have only one path open to them: to succeed in whatever they do.
But in order to have such a powerful and clear view, sorcerers have to reset their total being, and that takes both understanding and power.
Understanding comes from recapitulating their lives, and power gathers from their impeccable acts.
Emilito looked at me and tapped his gourd.
He explained that in his gourd he had stored his impeccable feelings, and that he had given me that sorcerers’ intent to drink in order to counteract my defeatist attitude and prepare me for his instruction.
He said something else, but I couldn’t pay attention to him; his voice began to make me feel drowsy.
My body got heavy all of a sudden.
As I focused on his face, I saw only a whitish haze, like fog in the twilight.
I heard him tell me to lie down and cast out my ethereal net by gradually relaxing my muscles.
I knew what he wanted me to do and automatically followed his instructions.
I lay down and began moving my awareness from my feet upward to my ankles, calves, knees, thighs, abdomen and back.
Then I relaxed my arms, shoulders, neck and head.
As I moved my awareness to the various parts of my body, I felt myself become more and more drowsy and heavy.
Then the caretaker ordered me to make small counterclockwise circles with my eyes allowing them to roll back and up into my head.
I continued relaxing until my breathing became slow and rhythmic, expanding and contracting by itself.
I was concentrating on the lulling waves of my breathing, when he whispered that I should move my awareness out of my forehead to a place as far above me as I could, and there make a small opening.
“What kind of opening?” I muttered.
“Just an opening. A hole.”
“A hole into what?”
“A hole into the nothingness your net is suspended on,” he replied. “If you can move your awareness outside your body, you’ll realize that there is blackness all around you. Try to pierce that blackness; make a hole in it.”
“I don’t think I can,” I said, tensing up.
“Of course you can,” he assured me. “Remember, sorcerers are never defeated, they can only succeed.”
He leaned toward me and in a whisper said that after I had made the opening, I should roll my body up like a scroll and allow myself to be catapulted along a line extending from the crown of my head into the blackness.
“But I’m lying down,” I protested feebly. “The crown of my head is nearly against the ground. Shouldn’t I be standing up?”
“The blackness is all around us,” he said. “Even if we are standing on our heads, it is still there.”
He changed his tone to a hard command and ordered me to place my concentration on the hole I had just made and to let my thoughts and feelings flow through that opening.
Again my muscles tightened because I hadn’t made any hole.
The caretaker urged me to relax; to let go and act and feel as if I had made that hole.
“Throw out everything that’s inside you,” he said. “Allow your thoughts, feelings and memories to flow out.”
As I relaxed and released the tension from my body, I felt a surge of energy push through me.
I was being turned inside out: Everything was being pulled out from the top of my head; rushing along a line like an inverted cascading waterfall.
At the end of that line, I sensed an opening.
“Let yourself go even deeper,” he whispered in my ear. “Offer your whole being to nothingness.”
I did my best to follow his suggestions.
Whatever thoughts arose in my mind instantly joined the cascade at the top of my head.
I vaguely heard the caretaker say that if I wanted to move, I only needed to give myself the directive and the line would pull me wherever I wanted to go.
Before I could give myself the command, I felt a gentle but persistent tugging on my left side.
I relaxed and allowed this sensation to continue.
At first, only my head seemed to be pulled to the left, then the rest of my body slowly rolled to the left.
I felt as if I were falling sideways, yet I sensed that my body had not moved at all.
I heard a dull sound behind my neck, and saw the opening grow larger.
I wanted to crawl inside, to squeeze through it and disappear.
I experienced a deep stirring inside me.
My awareness began moving along the line at the crown of my head and slipped through the opening.
I felt as if I were inside a gigantic cavern. Its velvety walls enveloped me.
It was dark, but my attention was caught by a luminescent dot. It flickered on and off like a beacon, appearing and disappearing whenever I focused on it.
The area in front of me became illuminated by an intense light, then gradually everything became dark again.
My breathing seemed to cease altogether and no thoughts or images disturbed the blackness.
I no longer felt my body. My last thought was that I had dissolved.
I felt a hollow popping sound.
My thoughts returned to me all at once, tumbling down on me like a mountain of debris, and with them came the awareness of the hardness of the ground, the stiffness of my body, and some insect biting my ankle.
I opened my eyes and looked around: The caretaker had taken my shoes and socks off, and was poking the soles of my feet with a stick to revive me.
I wanted to tell him what had happened, but he shook his head.
“Don’t talk or move until you’re solid again,” he warned.
He told me to close my eyes and breathe with my abdomen.
I lay on the ground until I felt I had regained my strength, then I sat up and leaned my back against a tree trunk.
“You opened a crack in the blackness and your double slid to the left and then went through it,” the caretaker said before I had asked him anything.
I admitted, “I definitely felt a force pulling me, and I saw an intense light.”
“That force was your double coming out,” he said, as if he knew exactly what I was referring to.
“And the light was the eye of the double.
“Since you’ve been recapitulating for over a year, you’ve also been, at the same time, casting your energy lines; and now they’re beginning to move by themselves.”
“But because you’re still involved in talking and thinking, those energy lines don’t move as easily and completely as they are going to someday.”
I had no idea what he meant when he said that I had been casting my energy lines as I recapitulated. I asked him to explain.
“What’s there to explain?” he said. “It’s a matter of energy.”
“The more energy you call back through recapitulating, the easier it is for that recovered energy to nourish your double.”
“Sending energy to the double is what we call casting your energy lines.”
“Someone who sees energy will see it as lines coming out of the physical body.”
I asked, “But what does that mean to someone like me who doesn’t see?”
“The greater your energy,” he explained, “the greater your capacity to perceive extraordinary things.”
“I think what has happened to me is that the greater my energy becomes, the crazier I get,” I said without trying to be facetious.
“Don’t run yourself down in such a casual manner,” he remarked:
“Perception is the ultimate mystery because it’s totally unexplainable. Sorcerers as human beings are perceiving creatures, but what they perceive is neither good nor evil. Everything is just perception.”
“If human beings, through discipline, can perceive more than is normally permitted, more power to them. Do you see what I mean?”