What Animals And Infants Sense Has Nothing To Do With Knowing, But With The Fact That They Have The Equipment To Sense It: Their Open Gates; Those Gates Are Permanently Receptive In Animals; Human Beings Close Theirs As Soon As They Begin To Talk And Think And Their Rational Side Takes Over; The Awareness Of Daily Life Is What We Want To Shift From The Body To The Double; Loosening Your Gates With The Sorcery Passes

(The Sorcerers’ Crossing by Taisha Abelar)

That night it rained, and there was thunder and lightning.

But there is no way on earth for me to explain what it was like to be in a tree house while bolt after bolt of lightning ripped through the sky and fell on the trees around me.

My fear was indescribable. I screamed even harder than I had the first night when I felt my platform bed tilting. It was an animal fright, and it paralyzed me.

The only thought that occurred to me was that I am a natural coward, and when tension is too great I always pass out.

I didn’t regain consciousness until around noon the next day.

When I let myself down, I found Emilito waiting for me; sitting on a low branch with his feet nearly touching the ground.

“You look like a bat from hell,” he commented. “What happened to you last night?” “I nearly died of fright,” I said.

I wasn’t going to pretend toughness or play at being in control. I felt like I must have looked; like a living rag.

I said to him that for the first time in my life, I had commiserated with soldiers in battle: I had felt the same fear they must experience when bombs explode all around them.

“I disagree,” he said. “Your fear last night was even more intense.

“Whatever was shooting at you wasn’t human. So at the level of the double, it was a gigantic fear.”

“Please, Emilito, explain to me what you mean by that.”

“Your double is about to become aware; so under conditions of stress, like last night, it becomes partially aware, but also totally frightened.

“It’s not used to perceiving the world. Your body and your mind are accustomed to it, but your double isn’t.”

I was certain that if I had been prepared for the storm, I would have relaxed.

If my fear and my thoughts about the storm hadn’t interfered, some force inside me would have come completely out of my body, and perhaps might have even stood up, moved around, or come down from the tree.

What frightened me most was the sensation of being cooped up; trapped inside my body.

“When we enter into absolute darkness where there are no distractions,” the caretaker said, “the double takes over.

“It stretches its ethereal limbs, opens its luminous eye, and looks around.

“Sometimes experiencing it can be even more frightening than what you felt last night.” “The double won’t be that frightening,” I assured him. “I’m ready for it.”

“You aren’t ready for anything yet,” he retorted. “I’m sure your screams last night could have been heard all the way to Tucson.”

His comment annoyed me.

There was something about him I didn’t like, but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was.

Perhaps it was because he looked so odd. He wasn’t manly. He seemed to be the mere shadow of a man, and yet he was deceptively strong.

But what really bothered me was that he didn’t let me push him around, and that irritated my competitive side no end.

In a surge of anger I asked him belligerently, “How dare you run me down every time I say something you don’t like!”

The moment I said that I regretted it, and apologized profusely for my aggressiveness. “I don’t know why I get so irritated with you,” I ended up confessing.

“Don’t feel bad,” he said. “It’s because you sense something about me that you can’t explain. As you yourself put it, I’m not manly.”

“I didn’t say that,” I protested.

From his look, he obviously didn’t believe me. “Of course you did,” he insisted. “You said it to my double just a moment ago. My double never ever makes mistakes or misinterprets things.”

My nervousness and embarrassment reached their peak.

I didn’t know what to say. My face was red and my body trembled. I couldn’t understand what had caused my exaggerated reaction.

The caretaker’s voice broke into my thoughts.

“You are reacting like that because your double is perceiving my double,” he said:

“Your physical body is frightened because its gates are opening, and new perceptions are flowing in. “If you think you feel bad now, imagine how much worse it’ll be when all your gates are open.”

He spoke so convincingly that I wondered if he was right.

“Animals and infants,” he continued, “have no problem perceiving the double, and they are often disturbed by it.”

I mentioned that animals didn’t particularly like me and that, except for Manfred, the feeling was mutual.

“Animals don’t like you,” he clarified, “because some of your body gates have never been completely closed and your double is struggling to come out.

“Be prepared. For now that you’re deliberately intending it, they’re going to fling open.

“One of these days your double is going to awake all at once, and you might find yourself across the patio without having walked over.”

I had to laugh, mostly out of nervousness and at the absurdity of what he was suggesting.

“And what about children, especially infants?” he asked. “Don’t they holler when you pick them up?” They usually did, but I didn’t tell the caretaker.

“Babies like me,” I lied, knowing too well that the few times I had been around infants, they had begun to cry as soon as I came near them.

I had always told myself that it was because I lacked a maternal instinct. The caretaker shook his head in disbelief.

I challenged him to explain how animals and infants could sense the double when I didn’t know it existed myself.

In fact, until Clara and the nagual told me about it, I had never heard of such a thing. Nor had I ever met anyone who knew about it.

He rebuffed me, saying that what animals and infants sense has nothing to do with knowing, but with the fact that they have the equipment to sense it: their open gates.

He added that those gates are permanently receptive in animals, but that human beings close theirs as soon as they begin to talk and think and their rational side takes over.

Thus far, I had given the caretaker my full attention because Clara had told me that no matter who might be talking to me and no matter what he might be saying, the exercise is to listen.

But the more I listened to Emilito, the more annoyed I became, until I found myself in the throes of a bona fide rage.

“I don’t believe any of this,” I said. “Why do you say that you’re my teacher, anyway? You still haven’t made that clear.”

The caretaker laughed. “I certainly didn’t volunteer for the post,” he said.

“Then who appointed you?”

After a thoughtful pause, he said, “It’s a long chain of circumstances. The first link of this chain was set when the nagual found you naked with your legs up in the air.” He burst out laughing, with a shrill birdlike sound.

I resented immensely his insulting sense of humor. “Get to the point, Emilito, and tell me what’s going on,” I yelled.

“I’m sorry, I thought you’d enjoy an account of your doings, but I see I was wrong. We, on the other hand, have enjoyed ourselves immensely with your antics.”

“For years we have laughed at the tribulations and hardships John Michael Abelar inherited because he walked into the wrong room and found a naked girl, when all he wanted to do was to piss.”

He doubled up laughing.

I didn’t see the humor of it. My fury was so gigantic that I wanted to lash out at him with a few punches and well-placed kicks.

He looked at me and moved back, undoubtedly sensing I was about to explode.

“Don’t you find it hilarious that John Michael had to go through hell with the problem he inherited, just because he wanted to piss?”

“The nagual and I have that in common: Whereas I only found a half-dead puppy, he found a completely crazed girl; and we both are responsible for them for the rest of our lives.”

“Seeing what happened to us, the members of our party got so scared that they vowed never to take another leak again before they checked and rechecked the place.”

He burst out laughing so hard he had to pace back and forth to keep from choking. Seeing that I wasn’t even smiling, he quieted down.

“Well… let’s continue then,” he said, composing himself. “Once the first link was cast; when he found you with your legs up, it was the nagual’s duty to mark you, which he promptly did.”

“Then he had to keep track of you. He used Clara and Nelida to help him.

“The first time he and Nelida came to visit you was the summer you had graduated from high school, and worked as a camp counselor in a mountain resort.”

“Is it true that he found me through an energy channel?” I asked, trying not to sound patronizing.

“Absolutely. He had marked your double with some of his energy so he could follow your movements,” he said.

“I don’t remember ever seeing them,” I said.

“That’s because you always believed you were having recurring dreams. But the two of them actually came to see you in the flesh.”

“They continued to visit you many times over the years, especially Nelida.”

“Then, when you came to live in Arizona following Nelida’s suggestions, all of us had a chance to visit you.”

“Wait a minute. This is getting too bizarre.”

“How could I follow her suggestion when I don’t even remember meeting her?”

“Believe me, she kept telling you to live in Arizona, and you did; but of course you thought you were deciding it yourself.”

As the caretaker talked, my mind flashed back to that period of my life. I remembered thinking that Arizona was the place where I should be.

I did the southern horizon gazing technique to decide where to get a job, and I received the strongest feeling that I should head for Tucson.

I even had a dream in which someone was telling me I should work in a bookstore.

I wasn’t fond of books and it was odd that I should be working with them, but when I got to Tucson I went directly to a bookstore with a ‘Help Wanted’ sign. I took the job typing up order forms, working the cash register, and shelving books.

“Whoever came to see you,” Emilito went on, “always pulled your double, so you have only a vague dreamlike memory of us with the exception of Nelida. You know her as you know the back of your hand.”

So many people came into that bookstore, but I vaguely remembered an elegantly dressed, beautiful woman who came in once and talked to me in a friendly way.

It was so unusual because no one else paid any attention to me. She might very well have been Nelida.

At a deep level everything Emilito had said made sense, but to my rational mind it seemed so far- fetched that I would have to be crazy to believe him.

“What you’re saying is pure horse manure,” I said, more defensively than I had intended. My harsh reaction didn’t perturb him in the least.

He stretched his arms above his head and rotated them in circles. “If what I said is really just a pile of manure, I dare you to explain what’s happening to you,” he challenged with a grin:

“And don’t try to be a little girl with me and get all weepy and flustered.”

I heard my cracking voice yell, “You’re full of shit, you God damn-” but my burning fury ended right then.

I couldn’t believe I was shouting profanities.

Immediately I began to apologize, saying that I was not accustomed to shouting or using foul language. I assured him that I had been reared in a most civil way, by a well-mannered mother who wouldn’t dream of raising her voice.

The caretaker laughed and lifted a hand to stop me. “Enough apologizing,” he said.

“It’s your double that’s talking. It’s always direct and to the point, and since you have never allowed it expression, it is full of hatred and bitterness.”

He explained that at that moment my double was extremely unstable due to being bombarded by thunder and lightning, but especially due to the events of five days ago when Nelida pushed me into the left hallway so I could begin the sorcerers’ crossing.

“Five days ago!” I gasped. “You mean I was hanging in the tree for two days and two nights?”

“You were there exactly two days and three nights,” he said with a malevolent smirk. “We took turns hoisting ourselves up there to see if you were all right. You were out but doing fine, so we left you alone.”

“But why was I strapped that way?”

“You failed miserably trying to accomplish a maneuver we call the abstract flight or the sorcerers’ crossing,” he said. “The attempt depleted your energy reserves.”

He clarified that it wasn’t actually a failure on my part, but rather a premature attempt that had ended in complete disaster.

“What would have happened if I had succeeded?” I asked.

He assured me that success would not have put me in a more advantageous position but that it would have served as a point of departure; a sort of lure, or a beacon that would have accurately marked the way for a future time when I would have to make the final flight all by myself.

“You are now using the energy of all of us,” he went on. “We are all compelled to help you.

“In fact, you’re using the energy of all the sorcerers that have preceded us and once lived in this house. You’re living off their magic.”

“It is exactly as if you were lying on a magic carpet that takes you to incredible places; places that exist only in the magical carpet’s path.”

“But I still don’t understand why I am here,” I said. “Is it just because the nagual John Michael Abelar made a mistake and found me?”

“No, it’s not quite that simple,” he said, looking at me squarely:

“In fact, John Michael isn’t really your nagual.

“There is a new nagual and a new era. You are a member of the new nagual’s party.”

“What are you saying, Emilito? What new party? Who decides that?”

“Power. The spirit. That boundless force out there decides all that.”

“For us, the proof that you belong to the new era is your total similarity with Nelida.

“She was in her youth just like you are now; to the point that she, too, used up all her reserve energy when she first attempted the abstract flight. And just like you, she nearly died.”

“You mean I could have actually died attempting it, Emilito?”

“Certainly. Not because the sorcerers’ flight is so dangerous, but because you are so unstable. Someone else doing the same thing would have merely gotten a bellyache, but not you. “You, like Nelida, have to exaggerate everything, so you nearly died.”

“After that, the only way to restore you was by leaving you up in the tree off the ground for whatever time it took for you to come to your senses. There was nothing else we could have done.”

Incredible as it sounded, what had happened gradually began making sense to me.

Something had gone dreadfully wrong during my encounter with Nelida. Something in me had been out of control.

“I let you drink from my intent gourd yesterday to find out if your double is still unstable,” Emilito explained:

“It is! The only way to buttress your double is with activity, and like it or not, I’m the only one who can guide your double in this activity.”

“This is the reason I’m your teacher; or rather, I am the teacher of your double.”

“What do you think happened to me with Nelida?” I asked, still uncertain as to what exactly went wrong.

“You mean what didn’t happen,” he corrected me. “You were supposed to cross the chasm gently and harmoniously and wake up your double to full awareness in the left hallway.”

He went into a convoluted explanation of what they had hoped would happen.

Under Nelida’s direction I was supposed to shift my awareness back and forth between my body and my double. This shifting was to have erased all the natural barriers developed through life; barriers that separate the physical body from the double. The sorcerers’ plan, he said, was to allow me to get acquainted with all of them in person since my double already knew them.

But because of my craziness, I didn’t cross gently and harmoniously.

In other words, the awareness my double acquired had nothing to do with the daily awareness of my body.

This resulted in a sensation that I was flying and couldn’t stop. All my reserve energy drained out of me without any restraint and my double went berserk.

“I regret to tell you this, Emilito, but I don’t understand what you’re talking about,” I said.

“The sorcerers’ crossing consists of shifting the awareness of daily life, which the physical body possesses, to the double,” he replied.

“Listen carefully. The awareness of daily life is what we want to shift from the body to the double. The awareness of daily life!”

“But what does that mean, Emilito?”

“It means that we are after sobriety, measure, control. We are not interested in craziness and helter-skelter results.”

“But what does it mean in my case?” I insisted.

“You indulged in your excesses and didn’t shift your awareness of daily life to your double.”

“What did I do?”

“You imbued your double with an unknown, uncontrollable awareness.”

“Regardless of what you say, Emilito, it’s impossible for me to believe all this,” I said. “In fact, it’s really inconceivable.”

“Naturally, it’s inconceivable,” he agreed. “But, if you’re after something conceivable, you don’t have to sit here holding on to your doubts shouting at me. Something conceivable for you is to be naked and with your legs up.”

He flashed a lecherous smile that gave me the chills.

But before I could defend myself, he changed his expression to one of utter seriousness.

He said softly, “To draw out the double gently and harmoniously, and shift to it our awareness of daily life is something without parallel. To do that is something inconceivable.

“Now let’s do something thoroughly conceivable. Let’s go and eat breakfast.”

***

My third night in the tree house was like camping out.

I simply slipped into the sleeping bag, fell into a sound sleep and woke up at dawn.

Lowering myself down was easier too. I had gotten the knack of moving the ropes and pulleys without straining my back and shoulders.

“This is the last day of your transition phase,” Emilito announced after we had eaten breakfast. “You have much work to do. But you’re fairly industrious, so it won’t be too difficult.”

“What do you mean by a transition phase?”

“Yours is a six-day transition from the last time you talked to Clara till now.

“Don’t forget, you have spent six nights in the tree; three during which you were unconscious; the other three nights you were aware.

“Sorcerers always count events in sets of threes.”

“Do I also have to do things in sets of threes?” I asked.

“Certainly,” he said, “You’re Nelida’s heir, aren’t you? You’re the continuation of her line.”

He gave me a sly grin and added. “But for now you have to do whatever I do. Remember, for however long it takes, I’m your guide.”

Hearing Emilito say that made me swallow hard.

Whereas I had felt a twitch of pride whenever Nelida included me with her in any of her statements, I didn’t like it one bit when the caretaker joined me with him.

Noticing my discomfort, he assured me that forces beyond anyone’s control had placed us together to fulfill a specific task.

Therefore, we had to abide by the rule because that was the way things were done in his sorcery tradition.

“Clara prepared your physical side by teaching you to recapitulate, and by loosening your gates with the sorcery passes,” he explained. My job is to help solidify your double, and then teach it ‘stalking.'”

He assured me that no one else could teach me how to stalk with the double except himself.

“Can you explain what stalking with the double is?” I asked.

“Of course I can, but it would not be wise to talk about it because stalking means doing, not talking about doing.”

“Besides, you already know what it means since you have done it.”

“Where and when have I done it?”

“The first night you slept in the tree house,” Emilito said, “when you were about to die of fright. On that occasion your reason was at a loss as to how to handle the situation, so circumstances forced you to depend on your double.”

“It was your double that came to your rescue. It flowed out of the gates that your fear had thrown wide open. I call that stalking with the double.”

“The nagual and Nelida are the masters of the double and they’ll give you the finishing touches,” he went on, “provided I do the rough work.”

“So it’s up to me to get you ready for them, just like it was up to Clara to get you ready for me. And unless I get you ready, they won’t be able to do anything at all with you.”

“Why couldn’t Clara continue being my teacher?” I asked, taking a sip of water.

He peered at me, then he blinked like a bird. “It’s the rule to have two ushers,” Emilito said. “Every one of us had two ushers, including myself.”

“But, my final teacher was a nagual. That is also the rule.”

Emilito explained that the nagual Julian Grau was not only his teacher, but the teacher of each of the sixteen members of the household.

The nagual Julian, together with his own teacher- another nagual by the name of Elias Abelar- had found each of the members one by one; and helped them on their way to freedom.

“Why is it that the names Grau and Abelar keep on recurring?”

“Those are power names,” Emilio explained. Every generation of sorcerers uses them, with each nagual’s name following an alternate-generation rule.”

“That means that John Michael Abelar inherited the name from Ellas Abelar; but the new nagual, the one that will come after John Michael Abelar, will inherit the name Grau from Julian Grau. That’s the rule for the naguals.”

“Why did Nelida say that I am an Abelar?”

“Because you are just like her, and the rule says that you will inherit her last name or her first name; or, if you wish, you can inherit both names. She herself inherited both names from her predecessor.”

“Who decided on that rule and why have it in the first place?” I asked.

“The rule is a code by which sorcerers live to keep from becoming arbitrary or whimsical. They have to adhere to the precepts set up for them because the precepts were made by the spirit itself.”

“This is what I was told and I have no reason to doubt it.”

Emilito said that his other teacher was a woman named Talia. He described her as the most exquisite woman anyone could ever imagine existing on this earth.

“I think Nelida is the most exquisite being,” I blurted out, but stopped myself from saying more: Otherwise I would have sounded just like Emilito; totally overcome with absolute devotion.

Emilito leaned across the kitchen table and with the air of a conspirator about to reveal a secret said, “I agree with you.

“But wait until Nelida really gets hold of you: Then you’ll love her as if there’s no tomorrow.”

His words didn’t surprise me for he had correctly assessed something I already felt: I loved Nellda as if I had known her forever; as if she were the mother I never really had.

I told him that she was to me the kindest, most beautiful and impeccable being I had ever encountered; this in spite of the fact that until a few days ago I didn’t even know she existed.

“But of course you knew her,” Emilito protested. “Every one of us came to see you, and Nelida saw you more often than anyone.”

“When you came here with Clara, Nelida had taught you endless things already.”

I asked uneasily, “What do you think she’s taught me?”

He scratched the top of his head for a moment, then said, “She taught you, for example, to call your double for advice.”

“You say that I did that during my first night in the tree house, but I don’t know what I did.”

“Of course you do. You have always done it. What about your technique of relaxing and looking at the southern horizon to ask for advice?”

The moment he said this, something cleared in my mind.

I had completely forgotten about some dreams I had had over the years in which a beautiful, mysterious lady used to talk to me and leave gifts for me on my bedside table.

Once I dreamt that she left an opal ring and another time a gold bracelet with a tiny heart charm.

Sometimes she would sit on the edge of my bed and tell me things that upon awakening I would begin to do like gazing at the southern horizon; or wearing certain colors; or even styling my hair a certain way that was more becoming.

When I felt sad or alone, she would soothe and comfort me and whisper sweet nothings in my ear.

The thing I remember most vividly was that she told me that she loved me for what I was. She used those exact words, “I love you for what you are.”

Then she would rub my back where I was tense or stroke my head and tousle my hair.

I realized that it was because of her that I didn’t want my mother to touch me. I didn’t want anyone to touch me except that lady.

When I woke up after any of these dreams, my feeling was that nothing in the world mattered as long as that lady held me in her heart. I always thought that those were my fantasy dreams.

Having gone to Catholic schools, I even thought perhaps she was the Blessed Virgin or one of the saints that kept on appearing to me. I had been taught that all good things come from them.

At one time, I even thought she was my fairy godmother, but never in my wildest imagination did I think that such a being really existed.

“That was not the Virgin or a saint, you idiot,” Emilito laughed. “That was our Nelida.

“And she really did give you those jewels. You’ll find them in the box under the platform in the tree house.

“They were given to her by her predecessor. Now she passes them on to you.” “You mean that opal ring really exists?” I gasped.

Emilito nodded. “Go see for yourself. Nelida told me to tell you-“

Before he could finish his statement, I ran out of the kitchen to the front of the house. With record speed, I hoisted myself up to the tree house.

There, in a silk box hidden under the platform, were exquisite jewels. I recognized the opal ring that had red fire in it and the gold charm bracelet; and there were other rings, a gold watch, and a diamond necklace.

I took out the gold bracelet with the heart and put it on, and for the first time since Clara left, I found my eyes filled with tears.

They were not tears of self-pity or sadness, but of sheer joy and elation because now I knew beyond a doubt that the beautiful lady had not been merely a dream.

I called out Nelida’s name and thanked her at the top of my voice for all her favors.

I promised to change, to be different and do whatever Emilito told me, anything, as long as I could see and talk to her again.

When I let myself down I found Emilito standing by the door in the kitchen.

I showed him the bracelet and rings and asked him how it was possible for me to have seen the same jewels years ago in my dreams.

“Sorcerers are extremely mysterious beings,” Emilito said, “because most of the time they act from the energy of their double.

“Nelida is a great stalker. She stalks in dreams.

“Her power is so unique that she can not only transport herself, but bring things with her. “That’s how she could visit you, and that’s why her name is Abelar.”

“Abelar to us means stalker, and Grau means dreamer. All the sorcerers in this house are either dreamers or stalkers.”

“What’s the difference, Emilito?”

“Stalkers plan and act out their plans. They connive and invent, and change things whether they are awake or in dreams.”

“Dreamers move onward without any plan or thought. They jump into the reality of the world or into the reality of dreams.”

“All this is incomprehensible to me, Emilito,” I said, examining the opal ring in the light.

“I’m guiding you so it will become comprehensible,” Emilito replied. “And to help me guide you, you must do what I tell you.”

“Everything I will say, do, or recommend that you do is either the exact replica of what my two teachers told me or it is something patterned on what they said.”

He leaned closer to me. “You may not believe this,” he whispered, “but you and I are basically alike.”

“In what way, Emilito?”

“We are both a bit insane,” he said with a most serious face. “Pay close attention and remember this. In order for you and me to be sane, we have to work like demons at balancing, not the body or the mind, but the double.”

I saw no point in arguing or agreeing with him, but as I sat down at the kitchen table again, I asked him, “How can we be sure that we’re balancing the double?”

“By opening our gates,” he replied. “The first gate is in the sole of the foot, at the base of the big toe.”

He reached under the table and grabbed my left foot and in one incredibly swift maneuver, he removed my shoe and sock.

Then using his index finger and thumb as a vise, he pressed the round protuberance of my big toe at the sole of my foot and the toe joint at the top of my foot.

The sharp pain and the surprise made me scream. I yanked my foot away so forcefully that I bumped my knee on the underside of the table.

I stood up and yelled, “What the hell do you think you’re doing!”

He ignored my angry outburst and said, “I’m pointing out the gates to you according to the rule, so pay close attention.”

He stood up and moved around to my side.

“The second gate is the area that includes the calves and the inner part of the knee,” he said bending over and stroking my legs.

“The third is at the sexual organs and tailbone.”

Before I could move away, he slid his warm hands into my crotch and lifted me up a bit as he gave me a firm squeeze.

I fought him off but he grabbed my lower back.

“The fourth and the most important is in the area of the kidneys,” he said.

Unconcerned with my vexation, he pushed me down on the bench again. He moved his hands up my back. I cringed, but for Nelida’s sake I let him. “The fifth point is in between the shoulder blades,” he said.

“The sixth is at the base of the skull, and the seventh is at the crown of the head.” To isolate the last point, his knuckles descended hard on the very top of my head.

He moved back to his side of the table and sat down. “If our first or second centers are open, we transmit a certain kind of force that people may find intolerable,” he went on.

“On the other hand, if the third and fourth gates are not as closed as they are supposed to be, we transmit a certain force that people will find most appealing.”

I knew for a fact that the caretaker’s lower centers were wide open because I found him as obnoxious and intolerable as anyone could be.

Half jokingly and partly out of guilt for feeling the way I did toward him, I admitted that people didn’t take to me easily. I had always thought it was a lack of social grace for which I felt I had to compensate by being extra accommodating.

“It’s only natural,” he said, agreeing. “You have had the gates in your feet and calves partially open all your life.

“Another consequence of those lower centers being open is that you have trouble walking.”

“Wait just a moment,” I said, “there’s nothing wrong with the way I walk. I practice martial arts. Clara told me that I move smoothly and gracefully.”

At that he burst out laughing. “You can practice whatever you please,” he retorted, “you still drag your feet when you walk. You have an old man’s shuffle.”

Emilito was worse than Clara. At least she had the grace to laugh with me, not at me. He had absolutely no sympathy for my feelings. He picked on me the way older children pick on younger, weaker ones who have no defenses.

“You’re not offended, are you?” he asked, peering at me.

“Me, offended? Of course not.” I was seething.

“Good. Clara assured me that you have rid yourself of most of your self-pity and self-importance through your recapitulation.”

“Recapitulating your life, especially your sex life, has loosened some of your gates even more.”

“The cracking sound you hear at the back of your neck is the moment when your right and left sides have separated.

“This leaves a gap directly in the middle of your body where the energy rises to the neck; the place where the sound is heard. Hearing that pop means that your double is about to become aware.”

“What should I do when I hear it?”

“To know what to do isn’t that important because there’s very little we can do,” he said. “We can either remain seated with our eyes shut, or we can get up and move about.”

“The important point is to know that we are limited because our physical body controls our awareness.”

“But if we can turn it around so that our double controls our awareness, we can do practically anything we can imagine.”

He stood up and came toward me. “Now, you are not going to trick me into talking about things the way you did Clara and Nelida,” he said.

“You can only learn about the double by doing. I’m talking to you only because your transition phase hasn’t ended yet.”

He took me by the arm and without another word, he practically dragged me to the back of the house.

There he positioned me under a tree, with the top of my head a few inches below a low, thick branch.

He said that he was going to see if I could project out my double again, this time in full awareness, with the help of the tree.

I seriously doubted I would be able to project out anything, and I told him so.

He insisted that if I intended it, my double would push out from inside me and expand beyond the boundaries of my physical body.

“What am I supposed to do, exactly?” I asked, hoping he would show me a procedure that was part of the sorcerers’ rule.

He told me to close my eyes and concentrate on my breathing.

As I relaxed, I was to intend a force to flow upward until I could touch the top branches with a feeling that came out of the gate in the crown of my head.

He said that this was going to be fairly easy for me because I was going to use my friend the tree for support.

The tree’s energy, he explained, would form a matrix for my awareness to expand.

After a time of concentrating on my breath, I felt a vibrating energy rising up my back, trying to push out of the top of my head.

Then something opened inside me.

Every time I inhaled, a line elongated to the top of the tree. When I exhaled, the line was pulled down into my body again.

The feeling of reaching the top of the tree became stronger with my every breath until I truly believed that my body expanded, becoming as tall and voluminous as the tree.

At one point, a profound affection and empathy for the tree enveloped me. It was at that same moment that something surged up my back and out my head, and I found myself viewing the world from the top branches.

This sensation lasted only an instant, for it was disrupted by the caretaker’s voice commanding me to come down and flow inside my body again.

I felt something like a waterfall; an effervescence flowing downward entering the top of my head and filling my body with a familiar warmth.

“You don’t want to stay mixed with the tree too long,” he told me when I opened my eyes.

I had an overwhelming desire to embrace the tree, but the caretaker pulled me by the arm to a large boulder some distance away, where we sat down.

He pointed out that aided by an outside force, in this case uniting my awareness with the tree, one can easily make the double expand.

However, because it’s easy, we run the risk of staying merged with the tree too long in which case we might sap the tree of the vital energy it needs to maintain itself in a strong and healthy state; or we might leave some of our own energy behind by becoming emotionally attached to the tree.

“One can merge with anything,” he explained:

“If whatever or whomever you merge with is strong, your energy will be enhanced as it was whenever you merged with the magician, Manfred.”

“But if it is sick or weak, stay away.”

“In any case, you must do the exercise sparingly because like everything else, it is a double-edged sword. Outside energy is always different from our own, often antagonistic to it.”

I listened attentively to what the caretaker said.

One thing stood out from everything else, and I asked, “Tell me, Emilito, why did you call Manfred a magician?”

“That’s our way of acknowledging his uniqueness. Manfred to us can not be anything else but a magician.”

“He’s more than a sorcerer. He would be a sorcerer if he had lived among his kind. He lives among human beings; and human sorcerers at that. And he is par with them.”

“Only a consummate magician could accomplish that feat.”

I asked him if I would ever see Manfred again.

The caretaker crossed his index finger over his lips in such an exaggerated fashion that I kept quiet and didn’t press him for an answer.

He picked up a twig and drew an oval shape on the soft ground.

Then he added a horizontal line that transected it midway.

Pointing to the two partitions he explained that the double is divided into a lower and an upper section which correspond roughly in the physical body to the abdomen and chest cavities.

Two different currents of energy circulate in these two sections.

In the lower one circulates the original energy we had while still in the womb.

In the upper section circulates the thought energy which enters the body at birth with the first breath. He said that thought energy is enhanced by experience and rises upward into the head.

The original energy sinks down into the genital area.

Usually in life these two energies become separated in the double, causing weaknesses and unbalance in the physical body.

He drew another line, this time down the center of the elliptical shape, dividing it lengthwise into two, which, he stated, corresponds to the right and left sides of the body.

These two sides also have two specific patterns of energy circulation.

In the right side, energy circulates up on the frontal part of the double, and down on the back of it. On the left side, energy circulates down on the frontal part of the double, and up on the back.

He explained that the error many people make when trying to seek the double is to apply to it the rules of the physical body; seeking to train it, for example, as if it were made of muscle and bone.

He assured me that there is no way to condition the double through physical exercises.

“The easiest way to resolve this problem is to separate the two,” the caretaker explained: “Only when they are undeniably separate can awareness flow from one to the other.”

“That is what sorcerers do so that they can dispense with the nonsense of rituals, incantations and elaborate breathing techniques that are supposed to unify them.”

“But what about the breaths and sorcery passes that Clara taught me? Are they nonsense too?”

“No. She taught you only things that would help you separate your body and your double. Therefore, the breaths and sorcery passes are all useful for our purpose.”

He said that perhaps our greatest human fallacy is to believe that our health and well-being is in the realm of the body when, in essence, the control of our lives is in the realm of the double.

This fallacy stems from the fact that the body controls our awareness.

He added that ordinarily our awareness is placed on the energy that circulates in the right side of the double, which results in our ability to think and reason and be effective in dealing with ideas and people.

Sometimes accidentally, but more often due to training, awareness can shift to the energy that circulates in the left side of the double which results in behavior not so conducive to intellectual pursuits or dealing with people.

“When awareness is turned steadily to the left side of the double, the double is fleshed out and emerges. Then we are capable of performing inconceivable feats. This shouldn’t be surprising because the double is our energy source. The physical body is merely the receptacle where that energy has been placed.”

I asked him if there are some people who can focus their awareness on either side of the double at will.

He nodded. “Sorcerers can do that,” he replied:

“The day you can do that, you’ll be a sorceress yourself.”

He said that some people can shift their awareness to the right or the left side of the double after they have successfully completed the abstract flight simply by manipulating the flow of their breath.

Such people can practice sorcery or martial arts as readily as they can manipulate intricate academic constructs.

He emphasized, however, that because of the mystery and power inherent on the left; our urge to turn awareness steadily to the left it is a trap infinitely more deadly than the attractions of the world of everyday life.

“The real hope for us lies in the center,” he said, touching my forehead and the center of my chest, “because in the wall that divides the two sides of the double is a hidden door that opens into a third, thin, secret compartment.

“Only when this door opens can one experience true freedom.”

He grabbed my arm and pulled me off the rock. “Your transition time is nearly up,” he said, hurrying me back into the house. “No more time for explanations. We’ll leave the transition phase behind us with one hell of a bang. Come, let’s go to my room.”

I stopped dead in my tracks.

I was no longer merely ill at ease, I felt threatened.

No matter how eccentric Emilito might be; and no matter how much he talked about the ethereal double, he was still a male, and the memory of his hand grasping my private parts in the kitchen was much too vivid.

I knew that it hadn’t been an impersonal touch merely for the purpose of demonstration, either: I had clearly sensed his lust when he touched me.

The caretaker peered at me with cold eyes. “What the hell do you mean that you sensed my lust when I touched you?”

I could only stare back at him with my mouth gaping. He had voiced my thought verbatim.

A surge of shame went through me, accompanied by a cold shiver that spread over my entire body.

I blurted out some lame apologies. I told him that I used to fantasize that I was so beautiful that all men found me irresistible.

“To recapitulate means to burn all that,” he said. “You haven’t done a thorough job. This, no doubt, is the reason you cracked while attempting the sorcerers’ crossing.”

He turned around and walked away from the house.

He said, “It’s not time yet to show you what I had in mind.

“No. You need to do much more work to clean up your act. Much more. And from now on, you’ll have to be twice as careful, too; you will have to run twice as hard because you can not afford any more slip-ups.”

***

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