(Encounters with the Nagual by Armando Torres)
In the beginning, one of my worries had to do with Carlos’ historical sources. To what extent were Don Juan’s teachings the product of a tradition of men of knowledge which stretched back thousands of years, and to what extent had they been influenced by Western ideas?
On various occasions, I tried to validate what Carlos told us through comparisons with what has been left to us from pre-Hispanic antiquity, but I must admit that I always ended up frustrated. I wanted to question it in terms of the most orthodox anthropology. However, it seemed inappropriate to approach this delicate matter in front of people, so I postponed my questions.
One afternoon, I mentioned what was on my mind. He was perfectly affable, and told me that this was a doubt that assaulted almost all his listeners, because we have all been presented with the image of the communities of ancient Mexico as primitive towns.
He added that my mistrust regarding his statements was normal, and that the problem I was presenting in such a straightforward way, was actually about finding definitions for experiences which don’t fit within the syntax of modern languages.
“I made a similar error with my teacher. For Don Juan, anything that didn’t serve the objective of the teachings was-a waste of time. Every time I tried to find some relationship between his words and those I read in history books, he simply stopped speaking and turned away.”
“Once I asked him about his reticence and he answered: ‘Behind your professional concern hides a professional doubt. If you don’t discard it, you won’t understand the core of what I am telling you. I know the sources of the information which I am passing on to you, so I don’t need to prove them.’”
“Later, he spoke about a time in which sorcerers traveled enormous distances across the world, in order to share the results of their spiritual search with colleagues on other latitudes. Unlike today, sorcerers moved in dreaming with complete freedom, and nothing was more respected than being a seer.”
“The credit for the knowledge those men accumulated cannot be awarded to any one country in particular, the knowledge is universal. But the organization of their principles into the arrangement which today is called ‘nagualism’ or ‘the path of the warrior’ definitely took place in ancient Mexico.”
“Starting from their primary observations, the ancient seers arrived at the most profound understanding of universal truths that man has ever achieved. The power of their attention had so much force that it is still active today, generating potentialities which are affecting certain areas of Mexico and the Southern United States, creating favorable conditions for an energy concentration that you’d be hard put to find anywhere else in the world.”
“Partly, those sorcerers were helped by a peculiar configuration of the luminous field of the Earth, whose epicenter rotates around the Valley of Mexico. They see that peculiarity as a gigantic funnel or pleat of light, where emanations coming in from the universe fit with those of the planet, producing a heightened level of awareness.”
“Don Juan thought that the formation is natural and was used to maximum advantage by the seers to increase their power. But in my analysis of the matter, I have come to the conclusion that it is the other way around: The seers of antiquity fixed their attention on this area of the world, and the planet in its entirety responded to that intent, creating a gigantic catalyst of cosmic emanations. However we choose to interpret it, the fact remains: This is the center; anything can happen here!”
While we were contemplating the ruins of what in the past was the main temple of the Aztecs, Carlos surprised me by making an extravagant declaration. He told me that in this very place, located in the heart of the capital’s main square, resided the protector of Mexico, whom he described as an inorganic being in the shape of a tube of light, the size of a twenty-story building.
I looked at him, trying to figure out if he was joking, but his eyes were totally serious. From there, the conversation shifted to a topic of great interest to me: The enigma of pre-Hispanic cultures. He affirmed that while we nowadays use books to transmit knowledge, the ancient sorcerers kept it in positions of the assemblage point. And they used their sculptures of stone, wood, and ceramics as catalysts for the movement of that point. So their knowledge took the form of magnificent works of art, because for them knowledge was not only information, but, above all, a sublime vision of life.
“The power of that vision has lasted until the present. All the naguals I am aware of were Toltecs, that is, accomplished artists. They combined impeccable control of their emotions with a high aesthetic sensibility provided by their experiments with awareness. The result was an unheard-of capacity to communicate sensations, and make sense of extreme experiences that would have entangled other men to the point where they could just babble incoherently.”
“Some naguals of my lineage were attracted to the plastic arts, others to theater, music, or dance. There were some whose predilection was tales of power; stories which are able to unleash the same effects on all their listeners, because they are not based on the cleverness of reason, but on the marvels of our being aware. Today we call those stories ‘myths’, and of course, we don’t understand them.”
Carlos went on to say that, judging from their artistic expression, the obsession of the sorcerers of ancient Mexico with transmitting their knowledge to those who surrounded them has no parallel anywhere else on Earth. The agreement they made with their pupils had different parameters from our Western, ‘rational’ agreements. The pre-Hispanic reality included aspects we would not consider normal, because they had to do with energy fields that are not in use anymore.
As an example of one of those fields, he mentioned the emphasis on dreaming, which was of consuming interest to pre-Hispanic people. Remnants of it can still be found today in isolated tribes in the country.
He concluded by saying that, due to the lack of synchronicity among the emanations aligned by ancient and modern concerns, it is almost impossible to cross the interpretive barrier that separates us from those cultures. So, as ordinary men, we will never fully understand their artistic creations.
“Fortunately, a sorcerer has special tools, because he has learned how to make his assemblage point flexible. He can connect his attention with the modality of awareness of other times, and he knows how to adjust his concern with that of sorcerers who have departed.”
“Don Juan was an expert on pre-Hispanic cultures. For him, old stones didn’t hold any secrets. He sometimes brought me on a tour through the buildings of the Museum of Anthropology in order to make me experience a verification of these special agreements for myself.”
Then Carlos told me about one of those visits, when he himself witnessed the specialized ways in which sorcerers contemplate the past.
“That morning, we had discussed historical topics; I was trying to convince him of the seriousness of my theories, and he was openly making fun of me. I got into a very heavy mood. Before entering the museum, he manipulated my luminosity and made me enter a different state of awareness. His maneuver had the effect of charging the art works with life. Everything was there: the luminous egg, dreaming, the warrior’s way, the movement of the assemblage point… it was tremendous!”
“As I verified the authenticity of the teachings, I made a swift and thorough assessment of my position as a researcher. I understood that, in great measure, academic institutions had programmed me, not to impartially gather information, but to corroborate a certain description of the world, and this position prevented me from surrendering entirely to knowledge. So, when I did my fieldwork, I was not so much an impartial seeker of truth as an ambassador for another way of life. This generated an inevitable collision which often translated into distrust and mutual suspicion.”
“As I was leaving my experience in the museum and returning to my habitual view, I could no longer understand, or even remember, my previous state of euphoria. But strangely enough, from that moment on, my academic point of view began to change. I learned how to see things as they were, without conceptual veils. Until then I had been an investigator at the service of a system of agreements – the Western culture. Suddenly I began to feel more and more comfortable with the idea that, under the anthropologist’s skin, there was an ordinary man involved in the task of finding his destiny.”
I asked him to give me some concrete example of how sorcerers interpret old monuments.
In response, he asked me:
“Have you seen the Atlants of Tula?”
I told him I had, and he explained that those impressive figures of the Toltec age are a description of the party of the nagual. He maintained that the sixteen priests in bas-relief, which are in the four columns, behind the statues, represent the complete group of warriors, divided into four teams, one for each of the cardinal points.
“They are cosmic travelers, and their mission is to flow with the energy of infinity. The objects they carry with them symbolized each of their functions. These priests are a party in mid-flight, an image of the final objective of the path, which is to reach the third attention.”
For a long while, he continued giving his own interpretations of various archaeological objects. His stories were so graphic; he gave me the sensation of walking with him on the millenary paths of a pre-Hispanic city. I could almost distinguish the enormous and impenetrable Olmecan heads there, at the end of central square; the human warmth of the smiling Huastecas statuettes which looked at us from the niches of the pyramids; the delicate Mayan stelas, talking nearby…
Carlos affirmed that the simple act of contemplating some archaeological pieces in a state of inner silence is enough to project the observer’s attention to the position of the ancient artists. Hence, some of those pieces work as veritable traps of attention.
“Many of them were designed like that with deliberate intention. Their purpose was not ornamental or symbolic. Each one of their proportions and designs contain a detonator of psychic states and flows of energy. Those pieces are, you might say, catapults for the assemblage point. No professional investigation will ever be able to figure them out, because their creators were not in the least interested in adjusting themselves to rational criteria. To align with them, we have to have the guts to meet the challenge, and perceive in terms of silent knowledge.”
He maintained that, because of their intent, the creations of pre-Hispanic antiquity are true deposits of the second attention, an oasis of power in the middle of the dry sterility into which current civilization has thrown man.
“By encouraging me to present the heritage of ancient Mexico to the world at large, Don Juan began a kind of journey to the roots in order to validate aspects of the teachings which had remained hidden right up until today, and return to man the true dimensions of his being.”
“As seekers of knowledge, we can have the full benefit of the old seers’ intent today, in order to continue their work with renewed vigor.”
Somewhat shyly, I asked Carlos if we could meet in some museum or archaeological site, where he could give me a practical demonstration of the keys to sorcery. But he didn’t approve of that suggestion. His answer was emphatical:
“All you want to know about your country; go and find out for yourself! As a Mexican, you are the best qualified to recover the Toltec message. That is your task, your commitment to the world. If you are too lazy to take it on, somebody else will.”