Copyright (c) 1984  by Carlos  Castaneda. Cover  artwork copyright (c)
1985 Robert Giusti

     Something was grabbing the edge of the mirror, as if from the inside of
the glass,  as if the  glass  surface were an  open window  and something or
somebody were just climbing through it.
     Don  Juan  and  I  fought  desperately; the  loud  thrashing  continued
unremittingly like an  enormous  fish in our bare hands. A strange shape was
actually trying to climb up through it. . .
     I vacillated a second and the mirror flew out of my hands.
     "Grab it! Grab it!" Don Juan yelled. . .

     -- United Press International
     --The Nashville Tennessean
     --The New York Times
     Each of  Carlos Castaneda's books is a brilliant  and tantalizing burst
of  illumination  into the depths of  our deepest mysteries,  like a  sudden
flash of light, like a burst of  lightning  over the desert  at night, which
shows us a  world that  is both alien and totally familiar--the landscape of
our dreams.
     THE FIRE FROM  WITHIN is the author's most brilliant, thought-provoking
and unusual book, one in which Castaneda, under the tutelage of don Juan and
his "disciples," at last constructs, from the  teachings of don Juan and his
own experiences,  a  stunning  portrait of  the  "sorcerer's world" that  is
crystal-clear and dizzying in its implications.
     "It's impossible to view the world in quite the same way after  reading
     -- Chicago Tribune


     1. The New Seers
     2. Petty Tyrants
     3. The Eagle's Emanations
     4. The Glow of Awareness
     5. The First Attention
     6. Inorganic Beings
     7. The Assemblage Point
     8. The Position of the Assemblage Point
     9. The Shift Below 10. Great Bands of  Emanations 11. Stalking, Intent,
and the Dreaming  Position 12. The  Nagual Julian 13. The Earth's  Boost 14.
The Rolling Force 15. The Death Defiers 16. The Mold of Man  17. The Journey
of the Dreaming Body 18. Breaking the Barrier of Perception EPILOGUE


     I  have  written  extensive  descriptive  accounts  of  my   apprentice
relationship with  a Mexican Indian sorcerer,  don  Juan Matus.  Due to  the
foreignness of the concepts and practices don  Juan wanted me to  understand
and internalize, I have had no other choice but  to  render his teachings in
the form of a narrative, a narrative of what happened, as it happened.
     The organization of don Juan's instruction  was predicated on  the idea
that man has two types of awareness. He labeled them the  right side and the
left side. He described the first as the state of normal awareness necessary
for everyday life. The second,  he said, was the mysterious side of man, the
state of awareness needed to function as sorcerer and seer. Don Juan divided
his  instruction,  accordingly,  into  teachings  for  the  right  side  and
teachings for the left side.
     He conducted his teachings for the right side when I was in my state of
normal  awareness, and I have described those teachings in all  my accounts.
In  my state of normal awareness don Juan told me that he was a sorcerer. He
even introduced  me to  another sorcerer,  don Genaro Flores, and because of
the nature  of our association, I logically concluded that they had taken me
as their apprentice.
     That  apprenticeship  ended with an incomprehensible act that  both don
Juan and don  Genaro led me to perform. They made me jump from the  top of a
flat mountain into an abyss.
     I  have described in  one  of  my  accounts  what  took place  on  that
mountaintop. The last drama  of don Juan's  teachings for the right side was
played  there  by don Juan himself; don Genaro; two apprentices, Pablito and
Nestor; and me. Pablito, Nestor, and I jumped from that mountaintop  into an
     For years  afterward I thought that just my total trust in don Juan and
don Genaro had been sufficient to obliterate all my rational fears on facing
actual annihilation. I know  now that it wasn't so;  I  know that the secret
was in don  Juan's teachings for the left  side, and that it took tremendous
discipline and perseverance for don Juan, don  Genaro, and  their companions
to conduct those teachings.
     It has taken me  nearly ten years to  recollect what exactly took place
in  his teachings for the left side that  led me to be so willing to perform
such an incomprehensible act: jumping into an abyss.
     It was in his teachings for the left side that don Juan let on what he,
don Genaro, and their companions were really doing to me. and who they were.
They were  not  teaching me  sorcery, but how  to master three aspects of an
ancient knowledge they possessed: awareness, stalking,  and intent. And they
were not  sorcerers; they were seers.  And don Juan was not only a seer, but
also a nagual.
     Don Juan  had already  explained to me, in his  teachings for the right
side,  a great deal about  the  nagual  and about seeing. I  had  understood
seeing  to be the capacity of human beings to enlarge their perceptual field
until they are capable of assessing not only the  outer appearances  but the
essence of everything. He had also explained that seers see  man as  a field
of energy, which looks like a luminous egg. The majority of people, he said,
have their fields of energy divided into two parts. A few men and women have
four  or sometimes three parts. Because these people are more resilient than
the average man, they can become naguals after learning to see.
     In his  teachings for the  left  side, don  Juan  explained  to  me the
intricacies of seeing and of being a  nagual.  To be  a nagual,  he said, is
something  more  complex and far-reaching than being merely a more resilient
man who has learned to  see. To be a nagual entails being a leader,  being a
teacher and a guide.
     As a nagual,  don Juan was the leader of a group of  seers known as the
nagual's party, which was composed of  eight female  seers, Cecilia,  Delia,
Hermelinda, Carmela. Nelida, Florinda, Zuleica, and Zoila; three male seers,
Vicente,  Silvio Manuel,  and  Genaro;  and  four  couriers  or  messengers,
Emilito, John Tuma, Marta, and Teresa.
     In addition to leading the  nagual's party, don Juan  also  taught  and
guided  a group of  apprentice  seers  known as  the new nagual's  party. It
consisted of four young men, Pablito,  Nestor, Eligio,  and  Benigno,  along
with  five women, Soledad, la Gorda,  Lidia, Josefina, and  Rosa.  I was the
nominal leader  of the new  nagual's party together  with  the nagual  woman
     In order for  don Juan  to impart to me his teachings for the left side
it  was necessary for  me to enter into a unique state of perceptual clarity
known as heightened awareness. Throughout  the years of my association  with
him, he had me repeatedly shift into such a state by means of a blow that he
delivered with the palm of his hand on my upper back.
     Don Juan explained that in a state  of heightened awareness apprentices
can  behave  almost  as naturally as in everyday life,  but can bring  their
minds to focus on anything with uncommon force and clarity. Yet, an inherent
quality of  heightened awareness is that  it is  not susceptible  to  normal
recall.  What transpires in such a  state  becomes part of  the apprentice's
everyday awareness only through a staggering effort of recovery.
     My  interaction  with  the  nagual's  party  was  an  example  of  this
difficulty  of recall.  With the exception of don Genaro, I had contact with
them only when  I was in a state of heightened awareness; hence in my normal
everyday  life I could not remember  them, not even  as vague characters  in
dreams. The manner in which I met with them every time was  almost a ritual.
I  would drive to don Genaro's house in a small town in the southern part of
Mexico. Don  Juan would join us immediately and the three of  us  would then
get busy with don Juan's teachings for the right side.  After that, don Juan
would make  me change  levels  of awareness and then  we  would  drive  to a
larger, nearby town where he and the other fifteen seers were living.
     Every time  I  entered into  heightened awareness  I  could  not  cease
marveling at the difference between my two sides. I always felt as if a veil
had been lifted from my  eyes, as if I had been  partially blind before  and
now I could see. The freedom, the sheer joy that used to possess me on those
occasions cannot be compared with anything else I have ever experienced. Yet
at the same  time, there  was  a frightening feeling of sadness  and longing
that went hand  in hand with that freedom and joy. Don Juan had told me that
there is no completeness without sadness and longing, for without them there
is no sobriety, no kindness. Wisdom without kindness, he said, and knowledge
without sobriety are useless.
     The organization of his teachings for  the left side also required that
don Juan, together with  some of his fellow seers, explain to  me  the three
facets  of  their  knowledge:  the  mastery  of  awareness, the  mastery  of
stalking, and the mastery of intent.
     This work deals with  the  mastery of awareness, which  is  part of his
total set  of  teachings for the left  side; the  set  he  used in  order to
prepare me for performing the astonishing act of jumping into an abyss.
     Due to  the  fact that  the  experiences I narrate here  took place  in
heightened  awareness, they  cannot have the texture of daily life. They are
lacking in worldly context,  although I  have  tried  my  best  to supply it
without  fictionalizing  it.  In  heightened  awareness  one   is  minimally
conscious of the surroundings, because one's total concentration is taken by
the details of the action at hand.
     In this case  the action at hand was, naturally, the elucidation of the
mastery of awareness. Don Juan understood the mastery of awareness as  being
the modern-day version of an extremely old  tradition,  which he  called the
tradition of the ancient Toltec seers.
     Although he felt that he was inextricably linked to that old tradition,
he considered himself  to be one of the seers of a new cycle.  When  I asked
him once what was the essential character of the seers of  the new cycle, he
said that they are the warriors of total freedom, that they are such masters
of awareness, stalking, and intent that they are not  caught by  death, like
the rest of mortal men, but choose the moment and the way of their departure
from this  world. At that moment they are consumed by a fire from within and
vanish from the face of the earth, free, as if they had never existed.


     1 The New Seers

     I had arrived in the city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico on my way to the
mountains to look  for don Juan. On my way out of town in the early morning,
I had the good sense  to drive by  the  main  square, and  there I found him
sitting on his favorite bench, as if waiting for me to go by.
     I joined him. He  told me that he  was in the city on business, that he
was staying  at a local boardinghouse, and that I  was  welcome to stay with
him  because he had  to  remain in town  for two more days.  We talked for a
while about my activities and problems in the academic world.
     As was customary with him, he suddenly hit me  on my back  when I least
expected it, and the blow shifted me into a state of heightened awareness.
     We sat in silence for a very long time.  I anxiously waited for him  to
begin talking, yet when he did, he caught me by surprise.
     "Ages  before  the  Spaniards  came to  Mexico,"  he said,  "there were
extraordinary  Toltec  seers, men  capable of inconceivable deeds. They were
the last link in a chain of knowledge that extended over thousands of years.
     "The Toltec seers were extraordinary  men-- powerful sorcerers, somber,
driven  men who unraveled mysteries and possessed secret knowledge that they
used  to  influence and victimize people  by fixating the awareness of their
victims on whatever they chose."
     He stopped talking  and  looked  at  me intently.  I  felt  that he was
waiting for me to ask a question, but I did not know what to ask.
     "I have to emphasize an important  fact," he continued, "the fact  that
those  sorcerers  knew  how  to  fixate the awareness of  their victims. You
didn't pick up on that. When I mentioned it, it didn't mean anything to you.
That's not  surprising.  One  of the  hardest things to acknowledge is  that
awareness can be manipulated."
     I felt confused. I knew that he was leading me toward something. I felt
a  familiar apprehension-- the  same feeling  I had whenever he began  a new
round of his teachings.
     I  told him how  I  felt. He smiled vaguely.  Usually when he smiled he
exuded  happiness;  this  time he was definitely  preoccupied.  He seemed to
consider for a moment  whether or not  to go on talking.  He  stared  at  me
intently  again,  slowly moving his gaze over  the entire length of my body.
Then, apparently satisfied, he nodded and said that I was ready for my final
exercise,  something  that  all  warriors  go   through  before  considering
themselves fit to be on their own. I was more mystified than ever.
     "We are going to be talking about awareness," he continued. "The Toltec
seers knew the art of handling awareness. As a matter of fact, they were the
supreme  masters of that art. When  I say that they knew  how to  fixate the
awareness  of their  victims, I mean that their secret  knowledge and secret
practices allowed  them  to pry  open the mystery of being aware.  Enough of
their practices have survived to  this day,  but fortunately in  a  modified
form. I say fortunately because those activities, as I will explain, did not
lead the ancient Toltec seers to freedom, but  to  their doom." "Do you know
those practices  yourself?" I asked. "Why, certainly," he replied. "There is
no way for us not  to know those techniques, but that doesn't  mean  that we
practice them ourselves. We have other views. We belong to a new cycle."
     "But  you  don't  consider  yourself a sorcerer, don Juan, do  you?"  I
     "No,  I don't," he said. "I  am a warrior who  sees. In fact, all of us
are los nuevos videntes-- the new seers. The old seers were the sorcerers.
     "For the average man," he  continued,  "sorcery is a negative business,
but  it  is fascinating all the same. That's why I encouraged  you,  in your
normal awareness, to think of us as  sorcerers. It's  advisable to do so. It
serves  to attract  interest.  But  for us  to be  sorcerers would  be  like
entering a dead-end street."
     I wanted to know what he  meant by that, but he  refused to  talk about
it. He said that he would elaborate  on the subject as he proceeded with his
explanation of awareness.
     I asked him then about the origin of the Toltecs' knowledge.
     "The  way the  Toltecs first started  on the  path of  knowledge was by
eating power plants," he replied. "Whether prompted by curiosity, or hunger,
or error, they ate them. Once the power plants had produced their effects on
them,  it was only  a  matter of time before some of them  began  to analyze
their experiences. In my  opinion,  the first  men  on the path of knowledge
were very daring, but very mistaken."
     "Isn't all this a conjecture on your part, don Juan?"
     "No, this is no conjecture of mine.  I  am a seer,  and when I focus my
seeing on that time I know everything that took place."
     "Can you see the details of things of the past?" I asked.
     "Seeing  is  a peculiar  feeling of knowing,"  he  replied, "of knowing
something without  a  shadow of doubt.  In  this case, I know what those men
did, not only  because of  my seeing, but because we  are  so closely  bound
     Don  Juan  explained then that  his use  of the term "Toltec"  did  not
correspond to what  I understood  it  to mean. To me it meant a culture, the
Toltec Empire. To him, the term "Toltec" meant "man of knowledge."
     He said that in the time he was referring to, centuries or perhaps even
millennia  before  the  Spanish  Conquest, all such men  of knowledge  lived
within a vast geographical area, north and south  of  the  valley of Mexico,
and   were  employed   in  specific  lines  of  work:   curing,  bewitching,
storytelling, dancing,  being an  oracle,  preparing  food  and drink. Those
lines of work fostered specific  wisdom, wisdom that distinguished them from
average men. These Toltecs,  moreover, were also people who fitted  into the
structure  of  everyday  life, very  much  as  doctors,  artists,  teachers,
priests, and merchants in our own time do. They practiced  their professions
under the strict control of organized brotherhoods and became proficient and
influential, to such an extent that they even dominated groups of people who
lived outside the Toltecs' geographical regions.
     Don Juan said that after some of these men had finally learned to see--
after centuries of dealing with power plants-- the most enterprising of them
then  began to teach other men of  knowledge  how  to  see. And that was the
beginning of their end. As time passed, the number of  seers increased,  but
their  obsession with  what  they saw, which filled  them with reverence and
fear, became so intense that they ceased to be men of knowledge. They became
extraordinarily proficient  in seeing and could exert great control over the
strange worlds  they were witnessing. But it  was  to no  avail.  Seeing had
undermined their strength and forced them to be obsessed with what they saw.
     "There were seers, however, who escaped that fate," don Juan continued,
"great men  who,  in  spite  of  their  seeing,  never  ceased  to be men of
knowledge. Some of them endeavored  to use seeing positively and to teach it
to  their  fellow  men.  I'm  convinced  that  under  their  direction,  the
populations of entire cities went into other worlds and never came back.
     "But the seers who could only see were fiascos, and when the land where
they lived  was invaded by a conquering  people  they were as defenseless as
everyone else.
     "Those  conquerors," he went  on,  "took over the  Toltec world--  they
appropriated everything-- but they never learned to see."'
     "Why do you think they never learned to see?" I asked.
     "Because they copied the  procedures of the Toltec seers without having
the Toltecs' inner knowledge. To this day there are scores  of sorcerers all
over Mexico, descendants of those conquerors, who follow the Toltec ways but
don't  know  what  they're  doing, or what  they're talking  about,  because
they're not seers."
     "Who were those conquerors, don Juan?"
     "Other  Indians," he said. "When the Spaniards came,  the old seers had
been gone  for centuries, but  there  was  a new  breed  of  seers who  were
starting to secure their place in a new cycle."
     "What do you mean. a new breed of seers?"
     "After  the  world of  the first  Toltecs was destroyed,  the surviving
seers retreated  and  began  a serious  examination of  their practices. The
first thing  they did was to establish stalking, dreaming, and intent as the
key  procedures and to  deemphasize the use of  power plants;  perhaps  that
gives us a hint as to what really happened to them with power plants.
     "The  new  cycle  was just  beginning  to  take  hold when the  Spanish
conquerors swept the land. Fortunately,  by  that  time the  new seers  were
thoroughly prepared  to  face  that  danger.  They were  already  consummate
practitioners of the art of stalking."
     Don Juan said that the subsequent centuries of subjugation provided for
these new seers the ideal  circumstances  in which to  perfect their skills.
Oddly enough, it was the extreme rigor and coercion of that period that gave
them the impetus to refine their new principles. And, owing to the fact that
they never divulged  their  activities,  they were left  alone to  map their
     "Were there a great many new seers during the Conquest?" I asked.
     "At the beginning  there were. Near the end  there were only a handful.
The rest had been exterminated."
     "What about in our day, don Juan?" I asked.
     "There are a few. They are scattered all over, you understand."
     "Do you know them?" I asked.
     "Such a  simple  question  is  the hardest one to answer,"  he replied.
"There are some we know very well. But they  are not exactly like us because
they  have  concentrated  on other specific  aspects of knowledge,  such  as
dancing,  curing,  bewitching,  talking,  instead  of  what  the  new  seers
recommend,  stalking,  dreaming, and intent. Those  who  are exactly like us
would not cross our path.  The seers who lived during the Conquest set it up
that way so as to avoid  being exterminated  in  the  confrontation with the
Spaniards. Each of those seers  founded a lineage. And not all  of  them had
descendants, so the lines are few."
     "Do you know any who are exactly like us?" I asked.
     "A few," he replied laconically.
     I asked  him  then to give me all the information he  could,  for I was
vitally interested in the topic; to me it  was of crucial importance to know
names and addresses for purposes of validation and corroboration.
     Don Juan  did  not  seem  inclined to oblige me.  "The  new seers  went
through that bit of corroboration," he said. "Half of them left their  bones
in  the corroborating room. So now  they  are solitary birds. Let's leave it
that way. All we can  talk  about is our line. About that, you and I can say
as much as we please."
     He explained  that all the lines of seers were started at the same time
and in  the  same  fashion. Around the  end  of the sixteenth  century every
nagual  deliberately isolated himself and his group of seers  from any overt
contact with  other seers. The  consequence of that  drastic segregation, he
said, was the formation of the individual lineages. Our lineage consisted of
fourteen naguals  and  one  hundred and twenty-six seers, he said.  Some  of
those  fourteen  naguals  had as few  as seven seers  with  them. others had
eleven, and some up to fifteen.
     He told me that his teacher-- or his benefactor, as he called him-- was
the nagual Julian, and the one who came before Julian was the nagual  Ellas.
I  asked  him  if  he knew  the names of all fourteen naguals. He  named and
enumerated them for me, so I could learn who they were. He also said that he
had personally known the fifteen seers who formed his benefactor's group and
that he had also known his  benefactor's teacher, the  nagual Ellas, and the
eleven seers of his party.
     Don Juan assured  me  that our line  was quite exceptional,  because it
underwent  a  drastic change  in the year  1723 as  a result of  an  outside
influence that came  to bear on us and inexorably altered our course. He did
not want  to discuss the event itself at the moment, but he said that  a new
beginning  is counted from  that time; and that  the eight naguals who  have
ruled  the  line since then are considered  intrinsically different from the
six who preceded them.

     Don Juan must have had business to take care of the next day, for I did
not see him until around noon. in the meantime, three of his apprentices had
come to town,  Pablito, Nestor, and la  Gorda. They were shopping  for tools
and  materials  for Pablito's  carpentry  business. I accompanied  them  and
helped them to complete all their  errands. Then all of us  went back to the
     All four of us were sitting  around talking when don Juan  came into my
room. He announced that we were leaving after lunch, but that before we went
to eat he still had something to  discuss with me, in private. He wanted the
two of us to take a stroll around the  main  square and then all of us would
meet at a restaurant.
     Pablito and Nestor stood up and said that they had some  errands to run
before meeting us. La Gorda seemed very displeased.
     "What are  you  going  to  talk  about?" she  blurted out,  but quickly
realized her mistake and giggled.
     Don Juan gave her a strange look but did not say anything.
     Encouraged by his  silence, la Gorda proposed that  we take her  along.
She assured us that she would not bother us in the least.
     "I'm sure you won't  bother  us," don Juan said to her,  "but  I really
don't want you to hear anything of what I have to say to him."
     La Gorda's  anger was very obvious. She  blushed and, as don Juan and I
walked out of the  room,  her entire face  clouded with anxiety and tension,
becoming instantly distorted. Her mouth was open and her lips were dry.
     La Gorda's mood made me very apprehensive. I felt an actual discomfort.
I didn't say anything, but don Juan seemed to notice my feelings.
     "You should  thank  la Gorda day and night," he said all  of  a sudden.
"She's helping you destroy your  selfimportance. She's the  petty  tyrant in
your life, but you still haven't caught on to that."
     We strolled around  the plaza  until all my  nervousness had  vanished.
Then we sat down on his favorite bench again.
     "The  ancient  seers were  very  fortunate  indeed,"  don  Juan  began,
"because they had plenty of time to learn marvelous things. Let me tell you,
they knew wonders that we can't even imagine today."
     "Who taught them all that?" I asked.
     "They  learned  everything by themselves  through seeing," he  replied.
"Most of the things we know in our lineage were figured out by them. The new
seers corrected the mistakes of the old seers, but the basis of what we know
and do is lost in Toltec time."
     He explained. One of the simplest and yet most important findings, from
the point of view of instruction, he said, is the knowledge that man has two
types of awareness. The old seers called them the right and the left side of
     "The  old seers figured out,"  he went on, "that  the best way to teach
their knowledge was to make their apprentices shift to their left side, to a
state of heightened awareness. Real learning takes place there.
     "Very young  children  were given to the old seers as apprentices," don
Juan  continued,  "so that they wouldn't know  any other way of  life. Those
children, in turn, when they came of age took other children as apprentices.
Imagine the things they must have uncovered in their shifts to  the left and
to the right, after centuries of that kind of concentration."
     I  remarked how disconcerting those shifts were to me. He said  that my
experience was  similar  to his own.  His benefactor, the nagual Julian, had
created  a  profound schism  in him, by making him shift back and forth from
one type of awareness to the other. He said that the clarity and freedom  he
experienced   in  heightened  awareness  were  in  total  contrast  to   the
rationalizations, the defenses, the anger, and the fear of  his normal state
of awareness.
     The old seers used to create this polarity to suit their own particular
purposes;  with  it,   they  forced  their   apprentices   to  achieve   the
concentration  needed to  learn sorcery  techniques. But the  new  seers, he
said, use it to lead  their  apprentices to  the  conviction  that there are
unrealized possibilities in man.
     "The  best effort of  the new  seers,"  don Juan  continued,  "is their
explanation  of the  mystery  of awareness. They condensed  it all into some
concepts  and  actions  which  are  taught  while  the  apprentices  are  in
heightened awareness."
     He said that the value of the  new seers' method of teaching is that it
takes advantage of  the fact  that no one can remember anything that happens
while being in a state  of heightened awareness.  This inability to remember
sets up an almost insurmountable barrier for warriors, who have to recollect
all the instruction given to them if they are to go on.  Only after years of
struggle and discipline  can warriors  recollect their instruction.  By then
the  concepts  and  the procedures  that  were  taught  to  them  have  been
internalized and have thus  acquired the  force the new  seers meant them to

     2 Petty Tyrants

     Don Juan did not  discuss the mastery of awareness with me until months
later. We were at that time in the house where the nagual's party lived.
     "Let's  go  for a walk,"  don Juan said to  me, placing  his hand on my
shoulder. "Or  better yet, let's go to the town's square, where there are  a
lot of people, and sit down and talk."
     I was surprised when he spoke  to me, as I had been in the  house for a
couple of days then and he had not said so much as hello.
     As  don Juan and I were leaving the house, la Gorda intercepted us  and
demanded that we take her along. She seemed determined not to take no for an
answer.  Don Juan in a  very stern  voice told  her that  he had  to discuss
something in private with me.
     "You're going to talk about me,"  la Gorda said, her  tone and gestures
betraying both suspicion and annoyance.
     "You're  right,"  don Juan  replied  dryly. He  moved past  her without
turning to look at her.
     I followed him, and we walked in  silence to the town's square. When we
sat down  I asked him what on earth we would find to discuss about la Gorda.
I was still smarting from her look of menace when we left the house.
     "We  have nothing to discuss about la Gorda or anybody  else," he said.
"I  told her  that  just to  provoke her  enormous self-importance.  And  it
worked. She is furious with  us. If  I know her, by now she will have talked
to  herself long enough to have  built up  her  confidence and her righteous
indignation at having been refused  and made to look like a fool. I wouldn't
be surprised if she barges in on us here, at the park bench."
     "If we're  not going  to  talk  about la Gorda, what are  we  going  to
discuss?" I asked.
     "We're going  to continue the  discussion  we  started  in  Oaxaca," he
replied.  "To  understand  the  explanation of  awareness will require  your
utmost effort and your willingness to shift back and forth between levels of
awareness. While we  are involved in our discussion I will demand your total
concentration and patience."
     Half-complaining,   I  told  him  that  he  had   made  me   feel  very
uncomfortable by refusing to talk to me for  the past two days. He looked at
me and arched his brows. A smile played on his lips and vanished. I realized
that he was letting me know I was no better than la Gorda.
     "I  was  provoking  your  self-importance,"  he  said  with  a   frown.
"Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it-- what weakens  us is
feeling  offended  by  the  deeds  and  misdeeds  of  our  fellow  men.  Our
self-importance  requires  that we  spend  most of  our  lives  offended  by
     "The  new seers  recommended  that  every  effort  should  be  made  to
eradicate  self-importance  from the lives of warriors. I have followed that
recommendation, and much  of my endeavors with you has  been geared  to show
you that without self-importance we are invulnerable."
     As  I listened his eyes suddenly  became  very shiny. I was thinking to
myself that he seemed to be on the verge of laughter and there was no reason
for it when I  was startled by an abrupt,  painful slap on the right side of
my face.
     I jumped up from the bench. La Gorda  was  standing behind me, her hand
still raised. Her face was flushed with anger.
     "Now you can  say  what you like about me and with more justification,"
she shouted. "If you have anything to say, however, say it to my face!"
     Her  outburst  appeared to have exhausted  her, because she sat down on
the cement  and began  to weep. Don Juan  was transfixed with  inexpressible
glee. I was frozen with sheer fury. La Gorda glared at me and then turned to
don Juan and meekly told him that we had no right to criticize her.
     Don  Juan laughed so hard  he  doubled  over  almost to  the ground. He
couldn't  even  speak. He  tried two or three times to say something to  me,
then finally got up and walked  away, his body still  shaking with spasms of
     I was about  to  run  after him, still glowering at la Gorda--  at that
moment I found her despicable  --  when something extraordinary happened  to
me.  I realized what don Juan had found so  hilarious. La  Gorda and  I were
horrendously alike. Our self-importance was monumental. My surprise and fury
at being slapped were just like la Gorda's feelings  of anger and suspicion.
Don Juan was right. The burden of selfimportance is a terrible encumbrance.
     I  ran after  him then,  elated, the tears  flowing down  my cheeks.  I
caught up with him and told him what I  had  realized. His eyes were shining
with mischievousness and delight.
     "What should I do about la Gorda?" I asked.
     "Nothing," he replied. "Realizations are always personal."
     He  changed the  subject and  said that  the omens were telling  us  to
continue  our  discussion  back  at  his  house, either in a large room with
comfortable  chairs or in the back patio, which had a roofed corridor around
it.  He said  that whenever he conducted  his explanation  inside the  house
those two areas would be off limits to everyone else.
     We went back to  the  house.  Don Juan told everyone what  la Gorda had
done.  The  delight all  the seers  showed  in taunting her  made la Gorda's
position extremely uncomfortable.
     "Self-importance can't  be fought with  niceties," don  Juan  commented
when I expressed my concern about la Gorda.
     He  then asked everyone  to  leave the room.  We sat  down and don Juan
began his explanations.
     He said that seers, old  and new, are  divided into two categories. The
first one is made up of those who are willing to exercise self-restraint and
can  channel their activities  toward  pragmatic  goals, which would benefit
other seers  and  man  in general. The  other category consists of those who
don't  care  about  self-restraint or about  any pragmatic goals. It  is the
consensus  among seers that the latter have failed to resolve the problem of
     "Self-importance is not something simple and naive," he explained.  "On
the one hand, it is the core of everything that  is good  in us, and  on the
other  hand,  the  core  of  everything that is  rotten. To  get  rid of the
self-importance that  is  rotten requires  a masterpiece of strategy. Seers,
through  the  ages,  have  given  the  highest  praise  to  those  who  have
accomplished it."
     I  complained that  the  idea of  eradicating self-importance, although
very appealing to me at times, was really  incomprehensible; I told him that
I found his directives for  getting rid  of  it so vague I could  not follow
     "I've  said to you many  times," he said, "that in order to follow  the
path of knowledge one  has to  be very imaginative. You see, in the path  of
knowledge nothing is as clear as we'd like it to be."
     My discomfort made me argue  that his admonitions about self-importance
reminded me of Catholic dieturns. After a lifetime of  being told about  the
evils of sin, I had become callous.
     "Warriors  fight  self-importance   as  a   matter   of  strategy,  not
principle,"  he replied.  "Your mistake is to understand what I say in terms
of morality."
     "I see you as a highly moral man, don Juan," I insisted.
     "You've noticed my impeccability, that's all," he said.
     "Impeccability, as well as getting rid of self-importance, is too vague
a concept to be of any value to me," I remarked.
     Don  Juan  choked  with  laughter,  and  I  challenged  him  to explain
     "Impeccability is nothing else but the proper  use of energy," he said.
"My statements have no inkling of morality. I've saved energy and that makes
me impeccable. To understand this, you have to save enough energy yourself."
     We were quiet for a  long  time. I  wanted  to think about what he  had
said. Suddenly, he started talking again.
     "Warriors  take strategic inventories,"  he said. "They list everything
they do. Then they decide which of those things can be changed  in  order to
allow themselves a respite, in terms of expending their energy."
     I argued  that their list  would  have to  include everything under the
sun. He patiently answered that the strategic inventory he was talking about
covered only behavioral patterns that were not essential to our survival and
     I jumped at the  opportunity to  point out that survival and well-being
were categories that could  be interpreted in endless ways, hence, there was
no way of agreeing what was or was not essential to survival and well-being.
     As I kept  on  talking I began to lose  momentum.  Finally,  I  stopped
because I realized the futility of my arguments.
     Don  Juan  said then  that in  the strategic  inventories of  warriors,
self-importance figures as the activity that consumes the greatest amount of
energy, hence, their effort to eradicate it.
     "One of the first concerns of warriors is to free that energy in  order
to face the unknown  with it," don Juan went on. "The action of rechanneling
that energy is impeccability."
     He said that the most effective strategy was worked out by the seers of
the Conquest,  the unquestionable  masters of stalking.  It consists  of six
elements  that  interplay  with  one  another.  Five  of them are called the
attributes  of warriorship:  control,  discipline, forbearance, timing,  and
will.  They  pertain  to  the world of the  warrior who is fighting to  lose
self-importance. The sixth element, which  is perhaps  the most important of
all, pertains to the outside world and is called the petty tyrant.
     He  looked  at  me  as if  silently  asking  me whether  or  not I  had
     "I'm  really mystified," I said. "You  keep on saying that  la Gorda is
the petty tyrant of my life. Just what is a petty tyrant?"
     "A petty tyrant is a tormentor," he replied. "Someone who  either holds
the  power  of  life and  death  over  warriors  or  simply  annoys  them to
     Don Juan had a beaming smile  as he spoke to me.  He said that the  new
seers  developed their own  classification of  petty tyrants;  although  the
concept  is one of their most serious and  important findings, the new seers
had  a  sense of humor about  it.  He  assured me that there  was a tinge of
malicious humor in every one of their classifications, because humor was the
only  means of counteracting  the  compulsion  of human  awareness  to  take
inventories and to make cumbersome classifications.
     The new seers, in accordance with their practice, saw fit to head their
classification with the  primal source of energy, the one and only ruler  in
the universe,  and they called it simply the tyrant. The rest of the despots
and  authoritarians  were  found  to  be, naturally,  infinitely  below  the
category of tyrant. Compared to the source of everything, the most fearsome,
tyrannical men are  buffoons; consequently,  they were  classified  as petty
tyrants, pinches tiranos.
     He  said that there  were two  subclasses of minor  petty tyrants.  The
first  subclass consisted  of  the petty tyrants  who  persecute and inflict
misery but without actually causing anybody's death. They were called little
petty tyrants,  pinches tiranitos. The second consisted of the petty tyrants
who  are only  exasperating and  bothersome  to  no  end.  They were  called
small-fry   petty  tyrants,  repinches  tiranitos,  or  teensy-weensy  petty
tyrants, pinches tiranitos chiquititos.
     I thought  his  classifications were ludicrous.  I was sure that he was
improvising the Spanish terms. I asked him if that was so.
     "Not at all," he replied with an amused expression. "The new seers were
great ones for classifications. Genaro is doubtless one of  the greatest; if
you'd observe him  carefully, you'd realize exactly how  the  new seers feel
about their classifications."
     He  laughed uproariously at my  confusion when  I asked him if  he  was
pulling my leg.
     "I  wouldn't  dream of doing that," he  said, smiling.  "Genaro may  do
that, but not I, especially  when I know how you feel about classifications.
It's just that the new seers were terribly irreverent."
     He added  that the little  petty tyrants are further  divided into four
categories. One that torments with brutality and violence. Another that does
it by creating  unbearable  apprehension through deviousness.  Another which
oppresses with  sadness.  And the  last, which  torments by making  warriors
     "La Gorda is  in  a class  of her  own," he  added. "She is  an acting,
small-fry petty  tyrant. She annoys  you to  pieces and makes you  rage. She
even slaps you. With all that she is teaching you detachment."
     "That's not possible!" I protested.
     "You  haven't  yet put together  all the ingredients of the new  seers'
strategy,"  he said. "Once you do that, you'll know how efficient and clever
is the device  of  using a  petty  tyrant. I would  certainly say  that  the
strategy not only gets rid of self-importance; it also prepares warriors for
the final  realization that impeccability is the  only thing that  counts in
the path of knowledge."
     He  said that what the  new seers had  in mind was a deadly maneuver in
which  the  petty  tyrant  is like  a mountain peak and  the  attributes  of
warriorship are like climbers who meet at the summit.
     "Usually,  only  four attributes are  played,"  he went on. "The fifth,
will,  is always  saved for an  ultimate  confrontation,  when  warriors are
facing the firing squad, so to speak."
     "Why is it done that way?"
     "Because wilt  belongs  to another  sphere, the unknown. The other four
belong to the known, exactly where  the petty tyrants are  lodged. In  fact,
what turns human  beings  into  petty  tyrants  is  precisely the  obsessive
manipulation of the known."
     Don Juan explained  that the interplay of all  the five  attributes  of
warriorship  is done only by seers who are also impeccable warriors and have
mastery over will. Such  an interplay  is a  supreme maneuver that cannot be
performed on the daily human stage.
     "Four attributes are all that is needed to deal with the worst of petty
tyrants," he continued.  "Provided, of  course, that a petty tyrant has been
found. As I said, the petty tyrant is the outside element, the one we cannot
control and the element that is perhaps  the most important of them  all. My
benefactor used to say that the warrior who  stumbles on a petty tyrant is a
lucky one. He meant that you're fortunate if you come upon one in your path,
because if you don't, you have to go out and look for one."
     He explained that one  of the greatest accomplishments of the seers  of
the  Conquest  was  a construct he  called the  three-phase  progression. By
understanding  the nature of man, they were able to reach  the incontestable
conclusion that if seers  can  hold  their own in facing petty tyrants, they
can certainly face  the unknown with impunity, and then  they can even stand
the presence of the unknowable.
     "The  average  man's  reaction is  to think  that  the  order  of  that
statement should be reversed," he went on. "A  seer who can  hold his own in
the face of the unknown can certainly face petty tyrants. But that's not so.
What destroyed the superb seers of  ancient  times was  that  assumption. We
know better now. We know that nothing can temper  the spirit of a warrior as
much as  the challenge of dealing with impossible  people  in  positions  of
power.  Only under  those conditions can warriors acquire the  sobriety  and
serenity to stand the pressure of the unknowable."
     I  vociferously  disagreed  with him.  I  told him  that in my  opinion
tyrants  can  only render their victims helpless or make them as  brutal  as
they themselves  are. I pointed out that countless studies  had been done on
the effects of physical and psychological torture on such victims.
     "The difference is in something you just said," he  retorted. "They are
victims,  not warriors. Once I  felt just as you do. I'll tell you what made
me change, but first let's go back again to what I  said about the Conquest.
The seers of  that time  couldn't have found a better ground. The  Spaniards
were the petty  tyrants who  tested  the  seers' skills to the limit;  after
dealing with the conquerors, the seers were capable of facing anything. They
were the lucky ones. At that time there were petty tyrants everywhere.
     "After  all  those marvelous years of abundance  things changed a great
deal. Petty tyrants never again had that  scope;  it was  only during  those
times that  their  authority was unlimited.  The perfect  ingredient for the
making of a superb seer is a petty tyrant with unlimited prerogatives.
     "In  our times,  unfortunately, seers have to go to extremes to  find a
worthy one. Most of the time they have to be satisfied with very small fry."
     "Did you find a petty tyrant yourself, don Juan?"
     "I was lucky. A king-size one  found me. At  the  time, though, I  felt
like you; I couldn't consider myself fortunate."
     Don  Juan said that his ordeal  began  a few weeks  before  he  met his
benefactor. He was barely twenty years  old at the time. He had gotten a job
at a sugar mill working as a laborer. He had always been very  strong, so it
was  easy  for  him  to  get  jobs that required muscle. One day when he was
moving some heavy sacks of sugar a woman came by. She  was very well dressed
and seemed to be a woman of means. She was perhaps in  her fifties, don Juan
said,  and  very domineering.  She looked at don Juan  and then spoke to the
foreman and left. Don Juan was then approached by the foreman, who  told him
that for a  fee he  would recommend him for a job  in  the boss's house. Don
Juan told  the man that he had no money. The foreman  smiled and said not to
worry because he would have plenty on payday.  He patted don Juan's back and
assured him it was a great honor to work for the boss.
     Don Juan  said that being a lowly ignorant Indian living hand-to-mouth,
not only did he believe every word, he thought a good fairy had touched him.
He promised to pay the foreman anything he wished. The foreman named a large
sum, which had to be paid in installments.
     Immediately thereafter  the foreman himself took don Juan to the house,
which  was quite  a distance  from the town, and left him there with another
foreman, a huge, somber, ugly man who asked a lot of questions. He wanted to
know about don Juan's family. Don Juan answered that he didn't have any. The
man was so pleased that he even smiled through his rotten teeth.
     He promised don Juan that they would pay him plenty, and that  he would
even be  in a position  to save money, because he didn't have to  spend any,
for he was going to live and eat in the house.
     The  way the  man laughed  was terrifying. Don Juan knew that he had to
escape  immediately. He  ran for the  gate, but the man cut in  front of him
with a revolver in  his hand. He cocked  it and  rammed  it into don  Juan's
stomach. "You're here to work yourself to the bone," he said. "And don't you
forget it." He shoved don Juan around with a billy club. Then he took him to
the side of the house  and, after observing that he worked his men every day
from sunrise to sunset without a break, he put don Juan to work digging  out
two enormous tree  stumps. He also told don  Juan  that if he  ever tried to
escape or went to the  authorities he would shoot him dead-- and that if don
Juan should  ever get away, he would swear in court that don Juan  had tried
to  murder the  boss. "You'll  work here  until you  die," he said. "Another
Indian will get your job then, just as you're taking a dead Indian's place."
     Don  Juan said that the  house  looked like  a fortress, with armed men
with  machetes  everywhere.  So he got busy  working and tried  not to think
about his predicament. At the end  of the  day, the man came back and kicked
him all the  way to the kitchen, because he did not like the defiant look in
don Juan's  eyes. He threatened to cut the  tendons of don Juan's arms if he
didn't obey him.
     In the kitchen an old woman brought food, but don Juan was so upset and
afraid that he couldn't eat. The old woman advised him  to eat as much as he
could. He had to be strong, she said, because his work  would never end. She
warned him that the man who had held his job had died just a day earlier. He
was too weak to work and had fallen from a second-story window.
     Don  Juan said that he  worked at the boss's place for three weeks  and
that the man bullied  him every moment of every day. He made him work  under
the most dangerous conditions, doing the heaviest work imaginable, under the
constant  threat of his knife, gun, or billy club.  He sent him daily to the
stables to clean the stalls while the nervous stallions were in them. At the
beginning of every day don Juan thought it would  be his last  one on earth.
And surviving meant only that  he  had to go through the same hell again the
next day.
     What precipitated the end was don Juan's request to have some time off.
The pretext was that he needed to go to town to pay the foreman of the sugar
mill the money  that he owed  him. The other  foreman retorted that don Juan
could not  stop working, not even for a minute, because he was in debt up to
his ears just for the privilege of working there.
     Don Juan knew that he was done for.  He understood the man's maneuvers.
Both he and the other foreman were in cahoots to get  lowly Indians from the
mill,  work  them to death,  and divide  their  salaries.  That  realization
angered him so intensely that  he ran through the  kitchen screaming and got
inside the main house. The foreman and the other workers were caught totally
by surprise. He ran out  the front door and almost got away, but the foreman
caught up with him on the road  and shot him  in the  chest. He left him for
     Don Juan said that it was  not his destiny to die; his benefactor found
him there and tended him until he got well.
     "When I told my benefactor the whole story," don  Juan  said, "he could
hardly  contain  his excitement.  'That  foreman  is  really  a  prize,'  my
benefactor said. 'He is too good to be  wasted.  Someday you must go back to
that house. '
     "He raved about my luck in finding a one-in-a-million petty tyrant with
almost unlimited power. I thought the old man was nuts. It was years  before
I fully understood what he was talking about."
     "That is one of the most horrible stories I have ever  heard,"  I said.
"Did you really go back to that house?"
     "I certainly did,  three years  later. My benefactor was right. A petty
tyrant like that one was one in a million and couldn't be wasted."
     "How did you manage to go back?"
     "My  benefactor  developed  a strategy  using the  four  attributes  of
warriorship: control, discipline, forbearance, and timing."
     Don Juan said that his benefactor, in explaining to him what  he had to
do to  profit from facing that ogre of a  man, also  told him  what the  new
seers considered  to be the four steps on the  path of knowledge.  The first
step  is the decision to become  apprentices.  After  the apprentices change
their views about themselves  and the world they take  the second  step  and
become warriors,  which is to say, beings capable  of the  utmost discipline
and control over themselves. The third step, after acquiring forbearance and
timing, is  to become men of knowledge.  When men of knowledge learn  to see
they have taken the fourth step and have become seers.
     His benefactor stressed the fact that don Juan had been  on the path of
knowledge  long  enough  to  have  acquired  a  minimum  of  the  first  two
attributes:  control and discipline. Don Juan emphasized that both  of these
attributes  refer  to an inner state.  A warrior is self-oriented, not in  a
selfish  way, but in the sense of a total  and continuous examination of the
     "At  that  time, I was barred from the other two attributes," don  Juan
went on. "Forbearance and timing  are not quite  an inner state. They are in
the domain of the man of knowledge. My benefactor showed them to me  through
his strategy."
     "Does  this  mean  that  you couldn't  have faced  the  petty tyrant by
yourself?" I asked.
     "I'm  sure that  I could  have done it  myself, although I have  always
doubted  that  I would have  carried it  off with  flair and joyfulness.  My
benefactor was simply  enjoying the encounter  by  directing it. The idea of
using  a petty tyrant is  not only for perfecting the warrior's  spirit, but
also for enjoyment and happiness."
     "How could anyone enjoy the monster you described?"
     "He  was nothing  in comparison to the real monsters that the new seers
faced during the Conquest. By all indications those seers enjoyed themselves
blue dealing  with  them. They proved that even  the worst tyrants can bring
delight, provided, of course, that one is a warrior."
     Don Juan explained  that the mistake  average men  make in  confronting
petty tyrants is  not to have a strategy to fall  back on; the fatal flaw is
that average men  take themselves too seriously; their actions and feelings,
as well as  those of  the petty tyrants, are allimportant. Warriors,  on the
other  hand, not only  have  a well-thought-out  strategy, but are free from
self-importance. What  restrains  their  self-importance  is that  they have
understood that reality is an interpretation we make. That knowledge was the
definitive   advantage  that  the  new  seers  had  over  the  simple-minded
     He said that he became convinced he could defeat the foreman using only
the  single  realization that  petty tyrants  take  themselves  with  deadly
seriousness while warriors do not.
     Following  his benefactor's strategic plan, therefore,  don  Juan got a
job in the  same sugar mill as before. Nobody remembered that  he had worked
there in the past; peons came to that sugar mill and left it without leaving
a trace.
     His benefactor's strategy specified that don Juan had  to be solicitous
of whoever came to  look for another victim. As  it happened, the same woman
came and spotted him, as she had done years ago. This time he was physically
even stronger than before.
     The same routine took place. The strategy, however, called for refusing
payment  to the foreman from the outset. The man had never been turned  down
and was taken aback. He threatened to fire don Juan  from the job. Don  Juan
threatened him  back,  saying that he would go directly to the  lady's house
and see her.  Don Juan knew that the woman, who was the wife of the owner of
the mill, did not know what the  two foremen were up to. He told the foreman
that he  knew where she  lived, because  he had  worked in  the  surrounding
fields cutting sugar cane. The man began  to  haggle,  and don Juan demanded
money from him before he would accept going to the lady's house. The foreman
gave  in  and handed  him a few bills. Don Juan was perfectly aware that the
foreman's acquiescence was just a ruse to get him to go to the house.
     "He himself once again took me to the house," don Juan said. "It was an
old hacienda owned  by the people  of  the sugar mill--  rich men who either
knew  what was going on  and  didn't  care, or were too indifferent even  to
     "As soon as we got there, I ran into  the house to look for the lady. I
found her  and dropped to my knees and kissed her hand to thank her. The two
foremen were livid.
     "The  foreman at  the house followed the same pattern as before.  But I
had  the proper  equipment  to deal with  him;  I  had  control, discipline,
forbearance, and timing. It turned out as  my benefactor had planned  it. My
control  made me  fulfill  the  man's  most  asinine  demands. What  usually
exhausts  us  in  a  situation  like  that  is  the  wear  and  tear  on our
self-importance.  Any man who has an iota  of pride is ripped apart by being
made to feel worthless.
     "I gladly did everything he asked of me. I was joyful and strong. And I
didn't give a fig about my  pride or my fear. I was  there as an  impeccable
warrior. To  tune the  spirit when  someone is trampling  on  you  is called
     Don Juan explained that his benefactor's strategy required that instead
of feeling sorry  for  himself  as he  had done before, he immediately go to
work  mapping  the  man's  strong  points,  his  weaknesses,  his quirks  of
     He found that the  foreman's strongest points were  his violent  nature
and  his daring. He had  shot don  Juan in broad  daylight and  in  sight of
scores  of  onlookers. His  great weakness was that he liked his job and did
not want to endanger it. Under no circumstances could he attempt to kill don
Juan inside  the compound in the daytime. His other weakness was that he was
a family man.  He had  a  wife  and  children who lived in a shack  near the
     "To gather all this information while they are beating you up is called
discipline," don Juan said. "The  man was a regular fiend. He  had no saving
grace.  According to the new seers, a perfect petty  tyrant has no redeeming
     Don Juan said that the other two attributes of warriorship, forbearance
and timing, which he did  not  yet  have, had been automatically included in
his benefactor's strategy. Forbearance  is to wait  patiently-- no rush,  no
anxiety-- a simple, joyful holding back of what is due.
     "I  groveled  daily,"  don  Juan continued, "sometimes crying under the
man's whip. And yet  I was  happy. My benefactor's strategy was what made me
go from  day to day without hating  the man's guts. I was a warrior.  I knew
that  I was  waiting  and  I knew what I was waiting for. Right there is the
great joy of warriorship."
     He  added  that  his  benefactor's  strategy called  for  a  systematic
harassment of the man by taking cover with a higher order, just as the seers
of the new cycle  had done during the Conquest by shielding  themselves with
the Catholic church.  A  lowly priest  was  sometimes more powerful  than  a
     Don Juan's shield was the lady who got him the job. He kneeled in front
of her and called her a saint every  time  he saw her. He begged her to give
him the medallion of her patron saint so he could pray to him for her health
and well-being.
     "She gave me one,"  don Juan went on, "and that rattled  the foreman to
pieces. And when I got  the  servants to pray at night he nearly had a heart
attack. I think he  decided then to kill me. He couldn't afford to let me go
     "As a countermeasure I organized a rosary among all the servants of the
house. The lady thought I had the makings of a most pious man.
     "I  didn't sleep  soundly after that, nor  did  I sleep  in my  bed.  I
climbed to the  roof every night. From there I saw the man twice looking for
me in the middle of the night with murder in his eyes.
     "Daily he shoved me into the  stallions' stalls  hoping that I would be
crushed to  death,  but I had a plank of heavy boards that I  braced against
one of the  corners and protected  myself  behind  it.  The man  never  knew
because  he was  nauseated by the  horses-- another  of his  weaknesses, the
deadliest of all, as things turned out."
     Don Juan said  that timing  is the quality that governs  the release of
all that is held back. Control,  discipline, and forbearance  are like a dam
behind which everything is pooled. Timing is the gate in the dam.
     The man knew  only violence,  with which he terrorized. If his violence
was neutralized he was rendered  nearly helpless. Don Juan knew that the man
would not dare to kill him in view of the house, so one day, in the presence
of the other workers but in sight of his lady as well, don Juan insulted the
man. He called him a coward, who was mortally afraid of the boss's wife.
     His  benefactor's  strategy  had called  for  being on the  alert for a
moment like that  and  using it  to turn  the  tables on the  petty  tyrant.
Unexpected things always happen that way. The lowest of the  slaves suddenly
makes fun of the tyrant, taunts him, makes him feel  ridiculous in front  of
significant witnesses, and  then rushes away without  giving the tyrant time
to retaliate.
     "A  moment  later,  the man  went  crazy with rage, but  I  was already
solicitously kneeling in front of the lady," he continued.
     Don Juan said that when the lady went inside the house, the man and his
friends called him to the back, allegedly to do some  work. The man was very
pale, white with anger.  From the sound of his voice  don Juan knew what the
man was really planning to do. Don Juan pretended  to acquiesce, but instead
of heading for the  back, he ran for the stables. He trusted that the horses
would make such a racket the owners would come out to see what was wrong. He
knew that the man would not dare shoot  him.  That would have been too noisy
and  the man's fear of endangering his job was too  overpowering.  Don  Juan
also knew that the man would not go where the horses were-- that  is, unless
he had been pushed beyond his endurance.
     "I  jumped inside  the stall  of the wildest stallion," don  Juan said,
"and  the petty  tyrant, blinded by rage, took out his  knife and  jumped in
after  me. I went  instantly behind my planks. The horse kicked him once and
it was all over.
     "I had spent six months in that house  and in that period of time I had
exercised  the  four  attributes  of  warriorship.  Thanks  to  them, I  had
succeeded. Not once had  I felt sorry for myself or wept in impotence. I had
been joyful  and  serene. My control and discipline were  as  keen as they'd
ever been, and I had had a firsthand view of what forbearance and timing did
for impeccable warriors. And I had not once wished the man to die.
     "My benefactor explained something very interesting. Forbearance  means
holding back with the spirit something that  the warrior knows is rightfully
due. It  doesn't  mean that a  warrior  goes  around plotting  to do anybody
mischief,  or  planning to  settle  past  scores. Forbearance  is  something
independent. As long  as  the warrior  has control, discipline,  and timing,
forbearance assures giving whatever is due to whoever deserves it."
     "Do petty tyrants sometimes win, and destroy the warrior facing  them?"
I asked.
     "Of  course.  There  was  a time when  warriors died  like flies at the
beginning  of the Conquest. Their ranks  were  decimated.  The petty tyrants
could  put  anyone to death,  simply acting  on a  whim. Under  that kind of
pressure seers reached sublime states."
     Don Juan  said that that  was  the time when the surviving seers had to
exert themselves to the limit to find new ways.
     "The  new seers  used petty  tyrants,"  don  Juan said,  staring at  me
fixedly, "not only  to get rid of their  self-importance, but to  accomplish
the very  sophisticated maneuver  of moving themselves  out  of  this world.
You'll understand  that maneuver  as we keep  on discussing  the  mastery of
     I explained to don Juan that what I had wanted to know was  whether, in
the present, in our times, the petty tyrants he  had called small fry  could
ever defeat a warrior.
     "All  the time," he replied. "The consequences aren't as  dire as those
in the remote past. Today it goes without saying that warriors always have a
chance to  recuperate  or  to retrieve and come  back  later.  But there  is
another side to this problem. To  be defeated by a small-fry petty tyrant is
not deadly, but devastating. The degree of mortality, in a figurative sense,
is almost as high. By that I mean that warriors  who succumb  to a small-fry
petty tyrant are obliterated by their own sense of failure and unworthiness.
That spells high mortality to me."
     "How do you measure defeat?"
     "Anyone  who joins the  petty tyrant  is  defeated.  To  act  in anger,
without control and discipline, to have no forbearance, is to be defeated."

     "What happens after warriors are defeated?"
     "They either regroup themselves or they abandon the quest for knowledge
and join the ranks of the petty tyrants for life."

     3 The Eagle's Emanations

     The next day, don Juan and I went for a walk along the road to the city
of Oaxaca. The road was deserted at that hour. It was 2: 00 p. m.
     As we strolled leisurely, don Juan suddenly began to talk. He said that
our discussion about the petty  tyrants  had  been merely an introduction to
the topic of awareness. I remarked that it had  opened a new view for me. He
asked me to explain what I meant.
     I told him that it  had  to do with  an argument we had  had some years
before about the Yaqui Indians. In the course of his teachings for the right
side, he  had tried to tell  me about the  advantages that  the Yaquis could
find  in  being  oppressed. I  had passionately  argued that  there were  no
possible advantages in  the wretched  conditions in  which they lived. And I
had told him that  I could not understand how, being a Yaqui himself, he did
not react against such a flagrant injustice.
     He had  listened attentively. Then,  when I was  sure he  was going  to
defend his  point, he agreed that the conditions  of  the Yaqui Indians were
indeed wretched. But he  pointed out that it  was useless to single out  the
Yaquis when life conditions of man in general were horrendous.
     "Don't just feel  sorry for the poor Yaqui Indians," he had said. "Feel
sorry for mankind. In  the case of the Yaqui Indians, I can even say they're
the  lucky ones.  They are  oppressed, and because of that, some of them may
come out triumphant in the end. But the oppressors,  the petty tyrants  that
tread upon them, they don't have a chance in hell."
     I had immediately answered  him  with a barrage of political slogans. I
had not understood his point at all. He  again  tried to explain to  me  the
concept of petty  tyrants, but the  whole  idea bypassed me. It was only now
that everything fit into place.
     "Nothing has fit into  place yet," he said, laughing at what I had told
him. "Tomorrow, when you are  in your normal state of awareness,  you  won't
even remember what you've realized now."
     I felt utterly depressed, for I knew he was right.
     "What's going  to happen to you is what happened to me,"  he continued.
"My  benefactor,  the nagual Julian, made me realize in heightened awareness
what you have realized  yourself about petty tyrants. And  I ended up, in my
daily life, changing my opinions without knowing why.
     "I had always been oppressed, so I had real venom toward my oppressors,
imagine  my  surprise when  I  found  myself  seeking the company  of  petty
tyrants. I thought I had lost my mind."
     We came to a place, on the side of the  road, where some large boulders
were half buried by an old landslide; don Juan headed  for them and sat down
on a flat rock. He signaled  me  to sit down, facing him.  And  then without
further  preliminaries,  he  started  his  explanation  of  the  mastery  of
     He said that there were a series of truths that seers, old and new, had
discovered about awareness,  and  that  such  truths had  been arranged in a
specific sequence for purposes of comprehension.
     He explained  that the mastery  of awareness consisted in internalizing
the total sequence of  such truths. The first truth,  he said, was  that our
familiarity with the  world  we perceive  compels us  to believe that we are
surrounded by objects, existing by themselves and as themselves, just as  we
perceive them,  whereas,  in  fact,  there is no  world  of objects,  but  a
universe of the Eagle's emanations.
     He told me then that before he could explain the Eagle's emanations, he
had to talk about  the  known, the  unknown, and the unknowable. Most of the
truths  about awareness were discovered by the old seers, he  said.  But the
order in which they were  arranged had been worked out by the new seers. And
without that order those truths were nearly incomprehensible.
     He said that not to seek order  was one of  the great mistakes that the
ancient  seers  made.  A  deadly  consequence  of  that  mistake  was  their
assumption that the unknown and the unknowable are the same thing. It was up
to the new seers  to correct that error. They set up  boundaries and defined
the  unknown as something that is veiled from  man, shrouded  perhaps  by  a
terrifying  context,  but  which, nonetheless,  is  within man's reach.  The
unknown  becomes the known  at a given  time.  The unknowable, on the  other
hand,  is  the  indescribable, the  unthinkable,  the  unrealizable.  It  is
something that will never be known to us, and yet it is there, dazzling  and
at the same time horrifying in its vastness.
     "How can seers make the distinction between the two?" I asked.
     "There  is a  simple  rule  of thumb,"  he said. "In  the face  of  the
unknown, man  is  adventurous. It  is a quality of the  unknown to give us a
sense  of  hope  and  happiness.  Man  feels robust, exhilarated.  Even  the
apprehension that it arouses is very fulfilling.  The new seers saw that man
is at his best in the face of the unknown."
     He  said that whenever what is taken to be the unknown turns out  to be
the unknowable the results are disastrous. Seers  feel drained, confused.  A
terrible oppression takes possession of them. Their  bodies lose tone, their
reasoning  and sobriety wander  away aimlessly, for  the unknowable  has  no
energizing effects whatsoever. It is not within human  reach;  therefore, it
should  not  be intruded  upon foolishly or even  prudently. The  new  seers
realized that  they had  to be  prepared  to pay exorbitant prices  for  the
faintest contact with it.
     Don Juan explained that the new  seers  had had  formidable barriers of
tradition to overcome. At the  time when the new cycle  began,  none of them
knew for certain which procedures of  their immense tradition were the right
ones and  which  were not.  Obviously,  something  had  gone  wrong with the
ancient seers, but the new seers did not  know what. They  began by assuming
that everything  their  predecessors had  done was  erroneous. Those ancient
seers had been the masters of conjecture.  They had, for  one thing, assumed
that  their proficiency  in seeing was a safeguard. They  thought  that they
were untouchable-- that is, until the invaders smashed them, and put most of
them to horrendous deaths. The  ancient seers had no protection  whatsoever,
despite their total certainty that they were invulnerable.
     The new seers did not waste their  time in speculations about what went
wrong. Instead, they began to map the unknown in  order  to separate it from
the unknowable.
     "How did they map the unknown, don Juan?" I asked.
     "Through the controlled use of seeing," he replied.
     I said that what  I had meant to  ask was, what was entailed in mapping
the unknown?
     He answered that mapping the  unknown means making it  available to our
perception.  By  steadily  practicing seeing, the  new seers found  that the
unknown and  the  known  are really on the same  footing,  because both  are
within the reach of human perception. Seers, in fact, can leave the known at
a given moment and enter into the unknown.
     Whatever is beyond our capacity to perceive is the unknowable.  And the
distinction between it and the knowable is crucial. Confusing the two  would
put seers in a  most  precarious  position whenever they are confronted with
the unknowable.
     "When  this  happened to the  ancient seers," don  Juan went  on, "they
thought their procedures had  gone haywire. It  never occurred  to them that
most  of  what's out there  is beyond our comprehension. It was a terrifying
error of judgment on their part, for which they paid dearly."
     "What  happened  after  the  distinction between  the  unknown and  the
unknowable was realized?" I asked.
     "The new  cycle began," he replied. "That distinction  is the  frontier
between the old and the  new. Everything that the new seers have done  stems
from understanding that distinction."
     Don  Juan  said  that  seeing  was the  crucial  element  in  both  the
destruction of the ancient seers' world and in the reconstruction of the new
view. It was through seeing that the new seers discovered certain undeniable
facts,  which they  used to arrive  at certain conclusions, revolutionary to
them, about the nature of man and the world. These  conclusions, which  made
the new cycle possible, were the truths about awareness he was explaining to

     Don Juan asked  me to accompany him to the center of  town for a stroll
around the square. On our way, we began to talk about machines  and delicate
instruments. He said  that instruments are extensions  of our  senses, and I
maintained that there are instruments that are not in that category, because
they   perform  functions  that  we  are   not  physiologically  capable  of
     "Our senses are capable of everything," he asserted.
     "I  can tell  you  offhand  that there are instruments that  can detect
radio waves that come from outer space," I  said.  "Our senses cannot detect
radio waves."
     "I have  a different idea," he said. "I  think our  senses  can  detect
everything we are surrounded by."
     "What about the case  of ultrasonic sounds?" I insisted. "We don't have
the organic equipment to hear them."
     "It is the seers' conviction that we've tapped a very small portion  of
ourselves," he replied.
     He immersed  himself  in  thought for a  while as if he were  trying to
decide what to say next. Then he smiled.
     "The first truth  about awareness, as  I  have  already  told  you," he
began, "is that the world  out  there is  not really as  we think it is.  We
think it is a world of objects and it's not."
     He paused as if to measure  the effect of his  words. I told him that I
agreed with  his premise, because everything could  be reduced  to  being  a
field of energy. He said that  I was  merely  intuiting a truth, and that to
reason it out was not to verify it. He was not interested in my agreement or
disagreement, he said, but in my attempt  to comprehend what was involved in
that truth.
     "You cannot witness fields  of energy," he went  on. "Not as an average
man, that is.  Now, if you were  able to see them, you  would be a  seer, in
which  case you  would be  explaining the  truths  about awareness.  Do  you
understand what I mean?"
     He went on to say  that  conclusions  arrived at  through reasoning had
very little or no influence in altering the course  of our lives. Hence, the
countless examples of people who have the  clearest convictions and yet  act
diametrically  against  them  time and time  again;  and  have as  the  only
explanation for their behavior the idea that to err is human.
     "The first truth is that the world is as it looks and yet it isn't," he
went on.  "It's not  as solid  and real as  our perception has  been led  to
believe, but it  isn't a mirage either. The world is  not an illusion, as it
has been said to be; it's real on the one hand, and unreal on the other. Pay
close attention to this,  for  it must be understood, not  just accepted. We
perceive. This  is a  hard  fact. But what  we perceive is not a fact of the
same kind, because we learn what to perceive.
     "Something out there is affecting our senses. This is the  part that is
real. The unreal part is what our senses tell us is there. Take a  mountain,
for instance. Our senses tell us that it  is an object. It has size,  color,
form. We even have categories of mountains, and they are downright accurate.
Nothing wrong with that; the flaw is simply that it has never occurred to us
that our senses play only a  superficial role. Our senses perceive  the  way
they do because a specific feature of our awareness forces them to do so."
     I began to agree with him again, but not because I wanted to, for I had
not quite  understood  his point.  Rather, I was reacting  to  a threatening
situation. He made me stop.
     "I've used  the  term  'the  world,  ' "  don  Juan went  on, "to  mean
everything that surrounds us. I  have a better term, of course, but it would
be quite incomprehensible to you. Seers say  that we think there is  a world
of objects out there  only because of  our awareness. But what's  really out
there  are  the  Eagle's  emanations,  fluid,  forever in  motion,  and  yet
unchanged, eternal."
     He stopped me with a gesture of his hand just as I was about to ask him
what the Eagle's emanations were. He explained that one of the most dramatic
legacies the old  seers  had left us was their discovery that the reason for
the  existence  of  all  sentient beings  is  to enhance awareness. Don Juan
called it a colossal discovery.
     In a half-serious tone  he asked me if I knew of a better answer to the
question  that  has always haunted  man: the reason  for  our  existence.  I
immediately  took  a  defensive  position  and  began  to  argue  about  the
meaninglessness of the question because it cannot  be  logically answered. I
told him that in order to  discuss that  subject we would have to talk about
religious beliefs and turn it all into a matter of faith.
     "The old seers were not just  talking about faith," he said. "They were
not as  practical as  the new seers,  but they were practical enough to know
what  they were seeing.  What I  was trying to point out  to  you with  that
question,  which has  rattled  you so badly, is that  our  rationality alone
cannot come up with an answer about the reason for our existence. Every time
it tries,  the answer  turns into a matter of  beliefs. The  old  seers took
another  road,  and they  did find  an answer  which  doesn't  involve faith
     He said that the old seers, risking  untold dangers, actually  saw  the
indescribable force which  is the source of all sentient beings. They called
it the Eagle, because in the few glimpses  that they could sustain, they saw
it as something that resembled a black-andwhite eagle of infinite size.
     They saw that it is the Eagle who bestows awareness. The  Eagle creates
sentient beings  so  that they will  live and  enrich the awareness it gives
them  with  life. They also saw that it is  the Eagle who devours  that same
enriched awareness after making sentient beings relinquish it at the  moment
of death.
     "For  the  old  seers," don Juan  went on, "to  say that the reason for
existence is  to  enhance awareness is not a matter  of faith or  deduction.
They saw it.
     "They saw  that the  awareness of  sentient  beings flies  away at  the
moment  of  death  and floats  like a luminous  cotton  puff  right into the
Eagle's beak  to be consumed. For  the old seers that was  the evidence that
sentient beings live only to enrich the awareness that is the Eagle's food."

     Don Juan's elucidation was interrupted because  he had to  leave  on  a
short  business  trip.  Nestor  drove  him  to Oaxaca.  As I saw them off, I
remembered that at the beginning of my association with don Juan, every time
he  mentioned a business  trip I  thought  he was employing a euphemism  for
something  else. I eventually realized that he meant  what he said. Whenever
such a trip  was  about  to  take place,  he  would  put on one of  his many
immaculately tailored three-piece suits and would look like anything but the
old  Indian  I knew. I  had commented to him about the sophistication of his
     "A nagual is someone flexible enough to be anything," he had  said. "To
be a nagual, among other things, means to have no points to defend. Remember
this-- we'll come back to it over and over."
     We had come  back  to  it over and over, in every possible way; he  did
indeed seem to  have no points to defend, but during his absence in Oaxaca I
was given to  just a shadow of doubt. Suddenly I realized that a  nagual did
have one point to  defend-- the description  of the  Eagle and what  it does
required, in my opinion, a passionate defense.
     I tried to pose  that question  to  some  of don Juan's companions, but
they eluded  my probings. They told me  that I  was in quarantine  from that
kind of discussion until don Juan had finished his explanation.
     The moment he returned, we sat down to talk and I asked him about it.
     "Those truths are not something to  defend passionately,"  he  replied.
"If you think that I'm trying to defend them, you are mistaken. Those truths
were  put  together for  the delight and  enlightenment of  warriors, not to
engage  any  proprietary sentiments. When I told  you  that  a nagual has no
points  to  defend, I  meant,  among  other  things,  that a nagual  has  no
     I told  him that I was not following  his  teachings, for I  had become
obsessed with his description of the Eagle and what it does. I remarked over
and over about the awesomeness of such an idea.
     "It is not just an idea,"  he said. "It is a fact. And a damn scary one
if you ask me. The new seers were not simply playing with ideas."
     "But what kind of a force would the Eagle be?"
     "I wouldn't know how to answer that. The Eagle is as real for the seers
as gravity and time are for you, and just as abstract and incomprehensible."
     "Wait a  minute,  don Juan.  Those are abstract  concepts, but they  do
refer   to  real  phenomena  that  can  be  corroborated.  There  are  whole
disciplines dedicated to that."
     "The Eagle and  its  emanations are equally corroboratable,"  don  Juan
retorted.  "And  the discipline  of the new seers is dedicated to doing just
     I asked him to explain what the Eagle's emanations are.
     He said that  the Eagle's emanations are  an immutable thing-in-itself,
which engulfs everything that exists, the knowable and the unknowable.
     "There  is no  way to describe in  words what  the  Eagle's  emanations
really are," don Juan continued. "A seer must witness them."
     "Have you witnessed them yourself, don Juan?"
     "Of course I have, and yet  I can't tell  you what they are. They are a
presence,  almost  a  mass  of  sorts, a  pressure that  creates a  dazzling
sensation. One can catch only  a glimpse of them,  as one can catch  only  a
glimpse of the Eagle itself."
     "Would  you  say,  don  Juan, that  the  Eagle  is  the  source  of the
     "It   goes  without  saying  that  the  Eagle  is  the  source  of  its
     "I meant to ask if that is so visually."
     "There  is nothing  visual about the Eagle. The entire  body of a  seer
senses the  Eagle. There is something  in all of us that can make us witness
with our  entire body.  Seers explain the  act of  seeing  the Eagle in very
simple terms: because man is composed of  the Eagle's  emanations, man  need
only revert back to his components. The problem arises with man's awareness;
it  is his awareness  that becomes  entangled  and confused. At the  crucial
moment  when  it  should  be a simple  case of the  emanations acknowledging
themselves,  man's awareness is compelled  to  interpret.  The  result  is a
vision of the Eagle and the Eagle's emanations. But there is no Eagle and no
Eagle's emanations.  What is out there is something that no  living creature
can grasp."
     I  asked  him if  the source of  the emanations  was called  the  Eagle
because eagles in general have important attributes.
     "This is  simply the case of something  unknowable  vaguely  resembling
something known," he replied. "On account of that, there have certainly been
attempts to imbue eagles with attributes they don't  have.  But that  always
happens when impressionable people learn to perform acts that require  great
sobriety. Seers come in all sizes and shapes."
     "Do you mean to say that there are different kinds of seers?"
     "No. I mean that there are scores of  imbeciles who become seers. Seers
are  human beings  full  of foibles, or rather, human beings full of foibles
are  capable of becoming seers. Just as in the case of  miserable people who
become superb scientists.
     "The characteristic  of miserable  seers is that  they are  willing  to
forget  the wonder of the  world. They  become overwhelmed  by the fact that
they  see and  believe that it's their genius that counts. A seer  must be a
paragon  in order  to override the  nearly invincible  laxness of  our human
condition. More important than seeing itself is what seers do with what they
     "What do you mean by that, don Juan?"
     "Look  at what  some seers have  done to  us. We  are  stuck with their
vision of an Eagle that rules us and devours us at the moment of our death."
     He  said that there is a definite laxness  in  that version,  and  that
personally  he  did  not appreciate the idea of  something devouring us. For
him,  it would be more  accurate  to say that there is a force that attracts
our consciousness, much as a magnet attracts iron shavings. At the moment of
dying, all of our being disintegrates under the attraction  of  that immense
     That such an event was interpreted  as the Eagle devouring us he  found
grotesque, because  it turns  an indescribable act into something as mundane
as eating.
     "I'm a very  average man,"  I  said. "The description of  an Eagle that
devours us had a great impact on me."
     "The  real  impact can't be measured until the  moment when you see  it
yourself," he said. "But you must bear in mind that our flaws remain with us
even after  we become seers. So when  you see that force, you  may very well
agree with  the  lax seers who called it  the Eagle, as I did myself. On the
other hand, you may not.  You may  resist  the  temptation  to ascribe human
attributes to what is  incomprehensible,  and actually  improvise a new name
for it, a more accurate one."

     "Seers who see the Eagle's  emanations often  call them commands,"  don
Juan said. "I wouldn't mind  calling  them commands myself if  I hadn't  got
used to calling  them emanations.  It  was a  reaction  to  my  benefactor's
preference; for him they were commands.  I thought  that  term was  more  in
keeping with his  forceful  personality than  with  mine. I wanted something
impersonal. 'Commands'  sounds too human to me, but that's what they  really
are, commands."
     Don Juan said that to  see the Eagle's emanations is to court disaster.
The new seers soon discovered the tremendous difficulties involved, and only
after great tribulations in trying  to map  the unknown and separate it from
the unknowable did they realize  that everything is made out of the  Eagle's
emanations.  Only  a small portion of  those  emanations is within reach  of
human  awareness, and that  small portion  is  still  further reduced,  to a
minute fraction, by the constraints of our daily lives. That minute fraction
of the Eagle's emanations is the  known; the small portion  within  possible
reach  of human awareness is the unknown, and the incalculable rest  is  the
     He  went  on to say that  the  new seers, being pragmatically oriented,
became immediately cognizant of the compelling power of the emanations. They
realized  that  all  living creatures  are  forced  to  employ  the  Eagle's
emanations  without  ever  knowing what they are.  They  also  realized that
organisms are constructed to  grasp a  certain range of those emanations and
that every species has a definite range. The emanations exert great pressure
on  organisms,   and   through  that  pressure   organisms  construct  their
perceivable world.
     "In  our  case,  as human beings,"  don Juan  said,  "we  employ  those
emanations  and interpret them  as reality. But what  man senses  is  such a
small  portion of the  Eagle's  emanations that it's ridiculous to  put much
stock in our perceptions, and yet it isn't possible  for us to disregard our
perceptions.  The new seers found  this  out the hard  way--  after courting
tremendous dangers."

     Don Juan was sitting where he usually sat in the large room. Ordinarily
there  was no furniture in that room-- people sat on mats on the floor-- but
Carol, the  nagual woman,  had managed to furnish  it with very  comfortable
armchairs for the sessions when she and I took turns reading to him from the
works of Spanish-speaking poets.
     "I want you to be  very aware of what we are doing," he said as soon as
I sat  down. "We are discussing the mastery  of awareness. The  truths we're
discussing are the principles of that mastery."
     He added that in  his teachings for the right side  he had demonstrated
those principles  to my normal awareness  with the help of one of  his  seer
companions, Genaro, and that Genaro had played around with my awareness with
all the humor and irreverence for which the new seers were known.
     "Genaro is the one  who should be here telling you about the Eagle," he
said, "except that his versions are too irreverent. He thinks that the seers
who called  that force the  Eagle were either very stupid or  were making  a
grand joke, because eagles not only lay eggs, they also lay turds."
     Don  Juan  laughed  and  said  that  he  found  Genaro's   comments  so
appropriate that he couldn't resist laughter. He added that if the new seers
had been the ones to describe the Eagle the description would certainly have
been made half in fun.
     I told don Juan that  on  one level I took the Eagle as a poetic image,
and as such it delighted me, but  on another level I took it literally,  and
that terrified me.
     "One of the greatest forces in the lives of warriors is fear," he said.
"It spurs them to learn."
     He reminded me that the description of the  Eagle came from the ancient
seers.  The  new  seers  were  through  with  description,  comparison,  and
conjecture of any sort. They wanted to get directly  to the source of things
and  consequently  risked unlimited danger  to get to it.  They  did see the
Eagle's  emanations.  But they  never tampered  with the description  of the
Eagle. They felt that it took too much energy to see the Eagle, and that the
ancient  seers  had  already paid  heavily for  their  scant  glimpse of the
     "How did the old seers come around to describing the Eagle?" I asked.
     "They needed  a minimal set  of guidelines  about  the  unknowable  for
purposes of instruction," he  replied.  "They  resolved  it  with  a sketchy
description of the force that rules all there is, but not of its emanations,
because  the  emanations  cannot  be  rendered  at  all  in  a  language  of
comparisons.  Individual seers may  feel the  urge  to  make  comments about
certain emanations, but that will remain personal, in other words,  there is
no pat version of the emanations, as there is of the Eagle."
     "The new seers  seem  to have been  very abstract," I commented.  "They
sound like modern-day philosophers."
     "No.  The new  seers  were terribly  practical  men," he replied. "They
weren't involved in concocting rational theories."
     He  said that  the  ancient seers were the ones  who  were the abstract
thinkers. They built monumental edifices of abstractions proper to them  and
their time. And just like the modern-day philosophers, they were not  at all
in control of their concatenations. The new seers, on the other hand, imbued
with practicality, were able to see a flux of emanations and to see how  man
and other living beings utilize them to construct their perceivable world.
     "How are those emanations utilized by man, don Juan?"
     "It's so simple it sounds idiotic. For a seer, men are luminous beings.
Our luminosity is made up of that portion of the Eagle's emanations which is
encased  in  our egglike cocoon. That particular  portion,  that  handful of
emanations  that is encased, is what makes us  men.  To perceive is to match
the emanations contained inside our cocoon with those that are outside.
     "Seers can see, for instance, the emanations inside any living creature
and can tell which of the outside emanations would match them."
     "Are the emanations like beams of light?" I asked.
     "No.  Not  at  all.  That  would  be  too  simple. They  are  something
indescribable.  And yet, my personal comment would be to  say that  they are
like filaments of light. What's incomprehensible to normal awareness is that
the filaments are aware. I can't  tell you what that means, because  I don't
know what I am saying. All I can tell you with my  personal comments is that
the  filaments are aware of themselves,  alive and vibrating, that there are
so many of them that numbers  have no  meaning and that each of  them  is an
eternity in itself."

     4 The Glow of Awareness

     Don Juan, don Genaro, and  I had just returned from gathering plants in
the surrounding mountains. We were at don Genaro's house, sitting around the
table, when don Juan made me change levels of awareness. Don Genaro had been
staring  at me and began to chuckle. He remarked  how odd he thought  it was
that I had two completely different standards for dealing with the two sides
of awareness. My relation with him was the most obvious example. On my right
side,  he  was  the respected  and feared sorcerer don Genaro,  a  man whose
incomprehensible acts  delighted  me  and at the same  time filled  me  with
mortal terror.  On my  left side,  he was plain Genaro, or Genarito, with no
don  attached to  his  name,  a  charming  and  kind  seer whose  acts  were
thoroughly comprehensible and  coherent with  what I myself did or  tried to
     I  agreed with him and added that on my left  side, the man  whose mere
presence made me shake like a leaf was Silvio Manuel, the most mysterious of
don Juan's  companions.  I also said  that  don Juan,  being a true  nagual,
transcended arbitrary standards and was respected and admired  by me in both
     "But is he feared?" Genaro asked in a quivering voice.
     "Very feared," don Juan interjected in a falsetto voice.
     We all laughed, but don Juan and Genaro laughed with such abandon  that
I immediately suspected they knew something they were holding back.
     Don  Juan  was  reading  me  like  a book.  He  explained that  in  the
intermediate  stage, before one  enters fully  into the left-side awareness,
one is capable of tremendous  concentration, but one  is also susceptible to
every conceivable influence. I was being influenced by suspicion.
     "La Gorda is always in this  stage,"  he said. "She learns beautifully,
but she's a royal pain in the neck. She can't  help being driven by anything
that comes  her  way,  including,  of  corse,  very good things,  like  keen
     Don Juan explained that the  new seers discovered  that  the transition
period  is the time when the deepest learning  takes  place,  and that it is
also the  time when  warriors  must be supervised  and explanations must  be
given to them so they can  evaluate  them properly.  If no explanations  are
given  to them  before  they enter into  the left side,  they will be  great
sorcerers but poor seers, as the ancient Toltecs were.
     Female warriors in particular fall prey  to the lure of  the left side,
he  said. They  are so nimble that they can go  into the left  side with  no
effort, often too soon for their own good.
     After a long silence, Genaro fell asleep.  Don Juan began to speak.  He
said  that the  new  seers  had had to invent  a number of terms in order to
explain the second truth about awareness. His benefactor had changed some of
those terms to suit himself, and he himself had done the same, guided by the
seers'  belief that it does not make any difference what  terms are  used as
long as the truths have been verified by seeing.
     I  was curious  to  know what terms  he had changed, but I didn't  know
quite how to  word my question. He took it that  I was doubting his right or
his  ability  to  change  them and  explained that if  the terms we  propose
originate in our reason they can only communicate the mundane  agreement  of
everyday life. When  seers propose a term, on the other  hand, it is never a
figure of  speech because  it stems from seeing and embraces everything that
seers can attain.
     I asked him why he had changed the terms.
     "It's a nagual's duty always  to look for  better  ways to explain," he
replied.  "Time changes everything,  and every new nagual has to incorporate
new words, new ideas, to describe his seeing. '"
     "Do you  mean  that a nagual  takes ideas from the  world of  every day
life?" I asked.
     "No.  I mean that a nagual talks  about seeing  in ever new  ways,"  he
said.  "For instance,  as  the new nagual, you'd have to say  that awareness
gives rise to perception. You'd be saying the same thing my benefactor said,
but in a different way."
     "What do the new seers say perception is, don Juan?"
     "They say that perception is  a condition of alignment; the  emanations
inside the cocoon become aligned with those outside that fit them. Alignment
is what  allows awareness to  be cultivated by  every living creature. Seers
make these statements because they see  living creatures as they really are:
luminous beings that look like bubbles of whitish light."
     I  asked him  how the emanations inside the cocoon fit those outside so
as to accomplish perception.
     "The emanations inside  and the emanations outside,"  he said, "are the
same filaments  of  light. Sentient beings  are minute bubbles  made out  of
those  filaments,  microscopic  points  of light, attached to  the  infinite
     He went on to explain that the  luminosity  of living beings is made by
the particular portion of the Eagle's emanations they  happen to have inside
their luminous  cocoons. When  seers see  perception, they witness that  the
luminosity  of  the  Eagle's  emanations  outside  those creatures'  cocoons
brightens the luminosity of the emanations inside their cocoons. The outside
luminosity attracts the inside one; it traps it, so to speak,  and fixes it.
That fixation is the awareness of every specific being.
     Seers  can  also  see  how  the emanations outside  the  cocoon exert a
particular  pressure  on  the portion  of  emanations  inside. This pressure
determines the degree of awareness that every living being has.
     I  asked  him to clarify how the Eagle's  emanations outside the cocoon
exert pressure on those inside.
     "The Eagle's emanations are more than filaments of light,"  he replied.
"Each  one  of  them is a  source of boundless energy. Think of it this way:
since  some  of  the emanations  outside  the  cocoon  are the  same  as the
emanations  inside, their energies  are like a continuous  pressure. But the
cocoon isolates the emanations  that are inside its web  and thereby directs
the pressure.
     "I've mentioned to you that the  old seers were masters  of the  art of
handling awareness," he went on. "What  I can add now is that they  were the
masters  of  that art because they  learned  to manipulate the  structure of
man's cocoon.  I've  said  to you that  they  unraveled the mystery of being
aware. By that I meant  that they saw and realized that  awareness is a glow
in  the  cocoon  of  living  beings.  They  rightly called  it  the  glow of
     He explained that the old seers saw that man's awareness  is  a glow of
amber luminosity more intense than the rest of the cocoon. That glow is on a
narrow, vertical band on the extreme right side of the cocoon, running along
its entire length. The  mastery  of the old seers was  to move that glow, to
make it spread from its original setting on the surface of the cocoon inward
across its width.
     He stopped talking and looked at Genaro, who was still sound asleep.
     "Genaro doesn't give a fig about explanations," he said. "He's a  doer.
My  benefactor  pushed  him constantly  to  face  insoluble  problems. So he
entered  into  the  left side proper  and  never had  a chance to ponder and
     "Is it better to be that way, don Juan?"
     "It depends. For him, it's perfect. For you  and for me, it wouldn't be
satisfactory, because in one way or another we  are called  upon to explain.
Genaro or my benefactor are more like the  old than the new seers:  they can
control and do what they want with the glow of awareness."
     He stood up  from the mat where  we were sitting and stretched his arms
and  legs. I pressed him  to  continue  talking. He  smiled and said that  I
needed to rest, that my concentration was waning.

     There was a knock at the door. I woke up. It was dark. For a  moment  I
could not remember where I was. There was something in me that was far away,
as if part of me were still asleep, yet I was  fully awake. Enough moonlight
came through the open window so that I could see.
     I saw don Genaro get up and go to the door. I realized then that  I was
at  his house. Don  Juan was  sound asleep on a mat  on the floor. I had the
distinct impression that the three of  us  had fallen asleep after returning
dead tired from a trip to the mountains.
     Don Genaro lit his kerosene  lantern. I  followed him into the kitchen.
Someone had brought him a pot of hot stew and a stack of tortillas.
     "Who brought you food?"  I asked him. "Do you have a woman  around here
that cooks for you?"
     Don Juan had come into the kitchen. Both of them looked at me, smiling.
For some reason their smiles were terrifying to me. I was about to scream in
terror,  in fact, when don  Juan hit me on the back and made me shift into a
state of heightened awareness. I realized then that perhaps during my sleep,
or as I woke up, I had drifted back to everyday awareness.
     The  sensation  I  experienced then,  once  I  was  back  in heightened
awareness, was  a mixture of relief and  anger and the most acute sadness. I
was  relieved  that I  was  myself  again, for I  had  come  to regard those
incomprehensible states as being my true self.  There  was one simple reason
for that-- in those states I felt complete; nothing was missing from me. The
anger and the sadness were  a reaction to impotence. I  was more  aware than
ever of the limitations of my being.
     I asked don Juan to explain to me how it was possible for me to do what
I was  doing. In  states of  heightened  awareness I  could  look  back  and
remember  everything about myself;  I could give an  account of everything I
had done in either  state; I could even remember my incapacity to recollect.
But once  I had returned to  my normal, everyday level  of awareness I could
not  recall anything  I had  done in heightened awareness,  even if my  life
depended on it.
     "Hold  it, hold it there,"  he said. "You  haven't  remembered anything
yet. Heightened awareness is only an intermediate state. There is infinitely
more  beyond  that, and you have been there many,  many times. Right now you
can't remember, even if your life depends on it."
     He was right. I had no idea what he was talking about. I pleaded for an
     "The explanation  is coming," he said. "It's a slow  process, but we'll
get to it. It is slow because I am just like you: I like to understand. I am
the  opposite of  my benefactor, who was  not given  to explaining.  For him
there  was  only action. He used to put us squarely against incomprehensible
problems and let us resolve them for ourselves. Some of us never did resolve
anything, and we ended up very much in the same boat with the old seers: all
action and no real knowledge."
     "Are those memories trapped in my mind?" I asked.
     "No. That would make  it too simple," he replied. "The actions of seers
are more complex than dividing a man into  mind and body. You have forgotten
what you've done, or what you've witnessed, because when you were performing
what you've forgotten you were seeing."
     I asked don Juan to reinterpret what he had just said.
     Patiently, he explained that everything I had forgotten had taken place
in states in which my  everyday awareness had  been enhanced, intensified, a
condition that meant that other areas of my total being were used.
     "Whatever  you've  forgotten  is trapped in those areas  of  your total
being," he said. "To be using those other areas is to see."
     "I'm more confused than ever, don Juan," I said.
     "I  don't blame  you,"  he said. "Seeing  is to  lay bare  the core  of
everything, to witness  the unknown  and to glimpse into the  unknowable. As
such, it doesn't  bring one solace. Seers ordinarily go to pieces on finding
out that existence is incomprehensibly complex and that our normal awareness
maligns it with its limitations."
     He reiterated that my concentration had to be total, that to understand
was of  crucial importance, that the  new seers  placed the highest value on
deep, unemotional realizations.
     "For instance, the other day,"  he went on, "when you understood  about
la Gorda's and your self-importance, you  didn't understand anything really.
You had an emotional outburst, that was all. I say this because the next day
you were back  on your  high horse of  selfimportance  as  if  you never had
realized anything.
     "The same thing happened to the old seers. They were given to emotional
reactions. But when the time came for them to understand what they had seen,
they  couldn't do it.  To understand  one  needs sobriety, not emotionality.
Beware of those who weep with realization, for they have realized nothing.
     "There are untold dangers in the  path of knowledge for  those  without
sober understanding," he continued.  "I  am outlining the order in which the
new  seers arranged  the  truths about awareness, so it  will serve you as a
map. a map that you have  to corroborate with your seeing, but not with your
     There was a long pause. He stared at me.  He was definitely waiting for
me to ask him a question.
     "Everybody  falls  prey  to  the mistake  that seeing is done  with the
eyes,"  he  continued. "But don't be surprised  that after so many years you
haven't  realized yet that  seeing is not  a matter of  the eyes. It's quite
normal to make that mistake."
     "What is seeing, then?" I asked.
     He replied  that seeing is alignment. And  I reminded him  that he  had
said that perception is alignment. He explained then that  the  alignment of
emanations used routinely is the perception of the day-to-day world, but the
alignment of emanations that are never used ordinarily  is seeing. When such
an alignment occurs one sees. Seeing, therefore, being produced by alignment
out of the ordinary, cannot  be  something one could merely look at. He said
that  in spite  of the fact that I had  seen  countless  times,  it had  not
occurred to me  to disregard  my eyes. I had succumbed to the  way seeing is
labeled and described.
     "When  seers see, something explains  everything  as  the new alignment
takes  place,"  he  continued.  "It's a  voice  that tells them in their ear
what's what. If that voice is not present, what the seer is engaged in isn't
seeing. "
     After a moment's pause, he continued explaining the voice of seeing. He
said that it was equally fallacious  to say that seeing was hearing, because
it  was infinitely  more than that, but that seers had opted for using sound
as a gauge of a new alignment.
     He called the voice of seeing a most mysterious inexplicable thing. "My
personal conclusion is that the voice of  seeing belongs  only to  man,"  he
said. "It may happen because talking is something that  no one  else besides
man does. The old seers believed  it was the voice of an overpowering entity
intimately related to mankind,  a protector of man. The new  seers found out
that  that entity, which they called  the mold of man, doesn't have a voice.
The  voice of seeing  for the new seers is something quite Incomprehensible;
they say it's the glow  of awareness playing on the Eagle's  emanations as a
harpist plays on a harp."
     He refused  to  explain  it any further, arguing that  later  on, as he
proceeded with his explanation, everything would become clear to me.

     My concentration had been so total while don Juan spoke that I actually
did  not  remember sitting down at the  table to eat.  When don Juan stopped
talking, I noticed that his plate of stew was nearly finished.
     Genaro was staring at me with a beaming smile. My plate was in front of
me on the table, and it too was empty. There was only a tiny residue of stew
left in  it, as if I had just finished eating. I did not remember  eating it
at all, but neither did I remember walking to the table or sitting down.
     "Did you like the stew?" Genaro asked me and looked away.
     I  said  I  did, because  I did not  want  to admit that I  was  having
problems recollecting.
     "It had too much  chile for my taste," Genaro said. "You never eat  hot
food yourself,  so I'm sort  of worried  about  what it  will do to you. You
shouldn't have eaten  two servings.  I suppose you're a little  more piggish
when you're in heightened awareness, eh?"
     I  admitted that he was probably right. He handed me a large pitcher of
water to quench  my thirst and soothe my throat. When I eagerly drank all of
it, both of them broke into howling laughter.
     Suddenly, I realized what was going on. My realization was physical. It
was a  flash of  yellowish light that hit me as if  a match had been  struck
right between my eyes. I knew then that Genaro was joking. I had  not eaten.
I had been so absorbed in don Juan's explanation  that I had forgotten about
everything else. The plate in front of me was Genaro's.
     After dinner don  Juan  went on  with his explanation about the glow of
awareness.  Genaro  sat  by  me,  listening  as if he  had  never heard  the
explanation before.
     Don Juan said that the pressure that the emanations outside the cocoon,
which are called emanations  at  large,  exert on the  emanations inside the
cocoon is the same in all sentient beings.  Yet the results of that pressure
are  vastly  different  among  them,  because  their  cocoons react to  that
pressure in every conceivable way. There are, however, degrees of uniformity
within certain boundaries.
     "Now," he went  on, "when seers see that the pressure of the emanations
at large bears down  on the  emanations  inside, which are always in motion,
and makes them stop moving, they know that the luminous being at that moment
is fixated by awareness.
     "To  say that  the emanations at large  bear down on  those inside  the
cocoon  and  make   them  stop  moving  means   that  seers  see   something
indescribable, the meaning of which they know without a shadow of  doubt. It
means that the voice of seeing has told them  that the emanations inside the
cocoon are completely at rest and match some of those which are outside."
     He  said that  seers maintain, naturally, that  awareness  always comes
from outside ourselves, that the  real  mystery  is not inside  us. Since by
nature the emanations at large are made to fixate what is inside the cocoon,
the trick of awareness is to let the fixating emanations merge with  what is
inside us. Seers believe that if we let that happen we become what we really
are-- fluid, forever in motion, eternal.
     There  was a long pause. Don Juan's  eyes had  an  intense shine.  They
seemed to be looking at me from a great  depth.  I had the feeling that each
of his eyes was  an  independent  point  of brilliance.  For an  instant  he
appeared to be  struggling against an invisible  force, a  fire  from within
that intended to consume him. It passed and he went on talking.
     "The  degree of  awareness  of  every  individual  sentient being,"  he
continued, "depends on  the degree to  which  it is capable  of letting  the
pressure of the emanations at large carry it."

     After a  long interruption, don Juan continued explaining. He said that
seers  saw  that  from  the moment  of  conception  awareness  is  enhanced,
enriched,  by the  process  of  being  alive.  He said that seers  saw,  for
instance,  that  the  awareness  of  an  individual  insect  or  that  of an
individual man grows from the moment of conception in astoundingly different
ways, but with equal consistency.
     "Is it from the  moment  of conception or from the moment of birth that
awareness develops?" I asked.
     "Awareness develops from the moment of conception," he replied. "I have
always told you that  sexual energy  is something of ultimate importance and
that it has to  be controlled and used with great care. But you have  always
resented what I said, because you thought I was speaking of control in terms
of morality; I always meant it in terms of saving and rechanneling energy."
     Don Juan looked at Genaro. Genaro nodded his head in approval.
     "Genaro  is going  to tell you  what our benefactor, the nagual Julian,
used to say about saving and rechanneling  sexual energy," don Juan  said to
     "The nagual Julian used to say that to have sex is a matter of energy,"
Genaro began. "For instance, he never had any  problems having  sex, because
he had  bushels of energy. But  he took one look at me and prescribed  right
away that my peter was just for peeing. He told me that I didn't have enough
energy to have sex. He  said that  my parents were  too bored  and too tired
when they made me; he said that I was the result of very  boring sex, cojida
aburrida.  I  was  born  like  that,  bored  and  tired.  The nagual  Julian
recommended that people like me should never have sex; this way we can store
the little energy we have.
     "He said the same  thing to Silvio Manuel  and  to Emilito. He saw that
the others had enough energy. They were not the result of bored sex. He told
them that  they could do anything they wanted with their sexual  energy, but
he  recommended that  they control  themselves  and  understand  the Eagle's
command that sex is for bestowing the glow  of awareness. We all said we had
     "One  day, without  any warning  at all, he opened the  curtain  of the
other  world with  the  help of  his own benefactor,  the nagual Ellas,  and
pushed  all of us  inside, with no hesitation whatsoever. All of us,  except
Silvio  Manuel, nearly died  in there.  We  had no  energy to withstand  the
impact of  the  other  world. None of us, except Silvio Manuel, had followed
the nagual's recommendation."
     "What is the curtain of the other world?" I asked don Juan.
     "What Genaro said-- it is a  curtain,"  don Juan replied.  "But  you're
getting  off  the subject.  You always do.  We're talking  about the Eagle's
command about sex. It is the Eagle's command that sexual  energy be used for
creating life. Through sexual energy,  the eagle  bestows awareness. So when
sentient  beings  are  engaged in sexual intercourse, the  emanations inside
their cocoons do  their  best  to bestow awareness to the new sentient being
they are creating."
     He said that during the sexual act,  the emanations encased inside  the
cocoon of both  partners undergo a profound agitation, the culminating point
of which is a merging, a fusing of two pieces of the glow of  awareness, one
from each partner, that separate from their cocoons.
     "Sexual  intercourse is always  a bestowal of awareness even though the
bestowal may  not  be  consolidated," he went on. "The emanations inside the
cocoon of human beings don't know of intercourse for fun."
     Genaro leaned over toward me from his chair across the table and talked
to me in a low voice, shaking his head for emphasis.
     "The nagual is telling you the truth," he said and winked at me. "Those
emanations really don't know."
     Don Juan fought not to  laugh and  added that  the fallacy of man is to
act  with total disregard for the mystery of  existence and to  believe that
such a  sublime act  of bestowing life  and  awareness is  merely a physical
drive that one can twist at will.
     Genaro made obscene sexual gestures, twisting his pelvis around, on and
on.  Don Juan nodded and said that that was  exactly  what  he meant. Genaro
thanked  him  for  acknowledging  his  one  and  only  contribution  to  the
explanation of awareness.
     Both  of them laughed  like  idiots, saying  that if  I had  known  how
serious their benefactor was  about the explanation of awareness, I would be
laughing with them.
     I earnestly asked don Juan  what all  this meant for  an average man in
the day-to-day world.
     "You mean what Genaro is doing?" he asked me in mock seriousness.
     Their glee was always contagious. It took a long  time for them to calm
down. Their level  of energy was so high that next to them, I seemed old and
     "I  really  don't  know," don Juan finally  answered me. "All I know is
what it means to warriors. They know that the only real energy we possess is
a  lifebestowing  sexual  energy.  This  knowledge  makes  them  permanently
conscious of their responsibility.
     "If warriors want to have enough energy to see, they must become misers
with  their sexual energy. That was the lesson the nagual Julian gave us. He
pushed us  into the unknown, and we all nearly died.  Since  everyone  of us
wanted to see, we, of course, abstained from wasting our glow of awareness."
     I had heard him  voice  that belief  before.  Every time he did, we got
into an argument. I always felt compelled to protest and raise objections to
what I thought was a puritanical attitude toward sex.
     I again raised my objections. Both of them laughed to tears.
     "What can be done with man's natural sensuality?" I asked don Juan.
     "Nothing,"  he replied. "There is nothing wrong  with man's sensuality,
it's man's ignorance of and  disregard for his magical nature that is wrong.
It's a mistake to  waste recklessly the life-bestowing force  of sex and not
have children, but it's also a mistake  not to know  that in having children
one taxes the glow of awareness."
     "How do seers know that having children taxes the glow of awareness?" I
     "They  see that  on  having  a child,  the parents'  glow of  awareness
diminishes and the child's increases. In some supersensitive, frail parents,
the  glow  of  awareness  almost  disappears.  As   children  enhance  their
awareness, a big dark  spot develops in the luminous cocoon of  the parents,
on  the very place from which the glow  was taken away. It is usually on the
midsection   of  the  cocoon.  Sometimes  those   spots  can  even  be  seen
superimposed on the body itself."
     I  asked him if there was  anything that could be done to give people a
more balanced understanding of the glow of awareness.
     "Nothing," he said.  "At  least,  there is nothing  that seers  can do.
Seers  aim  to  be  free,  to  be  unbiased  witnesses incapable of  passing
judgment;  otherwise  they  would have  to  assume  the  responsibility  for
bringing about a more adjusted  cycle. No one can do that. The new cycle, if
it is to come, must come of itself."

     5 The First Attention

     The following day we ate breakfast at dawn, then don Juan made me shift
levels of awareness.
     "Today, let's go to an original setting," don Juan said to Genaro.
     "By all means," Genaro said gravely. He glanced at me and then added in
a low voice, as  if not wanting me to overhear him, "Does  he  have  to. . .
perhaps it's too much. . ."
     In a matter of seconds  my fear and suspicion escalated  to  unbearable
heights. I was sweating and panting. Don Juan came to  my side  and, with an
expression of almost  uncontrollable amusement, assured me that  Genaro  was
just entertaining himself  at my expense, and that we were going  to a place
where the original seers had lived thousands of years ago.
     As don  Juan was speaking  to  me, I  happened to glance  at Genaro. He
slowly  shook his head from  side to side. It  was an  almost  imperceptible
gesture, as if he were letting  me know that don  Juan was  not  telling the
truth.  I  went into a state of nervous frenzy, near hysteria--  and stopped
only when Genaro burst into laughter.
     I  marveled  how easily my  emotional  states could escalate to  nearly
unmanageable heights or drop to nothing.
     Don  Juan, Genaro, and  I left Genaro's house  in the early morning and
traveled  a short distance  into the surrounding eroded hills. Presently  we
stopped and sat down on top of an enormous flat rock, on a gradual slope, in
a corn field that seemed to have been recently harvested.
     "This is  the original setting," don Juan said  to me. "We'll come back
here a couple more times, during the course of my explanation."
     "Very weird  things  happen  here at night," Genaro  said. "The  nagual
Julian actually caught an ally here. Or rather, the ally ..."
     Don Juan made a noticeable gesture with his eyebrows and Genaro stopped
in midsentence. He smiled at me.
     "It's too early in the day for scary stories," Genaro said. "Let's wait
until dark."
     He stood up and began creeping all  around the rock, tiptoeing with his
spine arched backward.
     "What was he  saying about your benefactor's catching  an ally here?" I
asked don Juan.
     He  did not answer right  away.  He  was  ecstatic,  watching  Genaro's
     "He was  referring to some sophisticated use of awareness," he  finally
replied, still staring at Genaro.
     Genaro completed a circle around the rock and came back and sat down by
me. He was panting heavily, almost wheezing, out of breath.
     Don  Juan  seemed fascinated by what Genaro had done. Again  I  had the
feeling that  they were amusing themselves at my expense, that both  of them
were up to something I knew nothing about.
     Suddenly, don Juan began his explanation. His voice soothed me. He said
that  after   much  toiling,  seers  arrived  at  the  conclusion  that  the
consciousness of adult human  beings, matured by the  process of growth, can
no longer be called awareness, because  it  has been modified into something
more intense and complex, which seers call attention.
     "How do seers know that man's awareness is being cultivated and that it
grows?" I asked.
     He said that  at a given time  in the  growth of human beings a band of
the emanations  inside their cocoons  becomes very  bright;  as human beings
accumulate  experience,  it begins to glow. In some instances,  the  glow of
this band of  emanations increases so  dramatically  that it fuses  with the
emanations from the outside. Seers, witnessing an  enhancement of this kind,
had to  surmise that  awareness is the  raw  material and  attention the end
product of maturation.
     "How do seers describe attention?" I asked.
     "They  say that  attention is the harnessing and enhancing of awareness
through the process of being alive," he replied.
     He said that the danger of definitions is that they simplify matters to
make them understandable; in this case, in defining  attention, one runs the
risk of  transforming  a magical,  miraculous accomplishment  into something
commonplace. Attention is man's greatest single accomplishment.  It develops
from  raw  animal  awareness  until  it covers  the  entire gamut  of  human
alternatives. Seers  perfect it even further until it covers the whole scope
of human possibilities.
     I wanted to know if  there was a  special  significance to alternatives
and possibilities in the seers' view.
     Don  Juan replied that human alternatives are everything we are capable
of  choosing as persons.  They have to do with the  level  of our day-to-day
range, the known; and owing to  that fact, they are quite limited in  number
and  scope.  Human possibilities belong to the unknown. They are not what we
are capable  of choosing  but what we are capable of attaining. He said that
an  example  of human alternatives is  our  choice to believe that the human
body is an  object among objects.  An  example of human possibilities is the
seers'  achievement  in viewing man as an egglike luminous  being. With  the
body as an object one tackles the known, with the body as a luminous egg one
tackles  the   unknown;  human  possibilities  have,  therefore,  nearly  an
inexhaustible scope.
     "Seers say that there are three types of attention," don  Juan went on.
"When  they say that, they mean it just for  human beings,  not for  all the
sentient beings in existence. But the three are not just types of attention,
they are  rather three levels of attainment. They are the first, second, and
third attention, each of them an independent domain, complete in itself."
     He explained that the first attention in man is animal awareness, which
has  been developed,  through the  process  of experience,  into a  complex,
intricate, and  extremely fragile  faculty that takes care  of the day-today
world in all its  innumerable  aspects, in other words,  everything that one
can think about is part of the first attention.
     "The  first  attention  is  everything  we  are  as  average  men,"  he
continued. "By  virtue of such an absolute rule  over  our lives, the  first
attention is the most valuable asset that the average man has. Perhaps it is
even our only asset.
     "Taking into account its true value, the  new seers started  a rigorous
examination of the  first attention through  seeing.  Their findings  molded
their  total outlook and the  outlook  of all their descendants, even though
most of them do not understand what those seers really saw."
     He  emphatically  warned  me that  the  conclusions of the  new  seers'
rigorous  examination had  very little to do  with  reason  or  rationality,
because in order to  examine and explain the first attention,  one must  see
it. Only  seers  can do that. But to  examine what  seers see  in  the first
attention is essential.  It allows the  first attention the only opportunity
it will ever have to realize its own workings.
     "In terms  of  what  seers  see, the  first  attention is the  glow  of
awareness  developed  to  an ultra shine," he  continued. "But it is  a glow
fixed on  the surface of the  cocoon, so to speak. It is a  glow that covers
the known.
     "The  second  attention,  on  the  other  hand,  is a more complex  and
specialized state of  the glow of awareness. It has to do with  the unknown.
It comes about when unused emanations inside man's cocoon are utilized.
     "The reason I called the second attention specialized is that  in order
to utilize those  unused  emanations,  one needs uncommon, elaborate tactics
that require supreme discipline and concentration."
     He said that he had told me before, when he was  teaching me the art of
dreaming,  that the concentration needed to be  aware that one  is having  a
dream is  the  forerunner of the  second attention.  That concentration is a
form  of consciousness that is not in the same category as the consciousness
needed to deal with the daily world.
     He  said that  the  second  attention  is  also  called  the  left-side
awareness; and it is the vastest field that one can imagine, so vast in fact
that it seems limitless.
     "I wouldn't  stray into it for anything in this world," he went on. "It
is a quagmire  so complex and bizarre that sober seers go into it only under
the strictest conditions.
     "The great difficulty is that the entrance into the second attention is
utterly easy and its lure nearly irresistible."
     He said that the  old  seers, being the  masters  of awareness, applied
their  expertise to their  own glows  of  awareness and made  them expand to
inconceivable limits. They actually aimed at lighting up all  the emanations
inside their cocoons,  one band at a  time. They succeeded, but oddly enough
the accomplishment  of  lighting up  one band at a time was instrumental  in
their becoming imprisoned in the quagmire of the second attention.
     "The  new  seers corrected  that error," he  continued,  "and  let  the
mastery of awareness develop to its natural end, which is to extend the glow
of awareness beyond the bounds of the luminous cocoon in one single stroke.
     "The third attention is attained when the glow of awareness turns  into
the fire from within: a glow that kindles not one band at a time but all the
Eagle's emanations inside man's cocoon."
     Don Juan expressed his  awe  for  the  new seers' deliberate  effort to
attain  the third attention  while they are  alive  and  conscious of  their
     He  did not consider it  worthwhile to discuss the  random cases of men
and other  sentient beings who  enter into  the unknown  and  the unknowable
without  being aware of it; he  referred  to this as  the Eagle's  gift.  He
asserted that for the new  seers to enter into the third attention is also a
gift, but  has  a  different meaning,  it  is more  like  a  reward  for  an
     He added that  at  the moment of dying all human beings enter into  the
unknowable  and some  of them do  attain the third attention, but altogether
too briefly and only to purify the food for the Eagle.
     "The supreme accomplishment  of human beings," he said,  "is to  attain
that level  of attention while retaining the life-force, without becoming  a
disembodied awareness  moving like a flicker of light up to the Eagle's beak
to be devoured."
     While listening to don  Juan's explanation I  had again completely lost
sight of everything  that surrounded me. Genaro apparently had gotten up and
left  us,  and was nowhere in sight. Strangely, I found myself  crouching on
the rock, with don Juan squatting by me holding me down by gently pushing on
my  shoulders. I  reclined on the rock and closed my eyes. There was  a soft
breeze blowing from the west.
     "Don't fall asleep," don Juan said. "Not for any reason should you fall
asleep on this rock."
     I sat up. Don Juan was staring at me.
     "Just relax," he went on. "Let the internal dialogue die out."
     All my concentration was involved in  following what he was saying when
I got a jolt of fright. I did not know what it was at first; I thought I was
going  through another attack of distrust.  But  then  it struck me, like  a
bolt, that  it was very  late  in the afternoon. What I had  thought  was an
hour's conversation had consumed an entire day.
     I  jumped up,  fully aware of  the incongruity,  although I  could  not
conceive what had happened  to me. I  felt a strange sensation that made  my
body  want to run. Don Juan jumped me, restraining me forcefully. We fell to
the soft ground, and  he held me there with  an iron grip. I had had no idea
that don Juan was so strong.
     My  body shook violently. My arms flew every which way as they shook. I
was having something like a seizure. Yet some part of me was detached to the
point  of  becoming  fascinated with watching  my  body  vibrate, twist, and
     The spasms finally died out and don  Juan let go of me. He was  panting
with the exertion. He recommended that we  climb back up on the rock and sit
there until I was all right.
     I could not help pressing him with my usual question: What had happened
to  me? He answered  that as  he talked to me I had  pushed beyond a certain
limit and  had  entered very  deeply into  the left side. He and  Genaro had
followed  me in there. And then I  had rushed out in the same fashion I  had
rushed in.
     "I  caught you right on time," he said.  "Otherwise you would have gone
straight out to your normal self."
     I  was  totally confused. He explained  that the  three of us  had been
playing with awareness. I must have gotten scared and run out on them.
     "Genaro is the master of  awareness,"  don Juan went on. "Silvio Manuel
is  the master  of  wilt. The  two of  them were mercilessly pushed into the
unknown. My benefactor did to them what  his benefactor  did  to him. Genaro
and  Silvio Manuel  are very much like the old seers  in some respects. They
know what they can do, but they don't care to know  how they  do  it. Today,
Genaro seized  the  opportunity  to  push your glow of  awareness and we all
ended up in the weird confines of the unknown."
     I begged him to tell me what had happened in the unknown.
     "You'll have to remember that yourself," a voice said just by my ear.
     I was  so convinced that it  was the  voice  of seeing that it did  not
frighten me at all. I did not even obey the impulse to turn around.
     "I  am  the voice of  seeing and I tell you that you are a peckerhead,"
the voice said again and chuckled.
     I turned around. Genaro was sitting behind me.  I was so surprised that
I laughed perhaps a bit more hysterically than they did.
     "It's getting dark now," Genaro said to me. "As I promised  you earlier
today, we are going to have a ball here."
     Don Juan intervened and said that we should stop for the day, because I
was the kind of nincompoop who could die offright.
     "Nah, he's all right," Genaro said, patting me on the shoulder.
     "You'd better ask him,"  don Juan said to Genaro. "He himself will tell
you that he's that kind of nincompoop."
     "Are you really that kind of nincompoop?" Genaro asked me with a frown.
     I didn't  answer  him. And that  made them roll around laughing. Genaro
rolled all the way to the ground.
     "He's caught," Genaro said to don Juan, referring to me, after don Juan
had swiftly jumped down and helped him to stand up. "He'll  never say he's a
nincompoop.  He's  too self-important for that, but  he's  shivering  in his
pants with  fear of what  might  happen  because he  didn't  confess he's  a
     Watching them laugh, I was convinced that only Indians could laugh with
such joyfulness. But I  also became  convinced that there  was  a  mile-wide
streak of maliciousness in them. They were poking fun at a non-Indian.
     Don Juan immediately caught my feelings.
     "Don't  let your  self-importance  run  rampant," he said.  "You're not
special by any  standards. None  of  us  are, Indians  and  non-Indians. The
nagual Julian and his benefactor  added years of  enjoyment to  their  lives
laughing at us."
     Genaro nimbly climbed back onto the rock and came to my side.
     "If I  were you. I'd feel so frigging embarrassed I'd cry,"  he said to
me. "Cry, cry. Have a good cry and you'll feel better."
     To my  utter amazement I began to weep softly. Then I got so angry that
I roared with fury. Only then I felt better.
     Don  Juan patted my  back gently. He said  that usually  anger is  very
sobering, or sometimes fear is, or  humor. My violent nature made me respond
only to anger.
     He added  that a sudden shift in  the glow of  awareness makes us weak.
They had  been trying to reinforce me, to bolster me. Apparently, Genaro had
succeeded by making me rage.
     It was twilight by then. Suddenly Genaro pointed to a flicker in midair
at eye level, in the  twilight it appeared  to be a large moth flying around
the place where we sat.
     "Be very gentle with  your exaggerated  nature," don  Juan  said to me.
"Don't  be eager. Just let Genaro guide you. Don't take your eyes  from that
     The flickering point was definitely a moth. I could clearly distinguish
all its features. I followed its convoluted, tired flight, until I could see
every speck of dust on its wings.
     Something got me  out  of  my total  absorption.  I sensed a flurry  of
soundless noise, if that could  be possible, just behind me. I turned around
and caught sight  of an entire row of people on the other edge of the  rock,
an  edge that was a  bit higher than the one  on  which  we  were sitting. I
supposed that the people who  lived nearby must have gotten suspicious of us
hanging around all day and had climbed onto the rock intending to harm us. I
knew about their intentions instantly.
     Don Juan and Genaro  slid down from the rock and told me to hurry down.
We  left immediately  without turning back to see if the men were  following
us.  Don Juan and  Genaro refused  to talk while we walked back to  Genaro's
house. Don Juan even made me hush with a fierce grunt, putting his finger to
his lips. Genaro  did not  come into the  house, but kept on walking as  don
Juan dragged me inside.
     "Who were those people, don Juan?" I asked him, when the two of us were
safely inside the house and he had lit the lantern.
     "They were not people," he replied.
     "Come on, don Juan, don't mystify me,"  I  said. "They were  men; I saw
them with my own eyes."
     "Of course, you  saw them with your  own eyes," he retorted,  "but that
doesn't say anything. Your  eyes misled you. Those were not  people and they
were following you. Genaro had to draw them away from you."
     "What were they, then, if not people?"
     "Oh, there is the mystery," he said. "It's  a mystery of awareness  and
it can't  be solved rationally by talking about it. The  mystery can only be
     "Let me witness it then." I said.
     "But you already have, twice in one  day," he said. "You don't remember
now. You will, however, when you  rekindle  the emanations that were glowing
when  you  witnessed  the  mystery of awareness  i'm  referring to.  In  the
meantime, let's go back to our explanation of awareness."
     He reiterated that awareness begins  with the  permanent pressure  that
the emanations at large  exert on  the ones  trapped inside the cocoon. This
pressure produces the first act of consciousness; it stops the motion of the
trapped emanations, which are fighting to break the cocoon, fighting to die.
     "For a  seer,  the  truth  is that all living beings are struggling  to
die," he went on. "What stops death is awareness."
     Don Juan said that the new seers were profoundly disturbed by the  fact
that awareness  forestalls death and at  the  same time induces  it by being
food  for  the Eagle.  Since  they  could not  explain it,  for there is  no
rational way to understand existence, seers realized that their knowledge is
composed of contradictory propositions.
     "Why did they develop a system of contradictions?" I asked.
     "They  didn't  develop  anything,"  he said. "They found unquestionable
truths by  means  of  their seeing.  Those truths are  arranged in  terms of
supposedly blatant contradictions, that's all.
     "For example, seers have to be methodical, rational beings, paragons of
sobriety, and at  the  same  time  they  must shy  away from  all  of  those
qualities  in  order  to  be  completely  free and open  to the  wonders and
mysteries of existence."
     His  example left me baffled, but not to the extreme. I understood what
he meant.  He  himself had  sponsored my rationality  only to  crush it  and
demand a total absence of it. I told him how I understood his point.
     "Only a feeling of  supreme sobriety can bridge the contradictions," he
     "Could you say, don Juan, that art is that bridge?"
     "You may call  the  bridge  between contradictions anything you  want--
art, affection, sobriety, love, or even kindness."
     Don Juan continued his explanation and said that in examining the first
attention, the new seers realized that all organic beings, except man, quiet
down  their  agitated trapped emanations so that those  emanations can align
themselves with their matching ones  outside.  Human beings do not  do that;
instead, their first attention lakes  an inventory of the Eagle's emanations
inside their cocoons.
     "What is an inventory, don Juan?" I asked.
     "Human beings  take  notice of  the  emanations  they have inside their
cocoons," he replied. "No other creatures do that. The  moment the  pressure
from  the  emanations at  large  fixates  the emanations  inside,  the first
attention begins  to  watch  itself. It notes everything about itself, or at
least  it  tries to,  in whatever aberrant  ways it can. This is the process
seers call taking an inventory.
     "I don't mean to say that human beings choose to take  an inventory, or
that they  can  refuse to  take it.  To  take an  inventory is  the  Eagle's
command. What  is subject to volition,  however, is the manner in which  the
command is obeyed."
     He said that although he disliked calling the emanations commands, that
is what they  are: commands that no one can  disobey.  Yet  the  way out  of
obeying the commands is in obeying them.
     "In  the case  of the  inventory  of the first attention," he  went on,
"seers take it,  for they can't  disobey. But  once they have  taken it they
throw it away.  The Eagle doesn't  command us to  worship  our inventory; it
commands us to take it, that's all."
     "How do seers see that man takes an inventory?" I asked.
     "The  emanations inside  the cocoon of  man are not  quieted  down  for
purposes of matching them with those outside," he replied. "This is  evident
after  seeing  what  other  creatures  do. On  quieting  down, some of  them
actually  merge  themselves with the emanations at large and move with them.
Seers can see, for instance, the  light of the scarabs' emanations expanding
to great size.
     "But human beings quiet down their emanations and then reflect on them.
The emanations focus on themselves."
     He said that  human beings carry the command of taking an  inventory to
its logical  extreme  and disregard  everything else.  Once  they are deeply
involved  in the  inventory, two things  may  happen.  They  may  ignore the
impulses  of  the  emanations  at large, or  they may  use them  in  a  very
specialized way.
     The  end result of ignoring those impulses after taking an inventory is
a unique state  known as reason. The  result  of  using  every impulse in  a
specialized way is known as self-absorption.
     Human  reason appears to a seer as an  unusually  homogeneous dull glow
that rarely if ever responds to the constant pressure from the emanations at
large--  a glow  that  makes the  egglike  shell  become  tougher, but  more
     Don Juan remarked that reason in the human species should be bountiful,
but that in actuality it is  very rare. The majority of human beings turn to
     He asserted that the  awareness of all  living  beings  has a degree of
self-reflection  in order for them to interact. But  none except man's first
attention has  such  a degree of self-absorption. Contrary to men of reason,
who  ignore the  impulse  of  the  emanations  at  large,  the self-absorbed
individuals  use every impulse and turn  them all  into a  force to stir the
trapped emanations inside their cocoons.
     Observing all this, seers arrived at a practical  conclusion.  They saw
that men  of reason are bound to live  longer,  because  by disregarding the
impulse of  the emanations  at large,  they quiet down the natural agitation
inside their cocoons. The self-absorbed  individuals, on the  other hand, by
using  the  impulse of the  emanations  at large to create  more  agitation,
shorten their lives.
     "What do  seers  see when  they  gaze at self-absorbed human beings?" I
     "They  see them as intermittent bursts of white light, followed by long
pauses of dullness," he said.
     Don Juan stopped talking. I had no more questions to ask,  or perhaps I
was  too  tired to ask about  anything. There  was  a loud bang that made me
jump. The front door flew open and Genaro came in, out of breath. He slumped
on the mat. He was actually covered with perspiration.
     "I was explaining about the first attention," don Juan said to him.
     "The first attention works only with the known," Genaro said. "it isn't
worth two plugged nickels with the unknown."
     "That is  not  quite  right,"  don Juan retorted. "The  first attention
works very  well with the unknown. It  blocks it; it denies  it so  fiercely
that in the end, the unknown doesn't exist for the first attention.
     "Taking an inventory makes us  invulnerable. That is why  the inventory
came into existence in the first place."
     "What are you talking about?" I asked don Juan.
     He didn't reply. He looked at Genaro as if waiting for an answer.
     "But if  I open the door," Genaro  said, "would  the first attention be
capable of dealing with what will come in?"
     "Yours and mine wouldn't, but his will," don Juan said, pointing at me.
"Let's try it."
     "Even though he's in heightened awareness?" Genaro asked don Juan.
     "That won't make any difference," don Juan answered.
     Genaro got  up  and  went  to the front  door  and  threw it  open.  He
instantly jumped back. A  gust of cold  wind came in.  Don Juan  came to  my
side, and so did Genaro. Both of them looked at me in amazement.
     I wanted to close the front door. The cold was making me uncomfortable.
But as I  moved toward the door, don Juan and Genaro jumped  in front  of me
and shielded me.
     "Do you notice anything in the room?" Genaro asked me.
     "No, I don't," I said, and I really meant it.
     Except for the cold wind pouring  in  through the open door,  there was
nothing to notice in there.
     "Weird creatures came in when I opened the door,"  he  said. "Don't you
notice anything?"
     There was something in his  voice that told me he  was not joking  this
     The three of  us, with both  of  them flanking me,  walked  out  of the
house. Don Juan picked  up the kerosene lantern, and Genaro locked the front
door. We got inside the car, through the passenger's side. They pushed me in
first. And then we drove to don Juan's house in the next town.

     6 Inorganic Beings

     The next day I repeatedly asked don Juan to explain our hasty departure
from  Genaro's house. He refused even to mention the incident. Genaro was no
help either. Every time I asked him he winked at me, grinning like a fool.
     In the afternoon, don Juan came to the back patio of his house, where I
was  talking with his  apprentices. As if on  cue, all the young apprentices
left instantly.
     Don Juan took me by  the arm, and we began to walk along the  corridor.
He did not say anything;  for a  while we just strolled around, very much as
if we were in the public square.
     Don Juan stopped walking and turned  to me. He circled me, looking over
my entire body. I knew that he was  seeing me.  I  felt a strange fatigue, a
laziness I had not  felt until his  eyes swept over me. He began to talk all
of a sudden.
     "The reason  Genaro  and I  didn't want to focus on what happened  last
night,"  he said, "was that you had been very frightened during the time you
were  in  the  unknown.  Genaro pushed  you, and  things happened to you  in
     "What things, don Juan?"
     "Things that are still difficult if not  impossible  to  explain to you
now,"  he  said. "You  don't have  enough surplus energy to enter  into  the
unknown and make sense of it. When  the new seers arranged  the order of the
truths about awareness,  they saw that the first attention consumes  all the
glow of awareness that human beings  have, and not an iota of energy is left
free. That's  your problem now. So,  the  new seers  proposed that warriors,
since they have to  enter into  the unknown, have to save  their energy. But
where are they going to  get energy, if all of  it is taken? They'll get it,
the new seers say, from eradicating unnecessary habits."
     He  stopped   talking  and  solicited  questions.  I  asked  him   what
eradicating unnecessary habits did to the glow of awareness.
     He replied that it detaches  awareness from self-reflection  and allows
it the freedom to focus on something else.
     "The unknown is forever present," he continued, "but it is  outside the
possibility of our  normal awareness. The unknown is the superfluous part of
the  average man. And it is superfluous because the average man doesn't have
enough free energy to grasp it.
     "After all the time you've spent in the warrior's path, you have enough
free energy to grasp the  unknown, but not enough energy to understand it or
even to remember it."
     He explained  that at the site of the flat  rock, I  had  entered  very
deeply into the  unknown. But I indulged in my exaggerated nature and became
terrified,  which  was about the worst thing anyone  can do. So I had rushed
out of the left side, like a bat out of hell; unfortunately, taking a legion
of strange things with me.
     I told don Juan  that  he was not getting to the point,  that he should
come out and tell me exactly what he meant by a legion of strange things.
     He took me by the arm and continued strolling around with me.
     "In explaining awareness," he said, "I am presumably fitting everything
or nearly  everything into  place. Let's  talk a little  bit  about  the old
seers. Genaro, as I've told you, is very much like them."
     He  led me  then  to the big room. We sat down there  and he began  his
     "The new  seers were simply terrified by  the  knowledge  that  the old
seers had accumulated over the  years," don Juan said. "It's understandable.
The new seers knew that that knowledge leads only to total destruction.  Yet
they were also fascinated by it-- especially by the practices."
     "How did the new seers know about those practices?" I asked.
     "They are the legacy of the old Toltecs," he said. "The new seers learn
about them  as  they go  along. They hardly ever use them, but the practices
are there as part of their knowledge."
     "What kind of practices are they, don Juan?"
     "They are very obscure formulas, incantations,  lengthy procedures that
have to do with the  handling of a very mysterious  force.  At least  it was
mysterious to the ancient Toltecs, who masked it and made it more horrifying
than it really is."
     "What is that mysterious force?" I asked.
     "It's a force that is present throughout everything there is," he said.
"The old seers never attempted to unravel the mystery of the force that made
them create  their  secret practices; they simply  accepted it  as something
sacred. But the new seers took a close look and called  it wilt, the will of
the Eagle's emanations, or intent."'
     Don Juan went on  explaining that the ancient Toltecs had divided their
secret knowledge  into five  sets of two categories each:  the earth and the
dark  regions,  fire and water,  the above and  the below, the loud and  the
silent, the moving and the stationary. He  speculated  that there must  have
been thousands of different techniques, which became more and more intricate
as time passed.
     "The  secret knowledge  of  the  earth," he  went on, "had  to do  with
everything  that  stands  on the  ground.  There  were  particular  sets  of
movements, words, unguents,  potions that were  applied to  people, animals,
insects, trees, small plants, rocks, soil.
     "These were techniques that made the old seers into horrid  beings. And
their  secret knowledge  of the  earth was employed  either to groom  or  to
destroy anything that stands on the ground.
     "The counterpart of the earth was what they  knew as the dark  regions.
These practices were  by  far  the most dangerous. They  dealt with entities
without organic life.  Living  creatures that are present on  the  earth and
populate it together with all organic beings.
     "Doubtlessly, one of the most worthwhile findings of the ancient seers,
especially  for them,  was the discovery that organic  life is not  the only
form of life present on this earth."
     I did  not quite  comprehend  what  he  had said. I  waited for  him to
clarify his statements.
     "Organic beings are not the only creatures that have life," he said and
paused again as if to allow me time to think his statements over.
     I countered with a long argument about the definition of life and being
alive.  I talked about  reproduction, metabolism, and growth, the  processes
that distinguish live organisms from inanimate things.
     "You're  drawing  from the  organic,"  he  said.  "But that's only  one
instance. You shouldn't draw all you have to say from one category alone."
     "But how else can it be?" I asked.
     "For  seers,  to  be alive means to  be  aware,"  he replied. "For  the
average man,  to be  aware means  to be an organism. This is where seers are
different.  For  them, to  be aware means  that  the emanations  that  cause
awareness are encased inside a receptacle.
     "Organic  living beings have a cocoon that encloses the emanations. But
there are  other creatures whose receptacles don't look like a  cocoon  to a
seer. Yet  they have the emanations of awareness in them and characteristics
of life other than reproduction and metabolism."
     "Such as what, don Juan?"
     "Such as emotional dependency, sadness, joy, wrath, and so forth and so
on.  And  I  forgot  the  best yet, love;  a kind  of love  man  can't  even
     "Are you serious, don Juan?" I asked in earnest.
     "Inanimately serious," he answered  with a deadpan expression  and then
broke into laughter.
     "If we take as our clue what seers see,"  he continued, "life is indeed
     "If those beings  are alive, why  don't they make themselves  known  to
man?" I asked.
     "They do, all  the time. And not only to seers but also to the  average
man. The problem is that all the energy available  is consumed  by the first
attention.  Man's inventory not only takes it  all, but it also toughens the
cocoon to the point of making it inflexible. Under those circumstances there
is no possible interaction."
     He  reminded  me  of  the  countless   times,  in  the  course  of   my
apprenticeship  with  him, when  I  had had a  firsthand view  of  inorganic
beings. I retorted that  I  had explained  away  nearly  every one of  those
instances.  I had even formulated the hypothesis that his teachings, through
the use  of hallucinogenic plants, were geared to force an agreement, on the
part of the  apprentice, about  a primitive interpretation of  the world.  I
told him that I had not formally called it primitive  interpretation  but in
anthropological terms I had labeled it a "world  view more proper to hunting
and gathering societies."
     Don Juan laughed until he was out of breath.
     "I really don't know whether  you're  worse  in  your  normal  state of
awareness or in a heightened one," he said. "In your normal state you're not
suspicious,  but boringly  reasonable. I think  I like you best when you are
way inside the left side, in spite of the  fact that you are terribly afraid
of everything, as you were yesterday."
     Before I had time to say anything at all, he stated that he was pitting
what the old  seers did against the accomplishments  of the new seers,  as a
sort of  counterpoint,  with which he  intended to give me  a more inclusive
view of the odds I was up against.
     He continued then with  his elucidation of the  practices  of  the  old
seers. He said that another of their great findings had to do  with the next
category  of secret knowledge: fire and  water.  They discovered that flames
have a most peculiar  quality; they can  transport man bodily, just as water
     Don Juan  called  it a brilliant  discovery. I remarked that  there are
basic laws of physics that would prove that to be impossible. He asked me to
wait  until he had explained  everything  before drawing any conclusions. He
remarked that I had to check my excessive rationality, because it constantly
affected my  states of  heightened awareness. It was not a case  of reacting
every which way to external influences, but of succumbing to my own devices.
     He went on explaining that the ancient Toltecs, although they obviously
saw,  did not understand what  they  saw.  They merely used  their  findings
without bothering to relate  them to a larger picture. In the  case of their
category of fire and water, they divided fire into heat and flame, and water
into wetness and fluidity. They correlated heat and wetness and called  them
lesser properties. They considered flames and fluidity to be higher, magical
properties, and they used them as a  means for bodily transportation  to the
realm of nonorganic life. Between their knowledge of that kind  of  life and
their fire and  water practices, the ancient seers became  bogged  down in a
quagmire with no way out.
     Don Juan assured me that the  new  seers agreed that  the discovery  of
nonorganic living  beings was indeed  extraordinary,  but not in the way the
old  seers  believed it to  be.  To find themselves in a one-to-one relation
with another  kind  of  life  gave the  ancient  seers  a  false feeling  of
invulnerability, which spelled their doom.
     I  wanted  him  to  explain  the fire  and  water techniques in greater
detail.  He  said that the  old seers'  knowledge was as intricate as it was
useless and that he was only going to outline it.
     Then he summarized the practices of the  above and the below. The above
dealt with secret knowledge about wind,  rain, sheets of lightning,  clouds,
thunder, daylight, and the  sun. The  knowledge of  the below had to do with
fog, water of underground springs, swamps, lightning bolts, earthquakes, the
night, moonlight, and the moon.
     The loud and the silent were a category of secret knowledge that had to
do with the  manipulation of sound and quiet. The moving and the  stationary
were   practices   concerned   with  mysterious  aspects   of   motion   and
     I asked him if  he could give me an example of any of the techniques he
had  outlined.  He  replied   that  he  had   already  given  me  dozens  of
demonstrations over  the years. I insisted that I  had rationally  explained
away everything he had done to me.
     He  did not answer.  He seemed  to  be  either  angry at  me for asking
questions or seriously involved in searching  for a  good  example.  After a
while he smiled and said that he had visualized the proper example.

     "The  technique I have  in mind has to be put in action in  the shallow
depths of a stream," he said. "There is one near Genaro's house."
     "What will I have to do?"
     "You'll have to get a medium-size mirror."
     I was surprised at his request. I remarked that the ancient Toltecs did
not know about mirrors.
     "They didn't," he admitted, smiling. "This is my benefactor's  addition
to the technique. All the ancient seers needed was a reflecting surface."
     He explained that the technique consisted of submerging a shiny surface
into the  shallow  water  of  a stream. The surface could be any flat object
that had some capacity to reflect images.
     "I  want  you  to construct  a solid frame made of sheet  metal  for  a
medium-size mirror," he said. "it  has to be waterproof, so you must seal it
with tar. You must  make it yourself with your own hands. When you have made
it, bring it over and we'll proceed."
     "What's going to happen, don Juan?"
     "Don't  be  apprehensive. You  yourself have  asked me to give  you  an
example  of an ancient  Toltec  practice.  I  asked  the same  thing  of  my
benefactor.  I  think  everybody  asks  for  one  at  a  certain moment.  My
benefactor said that  he  did the same thing  himself.  His benefactor,  the
nagual Ellas, gave him an example; my  benefactor in turn gave the same  one
to me, and now I am going to give it to you.
     "At the time my benefactor gave me the example I didn't know how he did
it. I know now. Someday you yourself will also know how the technique works;
you will understand what's behind all this."
     I thought that don Juan wanted  me  to go back home to Los Angeles  and
construct the frame for  the mirror  there.  I  commented that it  would  be
impossible for me  to remember the  task if I did not  remain  in heightened
     "There are two things out of kilter with  your comment," he  said. "One
is that  there is  no way for you to remain in heightened awareness, because
you won't be able to function unless I  or Genaro or any  of the warriors in
the nagual's party nurse you every minute of the day, as I do now. The other
is that Mexico is not the moon. There are hardware stores here. We can go to
Oaxaca and buy anything you need."

     We drove to the city the  next day and I  bought all the pieces for the
frame. I assembled it myself in  a mechanic's  shop for  a minimal fee.  Don
Juan told me to put it in the trunk of my car. He did  not so much as glance
at it.
     We drove back to Genaro's house in the late afternoon and arrived there
in the early morning.  I looked  for Genaro. He  was  not  there. The  house
seemed deserted.
     "Why does Genaro keep this  house?"  I asked  don Juan. "He  lives with
you, doesn't he?"
     Don  Juan did not answer. He gave me a  strange look and  went to light
the kerosene lantern.  I  was alone in the room in total darkness. I felt  a
great  tiredness that  I  attributed  to  the  long, tortuous drive  up  the
mountains.  I wanted  to  lie  down. In the darkness, I could not see  where
Genaro had put the mats. I stumbled over a pile of them. And then I knew why
Genaro kept  that  house;  he took  care  of  the male apprentices  Pablito,
Nestor, and Benigno, who lived there when they were in their state of normal
     I  felt exhilarated; I was no longer  tired. Don  Juan came  in with  a
lantern.  I  told  him about my realization, but  he  said  that it  did not
matter, that I would not remember it for too long.
     He  asked me to  show  him the mirror.  He seemed pleased and  remarked
about its being  light yet solid. He noticed that I had used metal screws to
affix  an aluminum frame to a  piece of sheet metal that I  had  used  as  a
backing for a mirror eighteen inches long by fourteen inches wide.
     "I made a wooden frame for my mirror," he said. "This looks much better
than mine. My frame was too cumbersome and at the same time frail.
     "Let me  explain  what  we're going to do,"  he continued after he  had
finished examining the mirror. "Or perhaps I should say, what we're going to
attempt to do. The two of  us together are going to place this mirror on the
surface of the stream near  the house. It is wide  enough and shallow enough
to serve our purposes.
     "The idea is to let the fluidity of the water exert pressure on us  and
transport us away."
     Before  I could make  any  remarks or ask any questions, he reminded me
that  in  the  past  I  had  utilized  the  water of  a similar  stream  and
accomplished extraordinary  feats of  perception. He was  referring  to  the
aftereffects of  ingesting hallucinogenic plants,  which I  had  experienced
various times while being submerged in the irrigation ditch behind his house
in northern Mexico.
     "Save any  questions until I explain  to you what  the seers knew about
awareness," he said.  "Then you'll  understand  everything we're doing in  a
different light. But first let's go on with our procedure."
     We walked to  the  nearby  stream, and he selected a  place  with flat,
exposed rocks.  He  said that there the  water was  shallow  enough for  our
     "What  do you expect to  happen?" I asked in the  midst  of a  gripping
     "I don't know. All I know is what we are going to attempt. We will hold
the mirror very carefully, but  very firmly. We will  gently place it on the
surface of the water and then let it submerge.  We will then hold it  on the
bottom.  I've checked it. There  is enough silt there to allow us to dig our
fingers underneath the mirror to hold it firmly."
     He asked me to squat on a flat  rock above the surface in the middle of
the gentle stream and made me hold the mirror with both hands, almost at the
corners on one side. He squatted facing me and held the  mirror the same way
I did. We let the  mirror sink and  then we  held it by plunging our arms in
the water almost to our elbows.
     He commanded me to empty myself of thoughts and stare at the surface of
the mirror. He  repeated over  and over that the trick was not  to think  at
all.  I  looked  intently  into  the   mirror.  The  gentle  current  mildly
disarranged the reflection of don Juan's  face and mine. After a few minutes
of steady gazing into the mirror it seemed to me that gradually the image of
his face and mine  became much clearer. And the mirror grew in size until it
was  at least a  yard square.  The current seemed  to have stopped,  and the
mirror looked as clear as if it  were placed on top of the water. Even  more
odd was  the  crispness of our reflections,  it was as  if my  face had been
magnified, not in size but in focus. I could see the pores in the skin of my
     Don Juan gently whispered not to stare at my eyes or his, but to let my
gaze wander around without focusing on any part of our reflections.
     "Gaze fixedly  without  staring!"  he repeatedly ordered in  a forceful
     I did  what he  said  without  stopping  to  ponder  about  the seeming
contradiction. At that  moment something inside me was caught in that mirror
and the contradiction actually made sense.  "It is possible  to gaze fixedly
without  staring," I  thought, and the instant that  thought was  formulated
another head appeared next to don Juan's and  mine. It was on the lower side
of the mirror, to my left.
     My whole body trembled. Don  Juan whispered  to  calm down and not show
fear  or  surprise.  He again  commanded  me to gaze  without staring at the
newcomer.  I  had to make an unimaginable effort not to gasp and release the
mirror.  My body was shaking from  head to  toe. Don Juan whispered again to
get hold of myself. He nudged me repeatedly with his shoulder.
     Slowly  I got  my fear under  control. I  gazed at the  third head  and
gradually realized that  it was not a human head, or an animal head  either.
In  fact,  it  was  not  a head at all.  It was a  shape  that had  no inner
mobility. As the thought occurred to me, I instantly realized that I was not
thinking it myself. The realization was not a thought either. I had a moment
of  tremendous anxiety and then something  incomprehensible became  known to
me. The thoughts were a voice in my ear!
     "I am  seeing!"  I yelled in  English,  but there  was no sound.  "Yes,
you're seeing," the voice in my ear said in Spanish.
     I felt  that I was encased in a force greater than myself. I was not in
pain or even anguished. I felt nothing. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt,
because the voice was telling me so, that I could not break the grip of that
force by  an act of will  or strength. I knew I was dying. I lifted  my eyes
automatically to look at don Juan, and at the instant our eyes met the force
let go of me. I  was free. Don Juan  was smiling at me as if he knew exactly
what I had gone through.
     I realized  that I was standing up. Don  Juan  was  holding the  mirror
edgewise to let the water drip off.
     We walked back to the house in silence.

     "The  ancient Toltecs were simply mesmerized  by  their  findings," don
Juan said.
     "I can understand why," I said.
     "So can I," don Juan retorted.
     The force that had enveloped me had been so powerful as to incapacitate
me for speech, even for thought,  for hours afterward. It had frozen me with
a total lack of volition. And I had thawed out only by tiny degrees.
     "Without any deliberate  intervention on our part," don Juan continued,
"this ancient Toltec technique  has been divided into two parts for you. The
first was  just enough  to familiarize  you  with what takes place.  In  the
second, we will try to accomplish what the old seers pursued."
     "What really took place out there, don Juan?" I asked.
     "There are two versions. I'll give  you the old seers'  version  first.
They thought  that  the  reflecting  surface of a shiny object submerged  in
water  enlarges the power of the water. What they used to do  was gaze  into
bodies  of water,  and the reflecting  surface  served them  as  an  aid  to
accelerate the process. They believed that our eyes are the keys to entering
into the unknown; by gazing into water, they  were allowing the eyes to open
the way."
     Don  Juan said that  the old  seers observed that the wetness  of water
only dampens or soaks,  but that the fluidity of water moves.  It runs, they
surmised, in search  of other levels underneath us. They believed that water
had been given to us not  only for life, but also  as a link, a road  to the
other levels below.
     "Are there many levels below?" I asked.
     "The ancient seers counted seven levels," he replied.
     "Do you know them yourself, don Juan?"
     "I am a seer of  the  new cycle,  and consequently  I  have a different
view,"  he said. "I am  just showing you what  the  old  seers  did  and I'm
telling you what they believed."
     He  asserted that just because he had different views did  not mean the
old seers'  practices were  invalid; their  interpretations were wrong,  but
their truths  had practical value for  them.  In  the instance of the  water
practices,  they  were  convinced  that  it  was  humanly  possible   to  be
transported  bodily by the fluidity of water  anywhere between this level of
ours and  the other  seven levels  below;  or to be  transported  in essence
anywhere  on  this  level,  along  the  watercourse of  a  river  in  either
direction. They  used, accordingly, running water to be  transported on this
level of  ours  and  the water of deep  lakes or  that  of waterholes to  be
transported to the depths.
     "What they pursued with the  technique I'm showing you was twofold," he
went  on.  "On  the one  hand  they  used the  fluidity of  the  water to be
transported to the first level below. On the other, they  used it to  have a
face-to-face meeting with a living being from that first level. The headlike
shape in the mirror was one of those creatures that came to look us over."
     "So, they really exist!" I exclaimed.
     "They certainly do," he retorted.
     He said that ancient seers were damaged by their aberrant insistence on
staying  glued to their procedures, but that whatever  they found was valid.
They found out that the surest way to meet one of those creatures is through
a  body of water. The size of the body of water is not relevant; an ocean or
a  pond serves  the same  purpose.  He had chosen a  small stream because he
hated to get wet. We could have gotten the same results in a lake or a large
     "The  other life comes to find  out  what's  going on when human beings
call," he continued. "That Toltec technique is like a  knock on their  door.
The old seers said the shiny  surface on the bottom of the water served as a
bait and a window. So humans and those creatures meet at a window."
     "Is that what happened to me there?" I asked.
     "The old seers would've said that you were being pulled by the power of
the water and  the  power of the first level, plus the magnetic influence of
the creature at the window."
     "But I heard a voice in my ear saying that I was dying," I said.
     "The voice was right.  You were  dying, and you would  have if I hadn't
been there. That is  the danger of practicing the  Toltecs' techniques. They
are extremely effective but most of the time they are deadly."
     I  told him that  I was ashamed to confess that I was terrified. Seeing
that  shape in the  mirror and  having the sensation of an  enveloping force
around me had proved too much for me the day before.
     "I don't want to alarm you,"  he said, "but nothing has happened to you
yet. If what happened to me is going to be the guideline of what will happen
to  you, you'd better prepare  yourself for  the  shock  of your  life. It's
better to shake in your boots now than to die of fright tomorrow."
     My fear was so terrifying that I couldn't even voice the questions that
came to my mind. I had a hard lime swallowing. Don Juan laughed until he was
coughing.  His face  got  purple. When I  got my voice back, every one of my
questions prompted another attack of coughing laughter.
     "You have no idea how funny this all is to me,"  he finally  said. "I'm
not  laughing  at you.  It's  just  the situation. My benefactor  made me go
through the same motions, and looking at you I can't help seeing myself."
     I told him  that I felt sick to my stomach. He said that that was fine,
that it was natural  to be scared, and  that  to control fear  was wrong and
senseless. The ancient seers  got trapped  by  suppressing their terror when
they should have been scared out of  their wits. Since they did not  want to
stop their pursuits or  abandon their  comforting constructs they controlled
their fear instead.
     "What else are we going to do with the mirror?" I asked.
     "That mirror is going to be used for a face-to-face meeting between you
and that creature you only gazed at yesterday."
     "What happens in a face-to-face meeting?"
     "What happens is that one  form of life,  the human form, meets another
form  of  life. The old seers said that  in this case, it is a creature from
the first level of the fluidity of water."
     He explained  that the  ancient  seers  surmised that  the seven levels
below  ours were levels  of  the fluidity  of water. For  them a spring  had
untold significance, because  they thought that  in such a case the fluidity
of water is reversed and goes from the depth to the  surface. They took that
to be the  means whereby  creatures  from other levels, these other forms of
life, come to our plane to peer at us, to observe us.
     "In this respect those old seers were not mistaken," he  went on. "They
hit the nail right on  the head. Entities that  the new seers call allies do
appear around waterholes."
     "Was the creature in the mirror an ally?" I asked.
     "Of course. But not one that  can  be utilized.  The tradition  of  the
allies, which I  have acquainted you  with in the  past, comes directly from
the ancient  seers. They did wonders with allies, but nothing  they  did was
worth anything when the real enemy came along: their fellow men."
     "Since those creatures  are  allies,  they  must be very  dangerous," I
     "As dangerous as we men are, no more, no less."
     "Can they kill us?"
     "Not directly, but  they certainly can frighten us  to death.  They can
cross the boundaries themselves, or they can just come to the window. As you
may  have realized by  now, the ancient Toltecs didn't  stop at the  window,
either. They found weird ways to go beyond it."

     The second stage of  the technique proceeded very much as had the first
except  that  it took  perhaps twice as  long for  me to relax and  stop  my
internal turmoil. When that  was done, the reflection of don Juan's face and
mine became instantly clear. I gazed from his reflection to mine for perhaps
an hour. I expected the ally to appear any  moment, but nothing happened. My
neck hurt. My back was stiff and my legs were numb. I wanted to kneel on the
rock  to relieve  the pain  in my lower back. Don Juan  whispered  that  the
moment the ally showed its shape my discomfort would vanish.
     He was absolutely right. The  shock of witnessing  a round shape appear
on the edge of the mirror dispelled every discomfort of mine.
     "What do we do now?" I whispered.
     "Relax and don't focus your gaze on anything, not even for an instant,"
he replied.  "Watch  everything  that appears in  the mirror.  Gaze  without
     I obeyed him. I glanced  at  everything within the frame of the mirror.
There  was a  peculiar buzzing in  my ears. Don Juan whispered that I should
move my eyes in a clockwise direction if I  felt that I was  being enveloped
by an  unusual force; but under no circumstances, he stressed, should I lift
my head to look at him.
     After a  moment I noticed that the mirror was reflecting  more than the
reflection of our faces and the  round  shape. Its  surface had become dark.
Spots of an intense violet  light appeared. They grew large. There were also
spots of jet blackness. Then it turned into something like a flat picture of
a  cloudy sky at night, in  the moonlight. Suddenly, the  whole surface came
into  focus,  as  if  it  were  a  moving  picture.  The  new  sight  was  a
three-dimensional, breathtaking view of the depths.
     I  knew that  it was absolutely  impossible for  me to  fight  off  the
tremendous attraction of that sight. It began to pull me in.
     Don Juan whispered forcefully that I should roll my eyes for dear life.
The  movement  brought  immediate  relief.  I  could  again distinguish  our
reflections  and that of the  ally. Then the ally disappeared and reappeared
again on the other end of the mirror.
     Don Juan  commanded  me to grip the mirror with all my might. He warned
me to be calm and not make any sudden movements.
     "What's going to happen?" I whispered.
     "The ally will try to come out," he replied.
     As soon as he  had said that I felt a powerful tug. Something jerked my
arms. The  tug  was from underneath the mirror.  It was like a suction force
that created a uniform pressure all around the frame.
     "Hold  the mirror tightly but don't break it," don Juan ordered. "Fight
the suction. Don't let the ally sink the mirror too deep."
     The force pulling down on us  was enormous. I felt that my fingers were
going to break or be crushed against the rocks on the bottom. Don Juan and I
both lost our balance at one point and had to step down  from the flat rocks
into  the stream. The  water  was quite shallow,  but the thrashing  of  the
ally's force around  the frame of the mirror was as frightening as if we had
been in a  large river. The  water around our feet was being  swirled around
madly, but the images in the mirror were undisturbed.
     "Watch out!" don Juan yelled. "Here it comes!"
     The  tugging  changed  into  a thrust  from  underneath. Something  was
grabbing the edge of the mirror; not  the outer edge of  the frame where  we
were  holding it, but from the inside of the glass.  It was  as if the glass
surface  were indeed  an  open window and something  or  somebody were  just
climbing through it.
     Don Juan and I fought desperately  either to push the mirror  down when
it was being thrust up or pull it up when it was being tugged downward. In a
stoopedover position we slowly moved  downstream from the original spot. The
water was deeper and the bottom was covered with slippery rocks.
     "Let's lift the mirror out of the water and shake him  loose," don Juan
said in a harsh voice.
     The loud thrashing continued unremittingly. It was as if we had  caught
an enormous fish with our bare hands and it was swimming around wildly.
     It  occurred to  me that  the mirror was in  essence a hatch. A strange
shape was actually trying to climb up through it. It was leaning on the edge
of  the  hatch with  a  mighty  weight  and  was big enough to displace  the
reflection of don Juan's face and mine. I could not  see us anymore. I could
only distinguish a mass trying to push itself up.
     The mirror  was not resting on the bottom  anymore. My fingers were not
compressed  against the rocks.  The  mirror  was in mid-depth, held  by  the
opposing forces of  the ally's tugs and ours. Don Juan said he  was going to
extend  his hands underneath the  mirror and that I should very quickly grab
them  in order to have  a better  leverage  to  lift  the  mirror  with  our
forearms. When  he let go it tilled to his  side. I quickly reached for  his
hands but  there was nothing underneath. I vacillated a  second too long and
the mirror flew out of my hands.
     "Grab it! Grab it!" don Juan yelled.
     I caught the mirror just as it was going to land on the rocks. I lifted
it  out of  the water, but not quickly enough.  The water  seemed to be like
glue. As I pulled the mirror out, I also pulled a portion of a heavy rubbery
substance that simply pulled the mirror out  of my hands  and  back into the
     Don Juan, displaying  extraordinary nimbleness, caught the  mirror  and
lifted it up edgewise without any difficulty.

     Never in my life  had I  had such an  attack of melancholy.  It  was  a
sadness that had no  precise  foundation; I associated it with the memory of
the depths I had  seen in the mirror. It was  a  mixture of pure longing for
those depths plus an absolute fear of their chilling solitude.
     Don Juan remarked that in the life of warriors it was extremely natural
to be sad for no overt reason.  Seers say that the luminous egg, as  a field
of energy, senses its final destination whenever the boundaries of the known
are broken. A mere glimpse of the eternity  outside the cocoon is enough  to
disrupt the coziness of our inventory. The resulting melancholy is sometimes
so intense that it can bring about death.
     He said  that the best way  to get rid of melancholy  is to make fun of
it.  He  commented in  a mocking tone  that  my  first attention  was  doing
everything to restore the order that  had been  disrupted by my contact with
the ally. Since there was no way of restoring it by rational means, my first
attention was doing it by focusing all its power on sadness.
     I told him that the fact remained the melancholy was real. Indulging in
it, moping around,  being gloomy,  were not part of the feeling of aloneness
that I had felt upon remembering those depths.
     "Something is finally getting through to you," he said.  "You're right.
There is  nothing more lonely than eternity. And nothing is more cozy for us
than to be a human being. This indeed is another contradiction-- how can man
keep the bonds of  his humanness and still  venture gladly  and purposefully
into the absolute loneliness  of eternity? Whenever you resolve this riddle,
you'll be ready for the definitive journey."
     I knew then  with total certainty the reason for my  sadness. It was  a
recurrent  feeling with me, one that  I  would always forget  until  I again
realized the same  thing: the puniness  of humanity against the immensity of
that thing-in-itself which I had seen reflected in the mirror.
     "Human beings are truly nothing, don Juan," I said.
     "I know exactly what you're  thinking," he said. "Sure,  we're nothing,
but that's  exactly what  makes it the ultimate challenge, that we  nothings
could actually face the loneliness of eternity."
     He abruptly changed the subject, leaving me with my mouth open, my next
question unsaid. He began to  discuss our bout with the  ally. He said  that
first of all, the struggle with the ally had been no joke. It had not really
been a matter of life or death, but it had not been a picnic either.
     "I chose that technique,"  he went on, "because my benefactor showed it
to me. When I asked him to  give me an example of the old seers' techniques,
he nearly split  a gut laughing; my request reminded him so much of  his own
experience.  His benefactor,  the nagual Elias, had also given  him a  harsh
demonstration of the same technique."
     Don Juan said that as he had made the frame for his mirror out of wood,
he  should have asked me to do the same,  but he wanted to  know what  would
happen if the frame was sturdier than his or his benefactor's. Both of their
frames broke, and both times the ally came out.
     He  explained that during his own bout the ally ripped the frame apart.
He  and his benefactor were left holding two pieces of wood while the mirror
sank and the ally climbed out of it.
     His benefactor knew what  kind of trouble to  expect. In the reflection
of mirrors, allies are not really frightening because one sees only a shape,
a mass of sorts. But when they are out, besides being truly fearsome-looking
things, they are a pain  in the neck. He remarked that once  the  allies get
out  of  their level  it  is very  difficult for  them to  go back. The same
prevails for man. If seers venture into a level of those  creatures, chances
are they are never heard of again.
     "My mirror was shattered with the ally's force," he said. "There was no
more window and the ally couldn't go back, so it  came after me. It actually
ran after  me, rolling on itself.  I scrambled on  all  fours at top  speed,
screaming with terror.  I went up  and down hills  like a possessed man. The
ally was inches away from me the whole time."
     Don Juan said that his benefactor ran after him, but he was too old and
could not move fast enough; he had the good sense, however, to tell don Juan
to backtrack,  and in that way was able to  take measures  to get rid of the
ally. He shouted that he was going to build a fire and that  don Juan should
run in  circles  until everything  was  ready. He  went ahead to gather  dry
branches while don Juan ran around a hill, driven mad with fear.
     Don  Juan  confessed  that the thought had occurred  to him, as  he ran
around  in circles, that  his  benefactor  was actually enjoying  the  whole
thing. He knew that his  benefactor was a warrior capable of finding delight
in any conceivable situation. Why not also in this one? For a  moment he got
so angry at his benefactor that the ally stopped chasing him, and don  Juan,
in no uncertain terms, accused  his  benefactor  of  malice. His  benefactor
didn't answer, but made a gesture of genuine horror  as  he looked past  don
Juan at  the ally, which  was looming over the two  of them. Don Juan forgot
his anger and began running around in circles again.
     "My benefactor was indeed a devilish old man," don Juan said, laughing.
"He had  learned to  laugh internally. It wouldn't show on  his face, so  he
could pretend to be weeping or raging when he was really laughing. That day,
as the ally chased me in circles, my  benefactor  stood  there  and defended
himself from my accusations. I only heard bits of his long speech every time
I ran by him.  When he was through with  that,  I heard bits of another long
explanation: that he had to  gather a great  deal of wood, that the ally was
big,  that the fire had to be as  big as the  ally itself, that the maneuver
might not work.
     "Only my maddening fear  kept  me going. Finally  he must have realized
that I was about to drop dead from exhaustion; he built the  fire  and  with
the flames he shielded me from the ally."
     Don  Juan said that  they stayed by the fire for the entire night.  The
worst time for him was when his benefactor had to go away  to look  for more
dry  branches  and left him alone. He was  so afraid that he promised to God
that he was going to leave the path of knowledge and become a farmer.
     "In the morning, after I had  exhausted all my energy, the ally managed
to shove me into the fire, and I was badly burned," don Juan added.
     "What happened to the ally?" I asked.
     "My benefactor never told me  what happened to  it," he replied. "But I
have the feeling that  it is still running around aimlessly, trying to  find
its way back."
     "And what happened to your promise to God?"
     "My benefactor said not  to worry, that it had been a good promise, but
that I didn't know yet that  there is  no one to hear such promises, because
there is no God. All there is is the Eagle's emanations, and there is no way
to make promises to them."
     "What would have happened if the ally had caught you?" I asked.
     "I  might  have died of  fright,"  he said. "If  I had known  what  was
entailed in being  caught I would've let it catch me.  At that time  I was a
reckless man. Once  an ally catches you, you either have a  heart attack and
die or you  wrestle with it. Then after a moment of thrashing around in sham
ferocity, the ally's  energy wanes. There  is nothing that an ally can do to
us, or vice versa. We are separated by an abyss.
     "The  ancient  seers believed that at  the  moment  the  ally's  energy
dwindles the ally surrenders its power to man. Power, my eye! The old  seers
had allies coming  out of their ears and their  allies' power didn't  mean a
     Don Juan  explained that once again it  had been up to the new seers to
straighten out this confusion.  They  had  found  that  the only thing  that
counts is impeccability, that is, freed energy. There were indeed some among
the  ancient seers who were  saved by their allies, but that had had nothing
to  do  with  the allies'  power to  fend off anything; rather,  it  was the
impeccability of the men that had  permitted them to use the energy of those
other forms of life.
     The  new seers also found out the most  important  thing yet about  the
allies: what makes them useless or usable to man.  Useless  allies, of which
there are staggering numbers, are those that have emanations inside them for
which we have no match inside ourselves. They are so different from us as to
be  thoroughly unusable. Other allies,  which are  remarkably few in number,
are akin to us,  meaning that they possess occasional emanations  that match
     "How is that kind utilized by man?" I asked.
     "We  should use another word instead of 'utilize, '  " he replied. "I'd
say  that what  takes place between seers and allies of this kind is a  fair
exchange of energy."
     "How does the exchange take place?" I asked.
     "Through  their  matching emanations," he said. "Those  emanations are,
naturally, on the left-side awareness of man; the side that the  average man
never uses. For this reason, allies are totally barred from the world of the
right-side awareness, or the side of rationality."
     He said  that the matching emanations give both  a common ground. Then,
with  familiarity, a deeper link is  established, which allows both forms of
life  to profit. Seers seek the allies' ethereal quality; they make fabulous
scouts and guardians. Allies seek the greater energy field of man, and  with
it they can even materialize themselves.
     He assured me that experienced seers play those shared emanations until
they bring them into total focus; the exchange lakes place at that time. The
ancient seers did not understand  this  process, and they  developed complex
techniques of gazing in order to  descend into the depths that I had seen in
the mirror.
     "The  old  seers  had a  very  elaborate  tool  to help  them in  their
descent," he went  on. "It was a rope of special twine that they tied around
their waist. It had a soft butt soaked in  resin which fitted into the navel
itself, like a plug. The seers had an assistant or a number of them who held
them by the rope while they were lost in  their  gazing.  Naturally, to gaze
directly into the  reflection of a deep,  clear  pond or lake is  infinitely
more overwhelming and dangerous than what we did with the mirror."
     "But did they actually descend bodily?" I asked.
     "You'd be surprised what men are capable of, especially if they control
awareness," he replied. "The old seers were aberrant. In their excursions to
the depths they found marvels. It was routine for them to encounter allies.
     "Of course, by now you  realize that to say the depths is  a  figure of
speech. There  are no  depths, there is only the handling of  awareness. Yet
the old seers never made that realization."
     I told  don Juan that from what he had  said about  his experience with
the ally, plus  my own subjective impression on feeling the ally's thrashing
force in the water, I had concluded that allies are very aggressive.
     "Not really," he said. "It is not that they don't have enough energy to
be aggressive,  but rather that  they have  a different kind of energy. They
are more like an electric current. Organic beings are more like heat waves."
     "But why did it chase you for such a long time?" I asked.
     "That's  no mystery," he said. "They are attracted to emotions.  Animal
fear  is  what attracts them the  most; it releases the kind of  energy that
suits them. The emanations inside them are rallied by  animal fear. Since my
fear  was relentless the ally went after it, or rather,  my  fear hooked the
ally and didn't let it go."
     He  said that it was  the  old seers who  found  out  that allies enjoy
animal  fear  more  than anything  else. They even went to  the  extreme  of
purposely feeding it to  their allies by  actually scaring  people to death.
The old seers were convinced that the allies had human feelings, but the new
seers saw it differently. They saw that  allies  are attracted to the energy
released  by  emotions; love  is equally effective,  as  well  as hatred, or
     Don Juan added that if he  had felt love  for that ally, the ally would
have  come after him anyway, although the chase would  have had  a different
mood. I asked him  whether the ally would have stopped going after him if he
had controlled  his fear. He  answered that controlling fear was  a trick of
the old seers. They learned to control  it to the  point of  being  able  to
parcel it out. They hooked their allies with their own fear and by gradually
doling it out. like food, they actually held the allies in bondage.
     "Those old seers were terrifying men," don Juan continued. "I shouldn't
use  the  past  tense-- they  are terrifying  even today.  Their bid  is  to
dominate, to master everybody and everything."
     "Even today, don Juan?" I asked, trying to get him to explain further.
     He changed  the subject by commenting that I had missed the opportunity
of being really scared beyond measure. He said that doubtless  the way I had
sealed the frame of the mirror with tar had prevented the water from seeping
behind the glass. He counted that as  the  deciding factor that had kept the
ally from smashing the mirror.
     "Too bad," he said. "You  might even have liked that  ally. By the way,
it was  not the same  one  that came  the day  before. The  second  one  was
perfectly akin to you."
     "Don't you have some allies yourself, don Juan?" I asked.
     "As  you know, I have my benefactor's allies,"  he said.  "I  can't say
that I  have  the same  feeling for them  that my benefactor did.  He  was a
serene but thoroughly passionate man, who  lavishly gave away  everything he
possessed, including his energy. He loved his allies. To him it was no sweat
to allow the allies to use his energy  and materialize themselves. There was
one in particular that could even take a grotesque human form."
     Don Juan went on to say that since he was not partial to allies, he had
never given me a real taste of them, as his benefactor had done to him while
he was still recovering from  the wound in his chest. It  all began with the
thought that his benefactor  was  a  strange man. Having barely escaped from
the clutches of the petty tyrant, don Juan suspected that he had fallen into
another trap. His intention was to wait a few days to  get his strength back
and then run away when the old man was not home.  But the old  man must have
read his thoughts, because one day, in a  confidential tone, he whispered to
don Juan that he ought to get well as quickly as possible so that the two of
them could escape from his captor and tormentor. Then, shaking with fear and
impotence, the old man flung the  door open  and a monstrous  fish-faced man
came into  the room, as if he  had been listening behind the door. He  was a
grayish-green, had  only one huge unblinking eye, and was as big  as a door.
Don Juan said that he was so surprised and terrified that he passed out, and
it took him years to get out from under the spell of that fright.
     "Are your allies useful to you, don Juan?" I asked.
     "That's a very difficult thing to decide," he said.
     "In some way, I love the allies my benefactor gave me. They are capable
of giving back inconceivable affection. But they are incomprehensible to me.
They were given to me for companionship in case I am ever stranded alone  in
that immensity that is the Eagle's emanations."

     7 The Assemblage Point

     Don Juan discontinued his explanation of the  mastery of awareness  for
several months after my bout with the allies. One day he started it again. A
strange event triggered it.
     Don  Juan was  in northern  Mexico. It was  late afternoon. I had  just
arrived at the house he kept  there,  and  he immediately had  me shift into
heightened  awareness. And I had instantly remembered that don  Juan  always
came  back to Sonora as  means of renewal.  He had explained that a  nagual,
being a leader who has tremendous  responsibilities, has to have  a physical
point of reference, a place where an amenable confluence of energies occurs.
The Sonoran desert was such a place for him.
     On entering  into heightened awareness,  I  had  noticed that there was
another person hiding in the semidarkness inside the house. I asked don Juan
if Genaro  was with  him. He  replied that he was  alone,  that  what  I had
noticed was one of his allies, the one that guarded the house.
     Don Juan then made a strange gesture. He  contorted  his face as if  he
were  surprised or  terrified.  And  instantly the  frightening shape  of  a
strange man appeared at the door of the room where we were. The  presence of
the strange man scared me so much  that I actually  felt dizzy. And before I
could  recuperate  from my fright, the  man  lurched at  me  with a chilling
ferocity. As he grabbed my forearms, I felt ajolt of something  quite like a
discharge of an electric current.
     I was speechless, caught in  a terror I could not dispel.  Don Juan was
smiling at me. I mumbled and groaned, trying to voice a plea for help, while
I felt an even greater jolt.
     The man tightened  his  grip and  tried to  throw  me  backward  on the
ground.  Don  Juan,  with no  hurry in  his  voice, urged  me to pull myself
together and not fight my fear, but  roll with it.  "Be afraid without being
terrified," he said. Don Juan came to my side and, without intervening in my
struggle, whispered in my ear that I should put all  my concentration on the
midpoint of my body.
     Over the years, he had insisted that I measure my body to the hundredth
of an inch and establish its exact midpoint, lengthwise as well as in width.
He had  always said that such a point is a true center  of energy  in all of
     As soon as I had focused my attention on that midpoint, the man  let go
of  me. At that instant  I became aware that what I had thought was  a human
being was something  that only looked like one. The moment it lost its human
shape to me, the  ally  became an amorphous  blob  of opaque light. It moved
away. I  went after  it, moved by  a  great  force that made  me follow that
opaque light.
     Don Juan  stopped me. He gently walked me to the porch of his house and
made me sit down on a sturdy crate he used as a bench.
     I was terribly disturbed by the experience, but even more  disturbed by
the fact that my paralyzing fear had disappeared so fast and so completely.
     I  commented on my  abrupt change of mood. Don Juan said that there was
nothing  strange about  my volatile  change,  and that fear did not exist as
soon as the glow of awareness moved beyond a certain threshold inside  man's
     He then  began his  explanation.  He briefly  outlined the truths about
awareness  he had discussed:  that  there is no objective world, but  only a
universe of  energy  fields  which seers call the Eagle's  emanations.  That
human beings are made  of the Eagle's emanations and  are in essence bubbles
of  luminescent energy; each of  us is wrapped  in a cocoon  that encloses a
small  portion  of  these emanations. That  awareness  is  achieved  by  the
constant pressure that the  emanations outside our cocoons, which are called
emanations at large, exert on those inside our cocoons. That awareness gives
rise to  perception, which happens  when the emanations  inside our  cocoons
align themselves with the corresponding emanations at large.
     "The next truth is that perception  takes place,"  he went on, "because
there is  in each of us  an  agent called the assemblage  point that selects
internal and external  emanations  for alignment. The  particular  alignment
that we perceive as the world is the product of the specific  spot where our
assemblage point is located on our cocoon."
     He repeated this several times, allowing me time to grasp  it.  Then he
said  that  in  order  to corroborate the truths about  awareness,  I needed
     "I've mentioned to you," he continued, "that dealing with petty tyrants
helps seers accomplish a sophisticated  maneuver:  that maneuver is to  move
their assemblage points."
     He said that for me to have perceived an ally meant that I had moved my
assemblage point away from  its customary  position. In other words, my glow
of awareness had moved beyond a certain threshold, also erasing my fear. And
all this had happened because I had enough surplus energy.
     Later  that  night,  after  we  had  returned  from  a  trip  into  the
surrounding  mountains, which  had been part of his teachings  for the right
side,  don  Juan  had  me shift  again  into heightened  awareness and  then
continued his explanation. He told me that in order to discuss the nature of
the assemblage  point, he  had  to  start  with a  discussion  of  the first
     He said that the new seers looked into the unnoticed  ways in which the
first attention functions, and as they tried to explain them to others, they
devised an order for  the truths  about awareness.  He assured  me  that not
every seer is given  to explaining. For instance, his benefactor, the nagual
Julian,  could  not  have  cared  less  about explanations.  But the  nagual
Julian's benefactor, the nagual Elias, whom don Juan was fortunate enough to
meet,  did care. Between  the nagual Elias's detailed, lengthy explanations,
the nagual  Julian's scanty ones, and his own personal seeing, don Juan came
to understand and to corroborate those truths.
     Don Juan explained that in order for  our first attention to bring into
focus the world that  we perceive,  it  has to  emphasize certain emanations
selected  from  the  narrow  band  of  emanations  where man's  awareness is
located. The discarded  emanations  are still within  our  reach but  remain
dormant, unknown to us for the duration of our lives.
     The new seers call the  emphasized emanations  the right  side,  normal
awareness,  the tonal,  this  world,  the known, the  first  attention.  The
average man calls it reality, rationality, common sense.
     The  emphasized emanations compose  a large  portion of  man's band  of
awareness,  but a very  small piece  of  the  total spectrum  of  emanations
present  inside the cocoon of  man. The  disregarded emanations within man's
band are thought of as a sort of preamble to the unknown, the unknown proper
consisting of the bulk of emanations which are not  part  of the  human band
and which are never emphasized. Seers call them the left-side awareness, the
nagual, the other world, the unknown, the second attention.
     "This process  of emphasizing  certain  emanations," don  Juan went on,
"was discovered and practiced by the old seers. They realized  that a nagual
man or a nagual woman, by  the fact that they  have extra strength, can push
the emphasis away from the usual emanations and make it shift to neighboring
ones. That push is known as the nagual's blow."
     Don Juan said that the shift was utilized by the old seers in practical
ways to keep their apprentices in bondage. With  that blow  they  made their
apprentices enter into  a  state of heightened, keenest, most impressionable
awareness; while they were helplessly pliable,  the  old  seers taught  them
aberrant techniques  that  made the apprentices into sinister men, just like
their teachers.
     The new seers employ the same  technique, but instead  of using  it for
sordid purposes, they use it to guide their apprentices to learn about man's
     Don  Juan explained that the nagual's blow  has  to be  delivered on  a
precise  spot, on the assemblage point, which varies minutely from person to
person. Also, the blow  has to be delivered by a nagual who sees. He assured
me that it is equally useless to have the strength of a  nagual and not see,
as it is  to see and not have the strength  of a nagual, in  either case the
results are just blows. A seer could strike  on  the  precise  spot over and
over  without the strength to move awareness. and  a non-seeing nagual would
not be able to strike the precise spot.
     He also said that the old seers discovered that the assemblage point is
not  in the physical body, but in  the luminous shell, in the cocoon itself.
The nagual identifies  that spot by its intense luminosity  and  pushes  it,
rather than striking it. The force of the push  creates a dent in the cocoon
and  it is felt like a blow to the right  shoulder blade, a blow that knocks
all the air out of the lungs.
     "Are there different types of dents?" I asked.
     "There are only two types," he responded. "One is a concavity  and  the
other is a crevice; each has a distinct effect. The concavity is a temporary
feature and produces a temporary  shift-- but the crevice is  a profound and
permanent feature of the cocoon and produces a permanent shift."
     He explained that usually a luminous cocoon hardened by self-reflection
is  not affected at all by the nagual's blow. Sometimes, however, the cocoon
of man is  very pliable and the  smallest force  creates  a  bowl-like  dent
ranging in size from a small  depression to one that is a third the size  of
the total cocoon; or it creates  a crevice  that may run across the width of
the egglike shell,  or along its length, making the cocoon look as if it has
curled in on itself.
     Some  luminous shells, after  being dented,  go back to  their original
shape instantly. Others remain dented for hours or even days at a time,  but
they  revert  back by  themselves.  Still others get a firm, impervious dent
that requires another  blow from the  nagual on a bordering area to  restore
the  original  shape  of  the  luminous cocoon.  And a few  never lose their
indentation  once they  get it.  No  matter  how many blows  they get from a
nagual they never revert back to their egglike shapes.
     Don  Juan  further said  that  the  dent acts  on  the first  attention
bydisplacing the glow of awareness.  The dent presses the  emanations inside
the luminous shell, and the seers witness how the first attention shifts its
emphasis  under the  force  of that pressure. The  dent,  by  displacing the
Eagle's  emanations inside the cocoon, makes the glow of  awareness  fall on
other  emanations from areas that are ordinarily inaccessible  to  the first
     I asked him if the glow of awareness is seen only on the surface of the
luminous  cocoon.  He did not answer me  right away.  He seemed  to  immerse
himself in thought.  After perhaps ten minutes he answered  my  question; he
said that normally  the glow  of awareness  is  seen on the  surface of  the
cocoon of  all sentient beings. After  man develops attention, however,  the
glow of awareness acquires depth. In other words, it is transmitted from the
surface of the cocoon to quite a number of emanations inside the cocoon.
     "The old seers knew what they were  doing when they handled awareness,"
he went on. "They  realized that by  creating a  dent in the  cocoon of man,
they could force the  glow of awareness, since it is already glowing  on the
emanations inside the cocoon, to spread to other neighboring ones."
     'You make it all sound as if it's a physical  affair," I said. "How can
dents be made in something that is just aglow?"
     "In some inexplicable way, it is a matter of a glow that creates a dent
in another glow," he replied. "Your flaw is to remain glued to the inventory
of  reason. Reason  doesn't  deal  with  man as  energy. Reason  deals  with
instruments that create  energy,  but  it has  never  seriously  occurred to
reason  that we are better  than instruments:  we are organisms  that create
energy. We are a bubble of energy. It isn't  farfetched, then, that a bubble
of energy would make a dent in another bubble of energy."
     He  said  that the  glow  of  awareness  created  by  the  dent  should
rightfully  be called  temporary heightened attention, because it emphasizes
emanations  that  are  so proximal to the habitual  ones that  the change is
minimal,  yet  the  shift produces  a greater capacity  to understand and to
concentrate and, above all, a greater capacity to forget. Seers knew exactly
how to use this  upshift in the scale of  quality.  They saw  that only  the
emanations  surrounding those we use daily suddenly become bright  after the
nagual's blow. The more  distant  ones  remain unmoved, which  meant to them
that while being in a state of heightened attention, human beings could work
as if they were in the world of  everyday life. The need of a nagual man and
a nagual woman became paramount to them, because  that state lasts  only for
as  long  as  the  depression  remains,  after  which  the  experiences  are
immediately forgotten.
     "Why does one have to forget?" I asked.
     "Because the emanations  that account for  greater clarity cease to  be
emphasized  once  warriors are  out of heightened  awareness,"  he  replied.
"Without that emphasis whatever they experience or witness vanishes."
     Don Juan said that one of the tasks the new seers had devised for their
students  was  to  force  them  to  remember,  that  is,  to reemphasize  by
themselves,  at  a  later  time,  those  emanations  used  during states  of
heightened awareness.
     He reminded me  that Genaro was always recommending to me that  I learn
to  write with  the  tip  of my finger instead  of a  pencil  so  as  not to
accumulate notes. Don Juan said that what Genaro had actually meant was that
while I was in states  of heightened awareness  I should utilize some unused
emanations for storage of dialogue and experience, and someday recall it all
by reemphasizing the emanations that were used.
     He went on  to explain that a state of heightened awareness is seen not
only as a glow that  goes  deeper inside  the egglike shape of human beings,
but  also  as a more intense glow  on the  surface of the cocoon.  Yet it is
nothing  in comparison to the glow  produced by  a state of total awareness,
which is seen as  a burst of incandescence in the entire luminous egg. It is
an explosion of light of such a  magnitude that  the boundaries of the shell
are  diffused and  the inside  emanations extend  themselves beyond anything
     "Are those special cases, don Juan?"
     "Certainly. They happen only to seers. No other men or any other living
creatures  brighten  up  like  that.  Seers  who  deliberately attain  total
awareness  are a sight to behold.  That is the  moment  when they  burn from
within. The fire from within consumes them. And in  full awareness they fuse
themselves to the emanations at large, and glide into eternity."

     After a few days in Sonora  I drove  don  Juan back to  the town in the
southern part of Mexico where he and his party of warriors lived.
     The  next day  was hot  and hazy.  I  felt lazy and somehow annoyed. In
midafternoon,  there was a most unpleasant quietude in  that  town. Don Juan
and I were sitting  on the  comfortable chairs  in the big room. I  told him
that life in rural  Mexico  was not my  cup of tea. I disliked the feeling I
had that the silence of that town was  forced.  The only  noise I ever heard
was the sound of children's voices yelling in the distance. I was never able
to find out whether they were playing or yelling in pain.
     "When  you're here, you're always in a state of heightened  awareness,"
don Juan said. "That  makes a  great difference.  But  no  matter what,  you
should be getting used to  living in a town like this. Someday you will live
in one."
     "Why should I have to live in a town like this, don Juan?"
     "I've explained  to you that the new seers  aim to be free. And freedom
has the  most devastating implications. Among  them is the implication  that
warriors  must purposely seek  change. Your predilection  is to live the way
you  do.  You stimulate your reason  by  running through  your inventory and
pitting it against your friends' inventories. Those maneuvers leave you very
little time to examine  yourself and your fate. You will have to give up all
that. Likewise, if all you knew were the dead calm of  this town, you'd have
to seek, sooner or later, the other side of the coin."
     "Is that what you're doing here, don Juan?"
     "Our case is a little bit  different, because  we are at the end of our
trail. We are  not  seeking  anything.  What all of us do here is  something
comprehensible only  to a warrior. We go from day to day  doing nothing.  We
are waiting. I  will not tire of repeating this: we know that we are waiting
and we know what we are waiting for. We are waiting for freedom!
     "And now that you know that," he added with  a grin, "let's get back to
our discussion of awareness."
     Usually, when we were in that room we were never interrupted by  anyone
and don Juan would always decide on the length  of our discussions. But this
time there was a polite knock on the door and Genaro walked in and sat down.
I  had not seen Genaro since the day after we had run out of  his house in a
great hurry. I embraced him.
     "Genaro has something  to tell you," don Juan said. "I've told you that
he is the master of  awareness.  Now  I can tell you what all that means. He
can  make the assemblage point move deeper into the luminous egg  after that
point has been jolted out of its position by the nagual's blow."
     He explained that Genaro had pushed my assemblage point countless times
after I  had attained  heightened  awareness.  The day we  had  gone  to the
gigantic  flat  rock  to talk,  Genaro  had made  my assemblage  point  move
dramatically into the left side-- so dramatically, in fact, that it had been
a bit dangerous.
     Don  Juan stopped talking  and seemed to  be ready  to give  Genaro the
spotlight. He nodded  as if to signal Genaro  to say something. Genaro stood
up and came to my side.
     "Flame is very  important," he said  softly. "Do you remember that  day
when I made you look at the reflection of the sunlight on a piece of quartz,
when we were sitting on that big flat rock?"
     When Genaro mentioned it I remembered. On that  day just after don Juan
had stopped talking, Genaro  had pointed to  the refraction  of  light as it
went through a piece of polished quartz that he had taken  out of his pocket
and placed on  the flat rock. The shine of the quartz had immediately caught
my attention. The next thing I knew, I was crouching on the flat rock as don
Juan stood by with a worried look on his face.
     I was about to tell Genaro what I had remembered when he began to talk.
He put  his mouth to my ear and pointed to  one of the two gasoline lamps in
the room.
     "Look at the flame," he said. "There is no heat in it. It's pure flame.
Pure flame can take you to the depths of the unknown."
     As  he  talked, I  began  to feel a strange pressure; it was a physical
heaviness. My  ears  were buzzing;  my eyes teared to the point that I could
hardly make  out the shape of the furniture.  My vision seemed to be totally
out of focus. Although my eyes were open, I could not see the  intense light
of the gasoline lamps. Everything around me was dark. There  were streaks of
chartreuse  phosphorescence that illuminated dark, moving clouds.  Then,  as
abruptly as it had faded away, my eyesight returned.
     I could  not make  out where  I  was.  I seemed to be  floating like  a
balloon.  I was alone. I  had a pang of terror, and  my reason rushed  in to
construct an explanation that made  sense to me  at that moment: Genaro  had
hypnotized  me,  using  the  flame  of  the gasoline  lamp.  I  felt  almost
satisfied. I quietly floated, trying not to  worry; I thought  that a way to
avoid worrying  was to  concentrate on the stages that I  would  have to  go
through to wake up.
     The first thing I noticed was that I was not myself. I could not really
look at anything because I had nothing to look with. When I tried to examine
my body I realized that  I could only be aware and yet it was  as if  I were
looking down into infinite space. There were portentous  clouds of brilliant
light and masses of blackness; both  were in motion.  I clearly saw a ripple
of amber glow that was coming at me, like an enormous,  slow  ocean  wave. I
knew  then  that I was like a buoy  floating in space and that  the wave was
going to  overtake me and  carry me. I accepted it as  unavoidable. But just
before it hit me  something thoroughly unexpected happened-- a  wind blew me
out of the wave's path.
     The force of that wind carried me with tremendous speed. I went through
an immense tunnel  of  intense colored lights. My vision  blurred completely
and then  I  felt that I  was waking up,  that I had been  having a dream, a
hypnotic dream brought about by Genaro, in  the  next instant I was  back in
the room with don Juan and Genaro.

     I slept most of the following day. In the late afternoon,  don Juan and
I again sat down to talk. Genaro had been with me earlier but had refused to
comment on my experience.
     "Genaro  again pushed your assemblage point last night," don Juan said.
"But perhaps the shove was too forceful."
     I eagerly told don  Juan the content of my vision. He smiled, obviously
     "Your assemblage point moved  away from its normal position," he  said.
"And that  made you  perceive emanations that are not ordinarily  perceived.
Sounds like nothing, doesn't it? And yet it is a supreme accomplishment that
the new seers strive to elucidate."
     He explained that human beings repeatedly  choose  the  same emanations
for perceiving because of two reasons. First, and most important, because we
have been taught  that those emanations are perceivable, and second  because
our assemblage points select and prepare those emanations for being used.
     "Every  living  being has an assemblage  point,"  he  went  on,  "which
selects emanations for emphasis. Seers can see whether sentient beings share
the  same view  of the world, by seeing if  the emanations  their assemblage
points have selected are the same."
     He affirmed that one  of the most important breakthroughs for  the  new
seers was to find that the spot where that point is located on the cocoon of
all living creatures is  not a permanent feature, but is established on that
specific spot by habit. Hence the tremendous stress the new seers put on new
actions,  on  new  practicalities.  They want desperately to  arrive at  new
usages, new habits.
     "The  nagual's blow is  of great importance," he went  on, "because  it
makes that point move. It alters its location. Sometimes it even  creates  a
permanent crevice there.  The assemblage  point  is totally  dislodged,  and
awareness  changes  dramatically.  But  what  is a  matter of  even  greater
importance  is the  proper  understanding of  the truths about  awareness in
order to realize that that point can be  moved from  within. The unfortunate
truth is  that human beings always lose by  default. They simply  don't know
about their possibilities."
     "How can one accomplish that change from within?" I asked.
     "The new seers say that  realization is the technique," he said.  "They
say that, first of all, one must become aware  that the world we perceive is
the result of our assemblage points' being located on a specific spot on the
cocoon. Once that  is understood,  the assemblage point  can move  almost at
will, as a consequence of new habits."
     I did  not  quite understand  what he meant by  habits. I asked him  to
clarify his point.
     "The  assemblage  point  of man appears around a definite  area  of the
cocoon, because  the  Eagle  commands it," he said. "But the precise spot is
determined by  habit, by repetitious  acts. First we learn that  it  can  be
placed there  and then  we  ourselves command it to  be  there. Our  command
becomes the Eagle's command and that point is fixated at that spot. Consider
this very carefully; our command becomes the Eagle's  command. The old seers
paid dearly for that finding. We'll come back to that later on."
     He stated once again that the old seers had concentrated exclusively on
developing  thousands of the most complex  techniques  of  sorcery. He added
that what  they never realized was that  their intricate devices, as bizarre
as they were, had no other value than being the means to  break the fixation
of their assemblage points and make them move.
     I asked him to explain what he had said.
     "I've  mentioned  to  you  that  sorcery  is something  like entering a
dead-end street,"  he replied. "What I meant was that sorcery practices have
no intrinsic value. Their worth is indirect, for  their  real function is to
make the assemblage point shift  by  making the first attention  release its
control on that point.
     "The new seers  realized  the true role those sorcery  practices played
and decided  to  go  directly  into the process  of making  their assemblage
points  shift, avoiding all the other  nonsense of rituals and incantations.
Yet  rituals  and  incantations  are indeed necessary at  one  time in every
warrior's life.  I  personally  have initiated you in all kinds  of  sorcery
procedures, but  only for purposes of luring your first  attention away from
the  power of  self-absorption, which  keeps your assemblage  point  rigidly
     He added  that  the obsessive entanglement of  the  first attention  in
self-absorption or  reason is  a powerful  binding  force,  and that  ritual
behavior, because it is  repetitive, forces the first attention to free some
energy from watching the inventory, as a consequence of which the assemblage
point loses its rigidity.
     "What happens to  the persons whose assemblage points lose rigidity?" I
     "If they're  not warriors, they think they're losing  their minds,"  he
said, smiling. "Just  as you thought you  were  going crazy at  one time. If
they're warriors, they know they've gone crazy, but they patiently wait. You
see, to be  healthy  and sane means that the assemblage  point is immovable.
When it shifts, it literally means that one is deranged."
     He said that two options are opened to warriors whose assemblage points
have shifted.  One  is  to acknowledge being  ill and to  behave in deranged
ways,  reacting emotionally  to the  strange worlds that their shifts  force
them to witness; the  other is  to remain impassive, untouched, knowing that
the assemblage point always returns to its original position.
     "What if the assemblage point doesn't return to its original position?"
I asked.
     "Then  those  people  are lost," he  said.  "They  are either incurably
crazy, because their assemblage points could never assemble the world  as we
know it, or they are peerless seers who have begun their movement toward the
     "What determines whether it is one or the other?"
     "Energy!  Impeccability! Impeccable warriors don't  lose their marbles.
They remain untouched. I've said  to you many times that impeccable warriors
may see horrifying worlds and yet the next moment they  are telling a  joke,
laughing with their friends or with strangers."
     I said to  him then what  I had told  him many times before,  that what
made me  think  I  was ill was a  series of disruptive sensorial experiences
that I had  had as aftereffects of ingesting  hallucinogenic plants. I  went
through states of total space and  time discordance, very annoying lapses of
mental concentration, actual visions  or hallucinations of places and people
I would be staring at  as if they really existed.  I could not help thinking
that I was losing my mind.
     "By all ordinary measures, you were indeed losing your  mind," he said,
"but in the seers' view, if you  had lost it, you wouldn't  have  lost much.
The mind, for a seer, is nothing but the self-reflection of the inventory of
man. If you lose that self-reflection,  but  don't  lose your underpinnings,
you actually live an infinitely stronger life than if you had kept it."
     He remarked that my flaw was  my emotional reaction, which prevented me
from realizing that the oddity of my sensorial experiences was determined by
the  depth  to  which  my  assemblage point  had  moved into  man's band  of
     I  told him that I couldn't understand what  he was  explaining because
the configuration that he  had called man's band of emanations was something
incomprehensible to me. I had pictured it to  be like a ribbon placed on the
surface of a ball.
     He said that calling it a band was misleading, and that he was going to
use an analogy  to illustrate what he  meant. He explained that the luminous
shape of man  is  like a ball  of jack cheese  with  a thick disk of  darker
cheese injected  into  it. He looked at me and  chuckled. He knew that I did
not like cheese.
     He made  a  diagram on a small blackboard. He drew an egglike shape and
divided it in four longitudinal sections, saying that  he  would immediately
erase the division lines because he  had drawn them only to  give me an idea
where the band was located  in the cocoon of man. He  then drew a thick band
at  the  line between the first and second sections and erased  the division
lines. He explained that the band was like a disk of cheddar cheese that had
been inserted into the ball of jack cheese.
     "Now  if that ball of jack  cheese were  transparent," he went on, "you
would have the perfect replica of man's cocoon. The  cheddar cheese goes all
the way  inside  the ball of  jack cheese. It's a disk  that  goes from  the
surface on one side to the surface on the other side.
     "The assemblage point of man is located high  up, three-fourths of  the
way toward  the top of the egg on the surface of the cocoon.  When a  nagual
presses on  that point of intense luminosity, the  point moves into the disk
of the  cheddar cheese. Heightened  awareness  comes about when  the intense
glow of the  assemblage point  lights up dormant emanations way  inside  the
disk  of cheddar  cheese.  To  see the  glow of the assemblage point  moving
inside that disk gives the  feeling that it is  shifting  toward the left on
the surface of the cocoon."
     He repeated  his analogy three or  four times, but I did not understand
it  and he had to  explain it  further. He said that the transparency of the
luminous  egg creates the  impression of a movement toward the left, when in
fact every movement of the assemblage point is in  depth, into the center of
the luminous egg along the thickness of man's band.
     I remarked  that what  he was saying made it sound as if seers would be
using their eyes when they see the assemblage point move.
     "Man  is not the unknowable,"  he  said. "Man's luminosity  can be seen
almost as if one were using the eyes alone."
     He  further explained that the old seers  had seen  the movement of the
assemblage  point  but it never occurred to them that it  was a  movement in
depth; instead  they  followed their seeing  and coined the phrase "shift to
the  left,"  which the new  seers retained  although they knew  that  it was
erroneous to call it a shift to the left.
     He also said that in the  course of my activity with him he had made my
assemblage point move  countless times, as was the case at that very moment.
Since the  shift of the  assemblage point was  always in depth, I  had never
lost  my sense  of identity, in spite of the  fact that I  was always  using
emanations I had never used before.
     "When the nagual pushes that point," he went on, "the point ends up any
which way along  man's band, but it absolutely doesn't matter where, because
wherever it ends up is always virgin ground.
     "The   grand   test   that   the  new   seers   developed   for   their
warrior-apprentices is to retrace  the journey  that their assemblage points
took under  the  influence  of  the  nagual.  This  retracing,  when  it  is
completed, is called regaining the totality of oneself."
     He went on to say  that the contention of  the new seers is that in the
course  of our growth,  once the glow of awareness focuses on man's band  of
emanations and selects some of them for emphasis, it  enters into a  vicious
circle. The more  it  emphasizes certain emanations,  the  more  stable  the
assemblage  point gets to  be. This is equivalent to saying that our command
becomes the Eagle's command. It goes without  saying that when our awareness
develops into  first attention  the command  is so strong that to break that
circle and make the assemblage point shift is a genuine triumph.
     Don Juan said that the assemblage  point is also responsible for making
the first attention perceive  in terms of clusters. An example  of a cluster
of  emanations  that  receive  emphasis  together is  the  human body as  we
perceive it. Another part of  our total  being, our  luminous cocoon,  never
receives  emphasis and  is  relegated  to  oblivion; for the  effect  of the
assemblage point is not only to make us perceive clusters of emanations, but
also to make us disregard emanations.
     When  I pressed hard for an explanation of clustering he  replied  that
the assemblage point radiates a glow that groups together bundles of encased
emanations.  These  bundles  then  become  aligned,  as  bundles,  with  the
emanations at large. Clustering is carried out even when seers deal with the
emanations  that are never  used. Whenever they  are emphasized, we perceive
them just as we perceive the clusters of the first attention.
     "One of the  greatest moments  the new  seers had,"  he continued, "was
when they found out that the unknown  is merely the emanations discarded  by
the first attention,  it's  a huge affair, but  an  affair, mind  you, where
clustering can be  done. The unknowable, on the other  hand,  is an eternity
where our assemblage point has no way of clustering anything."
     He explained that the  assemblage point is like a  luminous magnet that
picks  emanations  and  groups them  together  wherever it moves  within the
bounds of man's band of emanations. This discovery was the  glory of the new
seers,  for it put the  unknown in a new  light. The  new seers noticed that
some of the obsessive visions of seers, the ones that were almost impossible
to conceive, coincided with a shift of the assemblage point to the region of
man's band which is diametrically opposed to where it is ordinarily located.
     "Those were visions of the dark side of man," he asserted.
     "Why do you call it the dark side of man?" I asked.
     "Because  it is  somber and foreboding,"  he  said.  "It's not only the
unknown, but the who-cares-toknow-it."
     "How about the emanations that are inside  the cocoon  but  out of  the
bounds of man's band?" I asked. "Can they be perceived?"
     "Yes,  but in  really indescribable  ways," he  said.  "They're not the
human unknown, as is the case with the unused emanations in the band of man,
but the nearly immeasurable unknown where human traits do not figure at all.
It is really an area of such an overpowering vastness that the best of seers
would be hard put to describe it."
     I insisted once more that it seemed to me that the mystery is obviously
within us.
     "The  mystery  is  outside  us,"  he  said, "Inside  us  we  have  only
emanations trying to  break the cocoon.  And this fact aberrates us, one way
or  another, whether we're average men or warriors. Only the new  seers  get
around this.  They struggle to see.  And  by  means of  the shifts of  their
assemblage points, they get to realize that the mystery  is perceiving.  Not
so much what we perceive, but what makes us perceive.
     "I've mentioned to you that  the  new seers believe that our senses are
capable  of  detecting anything. They believe this because they see that the
position of the assemblage point is what dictates what our senses perceive.
     "If the  assemblage point  aligns  emanations inside the  cocoon  in  a
position  different  from its  normal  one  the  human  senses  perceive  in
inconceivable ways."

     8 The Position of the Assemblage Point

     The  next time don Juan  resumed  his  explanation of  the  mastery  of
awareness  we were again in his house  in  southern Mexico.  That  house was
actually  owned by all the  members of the nagual's party, but Silvio Manuel
officiated  as  the owner  and  everyone openly referred  to  it  as  Silvio
Manuel's house, although I, for some inexplicable reason, had gotten used to
calling it don Juan's house.
     Don Juan,  Genaro, and I had returned to the  house from a trip to  the
mountains. That day,  as we  relaxed  after the  long drive and  ate  a late
lunch, I asked  don Juan the reason for the curious deception. He assured me
that  no deception was involved, and  that to call it Silvio  Manuel's house
was an exercise in the art of stalking to be performed by all the members of
the nagual's party under any circumstances, even in the privacy of their own
thoughts. For any of them to insist on thinking about the house in any other
terms was tantamount to denying their links to the nagual's party.
     I protested that he had never told me that. I did not want to cause any
dissension with my habits.
     "Don't worry about it," he said, smiling  at  me and patting  my  back.
"You  can call this house whatever  you want. The nagual has  authority. The
nagual woman, for instance, calls it the house of shadows."
     Our conversation was interrupted, and I  did  not see him until he sent
for me to come to the back patio a couple of hours later.
     He  and Genaro were strolling around at the far  end of the corridor; I
could  see  them  moving  their  hands  in what  seemed to  be  an  animated
     It was a clear sunny  day. The  midafternoon sun shone directly on some
of the flower pots that hung  from the eaves of the roof around the corridor
and projected their shadows on the  north  and east walls of the  patio. The
combination  of intense yellow  sunlight,  the  massive black shadows of the
pots, and the lovely, delicate,  bare shadows of  the frail flowering plants
that grew  in them  was stunning. Someone  with a  keen eye for balance  and
order had pruned those plants to create such an exquisite effect.
     "The nagual  woman  has  done  that,"  don Juan said as if  reading  my
thoughts. "She gazes at these shadows in the afternoons."
     The thought of her gazing  at shadows in the afternoons had a swift and
devastating  effect  on  me.  The intense  yellow  light  of  that hour, the
quietness of that town,  and the  affection that I felt for the nagual woman
conjured up  for me in one instant all the solitude of the warriors' endless
     Don Juan had defined the scope of that path when he said to me that the
new seers are the warriors of  total freedom, that  their only search is the
ultimate  liberation  that  comes  when   they  attain  total  awareness.  I
understood with unimpaired clarity, as I looked at those haunting shadows on
the wall, what it meant to the nagual woman when she said that to read poems
out loud was the only release that her spirit had.
     I remember that the day before she  had read something to me, there  in
the patio, but I had not quite understood her urgency, her longing. It was a
poem by Juan  Ramon Jimenez,  "Hora Inmensa," which she  told me synthesized
for her the solitude of warriors who live to escape to total freedom.

     Only a bell and a bird break the stillness. . . It  seems that the  two
talk with the setting sun. Golden colored silence, the  afternoon is made of
crystals.  A roving  purity  sways  the cool trees,  and beyond all that,  a
transparent river  dreams that  trampling over  pearls it  breaks loose  and
flows into infinity.

     Don Juan and Genaro came to my side and looked at me with an expression
of surprise.
     "What are we  really doing, don Juan?"  I  asked.  "Is it possible that
warriors are only preparing themselves for death?"
     "No  way,"  he  said,  gently patting  my  shoulder.  "Warriors prepare
themselves to be aware, and full awareness  comes to them only when there is
no more  self-importance left in  them.  Only when  they are nothing do they
become everything."
     We  were quiet  for  a  moment. Then don Juan asked me if I was in  the
throes of self-pity. I did not answer because I was not sure.
     "You're not sorry that you're here, are  you?"  don Juan asked  with  a
faint smile.
     "He's  certainly  not," Genaro assured him.  Then  he seemed to have  a
moment  of doubt. He scratched  his  head, then looked at me and  arched his
brows. "Maybe you are," he said. "Are you?"
     "He's  certainly  not," don Juan  assured  Genaro  this  time.  He went
through the same  gestures of scratching  his head  and  arching  his brows.
"Maybe you are," he said. "Are you?"
     "He's  certainly not!" Genaro boomed, and  both of them  exploded  into
uncontrolled laughter.
     When they had calmed  down, don  Juan said that self-importance is  the
motivating force for every  attack of melancholy. He added that warriors are
entitled  to have profound states of sadness, but that sadness is there only
to make them laugh.
     "Genaro has something  to  show you which is more exciting than all the
self-pity  you  can muster up," don Juan  continued, "it has to do with  the
position of the assemblage point."
     Genaro immediately began to walk around the corridor,  arching his back
and lifting his thighs to his chest.
     "The nagual Julian showed him how to walk that way," don Juan said in a
whisper,  "it's called  the gait of power.  Genaro  knows  several  gaits of
power. Watch him fixedly."
     Genaro's movements were indeed  mesmeric. I  found myself following his
gait, first with my eyes and then irresistibly with my feet. I imitated  his
gait. We walked once around the patio and stopped.
     While walking, I had noticed the extraordinary lucidity that  each step
brought to me. When we stopped, I was  in a state of keen alertness. I could
hear every sound; I could detect every change in the light or in the shadows
around  me.  I  became enthralled  with a feeling of  urgency, of  impending
action.  I felt extraordinarily aggressive, muscular, daring. At that moment
I saw an enormous span of flat land in front of me; right behind me  I saw a
forest. Huge trees were lined up as straight as a wall. The forest was  dark
and green; the plain was sunny and yellow.
     My breathing was deep and strangely accelerated, but not in an abnormal
way. Yet  it was the rhythm  of my breathing that was forcing me  to trot on
the spot. I wanted  to  take off running,  or rather my  body wanted to, but
just as I was taking off something stopped me.
     Don Juan  and  Genaro  were  suddenly by my  side.  We walked  down the
corridor with Genaro to my right. He nudged me with his shoulder. I felt the
weight of his body on me. He gently shoved me to the left and we angled  off
straight for the  east wall  of the patio.  For  a  moment I had  the  weird
impression  that  we  were going  to  go through the wall, and I even braced
myself for the impact, but we stopped right in front of the wall.
     While my face  was still against the  wall, they both examined  me with
great care. I knew what they were searching  for;  they wanted  to make sure
that I had shifted my assemblage point. I  knew that I  had  because my mood
had changed. They obviously knew it too. They gently took me by the arms and
walked in  silence  with me  to the other side  of the corridor, to  a  dark
passageway, a narrow hall  that connected the  patio  with the  rest of  the
house. We stopped there. Don Juan and Genaro moved a few feet away from me.
     I was left facing  the side of the house  that was in  dark  shadows. I
looked  into an empty dark room. I had a sense of physical weariness. I felt
languid, indifferent, and yet I experienced a sense of spiritual strength. I
realized then that I had lost something. There was no strength in my body. I
could hardly stand. My  legs  finally gave in and I  sat down and then I lay
down on  my  side. While I  lay there, I had the  most wonderful, fulfilling
thoughts of love for God, for goodness.
     Then all at once I  was  in front of the  main altar  of a  church. The
bas-reliefs covered with gold leaf glittered with the light of thousands  of
candles.  I saw the  dark figures of  men  and women  carrying  an  enormous
crucifix mounted on  a huge  palanquin. I moved out of their way and stepped
outside the church. I saw a  multitude of  people,  a sea of candles, coming
toward me. I felt elated. I ran to  join them. I was moved by profound love.
I wanted to be  with them, to pray to the Lord. I was only  a  few feet away
from the mass of people when something swished me away.
     The next instant, I was with don Juan and Genaro. They flanked me as we
walked lazily around the patio.

     While we were having  lunch the next day, don Juan said that Genaro had
pushed my assemblage point with his gait of power, and that he had been able
to do that because I had been in a state of inner silence. He explained that
the  articulation point  of everything seers do  is something he had  talked
about since the day we met: stopping the internal dialogue. He stressed over
and over that the internal dialogue is what keeps the assemblage point fixed
to its original position.
     "Once silence is attained, everything is possible," he said.
     I told him  I was very  conscious of the  fact  that in general  I  had
stopped talking to myself, but  did not  know how I had done it. If asked to
explain the procedure I would not know what to say.
     "The  explanation is  simplicity itself," he  said. "You willed it, and
thus you  set a  new  intent, a new  command. Then your  command became  the
Eagle's command.
     "This is one of the most extraordinary things that the new seers  found
out: that our command can become the Eagle's command. The internal  dialogue
stops in the same way it begins: by an act of will. After all, we are forced
to start talking to ourselves by those who teach us. As they teach us,  they
engage their will
     and  we engage ours, both without knowing  it. As we learn  to  talk to
ourselves, we learn to handle will.  We will ourselves to talk to ourselves.
The way to  stop talking to ourselves is to use exactly the  same method: we
must will it, we must inlend it."
     We were silent for a few  minutes. I asked him to whom he was referring
when he said that we had teachers who taught us to talk to ourselves.
     "I  was  talking  about  what  happens  to human  beings when they  are
infants," he  replied, "a  time when they are taught by everyone around them
to repeat  an  endless  dialogue  about  themselves.  The  dialogue  becomes
internalized, and that force alone keeps the assemblage point fixed.
     "The  new seers  say  that infants have hundreds of teachers who  teach
them exactly where to place their assemblage point."
     He said that  seers see that infants have no fixed assemblage  point at
first. Their encased emanations  are in a state of great  turmoil, and their
assemblage  points shift  everywhere in  the band of man, giving  children a
great  capacity  to  focus  on  emanations  that  later  will  be thoroughly
disregarded. Then as they grow, the  older humans around them, through their
considerable  power over  them, force  the children's assemblage  points  to
become more  steady by means of an increasingly complex  internal  dialogue.
The internal dialogue is a process that constantly  strengthens the position
of the assemblage point, because that position is an arbitrary one and needs
steady reinforcement.
     "The  fact of the matter is that  many children see," he went on. "Most
of those who see are considered to be  oddballs and  every effort is made to
correct them, to  make  them  solidify  the  position  of  their  assemblage
     "But  would  it  be  possible  to  encourage  children  to  keep  their
assemblage points more fluid?" I asked.
     "Only if they live among the new seers," he said. "Otherwise they would
get entrapped, as the old seers did,  in the intricacies of  the silent side
of  man. And, believe me, that's worse than being caught  in the clutches of
     Don Juan went on  to  express his  profound  admiration for  the  human
capacity  to  impart  order  to  the chaos  of  the Eagle's  emanations.  He
maintained that every one of us, in his  own  right, is a masterful magician
and that our magic is to keep our assemblage point unwaveringly fixed.
     "The  force  of  the  emanations  at  large," he went  on,  "makes  our
assemblage  point select certain  emanations and cluster  them for alignment
and perception. That's the command of the Eagle, but all the meaning that we
give to what we perceive is our command, our gift of magic."
     He said that  in the  light of what he had  explained,  what Genaro had
made me do the day before was something extraordinarily complex and yet very
simple.  It  was  complex  because it required  a  tremendous  discipline on
everybody's part; it  required that the internal dialogue be stopped, that a
state of heightened  awareness be reached, and  that someone  walk away with
one's  assemblage point. The explanation behind all these complex procedures
was very  simple;  the new  seers say  that since the exact  position of the
assemblage point is an arbitrary position chosen for us by our ancestors, it
can  move  with  a relatively small  effort;  once  it moves,  it forces new
alignments of emanations, thus new perceptions.
     "I used to give you power plants in order to make your assemblage point
move,"  don  Juan  continued. "Power  plants have that effect;  but  hunger,
tiredness,  fever, and other things like that can have a similar effect. The
flaw of the average man is that  he  thinks the result of a shift is  purely
mental. It isn't, as you yourself can attest."
     He explained  that my assemblage  point had shifted scores of times  in
the  past, just as  it had shifted the day before, and that most of the time
the worlds it had assembled  had been so close to the world of everyday life
as  to be virtually phantom worlds.  He  emphatically added that visions  of
that kind are automatically rejected by the new seers.
     "Those visions are the product of man's  inventory," he went on.  "They
are of  no  value for warriors in search of  total freedom, because they are
produced by a lateral shift of the assemblage point."
     He stopped talking and looked at me. I knew that by  "lateral shift" he
had meant a shift of the point from one side to the other along the width of
man's band of emanations instead of a  shift in depth. I asked him if  I was
     "That's exactly what I meant," he said. "On both edges of man's band of
emanations  there is a strange  storage  of refuse, an incalculable  pile of
human junk. It's a very morbid, sinister storehouse. It had great  value for
the old seers but not for us.
     "One of  the  easiest things one can do is to  fall into it.  Yesterday
Genaro and I  wanted to give you a quick example of that lateral shift; that
was why  we  walked your  assemblage point, but  any  person  can reach that
storehouse  by  simply stopping  his  internal  dialogue.  If  the  shift is
minimal, the results are explained as fantasies of the mind. If the shift is
considerable, the results are called hallucinations."
     I asked him to explain the act of walking the assemblage point. He said
that once warriors have  attained  inner silence by  stopping their internal
dialogue, the sound of the gait of power, more than the sight of it, is what
traps their assemblage points. The rhythm of muffled steps instantly catches
the alignment  force of  the  emanations  inside the cocoon,  which has been
disconnected by inner silence.
     "That force hooks itself immediately to the edges of the band," he went
on.  "On  the right  edge  we  find endless  visions of  physical  activity,
violence,  killing, sensuality.  On  the left  edge  we  find  spirituality,
religion,  God. Genaro and I walked your assemblage point to both  edges, so
as to give you a complete view of that human junk pile."
     Don  Juan  restated,  as if  on  second thought,  that one of the  most
mysterious aspects  of the seers'  knowledge  is the  incredible  effects of
inner silence.  He said that once inner silence  is attained, the bonds that
tie the assemblage point to  the particular spot where it is placed begin to
break and the assemblage point is free to move.
     He  said that the  movement ordinarily is toward the  left, that such a
directional preference is a natural reaction of most human  beings, but that
there  are  seers  who  can direct  that  movement  to  positions below  the
customary spot where  the  point is  located. The new seers call  that shift
"the shift below."
     "Seers  also  suffer  accidental  shifts  below,"   he  went  on.  "The
assemblage  point  doesn't remain  there long, and that's fortunate, because
that is  the place of the beast. To go below is  counter  to  our  interest,
although the easiest thing to do."
     Don Juan also said that among the many errors of judgment the old seers
had committed, one of the most grievous was  moving their  assemblage points
to the immeasurable area below, which  made them  experts at adopting animal
forms. They chose different  animals as their point  of reference and called
those  animals their  nagual. They believed  that by moving their assemblage
points  to  specific  spots they  would  acquire  the characteristics of the
animal  of  their choice,  its strength or wisdom  or  cunning or agility or
     Don  Juan assured me  that there  are many  dreadful examples  of  such
practices even among the seers of our day. The relative facility  with which
the assemblage  point of  man moves toward  any lower position poses a great
temptation to seers, especially to those whose inclination leans toward that
end. It is the duty of a nagual, therefore, to test his warriors.
     He told me then that he had put  me to the test by moving my assemblage
point to a position below, while I was under the influence of a power plant.
He then guided my assemblage point until I could isolate the crows' band  of
emanations, which resulted in my changing into a crow.
     I again asked don Juan  the question I had asked him dozens of times. I
wanted to  know whether I had  physically turned into  a crow or  had merely
thought and felt like one. He explained that a shift of the assemblage point
to the area below always results in a total transformation. He added that if
the assemblage point moves  beyond a crucial threshold, the world  vanishes;
it ceases to be what it is to us at man's level.
     He  conceded  that  my  transformation was  indeed  horrifying  by  any
standards.  My  reaction to that  experience  proved to  him  that I had  no
leanings toward  that direction. Had it  not been that way, I would have had
to employ enormous energy in order to fight off a tendency to remain in that
area below, which some seers find most comfortable.
     He further  said  that  an  unwitting downshift occurs periodically  to
every  seer, but that  such  a  downshift becomes less and less  frequent as
their assemblage  points move farther toward the left. Every time it occurs,
however, the power of a seer undergoing it diminishes considerably. It  is a
drawback that takes time and great effort to correct.
     "Those  lapses  make  seers  extremely  morose and  narrow-minded,"  he
continued, "and in certain cases, extremely rational."
     "How can seers avoid those downshifts?" I asked.
     "It all depends on the  warrior," he  said. "Some of them are naturally
inclined to indulge  in their quirks-- yourself, for instance. They are  the
ones  who  are  hard hit. For those like you,  I recommend a twenty-fourhour
vigil of everything they do. Disciplined men or women are less prone to that
kind of shift; for those I would recommend a twenty-three-hour vigil."
     He looked at me with shiny eyes and laughed.
     "Female  seers have  downshifts more  often than  males," he said. "But
they  are also  capable of bouncing out of  that position with no  effort at
all. while males linger dangerously in it."
     He also said that  women  seers  have an extraordinary capacity to make
their assemblage points hold on  to  any  position  in the area  below.  Men
cannot.  Men have  sobriety and purpose, but very little talent; that is the
reason why a nagual must have eight women seers in his party. Women give the
impulse to  cross the immeasurable  vastness  of the unknown.  Together with
that natural capacity, or as a  consequence of it, women have a  most fierce
intensity. They can, therefore, reproduce an  animal form with  flare, ease,
and a matchless ferocity.
     "If  you  think  about scary  things," he  continued,  "about something
unnamable  lurking in the darkness,  you're thinking,  without  knowing  it,
about a woman seer holding a position  in the immeasurable  area below. True
horror lies right there. If  you  ever find an aberrant  woman seer, run for
the hills!"
     I  asked him whether  other organisms were  capable  of  shifting their
assemblage points.
     "Their  points can shift," he  said, "but  the shift is not a voluntary
thing with them."
     "Is the assemblage  point  of other organisms  also  trained  to appear
where it does?" I asked.
     "Every  newborn organism  is trained, one way or  another," he replied.
"We may not understand how their training is done-- after all, we don't even
understand how it is done  to us-- but seers see that the newborn are coaxed
to  do what their kind does. That's exactly what happens to  human  infants:
seers see their assemblage points shifting every which way and then they see
how the presence of adults fastens each  point to one spot. The same happens
to every other organism."
     Don Juan seemed to reflect for  a moment and then added that  there was
indeed one unique effect that  man's  assemblage  point has. He pointed to a
tree outside.
     "When we, as serious adult human beings, look at a tree," he said, "our
assemblage points  align  an  infinite number  of emanations  and achieve  a
miracle. Our assemblage points make us perceive a cluster of emanations that
we call tree."
     He explained that the assemblage point not  only  effects the alignment
needed  for  perception,  but  also obliterates  the  alignment  of  certain
emanations in  order to arrive at  a  greater  refinement  of  perception, a
skimming, a tricky human construct with no parallel.
     He said  that the new  seers had  observed that only  human beings were
capable  of  further  clustering  the  clusters  of emanations. He used  the
Spanish word for skimming,  desnate, to describe the act of  collecting  the
most palatable cream off  the top of a  container of  boiled milk  after  it
cools. Likewise, in terms of perception, man's assemblage  point takes  some
part  of  the  emanations already  selected for alignment and makes  a  more
palatable construct with it.
     "The  skimmings of men,"  don Juan  continued, "are more real than what
other creatures perceive. That is our pitfall. They are so  real to us  that
we  forget we have constructed them  by commanding our assemblage  points to
appear where they do. We forget  they are real to us only because it  is our
command to perceive them as real. We have the  power to skim the top off the
alignments, but we don't  have the power  to  protect ourselves from our own
commands. That has to be learned. To give our skimmings  a free hand, as  we
do, is an error of judgment for which we pay as dearly as the old seers paid
for theirs."

     9 The Shift Below

     Don Juan  and Genaro made  their yearly trip  to the  northern part  of
Mexico, to the Sonoran desert,  to look for  medicinal  plants.  One of  the
seers of the nagual's party, Vicente Medrano, the herbalist among them, used
those plants to make medicines.
     I had joined don Juan and Genaro  in Sonora, at the last stage of their
journey, just in time to drive them south, back to their home.
     The day before we started on our drive, don Juan abruptly continued his
explanation  of  the mastery  of awareness. We were resting in the  shade of
some tall  bushes in the foothills of  the mountains. It was late afternoon,
almost dark. Each of us  carried a large burlap sack filled with plants.  As
soon as we had put them down, Genaro lay down on the ground and fell asleep,
using his folded jacket as a pillow.
     Don  Juan spoke to me in a low  voice, as if he didn't  want to wake up
Genaro. He  said that  by  now  he had explained  most  of the  truths about
awareness, and  that there  was only  one truth  left to  discuss.  The last
truth, he assured me, was the best of the old seers' findings, although they
never knew that themselves. Its tremendous value was  only recognized,  ages
later, by the new seers.
     "I've explained to  you  that man has an assemblage point," he went on,
"and that that assemblage point aligns emanations for perception. We've also
discussed that that point moves from its fixed position. Now, the last truth
is that once  that assemblage point  moves beyond  a  certain limit,  it can
assemble worlds entirely different from the world we know."
     Still in  a whisper, he said  that  certain geographical areas not only
help  that precarious movement  of  the  assemblage  point, but also  select
specific  directions  for  that movement.  For instance,  the Sonoran desert
helps the assemblage point move downward from its customary position, to the
place of the beast.
     "That's  why  there  are  true  sorcerers  in  Sonora,"  he  continued.
"Especially sorceresses. You already know one, la Catalina. In  the past,  I
have arranged bouts between the two of you. I wanted to make your assemblage
point shift, and la Catalina, with her sorcery antics, jolted it loose."
     Don  Juan  explained that the  chilling experiences I  had had with  la
Catalina had been part of a prearranged agreement between the two of them.
     "What would you think if we invited her to join us?" Genaro asked me in
a loud voice, as he sat up.
     The abruptness  of his question  and  the  strange  sound of his  voice
plunged me into instant terror.
     Don Juan laughed and shook me by the arms. He assured me that there was
no need for alarm. He said that la Catalina was like a cousin  or an aunt to
us. She was part of our world, although she did not quite follow our quests.
She was infinitely closer to the ancient seers.
     Genaro smiled and winked at me.
     "I understand that  you've  got hot pants for her," he said to me. "She
herself confessed to me that every  time you have had a  confrontation  with
her, the greater your fright, the hotter your pants."
     Don Juan and Genaro laughed to near hysteria.
     I had to admit that somehow I had always found la Catalina to be a very
scary but at the same  time an  extremely appealing woman. What impressed me
the most about her was her exuding energy.
     "She has  so  much energy saved," don Juan commented, "that  you didn't
have to be in heightened awareness for her to move your assemblage point all
the way to the depths of the left side."
     Don Juan said  again that  la  Catalina was very closely related to us,
because she belonged to the nagual Julian's party. He explained that usually
the nagual and  all the members  of his party leave the world together,  but
that there are instances when they leave either in smaller groups  or one by
one. The nagual Julian and his party were an example of the latter. Although
he had left the world nearly forty years ago, la Catalina was still here.
     He  reminded  me  about something he mentioned to me  before,  that the
nagual   Julian's   party  consisted  of  a   group  of   three   thoroughly
inconsequential men and  eight superb women.  Don Juan had always maintained
that such  a disparity was one of the reasons why the  members of the nagual
Julian's party left the world one by one.
     He said that la Catalina had been  attached to one  of the superb women
seers of the nagual Julian's  party, who taught  her extraordinary maneuvers
to  shift her assemblage  point to the area below. That seer was one of  the
last  to leave the world. She  lived to an extremely old age, and since both
she  and  la Catalina  were originally  from Sonora,  they  returned, in her
advanced years, to  the desert and  lived together  until the seer  left the
world. In  the  years  they  spent together,  la  Catalina  became her  most
dedicated  helper and  disciple,  a  disciple who was willing to  learn  the
extravagant ways the old seers knew to make the assemblage point shift.
     I asked don  Juan if la  Catalina's knowledge was inherently  different
from his own.
     "We are exactly  the same," he replied. "She's more like Silvio  Manuel
or Genaro; she is really the female version of them, but, of course, being a
woman she's infinitely more aggressive and dangerous than both of them."
     Genaro assented with a nod of  his head. "Infinitely more," he said and
winked again.
     "Is she attached to your party?" I asked don Juan.
     "I said  that she's like  a  cousin or an aunt to  us," he  replied. "I
meant she belongs  to the older generation,  although she's younger than all
of us. She is the last of that group. She  is rarely in contact with us. She
doesn't quite like us. We are  too stiff for  her, because she's used to the
nagual Julian's touch. She prefers the high adventure of the unknown  to the
quest for freedom."
     "What is the difference between the two?" I asked don Juan.
     "In the last  part of my explanation of the truths about awareness," he
replied, "we  are going  to  discuss that  difference slowly and thoroughly.
What's  important for you to know. at  this moment, is that you're jealously
guarding weird secrets in your leftside awareness; that is why  la  Catalina
and you like each other."
     I insisted again that it was not that I liked her, it was rather that I
admired her great strength.
     Don Juan and Genaro  laughed and patted me as if they  knew something I
did not.
     "She likes  you because  she knows what you're like,"  Genaro  said and
smacked his lips. "She knew the nagual Julian very well."
     Both of them gave me a long look that made me feel embarrassed.
     "What are you driving at?" I asked Genaro in a belligerent tone.
     He  grinned  at  me  and moved his eyebrows up and down  in  a  comical
gesture. But he kept quiet.
     Don Juan spoke and broke the silence.
     "There  are very strange points in common between the nagual Julian and
you," he said. "Genaro is just trying to figure out if you're aware of it."
     I  asked both of  them  how on  earth  I would be aware of something so
     "La Catalina thinks you are,"  Genaro  said. "She says  so  because she
knew the nagual Julian better than any of us here."
     I commented  that I couldn't believe that  she  knew the nagual Julian,
since he had left the world nearly forty years ago.
     "La Catalina is no spring chicken," Genaro said. "She just looks young;
that's part of her knowledge. Just as it was  part  of  the nagual  Julian's
knowledge. You've seen  her only when  she looks young.  If you see her when
she looks old, she'll scare the living daylights out of you."
     "What  la Catalina does," don  Juan interrupted, "can be explained only
in terms of the  three masteries: the mastery  of  awareness, the mastery of
stalking, and the mastery of intent.
     "But today, we are going to examine what she does only in  light of the
last truth about awareness:  the truth  that says that the assemblage  point
can assemble worlds different from our own  after it moves from its original
     Don Juan  signaled me to get  up. Genaro also stood up. I automatically
grabbed the burlap sack filled with medicinal plants. Genaro stopped me as I
was about to put it on my shoulders.
     "Leave the sack alone,"  he said, smiling.  "We have to take  a  little
hike up the hill and meet la Catalina."
     "Where is she?" I asked.
     "Up there,"  Genaro said, pointing to the top of a small  hill. "If you
stare with your eyes half-closed, you'll see her as a very dark spot against
the green shrubbery."
     I strained to see the dark spot, but I couldn't see anything.
     "Why don't you walk up there?" don Juan suggested to me.
     I felt dizzy and sick to my stomach. Don Juan urged me  with a movement
of his hand to go up, but I didn't dare move. Finally, Genaro took me by the
arm and both of  us climbed toward the top of the hill. When we got there, I
realized that don Juan had come up right behind us. The three  of us reached
the top at the same time.
     Don Juan very  calmly  began  to  talk  to Genaro.  He asked  him if he
remembered the many times the nagual  Julian was about to choke both of them
to death, because they indulged in their fears.
     Genaro turned to me and assured  me that the  nagual  Julian had been a
ruthless teacher. He and his own teacher, the nagual Elias, who was still in
the world then,  used to push everyone's  assemblage points beyond a crucial
limit and let them fend for themselves.
     "I once told you that the nagual Julian recommended us not to waste our
sexual energy,"  Genaro went on. "He meant that  for the assemblage point to
shift,  one  needs energy. If one doesn't have it,  the nagual's blow is not
the blow of freedom, but the blow of death."
     "Without enough  energy," don  Juan said,  "the force  of  alignment is
crushing.  You  have  to have energy to  sustain the pressure of  alignments
which never take place under ordinary circumstances."
     Genaro said  that the nagual Julian was an inspiring teacher. He always
found ways  to  teach  and  at  the same time entertain himself. One of  his
favorite teaching devices was to catch them unawares once or twice, in their
normal awareness, and make their assemblage points shift. From  then on, all
he had to do to have their undivided attention was  to threaten them with an
unexpected nagual's blow.
     "The nagual Julian was really an unforgettable man," don Juan said. "He
had a great touch with people. He  would do  the worst things in the  world,
but done by him they were  great. Done by anyone else, they would  have been
crude and callous.
     "The nagual Ellas, on the other hand, had no touch, but he was indeed a
great, great teacher."
     "The  nagual Elias was very much like  the  nagual Juan Matus,"  Genaro
said to  me. "They  got along very  fine. And the  nagual  Elias taught  him
everything without ever raising his voice, or playing tricks on him.
     "But the nagual Julian was quite different," Genaro  went on, giving me
a friendly shove. "I'd say that he jealously guarded strange  secrets in his
left side, just like you. Wouldn't you say so?" he asked don Juan.
     Don  Juan did not answer,  but nodded  affirmatively. He seemed  to  be
holding back his laughter.
     "He had a playful nature," don Juan said, and both of them broke into a
great laughter.
     The fact that  they were obviously alluding to something they knew made
me feel even more threatened.
     Don Juan matter-of-factly said that  they were referring to the bizarre
sorcery techniques that the nagual Julian had  learned in the  course of his
life. Genaro added that the nagual Julian had a unique  teacher  besides the
nagual Elias. A teacher who had liked him immensely and had taught him novel
and complex ways of moving  his assemblage point. As  a result of  this, the
nagual Julian was extraordinarily eccentric in his behavior.
     "Who was that teacher, don Juan?" I asked.
     Don Juan and Genaro looked at each other and giggled like two children.
     "That is a very tough question to answer," don Juan replied. "All I can
say is that he  was the  teacher that deviated the  course  of our line.  He
taught us many things, good and bad, but  among the worst, he taught us what
the old seers did. So, some of us got trapped. The nagual  Julian was one of
them, and so is la Catalina. We only hope that you won't follow them."
     I immediately began to protest. Don Juan interrupted me. He said that I
did not know what I was protesting.
     As  don  Juan  spoke,  I  became  terribly angry with him  and  Genaro.
Suddenly, I was raging, yelling at  them at the top of my voice. My reaction
was so out of tone with  me that  it scared  me. It was as if I were someone
else. I stopped and looked at them for help.
     Genaro had  his hands on don Juan's shoulders  as if he needed support.
Both of them were laughing uncontrollably.
     I became so despondent I was nearly in tears. Don Juan came to my side.
He  reassuringly put  his  hand  on  my  shoulder. He said that the  Sonoran
desert,  for reasons incomprehensible to him, fostered definite belligerence
in man or any other organism.
     "People  may say  that  it's  because the  air  is  too dry  here,"  he
continued, "or because  it's  too hot.  Seers would  say  that  there  is  a
particular confluence of the Eagle's emanations here, which, as I've already
said, helps the assemblage point to shift below.
     "Be that as it may, warriors are in the world to train themselves to be
unbiased witnesses, so  as to understand the mystery of ourselves and relish
the exultation of finding what we really are. This is the highest of the new
seers' goals. And  not every warrior  attains it. We believe that the nagual
Julian didn't attain it. He was waylaid, and so was la Catalina."
     He further said that  to be a peerless nagual, one has to love freedom,
and one  has to have  supreme  detachment. He  explained that what makes the
warrior's path  so very  dangerous  is that it  is the opposite of  the life
situation of modern  man. He  said that modern man has left the realm of the
unknown  and  the mysterious, and  has  settled down  in the  realm  of  the
functional. He has  turned  his  back to the world of the foreboding and the
exulting and has welcomed the world of boredom.
     "To be given a  chance  to go back  again to the mystery of the world,"
don Juan continued, "is sometimes too much  for warriors, and  they succumb;
they are waylaid by what I've called the high adventure of the unknown. They
forget the  quest for freedom; they forget  to  be unbiased  witnesses. They
sink into the unknown and love it."
     "And you think i'm like that, don't you?" I asked don Juan.
     "We  don't  think,  we  know," Genaro  replied. "And la Catalina  knows
better than anyone else."
     "Why would she know it?" I demanded.
     "Because she's like you," Genaro replied, pronouncing his words  with a
comical intonation.
     I  was  about  to  get  into  a heated  argument  again  when  don Juan
interrupted me.
     "There's no need to get so worked up," he said to me. "You are what you
are. The fight for freedom is harder for some. You are one of them.
     "In  order  to  be unbiased  witnesses,"  he  went  on,  "we  begin  by
understanding  that the fixation or the movement  of the assemblage point is
all there is to us and the world we witness, whatever that world might be.
     "The new  seers say that when we were taught to  talk to  ourselves, we
were  taught  the means to dull ourselves in  order  to  keep the assemblage
point fixed on one spot."
     Genaro  clapped his hands noisily  and let out  a piercing whistle that
imitated the whistle of a football coach.
     "Let's get that assemblage point moving!" he yelled. "Up, up, up! Move,
move, move!"
     We were  all still  laughing  when  the  bushes by  my right  side were
suddenly stirred. Don Juan and Genaro immediately sat down with the left leg
tucked under the seat. The right leg, with the knee up, was like a shield in
front of  them. Don Juan signaled me to do the same. He raised his brows and
made a gesture of resignation at the corner of his mouth.
     "Sorcerers  have  their own quirks," he said  in a whisper.  "When  the
assemblage point moves to the regions below its normal  position, the vision
of sorcerers becomes limited. If they see you standing, they'll attack you."
     "The nagual  Julian  kept  me  once  for  two  days  in  this warrior's
position," Genaro whispered  to me. "I  even had  to urinate while  I sat in
this position."
     "And defecate," don Juan added.
     "Right,"  Genaro said. And then he  whispered  to  me, as if  on second
thought, "I hope you did your kaka earlier. If your bowels aren't empty when
la Catalina  shows up, you'll  shit  in your pants, unless I show you how to
take them off. If you have to shit in this position, you've got  to get your
pants off."
     He  began to show me how to maneuver out of my trousers. He did it in a
most serious and concerned  manner. All  my concentration was focused on his
movements. It was only when I had gotten out of my pants that I became aware
that don  Juan was roaring with laughter. I  realized that  Genaro was again
poking fun at me. I was  about to stand up to put on my pants, when don Juan
stopped  me.  He  was laughing so hard  that he could hardly articulate  his
words. He told  me to stay put, that Genaro did things only half in fun, and
that la Catalina was really there behind the bushes.
     His tone of urgency, in  the midst  of laughter,  got to me. I froze on
the spot.  A moment  later a rustle in  the bushes sent me into such a panic
that I forgot about my pants.  I looked at Genaro. He was again  wearing his
pants. He shrugged his shoulders.
     "I'm sorry," he whispered.  "I didn't have time to  show you how to put
them back on without getting up."
     I  did  not have  time to get angry or to  join  them in  their  mirth.
Suddenly, right in front of me,  the bushes separated and a most  horrendous
creature  came out.  It was so  outlandish  I  was no longer  afraid.  I was
spellbound.  Whatever was in front  of  me was  not  a human  being; it  was
something not even remotely resembling one. It was more like a reptile. Or a
bulky grotesque insect. Or even a hairy, ultimately repulsive bird. Its body
was  dark and had  coarse reddish hair.  I could  not see any legs, just the
ugly  enormous head. The nose  was flat and the  nostrils were two  enormous
lateral holes.  It had something like a beak with teeth. Horrifying  as that
thing was, its eyes were magnificent.  They were  like two mesmeric pools of
inconceivable clarity. They had knowledge. They were not human eyes, or bird
eyes, or any kind of eyes I had ever seen.
     The  creature moved toward my left, rustling the bushes. As I moved  my
head  to follow it,  I  noticed that  don Juan  and Genaro  seemed  to be as
spellbound by its presence as I was.  It  occurred to me that they had never
seen anything like that either.
     In an instant, the creature  had  moved completely out of sight.  But a
moment later there was a growl and its gigantic shape  again loomed in front
of us.
     I was fascinated  and at the same time worried by  the fact  that I was
not in  the  least afraid of that grotesque creature. It was  as if my early
panic had been experienced by someone else.
     I  felt, at  one moment, that I  was beginning  to stand up. Against my
volition, my legs straightened up and I found myself standing up, facing the
creature. I vaguely felt that I was  taking off my  jacket, my shirt, and my
shoes. Then  I was naked. The muscles of my legs  tensed with a tremendously
powerful contraction. I jumped up and down with colossal  agility,  and then
the creature and I raced toward some ineffable greenness in the distance.
     The creature raced ahead of me, coiling on itself,  like a serpent. But
then  I  caught  up  with it.  As we  speeded together,  I became  aware  of
something  I already knew-- the  creature  was really la Catalina. All  of a
sudden, la Catalina, in the flesh, was next to me. We moved effortlessly. It
was as if we were stationary, only posed in a bodily gesture of movement and
speed, while the scenery around us was being moved, giving the impression of
enormous acceleration.
     Our racing  stopped as suddenly as it had started, and then I was alone
with  la Catalina  in a different world. There was not a single recognizable
feature  in  it. There was an intense glare and heat coming from what seemed
to be the ground, a  ground covered with huge rocks. Or at least they seemed
to be rocks.  They had the color of sandstone, but they had  no weight; they
were  like chunks of sponge tissue. I could send them hurling around by only
leaning on them.
     I  became  so  fascinated  with my  strength that  I  was oblivious  to
anything else. I had assessed, in whatever way, that the chunks of seemingly
weightless material  opposed  resistance to  me. It was my superior strength
that sent them hurling around.
     I tried to grab them with  my hands, and I realized that my entire body
had  changed.  La Catalina  was looking at me.  She was again the  grotesque
creature she had  been before, and so  was I. I could not see myself,  but I
knew that both of us were exactly alike.
     An indescribable joy possessed me, as  if joy were some force that came
from outside me. La Catalina and I cavorted, and twisted, and played until I
had  no more thoughts, or feelings, or human awareness in any degree. Yet, I
was definitely  aware.  My awareness  was  a  vague  knowledge  that gave me
confidence; it was a limitless trust,  a physical certainty of my existence,
not in the sense of a human feeling of individuality,  but in the sense of a
presence that was everything.
     Then, everything  came again into  human focus all at once. La Catalina
was holding  my hand. We  were walking on the desert  floor among the desert
shrubs.  I had  the immediate and painful realization that the desert  rocks
and hard clumps of dirt were horribly injurious to my bare feet.
     We came to a spot clear  of vegetation. Don Juan and Genaro were there.
I sat down and put on my clothes.

     My  experience  with la Catalina delayed  our trip back to the south of
Mexico. It had unhinged me in  some indescribable way. In my normal state of
awareness,  I  became  disassociated. It was  as if  I had  lost a point  of
reference. I  had become despondent. I told don Juan that I had even lost my
desire to live.
     We were sitting around in  the ramada of  don  Juan's house. My car was
loaded with sacks and we were ready to  leave, but my feeling of despair got
the best of me and I began to weep.
     Don Juan and Genaro laughed  until  their eyes were  tearing.  The more
desperate I felt, the greater was their enjoyment. Finally, don Juan  had me
shift into heightened awareness and explained that  their  laughter  was not
unkindness on their part, or the result of a  weird  sense of humor, but the
genuine  expression  of  happiness  at  seeing me  advance  in  the path  of
     "I'll tell you what the nagual Julian used  to say to us when we got to
where you are," don  Juan went on.  "That way,  you'll know that  you're not
alone. What's happening to you happens to anyone who stores enough energy to
catch a glimpse of the unknown."
     He said that the nagual Julian  used  to tell them  that they had  been
evicted  from the homes where they had lived all their lives.  A  result  of
having saved  energy  had  been  the disruption of  their  cozy  but utterly
limiting and boring  nest  in the world  of everyday life. Their depression,
the  nagual  Julian  told them, was  not so much the sadness of having  lost
their nest, but the annoyance of having to look for new quarters.
     "The new quarters,"  don Juan went  on, "are not  as cozy. But they are
infinitely more roomy.
     "Your eviction notice came in the form of a great depression, a loss of
the  desire to  live, just as it happened to us. When you  told us that  you
didn't want to live, we couldn't help laughing."
     "What's going to happen to me now?" I asked.
     "Using the vernacular, you got to get another pad," don Juan replied.
     Don Juan and Genaro again entered into a state of great euphoria. Every
one of their statements and remarks made them laugh hysterically.
     "It's  all very simple," don  Juan said. "Your new level of energy will
create a new spot to house your assemblage point. And the warriors' dialogue
you  carry on  with us  every time  we get  together  will solidify that new
     Genaro adopted a serious look and in a booming voice he asked  me, "Did
you shit today?"
     He urged me with a movement of his head to answer. "Did you, did  you?"
he demanded. "Let's get going with our warriors' dialogue."
     When their laughter had subsided, Genaro said that I had to be aware of
a drawback, the fact that from time to time the  assemblage point returns to
its original position. He told me that in his own case, the normal  position
of his  assemblage point had  forced  him  to see people  as threatening and
often terrifying beings. To his utter amazement, one day he realized that he
had changed. He was considerably more daring and had successfully dealt with
a situation that would have ordinarily thrown him into chaos and fear.
     "I  found myself making love,"  Genaro continued, and he winked at  me.
"Usually I was afraid to death of women. But  one day I found myself  in bed
with a most ferocious woman, it was so unlike me that when I realized what I
was  doing I nearly had  a heart attack. The  jolt made my assemblage  point
return to its miserable  normal position and I  had to run out of the house,
shaking like a scared rabbit.
     "You'd better watch out for the recoil of the assemblage point," Genaro
added, and they were laughing again.
     "The  position of  the  assemblage point  on man's  cocoon,"  don  Juan
explained, "is maintained by the  internal dialogue, and because of that, it
is a flimsy position at best. That's  why men and women lose their minds  so
easily, especially those whose internal dialogue is repetitious, boring, and
without any depth.
     "The new seers say that the more resilient human beings are those whose
internal dialogue is more fluid and varied."
     He  said  that  the  position  of  the warrior's  assemblage  point  is
infinitely stronger, because as soon  as the assemblage point begins to move
in the  cocoon, it  creates a dimple in the luminosity, a dimple that houses
the assemblage point from then on.
     "That's  the reason why  we can't say that warriors lose  their minds,"
don Juan went on. "If they lose anything, they lose their dimple."
     Don Juan and  Genaro found that statement so hilarious that they rolled
on the floor laughing.
     I asked don Juan to explain my experience with la Catalina. And both of
them again howled with laughter.
     "Women are definitely more bizarre  than  men,"  don Juan finally said.
"The fact that they have an extra opening between their legs makes them fall
prey  to strange  influences. Strange, powerful  forces possess them through
that opening. That's the only way I can understand their quirks."
     He kept silent for a while, and I asked what he meant by that.
     "La Catalina came to us as a giant worm," he replied.
     Don  Juan's expression when he said  that,  and  Genaro's  explosion of
laughter, took me into sheer mirth. I laughed until I was nearly sick.
     Don  Juan said that la  Catalina's skill was so extraordinary that  she
could  do  anything she wanted in the realm  of the beast.  Her unparalleled
display had been motivated by her affinity with me.  The final result of all
that, he said, was that la Catalina pulled my assemblage point with her.
     "What did  you  two  do  as  worms?" Genaro asked and slapped me on the
     Don Juan seemed to be close to choking with laughter.
     "That's why  I've  said  that  women  are  more  bizarre than  men," he
commented at last.
     "I don't  agree with you," Genaro said to  don Juan. "The nagual Julian
didn't have  an extra hole  between his  legs and  he was more weird than la
Catalina. I believe she learned the worm bit from him. He used to do that to
     Don Juan jumped  up and down, like a child who is  trying to keep  from
wetting his pants.
     When he had regained a measure of calm,  don Juan  said that the nagual
Julian had a  knack for creating and exploiting the most bizarre situations.
He also  said that la Catalina had  given me  a  superb example of the shift
below. She had  let me see her as the being  whose  form she  had adopted by
moving her assemblage  point,  and she had  then  helped me move mine to the
same position that gave her her monstrous appearance.
     "The other teacher  that  the  nagual  Julian had,"  don Juan went  on,
"taught him  how to get  to  specific spots in  that  immensity of  the area
below. None of us  could follow him there, but  all the members of his party
did, especially la Catalina and the woman seer who taught her."
     Don  Juan  further  said that a  shift below  entailed a view,  not  of
another  world proper, but  of our same world of everyday life seen  from  a
different perspective. He added that in order for me to see another world  I
had to perceive another great band of the Eagle's emanations.
     He then brought his explanation to an end. He said that he had no  time
to elaborate on the subject of the great bands of emanations, because we had
to be on our way. I wanted to  stay a bit longer and keep on talking, but he
argued  that he would need a good deal of  time to  explain that topic and I
would need fresh concentration.

     10 Great Bands of Emanations

     Days later, in  his house  in  southern Mexico, don Juan continued with
his explanation.  He took me to the big room. It was early evening. The room
was in darkness. I wanted to light the gasoline lanterns, but don Juan would
not let me. He said  that  I had  to  let the sound  of  his  voice  move my
assemblage  point  so  that  it  would  glow  on  the  emanations  of  total
concentration and total recall.
     He then  told  me that we were  going to talk about the great  bands of
emanations. He called it another key discovery that the old seers made,  but
that, in their aberration, they  relegated to  oblivion until it was rescued
by the new seers.
     "The Eagle's emanations are always  grouped in clusters," he  went  on.
"The  old  seers called  those clusters the great bands of  emanations. They
aren't really bands, but the name stuck.
     "For  instance, there is an immeasurable cluster that produces  organic
beings. The emanations of that organic  band have a sort of fluffiness. They
are transparent and have a  unique  light of their  own, a peculiar  energy.
They  are  aware,  they jump. That's the reason  why all organic beings  are
filled  with a  peculiar consuming energy. The other bands are darker,  less
fluffy. Some of them have no light at all, but a quality of opaqueness."
     "Do you mean,  don Juan, that all organic  beings have the same kind of
emanations inside their cocoons?" I asked.
     "No.  I  don't mean that. It isn't really that simple, although organic
beings belong to the same great band. Think of it as an enormously wide band
of luminous  filaments,  luminous strings with no  end.  Organic  beings are
bubbles that grow around a group of luminous filaments. Imagine that in this
band of organic life some bubbles  are formed around the luminous  filaments
in the center of the band, others are formed close to the edges; the band is
wide enough to accommodate every  kind of organic being with room  to spare.
In such an arrangement, bubbles that are close to the edges of the band miss
altogether  the emanations that are in  the center of  the  band,  which are
shared only by bubbles that are aligned with the center. By the  same token,
bubbles in the center miss the emanations from the edges.
     "As you  can  understand, organic beings  share the emanations  of  one
band; yet seers see that within that organic band beings are as different as
they can be."
     "Are there many of these great bands?" I asked.
     "As many  as infinity  itself,"  he  replied. "Seers  have  found  out,
however, that in the earth there are only forty-eight such bands."
     "What is the meaning of that, don Juan?"
     "For seers it means  that there are forty-eight types  of organizations
on the earth,  forty-eight  types of clusters or structures. Organic life is
one of them."
     "Does that mean that there are forty-seven types of inorganic life?"
     "No,  not  at all. The  old  seers  counted  seven bands that  produced
inorganic  bubbles of awareness. In other words,  there are forty bands that
produce  bubbles  without  awareness;  those  are  bands that generate  only
     "Think of the great bands as being like trees. All of them bear  fruit;
they  produce containers  filled  with emanations; yet  only eight of  those
trees bear edible fruit,  that is, bubbles  of  awareness. Seven  have  sour
fruit, but edible nonetheless, and one  has the  most  juicy, luscious fruit
there is."
     He laughed and said that in his analogy he had taken  the point of view
of the Eagle, for  whom the most delectable morsels are the  organic bubbles
of awareness.
     "What makes those eight bands produce awareness?" I asked.
     "The Eagle bestows awareness through its emanations," he replied.
     His answer  made  me argue  with him.  I told him that to say that  the
Eagle bestows awareness through its emanations is  like what a religious man
would say about God, that God  bestows life through  love. It does not  mean
     "The  two  statements  are not  made from the same  point  of view," he
patiently said. "And yet I think they mean the same thing. The difference is
that  seers see  how the Eagle bestows awareness through its  emanations and
religious men don't see how God bestows life through his love."
     He said  that the way the Eagle bestows awareness is by  means of three
giant  bundles  of emanations  that  run  through eight  great  bands. These
bundles are quite peculiar, because they make seers  feel a hue.  One bundle
gives  the  feeling  of  being  beige-pink,   something  like  the  glow  of
pink-colored  street lamps;  another gives the feeling  of being peach, like
buff neon lights;  and  the third bundle gives the  feeling of  being amber,
like clear honey.
     "So,  it  is  a matter of  seeing a  hue when seers see that  the Eagle
bestows awareness through its emanations," he went  on. "Religious men don't
see God's love, but if they would see it, they would know that it  is either
pink, peach, or amber.
     "Man,  for example, is attached to  the amber bundle, but so  are other
     I wanted to know which beings shared those emanations with man.
     "Details  like that you will have to find out for yourself through your
own  seeing,"' he said. "There is no point in my telling you which ones; you
will only be making another inventory. Suffice  it to  say that finding that
out for yourself will be one of the most exciting things you'll ever do."
     "Do the pink and peach bundles also show in man?" I asked.
     "Never. Those bundles belong to other living beings," he replied.
     I was about  to  ask a  question,  but  with a forceful movement of his
hand, he  signaled me to stop. He  then  became immersed in thought. We were
enveloped in complete silence for a long time.
     "I've told you that the glow of awareness in man has different colors."
he finally  said. "What I didn't tell you then, because  we hadn't gotten to
that point yet, was that they are not colors but casts of amber."
     He  said that the amber bundle of awareness has an infinitude of subtle
variants,  which always denote differences in quality of awareness. Pink and
pale-green amber are the  most common casts. Blue amber is more unusual, but
pure amber is by far the most rare.
     "What determines the particular casts of amber?"
     "Seers  say  that  the  amount  of  energy that  one saves  and  stores
determines  the  cast.  Countless  numbers  of  warriors have  begun with an
ordinary pink  amber  cast and have finished with  the purest of all ambers.
Genaro and Silvio Manuel are examples of that."
     "What  forms of  life  belong to  the  pink  and the peach  bundles  of
awareness?" I asked.
     "The three bundles with all their casts crisscross the eight bands," he
replied. "In the organic band, the pink bundle belongs mainly to plants, the
peach band  belongs to  insects, and the amber band belongs to man and other
     "The  same  situation is  prevalent in the  inorganic bands.  The three
bundles of awareness produce specific  kinds of inorganic  beings in each of
the seven great bands."
     I asked him to elaborate on the kinds of inorganic beings that existed.
     "That is another thing that you must  see for yourself," he said.  "The
seven bands and what they produce are indeed inaccessible to  human  reason,
but not to human seeing."
     I told him  that I  could not quite grasp his  explanation of the great
bands, because his description had  forced me to imagine them as independent
bundles of strings, or even as flat bands, like conveyor belts.
     He  explained that  the great bands  are neither flat  nor  round,  but
indescribably clustered together, like a pile of hay, which is held together
in midair by the  force of the hand that pitched it. Thus, there is no order
to the emanations; to  say that there is a  central  part or that there  are
edges is misleading, but necessary to understanding.
     Continuing, he  explained that inorganic beings  produced by  the seven
other bands of awareness are characterized by having a container that has no
motion; it is rather a formless receptacle  with a low degree of luminosity.
It does not look like the cocoon  of organic beings.  It lacks the tautness,
the  inflated  quality  that  makes  organic beings look like luminous balls
bursting with energy.
     Don Juan said that the  only  similarity between inorganic and  organic
beings is that all of  them have  the awareness-bestowing  pink or peach  or
amber emanations.
     "Those  emanations,  under certain circumstances," he continued,  "make
possible  the  most  fascinating  communication between the beings of  those
eight great bands."
     He  said that usually the organic beings, with their  greater fields of
energy, are  the initiators of communication with  inorganic  beings,  but a
subtle  and sophisticated  follow-up is always the province of the inorganic
beings. Once the barrier is broken, inorganic  beings change and become what
seers  call allies. From  that moment  inorganic beings  can  anticipate the
seer's most subtle thoughts or moods or fears.
     "The old  seers became mesmerized by such devotion from their  allies,"
he went on.  "Stories are that  the  old  seers could make  their allies  do
anything they wanted. That was one of the reasons they believed in their own
invulnerability. They got fooled by their  self-importance.  The allies have
power only  if the seer who  sees  them is the paragon of impeccability; and
those old seers just weren't."
     "Are there as many inorganic beings as there  are living organisms?"  I
     He said that inorganic beings are not as plentiful as organic ones, but
that this is offset  by the greater  number of bands of inorganic awareness.
Also,  the differences among the inorganic beings themselves  are  more vast
than the differences  among organisms,  because organisms belong to only one
band while inorganic beings belong to seven bands.
     "Besides,  inorganic beings live infinitely longer than organisms,"  he
continued. "This matter is what prompted the old  seers to concentrate their
seeing on the allies, for reasons I will tell you about later on."
     He said  that the  old  seers also  came to realize that it is the high
energy of organisms and the subsequent  high development of  their awareness
that  make them delectable morsels for the  Eagle.  In the old  seers' view,
gluttony was the reason the Eagle produced as many organisms as possible.
     He explained next that the  product  of the other forty great bands  is
not awareness at all, but a configuration of inanimate energy. The old seers
chose  to call  whatever  is produced by those bands, vessels. While cocoons
and containers are fields  of energetic awareness,  which accounts for their
independent luminosity,  vessels are rigid receptacles that hold  emanations
without  being  fields of energetic  awareness. Their luminosity  comes only
from the energy of the encased emanations.
     "You must bear  in mind  that everything on the  earth is encased,"  he
continued.  "Whatever  we perceive  is made up  of portions  of  cocoons  or
vessels  with emanations. Ordinarily,  we  don't  perceive the containers of
inorganic beings at all."
     He looked at me,  waiting for a sign of comprehension. When he realized
I was not going to oblige him, he continued explaining.
     "The total world is made of the forty-eight bands," he said. "The world
that our assemblage point assembles for our normal perception is made up  of
two bands;  one is the organic band,  the other  is a  band  that  has  only
structure, but no awareness. The other fortysix great bands are not part  of
the world we normally perceive."
     He paused again for pertinent questions. I had none.
     "There  are  other  complete  worlds  that our  assemblage  points  can
assemble," he  went  on. "The old seers  counted seven  such worlds, one for
each band of awareness. I'll add that two of those worlds, besides the world
of everyday life, are easy to assemble; the other five are something else."

     When we again sat  down  to  talk, don Juan  immediately began  to talk
about my experience with la Catalina. He said that a shift of the assemblage
point to  the area  below its customary position allows the  seer a detailed
and narrow view of the world we know. So detailed is that view that it seems
to  be  an entirely  different world. It is a mesmerizing  view that  has  a
tremendous  appeal, especially for those  seers  who have an adventurous but
somehow indolent and lazy spirit.
     "The  change  of  perspective  is  very pleasant," don  Juan  went  on.
"Minimal effort  is required,  and the results are staggering. If a  seer is
driven by quick gain, there  is no better maneuver than the shift below. The
only  problem is that in those positions  of the assemblage point, seers are
plagued by death, which happens even more  brutally and more quickly than in
man's position.
     "The nagual Julian thought  it was  a  great place  for cavorting,  but
that's all."
     He said that a true change of  worlds happens only when the  assemblage
point moves into man's band,  deep  enough to  reach a crucial threshold, at
which stage the assemblage point can use another of the great bands.
     "How does it use it?" I asked.
     He shrugged his shoulders.  "It's a matter of  energy,"  he  said. "The
force  of alignment  hooks another band, provided  that the  seer has enough
energy. Our  normal  energy allows our assemblage points to use the force of
alignment  of one  great band  of emanations. And  we perceive the  world we
know. But if we have a surplus of energy, we can use  the force of alignment
of other great bands, and consequently we perceive other worlds."
     Don Juan abruptly changed the subject and began to talk about plants.
     "This  may seem  like an  oddity  to you,"  he  said,  "but trees,  for
instance,  are closer to man than ants. I've told you that trees and man can
develop a great relationship; that's so because they share emanations."
     "How big are their cocoons?" I asked.
     "The cocoon  of a giant tree is  not much larger than the  tree itself.
The interesting part is that some tiny plants have a cocoon almost as big as
a man's body and three times its width.  Those are power plants.  They share
the largest amount of emanations with  man, not the emanations of awareness,
but other emanations in general.
     "Another  thing unique  about  plants is  that their luminosities  have
different casts.  They  are pinkish  in general,  because their awareness is
pink. Poisonous plants are a pale  yellow pink  and  medicinal  plants are a
bright violet pink. The only ones that are white pink are power plants; some
are murky white, others are brilliant white.
     "But the real difference between plants and other organic beings is the
location of  their assemblage  points. Plants  have it on  the lower part of
their cocoon, while other organic beings have  it on the upper part of their
     "What about  the inorganic beings?" I asked. "Where  do they have their
assemblage points?"
     "Some have it  on  the lower part of their containers," he said. "Those
are thoroughly alien to man, but akin to plants.  Others have it anywhere on
the upper part of their containers. Those are close to man and other organic
     He  added that the old  seers  were convinced that plants have the most
intense  communication with inorganic  beings.  They believed that the lower
the  assemblage  point,  the  easier  for  plants  to break  the barrier  of
perception; very  large trees and very  small plants  have their  assemblage
points extremely low in their cocoon. Because of this, a great number of the
old seers' sorcery techniques were means  to  harness the awareness of trees
and small  plants  in  order to use them as guides  to descend to  what they
called the deepest levels of the dark regions.
     "You understand, of  course," don Juan went on, "that when they thought
they were  descending  to the  depths, they  were,  in  fact, pushing  their
assemblage  points to assemble  other  perceivable  worlds with  those seven
great bands.
     "They taxed their awareness to the limit and assembled worlds with five
great bands  that are accessible to  seers  only if they undergo a dangerous
     "But did the old seers succeed in assembling those worlds?" I asked.
     "They did,"  he said.  "In their aberration they  believed it was worth
their while to break all the  barriers  of perception,  even  if they had to
become trees to do that."

     11 Stalking, Intent and the Dreaming Position

     The  next day,  in the early evening again, don  Juan came  to the room
where I was talking with Genaro. He took me by the arm and walked me through
the house to the back patio. It was already fairly dark.  We started to walk
around in the corridor that encircled the patio.
     As we walked, don Juan told me  that  he wanted to warn  me once  again
that it is very easy in the path of knowledge to get lost in intricacies and
morbidity. He said that  seers are up against great enemies that can destroy
their purpose, muddle their aims, and make them weak; enemies created by the
warriors' path itself together with the  sense of  indolence, laziness,  and
self-importance that are integral parts of the daily world.
     He remarked  that the  mistakes the  ancient seers  made as a result of
indolence,  laziness, and self-importance were so enormous and so grave that
the new seers had no option but to scorn and reject their own tradition.
     "The most important thing the  new seers needed,"  don  Juan continued,
"was practical steps in order  to  make their assemblage points shift. Since
they had none, they began  by developing a  keen interest in seeing the glow
of awareness, and as a  result they worked out three sets of techniques that
became their cornerstone."
     Don Juan said that with these  three sets, the new seers accomplished a
most  extraordinary  and  difficult feat.  They  succeeded in systematically
making  the  assemblage  point  shift away  from its customary position.  He
acknowledged that the old seers  had  also accomplished  that  feat, but  by
means of capricious, idiosyncratic maneuvers.
     He  explained  that  what the new  seers saw in  the  glow of awareness
resulted in the sequence in which they arranged the old seers'  truths about
awareness.  This  is known  as  the mastery  of  awareness.  From that, they
developed  the  three  sets  of  techniques.  The  first is  the mastery  of
stalking, the second is the mastery of intent,  and the third is the mastery
of  dreaming. He maintained that he had taught me these three  sets from the
very first day we met.
     He  told me that he had taught me the mastery of awareness in two ways,
just as  the new seers recommend. In his teachings for the right side, which
he had done in normal awareness, he accomplished two goals: he taught me the
warriors'  way,  and  he  loosened my  assemblage point  from  its  original
position.  In  his  teachings  for  the  left  side, which he  had  done  in
heightened  awareness,  he  also  accomplished two  goals: he  had  made  my
assemblage point shift to as  many positions as I was capable of sustaining,
and he had given me a long series of explanations.
     Don Juan stopped talking and stared at me fixedly. There was an awkward
silence; then  he started to talk about  stalking. He  said that it had very
humble  and fortuitous origins. It started from an observation the new seers
made that when warriors steadily behave in ways not customary  for them, the
unused  emanations inside their cocoons begin to glow. And their  assemblage
points shift in a mild, harmonious, barely noticeable fashion.
     Stimulated  by this observation, the  new seers began to  practice  the
systematic control of their  behavior. They called this practice  the art of
stalking.  Don Juan  remarked  that the  name,  although objectionable,  was
appropriate,  because  stalking entailed a  specific kind  of behavior  with
people, behavior that could be categorized as surreptitious.
     The new seers, armed with this technique, tackled the  known in a sober
and  fruitful way. By continual practice, they made their  assemblage points
move steadily.
     "Stalking is one of the two greatest accomplishments of the new seers."
he  said.  "The new seers decided that it should be taught to  a  modern-day
nagual when  his assemblage  point has moved quite deep into  the left side.
The reason  for this decision is that a nagual must  learn the principles of
stalking  without  the encumbrance of  the human  inventory. After  all, the
nagual is  the  leader  of a group,  and to lead them  he has to act quickly
without first having to think about it.
     "Other warriors can learn stalking in their normal awareness,  although
it is  advisable  that they  do it  in  heightened awareness-- not  so  much
because of the value of heightened awareness, but because it imbues stalking
with a mystery that it doesn't really have; stalking is merely behavior with
     He said that I could now understand that shifting the  assemblage point
was the reason why the new seers placed such a high value on the interaction
with petty tyrants.  Petty tyrants forced seers  to use  the  principles  of
stalking and, in doing so, helped seers to move their assemblage points.
     I asked him if the old seers knew anything at all about the  principles
of stalking.
     '"Stalking  belongs exclusively to  the  new seers,"  he said, smiling.
"They  are the only seers who had  to deal with people. The old ones were so
wrapped up in their  sense of  power that they didn't even know  that people
existed, until people started clobbering them  on the  head. But you already
know all this."
     Don Juan said next that the mastery of intent together with the mastery
of stalking are  the new  seers' two masterpieces, which mark the arrival of
the  modern-day  seers.  He  explained  that  in their efforts  to  gain  an
advantage  over their  oppressors  the  new seers pursued every possibility.
They knew that 12 The Nagual Julian

     There was a  strange  excitement in the house.  All  the  seers  of don
Juan's party seemed to be so elated that they  were actually absentminded, a
thing that  I had never witnessed before. Their usual high level  of  energy
appeared  to have  increased. I became very apprehensive.  I asked don  Juan
about it. He took me to  the back patio. We walked  in silence for a moment.
He said that the time was  getting closer  for all of them to  leave. He was
pressing his explanation in order to finish it in time.
     "How do you know that you are closer to leaving?" I asked.
     "It  is  an internal  knowledge,"  he  said.  "You'll  know  it someday
yourself.  You  see,  the  nagual Julian  made  my  assemblage  point  shift
countless times, just as I have made yours shift. Then  he left me  the task
of realigning all those  emanations  which he  had helped  me align  through
these shifts. That is the task that every nagual is left to do.
     "At any rate, the job of realigning all those emanations  paves the way
for the  peculiar  maneuver of  lighting up  all  the emanations  inside the
cocoon. I have  nearly done that. I am about to reach my maximum. Since I am
the nagual, once I do light up all the emanations  inside my cocoon  we will
all be gone in an instant."
     I felt I  should be sad and weep, but something in me was  so overjoyed
to hear that the nagual Juan Matus  was about to  be free  that I jumped and
yelled with sheer delight. I knew that sooner or later I would reach another
state of awareness and I would weep with sadness. But that  day I was filled
with happiness and optimism.
     I told don Juan how I felt. He laughed and patted my back.
     "Remember what  I've  told  you," he  said. "Don't  count  on emotional
realizations. Let  your  assemblage point move first, then years  later have
the realization."
     We walked to the  big room and sat down to talk. Don Juan hesitated for
a  moment. He looked out of the window. From my chair I could see the patio.
It was early  afternoon; a  cloudy day. It  looked  like  rain.  Thunderhead
clouds were moving in from the west. I liked cloudy days. Don  Juan did not.
He seemed restless as he tried to find a more comfortable sitting position.
     Don  Juan began  his  elucidation by commenting  that the difficulty in
remembering  what  takes  place  in  heightened  awareness  is  due  to  the
infinitude of  positions  that  the assemblage  point can adopt  after being
loosened from its normal setting.  Facility in  remembering  everything that
takes place  in  normal  awareness, on  the  other  hand, has to do with the
fixity of the assemblage point on one spot, the spot where it normally sets.
     He told me that he commiserated with me. He suggested that I accept the
difficulty of recollecting and acknowledge that I might fail  in my task and
never be able to realign all the emanations that he had helped me align.
     "Think  of  it this way," he  said, smiling. "You may never be  able to
remember this very conversation that we are having now, which at this moment
seems to you so commonplace, so taken for granted.
     "This indeed is the  mystery of  awareness. Human beings reek  of  that
mystery;  we reek of darkness,  of things  which are inexplicable. To regard
ourselves in  any other terms is madness. So don't demean the mystery of man
in you by feeling sorry for  yourself or by trying to rationalize it. Demean
the stupidity of man in you  by understanding  it. But  don't  apologize for
either; both are needed.
     "One of  the great maneuvers of stalkers is to pit the mystery  against
the stupidity in each of us."
     He explained that stalking practices  are not something one can rejoice
in; in fact, they are downright objectionable. Knowing  this, the  new seers
realize that it would be against everybody's interest to discuss or practice
the principles of stalking in normal awareness.
     I pointed out to him  an incongruity. He had  said that there is no way
for warriors to act in the world while they are in heightened awareness, and
he had  also said that stalking is simply behaving  with people in  specific
ways. The two statements contradicted each other.
     "By not  teaching  it  in  normal  awareness I  was  referring  only to
teaching  it to  a  nagual," he said. "The  purpose of  stalking is twofold:
first,  to move the assemblage point as steadily and safely as possible, and
nothing  can do the  job  as  well  as  stalking:  second,  to  imprint  its
principles at such a deep level that the human inventory is bypassed,  as is
the natural reaction of refusing and judging something that may be offensive
to reason."
     I told him that  I sincerely doubted I  could judge or  refuse anything
like that.  He laughed  and said that I  could not be an  exception, that  I
would react  like everyone  else once I heard about the  deeds  of a  master
stalker, such as his benefactor, the nagual Julian.
     "I  am not exaggerating when I tell you  that the nagual Julian was the
most  extraordinary  stalker  I have ever  met," don  Juan  said. "You  have
already heard about his stalking  skills from everybody else. But I've never
told you what he did to me."
     I wanted to  make  it  clear to him that I had not heard anything about
the nagual Julian from anyone, but just before I voiced my protest a strange
feeling of uncertainty swept over me. Don Juan seemed to know instantly what
I was feeling. He chuckled with delight.
     "You can't  remember, because  will is not available  to  you  yet," he
said. "You need a life of  impeccability and  a great surplus of energy, and
then will might release those memories.
     "I am going to tell you the story of how the nagual Julian behaved with
me  when  I  first  met  him.  If  you  judge  him  and  find  his  behavior
objectionable while you are in heightened  awareness,  think of how revolted
you might be with him in normal awareness."
     I protested that he was setting me up. He assured me that all he wanted
to do with his story was to  illustrate the manner in which stalkers operate
and the reasons why they do it.
     "The nagual Julian was the last  of the old-time stalkers," he went on.
"He was a stalker not so  much because of  the circumstances of his life but
because that was the bent of his character."
     Don  Juan explained  that  the new seers  saw  that  there are two main
groups of human beings: those who care about others and those who do not. In
between  these  two  extremes they  saw  an endless mixture  of the two. The
nagual Julian belonged  to the category of  men who  do not  care; don  Juan
classified himself as belonging to the opposite category.
     "But  didn't you tell me that the nagual Julian was  generous,  that he
would give you the shirt off his back?" I asked.
     "He certainly was," don Juan replied. "Not only was he generous; he was
also  utterly  charming,   winning.  He  was  always  deeply  and  sincerely
interested  in  everybody around  him. He  was kind and open  and gave  away
everything he had to anyone who needed it, or to anyone he happened to like.
He was in  turn  loved  by  everyone, because  being  a master  stalker,  he
conveyed to them his true feelings: he  didn't give a plugged nickel for any
of them."
     I did not say anything, but don Juan was aware of my sense of disbelief
or even  distress at what he was saying. He chuckled and shook his head from
side to side.
     "That's stalking," he said.  "You see, I haven't even begun my story of
the nagual Julian and you are already annoyed."
     He exploded  into a giant  laugh  as  I tried  to  explain  what I  was
     "The nagual Julian didn't care about anyone," he continued. "That's why
he  could help people.  And  he  did; he gave them  the shirt off  his back,
because he didn't give a fig about them."
     "Do you  mean,  don Juan, that the  only ones who help their fellow men
are those who don't give a damn about them?" I asked, truly miffed.
     "That's  what stalkers say," he said with a beaming  smile. "The nagual
Julian,  for  instance,  was  a  fabulous  curer. He  helped  thousands  and
thousands of people, but he never took credit for it. He let people  believe
that a woman seer of his party was the curer.
     "Now, if he had been a  man who cared  for  his fellow men, he would've
demanded  acknowledgment. Those who care for others care  for themselves and
demand recognition where recognition is due."
     Don Juan  said  that he, since he belonged to the category of those who
care  for  their  fellow men, had never  helped anyone: he felt awkward with
generosity; he could not even conceive being loved as the nagual Julian was,
and he would certainly feel stupid giving anyone the shirt off his back.
     "I  care so much for my fellow  man," he continued,  "that I  don't  do
anything for  him.  I wouldn't know what to do. And I would always  have the
nagging sense that I was imposing my will on him with my gifts.
     "Naturally, I  have overcome all these feelings with the warriors' way.
Any  warrior  can be  successful with  people, as  the  nagual  Julian  was,
provided he  moves his assemblage point to a position where it is immaterial
whether people like  him, dislike him, or ignore him.  But  that's  not  the
     Don  Juan  said  that  when  he  first  became aware of  the  stalkers'
principles,  as  I was then doing, he  was as distressed as he could be. The
nagual Elias,  who  was very  much like  don Juan,  explained  to  him  that
stalkers like the nagual Julian are natural leaders of people. They can help
people do anything.
     "The nagual Elias  said  that  these  warriors  can help  people to get
cured," don Juan went  on, "or they can  help them to get ill. They can help
them to find happiness or  they can help them to find sorrow. I suggested to
the nagual Elias  that instead of saying that these warriors help people, we
should  say that they  affect  people. He said  that they  don't just affect
people, but that they actively herd them around."
     Don Juan  chuckled and looked  at me fixedly. There  was a  mischievous
glint in his eyes.
     "Strange, isn't it?" he asked. "The way stalkers arranged what they see
about people?"
     Then  don Juan started his story about the nagual Julian.  He said that
the nagual Julian spent many, many  years  waiting for an apprentice nagual.
He  stumbled on don  Juan  one day while  returning home after a short visit
with acquaintances in a nearby  village. He  was, in fact, thinking about an
apprentice nagual as he walked  on the road when he heard a loud gunshot and
saw people scrambling in every direction. He ran  with them into  the bushes
by the side of the road and only came out from his hiding place at the sight
of a group of people gathered around someone wounded, lying on the ground.
     The wounded person was, of course, don  Juan, who had  been shot by the
tyrannical  foreman.  The nagual Julian saw instantly  that don Juan  was  a
special man whose cocoon was divided into  four sections instead  of two; he
also realized  that don Juan  was badly wounded. He knew that he had no time
to waste.  His  wish had been fulfilled,  but he  had to work  fast,  before
anyone sensed what was going on. He held his head  and  cried, "They've shot
my son!"
     He  was  traveling  with one of the female  seers of his party, a husky
Indian woman, who always officiated publicly as his mean shrewish wife. They
were an excellent team of stalkers. He cued the  woman  seer,  and she  also
started weeping and wailing for their son, who was  unconscious and bleeding
to death. The nagual Julian begged the onlookers not to call the authorities
but rather to help him move his son to his house in the city, which was some
distance away. He offered money to some strong young men if they would carry
his wounded, dying son.
     The  men carried don Juan to  the nagual Julian's house. The nagual was
very generous with them and paid them handsomely. The men were so touched by
the  grieving  couple, who had  cried all the way to the  house,  that  they
refused to take the money, but  the nagual Julian insisted that they take it
to give his son luck.
     For a few  days, don Juan  did not  know  what to think about  the kind
couple who had  taken him  into their  home. He said that to him, the nagual
Julian appeared as  an almost senile old man. He was not  an Indian, but was
married to a young, irascible, fat Indian wife, who was as physically strong
as she was ill-tempered. Don Juan thought that she  was definitely  a curer,
judging by the way  she treated his wound and by the quantities of medicinal
plants stashed away in the room where they had put him.
     The woman also dominated the old  man  and made  him tend to don Juan's
wound  every day. They had made a bed for don Juan out of a thick floor mat,
and the old man had a terrible time kneeling down to reach him. Don Juan had
to fight not to laugh at the comical sight  of the  frail old man trying his
best  to bend his knees. Don Juan said that while  the  old man  washed  his
wound, he would  mumble incessantly;  he had a vacant look in his  eyes; his
hands shook, and his body trembled from head to toe.
     When he  was down on  his knees, he could never get  up  by himself. He
would call his wife, yelling  in a raspy voice, filled with contained anger.
The wife would come into the room and both of them would get into a horrible
argument.  Often she  would  walk  out,  leaving  the  old man to get  up by
     Don  Juan assured me that  he  had never felt so sorry for anyone as he
felt  for that poor, kind old man. Many times he wanted to rise and help him
up, but he could hardly move himself.  Once the  old  man spent half an hour
cursing and yelling, as he puffed and crawled like a slug, before he dragged
himself to the door and painfully lifted himself up to a standing position.
     He explained to don Juan that his poor health was  due to advanced age,
broken  bones that had  not mended properly,  and rheumatism. Don  Juan said
that  the  old man raised  his eyes toward heaven and confessed to  don Juan
that  he was the most wretched man on earth;  he had come to  the curer  for
help and had ended up marrying her and becoming a slave.
     "I asked the old man why he didn't leave," don Juan continued. "The old
man's eyes widened with  fear. He choked on his own saliva trying to hush me
and  then he  went rigid and fell down like  a log on the floor, next  to my
bed, trying to make me stop talking. 'You don't know what you're saying; you
don't  know  what you're saying. Nobody can run away  from this place, ' the
old man kept on repeating with a wild expression in his eyes.
     "And  I believed him. I was convinced that  he was more miserable, more
wretched than  I had ever been  myself.  And  with every day  that  passed I
became more and more uncomfortable in that house. The food was great and the
woman  was  always out curing people, so  I was  left  with the old  man. We
talked a lot about my life. I liked to talk to him. I told him that I had no
money to pay him for his kindness, but that I would do anything to help him.
He told me that  he was beyond help, that he was ready to die, but that if I
really meant what I said, he  would appreciate it  if I would marry his wife
after he died.
     "Right then  I knew the  old  man was  nuts. And right then I also knew
that I had to run away as soon as possible."
     Don Juan said that when he was well enough  to walk around unaided, his
benefactor  gave him  a chilling  demonstration of his ability as a stalker.
Without  any  warning or preamble he put  don  Juan face  to  face  with  an
inorganic living  being.  Sensing that don Juan was planning to run away, he
seized  the opportunity to scare him  with an ally  that was somehow able to
look like a monstrous man.
     "The sight of that ally nearly drove me insane," don Juan continued. "I
couldn't believe  my eyes, and yet the monster was right in front of me. And
the frail old man was next to me whimpering and begging the monster to spare
his life. You see,  my benefactor  was like the old seers; he could dole out
his fear, a piece at a time, and the  ally was reacting to it. I didn't know
that.  All I could  see  with  my  very own eyes  was a horrendous  creature
advancing on us, ready to tear us apart, limb from limb.
     "The  moment the ally lurched onto us, hissing like a serpent, I passed
out  cold. When I came to my senses again, the old man  told me that  he had
made a deal with the creature."
     He explained to don  Juan that the man had  agreed  to let both of them
live,  provided  don Juan enter the man's service.  Don Juan  apprehensively
asked what was involved in the service. The old man replied that it would be
slavery,  but pointed out that don Juan's life had nearly  ended  a few days
back when he had been  shot.  Had not he and his wife come along to stop the
bleeding,  don  Juan would surely have died, so there was really very little
to bargain with, or to bargain for. The monstrous man knew that and had  him
over a barrel. The old man told don Juan to stop vacillating and  accept the
deal, because if he refused, the monstrous man, who was listening behind the
door, would burst in and kill them both on the spot and be done with it.
     "I had enough nerve to ask the  frail old  man, who was shaking  like a
leaf,  how  the  man would kill  us,"  don  Juan  went on. "He said that the
monster planned  to  break all the  bones  in our bodies,  starting with our
feet, as we screamed in unspeakable  agony, and that it would take at  least
five days for us to die.
     "I accepted that man's conditions instantly. The old man, with tears in
his eyes, congratulated me and said that the deal wasn't really that bad. We
were going to  be more prisoners than slaves of the  monstrous  man,  but we
would eat at least twice a day; and since we had life, we could work for our
freedom; we could plot, connive, and fight our way out of that hell."
     Don Juan  smiled and then broke into laughter. He  had known beforehand
how I would feel about the nagual Julian.
     "I told you you'd be upset," he said.
     "I really don't  understand, don Juan," I said. "What was  the point of
putting on such an elaborate masquerade?"
     "The point is very  simple,"  he said, still  smiling. "This is another
method of teaching, a  very good one. it requires tremendous imagination and
tremendous  control on the  part of the  teacher. My  method of  teaching is
closer to what  you consider  teaching. It requires  a tremendous amount  of
words. I  go  to  the  extremes  of talking. The nagual  Julian  went to the
extremes of stalking."
     Don Juan said that there were two  methods of teaching among the seers.
He was  familiar with both  of  them. He preferred the  one that  called for
explaining everything and letting the other person know the course of action
beforehand.   It   was  a  system   that   fostered  freedom,   choice,  and
understanding. His benefactor's method, on the other hand, was more coercive
and did not allow for choice or  understanding. Its great advantage was that
it forced warriors to live the seers' concepts directly with no intermediary
     Don  Juan  explained that  everything  his benefactor  did to him was a
masterpiece of strategy. Every one of  the nagual Julian's words and actions
was  deliberately  selected to cause  a  particular effect. His  art  was to
provide his words and actions with the most suitable context, so  that  they
would have the necessary impact.
     "That's the  stalkers' method," don  Juan  went  on.  "It  fosters  not
understanding but total realization. For instance, it took me a lifetime  to
understand  what he had done to me by making me face  the  ally, although  I
realized all that without any explanation as I lived that experience.
     "I've  told  you that Genaro,  for example, doesn't understand what  he
does,  but  his realization  of what he is doing  is as keen  as it can  be.
That's because his assemblage point was moved by the stalkers' method."
     He said that if  the  assemblage point is  forced out of  its customary
setting  by the  method of  explaining  everything,  as in my case, there is
always  the need for someone else not only to help in the  actual dislodging
of the assemblage point, but in dispensing the explanations of what is going
on. But if the assemblage  point is moved by the stalkers' method, as in his
own case,  or Genaro's, there is only a need for the  initial catalytic  act
that yanks the point from its location.
     Don  Juan  said  that  when  the  nagual   Julian  made  him  face  the
monstrous-looking ally his  assemblage point moved under the impact of fear.
So intense a fright  as that  caused by the  confrontation, coupled with his
weak physical condition, was ideal for dislodging his assemblage point.
     In order to offset  the  injurious effects of fright, its impact had to
be cushioned, but  not minimized. Explaining what  was happening  would have
minimized fear. What the nagual Julian wanted was to make sure that he could
use that initial catalytic fright as many times as he needed it, but he also
wanted to make sure  that he could cushion its devastating impact;  that was
the reason for his masquerade. The more  elaborate  and dramatic his stories
were, the  greater their cushioning effect.  If he, himself, seemed to be in
the same boat  with don Juan, the  fright would not be as intense  as if don
Juan were alone.
     "With his  penchant for drama," don Juan went  on, "my  benefactor  was
able  to  move my assemblage point  enough to imbue me right  away  with  an
overpowering feeling  for the  two  basic qualities  of warriors:  sustained
effort and unbending intent. I knew that in order to be free  again someday,
I would have  to work in an  orderly  and  steady fashion and in cooperation
with the frail old man, who in my opinion needed my help as much as I needed
his. I knew beyond a shadow  of  a doubt  that that  was what I wanted to do
more than anything else in life."

     I did not get to talk  to don Juan again until two  days later. We were
in Oaxaca,  strolling in the main  square,  in the early morning. There were
children walking to school, people going to church, a few men sitting on the
benches, and taxi drivers waiting for tourists from the main hotel.
     "It goes without  saying that the most difficult thing in the warriors'
path is to make the assemblage point move," don Juan said. "That movement is
the completion of the warriors' quest. To go on from there is another quest;
it is the seers' quest proper."
     He  repeated  that in  the warriors' way, the  shift of the  assemblage
point is everything.  The old seers absolutely failed to realize this truth.
They thought  the movement  of the  point was  like a marker that determined
their positions  on a scale  of worth. They never conceived that it was that
very position which determined what they perceived.
     "The  stalkers'  method," don  Juan went  on, "in the hands of a master
stalker  like  the  nagual Julian, accounts  for  stupendous shifts  of  the
assemblage point. These are very solid changes; you see, by  buttressing the
apprentice, the stalker-teacher  gets the  apprentice's full cooperation and
full participation. To get anybody's full cooperation and full participation
is about the most important outcome of the  stalkers' method; and the nagual
Julian was the best at getting both of them."
     Don Juan  said  that  there was no  way for him to describe the turmoil
that he went through as he  found  out, little by little, about the richness
and the complexity of the nagual  Julian's personality and life.  As long as
don Juan faced a scared, frail old man who seemed helpless, he was fairly at
ease, comfortable. But  one day, soon after they had made the deal with what
don  Juan  thought  of as  a  monstrous-looking man, his comfort was shot to
pieces  when the nagual Julian gave don Juan another unnerving demonstration
of his stalking skills.
     Although don Juan was quite well by then, the nagual Julian still slept
in  the same room with him in order to nurse him. When he  woke up that day,
he  announced to  don Juan that their captor was gone for a  couple of days,
which meant that he did not have to act  like an old man. He confided to don
Juan that he only pretended to be old in order to fool the monstrous-looking
     Without giving  don Juan time to think, he jumped up from  his mat with
incredible agility;  he bent  over and dunked his head in a pot of water and
kept it there for a while.  When he straightened up, his hair was jet black,
the  gray hair had washed  away, and don  Juan  was looking at a  man he had
never  seen  before,  a  man perhaps in  his late  thirties.  He flexed  his
muscles, breathed deeply, and  stretched every part of his body as if he had
been too long inside a constricting cage.
     "When  I saw the  nagual Julian as  a  young man, I thought that he was
indeed the  devil," don Juan went on. "I closed my eyes and knew that my end
was near. The nagual Julian laughed until he was crying."
     Don Juan said that the nagual Julian then put him at ease by making him
shift back and forth between the right side and the left side awareness.
     "For  two days  the young  man  pranced  around  the  house," don  Juan
continued. "He told me stories about his life and jokes that sent me reeling
around the room with laughter. But what was even more astounding was the way
his wife had changed. She was actually thin and beautiful. I thought she was
a completely different woman. I raved  about how complete her change was and
how beautiful she looked. The young man said that when their captor was away
she was actually another woman."
     Don  Juan laughed and said that his devilish benefactor was telling the
truth. The woman was really another seer of the nagual's party.
     Don Juan asked the young man why they pretended to  be what  they  were
not. The young man  looked at don Juan, his eyes filled with tears, and said
that the mysteries of  the world  are indeed unfathomable. He and his  young
wife had been caught by inexplicable forces  and had to  protect  themselves
with that pretense. The reason why he carried on the way he did, as a feeble
old man, was that their captor was always peeking  in through cracks in  the
doors. He begged don Juan to forgive him for having fooled him.
     Don Juan asked  who that  monstrous-looking man  was. With a deep sigh,
the young man  confessed that he could not even guess. He told don Juan that
although he himself was an educated man, a famous  actor from the theater in
Mexico City, he was at a loss for explanations.  All he knew was that he had
come to be treated  for  the consumption that he had suffered from  for many
years. He was near death when his relatives brought him  to  meet the curer.
She helped  him to get well,  and  he  fell madly in love with the beautiful
young Indian and married her. His plans were to take her to the  capital  so
they could get rich with her curing ability.
     Before they started  on  the trip to Mexico  City, she warned him  that
they had to disguise themselves in order to escape a sorcerer. She explained
to him that her mother had also been a curer, and had been  taught curing by
that master sorcerer, who had demanded that she, the daughter, stay with him
for life. The young man said that he had  refused to ask his wife about that
relationship. He only  wanted to free her, so he disguised himself as an old
man and disguised her as a fat woman.
     Their story did not end happily. The horrible man caught them  and kept
them as prisoners. They did not  dare to take off their disguise in front of
that nightmarish man,  and in his presence they  carried on as if they hated
each other; but in reality, they pined for each other and lived only for the
short times when that man was away.
     Don Juan said  that the young man embraced him  and told him  that  the
room where don Juan was sleeping was the only safe place in the house. Would
he please go out and be on the lockout while he made love to his wife?
     "The house shook with their passion," don Juan went on, "while I sat by
the door feeling guilty for listening and scared to death that the man would
come back any  minute. And sure enough, I heard him coming into the house. I
banged on the  door,  and when  they didn't  answer,  I walked in. The young
woman was asleep naked and the young man  was nowhere in sight. I  had never
seen a  beautiful naked woman in my life. I was still very weak. I heard the
monstrous  man rattling outside. My embarrassment and my fear  were so great
that I passed out."
     The story about the nagual Julian's doings  annoyed me  no  end. I told
don Juan that I had failed  to understand the value  of the  nagual Julian's
stalking skills. Don Juan listened to me without making a single comment and
let me ramble on and on.
     When we  finally sat down on a bench, I was very tired. I did  not know
what to say  when he asked me  why his account of the nagual Julian's method
of teaching had upset me so much.
     "I can't  shake off  the  feeling that he  was a  prankster," I finally
     "Pranksters don't teach anything deliberately  with their pranks,"  don
Juan retorted.  "The  nagual  Julian  played  dramas,  magical  dramas  that
required a movement of the assemblage point."
     "He seems like a very selfish person to me," I insisted.
     "He seems like that to you because you are  judging,"  he replied. "You
are being a moralist. I  went  through all that  myself. If you feel the way
you do on hearing about the nagual Julian, think of the way I must have felt
myself living  in his  house  for years.  I judged him, I feared him, and  I
envied him, in that order.
     "I  also loved him, but my envy was  greater than my love. I envied his
ease, his mysterious capacity to be young or old at will; I envied his flair
and above all his influence on whoever happened to be around. It would drive
me up  the  walls  to  hear  him  engage  people  in  the  most  interesting
conversation. He always had something to say; I never did, and I always felt
incompetent, left out."
     Don Juan's revelations made me feel ill at ease. I wished that he would
change the subject, for I did not  want  to hear that he was  like me. In my
opinion, he was indeed  unequaled. He obviously  knew how I felt. He laughed
and patted my back.
     "What I am  trying to do with the story of my envy," he went on, "is to
point  out to you something of  great importance, that the  position of  the
assemblage point dictates how we behave and how we feel.
     "My great  flaw at  that  time  was  that I could not  understand  this
principle.  I  was  raw.  I lived through self-importance, just  as  you do,
because that was where  my assemblage point  was  lodged.  You see, I hadn't
learned  yet that the way to  move that point is to establish new habits, to
will it to move. When it  did move, it was as  if I had just discovered that
the only way to deal  with peerless warriors  like  my benefactor is not  to
have self-importance, so that one can celebrate them unbiasedly."
     He said that realizations are of two kinds. One is just pep talk, great
outbursts of emotion and nothing more.  The other is the product of a  shift
of  the assemblage point; it  is not coupled with an emotional outburst  but
with action. The emotional realizations come years later after warriors have
solidified, by usage, the new position of their assemblage points.
     "The nagual Julian tirelessly guided all of  us to that kind of shift,"
don Juan  went on. "He got from  all  of  us  total  cooperation  and  total
participation  in  his bigger-than-life dramas. For instance, with his drama
of the young man and his wife and their captor he had my undivided attention
and  concern.  To  me  the story of  the  old man  who  was young  was  very
consistent.  I  had seen  the monstrous-looking  man with  my very own eyes,
which meant that the young man got my undying affiliation."
     Don  Juan said that the  nagual Julian was  a magician,  a conjurer who
could handle the force of will to a degree that would be incomprehensible to
the average man.  His dramas  included  magical  characters  summoned by the
force of intent, like the inorganic being that could adopt a grotesque human
     "The nagual Julian's power was so impeccable,"  don Juan went on, "that
he could force anyone's assemblage point to shift and  align emanations that
would make him perceive  whatever the nagual Julian wanted. For example,  he
could look very old or  very young for his age, depending on  what he wanted
to accomplish. And all anyone  who  knew the nagual could say about  his age
was that it fluctuated. During the thirty-two years  that  I knew him he was
at  times  not much older  than you are now, and  at other  times he was  so
wretchedly old that he could not even walk."
     Don Juan said that under his benefactor's guidance his assemblage point
moved unnoticeably and yet profoundly. For instance, out of  nowhere one day
he realized that he had a fear that on the one hand  made no sense to him at
all, and on the other made all the sense in the world.
     "My fear was that through stupidity I  would lose my chance to  be free
and I would repeat my father's life.
     "There was nothing wrong with my father's life, mind you. He  lived and
died no  better and no worse than most men; the important  point is  that my
assemblage point had moved and I realized  one day that my father's life and
death hadn't amounted to a hill of beans, either to others or to himself.
     "My benefactor  told  me that my  father  and mother had lived and died
just to have me, and  that their own parents had done  the same for them. He
said that warriors were different in that they shift their assemblage points
enough  to realize the tremendous price that has been paid  for their lives.
This shift  gives them the respect and awe that their parents never felt for
life in general, or for being alive in particular."
     Don Juan said that not only was the nagual Julian successful in guiding
his apprentices to move their assemblage points, but that he enjoyed himself
tremendously while doing it.
     "He certainly entertained himself immensely with me," don Juan went on.
"When the  other seers of my party began to come, years later, even I looked
forward to  the preposterous  situations that he created and  developed with
each one of them.
     "When the nagual  Julian left the world, delight went away with him and
never  came  back.  Genaro delights  us sometimes, but no one  can  take the
nagual Julian's place. His dramas were always bigger than life. I assure you
we didn't  know what  enjoyment  was until we saw  what he  did when some of
those dramas backfired on him."
     Don Juan rose from his favorite bench. He turned to  me. His eyes  were
brilliant and peaceful.
     "If you are ever  so dumb as to fail in your task," he said, "you  must
have at least enough energy to move your assemblage point in  order to  come
to this bench. Sit down here for an instant, free of thoughts and desires; I
will try to come here from wherever I am and collect you. I promise you that
I will try."
     He  then  broke  into a great laugh, as if the scope of his promise was
too ludicrous to be believed.
     "These words should be  said  in  the late  afternoon," he  said, still
laughing. "Never in the morning.  The  morning makes one feel optimistic and
such words lose their meaning."

     13 The Earth's Boost

     "Let's  walk on  the road to Oaxaca," don Juan  said to  me. "Genaro is
waiting for us somewhere along the way."
     His request took me by surprise.  I had been waiting all day for him to
continue his explanation. We  left  his house and walked in silence  through
the  town to  the  unpaved highway.  We walked  leisurely  for a long  time.
Suddenly don Juan began to talk.
     "I've been telling  you all along about the great findings that the old
seers  made," he said. "Just as they found out that organic life is  not the
only life  present on earth, they also discovered that the earth itself is a
living being."
     He waited a moment before continuing. He smiled at me as if inviting me
to make a comment. I could not think of anything to say.
     "The old seers saw that the earth has a cocoon,"  he went on. "They saw
that there is a ball encasing the earth, a luminous cocoon that  entraps the
Eagle's emanations.  The earth is a gigantic sentient being subjected to the
same forces we are."
     He  explained   that   the  old  seers,  on  discovering  this,  became
immediately interested in the practical uses of  that knowledge.  The result
of their interest was  that the most  elaborate categories of their  sorcery
had  to  do with  the earth. They  considered the earth to  be the  ultimate
source of everything we are.
     Don Juan  reaffirmed  that  the old  seers were  not mistaken  in  this
respect, because the earth is indeed our ultimate source.
     He didn't say anything else  until we  met Genaro  about a mile  up the
road. He was waiting for us, sitting on a rock by the side of the road.
     He greeted me with great warmth. He said to me that we  should climb up
to the top of some small rugged mountains covered with hardy vegetation.
     "The three of us are going to sit against a rock," don Juan said to me,
"and look at the sunlight  as it is reflected on the eastern mountains. When
the  sun  goes  down behind the  western peaks,  the earth  may let  you see
     When  we  reached the top of a mountain, we sat down,  as don  Juan had
said, with our backs against a rock. Don Juan made me sit in between the two
of them.
     I asked him what  he was planning to do. His cryptic statements and his
long silences were ominous. I felt terribly apprehensive.
     He didn't answer me. He kept on talking as if I had not spoken at all.
     "it  was  the  old  seers   who,  on  discovering  that  perception  is
alignment," he  said, "stumbled  onto something monumental. The sad part  is
that  their  aberrations  again  kept  them  from  knowing  what  they   had
     He pointed at the  mountain  range  east  of the small valley where the
town is located.
     "There  is  enough glitter in those mountains  to  jolt your assemblage
point," he said to  me.  "Just  before the sun goes down behind  the western
peaks,  you will have a few moments  to  catch all the glitter you need. The
magic  key that opens  the earth's doors is  made of  internal  silence plus
anything that shines."
     "What exactly should I do, don Juan?" I asked.
     Both of  them examined  me. I thought I saw in their  eyes a mixture of
curiosity and revulsion.
     "Just cut off the internal dialogue," don Juan said to me.
     I had an intense pang of anxiety and  doubt; I had no confidence that I
could  do  it at will.  After  an initial  moment of nagging frustration,  I
resigned my self just to relax.
     I looked around. I  noticed that we were high enough to  look down into
the  long,  narrow valley. More  than half  of it  was in the late-afternoon
shadows. The sun was still shining on  the foothills of the eastern range of
mountains, on the other side of the  valley;  the  sunlight made  the eroded
mountains look ocher,  while  the more distant  bluish peaks had  acquired a
purple tone.
     "You do realize that you've done this before, don't you?" don Juan said
to me in a whisper.
     I told him that I had not realized anything.
     "We've  sat here before  on  other occasions," he  insisted, "but  that
doesn't matter, because this occasion is the one that will count.
     "Today, with  the help of  Genaro, you are going to  find the  key that
unlocks everything. You won't be able to use it as yet, but you'll know what
it is and  where  it is.  Seers pay the  heaviest prices to  know that. You,
yourself, have been paying your dues all these years."
     He  explained  that  what  he  called the  key  to everything  was  the
firsthand knowledge that the earth is a sentient being and as such can  give
warriors a tremendous boost; it is an impulse  that comes from the awareness
of the earth  itself at the instant in which the emanations inside warriors'
cocoons  are  aligned with  the  appropriate  emanations inside  the earth's
cocoon. Since  both the  earth and man are sentient beings, their emanations
coincide, or rather, the earth has all the emanations present in man and all
the  emanations  that  are  present in  all  sentient  beings,  organic  and
inorganic  for that matter. When a moment of alignment takes place, sentient
beings  use that  alignment in  a  limited  way  and  perceive their  world.
Warriors can use that alignment  either to perceive, like everyone else,  or
as a boost that allows them to enter unimaginable worlds.
     "I've been waiting for you to ask  me  the only meaningful question you
can  ask,  but you  never ask  it,"  he continued. "You are hooked on asking
about whether the mystery of  it all is  inside us.  You came close  enough,
     "The unknown  is not  really inside the cocoon of man in the emanations
untouched by  awareness, and yet it is there, in  a manner of speaking. This
is  the point you haven't understood. When I told you that  we can  assemble
seven  worlds besides the  one  we know,  you  took it  as being an internal
affair, because your total  bias is  to  believe that you are only imagining
everything you  do with  us.  Therefore,  you have never asked me  where the
unknown really is.  For  years I  have  circled with  my  hand  to point  to
everything  around  us and I  have  told you that the unknown is there.  You
never made the connection."
     Genaro began to laugh, then coughed and stood up. "He still hasn't made
the connection," he said to don Juan.
     I admitted to them that  if there was a connection to  be  made,  I had
failed to make it.
     Don Juan restated over and over that the portion of  emanations  inside
man's cocoon is in there only for awareness,  and that awareness is matching
that portion  of emanations with the  same portion of  emanations at  large.
They are  called emanations at large because  they are  immense; and to  say
that  outside  man's  cocoon is  the unknowable  is  to say that  within the
earth's cocoon is the unknowable. However, inside the earth's cocoon is also
the unknown, and inside man's cocoon the unknown is the emanations untouched
by awareness. When the  glow of awareness touches them,  they  become active
and  can be aligned  with the corresponding emanations  at  large. Once that
happens the unknown is perceived and becomes the known.
     "I'm  too dumb, don Juan. You have  to break it into smaller pieces for
me," I said.
     "Genaro is going to break it up for you," don Juan retorted.
     Genaro  stood up and started doing the same gait of  power that he  had
done before,  when he circled an enormous flat  rock in a corn field by  his
house,  while  don  Juan  had  watched in fascination.  This  time don  Juan
whispered in my ear that I should try to hear Genaro's movements, especially
the movements of his  thighs as they went up against his chest every time he
     I  followed Genaro's  movements with my eyes. In a  few seconds  I felt
that some part of me had gotten  trapped  in Genaro's legs. The  movement of
his thighs would not let me go. I felt as if I were walking with him.  I was
even out of  breath. Then I realized that I was actually following Genaro. I
was in fact walking with him, away from the place where we had been sitting.
     I did  not see don Juan, just Genaro walking ahead of  me  in the  same
strange manner.  We walked  for hours and  hours.  My fatigue was so intense
that  I got a  terrible headache, and  suddenly  I  got sick. Genaro stopped
walking  and  came to my side. There was an intense glare around us, and the
light was reflected in Genaro's features. His eyes glowed.
     "Don't look at Genaro!" a voice ordered me in my ear. "Look around!"
     I obeyed. I thought I was in hell! The shock of seeing the surroundings
was so great that  I screamed in terror, but there was no sound to my voice.
Around me was the most vivid  picture of all the descriptions of  hell in my
Catholic upbringing. I was seeing a  reddish world, hot and oppressive, dark
and  cavernous, with  no  sky,  no light but  the malignant  reflections  of
reddish lights that kept on moving around us, at great speed.
     Genaro started  to walk again, and something pulled  me  with  him. The
force that was making me follow Genaro also kept me  from looking around. My
awareness was glued to Genaro's movements.
     I saw Genaro plop down as if he were  utterly exhausted. The instant he
touched the ground and stretched himself to  rest, something was released in
me  and  I was  able  again  to  look  around.  Don  Juan  was  watching  me
inquisitively. I was standing up facing him. We were at the same place where
we had sat down, a wide rocky ledge on  top of a  small mountain. Genaro was
panting and wheezing, and so was I. I was covered with perspiration. My hair
was dripping  wet.  My  clothes were soaked, as  if I  had been dunked  in a
     "My  God,  what's  going  on!"  I  exclaimed  in utter  seriousness and
     The exclamation  sounded so silly that don  Juan  and Genaro started to
     "We're trying to make you understand alignment," Genaro said.
     Don Juan gently helped me to sit down. He sat by me.
     "Do you remember what happened?" he asked me.
     I  told him that  I did and he insisted that I  tell him exactly what I
had  seen.  His request was  incongruous with what he had told me,  that the
only value of my experiences was the movement of my assemblage point and not
the content of my visions.
     He explained that Genaro  had tried to help me before in very  much the
same fashion as he had just done, but that I could never  remember anything.
He said that Genaro had guided my assemblage point this time, as he had done
before, to assemble a world with another of the great bands of emanations.
     There was a long silence. I was numb, shocked, yet my  awareness was as
keen as it had  ever been. I thought I had finally understood what alignment
was. Something  inside me, which I had  been activating without knowing how,
gave me the certainty that I had comprehended a great truth.
     "I think you're  beginning to gather your own momentum," don Juan  said
to me. "Let's go home. You've had enough for one day."
     "Oh, come on," Genaro said. "He's stronger than a bull. He's got to  be
pushed a little further."
     "No!" don Juan said emphatically. "We've got to save his strength. He's
only got so much of it."
     Genaro insisted that we stay. He looked at me and winked.
     "Look," he said to me, pointing to the eastern range of mountains. "The
sun has  hardly moved an  inch over  those mountains and yet you  plodded in
hell for hours and hours. Don't you find that overwhelming?"
     "Don't scare him unnecessarily!" don Juan protested almost vehemently.
     It was  then that I saw their maneuvers.  At that  moment the  voice of
seeing  told  me  that don  Juan and  Genaro were  a team of superb stalkers
playing with me. It was don Juan who always  pushed me beyond my limits, but
he always let Genaro  be  the heavy.  That  day  at  Genaro's house,  when I
reached a dangerous state of hysterical fright as Genaro questioned don Juan
whether I should be pushed, and don Juan assured me that Genaro was enjoying
himself at my expense, Genaro was actually worrying about me.
     My seeing was so shocking to me that  I  began to laugh. Both don  Juan
and Genaro  looked at me with  surprise. Then don  Juan seemed to realize at
once  what  was going through  my  mind.  He told Genaro,  and both  of them
laughed like children.
     "You're coming  of  age," don Juan said  to  me. "Right on time; you're
neither too stupid nor too bright. Just like me. You're not  like me in your
aberrations. There you  are more  like the nagual Julian, except that he was
     He stood up  and  stretched his  back.  He  looked at me  with the most
piercing, ferocious eyes I had ever seen. I stood up.
     "A nagual never lets anyone know that he is in charge," he  said to me.
"A nagual comes and goes without leaving a trace. That freedom is what makes
him a nagual."
     His eyes  glared for  an instant, and then they were covered by a cloud
of mellowness, kindness, humanness, and they were again don Juan's eyes.
     I  could  hardly  keep  my balance. I  was swooning helplessly.  Genaro
jumped to my side and helped me to sit  down. Both of them sat down flanking
     "You are going to catch a boost from the earth," don Juan said to me in
one ear.
     "Think about the nagual's eyes," Genaro said to me in the other.
     "The boost will come at  the moment you see the glitter on the  top  of
that mountain," don Juan said and pointed to the highest peak on the eastern
     "You'll never see the nagual's eyes again," Genaro whispered.
     "Go with the boost wherever it takes you," don Juan said.
     "If you think of the nagual's eyes, you'll  realize that there are  two
sides to a coin," Genaro whispered.
     I wanted to  think about what both of them were saying, but my thoughts
did not obey me. Something was pressing down  on me. I felt I was shrinking.
I had a sensation of nausea. I saw the  evening shadows advancing rapidly up
the  sides  of those eastern mountains. I had the feeling that I was running
after them.
     "Here we go," Genaro said in my ear.
     "Watch the big peak, watch the glitter," don Juan said in my other ear.
     There  was  indeed a  point  of intense brilliance  where don Juan  had
pointed,  on  the  highest  peak of  the range. I  watched the last  ray  of
sunlight being reflected on it. I felt a hole in the pit of my stomach, just
as if I were on a roller coaster.
     I felt, rather  than heard, a faraway earthquake rumble which  abruptly
overtook me.  The seismic waves were  so loud and so enormous that they lost
all  meaning  for  me. I was  an  insignificant  microbe  being twisted  and
     The  motion slowed down  by degrees.  There was  one more  jolt  before
everything  came  to  a halt.  I tried to  look around. I  had  no point  of
reference. I seemed to be planted, like a tree.  Above me there was a white,
shiny,  inconceivably big  dome. Its presence made  me feel elated.  I  flew
toward it, or rather I was ejected like a projectile. I had the sensation of
being comfortable, nurtured, secure; the closer I got to the dome, the  more
intense those  feelings became.  They finally overwhelmed me  and I lost all
sense of myself.
     The next thing I knew, I was rocking slowly in the air like a leaf that
falls. I felt exhausted. A suction force started  to pull me. I went through
a dark hole and then I was with don Juan and Genaro.

     The next day don Juan, Genaro, and I went to Oaxaca. While don Juan and
I  strolled around  the main square,  in the  later afternoon,  he  suddenly
started to talk about what we had  done the day before. He asked me if I had
understood what  he  was referring to  when  he  said that the old seers had
stumbled onto something monumental.
     I told him that I did, but that I couldn't explain it in words.
     "And  what do you think was the main thing we wanted you to find out on
top of that mountain?" he asked.
     "Alignment," a voice said in my ear, at the same time I said it myself.
     I turned around in a reflex action and bumped into Genaro, who was just
behind me, walking  in my tracks.  The speed of my movement startled him. He
broke into a giggle and then embraced me.
     We sat down.  Don Juan  said  that  there were very few  things that he
could say  about the boost I  had gotten from  the  earth, that warriors are
always  alone in  such cases,  and true  realizations come much later, after
years of struggle.
     I told don Juan that my  problem in understanding was magnified by  the
fact that he  and  Genaro were  doing all the work. I  was  simply a passive
subject who could only react to their maneuvers. I could not for the life of
me initiate any action, because I did not know what a  proper action  should
be, nor did I know how to initiate it.
     "That's  precisely the point," don Juan said. "You are  not supposed to
know yet. You are going to be  left  behind,  by yourself,  to reorganize on
your own  everything we are doing to you now.  This is the task every nagual
has to face.
     "The nagual Julian did  the same thing to me, much more ruthlessly than
the  way we do it to  you. He  knew what  he  was doing; he  was a brilliant
nagual who was able to reorganize in a few years everything the nagual Ellas
had  taught  him. He did, in  no  time at all,  something  that would take a
lifetime for you or  for  me. The  difference was that all the nagual Julian
ever needed was a slight insinuation; his awareness would take it from there
and open the only door there is."
     "What do you mean, don Juan, by the only door there is?"
     "I  mean that when man's assemblage point moves beyond a crucial limit,
the results  are  always  the same for every  man. The techniques to make it
move may  be as different as  they can be, but  the results  are  always the
same, meaning that the assemblage point assembles other worlds, aided by the
boost from the earth."
     "Is the boost from the earth the same for every man, don Juan?"
     "Of  course.  The  difficulty  for  the  average  man  is  the internal
dialogue. Only when a state  of total  silence is  attained can one use  the
boost. You will corroborate that truth  the day you try to use that boost by
     "I  wouldn't  recommend that  you try  it," Genaro said  sincerely. "It
takes  years to  become  an  impeccable warrior. In  order  to withstand the
impact of the earth's boost you must be better than you are now."
     "The speed of that boost will dissolve  everything about you," don Juan
said. "Under its impact we become nothing. Speed and the sense of individual
existence  don't  go  together. Yesterday  on  the  mountain,  Genaro and  I
supported  you  and served  as  your  anchors;  otherwise  you wouldn't have
returned. You'd be like some men who purposely used that boost and went into
the unknown and are still roaming in some incomprehensible immensity."
     I  wanted  him to  elaborate  on that, but  he refused. He changed  the
subject abruptly.
     "There's one thing you haven't understood yet about the earth's being a
sentient being," he said. "And Genaro, this  awful Genaro, wants to push you
until you understand."
     Both of them laughed. Genaro playfully shoved me and winked at me as he
mouthed the words, "I am awful."
     "Genaro  is  a  terrible  taskmaster,  mean  and  ruthless,"  don  Juan
continued.  "He  doesn't  give  a  hoot  about your  fears  and  pushes  you
mercilessly. If it wasn't for me. . ."
     He  was a perfect  picture  of  a  good,  thoughtful old gentleman.  He
lowered his eyes and sighed. The two of them broke into roaring laughter.
     When they had quieted down, don Juan said that Genaro wanted to show me
what I  had not understood yet, that the  supreme awareness of the  earth is
what  makes  it  possible  for  us  to  change  into  other  great bands  of
     "We living beings are perceivers," he  said. "And  we perceive  because
some  emanations inside man's cocoon  become  aligned  with  some emanations
outside. Alignment, therefore,  is the  secret  passageway, and  the earth's
boost is the key.
     "Genaro wants you to watch the moment of alignment. Watch him!"
     Genaro stood up like a showman and took a bow,  then showed us  that he
had nothing  up  his  sleeves or  inside the legs of his pants. He took  his
shoes  off and shook them to show  that there was  nothing  concealed  there
     Don Juan was laughing with total abandon. Genaro moved his hands up and
down. The  movement created an  immediate fixation in  me. I sensed that the
three of us suddenly got up and walked away from the square, the two of them
flanking me.
     As  we  continued  walking,  I  lost my peripheral  vision.  I did  not
distinguish  any more  houses or streets. I did not notice any mountains  or
any vegetation either. At one moment I realized that I had lost sight of don
Juan and  Genaro; instead  I saw  two  luminous bundles  moving  up and down
beside me.
     I  felt an instantaneous panic, which  I immediately controlled.  I had
the unusual but well-known sensation that I was myself and yet I  was not. I
was aware, however, of everything around me by means of a strange and at the
same time  most familiar capacity. The  sight of the world came to me all at
once. All of me  saw; the entirety of what I in my normal consciousness call
my  body was capable of sensing as if it were an enormous eye  that detected
everything. What I first detected, after seeing the two blobs  of light, was
a  sharp violet-purple world made out of something that looked  like colored
panels and canopies. Flat, screenlike panels of irregular concentric circles
were everywhere.
     I felt a  great pressure  all  over me, and then I heard a  voice in my
ear. I was seeing. The voice  said  that the pressure was due to the  act of
moving. I was moving together with don Juan and Genaro. I felt a faint jolt,
as if I had broken a paper  barrier, and I found myself facing a luminescent
world. Light radiated from everyplace, but  without being glaring. It was as
if the sun were about to erupt from behind some white diaphanous  clouds.  I
was looking down  into the  source of light. It was a beautiful sight. There
were no landmasses, just fluffy white  clouds and light. And we were walking
on the clouds.
     Then something imprisoned me again. I moved at the same pace as the two
blobs of light by my sides.  Gradually they  began to lose their brilliance,
then  became opaque, and finally they were don  Juan  and  Genaro.  We  were
walking on a deserted side street away from the main square. Then we  turned
     "Genaro just  helped you to align your emanations with those emanations
at large that belong to another band," don  Juan said to  me. "Alignment has
to be a very peaceful, unnoticeable act. No flying away, no great fuss."
     He said that  the sobriety  needed to let the assemblage point assemble
other worlds is something that cannot be improvised. Sobriety has  to mature
and  become  a force  in  itself before  warriors can break  the  barrier of
perception with impunity.
     We were  coming closer to the main  square. Genaro had not said a word.
He walked in silence, as  if absorbed in thought.  Just before we came  into
the square, don Juan said that Genaro wanted to show me one more thing: that
the position of  the assemblage point  is everything, and  that the world it
makes us perceive is so real that it does not leave room for anything except
     "Genaro will let his  assemblage point  assemble another world just for
your  benefit,"  don  Juan  said to me. "And then you'll realize that as  he
perceives it, the force of his perception will leave room for nothing else."
     Genaro walked ahead of us, and don Juan ordered me to roll my eyes in a
counterclockwise direction while I looked at  Genaro, to avoid being dragged
with him. I  obeyed him. Genaro was five  or six feet away from me. Suddenly
his shape became diffuse and in one instant he was gone like a puff of air.
     I thought of the science fiction movies I had seen and wondered whether
we are subliminally aware of our possibilities.
     "Genaro  is  separated  from  us  at   this  moment  by  the  force  of
perception," don  Juan said quietly.  "When the assemblage point assembles a
world, that  world is total.  This is the marvel that the old seers stumbled
upon and never realized what it was: the  awareness of the earth can give us
a boost to align other great bands of emanations, and the  force of that new
alignment makes the world vanish.
     "Every  time the old seers  made a new alignment they believed they had
descended to the  depths' or  ascended to the heavens above. They never knew
that the  world  disappears like a puff of  air when  a  new total alignment
makes us perceive another total world."

     14 The Rolling Force

     Don  Juan  was  about  to  start  his  explanation  of  the mastery  of
awareness, but he changed his mind and stood up.  We had been sitting in the
big room, observing a moment of quiet.
     "I want you to try seeing  the Eagle's  emanations," he said. "For that
you must first move your assemblage point until you see the cocoon of man."
     We  walked from  the  house to the  center of town. We sat  down on art
empty, worn park bench  in front of  the  church, it  was early afternoon; a
sunny, windy day with lots of people milling around.
     He repeated, as if he were trying to drill  it into me,  that alignment
is  a unique force because it either helps the assemblage point shift, or it
keeps it glued to its customary position. The aspect of alignment that keeps
the point  stationary, he said, is will; and the  aspect that makes it shift
is intent. He remarked that one  of the most haunting mysteries is how will,
the impersonal force  of  alignment, changes  into intent,  the personalized
force, which is at the service of each individual.
     "The strangest  part of this mystery is  that the change is  so easy to
accomplish," he went  on.  "But what is not so easy is to convince ourselves
that it is  possible. There, right there, is our safety catch. We have to be
convinced. And none of us wants to be."
     He told me then that I  was in my  keenest state of awareness, and that
it was possible for me to infend my assemblage point to shift deeper into my
left side,  to  a  dreaming  position.  He  said that warriors  should never
attempt seeing unless  they are  aided by dreaming.  I  argued  that to fall
asleep  in  public was not one  of my fortes.  He  clarified  his statement,
saying that to  move the assemblage point away from its natural  setting and
to  keep it  fixed at a new  location is to  be asleep; with practice, seers
learn to be asleep and yet behave as if nothing is happening to them.
     After a moment's pause he  added that for purposes of seeing the cocoon
of man, one has to  gaze  at people from  behind, as  they walk  away. It is
useless  to  gaze at people face to face, because the front  of  the egglike
cocoon  of man has a protective shield, which seers call the front plate, it
is an almost  impregnable, unyielding shield that protects us throughout our
lives against  the  onslaught  of  a  peculiar  force that  stems  from  the
emanations themselves.
     He also told me not to be surprised if my body was stiff,  as though it
were  frozen;  he said that  I  was  going  to feel very  much  like someone
standing in the middle of a room looking at the street through a window, and
that  speed was of the essence, as people were going to  move extremely fast
by  my  seeing window.  He  told me then  to relax  my muscles,  shut off my
internal dialogue, and let my assemblage point drift away under the spell of
inner silence. He urged  me to smack  myself  gently  but firmly on my right
side, between my hipbone and my ribcage.
     I did that three times and I was  sound asleep. It was a most  peculiar
state of sleep. My body was dormant, but I was perfectly aware of everything
that  was  taking place. I  could hear don  Juan  talking  to me and I could
follow every one of his  statements as if I were awake, yet I could not move
my body at all.
     Don Juan said that a man was going to walk by my seeing window and that
I should try to see him. I unsuccessfully attempted to move my head and then
a shiny egglike  shape appeared, it was resplendent. I was awed by the sight
and  before I could recover from my surprise,  it was gone. It floated away,
bobbing up and down.
     Everything had been so sudden  and fast that it made me feel frustrated
and impatient. I felt that I was beginning to wake up. Don Juan talked to me
again and urged me  to relax. He said that I had no right and no time to  be
impatient.  Suddenly,  another luminous being  appeared  and  moved away. It
seemed to be made of a white fluorescent shag.
     Don Juan whispered in my  ear that if I wanted to, my eyes were capable
of slowing down everything they focused on.  Then he warned  me that another
man was coming. I realized  at that instant that there  were two voices. The
one I had just heard was the same one that had admonished  me to be patient.
That was don Juan's. The other, the one that told  me to use my eyes to slow
down movement, was the voice of seeing.
     That afternoon, I saw ten luminous beings in  slow motion. The voice of
seeing guided  me to witness  in them everything don  Juan had told me about
the glow of awareness. There was a vertical band with a stronger  amber glow
on the right side of those egglike luminous creatures, perhaps one-tenth  of
the total volume of the cocoon. The  voice said that that was man's band  of
awareness. The voice pointed out a dot on man's band,  a dot with an intense
shine; it was high on the oblong shapes, almost on the crest of them, on the
surface of the cocoon; the voice said that it was the assemblage point.
     When I saw each luminous creature in profile, from the point of view of
its body, its egglike shape was  like a gigantic  asymmetrical yoyo that was
standing edgewise, or like an  almost round pot that was resting on its side
with its lid on. The part that looked like a lid was the front plate; it was
perhaps one-fifth the thickness of the total cocoon.
     I would have gone on seeing those  creatures, but don  Juan said that I
should  now gaze  at  people face to face  and sustain my  gaze until  I had
broken the barrier and I was seeing the emanations.
     I followed  his command. Almost instantaneously, I saw a most brilliant
array of live, compelling  fibers  of  light. It  was a dazzling  sight that
immediately shattered my balance. I fell down on the cement walk on my side.
From  there, I saw the compelling fibers of light  multiply themselves. They
burst open and myriads of other fibers  came out of  them.  But  the fibers,
compelling as  they were, somehow  did not  interfere with my ordinary view.
There were scores of people going into church. I was no  longer seeing them.
There  were quite  a few women and  men  just around the bench. I wanted  to
focus  my  eyes on them, but instead I  noticed how  one of those  fibers of
light bulged suddenly. It became like a ball of fire that was perhaps  seven
feet  in diameter, it rolled  on me. My first impulse was to roll out of its
way.  Before I could even move  a muscle the ball  had hit me.  I felt it as
clearly as if someone had punched me gently in the stomach. An instant later
another ball of fire  hit me, this time with considerably more strength, and
then  don  Juan whacked me really hard on the cheek with  his  open  hand. I
jumped  up involuntarily  and  lost  sight of  the  fibers  of light and the
balloons that were hitting me.

     Don Juan said that I had successfully endured my  first brief encounter
with  the Eagle's emanations,  but that a  couple of shoves from the tumbler
had  dangerously opened up my gap. He added that  the  balls that had hit me
were called the rolling force, or the tumbler.
     We  had returned to his house, although I did not remember how or when.
! had spent hours  in a sort of  semisleeping state. Don  Juan and the other
seers of his group  had given me large  amounts of water to drink. They  had
also submerged me in an ice-cold tub of water for short periods of time.
     "Were those fibers I saw the Eagle's emanations?" I asked don Juan.
     "Yes.  But you didn't really see them," he  replied. "No sooner had you
begun to see  than the tumbler stopped  you. If  you had remained  a  moment
longer it would have blasted you."
     "What exactly is the tumbler?" I asked.
     "It  is a force  from the  Eagle's  emanations," he  said. "A ceaseless
force that strikes us every instant of  our lives, it  is  lethal when seen,
but otherwise we are oblivious to it, in our ordinary lives, because we have
protective  shields.  We  have  consuming  interests  that  engage  all  our
awareness.  We are permanently  worried about our station,  our possessions.
These shields, however, do  not keep the  tumbler away, they simply keep  us
from  seeing it directly, protecting us in this way from getting hurt by the
fright  of seeing the balls of fire hitting us. Shields are a great help and
a great hindrance to us. They  pacify  us and at the same time fool us. They
give us a false sense of security."
     He  warned  me that a moment would  come  in my life when  I  would  be
without  any shields, uninterruptedly  at the mercy  of the tumbler. He said
that it is an obligatory stage in the life of a warrior, known as losing the
human form.
     I asked him to explain to  me  once and for all  what the human form is
and what it means to lose it.
     He replied  that  seers describe the human form as the compelling force
of alignment of  the  emanations lit by the glow of awareness on the precise
spot on which normally man's assemblage point is  fixated.  It is  the force
that  makes us into persons.  Thus, to be a person  is  to  be compelled  to
affiliate  with that force  of  alignment and consequently to be  affiliated
with the precise spot where it originates.
     By reason of  their activities, at a given moment the assemblage points
of warriors drift toward the left.  It is a permanent move, which results in
an uncommon sense of aloofness,  or control, or  even abandon. That drift of
the assemblage point  entails  a  new alignment  of emanations.  It  is  the
beginning of  a  series  of greater  shifts.  Seers very  aptly  called this
initial shift losing the human form, because it marks an inexorable movement
of the  assemblage  point  away from its original setting, resulting  in the
irreversible loss of our affiliation to the force that makes us persons.
     He asked me then to describe all the details I could remember about the
balls of fire. I told him that I had seen them so briefly  I  was not sure I
could describe them in detail.
     He pointed out  that seeing is  a  euphemism  for moving the assemblage
point, and that if I moved mine  a fraction more to the left I would have  a
clear picture of the balls of fire, a picture  which  I could interpret then
as having remembered them.
     I tried to have a clear picture, but I couldn't,  so I described what I
     He listened attentively and then urged me to recall if they were  balls
or circles of fire. I told him I didn't remember.
     He explained that  those balls  of fire are  of  crucial importance  to
human beings because they are the expression of a force that pertains to all
details  of life  and death,  something that the  new seers call the rolling
     I asked him to clarify what he  meant  by all the details of  life  and
     "The  rolling force is the  means through which  the  Eagle distributes
life  and  awareness  for  safekeeping," he  said. "But it also is the force
that, let's say, collects the rent. It makes all living beings die. What you
saw today was called by the ancient seers the tumbler."
     He said  that seers describe it as an eternal line of iridescent rings,
or balls of fire, that roll onto living beings ceaselessly. Luminous organic
beings meet the rolling  force head on, until the day when  the force proves
to  be too much for them and the creatures  finally collapse. The  old seers
were mesmerized by seeing how the tumbler then tumbles them into the beak of
the Eagle to be devoured. That was the reason they called it the tumbler.
     "You said that  it  is a mesmerizing  sight. Have you yourself  seen it
rolling human beings?" I asked.
     "Certainly I've seen it," he replied, and after a pause he added,  "You
and I saw it only a short while ago in Mexico City."
     His assertion was so farfetched that I felt obliged  to tell  him  that
this time he was wrong. He laughed  and reminded me  that on that  occasion,
while both of us were sitting on a bench in the Alameda Park in Mexico City,
we  had witnessed the death of a man. He said that I had recorded  the event
in my everyday-life memory as well as in my left-side emanations.
     As don  Juan  spoke  to me  I had the sensation of  something inside me
becoming lucid by  degrees, and I could visualize with uncanny  clarity  the
whole scene in the park. The man was lying on the grass with three policemen
standing by him  to keep  onlookers away. I  distinctly  remembered don Juan
hitting me on my back to make me change levels of awareness. And then I saw.
My seeing was imperfect. I was unable to shake off the sight of the world of
everyday life. What I ended up with was a composite of filaments of the most
gorgeous colors superimposed on the buildings and the traffic. The filaments
were  actually lines of colored  light that came from  above. They had inner
life; they were bright and bursting with energy.
     When I looked at the dying man, I saw what don  Juan was talking about;
something that was at  once like circles of fire, or iridescent tumbleweeds,
was  rolling everywhere  I  focused  my eyes.  The circles  were rolling  on
people, on don Juan, on me. I felt them in my stomach and became ill.
     Don Juan  told me  to focus my eyes on the  dying man. I saw him at one
moment curling up,  just as a sowbug curls itself up upon being touched. The
incandescent circles pushed him away, as if they were casting him aside, out
of their majestic, inalterable path.
     I had not liked  the feeling.  The circles of fire  had  not scared me;
they were not awesome,  or sinister. I  did not feel morbid or  somber.  The
circles rather had nauseated me. I'd felt them in  the pit of my stomach. It
was a revulsion that I'd felt that day.
     Remembering them conjured up again  the  total feeling  of discomfort I
had  experienced  on that occasion. As I got ill, don Juan laughed  until he
was out of breath.
     "You're such an exaggerated fellow." he said. "The rolling force is not
that  bad.  It's lovely, in fact.  The  new  seers  recommend that  we  open
ourselves to it. The old seers also opened themselves to it, but for reasons
and purposes guided mostly by self-importance and obsession.
     "The  new  seers, on the other hand, make friends with  it. They become
familiar with that  force by handling  it  without  any self-importance. The
result is staggering in its consequences."
     He said that a shift of the  assemblage point is all that is  needed to
open  oneself to the rolling force. He added that if  the force is seen in a
deliberate  manner, there is  minimal danger. A situation that is  extremely
dangerous, however, is an involuntary shift  of the assemblage point  owing,
perhaps, to  physical  fatigue, emotional exhaustion, disease,  or simply  a
minor emotional or physical crisis, such as being frightened or being drunk.
     "When  the  assemblage  point  shifts involuntarily, the  rolling force
cracks the cocoon," he went on. "I've talked many times about a gap that man
has below  his navel. It's not  really below the navel itself,  but  in  the
cocoon, at the height  of the navel. The gap is  more like a dent, a natural
flaw in the otherwise smooth cocoon. It is there where  the  tumbler hits us
ceaselessly and where the cocoon cracks."
     He  went on to explain that if it is a  minor shift of  the  assemblage
point,  the  crack  is very  small, the cocoon quickly  repairs itself,  and
people experience  what everybody  has at one  time or another:  blotches of
color and contorted shapes, which remain even if the eyes are closed.
     If the shift is considerable, the crack also is extensive and  it takes
time  for the  cocoon  to  repair itself, as  in the  case of  warriors  who
purposely use power plants to elicit that shift or people who take drugs and
unwittingly do the same.  In these cases men feel  numb and  cold; they have
difficulty talking or even thinking; it is as if they have  been frozen from
     Don Juan  said  that  in cases  in  which the  assemblage  point shifts
drastically because of  the  effects of trauma or of  a mortal disease,  the
rolling  force produces a  crack  the  length  of  the  cocoon;  the  cocoon
collapses and curls in on itself, and the individual dies.
     "Can a voluntary shift also produce a gap of that nature?" I asked.
     "Sometimes,"  he  replied. "We're really frail. As  the tumbler hits us
over and  over,  death comes  to us through  the gap.  Death is the  rolling
force.  When  it  finds   weakness  in  the  gap  of  a  luminous  being  it
automatically cracks it open and makes it collapse."
     "Does every living being have a gap?" I asked.
     "Of  course," he replied. "If it didn't have one  it wouldn't  die. The
gaps are different,  however,  in  size  and configuration. Man's gap  is  a
bowl-like  depression  the  size   of  a  fist,  a   very  frail  vulnerable
configuration. The gaps of other organic creatures are very much like man's;
some are stronger than ours and others are weaker. But the gap  of inorganic
beings  is really  different.  It's  more  like a  long  thread,  a  hair of
luminosity; consequently, inorganic beings are infinitely more  durable than
we are.
     "There is something  hauntingly appealing about  the long life of those
creatures, and the  old seers  could  not resist  being carried away by that
     He  said  that  the  same  force  can  produce  two  effects  that  are
diametrically  opposed.  The old seers were imprisoned by the rolling force,
and the  new seers are rewarded for their toils with the gift of freedom. By
becoming familiar with the rolling force  through the mastery of intent, the
new seers, at  a  given  moment, open their own cocoons and the force floods
them rather than rolling them  up like a curled-up sowbug. The  final result
is their total and instantaneous disintegration.
     I asked him a lot  of questions  about the survival of  awareness after
the luminous being is  consumed by the fire from within. He did not  answer.
He simply chuckled, shrugged  his shoulders, and went on to say that the old
seers' obsession with the  tumbler  blinded them to the other  side of  that
force. The new seers, with their usual  thoroughness in  refusing tradition,
went to the other extreme.  They  were  at  first totally averse to focusing
their seeing on the tumbler;  they argued that they needed to understand the
force of the emanations at large in its aspect of life-giver and enhancer of
     "They realized that it is infinitely easier to  destroy something," don
Juan went on, "than it is to build it and  maintain it. To roll life away is
nothing compared  to giving it and nourishing it. Of course, the  new  seers
were wrong on this count, but in due course they corrected their mistake."
     "How were they wrong, don Juan?"
     "It's an  error to isolate  anything for  seeing. At the beginning, the
new  seers did exactly the opposite from  what their  predecessors did. They
focused with equal attention on the other side of the tumbler. What happened
to them was as  terrible  as,  if not worse than,  what happened to  the old
seers. They  died  stupid deaths, just as the  average man does. They didn't
have the mystery or  the malignancy of the ancient seers,  nor had they  the
quest for freedom of the seers of today.
     "Those first  new  seers served  everybody. Because they were  focusing
their  seeing  on the  life-giving side of the emanations, they  were filled
with love and  kindness. But that didn't keep them from being  tumbled. They
were vulnerable, just as were the old seers who were filled with morbidity."
     He said that for the modern-day new seers, to be left stranded  after a
life of  discipline and toil, just like men who have never had  a purposeful
moment in their lives, was intolerable.
     Don  Juan said that these new seers realized, after they  had readopted
their tradition, that the old seers' knowledge of the rolling force had been
complete;  at  one point the old  seers had  concluded  that  there were, in
effect, two different aspects of the same force. The tumbling aspect relates
exclusively to  destruction and death.  The circular aspect,  on  the  other
hand, is what  maintains  life and awareness, fulfillment and purpose.  They
had chosen, however, to deal exclusively with the tumbling aspect.
     "Gazing in teams, the new seers were able to see the separation between
the tumbling and  the circular aspects,"  he explained. "They  saw that both
forces are fused, but are not the same.  The circular force comes to us just
before  the tumbling force; they  are so close to each other that they  seem
the same.
     "The reason it's  called the circular force is that  it comes in rings,
threadlike hoops  of iridescence--  a very delicate  affair indeed. And just
like the tumbling force, it strikes all living beings ceaselessly, but for a
different  purpose. It  strikes  them  to  give  them  strength,  direction,
awareness; to give them life.
     "What the new seers discovered is that the balance of the two forces in
every living being  is  a very delicate one," he continued, "if at any given
time an individual  feels that  the tumbling force  strikes harder than  the
circular  one, that means the balance  is upset; the tumbling  force strikes
harder  and harder from then on, until  it cracks the living being's gap and
makes it die."
     He  added  that  out  of  what  I  had called balls of  fire  comes  an
iridescent hoop  exactly  the  size of living  beings,  whether  men, trees,
microbes, or allies.
     "Are there different-size circles?" I asked.
     "Don't  take me  so literally," he protested. "There  are no circles to
speak of, just a  circular force that gives  seers, who are dreaming it, the
feeling of  rings.  And  there  are  no  different  sizes  either. It's  one
indivisible force that fits all living beings, organic and inorganic."
     "Why did the old seers focus on the tumbling aspect?" I asked.
     "Because they  believed  that  their lives  depended on seeing  it," he
replied. "They were sure that their seeing was going to give them answers to
age-old  questions. You see, they figured that if they unraveled the secrets
of the rolling force they would be invulnerable and immortal. The  sad  part
is that  in  one way or another, they  did unravel  the secrets and yet they
were neither invulnerable nor immortal.
     "The  new seers  changed it  all by realizing that there is  no way  to
aspire to immortality as long as man has a cocoon."
     Don  Juan  explained that the  old seers apparently never realized that
the human  cocoon is  a  receptacle and cannot sustain the onslaught of  the
rolling  force forever.  In  spite  of  all  the  knowledge  that  they  had
accumulated, they were  in  the end certainly  no better, and  perhaps  much
worse, off than the average man.
     "In what way were they left worse off than the average man?" I asked.
     "Their  tremendous  knowledge  forced them  to take it for granted that
their choices were  infallible,"  he  said. "So  they  chose  to live at any
     Don Juan  looked  at me and smiled.  With  his theatrical  pause he was
telling me something I could not fathom.
     "They chose to live," he repeated. "Just as they chose  to become trees
in order to assemble worlds with those nearly unreachable great bands."
     "What do you mean by that, don Juan?"
     "I mean  that they used  the  rolling force  to shift  their assemblage
points to unimaginable  dreaming positions,  instead of letting it roll them
to the beak of the Eagle to be devoured."

     15 The Death Defiers

     I arrived  at Genaro's house around 2: 00 p. m.  Don Juan and I  became
involved in conversation, and  then  don Juan made me  shift into heightened
     "Here we are again, the three of us, just as we were the day we went to
that  flat rock,"  don Juan said. "And tonight  we're going to make  another
trip to that area.
     "You have enough knowledge now to  draw very serious conclusions  about
that place and its effects on awareness."
     "What is it with that place, don Juan?"
     "Tonight  you're  going  to find  out some  gruesome facts that the old
seers collected about  the  rolling force; and  you're  going  to see what I
meant when I told you that the old seers chose to live at any cost."
     Don Juan turned to Genaro, who was about to fall asleep. He nudged him.
     "Wouldn't you say, Genaro, that the  old seers-were dreadful men?"  don
Juan asked.
     "Absolutely," Genaro said in a crisp tone and then seemed to succumb to
     He began to nod noticeably. In an instant he was sound asleep, his head
resting on his chest with his chin tucked in. He snored.
     I wanted to laugh out loud. But then I noticed that Genaro  was staring
at me, as if he were sleeping with his eyes open.
     "They were such dreadful men that they even defied death," Genaro added
between snores.
     "Aren't you curious to know how those gruesome men  defied  death?" don
Juan asked me.
     He seemed to be urging me to ask for an example of  their gruesomeness.
He paused and looked at me with what I thought was a glint of expectation in
his eyes.
     "You're waiting for me to ask for an example, aren't you?" I said.
     "This is a great moment," he said, patting me on the back and laughing.
"My benefactor  had me on the edge of my seat at  this point. I asked him to
give me an example, and he  did; now i'm  going to give you one  whether you
ask for it or not."
     "What  are you going to do?" I asked, so frightened that my stomach was
tied in knots and my voice cracked.
     It  took quite  a while  for don Juan to  stop laughing. Every time  he
started to speak, he'd get an attack of coughing laughter.
     "As Genaro told you, the old seers were dreadful men," he said, rubbing
his eyes. "There was something they tried to avoid at all costs: they didn't
want  to die. You may say that the average man  doesn't  want to die either,
but the advantage that the old seers had over the average man was that  they
had the  concentration and the  discipline to  intend  things away; and they
actually intended death away."
     He paused and looked at  me with  raised eyebrows.  He said  that I was
falling behind, that I was not asking my usual questions. I remarked that it
was plain to me that he was leading me to ask if the old seers had succeeded
in  intending death  away,  but  he himself had already  told me  that their
knowledge about the tumbled had not saved them from dying.
     "They  succeeded  in intending  death away,"  he  said, pronouncing his
words with extra care. "But they still had to die."
     "How did they intend death away?" I asked.
     "They observed  their  allies,"  he  said, "and seeing  that they  were
living beings with a much greater resilience to the rolling force, the seers
patterned themselves on their allies."
     The old seers realized, don Juan  explained, that only  organic  beings
have  a  gap that resembles a bowl.  Its size and shape and its  brittleness
make it the ideal configuration to hasten the cracking and collapsing of the
luminous  shell under the onslaughts  of the tumbling  force. The allies, on
the other hand, who have only a line for a gap, present such a small surface
to  the rolling  force  as  to  be  practically immortal. Their  cocoons can
sustain  the onslaughts of the tumbler  indefinitely.  because hairline gaps
offer no ideal configuration to it.
     "The old seers developed the  most bizarre techniques for closing their
gaps," don Juan continued. "They were essentially correct in assuming that a
hairline gap is more durable than a bowl-like one."
     "Are those techniques still in existence?" I asked.
     "No, they are not," he said.  "But some of the seers who practiced them
     For  reasons unknown  to  me, his statement  caused a reaction of sheer
terror in me. My breathing was altered instantly, and I couldn't control its
rapid pace.
     "They're still alive  to this  day, isn't that  so, Genaro?"  don  Juan
     "Absolutely," Genaro muttered from an apparent state of deep sleep.
     I asked don Juan if he  knew the  reason for my being so frightened. He
reminded me about a previous occasion in that very room when  they had asked
me if I  had  noticed the weird creatures that had come in the moment Genaro
opened the door.
     "That day your assemblage point went very deep  into the  left side and
assembled a frightening world," he went on. "But I have already said that to
you;  what  you don't  remember is that you  went directly to a  very remote
world and scared yourself pissless there."
     Don  Juan  turned to Genaro,  who  was snoring peacefully with his legs
stretched out in front of him.
     "Wasn't he scared pissless, Genaro?" he asked.
     "Absolutely pissless," Genaro muttered, and don Juan laughed.
     "I want you to know that we don't blame you for being scared," don Juan
continued. "We,  ourselves, are revolted by some of  the actions  of the old
seers. I'm sure that you have realized by  now that what you can't  remember
about that night is that you saw the old seers who are still alive."
     I wanted to protest that I had realized nothing, but I  could not voice
my words. I had to clear my throat over and over before I could articulate a
word. Genaro had stood up and was gently  patting my upper back, by my neck,
as if I were choking.
     "You have a frog in your throat," he said.
     I thanked him in a high squeaky voice.
     "No, I think you have a chicken there," he added and sat down to sleep.
     Don Juan said that the new seers had rebelled against  all the  bizarre
practices of the old seers and declared  them not only useless but injurious
to  our total being. They even went  so far as to  ban those techniques from
whatever  was taught  to  new warriors;  and  for  generations there was  no
mention of those practices at all.
     It was in  the  early part of  the eighteenth  century that  the nagual
Sebastian, a member of don Juan's  direct line of  naguals, rediscovered the
existence of those techniques.
     "How did he rediscover them?" I asked.
     "He was  a superb stalker, and  because of his impeccability  he  got a
chance to learn marvels," don Juan replied.
     He  said that one day as  the nagual Sebastian was  about to  start his
daily routines-- he  was the  sexton at  the cathedral in the  city where he
lived-- he found a middle-aged Indian man who seemed to be in a  quandary at
the door of the church.
     The nagual Sebastian went to the man's side and asked him  if he needed
help. "I  need  a bit  of energy  to close my gap," the man said to him in a
loud clear voice. "Would you give me some of your energy?"
     Don  Juan  said that according to the story,  the  nagual Sebastian was
dumbfounded. He did not know what the  man  was talking about. He offered to
take the Indian  to see  the  parish  priest. The man lost his patience  and
angrily  accused  the nagual  Sebastian  of  stalling. "I  need  your energy
because you're a nagual," he said. "Let's go quietly."
     The nagual Sebastian  succumbed  to the magnetic power of  the stranger
and meekly went with him into the mountains. He was gone for many days. When
he came back he  not  only had a new outlook  about the ancient  seers,  but
detailed knowledge of  their techniques. The stranger was an ancient Toltec.
One of the last survivors.
     "The nagual Sebastian found out marvels about the old  seers," don Juan
went  on. "He was  the one  who  first knew how grotesque and  aberrant they
really were. Before him, that knowledge was only hearsay.
     "One night my benefactor and the nagual Elias gave me a sample of those
aberrations.  They really showed it to Genaro and me together, so  it's only
proper that we both show you the same sample."
     I  wanted to talk in order to stall; I  needed  time to  calm down,  to
think things out. But before I  could say anything, don Juan and Genaro were
practically dragging me out of the  house.  They headed for  the same eroded
hills we had visited before.
     We  stopped  at the bottom  of a  large barren  hill. Don Juan  pointed
toward some distant mountains to the south, and  said that between the place
where we stood  and a natural cut  in one  of those  mountains,  a cut  that
looked like an open mouth, there were at least seven sites where the ancient
seers had focused all the power of their awareness.
     Don Juan said  that those  seers had  not  only been  knowledgeable and
daring but downright successful. He added that his benefactor had showed him
and Genaro a  site  where the  old seers, driven by their love for life, had
buried themselves alive and actually intended the rolling force away.
     "There  is  nothing that would catch the eye in those places," he  went
on. "The old seers were careful  not to leave marks. It is just a landscape.
One has to see to know where those places are."
     He said that he did not want  to  walk to the faraway sites,  but would
take me  to the  one that  was  nearest. I insisted on knowing what  we were
after. He said that we were going to see the buried seers, and that for that
we had  to stay until  it got dark  under the cover of some green bushes. He
pointed them out; they were perhaps half a mile away, up a steep slope.
     We reached the patch of bushes and sat down as comfortably as we could.
He  began then to explain in a  very low voice  that  in order to get energy
from  the earth, ancient seers used to bury themselves for periods  of time,
depending on what they wanted to accomplish. The more difficult  their task,
the longer their burial period.
     Don  Juan stood  up and in a  melodramatic  way showed  me a spot a few
yards from where we were.
     "Two  old seers  are buried there,"  he  said. "They  buried themselves
about two thousand years ago to  escape death, not  in the spirit of running
away from it but in the spirit of defy ing it."
     Don Juan asked Genaro to  show  me the exact spot  where  the old seers
were buried. I turned to look  at Genaro and realized that he was sitting by
my side sound asleep again.  But to my utter  amazement,  he jumped  up  and
barked like  a  dog and ran  on all fours to the spot  don Juan was pointing
out. There he ran around the place in a perfect mime of a small dog.
     I found his performance  hilarious. Don Juan was nearly on  the  ground
     "Genaro has shown  you  something extraordinary,"  don Juan said, after
Genaro had  returned to where we were and had gone  back  to sleep. "He  has
shown you something  about the  assemblage point and dreaming. He's dreaming
now, but he can act as if he were fully awake and he can hear everything you
say. From that position he can do more than if he were awake."
     He  was silent for a  moment as if  assessing what to say next.  Genaro
snored rhythmically.
     Don Juan remarked how easy it was  for him to find  flaws with what the
old seers had  done, yet, in all fairness, he never  tired  of repeating how
wonderful their accomplishments were. He said that they understood the earth
to perfection. Not only  did they discover and use the boost from the earth,
but they also discovered that  if  they  remained buried,  their  assemblage
points  aligned emanations that were ordinarily inaccessible, and that  such
an alignment engaged the earth's  strange, inexplicable capacity to  deflect
the ceaseless strikes of the rolling force. Consequently, they developed the
most astounding and complex techniques for burying themselves for  extremely
long periods  of time  without any  detriment to themselves. In  their fight
against  death,  they  learned  how  to  elongate  those  periods  to  cover
     It was a  cloudy  day,  and  night  fell quickly.  In  no time  at all,
everything was  in  darkness.  Don  Juan  stood  up and  guided  me and  the
sleepwalker Genaro to an enormous flat oval rock that had caught my eye  the
moment we got to that place. It was  similar to the flat rock we had visited
before, but bigger. It occurred to me that the rock, enormous as it was, had
deliberately been placed there.
     "This is another site," don Juan said. "This huge rock was placed  here
as a trap, to attract people. Soon you'll know why."
     I felt a shiver run through my body. I  thought I was going to faint. I
knew  that I was definitely overreacting  and wanted to  say something about
it, but don Juan  kept on talking in a hoarse whisper. He said  that Genaro,
since he was  dreaming, had enough control over his assemblage point to move
it until he could reach the  specific emanations that would wake up whatever
was around that rock. He recommended that I try to move my assemblage point,
and  follow  Genaro's. He said that I could  do it,  first by setting up  my
unbending  intent to move  it,  and  second  by letting the  context of  the
situation dictate where it should move.
     After  a moment's  thought he whispered in my  ear  not to worry  about
procedures, because most of the really unusual things that happen  to seers,
or to the average man for that  matter, happen by  themselves, with only the
intervention of intent.
     He was silent for a moment  and then added that the  danger  for me was
going to  be the buried seers' inevitable  attempt to scare me to death.  He
exhorted me  to keep  myself  calm and not to succumb  to fear,  but  follow
Genaro's movements.
     I fought desperately not to be sick. Don Juan patted me on the back and
said  that I was an old  pro at playing an innocent bystander. He assured me
that  I was not  consciously refusing to let  my assemblage point  move, but
that every human being does it automatically.
     "Something is  going  to  scare  the living daylights out  of you,"  he
whispered.  "Don't  give  up,  because  if  you  do, you'll  die and the old
vultures around here are going to feast on your energy."
     "Let's get  out of here," I pleaded. "I really don't give a  damn about
getting an example of the old seers' grotesqueness."
     "It's too  late," Genaro said, fully awake  now,  standing by  my side.
"Even if we try to  get  away, the two seers  and their allies on  the other
spot will cut you down. They have already made a circle around us. There are
as many as sixteen awarenesses focused on you right now."
     "Who are they?" I whispered in Genaro's ear.
     "The four seers and their court," he replied. "They've been aware of us
since we got here."
     I wanted to turn  tail  and run for dear life, but don Juan held my arm
and pointed to the sky. I noticed that a remarkable change in visibility had
taken place.  Instead of the pitch-black darkness that had prevailed,  there
was  a pleasant dawn twilight. I  made  a quick assessment  of  the cardinal
points. The sky was definitely lighter toward the east.
     I felt a strange pressure around my head.  My ears were buzzing. I felt
cold and feverish at the same time. I was scared as I had never been before,
but what bothered me was a nagging sensation of defeat, of being a coward. I
felt nauseated and miserable.
     Don Juan whispered in my  ear. He said  that  I had to be on the alert,
that  the onslaught of the old seers would be felt by all three of us at any
     "You can  grab on to me if you want  to," Genaro said in a fast whisper
as if something were prodding him.
     I hesitated  for an instant. I did not want don  Juan to believe that I
was so scared I needed to hold on to Genaro.
     "Here they come!" Genaro said in a loud whisper.
     The  world  turned upside  down instantaneously  for  me when something
gripped me by my left ankle. I felt the coldness of death on my entire body.
I knew I  had stepped on an iron clamp, maybe a bear  trap. That all flashed
through my mind before I let out a piercing scream, as intense as my fright.
     Don Juan  and Genaro laughed  out loud. They were flanking  me  no more
than three feet away, but I was so terrified I did not even notice them.
     "Sing!  Sing for  dear life!" I  heard don Juan ordering me  under  his
     I tried to pull my foot loose. I felt then a sting, as if  needles were
piercing my skin. Don Juan insisted over and over that I sing. He and Genaro
started  to sing a popular song. Genaro spoke the lyrics as he looked  at me
from hardly two inches away. They  sang off-key in raspy voices,  getting so
completely out of breath and so high out of the range of their voices that I
ended up laughing.
     "Sing, or you're going to perish," don Juan said to me.
     "Let's make a trio," Genaro said, "We'll sing a bolero."
     I joined them in an off-key trio. We  sang for quite a while at the top
of  our  voices, like drunkards. I felt  that the  iron grip on  my leg  was
gradually letting go of me. I had not dared to look down at my ankle. At one
moment I did and I  realized then  that there was  no  trap clutching  me. A
dark, headlike shape was biting me!
     Only a supreme effort kept me from fainting. I felt I was getting  sick
and automatically tried to bend over, but somebody with superhuman  strength
grabbed me painlessly by the elbows and the nape  of my neck and did not let
me move. I got sick all over my clothes.
     My revulsion was  so complete that I began to fall in a faint. Don Juan
sprinkled  my face  with some water from  the  small gourd he always carried
when we  went  into the  mountains.  The  water slid  under  my collar.  The
coldness restored my  physical balance, but it did not affect the force that
was holding me by my elbows and neck.
     "I think you are going too far  with your fright," don Juan said loudly
and  in such a matter-of-fact tone  that  he created an immediate feeling of
     "Let's  sing again,"  he added.  "Let's sing a song with substance--  I
don't want any more boleros."
     I silently thanked him for his sobriety and for his grand  style. I was
so moved as I heard them singing "La Valentina" that I began to weep.

     "Because  of my  passion, they say  that ill fortune  is  on my way. It
doesn't matter that it might be the devil himself. I do know how to die
     Valentina, Valentina. I throw my self in your way. If I am going to die
tomorrow, why not, once and for all, today?"

     All  of my  being  staggered under  the  impact  of  that inconceivable
juxtaposition of  values. Never had a song  meant so much to me.  As I heard
them sing those lyrics, which I  ordinarily  considered reeking  with  cheap
sentimentalism, I thought I understood  the ethos  of the  warrior. Don Juan
had  drilled into me that warriors live with death at their  side, and  from
the  knowledge that  death is  with  them  they  draw  the courage  to  face
anything. Don Juan had  said that the  worst that could happen to us is that
we have to die, and since that is already our unalterable fate, we are free;
those who have lost everything no longer have anything to fear.
     I  walked  to  don Juan  and Genaro  and  embraced them  to express  my
boundless gratitude and admiration for them.
     Then I realized that nothing was  holding me any longer. Without a word
don Juan took my arm and guided me to sit on the flat rock.
     "The show is  just about to begin now," Genaro said in a jovial tone as
he  tried  to  find a comfortable  position  to sit.  "You've just paid your
admission ticket. It's all over your chest."
     He looked at me, and both of them began to laugh.
     "Don't sit too close to me," Genaro  said. "I don't  appreciate pukers.
But don't go too far, either. The old  seers are not yet  through with their
     I moved as close to them as politeness permitted. I was concerned about
my slate  for  an instant,  and  then all my  qualms became  nonsense, for I
noticed  that some people were coming toward us. I could not make  out their
shapes clearly but I distinguished a  mass  of  human figures  moving in the
semidarkness. They did not carry lanterns or flashlights with them, which at
that hour  they would still have needed. Somehow that  detail worried me.  I
did not want to focus on it  and I deliberately began to think rationally. I
figured that we must have attracted attention with our loud singing and they
were coming to investigate. Don Juan tapped me on the  shoulder. He  pointed
with a movement of his chin to the men in front of the group of others.
     "Those four are the old seers," he said. "The rest are their allies."
     Before I could remark  that they  were  just local peasants, I  heard a
swishing sound right behind me. I quickly turned around in  a state of total
alarm. My movement was so sudden that don Juan's warning came too late.
     "Don't turn around!" I heard him yell.
     His words  were  only background; they did not mean anything to  me. On
turning around, I saw that three grotesquely deformed men had  climbed up on
the rock right  behind me; they were crawling  toward me,  with their mouths
open in a nightmarish grimace and their arms outstretched to grab me.
     I  intended to scream at the top of my lungs, but what came out was  an
agonizing   croak,   as  if  something  were  obstructing  my  windpipe.   I
automatically rolled out of their reach and onto the ground.
     As I stood up, don Juan jumped to my side, at the very same moment that
a horde  of men, led by those don Juan had pointed out, descended on me like
vultures.  They were  actually squeaking  like bats  or  rats. I  yelled  in
terror. This time I was able to let out a piercing cry.
     Don Juan, as nimbly  as  an athlete in top form, pulled me out of their
clutches onto the rock. He told me  in a stern  voice  not to turn around to
look, no matter  how scared I was.  He said that  the  allies cannot push at
all,  but that they certainly could scare me and make me fall to the ground.
On the ground,  however,  the  allies could hold anybody down. If I  were to
fall on the ground by the place where the  seers were buried, I  would be at
their mercy. They  would rip me apart  while their allies held me. He  added
that  he  had not told me all that before because  he had hoped  I would  be
forced to see and  understand it by myself. His  decision had nearly cost me
my life.
     The sensation that  the  grotesque men  were just  behind me was nearly
unbearable.  Don Juan  forcefully  ordered  me  to keep  calm and  focus  my
attention on four men at the head of a crowd of perhaps ten or  twelve.  The
instant I focused my eyes on them, as if  on cue, they all advanced  to  the
edge of the flat rock. They  stopped  there and began hissing like serpents.
They walked back and forth. Their movement seemed to be synchronized. It was
so consistent and orderly that it seemed to be mechanical. It was as if they
were following a repetitive pattern, aimed at mesmerizing me.
     "Don't gaze at them, dear,"  Genaro said to me as if he were talking to
a child.
     The laughter that  followed was as hysterical as my fear. I laughed  so
hard that the sound reverberated on the surrounding hills.
     The men stopped at once and seemed to be perplexed. I could distinguish
the shapes  of their  heads  bobbing up  and  down  as if they were talking,
deliberating among themselves. Then one of them jumped onto the rock.
     "Watch out! That one is a seer!" Genaro exclaimed.
     "What are we going to do?" I shouted.
     "We could start singing again," don Juan replied matter-of-factly.
     My fear reached its apex then. I began to jump up and down and  to roar
like an animal. The man jumped down to the ground.
     "Don't pay any  more attention to those clowns," don Juan said.  "Let's
talk as usual."
     He  said  that we had gone there  for my enlightenment, and  that I was
failing miserably. I had to reorganize myself. The first thing to  do was to
realize  that  my  assemblage  point had  moved and  was now making  obscure
emanations glow. To carry the feelings from my usual state of awareness into
the world I had assembled was indeed  a travesty, for fear is only prevalent
among the emanations of daily life.
     I told him that if my assemblage point had shifted as he was  saying it
had, I had news for him. My fear was infinitely greater and more devastating
than anything I had ever experienced in my daily life.
     "You're wrong," he said. "Your first attention is confused and  doesn't
want to give up control, that's all. I have the feeling that  you could walk
right  up to  those creatures and  face them and they wouldn't do a thing to
     I  insisted  that I was  definitely  in  no condition  to  test  such a
preposterous thing as that.
     He laughed at me. He said that sooner or later  I had to cure myself of
my madness, and that to take the initiative and face up to  those four seers
was  infinitely less  preposterous than  the idea that I was seeing  them at
all. He said  that to him madness was to  be confronted by  men who had been
buried  for two  thousand years and were still  alive, and not to think that
that was the epitome of preposterousness.
     I heard everything he said with  clarity, but I was not  really  paying
attention to him. I was terrified of the men around the rock. They seemed to
be preparing to jump us, to jump me really. They were fixed on  me. My right
arm began to shake as if I were  stricken by some muscular disorder. Then  I
became aware that the light in the sky had changed. I had not noticed before
that it was already dawn. The strange thing was that an  uncontrollable urge
made me stand up and run to the group of men.
     I  had at that moment two completely different  feelings about the same
event. The minor one  was of sheer terror. The other,  the major one, was of
total indifference. I could not have cared less.
     When I reached the group I realized that don Juan was right; they  were
not really men. Only four of them had any resemblance to  men, but they were
not men  either;  they were strange  creatures  with huge  yellow eyes.  The
others were just shapes that were propelled by the four that resembled men.
     I  felt  extraordinarily  sad for those creatures  with yellow  eyes. I
tried to  touch them, but I could not find them. Some  sort of wind  scooped
them away.
     I looked for  don  Juan  and  Genaro.  They  were  not  there.  It  was
pitch-black again. I called out their names  over and over again. I thrashed
around  in darkness for a few minutes. Don Juan came to my side and startled
me. I did not see Genaro.
     "Let's go home," he said. "We have a long walk."

     Don Juan commented  on how  well  I had  performed  at the  site of the
buried seers, especially during the last part of our encounter with them. He
said that a shift of the assemblage point is marked by a change in light. In
the daytime, light  becomes very dark; at night,  darkness becomes twilight.
He added that  I had  performed  two shifts  by myself, aided only by animal
fright.  The only  thing  he found  objectionable was my indulging  in fear,
especially after I had realized that warriors have nothing to fear.
     "How do you know I had realized that?" I asked.
     "Because you  were free. When fear disappears all the ties that bind us
dissolve," he said. "An ally was gripping your foot because it was attracted
by your animal terror."
     I  told  him  how  sorry  I  was  for  not  being  able  to  uphold  my
     "Don't concern  yourself with that." He  laughed. "You  know that  such
realizations are a dime a dozen; they  don't amount to  anything in the life
of warriors, because they are canceled out as the assemblage point shifts.
     "What Genaro and I wanted to do was to make you shift very deeply. This
time  Genaro was there  simply  to  entice  the  old seers. He did  it  once
already, and you went so  far into the left side  that it will  take quite a
while for  you to remember it. Your fright tonight was just as intense as it
was  that first time when the seers  and their allies followed  you to  this
very  room,  but your sturdy first attention wouldn't  let you  be  aware of
     "Explain to me what happened at the site of the seers," I asked.
     "The allies came out to see you," he replied. "Since they have very low
energy,  they always need the  help of  men. The four seers  have  collected
twelve allies.
     "The countryside in Mexico and also certain cities are  dangerous. What
happened to you can happen to any man or woman. If they bump into that tomb,
they may even see the seers and  their allies, if they are pliable enough to
let  their  fear make  their assemblage  points shift; but one  thing is for
sure: they can die of fright."
     "But do you honestly believe that those Toltec seers  are still alive?"
I asked.
     He laughed and shook his head in disbelief.
     "It's time for you to shift that assemblage point of yours just a bit,"
he said. "I can't talk to you when you are in your idiot's stage."
     He  smacked  me with the palm of his  hand on three spots: right on the
crest of  my  right hipbone, on the  center  of my  back  below my  shoulder
blades, and on the upper part of my right pectoral muscle.
     My  ears immediately began to buzz. A  trickle of  blood ran out of  my
right nostril, and something  inside me became unplugged.  It was as if some
flow of energy had been blocked and suddenly began to move again.
     "What were those seers and their allies after?" I asked.
     "Nothing,"  he  replied. "We  were the  ones who were  after them.  The
seers, of course, had already noticed  your field of  energy the first  time
you saw them; when you came back, they were set to feast on you."
     "You claim that they  are alive, don Juan," I said. "You must mean that
they are alive as allies are alive, is that so?"
     "That's  exactly right," he said. "They cannot possibly be alive as you
and I are. That would be preposterous."
     He went on to explain  that the ancient  seers' concern with death made
them look into  the most bizarre possibilities. The ones who opted  for  the
allies' pattern had in mind, doubtless, a desire for a haven. And they found
it, at a  fixed position in one  of the seven bands of inorganic  awareness.
The  seers felt that they  were relatively safe there.  After all, they were
separated  from the  daily  world  by a nearly  insurmountable barrier,  the
barrier of perception set by the assemblage point.
     "When the  four seers saw that  you could shift  your assemblage  point
they took off like bats out of hell," he said and laughed.
     "Do you mean that I assembled one of the seven worlds?" I asked.
     "No,  you  didn't," he  replied. "But you have done it before, when the
seers  and their  allies chased you. That day you went all  the way to their
world. The problem is  that you love to act stupid, so you can't remember it
at all.
     "I'm sure  that  it  is  the  nagual's  presence,"  he continued, "that
sometimes makes people act  dumb. When the nagual Julian was still around, I
was dumber than I am  now. I am  convinced that  when  I'm no  longer  here,
you'll be capable of remembering everything."
     Don Juan explained that since he needed to  show me  the death defiers,
he and Genaro had lured them to the outskirts of our world. What I had  done
at first was a  deep lateral shift, which allowed me to see  them as people,
but at the  end I had correctly  made the  shift that  allowed me to see the
death defiers and their allies as they are.

     Very early the  next morning, at Silvio Manuel's house, don Juan called
me to the big room  to  discuss the events  of the  previous  night. I  felt
exhausted  and wanted to  rest, to sleep, but don Juan was pressed for time.
He immediately started his explanation. He said that the old seers had found
out  a way  to utilize the rolling force and be propelled by it.  Instead of
succumbing to the onslaughts of  the  tumbler they rode with  it and  let it
move their assemblage points to the confines of human possibilities.
     Don  Juan expressed unbiased admiration for such  an accomplishment. He
admitted that nothing  else  could  give the assemblage point the boost that
the tumbler gives.
     I asked  him  about  the  difference between the earth's boost and  the
tumbler's  boost. He  explained  that  the  earth's boost  is  the force  of
alignment  of  only  the  amber  emanations,  it is  a  boost that heightens
awareness  to unthinkable degrees.  To  the  new  seers  it is  a  blast  of
unlimited consciousness, which they call total freedom.
     He said that  the tumbler's boost, on the other  hand,  is the force of
death.  Under the impact of the tumbler, the assemblage point  moves to new,
unpredictable  positions. Thus,  the  old  seers were always  alone in their
journeys, although the enterprise they were involved in was always communal.
The  company of other seers  on their journeys  was  fortuitous  and usually
meant struggle for supremacy.
     I  confessed to don Juan that  the concerns of  the old seers, whatever
they may have  been, were worse than  morbid horror tales to me. He  laughed
uproariously. He seemed to be enjoying himself.
     "You have to admit, no matter how disgusted you feel, that those devils
were very daring," he went on. "I never liked them myself, as  you know, but
I can't help admiring them. Their love for life is truly beyond me."
     "How can that be love for life, don Juan? It's something nauseating," I
     "What  else  could push  a man to those extremes if it  is not love for
life?" he asked. "They loved life so intensely that they were not willing to
give it up. That's the way I have seen it. My benefactor saw something else.
He believed that they were  afraid  to die, which is not the same  as loving
life. I say that they were afraid to die because they loved life and because
they had seen marvels, and not because they were greedy little monsters. No.
They were aberrant because nobody ever challenged them and they were spoiled
like rotten children, but  their  daring was  impeccable  and  so was  their
     "Would you venture into  the unknown  out of greed? No way. Greed works
only  in  the  world of ordinary affairs. To  venture  into  that terrifying
loneliness one must have something greater than greed. Love, one needs  love
for life,  for intrigue, for  mystery. One  needs  unquenching curiosity and
guts galore. So don't give me  this nonsense about your being revolted. It's
     Don Juan's eyes were shining with contained laughter. He was putting me
in my place, but he was laughing at it.

     Don  Juan  left  me alone in the room for  perhaps an hour. I wanted to
organize my thoughts and feelings. I  had no way to do  that. I knew without
any doubt that  my assemblage point  was at a  position where reasoning does
not prevail, yet I was moved by reasonable concerns. Don Juan  had said that
technically,  as  soon as the  assemblage point  shifts,  we  are  asleep. I
wondered, for instance, if I was sound asleep from the stand of an onlooker,
just as Genaro had been asleep to me.
     I asked don Juan about it as soon as he returned.
     "You  are absolutely  asleep without having  to  be stretched  out," he
replied.  "If people in a normal  state of awareness saw  you now, you would
appear to them to be a bit dizzy, even drunk."
     He  explained that  during normal  sleep, the  shift  of the assemblage
point  runs along either edge of  man's band. Such shifts are always coupled
with slumber. Shifts that are induced by practice occur along the midsection
of man's band and are not coupled with slumber, yet a dreamer is asleep.
     "Right at this  juncture is where the  new and the old seers made their
separate bids for power," he went on. "The old seers wanted a replica of the
body, but with more physical strength, so they  made their assemblage points
slide  along  the right edge of man's band. The  deeper they moved along the
right  edge the more  bizarre their  dreaming body  became.  You,  yourself,
witnessed last night the  monstrous result of  a deep shift along  the right
     He  said  that  the  new  seers  were completely  different,  that they
maintain their assemblage points along the midsection  of man's band. If the
shift is a shallow one,  like  the  shift  into  heightened  awareness,  the
dreamer  is almost like  anyone  else in the street,  except  for  a  slight
vulnerability to emotions, such as fear  and doubt. But at a certain  degree
of depth, the dreamer who is shifting along the midsection becomes a blob of
light. A blob of light is the dreaming body of the new seers.
     He also said that such an impersonal dreaming body is more conducive to
understanding and examination, which are the  basis of all the new seers do.
The intensely humanized dreaming  body of the old seers drove  them to  look
for answers that were equally personal, humanized.
     Don Juan suddenly seemed to be groping for words.
     "There is  another death defier," he  said curtly,  "so unlike the four
you've seen that he's  indistinguishable from the average man in the street.
He's accomplished this  unique feat by being able to open and  close his gap
whenever he wants."
     He played with his fingers almost nervously.
     "The ancient seer that the nagual Sebastian found in 1723 is that death
defier," he went  on. "We count that day as the  beginning of our line,  the
second beginning. That death defier, who's been on the earth for hundreds of
years, has changed the lives of every nagual  he  met, some more  profoundly
than others.  And he has met every single nagual of  our line since that day
in 1723."
     Don  Juan looked fixedly at  me. I got strangely embarrassed. I thought
my embarrassment  was  the  result  of  a dilemma. I had very serious doubts
about the  content  of  the  story, and at the  same time  I  had  the  most
disconcerting  trust that everything he had said was  true. I  expressed  my
quandary to him.
     "The problem  of rational disbelief is not yours alone," don Juan said.
"My benefactor  was at first plagued by the same question.  Of course, later
on he  remembered  everything. But it took him a long time to do so.  When I
met him he had  already recollected everything,  so  I  never witnessed  his
doubts. I only heard about them.
     "The weird part is that people who have  never set eyes on the man have
less difficulty accepting that he's one of the original seers. My benefactor
said  that  his  quandaries stemmed from the fact that the shock of  meeting
such a  creature  had lumped together a  number of emanations. It takes time
for those emanations to separate themselves."
     Don Juan  went  on to  explain  that  as  my assemblage  point kept  on
shifting,  a moment would come when it  would hit the proper  combination of
emanations; at  that  moment the  proof  of the existence of  that man would
become overwhelmingly evident to me.
     I felt compelled to talk again about my ambivalence.
     "We're deviating from  our subject," he  said.  "It  may seem  that I'm
trying to  convince you of  the existence of that man; and  what  I meant to
talk about is  the fact that the  old seer knows how  to handle  the rolling
force. Whether or not you  believe that he  exists is not important. Someday
you'll  know for a fact that he certainly  succeeded in closing his gap. The
energy  that he borrows from the nagual every generation he uses exclusively
to close his gap."
     "How did he succeed in closing it?" I asked.
     "There  is no  way  of knowing that," he replied. "I've  talked  to two
other naguals who  saw  that man  face to  face, the  nagual Julian and  the
nagual Elias. Neither of them knew how. The man never revealed how he closes
that opening, which  I suppose  begins  to expand after  a  time. The nagual
Sebastian said that when  he first saw the old seer, the man was  very weak,
actually  dying.  But  my benefactor  found him prancing vigorously, like  a
young man."
     Don  Juan said  that the nagual  Sebastian nicknamed that nameless  man
"the  tenant," for they  struck an arrangement  by which the man  was  given
energy,  lodging so  to speak, and he  paid  rent in the form of favors  and
     "Did anybody ever get hurt in the exchange?" I asked.
     "None of the  naguals  who exchanged  energy with him was  injured," he
replied. "The man's commitment was that he'd only take a  bit of superfluous
energy  from the nagual  in exchange for gifts, for extraordinary abilities.
For instance, the nagual Julian  got  the gait  of power. With it,  he could
activate  or make dormant the emanations inside  his cocoon in order to look
young or old at will."
     Don Juan  explained  that the death defiers in general went  as  far as
rendering dormant all the emanations inside their cocoons, except those that
matched the emanations  of the  allies.  In this  fashion they  were able to
imitate the allies in some form.
     Each  of the death defiers  we  had encountered  at the  rock, don Juan
said,  had been able to  move his assemblage point  to a precise spot on his
cocoon  in order to emphasize the  emanations shared with  the allies and to
interact with them. But they  were  all unable  to move it back to its usual
position and interact with people. The tenant, on the other hand, is capable
of  shifting  his  assemblage point  to assemble  the everyday  world  as if
nothing had ever happened.
     Don Juan also said that his benefactor  was convinced--  and  he  fully
agreed with him-- that what takes place  during the borrowing of  energy  is
that the old  sorcerer moves the nagual's assemblage point to  emphasize the
ally's emanations inside the nagual's cocoon. He then uses the great jolt of
energy produced by those emanations that suddenly become aligned after being
so deeply dormant.
     He  said  that the energy  locked within us, in the dormant emanations,
has a tremendous force and an incalculable scope. We can only vaguely assess
the scope of that tremendous force, if we consider  that the energy involved
in perceiving and acting in  the world of everyday life is  a product of the
alignment of hardly one-tenth of the emanations encased in man's cocoon.
     "What  happens  at  the moment of death  is  that all  that  energy  is
released  at  once," he continued.  "Living beings  at  that  moment  become
flooded  by the most inconceivable  force. It is  not the rolling force that
has cracked their gaps, because that force never  enters inside  the cocoon;
it  only makes  it  collapse. What floods  them  is  the  force  of  all the
emanations that  are  suddenly  aligned after being dormant  for a lifetime.
There is no outlet for such a giant force except to escape through the gap."
     He added  that the old sorcerer has found a way to tap that energy.  By
aligning a limited  and very  specific  spectrum of  the dormant  emanations
inside the nagual's cocoon, the old seer taps a limited but gigantic jolt.
     "How do you think he takes that energy into his own body?" I asked.
     "By  cracking the nagual's  gap," he replied.  "He moves  the  nagual's
assemblage point until the  gap  opens a  little. When  the  energy of newly
aligned  emanations is  released through that opening, he takes it into  his
own gap."
     "Why is that old seer doing what he's doing?" I asked.
     "My  opinion  is  that  he's  caught  in a circle  he  can't break," he
replied. "We got into an agreement with him. He's doing his best to keep it,
and so are we. We can't judge him, yet we have to know that his path doesn't
lead to freedom.  He knows that, and he also knows he can't  change it; he's
trapped  in  a situation of his own making. The only thing  he  can do is to
prolong his ally-like existence as long as he possibly can."

     16 The Mold of Man

     Right after lunch, don Juan and I sat  down to talk. He started without
any  preamble. He announced that  we had come to the end of his explanation.
He said that he had discussed with me, in painstaking detail, all the truths
about awareness  that the old  seers had  discovered. He stressed that I now
knew the  order in  which the  new  seers  had arranged  them. In  the  last
sessions of his explanation, he said, he had given me a  detailed account of
the two forces that aid our assemblage points to move: the earth's boost and
the rolling  force. He had also explained the three techniques worked out by
the new  seers-- stalking, intent, and dreaming  -- and their effects on the
movement of the assemblage point.
     "Now, the only thing  left for you to do before the explanation  of the
mastery of awareness is  completed," he went on, "is to break the barrier of
perception by  yourself.  You  must move your  assemblage point,  unaided by
anyone, and align another great band of emanations.
     "Not  to do this  will turn everything you've learned and done  with me
into merely talk, just words. And words are fairly cheap."
     He  explained that when  the  assemblage point  is moving away from its
customary  position and reaches a certain depth,  it breaks  a  barrier that
momentarily disrupts its capacity to align emanations. We experience it as a
moment of perceptual blankness. The old seers called that moment the wall of
fog, because  a  bank  of  fog appears whenever the alignment  of emanations
     He said  that there  were three ways of dealing  with it.  It  could be
taken abstractly as a barrier of perception; it could  be felt as the act of
piercing a tight paper screen with the entire body; or it could be seen as a
wall of fog.
     In  the  course  of my apprenticeship with  don Juan, he  had guided me
countless times to see the barrier of perception. At first  I had  liked the
idea of a wall of  fog. Don Juan had warned me  that the old  seers had also
preferred to see it that  way.  He had said that there  is great comfort and
ease in seeing it as a  wall of fog, but that there is also the grave danger
of turning something incomprehensible into something  somber and foreboding;
hence,   his   recommendation    was   to   keep   incomprehensible   things
incomprehensible rather than  making them part of the inventory of the first
     After a short-lived feeling of comfort in seeing  the wall of fog I had
to  agree with don Juan that it was better to  keep the transition period as
an  incomprehensible abstraction, but by then  it  was  impossible for me to
break the fixation of my awareness. Every time I was placed in a position to
break the barrier of perception I saw the wall of fog.
     On one occasion, in the  past, I had  complained to don Juan and Genaro
that  although I  wanted to  see it as something else, I couldn't change it.
Don Juan had commented  that  that  was understandable, because I was morbid
and somber,  that  he and  I were  very different in  this  respect.  He was
lighthearted and practical and he did not worship the human inventory. I, on
the  other hand,  was  unwilling  to throw my  inventory  out the window and
consequently I was heavy, sinister, and impractical. I had been  shocked and
saddened by his harsh criticism  and became very gloomy. Don Juan and Genaro
had laughed until tears rolled down their cheeks.
     Genaro had added that on  top of all that I was  vindictive  and  had a
tendency to get fat. They had laughed so hard I finally felt obliged to join
     Don  Juan had told me  then that exercises  of assembling  other worlds
allowed the  assemblage  point to gain experience in shifting.  I had always
wondered,  however, how to get the initial boost to  dislodge  my assemblage
point from its usual position.  When I'd questioned him about it in the past
he'd  pointed out  that  since alignment  is  the force that is involved  in
everything, intent is what makes the assemblage point move.
     I asked him again about it.
     "You're  in  a  position  now  to  answer  that  question yourself," he
replied. "The  mastery of  awareness is  what gives the assemblage point its
boost. After all, there is really very little to us human beings; we are, in
essence, an assemblage  point fixed at a certain position. Our enemy  and at
the  same time our  friend  is  our internal dialogue, our  inventory. Be  a
warrior; shut off your internal dialogue; make your inventory and then throw
it away.  The new  seers make accurate inventories and then  laugh at  them.
Without the inventory the assemblage point becomes free."
     Don Juan reminded me that he  had  talked a great deal about one of the
most sturdy aspects of our inventory: our idea of God. That aspect, he said,
was  like a powerful  glue that bound the assemblage  point  to its original
position. If I were going to assemble another true world  with another great
band of emanations, I had to take an obligatory step in order to release all
ties from my assemblage point.
     "That step is to see the mold of man," he said. "You must do that today
     "What's the mold of man?" I asked.
     "I've  helped you see  it many times," he replied. "You know  what  I'm
talking about."
     I refrained from saying that  I did not know what he was talking about.
If he said that I had seen the  mold of man, I must have done that, although
I did not have the foggiest idea what it was like.
     He knew what was going through  my mind. He gave me a knowing smile and
slowly shook his head from side to side.
     "The mold of man is a huge cluster of emanations in  the great band  of
organic life," he  said. "It is called  the mold of man because the  cluster
appears only inside the cocoon of man.
     "The mold of man is  the portion  of the Eagle's emanations  that seers
can see directly without any danger to themselves."
     There was a long pause before he spoke again.
     "To break the barrier  of perception is the last task of the mastery of
awareness,"  he  said.  "In order to  move  your  assemblage  point to  that
position you must gather enough energy. Make a journey of recovery. Remember
what you've done!"
     I tried  unsuccessfully to recall what was  the mold  of man. I felt an
excruciating frustration  that soon  turned into real anger. I  was  furious
with myself, with don Juan, with everybody.
     Don Juan was untouched by my fury.  He said matter-of-factly that anger
was a natural reaction to the hesitation of the assemblage point to  move on
     "It will be a long time before  you can apply the principle  that  your
command is the Eagle's command," he said. "That's the essence of the mastery
of intent. In the meantime, make a command now not to  fret, not even at the
worst moments of doubt. It will be  a slow  process  until  that command  is
heard and obeyed as if it were the Eagle's command."
     He also  said  that  there was an  unmeasurable  area of  awareness  in
between  the customary  position of  the assemblage  point and  the position
where there are no more doubts, which is almost the place where  the barrier
of perception makes its appearance. In that unmeasurable area, warriors fall
prey to every conceivable misdeed. He warned me to be on the lockout and not
lose confidence, for I would unavoidably be struck at one time or another by
gripping feelings of defeat.
     "The new seers recommend a very simple act when impatience, or despair,
or anger, or  sadness comes their  way," he continued. "They  recommend that
warriors roll  their eyes.  Any  direction will do;  I prefer to  roll  mine
     "The movement of the eyes makes the assemblage point shift momentarily.
In that movement, you will  find relief. This is in lieu of true mastery  of
     I  complained that there was not  enough  time for him to  tell me more
about intent.
     "It will all come  back to you someday," he assured me. "One thing will
trigger another. One key word and all of it will tumble out of you as if the
door of an overstuffed closet had given way."
     He went back then to discussing the mold of man. He said that to see it
on my own, unaided by anyone, was an important step, because all of us  have
certain ideas that must be broken before we are  free; the seer who  travels
into  the unknown to  see the unknowable must be in  an impeccable  state of
     He  winked at me and said that to be in an impeccable state of being is
to be free of rational assumptions and rational fears. He added that both my
rational assumptions and my rational fears were preventing me at that moment
from realigning the emanations  that would make  me remember seeing the mold
of man. He urged me to relax and move my eyes in order to make my assemblage
point  shift. He repeated  over  and over  that  it was  really important to
remember  having  seen the mold  before I see  it  again. And  since  he was
pressed for time there was no room for my usual slowness.
     I  moved  my eyes as  he suggested.  Almost  immediately  I  forgot  my
discomfort  and then a sudden flash of  memory came  to me and I  remembered
that I had  seen the  mold  of  man.  It  had happened  years earlier  on an
occasion that had been quite memorable to me, because from the point of view
of  my  Catholic  upbringing,  don  Juan  had  made  the  most  sacrilegious
statements I had ever heard.
     It  had all started as  a  casual conversation  while  we hiked  in the
foothills of the Sonoran desert. He was explaining to me the implications of
what he was  doing to me with  his teachings. We had stopped to rest and had
sat down on some large  boulders. He had continued  explaining his  teaching
procedure,  and this had encouraged me to try for the hundredth time to give
him an  account of  how I felt about it. It was evident that he did not want
to hear about it anymore. He  made me change levels of awareness and told me
that if I would see the mold  of  man, I might  understand everything he was
doing and thus save us both years of toil.
     He gave me a detailed explanation of what the  mold  of man was. He did
not talk about it  in terms of the  Eagle's emanations,  but  in  terms of a
pattern  of energy that  serves to stamp  the  qualities of  humanness on an
amorphous blob of  biological  matter. At  least, I understood  it that way,
especially  after he  further described  the mold  of man using a mechanical
analogy. He  said  that  it was  like a gigantic die that stamps  out  human
beings endlessly as if they were coming to it on a mass-production  conveyor
belt.  He vividly mimed  the process  by  bringing  the palms  of his  hands
together with great force, as if the die molded  a human being each time its
two halves were clapped.
     He also  said  that  every species has a mold  of  its  own,  and every
individual  of  every species  molded  by the process  shows characteristics
particular to its own kind.
     He began  then an extremely  disturbing elucidation about the  mold  of
man. He said that the old seers as well as the mystics of our world have one
thing in common--  they  have been  able to  see  the  mold  of  man but not
understand  what it  is.  Mystics,  throughout the centuries, have given  us
moving accounts of their experiences. But these accounts, however beautiful,
are flawed by  the gross and despairing mistake of believing the mold of man
to be an omnipotent, omniscient creator; and so is the interpretation of the
old seers, who called the mold of man a friendly spirit, a protector of man.
     He said that the new  seers are the only ones who  have the sobriety to
see  the mold of  man  and  understand what  it is.  What  they have come to
realize is that the  mold of man is not a creator, but  the pattern of every
human attribute we can think of and some we cannot  even  conceive. The mold
is our God because  we  are  what it stamps  us  with and not because it has
created us from nothing and made us in its image and likeness. Don Juan said
that  in his opinion to fall on our knees in the presence of the mold of man
reeks of arrogance and human self-centeredness.
     As I heard don Juan's explanation I got terribly worried. Even though I
had never considered my self to be a practicing Catholic,  I was  shocked by
his  blasphemous  implications. I had been politely listening to him, yet  I
had  been  yearning for a pause  in his barrage of sacrilegious judgments in
order  to  change the  subject.  But he  went on  drumming his  point  in  a
merciless way. I finally interrupted  him and  told him that I believed that
God exists.
     He  retorted that my belief was  based on faith  and,  as  such, was  a
secondhand  conviction  that  did not amount to anything;  my belief in  the
existence of God  was, like everyone else's, based on hearsay and not on the
act of seeing, he said.
     He assured me that even if  I was  able to see, I was bound to make the
same misjudgment that mystics  have made.  Anyone  who sees  the mold of man
automatically assumes that it is God.
     He called the mystical  experience  a chance  seeing, a one-shot affair
that has no significance whatsoever  because it  is  the result of a  random
movement of the assemblage point. He asserted that the new seers are  indeed
the only ones who can pass a fair judgment on this matter, because they have
ruled out  chance seeings and are capable of seeing the mold of man as often
as they please.
     They  have seen, therefore, that what we call God is a static prototype
of humanness without  any  power.  For  the  mold of  man  cannot  under any
circumstances  help  us  by  intervening  in  our  behalf,  or   punish  our
wrongdoings,  or reward us  in  any  way. We are  simply the product  of its
stamp; we are its impression. The mold of man is exactly what its name tells
us it is, a pattern, a form, a cast that groups together a particular  bunch
of fiberlike elements, which we call man.
     What  he  had said  put me in a state  of great distress. But he seemed
unconcerned with my  genuine  turmoil. He kept on needling me  with  what he
called the unforgivable crime of the chance seers, which makes us focus  our
irreplaceable  energy  on  something that has  no  power  whatsoever  to  do
anything.  The more he  talked, the  greater my annoyance. When  I became so
annoyed that I was about to shout at him, he had me change into yet a deeper
state of heightened  awareness. He  hit  me  on  my right  side, between  my
hipbone and my  rib  cage. That  blow sent me soaring into a  radiant light,
into a diaphanous source of the  most peaceful and exquisite beatitude. That
light was a haven, an oasis in the blackness around me.
     From my subjective  point of view, I saw that light for an immeasurable
length of time. The splendor of the sight was beyond anything I can say, and
yet I  could not figure out what it was that made  it so beautiful. Then the
idea came to  me that its beauty grew out of a sense of harmony, a  sense of
peace and rest, of having arrived, of being safe at long last. I felt myself
inhaling and  exhaling  in quietude and  relief.  What  a gorgeous  sense of
plenitude! I knew beyond a shadow of doubt that I had come face to face with
God, the  source of everything. And I  knew that God loved me. God was  love
and forgiveness. The light bathed me,  and I felt  clean,  delivered. I wept
uncontrollably, mainly for myself. The sight of that resplendent light  made
me feel unworthy, villainous.
     Suddenly, I heard don Juan's voice in my ear.  He said that I had to go
beyond the mold, that the mold was  merely  a stage, a stopover that brought
temporary peace and serenity to those who journey into the unknown, but that
it was sterile, static. It  was at the same time a flat reflected image in a
mirror and the mirror itself. And the image was man's image.
     I passionately resented what  don Juan  was saying;  I rebelled against
his  blasphemous, sacrilegious words.  I wanted to tell him off, but I could
not  break the  binding power of my seeing. I was  caught  in it.  Don  Juan
seemed to know exactly how I felt and what I wanted to tell him.
     "You can't tell the nagual off," he said in my ear. "It is  the  nagual
who's enabling you to see. It is the nagual's technique, the nagual's power.
The nagual is the guide."
     It was  at that point  that I realized  something about the voice in my
ear. It  was not don Juan's, although it  sounded very  much like his voice.
Also, the voice was right. The instigator of that seeing was the nagual Juan
Matus. It was  his technique and  his power that was  making me see  God. He
said it was not God, but the mold of man; I  knew that  he was right.  Yet I
could not admit that, not out  of annoyance or stubbornness, but simply  out
of a  sense  of ultimate loyalty to  and love for  the divinity that  was in
front of me.
     As I gazed into the  light with all the  passion I was  capable of, the
light seemed to condense and I  saw a man. A shiny man that exuded charisma,
love, understanding, sincerity,  truth. A man  that was the sum total of all
that is good.
     The  fervor  I felt on seeing that  man  was well beyond anything I had
ever  felt in my  life.  I did fall on my knees.  I  wanted  to worship  God
personified,  but don Juan intervened and whacked me on my left upper chest,
close to my clavicle, and I lost sight of God.
     I was left with  a tantalizing feeling, a mixture of  remorse, elation,
certainties,  and doubts.  Don  Juan made fun of me.  He called me pious and
careless and said  I would make a great priest; now  I could even pass for a
spiritual  leader who  had  had a chance  seeing  of  God.  He  urged me, in
ajocular way, to start preaching and describe what I had seen to everyone.
     In a very casual but  seemingly  interested  manner he made a statement
that was part question, part assertion.
     "And the man?" he asked. "You can't forget that God is a male."
     The immensity of something indefinable began to dawn on me as I entered
into a state of great clarity.
     "Very  cozy,  eh?"  don  Juan added,  smiling. "God is a  male.  What a
     After recounting to don Juan what  I  had remembered, I asked him about
something that had just struck me as being terribly odd. To see the mold  of
man,  I  had obviously  gone  through  a shift  of  my assemblage point. The
recollection of the  feelings and realizations I had had  then  was so vivid
that it gave me a sense of utter futility. Everything I had done and felt at
that time I was feeling now. I asked him how it was possible that having had
such a  clear comprehension, I could have forgotten it so completely. It was
as if nothing of what had happened to me had  mattered, for I always  had to
start from point  one regardless  of how  much I might  have advanced in the
     "That's  only   an   emotional   impression,"   he   said.   "A   total
misapprehension.  Whatever you did  years ago  is  solidly  enclosed in some
unused  emanations.  That  day when  I made  you see the  mold  of  man, for
instance, I had a true misapprehension myself. I thought that if you saw it,
you  would be  able to understand it.  It was a  true misunderstanding on my
     Don Juan explained that  he  had always regarded himself as being  very
slow to  understand.  He had never  had any  chance  of testing  his belief,
because  he did not  have a  point of reference.  When I  came  along and he
became  a teacher, which was something totally new to him, he  realized that
there  is  no  way  to speed  up understanding  and  that  to  dislodge  the
assemblage point is not enough. He had thought  that it would be sufficient.
Soon he became aware that  since the assemblage point normally shifts during
dreams, sometimes to extraordinarily distant positions, whenever  we undergo
an  induced shift we  are all experts at immediately compensating for it. We
rebalance ourselves  constantly  and  activity  goes  on  as  if nothing has
happened to us.
     He  remarked that  the value  of  the  new seers' conclusions  does not
become evident until one tries to move someone else's assemblage point.  The
new seers  said  that what counts in this respect is the effort to reinforce
the stability of the assemblage  point in its  new position. They considered
this to be the only teaching  procedure worth discussing. And they knew that
it  is  a long process that  has  to be carried out  little by  little  at a
snail's pace.
     Don Juan said then that he had used power plants at the beginning of my
apprenticeship  in accordance  with a recommendation of the  new seers. They
knew by  experience  and by seeing that  power  plants shake the  assemblage
point  way out  of its normal setting.  The  effect  of power  plants on the
assemblage  point is in principle very much like that of dreams: dreams make
it move; but power plants manage the  shift on a greater  and more engulfing
scale.  A teacher  then uses  the disorienting  effects  of such a shift  to
reinforce the notion that the perception of the world is never final.
     I remembered then that I had seen the mold  of man five more times over
the years. With each new time I had become less passionate about it. I could
never get over the fact,  however,  that I always  saw God as a male. At the
end it stopped  being  God for me and became the mold of man, not because of
what  don Juan  had  said,  but  because  the  position of a male God became
untenable. I could then understand don Juan's statements about it. They  had
not been blasphemous or sacrilegious in the least; he had not made them from
within  the context of the  daily world. He was right in saying that the new
seers  have an edge in being capable  of seeing the mold of man as often  as
they want. But  what was more important to  me was that they had sobriety in
order to examine what they saw.
     I asked him why it was that I always saw the mold of man as  a male. He
said that it was because my assemblage point did not have the stability then
to  remain completely  glued to  its new position  and shifted laterally  in
man's band. It was  the same case  as  seeing the barrier of perception as a
wall  of fog.  What made the assemblage point  move  laterally  was a nearly
unavoidable desire, or necessity, to render the incomprehensible in terms of
what is most familiar to us: a barrier is a wall  and the mold of man cannot
be  anything else but a man. He  thought that if I were a  woman I would see
the mold as a woman.
     Don  Juan stood up then  and said that it was  time  for us to  take  a
stroll in town, that I should see the mold of man among people. We walked in
silence to the  square, but before we got there I had an uncontainable surge
of energy  and ran down  the street to  the outskirts of town. I  came to  a
bridge, and right there, as if it had been waiting for me, I saw the mold of
man as a resplendent, warm, amber light.
     I fell on  my knees, not so much out of piety, but as physical reaction
to awe. The sight of the mold of man was more astonishing than ever. I felt,
without any arrogance, that I had gone through an enormous  change since the
first time I had seen it. However, all the things I had seen and learned had
only given me a greater, more  profound appreciation for the  miracle that I
had in front of my eyes.
     The  mold of  man  was  superimposed  on  the bridge  at first, then  I
refocused my  eyes and saw that the  mold  of man extended  up and down into
infinity; the  bridge was but a meager shell,  a tiny sketch superimposed on
the eternal. And so were  the  minute figures of people who moved around me,
looking  at  me with  unabashed curiosity.  But  I was  beyond  their touch,
although at that moment I was as vulnerable  as  I could be. The mold of man
had no power to protect me  or spare me,  yet I loved it with a passion that
knew no limits.
     I thought  that I understood then something that  don Juan had told  me
repeatedly, that real affection cannot be an investment. I would have gladly
remained the servant  of the mold of man, not for what it could give me, for
it has nothing to give, but for the sheer affection I felt for it.
     I  had  the  sensation  of  something  pulling  me  away, and  before I
disappeared from its presence I  shouted a promise to the mold of man, but a
great force whisked  me away  before I could finish staling  what I meant. I
was suddenly kneeling at the bridge while a  group  of peasants looked at me
and laughed.
     Don Juan  got to  my side  and  helped me up and  walked me back to the

     "There are two ways of seeing the mold  of man," don Juan began as soon
as we sat down. "You can see it as a man or you can  see it as a light. That
depends on the shift of  the assemblage point.  If the shift is lateral, the
mold is a human being; if the shift is in the midsection of  man's band, the
mold  is a light. The only  value  of what  you've  done today  is that your
assemblage point shifted in the midsection."
     He said that  the position where one sees the mold of man is very close
to that where the dreaming body and  the barrier of  perception appear. That
was  the reason the  new  seers recommend  that  the mold of man be seen and
     "Are you sure you understand what the mold of man  really is?" he asked
with a smile.
     "I assure  you, don Juan, that I'm perfectly aware  of what the mold of
man is," I said.
     "I heard you shouting inanities  to the mold of man  when I got to  the
bridge," he said with a most malicious smile.
     I  told  him that I had  felt like a  worthless  servant  worshiping  a
worthless master,  and yet  I was  moved out  of sheer  affection to promise
undying love.
     He found it all hilarious and laughed until he was choking.
     "The  promise  of  a  worthless  servant  to   a  worthless  master  is
worthless," he said and choked again with laughter.
     I did not feel like defending my position. My affection for the mold of
man was offered freely without thought  of recompense. It  did not matter to
me that my promise was worthless.

     17 The Journey of the Dreaming Body

     Don Juan told me that the two of us were going to drive to  the city of
Oaxaca for the last time. He made it very clear that we would never be there
together  again. Perhaps his feeling might return to the place, he said, but
never again the totality of himself.
     In Oaxaca, don Juan spent hours looking at mundane, trivial things, the
faded color of walls, the shape of distant mountains, the pattern on cracked
cement,  the faces of people.  Then we  went to the square  and  sat  on his
favorite bench, which was unoccupied, as it always was when he wanted it.
     During our long walk in the city,  I had  tried my best to  work myself
into a mood of sadness and moroseness, but I just could not do it. There was
something festive about his departure. He explained it as the unrestrainable
vigor of total freedom.
     "Freedom is  like a contagious  disease,"  he said. "It is transmitted;
its carrier is  an impeccable nagual.  People might not appreciate that, and
that's  because they don't want to be free. Freedom is frightening. Remember
that. But  not  for us. I've  groomed myself nearly  all my  life  for  this
moment. And so will you."
     He repeated over and over that  at the stage where  I was, no  rational
assumptions should interfere with my actions. He said that the dreaming body
and  the  barrier of perception are positions  of the assemblage  point, and
that that knowledge is as vital to seers as knowing how to read and write is
to modern man. Both are accomplishments attained after years of practice.
     "It is very important that you remember, right now,  the time when your
assemblage point reached that position and it  created  your dreaming body,"
he said with tremendous urgency.
     Then he smiled and remarked that time was extremely short; he said that
the recollection  of  the main  journey  of my dreaming body  would  put  my
assemblage  point in a position to break the barrier  of perception in order
to assemble another world.
     "The dreaming body  is known by  different names," he said after a long
pause. "The name I like the best is, the other. That term belongs to the old
seers, together with the mood. I don't particularly care for their mood, but
I  have to  admit  that  I  like their term The other. It's  mysterious  and
forbidden. Just like the old seers, it gives me the  feeling of darkness, of
shadows. The old seers said that the other always comes shrouded in wind."
     Over  the  years don Juan and other  members of his party had  tried to
make me aware that we can be in two places at once, that we can experience a
sort of perceptual dualism.
     As don Juan spoke,  I began to remember  something so  deeply forgotten
that at first it was as  if I had only heard about it. Then, step by step, I
realized that I had lived that experience myself.
     I had  been  in  two  places at  once.  It happened  one  night  in the
mountains of northern Mexico. I had been collecting plants with don Juan all
day.  We had  stopped for the  night and  I  had nearly fallen  asleep  from
fatigue when suddenly there was a gust of wind and don Genaro sprang up from
the darkness right in front of me and nearly scared me to death.
     My first thought was one of  suspicion.  I believed that don Genaro had
been  hiding in the bushes  all  day, waiting for darkness to set in  before
making  his terrifying appearance. As  I looked at  him prancing  around,  I
noticed that there was  something truly odd  about him that night. Something
palpable, real, and yet something I could not pinpoint.
     He  joked  with me  and horsed around, performing  acts that  defied my
reason. Don Juan laughed like an idiot at my dismay. When he judged that the
time was right, he made me shift  into heightened awareness and for a moment
I was able to see don Juan  and don Genaro as two blobs of light. Genaro was
not  the  fleshand-blood  don  Genaro  that I  knew  in my  state of  normal
awareness but his dreaming  body. I could tell,  because I saw him as a ball
of fire that was above the ground. He was not rooted as don Juan was. It was
as if Genaro, the blob of light, were on the verge of taking off, already up
in the air, a couple of feet off the ground, ready to zoom away.
     Another thing I had  done that night, which suddenly became clear to me
as I recollected the event, was that I knew automatically that I had to move
my eyes in order to make my assemblage point shift. I could, with my intent,
align the emanations that  made me see Genaro as a blob of light, or I could
align the emanations that made me see him as merely odd, unknown, strange.
     When I saw Genaro as  odd,  his  eyes had a malevolent glare,  like the
eyes of  a beast in the darkness. But they were eyes, nonetheless. I did not
see them as points of amber light.
     That night don Juan said that  Genaro  was going  to help my assemblage
point shift very deeply, that I should imitate him and  follow everything he
did. Genaro stuck out his rear end and then  thrust his  pelvis forward with
great force. I thought it was an obscene gesture.  He repeated  it over  and
over again, moving around as if he were dancing.
     Don Juan nudged me  on the arm, urging me to imitate Genaro, and I did.
Both of us sort  of romped around, performing that grotesque movement. After
a while, I had  the feeling that my body was executing  the movement on  its
own, without what seemed to be the real me. The  separation between  my body
and  the real me became even  more pronounced, and then at a given instant I
was looking at some ludicrous scene  where two men were making lewd gestures
at each other.
     I watched in fascination and  realized that I was  one of the two  men.
The  moment I  became aware of  it I  felt something pulling me and I  found
myself again thrusting my pelvis backward and forward in unison with Genaro.
Almost immediately, I noticed that another man standing next to don Juan was
watching us. The wind  was blowing around him. I  could see  his hair  being
ruffled. He was  naked and seemed embarrassed. The wind  gathered around him
as  if  protecting him, or perhaps  the opposite, as if trying to  blow  him
     I was slow to realize that I  was the other man. When I did,  I got the
shock  of  my  life. An imponderable physical force pulled  me apart as if I
were made  out  of fibers, and  I was again  looking  at a man  that was me,
romping  around with Genaro,  gaping at  me while I looked. And at  the same
time, I was looking at a naked  man that  was me, gaping  at me while I made
lewd gestures with Genaro. The shock was so great that I broke the rhythm of
my movements and fell down.
     The  next thing I knew, don Juan was helping me to stand up. Genaro and
the other me, the naked one, had disappeared.
     I had  also remembered that don Juan  had refused to discuss the event.
He did not explain  it except  to say that Genaro was an expert  in creating
his double, or the other, and that I had had long interactions with Genaro's
double in states of normal awareness without ever detecting it.
     "That night, as he has done hundreds  of times before, Genaro made your
assemblage  point shift very deep into your left side,"  don  Juan commented
after I  had recounted to him everything  I had  remembered.  "His power was
such  that he  dragged  your assemblage  point  to  the  position where  the
dreaming  body  appears.  You saw your dreaming  body watching you.  And his
dancing did the trick."
     I asked him to explain  to me  how Genaro's  lewd movement  could  have
produced such a drastic effect.
     "You're a prude," he said. "Genaro used your immediate  displeasure and
embarrassment at  having  to  perform a lewd  gesture.  Since  he was in his
dreaming body,  he had  the power to  see the Eagle's emanations;  from that
advantage it was a cinch to make your assemblage point move."
     He said that whatever Genaro  had helped me to do that night was minor,
that Genaro had moved my  assemblage  point and made  it produce a  dreaming
body many, many  times, but that those events were not what  he wanted me to
     "I want you to realign the proper emanations and remember the time when
you really woke up in a dreaming position,"' he said.
     A strange  surge of energy seemed to explode inside me and I knew  what
he  wanted  me  to remember.  I could not,  however, focus  my memory on the
complete event. I could only recall a fragment of it.
     I remembered that one  morning, don Juan, don  Genaro. and I had sat on
that very same bench while I was in a state  of normal awareness. Don Genaro
had said, all  of  a  sudden, that  he was going  to make his body leave the
bench without getting up. The statement was completely out of the context of
what  we  had  been discussing.  I was  accustomed  to  don Juan's  orderly,
didactic words and actions. I turned to don  Juan, expecting  a clue, but he
remained impassive, looking straight  ahead as if don  Genaro and I were not
there at all.
     Don Genaro  nudged me  to attract my  attention, and then I witnessed a
most  disturbing sight. I  actually saw  Genaro on  the other  side  of  the
square. He was beckoning  me to come. But I also saw don Genaro sitting next
to me, looking straight ahead, just as don Juan was.
     I wanted to  say something,  to  express  my  awe, but I  found  myself
dumbstruck, imprisoned by some  force around me  that did not let me talk. I
again looked at Genaro across  the park. He was still there, motioning to me
with a gesture of his head to join him.
     My emotional distress mounted by the  second. My  stomach  was  getting
upset, and finally I had tunnel vision, a tunnel that led directly to Genaro
on  the other side of  the square. And then  a great  curiosity,  or a great
fear, which seemed  to be the same thing at that moment, pulled me  to where
he was. I actually soared through the air  and got to where he  was. He made
me turn  around and pointed to the three people  who were sitting on a bench
in a static position, as if time had been suspended.
     I felt a  terrible  discomfort,  an  internal  itching, as  if the soft
organs in the cavity  of my body were on  fire, and then  I was back  on the
bench, but Genaro was gone.  He  waved goodbye to me  from across the square
and disappeared among the people going to the market.
     Don  Juan became very animated.  He  kept on looking at me. He stood up
and walked around me. He  sat down again and could not keep a straight  face
as he talked to me.
     I realized  why he  was acting that way. I had  entered into a state of
heightened awareness  without being helped by don Juan. Genaro had succeeded
in making my assemblage point move by itself.
     I  laughed  involuntarily  upon seeing my  writing pad,  which don Juan
solemnly put inside his pocket. He said that he was going to use my state of
heightened awareness to  show me that there is no end to  the mystery of man
and to the mystery of the world.
     I  focused all my concentration on his words.  However,  don  Juan said
something I did not  understand. I asked him to  repeat what he had said. He
began talking very softly. I thought he had lowered  his voice so as not  to
be  overheard  by  other people.  I  listened  carefully,  but  I could  not
understand  a  word  of  what  he was saying;  he was either speaking  in  a
language foreign to me or  it was  mumbo  jumbo. The strange  part of it was
that something had caught my undivided attention, either  the rhythm  of his
voice or the fact that I had  forced myself to understand. I had the feeling
that my mind was different from usual, although I could not figure out  what
the  difference  was.  I had  a hard  time  thinking, reasoning out what was
taking place.
     Don Juan talked to me very softly in my ear.  He said  that since I had
entered into heightened awareness without  any help  from him my  assemblage
point was very loose,  and that I could let  it shift into  the left side by
relaxing, by falling half asleep  on that bench.  He assured  me that he was
watching over me, that  I had  nothing to fear. He urged me to relax, to let
my assemblage point move.
     I instantly felt the heaviness of being deeply asleep. At one moment, I
became aware that  I  was  having a  dream.  I  saw a house that I had  seen
before. I was approaching it as if I were walking  on the street. There were
other houses, but I could not pay any attention to them. Something had fixed
my  awareness on the particular house I  was  seeing. It was  a  big  modern
stucco house with a front lawn.
     When I got closer  to that house, I had a feeling of  familiarity  with
it, as if I had dreamed of it before. I walked on a gravel path to the front
door; it was open  and I walked inside.  There was a dark  hall  and a large
living  room to  the  right, furnished with  a dark-red  couch  and matching
armchairs set in a corner. I was  definitely having tunnel vision;  I  could
see only what was in front of my eyes.
     A young woman was standing by the couch as if she had just stood  up as
I  came in. She was  lean and tall, exquisitely dressed in  a tailored green
suit. She was perhaps in her late twenties. She had dark-brown hair, burning
brown eyes that  seemed to smile, and  a pointed, finely  chiseled nose. Her
complexion was fair but had  been tanned to a  gorgeous  brown.  I found her
ravishingly beautiful. She  seemed  to  be an American.  She  nodded at  me,
smiling,  and extended  her hands with the palms down as if she were helping
me up.
     I clasped her hands in  a  most  awkward movement. I  scared myself and
tried to back away, but she held me firmly and yet so gently. Her hands were
long and  beautiful.  She spoke to me in Spanish  with a faint  trace  of an
accent.  She begged me  to  relax,  to feel  her hands,  to  concentrate  my
attention on her face and  to follow the movement of her  mouth. I wanted to
ask her who she was, but I could not utter a word.
     Then I heard don Juan's voice in my ear. He  said, "Oh, there you are,"
as if he had  just found me. I was sitting on the park bench with him. But I
could also hear the young woman's voice. She said, "Come and sit with me." I
did just that  and began a most incredible shifting of points of view. I was
alternately with  don Juan and with that  young woman. I could  see  both of
them as clearly as anything.
     Don Juan  asked  me  if  I liked  her, if  I  found her  appealing  and
soothing. I could not speak, but somehow I conveyed to him  the feeling that
I  did like  that lady immensely. I thought, without any overt reason,  that
she was  a paragon of kindness, that she was indispensable  to what don Juan
was doing with me.
     Don Juan spoke in my ear again and said that if I liked her that much I
should wake up in her house, that my feeling of warmth and affection for her
would  guide me.  I  felt giggly  and reckless. A  sensation of overwhelming
excitation  rippled through  my  body.  I  felt  as if  the  excitation were
actually disintegrating me.  I  did  not care  what happened to me. I gladly
plunged into a blackness, black beyond words, and then I found myself in the
young woman's house. I was sitting with her on the couch.
     After an instant of sheer animal panic,  I realized that somehow I  was
not  complete. Something was missing  in  me.  I did not,  however, find the
situation threatening. The  thought  crossed my mind that I was dreaming and
that  I was presently going to wake up on the park  bench in Oaxaca with don
Juan, where I really was, where I really belonged.
     The young woman helped  me to get up and took me to  a bathroom where a
large tub was filled with water. I realized then that I was stark naked. She
gently made me get into the tub and held my head up while I  half floated in
     After a while she helped  me out of  the tub. I felt weak and flimsy. I
lay down on the living-room couch and she came close to me. I could hear the
beating of her heart and the pressure of blood rushing through her body. Her
eyes were like two radiant sources of something that was not light, or heat,
but curiously in between the two. I knew that I was seeing the force of life
projecting out of her  body through her eyes. Her whole body was like a live
furnace; it glowed.
     I felt  a  weird tremor  that agitated my whole  being. It was as if my
nerves  were  exposed  and  someone was  plucking them.  The  sensation  was
agonizing. Then I either fainted or fell asleep.
     When I woke up, someone was putting face towels soaked in cold water on
my face and the back of my neck. I saw the young woman sitting by my head on
the bed where I was  lying. She  had a pail of water on  a  night table. Don
Juan was  standing  at the foot of  the bed with my clothes draped over  his
     I was fully awake then. I sat up. They had covered me with a blanket.
     "How's the traveler?" don  Juan  asked, smiling.  "Are you in one piece
     That was all I could remember. I narrated this episode to don Juan, and
as I talked,  I recalled  another fragment. I remembered that  don  Juan had
taunted and teased me about finding me naked in the lady's bed. I had gotten
terribly irritated  at  his remarks. I had put on my clothes and stomped out
of the house in a fury.
     Don Juan  had caught up with me on the  front  lawn.  In a very serious
tone he had remarked that  I was my ugly stupid self again,  that I had  put
myself together by being embarrassed, which had proved to him that there was
still no end to my self-importance. But he had added in a  conciliatory tone
that that was not important at the moment; what was significant was the fact
that I had  moved  my assemblage  point very  deeply  into the left side and
consequently I had traveled an enormous distance.
     He had spoken of wonders  and  mysteries,  but I had  not been  able to
listen to  him,  for  I had  been caught in the  crossfire between  fear and
self-importance.  I  was  actually fuming.  I was certain that don  Juan had
hypnotized  me in the park and had then  taken me to  that lady's house, and
that the two of them had done terrible things to me.
     My  fury was  interrupted.  Something out there in  the  street  was so
horrifying,  so shocking to me,  that  my anger stopped instantaneously. But
before my thoughts became fully rearranged, don Juan  hit  me on my back and
nothing of what had just  taken place  remained. I  found myself back in  my
blissful everyday-life stupidity,  happily listening to  don  Juan, worrying
about whether or not he liked me.
     As  I  was telling  don Juan  about  the new fragment that I  had  just
remembered I  realized that  one  of  his methods  for handling my emotional
turmoil was to make me shift into normal awareness.
     "The only thing  that soothes  those  who journey into  the  unknown is
oblivion," he said. "What a relief to be in the ordinary world!
     "That day, you accomplished a marvelous feat. The sober thing for me to
do was not to let you focus on  it at all. Just as you began to really panic
I made you shift into normal awareness; I moved your assemblage point beyond
the position where there  are no more doubts. There  are two  such positions
for warriors. In one you have no more doubts because you know everything. In
the other,  which is normal awareness, you have no doubts  because you don't
know anything.
     "It was too  soon then for  you to know what had really happened. But I
think the right time to know is now. Looking at  that street, you were about
to find out where your dreaming position  had been. You traveled an enormous
distance that day."
     Don Juan scrutinized  me  with  a mixture of  glee  and sadness.  I was
trying my best to keep under control  the strange agitation I was feeling. I
sensed  that something terribly  important to me was lost  inside my memory,
or, as don Juan would have put it, inside some unused emanations that at one
time had been aligned.
     My struggle to keep calm proved  to  be the  wrong thing to do.  All at
once, my  knees wobbled and  nervous  spasms  ran through  my midsection.  I
mumbled, unable to  voice a  question. I  had to  swallow hard  and  breathe
deeply before I regained my calmness.
     "When we  first  sat  down  here  to  talk,  I said  that  no  rational
assumptions should interfere with the  actions of a seer," he continued in a
stern tone. "I knew that in order to reclaim what you've done, you'd have to
dispense with  rationality,  but  you'd  have to  do  it  in .the  level  of
awareness you are in now."
     He  explained  that I had to understand that rationality is a condition
of alignment, merely the result of the  position of the assemblage point. He
emphasized  that I  had to understand this  when I was in  a state of  great
vulnerability, as I was at that moment.  To understand it when my assemblage
point  had  reached  the position where  there  are no doubts  was  useless,
because realizations of that nature are commonplace in that position. It was
equally  useless to understand  it in a state of  normal awareness;  in that
state,  such realizations are emotional outbursts that are valid only for as
long as the emotion lasts.
     "I've said  that you  traveled a  great  distance  that day,"  he  said
calmly. "And I said that because I know it. I was there, remember?"
     I was sweating profusely out of nervousness and anxiety.
     "You traveled  because you woke  up at a distant dreaming position," he
continued. "When  Genaro pulled you across the plaza, right here  from  this
bench, he  paved  the  way for  your assemblage  point  to move  from normal
awareness all the way to the position where  the dreaming body appears. Your
dreaming body actually  flew over an incredible  distance in the blink of an
eyelid.  Yet that's  not the important part.  The mystery is in the dreaming
position. If it is strong enough to pull you, you can go to the ends of this
world  or beyond it, just as the old seers  did. They disappeared  from this
world  because they woke up at a dreaming  position beyond the limits of the
known.  Your dreaming  position that  day  was in  this world, but  quite  a
distance from the city of Oaxaca."
     "How does ajourney like that take place?" I asked.
     "There is no way of  knowing how it is done," he said. "Strong emotion,
or  unbending  intent,  or  great  interest  serves  as  a guide;  then  the
assemblage point gets powerfully fixed at the dreaming position, long enough
to drag there all the emanations that are inside the cocoon."
     Don  Juan said then that he  had made me see  countless times over  the
years of our association, either in states of normal awareness  or in states
of  heightened  awareness;  I  had  seen  countless things  that I  was  now
beginning to understand in a more coherent fashion.  This  coherence was not
logical or rational, but it clarified, nonetheless, in whatever strange way,
everything I had done, everything that was done to me, and everything I  had
seen in all those years with him. He said that now I needed to have one last
clarification: the  coherent but irrational  realization  that everything in
the world we  have learned  to perceive is inextricably tied to the position
where the assemblage point is located, if the assemblage  point is displaced
from that position, the world will cease to be what it is to us.
     Don Juan stated that a displacement  of the assemblage point beyond the
midline of the cocoon of man  makes the entire world we know vanish from our
view  in  one instant, as if  it  had been erased--  for the  stability, the
substantiality, that seems to belong to  our perceivable  world  is just the
force of alignment. Certain emanations  are routinely aligned because of the
fixation of the assemblage point on one specific  spot; that is all there is
to our world.
     "The soundness  of  the  world  is not the mirage,"  he continued, "the
mirage is the fixation of the assemblage point on any spot. When seers shift
their assemblage points, they are not confronted with  an illusion, they are
confronted with another world; that new world is as  real as the one  we are
watching now,  but  the  new  fixation  of  their assemblage  points,  which
produces that new world, is as much of a mirage as the old fixation.
     "Take yourself,  for  example; you  are now in  a  state  of heightened
awareness. Whatever  you are  capable of  doing in  such  a state is  not an
illusion; it is as  real  as the world you will face tomorrow in your  daily
life,  and  yet tomorrow the world you are witnessing  now won't  exist.  It
exists only  when your assemblage  point moves to the  particular spot where
you are now."
     He added that the task warriors are faced with, after they finish their
training,  is  one  of  integration. In  the course  of  training, warriors,
especially nagual men, are  made  to shift  to  as many  individual spots as
possible. He said that in my case I had  moved to countless positions that I
would have to integrate someday into a coherent whole.
     "For instance, if  you would shift your  assemblage point to a specific
position,  you'd remember who that lady  is,"  he  continued with a  strange
smile. "Your assemblage point  has been at  that  spot hundreds of times. It
should be the easiest thing for you to integrate it."
     As though my recollection  depended on his suggestion, I began to  have
vague  memories,  feelings  of  sorts.  There was  a  feeling  of  boundless
affection  that  seemed to attract me; a most pleasant sweetness filled  the
air, exactly as if someone had  just come up  from behind me and poured that
scent over me. I even turned around. And then  I remembered. She was  Carol,
the nagual woman' I had been  with her only the day before. How could I have
forgotten her?
     I had an indescribable  moment in which  I think all the feelings of my
psychological  repertory  ran  through  my  mind.  Was  it possible, I asked
myself,  that I had woken up in her house  in Tucson, Arizona, two  thousand
miles  away?  And are each  of  the  instances of  heightened  awareness  so
isolated that one cannot remember them?
     Don  Juan came to my side and put his arm on  my shoulder. He said that
he knew exactly how I felt. His benefactor had made him go through a similar
experience.  And  just  as  he  himself  was now trying to do with  me,  his
benefactor had  tried to do with him: soothe  with words. He had appreciated
his benefactor's attempt, but he doubted then  as he doubted now that  there
is a way to soothe anyone who realizes the journey of the dreaming body.
     There  was  no doubt in my mind now. Something in me  had traveled  the
distance between the cities of Oaxaca, Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona. I felt a
strange relief, as if I had been purged of guilt at long last.
     During  the  years  I had  spent with  don Juan, I  had  had  lapses of
continuity in my memory. My being in Tucson with him on that day  was one of
those lapses. I remembered  not  being  able  to recall how I  had gotten to
Tucson.  I did not pay any attention to it, however. I thought the lapse was
the result of my activities with don Juan. He was always very careful not to
arouse  my  rational  suspicions  in  states  of normal  awareness,  but  if
suspicions  were  unavoidable  he  always  curtly  explained  them  away  by
suggesting that the nature of our activities fostered serious disparities of
     I told don Juan that since both of us had ended up that day in the same
place, I wondered whether it was possible for two  or more people to wake up
at the same dreaming position.
     "Of course," he said. "That's the way the old Toltec sorcerers took off
into  the unknown in  packs. They followed one  another. There is no way  of
knowing how one follows someone else. It's just done. The dreaming body just
does  it. The  presence of another dreamer spurs it to  do  it. That day you
pulled me with you. And I followed because I wanted to be with you."
     I  had so  many  questions  to ask him, but every  one of  them  seemed
     "How  is  it  possible  that I  didn't  remember the  nagual woman?"  I
muttered, and a horrible anguish and longing gripped me. I was trying not to
feel sad anymore, but suddenly sadness ripped through me like pain.
     "You  still don't remember  her,"  he said.  "Only when your assemblage
point shifts can you recollect her. She is like a phantom to you, and so are
you to  her. You've seen her once  while you were  in  normal awareness, but
she's never seen you  in  her normal awareness.  To  her you  are as much  a
personage as she is to you. With the difference that you may wake up someday
and integrate it all. You may have enough time to do  that, but  she  won't.
Her time here is short."
     I felt like  protesting a  terrible  injustice. I mentally  prepared  a
barrage of  objections,  but  I  never  voiced them.  Don  Juan's  smile was
beaming. His eyes  shone  with sheer glee and mischief. I  had the sensation
that  he was waiting for my statements, because he knew what I was  going to
say. And that sensation stopped me, or rather I did not say anything because
my assemblage point  had  again moved  by itself. And  I knew then that  the
nagual woman could not be  pitied for not  having time, nor  could I rejoice
for having it.
     Don Juan  was  reading me  like  a  book.  He  urged me  to  finish  my
realization and voice the reason for not feeling sorry or for not rejoicing.
I felt for an instant that I knew why. But then I lost the thread.
     "The excitation of having time is equal to the excitation of not having
it," he said. "It's all the same."
     "To  feel sad  is not the same as feeling sorry  " I said.  "And I feel
terribly sad."
     "Who cares  about sadness?" he  said. "Think  only  of  the  mysteries;
mystery  is all that  matters.  We  are living  beings;  we have  to die and
relinquish our awareness. But if  we could change just a tinge of that, what
mysteries must await us! What mysteries!"

     18 Breaking the Barrier of Perception

     In the late afternoon, still in Oaxaca, don Juan and I  strolled around
the  square leisurely. As we approached his  favorite bench the  people  who
were sitting there got up and left. We hurried over to it and sat down.
     "We've  come to the end of my explanation of awareness," he  said. "And
today, you  are  going to  assemble  another world by yourself and leave all
doubts aside forever.
     "There must be no mislake about what you are  going to  do. Today, from
the vantage  point  of  heightened awareness,  you are  going  to make  your
assemblage  point  move  and  in one  instant  you are  going to  align  the
emanations of another world.
     "In a few days, when  Genaro and I meet you  on  a mountaintop, you are
going to do the same  from  the disadvantage of  normal awareness.  You will
have to align  the emanations of another world on a  moment's notice; if you
don't you will die the death of an average man who falls from a precipice."
     He was alluding to an act that  he would have me perform as the last of
his teachings for the right side: the act of jumping from a mountaintop into
an abyss.
     Don Juan  stated  that warriors ended  their  training  when they  were
capable of  breaking  the  barrier of perception,  unaided,  starting from a
normal state of awareness. The  nagual led warriors  to  that threshold, but
success  was  up  to  the  individual. The  nagual  merely  tested  them  by
continually pushing them to fend for themselves.
     "The  only  force  that  can  temporarily   cancel  out  alignment   is
alignment,"  he continued. "You will have to cancel the alignment that keeps
you perceiving  the world of daily affairs. By inlending a new position  for
your assemblage point and  by  intending to keep it fixed there long enough,
you will assemble another world and escape this one.
     "The old seers  are still  defying death, to this day,  by  doing  just
that, intending their assemblage points  to  remain fixed on  positions that
place them in any of the seven worlds."
     "What will happen if I succeed in aligning another world?" I asked.
     "You will go to it," he replied. "As Genaro did, one night in this very
place when he was showing you the mystery of alignment."
     "Where will I be, don Juan?"
     "In another world, of course. Where else?"
     "What about the people around me, and the buildings, and the mountains,
and everything else?"
     "You'll  be separated from  all  that by the very barrier that you have
broken:  the barrier of perception. And just like the seers who have  buried
themselves to defy death, you won't be in this world."
     There  was a battle raging  inside me as I  heard his  statements. Some
part of me clamored  that don Juan's  position was untenable,  while another
part knew beyond any question that he was right.
     I asked  him what  would  happen if I moved my assemblage point while I
was in the street, in the middle of traffic in Los Angeles.
     "Los  Angeles will vanish,  like  a puff  of  air," he replied  with  a
serious expression. "But you will remain.
     "That  is the  mystery I've  been trying  to  explain  to  you.  You've
experienced it, but you haven't understood it yet, and today you will."
     He  said that I  could not as yet use the boost of  the earth  to shift
into another great band of emanations,  but  that since  I had an imperative
need to shift, that need was going to serve me as a launcher.
     Don Juan looked up at the sky. He stretched his arms  above his head as
if he  had been  sitting for too long and was pushing physical weariness out
of his body. He commanded me to turn off my internal dialogue and enter into
inner silence. Then he stood up and began to walk away  from the  square; he
signaled me to follow him.  He took a deserted  side street. I recognized it
as being  the  same street where  Genaro had  given me his  demonstration of
alignment.  The  moment I recollected that,  I found myself walking with don
Juan in a place that by then was  very familiar to me: a deserted plain with
yellow dunes of what seemed to be sulfur.
     I recalled then that don Juan  had made me perceive that world hundreds
of times. I  also recalled that beyond the desolate  landscape of the  dunes
there  was  another world  shining with  an exquisite, uniform,  pure  white
     When don Juan and I entered into it this time, I sensed that the light,
which came from every direction,  was not an  invigorating light, but was so
soothing that it gave me the feeling that it was sacred.
     As  that sacred light bathed me a rational thought exploded in my inner
silence. I  thought it was quite  possible that mystics and saints  had made
this journey of the assemblage point. They had seen  God in the mold of man.
They had seen  hell in the sulfur dunes. And then they had seen the glory of
heaven in the diaphanous light.
     My rational thought  burned out almost immediately under the onslaughts
of what I was  perceiving. My awareness was taken by  a multitude of shapes,
figures of men, women, and children of  all ages, and other incomprehensible
apparitions gleaming with a blinding white light.
     I  saw don  Juan, walking  by my side, staring at  me  and  not  at the
apparitions, but the next instant I saw him as a ball of luminosity, bobbing
up and down a few feet away from me. The ball made an abrupt and frightening
movement and came closer to me and I saw inside it.
     Don  Juan was  working his glow of  awareness for  my benefit. The glow
suddenly shone on  four  or five threadlike filaments on  his  left side. It
remained fixed there. All  my  concentration was on it; something  pulled me
slowly  as if through a tube and I saw  the allies-- three dark, long, rigid
figures agitated by a tremor, like leaves in a breeze. They were  against an
almost  fluorescent pink background. The moment  I  focused my eyes on them,
they came to where  I was,  not walking or gliding or flying, but by pulling
themselves along some fibers of whiteness that came out of me. The whiteness
was not a  light  or a glow  but  lines that seemed to be  drawn  with heavy
powder chalk. They disintegrated quickly, yet not quickly enough. The allies
were on me before the lines faded away.
     They crowded  me. I became annoyed,  and  the allies  immediately moved
away  as  if I had  chastised  them. I felt sorry for  them,  and my feeling
pulled  them back  instantly.  And  they again  came and  rubbed  themselves
against me. I saw then something I had seen in the mirror at the stream. The
allies  had no inner glow. They had no inner mobility. There  was no life in
them. And yet they were  obviously alive. They were strange grotesque shapes
that resembled zippered-up  sleeping  bags. The  thin line in  the middle of
their elongated shapes made them look as if they had been sewed up.
     They were not  pleasing figures.  The sensation  that they were totally
alien to  me made me feel  uncomfortable,  impatient. I saw  that  the three
allies  were  moving as if they were jumping up and down; there was  a faint
glow  inside them. The glow grew in  intensity until, in at least one of the
allies, it was quite brilliant.
     The instant I saw that, I was facing a black world. I do not  mean that
it was dark as night is dark.  It  was rather that everything  around me was
pitch-black. I looked up at the sky and I could not find light anywhere. The
sky was also black and literally covered with lines and irregular circles of
various  degrees of  blackness.  The sky  looked like a  black piece of wood
where the grain showed in relief.
     I  looked down at the ground.  It  was fluffy.  It seemed to be made of
flakes  of agar-agar; they were  not dull flakes,  but they were  not  shiny
either.  It  was something in between, which  I had  never seen in  my life:
black agar-agar.
     I heard then the voice of seeing. It said that my  assemblage point had
assembled a total world with other great bands of emanations: a black world.
     I wanted to absorb every word I was hearing; in order to  do that I had
to split my concentration. The voice stopped; my  eyes became focused again.
I was standing with don Juan just a few blocks away from the square.
     I instantly felt that I had no time to  rest,  that it would be useless
to indulge in being shocked. I rallied all my strength and asked don Juan if
I had done what he had expected.
     "You did  exactly what you were expected to  do," he said reassuringly.
"Let's  go  back to the square and stroll  around it one  more time, for the
last time in this world."
     I  refused to think about don Juan's  leaving, so I asked him about the
black world. I had vague recollections of having seen it before.
     "It's the easiest  world  to  assemble,"  he said. "And of  all  you've
experienced, only the black  world is worth considering. It is the only true
alignment of another great band you have ever made. Everything else has been
a lateral shift along  man's band, but still within the same great band. The
wall of fog, the plain with yellow dunes, the world of the apparitions-- all
are  lateral alignments that our assemblage points make  as they approach  a
crucial position."
     He explained as  we walked back to  the square that  one of the strange
qualities of the black world  is  that it does not  have the same emanations
that  account  for time  in  our world. They  are different  emanations that
produce  a  different result. Seers  that  journey into the black world feel
that they  have been in it for an eternity, but in our world  that turns out
to be an instant.
     "The black world is a dreadful world because it ages the body," he said
     I asked  him  to  clarify his statements. He  slowed  down his pace and
looked  at me. He reminded me that Genaro, in  his direct way, had tried  to
point that out  to me once, when he told  me that we had plodded in hell for
an eternity while not even a minute had passed in the world we know.
     Don Juan  remarked that  in  his youth he had become obsessed with  the
black world.  He had wondered,  in front of his benefactor, about what would
happen to him if  he went  into it and stayed there  for a while. But as his
benefactor  was  not given to explanations, he  had  simply plunged don Juan
into the black world to let him find out for himself.
     "The nagual Julian's  power was so  extraordinary," don Juan continued,
"that it took me days to come back from that black world."
     "You  mean it took  you days  to return your  assemblage  point to  its
normal position, don't you?" I asked.
     "Yes. I mean that," he said.
     He explained that  in the few days that he was lost in the black  world
he aged at least  ten years, if  not  more. The emanations inside his cocoon
felt the strain of years of solitary struggle.
     Silvio Manuel was  a  totally different  case.  The nagual Julian  also
plunged him into the unknown, but Silvio Manuel assembled another world with
another set of bands,  a world also  without the  emanations of time but one
which has  the opposite effect on seers. He disappeared for seven  years and
yet he felt he had been gone only a moment.
     "To assemble  other worlds  is  not only a  matter  of practice,  but a
matter  of  intent,"  he  continued.  "And  it  isn't merely an exercise  of
bouncing out of those worlds, like being pulled by a rubber band. You see, a
seer has  to be daring. Once you break the barrier of perception, you  don't
have to come back to the same place in the world. See what I mean?"
     It slowly  dawned on me  what he was saying. I had an almost invincible
desire to laugh at such a preposterous idea,  but before the idea  coalesced
into a certainty, don Juan  spoke to me and  disrupted what I  was  about to
     He said that for warriors the danger of assembling other worlds is that
those worlds are as possessive as our world.  The force of alignment is such
that  once  the assemblage point breaks away  from its normal  position,  it
becomes fixed at  other positions, by other alignments. And warriors run the
risk of getting stranded in inconceivable aloneness.
     The inquisitive, rational part  of  me commented that I had seen him in
the black world as a ball of luminosity. It was  possible,  therefore, to be
in that world with people.
     "Only if people follow you around by moving their own assemblage points
when you move  yours," he replied. "I shifted mine in order  to be with you;
otherwise you would have been there alone with the allies."
     We stopped walking, and don Juan said that it was time for me to go.
     "I want you to bypass all lateral shifts," he said, "and go directly to
the next total world: the black world. In a couple of days you'll have to do
the  same thing  by yourself. You won't have  time to  piddle around. You'll
have to do it in order to escape death."
     He said that breaking the barrier  of perception  is the culmination of
everything seers do. From  the moment that barrier  is  broken,  man and his
fate take on a different meaning for warriors. Because of the transcendental
importance of breaking that barrier, the new  seers use the act of  breaking
it as a final test. The test consists of jumping from a  mountaintop into an
abyss while in a state of normal awareness. If the warrior jumping  into the
abyss does not erase  the  daily  world  and assemble another one  before he
reaches bottom, he dies.
     "What  you are  going to do is to make this world  vanish," he went on,
"but you are going to remain somewhat yourself. This is the ultimate bastion
of awareness, the one the new seers count on. They know that after they burn
with consciousness, they somewhat retain the sense of being themselves."
     He smiled  and pointed to a street that we could see from where we were
standing-- the street where Genaro had shown me the mysteries of alignment.
     "That street,  like any other,  leads  to eternity," he  said. "All you
have to do is follow it in total silence. It's time. Go now! Go!"
     He turned around and walked away from me. Genaro was waiting for him at
the corner. Genaro waved  at me and then made a gesture of urging me to come
on. Don  Juan kept on walking without turning to look.  Genaro joined him. I
started to follow them, but I knew that it was wrong. Instead, I went in the
opposite  direction.  The  street  was  dark, lonely,  and bleak. I did  not
indulge in feelings of failure or inadequacy. I walked in inner silence.  My
assemblage point was moving at great speed. I saw the three allies. The line
of their middle made them look as if they were smiling sideways. I felt that
I was being frivolous. And then a windlike force blew the world away.


     A couple of days later, all the nagual's  party and all the apprentices
got together on the flat mountaintop don Juan had told me about.
     Don Juan  said that each of the apprentices had already said goodbye to
everybody, and that all of us were in a state  of awareness that admitted no
sentimentalism. For us, he said, there was only  action. We were warriors in
a state of total war.
     Everyone, with the exception of don  Juan, Genaro, Pablito, Nestor, and
me, moved a short distance away from the flat mountaintop, in order to allow
Pablito, Nestor, and me privacy to enter into a state of normal awareness.
     But before we did, don  Juan took us  by  the arms and walked us around
the flat top.
     "In a moment, you're going to infend  the  movement of your  assemblage
points," he said. "And  no one will help you. You are  now  alone.  You must
remember then that intent begins with a command.
     "The old  seers  used to say  that if  warriors  are  going to have  an
internal dialogue, they should have the proper dialogue.  For the old  seers
that   meant  a  dialogue  about   sorcery  and  the  enhancement  of  their
self-reflection.  For the  new  seers, it doesn't  mean  dialogue,  but  the
detached manipulation of intent through sober commands."
     He said over and over again that the manipulation of intent begins with
a  command given to oneself; the  command is then repeated until  it becomes
the Eagle's command, and then the assemblage point shifts, accordingly,  the
moment warriors reach inner silence.
     The fact that such a maneuver is possible, he said, is something of the
most  singular  importance to  seers, old  and  new alike,  but for  reasons
diametrically opposed. Knowing  about it allowed the old seers to move their
assemblage point to inconceivable dreaming positions in the  incommensurable
unknown;  for the new seers it means refusing  to be food, it means escaping
the  Eagle  by  moving their  assemblage  points  to a  particular  dreaming
position called total freedom.
     He  explained that the old seers discovered that it is possible to move
the assemblage point  to the limit of the known and keep it fixed there in a
state of  prime heightened  awareness.  From  that  position, they  saw  the
feasibility of slowly shifting their assemblage points  permanently to other
positions  beyond that  limit--  a stupendous  feat  fraught with daring but
lacking  sobriety,  for  they  could  never  retract  the  movement of their
assemblage points, or perhaps they never wanted to.
     Don Juan said that adventurous men,  faced with the choice  of dying in
the world  of ordinary affairs or dying in unknown  worlds, will unavoidably
choose the latter, and that the new seers, realizing that their predecessors
had chosen  merely to change  the locale of their death, came to  understand
the futility of it all; the  futility  of struggling to control their fellow
men, the futility of assembling other worlds, and,  above  all, the futility
of self-importance.
     One  of the most fortunate decisions that the new  seers made, he said,
was  never  to  allow their  assemblage  points to  move permanently to  any
position  other than heightened awareness. From that position, they actually
resolved  their dilemma  of futility and found out  that the solution is not
simply  to  choose  an alternate world  in which to die, but to choose total
consciousness, total freedom.
     Don  Juan  commented  that by  choosing total  freedom,  the  new seers
unwittingly continued in the tradition of  their predecessors and became the
quintessence of the death defiers.
     He explained that the new seers discovered that if the assemblage point
is made to  shift constantly to the  confines of the unknown, but is made to
return to  a position at the limit of  the known, then  when it is  suddenly
released it moves like lightning across the entire cocoon  of  man, aligning
all the emanations inside the cocoon at once.
     "The  new seers burn  with  the force of alignment," don Juan went  on,
"with  the force of will,  which  they have  turned into the force of intent
through a life  of  impeccability. Intent is the alignment of  all the amber
emanations of awareness, so  it is  correct to say that total  freedom means
total awareness."
     "Is that what all of you are going to do, don Juan?" I asked.
     "We  most certainly  will, if  we have sufficient energy," he  replied.
"Freedom is the  Eagle's gift to man. Unfortunately, very few men understand
that all we need,  in order to  accept  such a magnificent gift,  is to have
sufficient energy.
     "If  that's all we  need, then,  by all means, we must become misers of
     After that, don Juan made us enter into a state of normal awareness. At
dusk,  Pablito, Nestor, and  I  jumped into the abyss. And  don Juan and the
nagual's  party burned  with  the fire from within. They entered into  total
awareness, for they  had sufficient energy to accept the mind-boggling  gift
of freedom.
     Pablito,  Nestor, and  I didn't die  at the  bottom of that gorge-- and
neither  did  the  other  apprentices  who had jumped at  an  earlier time--
because  we  never  reached it;  all  of us,  under  the  impact  of such  a
tremendous  and  incomprehensible act as  jumping to our  deaths, moved  our
assemblage points and assembled other worlds.
     We know now  that we  were left to remember heightened awareness and to
regain  the totality  of  ourselves.  And we  also know  that  the  more  we
remember, the more intense our  elation, our wondering, but also the greater
our doubts, our turmoil.
     So far, it is as if we  were left  only to  be tantalized  by  the most
far-reaching questions about the  nature and the fate of man, until the time
when we may have sufficient energy  not  only  to verify everything don Juan
taught us, but also to accept the Eagle's gift ourselves.

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