The Nagual Man
In correlation with the previous post on the nagual and tonal, one of my favorite quotes comes from the Heart Sutra. “Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.” Emptiness does not mean nothing, it means absence of structure and solidity. We need this to create that (form)… And vice versa. There is no actual duality in the totality of the universe. It is a constantly changing, constant pattern making system. Order emerges (form) and it becomes self-regulating through a constant link with the nagual. This is probably one of my favorite ways to speak of the relationship between the nagual and the tonal.
But there is a distinct confusion that arises in the works of Casteneda with respect to the Nagual. In this instance, Don Juan uses the term for an individual who, having connected totally with more than just the tonal and can shift their assemblage points, they reach a point where they can shift other assemblage points as well. They are in essence constantly connected to the nagual. Therefore the term, Nagual in honor of a person thus evolved.
The word is probably the most confusing one in the works of Carlos Casteneda. In some areas it is used in reference to Don Juan, his teacher. His teacher uses it in terms of the unknown or unknowable. There are roots which refer to shape shifting, there are links to teachers, and there are lines to a double.
The strange part about this word, is that it is all of these. In its ancient roots, Nagi, is a spirit or another form that the shaman/seers took when traveling in the “other world”. Thus a nagual as inherited by the nahuatl language became originally connected to a shape shifter or the animal spirits that surround our world – aka out there in the jungle. The shaman could through dreaming venture out into that world for information about plants, animals, hunting and suspecting danger. We see on the temples of Mexico me with jaguar heads or eagles or other numinous spirit forms. These are naguals.
Modern man often evaluates and remembers the past through the filter of his own modern experiences. This should be no surprise to a Toltec warrior of freedom. This is the exact definition of how the current position of the human assemblage point works. It also predicates its functioning with the foreign installation, which wants to keep our perspective myopic. Loosening the assemblage point, the warrior-traveler can connect to lines of awareness, which reach back through our history and observe ancient seers and their doings. With detachment it is easy to recall the maneuvers that they did in their times. It is an interesting source of exploration along long unused lines of human awareness, all of which can be and should be recapitulated.
First, the over all assemblage point of modern times, or the mold of man is fixated on ration. And the conversation in our heads is concerned with the details of possessions and justifications of a rational nature. The ancient seers and sorcerers had assemblage points fixated on silence. A position to the left and lower than its current default. Second, humans in general did not identify with an individual self as we do today, nor with self reflection (there were no mirrors). The self was connected to the tribe, the group, the general movement of the group. Thus in those ancient times, humans fell into natural bands of warriors that explored awareness and experimented with many things we would consider very foreign or strange today.
Our predilection is distinctly bound up with our initiating form (birth). And as a result it is directly connected to our assemblage point as well as connected integrally with our relationship with the world as it is. Predilection is discovered and honed over a lifetime. The sorcerer is able to see that medicine is both a trap of repetition and a gift of freedom because it allows one the hint of a pathway to being and not being (the gateless gate, the doorway to third attention). In the abstract our predilection allows for conversation and varieties of experience to be shared among those who know their predilection well.
Predilection is built up by the stories of the past, the stories of the present and the stories we tell ourselves in our heads. The ancient sorcerers fell into the trap of thinking that second attention was the way to freedom. They became obsessed with individual abilities and selfish medicines. They drove the initial gift of knowing the power of shifting the assemblage point to another position and created a solid second attention but they never un-wrote the patterns as they gathered intent and created new perceptions, which they thought they could totally control. They became very adept at manipulating intent from these new positions but never shifted that far from the initial position of the assemblage point we now call first attention. This is why we called them by number, different attentions. We attend to them, hone them and repeat behaviors to stabilize and justify them, even dreaming attentions and other worlds.
This squirrelly subject comes up often in conversations especially among warriors of freedom. Reincarnation, like belief the in heaven or any afterlife which we project forward, is in many ways just a belief. Belief is suspect for a Toltec. Knowledge is key. But this does not mean that it does not have value worthy of looking into and there is knowledge to be gain when we see this clearly. I saw it clearly about 8 years ago when looking deep into the mold of man one night.
People have asked me about Vision Questing and there is really no common way that a quest is done. There are common elements, but it really depends on the elder or person who is leading the quest. The quester needs to ask questions to know how their leader shares the tradition. While my elder shared his way… my preference is to adapt to the person and what they are asking. Thus this is a story about how I quested with my elder’s assistance and what he taught me. But beware the cookbook variety of a quest – there is no singular right way.
I think it is a valuable thing to ask why quest at all? There are points in my life that I was called to quest… to retreat and sit on the earth, on a mountain or next to a stream in silence and call for spirit and to listen. The first time I did so was early in my work with sweat lodge. I wanted to understand the call to hold sweats for other people and how. While I had learned from several elders the traditions, I had not really listened to my heart and spirit concerning the connection to the lodge. So I sat on a mountain about 2500 feet above the area where I lived for 2 days and 2 nights. When I returned to the valley, I became very committed to holding lodge for others in my community and the world… that has not changed for 18 years.
Recently traveling through Arizona when visiting, I was assaulted by news reports concerning James Ray and his debacle of that fateful sweat in Sedona some time back. His lawyers are claiming he is innocent and he declares this as well. The legal system is certainly not the place where responsibility will be found, nor encouraged. It is a game played by the fools who think they can win. There is no truth in a court proceeding. These daily articles that I heard, which I do not hear on my home NPR station, made me react in a visceral way, mostly with disgust. I have stayed silent concerning this issue for some time, but recently people have asked about sweats and I am compelled to write.