The Sabre-toothed tiger, for the seers of ancient Mexico, embodies the passion of the warrior-traveller-the navigator in the sea of awareness. The sabre-tooth roamed from the valley of Mexico all the way along the western coast and into southern and central California, the areas from which the magical passes originate. We may think of the sabre-tooth as a creature from another time, a museum piece; and from our linear perspective, this is true. In the view of the seers of don Juan’s lineage, however, the other time of the Sabre-tooth is not the past, but another layer of awareness. They propose that perhaps, in terms of energetic facts, it would be more accurate to say that we are caught in the museum case, and the Sabre-tooth is roaming free, moving from dream to dream. We can adopt the fluid dreaming ability of the Sabre-tooth by practising the magical passes of the form known as the Sabre-toothed Tiger of Intent.The intent of the Sabre-tooth, according to seers, is to dream-to move its assemblage point. This means it embodies pure perception, and fluid, alert action. In adopting the Sabre-tooth’s deep full breathing, we enter new areas of breath, which for seers means new areas of perception. Engaging the muscles in the area of the pelvis and the diaphragm in every motion and breath, as the Sabre-tooth does, can help us to cultivate the guts of steel needed for navigating. The rippling motion of the Sabre-tooth’s shoulders as it walks and moves renders its assemblage point fluid. Its assemblage point doesn’t stay fixed behind the shoulder blades, as with human beings; it moves, giving the Sabre-tooth, and practitioners of its form the possibility of perennially new perceptions.
Practising the Sabre-tooth form can move us out of the static position of contemporary man-slouching in front of a computer screen in an airless room, or hunched over a cell phone-into a more vast and open state of awareness. It can allow us to see our prey-our own habits and routines-on the horizon, and to tear them down, so that we might roam onward to face new challenges, new dreams. Magical Passes: The Sabre-tooth builds its powerful stance: Its palms slide down the fronts of the thighs, over the feet and to the ground with an exhalation. The head is down. The Sabre-tooth pants, squeezing all the muscles of the stomach with each exhalation. It leans forward with an inhalation, putting its weight on its front paws. It leans backward with an exhalation, shifting its weight to its back paws. It inhales, pulling its claws along the ground and up its back paws to its ankles, pausing there to exhale fully. The head is down It inhales again, pulling its claws to its knees, pausing to exhale once more. Its knees remain bent. Its hind legs are firmly on the ground. It inhales again and straightens, rippling its assemblage point. As it straightens, it pulls its claws up the thighs to the waist, straightening the knees only slightly, and bending them again as an exhalation is made, and the bent claws are momentarily opened. The Sabre-tooth’s vision is clear, and its hearing is keen.
It is ready for action…
The pelvis is held straight, tilting neither forward nor backward, so that energy flows through the area of the midsection to the upper body, rather than stopping at the hips. Its stance firmly established, the Sabre-tooth begins to move very silently. It inhales, clawing at the sides of the body, gripping the ground with its paws. It exhales and claws in front of its body, moving slowly from the waist.
The hips remain forward It inhales, clawing one more time. It advances, the opposite arm and leg moving at once. It flexes its claws with fast strokes. It slashes suddenly to the left. (SOUND), stunning its prey. With a quick strike, it turns again. (SOUND) Its claws sweep slowly across the view of the horizon. (SOUND) Then quickly, in short energetic strokes. (SOUNDS) The body turns on. The Sabre-tooth pants, (PANTING) squeezing the entire torso with each exhalation. It claws, (SOUNDS) and pushes the hind legs forward one at a time. (SOUNDS) It claws again (SOUNDS), and strikes with its back legs (SOUNDS). It pauses, then leaps in the opposite direction. It steps forward very fast and retreats [QUICK FORWARD/BACK].
Leaning on its back leg, it curls its paws for a moment, preparing to strike. It advances and strikes. (SOUND) It leans in, seizes its prey, and balanced by the enormous strength of its legs, flings the prey behind it. (SOUND) The Sabre-tooth turns without hesitation, to face another prey. It jumps back, fully alert The Sabre-tooth runs and leaps, grabbing its prey and bringing it down. (SOUND) It steps back. (SOUND) (SOUND) and breathes deeply, crouching quietly in the shadows. It reaches high and claws downward, as its prey takes its last breath. (SOUND)
“The old sorcerers saw that at the moment of death, the dark sea of awareness sucked in, so to speak, through the assemblage point, the awareness of living creatures. They also saw that the dark sea of awareness had a moment’s, let’s say, hesitation when it was faced with sorcerers who had done a recounting of their lives. Unbeknown to them, some had done it so thoroughly that the dark sea of awareness took their awareness in the form of their life experiences, but didn’t touch their life force. Sorcerers had found out a gigantic truth about the forces of the universe: ‘the dark sea of awareness wants only our life experiences, not our life force’.”
The recapitulation is a review of our lives. Among other things, the recapitulation is a technique used to regain energy and awareness and to remove the turmoil caused by interactions with other people. As has been mentioned in Journey to Ixtlan, the thoughts of others can keep us pinned down and affect our lives. The sorcerers claim that every interaction we have with people is an exchange of energy. They say that we leave energy imprints on those we interact with and that foreign energy from those interactions is also left in us. The more emotional the situation the more energy you have lost/left in the situation and in the other person. If you think of the feeling I think all of us are familiar with, of being drained of energy after an argument, or after talking at length with particular people, you can see how this is a verifiable energy loss.
Those sorcerers also say that we only have a few ways of reacting to things that occur in our lives – much less than we might imagine. But we are fooled into thinking that we have a vast and complex repertoire of actions, reactions and thoughts. Yet we merely repeat the same things over and over in different situations for our entire lives.
The recapitulation can break this cycle by allowing us a pause. It allows us to see the way we act from an observers standpoint. That pause can benefit us by giving us the time to change the way we react and not just react in our preset accustomed way. And if our reactions to people and the world around us are changed, our perception of the world is also changed. Our reality is not as real as we thought. And new possibilities appear as if by magic. But there is also another more engulfing reason for the recapitulation.
Sorcerers say that a perfect and complete review of our lives will give us the ultimate freedom – freedom from death. But it doesn’t mean we will still be on this earth and in our human form. At death, all our memories and feelings are consumed by the eagle. There is no escape…. under normal circumstances.
But there is a possibility. Those seers discovered that the eagle/the dark sea of awareness or whatever you want to call it, will accept a perfect replica of our lives in place of our actual lives – The recapitulation. A review of our lives. A perfect replica of every experience and feeling we have had since the moment of birth, given freely to the universe is what is required. Seems like a tough ask. How can we possibly have enough time to remember/review our entire lives? – while still having new experiences to also review, before death takes us. It seems impossible. But those sorcerers say that “Intensity” is the answer. When a warrior/sorcerer has accumulated enough energy and awareness and has honed his recapitulation skills sufficiently, he can review/remember in large chunks – Intensity.
In a recapitulation, we see the same patterns in our lives, repeating themselves over and over. ie. many of them could be seen in the category of Concern for the self. They vary enough to seem different, but anger, sadness, fear, angst, deserving of better, blame, jealousy, greed, etc.. are a concern for the self – aspects of self-importance. The recapitulation is designed to free us from our self. Our flyer’s mind.
Before beginning a recapitulation, it is recommended that you make a list. A list of all the people you have met/interacted with since you were born. The list in itself seems like a monumental task. How can we remember everything? Well, we probably can’t – at least not at first. So the list contains all that we do remember. When we have our list of every person we can possibly remember. We start at the top of the list, working backwards, from the last person we interacted with, to our first memories of interactions with people. It is also recommended to first begin with our sexual interactions, before moving onto the chronological order of our list. They say that sexual interactions are the place where we have lost vital energy. And that recovering that vital sexual energy, gives us the power to proceed with the rest of the recapitulation in a more efficient way.
However, it is not absolutely necessary to do things in this specific order. They say that what matters is to start. So starting with any memory will do. It is my understanding that the very act of beginning a recapitulation will bring the necessary energy to fine tune the way in which we go about it – as we go.
The technique for the recapitulation is called “the magical breath” or “the sweeping breath”
Find a nice quiet and comfortable place to sit, like your bed and sit cross-legged with your back against the wall or bed head. Summon a mental picture of the person and the conversation/interaction you have chosen to review from your list. If there are many, pick one and try to remember all the details of what you said and what the other person said and how it made you feel at the time. The idea is to pull back the precious energy you have left in the interaction and to expel or return the foreign energy that has been left in you by the other person. The intent is that this review, your life experiences, are a gift to the spirit/the universe – infinity.
While sitting comfortably and preferably in a dark or dimly lit room, turn your head to the far right and slowly breath in as your head very slowly moves all the way to your left shoulder. Then slowly breath out while moving your head, again slowly, to the right shoulder. While doing this you are trying to feel that with each breath you are breathing your energy back in and when exhaling, expelling the other persons energy and returning it to them, where it belongs. The more detailed your memories are as you proceed, the more effective it is. Every sentence that was uttered and every feeling that was felt are what you are recapitulating. The breathing in can be done through the mouth or nose but the breathing out is best done through the mouth, like you are very gently blowing out the candles on a birthday cake – as your head moves from your left shoulder to your right. When you have remembered and breathed all you can for a particular scene – do one more left/right movement of your head without breathing and then return your head to be facing straight ahead – and relax. Then move on to the next memory and do the same thing again. You may find that it takes quite a few breaths for reliving just one conversation but that’s as it should be. I believe that the more you do this, the more proficient you become at it.
The word nagual (nahual) is derived from the ‘Nahuatl language. The common Mesoamerican definition was one who had the ability to transform themselves into an animal. They also had the power to harm or heal depending on their disposition. The nagual is a personal guardian spirit believed by some Mesoamerican Indians to reside in an animal, such as a deer, jaguar, or bird. In some areas the nagual is the animal. Nagualism was linked to the Mesoamerican calendar system and used for divination. The Nahuatl word ‘tonalli’ meaning ‘day’ or ‘day sign’ from which the word Tonal is derived was used to refer both to a day and to the animal associated with that day. Much like the system of the Totem, all humans were thought to have an animal counterpart to which their life force was linked. The nagual would be distinguished by virtue of his birth; powerful sorcerers would be born on a specific day. And just as the Tonal was thought to be the spirit of the day, the nagual was said to be that of the night. So the Nagual or sorcerer would possess an animal spirit that would be linked to his ‘tonal’, and this relationship would last as long as both existed.
The person who is to receive his nagual traditionally goes to an isolated spot and sleeps. The animal that appears in his dreams or that confronts him when he awakens will thereafter be his particular nagual. Among many modern Mesoamerican Indians, it is believed that the first creature to cross over the ashes spread before a newborn baby becomes that child’s nagual. The belief in nagualism varies from region to region. In some areas it is believed that only the most powerful leaders (usually men) can transform themselves into this animal form to do evil; thus, the word derives from the Nahuatl word nahualli or (“disguise”), applied to the animal forms magically assumed by sorcerers.
The word nagual also has the connotation of “knowledge”. In the Nahuatl language, a number of derivatives from the same root exist, all of them pertaining to “knowledge.” The early missionaries to the New World often spoke of the nagual, as a ‘master of mystic knowledge’.
This is precisely the way in which Don Juan describes himself to Castaneda, as a ‘man of Knowledge’ or as ‘One who knows’.
Don Juan’s Benefactor the ‘Nagual’ Julian Osorio, he cites as a being a diablero. He defines this as one who is capable of transforming themselves into an animal or bird. He describes the world of the diableros or that of the sorcerer as opposed to the world of the average man. This is a place where unfathomable mysteries are glimpsed and all things become possible.
Don Juan is also quoted as saying about his benefactor:
“Do you know that to this day it’s hard for me to visualize him? I know that sounds absurd, but depending on his needs or the circumstances, he could be either, young or old, handsome or homely, effete and weak or strong and virile, fat or slender, of medium height or extremely short.”
Over the course of his apprenticeship Don Juan described the nagual to Castaneda in detail.
The Nagual is a double being to whom the “rule” has been revealed.
The nagual comes in a male and female pair – the pair becomes the nagual only when the “rule” has been given to each and it has been fully understood by both.
A Nagual is a teacher, a leader and a guide.
The Nagual is said to have extraordinary energy, sobriety, endurance and stability.
The nagual acts a conduit between the spirit and the world – channeling peace, harmony, laughter and knowledge to his/her companions.
The maneuvers of the nagual are based on artifice and subterfuge, but they cannot plan their course of action but instead follow the dictates of the spirit.
A nagual is also capable of moving their, own assemblage point and the assemblage point of others.
With the nagual there is no assertion of self
Throughout the works of Castaneda the nagual is also considered to be the world of the second attention – the unknown, the other, the darkside, the left side of awareness, the world of dreaming, this is the battlefield of the warrior, and the training ground for the third attention, the world in which they make their stand. It is both the individual and the world he occupies.
Excerpt from Journey to Ixtlan: Lessons of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda
“What do you mean by my last dance don Juan?”
“This is the site of your last stand, ” he said. “You will; die here no matter where you are. Every warrior has a place to die. A place of his predilection which is soaked with unforgettable memories, where powerful events left their mark, a place where he has witnessed marvels, where secrets have been revealed to him, a place where he has stored his personal power.
“A warrior has the obligation to go back to that place of his predilection every time he taps power in order to store it there. He either goes there by means of walking or by means of dreaming.
“And finally, one day when his time on earth is up and he feels the tap of his death: on his left shoulder his spirit, which is always ready, flies to the place of his predilection and there the warrior dances to his death.
“Every warrior has a specific form, a specific posture of power, which he develops throughout his life. It is a sort of dance. A movement that he does under the influence of his personal power.
“If a dying warrior has limited power, his dance is short; if his power is grandiose, his dance is magnificent. But regardless of whether his power is small or magnificent, death must stop to witness his last stand on earth. Death cannot overtake the warrior who is recounting the toil of his life for the last time until he has finished his dance.”
Don Juan’s words made me shiver. The quietness, the twilight, the magnificent scenery, all seemed to have been placed there as props for the image of a warrior’s last dance of power.
“Can you teach me that dance even though I am not a warrior?” I asked.
“Any man that hunts power has to learn that dance, ” he said. “Yet I cannot teach you now. Soon you may have a worthy opponent and I will show you then the first movement of power. You must add the other movements yourself as you go on living. Every new one must be obtained during a struggle of power. So, properly speaking, the posture, the form of a warrior, is the story of his life, a dance that grows as he grows in personal power.”
“Does death really stop to see a warrior dance?”
“A warrior is only a man. A humble man. He cannot change the designs of his death. But his impeccable spirit, which has stored power after stupendous hardships, can certainly hold his death for a moment, a moment long enough to let him rejoice for the last time in recalling his power. We may say that is a gesture which death has with those who have an impeccable spirit.”
I experienced an overwhelming anxiety and I talked just to alleviate it. I asked him if he had known warriors that had died, and in what way their last dance had affected their dying.
“Cut it out, ” he said dryly. “Dying is a monumental affair. It is more than kicking your legs and becoming stiff.”
“Will I too dance to my death don Juan?”
“Certainly. You are hunting personal power even though you don’t live like a warrior yet. Today the sun gave you an omen. Your best production in your life’s work will be done towards the end of the day. Obviously you don’t like the youthful brilliancy of early light. Journeying in the morning doesn’t appeal to you. But your cup of tea is the dying sun, old yellowish, and mellow. You don’t like the heat, you like the glow.
“And thus you will dance to your death here, on this hilltop, at the end of the day.
And in your last dance you will tell of your struggle, of the battles you have won and of those you have lost; you will tell of your joys and bewilderment upon encountering personal power. Your dance will tell about the secrets and about the marvels you have stored. And your death will sit here and watch you.
“The dying sun will glow on you without burning, as it has done today. The wind will be soft and mellow and your hilltop will tremble. As you reach the end of your dance you will look at the sun, for you will never see it again in waking or in dreaming, and then your death will point to the south. To the vastness.
“We are perceives,” he proceeded. “The world that we perceive though, is an illusion. It was created by a description that was told to us since the moment we were born. “We, the luminous beings, are born with two rings of power, but we use only one to create the world. That ring, which is hooked very soon after we are born, is reason, and its companion is talking. Between the two they concoct and maintain the world. So, in essence, the world that your reason wants to sustain is the world created by a description and its dogmatic and inviolable rules, which the reason learns to accept and defend.”
“The secret of the luminous beings is that they have another ring of power which is never used, the ‘will’. The trick of the sorcerer is the same trick of the average man. Both have a description; one, the average man, upholds it with his reason; the other, the sorcerer, upholds it with his will. Both descriptions have their rules and the rules are perceivable, but the advantage of the sorcerer is that will is more engulfing than reason The diagram in the ashes had two epicenters; one he called ‘reason’, the other, ‘will’. ‘Reason’ was interconnected directly with a point he called ‘talking’.”
Through ‘talking’, ‘reason’ was indirectly connected to three other points, ‘feeling’, ‘dreaming’ and ‘seeing’. The other epicentre, ‘will’, was directly connected to ‘feeling’, ‘dreaming’ and ‘seeing’; but only indirectly to ‘reason’ and ‘talking’. I remarked that the diagram was different from the one I had recorded years before. “The outer form is of no importance,” he said. “These points represent a human being and can be drawn in any way you want.” “Do they represent the body of a human being?” I asked. “Don’t call it the body,” he said. “These are eight points on the fibres of a luminous being.”
“A sorcerer says, as you can see in the diagram, that a human being is, first of all, will, because will is directly connected to three points, feeling, dreaming and seeing; then next, a human being is reason. This is properly a centre that is smaller than will; it is connected only with talking.”
“What are the other two points don Juan”? “We may say that every one of us brings to the world eight points. Two of them reason and talking are known by everyone. Feeling is always vague but somehow familiar. But only in the world of sorcerers does one get fully acquainted with dreaming, seeing, and will, And finally, at the outer edge of that world one encounters the other two. The eight points make the totality of oneself”. He showed me in the diagram that in essence all the points could be made to connect with one another indirectly.
I asked him again about the two mysterious remaining points. He showed me that they were connected only to will, and that they were removed from feeling, dreaming, and seeing and much more distant from talking and reason. He pointed with his finger to show that they were isolated from the rest and from each other. “Those two points will never yield to talking or to reason”, he said. “Only will can handle them”. “Reason is so far removed from them that it is utterly useless to try figuring them out”. He touched my head and said, that was the centre of reason and talking. The tip of my sternum was the centre of my feeling. The area below the naval was will. Dreaming was on the right side against the ribs. Seeing on the left. He said that sometimes in some warriors seeing and dreaming were on the right side. “We are perceiver. We are an awareness, we are not objects, we have no solidity, We are boundless. The world of objects and solidity is a way of making our passage on earth convenient. It is only a description that was created to help us. We, or rather our reason forget that the description is only a description and thus we entrap the totality of ourselves in a vicious circle from which we rarely emerge in our lifetime”.
Excerpt from “Tales of Power” by Carlos Castaneda
(Courtesy of Ken Eagle Feather)