The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Part 1

 . . . Much to my amazement, he began, literally, climbing the shelves in this tiny but high-ceilinged shop, in pursuit of the golden liquid of which I wished to partake . . .


Right off the bat, I must tell you that my title is not referring to the Walt Disney movie Fantasia that included Micky Mouse as the reckless “Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”  Nor does it refer to the 1797 poem, “Der Zauberlehrling,” written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe upon which Disney borrowed for its 1940 film. A film that that became re-energized among the psychedelic counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s, where everybody was dropping a hit of acid, or two, and going to see Mickey Mouse trying to control a bunch of angry brooms carrying buckets of water. 

No, I’m talking about actually meeting a real Sorcerer and his apprentice.  And yes, this is yet another rabbit hole I’m going down after yesterday’s Rabbit Hole post.  It happened at the same time as that story when I was in Mexico for that “agricultural exchange,“ and, with this writing, you could say that I’m still stumbling about in that “Warren.“

And I suppose I, a Registered Nurse and Lawyer (retired), ought to explain what in the world I was doing studying another country’s agriculture.  You see, my original career dream was to become a veterinarian and I was doing what all good pre-Vet students do, I was earning a degree in Animal Husbandry, which led me to the Latin American experience. 

Oh, and I dropped out of Ag School half way through my last semester towards my Bachelors Degree.  And yes, drugs, and guns and the police were involved.  Launching me on another trajectory of life . . .

Ok, having set the stage a bit, we jump into the texts of Carlos Castaneda.  He published a number of books telling the tale of him having allegedly received training to become a Shaman or Brujo according to the teachings of a Yaqui Indian who had descended from the Toltec Indian culture.  The “training“ took place in the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona and northern Mexico.  It is here that the concepts of the Tonal and the Nagual were explained to Carlos. 

Now half of you, or perhaps more, that are familiar with Castaneda’s writing might say it was all fiction, the other half might believe in the existence of Nagualism, but not quite the version that Castaneda portrayed.  Or, many of you may have never read Castaneda or about ancient Toltec culture and may have no clue what I’m taking about. 

That’s Ok.  Hang with me a little bit longer, I’m getting to my encounter.  But first, we have terms to define about the material and non-material worlds.  😊

If you just look in the dictionary, you will find:

The “Tonal“ refers to “the tone of music, color, or writing; relating to music written using conventional keys and harmony; or the phonetics of a language expressing semantic differences by varying the intonation given to words or syllables of a similar sound.”  Its root word “Tone” is more expansive in that includes the “general character, quality, or trend.”

Whereas the “Nagual” is “a personal guardian spirit or protective alter ego assumed by various Middle American Indians to reside in an animal or less frequently in some other embodiment; or the animal double or guardian itself; or a sorcerer believed by various Middle American Indians to be capable of transforming him [or her] self into animal form.” 

Or in another word, a shapeshifter.

But if you elaborate on these definitions with the Ancient knowledge from the Brujo’s world, it is kind of goes like this:

The Tonal is the material world, it is “structured energy” and the Nagual is the “non-material world,” unstructured, but it encompasses all that is.  The Nagual has that secondary definition as it also refers to a person who has mastered the non-material world, a “Person of Knowledge,” and you can throw in shapeshifter if you like.  

The Tonal could also be looked at as referring to the general and collective attitude or feelings of people in the physical world at a given point in time.  This has also been referred to as the “Dream of the Planet.” 

For example, the “Tone,” or “Tonal” of the prevalent atmosphere in Washington, DC right now is one of great tension and division.   In the US, as a whole, with an unchecked pandemic and political unrest, the Tonal is one of collective anxiety.

Tonal is not restricted to the collective society but can also be individual.  And be different to every one of us individuals all at the same moment in time. Our “Personal Dream.”

Castaneda would say that the Brujo taught him that:

“The tonal begins at birth and ends at death, but the nagual never ends. The nagual has no limit. The nagual is where Power hovers . . . For the nagual, there is no land, or air, or water. Therefore, the nagual glides, or flies, or does anything it can do in the time of the nagual, which is not related at all to the time of the tonal. These two things do not intersect . . . The tonal and the nagual are two different worlds. In one you talk, in the other you act.”

OK, so having given you these concepts, lets apply them a bit and explain how I met a sorcerer – a Brujo and his apprentice in a Mexican town.

And we’ll do that in Part 2 of this adventure. 🙂

In Metta

To be continued . . .

Photo: I took this photo while visiting the Ancient City of Teotihuacan from the top of Temple of the Sun. Teotihuacan is a major city, considered to be the center of an empire, of the Ancient Ones. It is debated as to whether it was the Toltecs, the Maya, or the Aztecs who inhabited or constructed this City. It is also possible that it was the Nahua, Otomi, or Totonac people that raised this community for a burgeoning population of 125,000 or more Indigenous Peoples.

The original name of the City remains unknown, but it has been suggested, based upon hieroglyphics, that it was known as the “Place of Reeds,” but was renamed by the Aztecs as Teotihuacan, meaning the “Birthplace of the Gods.”

BTW: You may have noticed that my feature picture is of pretty low quality. It was taken over 40 years ago, and I had it made into a slide. Slides, of course, deteriorate. Also, this was back in the day when we used film, and being a youngster of limited means, I couldn’t afford much film. So I had bought one roll of film for each country I visited. Taking a pic was much more complicated because you had to consider whether or not you could spare a shot on any particular subject matter.

The Quote: The quote, above, is from Castaneda’s book “Tales of Power.”

5 thoughts on “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Part 1”

  1. great article again… I read, of coz, Castaneda (quite late in my life, tho) and I liked his writing, can’t say what is truth and what is lie (or fantasy) there, but I believe in the tonal and the nagual worlds 🙂 ☕️📚😶🤔

    Liked by 1 person

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