Continued from yesterday . . .
Castaneda writes about our being able to perceive the Auras, or the “Cocoon” of energy around people (luminous beings or light beings) and that you are able to tell if an individual’s Tonal is good. And having a good Tonal is a prerequisite to developing yourself as a Nagual.
One day, the Brujo “sees” a person with a good Tonal sitting in the town square where they are visiting. And he requires, as part of Castaneda’s training, for him to introduce himself to this person and to offer assistance with any task that this person needs to perform. Castaneda complies and he assists the woman in a somewhat strained manner.
I forget now, what it was he helped her with, but that is irrelevant to my tale.
So picture my group of Ag student travelers, coming in from our day’s research at the Mexican farms, and our bus pulls into a town where we are given thirty minutes to shop. The town is Tequisquiapan, a popular tourist town with a central square. Cobblestone streets and rustic homes and shops. It has a 300-year heritage as a colonial town, but it’s populated primarily by Indigenous peoples.
I have exactly 24 pesos in my pocket. And I’m in search of a bottle of tequila for the evening ahead.
I stroll the town square and notice two gentlemen, one much older than the other, observing me. Without warning or provocation, they approach me and introduce themselves by first name. Their English is not perfect, but we can understand each other.
Now, I sense something about these two as being a bit extra corporal but I can’t quite put my finger on it. They seem, and my 20-year-old gut tells me, that they mean me no harm.
I explain my dilemma, not really much of an issue in the grand scheme of things, as they direct me to a liquor shop, a tiny hole-in-the-wall – literally – and offer, for no apparent reason to assist me in my quest. It is as though they knew a head of time what I’d ask.
The place we enter has a mere 100 square feet floor space, but it’s ceiling must be 16 feet high! Alcohol of all varieties are stacked in wall shelves, in no particular order, covering three of the four walls, reaching to the full height of that ceiling, and all the way down to the floor!
And then a comedy ensues.
The Sorcerer (the Brujo or the Nagual) remains stationary in the middle of the store – observing – while his apprentice and I scour the shelves at eye-level trying to find the elusive bottle of tequila that only costs 24 pesos. Much to my amazement, the apprentice began, literally, climbing the shelves in this tiny but high-ceilinged shop, in pursuit of the golden liquid of which I wished to partake. It is the only way to see what’s up there, and the Nagual now starts shouting out orders in their native language and points to various glistening, multi-colored bottles.
His eyes beaming. I willingly join in with the cajoling, and pointing, and start climbing the shelves on my side of the room.
We all find ourselves laughing hysterically as the apprentice and I start zig-zagging across the shelves above and behind the shop owner at a speed I would not have thought possible.
The owner joins in the yelling, but in Spanish, and with a not-so-happy tone.
The apprentice and I make eye-contact several times, and I have the realization that this playful moment was somehow orchestrated by my new companions. We shift our focus to the pattern we’re making as we crisscross the wall shelves, sort of mirroring each other’s movements on the opposite sides of the shop. No longer actually searching, just enjoying the climbing and descending.
Finally, the shop owner grabs one of my legs and directs me, a bit more forcefully, to come down. He looks terrified probably with the valid fear that we could have easily pulled every bottle down with us. In fact, it seems impossible that our feet failed to dislodge any of the bottles from their roost.
Standing on the floor now, I turn, and a 24 pesos bottle of tequila is staring me straight in the face. Waiting for me. I could swear that I looked at this spot multiple times before our climb began and I never saw it.
I pick it up, show my companions great thanks, and they take a bow before exiting the stage.
I pay for the evening’s beverage and run back towards my bus. I was the last one boarding, and our professor was getting ready to start looking for me. I take my seat and glace out over the town square where I see my new friends, smiles from ears to ears, staring directly at me. We wave to each other, and our bus heads back to our hotel.
I had the overwhelming feeling that the apprentice had passed his test. Whatever it may have been.
Now something happened here that was a bit unearthly. That had slipped a bit out of the Tonal, the physical reality, and into the Nagual or Spiritual Realm. And I realized when it was over that this little play was, in many ways, similar to what Castaneda described in his book. Except the person he was helping was completely unaware of the test before Carlos when he was the apprentice.
My experience had a lot more laughter.
I’m not saying some incredible event transpired or that anyone was touched by the hand of God or anything. But it seemed that something, a bit of a ritualistic dance, had occurred, and for a few moments in time our minds merged in a bit of playful abandon. Our physical actions were irrelevant. It was more about our mental or metaphysical awareness. Where one detaches from the body, and the body moves freely through matter.
A controlled folly. Where somehow, despite all of our chaotic actions, not a single bottle fell to the Earth.
So, you have to tell me, have you had any unusual encounters where you thought more was going on than what meets the eye? There is Magic of all forms out there. We just need to “see” it.
Photo: I took this shot out the window of the back seat of our bus. It was an appropriate Sunset for our last night in Mexico.
Postscript: Many people would say that Castaneda’s work was fiction mingled with an added bit of extraction from various Eastern texts. That may be true as there is a great deal of similarity in concepts, they’re just labeled differently. Others, and this includes myself, have found his works to be valuable despite whether or not they are fabrications. I think it is good for us to consider having multiple states of awareness, or consciousness, as we explore the far reaches of our body and soul.
As if to drive the point home about the crossover with Eastern philosophy, last night, while reading something completely different, I came across the term “Vipassana.” This term means, literally, “special or super seeing.” It is fleshed out as meaning seeing , or gaining insight, into the true nature of things or the true nature of reality. And it describes a type of meditation, its counterpart being “Samatha,” which means “mind calming.”
This is really interesting because Castaneda spends a good deal of his texts talking about learning to “see” or “seeing,” in a fashion that reveals the true state of reality. Coincidence? Doubtful.
I read that Castaneda was relieved of his Ph.D. on the grounds that he presented fiction in his dissertation instead of proper ethnographic research.