Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar & Carol Tiggs
Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar and Carol Tiggs
by Concha Labarta
Translated from Spanish. First appeared in Mas Alla, April 1, 1997, Spain.
All the answers were given by Carol Tiggs, Taisha Abelar and Florinda Donner-Grau.
Question: You were, along with Carlos Castaneda, students of don Juan Matus and his sorcerer cohorts. However, you remained in anonymity for years, and it was not until recently that you decided to speak about your own apprenticeship with don Juan. Why this long silence? And what’s the reason for this change?
Answer: First of all, we would like to clarify that each one of
us met the man Carlos Castaneda calls the nagual don Juan Matus under
a different name: Melchior Yaoquizque, John Michael Abelar and Mariano
Aureliano. To avoid confusion, we always call him the old nagual;
not old in the sense of old age but in the sense of seniority, and
above all, to differentiate him from the new nagual, Carlos
Q: Was the instruction you received from don Juan similar to that of Carlos Castaneda? If it wasn’t, what were the differences? How would each of you describe don Juan and his male and female cohorts?
A: The instruction given to us was not at all similar to that given
to Carlos Castaneda for the simple reason that we are women. We have
organs that men don’t have: the ovaries and the uterus, organs of
tremendous importance. The old nagual’s instruction for us consisted
of pure action. Regarding the description of the old nagual’s male
and female cohorts, all we can say at this moment in our lives is
that they were exceptional beings. To talk about them as people of
the everyday world would be inane for us at this time.
Q: While many modern psychological and sociological trends advocate putting an end to the distance between the masculine and the feminine, we have read in your books that there are notable differences between men and women in the way they each access knowledge. Could you elucidate on this subject? How are you, and your experiences as female sorcerers, different from those of Carlos Castaneda?
A: The difference between male and female sorcerers in the lineage
of the old nagual is the simplest thing in the world. Like every other
woman in the world, we have a womb. We have different organs from
men: the uterus and the ovaries, which, according to sorcerers, make
it easy for women to enter into exotic areas of awareness. According
to sorcerers, there is a colossal force in the universe; a constant,
perennial force which fluctuates but which doesn’t change. They call
this force awareness or the dark sea of awareness. Sorcerers
assert that all living beings are attached to this force. They call
this point of union the assemblage point. Sorcerers maintain
that, due to the presence of the womb inside the body, women have
the facility to displace the assemblage point to a new position.
Q: We also have read in your books that Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar each represent a different category in the world of shamanism. One of you is a dreamer and the other a stalker. These are attractive and exotic terms but many people use them indiscriminately and interpret them in their own way. What’s the real significance of such classifications? When it comes to action, what are the implications for Florinda Donner-Grau to be a dreamer and for Taisha Abelar to be a stalker?
A: Once again, as in the preceding question, the difference is very
simple because it is dictated by each of our energies.
Q: In your most recent books, Being-In-Dreaming and The Sorcerers’ Crossing, you talk about personal experiences that are difficult to accept. Accessing other worlds, traveling into the unknown, making contact with inorganic beings, are all experiences which challenge reason. The temptation is either not to believe such accounts at all, or to consider you as beings that are beyond good and evil, beings that are not touched by sickness, old age or death. What’s the everyday reality for a female sorcerer? And how does living in chronological time fit with living in magical time?
A: Your question, Miss Labarta, is too abstract and farfetched.
Please forgive our frankness. We are not intellectual beings and are
not in any way capable of taking part in exercises in which the intellect
engages words which in reality don’t have any meaning. None of us,
under any agreement, are beyond good and evil, sickness, or old age.
Q: The physical presence of a teacher may not be indispensable but, in any case, it is of great help. You received direct instruction from don Juan and his cohorts to guide you into the world of shamanism. Do you really think that that world is accessible to anyone, even when they don’t have a personal teacher?
A: In a way, the insistence on having a teacher is an aberration.
The idea of the old nagual was that he was helping us to break away
from the dominion of the Me. With his jokes, and his terrifying sense
of humor, he succeeded in making us laugh at ourselves. In this sense,
we firmly believe that change is possible for anyone, a change similar
to ours, for example, by practicing Tensegrity, without the need for
a particular and personal teacher.
Q: The possibility of an alternative form of death is one of the most striking points of don Juan Matus’ teachings. According to what you have told us, he and his group attained that alternative death. What is your own interpretation of their disappearance, when they transformed themselves into awareness?
A: This may seem like a simple question, but it is very difficult
to answer. We are practitioners of the teachings of the old nagual.
It appears to us that, with your question, you are soliciting a psychological
justification, an explanation equivalent to the explanations of modern
Q: Do you feel ready to face the last jump? What do you expect in that universe, which you regard as impersonal, cold and predatorial?
A: What we expect is an endless fight and the possibility of witnessing infinity, either for a second or for five billion years.
Q: Some readers of Carlos Castaneda’s literary works have reproached him for the lack of a bigger spiritual presence in his books, for never having used words like "love." Is the world of a warrior really that cold? Don’t you feel human emotions? Or do you perhaps give a different meaning to those emotions?
A: Yes, we give them a different meaning, and we don’t use words
like "love" or "spirituality" because the old nagual convinced us
that they are empty concepts. Not love or spirituality themselves,
but the use of these two words. His line of argument was as follows:
if we really consider ourselves immortal beings who can afford the
luxury of living amongst gigantic contradictions and endless selfishness;
if all that counts for us is immediate gratification, how can we make
love or spirituality something authentic? For the old nagual these
concepts were manqué, lifeless, words that nobody is prepared to back
up. He said that every time we are confronted with these contradictions,
we solve them by saying that, as human beings, we are weak.
Q: It seems that the key to expanding our capabilities for perception lies in the amount of energy we have at our disposal, and that the energetic condition of modern man is very meager. What would be the essential premise for storing energy? Is this possible for someone who has to take care of a family, go to work every day, and participate fully in the social world? And what about celibacy as a way of saving energy, one of the most controversial points in your books?
A: Celibacy is recommended, the old nagual told us, for the majority
of us. Not for moral reasons, but because we don’t have enough energy.
He made us see how the majority of us have been conceived in the midst
of marital boredom. As a pragmatic sorcerer, the old nagual maintained
that conception is something of final importance. He said that if
the mother wasn’t able to have an orgasm at the moment of conception,
the result was something he called "a bored conception." There is
no energy under such conditions. The old nagual recommended celibacy
for those who have been conceived under such circumstances.
Q: The magical passes of Tensegrity, which you consider to be of great importance, are your most recent contribution to those interested in don Juan Matus’ world. What can Tensegrity bring to those who practice it? Can this be equated with any other physical discipline, or does it have its own characteristics?
A: What Tensegrity brings to those who practice it is energy. The difference between Tensegrity and any other system of physical exercises is that the intent of Tensegrity is something dictated by the shamans of ancient Mexico. This intent is the liberation of the being that is going to die.
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