Taisha Abelar

Castaneda’s Magic Trap

Certain names serve as passwords – once you pronounce them, they take you to a very special ‘nowhere.’

This nowhere creates the possibility for erasing all boundaries of ordinary perception and the perceiver himself ...

American anthropologist, writer and magician, known all over the world as Carlos Castaneda, enriched the study of Latin American culture with a unique, multi-dimensional, yet clear and complex structure, consisting of the ancient Indians’ lost knowledge, and thus initiated Modern Man’s passionate and sometimes overwhelming effort to comprehend the hidden essence of this culture.

This is how – during the 60's – concepts displaced from their usual places and new definitions appeared within the modality of our culture. On the one hand, terms like "assemblage point," "abstract flight", "Blue Scout", "stalking", "recapitulation", "recollection", "intention", and the very term "displacement" carried the energy of a somehow changed method of perception. On the other hand, they provided specific definitions for a previously hidden and seemingly nonexistent abstract knowledge. Castaneda offered the world a language that not only described his private existential experience but also created a new vivid magical space. This space could be perceived as a black hole or as a psychedelically painted portal, which with its latent force drew millions of people into the realm of knowledge left by the ancient Mexican Indians. The creation of this magical space resulted largely from the FORM in which Castaneda so poetically and boldly dressed the teaching of the Mexican sorcerer Don Juan Matus. To hundreds, even thousands of surprised, enthusiastic, indignant, or simply keen followers, this teaching is the source of insight and profound experiences even today.

Many people have probably tried to find the true creator of the Magical form described by Castaneda, yet nothing can be said for certain. Indeed, Don Juan probably never intended to lay bare its construction. Don Carlos, elaborately wrapping his own biography in mystery and controversy, occupied the stage alone, yet three other members of his party stood behind the scenes – all of them students of Don Juan, just like him. The world would find out about this much later. Meanwhile, improving their spirit and strength, they prepared themselves – perhaps unknowingly – to play a major role in determining the growth and development of the Form of the ancient magical knowledge.

 

"Knowledge should form a circle. The circle is a form.
And if knowledge has a form, it can be put to work. "

Ben Chelero

The Women of Carlos Castaneda

There were three women in Castaneda’s company. The Nagual woman Carol Tiggs, the dreamer Florinda Donner Grau, and the stalker Taisha Abelar. In one of their joint interviews on the distinct tasks and roles of the students, they explained that Don Juan taught them how to use their own nature to perceive knowledge. Women have organs that men lack – the ovaries and the uterus. And these organs play a very important role – they help women perceive the frequency of various activities. Perceiving this frequency of the activities helps women move their assemblage point, control the second attention, and maintain a state of awareness ...

These were obviously more than just terms and definitions for the students. They operated with a true understanding of these terms, which means that they actually operated with the very essence of knowledge these terms carried. The role women-magicians played in the system of Don Juan’s teachings, will let us see the entire system from a new angle; even if it doesn’t let us penetrate into the system’s core.

The stalker from Castaneda’s company, Taisha Abelar, plays a very important role here. The reason is that Taisha established herself as a stalker; she herself defined this as ‘the art of fixing the assemblage point in the new position to which it has been displaced.’ The Teachings of Don Juan is a doctrine that teaches people how to manage their personal power. ‘Without this facility to fix the assemblage point, the perception of another world is too fleeting; something very similar to the effect produced by certain hallucinogenic drugs: a profusion of images without rhyme or reason. ’ – said Taisha. If we cannot fix the assemblage point, we can have no control over our power. If we do not have control over our power, then there’s no form. Thus, we can say that for the stalker Taisha, the assemblage point was the form that carried the knowledge of her Teacher. Her instructions in magic were partly directed to teaching her how to prevent the form from being incorrectly formed and developed. For Taisha, as for all women, the art of filling corresponded to the notion of the art of Being. In her particular case, her gift as a woman-stalker was directed at filling the created form of the Teaching so it would continue to exist even after Castaneda’s withdrawal.

‘The form itself is a pre-condition for energetical existence. It is an organized force. First of all, because the form has a personal effort. Second of all, because the form can not exist without rhythm. And thirdly, because if it possesses rhythm, it can either achieve a greater development, or transform itself into a different quality.’ (Ben Chelero)

Here we must admit that Taisha Abelar traveled quite a long and full of fantastic events and real trials way while exploring the ‘conditions for building the form.’

‘...And if we have anything, it is our conviction that we are beings that are going to die and that someday, we will have to face infinity. ’ Taisha Abelar

The Abstract Flight

Almost nothing certain can be said about the biography of Taisha Abelar. The special kind of mobility (free movement in time and space) typical for her occupation prevents us from representing her life as a succession of linearly distributed events. The few rather eloquent facts that are known, come from a single source – her book. At the same time biased researchers have underscored the fact that in the preface to Taisha’s book The Sorcerer’s Crossing: A Woman’s Journey, Castaneda clearly stated that the book was written, following the instructions of Don Juan, in a ‘more subtle state of perception, which sorcerers call dream.’ The book begins with the words: ‘I have devoted my life to the practice of a rigorous discipline which for lack of a more suitable name we have called sorcery.’

So, in the late 60's, when the world was not yet tempted by the idea of seers and the sorcerers of ancient Mexico (Castaneda's first book The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge was published in 1968), Taisha was about twenty years old. She had already managed escape her home leaving behind ‘her non-loving brothers and mother’, she had changed a few jobs, including as a secretary, a salesperson in a bookstore, and an usherette in a movie theater, she had visited Japan, taken part in a karate tournament, and had turned to painting hoping to find herself through something really worthy ...

One early morning she found ‘an isolated spot away from the highway and people’ near Gran Desierto desert, in southern Arizona, to sketch the early morning shadows on the unique lava mountains. The place was supposed to be completely deserted yet when the curves of the mountain ranges were almost finished, a rather unusual woman peeked over her sketch board. Later Taisha described the woman thus: ‘Her high cheekbones and shoulder-length black hair made her look Eurasian. She had a smooth, creamy complexion, so it was difficult to judge her age; she could have been anywhere between thirty and fifty.’

This meeting with Clara Grau – one of the occupants of the magical home in the Mexican state Sonora – radically changed the old life of Taisha. The following six-month apprenticeship under the directions of Clara, Manfred, Nagual Abelar and the great sorceress Nelida, described wonderfully in her book, were Taisha’s first steps in the magical practice of the stalkers. The solitary months spent in a cave to practice remembering, constructing the energy body with the help of the magical passes, the technique of recapitulation and various methods for liberating oneself from self-importance – all of these, practiced daily and methodically, created the internal support necessary for the realization of the so coveted ‘magic transition’. Taisha was being prepared for the so called ‘abstract flight’, which the sorceresses claimed pulled the person out of the material, the physical world, shaped by stereotyped perceptions, and into the sphere of impersonal transcendental substance.

One stage of her training ended and immediately a new began. The process seemed endless, plunging her into ever new layers of practical knowledge. The particular facts are insufficient to make a clear judgment – after all Taisha never discussed publicly what happened to her after the events described in the book. And the reason was basically the same that Castaneda repeatedly proposed: erasing personal history. Yet perhaps the most significant aspect of this long period of non-exposure was linked to the concept of rhythm, which Don Juan followed when instituting his own actions and directing the actions of his students. The phase of the ‘internal’ was organically replaced by the phase of the ‘external’, and this alternation carried a special power.

Thus, the members of the group spent more than 15 years in practicing their internal work in strict anonymity and actual isolation, even from each other, and as a result, the limited purpose of individual transition was transformed into something more radical. Such a definition was obviously rather confusing instead of explanatory. This deliberate departure from the concrete immediately instated a barrage of questions and attempts to unearth the real cause of why knowledge was suddenly open and accessible to everyone. These discussions continue even today. Anyway, the process of creating the form thus passed into a new externally active phase. The world could now communicate directly and in person with the previously unattainable, semi-mythical Castaneda, Taisha, Florinda and Carol. Thus began the period of mass seminars, lectures, interviews, meetings and recruitment of new students.

And then, in mid 1993 came the news that Florinda, Taisha and Carol Tiggs were to teach everyone the special moves of the ancient magicians in three separate workshops. The selected locations were the Rim Institute in Arizona, the Akahi Farms in Maui, and the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. A new word was on everyone's lips: Tensegrity.

The movements of Tensegrity were taught by demonstrations made in front of an audience. The students of the workshops groveled hastily in written notes and made quick sketches hoping for the early release of a video. A year later came the first training film from the series ‘Magical Passes of the Ancient Magicians.’ It presented three students of Taisha, Florinda and Carol – the chacmools Kylie Lundahl, Reni Murez and Nyei Murez.

Here's how Castaneda commented their appearance: ‘Don Juan explained that the gigantic reclining figures called the chacmools, found in the pyramids of Mexico, were the representations of guardians. The energetic constitution inherent to these three women makes them the ideal guardians of all that they choose to protect, be it a person, an idea, a way of life or anything else.’

Later Castaneda added with a smile: ‘through the practice of Tensegrity they were able to transform the idea of ​​routine discipline enforcement into the art of the disciplined warrior, free of coercion.’

 

Excerpt from an interview with Nyei Murez, INBI, November 2004:

‘I met Florinda Donner Grau in Los Angeles. She gave a lecture on women and their role in the evolutionary potentiality and invited me to do some special movements. I said to her, without the slightest pause: this is exactly what I've been looking for! There I met the four students of Don Juan, and their students, and we began to practice the magical passes. Through the technique of recapitulation (the revision of our lives through magical breathing) Taisha Abelar helped me let go of my grasp or the understanding of who I was. I was at the time a nervous, arrogant, exhausted graduate student, who tried to write poetry, and not very good at that ... So she helped me to let go of my fear, because I clung to this little idea of myself, closed in my isolated room, waiting to be recognized. She gave me the chance to let go of those ideas so that I could start to care for myself in a more sober manner, and stop trying to be someone else. She simply helped me Be.’

The art of stalking, which Taisha so persistently and courageously mastered, first of all made her confront herself. Deprived of external support due to the very condition of living in the magical house, she was forced to form an internal support. Don Juan’s training proved more than perfect in this respect. To initiate the internal changes, he placed Taisha, like the other members of the party, within the existence in the first, second and third attention. In order to reveal the concepts of the first, second and third attention, they had to operate with a depth of perception, defined by the ideology of perfection, i.e. the circle. Thus, in a sense, we can hardly look for the idea of tradition or knowledge transfer in the actions of Don Juan. His actions were rather related to the laws of rhythm. We can even assume that Don Juan’s task was not so much to create a flawless and developed Castaneda, Taisha etc. but rather to confront the world. To some extent he succeeded, since Castaneda blasted the world’s understanding of Indian traditions. He subverted the support of the contemplative attitude to Indian practices. He presented the Native American culture as a culture, not passive, but active, consisting of a system of knowledge, practices and conditions.

If you move slowly and carefully through Castaneda’s texts, in most cases you’ll get the feeling that he did not perceive Don Juan’s actions as a practice for developing power. For example, in relation to the long walks in search of plants and the very procedures for preparing the magic potions, he was mostly interested in the outcome. However the very process of participation involved the rhythm and the ability to actually prepare yourself – your mind and your body – for the main event in the life of a magician: departing by ‘the fire from within.’ Thus, Don Juan set for Castaneda the rhythm of change, however due to his own nature and energy configuration Castaneda perceived (as he admitted later) the magician’s actions discretely, not linking them in his mind in a certain defined sequence. Therefore the women of his party were in fact the ones who made him realize the special power inherent to rhythm: the rhythm of practice and the rhythm of actions.

With regard to the further actions of the women-witches for spreading the Teaching, they may be regarded not so much as an attempt to bring the knowledge of the inner circle to the outside, but rather as a metronome that set the rhythm of interaction between the Force and the ones it chose.

Eventually, there’s no need to determine the role the stalker Taisha Abelar played and continues to play here, because this would not help comprehensively explain the cultural phenomenon called The Teachings of Don Juan. On the one hand, the doctrine destroyed the common perception system people used. Yet on the other hand, it prevented the further ‘wrong’ development of Man’s existence as energy. This brought people to a level where they were ’free of the personal’. The extreme element in this whole system, oddly enough, was Castaneda. He was, in fact, the main instrument for the destruction of this everyday consciousness. Don Juan even used his lack of understanding to show everyone how they misunderstood themselves. Therefore today, when we look at a new round of development of the doctrine, which already teaches pupils of Don Juan’s pupils, we can shift the point of our perception and examine Castaneda in the light of Taisha Abelar’s actions.

Taisha Abelar played a significant role by stalking the non-knowledge people around Castaneda, and later followers of the doctrine. Her intention created a new and unique pre-condition for Man’s self-searching quest.

Sources: 

First published in "Mas Alla" April 1, 1997. Spain.
Taisha Abelar " The Sorcerer’s Crossing: A Woman’s Journey".
Excerpt from Bruce Wagner’s interview with Carlos Castaneda, April 1995.

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