Sorcerer, Shaman or SaintPublished August 22, 2016
Sorcerer, Shaman or Saint?
Dedicated to the Seeker and the Sought
Table of Contents
The case for power
Sorcerer, Shaman and Saint
The Mind Runs Amok-
Science of the Self-
1.The Occult, Colin Wilson
2.Secret of the Golden Flower, Wilhelm and Jung
3.Sufi Studies: East and West, Shah Ed. by Prof L.F. Williams
4.Nature and Life, Prof. A.N. Whitehead
5.The Medium, The Mystic and the Physicist, LeShan
6.Magic, Divination and Demonology, Davies
7.European Morals, Lecky
8.The World of the Witches, Boroja
9.The Satanic Bible, Anton Levey
10.The Teachings of don Juan, Castenada
11.Real Magic, Bonwits
12.Journey to Ixtlan, Castenada
13.Ritual Magic, Butler
14.Tales of Power, Castenada
15.The Golden Bough, Frazier
16.The Black Arts,Cavendish
17.The Book of the Hopi, Waters
18.Anthropology and Religion, Peter Buck
19.The Kahuna, McBride
20.The Huna Code in Religions, Max F. Long
21.Shamanism-The Beginning of Art, Lommel
22.Hallucinogens and Shamanism, Horner
23.The Secret Science at Work, Max F. Long
24.He Walked the Americas, Hanson
25.Sar Bachan, Swami Ji Maharaj
26.Mystic Christianity, Yogi Ramacharaka
27.The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Rev. Davies
28.Beams from Meher Baba on the Spiritual Panorama
29.Perennial Philosophy, Huxley
30.Yoga and the Bible, Leeming
31.The Call of the Great Master, Kapur
32.Spiritual Discourses, Maharaj Charan Singh
33.Kundalini, Gopi Krishna
34.Seeing Castenada, essay, “The Crack in the Cosmic Egg”, Pearce
35.The Magicians, Haining
36.The Universe and Dr. Einstein, Barnett
37.American Transcendentalism, Boller, Jr.
38.Sacred Books of the East
39.Mystic Bible, Dr. Randolph Stone
40.The Teachers of Gurdjieff, Lefort
41.Science and the Common Understanding, Oppenheimer
42.The Science of Religion, Paramahansa Yoganandya
There are two basic attitudes that one can take toward their life experience. Either the senses represent the only possible avenue for ‘data collection.’ Or, there exist other non-sensory modalities, faculties or means of gaining access to knowledge, which is another name for experience. Most of Western man’s history has been dominated by the former of these alternatives. It leads one to an existential position which is the correct one to take, if his knowledge of the universe is limited solely to sensory experience.This position is based on subject-object separation, with the self as the center of experience and reality. It is the basis of Western science.
Descartes argued the western scientific position when he argued that, ‘he thinks therefore he exists.’ Because he can reason, have a self-concept, an “I” as a referent, he proves that he exists. This logic remains unchallenged. Would the absence of thought mean the end of being? Because we think, reason has become the focal point for all our concepts of rationality and reality. If I can see it, feel it, think it, it “is”, for that is how I know I am. It is from this reasoning “I-center” that all worldly judgments are made. How it affects me, is how it is. It is on the basis of these assumptions, as shared premises, that all scientific judgments are made.
Yet in this world of rapid technological progress, physics, the bedrock of science, is getting more and more imprecise in its language, as it attempts to express a deeper understanding of our physical universe. Already our eyes and ears are far from the scene of action in physics. For example, no one has seen a sub-atomic particle with their own eyes. the mind begins to reel in an attempt to comprehend the seemingly infinite.
I was privileged to attend an informal presentation by a young Czechoslovakian physicist, Fritjof Kapra, author of The Tao of Physics. He read for us state of the art statements by high energy physicists, describing the universe. Interspersed between this quotations were statements by Sri Aurobindo about the universe as it is directly experienced by the mystics. The parallels were very remarkable.
Dr. Kapra stated that at that time it took at least three formulas to describe all of the phenomena physics had ‘observed’ and none of these did more than a good partial job. It seems that science does not foresee this situation improving as the “complementarity principle” has already been posited as the necessary glue to make all of our scientific experiences of reality stick together.
It is here that the parallels with the mystical experience end. The mystic does not describe partial visions of reality, that are inter-related or co-terminus
with each other. He or she experiences absolute unity. (Note: Whenever I say ‘He’, referring to a mystic, for purposes of brevity I mean ‘He and/or She’. Women
have definitely made significant statements about the mystical experience.) His experiences are of the relatedness, the absolute indivisibility, the sameness of all reality. His failure is that he cannot find language capable of expressing this experience of infinite beauty, power and unity. The scientist catches a glimpse of a wave phenomena here and a particle form there and must posit uncertainty principles about where or when something might happen. The mystic merges with reality. He is one with it. “Thou art That.”
Based on modern research the physicist asserts that all things are inter-connected. He can no longer argue a case for subject-object differentiation. Yet, for the physicist, this is a theoretical statement. He has never directly experienced this inter-connection. He arrived at it formulaically. He can attempt to account for his presence in the evolution of his experiments, but he does not directly experience any elemental or essential connection with the universe.
The mystic directly experiences his inter-connection with all that exists. He realizes that he is essentially indistinguishable from the life force that supports the creation. This life force has been called the Tao, the Word, Logos, Nam. All true mystics have spoken of this essential force that unifies all life.
This disparity between the direct experience of the mystic and the indirect theoretical assertions of the Western scientist, will be a major theme of this book.
Western science differs from that of the East on the issue of access to knowledge as internal, personal experience. The scholar of the East grants that there is a possibility of acquiring knowledge beyond the notions of analysis and deduction, even beyond the capabilities of sensory experience. Rather it is a direct apprehension of reality. The validity of this experience is as indisputable to the scientist who opens themselves to it, s any form of rational observation and deduction championed by Western science. In fact, more so, because the Eastern scientist can experience a reality beyond change.While the only truth we can determine based on our Western view of reality, is that it is always changing. The mystic sees beyond the change, rather the illusion of change, to the permanent ground beneath.
In other words, it is the difference between the knowledge dominated by an ego-centric, self-inspired view of the universe and an exo-centric, universal view, which, according to the mystic is inspired and sustained by God.
The Western man sees himself as the center, the inspiration, the doer of his deeds, the creator of his destiny, the fountainhead of his thoughts. The Eastern man sees himself as a spiritual entity, connected to this unchanging essence, to God and pure knowledge, but often blinded to this reality by the veils of illusion(i.e. ego-domination and the seemingly ever changing physical reality.
The former view gives rise to self-judgment about the universe and existentialism. The latter viewpoint gives rise to an attitude of agelessness and humility based on the certain knowledge that God is the ultimate experience and all else is relative.
The ego rebels at the thought that it is not the center, the thinker, the doer. Yet even as children we are told that selfless rather than self-centered actions truly virtuous, think of others before ourselves. Christ’s parable about the birds of the field never having to worry about their needs is especially clear. Man is the crown of creation and if the animals are provided for, surely we will be cared for as well. But why should we believe this? What evidence is there to support the idea that we need not consider ourselves first in all things? Are we not fighting for a dominance of the world and even each other? Is this world not an existential situation which each of us must do for himself or herself, the best they can. Or could some higher principle be operating, some principle that is not to be apprehended by a sensory based, self-reasoned view of our physical circumstance? Is it possible that the mind is not as refined a tool for cognition as we need and possibly have access to? If so, then some other avenue of inquiry must be sought.
In view of the difference(direct versus indirect knowledge) between the mystical experience of reality and the view of the physicist, operating at a remove, I asked Dr. Kapra a question. Is it not possibly the case that the next step forward for physics was for the scientist to become a mystic. He wasn’t willing to say that. Nor did he deny it. almost as an aside he noted that he was pursuing a practice of meditation and found it rewarding and also helpful to him as a scientist.
I feel even more strongly now that the question is an important one. For while the scientist stands ‘facing’ a reality that he experiences only indirectly, channeling through incredibly sophisticated machines, the mystic experiences reality directly. The similarities in description between the two methods can only lead to profound speculation about the possibilities, especially considering atomic descriptions of the physical plane have existed in Vedic scripture for thousands of years.
This difference in access, direct versus in-direct, is crucial to the question of knowledge. The physicist only sees pieces of this reality and proposes complementarity as necessary to explain this divisions. The mystic has access to all the creation simultaneously and he only uses terms of unity to describe it. If a scientist can merge with the phenomena he wishes to study, the possibility for real direct understanding is unlimited.
“How is it that the most intelligent men, like Obermann and like Matthew Arnold who wrote a poem about Obermann, are crippled by a feeling of helplessness, of contingency, of being a mere plaything of forces greater than themselves. There can only be one answer. Because they are mere rationalists, obsessed by the scientific view of nature.”
Possibly even Sartre would be comfortable with this as a definition of the existentialist experience. But even in the West, this existential view has not been totally accepted. There is a strong tradition of mysticism in or related to the Christian Church. The Indian cultures of the Americas have ancient traditions of sorcery and magic is also deeply woven into the Western tradition. The goal of Alchemy is still generally mis-understood to be a get rich quick scheme. To these traditions are added the already mentioned time honored spiritual pathways of the East. It is to these alternative visions or possibilities for experience, that this book is devoted.
The path of the Sorcerer, the Shaman and the Saint, all offer to the seeker after knowledge, an alternative view of reality, based upon direct experience. The practitioners of these methods state that the knowledge to be gained is available to others. The claims for validity a person can prove or disprove for themselves in the laboratory of their own experience.
“Do not believe in what ye have heard; do not believe in the traditions, because they have been handed down for many generations; do not believe merely because a written statement of somer old sage is produced; do not believe in conjectures; do not believe in that as truth to which you have become attached by habit; do not believe merely the authority of your teachers and elders. After observation and analysis when it agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and gain of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
1. Book 1, pg. 329
This is the scientific method, whether Eastern or Western, expounded by one of the great scientists and mystics of history.
In this regard it is interesting to read this statement from Carl Jung from the forward of the Secret of the Golden Flower by Wilhelm and Jung. Over the course of years of clinical work, Dr. Jung had collected certain data or experiences based on his work in the realms of psychic phenomena, that led him to certain hypotheses.
“I had been occupied with the investigation of the processes of the collective unconscious since the year 1913, and had obtained results that seemed to me questionable in more than one respect. they not only lay far beyond everything known to ‘academic’ psychology but also overstepped the borders of medical, strictly personal, psychology. these findings had to do with an extensive phenomenology, to which hitherto known categories and methods could no longer be applied. My results, based on fifteen years of effort, seemed inconclusive because no possible comparison offered itself. I knew of no realm of human experience with which I might have backed up my findings with some degree of assurance.”
Jung goes on to note that in the Western tradition, there existed no body of literature or experience, that could corroborate his findings. I hope to present well documented examples of analogous phenomena in the Western experience. But for Jung, it was in the Chinese text, sent to him by Richard Wilhelm, that he found the support he had searched for.
“At that time it seemed unimportant to me that the Secret of the Golden flower is not only a Taoist text of Chinese yoga but also an alchemical tract. However, a subsequent, deeper study of latin tracts has corrected my outlook and shown me the alchemical nature of the text is of prime importance.”
It is this concept of “transformation” or alchemy, as Jung described, that will receive much of our attention for it is the same philosopher’s stone, sought by the medieval alchemists, that Wilhelm and Jung found hidden in the Taoist yoga text. The tradition is old and crosses all boundaries, that there exists a potential for man to tarns end his limitations. It is to this possibility, that Jung discusses in depth in the Golden Flower commentary, that we will turn our attention.
2. Book 2, forward, p.xiii
3. Book 2, pg. 82
“Science is the tool of the Western mind and with it more doors can be opened than with bare hands. It is part and parcel of our knowledge and obscures our insight only when it holds that the understanding given by it is the only kind there is. the last has taught us another, wider, more profound and higher understanding, that is understanding through life.” (i.e. experience)
Of this method of cognition Jung says, “It is based on the practical insights of highly evolved Chinese minds, which we have not the slightest justification for undervaluing.”
It seems it would be valuable, before commencing this book, to look over a simple dictionary definition of science. This one is given by the American Heritage Dictionary and seems very appropriate.
(1) the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation and theoretical exploration of natural phenomena
(2) any methodological activity, study or discipline
(3) any activity that appears tor require study or method
(4) knowledge, especially knowledge gained through experience
We will see that the order of these definitions of science will possibly have to be altered. For it is knowledge gained through experience, on which all science proves to be based. And it is this issue of self-referential knowledge, based on direct personal experience, to which we shall return often.
It is interesting to note that most scientists would argue that unless a method or discipline of study leads to quantifiable results, number one above, it can’t be considered science. The issue of what qualifies as valid scientific investigation shall prove to be interesting. We might ask at the outset whether the present bias of scientists toward number one type of definitions of science, is what gave it its preeminence in the dictionary or whether the elements of description, identification, etc are necessary elements for the pursuit of scientific research.
Even the word research will take on new meanings. To re-search, is to look again and to possibly discover what was lost. The teachings of these various paths will shed much light on our concept of research.
4. Book 2, pg. 82
5. Book 2, pg. 82
Even the word research will take on new meanings. To re-search is to look again and possibly to discover that which is lost. The teachings of these various paths will shed much light on our concept of research.
Rationality and Reality, two words that almost seem synonymous will prove to be far different. How does a scientist or any seeker after truth resolve this question of scientific rationality, with its acknowledged limitations, with a search for absolute truth? Is it possible to experience something and know it to be true, with recourse to mental or sensual intervention?
“Nonetheless, he(the oriental), could not escape feeling the collision of opposites and therefore he sought out the way of life in which he would be what the Indians term nirdvandva, free of the opposites.”
It is toward this freedom from the appearance of separation that we must move. We can theoretically posit that all the universe is unified, but we are still confronted with the undeniable appearance of ‘separateness’. Until we can directly experience the unity, it must remain a theoretical construct of little personal and thus practical importance.
Through all recorded history and long before, paths of knowledge have existed. For these methods many claims are made: access to power, knowledge and immortality, are but the most popular. But these paths are all unified by the premise, that to the one(s) who come with an open mind and heart all things shall be proven to his or her satisfaction.
For all those persons who feel that the traditional Western scientific view of man is neither sufficient or satisfactory, this book will hopefully offer some clarity…
6. Book 2., Pg. 90
The Case for Power
From where does the need for control, dominion or preeminence of mankind over the environment derive? Based on the Darwinian view of man as ‘fairly recently’ being an animal, the continuation of a “law of the jungle” attitude toward mankind’s physical circumstances is understandable. A reasoned view of man’s predicament leads one to similar conclusions. There is still an absence of abundance even in America. Based on what one can know through sensory experience and reasonable expectations, the world remains as hostile a place for mankind now, as it ever was in his formative evolution. Granted that it is now man rather than the environment that offers humanity its severest tests for survival, but the stakes for the individual remain the same. To the victor go the spoils. Might doesn’t always make right, but it seems to make sense. Strength gives one security, safety from attack and victory in conflict. Although the weapons of war have progressed far beyond clubs and now complicated socio-economic considerations often precipitate wars, it is still man versus man, man versus the environment, man versus the unknown. The challenge to mankind’s continued survival is as real as ever. We are still existentialists, as unreconciled to our situation as ever. The same old rules still seemingly apply.
The world is dominated by power, those that have it and those that seek it. Control, domination, extension outward from ourselves. Even our tools are extensions, power is the ultimate extension. It is insulation from danger. Power insures one against hunger, cold, threat of physical violence, the ancient antagonists of mankind. Power also operates on grander stages, changing economic conditions, altering social structure, pre eating or propelling warfare.
The cultivation and use of power is a natural adaptation to mankind’s existential circumstances. He is alone, even unto himself. He can not depend on anyone. all situations change, it is a law of this universe. Relationships end, friends become competitors, marriages end in struggles for power. Nothing can be trusted, except possibly ourselves. Nothing is sure except death(We all know the rich don’t pay taxes.) Forestalling death, protecting one’s self from harm, underlies seemingly all behavior and it is the motivation for most action and reaction. Are we so far from the animal stage? The same exigencies hold true for man that order the animal kingdom. Survival, territoriality, freedom from want are all negative descriptors of our experience, all things we want to avoid.
It is clear what we don’t want. But what is it we do want? What are our positive motivations? What are the goals of any person or mankind as a species?
Freedom from want? Our lives seem to revolve around this reality. We continue to behave as if we are lacking essential things. In this day of high productivity, over-consumption, over work and artificially generated desires, we act as if we don’t have enough. Undernourished people around the world are still watching television, longing for more beautiful clothes, a car or a bigger, nicer car.
One can hardly call this freedom. We talk much of freedom and wanting to be free. Freedom to do what? Freedom to be what? To make the world safe for our children and those to follow? Why? What motivates us to go forward? Or are all things artificial goals, hollow words? What does the future hold? Continuing struggles for domination, new worlds or planets to conquer, no fear of scarcity or bodily inconvenience? Even to state these themes, in light of our worldly situation, they ring hollow. In the face of our technological development and the uses to which it is being put, these goals seem to be of little value. We seem to be permuting our attachment to the jungle laws by the very uses to which we put our technology. To seek food, clothing and our other basic needs is understandable. But when these needs are satisfied, why go on?
Clearly, in this cursory overview of man’s history, we’ve left out the arts, education and science. Is the search for knowledge and truth the motivation we seek?
Our “modern educational system (and the knowledge dispensed there) is derived directly or indirectly from one basic assumption. Nothing exists except that of which we obtain cognition through the human senses of sight, touch, smell or hearing. By the use of these human senses, physical science has greatly expanded our knowledge of the material world. But are we then warranted in assuming that this ‘known’ world is the only one that exists? Many great scientists are usually ready enough to admit that all the achievements of modern science are really little more than a match struck at midnight in a dark forest.
In spite of all the, to most of us, miraculous discoveries of science, the universe and the mystery of life in it, still completely baffle us. Indeed, as the first enthusiasm of scientific discovery tends to wane, the mystery becomes more rather more rathe than less, insoluble. But although the limitations of physical science are now becoming gradually clearer, there is always a time lag in popular appreciation of new trends. The public in general is still under the influence of the impression, now superseded, that physical science can solve all human problems and that the human intellect can shape the future of mankind.” 1.
The implications of this statement are enormous and far-reaching. Many of them must be held for later in this book. But the relevant issue here is his statement about the capabilities of science solving our problems and charting our future course. It tells us that sensory based investigation is of great botlimited value. In the light of this quotation, the following remarks are even more startling.
“When we survey the subsequent course of scientific thought throughout the seventeenth century up to the present day, two curious facts emerge. In the first place, the development of natural science has gradually dropped every single feature of the commonsense notion. Nothing whatever remains of it, considered as expressing the primary features in terms of which the universe is to be interpreted. The obvious commonsense notion has been entirely destroyed, so far as concerns it’s function as the basis for all interpolation. One by one, every item has been dethroned.” 2.
He goes on later,”there is a second characteristic of subsequent thought which is equally prominent. This commonsense notion(that the world is just as it appears to the senses) still reigns supreme in the workaday life of mankind… In general(between the scientific and commonsense views of the nature of the universe) there is no conciliation.” 3.
After reading these quotations by an eminent physicist, Alfred North Whitehead, one would immediately begin to think that scientists were on to something really new. The world is just not what it seems to be. We can’t assume that sensory data is all or even completely correct information about our world. But when we go to the scientists we find that they are as baffled by their discoveries, as we are to read about them. And in the light of our earlier discussion about the ‘reasonableness’ of the common sense view of reality, one does not wonder that people haven’t dropped their existential stance. After all, if you walk in front of a speeding bullet, it sure ‘seems’ to be distressing. A scientist can drop an idea as easy as a pencil. When it no longer fits the data, it is inoperative scientifically and must immediately be abandoned. But people must have an attitude, a perspective, on which to base and order their lives. Science has offered nothing to replace the commonsense attitude. Most of the scientists I know still function as if the commonsense notion was, in fact, actually true. They just talk about the world differently.
Seemingly in direct response to this question of whether science can provide a new basis against which we can alter our style of living and thinking, to come in line with the latest discoveries of science, Henry Margenau wrote,” In my view natural science contains no normative principles dealing with ultimate goals; physical reality is the quintessence of cognitive experience and not of values… to know physical reality is to know where to look when something is wanted or needed to be seen; it is to be able to cure when a cure is desired; to kill when killing is intended. But natural science will never tell whether it is god or bad to look, to cure or to kill, it simply lacks the premise of ought.”4
We are plunged back into the existential morass with a vengeance. Yet no occupation of mankind holds more importance, more relevance, more control, more power over our lives than science. Our technology threatens to destroy what it was used to create,but it is only the much maligned child of scientific investigation.
Scientists rule by not ruling. Decisions are made by never choosing. No morality, other than objective study for its own sake, is held to be relevant to the pursuits of science. We have nuclear weapons because scientists thought it would be interesting to to know more about the structure of atoms and the nature of the universe. Killer strains of indestructible viruses exist because biochemical studies of viral mutations are interesting. Preservatives in our food, chemicals in our water, pollution in the air, all the handiwork of a science that asks questions of Nature but never of itself. So a technologically oriented business empire accepts the answers to scientific questions without reservations. Governments are now little more than an extension of our perceived collective need for control and the business world’s need for stability, growth and most important of all, profits.
No one can stop what is happening, not many even seem to be sure that we should. As Professor Morgenau wrote, science can not provide us with a set of values,those must come from someone or somewhere else. Who or where is left unclear. It seems we must drop the notion that Western man or civilization is in any sense more civilized than the ‘primitive’ tribes of Borneo, Australia or South America. The same exigencies seem to hold for us as for them. Granted we are more sophisticated in our techniques of aggression, but we are truly their brothers at arms.
Education seems to offer no hope and science neither claims nor pretends to, in reversing the destructive tendencies of the modern technological world. Primitive tribes of the world, at least love the land and sea, only endangering themselves by tribal warfare.Western ‘high’ civilization with it’s sophistication, power and command of scientific knowledge is still in the same existential position as the rest of mankind. We look upon a universe as inexplicable as ever. What science has discovered just amplifies our feeling of insignificance. Science has answered many questions as to how things occur, but none as to why. Our search for truth or even a sense of purpose or meaning, goes on. When the leading figures of science can offer no solutions or even direction, one can understand why most people find the ‘commonsense’ way of life the most reasonable. Until something substantive can be offered in its place, the probability of significant changes in our situation are low.
Against this bleak background, the question of what is truth looks even more important.
Science claims to search for truth, but one begins to wonder if it would recognize the truth if it found it. One must ask, does the very nature of the scientific method of inquiry, as presently defined, hold any hope of discovering any thing that is true, absolutely true?
Today science tells us that everything is changing, always changing. The “stuff” of which our “commonsense” reality seems to be made, isn’t “stuff” at all. Matter is disappearing and reappearing, at best, at predictable rates. It takes a complicated formula for a scientist to talk meaningfully about what they think is real. And then we are only talking about part of reality, its compliment awaits our attention. This world might be a stage, but it is not at all clear what role we are playing. Science tells us what we are connected to everything, everything is changing, and we are part of the change.
Scientists, as representatives of us all have always behaved as existentialists. The world is ours to study, explain and control. We are but recently animals. We seem to feel the pull so strongly. We can’t slip back, we must be totally dominant, to protect our heritage of struggle, from ever being lost in a fall from power. The case for power seems undeniable, all encompassing. But why do the scientists continue to adopt this attitude, now that they have proven it irrational? Do they continue to move in the old direction, for lack of a new one? Based on the tenets of science, it seems that all scientists should stop doing anything until a viable alternative is discovered. When all the premises for operation in the world are invalidated, as scientists have proven, why should we continue? When we don’t even know what is real, how can we continue to pretend that everything is real, how can we pretend that everything is all right, its just getting a little strange at the lab.
The case for power is rational, practical, scientific(except for scientists) and existential. But it represents only a perspective and not even one that is completely shared. For the case for power neither admits nor has provision for any fundamentally different vision or approach toward life. To seek power is a seemingly natural response to a feeling of fear and awe in the face of an expressionless universe. Holding onto people, property, self-concepts,etc., are attempts to stabilize our constantly changing situation. There is no stasis. We say we search for truth but are constantly settling for a little short run security. The possibility of finding that truth, might be obviated by the very method of our search.
There exist other traditions, much older than the Western scientific institutions. Almost all primitive tribes are deeply involved in an integrated spiritual life, usually directed by a shaman or medicine man. The presence in their lives a vitalized notion of a God or Gods, involved in their destiny, is a virtually universal theme. When one studies the history of sorcery and magic, an individual response to the existential dilemma, new themes and possibilities are presented. And the teachings of the saints state clearly that the spiritual side of man has always been nurtured.
All three of these traditions present questions that the current Western approach of rationality is hard pressed to even admit as possibilities, much less explain. And although science stands ready to admit it knows less and less about what is reality, it moves very slowly in considering alternative viewpoints. The potential areas of exploration raised by a careful consideration of these three pathways of experiencer broad and deep. These three methods have long stood as distinct alternatives to our seemingly inevitable state of affairs. Science cannot seem to solve our problems. The pathways of the Sorcerer, Shaman and Saint, are certainly worthy of our deepest consideration. When we can find no alternatives on our own, we would be foolish to ignore that offered by another.
NOTE: I would like to point out that I am not attempting to paint an unrealistically bleak or distorted picture of our present worldly circumstances. I have tried to remain realistic and true to the facts. Upon reflection, I think that few persons
could reasonably disagree. Some might even argue that our situation is even more dangerously precipitous. I simply want to portray the situation in such a manner that the questions raised and discussed in the following chapters command the attention they deserve. Almost all people sense that things are almost hopelessly out of balance. But how to change things, where to turn for insight and direction, is the problem we all face. This is the perspective I will take in this exploration. The gravity of the problems we all face should be sufficient cause for deep reflection upon the alternatives presented in the succeeding chapters.
1. Book 3., pg. 140
2. Book 4., pg. 14ff
3. Book 4., pg. 14ff
4. Book 4., pg. 70
Sorcery and magic have long had something of a bad name. the sorcerer or magician has been a figure seemingly far removed from our lives, our reality.
he or she might be a source of fear, fascination or even irrelevance, but they are usually considered at a distance. We shall see that many of the working premises of their practices are not as far removed from our world as we might think. Many of the prejudices we hold against these disciplines begin to evaporate upon closer inspection. Characterizations as simplistic as black and white or good versus evil, will prove to be of little value. The practitioner of these systems rarely would characterize themselves or another in such terms. We shall see that a consideration of the universe from the perspective of the sorcerer or magician often leads than alteration in our attitudes and ideas. It is interesting and quite relevant quickly review where the ‘Black Arts’ received that characterization.
Russell Hope Robbins states in the Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology that, “Sorcery and magic is worldwide and world-old; it is simply the attempt control nature in man’s own interests.”
This quote places these practices in antiquity for us and also gives us an idea of their scope, but there certainly doesn’t seem to be any reason for alarm.
“Magic is a comprehensive knowledge of all of Nature.”
Again seemingly little cause for alarm although some might consider this a rathe glorified viewpoint about the possibilities of magic or sorcery.
When one looks at the history of the involvement of sorcery and magic in the development of civilization, it is indeed striking. Among primitive peoples sorcery and magic seem endemic. a review of the anthropological literature concerning sorcery, witchcraft and magic in the primitive world, past and present, proves this conclusively. In antiquity it seems difficult to even separate religion, sorcery and social practice.
“In the earliest stage it is probable that good and evil spirits were not distinguished.” 1
“A daemon in the philosophy of Plato, though inferior to a deity, was not an evil spirit and it is extremely doubtful whether the existence of evil daemons was known to the Greeks or Romans till about the time of the advent of Christ.” 2
“thus the practice of magic for beneficent purposes was considered legal and even necessary in Greece and Rome..Even the austerest Roman authors included magic formulae for obtaining useful and beneficial results in their work.”3
It is clear that sorcery and magic has long been practiced. It is important to note, that the ‘spirits’ were not considered evil or good, they were just available. Even into medieval times, magic was widely practiced.
“In the highest levels of Germanic society the Kings practiced magic publicly, and their success was more or less generally admitted. …In other cases, the trials and misfortunes of the community were attributed to the fact that the reigning monarch lacked the necessary magical power to deal with the adverse circumstances.”4
The use of magical or sorcery based methods, to secure what one wanted, has been a long accepted practice. Always with the imprecation that these means should only be used for positive or beneficial results. It is here that the waters begin to muddy. What is good for me or my tribe, might not seem quite the same by others. What one’s rival or enemy does to forward him or herself, one might easily look down upon. It is in this exact regard that Baroja notes, “It is an equally hallowed custom to attribute black powers to one’s nearest communal enemy.” 5. If one goes to war and uses sorcery to defeat his enemy, the enemy would surely consider this use of power to be evil. Whenever one benefits over another through his or her use of these practices, they are likely labeled ‘black’ and to be evil. Yet among the Polynesian tribes, Africans, South American, the use of sorcery for “evil purposes” is condemned. Clearly who benefits and who doesn’t would have much to do with what was considered a proper or improper use of sorcery. Is it the practices themselves or the uses of the power gained through these practices that deserves to be labeled good or evil?
It is a basic functioning premise of sorcerers and magicians that they can order the course of events as they see fit. The problems begin to arise when there are differences of opinions about what should transpire. But this is not any different, than the world as we know it. If one gains qt another’s expense, we don’t characterize the victor as necessarily good or bad. Their motives might be impugned or the methods considered unfair, but this is often a function of perspective. At the time that takes a course of action, she or he feels they did what was best. Who goes against their own perceived self-interest?
“Every practitioner of witchcraft is convinced that he or she is doing the right thing.” 6
It is not the concept of doing whatever one can to gain their preferred result, that is at question here. Our present world is running on this principle. Laws may change to fit the times, but all people will do what they think is right for them. One would be hard pressed to condemn either the methods or the goals of sorcery and magic. Granted some of the methods might seem strange, even impossible, but who are we to judge, except by result. And the history of sorcery and magic being effective, is long and glorious. Many clear thinking and worldly societies and civilizations have made a place for these practices. So where and when did the bad reputation develop? It seems that almost all off the bad reputation presently enjoined to sorcery and magic, stems from the vigorous opposition of the Catholic Church. It seems hard to understand at first why the practice of magic or sorcery should engender such a violent response. The Church never balked when any given group attempted to use whatever means necessary to conquer another, as long as the Church’s preeminent position in the affairs of men was respected. So why would the Catholic Church feel threatened by the incantations and manipulations of a few sorcerers, witches or magicians? Taking alchemy as an example, why should this practice, which seems so harmless on the surface, receive such vitriolic reception? On closer inspection, one discovers that the Alchemists and magicians posed a fundamental threat to the authority of the Church. These practitioners were taking it upon themselves, to attempt to change the ‘base metals” of their own benignity the pure gold of immortality and perfection. Most popular notions about this aspect of magic are based on the symbols adopted by the Alchemists, to express, record and preserve their findings. So that we find that what seemed tone just harmless ‘profiteering’, was actually a serious undertaking of great importance. These people were seeking ‘salvation’ in the here and now, transcendence over the assumed order. When one reflects upon the worldly business that priestcraft had become, these ‘other worldly’ pursuits could prove disastrous to the Church. If one could triumph over death, achieve what Christ held out to all men, the Church would lose influence and patrons. That these people were persecuted as heretics and worse, is from the Church’s perspective, readily understandable.
An interesting corollary to these historical events, which will bear on all the succeeding discussion, has to do with the birth of science, as we know it. Professor Mendolssahn relates how in the 17th century certain ‘budding’ scientists, on behalf of the fledgling scientific communities, approached the Church with the purpose of striking a bargain. If the scientists would stick to Natural Science, and leave all questions of metaphysics to the Church, they in turn would be left alone to pursue the investigation of the world. It was clear that Alchemy did not fall into the Natural Sciences. The Church was pleased with this bargain, the scientists were also pleased and the Alchemists seemingly went off looking to discover gold. This conscious decision on the part of the e]scientists of that time to not involve themselves in the metaphysical, has colored all of science. The depth to which it still impedes discussion of these issues will become clear as we continue.
As was stated at the outset of the chapter, sorcery and magic have come to have a bad, albeit highly misunderstood, reputation. This has changed somewhat in recent years. As the world has become more secularized these issues can be more freely discussed. Also, there has been a renaissance in interest in the occult and mystical. People seem more interested in finding out things for themselves. Of particular interest to a broad readership, have been the ‘chronicles’ of don Juan as recorded by Carlos Castaneda. Through these books in particular, we are given an intimate view of the world of the sorcerer. The easy accessibility that these books offer has changed the ideas that many have held about sorcery and magic.
*NOTE: From here forward when I speak of sorcery, I am also referring to magic. As I hope I have shown, the issue of good and evil, black and white, is mostly one of perspective. Because of the associations most people have with magic, I have chosen to use the name sorcery. Some might argue with this decision, but mostly it is one of convenience. I intend to demonstrate that the methods and goals of sorcery and magic are virtually the same. Most attempts to distinguish them I find artificial, more is lost in the division than gained.
One of the fundamental qualities of sorcery is that it is ‘do-able’. It can be taught. It can be practiced. Don Juan can take an apprentice, even as he once was, and teach him the sorcerer’s way. The experiences are repeatable, the sorcerer is in control.
“During the months following my withdrawal from the apprenticeship, I needed to understand what i had experienced, and what I had experienced was the teaching of a coherent system of beliefs by means of a pragmatic and experiential method. It had been evident to me from the very first session in which I had participated that don Juan’s teachings possessed an internal cohesion.” 7
The apprentice is being taught a “pragmatic and experiential method.” This is the key to much of what will follow. Sorcery is practical, practicable. One can use certain techniques to achieve certain results. And these results bare personally experienced. They can and must be repeated until the apprentice is convinced of their validity.
Bonewits calls this “the law of Pragmatism- If it works, it’s true.” 8
In science they call the repeatability of an experiment(experience), replicability. By following the same protocols and methods, the same results should be achieved. If Carlos can be taught, we could also be taught. Sorcery is not culturally bound. Carlos could be any of us. He seems as different from don Juan , as a man could be. This does not matter. The truth, the proof is in the method, in the experience. When one is convinced by their own personal experience, cultural differences evaporate.
Sorcery is a worldly path. One seeks to know the world as deeply and widely as possible. There are no restrictions, only one’s limitations of knowledge and power. What is true for the sorcerer does not change from place to place. His power and knowledge do not leave him. He uses what is his to do what he must. Power, knowledge and will, the practice of sorcery is based on these concepts.
The sorcerer is a seeker after power, and his or her power is indistinguishable from their power. This will prove to be of much interest, living as we do in a world dominated by the powerful. He who has the ability and the will, cannot be restrained. Such is the sorcerer. A sorcery knows what they can do and they do it. In Journey to Ixtlan, don Juan states this powerfully.“Look at me. I have no doubts or remorse.Everything I do is my decision and my responsibility.”9
This is a direct statement of the sorcerer’s imperative. Few people could claim to live with such commitment. But as don Juan tells Carlos, in the following passage, one must learn to live this way.
“Perhaps I should explain to you that I learned to be a hunter. I have not always lived the way I do now. At one point in my life I had to change. Now I’m pointing the direction to you. I know what I am talking about; someone taught me all this, I didn’t figure it out for myself.” 10
The importance of the sorcerer’s sense of self cannot be over-stressed. They are aware of themselves in the world. They are the doer of their actions.
“The Satanist realizes that man, and the action and reaction of the universe is responsible for everything, and doesn’t mislead himself into thinking that someone cares… the Satanist, realizing that anything he gets is of his own doing, takes command of the situation instead of praying to God for it to happen. Positive thinking and positive actions add up to results.” 11
Few people would choose to characterize themselves as Satanists, yet few could differ with their method of operation. This is just a restatement of the case for power and the human existential situation. It is interesting to compare this statement by an avowed Satanist, with that which follows:
“The most important realization of all is Husserl’s recognition that human consciousness is intentional. As I go through conscious, everyday life, I am unaware of the amount of deliberate work I am putting into ‘living’. So much of life seems to ‘just happen’, so much seems to be ‘given’ that I get into the habit of thinking of myself as a passive object, acted upon.” 12
The sorcerer is not so easily mislead. They take responsibility for all of their actions. They make sure that all they do and all that transpires in their lives, fulfills their wishes. For the sorcerer, all their life is intentional and directed.
Wilson says later,”these disciplines can make our evolution-which has so far been a matter of accident and natural selection-conscious and deliberate.”13
Long have the sorcerers known that through self-directed exercise of power, they can order and control events in their lives. It is for this reason that sorcery has been perpetuated.Mankind has long sought a way to control their lives. To those that are not deterred by ignorance or superstition, sorcery offers very attractive possibilities. But people don’t realize the potential that exists. Even the realization of the need for a change in one’s life is usually absent.
All the elements of our lives are evident in the sorcerer’s world, except they have a way to live their lives that give it direction, value, meaning; the virtues so lacking in the lives of most of us. Where we feel virtually powerless, the sorcerer has their power under control. The sorcerer’s life is dominated by their will. Their power is directed and sustained by the exercise of their will.
“the fundamental aim of all magic is to impose the human will on nature, on man or on the super sensual world in order to master them. To speak the language of Schopenhauer, magic is used in service of the will and is therefore akin to applied science…”14
“In general, magic is connected with man’s desire and will and religion with feelings of respect, gratefulness and submission.”15
“Man was out to gain control of his environment, and his chief means of achieving this goal, still was magic.”16
‘Magick is the Art and Science of causing changes to occur in conformity with Will.” Aleister Crowley
“Gurdjieff aimed at a strengthening of man’s ‘true will’. His starting point was that there was something wrong with man…”17
What is it that most of us find wrong with our lives? It usually can be expressed as an inability to fulfill our desires. We feel that we can’t or don’t know how to bring about the alterations in our circumstances that we would like to achieve. Yet when a person has only their mind and sensibilities to guide them, they must impose their will on the situation. How to gain the strength and confidence to exercise our ‘will power’? Sorcery seems to offer a direction. In a “Psychology Today” interview, Carlos Castenada remarked that, “they(his experiences with don Juan) have given the peace and confidence in my ability to control my life.”
The idea of a ‘quest’ is integral to sorcery. There is power and knowledge available to anyone that can avail themselves of it. This theme runs through the lives of all sorcerers. Sincere, thoughtful people, driven, often obsessed with the need to go beyond the accepted, the explained. They felt or knew that there was more to existence than the shallow comings and goings of their fellow men. They knew that had to change their lives. They sought a knowledge that would transform them. An experience that rings of truth, even if it put the lie to what others might call ‘real’.
“One day I found out that if I wanted to be a hunter worthy of self-respect I had to change my way of life. I used to whine and complain a great deal. I had good reasons to feel short changed. I am an indian and indians are treated like dogs. There was nothing I could do to remedy that, so all I was left with was my sorrow. But then my good fortune spared me and someone taught me to hunt. and I realized that the way I lived was not worth living… so I changed it.”18
Here don Juan is using the expression ‘to hunt’, as a metaphor, what he hunts is knowledge and power. It was that knowledge that showed him that his life was not worth living and how to change it.
“But why should I seek power , don Juan?
You can’t think of a reason now. However, if you store enough power, the power itself will find you a good reason.”19
“the Law of Knowledge is the most basic of all laws…the more you learn the stronger you are.” “Knowledge is Power.” “Major sub-Law, Law of self-knowledge.”
“The most important kind of knowledge is knowledge of one’s-self…constant review and reorganizing of the contents of your mind and body lead to more effective survival…know thyself.”
The ‘experience’ of hunting, as only a sorcerer can hunt, gave him the knowledge, the sorcerer’s perspective. What the sorcerer learns in the course their studies, makes clear to them what to change in their life and how to change. Within the experience of sorceristic practice one experiences, one finds power, knowledge and validity. A knowledge that transforms. It is this altered sense of self that moved Castenada to say that don Juan’s world was “infinitely more effective than the blundering idiocy I called ‘my life.’ “21
Clearly a change has been wrought in even the basic way that the sorcerer ‘sees’ them self. They use another mode of self-definition. They have been transformed by their own experience. This knowledge is born of their experiential practices. Sorcery is founded on a system of experience, of knowledge that is self-validating.
The question of how one establishes validity is fundamental to the paths of knowledge that we are to survey. Western scientists have been unwilling to admit into evidence the reported subjective experiences of those persons they have had occasion to study experimentally.Since they could not be privy to the subjective experience, could not measure it, etc., it has traditionally been declared ‘out of bounds’ as an acceptable area of research.Although some of the para-psychological research has blurred these hard lines and modern physics has virtually destroyed the foundation for the assumption that the scientist can be considered divorced from any aspect of their experiments, the problem remains. How are we to establish a means of vilifying internal or subjective experiences or phenomena?
This problem does not exist for the sorcerer. They are not willing to accept any arbitrary lines between the real and the unreal, the ‘real’ and the unknown or unprovable. If something is of potential value to the sorcerer in his quest for self-mastery, they will attempt to find it and use it. All things are tested in there laboratory of the sorcerer’s experience. This is the true search for power and knowledge, unlimited by any socialized vision of reality. There is power available to the person able to secure it unto themselves. Knowledge is access to power.
The sorcerer is already a step away from his fellow men, just by refusing to admit limitations to power and its possibilities. They are not intimidated by the inexplicable. They would not accept, as anything other than natural, any phenomena that can be experienced. The concept of nature or ‘natural’ may have to be changed to fit the facts, the inverse is never true for sorcerers. They will not, cannot afford to leave, any possibility unexplored, if it might lead to more knowledge or power. Superstition is for those that don’t want to know. Supernatural is for those things that can’t be explained. The sorcerer is a scientist without arbitrary limitations. They are willing to accept their own researches and experiences as valid. Their personal experience, internal or external, is considered ground for exploration. If they can prove something to themselves, through their own experimentation, then it matters not what others might choose to think.
“The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of the onlooker and calls that self-confidence… the average man is hooked to his fellow man, while the warrior is hooked only to himself.”22
The philosophers stone, the Holy Grail, the ‘Quest’ are all symbols for what the sorcerer is seeking. The sorcerer knows there is more to life than is being lived. “To impose the human will” is the only reasonable course and all sorcerers accept nothing less.
Upon close inspection the distinction between where traditional science ends and the sorceristic world begins is very unclear. As quoted earlier, don Juan tells Carlos that he was taught what he knows and that he can teach another. The knowledge can be transmitted. One can witness the reality of the path, but it is not ‘provable’ outside of the context of the experience. But if scientists must consider themselves part of their experiments, then sorcery deserves examination.
“thus the analogy between the magical and the scientific conceptions of the world is close. In both of them the succession of events is perfectly regular, being determined by immutable laws, the operation of which can be foreseen and calculated precisely; the elements of caprice, of chance and of accident are banished from the course of nature. Both of them open up seemingly boundless vistas of possibilities to him who knows the causes of things and scan touch the secret springs that set in motion the vast and intricate mechanics of the world. Hence the strong attraction which magic and science alike have exercised on the human mind; hence the powerful stimulus that both have given to the pursuit of knowledge.”23
This statement probably seemed true when made in an earlier part of this century but we now see that things have changed. Science is no longer sure precisely what is transpiring in our universe. It certainly isn’t touching the ‘secret springs,’ while the potentials of sorcery or magic remain virtually ignored. Just the history of sorcery would seem to give impetus to a modern investigation of its possibilities. But science clings to its canon of ‘objectivity’. Until I can prove it to others it isn’t true, at least not functionally true. One could be confused or mis-led. I must validate my experiences, my data, by having others see it and agree with me.
The sorcerer posits the same solution but with a twist. He says he can teach it, but you must experience it for yourself, ‘see’ for yourself. Only then will you know that it is true. Knowledge to the sorcerer is something other than an intellectual explanation.
“thus he (don Juan) guided me into experiencing a sequence of these stages for the purpose of unfolding and validating his knowledge. . . . .don Juan believed the states of non-ordinary reality to be the only form of pragmatic learning and the only means of acquiring power.”24
“Witchcraft and magic depend upon higher levels of consciousness, a wider grasp of reality than man normally possesses. In this they are closely related to mysticism.”25
“The mysteries (of Alchemy) could not be stated in plain language, even if the risk of revealing them be discounted. They could only be conveyed through symbolism and allegory, and the full richness of their significance could only be grasped through mystical experience.”26
Now we find that the problem of validation is even more complicated. These teachings or experiences cannot even truly be expressed. What is this ‘state of knowledge’? Who can say, only the practitioner of these disciplines has access to the answer. But they do not seem to be amenable to language, at least no known language. It even seems that this knowledge does not always lend itself to being understood.
Bewildered by the contradiction between his sorceristic experiences and his inability to explain these experiences Carlos balks.
“I refuse to believe what I was witnessing. The incongruence of my two versions of reality made me grapple for any kind of explanation.”27
Carlos refuses to be the scientist he was trained to be. He refuses to give validity to his own experiences, because he is unable to explain them. Is science the ability to explain reality or to experience it more deeply through experimentation? We are faced with a decision between experiential knowledge and intellectualism. Carlos lost his objectivity. The experience was so different from any he had ‘invested’ psychologically that he lost his objective status and plunged into subjective rumination. Are scientists trained to generate experimental data or to generate explorations. Obviously both, but the latter should never obviate the former.
The sorcerer understands these problems. Don Juan explains to Carlos, “The most difficult part about the warrior’s way is to realize that the world is a feeling.”28 Power can bestow knowledge, but not explanations. The sorcerer seeks knowledge and power, explanations give him neither of these. “Feeling the world” can be another metaphor for that alternative say of coming to know things about the world. . . . .Knowledge based solely on direct experience.
“Not doing is very simple but very difficult,” he said. It is not a matter of understanding it but of mastering it.”29
Don Juan’s concept of ‘feeling’ the world is clearly not sensory, in any generally accepted use of that term He is describing another faculty of cognition or another way of collecting data about the world, of validifying his experience. Don Juan says the world is a “mystery” yet the sorcerer’s way of knowledge is not inhibited by the inexplicable. If he can manipulate his circumstances, control power, he finds it unnecessary to seek explanations. Explanations often seem to be insulation against the unknown.
“I had worked out an explanation that seemed to suit me.”30
This is not the statement of a true scientist. Science is not the working out of convenient explanations, rather it is the collecting of data, knowledge, experiences, that allow us olive more fully. A scientist should gladly seek or accept any experience that offers the possibility of gaining knowledge, whether it can be explained or not is secondary.
“You don’t have enough personal power yet to seek the sorcerer’s explanation.”
“Then there is a sorcerer’s explanation!”
“Certainly. Sorcerer’s are men. We’re creatures of thought. We seek clarifications.”
“I was under the impression that my great flaw was to seek explanations.”
“No. Your flaw is to seek convenient explanations, explanations that fit you and your world. What I object to is your reasonableness. . . . .”31
Sorcery is a focusing of the will, not of the intellect. Sorcery allows one to live more deeply. An intellectual basis of understanding is neither sought nor found, it is irrelevant to the reality of the sorcerer.
“What Crowley (Aleister) realized instinctively was that magic is somehow connected with the human will, with man’s true will, the deep instinctive will.”32
The sorcerer believes, as do all seekers after power, that you make your life what it is. You accept things as you find them and go from there. The sorcerer does not seek explanations. He has no need for them and he can’t spare time for what he doesn’t need. He only seeks knowledge, clarifications. One does only what one must. Irrelevant actions can be costly. With the ever present reality that death awaits us, one must be careful and wise.
While most of us hide from the knowledge of the imminence of our death, the sorcerer cultivates it. Death focuses his attention, it trims away all excesses. The sorcerer does as little as possible, each of his actions must be impeccable.
“You, on the other hand, feel that you are immortal, and the decisions of an immortal man can be cancelled or regretted or doubted. In the world where death is the hunter, there is no time for regrets or doubts.”33
The preeminence of death gives a force and finality to all actions. If one wastes time, wasted energy, by thinking, worrying, wondering, hoping, etc., he is asleep, unconsciously awaiting his or her death.
“Death is our eternal companion.”34
“Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch.”35
“Face” your death and you will not waste another moment. Death awaits us, it is no respecter of ignorance.
“If this were your last battle on earth, I would say that you are an idiot. You are wasting your last act on earth in some stupid mood.”36
The sorcerer uses the knowledge gained on the path, to evaluate his actions. He has a perspective from which to judge himself and others. With his death by his side, he cannot seek or allow for compromise. What others see as real and worth pursuing, he can “see” as ‘illusion’.
“Let each of your acts be your last battle on earth. Only under these conditions will your acts have their rightful power. Otherwise, they will be for as long as you live, the acts of a timid man.”37
The sorcerer knows how to live, to make each moment truly meaningful. He has no regrets, no remorse. He knows that what he has done and must do is the rightful use of power. He acts as a man, aware of the world and his place in it. The sorcerer doesn’t seek death, but he has trained himself to face it. It comes and he will be ready.
The sorcerer not only prepares to face his death, but also the unknown or the unknowable. Don Juan calls it the Nagual.
“He merely represents a force of nature—the powers of darkness, which have been named just that because no religion has taken these forces out of the darkness nor has science been able to apply technical terminology to this force. It is an untapped reservoir that few can make use of because they lack the ability to use a tool without having to first break down and label all the parts that make it run. It is this incessant need to analyze which prohibits most people from taking advantage of this many faceted key to the unknown. . . . .”38
At the conclusion of Tales of Power, Carlos Castaneda is presented with a choice. He has been prepared to face the Nagual, the unknown. He can come back if he so chooses.
“Death is always waiting, and when the warrior’s power wanes, death simply taps him. Thus, to venture into the unknown without power is stupid. One will only find death.”39
A warning to the unprepared, but what of he who is prepared? What if one should venture into the unknown, with power? Obviously we cannot know or even benefit from speculation. We cannot know what the possession of the sorcerer’s knowledge is like or what the possession of his power might mean. We can only wonder and then possibly investigate.
Sorcery offers us a real alternative to the existential feeling of being a man, alive and alone in this world. It is above simple grasping for momentary pleasure or influence. These things are always changing, the pleasure gained soon passes. A sorcerer can control his personal life. He has no worries. He wants nothing but the minimum, only what he truly needs. The knowledge he has gained makes these things clear. He is always alert. His awareness of death keeps him vitalized. And if he can amass enough power, enough knowledge, he might complete ‘the Journey to IXTLAN’.
Sorcery is a challenge to the scientist in all of us. The part in all of us that wants to know how to live more fully, that is willing to explore and believe its own experiences, cannot ignore these possibilities. Each of us must become responsible for ourselves. The existential reality is that we are each alone, alone into ourselves. The sorcerer knows this and accepts it as a working condition for his path.
The implications of sorcery are broad and not easily expressed. In the light of our world situation, it is a path that we all should consider.
“To seek the perfection of the warrior’s spirit is the only task worthy of our manhood.”40
1.Book 6., pg. 7
2.Book 7., pg. 404
3.Book 8., pg. 18
4.Book 8., pg. 47
5.Book 5., pg.50
6.Book 9., pg. 110
7.Book 10., Introduction, pg. 13
8.Book 11., pg. 13
9.Book 12., pg. 62
10.Book 12., pg. 80
11.Book 9., pg. 41
12.Book1., pg 404
13.Book 1., pg. 406
14.Book 13., pg. 3
15.Book 8., pg. 21
16.Book1., pg. 149
17.Book 1., pg. 411
18.Book12., pg. 80
19.Book 12., pg. 167
20.Book 11., pg. 3
21.Book 12., pg. 81
22.Book14., pg. 15
24.Book 10., pg. 21
25.Book 1., pg. 155
26.Book16., pg. 155
27.Book 12., pg. 161
28.Book 12., pg. 232
29.Book 12., pg. 233
30.Book 12., pg. 261
31.Book 14., pg.
32.Book 1., pg. 352
33.Book 12., pg. 62
34.Book 12., pg. 54
35.Book 12., pg. 55
36.Book 12., pg. 109
37.Book 12., pg. 109
40.Book 12., pg. 138