My books are a true account of a teaching method that don Juan Matus, a Mexican Indian sorcerer, used in order to help me understand the sorcerers’ world. In this sense, my books are the account of an on-going process which becomes more clear to me as time goes by.
It takes years of training to teach us to deal intelligently with the world of everyday life. Our schooling – whether In plain reasoning or formal topics – is rigorous, because the knowledge we are trying to impart is very complex. The same criteria apply to the sorcerers’ world: their schooling, which relies on oral instruction and the manipulation of awareness, although different from ours, is just as rigorous, because their knowledge is as, or perhaps more, complex
At various times don Juan attempted to name his knowledge for my benefit. He felt that the most appropriate name was nagualism, but that the term was too obscure. Calling it simply “knowledge” made it too vague, and to call it “witchcraft” was debasing. “The mastery of intent” was too abstract, and “the search for total freedom” too long and metaphorical. Finally, because he was unable to find a more appropriate name, he called it “sorcery,” although he admitted it was not really accurate.
Over the years, he had given me different definitions of sorcery, but he had always maintained that definitions change as knowledge increases. Toward the end of my apprenticeship, I felt I was in a position to appreciate a clearer definition, so I asked him once more.
“From where the average man stands,” don Juan said, “sorcery is nonsense or an ominous mystery beyond his reach. And he is right – not because this is an absolute fact, but because the average man lacks the energy to deal with sorcery.”
He stopped for a moment before he continued. “Human beings are born with
a finite amount of energy,” don Juan said, “an energy that is systematically deployed, beginning at the moment of birth, in order that it may be used most advantageously by the modality of the time.”
“What do you mean by the modality of the time?” I asked.
“The modality of the time is the precise bundle of energy fields being perceived,” he answered. “I believe man’s perception has changed through the ages. The actual time decides the mode; the time decides which precise bundle of energy fields, out of an incalculable number, are to be used. And handling the modality of the time – those few, selected energy fields – takes all our available energy, leaving us nothing that would help us use any of the other energy fields.”
He urged me with a subtle movement of his eyebrows to consider all this.
“This is what I mean when I say that the average man lacks the energy needed to deal with sorcery,” he went on. “If he uses only the energy he has, he can’t perceive the worlds sorcerers do. To perceive them, sorcerers need to use a cluster of energy fields not ordinarily used. Naturally, if the average man is to perceive those worlds and understand sorcerers’ perception he must use the same cluster they have used. And this is just not possible, because all his energy is already deployed.”
He paused as if searching for the appropriate words to make his point.
“Think of it this way,” he proceeded. “It isn’t that as time goes by you’re learning sorcery; rather, what you’re learning is to save energy. And this energy will enable you to handle some of the energy fields which are inaccessible to you now.