Interview 1992 Donner, Alexander Blair-Ewart
Florinda Donner in conversation with Alexander Blair-Ewart
Florinda Donner is a longtime colleague and fellow dream-traveler of Carlos Castaneda and the acclaimed author of The Witch's Dream and Shabono. Her latest book Being-In-Dreaming: An Initiation into the Sorcerer's World, an autobiographical account of her halting, sometimes unwilling, often bewildering initiation into the works of being-in-dreaming, has recently been released and will be available in Canada in the Spring. Anthropologist and sorceress, Florinda Donner lives in Los Angeles, California and Sonora, Mexico.
Alexander Blair-Ewart: Now, at the beginning of the book, you talk about how you become drawn into a living myth. Can you talk about that mythology?
Florinda Donner: It's a living myth. Well the myth of the Nagual is a myth, but a myth that is being relived over and over again. You see, the myth that exists is the myth that there is the Nagual and that he has his troop of people, apprentices, sorcerers. Actually I'm not an apprentice of Don Juan. I was an apprentice of Castaneda who was an apprentice of Don Juan. And I am one of the 'sisters' who were actually of the women of Florinda, and she gave me her name. So, in that sense, it is a myth which exists. They didn't care that I called them witches. It has no evil connotations for them . From the western point of view, the idea of a brujo, or a witch, has always a negative connotation. They couldn't care less, because for these people, the abstract quality of sorcery voids automotatically [sic] any positive or negative connotation of the term. We are apes on one level, but we have this other magical side. In that sense we relive a myth.
Abe: So the myth of the Nagual is that there is an unbroken lineage from the ancient Toltecs right down to modern times. I'm wondering if I can get you to talk about what the pattern of the myth actually is.
Florinda: Well, there is no pattern of the myth. That's why the whole thing is so baffling and so difficult. When I first got involved with these people my main quest, my main aberration, which I came to call it later, was that I wanted to have some rules and regulations about what the hell it is I had to do. There were none. There is no blueprint. Because each new group has to find their own way to deal with this idea of trying to break the barriers of perception. The only way we can break the barriers of perception, according to Don Juan, is that we need energy. All our energy is already deployed in the world to present the idea of self- what we are, who we want to be perceived as, how other people perceive us. So Don Juan says 90% of our energy is deployed in doing that, and nothing new can come to us. There's nothing open to us, because no matter how "egoless" we are, or we pretend to be, or we want to believe we are, we are not. Even let's say "enlightened" people, or gurus that I have met- at one time Carlos Castaneda was going around trying to meet gurus- and the ego of those people was so gigantic, in how they wanted to be perceived in the world . And that's, according to Don Juan, exactly what kills us. Nothing is open to us anymore.
Abe: A real Nagual, a real seer wouldn't care how the world perceives them, particularly, would they?
Florinda: No, they don't. But they still have to fight it. Castaneda has been at this for thirty years. I've been at this for over twenty years, and it's ongoing; it doesn't stop.
Abe: What's the nature of the battle? Because you use the language of the warrior. What's the nature of the battle? What are you fighting?
Florinda: The self.
Abe: The self.
Florinda: It's not even the self; it's an idea of the self, because if we would really get the self below the surface, we don't really know what it is. And it is possible to curtail this idea, this bombastic idea we have of the self. Because whether it's a negative idea or a positive idea doesn't really matter. The energy employed to sustain that idea is the same.
Abe: So there's tremendous emphasis in this tradition on overcoming what is called self-importance.
Florinda: Self-importance, exactly. That's the main battle. To shut off our internal dialogue. Because even if we're isolated someplace, we are still constantly talking to ourselves. That internal dialogue never stops. And what does the internal dialogue do? It always justifies itself, no matter what. We replay things, events, what we could have said or could have done, what we feel or don't feel. The emphasis is always on me. We're constantly spouting this mantra- me...me...me, silently or verbally.
Abe: So, an opening emerges when...
Florinda: ...when that dialogue shuts off. Automatically. We don't have to do anything. And the reason people reject Castaneda as not true is because it's too simple. But its sheer simplicity makes it the hardest thing there is to do for us. There are about six people in our world engaged in the same pursuit. And the difficulty we all have is totally shutting off that internal dialogue. It's fine if we're not threatened. But when certain buttons arc pushed, our reactions arc so ingrained in us that it's so easy to go back on automatic pilot. You see, there's one great exercise that Don Juan prescribes- the idea of recapitulation. The idea is that you recapitulate your life, basically. And it's not a psychological recapitulation. You want to bring back that energy you left in all the interactions you've had with people throughout your life, and you start of course from the present moment and you go backwards in lime. But if you really do a good recapitulation, you discover, by the time you are three or four years old, you have learned all your reactions already. Then we become more sophisticated, we can hide them better, but basically the pattern has already been established, how we're going to interact with the world and with our fellow human beings.
Abe: So here is the image, then, or the awareness of a kind human being who is travelling a parallel path to the world of the Tonal, or the world of the person, the social person. This other world, his other opening, is something that has apparently always been there.
Florinda: Yes, it's always there. It's available to all of us. Nobody wants to tap into it, or people think they want to tap into it, but as Don Juan pointed out, the seeker is involved in something else, because a person who seeks already knows what he's seeking.
Abe: Yes, that's clear.
Florinda: The disappointment that so many people who are "seekers" have with Castaneda is because, when he talks to them, well, they have already made up their mind how things should be. And they are not open. Even if they're listening, they're not open to anything anymore, because they already know how it should be, what it is they're seeking.
Abe: My version of that is that I am not interested in self-improvement. I'm interested in self-realization, but not im- provement, and I'm not concerned with whether or not what I turn out to be in the process of recapitulation is something nice and spiritual and acceptable, because it's going to contain elements of madness as well as everything else.
Abe: But this is a very deeply disturbing idea for most people.
Florinda: It is, yes, definitely. You see, we believe in this idea that we are basically energetic beings. Don Juan said everything hinges on how much energy we have. Our energy to fight, even to fight the idea of the self, requires an enormous amount of energy. And we go always to the easiest path. We go back to what we know, even us who have been involved in this for so long. It would be a lot easier just to say, oh, to hell with it, you know, I' m just going to indulge a little bit. But the thing is, that little bit of indulging would plunge you right back to point zero again.
Abe: Except for one thing that we both know, Florinda, which is this: that once you pass a certain point within yourself, if you have reached that silence, I believe, even for one moment, if its real...
Florinda: ...you can't stop it. Exactly. But to reach this moment of silence you need the energy. You can stop it, what Juan calls this momentary pause, this cubic centimetre of chance, and you can stop it immediately.
Abe: And once it's happened, you'll never be the same again.
Abe: And you might want to go back to your old ways and indulge, but you can 't get any satisfaction out of it.
Florinda: Exactly. No, you can't. There's no satisfaction. That's totally correct. I think, if we would really arrive...let's say a critical mass would arrive at that feeling or at that knowledge, we could change things in the world. The reason nothing can change is because we're not willing to change ourselves, whether it's political dogma, economic or social issues, it doesn't really matter. What the hell is the whole thing with the rainforest and the environment at the moment? How can we expect someone to change if we're not willing to change ourselves? Thc change is phony; the change is restructuring or replaying the pieces, but there's no change. Basically we are predatory beings, you see. That hasn't changed in us. We could use that predatory energy to change our course, but we're not willing to change ourselves.
Abe: Now, in the myth, the individual seer and/or Nagual is selected by providence, the unknown, the ineffable.
Florinda: ...actually selected. Carlos has been "tapped" energetically. Let's look at our energetic configuration....some people are basically energetically different. They call Carlos a three-pronged Nagual; Don Juan was a four-pronged Nagual. So what does that really entail? Basically, they have more energy than the rest of the group, and that's something very curious. Why the hell him, or why, for instance, are always the men Naguals? We have women Naguals in the lineage, but the men have more energy, the one's that have been selected so far. They're not better. There were people in Don Juan's world who were infinitely more spiritual, better prepared, bigger men of knowledge in the sense that they knew more, and it didn't make any difference. It is not that he is more or less than somebody else. It's just that he has that energy to lead.
Abe: And he can give some of that energy to somebody, too, and give them a boost.
Florinda: We draw from that energy, yes. It is not that you get that energy, but he has that energy, if nothing else, not to become whatever the world presents. For instance, in that sense, being with Castaneda for so long, the worldly goodies that have been presented to him are unbelievable. He has never wavered from his path. And I, personally, could say now, that if I had been put in that position for that many years, I could not honestly say that I would have been so impeccable. And you see, I have to acknowledge that, because the worst thing, of course, we can do is to try to hide certain things. And for me to have witnessed Castaneda's journey, I mean, there were incredible worldly things presented to him which he never took. And you see, for that you need energy. That's where energy comes in; that's when you need whoever is then the leader of the group to point out that way. Because if somebody else would have been the Nagual that doesn't have the energy, he would have succumbed.
Abe: Can a Nagual succumb and then recover?
Florinda: No. There is no chance.
Abe: How come?
Florinda: Go back to the myth. The eagle flies in a straight line. It doesn't turn around. You might be able to say okay, you have to run harder after it. But what does that mean? It's a metaphor.
Abe: So, the Nagual works in different ways to fulfill the unfolding of the myth.
Florinda: Don Juan had more people behind him. Energetically he had a larger mass, so he could practically pluck you in and put you some place. Carlos will not do that. For him, whatever the people he is working with- and there are six of us- it's a matter of decision. That's all. Our decision is all that counts, nothing else. He will not cajole us; he will not beg; he will not tell us what to do. We have to know. Having been exposed to this for so long, having been with Don Juan, any way we can try to walk on this path, that has to be enough for him. There was nothing he would do forcefully to make sure that we stayed on this path.
Abe: Different Naguals work in different ways. Is it true of Carlos Castaneda, I've heard him described as the Nagual of stalkers?
Florinda: Yes, but I would say...I don't know. He's a dreamer.
Abe: Yeah, that emerges, too.
Florinda: And then, what is this idea of dreaming, dreaming and being awake? It's a different state. It's not that you're zonked out. No, you are totally normal and coherent, but something in you plays energetically on a different level.
Abe: There's something in your eyes, too.
Abe: Something in your eyes that is too to learn to look at two worlds simultaneously.
Florinda: Exactly. And again this idea is that you have collapsed the barrier perception in terms of what we see; whatever we perceive has been defined us by the social order, no matter what. Intellectually we are willing to accept at perception is culturally defined, but we will not accept it on any other level. But it's absurd, because it exists on another level. And I can only say, because we been involved with these people- and certainly I'm also in the world- that is possible to see on those two levels and to be totally coherent in both, and impeccable on both levels.
Abe: Talk about impeccability. What is impeccability?
Florinda: You know exactly what you have to do. Especially for women, we are reared to be very petty beings. Women are so petty, it's unbelievable. And I'm not saying that men are not, but with men, no matter how we want to express it, men always are on the winning side. Whether they are losers or not, it's still male. Our world is a male world, regardless how well off they are or not, regardless whether or not they believe in any kind of feminist ideology, it doesn't really matter. But the men are the winners in our society.
Abe: In the book you talk about how women are actually enslaved by their attachment to the sexuality of men. Can you talk about that?
Florinda: Definitely. First of all, to me, one of the most shocking things which I denied and refused to believe for quite some time, was this idea of the fog created by sexual intercourse. They went even further to explain that basically what really goes on is that, when we have sexual intercourse, when the male ejaculates, not only do we get the semen, but in that moment of energetic outburst, what really happens is that they are what Don Juan calls 'energetic worms', filaments. And those filaments stay in the body for. From a biological point of view, those filaments ensure that the male returns to the same female and takes care of the offspring. Thc male will recognize that it is his offspring by the filaments at a total energetic level.
Abe: What is the exchange of energy in sexual intercourse?
Florinda: She feeds the man energetically. Don Juan believes that the women are the cornerstone for perpetuating the human species, and the bulk of that energy comes from women, not only to gestate, to give birth and nourish their offspring, but also to ensure the male's place in the whole process.
Abe: So, the woman is enslaved, then, by this fog. How does she release herself?
Florinda: If we talk about it from a biological point of view, is she enslaved? The sorcerers say yes, in the sense that she always views herself through the male. She has no option. I used to be excruciatingly mad about this whole discussion; I used to go over and over it with them, and go back to this whole idea, especially because this was in the early seventies when the women's movement was at its peak. And I said "No, women have come a long way. Look at what they have accomplished.", and they said, "No, they haven't accomplished anything." To them, the sexual revolution- and they were not prudes- they were not interested in morality, they were only interested in energy- so they said, that for women to be liberated sexually, in a way enslaved them even more, because suddenly they were feeding energetically not just one male, but many males.
Abe: That's interesting.
Florinda: So for them it was absurd, and whatever's happening at the moment, he foresaw that in the seventies. He said they're going to dive down on their noses. They're going to be weakened. And they are. The few women I've talked to- I've given certain lectures, and the books- and when I've talked about this, it's very interesting that the women do agree. And I first thought I would have a great deal of difficulty with this subject, but especially women who have gone through the process of having multiple lovers said they were exhausted, and they don't know why.
Abe: So we are talking about something beyond the sexual.
Florinda: Originally, beyond the the sexual aspect, the female, the womb ensures that the woman is the one that's closest to the spirit in this process of approaching knowledge as being-in- dreaming. The man cones upward, and by the sheer definition of the cone, it comes to a finite end. It's an energetic force. He strives because he is not close to the spirit, or whatever we want to call that great energetic force out there. According to the sorcerers, the woman is exactly the opposite. The cone is upside down. They have a direct link with it, because the womb for the sorcerer is not just an organ of reproduction; it is an organ for dreams, a second brain.
Abe: Or heart.
Florinda: Or heart, and they do apprehend knowledge directly. Yet we have never been allowed to define what knowledge is in our society or in any society. And the women who do create or help to formulate the body of knowledge, it has to be done in male terms. Let's say a woman does research. If they do not abide by the rules already established by the male consensus, they won't be published. They can deviate slightly, but always within that same matrix. It is not allowed for women to do anything else.
Abe: So the sorceress is removed from the hypnotism of all that.
Florinda: Of the social, yes. It's very interesting that you mention the idea of hypnotism, because Don Juan always said at the time when psychology produced Freud, we were too passive. We would have followed either Mesmer or Freud. We are mesmeric beings. We never really developed that other path...
Abe: Yes. The path of energy.
Florinda: ...and this would never have happened to us if Freud wouldn't have had the upper hand.
Abe: Well, he's lost it now.
Florinda: No, not really, because with all we do, who knows how many generations it takes? Let say he has been discredited intellectually, but our whole cultural baggage...We still talk in those terms, even people who don't even know who Freud is. It's part of our language, our culture.
Abe: Yes, I know. It's very frustrating, dealing with people who approach the whole of reality from this hackneyed psychological viewpoint.
Florinda: Yes. And they don't even know where it comes from. It's part of our cultural baggage.
Abe: So the sorceress is freed from this condition.
Florinda: Well, free in the sense that once you see what the social order really is- it's an agreement- at least you are more cautious in accepting that. People say, "Oh but look how different life is from your grandmother's or mother's time." I say, it's not. It's only different in degree. But nothing is dif- ferent. If I would have lived my life the way it had been established for me...yes, I was more educated, I had a better chance. But that's all. I still would have ended up the same way they had ended up. Married, frustrated, with children that by now I probably would hate, or they would hate me.
Abe: I keep trying to get you now to cross that line, and talk about what occurs now that you've realized that there is that thralldom and you begin to free yourself from it. What is it that opens up to perception?
Abe: Everything. Good.
Florinda: First of all, in your dreams you can see. For instance, my work is done in dreaming. Not that I don't have to do the work, but it comes in dreaming.
Abe: Now you're using the word dreaming in this very specific sense, which is in this tradition. Can you talk about what dreaming actually is?
Florinda: In the traditional sense, when we fall asleep, as soon as we start entering a dream, in that moment when we're half awake and half asleep, and still conscious, you know from Casta- neda's work that the assemblage point flutters, it starts shifting, and what the sorcerer wants to do is that he wants to use that natural (that happens to every one of us) shift to move into other realms. And for that you need an exquisite energy. Again it comes down to energy. We need an extraordinary amount of energy because you want to be conscious of that moment and use it without waking up.
Abe: Yes, a very high accomplishment.
Florinda: For me, it's very easy to enter, to use it. The thing is, I had no control at that time- although I have now- over when it was going to happen. But I could center into this state of what they call...I mean, the women were not interested in calling it the 'second attention'; they were interested in calling it 'dreaming awake', because it is the same thing. And you'd reach different levels, and what you do is that in that dreaming state eventually you have the same control you have in your daily life. And that's exactly what the sorcerers do. It's the same thing; there's no difference anymore.
Abe: So you are now able to exist in another reality?
Florinda: Well, I don't really know. You see, we don't have the language to talk about it, except to talk about it in known terms. So in a weird way, when I ask myself, "Do I exist in another reality?", yes and no. It's not quite right to really say that, because it is one reality. There is no difference. Let's say there are different layers, like an onion. But it's all the same. And it becomes very bizarre. How am I going to talk about it? In metaphors? Our metaphors are already so defined by what we already know.
Abe: Yes, the problem of language.
Florinda: You see we don't have the language to really talk about what then really happens when you are in the 'second attention', or when we 'dream awake' . Bul it is as real as any other reality. What is reality? It is, again, a consensus. And you see, the thing is, we only want to agree about this intellectually on one level. But it's more than just an intellectual agreement. Let's say, it can be more. And for that, again, we go back to that same thing- it all hinges on energy.
Abe: That's right. But it also hinges on something called 'intent'.
Florinda: Exactly. But in order to hook yourself to 'intent'...See, 'intent' is out there, it's this force- Don Juan was not interested in religion- but, in a weird way maybe it is exactly what we call God, the supreme being, the one force, the spirit. You see, each culture knows what it is. And the thing is, Don Juan, again, said you don't beg for it. You ask, and in order to ask for it, you need energy. Because not only do you need energy to hook yourself onto it, but you want to stay hooked.
Abe: Ycs. So, this thing of intent, I mean it's an easy word to say, but it's actually a quite complex operation.
Florinda: Yes, exactly, very complex. For Don Juan and his people, to talk about sorcery and witchcraft, with all those negative connotations, they couldn't care less what we called the practices. For them it was very very abstract. To them sorcery is an abstraction, and it was this idea of expanding the limits of perception. Because, for them, our choices in life are limited by the social order. We have boundless options, but by accepting these choices, of course, we set a limit to our limitless possibilities.
Abe: And yet the human being seems...
Florinda: ...constantly searching for that which has been...
Abe: ... lost...
Florinda: ....lost or caged in by the social order. They put blinds on us the moment we are born. Look at the way we coerce the child to perceive the way we perceive.
Abe: Yes, the transmission of culture.
Florinda: It's the most perfect example. Children truly perceive more, obviously, a great deal more. But they have to make some order out of that chaos, and we, of course, are the perennial teachers of what is proper to perceive within our group. And if they don't abide by that, my god, we shoot them with drugs, or lock them up in therapy with psychiatrists.
Abe: There have been these traditions, which have existed for a long, long time, and now in the last, say, twenty or thirty years in particular, we start to hear about them. Why did Castaneda write his books?
Florinda: Bccause it was a task; it was a sorceric task. That Don Juan impressed upon him. Castaneda is the last of his line. There is no one else. There's a group of Indians that we work with. You see, Don Juan, in a weird way made almost a mistake with Castaneda, when he first was put in touch, whatever the design or power of the spirit was which put Don Juan face to face with Castaneda. And he rallied right away. His circle of apprentices- and I think it's in Tales of Power and The Second Ring of Power, when he talks about the people in Oaxaca and the Little Sisters and all those people. And then, years later, Don Juan realizes that that's not the way Castaneda is going. Castaneda was even more abstract than Don Juan was. His path was a totally different path. And then when he gathered these other people, because the people that are with Castaneda, we all met Don Juan before we met Castaneda. Actually there was only five of us before- four of us and Castaneda.
Abe: So, there was the sorcerer's task of writing the books. What I'm trying to get at is, that this knowledge, just as knowl- edge, becomes available now and is available to millions of people in this form. What is the purpose of that?
Florinda: Well, somebody has to get hooked by it. And people do. For us, for our mentality as the westem ape, as Don Juan always called us, you see, we have to be hooked first intellectually, because obviously that's how our whole being works. When I was in school, I was just a step away from going into graduate school, and l had been in this world for two or three years, and I said, "What am I doing by continuing school? Why should I get a PhD.? It's absolutely redundant." And Don Juan and all the women said it's absolutely not redundant, because in order to reject something you have to understand it at its most sophisticated. Because for you to say you're not interested in philosophy, or you're not interested in anthropology, it's meaningless. You can only say it after you have at least have made some attempt to understand it. There's no reason to reject it, and when plunging into this world of the 'second attention' and 'dreaming awake', your mind has to be so well trained for you to emerge again, to come out with the knowledge. Because if you have not the brain or the mind to do it, you might as well just go throw stones in the desert; because it's meaningless. And for them it was extremely important that all of us are very well trained. Everyone working within this little group has a degree. There are historians, anthropologists, librarians.
Abe: So, the knowledge is made available to millions of people, and people become hooked by it.
Florinda: On one level, they will, yes.
Abe: And does that mean that the tradition has now begun to proliferate itself in that way, also?
Florinda: I don't know. If I go by Castaneda's mail, which he doesn't read, I would say yes. But then, most of the stuff... I mean I open letters from time to time, and they're mad, they're crackpots most of them. Some of them are very, very serious enquiries, and most of them are just truly cracked people. (laughter) I mean they're cracked. Like, "I am the new Nagual." or "I have been visited by you in dreams." I mean truly bizarre things.
Abe: Well, there are many levels to that, as you know. But I think that you women, you sorcerers there, and the whole Casta- nedan reality has actually affected the mass collective consciousness of, particularly, North America.
Florinda: It is as you say; the work is out there. There's a great many people reading it. And some people are truly very serious about it.
Abe: And some of them are people who are non-Natives who have become involved in Native spirituality. In a way, the work that has come from your group has had a tremendous quickening effect on Native spiritualities all over this continent, who have found a track back into their traditions.
Florinda: You see, the whole point of Don Juan was that you don't go back, because we are caught again in the myth and the rituals. And for Don Juan, myth and rituals...myth in the sense that yes, that you're part of this matrix, but not in the sense that you're going to live it by invoking certain rituals, certain powers that were, let's say, successful in the l9th century. Because, he said, that's exactly the fallacy, because originally a ritual is only to hook your attention. Once your attention is hooked, you drop it. As the apes that we are, we of course are very comforted by the ritual. People that truly transcend a certain knowledge do it by exactly getting out of it. Yet the rest of the mass is mesmerized by the ritual.
Abe: Seeing the truth of that and the fact that Castaneda describes you as the new seers, how does that emerge?
Florinda: The new seers? For the women it is very important, this idea that the womb is not just an organ of reproduction. In order to activate this, our intent has to be different. In order to change our intent we go back again to energy. You see, we don' t really know what it means to use the womb as an organ for being, an organ of light, of intuition. For us, intuition really is something that has already been defined. There is no real intuition anymore, because we intuit with our brains. Don Juan was interested in women, and people always ask, "Well, how come there's always so many women? Do you have orgies? Is there all kinds of stuff going on?" He said, "No, it's because the male doesn't have the womb. He needs that magical 'womb power' (laughter). " It's very important, you see.
Abe: Let me ask some technical questions there, if I may, on behalf of my female readers. Does the womb have to be fully functioning? I mean, if a woman had her tubes tied, would her womb still work?
Florinda: Yes, as long as she doesn't have a hysterectomy.
Abe: So long as the womb isn't removed...
Florinda: ...if the womb is there, yes.
Abe: Then it can work.
Florinda: Oh, absolutely. But the only thing is you need to summon that intent. Like certain of the Goddess cults- "When God Was A Woman"- and I was talking to some women a month ago, and they were all in goddess groups. And every month they go into the forest; they go someplace up to Sequoia and they groove in the forest, in the trees, and oh, they have a great time hanging out, debating, making rituals in the river. And I said, "But what the fuck are you doing? You go back home, and then you are the same assholes you were always. You open your legs whenever the master says "I need you"" And they were shocked. I mean, they quite dis- liked me, because they don't like to hear that. They said, "But we felt so good for three days." And I said, "But what's the point of feeling good for three days if your life continues the same way?" What are we resting from? Because our life is going to continue. Why don't we change? This idea of the rituals and even going back to the Native beliefs, it didn't even work back then, on one level. We were conquered.
Abe: So it's something that has to live now in a completely authentic way.
Florinda: It has to be fluid, and the practitioner has to be fluid to accept these changes. Even within us, things are changing constantly, and we're so comfortable in a certain groove, until something blasts us out of it. And we resent it, but we have to be fluid. Only energy will give us that fluidity.
Abe: How do you accummulate energy?
Florinda: To start off with, at least at the beginning, it was Don Juan's idea that the best energy that we have is our sexual energy. It's the only energy that we really have, and most of our sexual energy is squandered.
Abe: Now, is it the same for men and women?
Florinda: Of course it's the same for men and women. The only thing is with women you see that energetically the woman takes on the burden of feeding the man through their energetic fila- ments. So, in that sense, it's worse for women. And for the man too, because the man is hooked. Energetically he is hooked, no matter what. And we have all kinds of psychological explanations. People who we've had affairs with, and we can't get her out of our minds, whatever. You see, we have this gray barrage of description, but what really is going on is on a totally different level that we don't want to talk about because it's not part of our cultural kit.
Abe: So the primary way of accumulating energy, then, is to be celibate?
Florinda: Well, it's very difficult, but it would be a good try, at least to start out with.
Abe: If a woman was called to this way, if she got hooked, or a man got hooked by this tradition, how would they know? How would they know that they had been hooked by a tradition and not just by some damn obsession?
Florinda: For instance, Castaneda's books spell out very clearly...if you read Castaneda's books carefully, they're al- most manuals.
Abe: Yes, I know. And you read them again and again, and you finally understand what they're talking about
Florinda: You will know that something has changed, because you will feel it energetically. And then there's this whole idea that you can abandon this idea of the self. It's not that you're going to laugh at others. But you find them despicable, and yet you don't want to judge them, either, because who the hell are we to judge anybody anyway? But you know that you are not part of it, in the sense of the social agreement, and it's almost like a phony part of you that is clinging to you, because you do have to function in the world. You have to present a coherent idea Of the self. You know, Don Juan always said if some truthful change has taken place there is no way to be rejected, whatever it means to be rejected. I don' t know. By intent coming in contact with us? I don't really know. There have been two people that have come in contact with us, and they are there. I mean, we're never together anyway; each person lives on their own, and just from time to time we do get together. Originally we had this little class when Castaneda was here. He teaches certain very interesting movements, basically to store up energy. So, these people have been there for two years, and they're changing little by little. And it's amazing. You see, if you let something go, some- thing in you will know.
Abe: You have published this book, for instance, and I read it. Now I don't have a physical image of you, but my feelings form a sense of who you might be, or what you might be like. Now, does that energy field affect you, now that there's this book out there?
Florinda: One of the things that Don Juan made very clear to Castaneda...see, once the book is out, the book is out. It has nothing to do with you anymore. For you to be wondering, living in hope- is the book doing well or not doing well?- see, that's a very, very difficult thing to divorce yourself from. Because somehow you are involved. To truly let go is very very difficult. I had two other books- The Shabono and The Witches Dream- and it was very easy. With this one, because it's the first time I talk about my involvement with Don Juan, it's very difficult. And maybe because for the first time I'm talking more openly-- with the other ones I did absolutely nothing. With this one I am more involved. I have given lectures in bookstores to groups of people, which is very interesting, because, as you said before, there are a great many people who are truly very seriously interested, but intellectually, again.
Abe: Oh, I think I know a know people who've gone a little beyond intellect with it.
Florinda: There are, definitely. I do believe that, yes.
Abe: Because we talk about different kinds of luminous bodies. There are people who read these books and suddenly it's self recognition time.
Florinda: Precisely, yes.
Abe: Now these books, then, are affecting a change in the way people perceive themselves.
Florinda: Yes. Basically the goal is how we perceive the world, and breaking those parameters of perception, in terms of how we perceive ourselves, too. But, we don't want the focus on the 'I'. We want to be a witness. Because everything in our society is filtered through the 'I', through the 'me', we are incapable of telling a story or recounting an event without making us the main protagonist, always. You see, Don Juan was interested to let the event unfold itself, and then it becomes infinitely richer, because then it opens up. And even in the world, as an exercise, just become a witness; don't be the protagonist. It's amazing what opens up.
Abe: Now, on this long path, one of the things that's described in the literature is that the person, the seer and the Nagual, everybody, will reach a period of despondency, where they're sure it's going to fail, nothing's going to ultimately happen. And the reason I raise this is because I have a sense that this feeling is actually being shared by many people now. So, please talk to that for a moment.
Florinda: Yes, exactly. (laughter) I'm going to add to your depression (laughter). No, it is true. Something in us knows, and that's why there's the urgency with Don Juan. The imperative from the point of view of Nature is the perpetuation of the species, and we are no longer interested. We are interested in evolution, because evolution is an equal, if not a greater, imperative than procreation. Because if we don't evolve, if we don't mutate into something different, we are truly going to blast ourselves out of this planet, I think irredeemably. We have destroyed our resources, I mean totally. Whether we have fifty or a hundred more years in terms of time, as a planet, is immaterial. It doesn't really matter. We as a species are doomed. And in that sense, evolution is our only way out. And again, as Don Juan stresses, evolution is in the hands of women, not of men.
Abe: So, as a male, what do I do? I just sit here and wait for women to save the world?
Florinda: Yes and no. You see the man has to relinquish his power, and he's not going to do it, not peacefully. He's not. I'm not saying that, you know, you're beating your chest, saying "I will not relinquish my power". No, it's much more insidious than that.
Abe: Go into that. Talk about it.
Florinda: Well, I don't think it's ever stated. For instance, okay, here's these sensitive men who have been in men's groups, trying to come to terms with their spirituality, and have become totally in agreement with their wives, their partners, the female they are with- but not quite. There are certain things they will not relinquish, it's too threatening. Even this whole idea of the men's movement originally started out as a truly spiritual movement. But something in the male is threatened. It is this fear of relinquishing something that some of them do sense will have to be relinquished, for us as a species to go on. We certainly know that the female has to be given time, and has been given time in the past for something to evolve. For instance, for us to become erect, when the vagina had to change position, well, who had to adapt? The males. The penis had to grow larger. The female again needs time. And the male has to give her that time. From one point of view the male has to give the female time for the womb to try to switch into its secondary function.
Abe: And that can't happen if the man is relating to the woman sexually. Is that what you're saying?
Florinda: No. See, there have to be enough females who have that time that something will have to change in the womb. They have to drawn a new possibility. Don Juan said our evolution is intent. You see, that leap from the large reptiles to flying, this idea of wings, was intended. It was an act of intent
Abe: That's very interesting. So you feel that women all over the world currently, sisterhoods of different kinds, are intending a new human future?
Florinda: They're not aware of it. Some women, I think, are, totally.
Abe: So the man is now going to take a back seat in the evolution of the species.
Florinda: Exactly, right. Not a back seat. Again, those are words that define a positive/negative kind of connotation. No. You have to provide the time.
Abe: How can the man do that? Talk about that functionally.
Florinda: You see, we women are relegated to the status of second class citizens. No matter what power we have, we still don't have any real power. We don't decide anything. And even for us to talk in little groups, it's almost Iike banging against a huge iron door, because whoever decides, whoever's in power, is not going to relinquish this for the hell of it. Let's look in terms of politics, let's say Washington or your capital. I mean, do you think for a moment those men are going to even listen to what we're saying? Not in the least. But some kinds of pockets have to be found for something new to develop. Otherwise we're doomed. And this idea for us to save the planet, the environ- ment, all we are really thinking is that we as a species will not survive. The earth will certainly survive; it might go into some kind of horrendous winter, but eventually it will come out of it. But we as a species will not survive.
Abe: Why would a woman read this book Being-in-Dreaming?
Florinda: Very interesting, hmm. Well, if nothing else, I think people who have been interested in the Castaneda work, would be interested to see it presented from a female's perspective, from somebody who has been in that work for over twenty years. I do approach the problems differently, probably more directly. The thing is perception. Even our human bodies...the body is, again, a consequence of perception. We are trapped as persons; we are trapped in language, and that's exactly what the sorcerer, through energy, wants to get out of.
© Copyright February 1992 Dimensions Magazine