Interview 1998 Abelar, Sean Meshorer
East West Bookshop - Apr 1998
An Interview with Taisha Abelar by Sean Meshorer
East-West Bookshop - Events and Reviews
Taisha Abelar is one of the four disciples of don Juan Matus, the enigmatic shaman first brought to popular attention by Carlos Castaneda in his classic bestseller, "The Teachings of Don Juan. Taisha is the author of, "The Sorcerer's Crossing", and responsible - with her co-disciples Carlos Castaneda, Carol Tiggs, and Florinda Donner-Grau - for adapting don Juan's shamanic practices for a contemporary audience.
SM: What are "magical passes" and what role do they play in the teachings of don Juan Matus?
TA: "Magical passes" is the name which the shamans of ancient Mexico gave to movements or fixed positions of the body they discovered while in shamanic states of heightened awareness. After generations of attempts at reaching these states, they realized that their bodies felt extraordinarily balanced at certain moments. They felt coherent and fulfilled, both mentally and physically. Those shamans reasoned, however, that the states of heightened awareness were responsible for such feelings, and they thought nothing more of it. Much later, they realized that the movements were in themselves the cause of the sensations of well-being. They proceeded to isolate and repeat them in their hours of vigil. The result was tremendous: they discovered a system of movements that invigorated them, renewed their vitality, and furthered their purpose.
SM: This practice was kept secret - known only to a very few advanced practitioners and disciples - until very recently. Why are they finally being revealed?
TA: The effect of the magical passes was so extraordinary for those seeking awareness that they had to be turned into secret and sacred affairs. One disciple of the nagual Juan Matus, Carol Tiggs, reached the conclusion that it was essential for don Juan's four disciples to have no secrets, no hidden archives. The only way to empty the room, so to speak, was to take the most secretive part of his teachings, the magical passes, and to show them to whoever wanted to learn them. The effort of trying to teach them was most beneficial for the disciples. In an oblique manner, it forced them to accumulate experience. They realized that to teach the magical passes was not going to be an easy affair, as it required a degree of discipline and dedication and interest on the part of participants - features of character they were unable to find within the limited parameters of lectures and talks.
SM: In bringing the practice public, Carlos Castaneda has made some alterations from how they were taught to him. He calls this altered system "Tensegrity." Why did he make the alterations and how are they different?
TA: The alterations were made to adapt magical passes tailored to fit specific features of individual practitioners. For example, not every practitioner of Tensegrity has a small, compact body like Carlos Castaneda. And not every practitioner has reached his degree of concentration. The magical passes belonging to Carlos Castaneda were tailored to fit him. Making them applicable to everybody was a job that took the disciples of don Juan Matus more than ten years to fulfill. The end result - Tensegrity - is a successful adaptation in which the ritualistic qualities of the standard magical passes have been removed, along with excessive fixation on superfluous detail. Only the movements in their unadulterated form are retained, the movements gathered by the shamans who discovered them before they made them sacred, secret, ceremonial and ritualistic.
SM: What can people expect to learn during a Tensegrity workshop?
TA: A great advantage of our seminars and workshops, from the point of view of Tensegrity practitioners, is the influence of human mass - a feature never encountered by shamanistic practitioners before now. In the course of teaching Tensegrity, the instructors - all of whom are shamanistic practitioners - have found that the greater the number of people attending a seminar and workshop, the easier it is for any participant to perform even complex or lengthy magical passes. Through unknown processes, participants dust off enormous trends or possibilities of kinesthetic memory, locked within the body itself. The mass of participants injects the beginning practitioner with a previously untapped possibility of memory and purpose. At the end of the seminar, they remember the most complex movements with amazing facility.