Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Art of Dreaming

The Art of Dreaming by Carlos Castenada 1993


Carlos Castenada is an anthropologist who according to his numerous books has studied as an apprentice under the Yaqui Indian sorcerer don Juan Matus. This tradition is sometimes referred to as Nagualism and may overlap with Aztec, Toltec, and even Mayan practices of Mexico and Meso-America.


Carlos’s books read much like fiction and even have been accused of being fiction or at least doctored up. Some of his experiences can seem a bit far fetched. This book was very exciting to read as it posited an unusual and vibrant way of describing dreaming and reality. I had read a couple of his books back in the 80s so was familiar with some of the ideas.


One idea of interest and key to the book is that of the assemblage point - a fist sized ball of brilliant energy lodged in a person’s energy body about 2ft back from the top of the right shoulder blade. This point is said to make us perceive - the direct perception of energy is said to be paramount to these sorcerers. The assemblage point is said to be how humans perceive energy by focusing its glowing on the filaments of energy that make up the universe and pass through this point. Normal perception is said to be similar due to the habitual position of the assemblage point we as humans have developed over time. The so-called Sorcerers of Antiquity (pre-Spanish Conquest) are said to have discovered means to manipulate the position of the assemblage point. The assemblage point position is said to naturally change when we are dreaming. So then techniques of conscious dreaming can take advantage of this and through practice can turn random changes of the assemblage point position to deliberate changes resulting in extreme changes in the perception of reality.


The book as all of his books takes the form of a dialogue with his teacher as well as descriptions of his own experiences. Often he comes across as na├»ve even a bumbling idiot at times. Carlos turns out to be exceptionally good with some parts of these practices and miserable and dangerous with others. Don Juan does stress at times that the Sorcerers of Antiquity with all their discoveries and abilities may not have had the most noble goals and intentions for the overall benefit of beings and so the overall goal of one’s sorcery practice is pondered.


The book proceeds with the Seven Gates of Dreaming with Carlos ending up discovering and mastering the first four. Nothing is said about the last three gates. Carlos discovers the strange world of the Inorganic Beings in dream-state. Some ancient sorcerers were said to get trapped there for who knows- all eternity - due to their accepting the conditions with their intentional mind. He comes to recognize dream scouts and even frees one trapped in the Inorganic Beings realm. Later on he discovers deeper layers of the dream world and gets in situations where dreams are so vivid that he is unsure of whether he is dreaming or not. Other sorcerers seem to enter his dream reality and he experiences some dangerous related experiences - kinda similar to shamanic soul fragmentation -that take him long periods to heal from.


Then he encounters - The Tenant - as all sorcerers of the lineage - who is apparently a Sorcerer of Antiquity who manages to live on by changing bodies - perhaps taking on the body of another - there is great transmission of energy when encountering this being but it is part of the initiatory process in this lineage of sorcerers.


Two ideas that are stressed are the Art of Stalking - or the ability to perceive as a predatory being - many shamanistic cultures can relate to this - and the Power of Intent - specifically of prepped Willed Intent and the ability to manifest that Intent.


Whether fiction or non-fiction this book is certainly provocative and will leave you in suspense - wanting to know what happens next - quite an exciting read as well as making one wonder about the nature of reality and the possibility of its manipulation.

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