Florinda Donner-Grau Chronology Part IV [1991]

1991 - Florinda¡¯s Being-in-Dreaming: An Initiation into the Sorcerer¡¯s World is published by Harper San Francisco. [A summary of relevant portions of the first six chapters appear above. In Chapter 7, Florinda describes her first trip to Mexico with Castaneda to meet don Juan, which he had proposed "out of the blue," less than 24 hours before, "while we were eating in a Japanese restaurant in downtown Los Angeles." p. 93.] [The school term was over, indicating that this trip might have been during the holidays in late ¡¯71, or at the beginning of the summer of 1972. Florinda refers to "suddenly" remembering her "other trip to Sonora a year before," which she previously noted was in July 1970.]

They spent the night ¨C "in separate rooms" ¨C in a motel in Yuma, Arizona. Florinda describes the scene she made after imagining throughout the drive that Castaneda was going to make a pass at her when it came to sharing a room. Instead, when he returned from the motel office, he told her they had two rooms left for them and that she could take the quieter one. Florinda writes that she had wanted the opportunity to refuse his expected advances, but that he had seen through her. After she surprises herself by then suggesting that they "sleep in the same room¡ªin two beds, that is," he makes her livid by joking, "Stay in the same room and have you take advantage of me in the middle of the night. Right after my shower. No way!" p. 95. The next day they drive all day, "meandering along out-of-the-way roads," while Castaneda entertains her with songs and stories. She describes him as "a born mimic. His uncanny imitation of every conceivable South American accent¡ªincluding the distinctive Portuguese of Brazil¡ªwas more than mimicry, it was magic." p. 97.

Somewhere near the city of Arizpe, a thin man flags them down. On entering the house, Florinda is shocked to recognize Delia Flores and Mariano Aureliano, who responds to her accusation of having tricked her by claiming, "You haven¡¯t been tricked. I told you from the beginning that I would blow you to him," meaning Castaneda. p. 100. The thin man turns out to have been "Mr. Flores," who introduces himself to her, after she awakes from fainting, as "Genaro Flores." He explains that Castaneda is also known as "Charlie Spider" and "Isidoro Baltazar," and that he is "the new Nagual." Don Juan tells her she is now to refer to Castaneda by the latter name. Genaro asks her, "Are you in love with Isidoro Baltazar," and Florinda surprises herself by saying "yes," even when he asks again, "Are you really madly, madly in love with him?" Don Juan and Genaro then bombard her with questions about how and when she first met Castaneda. Florinda writes, "By the time I had gone over the events for the fourth and fifth time, I had either improved and enlarged my story with each telling, or I had remembered details I wouldn¡¯t have dreamed I could remember." p. 105.

Don Juan and Genaro explain that Castaneda had "seen through her," but that he didn¡¯t¡¯ "see well enough yet," since he had not figured out that don Juan had sent her to him. They then explain that Castaneda is a sorcerer, but that "[t]o be a man of knowledge is something else. For that, sorcerers have to wait sometimes a lifetime." When Florinda asks for an explanation, they tell her: "A man of knowledge is a leader. Sorcerers need leaders to lead us into and through the unknown. A leader is revealed through his actions. Leaders have no price tag on their heads, meaning that there is no way to buy them or bribe them or cajole them or mystify them." p. 106. They also made her recall seeing a "sentry, from another world" on their route, who was a signal to Castaneda that it was okay to bring Florinda to them.

Florinda begins Chapter 8 by claiming that, at that point, "the sequence of events, as I remember it, becomes blurry." p. 112. Clara introduces herself, in a dreaming session. Clara explains that although Delia "delivered" Florinda into their world, it was Old Florinda who first found her, "a couple of years ago at a party you attended with your boyfriend. A plush dinner in Houston, Texas, at the house of an oilman." p. 116. Florinda explains she had "gone with a friend who flew in his private jet from Los Angeles just to attend that party and flew back the next day. I was his translator." Id. Florinda describes the party to Clara, claiming that, "It was the first time I had been to Texas. . . . . The oilman had hired entertainers." Id. Clara explains that Old Florinda had then instructed Delia to go to Nogales to fetch Florinda at the baptism party, which Delia crashed by claiming she was with Florinda. When Florinda protests that Old Florinda could not have known she was going to attend the party, because she¡¯d accepted the invite on "the spur of the moment," Clara explains: "[Old] Florinda is your mother more than any mother you ever had." p. 118.

[David Worrell, tongue-in-cheek, characterizes the foregoing paragraph as follows: But, but Regine had been married since 1966, and they apparently owned a duplex in LA. So here "a couple of years ago," i.e. 1968, married two years, Regine gets in a private jet with some 'friend,' and ends up dancing naked on a Texas tabletop, while hubby is at home reading the paper and mowing the yard?]

Old Florinda then appears, and after don Juan calms Florinda down, she kisses Old Florinda passionately. p. 120. Old Florinda is over 5¡¯10", while Florinda is a little more than 5¡¯1". Florinda feels that she¡¯s "known her from the day I was born." Florinda is introduced to another stalker woman¡ªCarmela¡ªwho, along with Old Florinda and Delia make up the group¡¯s stalker team. Florinda is told that she is like them¡ª"you can deal with people"¡ªand that she is like Old Florinda in particular. She is then reminded more about the party at which Old Florinda found her: "First, I had taken a long horseback ride with the host, in my evening gown and without a saddle, to show him¡ªafter he dared me and bet I couldn¡¯t do it¡ªthat I was as good on horseback as any cowboy. I had an uncle in Venezuela who had a stud farm, and I had been on a horse since I was a toddler. Upon winning the bet, dizzy from the exertion and alcohol, I took a plunge in his giant pool¡ªin the nude." p. 124. Old Florinda tells her that she took it as a sign when Florinda "brushed me with your naked buttocks." Old Florinda tells her, "¡¯I liked the fact that you were killing yourself just to show off. You were a clown, eager to draw attention to yourself at any cost, especially when you jumped on a table and danced for a moment, shaking your buttocks shamelessly, while the host yelled his head off.¡¯" p. 125.

Florinda is then given instruction on recalling memories, and told "if you push your vagina by putting pressure on your clitoris, you¡¯ll remember what Mariano Aureliano told you" . . . . P.126. When Florinda won¡¯t do it, Carmela offers to push her vagina for her. By herself again, Florinda has a chance to reflect and recalls the history of "mental illness" in her family: "[B]oth my great-grandfather and my grandfather, at the onset of the First and Second World Wars, respectively, committed suicide upon realizing that everything was lost to them. One of my grandmothers blew her brains out when she realized that she had lost her beauty and sex appeal." p. 130. When Old Florinda returns to her, she begins to ask about the other women Isidoro Baltazar told her "had been entrusted to him and that it was his sacred duty to help." p. 134. Old Florinda tells her that don Juan has "blown" a few other women to Castaneda, who "don¡¯t resemble you physically, yet they are like you." Id. Florinda becomes concerned when she finds out that Castaneda has gone off with don Juan to the mountains. Florinda, finding herself alone on waking, wanders through the women¡¯s rooms, meets the caretaker, and is led to where Esperanza is, in a small house. Esperanza shows her her shaven, smooth genitals, and urges Florinda to touch her. Esperanza "opened the lips of her vagina with her fingers." p. 152. Florinda finds herself "aroused in a most peculiar manner. . . . . My overwhelming desire to jump on top of her took me completely by surprise and was counterbalanced by the fact that I didn¡¯t have a penis." p. 153. Eventually, Florinda is taken to a room with a hammock that she¡¯s told is hers.

When Castaneda returns, they hug, and Castaneda explains that don Juan had told him about her a year before. Don Juan had told him "he was entrusting a weird girl to him," whom he described as "¡¯twelve o¡¯clock in the morning of a clear day which is neither windy nor calm, neither cold nor hot, but alternates between all those, driving one nuts.¡¯" p. 162. Castaneda admits he had assumed don Juan was talking about his then girlfriend, whom Florinda then asks him about. Castaneda gets annoyed, telling her, "This is not a story of facts. This is a story of ideas." Id. He explains he had told her so she would see "how idiotic I am," for thinking he could find out for himself who was the girl don Juan described. He added, "I¡¯ve even involved a married woman with children in my search." Id. [This seems like a reference to Cecilia Evans, formerly Mrs. Beverly Guilford.] As the two head back to L.A., Florinda thinks they have been at the Witches¡¯ house for two days, but Castaneda reveals it was actually twelve, and that both of them had somehow lost track of ten days.

In Chapter 12, Florinda describes Castaneda¡¯s "office-studio" in Westwood: "one rectangular room overlooking a parking lot, a small kitchen, and a pink-tiled bathroom." He takes her there on their return from Sonora, and she later spends a lot of time there, even in his absence, over the next several months. She relates that "[w]ithin three weeks I found myself a new apartment, about a mile down the street from the UCLA campus, right around the corner from his office-studio," where he sets up "a second twin bed for her, a card table, and a folding chair¡ªidentical to his¡ªat the other end of the room." p. 173. Six months follow, during which "Sonora became a mythological place for me." p. 174. She complains about not having met the other women "who had been entrusted to him by the old nagual." Castaneda describes them to her as "attractive, intelligent, accomplished¡ªthey all possessed advanced university degrees¡ªself-assured, and fiercely independent . . . linked to him by ties of affection and commitment that had nothing to do with the social order." Id.

One night, when Castaneda is gone, Florinda goes over to his apartment to cut the uncut pages on his new books. Old Florinda is there, and reminds her, "Didn¡¯t Isidoro Baltazar tell you not to come here while he¡¯s in Mexico?" p. 180. As they talk, Old Florinda teases her about her feelings for Castaneda, remarking, "I¡¯m so happy you feel so at home here . . . [t]he security you must feel in such a little nest, knowing you have a companion." p. 181. She then adds "in a most facetious tone that I should do everything I could to make Isidoro Baltazar happy and that included sexual practices, which she described with horrendous directness." Id. Old Florinda echoes Castaneda in telling Florinda that she hasn¡¯t changed. Florinda protests that she had found a new apartment, moved, and left "everything I owned behind." [Note: This would seem to place this encounter, if it actually occurred, sometime in the Fall of 1972, at least six months after Florinda¡¯s separation from Edward Steiner.] At Old Florinda¡¯s advice, Florinda begins to do "dreaming," and recollects everything she had done during her 10 lost days at the Witches¡¯ house, i.e., interacted at length with the other witches, including Nelida, Hermelinda and Zuleica.

After Castaneda¡¯s return, Florinda drives out to the beach. She then decides to drive by herself to the Witches¡¯ house, and proceeds all night, all the way to Tucson. From there she takes "the same route Isidoro Baltazar had followed" on their first trip together. p. 194. The witches at first make themselves scarce, and the caretaker tells her she is a "stalker," i.e., a person who has "a knack for dealing with people." p. 199. He further explains, "What has been baffling . . . is that you are a great dreamer. If it wouldn¡¯t be for that, you¡¯d be like Florinda¡ªless the height and the looks, of course." Id. He has her remember her first encounter with the witches in dreaming, and she recalls an additional two women beyond the four of them she had previously remembered. The caretaker explains: "¡¯The other two are your source of energy. They are incorporeal and not from this world.¡¯" He also tells her, "¡¯Since you are not in the planet of the dreamers . . . your dreams are nightmares, and your transitions between dreams and reality are very unstable and dangerous to you and to the other dreamers. So Florinda has taken it upon herself to buffer and protect you.¡¯" p. 200.

During dreaming on a following night, Florinda overhears catty conversation and gossip among the witches, including references to Nelida being "the only one who could accommodate [Aureliano¡¯s] enormous, intoxicating organ," and about Clara exposing herself twice daily to Castaneda. They also describe Zuleica as having fits of insanity and cleaning the house from top to bottom, "even the rocks in the patio or around the grounds." p. 205. As Florinda is eating later with the caretaker, he asks why she is upset and she relates these comments. He explains they were describing her: "¡¯They used the four women of the dreamers¡¯ planet as a false front to describe to you, the eavesdropper, what you really are: a slut, with delusions of grandeur.¡¯" p. 207. Later she is persuaded to take a nap with the caretaker, whom she has been suspecting of really being Esperanza in disguise. As he prepares for his nap, the caretaker exposes himself and his "supple, hairless, and smooth" male genitals.

  Replica Watches  Replica Watches

On her return to L.A., Florinda finds that she begins "to acquire enough energy to dream," and that she finally understands what the witches had told her: "Isidoro Baltazar was the new nagual. And he was no longer a man." p. 212. This realization also assertedly gives her "enough energy to return periodically to the witches¡¯ house." [Assuming this chronology tracks Florinda¡¯s real life chronology in some respect, she must now be referring to something like the late fall of ¡¯72 or early ¡®73.] Florinda claims that at the witches¡¯ house, "I interacted with all the sorcerers of the nagual Mariano Aureliano¡¯s party. They didn¡¯t teach me sorcery or even dreaming. According to them, there was nothing to teach. They said that my task was to remember everything that had transpired between all of them and me during those initial times that we were together." Pp. 212-13.

Florinda asks Castaneda about intuitive knowledge and sudden flashes of insight. He tells her, "to know something only intuitively is meaningless. Flashes of insight need to be translated into some coherent thought, otherwise they are purposeless. . . . If they are not constantly reinforced, doubt and forgetfulness will ensue, for the mind has been conditioned to be practical and accept only that which is verifiable and quantifiable." p. 218.

Chapter 15 finds Florinda setting off with Castaneda for a second trip together to the witches, during which Florinda plans to "read sociological theory" and write an important paper. They end up at Esperanza¡¯s house, but this time it¡¯s not in the outskirts of Ciudad Obregon, but over a hundred miles south of there, between Navojoa and Mazatlan. (Florinda cannot understand this discrepancy from her memory of her initial visit there, and it is never ultimately explained.) The following morning, Florinda finds that Castaneda has departed again with don Juan, and, after some encouragement from Esperanza, she spends the next three days working on her paper. The caretaker, whom she assumes is illiterate, goads her into asking for his advice on her paper. He looks it over and advises her that she has "too many footnotes, quotes, and undeveloped ideas." p. 233. She is pulled into "dreaming," and sees how to rearrange and rewrite the paper, taking a number of notes until she loses consciousness. Later Nelida tells her that the caretaker is the only one in the house besides Vicente who has read every book in their library, and explains: "To reach a degree of knowledge, sorcerers work twice as hard as normal people . . . [s]orcerers have to make sense of the everyday world as well as the magical world. To accomplish that, they have to be highly skilled and sophisticated, mentally as well as physically." p. 245. They also give her a quick course on "sorceress lib," telling her, among other things, that the Inquisition "was a systematic purge to eradicate the belief that women have a direct link to the spirit." p. 248.

At the beginning of Chapter 17, Castaneda is pacing nervously around his studio. He tells her they are going to Mexico, and she jokes, "Are you going to marry me there?" p. 252. He tells her, "There is no more time." p. 253. As they drive through Arizona, Florinda suddenly feels, with an unaccustomed "absolute certainty," that "something was wrong." Id. Castaneda nods and tells her, "The sorcerers are leaving." She asks when, and he responds, "Maybe tomorrow or the next day . . . [o]r perhaps a month from now, but their departure is imminent." Id. She sighs, "They have been saying that they¡¯re leaving since the day I met them, more than three years ago . . . ." Id. When they arrive, Castaneda vanishes from her side, and the caretaker tells her that the rest "are inside" but "can¡¯t see you at the moment . . . [t]hey were not expecting you." p. 254. Florinda rakes leaves, and then sees Old Florinda. A bright blue butterfly lands on Florinda¡¯s hand and leaves a diamond ring on her middle finger "in the shape of a triangular butterfly." p. 255. She walks with Old Florinda, who explains that the ring is a gift, that they are now "dreaming," and that she gave her the ring as she was "crossing." She also explains that the ring was made by the Nagual Elias in dreaming. Old Florinda also explains that she and Zuleica are staying behind. Later Florinda wakes up and sees Zuleica, who explains that "when I dream, I am Esperanza and something else, too." In other words, Esperanza is Zuleica¡¯s "dreaming body." p. 262.

Florinda sees that the caretaker has been essentially motionless for two days, and he explains to her that no leaves have fallen during that time. She asks him if it¡¯s true the others "are leaving forever." He tells her they already have, and that "they took Isidoro Baltazar with them." p. 271. Neither the caretaker nor Old Florinda can tell her whether Castaneda is gone forever, and the book ends without resolving that question. She goes on a hike, in dreaming, with Esperanza, who turns into the caretaker and instructs her to get naked with him and take a dip in an otherworldly pool. For a moment, a naked Esperanza is standing where the naked caretaker had been. Esperanza explains that she is also the caretaker, and Florinda checks her vagina, parting "the lips to make sure the penis was not hidden somewhere in there." p. 285.

For three months, Florinda waits for Castaneda to return, and then drives "nonstop to the witches¡¯ house" [apparently not yet barred by Old Florinda¡¯s proscription against driving] where she waits another seven days. Old Florinda appears to her and tells her that she didn¡¯t go with don Juan and his party, and that neither did Zuleica. She explains: "We are here because we don¡¯t belong to that party of sorcerers . . . [w]e do, but then we don¡¯t really. Our feelings are with another nagual, the nagual Julian, our teacher." p. 293. She further explains "we need more energy to take a greater jump and join perhaps another band of warriors, a much older band. The nagual Julian¡¯s." Id. Zuleica later appears to Florinda, and starts to spin. Florinda explains, "She was going to perform a dance in order to gather cosmic energy. Women sorcerers believe that by moving their bodies they can get the strength necessary to dream." p. 297. Zuleica then instructs her on the nature of naguals, including the fact that "Naguals are unreproachful in their actions and feelings, regardless of the ambushes¡ªworldly or otherworldly¡ªplaced on their interminable path." p. 300. Zuleica also claims that Castaneda had been ready to leave for a long time, in the sense that "when the face of self-reflection and the face of infinity merge, a nagual is totally ready to break the boundaries of reality and disappear as though he wasn¡¯t made of solid matter." p. 301. Zuleica further advises the mourning Florinda that now she has to "dream dead," meaning to "dream without hope . . . without holding on to your dream." p. 303. Zuleica concludes the book by asserting, "For some of us, to dream without hope, to struggle with no goal in mind, is the only way to keep up with the bird of freedom." Id.

Go to Florinda Donner-Grau Chronology part V