Florinda Donner-Grau Chronology Part XIII [1998 - 1999]
January 1998 - Harper Collins publishes Castaneda¡¯s Magical Passes: The Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico. [On page 79, introducing the magical passes supposedly originally taught to Florinda, Castaneda asserts: "Don Juan Matus regarded her as being very straightforward, so to-the-point that sometimes her directness became unbearable. Her activities in the sorcerers¡¯ world, as a consequence of her directness, have always been geared toward the goal of evolution, or the transformation of the womb from a receptacle and promoter of fertility to an organ of awareness through which thoughts which are not part of our normal cognition can be processed."]
February 7-8, 1998 - Not-Doing Workshop at Pomona Fairplex Convention Center. (The following excerpts are adapted from notes taken by Joanne Albrightson and Randy Stark.)
"I am Florinda Donner-Grau," Florinda said as the applause died down. Reading from notes, she welcomed us to the 33rd Tensegrity seminar and workshop, the first of which was held in 1994, she claimed. [Actually, July 1993.] Before that, she explained, they had met with people in informal groups but "hadn't gotten anywhere," so they decided to teach "in a more formal, regimented fashion." She went on to give a short history of how the teaching of Tensegrity had come about. It all started "when Carol came back and changed everything. Her return was an unprecedented occurrence" in the lineage of the sorcerers up to that point. She had apparently left with don Juan's party ten years before, thus fulfilling her role as the Nagual woman of Castaneda's party. "Carol's sudden reappearance was quite a shock and threw open doors energetically for all of us as far as what was possible." It also allegedly confirmed "once and for all" that the four of them--Florinda, Taisha, Carlos and Carol--were in fact the end of don Juan's lineage.
Carol's return was what gave them "the energy and motivation to publicly open up and reveal the secrets of the sorcerers' world which we had been so meticulously taught by don Juan and his party of warriors. Carol's return meant there was no longer reason to keep their knowledge of the magical passes veiled in secrecy." The challenge for them had been to take the four separate individualized lines of passes they had been taught and render them usable to anyone, while removing "a certain morbid aspect that lingered from the mood of the sorcerers of ancient Mexico who had originally discovered the passes in their dreaming practices." This is where the Energy Trackers and Elements supposedly came in. Their work "over several years" is what enabled a transformation of the passes into what we now know as Tensegrity, allowing them to be taught "to anyone who is interested."
She introduced the team of Miles and Zaia as "Awareness through Harmony," and the team of Nury and Halley as "Awareness through Sameness." Then she claimed, referring to the latter team: "We believe the ancient sorcerers knew of such an occurrence, but don't think that don Juan or the 27 generations of sorcerers before him ever saw it. The effect of these two is so powerful that we guarantee that everyone will feel the effects of the not-doing passes because of them. If not today, then after you leave the workshop." Florinda¡¯s written remarks further claimed: "Even Carlos feels the impact of Nuri and Halley leading the not-doing passes. When he is with them," they "take him and smash his head into the ceiling again and again until it goes into the attic and he reaches a new level of awareness. He has gone into fits of rage over their effect on him because he's too old to be affected by these young people!"
She further explained that they had thought the not-doing passes taught in August ¡¯97 were the final versions but, as allegedly happened to don Juan and Julian before him, "the more we focused on remembering the not-doing passes in order to teach them, the more complete versions of the forms slowly emerged." In the past, she claimed, the not-doing passes "were taught to disciples in order for them to reach a new level of awareness. After this enhanced level of awareness was achieved, the not-doing passes were immediately forgotten until the need arose for them to be recalled and taught to others in turn by the next generation."
Florinda commented that "The Series of the Five Concerns" that we were about to learn, "nicknamed the Westwood Series for where it was originally taught," was "a very important series," and one that was "extremely complementary to the practice of the not-doing passes." It "stirred up energy in all directions." The sorcerers of ancient Mexico, and those who came after, all assertedly considered the unique saturation engendered by the Westwood Series to be vital in performing the passes for not-doing.
February 10, 1998 - Cleargreen issues a bulletin announcing a new series of one-day seminars dealing with "the Wheel of Time," which also crows about the most recent workshop, and the chance it gave to the Witches to see engaged the "deep mechanism which all of us have, a mechanism that seeks awareness." The bulletin also claims, "The hard core of practitioners who have executed the magical passes faithfully since the first seminar was given, and who, by the way, look magnificent, created a consensus that equalized the mass of practitioners in a manner so exquisite that those four people found no words to describe it."
March 29, 1998 - Last video shot of Castaneda taken by Greg and Gabi on Pandora shows him very thin, dark and weak, but still ambulatory. Florinda is shown lifting him off the back seat, where he lies under a blanket.
April 4, 1998 - Workshop at Santa Monica College Gymnasium, 2 - 9:30 PM. [Florinda, Taisha and Carol were all on hand, and this was Florinda and Taisha¡¯s last public appearance. Kylie wandered around for the last time, giving hugs.]
April 15, 1998 - Halley completes a second draft of a screenplay of Florinda¡¯s The Witch¡¯s Dream.
April 18, 1998 - Video shows new cars and van parked outside of the Pandora compound being packed up by Fabricio, Brandon and others between 5 and 6:30 PM.
April 23, 1998 - Castaneda signs six-page will leaving his estate to be channeled through the Eagle¡¯s Trust, established by a Trust Agreement signed the same day, and specifically disinheriting C.J. Castaneda and Margaret Runyan. He also signs a quitclaim deed, apparently on the house, to the Eagle¡¯s Trust, Deborah Drooz as Trustee, which is recorded on April 29, 1998 [98-0715277], along with a quitclaim deed to First American Trust Company [98-0715276].
Replica Watches Replica Watches
April 27, 1998 - Castaneda¡¯s death certificate, signed by Angelica Duenas, MD, reports his death at 3 AM that date, his cremation on that date by Spalding Mortuary in Culver City, and the disposition of the remains to Talia Bey on April 28. [Death certificate lists immediate cause of death as metabolic encephalopathy for a period of two days, triggered by liver failure for a period of two weeks, due to hepatocellular cancer for a period of 10 months -- i.e., since July ¡®97.]
May 2, 1998 - Workshop at Santa Monica College Gymnasium. Carol spoke briefly at beginning, mentioning that Old Florinda had stayed behind for them. She expressed her thanks, and appeared tearful. Carol said that after don Juan¡¯s party left, an "event" occurred that caused them to decide to teach the magical passes to the public. She said that "big" Florinda, who was called that because she was "so tall and elegant and packed an incredible wallop," was left behind after don Juan¡¯s party left to "fine tune the four of us." [Note: If Carol left with don Juan¡¯s party per the books, she should not have been around to get further training from Old Florinda, who should herself have been gone before Carol¡¯s "return" in 1985.] (Her voice broke, but she recovered quickly.) She said one of the reasons they had brought Tensegrity public was to search for something Big Florinda had foretold before she left. She had said that if the four of them had enough "gall" to continue to pursue the path of the warrior with all they had, that someday a time would come when the mood of the ancient sorcerers would be completely removed from the passes. Instead of being "heavy, cold and detached," they would find a new mood, "one that was light and very precise. That time has finally arrived," she declared. "It occurred right here in this room last month at the last workshop." She claimed she had witnessed it for herself, and ascribed it to a combination of the energy of the participants and the instructors. She said that a new mood had begun and would prevail from now on. Later on Zaia said that "giving it their all" in instructing us was their way of saying thank you for all the help they had received.
May 7, 1998 - Cleargreen issues an unsigned letter to Munich workshop registrants saying that "due to an energetic shift that could not be foreseen, none of [the three female students of don Juan] will be available to lecture at this seminar," and that instead, lectures will be conducted "by the members of our German team of shamanistic instructors, each of them an apprentice of Carlos Castaneda, Taisha Abelar, Florinda Donner-Grau and Carol Tiggs." Because of the change, they reduce the price to $275.
May 8, 1998 - Castaneda¡¯s will filed with L.A. Superior Court.
- Letter signed by Fabricio as CFO announces that the Friday night lecture for the Mountain View workshop has been canceled.
May 23-24, 1998 - Munich Workshop. [Again, no mention of Castaneda¡¯s death or the reason for the witches¡¯ pulling out of the workshop, even though probate filings have been made and notices sent both to the heirs and the specifically disinherited.] Darien described how she had asked the witches for help with her talk, claiming that only Carlos had answered, telling her it was a task she had to do by herself. She was also given the advice that each word a shaman pronounces is a promise to infinity. (Carla Luciani¡¯s notes report that when she asked Fabricio why the witches hadn¡¯t come, he told her "Oh, but they¡¯ll be at the Ontario workshop in August.")].
June 19, 1998 - Los Angeles Times¡¯ obituary of Castaneda appears on page 1. [Obituary detailing how Castaneda¡¯s putative adopted son, C.J. Castaneda, was responsible for making the death public appeared the next day, June 20, in the New York Times.]
- Until they leave the telephone unanswered, starting at around 2 PM, Cleargreen staffers give different responses to callers asking where the Witches are. Some people are told "they are traveling," others are told "they are in the Second Attention."
- Zaia Alexander receives a Candidate in Philosophy degree in German language at UCLA, which is a step toward the Ph.D.
June 22, 1998 - Cleargreen website puts up Cleargreen¡¯s official statement, which includes the following assertion: "For don Juan, the warrior was a being . . . who embarks, when the time comes, on a definitive journey of awareness, ¡®crossing over to total freedom.¡¯ Don Juan described this option to his apprentice: ¡®¡warriors can keep their awareness, which is ordinarily relinquished, at the moment of dying. At the moment of crossing, the body in its entirety is kindled with knowledge. Every cell at once becomes aware of itself and also aware of the totality of the body.¡¯ Carlos Castaneda left the world the same way that his teacher, don Juan Matus did: with full awareness. The cognition of our world of everyday life does not provide for a description of a phenomenon such as this. So in keeping with the terms of legalities and record keeping that the world of everyday life requires, Carlos Castaneda was declared to have died."
July 31 - August 2, 1998 - Ontario Intensive Workshop, Ontario Convention Center, Exhibit Hall A. [Carol spoke on the 2nd, beginning, "I am Carol Tiggs. I was the only one energetically available for this evening." She also purported to speak for the other two Witches. This was Carol¡¯s last public appearance.]
October 11, 1998 - Interview with Miles Reid, "Learning about Ancient Wisdom," by Blanca Robleda, The News in Mexico City. [Miles claims, "The three female students of don Juan Matus: Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar and Carol Tiggs, will supervise the instruction and development of the magical passes [for the workshops]."]
November 7-8, 1998 - Mexico City Workshop
In Q&A with written questions, Brandon and Miles responded to the question "Where are the Witches?" by asserting: "They remained to supervise the movement instructors. They supervise things as they develop. There are no hierarchies now." To the question "What became of the Nagual¡¯s party?" They reportedly answered: "The Elements were not present. Only the female companions of don Carlos. Don Juan took his party of 16 warriors. Don Carlos didn't. He made a bold energetic maneuver. He went away alone and left an energetic door open for whoever can go through it."
Gavin also reportedly described a fairly unlikely interchange he claimed to have once had with Florinda: "I am going to tell you the way in which I learned the saber tooth tiger breathing. Florinda asked me once, 'What's new?' I did not know what to answer. I said I had bought a new German dictionary. Florinda responded, 'OK, but what's new?' Then she asked me, 'What do you want?' Gavin said he answered: 'Florinda, I want to be a warrior!' Florinda allegedly responded: 'Of course you want to be a warrior but what do you want?' Finally she asked, 'What are you doing to your world? Gavin, I see that your recapitulation needs something. You must awaken your body.'" Gavin reported that he thought to himself, "But what has the body to do with recapitulation? Shit! I do Tensegrity three times a day." Florinda supposedly continued: "I want alertness, action, fluidity. I want you to act rapidly. I want breathing. You need to awake your left body which is decrepit." Gavin claimed he asked, "But what's wrong with my left side?" Florinda allegedly answered, "I am not talking about your left side. We all have both bodies but we privilege the right body, the rigid side, the side of routines: ¡®eins, zwei, eins, zwei.¡¯ The only problem you have is that you don't know how to walk. Gavin, you need the saber tooth tiger to awaken you. She has gigantic lungs. You could learn a lot from these cats. They are animals of pure action. When they inhale so much air they take in consciousness. You need to see your life with other eyes. How can you see something new if your right body already knows everything? You need to change. You need to learn the way of being with the left body."
November 25, 1998 - Crossroads School special Tensegrity session for a dozen former Sunday class members. [Most of Cleargreen is on hand. Miles makes statement about Castaneda having "set up" all of the workshops that are to follow, and asserts that the Witches are supervising things, but that they probably won¡¯t attend the workshops so as to avoid a "guru" mentality from setting in.]
February 23, 1999 - Cleargreen website¡¯s "Magical Passes Practitioners¡¯ Log" repeats statement read by Rylin at the Pomona workshop: "The three female students of don Juan would like us to read the following to you: . . . . The three female students of don Juan said it¡¯s fabulous to see what these practitioners, these apprentices are doing. You are apprentices, if you choose to be. There¡¯s no group -- what there is is an agreement on the art of attention. This is in full evidence today."
April 1999 - Interview by Concha Labarta (Barcelona workshop promoter) with Darien Donner, Gavin Allister and Brandon Scott in Spain¡¯s M¨¢s All¨¢. [When asked "What is the situation at the moment of Carlos Castaneda's cohorts, Florinda Donner Grau, Taisha Abelar and Carol Tiggs?" Darien responds: "The female students of Don Juan are here to supervise our efforts. We can say that they are our advisors. They want to see if it is possible for a group to pursue an abstract goal, and not follow a guru or a leader."]
April 17, 1999 - Cleargreen website bulletin responds to selected questions. The final question and response are: "Why did the female students of don Juan stay here? Are they going to appear at workshops?" Answer: "The three female students of don Juan Matus are here to supervise the efforts of the Tensegrity instructors in making one of Carlos Castaneda's most cherished dreams a reality: the dream of a unified body of individual practitioners of the magical passes resuming their interrupted journey of awareness. For the moment, they are not going to appear personally at the workshops because they want this dream to take wings. For Carlos Castaneda and for them, it is a dream in which a group of practitioners is focused not on a person or a group of persons, but on the abstract purpose of freedom of perception."
June 5-6, 1999 - Barcelona Workshop.
Miles, in his intro, explained that the "remaining three disciples" had stayed, "in the same way that Florinda Matus had to complete the instruction of Castaneda and the Witches, to make sure the vision of a unified body of warriors became a reality." Miles also claimed that when Castaneda left, "the door remained open for anybody who practiced Tensegrity and Recapitulation to attain freedom." Gavin said that the spirit of the times dictates that today we no longer need naguals or gurus to help us on the Warrior¡¯s path.
Gavin, in doing a riff about his supposed perfectionism, claimed he had focused so singlemindedly while doing work in the Witches¡¯ attic that he had gone through the ceiling and fallen on Florinda¡¯s bed. [Note: This is rather an exaggeration. I was told that, while working in the attic, Gavin had made a small hole in the ceiling.] In a Q&A, in answer to a question about one¡¯s relationship with one¡¯s family unit, they encouraged people to "be on the best of terms with our parents and have respect for what they have done for us." When asked, "How can one be with your group?" they were told, "You are part of our group. There is no advantage that we have over you. We all have an appointment with Infinity."
Then there were Q&A¡¯s in different languages. Rylin and Reni handled the English session. When asked, "How do the three witches teach you? Do they teach you directly, in dreaming, how?" One of them responded, "We don't call on them, they call us. We may get a phone-call, we have meetings before workshops. They let us get on with it , they supervise us from afar." In the French session, Nyei responded to the question "How is your relationship with the female sorcerers?" Nyei reportedly said, "The female sorceress follow the energy. They are always here to help us to teach magical passes. The is no way to forecast when we are going to meet them. It is up to us to make decisions. They give us direction but no orders." 750-800 attendees. $365/410.