The Nagualist Newsletter and Open Forum / Issue 5 February / March 1995
Copyright 1995 by Nagualist Newsletter, all rights reserved. Individual submissions by readers and staff of the newsletter are also protected under copyright law. No portion may be reproduced without the written permission of the Nagualist Newsletter and of the individual who made the submission. Additional copies may be available at no charge.


Open forum concept flawed from the start?

Last issue we disguised a warning as an answer to a reader inquiry. We wanted to warn readers that a reaction from Carlos' group to the newsletter was eminent. Quite a few readers picked up on this and voiced opinions ranging from, "Who cares if they don't like it?," to, "Please send me back my submission material if the reaction is negative."

Before I discuss their reaction, I'd like to say that WE care if Carlos' group doesn't like the newsletter. It's perfectly fine to take the stand that we are on our own and need every advantage, but that's not something anyone here wants to do. While we felt compelled to start the newsletter, we were only willing to accept responsibility to maintain it as long as it didn't become a bother to Carlos' group. Now that it is a bother, continuing would be a personal choice to go against the wishes of their group and no one here wants to make that choice. Personal choices are so ineffective.

Besides our feelings on the topic, it's true that most of the best material submitted to the newsletter would not be submitted if it was commonly known that the newsletter was not in tune with Carlos' group. So even if we decided to continue, we would end up with only the gossipy personal stuff. The best parts would be missing, and so would be the point of the whole thing.

The newsletter started out without knowing exactly what form it would take. Looking at the current issues, if I had known what I know now I probably would have tried to steer it towards being a place to share lecture notes, and limited personal experiences. There are some unsavory aspects to the newsletter, but we can't arbitrarily change these or it would become a personal endeavor. To change these would require ending, thinking up a new name, and restarting with new rules.

For those of you who will likely write in and state that you feel disadvantaged without the newsletter, consider how much things have changed. The Tensegrity video is not just a minor addition to the books. It's a complete change in our relationship to Carlos' group. I hate to use the word, but in one sense we can all now be "apprentices", if we want to be. Before this, we were simply very interested readers. Carlos' group sympathized with us, and attempted to help us out. But the video isn't a hand-me-down or a recollection. It's something that was planned just to help us out. And there may be other techniques coming along. Look for these techniques at upcoming workshops.

So the good news is that the Tensegrity video is available, a new lecture is coming, there is a new Nagual (confirmed by three separate sources), and Carlos' group is working very hard to make information available to us.

Magical Blend has an advertisement telling us where to sign up for a lecture on the Tensegrity movements, another ad (for the video) will probably show up in Body, Mind, & Spirit, along with an interview with members of Carlos' group.

The bad news is that the newsletter didn't work out in its present form.

As to the reaction from Carlos' group: we heard of it from four different sources. The reaction came in a bit at a time, in what seems to be a nicely arranged progression. The first reaction we heard was extreme. We were told that Carlos and the witches were "upset at the very existence of the newsletter". Although we suspected that was an exaggeration, it still got our attention. The remaining reactions were quite a bit more mellow. Finally, by accident, we were even able to have a conversation with someone about it.

The gist of the thing is that their group has in fact read the newsletter and finds it to be mostly nonsensical. We heard comments about particular parts of the newsletter, indicating someone had actually taken the time to turn pages (something I didn't expect).

I was told that the objections aren't based on our efforts to share information; they aren't trying to keep information from people. But they are concerned that readers won't be able to wade through the junk and find the valuable stuff. And the valuable stuff might not be all that valuable, and certainly not that plentiful. The atmosphere is not strict warriorship, people are half into things, and the open forum aspect seems to have backfired. It seems that at least one person in Carlos' group got the impression that we were endorsing other Nagualist groups. Let's face it, some of these groups are questionable. I can see how Carlos' group, working extremely hard to provide consistent training for people with an interest, wouldn't be too happy to see their information mixed in with the questionable stuff. All of their hard work could be jeopardized.

It was suggested to me that the function of the editor is to screen submissions, and that I had not done that well. Unfortunately, someone would have to be trained or selected by Toltec Artists to do that. I could do it, but I have a Fart's point of view.

Then there's the question of whether it's good to centralize the information source at all. It certainly makes it easier for all of us, but consider this: Carlos' group has the pick of any esoteric magazine they wish. Each magazine would be happy to have a new interview for publication every month. Despite this, they switch magazines (making it difficult for us to find the information), even popping up in such unlikely places as Details.

While Magical Blend seems the most logical place to put such interviews (they even photocopy sold out issues with Carlos interviews and sell complete sets on request), Toltec Artists has elected to place their next interview in a different magazine. I've been told that Details is out of the issue with the Bruce Wagner interview, and won't do anything to provide it for people. Rumor has it that this is Carlos' favorite interview. Of course, someone who really wanted it could get a photocopy at a library.

Carlos' group isn't necessarily concerned with accessibility. Their behavior is unpredictable, uncentralized, and irregular; exactly what it ought to be, but the opposite of this newsletter. It's not really clear if they want us to share lecture notes. On the one hand, we received a big NO about printing that radio interview transcript. And yet we were told that they weren't trying to keep us from sharing information.

Even sharing personal experiences is a potential problem. I enjoy it, readers enjoy it, but look what Florinda said about recapitulating in your car. She said that if you turn your head it's more likely you're engaging in a show of "I'm above all this." That would have to be even more true of sharing personal experiences.

So these problems boil down to submission screening. We received two recommendations that we might ask Kylie for help. One reader recommended (in true clandestine spirit) that we should stalk her and get her to discuss it. Yea, right... I can just see myself trying to trick a Chacmool. Maybe I could pretend to be a Novadreamer salesman. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be able to get past that vacant look in her eyes. The other recommendation was to simply call her on the phone, and it came from someone who likely talks often with her.

I probably would have gone for that, except that it felt like perhaps she might help simply as a form of damage control.

Another fatal flaw with the newsletter was discussed with me. Here we are, trying to break away from the social structure, and in doing so we're making new friends and building a "feel good" support group.

Don Juan was worried that his lineage would get trapped simply because they got too mixed up with the mood of the death defier. And here we are forming a secret society. To be perfectly honest, I've worried about this too. How do you have an information sharing newsletter that doesn't turn into a focal point or substitute for peoples displaced tendency to seek out the solace and company of other people? Only Toltec Artists could tell us how to do that.

For now, this will be the last issue. But I have this crazy idea that the newsletter popped up because it was supposed to pop up, and can't go away that easily. Or maybe it's been replaced by the change in Carlos' group's relationship to us. One thing's for sure: Keeping it now would be a personal choice, and that wouldn't be effective. Or at least, we aren't willing to accept responsibility for doing that.

Keep an eye out in Magical Blend to see if anything changes.

Nagualist Newsletter/ Issue 5 February/ March 1995