The Nagualist Newsletter and Open Forum / Issue 2 August / September 1994
Copyright 1994 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.


If you think there's nothing new at the first gate, try looking harder.

One night as I was dreaming, I came across a tree. I was on the first object in my group of four. My habit is to look at four objects between views of my hands. I don't know exactly why, but that night everything was dull and I was bored.

After looking at the tree, I decided to include it's leaves and delicate pink blossoms as objects. As I looked at the flowers, I noticed some small insects perched in the branches. They appeared to be gnats. I decided to make one of them object number four. As I looked, I realized that I had never selected an object that small. The gnat's wings were vibrating with a beautiful freshness. I decided to risk looking closer, despite my fear the dream might end.

As I looked more closely, the wing vibrations on the entire swarm of gnats became more lively. There was a cool, bubbly crispness to their movements. The gnat I was looking at became larger, and suddenly I realized something was looking back! The experience is impossible to describe. It was as if pure awareness radiated from the wings of the gnats and the snowy fluorescent light shining on them through the branches.

Afraid the dream was changing, I left the gnat and moved onwards. I tried looking more closely at other objects, but none of them looked back at me.

That particular dream changed my outlook on dreaming. I now realize that even the simple recommendation to look at "objects" can be taken many ways. My routine had been to look at objects of a certain size and type, and I hadn't realized that a brief glance didn't mean I couldn't pay attention.

I started looking at mountains, clouds, the wind movement on leaves, and other abstract or oversized objects. I discovered that the type of objects one chooses for viewing can affect the stability of the dream.

My belief is that the first and second gates of dreaming are very cleverly separated from each other by the warnings in don Juan's instructions. For instance, looking very closely at the small gnat, I was beginning to change the dream into something else. That type of dreaming is reserved for the second gate. It was very much like Carlos' deliberate attempt to merge with the leaves and branches of the tree in The Art of Dreaming. It's not so much that the dream will be lost if one looks too closely, it's perhaps more that one will change the dream before one has enough energy to maintain volition across a dream change. Without don Juan's instructions, the first and second gates would become a single, unmanageable, chaotic barrier.

If looking closely tends to change the dream, looking at more general things ought to stabilize it. My routine was to look at objects I encountered at my own walking level. That left me isolated from the dream context. When I started to look at my general surroundings, I began to develop a much better feeling for the setting of the dream.

I'd like to be able to say that this made the dream last longer, but I was recapitulating heavily at the time. At the least, I believe it's fair to say that one should take notice of the "objects" one is selecting during dreaming and consider if it's time to apply the idea of disrupting routines.


Many years ago, I was heavily involved in the practice of Sidha yoga. Looking at it in perspective, I believe that I would have been better off to continue my attempt to follow don Juan's teachings. Perhaps I might have started a recapitulation way back then. At the time, I believed that yoga was the same thing.

I remained the whole time a "closet" Nagualist. At night, when no one was looking, I would continue my dreaming efforts. One day, frustrated that I wasn't dreaming as often as I liked, I went to the swap meet to see if I could find help with an herbalist I had noticed there years before.

My own yogic group was versed in Ayurveda, using plants and potions from India. I felt that a Mexican herbalist might have something to help with dreaming. Not really knowing how to describe what I wanted, I took my time wandering through the swap meet until I had enough courage to formulate my question.

The herbalist's booth consisted of a large backboard covered with every conceivable herb and remedy. A table in front of the herbs was stacked with boxes decorated with pictures of internal organs and descriptions in Spanish. As I stood there, a continuous parade of elderly women approached the herbalist and began to speak in quiet Spanish as if they were old friends. The herbalist himself was of indeterminate age. He could have been anywhere between 40 and 60.

Eventually, the herbalist turned to me and smiled. I blurted out my question, "Do you have anything to help you remember your dreams?" He gave me a strange look that invited me to elaborate. As I started to describe what I was looking for, he practically attacked me. He taunted me in a very loud voice saying, "Oh, how high we all fly in our dreams. Look everyone, he wants drugs. Go away you lazy

Dejected, I hid my feelings and walked "calmly" away, saying, "I wasn't looking for drugs...". His attitude changed. He transformed into a kind, warm hearted, friendly man. He lightly touched my shoulder, guided me back to the center of his booth, and began to listen to what I wanted. When I had finished, he ignored my request and instead started to talk about stress and fatigue and the toll it took on one's health. He straightened my head and shoulders by putting his hand under my chin and told me that this was the best posture for relieving the type of overwork from which I was suffering. He bent the fingers of his other hand into the shape of a bird's beak and pressed on the area just above the center of my shoulder blades, on my back. "Isn't that where the problem is?", he asked. He gave me a big, sincere smile.

I'd just finished reading The Fire from Within and was filled with visions of don Juan pressing on Carlos' back. My mind was racing at the similarities with Carlos' meeting with don Juan. I engaged him in polite conversation for a while longer. As I was leaving, he told me that he owned an herb shop in town and that I was welcome to attend some group meetings he held there any time I wanted. I never did.

Source: Withheld for the herbalist's sake. 

Nagualist Newsletter and Open Forum / Issue 2 Aug. /Sept. 1994