LOOKING IN DREAMING
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.
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
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
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
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
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
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 /
2 Aug. /Sept. 1994