Cleargreen Night Sessions
by Corey Donovan
The Cleargreen night sessions with Castaneda varied a little in schedule, depending on the availability of Dance Home and Castaneda's health, but were generally held for either one or two hours at a time on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. They were usually just for Cleargreen personnel but, for several months, especially from October 1996 through April 1997, a small assortment of Sunday group members (who, in some cases, later became Cleargreen personnel) were also invited.
These sessions were a lot more informal than the Sunday sessions, and mainly involved Castaneda instructing us on more movements, or long forms, with occasional comments, and more interaction from the assembled group than was usually the case on Sundays.
The following sessions that I've summarized below were from the period right after the Long Beach 1997 workshop, about five months before all class sessions with Castaneda ended, including Sundays.
Monday, February 24, 1997, Dance Home, Santa Monica 8 - 9 PM
"Lorenzito has some lovely things to read to you," Castaneda began.
Castaneda then turned the floor over to Bruce Wagner, who first read a short news report from Colors Magazine, published by Benetton. (As we were walking in, Bruce had told me it was his favorite magazine.) The report was about a new strain of featherless chickens scientists have developed. Due to the lack of feathers, they need to put on more weight to stay warm. This causes them to fatten up to the requisite weight for selling a week earlier than normal chickens. Another advantage of "naked chickens" is they don't need plucking.
The second was a flyer, on orange paper, with the headline "Masturbation." It purportedly dealt with the spiritual and other benefits of masturbation. The flyer mentioned Jesus and Rajneesh as spiritual people who masturbated. It included the line, "Even our President, Bill Clinton, is a great masturbator." It claimed that since men are "vibrating at a very low level these days, it's a great benefit to women to be able to masturbate." It was promoting Thursday night sessions in Venice. At first Castaneda thought it was at Dance Home, and was suggesting we could come on Thursday nights to watch.
Castaneda commented that the Sunday class was "a bunch of masturbators." He claimed, "There is an obsessive strand that gets attached to us at an early age. Don Juan said that theoretically one should be able to use this strand that the Flyers put on us to be obsessive about something that would improve your situation" (e.g., Tensegrity or recapping).
Castaneda showed us strikes that mainly involved the knuckles, with the hand in a tiger claw position. The first was high up to the opponent's lungs, with the right palm facing toward the left. Another was striking toward the ribs. A third was striking over the ears to the chest and the ribs. The last had us turn to the side and strike toward the soft part of the opponent's chin. Those were the four basic positions. We also did the basic movements of the Preparing for Intent series. Castaneda thought we had two hours, when we were only scheduled for one.
Castaneda told us Carola was "totally Chinese. She did two paintings for school for the topic 'It Could Happen.' One she painted with Chinese characters and a totally Chinese scene. It had nothing to do with 'It Could Happen,' but she's a witch, and that one won a prize. The painting that was totally about 'It Could Happen,' didn't get noticed. We need to think up a Chinese father for her." Nury mentioned a Chinese movie star who died the year that Carola was born. They joked that it made sense--he was a movie star, so Zaia would have been attracted to him. "She might have met him in Hong Kong while she was there taking pictures," he suggested.
Castaneda spent a lot of time berating Darien. She was standing by the supporting pole on the right-hand side of the room, often hiding behind Aerin. Then he brought her up to the front of the room between Florinda and Taisha, telling her "you can't hide anymore." For about five minutes he went on about how "She loves her daddy. She's not Italian [actually she's half Italian and half German, and was brought up in Italy], but she's adopted this Italian thing with her mouth open all the time--and acting like a little girl. She doesn't have to do that anymore. Why is she doing that to me? What have I ever done to her? Taisha's not going to be the one who tells her she has to go back to Italy. That duty is going to fall to me."
In the course of this rant, he also mentioned others who had "fallen by the wayside," saying that "spirit or 'It' had left them." Included in this list was Joanie Barker, whom he described as "this terrible bore . . . and finally the spirit left her." He claimed, "It wasn't us who left her, it was the spirit who left her. I know what it's like. I'm scared to death. I lost it once. You should be scared." Also "the Leperchun . . . look what's happened to her. She used to be this lovely girl, but she's become this heavy troll. That should frighten all of us."
Castaneda suddenly asked, "Whatever happened to Lou Alcindor?" He was at UCLA when Castaneda was there. Tracy told him he was still around, that he was a sports commentator. Castaneda asked again, "So he's not dead?" He mentioned that Alcindor used to date an editor at the University Press. When she would go out with him, the other editors would be dying to ask her what it was like. Florinda asked, "So did she ever say what it was like?" Castaneda ignored her.
A movement at the end involved placing the index and middle finger on a spot above the left eyebrow. Castaneda claimed there was a ridge of bone on each side of the forehead there, and a nerve along that spot. He had us press there and simultaneously below the left cheekbone, right where you can feel the big teeth beginning, for a count of 20. We were told this improved vision. Then he had us do it on the right side as well.
Heikko (later Gavin) gave Paul a big envelope to look at in preparation for the workshop, an envelope that Marcos (later Leroy), who was going to be on security duty also, had too. Marcos told me that Grant had talked to him about leading a travel group down to Mexico for new people who might be afraid of going there. He told Marcos he should have someone help him organize it, and suggested me as that person. This was something I definitely did not want to take on. I also talked to Reni before class started about the article in the Long Beach paper that I'd been responsible for getting them to assign someone to do. She seemed to think it was good, and had ended on a really good note.
Wednesday, February 26, 1997, Dance Home, Santa Monica 8:15 to 10:15 PM
[The usual Cleargreen contingent was on hand, except Nury and Carol. From the Sunday group, in addition to the regular five--Paul, Marcos (later LeRoy), Darby (later Wilkie), Greg and me--were Pablo and Keith.]
Castaneda began, "Buenos Aires has this cemetery." (I jumped in with the name, "Recoleta.") "Right. It's a sign of class. A man says, 'My ancestors are all at Recoleta," meaning, 'They made it.'"
"When I was a kid I climbed into the cemetery one night. There was a tower, and I shimmied down, but I couldn't get back up. A woman saw me struggling trying to climb back up and let out a shriek. A fire truck had to come rescue me. They asked me how I got in, and I wasn't going to tell them that I kicked the masonry and broke this or that to get in. I just said, 'I don't know.'" Florinda offered, "Un milagro." Castaneda responded, "It's a mystery."
"People kept asking me how I got in and I wouldn't tell them. Finally my school found out about it and I got kicked out of school. I was always in trouble."
"I still have dreams about Buenos Aires from time to time. Some of them aren't quite 'Buenos Aires,' or they are Buenos Aires at different times. Don Juan referred to this as dreams of cyclicity--cyclic strand dreams. There are that many worlds out there--this is a vast universe. Don Juan didn't have much use for dreams of cyclicity. That wasn't where he was going. But I'm always having these dreams of Buenos Aires. Dreams of being trapped: How can I get out? I don't have any money, I've got to get out of here! I'm always going back there. Don Juan told me to forget about it, or just go and enjoy it. But it never quite leaves me."
Castaneda showed us three new movements. The first started with the left arm crooked around the elbow of the right arm, with the left hand pushed back and held there against the tendons that lie along the elbow, and then the same movement with the arms reversed. The second was placing the middle and index fingers on the ridge along the forehead above the eyebrow and the thumb below the cheekbone, then bending over with the elbow against the thigh and the other hand over the knee, holding it there for a count of 20. The third was placing the back of the left wrist along the side of the body, and pressing til it hurts. "Do these movements all the time, with dedication," he instructed. He indicated more these movements were for making us aware, "You go through the day too much on autopilot. That's our big problem, operating on automatic."
"Florinda received a letter today from a woman who is ninety years old who lives in a rest home where you rent a rosebush, and then have to pay for someone to take care of it. It's the kind of place where a couple of our friends went. They show you videos there to prepare you for the next stages of senility. There are six stages. When they went in, they were in the third stage, and they show you this video of the fourth stage, then the fifth stage. And the sixth stage is when you just don't care. This woman wrote, 'Why do they let us live this long? Does your mother have this problem?' This is horrendous--'Why do they let us live this long?'"
"Zaita had this classic interchange with Kylie. She asked her, 'You do work at Cleargreen, don't you?' and Kylie responded, "Well, yes, of course I do!'" He mimicked Zaia's concluding, 'Thank you,'" with a very clipped tone. "These are not aware beings." He repeated the interchange a couple of times. "What is this foolishness, where does it come from? How could Kylie dignify such a ridiculous question with a response?"
"When most of the group was in Mexico, we weren't going to be able to get a report on how the lecture had gone because Florinda and I and Zaia were going to dinner and a movie. Zaia asked, 'Can't you go to an earlier movie?' I told her 'No, it's not possible.' And she asked me, 'Why not?'" He cited this as another example of acting on autopilot--asking him inappropriate questions.
We then worked on a longer pass that used the three attacking elements we had been taught on Monday. It started with bringing the arms down in front and then up, palms up. Then bringing the palms up further, parrying with the left hand and kicking out with the left foot, striking around with the right fist, etc. We practiced this at length, and he worked with different groups on the details.
Castaneda moved Talia over to the side for a few minutes and then brought her back to her usual spot. He threatened to pick on Reni, "for glaring at people," explaining, "I need to pick on Reni now because I've been picking on the Moon Child." But he continued to pick on the Moon Child. We did a final strike out to the side starting from the hands by the crotch area, then shifting and thrusting up to the opposite side. The Moon Child [formerly Barbara, now Thurney] was apparently doing it loosely and haphazardly, and pulling more from her hip than from her crotch. He showed her, "This is where the energy is. Pull your 'pincho,' figuratively speaking." He became very insistent with her, and Florinda stepped in for awhile to show her when Castaneda moved on. He told us, "That's where your energy is. It's not in your hip. It's not in your breasts. We're not 'feeding Los Angeles from our breasts, from our milk.' The Nagual Lujan put these movements together for energetic reasons. He was more concerned about the energy, and that's why he came from there--he wasn't so concerned about the form."
"My professor of Kung Fu [Howard Lee] came from just being a good practitioner. He didn't have the knowledge of energy; it was just kind of instinctual with him. But they arrived at a similar place. But my sifu is trapped. He's in a cage in his mind. The wind cages him."
"Lorenzo had dinner with his father and has this wonderful story. Tell it Lorenzo." Bruce looked sheepish and begged off, so Castaneda told it. "They hadn't had much of a relationship. During the course of this dinner, the father used the term 'my phantom son.' All the animosity that had existed between them dissolved, and Lorenzo felt that he no longer had any real connection with this guy--that he had all this extra energy that was released. Then the next day the father left him this message thanking him for the dinner and calling him 'Josh,' which is the name of his other son, telling him, 'I'll always be there for you Josh.' So they are phantom son and phantom father--like two ships passing. Lorenzo has changed; he's not the same person. In his belly, where you usually have the teeth of the keyhole that your parents' key fits, it's gone from him. So he's got about as much connection with his father as he does with me. Or less, because with me he has a psychological connection."
"That story moved me to tears. I was crying in my bed." While Castaneda told this, Florinda had her head leaning against Talia's head. And Taisha looked like she had tears in her eyes, and had gone inward. I'd never seen her look so affected.
"Big butts are distinctive of European man. Anthropologists now classify European man as 'homo sapiens big buttus.' The Asians don't have big butts. And Africans have a higher, more rounded butt. Scientists have attributed it to more grains in the European diet." Talia interjected, "But Asians eat rice," in her nasal monotone.
Castaneda mimicked her delivery, and told us, "She's had her second class of voice lessons, and she has to learn to speak more mellifluously, and higher." He dramatized how he thought she should talk: "'How are you honey? Reni, is that you?' Then Reni will revert to her old voice and say [with heavy nasality], 'Yes, it's me. What else did you think?'" But Kylie interjected that no, she herself had taken on that voice now permanently. Then Castaneda, still mocking Talia, said "Maybe we can get you together with the Moon Child and she can say 'Mambo!' and you can say 'But Asians eat rice,'" contrasting Thurney's booming dramatics with Talia's limp, nasal delivery. "At least get people's attention. Hopefully, with the voice lessons, we can at least get you to say, 'Fuck it. Asians eat rice!'" which he offered in a confident, mellifluous tone. "Yeah, Asians eat rice, but it doesn't affect them the same way."
Ellis had to leave early. Castaneda noticed her trying to leave surreptitiously and he followed her down the stairs to find out what was going on.
"We get so offended by everything. I used to have this friend who was a practical joker who had a whoopee cushion. This distinguished woman dropped by and just as she started to sit down he remembered where the cushion was and he tried to stop her and tell her not to sit down yet, but it was too late. She sat on it and it went," Castaneda imitated the splatting, fart sound of the whoppee cushion. "The woman was so offended. I left too, because she created such a scene. We're like that. We get offended by the least little thing."
He mimicked Nyei, who had her hands on her hips, saying, "'Why do you always have your hands like that. What do you mean by that? You obviously mean something by that.' Something like that can really set us off. We get irritated over the least little thing."
"Kylie only eats one meal a day. Otherwise she would get fat. That reminds me of a friend of mine who would only eat one meal a day because that's all he could afford. But then he became a professor at Columbia. I saw him years later and didn't recognize him, because he was so huge. He was a little guy but he was out to there," he indicated a rotund stomach.
"He took me out for escabeche at a little restaurant. I raced him back to get to the one bathroom at the hotel. The guy beat me back, so I shit all the way up to my room. At first I thought I'd go to someone else's room, but it was locked, which made it worse, because you could see the signs of backtracking on the carpet too. It was so bad that I had to call the management to let them know. They came up with blood tests to make sure I didn't have the plague, and all kinds of disinfecting equipment. It was the most humiliating day of my life. They didn't throw me out though. I left the next day on my own."
Castaneda told Bruce that he wanted to read the masturbation flyer to the Sunday group. Bruce indicated that he didn't have it anymore, that he'd thrown it away. At first Castaneda didn't believe him, then he demanded, "How could you throw it away? That's part of my files, my private collection! It's my research, for my research paper. When I give you something to read, you've got to give it back." Then it came out that Bruce had received it from Paul Gutsmuths, who volunteered to try to get another one. Castaneda joked, "The only problem with it was it didn't say Buddha, it didn't mention Buddha as masturbating." Kylie interjected that it mentioned Jesus Christ. Castaneda responded, "Ehh, who cares about that?"
Kylie asked, "Masturbation isn't mentioned in the Bible is it?" Nyei responded, "Of course it is. It's called 'spilling your seed.'" Kylie was surprised. Then Castaneda overheard Florinda saying something about the Bible. Castaneda interrupted, "What are you going on about the Bible for? You don't know anything about the Bible." Florinda responded, jokingly, "Yeah, I know the Bible. It's got two testaments."
Castaneda mentioned that the entity he had described as following him a lot wasn't there that night. "Usually she's over by the water dispenser, and she was there a lot by Leigh, what's his name? I think she likes Leigh. Maybe she's having an affair with him," Castaneda joked.
"Zaia is ready for Carola now. She's not a mother like you and I had a mother. She's not looking for Carola to take care of her when she's older. She's not going to be in an old folks' home looking for her daughter to take care of her. She'll put a gun to her head first." Zaia nodded her head in agreement.