Twentieth Session
Sunday, April 14, 1996, at Dance Home in Santa Monica (1 - 3 PM PDT)
by Corey Donovan

[Kylie, Talia, Ellis and Grant were on hand.]

Castaneda began by telling us that he understood that "things are coming up" for us, indicating that we need to be recapitulating more than ever. He indicated that the point of the recapitulation was that "to look at our lives, to see it all laid out, and to realize it for the endless crap it is will make it possible for us to walk away from it. We can then escape the social order." He explained that it is only when we have seen ourselves this way that we realize that unless we give it up we will be that way for the rest of our lives.

He started by talking about his father, whose nickname was "Piloto." His father was something of a fool, and as a child Castaneda endured people making fun of him. For example, his father would go hunting wearing 18 duck whistles around his neck. Piloto was also in great fear of his powerful eldest brother, and he would run out the door if he knew he was coming. One time Piloto was on a hunting trip with his brother in Brazil. He woke up one morning with a snake on his leg. He felt the snake biting him and yelled, and his brother rushed over and exclaimed that it was the most poisonous snake of all. Since they were 200 miles from civilization, the brother insisted that the only available antidote for the poison was for Piloto to drink his brother's urine. The brother peed into a glass and Piloto dutifully drank it down. It turned out that the whole thing was a practical joke -- his brother had bought the snake and planted it on Piloto’s leg while he was sleeping. For the rest of the trip the guides made fun of Piloto and told Castaneda what a fool his father was.

His father was attracted to a woman in the town, and considered her his girlfriend, but he never told her that he loved her. When Castaneda asked about this, the father commented that he "had never told her in so many words, but that he had ‘insinuated it?and that she certainly knew." Castaneda then happened to be somewhere where he saw the woman with another man that she called her boyfriend. He reported this to his father who shouted, "No, no, that can't be!" Then his father started crying and pleaded with Castaneda to spy for him, telling him, "you can do inconceivable things." He begged him to follow her because he had to know what she was doing. Castaneda, who was 15 at the time, told us that he turned his back on his father at that point and "never looked back." He never saw him again until the visit many years later that he made at don Juan's insistence [which he described at his Sunday lecture at the November ?5 workshop]. Don Juan told him that, as a sorcerer, the only way for him to see his father at that point was as an "act of magic."

He told us that he nearly died after Oakland, that "the infection was on its way to my brain, since it had already reached my nose." The Friday after Oakland, when he was on the phone with Carol Tiggs, "something came out." Carol, of course, was excited at the possibility that they were about to depart, "since she and her fellow witches are more than ready to leave. It is only me that is keeping them here, since the lure of what is out there is very strong for all of us." In this "last circle around" his purpose is to see us "achieve silence." He has never seen that moment happen before: he was not there when it happened for Carol Tiggs, or Taisha or Florinda. So he has a very specific purpose for this time here. "I am not here to have lunch with my agent," he jokingly insisted.

He also said that he and his "three colleagues" were incredibly precise.

Castaneda explained that compulsion is one of the only forces we have available to us. He mentioned again how he eats fruit compulsively -- he cannot just eat one, he has to eat dozens -- and how he used to smoke four packs a day. We need to use this force to "recapitulate compulsively." He explained that the other force we have is fear. We can feel that we are above or outside of a lot of things, "but when real fear comes over us, there is no way out of it."

We cannot be forty-year-old "boyyyyys" in shorts. He referred again to the commercial he mentioned in one of the workshops where this old guy holds the word "boyyyy" for an incredibly long time while relating some supposed childhood story about something he used to do with his father. The man's inflection on this word makes it sound like he still imagines himself to be a young child. The man has obviously never recapitulated or really taken a look at his life. When we look at our relationship with our parents through the recapitulation we can see that "they really didn’t like us and we really didn’t like them." We cannot insist on being little girls and "boyyyys" like this, "reporting to our parents forever."

The "ideal child" in parents' minds, Castaneda claimed, is one that "they can just feed and put to sleep. They can only deal with you when you're sleeping. What they really want is that you wake up at 6 AM to be fed and that they can put you to sleep again until the next feeding, without any fussing or crying."

He talked about what taxonomizers humans are, and said that to see what he is talking about we should read the French deconstructionists. He was looking for a particular name: Derrida. "It's just pure taxonomy and utter crap. It's not that the people who are doing it aren't brilliant; they are. They're just wasting their time on useless taxonomies." He mentioned the name of a particular book, something like "Tower of Babel." [I believe this is the title of a Derrida essay.] He said that Babel can mean "language" or "taxonomy" (as the deconstructionists tried to use it) but that it could also mean "confusion", which was all the deconstructionists had succeeded in creating with their philosophy.

He also mentioned that there is an "overseer." He said there is "It" or the spirit, and there are situations when you feel the effect of the spirit. But there is also an overseer. Deep in the earth or elsewhere there are alien forces that are very close to us in some way so that we can literally feel their presence. Don Juan, for example, "often experienced the lights suddenly coming on at his house."

Castaneda and Kylie had recently been practicing the movements, and where there was a hole or depression in the floor, he suddenly saw this headless, large tombstone or oblong shape standing there. Kylie was so stunned and overcome by it that she could not continue practicing. Another time, also fairly recently it seemed, he and Kylie saw "the corner of a woman's skirt twirl." They chased after this image very fast to catch it, running two or three blocks, but it eluded them.

"You make a bid for these forces; if you feed ‘it?and turn your back and go the other way, then it will somehow visit or make its presence known. If you recapitulate and give back to others their energy and take your own stuff back and then turn around and go on, this is a way of making a bid."

Another example of the overseer that had just happened to them in the last couple of days took place at his house. Castaneda was practicing with two of the Energy Trackers. Florinda wanted to go shopping so they called him to send over the women. He told them to go, and he continued writing. A short time later he got another call from Florinda, who lived in the adjacent building, asking where the women were. He told her he had sent them sometime ago. He went looking for them and found them just standing next to the screen door looking out. He asked them why they were still there and they explained they were locked in. He saw that the door had been bolted from the other side. "This is not an easy door to lock and it requires two hand movements to maneuver the locking device," he explained. He asked why they did not go out the other door. They said that it was locked too. This was very strange, and he said he would have had to have been crazy to have managed to lock those doors that way himself. So it is another way the overseer was manifested.

We need the fluidity that comes from silence. So let's "do it!" He said he borrows that phrase from this "weird creature" that he knew who always said, "I never expected to live this long, so let's do it!" He then taught us four movements (or three with a warm up).

The first one was a thrust forward with the right or left arm, forearm parallel to the ground, pulling from the shoulder. Then the extended hand makes an arc returning to grab at the same spot. Then a slight push further forward from the wrist.

The second was a thrust up with the arm, the fist pointed in toward the body, and then grabbing outward at the level of the neck with the palm outward, and slowly clinching the hand into a fist while exhaling.

After this he had us do the neck relaxing movement, starting with the neck down on the chest. He commented that we do not much touch the neck in Tensegrity except the point at the base of the neck that he showed us when we grab simultaneously above the knee.

The third (or warm up to the final pass) started with leaning all the weight on one leg and then hopping in the direction of the other leg and pulling the first leg along, so as to stay in a horse stance, with the legs the same distance apart. This can be used to tighten the backs of the legs, where we store memories. As he had told us at a prior session, we never tighten that area. What normally gets tightened during exercise are the muscles in the front of the leg. We need to get tightened up in the back too.

The fourth pass started in a horse stance. You circle one foot inward and then "hop" in the same direction as the foot you circled with, keeping the legs the same distance apart. The "hopping" is delicate and controlled. Castaneda referred to this pass as "defying gravity."

He noticed Ralph, and remarked that he "looked so different." He asked Ralph if he used to lift weights. I think Ralph said yes. Castaneda told us that when he was 15 at Hollywood High he used to go to the gym nearby that was right near or right above Frederick's of Hollywood. Castaneda told us, "There was a big muscle guy there, with his agent. The guy had such control over the muscles in his stomach that his agent would take bets from people that the guy could drink milk, eat bananas and crackers, and then vomit up just one of those items." Castaneda witnessed these performances: the guy drinking the milk and then vomiting up just the bananas. Being a "typical bored fuck," Castaneda tried to imitate the guy. He thought it was "the greatest thing that anybody could do." He tried to do it and told his friends he needed to drink more coke, so they would give it to him. He told us the muscle guy was "already dead, it was so long ago." He said the muscle guy also used to swim some long distance with weights on. Ron suggested it was Jack LaLanne, who is apparently still among the living, and Castaneda said that was the guy.

At this gym he also met Steve Reeves, who played Hercules in several Italian movies. He told us that he would help Reeves soothe out his muscles after a workout by walking on Reeves' back. He imitated Reeves? deep monotone voice, that was so bizarre they would dub in a replacement voice for him in the movies. But Castaneda once saw a movie in which they had left in his natural voice for one scene. In this scene Reeves was playing a slave who comes upon a little girl. He bellows, mechanically, "I'm not going to hurt you." Castaneda told us he "couldn't take any more" after that scene, so he walked out.

He talked about Ellis and how much she had changed. He told us she is "Elf" -- Ellis Laura Finnegan. The people who knew her 10 years ago do not recognize her, they tell her she "reminds them of someone they knew." She tells them, "Oh that's not possible, I lived in Berkeley then." She used to be a "goddess" in Berkeley. She was much heavier, would go to "goddess events" and "paint her tits." But then she would come back and "god would fuck her." She was so attached to Jason "'cause he was there for her when her Daddy died.? She really did not care that much when her Daddy died, but it was a good story, just like men who are trying to find someone like their mother." He mimicked a woman who invites a guy over to her place and offers to mother him, and the guy who, like a child, meekly responds "okay."

"These goddesses let themselves be controlled by a ‘pincho.?Don Juan used to joke that instead of shaking hands and saying ‘good morning,?we should hold our fingers out to indicate the length of the pincho, or penis, while saying good morning."

He told a story about a woman with a big fancy house who looked out her window and saw a naked man with a big penis practicing tai chi outside. She goes out and timidly speaks to him, and the man acts very embarrassed and like he is looking for something to cover himself with, although there is clearly nothing around. He explains to her it is "such a beautiful house" and that he thought it was empty. While looking at him the whole time the woman finally offers him a towel. Then she asks him if he wants to "come in for tea." He turns out to be "a carpenter who reads Heidegger. Next thing you know they're ‘doing it,?quot; which Castaneda inimitably mimicked. After staying with the woman for awhile and screwing a lot, the guy tells her he cannot stay anymore, that he has to leave. She asks why, and he tells her he needs $68,000, but that "he can't ask her for it, so he must go." She says, "Well, maybe I can help you." She ends up giving him the $68,000, and he still leaves to go back to his wife. This is a scam the guy had played many times before. "The social order sets us up" for this kind of thing.

He explained that he needed our birthdays and the times we were born to figure out when the constellation Corona Borealis was at its zenith on the day we were born. The old sorcerers had always been guided by that particular constellation. When it was immediately above, they would take action. If they were born a few hours before Corona Borealis was at its zenith, when they had an impulse to do something, they would wait a few hours before taking action.

He described the constellation as a horseshoe shape, visible from the Northern Hemisphere, and said he would show us a diagram. Castaneda told us that his birthtime was almost a day before Corona Borealis was at the zenith, so he has to wait almost a day, or eight hours, when he has an impulse, and then "I either do it or I don't." But this practice gives him the space to act at the proper time. He told us that Corona Borealis had one dim star that made a triangle with two others. He said it was hard to see in a clear sky in the countryside in Mexico, but that "in our polluted atmosphere here it is easier to make out." [The star he referred to is R Coronae Borealis, which does make a small triangle with two of the stars that make up the base of the horseshoe shape. According to the Peterson Stars and Planets Field Guide, this star "is one of the most unusual stars in the sky. It stays at 6th magnitude for a period ranging from months to years and then precipitously drops to 11th magnitude or even fainter for a period that lasts only weeks. At the same time, its spectrum of absorption lines is obscured and a spectrum of emission lines appears. R CrB is a carbon-rich star, and apparently it sometimes throws off clouds of carbon soot that obscure its photosphere, making spectral lines from its higher and relatively hotter chromosphere appear as emission lines. The clouds of soot have been detected in the infrared." For more info on Castaneda's comments about Corona Borealis, click here.]

He told us we should not tell anyone else the year we were born. He said we should do like he does and claim that we are "29." He mentioned that when he went to the ophthalmologist they asked him how old he was and he said "32." The ophthalmologist laughed and told him he did not have the eyes of a 32-year-old. Castaneda calmly replied that it was "a genetic abnormality."

Castaneda encouraged us to bring in our recapitulation lists and to tell him our recapitulation stories. He asked if we had made our lists. He said he would not bother reading them, but just to show them to him would be "an act of power" and would help us along. "But you shouldn't try to fool me by bringing in a shopping list with names like ‘Broccoli?on it." He jokingly told us that if we told him our stories he "wouldn't tell anyone," and when Ellis looked askance, he laughed and offered instead that he "wouldn’t use your names." [Ellis, rightfully, still looked dubious.]

He repeated that his agent [Julius] had only told him one story -- "the one about making Dorothy Manners pee in her pants by playing so hard with her on the jungle gym, and that when the principal gave him a choice between sending him home with a blue note describing what he did, or letting the boy tell his parents himself, the boy opted for telling them himself." But Tracy Kramer never told his parents, and for the next seven years was consumed by guilt about it. Castaneda commented, "That's guilt? You should see my guilt!" So now when he asks his agent, "How's it going?" his agent just responds "fine," or insists that nothing ever happens to him, "just like the Dorothy Manners story."

He mentioned that the recapitulation makes us more fluid and that Tensegrity sustains it. He also asked if we knew what it looked like to pour ginseng into hot water -- how it just explodes and "fizzes" when it hits the water, "a good omen. But when you drink it, it makes you sick."

He said we were getting "tighter," and that the important thing is to have the "necklace" tight across the shoulders. He said that Lorenzo was capable of "picking his necklace up from dragging at his feet to right up tight along his shoulders." He claimed that Lorenzo was "capable of anything." Lorenzo used to be married to a Hollywood actress [Rebecca DeMornay]. He was on the verge of a breakdown and she told him, "Well, I should be the one to drive you to the hospital when you have your breakdown" [as opposed to letting the insurance cover it]. He had lunch with Castaneda at that point and was "literally walking on his necklace," but then, somehow, snapped it up to shoulder level during the meal.

Castaneda mentioned that he himself was very close to the old sorcerers, and that the Nagual Elias had somehow brought the old sorcerers?knowledge back more significantly into don Juan's lineage. This was a new trend for the lineage, in experiencing more of what the old sorcerers experienced, and this was passed on to don Juan, since don Juan spent six years living with the Nagual Elias after the Nagual Julian had made him his apprentice. This was unusual in itself to have this kind of overlap between naguals. Elias taught don Juan a lot about this tradition, and don Juan taught Castaneda "not everything he knew, but certainly a lot of it." So Castaneda now found himself "seeing strange things, experiencing things that the old sorcerers experienced."

He also mentioned that there were alternative procedures to recapitulation, but that "they're not as good." The best way to develop a firm grounding is recapitulation. He also described himself as our counselor, our lawyer. Then he looked for me and said, "Where's Rich?" He pointed to me and said, "and there's my lawyer."

He said to bring our [recapitulation] notes next week, but Ellis reminded him we would be in Oakland the following weekend. So he said, "Well the week after that." He said, "There, you have two whole weeks. A reprieve!"

He said that he had wanted to go with don Juan. Don Juan told him that he had to go by himself, and that, "because you are going to have to stay, it will require all of your strength, cunning and will. Castaneda responded, "But I want to stay with you." Don Juan told him, "I want to stay with you too." This reminded Castaneda of the kind of cognitive dissonant response that he made to Igor [the son of the psychiatrist that he used to take care of that he told us about the week before] when Igor was pounding his head against the wall at the bakery saying "I want that," Castaneda started pounding his head and saying "I want that too!" But, Castaneda would had to stay behind, as would we.

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