To:  The Ixtlan Mailing List
Date:  Thu, 16 Mar 1995 03:02:54 -0500

On Tuesday, March 14, I attended the first half of a six-hour, two night workshop with the Chacmools on the Tensegrity passes here in Los Angeles. It was held at a high school gymnasium, and there were about 100 people in attendance.

I found the Chacmools much more relaxed, speaking more personally and much more from the heart than at the shorter, 90-minute workshop I attended a few weeks ago. They also seemed much more prepared with methods for warming us up, and then for breaking down the movements into easier to follow parts. Kylie, very much the leader of the group, also made us review what we'd learned at least twice during the evening, which was very helpful.

The evening started at about 7:15 with a welcome from a representative of the Philosophical Research Society, which sponsored the workshop. Then each of the Chacmools took turns in delivering a pre-prepared introduction, explaining who they were and talking about the four disciples of don Juan with whom they work: Castaneda, Taisha Abelar, Florinda Donner-Grau and Carol Tiggs. They also said that Castaneda had given them new instructions for using the movements from the video, different from the instructions we'd been given during the 90-minute workshop. At the 90-minute workshop they had said that the 12 passes on the video were designed to be performed in the order presented in the video. They said that since many who were not used to much physical movement had experienced toxic effects by trying to perform so many movements, Castaneda's new instructions were to choose 2 major movements from the video and to learn them well, with one serving as one's primary movement and the other as a secondary movement. The aim is to focus on these so as to perfect them. They also said that it is okay to do all of the minor movements in conjunction with the 2 major movements of our choice. (For those who don't yet have the video, the difference between major and minor movements is that the minor ones involve only one part of the body, while the major ones involve or incorporate several parts, if not the whole body.)

We were then given a warm-up, shoulder rotation exercise. This was followed by a demonstration of the Walking Pass. It is a part of a much longer movement, and was described as a preparatory pass. This was the same pass involving the feet being placed perpendicularly about one and a half feet apart (with the heel of one foot lining up with the arch of the other foot), and the entire weight of the body being alternated between the two feet, first for a count of 20 on each foot, then changing the position of the feet for another count of 20, and then going back and forth placing the weight on each foot for a count of 20. The third part of this pass is called Fluidity Foot, and involves standing on the left foot and bending the right foot straight up from the floor and then bending it inward to the left. You are to feel the resulting tightness in the thigh flowing up the body and hold for a count of 10. You then do the same thing standing on the right foot and bending the left foot.

We then did a simple movement throwing our hips from side to side, trying to feel the tensing and relaxing in our stomachs.

Next we were taught three minor movements from the video, broken down into very comprehensible parts. Those movements were the Lobster's Strike, the Rolling Movement and Forging the Energy Body (I'm not quite sure of the name on the video, which I don't have with me at the moment).

They then showed us three preparatory passes to disperse anguish. These were the same ones I described in my summary of the 90-minute workshop, including the Spider Fingers for 100 counts, wrists only for 10 counts, palms up in a grabbing movement, and wrists only for 10 more counts, and then a full breath involving the arms going up and outward. (I apologize again for the summary nature of my description, but it is hard to take very good notes while you are trying to watch and learn these movements.) We then did a few more leg movements, including standing on one foot while sweeping with the other from in front of the stationery foot to the back of it. The final leg movement included bringing one leg up and making a "ging" (Kylie's term for a fast, energetic movement) out to the side.

The final pass they taught is not on the video and was difficult for me to learn, let alone describe. Kylie very patiently, however, took us through each of the component parts so that we could learn it. It is called Pass to Open the Window, and involves a small movement with the left hand (first palm up and then pushing out, pointing to the side) at the same time as the right hand sweeps from the left side to the right and suddenly "gings" into a fist. This seems like a very important movement, and a gather it will probably appear on a future video.

The last half hour of the session was devoted to taking some questions from the group, with Kylie playing the role of spokesperson and responding to nearly all of the questions herself. Kylie prefaced this question period by apologizing in advance if anyone was offended by the answers, saying that their aim was not to offend anyone but only to answer as carefully as possible the questions asked.

The first question was whether there was a recommendation as to what time of day these movements should be performed. Kylie said that was an individual matter, and that some people may not want to do them right after eating, or may have more energy at certain times of the day, while a few strong physical specimens may not have any trouble doing them at any time of day. The next question was why is this information being made available to the public at this time. The response was that energetically the movement of Carol Tiggs returning after 10 years in the 2nd attention had opened up new possibilities and that energy was now moving totally differently from the way it moved in don Juan's time.

Another questioner asked how these movements were different from those used in different practices aimed at maximizing ch'i (the Asian concept of vital energy), such as ch'i gong. Kylie said she didn't know that much about the other practices, but that she understood that those were probably more similar than anything else to the Tensegrity movements, possibly because Nagual Lujan had Asian ancestry and knew martial arts. Since the Tensegrity movements originated in dreaming, some of Nagual Lujan's dreaming may have been influenced by his ancestry or martial arts practice. In response to another question, Kylie explained that recapitulation and Tensegrity together can have the effect of turning us around to face time, rather than watching it recede as is the case with most human beings. They told us that the four disciples of don Juan (Castaneda, Taisha, Florinda and Carol) have turned themselves around and now go "into infinity" for "units of time" that can't be measured in terms of human time. They also said that each of them when they are gone have a tendency to get lost, and the others then work to pull them out of the second attention. In response to other questions we learned that the Chacmools are not themselves involved in "dreaming" practices. (I think this came as some surprise, and some disappointment, to some members of the audience, myself included, who are more interested in the dreaming practices, and exactly what role Tensegrity plays with respect to dreaming, than anything else.)

In response to a question about the purpose of the movements, my notes say that Kylie answered that the purpose is "to hook our intent into being able to move energetically to freedom." She further said that we can achieve the flight to freedom, even without a nagual, and that Tensegrity, in conjunction with recapitulation, makes that available. They noted that there are no more naguals in this line after Castaneda.

Questions were also asked about don Miguel de Ruiz, La Gorda and Merrilyn Tunneshende. The Chacmools had nothing to say about don Miguel, saying they had no information about other possible lines of sorcerers than don Juan and Castaneda's. They said that La Gorda had died in front of her colleagues, "out of stupidity," and that she was definitely dead. Finally, they said that the four (CC, Taisha, Florinda and Carol Tiggs) had never met Merrilyn, and that the article they had read purporting to describe Merrilyn's experiences with them was a complete fraud.

In briefly listening to a few more responses that Chacmools made individually to those of us who gathered around them afterwards, I learned that the matching jewelry they wore had been given them by Castaneda (most notably the blue and gold bracelets with a sort of rolling wave design, which Kylie said had come from the Second Attention). They also said there is a May 19-21 intensive workshop scheduled for Mexico City (call Toltec Artists for more info), and that Carol is now a student somewhere. Taisha's new book is apparently nearly done, and Carol is still working on her book, Tales of Energy.

This was a most exciting evening for me, not only because it gave me additional confidence in using the passes and included fascinating insights into the current practices of the Castaneda clan, but also because I met for the first time another member of this list, along with several acquaintances that I didn't previously know were "into" Castaneda. I must emphasize that a strong impression I took away from the evening was how warm, welcoming and gracious the three Chacmools were. I am very much looking forward to the second half on Thursday night.

-- genrich

Report on Second Half of Six-Hour L.A. Tensegrity Workshop:

The second half of this workshop concluded Thursday, March 14. What stood out for me this time was additional powerful revelations by the Chacmools, and a long, intricate pass performed by Renata and Nyei Murez which they called Sorcerer's Affection Pass. Before getting to the "news," I will summarize the physical movements we reviewed and learned.

Some of the people attending Thursday night had not been on hand on the first night. The Chacmools began with two new breathing passes, and then reviewed the passes we were taught on Tuesday, teaching them at the same time to the new participants. In a preamble to teaching the two breathing passes, Kylie explained that the energy body is a vulnerable, undefended place, and that breathing passes are vital for strengthening and defending it. The two new breathing passes, or breathing preparatory movements, were both fairly simple, but my notes are not very clear on them: the first involved moving the arms like we were pantomiming the wheels of a train and included a rolling movement in the shoulders; the second involved grabbing with the hands and dropping the arms, as best I can recall. Next we reviewed the Walking Pass, the Lobster's Strike, the Rolling Pass and Forging the Energy Body's Powerhouse. In reviewing the Lobster's Strike, Kylie explained that sudden tensing movments that impact the body (like a strong shudder) are the backbone of Tensegrity, that will transport our bodies if we let them. We then reviewed the Anguish Passes, described in my prior post, and the four leg movements previously described. The final pass for review was Opening the Window. This time Kylie pointed out that the movement of the right hand from the left side into a fist held out on the right side of the body should end with the right arm pointing 45 degrees out from the right side of the body.

They then taught us three new breathing techniques used to gather energy: the Sphinx Breath, the Belly Breath and the Right-to-Left-Lung Breath. The Sphinx Breath involves inhaling and bringing both bent arms back as far as they will go, and then exhaling while looking at a point from which you can see with your peripheral vision as your arms with flat palms pointed downward extend out as the Sphinx's paws. My notes are inadequate on the Belly Breath, which is difficult to describe but involves making the belly huge as you push the breath out. The Right-to-Left-Lung Breath starts with both arms pointed down to the right of your torso with the right palm facing out, then swinging both arms all the way around on the right side of the body so that they are extended above your head with both palms facing out. From there both arms swing down your left side ending with both palms pointed down to your left side with the left palm facing out and the right palm facing in. Then you flip both hands back to the starting position on your right side and perform the entire movement again. The theory is that you are breathing a bit more in with your right lung in the first half, and then with your left lung in the second half of the movement, although obviously both sides of your lung are taking in air.

Before they taught us another major movement -- the Antenna Pass -- they explained again that we should single out one or two major passes to work on to perfection to begin with, along with all the minor ones, and then gradually work up to being able to do the rest of the major passes. As those of us who have the tape have seen, the Antenna Pass (No. 12) is a very mysterious pass that is supposed to draw on available energy that originated from dead stars. They explained that it was chosen for its darkness and endless possibilities, dealing with a level of awareness very much outside our everyday life. Kylie very patiently walked us through each component of the movement, which I found very helpful since I had trouble managing the pass from just watching the tape.

Kylie then explained that Castaneda (whom the Chacmools always refer to either as "Carlos" or "the Nagual") had seen energetically that it was important to give us a window onto a long pass called Tensegrity of Affection or the Sorcerer's Affection. She explained that sorcerers don't use the term "love," since it is too laden with meanings and projections. When using the term "affection," they mean it in terms of the abstract joy or awe that we have as young children before that feeling "dies" in us. They said that the pass was a form of invitation, and that it would take "writing a blank check" to make it happen. She also explained that sorcerers don't "try" anything, they simply act without leaving a clause open for failure.

We all were asked to move into the center of the room, where the impact would be the strongest. Reni and Nyei, who were introduced as cousins, then performed this lengthy pass which is supposed to be done by two people who are energetically similar. It was very moving to see them perform this very long series of movements, which took about 12 minutes as best I can remember. Nyei then explained briefly the meaning of some of the movements, breaking the whole pass into four sections. The first section is supposed to set up intent and exchange energy. The second section is very combative, bringing out the competitive energy and then dissipating it in playful movements. The third section is one of pure affection, using very gentle movements at one point as the two participants make protective shields on their partner's body. The last section begins with circular movements with the arms interlocked. She described it as being made up of aggressive movement that is no longer combative but more like two cats or leopards having entered into a pact to defend one another.

After this explanation, we moved close to the platform again to hear their comments. Reni began by saying she wanted to clarify a point about Carol Tiggs that she had been asked about individually after Tuesday's session. She said she had been asked why they had said there was so much energy available since the return of Carol Tiggs. Reni explained that Carol is basically the Death Defier, having absorbed the Death Defier's energy in the ten years she spent in the Second Attention. She further explained that in the recent months the three of them saw Carol Tiggs in Tula. She took them into a dream while they were all awake, another example of Carol's tremendous energy.

Nyei next elaborated on a previous question about parallel worlds, saying she knew it was a very confusing concept. She explained that the witches don't share subjectivity with us, so it is difficult for them to describe phenomena that are so much outside our awareness. In Nyei's words, she said they were all recently pulled into a wierd darkness, at the center of which was Carol Tiggs. She described it as a mysterious, subtle place, and said that Carol is beautiful, young, funny, delightful, and the most enjoyable person we could imagine, and that what they experienced in Tula and again recently was nonetheless awesome and very hard to describe. She said she has known Carol for many years, but feels she doesn't really know her at all. Because Carol merged with the Death Defier, they entered into a dream that the Death Defier maintains. The Death Defier "holds the root of another Carol Tiggs of endless mystery and darkness and beauty," and if one is willing to suspend judgment something happens that can't be described. In the recent experience, she said the three of them all heard a song or tune that pulled them into a beautiful mystery. At that point, in response to a questioner who interrupted to ask who the Death Defier was, Nyei explained the DD's traditional involvement with don Juan's lineage and about how when Castaneda met with the DD, Castaneda didn't want the DD's traditional gift in return for the Nagual's energy. As a result, when Carol Tiggs subsequently met with the DD, they merged so that the DD "rides" on Carol Tiggs. Castaneda also merged with the DD in the period of nine days described at the end of TAOD. Carol merged with the DD for 10 years, and when she returned she was "both." And she's continuing to "uncover" and to "merge" more since her return.

Kylie then described her experience of hearing the tune referred to by Nyei, and then suddenly seeing Carol Tiggs in this strange apartment they didn't know she had. Carol Tiggs continued going about her business, working with some papers, while the Chacmools wandered around in awe of the surroundings. When they left the apartment, they got in their car when suddenly the light in the apartment and the streetlight near the car both went out at the same time.

Kylie then referred to an earlier question by someone wondering what happens to people who don't have enough energy (i.e., to leap to freedom). Kylie said such people don't even know they lack energy, because they lack the energy even to care. They are happy with what they are doing, and how can we judge them for that? Nonetheless, she said that everybody in the room possessed the energy to act on the idea of freedom. She said that Castaneda has explained that at death, one has a moment of awareness of it all, but no ability any more to act. It takes awhile for our awareness to be eaten at death, while we briefly experience the sublime.

Nyei then referred to Carol Tiggs's description of a documentary she saw about monkeys being caught and killed by hunters who place seeds at the bottom of jars that the monkeys can stick their hands into but not extricate themselves from without releasing the seeds. Unwilling to let go of their seeds, the monkeys sit all night as easy targets for the hunters who eventually arrive to kill them and chop off their hands, which remain clenched at the bottom of the jars. The point of this graphic metaphor was that humans do the same thing when they clutch at their beliefs or "realities." Kylie advised us to try slowly letting go of one of our seeds, or beliefs, at a time, until we can eventually extricate ourselves.

A man then asked what did we now have to work with -- "Just a few exercises?" -- compared to the years of training the Chacmools have undergone. Kylie said all that any of us have is what is in front of us. She said that some who were with the Castaneda clan for a long time have fallen away and are no longer with them. She also said that all that any of us has is a chance to fight. She offered that the moment you can drop concern about yourself, the fight begins. That's when "the higher concerns about the being that is going to die" take over.

A man then asked a somewhat loaded question based on his understanding that don Juan's group had not succeeded in leaping into infinity, but had gotten stuck in a parallel world. He asked if that was why Castaneda's clan was now "going in another direction." Kylie seemed to confirm that don Juan's group had not ended up where they planned, although they had burned with the fire from within, and that his four disciples (Castaneda, Taisha, Florinda and Carol) have talked to him since he left. She said that there was no shame in what had happened to don Juan's group, and that when we take the path to freedom, we never know exactly what's ahead or where we may end up. (I realize this is a very vague explanation as to what happened to don Juan, but it is all I was able to glean from Kylie's answer. If any other attendees understood more than this, I look forward to your explanation.)

They then said it was time to end with energy disbursing passes. We first learned a pass involving the arms and hands, being opened and closed from a position extended forward and above our shoulders, and then again from a position pointed down. Nyei then conducted us through the Shake, with which they also ended the 90-minute introductory workshop a few weeks ago. The Shake is the beginning movement of a long series of passes that require great control. The Shake, however, requires great abandon. It begins with the right foot placed in front of the left and a vibrating first of the ankles, moving up to the knees, and then bouncing with the knees. You then jump into the opposite position, with the left foot in front of the right, and do the same movements. You then jump back into the original position and the shake continues with the hips, the torso, the arms and the head, with the arms being extended all the way out and releasing all the energy through shaking out the hands.

The Chacmools, who were all wearing black outfits Thursday night (they wore matching white workout outfits on Tuesday) then quickly departed, joined by a dark haired, older woman dressed in the same outfit who had stood behind them throughout the evening but who was not introduced. The energy seemed to evaporate from the room as soon as they left (quite unlike the first evening, when they generously stayed around to answer individual questions for another twenty minutes or so). Rather than staying around to talk to each other as many of us had done the first night, the participants also quietly trooped out. Afterwards it seemed to me that the first night had felt like a great opening of energy, with incredible warmth and welcoming tones being set by the Chacmools. The second night seemed more mysterious and its ending seemed to represent a closing or withdrawing of some of the energy that had been opened on Tuesday. This, of course, is my very personal and impressionistic take on the two evenings. I would be interested in hearing reactions on this from others who were there.

One last note: I appreciate the kind e-mail responses I received from several of you who thanked me for my first post on this workshop. I am sharing my summaries with the group in an effort to give something back to those who have shared their lecture notes and concordances with us in the past, whose work I have very much appreciated.

-- genrich