Sorcery makes us aware of different realities; different possibilities, not only about the world but also about ourselves, to the extent that we no longer are able to believe in even the most solid assumptions about ourselves and our surroundings. ~ Carlos Castaneda, Being in Dreaming
Don Juan used to take Carlos out into the desert chaparral for numerous reasons but most importantly to have what he called an appointment with knowledge. For many years I have visited such a place in the Sonoran desert of the greater Phoenix area that is affectionately known to us as the place of intent. It is an amazing place, a power place of great magnitude that unerringly alters ones perception and provides a heightened state of awareness just by sitting there.
Last weekend a fellow warrior and I hiked in one evening as the moon was waxing towards full. We brought no flashlights with us, the moon in the desert provides sufficient light and we were able to see quite clearly as we walked deeper into the illuminated darkness. That sounds paradoxical but it isn’t when you are in the desert at night with the light of the moon. Once the eyes adjust you can see everything just as well as you can during the day, everything is just bluer.
We arrived at the stone outcropping, the place of intent, and sat, as we always do, on the natural bench that is there. We marveled at the fact that the chaparral has thinned out significantly; fewer cactus, dying ocotillo and barely hanging on palo verde, mesquite and creosote shrubbery. The desert has become over-populated by humans in this particular area and the plant life is suffering immensely yet the stones remain just as they always have. The stones are the bones of the earth.
As we sat listening to the noise from the increased traffic in the area I shifted my assemblage point to a time when I would go there almost 20 years ago when suddenly everything became quieter, the air became cooler and more stars appeared in the sky. Aligning more deeply with intent I closed my eyes and was able to smell the strong and delightful aroma of damp creosote bushes and heard an owl nearby. I opened my eyes and saw the desert filled, as it was before, with cactus and desert plants that had once been so abundant there.
I lie back on a flat slab of stone and surrendered to the night. Becoming aware of the silence all around me I realized that I was beginning to see through someone else’s eyes, someone who had been to this exact spot, years before me. The temperature dropped again, so much so that I had to pull my sweatshirt on. I smelled smoke and realized that there was a small fire burning nearby. Opening the eyes that were not mine I saw a round campfire ring made of stones encircling the flames. Startled I sat up and noticed an immense canopy of stars, the Milky Way, shining brightly above me, coyotes yipping playfully nearby and the thought that entered my mind was Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Everything was different and yet, nothing had changed; or maybe, everything changed and nothing was different. I couldn’t tell. With relief I noticed that my compañero was still there, leaning against a rock column with his eyes closed looking very content. I sat very still leaning forward with my elbows on my knees and my chin in my hands watching the shadows move from the flames of a fire that wasn’t there. But it was there, I could see it. Well, I guess I couldn’t see it with my eyes but I could feel it so strongly that I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt it was there. Or it had been there. I had this feeling that I was a cowboy or maybe a Yaqui sorcerer or a Papago Indian from a different time sitting in the exact same place, perhaps sensing, feeling, seeing the exact same things. I perceived a few old, rusted tin cans lying there in that desert knowing that though I didn’t see them that he must have or maybe they were there, rusted out years later but before this moment because he had left them there to rust?
And then it occurred to me that this other entity and I had entered each other’s dream. For all I know, he could have been sitting at the exact same place, at the exact same time as me, with his fire and a lush and vibrant thriving desert with the rich smells of creosote filling his senses and the Milky Way shining brightly above because that was the dream in which he chooses to live and I received the rare gift of witnessing his because our dreams momentarily overlapped. Dancing through the desert in the place of intent!
This spot is a power place and it must become used to us before nightfall. You must sit here, as naturally as possible, without fear or impatience. ~ Don Juan, The Power of Silence