Between the nagual and Castaneda

New interview of Felix Wolf, the nagual’s disciple Carlos Castaneda, author of the book «the Art of Navigation», especially for the Russian-speaking audience of practitioners

1.What kind of being was Carlos Castaneda? Has your perception changed in the years since he passed away?

Carlos Castaneda was a different being to different people. For me, he was ‘the real thing’, unique, authentic, powerful, charismatic. He had a passionate romance with knowledge. He was a catalyst, a provocateur, a trickster, mischievous, fierce, controlling, authoritarian. He was a very short, quintessentially South American shaman. He was very youthful, with nimble movements, and sparkling, deep black eyes. I always felt it made sense to differentiate between Carlos Castaneda and the Nagual. Carlos had idiosyncrasies like everybody else, some more pleasant than others. As Carlos he lacked warmth and empathy. He was harsh, unforgiving, manipulative, and a sexual fiend. As Nagual, I was addicted to him, a once in a lifetime encounter, infinity incarnate. He was magical, original, one of a kind. I feel I owe him my life. He is in my DNA. For me, he was a jumping board into freedom while infusing my life with magic and richness beyond my wildest imagination.

As a three pronged Nagual, as he pointed out countless times, he was not able to deliver his students into freedom. As he wrote in his books, he did not have the energetic configuration to facilitate complete liberation, to guide his students to become ‘Men of Knowledge’. His predilection was more like ‘the old seers’, geared towards extending and expanding experience. He had an agenda to the very end. He wanted to explore our potential for experience with a group of dream travelers. That’s what he trained us for. Exploring all possible assemblage point positions. Experience instead of transcendence. That’s what distinguished him from other bona fide spiritual teachers and sages.

2. How do you think the idea of the «art of navigation» is included in the traditionally understood «way of the warrior» as described by don Juan? Were the Toltecs navigators, or the art of navigation is a discovery of modern seers?

Navigation, in the way it is understood here, is the natural way of moving through life if the mind is de-emphasized. Living life like a treasure hunt instead of an obstacle course. It is intuitive living. Dancing instead of strategizing. It is the very first lesson in the way of the warrior as outlined in his 3rd book, “Journey to Ixtlan” which served a Castaneda’s dissertation. I have no doubt that it was an integral part of life in the ancient civilizations where the Nagual’s teachings originated. Of all the teachings, it proved to be the most far-reaching for me. Once the connection with intent is established, we are on the train to freedom, so to speak, or at least to fulfilling our potential. Nothing else is needed. All will make itself known.

3. What can you say about the people who surrounded Carlos Castaneda? Did they have anything in common? Why do you think the majority of members of the «Sunday group» ceased the practice after the departure of Carlos Castaneda?

In retrospect it does not look very good. For a group of ‘warriors’ we were a  sorry lot of self-important wannabes, mostly living off the Nagual’s power, which was amplified by the witches and the circle of women who powered the ‘ship’ through their intimate relationships with the Nagual. The men mostly were reminiscent of the eunuchs in ancient royal courts, and inconsequential. The most streamlined followers, the core of Cleargreen, generally had a ‘follower mentality’ lacking creative energy and self-powering characteristics. They were perfect for powering the ship, but lacked the temperament to maintain the spirit, power, and dynamic of the movement after the Nagual’s departure. There was no real possibility of continuation. All hinged on the Nagual. That’s why Florinda, Taisha, Kylie, and Talia disappeared when he did, and Nuri (the Blue Scout) killed herself. The Sunday Group was more diverse and served various purposes, a ‘hiring pool’ for Cleargreen, an experiment for exploring ‘group dreaming’, and potentially a good venue for the unexpected. The dynamic in the Sunday Group was very much influenced by the ceaseless pursuit of the Nagual’s proximity and attention. Without the Nagual there was no purpose and the group disbanded shortly after.

4. Is it possible to say that Castaneda drew people into his space and doctrine, or that he was pushing people to seek their own path?

He was definitively not encouraging people to seek their own path. He was very specific about what to do and not to do, to the smallest detail, which included even the witches (Florinda, Taisha, and Carol). His directions were consistent and impeccable though, and mostly in line with perennial wisdom teachings.

5. Do you have any insight into what happened to Castaneda’s teachings in the decades after he left the world — Cleargreen seminars, groups of practitioners around the world, and so on?

I have not kept a close watch. What I did see was very disheartening though.  It felt like a mere shadow of his powerful guidance. No criticism intended. I think it was not possible to extend his power in any meaningful way. To me it seemed to slowly degrade into a shallow new age path without real power and authenticity. Tensegrity, however, is doubtlessly a worthwhile exercise regimen with unfathomable potential. I am still practicing it daily for wellness reasons.

6. Attractive for you the idea of the «harmonic couples» (cyclic creatures) that Carlos was presented at the last seminars? What do you think is necessary to create such a pair? Have you owned experience?

It is certainly attractive for me since my present and previous partner are cyclic to Carol Tiggs and Reni Murez, and energetically matched with my configuration. I do not think it necessary for anything to make this a particular priority. If we navigate life with all our heart, it might just happen. Cyclicity has fascinated me from the start and is still a regular part of my experience. It is definitely a pattern in the hologram of consciousness that I have come to see as the nature of reality, but there is no conscious effort to utilize it. Just like synchronicities and other navigational events, it always feels like a kiss of Grace. A welcome reminder that all is well.

7. Have you tried to combine what Carlos told you about the warriors of Mesoamerica with your research on other ancient traditions? Are you buddist? :))

No, I am not a Buddhist. I’ve been on a quest for truth for most of my life, and in this quest I utilized practices of many different spiritual softwares. It was the Nagual’s emphasis on internal silence that led me into a 10 day silent meditation retreat in a Buddhist monastery 30 years ago, and I attended several other such retreats in the meantime with great results. I also studied comparative religions for a few semesters, which deepened and broadened my understanding of spirituality. And yes, there is clearly an identical intent underlying the Nagual’s teachings and most other spiritual traditions. All are pathways into our essential nature. All evolved to guide us to Self-realization, Awakening, Illumination, Enlightenment, to become Men of Knowledge, to transcend the limiting nature of the human mind so we can realize what we are not.

The particular software that popped my illusory bubble of separation is known as Advaita Vedanta, the teachings of Non-duality. Prominent modern sages in this tradition are Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, and more contemporary, Rupert Spira, Francis Lucille, and Mooji, among others.

8. Can you tell an episode of your interaction with Carlos that you haven’t told anyone yet, at least not publicly?

Nothing really that stands out. There were a few episodes that attest to his human idiosyncratic side that would just serve as detractors to his larger than life being. There was a surprising moment when I had lunch with him alone once, and I was so overcome with affection that I took his hand into mine, and after a few timeless moments, he withdrew his hand abruptly, which signaled to me that he was uncomfortable with accepting true compassionate love and affection. Another moment that stayed with me happened during our very last encounter a few months before he died. There was a get together in his house with dinner and a performance of Sorcery Theater as he called it. We were standing together by ourselves, and he asked me about my take on the Christian concept of eternal damnation, which took me by surprise. I thought he was pulling my leg, but realized that he had been serious.

9. What is the most valuable lesson Castaneda, in your opinion?

I think I made that clear by writing a book about the Art of Navigation. He clearly and exclusively lived by navigation, and this for me is the most practical and effective aspect of his teachings. Impeccability is another priceless concept, I cannot overstate. The all important necessity of internal silence and the fatal flaw of self-importance are others. Most of his teachings are spot on, even after all these years. They just have to be followed all the way, to the end of illusion.

10. Do you have some kind of message to the Russian community of practitioners, who involved in the practical studying of the legacy of Carlos Castaneda?

I am very moved by you guys. You are a testimony to the depth of the Russian soul. I am honestly writing this now with tears in my eyes.

What can I say? I wish with all my heart that you can see and reach through all the layers of the mind, the Warrior’s Path, Tensegrity, Carlos Castaneda, and even through the Nagual into the silent heart of Intent which is your very own Heart.

And disappear there.