The words of Carlos Castaneda: Abridged From the Los Angeles Intensive Tensegrity Workshop lecture, August 13, 1995
[At his point he paused, at which point one person from the audience asked him about the Death Defier, the proposed topic of this lecture]
As part of don Juan's lore, the "Death Defier" was...is...there was one person who appeared in 1725, who went to see the nagual Sebastian, who was a sexton for a church in Tula. The nagual could work in the church and was safe there. He took care of bells, and other property at the church. One day an old indian came to him and said, "I need your energy, or else I will denounce you as a practitioner of the black arts..." Of course with this, Sebastian was compelled to listen.
The indian wanted energy from only the nagual. We all have an umbilical, the belly button. We all die from here, it's a deadly place, a hole in the energy body from which life force escapes upon death. A nagual has twice the energy of a normal man, so the indian said that to give a minimal amount would do him no harm.
This indian was actually a sorcerer from 7000 years ago, he lives today by placing his assemblage point on different points, getting a "mortgage" on life. He moves his assemblage point to a key position, which gives him an insect-like quality. He then draws energy from the belly-button of the nagual, and has a "sac" into which he pulls this energy. His assemblage point then returns to the habitual position, then he's like everyone else.
He didn't need energy until 1725. Then, he became fixed to the lineage. He gave in exchange for the nagual's energy, gifts of positions of the assemblage point. Knowledge about how to attain these new positions, and what to expect. Sebastion was extraordinary. He received 8 new positions from this "death defier". Lujan got 52 positions! But this was not for don Juan, he was not interested in the death defier's gifts, nor was I. But he tapped me, he couldn't help it. Munched me to death, don Juan said.
I was willing to half-believe what don Juan was saying about the existance of the death defier. Corn was found in Mexico which was carbon-14 dated to 34,000 years ago. The first migration into Mexico suposedly happened only 10,000 years ago, and were simple hunter/gatherers. But don Juan said this was not true. He said, "we both have ways of measuring time; you measure, while I...ask."
One day don Juan said he'd take me to see the death defier. No problem, it's all horshshit, I thought. So he took me. Scared the living daylights out of me. I met this Indian with the weirdest accent. The accent was on all the wrong syllables. If a word had the accent on the first syllable, he'd put it on the second. But he did it so consistently as to convince me it was genuine.
The man was thin, wiry. He drove me nuts talking like that. He told me, "My eyes have feasted themselves on the helmets of the Spanish conquerors. I saw them, how they moved. I felt their discomfort, and felt how they had to sleep with their helmets and armor on, I felt their pain. I've seen incredible things. What do you want?"
"Nothing!", I replied.
"But we have an agreement. With you, it will be difficult, for you are the last..." Of course, he somehow knew I was to be the last nagual in this line, yet I myself didn't know it at the time. We met in a town in Mexico, it was a Saturday. I ate cheese with him, seemed very normal.
We took a walk. The next thing I knew I was waiting for don Juan to pick me up, and I'd had no idea what had transpired. I left with a sensation, tremendously old, musty, kind, foreign, unthreatening. This weird nostalgia. It's been as if I'd been involved in a fight that had no end. This is the first time I truly realized that there were things with no end...
I woke up in a peculiar town. There was a paved road, which sloped high in the middle, a "1st gear" road. The first thing you see walking up this hill is the hats of the mexicans on the other side. It was a peculiar sensation, a "cinematic" one for me. So, I was watching that... (By the way, don Juan found this town to be the epicenter of "energetic convolutions".) I was waiting for don Juan with this sensation of nostalgia, but not for my life or past, it was foreign.
So old, sad, yet charming, haunting. It's never left me, I'm always playing with that sensation, the neverending fight, with no possibility of looking for a lull. don Juan said it was poison that the death defier left me. It was like being prone, being ready, as if something is coming. A foreign feeling.
The next time I found the death defier, was at nearly the end of don Juan's life. A small church in Tula - met a gorgeous woman. I had much fear at the prospect, don Juan had to literally drag me to the church. There were two women nearby, with 3 men coming out from the church. The 3 men went down the stairs, and the two women went inside. "Where is he", I wondered to don Juan, "the men left."
Don Juan responded, "Who told you that the death defier is a man?" He pointed to the woman in the last pew. don Juan emplored me to "cross" myself, to observe the customs, and not to make a spectacle. The woman turned and smiled. At this point I ran out of the church, falling prey to a bout of asthma. I'd had asthma when I was a child...
Don Juan asked me, "why this fear?"
My family name is Carlos Arana (pronounced "Arania"), and in portugese, Arana means "spider". don Juan asked, "What's wrong, Mr. Spider?" The more I walked away, the more tachycardia (irregular heartbeat condition) acted up. Then I got insane and simply said to don Juan, "OK, lets go", and went back to the church and sat next to the woman.
She had a raspy voice, as she greeted me and held my hand, "I like your energy...muy bien." She took me to dreams upon dreams - 9 days I was lost, although I thought it was one. don Juan told me that I'd came to agreements that I'd not be aware of until I was "fully grown".
The death defier is as real as me or don Juan. Different, but bizarre possibility which is available to us all, not that we'll take it. The human unknown is as far away as anything, but it's still within our realm of possibilities. Wow! Who are we?!
Are we just some travellers caught in some disgusting trap? Maybe. For me, I saw the death defier and don Juan as navigators. I navigate, therefore who are we? Why accept what's been handed down--nagging, senile, discontent, repetitive, with endless regrets--no desicions whatsoever.
"I decided to come to this seminar--if it's chicken-shit, then so be it." That's the sorcerer's way. "Oh, I didn't get personal treatment..." People come, at the first twist, they tell us to go "blow our barracks". We've got to get rid of the ego, I say, but then it's, "Fuck you". We've got to be as sharp as a razor, go slowly at first, then you can jump. Don't give me this, "I volunteer for your group, take me, take me, I'll do whatever you want..." Stop being an egomaniac, I say. "Oh, I'm so disappointed, Carlos...no peyote in the desert?"
Last night I invited for you to read up on your "heritage" (writings of the Bible, Jesus, Mohammed, etc), and look for the "me, me me". It's a man talking for God. It can't be personalized. The minute it is, we inject "me" into it. What is heaven? Humanness for eternity? We don't want it! What is the Pace of heaven? I'm in a toga, walking like this [walks torturously slow for several steps]...
Then comes the death defier. An outstanding male of his time. The inorganic beings are also blasted by flyers. There's nothing they'd like to do more than to unite with us. But the only ones brave enough are the sorcerers, as beings wanting to enhance their wareness. You profess to be who you are in their realm, and they grab you! How else would they do it, as they have no way of making themselves known. We are being systematically separated [from the inorganic beings] by the flyers.
Don Juan said that the inorganic beings were dangerous. The death defier got grabbed by the inorganic beings, but he accepted the bidding. He spent thousands of years in that world. One day this ultimate freedom fighter discovered the way to escape. Turn into a woman! This is simple for a sorcerer.
A woman has her assemblage point with its "shiny" side facing inward, while a man's assemblage point has its shiny side facing out. All one needs to do is to turn the assemblage point around, and your whole body turns into something else. It's not merely an illusion.
As a woman the inorganic beings didn't know he existed, and he simply slipped by without notice. In making a deal with the inorganic beings, he lost his possibilities. But now hes' caput. I'm the last of the line, so what will the death defier do? He'll go with me, I'm his last chance. It gives me the goose bumps. Infinitely more exciting...
So, this death defier has escaped twice! First death itself, then the inorganic being world. I get emotional. What beauty/elegance. He chose not to be human, but is still a being who's going to die. He knows only fighting, it's a story, but NOT a story. He's everyone of us, but enhanced by his thirst for freedom. I don't think the death defier truly knows what freedom is, but so what? He goes to something not defined.
That's why I try to sneak out of it [talking about the death defier]. I would weep like an imbucile. Don't you dare believe that I wouldn't...