In my dream the Don appeared as a
little old Yaqui man, impishly grinning.
But of course I had to turn him into a Mountainfolk man for the
novel—though it didn’t take that much change.
I still feel a little ticked off at the
well-off spiritual tourists who shamed me out of taking the socks from the
hospitality-bureau (and here you see the dream where I first learned about this
excellent piece of furniture.) This
probably reflected the difference between the spiritual-tourist take on the
Yaqui tribe, and my desire to find my tribe in order to warm my foundation, my
roots. At that point I had not yet had
any contact with any Yaquis “in the culture”.
Most Yaquis fleeing Porfirio Diaz went to Tucson or Guadalupe, Arizona;
my family went to San Diego and promptly lost touch with their roots.
At this point, in my youth, I read up
on as many of Carlos Castaneda’s books as I could find, trying to learn my
maternal culture. I think somehow that
my unconscious mind picked up on the fact that these contained the
misinterpretations of a spiritual tourist, and that to follow them too closely
would deny me the true hospitality of my tribe.
Instinctively, I did not try peyote or
mushrooms or anything like that, though I felt conflicted about my refusal—it
just didn’t feel right to my soul, personally, to use them. Much later I learned that these were never
Yaqui things in the first place, though some have borrowed them from time to
time, to break through thick skulls. Don
Juan had been an herbalist of mixed descent, Yaqui enough to suffer
persecution, but he drew his herblore from many tribes as a good herbalist
should, and in escaping the death camps of the Yucatan he did pass through tribes that used such things.
And then came Castaneda, a morbidly
curious young student, in the days of the drug revolution, disinterested in any
herbs save the mind-altering ones, but also a generous fellow, who often
brought groceries for his informant.
Juan Matus wanted to please him, and so he drew from the lore of the
Tohono O’odham and the Huichol—minus the ritual context of those tribes,
perfected over generations, which would have made for a much safer experience.
But the real Yaqui altered state, from
which we learn the truth, is dreaming.
Drugs, beyond the well-defined cultural contexts of those raised to
their limited use, are for those who have forgotten how to dream, or how to put
faith in dreams, or who, by hard circumstances imposed upon them, have had
their dreams taken away. I have not
suffered those calamities, nor have most Yaquis. Even for those people who have, ingesting
hallucinogens, without tribal guidance, is like driving ninety miles an hour
towards wisdom in a twenty mile an hour zone.
You might actually get there. You
might crash and burn. Much safer, if at
all possible, is to reclaim your dreams.
As for the flying stunt, this dream
belongs with a lifelong recurring pattern of mine, from preschool age to
present, a template varying all the time in the details but conforming in the
basic script: In the midst of the dream I remember that I used to dream about
flying. I wonder if it really was a
dream, or whether I can fly in waking life, and I’d let people talk me into
thinking it just a dream. I experiment,
and discover that yes, indeed, I can!
Thrilled, I fly within sight of others, hoping that they will notice,
sometimes just a few inches off the ground, sometimes swooping and soaring. When they do, they either shame me openly for
showing off, or politely ignore my gaffe, or I become embarrassed all by
myself. Dejectedly, I sink back to my
feet and don’t fly anymore. I’ve had
some dreams recently that broke this pattern, confirming my right to fly, but I still get some of
the original kind. Anyway, this was one
of those dreams.