The Power Of Silence
My books are a true account of a teaching method that don Juan Matus, a Mexican Indian sorcerer,
used in order to help me understand the sorcerers' world. In this sense, my books are the account of
an on-going process which becomes more clear to me as time goes by.
It takes years of training to teach us to deal intelligently with the world of everyday life. Our
schooling - whether In plain reasoning or formal topics - is rigorous, because the knowledge we are
trying to impart is very complex. The same criteria apply to the sorcerers' world: their schooling,
which relies on oral instruction and the manipulation of awareness, although different from ours, is
just as rigorous, because their knowledge is as, or perhaps more, complex
At various times don Juan attempted to name his knowledge for my benefit. He felt that the most
appropriate name was nagualism, but that the term was too obscure. Calling it simply "knowledge"
made it too vague, and to call it "witchcraft" was debasing. "The mastery of intent" was too
abstract, and "the search for total freedom" too long and metaphorical. Finally, because he was
unable to find a more appropriate name, he called it "sorcery," although he admitted it was not
Over the years, he had given me different definitions of sorcery, but he had always maintained that
definitions change as knowledge increases. Toward the end of my apprenticeship, I felt I was in a
position to appreciate a clearer definition, so I asked him once more.
"From where the average man stands," don Juan said, "sorcery is nonsense or an ominous mystery
beyond his reach. And he is right - not because this is an absolute fact, but because the average man
lacks the energy to deal with sorcery."
He stopped for a moment before he continued. "Human beings are born with a finite amount of
energy," don Juan said, "an energy that is systematically deployed, beginning at the moment of
birth, in order that it may be used most advanta