When I arrived in Sedona, in the mountains of Arizona, a huge group of motorcyclists was holding a meeting in the town. There were so many motorbikes gathered that it seemed impossible to count them. The traffic, once calm, was very complicated. It took me a long time to reach Starry Song’s house, the shaman who had the gift of transmitting the ancestral philosophy of his people through words. Oblivious to the hustle and bustle of the streets, shops and restaurants, he sat in his rocking chair on the porch, puffing on his indelible pipe with its red stummel. I was greeted with a sincere smile and a tight hug. After leaving my rucksack in the guest room, I commented that those men and women, with their motorbikes and their own way of dressing, personified freedom, rebellion and eternal youth. While listening, the shaman who seemed to be amused by the smoke dancing before his eyes, turned to me and asked: “Will becoming a monk and living in a monastery bring me closer to God?”. I replied that not necessarily. Living the sacred in ourselves is, above all, an intrinsic attitude of getting to know oneself better in order to become a different person, not in speech or dress, but in the way one is and lives. Even if you wear the same clothes and don’t change your address. Starry Song, referring to motorcyclists, said: “Some are free, rebellious individuals with a youthful spirit. The majority are still trapped in a very old spell”.
I asked him if witchcraft existed, especially in rituals where objects are used as magnetising instruments with the ability to influence the behaviour of others. The shaman nodded his head and said: “Undoubtedly, for both good and evil. The threshold that separates one from the other is sometimes tenuous to the untrained eye. It’s not a conversation you can have with just anyone, because very few are ready to use it properly. The temptations to interfere in the sphere of desires and manipulate power are enormous.” He looked at me seriously and said: “You’re not yet ready to learn more about this delicate subject. For now, just realise that what we understand to be matter is just a certain amount of condensed energy. This is a conclusion of modern quantum physics. Releasing and manipulating this energy trapped in certain objects, suitable for multiple purposes, is one of the ways witchcraft has been practised for millennia. Of course, with the help of entities, either of light or darkness, depending on the desired direction and the magician’s vibratory affinity. Current technology applies the same method as ancient magic. They break up atomic particles in order to use the energy that has been dammed up, whether by the marvels of medicine or the horror of war. I say this only to make you realise that the subject is not a joke or fiction. In a distant day, we’ll talk more about it.”
I insisted on knowing which spell he was referring to when he said that most people who believe themselves to be free, rebellious and with a youthful spirit are imprisoned. Starry Song puffed his pipe and said: “Illusion is the most common sorcery, but also the one that holds the most prisoners in its grip. The antithesis of illusion is reality. The boundary between them expands or contracts according to the level of truth that the individual has reached in relation to himself. Only from this point will you be able to understand the world around you.”
“Until this happens, you’ll remain a prisoner in a cell from which you won’t be able to realise the bars. The reason is simple. The way you think and feel are the limits of life. Nobody can go beyond that. There’s no way to live what I believe is impossible. On the other hand, believing in what doesn’t exist is the other corner of the same cell. Freedom is based on the ability to think outside of cultural conditioning, social impositions, and ancestral prejudices. It also needs to be beyond limiting influences and the clutches of interpersonal domination. Everyone is rooted in the swampy soil of fear, the most cunning spell of the shadows. Under its effects, no one believes in their own abilities or gifts. There is no freedom in fear. A certain degree of emotional balance is also necessary, so that passions are not the reason for the limitations caused by irritation or sadness, emotions that restrict the liberating power of choices.”
“The rebellion lies in the realisation that human laws or court rulings, which guide behaviour in society, are not always expressions of justice as a virtue. As such, justice needs to manifest itself in dignity, an elaboration conceived after analysing the multiple aspects surrounding the same issue. Nor can it lack sensitivity, because there is no justice without love, an indispensable factor to make all decisions have an educational character. Always. Otherwise, laws and judgements are mere instruments of individual control and collective order. A numerical and automated society. Worse still, they are often used to defend shady interests and manipulate power. At our current stage of evolution, laws and sentences are necessary because of the lack of understanding of fundamental rights and duties, but their improvement is also indispensable, and only possible in step with individual improvement. Every evolution is born from the part towards the whole. There’s no way to do it differently.”
“Rebellion refers to apparently maladjusted behaviour, when the individual refuses to join the herd effect. Societies tend to move out of fear. When someone dares to move through a level of truth capable of shattering common fear or manages to see where the majority’s gaze does not reach, they begin to behave marginally, not in the pejorative sense of the word, but by having attitudes that leave them on the fringes of dominant thinking, something that is almost never comfortable, either because of criticism or social banishment. However, this idea is often used as an excuse by stagnant individuals without the strength to move, who adopt the concept to label themselves and thus feel better. In truth, they live under the spell of the illusion they have created for their own lives. They’re not free thinkers, they’re just people who believe that the image they’ve created can change the content that hasn’t yet been conquered.”
“It’s worth emphasising that rebellion has nothing to do with violence. The most rebellious individuals who have set foot on this planet have been meek and peaceful. Without exception. They were firm in setting limits according to their truths, but incapable of any aggression. There was humility, simplicity and compassion. Their attitudes spoke louder than their words. Irreversible transformations and significant revolutions were born from them, because the force moved from individual consciences to the world and not the other way round. Evolution only exists where there is nothing foreign to wisdom and love.
He fell silent. With his gaze wandering beyond the blue sky, the shaman seemed to recall some distant memories. I asked him about the sensation of staying young. He explained: “Staying young is an analogy of constant intrinsic improvement, a reality and an attribute of the immortal spirit which, unlike the body, subject to the deteriorating effects of planetary time, moves cosmic time in its favour through infinite transformations. It becomes more and more subtle. The spirit densifies when it is stagnant and averse to evolution. Staying young is also a habit linked to exercising freedom by broadening consciousness and deepening the capacity to love. To remain dignified even in the face of acts of absolute iniquity approved by the majority; this is how a rebel is born. Rebellion is characterised by a constant willingness to become a different and better person every day. When behaviour is established outside the social canons, but coherent with the truth they have already achieved, the rebel reaches maturity. Contrary to what many people believe, rebellion does not lie in shouting, rioting or confusion, but in dealing gently and honestly with everyone. This will keep him young through the regeneration provided to his immortal spirit.”
“In the end, no one will become free, rebellious and young just by riding with a group of motorcyclists, an illusion well exploited by cinema and advertising. He shrugged and concluded: “Travelling by motorbike will always be a pleasant ride. Nothing more. You will be free, rebellious and young every time you manage to go against the grain of conditioning, addictions, influences, domination and prejudices of all kinds, in full coherence with the truth you have already conquered. Know that this journey is made without running over others, in other words, realising that no one is obliged to accompany you. Be sincere without ever ceasing to be delicate. There are already too many disasters”.
“We live in a time when people and companies are very concerned about their image. What good is an image without content? Nobody can hide their true essence for long when it’s dissociated from the appearance that represents them. Dressing a certain way will make up an image without altering the content. No-one becomes freer, more rebellious or younger because of their clothes, haircuts, slangs, piercings or tattoos. I don’t want to discredit the importance of ceremonies, the gown, the pomp and the elaborate speech, but those things do nothing to bring a magistrate closer to justice as long as he doesn’t understand the depth of the commitment he has made. The elegance of the jacket and the finely tailored tie are of no use if I don’t take seriously the principles and values I truly believe in. I live to be who I’ve never been and, when people look closer, I won’t be what I appear from afar. Any merit without virtue represents a hollow existence. This is the sorcery of emptiness. A house without foundations won’t be able to stand after a severe storm. Don’t regret the spell of which you yourself were the sorcerer.”
“In this way, illusion becomes a powerful spell that prevents the best in each person from flourishing. This will continue as long as your own shadows are in charge of a village called consciousness. Fear hands over control of actions to pride, vanity, victimisation and the transfer of responsibility for one’s own life. The world will never treat us as we think we deserve. Know that this is of little importance for a fulfilling life. What matters is how we react to each storm. Some are shipwrecked, others learn to use the strong winds to go beyond where they were. The always positive reaction is linked to a broader and deeper understanding of one’s own choices. Wanting everyone to understand our reasons and feelings is to activate the spell of eternal suffering. Understand yourself and be delighted with yourself. There is a lot of hidden beauty within us. Take care of your seeds, enjoy the blossoming of the flowers and rejoice in the sweetness of the fruit. Distribute them; you and the world deserve it. Realise the seasons that come and go. Evolving is learning to take care of the inner garden. Everything else is illusion. Magic is the transmutation of a tiny seed into a leafy tree. Every gardener is a magician of light”.
I said that many people would like to change their lives as a way of breaking the spell of sameness, emptiness and boredom. Starry Song spread his arms as if to state the obvious and said: “Nobody takes off their socks before they take off their shoes. That’s the importance of ceremonies, because they establish an intelligent and coherent way of building and performing. To undo a spell, you need to do the magic in reverse. When you get dressed, you first put on your socks and then your shoes. Sameness, emptiness and boredom spread their powers because we worry too much about the image while the content doesn’t receive the same care. We insist on changing our socks without taking off our shoes; we insist on changing the image before changing the content. Then the spell is perpetuated. The most common thing is to join a gym, start a regime, change our haircut and style of dress. There’s nothing wrong with this; on the contrary, it boosts self-esteem and encourages other changes. However, we need to take greater care of the content, where the real transformations lie. Activities linked to self-knowledge, such as courses, reading, meditation and good introspective therapies. To sustain a beautiful image, it needs to be coherent with the richness of the content. Painting a house has a lot of value, but you can’t forget about internal improvements. A house is worth the well-being we feel inside it”. He raised his eyebrows and reminded me: “Although we live in the world, each of us lives within ourselves”.
I asked the shaman which spell was the cruelest. He shook his head as if he was convinced of what he was saying and explained: “The myth of incapacity. When I stop believing that I can expand beyond the boundaries of who I am, I’m prevented from awakening the beauty that lies dormant within me. It means I’m caught up in one of the darkest spells there is.”
“The most serious and damaging thing is that it is one of the most difficult spells to undo, since it has been activated by the individual themselves against themselves or they have allowed someone else to trigger it. To regain confidence is to understand the power that has been lost and to go and find it in the core of one’s being, in the same place where we will find the heart of the world. There lies the infinite force capable of undoing the darkness of life. There is no other way”.
I questioned the reason for such complexity. Starry Song was didactic: “The difficulty lies in the appearance of comfort provided by darkness. Living is dangerous, the world is bad, people will let you down, society is ruthless, the system doesn’t allow anyone to develop, if you stay hidden no one will bother you, if you try you’ll fail again, among other typical advice from the shadows. They convince you that it only hurts if you move. An illusion that will make you believe that it’s best to stay still and that darkness is a good place to live. So any brightness bothers you because it shows the reality that you don’t want to see because you lack the will to face it. Light will show stagnation, as well as the accelerated process of decay. Something quite uncomfortable. The degree of difficulty rises to the highest levels when the cage is gilded and catered for with refinements and privileges. It’s impossible to undo a spell as long as the bewitched is the bewitcher himself. There is no way to free a prisoner who has fallen in love with the prison.”
I wanted to know about other kinds of sorcery. Starry Song recalled a very common one: “Notice the hold that certain people, situations and things have over you. Realise why some people exert such a fascination, to the point of generating a relationship of idolatry or, close to it, having so much influence that you can’t express your truth in front of them”. I said it was a behaviour called emotional dependence. The shaman nodded his head to say that he agreed and added: “You have to understand the origin of this spell in order to dismantle this unhealthy relationship of domination. Where there is a master, there is also a slave”. He puffed his pipe and continued: “That’s not all. Why do some situations, many of them mundane, have the power to rob us of peace? Why is it so difficult for us to give up habits that, even though we are aware of how harmful they are, and even though we know the harm they cause, we can’t free ourselves from them? There is a lot of sorcery in the world. It takes a free, rebellious and young spirit to live outside its domains.”
I said I’d like to know more about the broader and deeper aspects of magic. Starry Song reminded me of the essentials: “Magic is the transformation of reality in either direction, positive or negative. Everyone already has many of the powers of an experienced sorcerer at their fingertips, even if they haven’t learnt how to manipulate energies in order to change wills and destinies. A word can have the medicinal effect of doing good, or the destructive effect of doing harm; a hug has the welcoming power of the size of the world, contempt can mortally wound; patience has the indispensable power to flourish, intolerance has the dryness of a long desert; forgiveness rewrites the end of a story, sorrow throws the books into the fire of hatred; joy sweetens the fruit, bad humour poisons it; love expands and moves, fear narrows and paralyses”. He paused and explained: “We are all magicians, there is no denying this gift. With each choice, we define light or shadows, so we understand which side we are serving at that moment.”
I asked how to undo the spells to which he referred. Starry Song arched his lips in a slight smile and taught: “All sorcery needs a reverse ceremonial to be undone. In these cases, the ritual takes place in the centre of the being, where the sacred stage of life is located. Then, without fear or haste, it will be necessary to remove the curtains that hide you from yourself, one by one, so that nothing prevents you from one day dancing with all your intensity to the rhythm of your own light”.
He lit his pipe again with a red stone stummel and ended the conversation: “Any sorcery will only shroud me in darkness until I learn how to manifest the magic of the light that I carry with me.”
Translated by Cazmilian Zórdic.