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An Encounter With the Double


"I am now faced with the special problem of having to explain what it is that I am doing... and I must first of all reiterate that this is not a work of fiction.  What I am describing is alien to us; therefore, it seems unreal."
--Carlos Castaneda, The Eagle's Gift (Prologue)

    This article is an excerpt from my book, "Diary of a Nagual Woman". If some things seems out of context, please understand that much more background information will be offered in the book than is possible on the website.  And also allow me to say that it is also the nature of this journey to be always growing, changing, evolving.  And yet, at the core, the truth remains the same.

After much personal deliberation and soul-searching, I have made the decision to reveal that Truth in its entirety, even at times when it might not appear to make sense to the world of ordinary awareness.  If anyone would like to enter into a discussion, or ask questions about this article or any other aspect of this website, please join us at the Quantum Shaman Discussion group on Facebook.

 In addition to a brief Question & Answer session, you will also find a link to the forum at the bottom of this page.

     "Does the double have corporealness? Certainly. Solidity, corporealness are memories. Therefore, like everything else we feel about the world, they are memories we accumulate, memories of the description." 
Don Juan to Carlos Castaneda


What was it about the post office?


It was there that I first met Orlando, and there I was destined to speak with him in the corporeal world for the last time.  I did not know at that time what I have come to know since.  I did not know Orlando was what don Juan would have called "the nagual man".  I did not know that I am "the nagual woman".  And I couldn't have known then that these two beings are essentially halves of a whole - not in any petty romantic sense, but in the sense that they are mirror images of one another on the energetic plane.  In shamanic terms, I was not only facing the other half of myself, but as I have since come to discover, I was also facing my own double, and it was only my ignorant naiveté that saved my life that day.


      "No sorcerer knows where his Other is. A sorcerer has no notion that he is in two places at once. To be aware of that would be the equivalent of facing his double, and the sorcerer that finds himself face to face with himself is a dead sorcerer. That is the rule. That is the way power has set things up. No one knows why."
--Don Juan to Carlos Castaneda


It was late June, 1991, when  Wendy, "Ellen" (a fellow seeker) and myself were on our way to the Del Mar Fair.  The weather was hot, the sun unnaturally bright that day, reflecting off the silvery marine layer common to southern California.  We left the house around 10 a.m., but had to stop at the post office on the way out of town.  As we drove up, I saw Orlando standing in the outdoor courtyard in full black spandex - a sight that instantly sent my heart into my throat, because as much as I admired and respected this man, I was also strangely afraid of him, for history had proven that any time we met, I would find myself unsettled for days or even weeks to come.  Hindsight being 20/20, it's now easy to tell that this sense of unrest was quite probably caused by the shifts in my awareness which occurred whenever we came into contact.


For those new to this type of spiritual exploration, I am not referring to the normal fluctuations in perception that are part of our everyday life as a result of fear, joy, ecstasy, or even love or hate.  What I am referring to is an actual movement of the human assemblage point from its normal location (the awareness of everyday affairs) to a much more perceptive realm known in shamanic terms as heightened awareness. That point of enhanced perception has been called the awareness of dreaming, though not "dreaming" as it is experienced by most people.  In the shaman's world (aka the sorcerer's world), heightened awareness is a highly developed state through which the shaman can interact with others, including his/her apprentices, in a manner that facilitates the rapid learning of things which we have been programmed through Society to think of as impossible in our day to day lives.  From the assemblage point of heightened awareness, we simply do not fight ourselves.  In dreams, we do not question that we can fly, or communicate telepathically, or read with our eyes closed.  We simply do it. 


The problem is that when we return to our ordinary state of awareness, we cannot remember the majority of events which took place within heightened awareness. At first, this seemed ludicrous to me.  Impossible.  And yet, when it was pointed out that we have literally dozens of dreams every single night, yet we might remember only fragments of one or two... it became possible to understand how time spent in heightened awareness can be entirely obliterated from our ordinary memory-perception.  Indeed, it is only through a painstaking process often referred to as "remembering the other self" that we might begin to recapture those memories at all.  In ordinary awareness, we simply do not possess the preceptor organs of memory for events that occurred in heightened awareness -- in much the same way that we cannot see the quantum universes with the naked eye, but we can learn to see them through the use of special tools.  In the case of remembering the other self, those special tools are the tools of perception.



To this day, more than ten years after the incident I am going to describe, I am still unraveling and reconnecting to events that occurred while in heightened awareness.


Topics of "the double", "the double being" and "non-ordinary awareness" will be covered far more extensively in my book, as each one is a complex and fascinating part of the sorcerer's world.  Much on these subjects can also be found in the works of Carlos Castaneda, or in most good texts about shamanism, so long as one is willing to maintain an open mind and really Think about what is possible.


Recently I mentioned Castaneda to a group of seemingly enlightened individuals, and their reaction was one of lip-pursing disdain, followed by the oft-repeated statement, "My, my, but don't you know he's been debunked?  Don't you know his works were proven to be fictional?"  To those with a need for hard labels and neat categories, perhaps that is the perception regarding Castaneda or any other shamanic text, yet I can say from experience -- from actually Doing this journey first hand -- that the vast majority of concepts discussed by Castaneda have turned out not only to be accurate, but it is my opinion that in many cases, Castaneda understated the reality of it.  To the academician in his well-lit office surrounded by the ordered structure of the university, the shaman's world is going to seem as impossible as aliens landing on the White House lawn.  To those well-meaning phantom church ladies with an intense need to have the world Make Sense, it is entirely necessary to discredit the messenger and label the message as fiction, for to those who are dependent on consensual agreements, the shaman's world can only be seen as an aberration which represents a massive threat to their own comfortable status quo.  And it is a perceived danger which is most often met with ridicule, disrespect, and, at times, hostility to the point of violence. [See also The Message & the Messenger]


And yet, to anyone who has experienced even a glimpse of the sorcerer's world, there is no denying its validity, its reality, and its veracity.


What I did not know that day in 1991, was that Orlando was indeed a master shaman, and a great deal more.  All I knew then was that there was some connection between us -- not only myself, but Wendy and Ellen as well.  And so when I saw him standing there at the post office that day, I was inundated with a flood of perceptions that I could not explain or even understand. Looking at him from a distance, the same words that had come to me when I first saw him repeated in my mind:  "He's not human."


And yet, despite my fear, like a moth to flame I was drawn to explore the light that he exuded.  Not the bright, blinding light so often spoken of in airy-fairy new age books, but instead his luminous form was one of black light -- subtle, unearthly, a dark light beneath the surface that illuminates those who are compatible with its properties, just as a black light selectively illuminates objects in a room while leaving others unchanged.  It had been perhaps 6 months since we'd last seen him, and as was typical with him, he did not appear the same as he had on our last meeting.  We had often joked that there were two of him.  In hindsight, I can only smile.  To say there were two of him would be to limit what he is, what we are capable of being.  He is an eternal being with an infinite number of possibilities, no longer confined by the constraints of the space/time continuum. All of us have that potential. The difference was that Orlando had already embraced his totality.  He had become Whole, and so there were no limitations on him.  He could just as easily have appeared as a woman, a boy, or a coyote.  The familiar form was for our benefit.



For reasons of her own, which she later related as simply "shock" at seeing him there, Wendy went on inside the post office to conduct her business.  Ellen was standing off to the side, a silent observer, and when I questioned her about the event years later, she could only say that she couldn't approach Orlando.  "I couldn't go near him," she said.  "This was always how it was with him, every time I saw him.  I knew he would see through me and I wasn't ready to deal with that.  It wasn't him I was afraid of.  It was myself."


Having no such common sense, I approached him alone.


We spoke briefly – small talk, mainly -  and though I could not determine why, I was inundated with the perception that he appeared nervous, even anxious.  At this point, he had been in and out of our lives in a rather mysterious fashion for about three years, and had been very instrumental in changing the way we thought about life.  In short, he had started us on the path, without ever taking any direct action to do so.  He had given no speeches, offered no teachings, and had done nothing specific other than speak in plain, direct terms about how the world in which we live is largely an illusion, and the programs that drive the majority of human beings are little more than scripts placed on them from the moment of birth. 


"We're prisoners of our own delusions," Orlando once told us.  "And the worst delusion of all is that humans believe they're already free.  That's what keeps people chained to their jobs, their ideas about family, society, life and the world.  As long as they think they're already free, they're blind and subservient to the prison.  It's a flawless trap." 


At one point quite early in our association, I recall a conversation about the state of the world, and my naive comment that I hoped it wasn't too late to save the planet.  He had smiled very faintly, looked me squarely in the eye, and said, "It's already too late.  It always has been.  You can only save yourself."


I hadn't understood his words at the time, nearly three years in the past by then.  But I had been haunted by them and by the implications that there was no external salvation, his seeming Knowledge that, one day, whether in a hundred years or a hundred million years, even the planet would be laid to waste - if not by the designs and devices of humans, then certainly by some wayward asteroid.  It was inevitable.  And it didn't even seem to bother him in the least. "You can only save yourself."


As we spoke there in the outer courtyard of the post office with these thoughts running through my head, I began to feel physically shaky, as if I couldn't stand, a sensation of dizziness, weakness in the legs, slightly blurred vision.  This was not a typical reaction for me, even in the presence of someone I had pre-determined to be "not human".  Curiosity has always driven me -- an intense need to interact with the Unknown, embracing it wholly.


With Ellen witnessing, we spoke for about five minutes, at which point Orlando simply returned to his car and drove away.  Our meeting was  - to my perceptions that day – unexpected, casual, but friendly. And yet, I cannot deny that there was an underlying sense of foreboding even as we stood  in the shadows of the building, discussing such mundane topics as remodeling, real estate news, the growth of the small town in which we both lived.  Nothing of significance.  And yet,  just below the surface was an entire universe of energy.  It was as if two separate events were occurring at precisely the same time, yet only one was accessible to my ordinary perceptions.  On the surface, just a mundane conversation that would be quickly forgotten. But at the same time, some incredible event for which neither science, religion nor mysticism has any quick answers.


It was palpable, a living force that thrummed like a heartbeat, and pounded at my senses with all the force of a hurricane.  I felt it, but instinctively denied it, trying to tell myself to keep it light, don't push... and all the other yammerings of the internal dialogue that are so often our undoing. 


On the outside, I was entirely calm.  But on the inside, all I had known about the world was coming apart in a maelstrom of energy that was destruction and creation at exactly the same moment.  But like a caveman witnessing a rocket launch, I had no concept at all of what I was experiencing.


When he left, it all seemed rather anti-climactic.  On the surface.


And yet, by the time I returned to our car, I could barely stand.  My body was shaking to the extent that it was like a mild form of convulsions.  And again that haunting thought which I had entertained upon first seeing him years before whispered through my mind:  He's not human. The contact I had had with him over the three-year interim had done nothing to convince me otherwise.  Now, having such an intense physical reaction left me wondering what had happened. 


Wendy, Ellen and I continued on to the fairgrounds amidst a flurry of conversation, though I noticed that I was removed from it, detached, almost floating outside the car, a passive observer rather than an active participant.  I cannot stress strongly enough the profundity of the physical reaction I had to this encounter, and yet it had all seemed so completely normal.  Ellen confessed that she had felt something, though like myself, she had seen nothing out of the ordinary.


By the time we reached the fairgrounds nearly an hour later, I was feeling somewhat better, though remained in an uncharacteristic daze for the remainder of the morning.  It was when I was sitting across from Wendy at lunch that she looked at me very strangely and  inquired, "Did you buy a new crystal?"  I had been in the habit of wearing a blue agate cut into the shape of a quartz point crystal.  The problem was, instead of its usual bright turquoise blue, it was now a faded, muddy brown.  Since this was a semi-transparent stone, we could see that even the deeper veins of agate had been affected, so profoundly changed that it was barely recognizable, only a few scant traces of blue.


I could only stare at the stone in disbelief, at first not making the connection to my encounter at the post office.  It seemed that some incredible burst of energy had actually altered the stone down to a molecular level -- while it was around my neck.  I felt the effects of this, quite obviously, but did not perceive it directly, except through the reactions in my body. 


Even though I stated at the beginning of this article that the encounter at the post office was our final encounter with Orlando on the corporeal plane, that isn't entirely accurate.  The next day, as it turned out, we crossed paths with Orlando for what would turn out to be the last time, and the unnerving thing was that he did not appear to know us in the least.  This was not some act or game, but a literal "blankness" that has haunted us ever since, as if the spirit that had inhabited the body had simply departed. The incident occurred in a crowded restaurant, and though he was jovial and friendly with others, there was simply no thread of recognition toward any of the three of us.  When I met eyes with him, I knew I was looking into the face of a stranger.


Orlando was gone.


What remained was a corporeal vessel belonging to another man, a mortal human being who clearly had no awareness of any of it. 


It was only much later that Wendy and I recalled an odd statement he had made to us shortly after we first met in 1988.


"One day I'll be rude to you," he had said, standing in the driveway of his modest home, backlit by the dusky California twilight.  Dark glasses had obscured his eyes that day, even though the sun had long since set.  The 5 o'clock shadow gave him the appearance of a handsome pirate, an unpredictable rogue, perhaps even one of Anne Rice's vampires.  No, he wasn't human.  I mean that literally.  And I was destined to encounter the evidence of it at the post office during our final encounter, as well as when we saw him at the restaurant the next day.


"Why would you be rude to us?" Wendy asked him.


It seemed he never heard her.  "One day I'll be rude to you," he repeated.  Then, with even greater emphasis, his voice softened, almost a whisper, fervent.  "Don't take it personally.  Don't ever take it personally."


He never explained his statement beyond that, though his words had given me chills even as he spoke them -- as if he were privy to some knowledge about the future that no one else could know.  And yet, when we remembered those words after his non-recognition at the restaurant, it all seemed to make as much sense as is possible in matters of sorcery.  If he was what Castaneda referred to as the Nagual man, he undoubtedly  knew it, and had long since accepted his fate.  He knew he would leave the world in the manner of a sorcerer, and to those unfamiliar with matters of sorcery and shamanism, there can simply be no linear, rational explanation of what that means.  Even as he told us in 1988 that he would one day be rude to us, it is my belief he already had knowledge of exactly where the future would lead him.  And now, as I write this in 2002, it is extremely clear to me that any eternal being who exists outside of time, also exists within all of time.  Past, present and future would be equally accessible.  He didn't just seem to know the future.  He did know the future.


And, of course, none of this can even seem possible to a properly rational mind.  It can only be reported in the same manner alien abductions or sightings of bigfoot are reported.  And it will undoubtedly be ridiculed just as vehemently.  The world of ordinary awareness and ordinary men simply cannot accept what it cannot categorize, what it cannot understand.



But the tale of the crystal isn't finished.


Clearly, something incredible happened during my final conversation with Orlando, some massive rearrangement of reality on a level of which perhaps only the allies are capable.  And, quite honestly, if I didn't have witnesses to this, I wouldn't have believed it myself.


That night after the fair, I took the crystal off and placed it in a medicine pouch that was always with me.  Over the next few months, I would occasionally take it out to examine it or show it to friends while relating this strange tale of power, and the startling thing was that it was beginning to "heal" -- i.e., the brown was slowly returning to blue. This, of course, is also supposedly impossible, or at the very least, extremely unlikely, even according to a geologist friend of mine who examined the crystal.


When about 11 months had passed, I went to look at the crystal one day, and it was gone. Every other item from the medicine bag was still safely inside... yet the crystal was missing and has not been seen since.


As to what all of this means?  It was said in THE EAGLE’S GIFT that the nagual woman goes into the third attention to serve as a beacon to the nagual man, who remains in first attention to gather the new warrior’s party. I resist calling myself a nagual and I’m not consciously gathering any parties (though it could be said that one is forming just through the designs of power and intent), but I am very familiar with the kind of tearing away that Carlos described in THE EAGLE'S GIFT when imparting his reactions to the nagual woman during their final encounter on Earth.


    The Nagual woman came to me last...  Don Juan had told me that on the left side there are no tears, that a warrior can no longer weep, and that the only expression of anguish is a shiver that comes from the very depths of the universe.  The warrior's shiver is infinite.  As the Nagual woman talked to me and held me, I felt that shiver.

    She put her arms around my neck and pressed her head against mine.  I thought she was wringing me like a piece of cloth.  I felt something coming out of my body, or out of hers into mine.  My anguish was so intense and it flooded me so fast that I went berserk.  I fell to the floor with the Nagual woman still embracing me.  I thought, as if in a dream, that I must have gashed her forehead in our fall.  Her face and mine were covered with blood.  Blood had pooled in her eyes.

--Carlos Castaneda, THE EAGLE'S GIFT


It is my opinion, based on personal experience, that Castaneda left much unsaid, either intentionally or because the Knowledge had not yet become available to him.  What he did not say is that the nagual man and the nagual woman are literally two halves of a whole, unlike any other being on Earth.  And when one half leaves the world of ordinary awareness, the sense of tearing away is as much physical as emotional.  It can leave evidence in the form of altered crystals... which, of course, are probably destined to disappear. 


It was in November of 1994 that we began receiving communications from Orlando, and the path re-opened to consume us completely. But I have never seen him physically since that day when the crystal turned from blue to brown, when the world turned wrong-side out and everything I thought I knew about reality was obliterated completely.


It was that day when the Rule of the Nagual was set in motion in my life, and I do not believe I will see Orlando again until I have also passed beyond the Eagle to embrace the totality of myself.   And, of course, when we do meet again, I have little doubt that he will be standing there in the middle of all Eternity, in the heart of Infinity, holding that crystal in his hand.


Though we are separated by an abyss, I know that only if I am successful in my bid for Freedom, my evolution of consciousness, will it be possible to reconjoin with that other half, that mysterious other Self who once walked this Earth as solid and real as any man.


Orlando has always said it's in his own best interests to teach us all he can, because only if I am successful in my evolution is the continuity of both guaranteed.  There is no predestination.  There are no guarantees.  There is only power, intent and will.  The hardest task he faces, he says, is getting us to See and to accept ourselves for the utterly capable and mysterious beings we truly are.  As long as we fight that awareness, we remain divided by an infinite abyss of perception.


Copyright ©August, 2002
by Quantum Shaman.Com,


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Question & Answer

Some questions I've been asked about the topic of the double
and my own correlations with Orlando


QUESTION:   Why were you able to associate with Orlando for three years without any apparent conflict?  Why did all of this just seem to suddenly happen after you'd known him for so long?  Why did the crystal go dark on that day?

ANSWER:  There is some significant truth to the old adage, "ignorance is bliss".  Or, at the very least, in the sorcerer's world, ignorance can be a form of protection.  Until the warrior achieves a certain level of awareness, s/he is functioning more or less on a level of innocence - more accurately, a level of fragmentation where perception simply doesn't allow the warrior to see the dangers all around.  But when the warrior begins to open his/her eyes and realizes even minimally that something very strange seems to be happening, it is in that moment that one loses one's innocence.  My perception, all these years later, is that it was on that day in late 1991 that I first began to really open my eyes.  I "Saw" Orlando, and that act alone was sufficient to change everything.  For once I Saw him in the sense that a sorcerer sees, he became the nagual man  in a single, blinding instant of transformation.   To an ordinary human being, these are only words, meaning nothing.  Perhaps only to fellow warriors or men & women of Knowledge will any of this ever be able to be understood through experience. 


QUESTION:  You said in THE CRYSTAL & THE NAGUAL that you were facing your own double AND the other half of yourself.  Is there a difference?  

ANSWER:  Yes.  The answer to this question would fill an entire book all on its own.  Essentially, however, it could be said that any warrior can develop a double, and yet not all warriors are naguals (double-beings).  The warrior's double can take on any manifestation; it may look like the warrior herself, or a coyote or a bird.  The double being (the Nagual) is simply born as such, and his/her doubleness is an attribute like blonde hair or green eyes.   The double-being is usually (from my experience) experienced as a literal "opposite" - in the sense that "opposites attract".  Male to female, dark to light, yin to yang, and so on.  There may be exceptions to this, as I can only speak from my own foundation of Knowledge.  It is highly recommended to check out the following terms in the glossary, as you will find a much broader definition there. 
Double   Double Being   Nagual


QUESTION:  Why do you think you had such a painful physical reaction to all of this?  Has it occurred to you that maybe Orlando was evil and the crystal protected you?

ANSWER:  I thought about that.. for all of about 10 seconds.  :-)  So much of this is simply impossible to discuss within the parameter of words alone.  To the warrior who "Sees", no explanation is needed.  But to answer your question as much as possible, my physical weakness and shakiness were the result of an energetic tearing away such as what Castaneda described in the excerpt above.  I have no doubt in hindsight that when we met that day, Orlando had already known I would be coming there, and he was simply waiting for me to arrive, as had often been the case in the past.  The difference was that I had lost my innocence, so to speak.  I had begun to "see" at a rudimentary level, and the result was that we could no longer be in the same world for the same reason that no sorcerer can face his double.  The instinct to become One would simply be overpowering, and evolution would be thwarted if that reconjoining were to occur prematurely.  There was still too much to learn.  Orlando recognized this that day, and it was at that moment that the Rule of the Nagual was set in motion.  To my physical eyes, he simply walked away. But had a more experienced Seer been present, it could have been observed that Orlando left the world in that moment, burning with the fire from within.   The force of that energy is what I experienced, as well as what undoubtedly caused the agate to turn dark.

As for the concept of "evil" and protection by a crystal, those are Hollywood ideas and not particularly applicable in the sorcerer's world.  Evil is a matter of intent, and Orlando's intent was certainly never evil.  Just the opposite.


QUESTION:  You said that when you saw Orlando at the restaurant the day after the post office incident, he didn't seem to know you.  Two questions:  1) Why? and 2)If he burned with the fire from within, how was he still walking around?

ANSWER:  In answer to the first question, he didn't know us because the entire consciousness that was Orlando was gone, probably from the moment he walked back to his car at the post office.  As for the second question, a master shaman can attach his/her consciousness to anyone at any time, particularly if that person is distracted or not particularly "awake" spiritually.  In shamanic terms, it's called a walk-in, or a skin-walker.  When the shaman/sorcerer removes his consciousness from that body, in most cases the person has no recollection of what just happened.  Why?  Because in that case, the memories belong to the consciousness, not to the physical body.  The body can be used much like a radio - tuned to a specific frequency determined by consciousness.  The radio itself has no awareness of what stations it might play during the course of its day.  It is only a conduit.


QUESTION:  Are you or were you ever aware directly of Orlando's thoughts?  I mean, is he a metaphor for your alter-ego, or does he have his own life?

ANSWER:  He is most definitely not a metaphor.  The double being is very real, and from this mortal/human assemblage point that is "Della", no, I do not have direct awareness of his whereabouts, what he is doing, or even what he is thinking.  At most, there are occasional periods of "overlap" during which I have an intense awareness of his existence within third attention.  It is that awareness that is like a constant beacon, luring me to complete the work that is required before we can be reconjoined.  Also, during meditative gnosis, I can connect directly to him (and much more than "just" him) for the purpose of gathering information & Knowledge.  

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