from Being-In-Dreaming by Florinda Donner first published 1991
~ closing excerpt from chapter 14 ~
I asked Isidoro Baltazar about intuitive knowledge, about that sudden flash of insight, of understanding, that sorcerers are supposed to cultivate above all else.
He always said to me at those times that to know something only intuitively is meaningless. Flashes of insight need to be translated into some coherent thought, otherwise they are purposeless. He compared flashes of insight to sightings of inexplicable phenomena. Both wane as swiftly as they come. If they are not constantly reinforced, doubt and forgetfulness will ensue, for the mind has been conditioned to be practical and accept only that which is verifiable and quantifiable.
He explained that sorcerers are men of knowledge rather than men of reason. As such, they are a step ahead of Western intellectual men who assume that reality - which is often equated with truth - is knowable through reason. A sorcerer claims that all that is knowable through reason is our thought processes but that it is only by understanding our total being, at its most sophisticated and intricate level, that can we eventually erase the boundaries with which reason defines reality.
Isidoro Baltazar explained to me that sorcerers cultivate the totality of their being. That is, sorcerers don't necessarily make a distinction between our rational and our intuitive sides. They use both to reach the realm of awareness they call silent knowledge, which lies beyond language, beyond thought.
Again and again, Isidoro Baltazar stressed that for one to silence one’s rational side one first has to understand his or her thought process at its most sophisticated and intricate level. He believed that philosophy, beginning with classical Greek thought, provided the best way of illuminating this thought process. He never tired of repeating that, whether we are scholars or laymen, we are nonetheless members and inheritors of our Western intellectual tradition. And that means that regardless of our level of education and sophistication, we are captives of that intellectual tradition and the way it interprets what reality is.
Only superficially, Isidoro Baltazar claimed, are we willing to accept that what we call reality is a culturally determined construct. And what we need is to accept at the deepest level possible that culture is the product of a long, co-operative, highly selective, highly developed, and, last but not least, highly coercive process that culminates in an agreement that shields us from other possibilities.
Sorcerers actively strive to unmask the fact that reality is dictated and upheld by our reason; that ideas and thoughts stemming from reason become regimes of knowledge that ordain how we see and act in the world; and that incredible pressure is put on all of us to make certain ideologies acceptable to ourselves.
He stressed that sorcerers are interested in perceiving the world in ways outside of what is culturally determined. What is culturally determined is that our personal experiences, plus a shared social agreement on what our senses are capable of perceiving, dictate what we perceive. Anything out of this sensorially agreed-upon perceptual realm is automatically encapsulated and disregarded by the rational mind. In this manner, the frail blanket of human assumptions is never damaged.
Sorcerers teach that perception takes place outside the sensorial realm. Sorcerers know that something more vast exists than what we have agreed our senses can perceive. Perception takes place at a point outside the body, outside the senses, they say. But it isn't enough for one merely to believe this premise. It is not simply a matter of reading or hearing about it from someone else. In order for one to embody it, one has to experience it.
Isidoro Baltazar said that sorcerers actively strive, all their lives, to break that frail blanket of human assumptions. However, sorcerers don't plunge into the darkness blindly. They are prepared. They know that whenever they leap into the unknown, they need to have a well-developed rational side. Only then will they be able to explain and make sense of whatever they might bring forth from their journeys into the unknown.
He added that I wasn't to understand sorcery through reading the works of philosophers. Rather, I was to see that both philosophy and sorcery are highly sophisticated forms of abstract knowledge. Both for sorcerer and philosopher, the truth of our Being-in-the-world does not remain unthought. A sorcerer, however, goes a step further. He acts upon his findings, which are already, by definition, outside our culturally accepted possibilities.
Isidoro Baltazar believed that philosophers are intellectual sorcerers. However, their probings and their pursuits always remain mental endeavours. Philosophers cannot act upon the world they understand and explain so well except in the culturally agreed-upon manner. Philosophers add to an already existing body of knowledge. They interpret and reinterpret existing philosophical texts. New thoughts and ideas resulting from intense studying don’t change them, except perhaps in a psychological sense. They might become kinder, more understanding people – or, perhaps the opposite. However, nothing of what they do philosophically will change their sensorial perception of the world, for philosophers work within the social order. They uphold the social order even if intellectually they don’t agree with it. Philosophers are sorcerers manqué. Sorcerers also build upon an existing body of knowledge. However, they don’t build upon this knowledge by accepting what has already been established and proven by other sorcerers. Sorcerers have to prove to themselves anew that that which already stands as accepted does indeed exist, does indeed yield to perceiving. To accomplish this monumental task, sorcerers need an extraordinary amount of energy, which they obtain by detaching themselves from the social order without retreating from the world. Sorcerers break the agreement that has defined reality, without breaking up in the process themselves.