As previously stated, the shamans of ancient Mexico put a special emphasis on a force they called tendon energy. Don Juan said that they asserted that vital energy moves along the body via an exclusive track formed by tendons.
I asked don Juan if by tendon he meant the tissue that attaches the muscles to the bones.
"I am at a loss to explain tendon energy," he said. "I'm following the easy path of usage. I was taught that it's called tendon energy. If I don't have to be specific about it, you understand what tendon energy is, don't you?"
"In a vague sense, I think I do, don Juan," I said. "What confuses me is that you use the word tendon where there are no bones, such as the abdomen."
"The old sorcerers," he said, "gave the name of tendon energy to a current of energy that moves along the deep muscles from the neck down to the chest and arms, and the spine. It cuts across the upper and lower abdomen from the edge of the rib cage to "I and from there it goes to the toes."
"Doesn't this current include the head, don Juan?" I asked, bewildered. As a Western man, I expected that anything of this sort would have originated in the brain.
"No," he said emphatically, "it doesn't include the head. What comes from the head is a different kind of energetic current; not what I am talking about. One of the formidable attainments of sorcerers is that in the end, they push out whatever exists in the center of energy located at the top of the head, and then they anchor the tendon energy of the rest of their bodies there. But that is a paragon of success. At the moment, what we have at hand, as in your case, is the average situation of tendon energy beginning at the neck at the place where it joins the head. In some cases tendon energy goes up to a point below the cheekbones, but never higher than that point.
"This energy," he went on, "which I call tendon energy for lack of a better name, is a dire necessity in the lives of those who travel in infinity, or want to travel in it."
Don Juan said that the traditional beginning in the utilization of tendon energy was the use of some simple devices which were employed by the shamans of ancient Mexico in two ways. One was to create a vibratory effect on specific centers of tendon energy, and the other was to create a pressure effect on the same centers. He explained that those shamans considered the vibratory effect to be the agent for loosening the energy which has become stagnant. The second effect, the pressure effect, was thought to be the agent that disperses the energy.
What seems to be a cognitive contradiction for modem man - that vibration would loosen anything that was stuck, and that pressure would disperse it was deeply emphasized by don Juan Matus, who taught his disciples that what appears to be natural to us in terms of our cognition in the world is not at all natural in terms of the flow of energy. He said that in the world of everyday life, human beings would crack something with a blow, or by applying pressure, and disperse it by making it vibrate. However, energy which had become lodged in a tendon center had to be rendered fluid through vibration, and then it had to be pressed, so that it would continue flowing. Don Juan Matus was horrified at the idea of directly pressing points of energy in the body without the preliminary vibration. His contention was that energy that was stuck would get even more inert if pressure were applied to it.
Don Juan started off his disciples with two basic devices. He explained that the shamans of ancient times used to search for a pair of round pebbles or dry round seed pods, and use them as vibratory and pressure devices to aid in manipulating the flow of energy in the body, which they believed becomes periodically stuck along the tendon track. However, the round pebbles that shaman practitioners normally used were definitely too hard, and the seed pods too fragile. Other objects that those shamans searched for avidly were flat rocks the size of the hand or pieces of heavy wood, in order to place them on specific areas of tendon energy on their abdomens while they were lying flat on their backs. The first area is just below the navel; another is right on top of the navel, and another yet, on the area of the solar plexus. The problem with using rocks or other objects is that they have to be heated or cooled to approximate the temperature of the body, and besides, these objects are usually too stiff, and they slide and move around.
Tensegrity practitioners have found a much better equivalent to the devices of the shamans of ancient Mexico: a pair of round balls and a small, flat, circular leather weight. The balls are the same size as the ones used by those shamans, but they are not fragile at all; they are made of a mixture of Teflon reinforced by a ceramic compound. This mixture gives the balls a weight, a hardness, and a smoothness which are thoroughly congruous with the purpose of the magical passes.
The other device, the leather weight, has been found to be an ideal device for creating a steady pressure on centers of tendon energy. Unlike rocks, it is pliable enough to adapt itself to the contours of the body. Its leather cover makes it possible to be applied directly to the body without needing to be warmed or cooled. However, its most remarkable feature is its weight. It is light enough not to cause any discomfort, and yet heavy enough to aid some specific magical passes that foster inner silence by pressing centers on the abdomen. Don Juan Matus said that a weight placed on any of the three areas mentioned above engages the totality of one's energy fields, which means a momentary shutting off of the internal dialogue: the first step toward inner silence.
The modem devices used in conjunction with specific magical passes are
divided by their very nature into two categories.