What is sorcery (in Castaneda’s sense)? Sorcery seems to be the altering/replacing of the self through doing acts alien to the the original self. These acts might be perceptual, physical or mental though in the system they all might be described as perceptual. The body perceives in ways we do not understand. Accessing the bodies ability to do this part of the aim. Everything is about perception, though perception is not a passive power, rather it is an active force with the ability to alter what is at large (not unlike my description of how the pneuma can alter the umbra).
How does sorcery spread? The lineage is described as transferring from established sorcerers to new ‘apprentices’ who are invariably tricked into the world of sorcery or presented with it as the only escape route in opposition to death -people down on their worst luck. Sorcerers identify apprentices according to omens that identify them as viable potential sorcerers. These omens are supplied by ‘power’, the name given for both the general force at large for determining events and the force that can be harnessed by sorcery as ‘personal power’. What is interesting is that there is no overarching teleology given. What does sorcery do? It would seem nothing other than create sorcerers. It is like Dzogchen without compassion. It seeks only to enter ‘the other world’ and bypass death.
Power then can be seen as selecting the victims of sorcery. What is interesting is that in the absence of any teleology the acts of power could be meaningless coincidences. This is the problem of the agnostic disjunction, the inability to discern an ‘omen’ from an coincidence -they look identical. To the sorcerer apparently they don’t, but does this really help as even if they do look different on some level, the sorcerer still admits that she/he doesn’t understand why power chose one person and not another. Thus it seems the arbitrary choice of power is still available even if it can be ‘seen’ to be different from a coincidence.
Once power has selected the next set of apprentices, the current sorcerers must go about installing sorcery. As mentioned the initial hook is brought about by trickery or shown as a last resort. Once the hook is in, the apprentice is instructed to begin to behave ‘impeccably’ and not to ‘indulge’. This basically means to try ones best at everything and not to bother with futile thought patterns. This is all done with the aim of streamlining the organism. This streamlining process can take years and running alongside it is the instruction in the business of sorcery itself: dreaming (the developing of the dream double), stalking (manipulation of the physical self to enable hypnotic like trickery) and various other things. The combined force of these alterations is supposed to essentially dismantle the self and not reassemble it. The remaining entity as a sorcerer is no longer the person they were, both physically and mentally they are different. There is a moment in CC where the tragedy of this alteration is brought out. One of the apprentices weeps to think of his mother, whom herself, late in her life was identified by power as a viable sorceress. Her son the half-sorcerer, wishes that she had never met the sorcerers as then she would still be his mother. But the woman who biologically was his mother can not be said to be so anymore, rejuvenated and transformed away from her lot as a timid ageing cook and cleaner, her entire personality is altered -sorcery has replaced it with a fearsome intimidating sorceress. He himself loses his gloomy regret by stopping himself from ‘indulging’. He cannot indulge because it’s all too late, she has gone and in part so has he. So the indulgence advice in its context is even correct, there is only onwards for both of them.
Even part of the way through this process we can see how we can look upon this as sorcery installing itself into certain vectors as selected by power. But since sorcery wants nothing from the world as such what is it doing? Everything seemingly turns on the machinations of ‘power’. The sorcerers themselves, once dismantled simply respond to the fate that power doles out, presumably making their impeccable best out of whatever hand is given. All of which raises the question, can it be cogently asked if ‘power’ wants anything? Presumably from the perspective of sorcery power does show certain things are desirable, but does not say why -no answer of this nature is ever forthcoming.
Sorcery and systems like it seem to feed off ordinary life; this is the parasite analogy. Sorcery enters the ordinary human and destroys it from inside, the victim does not even know they are replacing themselves with the sorcerous installation. It is perhaps curious why it tries to stay so limited in its host-occupancy, though maybe this is its natural rate. Certainly many people who attempt occult systems only do so at a very shallow level, so even when the information is out successful parasitism is low.
Buddhism seems probably the closest parasite system with its inherent attempt to show the emptiness of things. Buddhism though of course attempts not to proselytize as such but still to help other beings, the compassion parasite must take over -but the Buddhists know, behind the compassion installation is the void. Is this possibly what commands/is power? The nothingness. In this sense sorcery and Buddhism offer just two different responses to the same phenomenon. Both install the void-parasite. One says that in a meaningless world endless play in the vast scope of perception is viable option -but that this is not for all and many must just live in the illusion. Whilst the other says almost the opposite, compassion towards all beings, the way is open regardless of omen.
The void-parasite will have any takers.