of Quetzalcoatl & Sun, All Images from Teotihuacán
Introduction by Mark
How do you
translate a feeling of the spirit onto celluloid? This was the task
photographer Stephen Collector set out for himself during intensive
guided retreats in October 1998 and May 1999 to the Temple Complex
at Teotituacán (Nahuatl: "The
City of the Gods"). Collector used infrared film which is sensitive
to heat. He thought this was the proper medium to convey the feeling
of the place. His work has appeared in the likes of The New York
Times, Esquire, German Geo and Outside.
I spoke with Stephen Collector, 49, by phone in Boulder, Colorado
where he lives with his wife and two sons. He told me about a long
period of soul searching whereupon he came face to face with a "wounded
mind." His own. In a search for healing he came upon a Toltec Shaman.
times," Collector says,"Teotituacán was actually a university.
It functioned as a center for the entire continent for learning
about energy. My guide told me that Teo was still energetically
available to any human being that could try to experience the place
not from his mind, his intellect, or his reason but from his heart.
And that was the key to unlock the mystery of the place."
He was part
of a group that worked through the hierarchical complex in a very
structured way over a five-day period. Originally, he told me, you
stayed in these compounds in groups, which are particular "classrooms,"
for years, until you mastered that limitation and could move on.
The whole group needed to make the transformation. You couldn't
move on as individuals. And a lot of people never made it to the
final, 7th, level because there wasn't any faking of the transformation.
course," he says, "we were working on an abbreviated level because
this place is like a State Park, administered by the federal government.
You had to be discrete about performing ceremonies."
said that the first couple of days were excruciatingly painful because
the work is about taking your masks off, going into your shadows
and working with fear. And if the guides thought you had the wherewithal
to stand it, "they'd push you as deeply into fear as they possibly
could, into the stuff that you just don't want to look at in your
life. Things you haven't looked at since you were a kid, where a
lot of your processes and definitions and beliefs were actually
said that by the third day things started to change. "And by the
fourth and fifth day your awareness is in a completely different
place. It's miraculous... The key, according to my teachers, is
that there is information in light. That light isn't what you think
it is. Light is alive. There's life in light. And that's what we
are as human beings. You do the cleaning and get out of your own
way. The cornerstone of the teaching is love, unconditional love.
That's what you're attaining. It has nothing to do with the Aztec's
ripping people's hearts out, even though they did do that. It's
about opening your heart, metaphorically, not with an obsidian knife.
Obviously some of them abused the power."
To be inside
and outside of a transformative process such as this is walking
a tightrope. I'm reminded of William Burroughs attending a Buddhist
retreat of several days and agreeing to leave paper and pen behind
so he might fully experience the process and not "record" it. As
it turned out, Burroughs snuck in a notebook and pencil and recorded
some remarkable dreams. He couldn't help himself. And neither could
and Quotes Courtesy of Stephen
Design by Mike
buttons on the left to proceed.