Carlos Castaneda was a graduate student in anthropology at the university of California, Los Angeles, gathering information on various medicinal herbs used by the Indians of Sonora, Mexico, when he met the old Yaqui Indian, Don Juan. He wrote a series of books outlining his apprenticeship to this Yaqui sorcerer who guided the young anthropologist on a magical journey into another world. Castaneda learned that for us to perceive any of the worlds that exist beside our own, not only do we have to covet them but we need to have sufficient energy to seize them.
Castaneda wrote twelve books, including a manual on the Magical Passes or ‘Tensegrity’ which was a series of movements which he claimed Don Juan had taught him over the course of his apprenticeship but which were never described in the books (but perhaps were alluded to).
The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968). (Summer 1960 to October 1965.)
A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan (1971). (April 1968 to October 1970.)
Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan (1972). (Summer 1960 to May 1971.)
Tales of Power (1974). (Autumn 1971 to the ‘Final Meeting’ with don Juan Matus in 1973.)
The Second Ring of Power (1977). (Meeting his fellow apprentices after the ‘Final Meeting’.)
The Eagle’s Gift (1981). (Continuing with his fellow apprentices; and then alone with La Gorda.)
The Fire From Within (1984). (Don Juan’s ‘Second Attention’ teachings through to the ‘Final Meeting’ in 1973.)
The Power of Silence: Further Lessons of Don Juan (1987). (The ‘Abstract Cores’ of don Juan’s lessons.)
The Art of Dreaming (1993). (Review of don Juan’s lessons in dreaming.)
Magical Passes: The Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico (1998). (Body movements for breaking the barriers of normal perception.)
The Wheel of Time: Shamans of Ancient Mexico, Their Thoughts About Life, Death and the Universe (1998). (Selected quotations from the first eight books.)
The Active Side of Infinity (1999). (Memorable events of his life.)
Castaneda gave several interviews including a radio interview with Theodore Roszak for KPFA, “DON JUAN THE SORCERER” – 30 Jan. 1969.(37 min.)
Corvalan, Graciela, Magical Blend #14, “A conversation with the elusive Carlos Castaneda”.
Corvalan, Graciela, Magical Blend #15, “Carlos Castaneda, part II”.
Burton, Sandra, Time Magazine, “Magic and Reality”. 1973.
Corvalan, Graciela, “Der Weg der Tolteken – Ein Gespräch mit Carlos Castaneda”, Fischer, 1987
Fort, Carmina, “Conversationes con Carlos Castaneda”. Madrid (Spain), 1991.
Keen, Sam, Psychology Today, “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”. 1975.
Leviton, Richard, Yoga Journal, March/April 1994 #115, “The Art of Dreaming”.
Wagner, Bruce, Details, March 1994, “The Secret Life of Carlos Castaneda: You Only Live Twice”. http://www.fouryogas.com/details.pdf
Castaneda, over a six-year period from 1960 – 1965, underwent intensive training from Don Juan in Yaqui sorcery. Under don Juan’s tutelage, Castaneda took peyote, talked to coyotes, turned into a crow, and learned how to fly. This first cycle of his training ended in 1965, with Castaneda abandoning his attempt to learn Don Juan’s knowledge. But a second cycle commenced in 1968, when Castaneda returned to Mexico to visit Don Juan in order to show him a copy of his first book. In this second cycle Don Juan attempted to teach Carlos how to “see”, aided by Don Juan’s friend and fellow sorcerer Don Genaro. From this point other aspect of the knowledge were introduced including: “becoming inaccessible,” “erasing personal history” and “stopping the world.”
The goal of the teachings was to show Castaneda how to become a man of knowledge. Don Juan informed Castaneda that in order to become a man of knowledge one must endure the hardships of learning;
“Nothing in the world is a gift. Whatever there is to learn has to be learned the hard way. Turn my concepts into a viable way of life by a process of repetition. Everything new in our lives, such as the sorcerers’ concepts I am teaching you, must be repeated to us to the point of exhaustion before we open ourselves to it.” Don Juan Matus
The main premise of this arcane system of knowledge that Don Juan taught to Castaneda, which purportedly spanned 25 generations, was that shamans through the use of psychedelic substances, had gained the understanding that consensus reality was in fact a very small segment of that which is real. Don Juan took Castaneda through the use of such psychedelic substances; states of non ordinary reality as he called them. Through these experiences of non ordinary reality he proposed, it was possible to expand the realm of human consciousness by redefining reality. Don Juan insisted that the culmination of consensus reality was based on a description of the world taught to us from the moment of our birth. The only way of truly understanding the nature of the world was by ending this description. The practices that Don Juan taught were for this purpose, to end the description of the world.
He said that the world we perceive was maintained and upheld by our internal dialogue. Through a system called not doing, it was possible to suspend this internal dialogue and gain what is called a clear view. Through this practise of not doing it is also possible to gain personal power and to stop the world and ultimately to see. By expanding this experience of the world one is then able to understand and gain perception of the abstract; that being the spirit. The system is essentially divided into two main areas: stalking and dreaming.
Stalking is the means by which a warrior learns to enable himself to gain the maximum benefit from any situation in which he finds himself. He becomes a hunter of power by learning a set of procedures and attitudes and learns to act with what is called; controlled folly. Controlled folly is the idea that essentially nothing matters to the warrior, and that with this knowledge, he is best able to give account of himself. It is a means by which a warrior acts in ways not customary to himself in order to provide a jolt, to shift what is called the assemblage point.
The assemblage point is the place where the world is gathered on the surface of man’s luminosity. Only through seeing is a man able to come to an understanding of this point of assemblage. And through seeing it is realised that man is a collection of fibres that are arranged into a luminous ball or cocoon which forms the human being. One of the special talents of the seers of antiquity, according to Don Juan, was they were able to see man as a field of energy; this is what they referred to as the luminous egg.
Dreaming is essentially the not doing of sleep. During sleep the assemblage point moves, making a natural shift deep into the left side of awareness, which is The second attention or the “nagual”(pronounced Na’wahl). This is a place beyond the known. Dreaming is then an avenue to power as it is possible to transform ordinary dreams through this shift into something extraordinary by grabbing hold of items within the dream the warrior is able to perceive more than is normally possible. The warrior gains control of his dreams through the process of finding his hands within dreaming and then once this is possible the warrior is able to change items of a dream, or change dreaming locations entirely.
Don Juan described the worlds as consisting of the known, the unknown, and the unknowable. Only through the mastery of the arts of stalking and dreaming, could a warrior ever hope to glimpse the unknowable. The first attention described as, the tonal, is the world of reason, of rationality, the place of solid ideas and objects. The second attention is the unknown, also referred to as the “nagual”. The third of these points is intent, the world of silent knowledge, a place that the warrior reaches for, a place beyond our boundaries; “a somersault of thought into the inconceivable”.
Don Juan considered death his advisor. He spoke also of death as the worthy opponent or adversary. He also stated that in order to be able to face ones death first one had to defeat the Four Natural enemies of man, those being: fear, Clarity, power and old age. If one falls prey to fear one becomes a scared man, if to clarity then he becomes timid, if one fails to defeat power then he is destined to become sinister. And Old age can not be truly defeated but only its effect can be postponed, which is the way to defy death and become a sorcerer. Once the natural enemies have been dealt with then one becomes a man of knowledge. But the only way to accomplish this is to live like a warrior.
Castaneda, realised the ultimate goal of these teachings and as he stated; Don Juan and his fellow teachers “were not teaching me sorcery, but how to master three aspects of the ancient knowledge they possessed: awareness, stalking, and intent, and they were not sorcerers; they were seers.”
14 thoughts on “About”
Do you know something about Taisha Abelar, Florinda Donner Grau and Carol Tiggs? Could you introduce them too?
I mean, this page is all about Castaneda. That’s why I thought that would be useful to present the witches too, as they were also the apprentices of Don Juan Matus in some stage. What happened to them, anyway?
Thanks for stopping by my blog as your visit led me back to you. What a great blog visually as well as educationally on Castaneda. Thanks for sharing your insights and expertise.
Have you given any consideration to the possibility that you could be totally wrong and that everything you believe is imaginary?
Hi I really like your site I can’t say enough about it and what you stumbled upon. I too am familar with the works of Carlos Casteneda and have struggled to make sense of them. I too am looking for a place to talk about more of Casteneda’s work.
Hi Carmelo, I’m glad you liked my blog. I would be happy to chat with you about this.
I have a blog of my own it’s not much but I set it up to talk about control folly and my experiences understanding it. I have read most of Carlos’s work and am aware that they had been printed in many languages. Recently however people have been claiming that it’s hocus pocus, and I know for certain there wrong. Anyways you have a wonderful website here the link to my blog if you want to check it out.
I’m so glad I’ve stumbled upon your site. I’m going to start reading the Eagle’s Gift soon. Something has been calling me to get back into Castaneda’s literature. The wisdom in those pages is unmistakable. I hope we can discuss these topics in depth.
A beautiful blog, thank you for publishing Don Juan’s teachings, plus videos.
I’m looking for the part in Castaneda’s books, where the tonal and the nagual are described. I’ve got the text in Dutch, but now I’d love to find it in English as well. I’ve got all the books and I re-read them every 10 years or so, finding deeper layers of meaning in it.
The video “Vision of the Nagual” starts pleasant, with images and singing. Than a dark-brown male voice begins to talk, incomprehensible to me most of the time. It’s hard to understand what the voice is saying and also, combined with the images and singing it’s too much of a good thing, sort of. Anyway, I’m continuing my search.
To me, the lessons of Don Juan Matus are valuable and I’m almost sure that Carlos Castaneda wrote his books based on experience in real life. Much of what Don Juan describes,specially the tonal and the nagual, makes sense to me. There are other cultures with similar concepts, putting it in different words and in that way I’m finding truth in Castaneda’s books.
I’m also fond of the style and wisdom in the lineage of ancestors, teachers that lived before Don Juan Matus encountered his apprentice Carlos. I guess my studying of the Mayan wisdom comes from the same interest. Or feeling familiar with it, through my ancestors?
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That was a great overview and thorough description of the basics of don juans teachings. I believe d.j.matus teaching carlos how to speed walk in the dark is one of his exercises. Also the most important factor and biggest asset to any seer, truly wanting to stalk power and practice controlled folly, is to be blessed by a pinche tiranito, petty tyrant, and maintain your beliefs and practices, under the tyrants reign, by choice. The natives before us had no choice.
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Mr. Sargenti, don’t know how to respond directly to your comment, but have you read this part in Castaneda’s books? “The aim is to balance the terror of being alive with the wonder of being alive” We may live in an imaginary world, observed from a certain level, but as you know, we’re forced to act in this world of with our perceptive senses and our transformative skills, on a material and spiritual level both. No beating around the bush and no walking away from our responsability of being alive and kicking. Turning everything into a non existent reality is a cynical stance and it shows denial of life as much as love. The mind can make up clever thoughts that aren’t helpful in the balancing of these two forces of nature: life and love. As much as within you as in the world at large. With wisdom in tow. That’s what I think is the essence of what Don Juan taught to Carlos.
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I’d love to take some time to speak with you. It may be that you are in fact one of the all too rarely seen true warriors I am and have been charged with meeting and greeting by the will if mysteries.
I can see already your nature and why you hesitate all the while. Don’t forget to laugh, hahaha….we’re around! Let’s chat about it!
Thanks Steve; well met i read a portion of your blog; and you indeed seem to possess an understanding! I don’t mind chatting – chat away!!
The Journey has just begun…..
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