"In both his second and third books,A Separate Reality (1971) and Journey To Ixtlan (1972), Carlos Castaneda, telling the same story as in his first and last books, presents to the readers seeming different scenarios --- and because of discrepancies and seeming inconsistencies Castaneda critics dismiss him as nothing more than a charlatan. However, if you take the time to read something as highly regarded by many people as the first four books of the New Testament in the Bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you will see that between them, even though they cover the same story and all of them agree on the overall premise, each one is different...and nobody complains about that."
DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined? Paragraph 8, below
In the world of writing, both fiction and non-fiction, Carlos Castaneda is deemed to be one of the most controversial authors and figures around. In the scientific arena and a good part of academia the same holds true, and especially so by those with well established credentials in the anthropological and archaeological fields.
Supporters and backers of Castaneda, who are most often found in the realm of the spiritual, occult, or shamanism rather than academia, typically maintain every word and every aspect of his series of books based on a Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer named Don Juan Matus are factual and nothing but true. Detractors say the contents don't even come close, and even if there is an element or thread of truth weaved throughout his series of books they are not to be taken seriously.
Jane Holden Kelley, the author and co-author of a number of books related to the Yaqui Indians of the Sonoran Desert and desert southwest writes the following in her book YAQUI WOMEN: Contemporary Life Histories (1978):
"Deliberate falsification is always a possiblity, whether for monetary gain, amusement, or sheer cussedness. A peripheral story serves to illustrate this point. As everyone knows, Carlos Castaneda's books have had a tremendous impact on a wide audience, and Castaneda's don Juan is a Yaqui. I would assume that every anthropologist who has worked with the Yaquis has been bombarded with inquires about Yaqui drug use, sorcery, and what have you. I have received letters from people wanting an introduction to a Yaqui brujo (witch or sorcerer, also Diablero), and the subject of my Yaqui research is never mentioned without someone asking me if there really is a don Juan. Do I know him or people like him? Or are all Yaquis like don Juan? To such inquiries, I can only say that I have not encountered don Juan or anyone like him, an admission guaranteed to lower my social value on the spot.
"The Yaquis themselves are now approached by outsiders in search of don Juan. A Pascua Nueva Yaqui leader related that no few Volkswagen buses, usually with California license plates, find their way to Pascua Nueva. The inhabitants of the VW buses are described as "long-haired hippies," for the word hippie has deeply penetrated Yaqui consciousness with strong negative connotations. The Pascua Nueva leader explained with some delight his tactics for dealing with these unwelcome intrusions. When inquiries begin, he says he has never heard of don Juan. Slowly he shifts to admitting cautiously that there is a don Juan but he must be protected. Finally, he weakens and tells the inquirers where don Juan lives. There actually is an old man named don Juan who lives in Pascua Nueva, one said to have considerable ingenuity in spinning tales. Everyone is vastly amused and the hippies are usually good for a little money, cigarettes, beer, and other things before they have been had."
Accurate assessment or personal bias? Such lamenting over Don Juan does not answer if he was a total fiction? Real or imagined? True or False? Lets find out.
Toward the end of his series of books, in The Active Side of Infinity (1998), Castaneda writes that while in Arizona during the late Spring of 1960 "he met with an extremely seasoned anthropologist" --- thought possibly to be Edward H. Spicer. Spicer, who, not unlike Jane Holden Kelley and her father before her, William Curry Holden, had written and published a great deal on both the Yaqui Indians of Arizona and those of Sonora, Mexico. Castaneda, a Peruvian, was told by the seasoned anthropologist "that the Indian societies of the Southwest were extremely isolationist, and that foreigners, especially those of Hispanic origin, were distrusted, even abhorred, by those Indians." Interesting as well, in a continuing theme of Castaneda detractors, regarding the use of Sacred Datura, the hallucinogenic and medicinal plant Castaneda wrote he reportedly used first under Don Juan Matus to experience other dimensions and other realities, Spicer, harping away, is on record as saying "I know of no information or reference concerning Yaquis using Datura." No matter that Castaneda's first use of Datura was NOT learned initially under the ausipices of Don Juan, but the informant, who, like Don Juan's own master teacher Julian Osorio, was neither Indian nor Yaqui.
In addition to Castaneda's supporters and somewhat formidable list of detactors there is a third camp that says even though some of what he writes is sort of iffy it holds true in a number of areas. For example, anthropologist Jay Courtney Fikes in his book Carlos Castaneda, Academic Opportunism and the Psychedelic Sixties (1993) doesn't totally discount Don Juan Matus or what Castaneda has to say, suggesting that rather than being one individual, the chance exists that Don Juan was actually a composite of two or possibly even three authentic Indian shamans. Fikes goes on to mention the possibility of one being the Mazatec curandera Maria Sabina, with another being, although not mentioned by Fikes in his book but by others, the venerated Cahuilla Shaman, Salvador Lopez.
Equally interesting, for those who may be so interested, there is even another slightly different take regarding the potential possibility of Don Juan as that being offered up by either Fikes or Lopez --- all the while adding to the overall knowledge of Don Juan and who he is/was --- there are those who are said to have been the role model for Don Juan such as Alex Apostolides and others who said they actually studied under him such as Ken Eagle Feather to the much more mysterious The Old Man In the Desert. Punching holes in Castaneda's thesis or proping him up as an advocate or being a proponent of a third way still does not change how HE presented it.
According to Castaneda, in the late spring of 1960 he went on a Road Trip with a fellow colleague that cumulated in the direct meeting between himself and the shaman-sorcerer Don Juan Matus inside the Greyhound Bus Station in Nogales, Arizona. Castaneda and his colleague, a onetime lowly Pothunter turned reputable amateur archaeologist sometimes called Bill in the narratives and sometimes left unnamed, were waiting for the bus to arrive to take Castaneda to Los Angeles. As written by Castaneda toward the end of his series of Don Juan books, in The Active Side of Infinity (1998), Castaneda says the colleague looked out across the station and saw an old man he thought he recognized. He turned to Castaneda and said:
"I think that old man sitting on the bench by the corner over there is the man I told you about, I am not quite sure because I've had him in front of me, face-to-face, only once."
"What man is that? What did you tell me about him?" Castaneda asked.
"When we were talking about Shamans and Shamans' transformations, I told you that I had once met a Cloud Shaman."
"Yes, yes, I remember that," Castaneda said. "Is that man the Cloud Shaman?"
"No," the colleague said emphatically to Castaneda. "But I think HE is a companion OR a teacher of theCloud Shaman. I saw BOTH of them together in the distance various times, many years ago."
Thirty years before, in his first book THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968), speaking of the same incident, there was no mention of Cloud Shamans. Instead the narrative went something like:
"I was waiting in a border town for a Greyhound bus talking with a friend who had been my guide and helper . . . . Suddenly he leaned toward me and whispered that the man, a white-haired old Indian, who was sitting in front of the window was very learned about plants, especially peyote. I asked my friend to introduce me to this man.
My friend greeted him, then went over and shook his hand. After they had talked for a while, my friend signaled me to join them, but immediately left me alone with the old man, not even bothering to introduce us. He was not in the least embarrassed. I told him my name and he said that he was called Juan and that he was at my service. He used the Spanish polite form of address. We shook hands at my initiative and then remained silent for some time. It was not a strained silence, but a quietness, natural and relaxed on both sides. Though his dark face and neck were wrinkled, showing his age, it struck me that his body was agile and muscular.
I then told him that I was interested in obtaining information about medicinal plants. Although in truth I was almost totally ignorant about peyote, I found myself pretending that I knew a great deal, and even suggesting that it might be to his advantage to talk with me. As I rattled on, he nodded slowly and looked at me, but said nothing. I avoided his eyes and we finished by standing, the two of us, in dead silence. Finally, after what seemed a very long time, don Juan got up and looked out of the window.
His bus had come. He said good-bye and left the station.
I was annoyed at having talked nonsense to him, and at being seen through by those remarkable eyes. When my friend returned he tried to console me for my failure to learn anything from don Juan. He explained that the old man was often silent or noncommittal, but the disturbing effect of this first encounter was not so easily dispelled. . . . .The friend who had introduced me to don Juan explained later that the old man was not a native of Arizona, where we met, but was a Yaqui Indian from Sonora, Mexico."
As cited in the opening quote at the top of this page, in both his second and third books, A Separate Reality (1971) and Journey To Ixtlan (1972), Carlos Castaneda, telling the same story as above in his first and last books, published thirty years apart in 1968 and 1998 respectively, presents to the readers seeming different scenarios --- and because of discrepancies and seeming inconsistencies Castaneda critics dismiss him as nothing more than a charlatan. Then again, if you take the time to read something as highly regarded by many people as the first four books of the New Testament in the Bible, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, between them you will see that, even though they cover the same story and all of them agree on the overall premise, each one is different...and nobody complains about that. Now true, each of the four Biblical books is attributed to a separate author and written at separate times --- so discrepancies might be expected.
The Don Juan books, although written over a duration of thirty years, were done so by the same author and basically produced one after the other almost in a continuous series. If you sit down and think about it for a minute, even if Castaneda was not able to recall any of the specifics from the past, how hard would it have been for him to have returned to each of his previous books to see what he had already written and sorted out any discrepancies, however large or small, and just worked them out prior to publishing the next one? It borders on the ludicrous that in The Teachings of Don Juan (1968), as shown in the above quotes, Castaneda writes that Don Juan "was sitting in front of the window" the first time he met him in the bus station and thirty years later in The Active Side of Infinity (1998) Don Juan was now no longer sitting in front of the window, but "sitting on the bench by the corner" and that somehow it really matters. Apparently Castaneda never thought it a problem.
The trouble the majority of critics seem to have with Castaneda, and the one item that the most serious of the critics haunted him with throughout his literary career was not minor inconsistancies, but the nearly total absence of field notes. Most credible anthropologists and archaeologists back up their work with an incredible amount of field notes --- field notes that are filled with accurate, complete and believable data, including people, places, dates, times, expected outcomes and actual outcomes --- all basically readily available on demand to back up and substantiate any and all of their findings. In Castaneda's case, except for about 12 pages of questionable field notes --- questionable because they appear to be more like an early draft of a book than anything else --- no such proof has been forthcoming.
In his third book, Journey to Ixtlan (1972), which in its final published form is virtually indistinguishable from the manuscript he turned in for his UCLA PhD dissertation, Castaneda writes:
"Since I was capable of writing down most of what he(Don Juan Matus) said in the beginning of the apprenticeship, and every thing that was said in the later phases of it, I gathered voluminous field notes."
Where Castaneda runs afoul with his peers and critics is, even though he clearly states that he gathered voluminous field notes, other than the previously mentioned 12 pages, no significant number of additional field notes to back up what he has to say have ever been produced. In later years, he claimed they had been destroyed by flooding in his basement. The question arises, on such slim evidence in the public domain on the existance of field notes, and, in that Journey to Ixtlan was Castaneda's doctoral dissertation virtually verbatim, did his graduate committee have access to his field notes or other valid documentation that would verify his fieldwork? Some say such was NOT the case, however, it is a given his graduate committee DID sign off on his dissertation and UCLA DID in fact grant Castaneda his PhD. It just seems odd that when Castaneda turned in his dissertation to be signed off he would blatantly place right in the middle of his thesis that he gathered voluminous field notes that his whole graduate committee and everybody else could see and read and not have any physical evidence to back it up with. If they asked, and it seems they should have considering the nature of the material, and Castaneda did not follow through with the notes, voluminous or otherwise, the committee --- five full professors strong --- was highly remiss in its duty.
In addition to the twelve pages that have already been given credit as existing, it should be mentioned Dr. Gordon Wasson, the first white man documented --- or at least widely publicized --- to have participated in the Mazatec mushroom ceremony Velada, after talking with Dr. Robert S. Ravicz, et al, sent a letter to Castaneda requesting clarification regarding certain aspects of Don Juan's use of psychotropic mushrooms. It is known Castaneda responded by sending Wasson several pages from his field notes that were relevant to his request.
Voluminous field notes or not, in the tenth book into his series, titled Magical Passes (1998), Castaneda offers his strongest clarification of Don Juan's chronology, some of which of course, had been spattered here and there throughout each of his previous books over time as well. Don Juan is described as being born in Yuma, Arizona Territory, to a Yaqui Indian father from Sonora, Mexico and a Yuma Indian mother from the Territory of Arizona. The three of them lived together in Arizona Territory until Don Juan was ten years old, whereupon, for reasons not known or undisclosed by Castaneda, he was taken by his father to Sonora, Mexico. There they were unintentionaly caught up in the Mexican government war against the Yaquis. His father was killed, and Don Juan ended up in southern Mexico, where he grew up with Yaquis that had been uprooted previously by the Mexican government and sent to areas of Mexico well beyond the confines of Sonora --- places such as Oaxaca, Vera Cruz, and the Yucatan.
War with the Yaquis had been going on and off between the Spanish and later the Mexican government basically since their initial contact --- with no real beginning or a defined finalization date in sight. Finally, in the 1880s, in an attempt to quell the seemingly never ending hostilities, a major relocation or Yaquis occurred. Yaquis were moved from the United States Territory to Sonora and from Sonora to United States Territory (Arizona did not become a state until 1912). In 1897, a peace treaty was signed at Ortiz, Sonora between the Yaqui tribes and the Mexican government. However, within just two years, in 1899, war and deportation of Yaquis began again, continuing over a period of several years. It is thought Don Juan, age ten, and his father were caught up in one of those deportations. His mother, a Yuma Indian, apparently remained north of the border.
Ten years later, at the age of twenty, after having grown from a young boy into a young man under the umberella of the Mexican government's Yaqui relocation project to southern Mexico, Don Juan supposedly came in contact with a master sorcerer by the name of Julian Osorio. He introduced Don Juan into a lineage of sorcerers that was purported to be twenty-five generations long. Osorio was not an Indian, but the son of European immigrants to Mexico. Don Juan told Castaneda that Osorio had been an actor and during one of his theatrical tours he had met another master shaman, Elias Ulloa, who transmitted to him the knowledge of his lineage of sorcerers.
According to Castaneda, Don Juan's introduction to shamanism under Osorio was unique because he was taught not only by Osorio, but Osorio's teacher Ulloa as well. Generation upon generation of shaman-sorcerers in their lineage went about selecting apprentices well after their own teachers left the world. But, Don Juan, for whatever reason became an apprentice eight years before Osorio's benefactor left the world. The flow of the narrative from Don Juan through Castaneda has the bulk of the work turning Don Juan into a shaman-sorcerer credited to Osorio, but he makes it clear that he also had the benefit of being taught by Ulloa. Between the two it was like being reared by a powerful father and an even more powerful grandfather, neither ever seeing eye to eye. In such a contest, Don Juan says, the grandfather invariably wins. Thus, what Castaneda presents to the reader through his books is that Don Juan always considered himself more the product of Ulloa's teachings than Osorio.
This is where things begin to get fuzzy. In his first book, The Teachings of Don Juan, Castaneda made it extremely clear that his indoctrination process or apprenticeship had been guided under the direct aegis of a shaman-sorcerer who himself had studied under a Diablero --- and, without reservation, that Don Juan Matus and nobody else WAS the person who had studied under a Diablero and TAUGHT Castaneda. The following is how Castaneda presents it:
"At first I saw Don Juan simply as a rather peculiar man who knew a great deal about peyote and who spoke Spanish remarkably well. But the people with whom he lived believed that he had some sort of secret knowledge, that he was a brujo. The Spanish word brujo means, in English, medicine man, curer, witch, sorcerer. It connotes essentially a person who has extraordinary, and usually evil, powers."
"In describing his teacher, Don Juan used the word diablero. Later I learned that diablero is a term used only by the Sonoran Indians. It refers to an evil person who practises black sorcery and is capable of transforming himself into an animal - a bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other creature."
It is my contention that if any or all of the scenario as presented above from the pen of Castaneda is true or based on a practical semblance of truth, what probably happened is Don Juan started traipsing around Mexico with Osorio almost like being in a vaudville troupe or a traveling carnival. He was caught up in all the showmanship and lights, and along the way introduced to things shaman by the actor. Ulloa comes into the picture and, although the story line is left out of the narrative by Castaneda either selectively or because he did not know it, Don Juan, sensing his destiny and the core reality of it all through his more serious interactions with Ulloa, following the death of Ulloa, makes the decision to abandon his apprenticeship under Osorio and returned to his roots --- the Yaquis or Yumas --- with, it should be noted, and questionable at best, an apparent return to only the Yaqui side of things. I say questionable at best because for me there appears to be weaved throughout the text a strong lack of emphasis by Castaneda regarding the Yuma side of Don Juan, the Yuma side being totally ignored or unheralded in the long run by both Castaneda and critics. Interestingly enough, to the mocking detriment of Castaneda, the ones that usually emphasize the Yaqui over the Yuma, are the same ones that continually browbeat Castaneda with the no known use of Datura by Yaquis in an oblique effort to build a case against the existence of Don Juan and undermine the credibility of Castaneda --- all the while knowing that the Yuma had strong cultural traditions of its use.
Somewhere, not unlike myself and my own interaction with the shaman man of spells called an Obeah high in the mountains of Jamaica, in and around the mountains and deserts of Sonora, southern Arizona or New Mexico Don Juan sought out, met and was taught by an isolated, real, albeit, unnamed shaman-sorcerer said to be a diablero. Now, if Don Juan's master teacher was actually a diablero or thought to be such by tribal kinsmen, a shaman with an evil bent as stated by Castaneda, then, even though originally he might have had ancestoral ties or a blood-line tribal affiliation with either the Yaqui or Yuma, although highly respected and cautiously sought out, he was, like Don Juan himself, most likely a loner or an outcast. A now retired professor of anthropology at Occidental College, Dr. C. Scott Littleton, who knew Castaneda well having attended UCLA graduate school with him in the same department at the same time, and because of the level of their friendship had Castaneda as a most willing guest lecturer in his classes at both Occidental and UCLA Extension on many occasions, is on record as saying in a published interview with one Laura Knight-Jadczyk that he was convinced there was indeed a prototype of Don Juan and that he was probably a Yaqui Indian who moved rather freely between the Tucson area and northern Sonora --- the Tucson area and northern Sonora being the same general locality suspected as the habitation place of his unnamed and unidentified master teacher. Littleton also has said he recalled Castaneda telling him that he never saw Don Juan again, at least in the flesh, after Castaneda along with at least one other of Don Juan's followers jumped into the abyss off the top of a flat, barren mountain on the western slopes of the Sierra Madre in central Mexico. He told Littleton as well, that Don Juan died shortly thereafter. The fate of and who Don Juan's master teacher was, is unclear, although I touch upon it somewhat in Julian Osorio.
As far as Ulloa and Osorio go, because Castaneda was unable to make any real headway regarding the true identity of Don Juan's master teacher, whose name and personage Don Juan was highly reluctant to share or reveal in real life to anybody, Castaneda included --- because in doing so could set into motion the possibility of eroding or wilting HIS teacher's powers, White Light Shields, etc., thus opening a window to potential enemies such as predatory organic, inorganic, and other negatives --- it is my opinion that Castaneda took the ideas of shamanistic attributes and abilities that he learned through conversation with Don Juan, that were connected to Don Juan's unnamed master teacher, and applied, at least some of them, to Ulloa and Osorio. In the end Ulloa and Osorio appear to be not much more than straw men. Osorio may have existed in sort of a peripheral sense, but not like Castaneda writes him. That is to say, while it may be such that an Osorio-like character may have set Don Juan along the path, it is questionable at best that the actor was truly a master-sorcerer as Castaneda describes him. Same of Ulloa. Of the two, he is probably the most questionable. Ulloa is likely a conceptual construct, possibly superimposed around an actual person, but even more peripheral and NOT the master-sorcerer and teacher of Osorio he is given credit for. The actual person he is a stand in for is most likely the unnamed shaman-sorcerer that Don Juan studied under. One way or the other Castaneda was not able to learn who that original or initial teacher was, thus the emphasis in his books on the much more marketable and most likely highly fictional Ulloa and Osorio.
During that seeking out or apprenticeship phase Castaneda has intimated that Don Juan may have gone to the Valle Nacional area of Oaxaca with that same teacher who --- rather than being Yuma or Yaqui may have been Mazateco --- OR, after his teacher took or sent him there, they (or Don Juan alone) met with a Mazateco curandero. However, according to Richard de Mille in his book The Don Juan Papers (1980), the very fact that Castaneda traveled with Don Juan to the mountains southwest and northwest of Valle Nacional to collect mushrooms suggests where and how Don Juan learned to use them.
Castaneda may have well gone with Don Juan to the Valle Nacional in search of mushrooms sometime in the mid 60s, early 70s. What most people don't realize is how long all of this had been going on. Although Castaneda, Wasson and Dr. Timothy Leary were late bloomers on the scene of sorts, most people credit them with the lion's share of discovery. People read that Professor Wasson requested information about Don Juan's use of psychotropic mushrooms from Castaneda, albeit AFTER Castaneda's book was published in 1968 --- Castaneda having started his initial groundwork eight years before, in the early 1960s. Wasson's own recorded incident with the Mazatec mushroom ceremony occurred well before that, in the mid 1950s. However, my uncle, Castaneda's informant in the use and rituals of Sacred Datura, had been bio-searching hallucinogenic and medicinal plants native to the desert southwest and Mexico for years, well before any on the major movers came upon the scene.
To show how established the lot of it was, in the process of researching back-up material confirming the level or extent of certain individuals and their participation and/or whereabouts in relation to various Roswell UFO events initially brought about by inferences by C. Scott Littleton, mentioned previously above, regarding HIS suspicions that Castaneda's experiences reflected a UFO connection --- a possibility Littleton had raised with Castaneda personally on a number of occasions despite the absence of any clear-cut UFO imagery in his writings (Littleton's interest stemmed from his own experience as a young boy actually observing the giant airborne object of an unknow nature that overflew the Los Angeles area during the war years, an event that came to be known as The Battle of Los Angeles: 1942 UFO).
Interestingly enough, because the body of the research material that showed up indicated one of the two archaeologists connected in the investigation of the event was none other than Castaneda's own bus station archaeologist colleague Bill --- with the other being, believe it or not, Jane Holden Kelley's own father William Curry Holden --- the following is presented from Roswell Incident Upadated:
In December, 1947, Schultz(vertebra paleontologist, Dr. C. Bertrand Schultz) presents at the 46th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association held December 28-31, in Albuquerque. Holden attends the conference. Coincidently, the bio-searcher, discussed below, hoping to hear Ruth F. Kirk present "Aspects of Peyotism Among the Navajo," just happens to attend the same conference as well.
Notice how mainstream it all is. An established professor, Ruth F. Kirk, is formally presenting Aspects of Peyotism Among the Navajo, at a major annual conference and the bio-searcher, that is the informant, is attending --- all in 1947 --- a full decade or more before others who became more well known began their explorations in similar areas. The mere aspect of it all, the presentation at conferences, attendees, etc., all exhibit a much earlier history of interest and knowledge. In an event described above Castaneda and his colleague are together in the bus station and the colleague reminds him of their conversation about Cloud Shamans --- all the while pointing out an old man across the waiting room. Castaneda asks if the old man is a Cloud Shaman and the colleague replies:
"No. But I think HE is a companion OR a teacher of the Cloud Shaman. I saw BOTH of them together in the distance various times, many years ago."
The old man is a companion OR teacher of whoever the Cloud Shaman IS --- and Castaneda's colleague saw both of them together in the distance various times, many years ago. Various times means more times than just one time. The year of the conversation between Castaneda and the colleague is at the end of the summer,1960. Seeing the two of them together, the old man and the Cloud Shaman many years ago, means sometime well before the colleague and Castaneda ever met. Castaneda never produced Don Juan, nor, truth be told, as stated above, other than Osorio who was never much more than a preliminary step or a pointer, Castaneda was not able to learn who Don Juan's true or real master teacher was. However, it appears that well before Castaneda came upon the scene there was sufficient time for others to know.
Don Juan Matus was supposedly born in 1891 and died in 1973, although some references cite 1976. Castaneda supposedly met Don Juan in the late spring, early summer of 1960. He apprenticed under him and over the years wrote a dozen books covering his experiences. However, during that time, except for one sometimes called into question source (see), nobody except Castaneda seems to have personally met or confirmed a meeting with Don Juan under any circumstances. Nor was he ever produced by Castaneda or anyone on the fringes claiming to have met him able to produce him. It is quite clear from the above two accounts that Castaneda's colleague Bill "knows" the old man, or at least had encountered him in the past. But it doesn't mean he knows the old man is or will come to be Castaneda's shaman-sorcerer Don Juan Matus. In A Separate Reality (1971) Castaneda writes:
Bill said convincingly that he had encountered people like him before, people who gave the impression of knowing a great deal. In his judgment, he said, such people were not worth the trouble, because sooner or later one could obtain the same information from someone else who did not play hard to get. He said that he had neither patience nor time for old fogies, and that it was possible that the old man was only presenting himself as being knowledgeable about herbs, when in reality he knew as little as the next man.
The above quote that Castaneda cites Bill as saying seems like a far cry from anything that anybody would claim as a full-on endorsement regarding the old man's abilities. Basically, apparently not knowing him specifically, Bill simply lumped the old man in with every other old fogie he had ever ran into. Truth be said, at the very moment of the Nogales bus station encounter, it seems quite clear that neither Bill NOR Castaneda had any sort of a clue as to who the old man was or what power he may or may not had. I don't think Bill ever did find out, and if he did, it was so many years after the fact that it just didn't matter one way or the other to him anyway. 
On the third page of my web site ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, which has been on the web, except for minor editing, in the same form and content a decade or more (see), I mention the relationship between my Uncle and Carlos Castaneda as follows:
In later years, because of that association and my uncle's knowledge of Sacred Datura and peyote as well as other halluciogens, he was interviewed by Carlos Castaneda, apparently on a Road Trip in the process of gathering information for future use in his series of Don Juan books. In 1960 or so Castaneda was an anthropology student at UCLA collecting information and specimens of medicinal type plants used by the Indians in the desert southwest when the two crossed paths. My uncle had field searched thousands and thousands of plants, herbs, and mushrooms, even to having had several previously undiscovered species named after him.
Following the death of my mother I spent a lot of years living with various shirt-tail relatives and in foster homes. As I reached toward my pre-teen years I was living with my uncle mostly under the auspices of my Stepmother and her then never ending supply of money. By the time I reached my teenage years, however, I was no longer under my uncle or my stepmother's auspices. It was during those teenage years through to young adulthood, while my uncle and I were separated, and how I present it in The Informant and Carlos Castaneda, that he and Castaneda crossed paths. It was during that period, while I was out of the picture, that Castaneda was heavily involved in interviewing my uncle and learning the rituals related to the use of Sacred Datura and other medicinal plants. As mentioned above, Castaneda was no more than an undergraduate student in those days, carrying with him all the baggage of an unassured novitate. My uncle was always running into people that sought various amounts of information from him about natural desert plants and any effect they may have. Castaneda was just another in a long line of seekers and wasn't particularly memorable except for, in retrospect, a certain amount of persistance. Not to undercut Castaneda, but my uncle was surprised --- as well as pleased to a certain extent --- to find out THAT specific person who had tramped around the desert with him all those days and nights achieved the level of success he did and that he actually became "somebody." To his knowledge nobody he had ever come into contact in the past had. My uncle was quite pleased, regardless of how Castaneda may have presented it in his books and the public, that at least some or part of the information and knowledge he carried with him was not going to be simply lost forever to the winds and the rocks and sand of the desert.
After years of my uncle and I not seeing each other for no other particular reason than I had moved on to study-practice under my Mentor, traveled throughout Mexico and the Yucatan running into a Mayan Shaman with startling results, and been in and out of the military along with months of doing hard time in a Zen monastery (see), late in the year 1968, my uncle called saying he wanted to meet me in Kingman, Arizona --- Kingman being approximately halfway between where I lived in California and my uncle's abode near the Sangre de Christo mountains of New Mexico. After talking for nearly a half a day, just as we were parting he gave me a small package to deliver in person to a man in Laguna Beach, California --- and told me whatever I did, NOT give it to anybody else under any circumstances. When I arrived in Laguna Beach I went to an establishment on Pacific Coast Highway called Mystic Arts World as directed by my uncle. There someone took me to the man who was sequestered in a remote cave hidden in the hills above Laguna Canyon Road. The man, Dr. Timothy Leary. The contents of the box not known.
In the end the meeting in Kingman rekindled the relationship between my uncle and myself. Which brings us to Carlos Castaneda and Don Juan Matus. I had not seen my uncle since I was a kid, the last time being our meeting with the noted scientist Albert Einstein. Now I was an adult. In 1968 Castaneda was basically no more than an unknown having his first book published. I had yet to have my experience with the Jamaican man of spells, the Obeah. Following counsel from my mentor I had participated in study-practice under the venerated Japanese Zen master Yasutani Hakuun Roshi --- without much success it might be added --- and was edging toward the end of the Twelve Year Rule. Shamanism and the occult was not high on my agenda until during study-practice I found myself experiencing a continuing upwelling of stronger and stronger manifestations that could only be attributed to the supernormal preceptual states of Siddhis. I found myself meeting with my uncle more and more as he discussed and clarified some of my early childhood experiences under his auspices.
One of the most memorable of those meetings occurred late one afternoon in a small cafe outside Taos, New Mexico. I was traveling with my uncle and a Native American tribal spiritual elder. We had gone in to eat, not to meet anyone. But, no sooner had we sat down when a man stepped up to our table that my uncle seemed to know. My uncle called him Bill in conversation, but he was introduced as Larry to the elder and myself. He turned out to be William Lawrence Campbell, known to the locals as Cactus Jack, a onetime Pothunter turned amateur archaeologist of some renown. Somewhere along the way Campbell and my uncle crossed paths. It was Campbell that ended up being Bill or the Bill-like character in the series of Don Juan books by Castaneda, and of which is pretty much confirmed in the Nogales Bus Station Meeting.
Castaneda writes that when the Road Trip alluded to in the various Don Juan books ended, Bill drove him to the Greyhound bus depot in Nogales, Arizona, for the return trip home to Los Angeles. As presented above, the two were sitting waiting for the bus when Bill pointed out the old man that was eventually revealed to be the powerful shaman-sorcerer who had learned his art from a Diablero and who Castaneda is said to have apprenticed under.
After Bill points out the "old man" he then reminds Castaneda about Cloud Shamans and the connection between the two. Bill says the "old man" and the Cloud Shaman knew each other. He also says the Cloud Shaman and the informant are one and the same person --- AND it is known that "one person" is my uncle. In his works Castaneda writes that the "old man" he met in the bus station is none other than the shaman-sorcerer Don Juan Matus. Using Bill's logic, it would imply by default then that my uncle knew Don Juan Matus. If such was the case and had I been privy to the same information myself I would have personally had in my hands TWO people that could have substantiated the reality or existance of Don Juan Matus one way or the other --- or possibly even led me to him --- IF such was the case. The clinker is, although both my uncle and Castaneda's colleague Bill seem to know the "old man" in some fashion or the other, neither of them ever say anything about him being Don Juan. Castaneda is the ONLY one out of everybody or anybody involved that seems to know or says the "old man" in the bus station is or turned out to be, Don Juan Matus. For all I know the very strange man that handed me the feather as reported in The Boy and the Giant Feather could have been Don Juan --- or for that matter, even better, the very strange man might have even been Don Juan's own unknown, albeit, unnamed master teacher said to have been a diablero. See:
THE OLD MAN IN THE DESERT
A CONTINUING NAGGING QUESTION:
Why do I care if Don Juan is real or not one way or the other and why would I entertain the possibility that the very strange man I met in the desert might have even been Don Juan's own unknown, albeit, unnamed master teacher said to have been a diablero? There are any number of reasons. The most glaring for me personally is that Castaneda is one of the most high profile and best known example of a person that has claimed to fly. I have delved into Castaneda and his credibility over and over in depth from one end of the spectrum to the other, primarily to garner back-up material to justify the experience outlined in The Wanderling's Journey. Besides my experience and similar experiences by others having to have happened as found in the aforesaid link, for the skeptics, deniers, and disgruntlers that such an event could even be remotely possible in the first place, I direct you to:
THE ZEN MAN FLIES
Secondly, and equally as important in that in the end it parallels the first, is a continuing nagging question I carry around in the back of my mind springing from my own, albeit however brief, connection to Castaneda in my youth. (see)
If any of you have ever read the website titled Area 51, Groom Lake, you will see that in the late 1950s, sometime shortly after high school, I took a job with a company that designed and built breathing equipment for the U-2, the then super-secret high altitude spy plane. At the time, because of a fairly strong art background combined with three solid years of high school drafting experience I was hired as a trainee technical illustrator --- which basically meant, although it wasn't creative in the classical sense --- I was being paid for my drawing ability, something I modified and pushed off on a larger scale as being an artist in a slowly expanding post high school after-work social circle.
The company was right next to Los Angeles International Airport on a little side street in the city of El Segundo, California just off Pacific Coast Highway between Imperial Highway and Rosecrans Avenue. In those days TGIF was a big deal, and since the group I belonged to, myself included, fancied ourselves as artists, our TGIFs were always held in little out of the way places and ALWAYS ran way late into the night. In the general larger group at work it seemed all we ever talked about was girls, cars, and sports. As artists of course, even though most of us didn't know what we were talking about in either case, our conversations always seemed to have to lean toward the heavier side of things. Philosophy, religion, existentialism.
A little way east on Rosecrans Avenue from where I worked was the Mattel Toy Company. One of the guys I worked with knew a few guys there, and since they fancied themselves as artists too, some of them used to show up at our get togethers as well. The year was 1958 and one of those that used to show up, and more than one time too, was Carlos Castaneda, who just happened to be working at Mattel Toys at the time. Some people consider it a little odd that Castaneda would have attended our after work artist get togethers in the first place. However, it was not as totally out of the question as those questioning it might think. In those days he was NOT the Carlos Castaneda he came to be. He actually likened himself to being more of an artist than almost anything else --- he even harbored strong personal ambitions in that same area. He had attended Escuela Nacional de Bellas Artes, the national fine arts school in Lima, Peru before coming to the United States. In 1956 he called his soon to be wife Margaret Runyan for the first time to see if he could stop by to show her some of his paintings. In 1957, on his petition for naturalization, he listed his occupation as a commercial artist. As well, two witnesses to his petition from his circle of friends, Antonio Fuentes and Ivan Culver, both of whom claimed to know him for several years, were listed on the petition as an artist and commercial artist respectively. They all fit in perfectly because, even though none of us were fine art artists, most of us, being nothing more or less than small time commercial artists hacking out livings on the fringes, held great aspirations for our futures. Just a few short years later, according to Castaneda, on Monday, July 24, 1961 in a conversation with Don Juan and published in Castaneda's third book Journey to Ixtlan (1972), Don Juan admonishes him for never assuming responsibility for his acts and Castaneda writes:
He dared me to name an issue, an item in my life that had engaged all my thoughts. I said art. I had always wanted to be an artist and for years I had tried my hand at that. I still had the painful memory of my failure.
Most of the members of our loose knit group found themselves in --- or would eventually end up in --- a situation not too dissimilar as Castaneda. As for myself (at the time), although I was a fairly good artist as far as the execution of art went, I had yet to go to college, so any formal knowledge or exposure to the fine arts, philosophy, existentialism, Heidegger, Sartre, or Kierkegaard was fully self-learned and minimal at that. However, even though I was still young, I had a fairly good working background regarding Zen and Enlightenment, plus numerous experiences with tribal elders traveling with my uncle in the desert southwest. In conversation on almost any philosophical or religious topic, MY interjections always circled back around to something related to those two major strengths. Now true, I was a new guy hoping for even the smallest of peer recognition, and anything I may have added to a conversation could easily be lost in the overall milieu --- however, those get togethers ran from a year and a half to less than a year from the time Castaneda says he met the Shaman-sorcerer Don Juan Matus for the very first time. I don't remember talking to Castaneda on an individual basis for any length of time, say walking to the car or standing at the bar alone, BUT --- although some in the group may have rolled their eyes back into their heads a few times because of what I said --- nobody ever questioned, interjected, added to, backed up, disputed, or probed me for anything related to either my two strengths in any of the conversations, Castaneda or otherwise. And I know I would have most certainly remembered. What I am getting at is, and this is important and the QUESTION I continue to ask myself, IF Castaneda was working on the development of the Don Juan character at any time before he purportedly met him at the bus station in Nogales, our artist discussions after work would have been the perfect forum to bring him up --- yet he didn't. Why? Castaneda just didn't seem to know about such things. If Don Juan Matus was a total made up work of fiction it seems to me, since the timing was perfect, some rudimentary form of Don Juan would have come up in our discussions --- and it was a perfect place to do so as nobody in the group leaned toward the literary side of things so there was no chance any idea Castaneda may have had or presented would have been appropriated or stolen. Even if Castaneda carried a staunch predilection toward holding his cards close to his vest during those early years of our discussions, you would think by now at least, some sort of rough drafts of primitive Don Juans' and his beliefs would have surfaced if he was indeed working on any pre-Don Juan ideas. Additionally, although Castaneda's ex-wife Margaret Runyan (1921-2011) confirms that her husband made frequent field trips to Mexico in the time he was supposedly apprenticed to Don Juan --- and while she has publicly dumped on him pretty hard in many areas, she has NEVER reported that Castaneda was working on the Don Juan idea or talking Don Juan philosophy before the Nogales meeting. To my knowledge nobody has come forward to state equivocally that Castaneda was expounding a proto Don Juan philosophy anytime before he supposedly met the Shaman.
AND NOW THIS:
ABOUT THE WANDERLING AS THE AUTHOR OF THIS SITE:
Over and over people ask why is it that they should accept what I have written about Castaneda as having any amount of credibility?
For one thing, as clearly described above, I personally knew, met and interacted with Castaneda many times --- however, it was done-so long before Castaneda became Castaneda. Matter of fact, he was still a nobody student trying hard to obtain an AA degree from Los Angeles City College, working at Mattel Toy Company. During that period he considered himself mostly as an aspiring artist rather than anything that remotely resembled an author or shaman. Secondly, and unrelated to Castaneda and I knowing each other, my uncle was the Informant that is so widely mentioned in Castaneda's works both by him and others that introduced him to the rituals and rites of the use of the plant Sacred Datura. If you remember from Castaneda's works, it was Sacred Datura and NOT Peyote that first sent him into his initial experiences of altered states. Third, in an attempt on my part to confirm, clear up, or have any number of things that have shown up or been said about Castaneda and his life that should be discounted, things that have taken on a life of their own as fact because they have been repeated over and over so often, I personally interviewed, talked to, or conversed with a number of individuals that were prominent in his life --- especially so in areas that raise conflict when people read one thing about him and I write another.
Originally, when I first started writing about Castaneda it was for one reason only. It had to do with help substantiating an incident in my life that revolved around what are known in Buddhism and Hindu spiritual circles under the ancient Sanskrit word Siddhis. Siddhis are supernormal perceptual states that once fully ingrained at a deep spiritual level can be utilized by a practitioner to initiate or inhibit incidents that are beyond the realm of typical everyday manifestation.
In that the incident that occurred in my life, although bordering on the edges of what is generally conceived in the west as Shamanism or possibly the occult, was actually deeply immersed on the eastern spiritual side of things. To bridge the understanding between the eastern and western concepts I brought in for those who may have been so interested the legacy of one of the most well read practitioner of such crafts in the western world, Carlos Castaneda. Although highly controversial and most certainly not the fully unmitigated expert in the field, he is widely read and a known figure when mentioned, by camps both pro and con. So said, Castaneda has the highest profile in of all individuals to have claimed the ability through shamanistic rituals the ability to fly --- thus, for reasons as they related to me I used Castaneda in my works as an example. In doing so it opened a virtual Pandora's Box of never ending controversy, causing me to either ignore or substantiate what I presented. Hence, as questions were raised by me in my own writing or raised by those who read my material more pages were created to explain who, what, when, where, and why.
SO, DID THE WANDERLING FLY?
The following people were all major movers in the life of Carlos Castaneda, and at one time or the other I met and talked with them all, which is more than most people who write about Castaneda has ever done. And I only did so on and off over time primarily to clarify questions about Castaneda that I had read that just did not make sense. Most people who question what I have presented about Castaneda simply gather their information from the standard already in existence party line. Some of the people I've talked to in reference to Castaneda who, following some rather extended discussions, clarified a lot for me --- after Castaneda himself of course, others are people like C. Scott Littleton, Alex Apostolides, Barbara G. Myerhoff, Edward H. Spicer, Clement Meighan, who Castaneda dedicated his first book to, and Castaneda's ex-wife Margaret Runyan.
Interestingly enough, my interview with Runyan came about because before she married Castaneda, she had been engaged to another author, the cowboy and western writer, with over 100 books to his credit, Louis L'amour. It just so happened my uncle who, if you recall, was the Informant in Castaneda lore, just happened to know L'Amour. My uncle took me with him one day he went to see L'Amour. When I had a chance to meet Runyan years later I used me knowing L'Amour as the wedge to talk with her. As it was, and not many people know about it, my uncle, who was influential with Castaneda also, along with another man deeply seeped in Native American spiritual lore by the name of H. Jackson Clark, worked together funneling Native American spiritual facts to L'Amour used as a theme in two of his books that borderlined much of what Castaneda wrote about, titled The Californios and Haunted Mesa.
NOTE: If you have not read any of the Footnotes as of yet please scroll down toward the bottom of the page.
CARLOS CASTANEDA: BEFORE DON JUAN
CARLOS CASTANEDA: TIMELINE
POWER OF THE SHAMAN
THE DEATH DEFIER
THE BEST OF
<<< PREV ---- LIST ---- NEXT >>>
WE DO NOT HAVE SHAMANS
The Case Against "Shamans" In the
North American Indigenous Cultures
Where Is It Now?
ON THE RAZOR'S
"While it is true that in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge it is shown that Castaneda's FIRST experience using any sort of psychotropic plants with Don Juan was the USE of Peyote taken on Monday, August 6, 1961, when he ingested six Peyote buttons --- the taking of which was technically a fluke and not considered much more than a test by Don Juan."
AS FOUND IN THIS FOOTNOTE A FEW PARAGRAPHS DOWN
The following information has been extrapolated from the somewhat more comprehensive web site titled CASTANEDA: Datura or Peyote?
When it comes to the use of drugs and hallucinogens most people associate Carlos Castaneda with Peyote. However, it wasn't Peyote but actually the plant Sacred Datura, known throughout in the desert southwest as jimsonweed, that played the primary role in his early experiences into other realities. Notice the emphasis only on the use or non-use of Datura cited by Edward H. Spicer, the seasoned anthropologists and others, for example, rather than on Peyote in the section this footnote is in reference to.
In 1960 Castaneda turned in a paper for his UCLA class, "Methods in Field Archaeology," taught by Professor Clement Meighan. Castaneda's ex-wife Margaret Runyan, in her book A Magical Journey, writes, regarding Castaneda's 1960 paper, what Professor Meighan had to say about the contents of that paper:
"His informant knew a great deal about Datura, which was a drug used in initiating ceremonies by some California groups, but had presumed by me and I think most other anthropologists to have passed out of the picture 40 or 50 years ago. So he found an informant who still actually knew something about this and still had used it."
Castaneda's 1960s Paper on Datura, turned in at the end of the spring semester of 1960 and well before he ever met or heard of Don Juan Matus, included fairly academic references to the plant’s four heads, their various purposes, the roots and their significance, and the method of preparation, cooking and rituals involved, all information that he supposedly learns later from Don Juan between August 23 and September 10, 1961 and describes in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968). (A Magical Journey pp. 83-85 and 91.)
In his book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN, published nearly eight full years AFTER he turned in his paper to Professor Meighan related to the use and rituals of Datura, Castaneda recalls a portion of his first meeting with Don Juan Matus in Nogales, Arizona, by writing:
"I then told him(Don Juan) that I was interested in obtaining information about medicinal plants. Although in truth I was almost totally ignorant about peyote, I found myself pretending that I knew a great deal, and even suggesting that it might be to his advantage to talk with me."
The interesting part is Castaneda saying he was interested in obtaining information about medicinal plants and his specific reference to Peyote. Up to this point, according to an interview with Sam Keen in Psychology Today (1972), Castaneda's only real knowledge of Peyote was from having read The Peyote Cult (1938) by Weston La Barre. By the time the bus station encounter with Don Juan transpired Castaneda had already met the informant and knows, or is at least somewhat versed in the ACTUAL use of and NOT just reading about Datura --- as stated by Margaret Runyan in her book and quoted above as well as outlined in The Informant and Carlos Castaneda --- yet he goes on and on to Don Juan about Peyote. Why?
When used as a drug or simply ingested Sacred Datura is extremely powerful and toxic. Deadly is actually more like it. Utmost care is required in it's use and it's use mandates absolute total understanding of any and all potential outcomes and consequences. Again, although Castaneda was somewhat versed in the use of Datura under the auspices of the informant, he was probably not secure enough in his own abilities for it's use without an informed guide. Don Juan Matus, at least as he is written, is more of a Peyote-man, the informant is more of a Datura-man. As Castaneda writes him, Don Juan was never too fond of what he called Yerba del Diablo, the "devil's weed." In the narative Don Juan claimed its power was not unlike that of a woman saying:
"She (Datura) is as powerful as the best of allies, but there is something I personally don't like about her. She distorts men. She gives them a taste of power too soon without fortifying their hearts and makes them domineering and unpredictable. She makes them weak in the middle of their great power."
Relatively speaking, Peyote is a much more forgiving drug than Datura --- much easier to understand, use, and administer. Only a few weeks or possibly even just days earlier than the bus station encounter, the informant, cloaked by shimmering desert heat waves, simply seemed to evaporate into the rocks and sagebrush without a trace, leaving Castaneda without a source. He wasn't about to lose the old man, hence he played down his recent experience with Datura and pushed Peyote. (see)
In AUSHADHIS: Awakening and the Power of Siddhis Through Herbs a striking parallel is presented to Castaneda's account above of Don Juan stating Datura is as powerful as the best of allies, but there is something he personally didn't like about it as it distorts men and gives them a taste of power too soon:
In Sanskrit, the method of Awakening through herbs is called Aushadhi and an Awakening thus achieved, can, under the right circumstances and conditions, albeit short term, replicate at least partially the level of a Chalabhinna, an Arhat of the third level of realization with the ability of Iddhavidha, the power of transformation.(see)
It is written as well that the herbs used to awaken this potentiality should be obtained and administered ONLY through the Guru and NOT without a Guru. The reason for such is because there are certain herbs that awaken only Ida and there are others that awaken only Pingala; and there are those that can and do suppress either or both. Aushadhi or the herbal Awakening can be a very quick, albeit risky and unreliable method. It should be done only with one who is a very reliable person, who knows the science of it's use thoroughly, and versed in the arts thereof.
In the opening sentence of this footnote I write:
"When it comes to the use of drugs and hallucinogens most people associate Carlos Castaneda with Peyote. However, it wasn't Peyote but actually the plant Sacred Datura, known throughout in the desert southwest as jimsonweed, that played the primary role in his early experiences into other realities."
Please note that I wrote Sacred Datura "played the PRIMARY role in his (Carlos Castaneda's) early experiences into other realities." How reviewers, critics and the minds of the reading public skewed that primary use of Datura into that of Peyote or even mushrooms is not clear. However, Castaneda is quite clear in his writings as to the chronology of it all and the overall importance of Datura in the scheme of things.
While it is true that in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge it is shown that Castaneda's FIRST experience using any sort of psychotropic plants with Don Juan was the USE of Peyote taken on Monday, August 6, 1961, when he ingested six Peyote buttons --- the taking of which was technically a fluke and not considered much more than a test by Don Juan. If you remember, Don Juan was sitting around with a bunch of his buddies drinking tequilla and generally carousing around when one of them brought out an old coffee jar filled with Peyote buttons and offered Castaneda the chance to partake of a few. Which he did --- and after which, he ran around and around outside the house chasing the dog, barking, urinating, and throwing-up thirty times. Don Juan said it was to see if Mescalito, a sort of plant spirit, liked him or not in that Castaneda was not an Indian. Why the matter would be of any concern is not fully resolved as Don Juan's teacher, Julian Osorio, like Castaneda, was NOT of Indian extraction either, but the son of European immigrants to Mexico.
Apparently Don Juan was satisfied that it was OK to proceed with Castaneda's apprenticeship, Indian or not, as one month later, Thursday, September 7, 1961, under Don Juan's auspices, Castaneda was gulping down a brew concocted from Datura. However, and this is a BIG however, in the Peyote-use situation Castaneda simply picked six buttons at random out of the coffee can after they were offered and ate them. In the second case, the use of Datura, there was a huge long drawn out ritual. Special plant selection, special digging methods, special handling methods, etc. No such ritual was hinted at or accompanied the use of the Peyote. Eighteen months later, July 4, 1963, during the most infamous of Castaneda's experiences, where he turns into a crow including the full ability to Fly --- which was promulgated by the use of Datura by the way and NOT Peyote --- it was preceded by an even more elaborate ritual than the first incident using Datura. Why? Because it was Datura that held the most respect. It was Datura that was the most potent. It was Datura that DID what it was supposed to do. It was Datura that he learned the use of from the Informant. And it is Datura, not Peyote, that contains high concentrations of tropane alkaloids --- primarily Atropine, Hyoscyamine, and Scopolamine --- all major ingredients traditionally sought out and revered in shamanistic practices for their unusual applied characteristics, especially so for incorporation into Flying Ointments.
In that there are a number of species of Datura there is some confusion as to what Datura Castaneda may have used. According to Castaneda in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge a shaman-sorcerer has an Ally contained in the Datura plants commonly known as jimson weed. Don Juan called that ally by one of the Spanish names of the plant, yerba del diablo (devil's weed). According to Don Juan, as he related it to Castaneda, ANY of the species of Datura was the container of the ally. However, the sorcerer had to grow his own patch, not only in the sense that the plants were his private property, but in the sense that they were personally identified with him.
As for the "separate" Daturas, more or less on an official basis --- but not necessarily on a common basis as the names, species and terms are usually intermixed (although it must be said, even plant taxonomist disagree amongst themselves whether D. stramonium and D. inoxia are different species while D. inoxia and D. metaloides are considered alternate names for the same species) --- D. stramonium is most often the Datura species refered to as jimson weed, while D. metaloides (also sometimes D. wrightii) is usually applied to Sacred Datura, and D. inoxia is Toloache. Don Juan's own plants belonged to the species inoxia, however there was no correlation between THAT fact and any differences that may have existed between any of the species of Datura accessible to him.
For more on the Castaneda Peyote/Datura discussion-controversy, please see FOOTNOTE , The Informant and Carlos Castaneda.
In an article titled Psychedelics and the World's Religions appearing in MAGICAL BLEND MAGAZINE, April 1993, David Christie of Millenia Press interviewed Houston Smith --- who knew Wasson well. Smith related the following regarding Wasson's comments to him about Castaneda's field notes:
"When The Teachings of Don Juan appeared, Wasson reviewed it for The New England Journal of Mycology, I think it was. Finding some of the things that Castaneda reported don Juan as saying about (mescalito) to be at odds with known botanical facts, Wasson dismissed the book as fiction. Castaneda saw the review and wrote to Wasson saying that don Juan may have been mistaken about some botanical facts, but he was not a piece of fiction. Castaneda added that he would be coming to New York in two weeks and would be happy to meet with Wasson, if Wasson was interested.
"Wasson was interested, and the two met for lunch. Castaneda had brought with him a stack of field notes. Wasson's own work in Mexico had made him fluent in Spanish, so he was able to study the notes with some care. This, he told me, reversed his opinion of Castaneda and don Juan's authenticity, which he acknowledged in his review of Castaneda's next book."
In an interview article of Castaneda, published five years later in the L.A. Weekly (1998) by Celeste Fremon, a onetime Visiting Assistant Professor (Literary Journalism) at UC Irvine among other things, regarding Castaneda's field notes, Fremon wrote the following:
"Yaqui expert Dr. Ralph Beals asked to see Castaneda's field notes and was unhappy when Carlos continually dodged the request. Dr. Jacques Maquet, then head of UCLA's Department of Anthropology, also objected to the fact that no hard evidence had ever been presented to back up Castaneda's accounts. 'What is essential is not simply to have the experience,' says Maquet today, 'but, if it is anthropology, to make it possible for other anthropologists to repeat the experience. Castaneda never did that. He never presented Don Juan. What he has done is not anthropology simply because he has kept it secret. He has created a brilliant fiction based on something real, but fiction nonetheless.'"(source)
For Gordon Wasson's reviews of Castaneda's first four books click HERE
Over a period of time in his books and otherwise, Castaneda expressed his gratitude and acknowledgement to a long line of people including kudos for a number of his professors --- whether they happened to be on his graduate committee or not. Most often cited are Professor Clement Meighan who Castaneda says started and set the course of his anthropological fieldwork. Professor Harold Garfinkel who gave him the model and the spirit of exhaustive inquiry. Professor Robert Edgerton who criticized his work from its beginning, as well as Professors William Bright and Pedro Carrasco for additional criticisms and encouragement. Professor Lawrence Watson is also cited for his invaluable help in the clarification of Castaneda's analysis.
Regarding whether Bill or Castaneda had any knowledge if the old man in the bus station was Don Juan Matus or not, I write:
(It) seems quite clear that neither Bill NOR Castaneda had any sort of a clue as to who the old man was or what power he may or may not had. I don't think Bill ever did find out, and if he did, it was so many years after the fact that it just didn't matter one way or the other to him anyway.
The reason I think such is the case is because in NONE of the major introduction scenes as described by Castaneda --- which are NOT actual introduction scenes because Bill NEVER introduces them --- does Castaneda cite Bill as actually knowing or repeating Don Juan's name. To wit, in synopsis, how Castaneda presents the introductions:
IN TEACHINGS (1968): A Friend (Bill) greeted (Don Juan), then immediately left (Castaneda) alone not even bothering to introduce the two of them.
IN REALITY (1971): Was sitting with Bill. Bill got up and went to greet the man and forgot to introduce them.
IN JOURNEY (1972): A friend had just put them in contact. He left the room and they (Don Juan and Castaneda) introduced themselves to each other.
IN INFINITY (1998): Already knew about the mysterious old man who was a retired shaman. A strange anxiety suddenly possessed (Castaneda) that made him jump out of his seat and approach the old man, immediately beginning a long tirade.
It is, however, much, much more than Castaneda's colleague Bill just NOT knowing the old man's name. Even though he had seen the old man in the past and knew he was a companion or friend of the Cloud Shaman, Bill DID NOT know --- or even have the remotest inkling --- that the old man was a powerful shaman-sorcerer. Remember from above the following quote which pretty much clarifies Bill's position:
Bill said convincingly that he had encountered people like him before, people who gave the impression of knowing a great deal. In his judgment, he said, such people were not worth the trouble, because sooner or later one could obtain the same information from someone else who did not play hard to get. He said that he had neither patience nor time for old fogies, and that it was possible that the old man was only presenting himself as being knowledgeable about herbs, when in reality he knew as little as the next man.
For the complete introductions scenes in their entirety --- as written by Castaneda --- click HERE.
There is one caveat and it is found in an interview with Castaneda in 1968 on KPFA radio wherein on the transcript Castaneda says:
"I met Don Juan in a rather fortuitous manner. I was doing, at the time in 1960, I was doing, I was collecting ethnographic data on the use of medicinal plants among the Arizona Indians. And a friend of mine who was my guide on that enterprise knew about Don Juan. He knew that Don Juan was a very learned man in the use of plants and he intended to introduce me to him, but he never got around to do that. One day when I was about to return to Los Angeles, we happened to see him at a bus station, and my friend went over to talk to him. Then he introduced me to the man and I began to tell him that my interests was plants, and that, especially about peyote, because somebody had told me that this old man was very learned in the use of peyote.
Which sounds as though his friend, which is presumed to be his anthropological and Road Trip bus station colleague Bill --- because in Castaneda's books, both in the past and those at the time yet to be published, it is --- and in this interview, unlike how he was written about other times, Bill knows the "old man" and knows he is not just some old fogie but someone of some consequence.
In the interview Castaneda says Bill "knew about Don Juan" and that he "knows that Don Juan was a very learned man in the use of plants." As clear as that sounds it still doesn't mean that Bill knows the old man is Don Juan, only that he knew OF him and that he was a very learned man in the use of plants --- which is no secret. After all Bill was quite clear that he knew the "old man" was a companion or a teacher of the Cloud Shaman and that he had seen both of them together in the distance various times many years ago. It is Castaneda that eliminates the "old man" reference and interjects the name Don Juan into the interview. It is presented to the listener as though Don Juan's name was known, however it was really presented by Castaneda after the fact --- eight years after the fact. By then everybody with any interest knew the "old man" in the bus station was, according to Castaneda, Don Juan, so HE calls him Don Juan. If you notice in ALL four of the books cited above, Bill does not, in any instance, use Don Juan's name OR actually introduce Castaneda and the "old man" to each other. He either immediately left, forgot to introduce them, or, as in the last case, Bill wasn't even mentioned and Castaneda took it upon himself. Why in all the above scenarios did Bill NOT introduce the two of them together? Simply put, Bill did just not know the old man's name, period. Rather than be embarrassed he just slinked away. Again, for the complete set of introductions scenes in their entirety as written by Castaneda, click HERE.
An introduction of a totally different type, albeit however brief, is my own connection to Carlos Castaneda in my youth. As to how that connection came about, that is, my meeting with Castaneda, please see: CARLOS CASTANEDA: Before Don Juan.
C. Scott Littleton (1933 - 2010) was most recently untl his untimely death, a Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, and former Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, California. Littleton joined the Occidental faculty in 1962, retiring at the end of the spring semester, 2002. Littleton met Castaneda for the first time in Lessa's office at UCLA the same day he sat in on Castaneda's seminar presentation. The two hit it off immediately and because of the level of their friendship, Littleton had Castaneda as a most willing guest lecturer in his classes at both Occidental and UCLA Extension on many occasions.
During the winter of 1942, only a few months into World War II, when Littleton was eight years old, he was living in a small beach community along the coast of Southern California and experienced a most unsual event. In the early morning hours of February 25, 1942 he and his whole family were awakened by the sounds of air raid sirens and air defense guns. Searchlights had a huge airborne object of an unknown type and unknown origin within their sights and whatever the object was it was impervious to the continuing barrage and pounding of seemingly direct hits from anti-aircraft fire. Coming to be called the UFO Over Los Angeles or the Battle of L.A., the object turned inland and disappeared into the night over what was then thinly populated farmland and oilfields, but not without first impacting Littleton for the rest of his life. He has since gone on to do intensive academic research into the mythological dimensions of the UFO phenomenon. In so saying, he has sometimes indulged on his suspicions that Castaneda's experiences reflected a UFO connection --- a possibility Littleton raised with Castaneda personally on several occasions despite the absence of clear-cut UFO imagery in his writings --- and Castaneda reportedly told him that he'd "look into it."
As an extra added insight it should be brought to your attention that before Littleton became a professor at Occidental College he was a student not unlike Castaneda, albeit a graduate student, in the Department of Anthropology at UCLA. One of his teachers was a noted professor by the name of William A. Lessa. Littleton is quoted as saying that Lessa told him:"...he had this Peruvian guy in his class who'd collected the best information from a shaman he'd ever seen, bar none..."
Some people have suggested that the above quote attributed to Lessa could not be true in that a professor of Lessa's status would NEVER use the word "shaman."
In so saying, the idea is to undermine the statement so it could never have been said. However, that the word "shaman" would NOT be used by Lessa and others of his ilk is an outsider's view. When individuals or closed groups of insiders such as Lessa and Littleton get together they simply cut to the quick and political correctness drops by the wayside. It is not unlike Blacks, for example. Within their own circles or amongst their close friends they can and do use the N-word. If an outsider or White person were to join the group and start throwing the word around there would be hell to pay.
Source for both Littleton comments, the one on Castaneda and UFOs as well as Lessa's shaman comment, can be found in the following email titled: CREATE, COMMUNICATE, COLLABORATE, Subject: Re: A good read; Sat, 30 Jun 2001 14:59:12 -0700 (PDT); From: "C. Scott Littleton" To: "Dr. Jack Sarfatti." (see)
WE DO NOT HAVE SHAMANS:
THE CASE AGAINST SHAMANS IN NORTH AMERICAN INDIGENOUS CULTURES
The paragraph this footnote is referenced to in the main text above, speaking of my uncle, I write:
"(A)s we were parting he gave me a small package to deliver in person to a man in Laguna Beach, California --- and told me whatever I did, NOT give it to anybody else under any circumstances. When I arrived in Laguna Beach I went to an establishment on Pacific Coast Highway called Mystic Arts World as directed by my uncle. There someone took me to the man who was sequestered in a remote cave hidden in the hills above Laguna Canyon Road. The man, Dr. Timothy Leary. The contents of the box not known."
The Laguna Beach establishment my uncle sent me to, Mystic Arts World, for all outward appearances looked like not much more than an early 60s head shop, with racks of tie-dyed shirts, the smell of burning incense, psychedelic posters, and bongs. It was actually the base of operations for a seemingly loosely organized albeit tightly knit outfit called The Brotherhood of Eternal Love. The Brotherhood dealt heavily in the movement and sale of marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, and LSD --- reportedly with upwards of $200 million in sales in the late 60s. The organization began to fall apart shortly after its leader died of an overdose of synthetic psilocybin in August 1969 and the Mystic Arts World building burning to the ground following a mysterious fire that started just before midnight June 4, 1970, a fire widely viewed as arson. By 1974, following an August of 1972 multi-agency government raid, most of the remnants of the organization were dispersed, scattered, or gone.
However, before the raid, in 1971 the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass, which Apple Computer mogul Steve Jobs, for example, mentioned as being highly influential in his life before Apple, was published. In the book, which became a wildly popular best seller and almost a bible in the counter-culture, Dass mentioned a deeply respected young white American he met in India called Bhagavan Das, a follower of the venerated Indian saint Neem Karoli Baba, that was fully ingrained into the spiritual culture of India. The two of them traveled around the sub-continent together partaking of a variety of religious and spiritual undertakings as well as indulging in a lot of LSD. It just so happened Bhagavan Das was originally from Laguna Beach and because of his stature given him in the Ram Dass book, had become a growing sort of hero amongst the local LSD crowd associated with the Mystic Arts World and the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. In the milieu of Laguna Beach it wasn't long before Bhagavan Das was brought to my attention and I learned he had returned from India after six or seven years, living quietly as a civilian in the northern California bay area, most notedly, Santa Cruz and sometimes Berkeley.
Before the oncoming summer of 1974, at the request of my mentor who wanted my assist in helping him meet a friend who would soon be visiting from India, I headed north along the California coast slowly wending my way toward Sausalito, all the while crossing paths with a few friends and strangers along the way. One of the people I stopped to see was an old high school buddy who lived in San Jose and worked at IBM. While staying at his place I visited the Winchester Mystery House and, as outlined in what I have written about Steve Jobs in the link at the end of this footnote, I met the future to be computer genius in the garden there.
During our talk that afternoon he told me he was seriously contemplating going to India in an effort to find a guru. I mentioned Bhagavan Das to him saying there was a highly respected holy man just returned from India, now living in the area he should look up, a holy man that could give him all the ins-and-outs of a spiritual quest in India anybody would ever need or want. Jobs remembered Bhagavan Das almost immediately from having read about him in Be Here Now and seemed sort of excited about the prospect. If Jobs ever went to Bhagavan Das I never learned, as neither ever mentioned it as far as I know. However, shortly after our meeting in the garden at the Winchester House, Jobs did go to India.
INDIA, BUDDHISM, AND ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT
The death of my father in 1972 set into motion a lot of how Bhagavan Das came to be mentioned in a number of my works.
More than once in my writings, most notedly in Brenda Allen, I mention that the woman my dad was married to at the time of his death was not particularly warm toward me, out-and-out hate being more like it. Why such was the case I'm not certain. I think a good part of it stemmed from a continuing close relationship and almost reverence, deserved or undeserved, I held long into adulthood toward his divorced second wife, the woman I call my Stepmother and sometimes ex-stepmother in all my works. My dad's wife took her misplaced dislike she aimed toward me and blanketed it broadly across a number of other family members I was close to, of which one included my dad's brother, my uncle.
Toward the end of his life my father had fallen into a deep coma, after which his wife, against the recommendations of a variety of doctors, had him put on life support --- even though for all practical purposes his major faculties and primary physical abilities were basically non-functional. When my father was first caught in the fire two years before and seemed on his last legs, my uncle came to see him. However, he was treated so shabbily by my dad's wife he vowed never to return regardless of the situation, a vow he held on to even to the point of not going to the funeral.
Several months before my dad fell into the coma, around the start of the summer of 1972, he called me to his bedside without the knowledge of family or friends, including his wife. He told me he had long rented a small, single-car garage-size storage unit unknown to anybody. In it he said was all kinds of stuff, all of which, any time from then forward and especially so before he died and before others became privey to it, was to be divided between my two brothers and myself as we saw fit --- except for two things. The Porsche-powered restored vintage Volkswagen that belonged to his daughter, my half sister, was to go to me. Second, in the storage unit was a large locked trunk clearly marked with his brother's name, my uncle, and that I was to take it to him post haste unopened without anybody's knowledge, even my brothers.
Adhering to my father's request to deliver to my uncle the trunk post haste (my dad's words), put me in Santa Fe unexpectedly on a quick couple of days turn around during late June early July of 1972. I say unexpectedly because as soon as I walked out of the hospital I went straight to the storage unit, picked up the trunk, and drove all night right to Santa Fe. Doing so put me into my uncle's schedule of doing things instead of the two of designing time around me being there.
During that couple of days stay my uncle had to meet up with, for some undisclosed reason, beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who just happened to be in town, and I went along. I wasn't introduced or meet Ginsberg, staying off some distance milling around the car as requested by my uncle while the two of them talked. However, I was close enough to see Ginsberg was traveling with a couple of hangers-on, one of which was a woman about 30 with ultra-short dark hair the other a very tall young man with full beard and dreadlocks.
Although I didn't know it at the time, I quickly discovered the tall young man with Ginsberg was Bhagavan Das, who I learned about from my Laguna Beach cohorts, then sought out by me in Santa Cruz, California. By then his dreadlocks and beard were gone. Sometime between Santa Fe and Santa Cruz, as the story goes and the legend grows, Bhagavan Das was visiting the venerated Tibetan holy man Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche either at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado or at a retreat of some kind in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and after a long night of booze, sex, and drugs, Das passed out only to wake up the next morning with his head shaved and all his dreadlocks gone courtesy Trungpa.
Although it was apparent my uncle and Ginsberg knew each other, why my uncle requested me to remain by the car while the two of them talked was never made clear. I could have easily overridden the whole thing if I so chose, and perhaps I should have. I carried a major ace-in-the-hole relative to Ginsberg that would have elevated me quickly with him had I selected to do so --- that ace being me having met a few years prior a major high-profile woman in his inner circle that had disappeared, a woman by the name of Hope Savage. She had been with the Beats ever since Ginsberg's top player Gregory Corso brought her into their circle. She had gone to Paris and Corso had went in search of her with no luck. Ginsberg ran into her in India a few years later and was the last to see her when the two of them said goodbyes in Calcutta in 1962. However, I had inadvertently crossed paths with her wandering in a remote section of the Himalayas since then. He would have flipped had he found out about it.
The three-photo strip below was taken at the 1972 meeting in Santa Fe. The first photo show Alan Ginsberg. The center photo has Bhagavan Das and Ram Dass shown together. The third photo shows him with Ram Dass and Ginsberg. Ram Dass, again, IS Dr. Richard Alpert, the author of Be Here Now, the 1971 book that shot Bhagavan Das to fame.
BUDDHISM IN AMERICA BEFORE COLUMBUS