Within the text of The Boy and the Giant Feather the following paragraph appears:
The next morning my Uncle and I got up and went out to the truck to do a few errands. Laying alone in middle of the pick-up bed near the back of the cab in a very fine smooth layer of dust was a long black with white feather, with a small, double strand leather string with ten colored beads tied to it's quill. Left in the dust also, were what appeared to be several very large, clear footprints of a huge bird along with scratches and talon marks on the tailgate as though, if even for a short time, a giant avian had roosted or landed there.
Presented within the same text, regarding the giant feather, which is estimated to have been nearly as large as a wing feather from the twenty-five foot wingspan Teratorn, Argentavis Magnificens, with a feather measurement of 1.5 meters in length (60 inches...that is, FIVE FEET) and 20 centimeters wide (8 inches) the following is found as well:
When the feather was first given to me, even though it was of a huge size, I, as a young boy with a vivid imagination, did not fully grasp the ramifications of it all. For me at the time, it did not seem impossible that a bird could not be of any size, so a feather as long as I was tall did not seem at all that improbable. It was only into high school and beyond that it came to me that I had been in the presence of something truly remarkable. I never saw the bird the feather came from, nor have I ever seen a second or other feathers of such large size, but for a bird to have required such an enormous feather in the first place, it would have to had been truly a giant creature.
The question continually comes up regarding the aforementioned footprints, scratches, and talon marks in and on the bed of the truck and if, as a young boy, could I have been mistaken --- especially in the fact that I go on to say that I never saw the bird the feather came from, nor have I ever seen a second or other feathers of such large size --- nor any such bird it could have come from.
At the bottom of the page on Don Juan Matus I write, without further elaboration:
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.
Don Juan, the shaman-sorcerer teacher of Carlos Castaneda, has been described by Castaneda as being a Yaqui Indian who learned his art under the direct auspices of a Diablero. The following is how Castaneda presents it in his first book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968):
"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 describingHIS 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."
The answer to the footprints, scratches, and talon marks can be found in Castaneda's own words. A diablero is "capable of transforming himself into an animal - a bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other creature." In that it is my contention that the very strange man in the desert that gave me the feather was Don Juan's own unknown, albeit, unnamed master teacher said to have been a diablero, and a diablero is capable of morphing or shapeshifting into an animal --- a bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other creature --- and IF the footprints, scratches, and talon marks were NOT attributable to an actual born and bred from an egg giant bird in the lineage of a Teratorn for example, then it must have been the diablero acting in its stead. In either case the talon marks, footprints, and scratches were there. For a confirmation from a possible similar incident, please refer to the mysterious woman along the edge of the of the butte in The Sun Dagger.
The whole problem I have with shapeshifting is a philosophical one stemming from my own Zen background and knowledge and use of the supernormal perceptual states known in Sanskrit as Siddhis. In The Wanderling's Journey I recount an incident wherein Castaneda, after the application of a nearly medieval-like concoction of goop similar to a Flying Ointment that he and Don Juan cooked up using Sacred Datura, Castaneda morphs into a crow and flys. Describing the incident Castaneda writes:
"My legs were rubbery and long, extremely long. I took another step....and from there I soared. I remember coming down once; then I pushed up...and glided on my back. I saw the dark sky above me, and the clouds going by me. I jerked my body so I could look down. I saw the dark mass of the mountains. My speed was extraordinary....suddenly I knew it was time to come down...and I began descending like a feather with lateral motions....the next thing I remember is the feeling of waking up. I was in my bed in my own room. I sat up. And the image of my room dissolved. I stood up. I was naked! The motion of standing made me sick again. I recognized some of the landmarks. I was about half a mile from don Juan's house, near the place of his Datura Plants."
I then go on to say, speaking of my own experience:
No such transformation even came close or remotely transpired to me under the auspices of theObeah, a difference that slides my experience directly into the Zen and Buddhist camps of Siddhis and away from any aspects of the areas touched on by Castaneda.
So what, you say? A big what I say. And it goes back to shapeshifting. Castaneda's experience morphing into a crow might not be shapeshifting in the classical sense per se', like for example possibly, the woman avian shapeshifter on the butte in The Sun Dagger who, by all standards of reckoning, appears to have assumed human form from what appeared to be a Vulture. However, in both cases --- and in ALL cases for me --- there is a problem. If a diablero is capable of morphing or shapeshifting into an animal --- a bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other creature --- and in doing so, as the bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other animal, retains the abilitiy to return back to his original human form, THEN, truth be told, he never REALLY turned into a bird, dog, coyote, or any other animal BECAUSE those animals do not possess the ability to turn into humans. In other words, the diablero would be stuck at whatever he turned into, and most likely, not knowing it besides.
I only bring it up because there is a big difference in a genuine giant feather from a Teratorn type bird, for example, and one from a diablero or shapeshifter that produced feathers because of being in the morphed state of a bird --- a giant bird, crow, or otherwise.
My suspicion is that the giant feather was "real" because of the fact of what the very strange man that handed me the feather as reported in The Boy and the Giant Feather related to me:
He told me the feather once belonged to a very magnificent bird that was very important to his culture and the desert's well being, but now it belonged to me.
The fact that the spiritual elder held the belief that the feather he gave me once BELONGED TO a very magnificent bird that was very important to his culture and the desert's well being implies to me that it was much more than a feather that fell off of, picked off of, or came from a diablero or shapeshifter while in an morph-altered bird-form state. For the most part as a general rule, much like a Tulpa, AND because the normal flow of events are being messed with, over the long run such an object as a feather or any other item morphed into existance would disappear suddenly at the death of the magician or once separated, gradually vanish like a body that perishes for want of food.
In JULIAN OSORIO: Don Juan's Teacher, speaking of my uncle and various discussions I had with him in later years, I write:
In one of the meetings my uncle and I had just before he died he told me that The Old Man In the Desert I met those so many years ago had died, citing the night of October 31, 1978. During the year 1978 an unusual TWO new moon's in one month occurrence transpired and it just so happened to occur in October, with the second of the darkened new moons on, of all things, All Hallow's Eve, Halloween night, October 31st, the same night of the old man's death, a major convergence of conditions and coincidences.
Then, in Meditation Along Meteor Crater Rim, in discussing the fate of the giant feather, I present the following:
(I)n deference to my Uncle and his legacy, unbeknownst to anybody, including any crater authorities, on a windy night at exactly midnight June 19th, on the closest full moon to the Summer Solstice following his death, using a special box kite based on a Da Vinci design, as the cold wind howled down the crater wall and up the otherside, I tied the feather to the string as close to the kite as I could and ran it out hundreds of yards into the night sky.
That June 19th date was in the year 1989, eleven years AFTER the passing of the very strange man in the desert. If the very strange man was a diablero and the feather was from an ablility of his to shapeshift, then, in accordance with the belief above in such things, the feather should have, if nothing else, either suddenly disappeared upon his demise OR gradually vanished. Neither of which happened --- at least in the eleven years my uncle had it before he gave it to me. Which, all taken together would lend credence that the over five-foot long, eight inch wide feather was in fact "real," that is, from a genuine DNA Thunderbird-like Teratorn.
NOTE: If you haven't gone to or read Footnote  yet please do so now by simply scrolling down to the bottom of the page. Also, if you want a further clarification on how I arrived at the position I have in what I have presented above please refer to The Ally In Shamanism.
CARLOS CASTANEDA: BEFORE DON JUAN
CARLOS CASTANEDA: TIMELINE
POWER OF THE SHAMAN
THE DEATH DEFIER
THE BEST OF
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WE DO NOT HAVE SHAMANS
The Case Against "Shamans" In the
North American Indigenous Cultures
Where Is It Now, What Happened To It?
SHAMANISM WEB CIRCLE
THUNDERBIRD SITE LIST
ON THE RAZOR'S
As to the question have I seen or come into contact with a bird of such large size that it would require a feather as big as the one I mention, I cannot answer with all certainty. However, the following may add some insight as to IF and why of the possible uncertainty:
One day as a young boy I wandered off into the desert unescorted. When my uncle found me missing he went searching for me. Years later he told me the distance I traveled that day, from the point I started to the location he found me, was way to far for me to have covered given the time, especially considering the level of my own abilities, the terrain, heat of the day, etc. He told me he had tracked me some distance quite clearly, then my tracks suddenly just ended as though I had disappeared into thin air. Knowing I didn't have a large supply of water or any at all he continued to look in areas he thought I might seek out and just happened across me --- many, many miles from where he had last seen my tracks. How I got there he couldn't say with any amount of certainty. However, he told me, and he kept it a secret from his wife even to the point of burning my shirt, that my shirt below both shoulders as well as part way down the back and along my sleeves were punctured in spots and appeared to have what he called grip marks on them. So too, my skin had red abrasions almost like minor scratches as though my arms had been clutched by something. He told me he was sure I had been carried off and if he hadn't happened across me I may had been carried off even further, maybe even never to be found.
In that my uncle was not able to get me to tell him verbally --- OR I was unable or unwilling to put into words my experience of what happened that day --- my uncle suggested I sit down and draw whatever pictures came to mind that related to the event. All of those drawings are long gone as are any finite memories of same, except for one. I remember it clearly as if only yesterday because of the striking comparison my uncle made between one of my drawings and an ink and watercolor drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci. They were nearly identical, desert landscape and all. The major exception was that where Leonardo's drawing depicted a lake with a shape similar to a bird, my drawing, although having a similar shape, was instead, a SHADOW of a giant bird.
Leonardo Da Vinci: Bird's-Eye View of a Landscape. 1502.
Pen, ink and watercolor on paper. Windsor Castle, Windsor, UK
The above incident occurred while I was a young boy. In later years, without getting into all of the details here, but as an adult the following transpired as presented in the source so cited:
"As to the period of time I was on the promontory and didn't move, eat, and apparently didn't drink any water for days --- as the two teaspoons a day were unconsumed and continued to add up in the water jar to such a point that it held the equivalent of at least five days of water --- and what happened during that period that I have described above as a deep meditative state that sort of melded together varying aspects of samadhi, nirodha, and shamanic journeying is, well, a story for another time. I will tell you that the birds continued to get larger, going from vultures the first day to condors the second. Then, as I write above, the distinction between days and time began to fade as I fell deeper into a meditative state. However, during an area of transition between the total completion of the fading into the deep meditative state I remember something that must have been on the third day. On that day, no longer were there vultures or condors, but an enormous bird of even larger size perched on the promontory with it's back toward me and tailfeathers spread in such a fashion that I was able to walk up on it's back and sit."(source)
The drawings my uncle had me do came about after a series of unfortunate events.
When I was a young boy my mother became very ill. Soon she began spending more and more time time in the hospital. Eventually she died there. Before she was admitted full time, as she got closer to the point where she could no longer independently tend to her own personal needs let alone fulfill day-to-day activities required of a mother of three young boys --- and my dad continuing to work longer and longer hours in order to meet mounting medical expenses --- my two brothers and myself were shipped off to stay with relatives and friends. First a day at a time, then overnight, then weeks and months at a time.
I ended up living with a couple that just happened to be visiting neighbors. Before my father knew it, without his apporval or authorization, they took me to India, albeit with the unintended privilege of me meeting the venerated Indian holy man, the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. See:
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI
Unconnected with any of the above events, within months of my return and still a very, very young boy, a dear and close relative committed suicide from the blast of a shotgun he stuck in his mouth. Within minutes I personally stumbled upon the aftermath. During the ensuing milieu I got caught up in an auto accident wherein I was rendered unconsious and found wandering in the desert all alone. During that trek lost across the desert a series of incidents led me to a near carcass of a dying coyote, a coyote easily twice the size of any normal one, an incident that ended with startling results. (see) That inturn was then followed by a two year-plus blackout period of any memory from my mother's death forward to the end of that two year period.
My uncle, because of the blackout period and concern with "how my brain worked" --- or didn't work like everybody else's as the case may be --- along with the fact I did not talk much, for reasons unexplained at the time, took me high into the mountains of the Sierras to meet with a man of great spiritual Attainment by the name of Franklin Merrell-Wolff. After our meeting and without me being within earshot, Wolff and my uncle talked a long while. Following the several hours drive after leaving Wolff's mountain compound I was tired and wasted and fell asleep for what seemed like forever.
What followed after I woke up I cannot confirm had anything to do with Wolff except from my own suspicions. It could have been because my uncle was an artist and it would be an easy ploy for him to work it in, but, following the several hours drive after leaving Wolff's mountain compound and my long sleep, within minutes of me waking up --- and continuing on for years afterwards --- my uncle had me make simple free-form drawings in cartoon or comic book narrative style of what was going on in my head. Then we would sit down and go over the drawings verbally, with me explaining in my own words what I drew and the why of my thoughts behind their visual content. In the process of those discussions my uncle either took notes at the time or wrote notes later about my drawings and what I said.
Why all the fuss about giant flying creatures, giant birds, and giant feathers, and all somehow and in someway related back to the Wanderling?
Basically, my uncle stated many times that he felt the reason for my destiny and fascination regarding all aspects of giant flying creatures went back to an incident that involved the fly over of a giant airborne object that I witnessed as a young boy. The object, of an unknown nature and an unknown origin, was seen by literally thousands of people along the coast of California barely three months into World War II. Eventually to be called the Battle of Los Angeles or as I call it the UFO Over L.A., the incident is mostly forgotten now except by maybe myself and a major chronicler of the event C. Scott Littleton whose critiques of my eyewitness accounts of the event are explored in Littleton Vs. The Wanderling. Anyway, as the story goes, during the early morning hours of February 25, 1942 the whole city and surrounding communities were in an uproar as thousands of rounds of anti-aircraft shells were expended in an attempt to pull down whatever it was in the sky that night. The slow moving object, said to be as big or bigger than a Zeppelin, was caught in the glare of the searchlights from Santa Monica to Long Beach and seemed impervious to the the constant barrarge of shells. It eventually disappeared out over the Pacific after cruising along the coast and cutting inland for a while. The huge object was never clearly explained and was basically hushed up without response from the authorities.
On the third page of my paper ZEN ENLIGHTENMENT: The Path Unfolds, relating living with Uncle under the auspices of my Stepmother, I write that at age ten I first heard of the aforementioned Leonardo Da Vinci. Actually, more clearly, what happened was that the moment my Uncle first showed me pictures of Da Vinci's flying machines I recognized them from my past as a preschool three or four-year old, I just didn't know (or remember) who Leonardo was or how the drawings related to him. Later I tell how my Uncle drew a life size drawing of one of the crafts on the floor of the studio and from there, together, we built an actual machine capable of flying. I go on to say I was not sure what my Uncle's exact plan for the machine was, but one day without his knowledge a friend of mine and I hauled it out of the studio and up to the top of the second story apartments across the compound, and hanging on for dear life, launched it.
Initially the flight played out fairly well, picking up wind under the wings and maintaining the same two-story height advantage for some distance. Halfway across busy Arlington Street though, the craft began slowing and losing forward momentum. It began dropping altitude rapidly, eventually crashing into the porch and partway through the front windows of the house across the way. Other than a few bruises and a wrecked machine, nothing was broken, although as it turned out, my dad wasn't nearly as proud of me as intended. I never forgot the thrill of that flight and carried that thrill and Leonardo's dreams into my adulthood.
The whole Da Vinci and flying thing was a huge metaphor for things to come, of which I get into somewhat more throughly in Codex Atlanticus. As it was, my Mentor, either before or after his stay at the ashrama of Sri Ramana Maharshi, and I believe it was before --- even though it is not mentioned by William Somerset Maugham in his book --- traveled to Bijapur to meet with another Indian holy man, Siddharameshwar Maharaj. The Maharaj taught that the only way one can reach Final Reality, that is, Enlightenment, is through what he called Vihangam Marg, the bird's way. For me, at the time, of course, I knew nothing of such things. I only know who the holy man is now because I was able to put together bits and pieces of information such as time and place with such clues as "the bird's way." The holy man had related to my Mentor that only by hearing and practising from the teachings of the Master and thinking over it, just like the bird flies from one tree to another, can one attain Awakening very fast. This is the shortest way to achieve the Final Reality. In that initially I had made little or no progress toward Enlightenment my mentor told me of Siddharameshwer's method.
For another take on where, when or how it would be possible that a genuine DNA-based born-and-bred from an egg of a giant bird in the lineage of a Teratorn feather could come to light in our present day world, I offer the following from Adrienne Mayor's 2005 book FOSSIL LEGENDS OF THE FIRST AMERICANS (Princeton University Press) that refers specifically to feather so discussed by me on this page:
"According to Pleistocene bird specialist Tommy Tyrberg, a Teratornis fossil preserved in a dry desert cave could have cartilage and feathers. 'Even a wing of Gymnogyps (californianus) amplus, the large Pleistocene subspecies of the California condor, could be described as having man-sized bones. Remains of this bird have been found in at least six New Mexico caves.' Several very well-preserved Teratornis merriami remains have also been discovered in Dry Cave, Eddy County, and other caves in southern New Mexico, and teratorn skeletons have turned up in southern California, Nevada, Oregon, and Florida. A Native American fossil story that circulated on the Internet in 2002 claimed that a black-and-white feather, nearly sixty inches long with a quill the diameter of a stick of blackboard chalk, was made into an amulet by an old shaman in southern New Mexico. Whether or not that story is true, a feather of that size could be plucked from the remains of a mummified teratorn in a dry cave."
To the majority of people such an occurrence most likely does not mean much. However, for the occult, voodoo and others of similar ilk, such a rare event as having the darkened second new moon of a two new moon month happen on, of all nights, All Hallow's Eve, is a convergence of major proportions that carries a deep significance. It means POWER in the hands to those who can so channel it, COSMIC POWER. Any event perpetrated during such a narrow band or limited time period carries a destiny with it that similar events at another time won't or can't.
As to All Hallow's Eve, All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows Day (hallowed means sanctified or holy), falls on November 1st. The evening prior to All Hallows Day, October 31st, was the time of intense activity, both human and supernatural. Originally people celebrated All Hallow's Eve as a time of the wandering dead, but over time the supernatural beings came to be either dominated by or thought of as evil. To propitiate those spirits (and their masked impersonators) people began setting out gifts of food and drink. Over time All Hallow's Eve became Hallow Evening, which eventually became Hallowe'en.
See ZEN, THE BUDDHA, AND SHAMANISM. Scroll down to to the sub-section titled Once In a Blue Moon.