Two Shamans and Don Juan Matus

the Wanderling

"Previously, in A Separate Reality (1971), Castaneda had written he and his experienced driving around the southwest guide, Bill, had driven around for a whole day six months before and could not find 'the house of an eccentric Mexican Indian who lived in the area' (Nogales/Sonora), but Castaneda on his own, after simply asking a couple local Indians in a effort that he calls taxing inquiries, drove right up in front of Don Juan's house in Yuma. Which opens the door for me that we are talking the posibility of TWO different people here."


Over and over people have been saying that Don Juan Matus, the Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer in the series of Don Juan books by Carlos Castaneda, IF NOT a total figment of the imagination of Castaneda, was not a real person at all, but a composite of two or more people. There are several authors that write about just such a thesis, that is, Don Juan being a composite as the below paragraphs will attest.

When writers suggest a composite they are saying that Castaneda took a "number" of different individuals and combined their shaman-like traits and abilities into one person, in the process "inventing" Don Juan. One of the people most often cited as being used for a potential compositee is the Cahuilla Spiritual Elder, Salvador Lopez. However, the opening paragraph at the top of the page, although it makes reference to the possibilities of "two different people," and may seem to fall into the same camp as an invented composite, there is a huge difference. Two totally separate individuals, each one thought to be the one-and-only Don Juan Matus by different people or groups of people --- and having the twain never meet --- is a totally different approach than a composite. The person most often cited as a totally separate individual is the self-proclaimed Yaqui Shaman, Tezlcazi Guitimea Cachora. But, before getting to Cachora, lets investigate the potential possibilities, if any, of Salvador Lopez being a composite or somehow involved:

SALVADOR LOPEZ: Cahuilla Spiritual Elder

Salvador Lopez (d. August, 1967, with some reports stating 1973) was a member and highly revered spiritual elder of the Cahuilla band of Indians of the Morongo Reservation, Banning, California. He was renowned as an expert on medicinal plants, a bird singer and doing feats with fire as well as being a Bear Shaman. Lopez is considered by some to be at least one of the sources of information Carlos Castaneda used regarding Sacred Datura and other hallucinogenics presented in his first two books.* True, the possibility does exists that Lopez could have contributed in some fashion as an informant of Castaneda's, but it is questionable. It becomes an even more remote possibility if Lopez is thrust into the role of the primary source of information, especially considering the fund of of knowledge Castaneda presented in his first two books. Lopez was known for being quite stoic and non-communicative even among his own band, so it would be highly unlikely that he would depart very much in the way ancient and guarded tribal secrets to a total stranger or outsider, most particularly so in the short space of time Castaneda had with him.

A woman by the name of Mary Joan (Joanie) Barker is said to have been the person that originally took Castaneda to the Morongo Indian Reservation located near her childhood home in Banning where she grew up. While visiting the reservation Castaneda met, among others, Lopez. Because of the ensuing interaction with Lopez it has been extrapolated that Castaneda obtained the information on Datura he used in his first book, TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968). That use of Datura, outlining Datura's four heads, their different purposes, the significance of the roots, the cooking process and the ritual of preparation, all information Castaneda says was learned from Don Juan Matus, was written by Castaneda and found in PART ONE: THE TEACHINGS, Chapter 3, dated Wednesday, August 23, 1961.

However, in the spring semester of 1960, fifteen full months before that August 23, 1961 date cited by Castaneda in his book, Castaneda was an undergraduate anthropology student enrolled in a class at UCLA titled "Methods in Field Archaeology," taught by Professor Clement Meighan. As part of a requirement for that class, Castaneda wrote and turned in a paper with all the exact same information. In regards to that spring semester of 1960 paper, Professor Meighan is on record of saying:

"(Castaneda's) 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."

If we disregard Don Juan Matus as the source of the information and go with the suggestion that Lopez was the source, it would automatically infer then that any meeting between the Castaneda and Lopez would have to had occurred BEFORE the end of the spring semester of 1960 in order for any of the information to have been used in his paper.

UCLA professor Douglass Price-Williams, a friend of Castaneda's and a member of his 1973 PhD dissertation committee, has been quoted as saying Barker was a librarian at UCLA sometime in the summer of 1960 and it was during that summer, July or August of 1960, that Castaneda and Barker met. If such was the case, any introduction by her involving Castaneda and Lopez would have transpired AFTER Castaneda's 1960s paper on Datura was turned in --- once again opening up the "who was the informant" question.(see)

IF there WAS a meeting between Castaneda and Lopez, regardless of the timing of a meeting, before, during, or after the spring semester, or how long or short it was, there remains a remote possibility Lopez may have had an influence on Castaneda --- just not at the level of being the informant. Not to discount Lopez's abilities or knowledge, a much more credible source would be the Mazatec curandera Maria Sabina or the Huichol shaman-priest Ramon Medina Silva, as cited by anthropologist Jay Courtney Fikes in his book Carlos Castaneda, Academic Opportunism and the Psychedelic Sixties (1993). The problem with Sabina is that she is not known to have ventured very far (physically) from her birthplace. Castaneda's ex-wife Margaret Runyan (1921-2011) confirmed that her husband made frequent field trips to Mexico in the time he was supposedly apprenticed to the shaman sorcerer Don Juan Matus. Even though it has been recorded that Castaneda met briefly with Dr. Timothy Leary at the Catalina Hotel in Zihuatanejo sometime during the summer of 1962 --- albeit somewhat unsuccessfully --- NOTHING has surfaced that substantiates any sort of meeting between the curandera and Castaneda or that he ever made it all the way to HER remote village in the state of Oaxaca.(see)


As for the potential possibility of the Huichol shaman-priest Ramon Medina Silva being Don Juan or a composite for Don Juan, the connection is made by a very thin thread that some say leads to Castaneda. Although the thread existed, the strength of the connection weakens because of the timing of events. The person designated only as the Informant that shows up in various writings including Castaneda's last book, The Active Side of Infinity and who is known to have have been friends with Sabina long before her rise to fame is perhaps the most credible source.(see)

"In describing his teacher, Don Juan used the word Diablero. Later I learned diablero is a term used only by the Sonoran Indians. It refers to an evil person who practices black sorcery and is capable of transforming himself into an animal - a bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other creature."


Capable of transforming himself into an animal - a bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other creature! As stated prior in the main section above, Lopez was said to be a Bear Shaman. Bear Shamans are a special class of Shaman that have received their power from grizzly bears and that possess many of the qualities of the grizzly, especially their apparent invulnerability to fatal attack. Bear Shamans are said to have the ability to assume the form of bears (i.e., shapeshift) and that they can be killed an indefinite number of times when in this form and each time return to life. In some tribal beliefs the Bear Shaman was not thought to actually become a bear, instead being a man clothed in the skin of a bear, but capable through Shaman powers of inflicting greater injury than a true bear. To see a photo of a Native American Bear Shaman costume using the skin of a real bear, click HERE.

In a quick comment in a continuing theme as mentioned above regarding Carlos Castandea and if Don Juan Matus was a composite of one or more shamans or not. Don Juan is presented, understandably enough, throughout the series of books by Castaneda as if he was NOT. Castaneda states that Don Juan, at the age of twenty, had come in contact with a person Don Juan referred to as a master sorcerer by the name of Julian Osorio. Osorio in turn introduced Don Juan into a lineage of sorcerers that was purported to be twenty-five generations long. 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 Osorio the knowledge of his lineage of sorcerers and thus inturn through Osorio to Don Juan, then down in lineage to Castaneda.


Tezlcazi Guitimea Cachora, who would be well into his 90s by now, is a Yaqui shaman known as Grandfather Cachora, that has indicated he IS the actual, real Don Juan Matus, the person who taught Carlos Castaneda. There are, however, rather stark differences between what he says about himself and his background and what Castaneda has written and made clear about Don Juan and Don Juan's background.

Corey Donovan (aka Richard Jennings), a former student of Carlos Castaneda and creator of the most excellent Castaneda internet site Sustained Action, attended a talk by Grandfather Cachora in September, 2000. At that talk Donovan asked when it was Castaneda studied with Cachora. Bernyce Barlow, author of Sacred Sites of the West and Sacred Sites and Shaman's Flights, a member of Cachora's immediate entourage and sitting at his feet during the talk, responded for him with, "In the early 70s." Donovan asked again, "Not in the 60s?" After looking at Cachora, Barlow responded with "Once maybe in '69."

Castaneda says he met Don Juan in the late summer of 1960 as stated in the now infamous Nogales Bus Station Meeting. Eight years later, Castaneda's first book on Don Juan was published. If Cachora did not meet Castaneda until 1970 --- or possibly 1969 --- who was the person Castaneda met in 1960?

Other discrepancies exist as well such as Cachora saying he was born in approximately 1912. Castaneda makes it quite clear in a number of places throughout his series of Don Juan books that Don Juan was born in 1891. In THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968), Introduction, Castaneda writes, speaking of Don Juan:

"All he said was that he had been born in the Southwest in 1891; that he had spent nearly all his life in Mexico; that in 1900 his family was exiled by the Mexican government to central Mexico along with thousands of other Sonoran Indians; and that he had lived in central and southern Mexico until 1940."

The following is found in DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined:

"(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 unintentionally 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." (source)

I can attest to the fact myself that in 1960 when Castaneda allegedly met Don Juan Matus for the first time and described him as a a white-haired old Indian (Don Juan would have just been turning into his 70s) that Cachora, who I met outside the Mexican town of Tecate a few months before the Castaneda/Don Juan meeting, following a healing ceremony being held for a dying man, appeared to me to be, at the time, no more than in his late forties or early fifties at the most --- and most surely in those days, nowhere near being a a white-haired old Indian. (see)

Moving on, Cachora himself has stated through discussion that his mother's parents were from Asia, most notably, Mongolia. So too, he states that his father, named Javali, was a Yaqui and, like how Castaneda writes Don Juan Matus out to be, a Nagual or "man of knowledge." Cachora also states that his mother's parents passed their apparently Mongolian shaman traditions on to him. Why such a suggestion would be made if it was not so I cannot say --- other than by inference Siberian shamans such as Tserin Zarin Boo carry such a strong notion of real shamanism ahead of themselves that their North American counterparts do not.

Now, while in the overall scheme of things, to learn that a female offspring of Mongolian parents (i.e., Cachora's mother) would grow up to find herself in an actual physical situation that would allow her to be able to marry and/or procreate with a Yaqui Indian from Mexico (i.e., Cachora's father) seems questionable at best, I guess it would not be totally beyond comprehension either. However, as Castaneda writes, and I have presented above, Castaneda makes it quite clear that Don Juan's mother was of Yuma extraction. He also makes it quite clear in other places that Don Juan learned his man of knowledge craft from another man of knowledge, a man that was NOT of Indian, Yaqui, or Mongolian background. That man was Julian Osorio. Osorio, interestingly enough, as written by Castaneda, was NOT of Indian extraction at all, but the son of European immigrants to Mexico. In turn Osorio had inherited everything from his teacher, Elias Ulloa. Elias had learned from Rosendo; he from Lujan; Lujan from Santisteban; and Santisteban from Sebastian. Before Sebastian there were eight others, but, according to Don Juan, they were quite different. They had a different attitude toward sorcery as well as a different concept of it, although they were still directly related to his line of sorcery. It wasn't until Sebastian's encounter and eventual alliance with the Death Defier that the lineage truly changed.

Some people say there never was a Don Juan Matus. Others say he was composite of several people, most often being named the revered Cahuilla spiritual elder Salvador Lopez and the Mazatec curandera Maria Sabina. Others, such as Tezlcazi Guitimea Cachora have claimed outright to BE Don Juan Matus. Still others say someone like Alex Apostolides, of whom I address the possibility, or the lack of same, in The Tree, if not Don Juan was the role model for him. Then there are those like Ken Eagle Feather who say they met, knew and actually studied under him. However, even the staunchest critic against Don Juan existing, that is, if he was real or not, would not go as far to say that Castaneda wasn't. He went to UCLA, got his PhD, and did all the events leading up to the bus station meeting in Nogales. After that, no matter how one mixes it, berates it, or whether any of it is true or false, real or imagined, the following still plays out:

"(If) Don Juan was an actual person, a composite of several people, a total fabrication or a figment of Castaneda's imagination, the events leading up to meeting Don Juan and the various interactions with people, places, and things don't necessarily have to be discarded. Then again, if the informant was used as a model by Castaneda for Don Juan, or if aspects of his manners or abilities seeped into the characterization of Don Juan, I can't really say as he was neither Yaqui, Native American, Mexican-Indian nor Mesoamerican or Hispanic. Except for a possible hint in the closing paragraph of Cloud Shaman, relating to the fact cited above where the informant 'cloaked by shimmering desert heat waves, simply seemed to evaporate into the rocks and sagebrush without a trace,' it was never made clear to me specifically if he himself was a Shaman." (source)


I may come across seeming a tad bit facetious in my remarks about a potential hook-up between a full-bred Mongolian offspring and a Yaqui --- however, as odd and as remote a possibility as it may seem and I personally question the concept in it's overall viability, again, it is NOT fully or totally out of the question.

Some of you may recall that a few days prior to unexpectedly running into Carlos Castaneda in the Nogales bus station on the same day Castaneda met Don Juan (linked above), I was in Mexico in the town of Magdalena, somewhat south of Nogales. In Magdalena I met a man by the name of Maldonado and he in turn, in passing conversation told me, since I was from California at the time, that he had a relative, a brick layer or a brick maker, that lived in Pomona, California, a then small community east of Los Angeles. In that conversation, for no apparent reason except maybe to fluff up his own feathers, he said that both he and his namesake relative, the brick layer, was a direct inline descendent of the great Yaqui warrior and general, Juan Maria Maldonado, known in Yaqui history as Tetabiate.

At the time, except as small talk, none of it meant anything to me one way or the other. Later on, as all of the Castaneda and Yaqui stuff came to the forefront I remembered the story about the brick layer being a Yaqui and living in Pomona, so one day, just for the heck of it, I sought him out.

Most of what the brick layer told me about Yaquis and General Maldonado did not seem to come first hand, but what he had formulated and learned over the years as he told the various stories over and over. However, he did tell me something that I knew came from his own personal experience that in turn made my jaw drop --- here was this basically uneducated, broken-English speaking, up from Sonora Yaqui who told me he had been to Siberia! Never in my life would I ever have thought of such a thing. What happened was, during the years 1918 to 1920 troops were sent into Siberia from the U.S. and a number of other places in what was called America's Undeclared War to guard segments of the railway between Vladivostok and Nikolsk-Ussuriski. In an almost amazing story, the brick maker got caught up in it and ended up in Siberia. Now, while it is true it was in the 1918-1920 period well AFTER the 1912 birth of Tezlcazi Guitimea Cachora and NOT Mongolia, it still remains at least one Yaqui got as far as Siberia in the early 1900s, which, albeit pushing it, opens the possibility --- at least for me and however remote --- possibly in either direction, of other potential defusional transgressions.

For more on Don Juan's father and if there was a Yuma Indian woman in the picture or not as the mother of Don Juan, please see Footnote [1] to Albert Franklin Banta.


Some people in some groups do not like the use of the word "shaman," especially so when used in regards to discussing or describing spiritual elders or the like in reference to Native Americans. Castaneda himself was caught in a quandary when he tried to present his works to a much broader audience than just those close to him in anthropological circles. In his ninth book Art of Dreaming (1993) he tried to explain his position thus:

"Following Don Juan's suggestion, I have refrained from using the term shamanism, a category proper to anthropology, to classify his knowledge. I have called it all along what he himself called it: sorcery. On examination, however, I realized that calling it sorcery obscures even more the already obscure phenomena he presented to me in his teachings.

In anthropological works, shamanism is described as a belief system of some native people of northern Asia, prevailing also among certain native North American Indian tribes, which maintains that an unseen world of ancestral spiritual forces, good and evil, is pervasive around us; and that these spiritual forces can be summoned or controlled through the acts of practitioners who are the intermediaries between the natural and supernatural realms.

Don Juan was indeed an intermediary between the natural world of everyday life and an unseen world, which he called not the supernatural but the second attention.

So, Castaneda says, "Following Don Juan's suggestion, I have refrained from using the term shamanism, a category proper to anthropology." Here is Castaneda, with a PhD in anthropology, saying only under Don Juan's suggestion does he refrain from using the term. He goes on to say the term shamanism is a category proper to anthropology. Some within certain groups may not like the use of the word "shaman" when applied to them, but, in the vast litany of universal knowledge called Anthropology shamanism IS a term, and thus then by inference the word shaman, proper to anthropology.



--------(please click image)

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 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, and when I knew him, considered himself mostly as an aspiring artist rather than anything that remotely resembled an author or shaman. Secondly, and unrelated to he 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 rites and rituals of the use of the plant Sacred Datura that sent him into his initial experiences of altered states. Third, in an attempt on my part to confirm, clear up, or have them discount any number of things that have shown up or said about Castaneda and his life, things that have taken on a life of their own as fact because they have been repeated over and over so often, I 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.(see) 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.

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 Castaneda.

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 borderline much of what Castaneda wrote about, titled The Californios and Haunted Mesa.



The Case Against "Shamans" In the
North American Indigenous Cultures


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University of California Publications
American Archaeology And Ethnology Vol. 4 No. 6

According to Richard de Mille in his book The Don Juan Papers (1980), in that Don Juan seemed to have the ability and knowledge to transmit the use of mushrooms similar to the curandera, it adds a certain amount of credibility to reports that Castaneda traveled with Don Juan to the mountains southwest and northwest of Valle Nacional in the State of Oaxaca to collect mushrooms --- but, in the mere process of same, does not necessarily validate any sort of a meeting between the two shamans and the curandera.


Any potential connection between Ramon Medina Silva and Don Juan Matus is typically established via a woman by the name of Barbara G. Myerhoff (1935-1985). Myerhoff was a graduate student in the anthropology department at UCLA at the exact same time Castaneda was working on his dissertation. In 1965 she began the field work for her dissertation, eventually titled The Deer-Maize-Peyote Complex Among the Huichol Indians of Mexico, receiving her PhD in 1968. In 1958, ten years before getting her PhD, she had received an undergraduate degree in Sociology from UCLA then jumped over to the University of Chicago to earn a M.A. in 1963. In 1967, even before UCLA actually issued her doctorate, Myerhoff was teaching in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California and remained as a professor at USC until her death in 1985.

In that Myerhoff received her M.A. from the University of Chicago in 1963, it means she most likely graduated in June of 1963. The earliest she could have shown up for the PhD program in anthropology at UCLA would have been then, the fall of 1963. With no strong background studies in anthropology as an undergraduate would require a variety of make up work in prerequisite areas. By 1965, however, she began field work for her dissertation. It wasn't until the spring of 1966, as Myerhoff recalls it, that she and Castaneda met. As the spring of 1966 moved toward the end of summer they were seeing a lot of each other as they were both working in the library everyday basically working on similar subjects. In an interview with DeMille for his book, speaking of Castaneda, Myerhoff says:

"Many of his colleagues and associates on campus were cold, stuffy, positivist types. He wasn't being well treated. Every day he'd come chugging up to the campus with his briefcase, and no matter how poor he was and in the hottest weather he always wore proper, three-piece, dark flannel suits. All day, every day, he'd sit from nine to five in one of those little carrels in the library writing his book, looking like a businessman."

Continuing with the interview, DeMille asks her when she first saw the manuscript to Teachings. Myerhoff responds with:

"That August (of 1966). He was so disgusted with it he threatened to burn it. I took it home with me for a few days and told him I was going to Xerox it and keep a copy. I was afraid he might actually destroy it. We went over a lot of it together. I remember telling him it was pointless to put in that awful 'Structural Analysis.' And the term 'sorcerer,' which I felt he misused. And 'Yaqui,' for which there seemed no cultural justification. I didn't like the name 'don Juan,' which I thought was too much like the literary prototype and therefore confusing. I wanted him to call the book A Path with Heart, and leave out 'sorcerer' and 'Yaqui' altogether. We argued endlessly about those things, but he went ahead and did everything his own way. I think history has proved my criticisms right, but that's another story. Anyway, it was the beginning of a long and curious friendship. Later we would have sporadic, intense meetings every six months or so, when we'd talk all day or through the night."

In the fall of 1967, one year after the above August of 1966 date, Myerhoff had been hired by USC as a professor of anthropology and moved on from sitting around with Castaneda from nine to five in one of those little carrels in the library to walking the hallowed halls of academia with her own growing legions of Birkenstock festooned followers.

In response to a letter written to him by Gordon Wasson asking about Don Juan's Yaqui cultural heritage among other things, Castaneda, on September 6, 1968, tells Wasson that "the Editorial Committee of the University of California Press suggested upon accepting my manuscript for publication, that the word Yaqui should be included in the title in order to place the book ethnographically."(see) Almost everything that Myerhoff complains about after reading the manuscript seems to be something the Editorial Committee deems mandatory for inclusion in order for the book to be published. The mere fact that the secretive Castaneda actually entrusted Myerhoff with the whole of the manuscript to take home is incredulous in itself, but what she says about it reveals that, by the time Myerhoff received the manuscript from Castaneda, it was so far along that the Don Juan character, real or imagined, was already fully formulated.

According to Myerhoff in her book PEYOTE HUNT: The Sacred Journey of the Huichol Indians (1974), in the summer of 1966 she and co-writer Peter Furst observed a "shaman inspired" event at a waterfall supposedly somewhere in the vicinty of Guadalajara, Mexico performed by Ramon Medina Silva that exhibited superhuman feats. Castaneda was also said to have attended the event.

In his second book, A Separate Reality (1971), Castaneda writes that on on October 17, 1968, a friend and fellow sorcerer of Don Juan (Don Juan having already been formulated in Castaneda's first book), named Don Genaro (not formulated because he didn't show up until the second book) led Castaneda to a waterfall in Mexico and performed basically the exact same feat as Silva.


The following is found in the main body of the final paragraphs of The Nogales Greyhound Bus Station Meeting as well as in footnote form in the Oldman in the Desert and refers to the Wanderling's meeting with Tezlcazi Guitimea Cachora:

I would like to add however, that sometime shortly after crossing the border into Mexico my buddy and I stopped at a small cantina just outside Tecate to eat. The eating area was separated from the bar by a wall with a double-wide arched opening between the rooms about midway down. A rather loud discussion on the bar side degenerated into a fight between two men ending with one of the men stabbing the other. The stabbed man stumbled into the eating area basically falling across our table, dying. Everybody scrambled to get out. Someone in broken English told us we should get the hell out before the authorities arrived. Just as we started to move cop types were coming in the front door on the bar side. Some guy running by motioned us to follow him. We dashed through the kitchen and out into a darkened dirt alley behind the cantina. Dogs were barking. The street had a muddy center gutter I had to jump. Someone pulled us through a door of a building across the way that was lit only by a dim lantern --- which was instantly blown out and the door locked behind us from the inside. Before the room went dark I could just barely make out a dozen or more people squatted along the walls and below the windows. We waited the longest time. Finally the dogs stopped barking and people began leaving. A smattering of people stayed and my buddy, who could speak and understand a little Spanish, said he had been told it would probably be best if we stuck around a little longer as well.

If the man that was stabbed died of his wounds that night or if the man that did the stabbing joined us in the room across the alley I never learned. There was though, a sort of strange man, about 45 or 50 years old that was insisted on by others in joining us on our drive to the coast the next morning. A man that, when we stopped along the road to pee a couple of hours into our trip, just wandered off into the desert and did not come back. My buddy told me while I was dozing off the night before the man had performed some kind of a doctoring or healing ritual over the stabbed man in a room adjacent the room we hid in. In so many words, as best my buddy was able to translate it, the man said he was a Yaqui, and a shaman of sorts, who called himself Abeulo Cachora Matorral, abeulo being the Spanish word for grandfather --- a rather funny word to ascribe to oneself when one is only 45 or 50 years old. Although I did not know it at the time, in an interesting turn of fate, the man turned out to be Tezlcazi Guitimea Cachora, Grandfather Cachora, a man who thought by many to be the "real" Don Juan Matus. I can say for certain though, that he was NOT, that is not, the old man mentioned above I saw at the bus station. Please see:


Mary Joan (Joanie) Barker is often cited as Castaneda's girlfriend during the time period we are talking about here. She usually gets the lion's share of credit for originally taking him to the Morongo Indian Reservation near her childhood home of Banning, California, as well as setting into motion an introduction to the venerated Cahuilla shaman Salvador Lopez.

Continually in my works I maintain that Castaneda's 1960s Paper On Datura was turned in at the end of the spring semester of 1960, a paper that contained all the information that he supposedly learns over one full year later from Don Juan between August 23 and September 10, 1961. By the time Castaneda met Barker and received an introduction to Lopez, he had already turned in his paper and was yet to meet Don Juan Matus. Therefore, neither Lopez nor Don Juan could have had any instrumental impact.

Both the first meeting and the timing of the first meeting between Barker and Castaneda most usually rests on the oft repeated statement reportedly from Douglass Price-Williams that Barker was a librarian at UCLA sometime in the summer of 1960 and it was during that summer, July or August of 1960, that Castaneda and Barker met. The question is, from what source or under what circumstances did the facts behind the statement originate? I, of course, fully accept the Price-Williams timeline because it substantiates and strengthens MY thesis that it was the person called the Informant in Castaneda's works and by me that introduced him to Datura and the shamanistic rituals he later uses and bases his Don Juan stories on. Don Juan and Castanedaophiles, pro or con, selectively ignore or overlook what has been presented by me in The Informant and Carlos Castaneda even though it wasn't me that created the dates or timelines presented by Castaneda --- nor was it me who originally presented the Price-Williams statement in the wider media as being accurate or even existing.

For example, Corey Donovan, creator of the online Castaneda website and forum Sustained Action, in SALVADOR LOPEZ: One of Castaneda's Original Informants? writes:

"The Cahuilla reservations are near Palm Springs, and thus not far from Los Angeles. They are very near the place where Joanie Barker grew up, and she is known to regularly attend their annual festival. It has been speculated that Joanie, who first met up with Castaneda in the summer of 1960 and soon became his girlfriend, would have taken him out to the reservation she was familiar with when she learned he was taking a class (from Clement Meighan) on shamanism."(source)

The following, also found in Sustained Action, only this time in PRELUDE TO DON JUAN: Castaneda's Early Years, pretty much repeats the summer of 1960 meeting and cites Price-Williams specifically:

"Summer 1960 - Mary Joan Barker (Joanie), whom Castaneda later describes to the Sunday group as 'don Juan's first student,' becomes involved with Castaneda. Douglass Price-Williams, a UCLA professor and friend of Castaneda (and, for a time in the early '70's, Florinda's dissertation adviser) remembers Joanie being first employed as a librarian at UCLA sometime in the summer of 1960. Douglass believes the two met up in July or August of 1960 (i.e., around the time of Castaneda's separation from Margaret Runyan)."(source)

Again, the question is, where did Cory Donovan and Sustained Action directly obtain the information of when and where Castaneda and Mary Joan Barker first met? I can tell you where I got mine.

In 1973 my former college room mate took a job with the City of Los Angeles working in some fashion in coordinating and mounting exhibits in the art gallery located on the upper floors of the L.A. City Hall among other things. Around the same time he bought a "fixer-upper" dump of a place in Venice, California. Along the way he discovered there was some sort of short-term effort between the parameters of his job and the Israel Levin Center in Venice. He also discovered, since it was some distance to city hall in downtown Los Angeles and where he lived in Venice, that if he participated in whatever the project was being coordinated with the Center, he could either come in late a few days a week or not come in at all.

It just so happened that during that same period, although teaching full time at USC, Barbara Myerhoff was doing fieldwork regarding elderly Jews at the same Center supported by a five-year grant from the National Science Foundation given to the USC Andrus Gerontology Center. In pursuit of their separate endeavors my ex-roomate and Myerhoff soon crossed paths and it wasn't long after that their crossing of paths was brought to my attention.

Through their crossing of paths I was able to finagle or put into place what appeared on the surface to be, and was for all practical purposes, an impromptu meeting --- a meeting that in turn, led from casual conversation to a rather substantial discussion between Myerhoff and myself regarding some aspects of her knowledge of Castaneda that I was hoping to clarify for my own edification.

Ten years later, sometime in the fall of 1984 I found myself at the Ojai Foundation in Ojai, California at a talk given by a friend of my Uncle, the noted Huichol Indian shaman Don Jose Matsuwa --- probably age 94 or so at the time. After the talk, and this time genuinely so impromptu, I ran into Barbara Myerhoff and as well as of all people, Professor Douglass Price-Williams, the two engaging in small talk as much as people of their ilk can engage in small talk. I had by then already experienced the events outlined elsewhere with the shaman man of spells high in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica called an Obeah, of which ended in somewhat startling results. Because of such, and because I was sure both saw me with Matsuwa after his talk, having been allowed into his inner circle to offer my respects after it became known the relationship with my uncle, I felt confident to be in a circle of such an exalted environment. To cut to the quick, although it was Myerhoff to whom I originally intended to speak, when I learned one of the people in the associated group she was talking with was Price-Williams, it was to him I directed my pointed question and it was Price-Williams who answered directly. He basically related that he knew Castaneda since shortly after he arrived at UCLA as a new transfer student from L.A. City College and most definitely before Barker ever entered the picture. That did not happen until the summer of 1960 when she took a job in the library at UCLA.