domingo, 24 de junio de 2012

Carlos Castaneda - Su vida

Castaneda Su vida y su muerte fueron un misterio.

"Yo no puedo guiarte, pero puedo ponerte frente a un abismo que pondrá a prueba todas tus facultades. De tí dependerá si te lanzas al vuelo o corres a esconderte en la seguridad de tus rutinas".

"El único camino abierto al cambio, es que nos aceptemos tal como somos para trabajar a partir de ahí."

"Háganse a ustedes mismos estas preguntas: ¿Qué estoy haciendo con mi vida? ¿Tiene un propósito? Un guerrero acepta su destino, sea cual sea. Sin embargo, lucha por cambiar las cosas y hace de su paso por el mundo algo exquisito. Templa su voluntad de tal forma, que ya nada puede moverle de su propósito".

"El camino para convertir a un ser humano común y corriente en un guerrero es muy árduo. Siempre se interpone nuestra sensación de estar en el centro de todo, de ser necesarios y tener la última palabra. Nos creemos importantes. Y cuando uno es importante, cualquier intento de cambio se torna un proceso lento, complicado y doloroso".

Eso es lo que le ha pasado a muchos aprendices: comenzaron bien, ahorrando su energía y desarrollando sus potencialidades. Pero no se dieron cuenta de que, a medida que accedían al poder, también nutrían en su interior un parásito. 
Si vamos a ceder a las presiones del ego, es preferible que lo hagamos como hombres comunes y corrientes, porque un brujo que se considera importante es lo más triste que hay."

"Los brujos son libres, no aceptan compromisos con la gente. La responsabilidad es frente a uno mismo, no frente a otros. 
¿Sabes para qué fue colocado en ti el poder de la percepción? 
¿Has descubierto a qué propósito sirve tu vida? 
¿Cancelarás tu destino animal? Estas son preguntas de brujos, las únicas que de veras pueden cambiar algo. Si te interesan los demás, ¡respóndete eso!".

El hombre corriente no puede hacer otra cosa que intentar hacer a los hombres semejantes a él: no forzosamente a su idiosincrasia, sino a este "hombre social" del que se le ha persuadido que es el único que existe, que su conocimiento es el único válido, excluyendo, de esta manera, toda otra forma de percepción. No hace sino transmitir lo que le ha sido transmitido; nadie se hace "responsable" de este estado de hecho; la ilustración racional despliega sus propias posibilidades y el hombre encadenado desde su nacimiento se convierte a su vez en el guardián del otro.

Datura or Peyote?


the Wanderling

"I prepared myself for six months, after that first meeting, reading up on the uses of peyote among the American Indians, especially about the peyote cult of the Indians of the Plains. I became acquainted with every work available, and when I felt I was ready I went back to Arizona." CARLOS CASTANEDA, Journey to Ixtlan (1972), in preparation for his first meeting with Don Juan following their initial bus station encounter six months earlier.

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 the desert southwest as jimsonweed --- that played the primary role in his early experiences into other realities --- including, it must be said, his most famous and most oft cited experience where he turned into a crow and flew.
As opposed to the general reading public however, the majority of Castaneda critics, that is, those who are considered --- at least in the judgement of their own exaulted opinions --- specialists in the area or "in the know," usually strike their emphasis on Castaneda's use or non-use of Datura rather than on any comments regarding Peyote. Examples of same might be Jane Holden Kelley and Edward H. Spicer --- along with various seasoned anthropologists and others. Spicer, speaking of Castaneda specifically, is even on record as saying "I know of no information or reference concerning Yaquis using Datura." Which, by the way, is most likely a fair and accurate assessment on Spicer's part --- but Spicer's statement isn't really being put forth to be an accurate assessment, but to demean Castaneda's credibility and inturn, undercut anything related to Don Juan Matus.
However, whatever Spicer's motivation may be, in relation to Castaneda, such a criticism can easily be resolved in one of two ways or possibly even two out of two ways. First, Castaneda's use of Datura was NOT learned initially under the ausipices of Don Juan, but the informant, who was neither Indian nor Yaqui. Secondly, as found in DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined?, any concern is rendered almost moot because:

(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.

If you remember correctly, Don Juan, after being born and raised in Arizona, moved or was taken to Sonora, Mexico when he was around ten years old by his father, whereupon almost immediately after arrival his father was killed. Mexican authorities shipped Don Juan south with other Yaquis in an apparent attempt to undermine their tribal units. In the process, as a young boy Don Juan lost much of his tribal affiliation and ability identifying with Yaquis on a specific family or village level. Plus, his mother was not Yaqui, but of Yuma extraction. As mentioned previously, it is known Don Juan lived with his mother until he reached age ten --- which are highly formative years. Plus, although there is nothing to say he did, there is a good chance, in that in his adult years he returned to the Yuma area, that he may have reinstated his relationship with his mother.

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 from Don Juan Matus and the Nogales Bus Station Meeting, the following:

"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 (i.e., the end of the summer of 1960), 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. It was only AFTER Castaneda met Don Juan and went back to UCLA for the fall semester did he begin researching Peyote in earnest. As stated in the quote at the top of the page Castaneda then prepared himself for SIX MONTHS, becoming acquainted with every work regarding Peyote he could find. It was only at the completion of that research that he went back to Arizona looking for Don Juan --- not catching up with him for the first time following their bus station encounter until December 17, 1960.
By the time the bus station encounter with Don Juan Matus transpired through his chance meeting with a onetime lowly Pothunter turned reputable amateur archaeologist Castaneda sometimes calls Bill in his writings --- who he had met earlier on an archaeolgy dig in the desert southwest and eventually traveled with together on their infamous Road Trip --- Castaneda had already met the informant that Professor Meighan was talking about in the above quote. Castaneda knows, or is at least somewhat versed in the ACTUAL use OF and NOT just reading about Datura --- a fact confirmed by his ex-wife Margaret Runyan in her book and quoted above as well as being fully 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 narrative 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.
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 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. Over and over you find references to Peyote and Castaneda such as, for example, the following as printed in the San Francisco Chronicle August 24, 2003:

"Carlos Castaneda, an anthropology student at UCLA, had an incredible story to tell about his peyote-fueled adventures with an old Indian sorcerer he met at a bus depot on the Mexican border."

However, Castaneda is quite clear in his writings as to the chronology of it all and the overall importance of Datura rather than Peyote 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 7, 1961, when he ingested some 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 Don Juan's buddies 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. Refering to that first time on August 7, 1961, Castaneda writes:

One of the men suddenly got up and went into another room. He was perhaps in his fifties; tall, and husky. He came back a moment later with a coffee jar. He opened the lid and handed the jar to me. Inside there were seven odd-looking items. They varied in size and consistency. Some of them were almost round, others were elongated. They felt to the touch like the pulp of walnuts, or the surface of cork. Their brownish colour made them look like hard, dry nutshells. I handled them; rubbing their surfaces for quite some time. "This is to be chewed [esto se masca]," Don Juan said in a whisper.

Castaneda then goes on and on sort of nervously indulging in meaningless conversation with the other men or making a bunch of excuses like needing to use the toilet. Don Juan again request Castaneda to indulge, albeit still on the quiet side yet with more force:

Don Juan urged me softly, "Chew it, chew it [Masca, masca]." My hands were wet, and my stomach contracted. The jar with the peyote buttons was on the floor by the chair. I bent over, took one at random, and put it in my mouth. It had a stale taste. I bit it in two and started to chew one of the pieces. I felt a strong, pungent bitterness.

After eating them 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 because Don Juan's teacher, as I wax facetiously, was, according to Castaneda, Julian Osorio, who, like Castaneda, was NOT of Indian extraction either, but the son of European immigrants to the New World.
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.[1] However, and this is a BIG however, in the Peyote-use situation Castaneda simply picked the Peyote buttons at random out of the coffee jar 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. The VERY MOST Don Juan did in relation to Castaneda using Peyote was tell him, "Chew it, chew it." Castaneda even reports as much, that is, that Peyote requires NONE of the ritual and care of use as found in using Datura. In his second book A SEPARATE REALITY: Further Conversations With Don Juan (1971), in the section called "The Preliminaries of 'Seeing,'" Castaneda listening to Don Juan talking with his 30 year old grandson Lucio, hears Don Juan explain the simplicity of Peyote:

"Mescalito was available to any man without the need of a long apprenticeship or the commitment to manipulatory techniques, as with an ally. And because it was available without any training, Mescalito was said to be a protector."

No need for long apprenticships, commitments or manipulatory techniques with Peyote, only with the use of Datura. Eighteen months after Castaneda's first use of Peyote, 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.

To wit, on July 4, 1963 Castaneda applied the ointment he and Don Juan concocted over a period of days. Following that application Castaneda, it has been reported, turned into a crow with the full ability to fly. The thing is, once again, almost everybody attributes the crow scene and ability to fly to the use of Peyote or mushrooms --- when in reality it actually transpired through the use of Datura and only Datura.
In THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Chapter Six, in a segment dated Saturday, July 6, 1963 Castaneda writes:

On Monday, July 1, I cut the Datura plants don Juan had asked for. I waited until it was fairly dark to do the dancing around the plants because I did not want anybody to see me. I felt quite apprehensive. I was sure someone was going to witness my strange acts. I had previously chosen the plants I thought were a male and a female. I had to cut off sixteen inches of the root of each one, and digging to that depth with a wooden stick was not an easy task. It took me hours. I had to finish the job in complete darkness, and when I was ready to cut them I had to use a flashlight. My original apprehension that somebody would watch me was minimal compared with the fear that someone would spot the light in the bushes. I took the plants to don Juan's house on Tuesday, July 2. He opened the bundles and examined the pieces. He said he still had to give me the seeds of his plants. He pushed a mortar in front of me. He took a glass jar and emptied its contents -- dried seeds lumped together -- into the mortar.

Notice Castaneda writes "I cut the Datura plants," - Datura plants, not Peyote, not mushrooms. Once the Datura was on the stone slab that served as a mortar, following Don Juan's instructions, Castaneda made the ointment, the application of which, through certain ritual, transformed him into a crow. Absolutely NO Peyote or mushrooms were involved in any way in the making of the ointment OR in the ritual causing the transformation.

NOTE: 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. (see)

The whole of the above Notation, although entirety unto itself in regards to the information as provided, actually comes from FOOTNOTE [1] of DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined?. For more on the Castaneda Peyote/Datura discussion-controversy, please see FOOTNOTE [2] of The Informant and Carlos Castaneda as well. Again, if you have not gone to the all important Footnote [1] regarding THIS page and Castaneda's use or non-use of Peyote or Datura, please do so.


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THE WORD OBEAH: What Does It Mean?
AKANKHEYYA SUTTA: Vol. XI of The Sacred Books of the East



the Wanderling

"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." Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan (1968)

Over and over a variety of critics of Carlos Castaneda, as well as others, have gone to extraordinary lengths pointing out discrepancies, however large or small, in his various works, possibly it seems, in an effort to discredit him and what he has presented to his reading audience. The above somewhat benign quote contains one of those discrepancies critics most often cite.
While it is a given that there is a significant amount of controversy surrounding the question as to whether Don Juan Matus was an actual person or not and/or if Castaneda's works are fiction or not, in whole or in part --- if one considers the bulk of work he wrote over his lifetime (a dozen books over thirty years with hundreds if not thousands of total pages on shamanism, the occult, and tribal socerery), it borders on the ludicrous that in The Teachings of Don Juan (1968), as shown in the above quote, 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. [1]
In regards to Don Juan sitting in front of the window or the bench by the corner, in CARLOS CASTANEDA: Don Juan and the Nogales Bus Station Meeting, discussing the layout and design of the depot, the following observation by a person who visited the station is presented:

It is not at all contradictory for CC to have claimed that DJ was "seated on a bench by the corner" 30 years after claiming that he was "sitting in front of the window." This is because the seating area is all but surrounded by windows. There are windows on two sides, the counter on the third side, and a niche with vending machines and no seats on the fourth. In other words, ALL of the seats are near windows, regardless of whether they're in corners. Both front corners of the seats are near windows, as is one of the back corners, too. The only inconsistency I see is that there are no benches, but it seems very likely that the old benches were replaced with the rows of connected plastic seats within the last few decades.

Discrepancies not withstanding, the point that is trying to be made here is to bring to your attention that even though the introduction scenes below, as presented by Castaneda between himself and Don Juan Matus, vary in certain respects there is a major common theme that runs throughout ALL of them that does NOT change. That is, no matter what happens or how it is cited, Castaneda's Road Trip anthropologist colleague Bill, who others describe as no more than a lowly Pothunter but Castaneda describes as "a friend who had been my guide and helper," AND who, even though he is the one who puts the two of them together --- does NOT know Don Juan Matus OR his name OR the extent of his shamanistic abilities.
It is quite clear in most written accounts and interviews by Castandeda that his colleague Bill knows OF the old man, or at least had encountered him, albeit from a distance in the past or possibly face-to-face once. 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, speaking of Bill, 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.

As for Castaneda and his own knowledge of Don Juan and his abilities --- or any lack thereof as the case may be --- in his first book The Teachings of Don Juan Castaneda writes:

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.

Notice Castaneda writes "But the people with whom he (i.e., Don Juan) lived believed that he had some sort of secret knowledge," which basically says that Castaneda did not know it to be so until the "people with whom he lived" told him so --- even then the people whom he lived hedged their bets saying only that they "believed" he had some sort of secret knowledge, not that he actually had it. Up until at least that time, Castaneda thought that Don Juan was simply no more than a "rather peculiar man who knew a great deal about Peyote and who spoke Spanish remarkably well." That time, by the way, was when Castandea went to Don Juan's house many months AFTER their initial bus station encounter.
In The Active Side of Infinity Castaneda writes:

I did remember Bill mentioning, in a very casual manner, but not in relation to the cloud shaman, that he knew about the existence of a mysterious old man who was a retired shaman, an old Indian misanthrope from Yuma who had once been a terrifying sorcerer.

The key to the above is what Castaneda says about Bill and the so-called terrifying sorcerer from Yuma --- which is construed by most people to mean none other than Don Juan Matus, BUT that I take and present a much different view of on in the paper about Don Juan's teacher, Julian Osorio. Castaneda writes that Bill "knew about the existence of," that is, not that Bill actually KNEW him --- only the "existence of" him. Besides, Bill is sitting right next to Castaneda in the bus station looking straight across the room at the old man and not once does he draw an inference or put together any sort of conclusion that the old man and the terrifying sorcerer from Yuma he knew the existence of were one and the same person. Instead he relates him to other old fogies he had met saying "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 reason I find the continuingly unchanged "common theme" regarding Bill's lack of knowledge surrounding the old man so interesting is because Castaneda could have written anything he wanted IF his works were total fiction. However, he didn't. He stuck to certain set of underlying facts. Sure he changed minor aspects here and there over time, but the major common theme does not change.

Before moving on to the four introduction scenes as written by Castaneda and presented in full below, there is one other major aspect to the whole introduction thing that should be brought to your attention. That being basically your awareness of the underlying and unaccounted antecedents that unfolded prior to the actual introductions. We are talking about the sort of tapestry of interwoven events of both a minor and major nature that seemingly arose and flowed into existance and then were somehow mysteriously put in play prior to the actual bus station encounter. To wit, in CARLOS CASTANEDA: The Shaman and the Power of the Omen I write:

It is my contention that just before he went on that Road Trip --- during the spring into the early part of the summer of 1960 with a colleague he calls Bill --- Castaneda found himself in a deep state of despondency. The depth and heaviness of that despondency, combined with one other factor, convinced Castaneda that if he was ever going to climb out of the academic quagmire he found himself in as well as find the answers to the questions he was seeking, he would have to follow through on the Road Trip. With an unknown outcome reeking with destiny, the trip, except possibly for Castaneda's non-understanding but unwavering sense of the Power of the Omen, started out relatively uneventful. However, as a large portion of the literate world knows now, the trip ended in the direct meeting between Carlos Castaneda and Don Juan Matus, the shaman-sorcerer he eventually apprenticed under.

As for my OWN introduction to Castaneda, please go to: CARLOS CASTANEDA: Before Don Juan as well as CARLOS CASTANEDA: Don Juan Matus and the Nogales Bus Station Meeting.
To see how Castaneda met his bus station colleague Bill in the first place as well as Castaneda's first and later encounters with he and Don Juan's main antagonist and arch nemesis, the witch sorceress 'la Catalina' please activate the 'la Catalina' link.

The Teachings of Don Juan (1968):
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.

A Separate Reality (1971):
I was sitting with Bill, a friend of mine, in a bus depot in a border town in Arizona. We were very quiet. In the late afternoon the summer heat seemed unbearable. Suddenly he leaned over and tapped me on the shoulder.
"There's the man I told you about," he said in a low voice.
He nodded casually toward the entrance. An old man had just walked in.
"What did you tell me about him?" I asked.
"He's the Indian that knows about peyote. Remember?"
I remembered that Bill and I had once driven all day looking for the house of an "eccentric" Mexican Indian who lived in the area. We did not find the man's house and I had the feeling that the Indians whom we had asked for directions had deliberately misled us. Bill had told me that the man was a "yerbero," a person who gathers and sells medicinal herbs, and that he knew a great deal about the hallucinogenic cactus, peyote. He had also said that it would be worth my while to meet him. Bill was my guide in the Southwest while I was collecting information and specimens of medicinal plants used by the Indians of the area.
Bill got up and went to greet the man. The Indian was of medium height. His hair was white and short, and grew a bit over his ears, accentuating the roundness of his head. He was very dark; the deep wrinkles on his face gave him the appearance of age, yet his body seemed to be strong and fit. I watched him for a moment. He moved around with a nimbleness that I would have thought impossible for an old man.
Bill signaled me to join them.
"He's a nice guy," Bill said to me. "But I can't understand him. His Spanish is weird, full of rural colloquialisms, I suppose."
The old man looked at Bill and smiled. And Bill, who speaks only a few words of Spanish, made up an absurd phrase in that language. He looked at me as if asking whether he was making sense, but I did not know what he had had in mind; he then smiled shyly and walked away. The old man looked at me and began laughing. I explained to him that my friend sometimes forgot that he did not speak Spanish.
"I think he also forgot to introduce us," I said, and I told him my name.
"And I am Juan Matus, at your service," he said.

Journey To Ixtlan (1972):
"I understand you know a great deal about plants, sir," I said to the old Indian in front of me.
A friend of mine had just put us in contact and left the room and we had introduced ourselves to each other. The old man had told me that his name was Juan Matus.
"Did your friend tell you that?" he asked casually.
"Yes, he did."
"I pick plants, or rather, they let me pick them," he said softly.
We were in the waiting room of a bus depot in Arizona. I asked him in very formal Spanish if he would allow me to question him. I said, "Would the gentleman [caballero] permit me to ask some questions?"

The Active Side of Infinity (1998):
Abruptly, he leaned over and pointed with a slight movement of his chin to the other side of the room. "I think that old man sitting on the bench by the corner over there is the man I told you about," he whispered in my ear.
"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?" I 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," I said. "Is that man the cloud shaman?"
"No," he said emphatically. "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."
I did remember Bill mentioning, in a very casual manner, but not in relation to the cloud shaman, that he knew about the existence of a mysterious old man who was a retired shaman, an old Indian misanthrope from Yuma who had once been a terrifying sorcerer. The relationship of the old man to the cloud shaman was never voiced by my friend, but obviously it was foremost in Bill's mind, to the point where he believed that he had told me about him.
A strange anxiety suddenly possessed me and made me jump out of my seat. As if I had no volition of my own, I approached the old man and immediately began a long tirade on how much I knew about medicinal plants and shamanism among the American Indians of the Plains and their Siberian ancestors. As a secondary theme, I mentioned to the old man that I knew that he was a shaman.
I concluded by assuring him that it would be thoroughly beneficial for him to talk to me at length.
"If nothing else," I said petulantly, "we could swap stories. You tell me yours and I'll tell you mine."
The old man kept his eyes lowered until the last moment. Then he peered at me. "I am Juan Matus," he said, looking me squarely in the eyes."

CARLOS CASTANEDA: The Shaman and the Power of the Omen




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




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