, also spelled Castañeda
, (December 25
(?) – April 27
) was an author of a series of books that claimed to describe his training in traditional Native American shamanism
, which he referred to as a form of "sorcery
Castaneda claimed to have met a Yaqui shaman
named Don Juan Matus
. Castaneda's experiences with Don Juan allegedly inspired the works for which he is known. He claimed to have inherited from Don Juan the position of nagual
, or leader of a party of seers
. He also used the term "nagual
" to signify that which is unknowable, neither known nor knowable; implying that, for his party of seers, Don Juan was a connection in some way to that unknowable. The term has been used by anthropologists to mean a shaman or sorcerer who is capable of shapeshifting
into an animal form, and/or, metaphorically, to "shift" into another form of perspective.
Castaneda's works contain descriptions of paranormal or magical experiences, several psychological
techniques, Toltec magic rituals
and experiences with psychoactive drugs
). Carlos Castaneda's works have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages.
Castaneda claimed to have born in São Paulo, Brazil on Christmas Day in 1931. Immigration records show, however, that he was born six years earlier in Cajamarca, Perú. Castaneda also claimed that "Castaneda" was an adopted name, but records show that it was given by his mother Susana Castañeda Navoa. His surname appears with the Ñ in many Hispanic dictionaries, even though his famous published works display an anglicised version. He moved to the United States in the early 1950s and became a naturalized citizen in 1957. He was educated at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) (B.A. 1962; Ph.D. 1970).
Castaneda wrote twelve books and several academic articles detailing his experiences with the Yaqui Indians indigenous to parts of Central Mexico. His first three books, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, A Separate Reality and Journey to Ixtlan were written while Castaneda was an anthropology student at UCLA. Castaneda wrote these books as if they were his research log describing his apprenticeship with a traditional shaman identified as Don Juan Matus. Castaneda was awarded his bachelor's and doctoral degrees for the work described in these books.
His writings have been criticized by academics, and is seen as highly suspect in terms of strict anthropological fieldwork. Many have tried to corroborate Castaneda’s stories with his own personal history and that of his fellow apprentices. Contradictory evidence suggests Castaneda wrote in the traditional allegorical style of the storyteller (ethnopoetics) common to many native Indian cultures.
Perhaps the most highly contested aspects of his work are the descriptions of the use of psychotropic plants as a means to induce altered states of awareness. In Castaneda's first two books, he describes the Yaqui way of knowledge requiring the use of powerful indigenous plants, such as peyote and datura. In his third book, Journey to Ixtlan, he reverses his emphasis on 'power plants'. He states that Don Juan used them on Castaneda to demonstrate that experiences outside those known in day-to-day life are real and tangible.
Castaneda later disavowed all use of drugs for these purposes, stating they could inalterably damage the luminous ball (energy body) or physical body.
Castaneda was a popular enough phenomenon for Time magazine to do a cover article on Castaneda on March 5, 1973 (Vol. 101 No. 10) that was five or six pages long.
His fourth book, Tales of Power, ended with Castaneda leaping off a cliff marking his graduation from disciple to man of knowledge (actually a leap from the tonal into the unknown). Some writers thought this must necessarily mark the end of his series. They were very surprised to see he continued to produce more books. Despite an increasingly critical reception Castaneda continued to be very popular with the reading public. Twelve books by Castaneda have been published, and three videos released.
In 1997 Castaneda launched a lawsuit against his ex-wife, Margaret Runyan Castaneda, over her book, A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda; but this was dropped when Castaneda died.
Castaneda purportedly died on April 27, 1998 from liver cancer in Los Angeles. Little is known about his death. There was no public service, Castaneda was apparently cremated and the ashes were sent to Mexico.
The controversies surrounding the facts of Casteneda's life and death may be explained by deliberate confusing of the public which corresponds to the practice of erasing personal history described first in the Journey to Ixtlan.
An elementary school in the southern Texas city of McAllen is named for him.
The nine popular works (as opposed to the academic or scholarly works) of Carlos Castaneda are organized into three sets of three, where each set corresponds to a Toltec mastery: the mastery of awareness, the mastery of transformation, and the mastery of intent. For each mastery there is also a compendium that describes essential teachings from the overall body of work. The three compendiums were published posthumously.
Thus, each mastery is described in four works: three works presented in story form and one work compiled as a cross-set reference:
The Mastery of Awareness
The Mastery of Awareness entails the re-emphasis of awareness from the world of the tonal (every day objects) to the world of the nagual (spirit). During this stage of development the warrior-traveler endeavors to minimize self importance, and to find and store power. First and foremost, the student is encouraged to take action and assume responsibility for his or her life.
The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968)
A Separate Reality: Further Conversations with Don Juan (1971)
Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan (1972)
Magical Passes: The Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico (compliation) (1998)
The Mastery of Transformation
During The Mastery of Transformation the warrior-traveler endeavors to cleanse and retrieve energy and to hone his only link to spirit, the intuition. The warrior-traveler becomes impeccable by empirically testing this connection and eventually banishing all doubts, accepting his or her fate, and committing to follow a path with heart.
Tales of Power (1975)
The Second Ring of Power (1977)
The Eagle's Gift (1981)
The Active Side of Infinity (compilation) (1999)
The Mastery of Intent
Mastery of Intent – Once the warrior-traveler has accumulated enough surplus energy, enough personal power, the dormant second attention is activated. Dreaming becomes possible. The warrior-traveler maintains impeccability, walks the path with heart, and waits for an opening to freedom.
The Fire from Within (1984)
The Power of Silence: Further Lessons of Don Juan (1987)
The Art of Dreaming (1993)
The Wheel Of Time : The Shamans Of Mexico (compilation)(2000)
Castaneda's books can be read as philosophical/pragmatical texts that express a world view by which a person can live one's life. The books contain practical transformational exercises, for example a practice called recapitulation to review one's life to gain detachment from it and increase awareness and energy. There are practitioners around the world, applying Castaneda's published ideas either independently or through consultation with Castaneda's associates.
According to Castaneda, the most significant facts in a person's life are his possession of a dormant awareness and the possibility that one may keep this awareness after death. The primary goal of a warrior (also warrior-traveler) is the continuation of his awareness after bodily death: to "dart past the Eagle and be free"; Eagle being the force which consumes the awareness of all beings at their death.
To cheat death in this way requires all of the discipline and procedures that constitute the warrior's way of life. These practices are devised to maximise the warrior's personal power, or experience. The condition for maintaining personal power is known as "impeccability".
Sufficient personal power leads to the mastery of intent, chiefly the controlled movement of what is known as the assemblage point. This is an artifact of the tradition's description of another world underlying what we perceive as ordinary reality. In this description men are glowing cocoons of awareness inhabiting a universe consisting of the Eagle's "emanations", described euphemistically as all-pervading filaments of light. Humans' cocoons are intersected throughout by these filaments, producing perception, but they filter our perceptions by concentrating on only a small bundle. The assemblage point is the focusing lens which selects from the emanations. In its accustomed position, the assemblage point produces what humans perceive as everyday, 'normal' reality. Movement of the assemblage point permits perception of the world in different ways; small movements lead to small changes in perception and large movements to radical changes. For example, dreaming is presented as the result of a movement of the assemblage point; "power plants" such as Peyote, used in the early stages of Castaneda's apprenticeship, produce powerfully altered states of mind through such movement.
The simplest form of movement of the assemblage point is through dreaming. Many practitioners world-wide were able to 'stalk' or hold their assemblage points fixed at a position other than the customary via lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming techniques which are likened to gates are comprehensively discussed in the "Art of Dreaming.
In Journey to Ixtlan, Don Genaro warns us “Intent is not intention”. Intent is psychic energy and its nature is luminous and magical. Our energy body, as is the whole metaphysical reality, is made of Intent. Through techniques such as stalking the self (recapitulation, erasing personal history and developing the warrior’s mood), dreaming (setting up dreaming, dreaming and ascension) and handling intent (changing awareness, stopping the world, collapsing the world), the warrior aims at regaining his/her luminosity that has been lost by the wear and tear of everyday life and ultimately to control Intent. The Universe resembles an infinite amount of conglomerations of luminous, self-aware filaments, called the Eagle’s emanations. These emanations form a cocoon around each living being, with a point of intense brilliance, called the assemblage point, which aligns the filaments outside the cocoon with those inside.
Just as Man is considered the Microcosm of the Macrocosm (Universe), so too the assemblage point is a microcosm of the Macrocosm called Man. In one of his books, Don Juan describes to Castaneda how our state can be compared to being a huge man in the room (luminous cocoon) and at the same time a tiny person at the window (assemblage point), observing the subject in the room. It is hard to comprehend this view without having had personal experiences with the movements and shifts of the assemblage point, through dreaming. Ultimately, Castaneda argues, everything we perceive, feel and how we act is determined by the position of the assemblage point.
When we are babies, our luminous cocoon is not yet rigid and the assemblage point flows fluidly throughout the luminous cocoon. As we grow up and our social conditioning sets in, we fix the assemblage point at a certain position and move or shift it only in dreams, after a trauma, due to drug ab/use, love, through inner silence, or as is preferred, through Intent. Gradually, the avarage being looses its luminosity and becomes an empty shell, without purpose, integrity or power, as it becomes more and more grounded in every-day reality. It is the goal of Toltec sorcerers to achieve fluidity of awareness, through the harmonious movement of the assemblage point.
The goal of the warrior is to achieve the totality of the self, that is, to light up all the Eagle’s emanations within the cocoon at once and aligning them with the greater whole liberate the luminosity. Through the controlled manipulation of the position of the assemblage point, one opens to ever new possibilities of perception. The art of displacing the assemblage point is termed "dreaming" and the art of positioning the assemblage point on the displaced position is called "stalking" (to be understood as "becoming stalk-like and oblong, stretching into infinity), and the art of generating psychic energy is called Intent. Everything is the product of a being's position of the assemblage point.
Brief description of books
The Teachings of Don Juan, A Yaqui Way of Knowledge - description of plant allies and way towards knowledge: mescalito (peyote) - the protector of man, seeing beings as liquid colors; mushrooms- learning to handle, fly, and perceive as animal form; datura- female spirit, hard to handle, gives strength, lengthy procedure. This book was unique of the series in that the last part included a detailed scholarly "Structural Analysis" of the teachings.
A Separate Reality - Discusses the ideas of will, controlled folly, and seeing (as opposed to looking) as tools a warrior uses to be a man/person of knowledge.
Journey to Ixtlan - lessons about the warriors way, or stalking the world, routines, personal history, self-importance, death as an advisor, not-doing, dreaming
Tales of Power - description of points of perception in body or luminous cocoon, tonal (1st attention, known, right side awareness, [possibly the left-brain]) and nagual (2nd attention, unknown, left side awareness, [right-brain ), dreaming double
The Second Ring of Power - describes events after Don Juan's departure, experiences with the women warriors of the original nagual's party, 2nd attention (second ring of power), losing "human 'form'", human mold, dreaming, gazing
The Eagle's Gift - description of the force that creates, destroys, and rules the universe (or at least the 48 bands of earth), also source of emanations themselves, description of the eagle's command to man, the rule of the nagual, various levels of petty tyrants, and way towards freedom, self-stalking and dreaming, power spots. Note that Don Juan described the energy-structure/entity called eagle a thing that is not what we call an eagle, but rather a thing so vast as to be incomprehensible.
The Fire From Within - step by step (actually chapter by chapter) elucidation of the mastery of awareness or the new seers' knowledge: everything is energy (the Eagle's emanations or luminous emanations), the luminous cocoon and assemblage point (glow of awareness), the known (1st attention or tonal), unknown (2nd attention or nagual), unknowable (outside luminous cocoon), petty tyrants as a way to move assemblage point and foster warrior's way, twin worlds of organic and inorganic ( more correctly matter-beings and non-matter-bound beings -- carbon-based/not carbon based wasn't what was meant), shifting the assemblage point and other bands of awareness, bundles of emanations that are the basis for the different species source of awareness and forms/molds, the human mold, the rolling force or tumbler (that hits luminous cocoon), the death defier, self-stalking, intent, and dreaming.
The Power of Silence - stories about essentially the mastery of intent, set into what were called sorcery cores.
The Art of Dreaming - steps to mastering control and consciousness of dreams.
Magical Passes - descriptions with photos of sorcery-based physical movements intended to increase well-being, a system which became known as Tensegrity
The Active Side of Infinity - recapitulation, making a log of significant life events (as seen by the spirit)
The Wheel of Time - recollection of the mood in which each previous book was written; significant quotes from each previous book
There's much more in Wiki to read about the controversy over Castaneda's writings.
See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Carlos_Castaneda