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Carlos Castañeda 1962
|Born||December 25, 1925(1925-12-25) |
|Died||April 27, 1998 (aged 72) |
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Carlos Castañeda (25 December 1925 – 27 April 1998) was a Peruvian-born American author. Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castañeda wrote a series of books that describe his purported training in traditional Mesoamerican shamanism. His 12 books have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages. The books and Castañeda, who rarely spoke in public about his work, have been controversial for many years. Supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy and descriptions of practices which enable an increased awareness. Critics have tended to claim that the books are works of fiction, citing what they see as their internal contradictions and Castañeda's description of a peyote culture that, to them, did not exist.
In his books, Castañeda narrated in first person what he claimed were his experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui shaman named Don Juan Matus whom he met in 1960. Castañeda wrote that he was identified by Don Juan Matus as having the energetic configuration of a "nagual", who, if the spirit chose, could become a leader of a party of seers. He also used the term "nagual" to signify that part of perception which is in the realm of the unknown yet still reachable by man, implying that, for his party of seers, don Juan was in some way a connection to that unknown. Castañeda often referred to this unknown realm as nonordinary reality, which indicated that this realm was indeed a reality, but radically different from the ordinary reality experienced by human beings who are well engaged in everyday activities as part of their social conditioning.
Immigration records for Carlos Cesar Arana Castañeda indicate that he was born on 25 December 1931 in Juqueri, Mairiporã, Brazil. Records show that his surname was given by his mother Susana Castañeda Navoa. His father was Cesar Arana Burungaray. 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. In 1960 he was married to Margaret Runyan in Tijuana, Mexico. They lived together for only six months, but their divorce was not finalized until 1973. He was educated at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) (B.A. 1962; Ph.D. 1973).
Castañeda’s first three books, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, A Separate Reality and Journey to Ixtlan, were written while Castañeda was an anthropology student at UCLA. He wrote these books as if they were his research log describing his apprenticeship with a traditional "Man of Knowledge" identified as don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian from northern Mexico. Castañeda was awarded his bachelor's and doctoral degrees based on the work described in these books.
In March 1973 Castañeda was the subject of a cover article in Time cover article 5 March 1973 (Vol. 101 No. 10). The article described him as "an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a tortilla." Following that interview until the 1990s Castañeda disappeared from public view.
In 1974 his fourth book, "Tales of Power", was published. This book ended with Castañeda leaping from a cliff into an abyss, and signaled the end of his apprenticeship under the tutelage of don Juan. In all, twelve books by Castañeda were published, two of them posthumously.
Castañeda died on April 27, 1998 in Los Angeles due to complications from liver cancer. There was no public service, Castañeda was cremated and the ashes were sent to Mexico. It wasn't until nearly two months later, on June 19, 1998, that an obituary entitled A Hushed Death for Mystic Author Carlos Castañeda by staff writer J.R. Moehringer appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
 Metaphysical aspects
 The Witches
After Castañeda dropped from public view in 1973, he bought a large house in Los Angeles which he shared with three of his female followers, who became known as the Witches. All of the women who lived with him and who were known by this title were said to be or have been his lovers at some point.
The Witches were required to break off their relationships with friends and family when they joined Castañeda's group. They also refused to be photographed and took new names - Regina Thal became Florinda Donner-Grau, Maryann Simko became Taisha Abelar and Kathleen Pohlman became Carol Tiggs.
According to Corey Donovan (aka Richard Jennings), creator of the Sustained Action website:
The use of the term "the Witches" to relate to the three women Castañeda was eventually to claim had also been apprentices of don Juan seems to date to the early nineties, when books by two of these women purporting to describe their experiences with don Juan and his party were published. These three women are Florinda Donner-Grau, Taisha Abelar and Carol Tiggs. All three of them appeared and sometimes lectured at many of the Tensegrity workshops that began in July 1993, and Florinda and Taisha appeared at book signings and gave occasional lectures or radio interviews as well.
Shortly after Carlos died, Florinda and Taisha disappeared, along with Patricia Partin (see the Blue Scout below). Talia Bey (Cleargreen president - born Amalia Marquez) and Tensegrity instructor Kylie Lundal had their phones disconnected and also disappeared. On August 2, 1998 Carol spoke at a workshop in Ontario. None of the Witches have been seen in public since. Spokespeople from Cleargreen have said only that they are "travelling", but no other information is available. It is speculated that they have committed suicide.
Because the women had cut all ties with family and friends it was some time before people noticed they were missing. There has been no official investigation into the disappearances of Donner-Grau, Simko and Lundal. Luis Marquez, the brother of Talia Bey, went to the police in 1999 over his sister's disappearance, but was unable to convince them that her disappearance merited investigation. Their opinion changed in 2006 after the remains of Patricia Partin were identified, and the LAPD finally added Talia to their missing person database.
 The Chacmools
This extract from a Tensegrity workshop brochure was published in the Nagualist Newsletter in 1995.
Don Juan explained that the gigantic reclining figures called the chacmools, found in the pyramids of Mexico, were the representations of guardians. He said that the look of emptiness in their eyes and faces was due to the fact that they were dream-guards, guarding dreamers and dreaming sites.
Following don Juan's tradition, we call Kylie Lundahl, Reni Murez and Nyei Murez chacmools. The inherent energetic organization of their beings allows them to possess a single-minded purpose, a genuine fierceness and daring which make them the ideal guardians of anything they choose to guard, be it a person, an idea, a way of life, or whatever.
In the instance of our video, these three guardians demonstrate the techniques of Tensegrity because they are best qualified for the task, the three of them having completed the gigantic task of compiling the four individual strands of magical passes taught by don Juan and his people to us.
 The Blue Scout
In his book The Art of Dreaming, Castanñeda describes an encounter during a lucid dreaming session with a supposed conscious entity that was trapped by other inorganic beings. The trapped entity was named the Blue Scout because its "energy" appeared blueish and it was an energetic scout (meaning it was outside of its original realm). The Blue Scout was apparently bait used by the inorganic beings to trap Castañeda as well. But instead they (Castañeda and the Blue Scout) escaped by supposedly merging their energies.
The alleged result of merging their energies was that the Blue Scout followed Castañeda to our world. Furthermore, Castañeda claimed that he gave the Blue Scout a human physical body by helping Carol Tiggs give normal birth to her.
A real girl was brought forward at various public sessions Castañeda and Tiggs and introduced as the Blue Scout, and Tiggs was referenced as her mother. This is strange because that girl was someone named Patricia Partin who had real, known biological parents other than Castañeda and Tiggs.
The remains of Partin, sometimes referred to by Castañeda as Blue Scout, Nury Alexander and/or Claude, were found in 2003 near where her abandoned car had been discovered a few weeks after Castañeda's death in 1998, on the edge of Death Valley. Her remains were in a condition requiring DNA identification, which was made in 2006.
 Legal actions
 Commercial challenges
On November 22, 1995 Castañeda, through his attorney Deborah Drooz, filed a complaint against Victor Sanchez and Bear & Company. The complaint charged violation of trademarks, false or misleading advertising, unfair competition, and fraud.
 Challenge to will
Four months after Castañeda's death C. J. Castañeda, also known as Adrian Vashon, whose birth certificate claims Carlos Castañeda as his father, challenged Castañeda's will in probate court. For many years Castañeda had referred to Vashon as his son. The will was signed four days before Castañeda's death and Vashon challenged its authenticity. The challenge was ultimately unsuccessful.
 Allegations of Cultism and death of Patricia Partin
At the heart of Castañeda's movement was a group of intensely devoted women, all of whom were or had been his lovers. Two of his lovers vanished the day after Castañeda's death, A few weeks later, Patricia Partin, Castañeda's adopted daughter as well as his lover, also disappeared. In February 2006, a skeleton found in Death Valley, Calif., was identified through DNA analysis as Partin's.
It has been alleged that Carlos taught his close devotees that when he perished, he would disappear into a flash of light rather than die a human physical death, and would join every point in the universe. Also that if they were with him holding hands at the time of his death, they would also vanish into a flash of light rather than die physically (he later died of pancreatic cancer). It is alleged that Carlos had told Partin to meet him in death valley, where they would join the stars together. Her car was found a few miles from her body, in the middle of death valley, where average daytime temperatures exceed 35'C.
 Accusations of academic fraud
Castañeda's works were presented as real-life accounts. They have been criticized by a number of academics as being unverifiable and invented, and labelled as suspect in terms of anthropological fieldwork as there were no proofs or witnesses other than himself for the places, people, and events described. Also in relation to the extent to which he expropriates the research of Barbara Myerhoff without attribution fictionalizing on the basis of her field research.
According to Robert J. Wallis, in his 2003 book Shamans/Neo-Shamans: Contested Ecstasies, Alternative Archaeologies, and Contemporary Pagans:
At first, and with the backing of academic qualifications and the UCLA anthropological department, Castañeda’s work was critically acclaimed. Notable old-school American anthropologists like Edward Spicer (1969) and Edmund Leach (1969) praised Castañeda, alongside more alternative and young anthropologists such as Peter Furst, Barbara Myerhoff and Michael Harner. The authenticity of Don Juan was accepted for six years, until Richard De Mille and Daniel Noel both published their critical exposés of the Don Juan books in 1976 (De Mille produced a further edited volume in 1980). Most anthropologists had been convinced of Castañeda’s authenticity until then — indeed, they had had little reason to question it — but De Mille’s meticulous analysis, in particular, disproved the veracity of Castañeda’s work.
Beneath the veneer of anthropological fact stood huge discrepancies in the data: the books ‘contradict one another in details of time, location, sequence, and description of events’ (Schultz in Clifton 1989:45). There are possible published sources for almost everything Carlos wrote (see especially Beals 1978), and at least one encounter is ethnographic plagiarism: Ramon Medina, a Huichol shaman-informant to Myerhoff (1974), displayed superhuman acrobatic feats at a waterfall and, according to Myerhoff, in the presence of Castañeda (Fikes 1993). Then, in A Separate Reality, Don Juan’s friend Don Genaro makes a similar leap over a waterfall with the aid of supernatural power. In addition to these inconsistencies, various authors suggest aspects of the Sonoran desert Carlos describes are environmentally implausible, and, the ‘Yaqui shamanism’ he divulges is not Yaqui at all but a synthesis of shamanisms from elsewhere (e.g. Beals 1978).
Various critics have tried to reconcile Castañeda’s accounts with his own personal history and those of his fellow apprentices, with no success. Some hold that this is proof that the stories are fictitious but others believe that Castañeda made a strenuous personal effort to erase his own personal history, in accordance with the precepts he learned from the old nagual, Don Juan Matus, who had embarked on a similar procedure earlier.
As early as 1973 a Time Magazine article had questioned
"... the more worldly claim to importance of Castañeda's books: to wit, that they are anthropology, a specific and truthful account of an aspect of Mexican Indian culture as shown by the speech and actions of one person, a shaman named Juan Matus. That proof hinges on the credibility of don Juan as a being and Carlos Castañeda as a witness. Yet there is no corroboration beyond Castañeda's writings that Don Juan did what he is said to have done, and very little that he exists at all."
Serious analytical criticism of Castañeda's books did not emerge until 1976 when Richard de Mille published Castañeda's Journey: The Power and the Allegory, in which he argues, "Logical or chronological errors in the narrative constitute the best evidence that Castañeda's books are works of fiction. If no one has discovered these errors before, the reason must be that no one has listed the events of the first three books in sequence. Once that has been done, the errors are unmistakable."
An instance of this, according to de Mille, is Castañeda's relations with a witch named 'la Catalina.'
In October 1965 Carlos-One went through an ordeal so unexpected and disturbing that he sadly withdrew from his apprenticeship and avoided don Juan for more than two years. The ordeal was a night-long confrontation with a powerful enemy who had assumed Don Juan's bodily form though not his accustomed gait or speech....
Curiously, when Carlos-One begged Don Juan to explain what had happened during the "special" event, 'the conversation began with speculations about the identity of a female person' (Castañeda's emphasis) who had snatched Carlos's soul and borrowed Don Juan's form. The lady was not named, and the reader was left to wonder whether the galvanizing impersonatress was in fact a certain 'fiendish witch' called "la Catalina," who had been mentioned briefly on November 23, 1961, four years earlier. At that time Don Juan had said he was harboring certain plans for finishing her off, about which he would tell Carlos-One 'someday.' Poor Carlos-One had to wait ten years to learn about those plans in Tales of Power, but Table 2 reveals that Carlos-Two, traveling a parallel time track, carried out those plans with moderate success in the fall of 1962, when he met the magic lady six times in a row, once as a marauding but indistinct blackbird, once as a sailing silhouette, and four times face to face "in all her magnificent evil splendor" as a beautiful but terrifying young woman. Reacting to those encounters, he felt his ears bursting, his throat choking, his hands frozen, his body chilled, and his arms and legs rigid. The hair on his body literally stood on end. He shrieked and fell down to the ground. He was paralyzed. He began to run. And he lost his power of speech.
Here we are asked to believe that a flesh-and-blood anthropologist who enjoyed this tumultuous supernatural affair with a glorious witch in 1962 did not recall her name in 1965, did not make the connection between the last meeting and the previous six when sorting through his field notes in the safety of his apartment, did not put it all together when naming her in his first book, but found the memory "as vivid as if it had just happened" on May 22, 1968, a few pages into his second book. Even if we could credit this uncharacteristic amnesia, we would still have to account for don Juan's equal failure to name 'la Catalina' in 1965. The puzzle is easily solved by switching from the factual to the fictive model. The abrupt, unsatisfying ending to The Teachings is not a symptom of ethnographic battle fatigue, for our campaigner has already survived six such battles with colors flying. It is only a serialist's preparation for the next episode, a cliffhanger that makes us hungry for another book.
On these showings, one thing is certain. "The Teachings of Don Juan" and "Journey to Ixtlan" cannot both be factual reports. 
In the The Power and the Allegory, De Mille compared The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui way of Knowledge with Castenada's library stack requests at the University of California. The stack requests documented that he was sitting in the library when his journal said he was squatting in don Juan's hut. One of the most memorable discoveries that De Mille made in his examination of the stack requests was that when Castañeda said he was participating in the traditional peyote ceremony -- the least fantastic episode of drug use -- he was not only sitting in the library, but he was reading someone else's description of his experience of the peyote ceremony.
 Misrepresentation of psychotropic substances
His accounts of hallucinations from psychotropic plants paralleled the "Mind Expansion" hippy ideas of the 60's, and sold in large volumes to the hippies. In contrast, the indigenous Mexican indians that ingest Peyote and Datura do so very rarely, only once a year for peyote, in a deeply sacred communal ceremony, rather than on their own for philosophical insights.
There are further discrepancies in his description of the use of psychotropic plants as a means to induce altered states of awareness. In Castañeda's first two books, he describes the "Yaqui way of knowledge" using for assistance the use of powerful indigenous plants, such as peyote and datura. In his third book, Journey to Ixtlan, he makes clear that the use of psychotropic plants ("power plants") or substances was not necessary to achieve heightened awareness, although his teacher advised their use was beneficial in helping to free the stubborn mind of some persons. He says that don Juan used them on him to demonstrate that experiences outside those known in day-to-day life are real and tangible.
In Journey to Ixtlan, the third book in the series, he wrote:
My perception of the world through the effects of those psychotropics had been so bizarre and impressive that I was forced to assume that such states were the only avenue to communicating and learning what don Juan was attempting to teach me.
 Other creative works
- "Winds of Nagual" - A piece for Wind Ensemble by composer Michael Colgrass
- Sorcerer - A concept album of ambient music by Michael Stearns and Ron Sunsinger inspired by the late Castañeda
 Related authors
- Two other authors, Taisha Abelar (born Maryann Simko) and Florinda Donner-Grau (born Regine Thal), wrote books in which they claimed to be from don Juan Matus' party of Toltec warriors. Both Abelar and Donner-Grau were endorsed by Castañeda as being legitimate students of don Juan Matus, whereas he dismissed all other writers as pretenders. The two women were part of Castañeda's inner circle, which he referred to as "The Brujas", and both assumed different names as part of their dedication to their new beliefs. They were originally both graduate students in anthropology at UCLA.
- Donald Barthelme parodied Castañeda's books in his The Teachings of Don B.: A Yankee Way of Knowledge, in which he substitutes "brujo" with "brillo."
- Victor Sanchez claims to have received similar teachings from the Wirrarika people in Mexico. Although he says he has met Castañeda, and that Castañeda's books were an inspiration for him, he emphasizes that Castaneda did not endorse his work.
- Miguel Ángel Ruiz is known for bestselling book The Four Agreements.
 See also
- Lucid dream
- Amalia Marquez
- Plastic Shaman
- Cultural appropriation
- Noble savage
- Cultural imperialism
- New Age
- Recapitulation (Castaneda)
- Toltec (Castaneda)
- ^ The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Volume 5: 1997-1999. Charles Scribner's Sons, 2002.
- ^ de Mille, Richard, Castañeda's Journey, The Power and the Allegory (Lincoln: iUniverse.com, Inc., 2001 ) 27.
- ^ Death Certificate
- ^ Castañeda Obituary All Things Considered, June 19, 1998
- ^ Lachman, Gary, 'Don Carlos and the Witches', Fortean Times 238, July 2008
- ^ a b The dark legacy of Carlos Castañeda page 4 from Salon magazine April 12, 2007
- ^ The Charley Project
- ^ http://www.sustainedaction.org/_nagualist/_NNL5/whats_a_chacmool.htm The Nagualist Newsletter and Open Forum, Issue February 5 / March 1995
- ^ Background on Castañeda's Lawsuit Against Victor Sanchezby Corey Donovan, retrieved September 3, 2008
- ^ Mystery Man's Death Can't End the Mystery; Fighting Over Carlos Castañeda's LegacyBy Peter Applebome, NY Times, August 19, 1998, retrieved September 3, 2008
- ^ Myerhoff, Barbara G. Peyote Hunt: The Sacred Journey of the Huichol Indians. Cornell U., 1974.
- ^ de Mille, Richard Castañeda's Journey: The Power and the Allegory',' Capra Press, 1976, pp. 166
- ^ de Mille, Richard, "Castañeda's Journey," 1976, pp. 170-171
- ^ The dark legacy of Carlos Castañeda, Salon magazine, April 12, 2007
- ^ Victor Sanchez. The Toltec Path of Recapitulation. (Bear & Company: Rochester, Vermont 2001), p. 7, ISBN 1-879181-60-6
- ^ Castañeda Controversies
Border Crossings: A Psychological Perspective on Carlos Castaneda's Path of Knowledge By Donald Williams. Inner City Books, 1981. Digitized by Google Jan 10, 2008 from the University of Texas. 153 pages.
 External links
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Carlos Castaneda|
- Carlos Castañeda's Don Juan's Teachings, a 117,500 word book compiled from Carlos Castañeda's ten books
- Carlos Castañeda's Tensegrity, site maintained by ClearGreen Inc., the direct apprentices of Carlos Castaneda, who also inherited his estate and currently conduct Tensegrity seminars and classes
- Nagualism, collection of information, interviews and forum discussion on Carlos Castañeda, Nagualism, and Shamanism
- Sustained Action, a website devoted to analysis and discussion of evidence and controversy about Carlos Castañeda
- Don Juan the Sorcerer - Carlos Castañeda interviewed by Theodore Roszak, 1969 interview with Carlos Castañeda on Pacifica Radio
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Castaneda, Carlos|
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||Latin American writer|
|DATE OF BIRTH||December 25, 1931|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Sao Paolo Brazil|
|DATE OF DEATH||April 27, 1998|
|PLACE OF DEATH||Los Angeles, California|
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