~ Desert Cave ~ ©2015 Sam Hallmark
~ according to wikipedia…
Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his training in shamanism, particularly a group that he called the Toltecs. The books, narrated in the first person, relate his experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui “Man of Knowledge” named Don Juan Matus. His 12 books have sold more than 28 million copies in 17 languages. Critics have suggested that they are works of fiction; supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy and descriptions of practices which enable an increased awareness.
Castaneda withdrew from public view in 1973 to work further on his inner development, living in a large house with three women whom he called “Fellow Travellers of Awareness”, and who were ready to cut their ties to family and changed their names. He founded Cleargreen, an organization that promoted tensegrity, purportedly a traditional Toltec regimen of spiritually powerful exercises.
Castaneda’s first three books – The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge; A Separate Reality; and Journey to Ixtlan – were written while he was an anthropology student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He wrote these books as his research log describing his apprenticeship with a traditional “Man of Knowledge” identified as don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian from northern Mexico. Castaneda was awarded his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees based on the work described in these books.
In 1974 his fourth book, Tales of Power, was published and chronicled the end of his apprenticeship under the tutelage of Matus. Castaneda continued to be popular with the reading public with his subsequent publications.
In his books, Castaneda narrates in first person the events leading to his 1960 introduction to Matus, a half-Yaqui “Man of Knowledge”, and his subsequent experiences with him. He also says the sorcerer bequeathed him the position of nagual, or leader of a party of seers. Matus 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 a connection in some way to that unknown. Castaneda often referred to this unknown realm as nonordinary reality.
The term nagual has been used by anthropologists to mean a shaman or sorcerer who claims to be able to change into an animal form, or to metaphorically “shift” into another form through magic rituals, shamanism and experiences with psychoactive drugs (e.g.,peyote and jimson weed – Datura stramonium).
Castaneda was the subject of a cover article in the March 5, 1973 issue of Time which described him as “an enigma wrapped in a mystery”. When confronted by correspondent Sandra Burton about discrepancies in his personal history, Castaneda responded:
“To ask me to verify my life by giving you my statistics… is like using science to validate sorcery. It robs the world of its magic and makes milestones out of us all.”
The interviewer wrote:
“Castaneda makes the reader experience the pressure of mysterious winds and the shiver of leaves at twilight, the hunter’s peculiar alertness to sound and smell, the rock-bottom scrubbiness of Indian life, the raw fragrance of tequila and the vile, fibrous taste of peyote, the dust in the car, and the loft of a crow’s flight. It is a superbly concrete setting, dense with animistic meaning. This is just as well, in view of the utter weirdness of the events that happen in it.”