Friday, June 27, 2014

Carlos Castaneda, Tripping With Don Juan

Back in the early 1970’s Carlos Castaneda was to natural hallucinogenic what Timothy Leary had been to LSD in the 1960’s. A lot of people got turned on to spirituality, shamanism and natural ways of expanding consciousness. Many have called him the “Godfather” of New Age. While I was a reader of books at the time I found his books to be a tough going and never finished one. Kind of like most of William S. Burroughs books.
Mr. Castaneda popped up on my radar recently when I came across a 1st edition hardback copy of his 1974 book “Tales of Power”. 

I posted the book on eBay and thought I would do a little research on Don Juan. What I found was a strange secretive man who while at the peak of his popularity withdrew from public life for decades. Perhaps due to the accusations that his non-fictional narratives were made up to a large part.
So was the man a prophet, a pusher or, most likely, a little of both? Here are some of the things I discovered in my search for Don Juan.

First from Wikipedia:
“Carlos Arana Castañeda[1] (Spanish: [ˈkaɾlos aˈɾana kastaˈɲeða]; December 25, 1925 – April 27, 1998) was a Peruvian-American author with a Ph.D. in anthropology.
Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castañeda wrote a series of books that describe his training in shamanism. The books, narrated in the first person, relate his experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui "Man of Knowledge" named Don Juan Matus. His 11 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.
Castañeda withdrew from public view in 1973 to work further on his inner development, living in a large house with three women ("Fellow Travelers of Awareness") 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.”
For more click here.
 From Wikipedia I moved onto where I found a rare interview from Castaneda which you can link to from here.

Don Juan the Sorcerer - Carlos Castaneda interviewed by Theodore Roszak
DON JUAN THE SORCERER - Carlos Castaneda interviewed by Theodore Roszak. Author of "The Teachings of Don Juan" discusses his experiences with hallucinogenic substances used under the guidance of his Yaqui Indian teacher, don Juan Matus. BROADCAST: KPFA, 30 Jan. 1969.(37 min.) BB2038 Pacifica Radio Archives.
From there my next stop was YouTube here I hoped to find some interesting video of the high priest of hallucinations. While I didn’t find that I did come across a station called Casting Carlos Castaneda which was very carloscentric.
Here’s how they describe themselves:
“The senses are like a screen to which projections from the universe can be displayed. Projections from another world. These projections are an act of WAR.
The studio of Controlled Folly. The projection of Carlos Castaneda.”
Among their offerings were a number of animated original videos featuring the adventures of Carlos including this gem.
Carlos Castaneda Day of the Dead

In his later years he rejoined the public eye when he began promoting a movement technique called Tensegrity. On Salon I came across this strange tale about Castaneda’s later years.

“At the heart of Castaneda’s movement was a group of intensely devoted women, all of whom were or had been his lovers. They were known as the witches, and two of them, Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar, vanished the day after Castaneda’s death, along with Cleargreen president Amalia Marquez and Tensegrity instructor Kylie Lundahl. A few weeks later, Patricia Partin, Castaneda’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.
Some former Castaneda associates suspect the missing women committed suicide. They cite remarks the women made shortly before vanishing, and point to Castaneda’s frequent discussion of suicide in private group meetings. Achieving transcendence through a death nobly chosen, they maintain, had long been central to his teachings.”
To read the whole story click here.

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