Early in my days of inner exploration I was fascinated with the writings of Carlos Castenada.
Why am I bringing this up? I noticed a friend of mine had the first novel The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge in e-book form and he was planning on reading the series. I mentioned that I had read the Castenada books and that was that. But of course there was more I wanted to say…
My opinion of the books is that they’re an interesting read. As a Heathen/Pagan/Druish leaning and practicing fellow I can see how detrimental they are, how manipulative it’s author was with it’s content and how quite possibly the practices presented are not only culturally absurd but harmful to the individual.
Carlos’ books present, according to him, Yaqui Sorcery not a generic New Age Shamanism. They present a way to question reality, to alter perception, to “see”. But what your really getting is a way to escape reality, see the world as a collage of lies, and view reality as meaningless. As you can tell I’m not to hip on these books.
Read as fiction these tales of Sorcery can be pretty good, though maybe a little boring, and perhaps that’s why they were sold as truth – because no one would read them strictly for their literary content.
So why do I even care about Carlos Castenada and his books and fame. Carlos created an entire mythology around his principles, he developed a culture that in turn has developed more cultures. Go on YouTube and search Carlos Castenada and you’ll find a wealth of material. Go to your local book store, used or new, and you’ll find his books, at least one our two. The cult of the Toltec Shaman developed by Castenada fascinates me, simply because it so readily exemplifies how one man can change the world HE lives in, and how people will gravitate towards that new definition.
The book series is worth a read, and some of it’s fictional techniques will work for you. But as a Pagan it flies in the face of everything I practice and hold sacred – We do not need to hide away from society, Our reality is not a false sheen of lazy perception (the systems we create perhaps are, but not Reality as a whole), and we do not need to escape from our own desires and passions.
I find it funny how Castenada was always preaching, and I use that word with purpose, how it was important to be your own person, and as a Sorcerer or Warrior it was important to not allow society and others to define us, or to be manipulated by the perceptions of others – And it is one of the reasons he never allowed pictures to be taken of himself, or even his voice to be recorded…Yet now, because of the internet, everyone can hear his voice and see his image…Ironic? or just sad, I’m not sure.
A decent exploration of Castenada’s work can be seen in this documentary, though I don’t think it addresses enough of the negatives that grew from his philosophy: Enigma of a Sorcerer