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CARLOS CASTANEDA:


The Shaman and the Power of the Omen


the Wanderling


"Those forces guided you to me; they took you to that bus depot, remember? Some clown brought you to me. A PERFECT OMEN, a clown pointing you out."

Don Juan Matus to Carlos Castaneda in Journey to Ixtlan (1972)


Carlos Castaneda was a controversial author of a series of books based on a Yaqui Indian spiritual elder sometimes said to be from Sonora, Mexico and other times Yuma, Arizona, that he calls Don Juan Matus. According to Castaneda, Don Juan was a shaman-sorcerer who studied under a Diablero, a person considered to have extraordinary, and usually evil, powers. In turn Castaneda apprenticed under Don Juan over a period of several years starting in June, 1961, through to at least September, 1965, and possibly beyond. Before Castaneda started his apprenticeship he was an undergraduate student enrolled in the anthropology department at UCLA. In that capacity, after a series of events, Castaneda found himself in the desert southwest on a quest to research medicinal plants without the grace of his professors. Because of that lack of support Castaneda was just about ready to give up and head back to Los Angeles when a colleague suggested they go on a Road Trip together.

It is my contention that just before he went on that Road Trip --- during the spring into the early part of the summer of 1960 with a colleague he calls Bill --- Castaneda found himself in a deep state of despondency. The depth and heaviness of that despondency, combined with one other factor, convinced Castaneda that if he was ever going to climb out of the academic quagmire he found himself in as well as find the answers to the questions he was seeking, he would have to follow through on the Road Trip. With an unknown outcome reeking with destiny, the trip, except possibly for Castaneda's non-understanding but unwavering sense of the Power of the Omen, started out relatively uneventful. However, as a large portion of the literate world knows now, the trip ended, according to how Castaneda presents it, in the direct meeting between himself and Don Juan Matus, the shaman-sorcerer he eventually apprenticed under.

The one other factor congruently placed into the mix was his colleague's last name. Although seemingly an extremely minor incident in the overall stream of events to most outside observers, Castaneda, upon hearing it for the first time was practically bowled over by it. The circumstances surrounding that initial meeting sent shivers down his spine striking him as being nothing less than a potential destiny-laden OMEN (I get into the specifics of that first time in the very important Footnote [1] further down, the strength of which Don Juan would eventually call those forces). However, at the time, as no more than a mere neophyte Castaneda was subconsciously unable to stop himself, the powerful flow of events pushing him over the top into making his final decision to go on the Road Trip.

In his eleventh book, The Active Side of Infinity (1998), Castaneda lays out in his own words how his colleague tried to convince him to go on the Road Trip. Castaneda writes:


I felt so despondent that I turned him down.

"I'm very sorry, Bill," I said. "The trip won't do for me. I see no point in pursuing this idea of fieldwork any longer."

"Don't give up without a fight," Bill said in a tone of paternal concern. "Give all you have to the fight, and if it licks you, then it's okay to give up, but not before. Come with me and see how you like the Southwest."


In CARLOS CASTANEDA: The Road Trip, taking a cue from the above and striking a cord for the despondency side of Castaneda's plight --- all the while playing down the potential strength of the omen aspect for a stronger and more in depth emphasis here, the following is presented:


Castaneda may have been so despondent after hearing the advice from the seasoned anthropologists --- and Castaneda makes reference to just such a mental state in his writings related to the aftermath of the seasoned anthropologists --- that he just got hooked up with some desert-rat cowboy that lived in his truck loaded with goodies, that usually drove alone and off they went.


To wit, to back up the above, the following, culled mostly from Castaneda's eleventh book Active Side of Infinity, coupled with some rather long discussions with my Uncle, who had met Castaneda during the summer of 1960, underlines more thoroughly both Castaneda's reference and mine to his despondency after hearing the advice from the seasoned anthropologists:


In early 1960, as an undergraduate student attending UCLA and well before he had any experience with or gained knowledge of Sacred Datura except perhaps some small inferences of the plant from the venerated Cahuilla Shaman, Salvador Lopez, Castaneda approached a tenured professor of anthropology with the idea of writing a paper called "Ethnobotanical Data" and publish it in a journal that dealt exclusively with anthropological issues of the desert southwest. Castaneda was going to collect medicinal plants from all over the desert and have them properly identified by the UCLA Botanical Garden, then describe why and how the Indians of the southwest used them.

The professor told Castaneda he thought that fieldwork was a travesty, saying he should pay more attention to his formal studies instead, perhaps thinking about studying linguistics or comparative religions, for example.

Castaneda, somewhat dismayed and becoming even more downhearted about the whole thing, took his proposition to a second professor --- and the second professor ended up being even less helpful than the first, actually laughing at Castaneda openly. He told him his paper was a Mickey Mouse idea and that nothing in it was even remotely close to being anthropology.

As a last resort, Castaneda, not wanting to give up on his idea, primarily because he wanted to be in the field and do original research instead of just library research, went to Arizona where he heard there were some reputable and high ranking anthropologists who were actually doing fieldwork in his same general area of interest. There, Castaneda met with a number of extremely seasoned anthropologists, one of whom, according to discussions with my uncle was thought to be Edward H. Spicer, a professor who had written a great deal about the Yaqui Indians of Arizona as well as those of Sonora, Mexico. The professor Castaneda met with didn't laugh openly or run him down to his face, but he didn't give him any kind of encouragement or advice either.

A younger colleague of the professor was, however, more outspoken. He told Castaneda that he would be better off going back to the library at UCLA and simply sitting around researching what he needed from their huge catalog of herbalists' books. As a so-called respected authority in his field it was his opinion that everything anybody would ever want to know about medicinal plants from the desert southwest had already been delt with, both in being classified, cataloged and published to-no-end. Most likely he said, they could be found sitting around totally unused and collecting nothing but dust on the shelves at UCLA. He also told Castaneda that the SOURCES for most Native American curers of the day were those EXACT SAME publications rather than from any traditional knowledge. He finished by telling Castaneda, that in his experience, if any traditional curing practices did remain among the Indians of the southwest, they were not about to divulge any of them to a stranger.


OMENS AND DESPONDENCY

In a 1968 radio interview with Castaneda titled "Don Juan: The Sorcerer," Castaneda, speaking of the shaman-sorcerer Don Juan Matus and his insights into the power and influence of omens, says:


He (Don Juan) guides his acts by indications, by omens, if he sees something that is extraordinary, some event that he cannot incorporate into his, possibly his categorization scheme, if it doesn't fit in it, he calls it aportentous event or an extraordinary event and he considers that to be an omen.


At the time of the above 1968 radio interview Castaneda was heading toward the crest of power, fame, and fortune amongst a fairly wide general audience, and reluctantly so to a small core of smoldering beneath the collar academic peers. It was a lot different at the start of his Road Trip in the early summer of 1960. He was nowhere close to peer level in the minds of the "experienced social scientists" he came in contact with --- those in the field OR at the university. He was most likely thought of as nothing much more than a lowly undergraduate student --- the bottom-feeders of academia --- inturn undercutting his credibility in any and all of his ideas. All of which, taken together, unnecessarily contributed to the depth of Castaneda's gut-wrenching despondency. Inside he was truly suffering. More and more he felt like he and the ideas he held were worthless. In the end it seemed as though there was nothing left to do except flat-out quit or take the advice of the seasoned anthropologists and leave Arizona for Los Angeles and a life of library research.

However, at the very last minute, a colleague Castaneda had met in the field stepped forward and out of the blue offered what he thought was a valid suggestion --- a Road Trip. The colleague was NOT even close to being one of those high ranking anthropologists or experienced social scientists. Although highly respected in the field, he was often categorized behind his back as not much more than a mere rock hound or pothunter by most of those same scientists --- but who, because of having met him years later through an association with my uncle, I have bypassed the derogatory pothunter label, referring to him instead as:


"...a not nearly so high ranking working stiff and seat-of-the-pants ground-pounder, versed in four-field anthropology (Ethnology, Archaeology, Linguistic and Biological)."


The so identified ground-pounder and onetime Pothunter turned reputable archeologist, told Castaneda he intended to go on a Road Trip and drive throughout Arizona and New Mexico revisiting "all the places where he had done work in the past, renewing in this fashion his relationships with the people (Native American or otherwise) who had been his anthropological informants" and asked Castaneda if he wanted to join him.

The rest is history. Castaneda DID join in with the colleague on the Road Trip. For us the readers, though, regardless of the importance of the role the colleague played in the overall scheme of things or how Castaneda may have or may not have arrived at his decision to go, throughout all of his books the colleague remained nothing but anonymous to the core. At the most he was called only Bill at one end of the spectrum to never being identified with a last name at the other. However, there is a slight perfume within Castaneda lore that his colleague Bill did have a last name: Campbell --- with his full name being William Lawrence Campbell.


Interestingly enough there was another man Castaneda was most certainly aware of with the last name Campbell --- the noted author of classic mythology and the relationship of that mythology to Native American legends, by the name of Joseph Campbell (1904-1987), who wrote the standard The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949), an absolute must-read for anybody such as Castaneda who delved into similar or like areas. So seeped in mythology was Joseph Campbell, George Lucas sought out all of his works --- along with Castaneda's it must be said --- for his Star Wars series. Lucas even invited Campbell and his wife, the renown dancer, choreographer and director Jean Erdman, to his Skywalker Ranch north of San Francisco for a stay, such invitations being an extreme rarity for Lucas.


TOP MYTHOLOGIST

JOSEPH CAMPBELL

Joseph Campbell believed that participation in ritual could put you into a direct experience of mythic reality --- paralleling almost exactly the thoughts as presented through Castaneda of Don Juan in later years. Of course, at the time of the meeting between Castaneda and his colleague and their early summer of 1960 Road Trip together, even though Castaneda may very well have heard of Joseph Campbell through formal anthropological studies and required reading at UCLA --- or simply striking out on his own through a personal thirst for knowledge --- at this stage of the game, Joseph Campbell or not, Castaneda was YET to meet Don Juan. The thing is, even though Castaneda was nowhere close to being a full-fledged Shaman --- or anything else of any consequence in the realm of the spiritual or occult (at the time) --- he continually kept finding himself having fleeting flashes of intuition in an almost primordial inkling of future events. So said, in a precursor to his shamanistic future it is my belief that:


  • Paralleling a phenomenon that Buddhists refer to as Dharmadhatu,

    AND,

  • combined with a growing despondency that was constantly being fed and re-fed by the non-acceptance of faculty powers-that-be,

    AND,

  • even though Castaneda was yet to be formally coached or versed in things shaman,

    THAT

  • just meeting a man with the last name Campbell would have been considered by him as nothing less than a perfect OMEN.


THE PERFECT OMEN

Regarding his very FIRST contact with Don Juan during the Nogales Bus Station Meeting in the late summer of 1960, Castaneda writes in A Separate Reality (1971):


"The old man (Don Juan Matus) looked at Bill and smiled. And Bill, who speaks only a few words of Spanish, made up an absurd phrase in that language. He looked at me as if asking whether he was making sense, but I did not know what he had had in mind; he then smiled shyly and walked away. The old man looked at me and began laughing. I explained to him that my friend sometimes forgot that he did not speak Spanish."


Now, if, in my opinion Castaneda "felt" or "read" his colleague Bill was an omen as I have suggested or not, OR, if Bill's last name being Campbell was conceived by him as an omen or not --- inturn impacting him positively on his decision to go on the Field Trip in 1960 as I have suggested --- in the overall scheme of things my opinion really doesn't matter much one way or the other. Why? Because one year later, on Thursday August 11, 1961, as presented in Journey to Ixtlan (1972), Castaneda tells us WHAT Don Juan Matus has to SAY about Bill during his Nogales bus station encounter AND whether Bill was an omen or not. Don Juan speaking to Castaneda says:


"The decision as to who can be a warrior and who can only be a hunter is not up to us. That decision is in the realm of the powers that guide men. That's why your playing with Mescalito was such an important omen. Those forces guided you to me; they took you to that bus depot, remember? Some clown brought you to me. A PERFECT OMEN, a clown pointing you out. So, I taught you how to be a hunter. And then the other perfect omen, Mescalito himself playing with you. See what I mean?"


Reinforcing everything I have presented thus far, Don Juan says, and I quote, "THOSE FORCES guided you to me; they took you to that bus depot, remember? Some clown brought you to me. A PERFECT OMEN, a clown pointing you out." The clown Don Juan was referring to of course, because his Spanish was so poor it sounded to Don Juan as though he was a Fool or an idiot babbling inanities, was none other than Castaneda's colleague Bill. He didn't mean just any clown, however. It went much deeper than that. Don Juan was drawing on his knowledge of centuries of tradition from the history of the sacred clown, or as he is known, the Shaman-Trickster. Clown or no, through it all it is easy to see from the above that it is not just me and me alone making the case that the presence of Castaneda's colleague Bill being in his life is viewed as an omen --- but Don Juan himself making the case. He is saying that Bill's presence upon the scene in the overall scheme of things is not only an omen, but the Perfect Omen.

Don Juan says, speaking of Castaneda, "those forces guided you to me" and "some clown brought you to me" which by inference carries an exceptional underlying principle which most people miss --- that being:


THOSE EXACT SAME FORCES THAT GUIDED AND BROUGHT CASTANEDA TO DON JUAN, HAD AS WELL, GUIDED AND BROUGHT THE CLOWN TO CASTANEDA IN THE FIRST PLACE.


That is the why Castaneda was moved to act --- but the final compulsion that pushed him over the edge to actually act was driven by a single overwhelming event as described in the ever important Footnote [1].



THOSE FORCES

THOSE FORCES, left undefined or ambiguous in nature by Don Juan in conversation, I earlier attempted to focus somewhat more clearly for you the reader in the opening paragraphs at the top of the page, presenting:


"With an unknown outcome reeking with destiny, the trip, except possibly for Castaneda's non-understanding but unwavering sense of the Power of the Omen, started out relatively uneventful."

The one other factor congruently placed into the mix was his colleague's last name. Although seemingly an extremely minor incident in the overall flow of events to most outside observers, Castaneda, upon hearing it for the first time was practically bowled over by his name, the results of which sent shivers down his spine and striking him as being nothing less than a potential destiny-laden OMEN --- and the strength of which Don Juan would eventually call those forces --- but at the time, as a neophyte, Castaneda was unable grasp and subconsciously unable to stop, pushing him over the top into making his final decision to go on the Road Trip.


In A Separate Reality (1971) Castaneda, writing of THOSE FORCES elaborates somewhat more specifically:


The world is indeed full of frightening things and we are helpless creatures surrounded by forces that are inexplicable and unbending. The average man, in ignorance, believes that those forces can be explained or changed; he doesn't really know how to do that, but he expects that the actions of mankind will explain them or change them sooner or later. A sorcerer, on the other hand, does not think of explaining or changing them; instead, he learns to use such forces by redirecting himself and adapting to their direction. That's his trick. There is very little to sorcery once you find out its trick. A sorcerer, by opening himself to knowledge, falls prey to those forces and has only one means of balancing himself, his will ; thus he must feel and act like a warrior. I will repeat this once more: Only as a warrior can one survive the path of knowledge. What helps a sorcerer live a better life is the strength of being a warrior.



In Power of Silence (1988), as to omens, Castaneda writes:


When a shaman-sorcerer interprets an omen he knows its exact meaning without having any notion of how he knows it. This is one of the bewildering effects of the connecting link with intent . Sorcerers have a sense of knowing things directly. How sure they are depends on the strength and clarity of their connecting link.

The feeling everyone knows as "intuition" is the activation of our link with intent.[2]


Hence, refering back to his quotes cited above from The Active Side of Infinity, Castaneda follows them up with:


Disregarding my feelings of defeat, I started on a journey with him.


At the time of the meeting with Campbell and the start of their Road Trip together Castaneda might not have been a full-fledged shaman-sorcerer or even remotely close, however, unknown to himself or anybody else, he was headed in that direction --- it was what the future held --- his "intuition" or Dharmadhatu gave him a sense of knowing things, it was just that his strength and clarity for understanding that intuition was yet to be refined. That was a job to be left for Don Juan Matus.


AND NOW THIS:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Over and over people ask why is it that they should accept what I have written about Castaneda as having any amount of credibility?

Originally when I first started writing about Castaneda it was for one reason only. It had to do with help substantiating an incident in my life that revolved around what are known in Buddhism and Hindu spiritual circles under the ancient Sanskrit word Siddhis. Siddhis are supernormal perceptual states that once fully ingrained at a deep spiritual level can be utilized by a practitioner to initiate or inhibit incidents that are beyond the realm of typical everyday manifestation.

In that the incident that occurred in my life, although bordering on the edges of what is generally conceived in the west as Shamanism or possibly the occult, was actually deeply immersed on the eastern spiritual side of things.(see) To bridge the understanding between the eastern and western concepts I brought in for those who may have been so interested the legacy of one of the most well read practitioner of such crafts in the western world, Carlos Castaneda. Although highly controversial and most certainly not the fully unmitigated expert in the field, he is widely read and a known figure when mentioned, by camps both pro and con. So said, Castaneda has the highest profile in of all individuals to have claimed the ability through shamanistic rituals the ability to fly --- thus, for reasons as they related to me I used Castaneda in my works as an example. In doing so it opened a virtual Pandora's Box of never ending controversy, causing me to either ignore or substantiate what I presented. Hence, as questions were raised by me in my own writing or raised by those who read my material more pages were created to explain who, what, when, where, and why.

For one thing I personally knew, met and interacted with Castaneda many times --- however, it was done so long before Castaneda became Castaneda. Matter of fact he was still a nobody student trying hard to obtain an AA degree from Los Angeles City College, working at Mattel Toy Company, and when I knew him, considered himself mostly as an aspiring artist rather than anything that remotely resembled an author or shaman. Secondly, and unrelated to he and I knowing each other, my uncle was the Informant that is so widely mentioned in Castaneda's works both by him and others, that introduced him to the rites and rituals of the use of the plant Sacred Datura that sent him into his initial experiences of altered states. Third, in an attempt on my part to confirm, clear up, or have them discount any number of things that have shown up or said about Castaneda and his life, things that have taken on a life of their own as fact because they have been repeated over and over so often, I interviewed, talked to, or conversed with a number of individuals that were prominent in his life --- especially so in areas that raise conflict when people read one thing about him and I write another.

The following people were all major movers in the life of Carlos Castaneda, and at one time or the other I met and talked with them all, which is more than most people who write about Castaneda has ever done. And I only did so on and off over time primarily to clarify questions about Castaneda that I had read that just did not make sense. Most people who question what I have presented about Castaneda simply gather their information from the standard already in existence party line. Some of the people I've talked to in reference to Castaneda who after some discussion clarified a lot for me, after Castaneda himself of course, are people like C. Scott Littleton, Alex Apostolides, Barbara G. Myerhoff, Edward H. Spicer, Clement Meighan, who Castaneda dedicated his first book to, and Castaneda's ex-wife Margaret Runyan.

Interestingly enough, my interview with Runyan came about because before she married Castaneda, she had been engaged to another author, the cowboy and western writer, with over 100 books to his credit, Louis L'amour. It just so happened my uncle who, if you recall, was the Informant in Castaneda lore, just happened to know L'Amour. My uncle took me with him one day he went to see L'Amour. When I had a chance to meet Runyan years later I used me knowing L'Amour as the wedge to talk with her. As it was, and not many people know about it, my uncle, who was influential with Castaneda also, along with another man deeply seeped in Native American spiritual lore by the name of H. Jackson Clark, worked together funneling Native American spiritual facts to L'Amour used as a theme in two of his books that borderlined much of what Castaneda wrote about, titled The Californios and Haunted Mesa.


NOTE: If you have not gone to the all important Footnote [1] that gets into the why Castaneda was moved to act --- that is, the final, single overwhelming event that pushed him over the edge to actually go on the Road Trip with his colleague Bill, please see Footnote [1].


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FOOTNOTE: [1]


If you read the page on William Lawrence Campbell reached here or through the previously cited link above, you will have learned that, at least in his later years anyway, Campbell was known for his ability to spin tall tales. One of the stories he told, and I cannot be sure how accurate it is, involved Carlos Castaneda.

My uncle and I had been sitting in a small cafe near Taos, New Mexico with a tribal elder friend when Campbell, whom my uncle seemed to know, stepped up to the table and invited himself to join us. Before long the conversation turned to Castaneda and Campbell told the following story. However, before we go on, what he told should be prefaced with what I wrote in the Road Trip:


Why has Bill not come forward? It could be he was never aware he was Bill --- or for that matter, never aware either, that the young Hispanic he was traveling with eventually turned out to be Carlos Castaneda. So too, in either of the two cases, if he found out or become aware of the situation later in the scheme of things relative to his life, maybe, on an official level, he just let it go.


It was well after the fact that Campbell learned that the young Hispanic he was traveling with throughout the desert southwest on the Road Trip eventually turned out to be Carlos Castaneda. When the incident below happened Castaneda wasn't even "Castaneda," nor did Bill ever find out who he was until years later. If you recall, the Road Trip ended in the summer of 1960. Castaneda's first book was not even published or released for public consumption until 1968, EIGHT full years after the Road Trip. Up until that time (the release of his book), for the most part, nobody had ever heard of Castaneda. So said, even though Castaneda is called Castaneda by Campbell, and thus then by me in the text, at the time of the conversation in the desert we are talking about here (i.e., at the archaeology site during the late spring, early summer of 1960), Castaneda was NOT the Carlos Castaneda he came to be AFTER he met Don Juan Matus, the powerful Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer he apprenticed under. Within the bounds of memory, as told by Campbell over coffee and food in the cafe near Taos I present the following:


"Castaneda had shown up at the archaeology dig site a few days earlier. The two of us had seen each other or passed by each other on a number of occasions at the site, but we were yet to meet or talk. Although other student level people were either working at the dig and/or participating in various aspects of camp maintenance, Castaneda wasn't. He basically went around most of the day bugging high ranking anthropologists asking nothing but a continuous stream of unending questions. As I viewed it, in that he didn't seem to be there to participate in the dig nor particularly willing to help around the camp Castaneda wasn't being received very favorably by anybody at any level.

"It was just after sunset and a number of us, like we often did, were gathered around the fire bullshitting and going over the days events in the evening twilight. Castaneda had joined the group but basically just sitting there looking at the fire. Sitting directly across from him was a young woman that I had not seen before who had been reading a book until it got too dark to see. Her legs and lap were partially covered with a blanket and when the darkness set in she had placed the book on her lap folded open to the page where she had left off, with the cover facing up. I was just in the process of introducing myself to Castaneda, shaking his hand and telling him my name was Campbell like in the soup when a powerful gust of wind suddenly came out of nowhere -- like a Vortex or dust devil --- which was a nearly impossible happenstance for so late in the day. The wind tore loose part of a close by canvas shelter top and the sudden noise of the flapping canvas and swirling dirt and dust must have startled the woman with the book because without thinking she jumped to her feet and in doing so, grabbing the blanket, the open book fell from her lap right into the fire.

"Without a moment of hesitation Castaneda reached into the fire and pulled out the book, brushing it off and folding it closed. He then handed the book back to the woman. When he did he looked at the title then at me. The title of the book The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell. When he looked back at the woman she was gone."


The reason I am able to recall Campbell's story so vividly that day in the cafe is because of how fascinating all of the incredible coincidences seemed to be, yet how nonchalant both my uncle and the tribal elder reacted to it all. Years later I discussed the incident over a period of some hours in some depth with my uncle and he basically dismissed the whole thing saying Campbell was merely a gadfly. However, I looked at incident somewhat differently. In Castaneda's eighth book Power of Silence, Don Juan tells Castaneda that when a person's Spirit has something extremely important to communicate, it will "knock" three times. As found in CASTING BONES: The Art of Divination if one has the ability or is spiritually intune with such things, three clear, unambiguous "meaningful coincidences" will be received showing that a certain decision is needed to be made or that an indication of a prediction is correct:


  1. Campbell steps up to introduce himself to Castaneda. As soon as he says his name an unusual (for that time of day) vortex-like gust of wind comes up and blows loose a nearby canvas shelter top.

  2. The noise startles the woman sitting directly across from Castaneda that had been reading a book. She jumps up and the book falls into the fire.

  3. Instinctively Castaneda reaches into the fire and pulls out the book. When he hands it to the woman he sees the title of the book is The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.


Even though I mention I discussed the incident above many years after our conversation in the cafe and my uncle basically dismissed the whole thing saying Campbell was merely a gadfly, he did not dismiss everything totally. In so saying, he still knew and maintained a great respect for the natural order of things, the unfolding of events, the role of those involved in the events, and the power within and behind those events. For example, during that later discussion or one closely related, I tried to get my uncle to clarify some of my questions regarding the emaciated man thought by me to possibly be the Death Defier. The following, regarding that discussion, is found in a footnote to Julian Osorio, said by Castaneda to be Don Juan's master teacher:


During that discussion I tried to entice him (my uncle at the original source) to repeat for me what he had said that night outside the cave, verbatim, in whatever language it was, then translate into English the actual indepth meaning behind the words. He told me it ended that night in front of the cave and not to concern myself. However, he refused to say the Defier's name out loud intimating that he, my uncle --- and I quote --- "did not want to be found." According to Wallace, as told to her by a Castaneda confidant, by invoking the Death Defier's name in Tula, that is Nahuatl, the Defier's spirit will awaken.


So said, my uncle saying Campbell was a gadfly or not, my uncle still carried ahead of himself that great respect in the unfolding of events. That respect --- if you want to call it that --- truly shows up in the above where my uncle says he refused to say the Defier's name out loud intimating that he, my uncle --- and I quote --- "did not want to be found." It shows up over and over in his actions as well as in the many conversations I had with him, one example being the above interaction between the mysterious woman at the firepit and Campbell. Regarding that interaction, Campbell said:


"Without a moment of hesitation Castaneda reached into the fire and pulled out the book, brushing it off and folding it closed. He then handed the book back to the woman. When he did he looked at the title then at me. The title of the book The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell. When he looked back at the woman she was gone."


My uncle told me that even though Castaneda looked back immediately after handing the book to the woman and she was gone, such was not the case with what Campbell saw from his vantage point across the fire. If you recall it was just after sunset and a number of people, including Campbell and Castaneda were gathered around the fire talking and going over the days events in the evening twilight. Campbell told my uncle, even though the woman was gone for Castaneda in almost the micro-second it took him to look back, such was not the case for himself. Campbell said, looking toward the woman across the fire after Castaneda handed her the book, he caught a glimpse of her dark silhouette between the flames rising superimposed against the twilight sky, and then almost in a wisp of smoke the blackened silhouette seemed to sail through the air beyond view in the darkness.

In that I had a similar incident transprire as a young boy at the Sun Dagger site, I was curious if it could have been the same woman. As it turned out she did not seem to be.

However, as part of that initial curiosity, when I asked my uncle if Campbell had ever made mention of what the woman looked like he said he had asked Campbell once. Campbell told him he had never seen the woman around the camp previously and only saw her briefly for a few moments across the fire that night. But, if he had to describe her, he thought she did not seem like a student or dig worker, but, although not dressed in the fashion of an Indian woman, more like what Hollywood thought a movie Indian woman should look like. Fairly good looking, probably around thirty with a somewhat Rubenesque body. She had a full face, high cheekbones and long black hair done in two long braids.

In Castaneda's third book Journey to Ixtlan (1972) in a section called 'A Worthy Opponent' dated December 11, 1962, Castaneda writes that over a month before he had a horrendous confrontation with a sorceress called 'la Catalina.' 'La Catalina' had been mentioned briefly previously in his first book with a date being cited by him as November 23, 1961, intimating from the words of Don Juan Matus that it was the very first time he, Castaneda, became aware of her existance. However, it wasn't until Journey to Ixtlan was released that Castaneda attemped a visual description of what "la Catalina" looked like:


I scrutinized her carefully, and concluded that she was a beautiful woman. She was very dark and had a plump body, but she seemed to be strong and muscular. She had a round full face with high cheekbones and two long braids of jet black hair. What surprised me the most was her youth. She was at the most in her early thirties.


Castaneda's book Journey to Ixtlan did not come out for general consumption until 1972. The conversation between my uncle and me, wherein the description of the woman at the firepit was brought up, happened some two to three years prior to that.


the Wanderling




(click image)















FOOTNOTE: [2]


"The feeling everyone knows as intuition is the activation of our link with intent."

Carlos Castandea, Power of Silence (1988)


What westerners generally perceive as "intuition" and what Castaneda refers to in the above quote as the feeling everyone knows is similar in extent to what is spoken of in the ancient Sanskrit language as Dharmadhatu.

According to the correct view of Dharmadhatu all dharmas in the past, all dharmas at present and all dharmas in the future are all together in the Dharmadhatu. Ordinarily people can experience only a minute part of all dharmas at present, and therefore people sustain the view that dharmas in the past are gone and future is unpredictable. If one practices according to Buddhist teachings and thereby comes out of the bondage of the fixed view of a space-and-time framework, then it is possible to experience or witness dharmas in the past as well as dharmas in the future. According to biographies of ancient Buddhist sages, some witnessed that the ancient assemblage of Buddha, holy beings and his disciples, in which the teachings recorded in Wondrous Dharma Lotus Sutra were given, had not dispersed yet. There are also numerous records of valid prophecies regarding important events or personages in Buddhist history. Even though for common people these matters are difficult to believe, nevertheless, among practitioners it is common experiences that knowledge of future events are revealed now and then through inspirations.


If you follow the narrative in his various writings, possibly driven by the inspirations of future events not yet unfolded, Castaneda, through a series of occurrences invisibly encased around and interwoven through the Road Trip with his colleague Bill, met Don Juan Matus, the shaman-sorcerer he was to eventually apprentice under. Don Juan himself had, many years before, at the age of twenty, came in contact with a person Castaneda termed as a master sorcerer by the name of Julian Osorio. Osorio inturn introduced Don Juan into a lineage of sorcerers that was purported to be twenty-five generations long. Don Juan told Castaneda that Osorio had been an actor and during one of his theatrical tours he had met another master shaman, Elias Ulloa, who transmitted to Osorio the knowledge of his lineage of sorcerers and thus inturn through Osorio to Don Juan, then down in lineage to Castaneda.

The interwoven tapestry of it all almost beyond comprehension.

I am reminded of a comment attributed to Larry Darrell, the main character in the novel The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham wherein at the end of the all-important Chapter Six Larry says:


"Nothing that happens is without effect. If you throw a stone in a pond the universe isn't quite the same as it was before. . . It may be that if I lead the life I've planned for myself it may affect others; the effect may be no greater than a ripple caused by a stone thrown in a pond, but one ripple causes another, and that one a third; it's just possible that a few people will see that my way of life offers happiness and peace, and the they in turn will teach what they have learnt to others."


To be sure, for a great many, even though all are not always able to put their finger on it, the familiarity of it all has a similar ring --- in the end being not unlike what has recently been called the Butterfly Effect.

Sometime in the early 1960s, a scientist named Edward Lorenz, in an accidental qurik, came across what should have been an otherwise a nearly non-observable event --- an event that terminated in a huge magnification of the downstream outcome --- and because of that outcome, in December of 1972, Lorenz asked members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C., "Does the Flap of a Butterfly's Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas?" --- making reference to the fact that small, almost imperceptible happenstances or events can have huge and momentous consequences.

For me, it has always been an incredible set of circumstances --- call it coincidence, fate, Karma, or the coming together of cosmic forces --- that set the scene allowing me to cross paths with Carlos Castaneda, however briefly, during those after work meetings with various artist friends of mine BEFORE he ever became "Carlos Castaneda" (for more, see the last few paragraphs of Don Juan Matus). Those meetings occurred less than a year before Castaneda met his anthropologist colleague Bill and they left on their Road Trip together, a Road Trip in which Castaneda met both the informant and the powerful Shaman-sorcerer Don Juan Matus.

Incredibly, I had met Castaneda's colleague Bill, AKA William Lawrence Campbell, as well --- long before those artist meetings --- when I was a young boy around ten years old or so, with further meetings as an adult. My uncle and Bill were long time friends and it was he that Bill took Castaneda to see during the Road Trip wherein the the two of them rode around all over New Mexico and Arizona for several weeks visiting "all the places where he (Campbell) had done work in the past, renewing in this fashion his relationships with the people who had been his anthropological informants," (The Active Side of Infinity, 1998). In that Castaneda's colleague Bill and the informant knew each other all along AND the informant knew the old man and of his shaman-sorcerer background as well (at one time or the other both had apprenticed under the same teacher) I have always harbored a deep personal suspicion --- albeit still sanctioned under the umbrella of "those forces" as exhibited so prominently in the events found in Footnote [1] --- that through a carefully concocted minipulation of known or upcoming events the informant, unknown to me and all the while being intermeshed into the quagmire of unfolding events, actually orchestrated or choreographed the whole Nogales Bus Station Meeting.

Taken together I must say I have always found it exceptionly interesting that Campbell had never seen the woman at the campfire before and at that given moment she just happened to be reading a book by Joseph Campbell. Although highly unlikely I suppose such an event could possibly be minipulated along with the convenient placement of the canvas shelter in proximity of the fire ring. The problem I have is the sudden gust of a vortex-like wind. Surely even the informant would be unable to choreograph that. Or could he?


GASSHO