In the 1960s and 1970s, if you had long hair, you knew Castaneda. Of course. This American anthropologist has fascinated a whole generation of young people around the world. His books are less about anthropological treatises than initiatory tales. I immediately found myself comfortable with his form of mind. This initiate proposes a very refreshing philosophy of action… and terribly effective!
A thinker of action
I practiced Castaneda as we can practice Nietzsche or Plato. I loved him as I loved Nizan, Joyce or Proust. And then other literary heroes took the spotlight: Tolkien, Kerouac, Faulkner, Bukowski… I still loved him, even though I had stopped practicing his philosophy. So, twenty years later, when I found him as the official thinker of the Rochefort estate where my benefactor worked, I celebrated him as an old friend.
My benefactor was able to enrich this practice with his own discoveries on the way to Nagual. The Rochefort years were for me the test of fire. I was able to verify the validity of this philosophy, which has been so criticized. It is by practicing it that we know it is good. And ever since then, this practice has been sticking to my gut. To tell you the truth, I never let it go again…
To practice a dead author, only his work can be used. We read him, we meditate on him, and one day his thought becomes ours. We castanedized ourselves. That’s exactly what happened to me. Castaneda is a thinker, no doubt about it. He is also involved in his own practice, that of nagualism. This practice is the recognition of his supremacy. Beside him, all the philosophers are off. No wise man is supernatural. No thinker persists. Beyond the brain which he relativizes, Castaneda is the head, the heart and the belly. He plays the subtle muscles, unleashes the magic of the mind and teaches the prowess of the body. No need for yoga when you have Castaneda. No need for Buddha…
We stink of the head. (Lao Surlam)
Careful, don’t idolize anyone! No living person deserves to be humiliated before him. If he demands it, he deserves it even less. But it’s my way of saying that I like this guy, Castaneda I like you very much. I wanted you to know that, wherever you are, even though you don’t care.
This fact is well-known, as the recent ayahuasca tourism clearly show it. However, Juan Matus will explain later on that repeated use of psychotropic drugs was only fit for Castaneda: “I had to use drugs because you were too stupid to understand otherwise. I need all that crap to open your head. But you are my only drug-user pupil. Drugs are only helpfull for morons like you.” Could we say all the ayahuasca users are morons? Yes we can!
Anthropologic essays or adventure novels, Castaneda’s books are not equally interesting. A Separate Reality, Journey To Ixtlan, Tales Of Power, The Second Ring Of Power, The Eagle’s Gift, The Fire From Within, The Power Of Silence. These are the seven titles that deserve to be read, reviewed, studied and practiced. With his other books we run the risk of being mistaken as he has been mistaken himself.
One day, Castaneda left the path that has heart. The brilliant author has suddenly given way to a mytho-megalo-erostomane jester, who no longer cares to pull his readers up, but rather to extract money from them. That is why his last books could be called Impeccability Lost. Impeccability, for the warrior or sorcerer, consists in doing as best as possible the task incumbent upon him, without any other consideration or parasitism of any kind.
His mistakes are useful milestones for the adept. We learn so much by trying not to repeat them after him. No one is immune to mediocrity. No matter what the altitude reached, the fall awaits the climber as a punishment for the slightest mistake. Impeccability does not consist in slavishly imitating, but in interpreting every aspect of our lives in the light of a philosophy of action that best adapts to all situations, even the most unlikely, such as those awaiting warriors of light.
By practicing this impeccability in every act of his daily life, the seeker of truth receives impersonal aids that emanate from the living. A little what Christians call divine grace, but without God. I mentioned the sorcerer. In Europe, this word has taken a pejorative meaning. Under other skies, the sorcerer, shaman or nagual is respected for the height of his ambitions and the totality of his commitment. He is above all the healer of soul and body.
To get out of the inappropriate Christian context, let’s say that the help received by the impeccable warrior is similar to what psychoanalyst Carl Jung called synchronicities. Juan Matus designates them under the generic name of self power. Impeccability, for the seeker or the seer, is the condition of any interpretation of the seeing, as of the remains, ruins or ancient texts. It requires prudence and openness.
The impeccability of the researcher consists in not projecting into what he sees his conditioning of 21st century man. He must advance free of prejudice, formulate his hypotheses with all the resources of his creative imagination to speak as Bergson, or his see to speak as Castaneda, and validate or corroborate them with the most impartial rigour. This represents many qualities, some of which are contradictory. Remember that impeccability has nothing to do with morality. For the warrior she’s just the best way to increase his personal power.
One day, Carlos walks with Juan Matus. Suddenly the apprentice picks up a snail and drops it in the shelter. Matus rebels: never does a warrior impose his “help” on anyone, even a snail. Who are we to decide the fate of other beings? By moving this snail, Castaneda may have stolen a victory from him. “I’m going to put it back where I took it,” replied the sheepish apprentice. “No, says Matus. The stupidity is done, don’t add a second one.”
Paradoxically, while here Juan Matus respects the free will of a snail, on other occasions he shows a total lack of respect for the free will of his students. Among his tricks, Matus has the Nagual trick. It is a light tap on the brightness of the subject, which has the effect of moving the assembly point.
He never asked permission before intervening in this way, posing an act with serious consequences for the future apprentice. This is how the sorcerer puts in his bag the beings that interest him. Sometimes they rebel: Juan Matus left his benefactor for ten years, I left mine for ten years too… But the duration of the absence does not matter: it just takes time for the disciple to understand what is at stake.
Strictly speaking, there is no god or morality for sorcerers, but a blind, inexhaustible, universal power, which is Energy, and an impersonal reactive principle, Intention. With his own intention, the warrior attracts impersonal Intention, which rains upon him streams of Energy. Intent attracts energy like a lightning rod attracts lightning. When he receives cosmic energy, the warrior is connected: he is united with the Whole. Then he accumulates pot shots and synchronicities.
It’s up to each of us to learn how to attract luck.
And the means is impeccability. Not holiness.
We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same. (Carlos Castaneda)
The non-ordinary reality
The practice of Castaneda is not a religion. It is not a doctrine. She took me when I was 20, I found her when I was 40, and I never left her. It’s a disposition of mind. The warrior who chooses this path does not choose it once and for all. At every moment, everything is called into question. Everything, that is to say your life, your death. What you believe, what you are, nothing of all these evidences can long resist the practice of nagualism.
There is no temple, nature is a temple. Your house is a temple. And so is your body. There are no priests, there are sorcerers and warriors, you will find them on your way when the time comes. There is no method, Casta’s books are enough. They give us a wavelength, they connect us to another reality, which he calls non-ordinary reality.
“Nature is a temple in which living pillars
Sometimes give voice to confused words;
Man passes there through forests of symbols
Which look at him with understanding eyes.”
Charles Baudelaire ~~ translated by William Aggeler
Nature is another word for life. The only worthwhile life: wildlife. By dint of living in cages and around in circles on concrete, which still knows the weight and violence of nature? Nagualism practice is to renew the link with ancient pact and follow the Rule. Besides, you have no choice. This rule could be rude. And if you make the same mistake again, you’re gonna get worse.