Carlos Castaneda


In the 70s, a meteor crossed the sky, visible from all over the earth. He’s a young American anthropologist named Carlos Castaneda. By diving into the heart of Yaqui shamanism, he will open his head to a whole generation. With him begins the New Age.


Trend Castaneda

Within a few years, the whole world was affected. The young planet adopted yaqui fashion. Castaneda’s fabulous books sell 170 million copies, not to mention the USSR and other communist countries such as Cuba that make unrecorded pirate editions. At the time, a phenomenon of this magnitude can be seen for crime novels or Hollywood blockbusters. Not for books preaching another way of life, other values, other behaviors, nothing less than a planetary exile in a separate reality.

I came across one of his first books during my wanderings around the world, when I was on the road in Indian Kashmir. It was in a poor state, pages were taking off, scribbles, underlined sentences, various and varied spots, all in English, it gave me a job, but no question of letting go of the piece. With this well-thawed book, I entered directly into the Castaneda madness that had taken over our band of hippies, a floating community of several hundred young people from all countries and of all colors living in house-boats on Dal Lake in Srinagar.

We talked about it, we embellished it, we compared our poor exploits to the great inner adventure that offered us the one who would become the master to think and especially the master to live of our lost generation. Would I say that Don Carlos helped us find each other? Probably, but long after. At the time, he finished losing us. We did not know where we were anymore, India is a powerful aphrodisiac, and the black bombay in our shiloms was slapping oh so amazing. Acid was circulating too, and hallucinogenic mushrooms. No other harder drug. That was enough.



Legend Castaneda

Who is he, this great man so inspired? I doubt that we ever know, despite all the literature that has been published on his account. Nagual Castaneda has shrouded itself in a thick mystery. Nothing we know about him could be verified and guaranteed 100%.

Anthropologist, writer and truth seaker Carlos Castaneda entered the University of California (UCLA) in 1960. He was then 29 years old. Troubling fact: no record of him in the university archives. Was he registered elsewhere? Did he have a nickname, like the characters in his books? Was he a mythomaniac? The mystery around him can support this hypothesis. Paradoxically, when he began his “public life”, he lost much of his international credit. 

We found a weak, conceited man, whining in a chair in front of a bewildered interviewer. “And my humor? You don’t talk about my humor. Yet my books are funny!” We were appalled. I was ashamed for him. How could this victor of death, this Nagual, this superman of the astral behave in this way? I regretted having seen this program. But I never denied the author who had opened our heads.

Bad tongues then whispered that he had invented everything. Mythomane or not, he presents the nagualismSee down Nagual’s definition in a coherent version, always accessible; over his stories of power he develops a philosophy of action demanding, which is perfectly articulated on a powerful and unprecedented theory of knowledge.

And who pays the rare luxury of being relevant: it accounts for many anomalies in our perceptions and representations, and deserves, in this capacity alone, to be taught at the university. At UCLA, why not?



Carlos Castaneda wrote many books that enjoyed worldwide success in the 1970s. Those I recommend reading are listed below. Preferably read them in order of publication, as they trace the itinerary of his initiation in Mexico:

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge  —  A Separate Reality  —  The Journey to Ixtlan — Stories of Power — The Second Ring of Power — The Eagle’s Gift  —  The Fire From Within  —  The Power of Silence.


Nagual Way

By the way, what is nagualism? It is a theory of knowledge coupled with rules of action. Action + knowledge, it gives a complete, coherent and operative philosophical system.

Operativity? Another Castanedian concept that deserves clarification. Is operative what works, what gets the desired result. The operability of a match is to emit a flame. When the match is no longer operable, it is thrown away. Why not do the same with the systems?

According to Castaneda, operativity comes from nagual. This other castanedian word designs both the sorcerer who rules the clan, and the left side of our body (connected with the right hemisphere of our brain). In other words, Nagual is our ability to be a sorcerer. Mind this word, don’t get confused with it. In nagualism, sorcery doesn’t evoke any devil’s sabbat, with black goats and flying brooms. It only refers to our lost powers, these early powers we forgot long ago, that once enabled us to become gods.

Their absence creates a gap that leaves the bulk of humanity battered, starving on the banks of the toll road of globalization. Castaneda wanted to open another path. A royal path, away from gadgets and compromise. A path for the braves. The followers of nagualism are looking for total freedom, by the recollection of their entire life and the impeccability of their behavior. Impeccability is not holiness, far from it.See below 



Warrior’s Enemies

The warrior’s worst ennemies come from inside, as he is the main obstacle on his way. On the road to find out, the warrior will meet four ennemies, so the Rule fixed it. The first ennemy is called the fear. The second one is brightness. The third one is power. And the last will sooner or later defeat the most impeccable warior: it is age. First, win fear and gain courage to go on. Then, win brightness and learn humility. When power come, win it too. And when age come, gently accept it.

How an US student manage to become a worldwide hero? It is quite a story. In Mexico, where he was looking for informations about peyotl, young Carlos met a Yaqui sorcerer, Don Juan Matus.

Much impressed by his somersaults, Carlos became his pupil.  

His first books, The Teachings of Don Juan, A Yaqui Way of Knowledge deals mainly with drugs as peyotl and datura.  It brought a diploma of anthropology at UCLA in 1970.  Quickly quitting university, the student became a nagual apprentice. Don Juan, his benefactor, ruled a clan of sighted sorcerers where Carlos Castaneda will live incredible adventures beyond our  perception’s usual limits. Initiated to some non ordinary achievements, he will tell in many worldwide bestsellers books:  Tales of Power, The Second Ring of Power, Journey to Ixtlan, the Eagle’s Gift, The Power of Silence, The Active Side of Infinity, A Separate Reality, and a few others…

As a true witness of holy quest and mind opening, Castaneda founded the new age movement indeed. We can hardly reduce him to a fashion or a period of time, as today’s many truth seekers still use his practices and strokes of inspiration to explore infinity. As for whether everything is true, what does it matter? What matters is that everything is true. Believe without believing.



You have just read my first article on Carlos Castaneda. Posted in 2008, it was updated several times before this version. In addition to this presentation, I devoted many articles to Castaneda and nagualism:





The best way to find no proof is not looking for.
Pierre Guerin