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grand entrance As the story goes, Carlos Castaneda was a student of anthropology at UCLA, and decided to do some work on the use of hallucinogenics within the tribes of native America. In the course of these studies, he met a fascinating and unconventional old Yaqui Indian, called don Juan - who was an expert on the subject. Some time into their meetings, Castaneda learnt that don Juan was a sorceror, who had decided to make Carlos his protege and successor.

During the course of the following years, don Juan taught Castaneda all the mysteries of the sorceror's world - including magical feats such as altering perception and defying the laws of time and space. Much of this was, at least in the early days, achieved with the help of various drugs. Castenada also learnt of the existence of other worlds, spaces and entities, and the forces and powers by which such things were accessed and used. And, along the way, Carlos ceased being the person that he was and turned into someone, or something, much more mysterious and inaccessible - a 'nagual'.



CC & DC Castaneda has written, to date, around ten books telling of his adventures with and without the enigmatic don Juan. His early books are masterful accounts of strange and wonderful happenings, which I started reading whilst still a teenager. To me, they offered the prospect of a completely different view of human existence and the world around us, that even the most dedicated pursuit of intellectual or intoxicating means could offer merely the slightest glimpse of. And as Castaneda's success has become more widespread, others have sought to bask in the same light. So now we find the following types of people embroiled in the Castaneda phenomenon:

- the 'official' fellow-sorcerors: Florinda Donner, Taisha Abelard, and Carol Tiggs;
- 'unofficial' sorcerors: Merilyn Tunneshende, Victor Sanchez and Ken Eagle Feather;
- 'copycat' sorcerors: Lynn V. Andrews, Dan Millman, and many others;
- 'Tensegrity' instructors: Kylie Lundahl, Nyei Murez and Reni Murez;
- theorists, skeptics and detractors (too many to mention here); and
- innumerable pseudo-shamans who use the terminology but lack the insight.

Last, but certainly not least, we find a book by Margaret Runyan Castaneda, Carlos' wife before and during the formative years of his relationship with don Juan: 'A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda' (1997, Millenia Press, Canada). She is, to my mind, the one person who gets close to separating the fact from fiction about his life and works. Given that the 'sorceror's way' specifically provides the dissolution of boundaries between fact and fiction, such insights are immensely valuable. By reading her book (which Carlos tried to suppress) and using the following links, you'll discover not only Castaneda's life story, but the true identities of don Juan, the friend who introduced them and don Genaro. Or will you?



our group Carlos, along with his official cohorts, joined forces with a conglomeration of businesses called Cleargreen, in order to present a set of metaphysical training - or 'magical passes' - called Tensegrity. These vaguely resemble kung-fu and are said to increase one's energy level in a sufficient way in order to momentarily glimpse other worlds or states of reality without the use of drugs. Although no mention is made in Castaneda or Cleargreen publications, the Tensegrity passes are believed to have counterparts in other practices such as those of Ch'i Kung (Qigong). Then again, it is claimed elsewhere that they are simply the martial arts arts practices of one Howard Lee of Santa Monica CA - spun with metaphysical mumbo jumbo for the physical benefit of some and the economic benefit of others.

I first learnt of Tensegrity through a series of lectures presented at Theosophy House in February 1998. At the end of these, it was agreed that a small group would be formed to practice the movements. I agreed to be in it - albeit with a degree of skepticism. The camaraderie of the meetings and the benefits of training carried us through for several months, though reaction to news of Castaneda's death eventually polarised and split the group.


CASTANEDA'S DEATH assemblage point

The announcement of Castaneda's death on June 19, 1998 became a real internet event. The online LA Times carried it as its main story, postings to alt.dreams.castenada surged and CNN online allowed postings both of heartfelt gratitude and condemnation for the writer's achievements. I joined in the debate, posting a few eulogies along the way. Whether this is the end of the phenomenon or the start of something else remains to be seen. Certainly one or two investigative journalists will have a field day - even I have started looking at Castaneda's work again in a new light.



CLEARGREEN INCORPORATED - Tensegrity information:

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URL: http://homepages.tig.com.au/~avanstar
Alex Van Starrex