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 Castaneda and Don Juan: Datura or Peyote?

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MessaggioOggetto: Castaneda and Don Juan: Datura or Peyote?   Mer 20 Mag 2009 - 12:06

RICORDIAMO ANCORA UNA VOLTA CHE QUESTO ARTICOLO CONTIENE INFORMAZIONI INERENTI SOSTANZE PSICOTROPE, PERICOLOSE PER LA SALUTE UMANA.
pERTANTO ESSE DEVONO ESSERE CONSIDERATE SOLO SOTTO UN ASPETTO ANTROPOLOGICO E DI RICERCA.

OLTRE A CIO RICORDIAMO ANCHE CHE LO STESSO DON JUAN HA CHIARITO CHE GLI SPOSTAMENTI DEL PUNTO DI UNIONE CAUSATI DALLì'USO DI QUESTE SOSTANZE RISULTANO NON ESSENZIALI. tALI SPOSTAMENTI POSSONO ESSERE OTTENUTI CON L'APPLICAZIONE EMPIRICA E QUOTIDIANA DELEL ESTENSIONI ENERGETICHE DELLA REGOLA.

Lo stesso Castaneda spesso dice in prima persona che aveva iniziato a parlare con Don Juan solo di peyote e simili. Don Juan noto la sua totale disattenzione per questioni non inerenti il cammino di potere.

Cosi, almeno all'inizio, diresse e fece una anticamera di agguato assecondando l'interesse di castaneda per le piante psicotrope.

Questo gli permise di dare a C la possibilità di redirigere la sua attenzione (prima e poi seocnda) su altre questioni ben piu pratiche ed essenziali.

Quindi occhi...leggete bene e non deludete la vostra capacità di saper sognare...


FONTE: http://www.angelfire.com/electronic/awakening101/carlos_datura.html



"I prepared myself for six months, after that first meeting, reading up on the uses of peyote among the American Indians, especially about the peyote cult of the Indians of the Plains. I became acquainted with every work available, and when I felt I was ready I went back to Arizona."
CARLOS CASTANEDA, Journey to Ixtlan (1972), in preparation for his first meeting with Don Juan following their initial bus station encounter six months earlier.







When it comes to the use of drugs and hallucinogens most people associate Carlos Castaneda with Peyote. However, it wasn't Peyote but actually the plant Sacred Datura --- known throughout the desert southwest as jimsonweed --- that played the primary role in his early experiences into other realities --- including, it must be said, his most famous and most oft cited experience where he turned into a crow and flew. As opposed to the general reading public however, the majority of Castaneda critics, that is, those who are considered --- at least in the judgement of their own exaulted opinions --- specialists in the area or "in the know," usually strike their emphasis on Castaneda's use or non-use of Datura rather than on any comments regarding Peyote. Examples of same might be Jane Holden Kelley and Edward H. Spicer --- along with various seasoned anthropologists and others. Spicer, speaking of Castaneda specifically, is even on record as saying "I know of no information or reference concerning Yaquis using Datura." Which, by the way, is most likely a fair and accurate assessment on Spicer's part. However, in relation to Castaneda, such a criticism can easily be resolved in one of two ways or possibly even two out of two ways. First, Castaneda's use of Datura was NOT learned initially under the ausipices of Don Juan, but the informant, who was neither Indian nor Yaqui. Secondly, as found in DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined?, any concern is rendered almost moot because:




(in) and around the mountains and deserts of Sonora, southern Arizona or New Mexico Don Juan sought out, met and was taught by an isolated, real, albeit, unnamed shaman-sorcerer said to be a diablero. Now, if Don Juan's master teacher was actually a Diablero or thought to be such by tribal kinsmen, a shaman with an evil bent as stated by Castaneda, then, even though originally he might have had ancestoral ties or a blood-line tribal affiliation with either the Yaqui or Yuma, although highly respected and cautiously sought out, he was, like Don Juan himself, most likely a loner or an outcast.




If you remember correctly, Don Juan, after being born and raised in Arizona, moved or was taken to Sonora, Mexico when he was around ten years old by his father, whereupon almost immediately after arrival his father was killed. Mexican authorities shipped Don Juan south with other Yaquis in an apparent attempt to undermine their tribal units. In the process, as a young boy Don Juan lost much of his tribal affiliation and ability identifying with Yaquis on a specific family or village level. Plus, his mother was not Yaqui, but of Yuma extraction. As mentioned previously, it is known Don Juan lived with his mother until he reached age ten --- which are highly formative years. Plus, although there is nothing to say he did, there is a good chance, in that in his adult years he returned to the Yuma area, that he may have reinstated his relationship with his mother.







In 1960 Castaneda turned in a paper for his UCLA class, "Methods in Field Archaeology," taught by Professor Clement Meighan. Castaneda's ex-wife Margaret Runyan, in her book A Magical Journey, writes, regarding Castaneda's 1960 paper, what Professor Meighan had to say about the contents of that paper:




"His informant knew a great deal about Datura, which was a drug used in initiating ceremonies by some California groups, but had presumed by me and I think most other anthropologists to have passed out of the picture 40 or 50 years ago. So he found an informant who still actually knew something about this and still had used it."



Castaneda's paper, turned in at the end of the spring semester of 1960 and well before he ever met or heard of Don Juan Matus, included fairly academic references to the plant’s four heads, their various purposes, the roots and their significance, and the method of preparation, cooking and rituals involved, all information that he supposedly learns later from Don Juan between August 23 and September 10, 1961 and describes in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968). (A Magical Journey pp. 83-85 and 91.)

In his book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN, published nearly eight full years AFTER he turned in his paper to Professor Meighan related to the use and rituals of Datura, Castaneda recalls from Don Juan Matus and the Nogales Bus Station Meeting, the following:


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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda and Don Juan: Datura or Peyote?   Mer 20 Mag 2009 - 12:06

"I then told him (Don Juan) that I was interested in obtaining information about medicinal plants. Although in truth I was almost totally ignorant about peyote, I found myself pretending that I knew a great deal, and even suggesting that it might be to his advantage to talk with me."




The interesting part is Castaneda saying he was interested in obtaining information about medicinal plants and his specific reference to Peyote. Up to this point (i.e., the end of the summer of 1960), according to an interview with Sam Keen in Psychology Today (1972), Castaneda's only real knowledge of Peyote was from having read The Peyote Cult (1938) by Weston La Barre. It was only AFTER Castaneda met Don Juan and went back to UCLA for the fall semester did he begin researching Peyote in earnest. As stated in the quote at the top of the page Castaneda then prepared himself for SIX MONTHS, becoming acquainted with every work regarding Peyote he could find. It was only at the completion of that research that he went back to Arizona looking for Don Juan --- not catching up with him for the first time following their bus station encounter until December 17, 1960.

By the time the bus station encounter with Don Juan Matus transpired through his chance meeting with a onetime lowly Pothunter turned reputable amateur archaeologist Castaneda sometimes calls Bill in his writings --- who he had met earlier on an archaeolgy dig in the desert southwest and eventually traveled with together on their infamous Road Trip --- Castaneda had already met the informant that Professor Meighan was talking about in the above quote. Castaneda knows, or is at least somewhat versed in the ACTUAL use OF and NOT just reading about Datura --- a fact confirmed by his ex-wife Margaret Runyan in her book and quoted above as well as being fully outlined in The Informant and Carlos Castaneda --- yet he goes on and on to Don Juan about Peyote. Why?

When used as a drug or simply ingested Sacred Datura is extremely powerful and toxic. Deadly is actually more like it. Utmost care is required in it's use and it's use mandates absolute total understanding of any and all potential outcomes and consequences. Again, although Castaneda was somewhat versed in the use of Datura under the auspices of the informant, he was probably not secure enough in his own abilities for it's use without an informed guide. Don Juan Matus, at least as he is written, is more of a Peyote-man, the informant is more of a Datura-man. As Castaneda writes him, Don Juan was never too fond of what he called Yerba del Diablo, the "devil's weed." In the narrative Don Juan claimed its power was not unlike that of a woman saying:




"She (Datura) is as powerful as the best of allies, but there is something I personally don't like about her. She distorts men. She gives them a taste of power too soon without fortifying their hearts and makes them domineering and unpredictable. She makes them weak in the middle of their great power."



Relatively speaking, Peyote is a much more forgiving drug than Datura --- much easier to understand, use, and administer. Only a few weeks or possibly even just days earlier than the bus station encounter, the informant, cloaked by shimmering desert heat waves, simply seemed to evaporate into the rocks and sagebrush without a trace, leaving Castaneda without a source. He wasn't about to lose the old man, hence he played down his recent experience with Datura and pushed Peyote.

In AUSHADHIS: Awakening and the Power of Siddhis Through Herbs a striking parallel is presented to Castaneda's account above of Don Juan stating Datura is as powerful as the best of allies, but there is something he personally didn't like about it as it distorts men and gives them a taste of power too soon:




In Sanskrit, the method of Awakening through herbs is called Aushadhi and an Awakening thus achieved, can, under the right circumstances and conditions, albeit short term, replicate at least partially the level of a Chalabhinna, an Arhat of the third level of realization with the ability of Iddhavidha, the power of transformation.(see)

It is written as well that the herbs used to awaken this potentiality should be obtained and administered ONLY through the Guru and NOT without a Guru. The reason for such is because there are certain herbs that awaken only Ida and there are others that awaken only Pingala; and there are those that can and do suppress either or both. Aushadhi or the herbal Awakening can be a very quick, albeit risky and unreliable method. It should be done only with one who is a very reliable person, who knows the science of it's use thoroughly, and versed in the arts thereof.




In the opening sentence I write:




"When it comes to the use of drugs and hallucinogens most people associate Carlos Castaneda with Peyote. However, it wasn't Peyote but actually the plant Sacred Datura, known throughout in the desert southwest as jimsonweed, that played the primary role in his early experiences into other realities."



Please note that I wrote Sacred Datura "played the PRIMARY role in his (Carlos Castaneda's) early experiences into other realities." How reviewers, critics and the minds of the reading public skewed that primary use of Datura into that of Peyote or even mushrooms is not clear. Over and over you find references to Peyote and Castaneda such as, for example, the following as printed in the San Francisco Chronicle August 24, 2003:




"Carlos Castaneda, an anthropology student at UCLA, had an incredible story to tell about his peyote-fueled adventures with an old Indian sorcerer he met at a bus depot on the Mexican border."
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda and Don Juan: Datura or Peyote?   Mer 20 Mag 2009 - 12:07

However, Castaneda is quite clear in his writings as to the chronology of it all and the overall importance of Datura rather than Peyote in the scheme of things.

While it is true that in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge it is shown that Castaneda's FIRST experience using any sort of psychotropic plants with Don Juan was the USE of Peyote taken on Monday, August 7, 1961, when he ingested some Peyote buttons --- the taking of which was technically a fluke and not considered much more than a test by Don Juan. If you remember, Don Juan was sitting around with a bunch of Don Juan's buddies generally carousing around when one of them brought out an old coffee jar filled with Peyote buttons and offered Castaneda the chance to partake of a few. Refering to that first time on August 7, 1961, Castaneda writes:




One of the men suddenly got up and went into another room. He was perhaps in his fifties; tall, and husky. He came back a moment later with a coffee jar. He opened the lid and handed the jar to me.
Inside there were seven odd-looking items. They varied in size and consistency. Some of them were almost round, others were elongated. They felt to the touch like the pulp of walnuts, or the surface of cork. Their brownish colour made them look like hard, dry nutshells. I handled them; rubbing their surfaces for quite some time.

"This is to be chewed [esto se masca]," Don Juan said in a whisper.




Castaneda then goes on and on sort of nervously indulging in meaningless conversation with the other men or making a bunch of excuses like needing to use the toilet. Don Juan again request Castaneda to indulge, albeit still on the quiet side yet with more force:




Don Juan urged me softly, "Chew it, chew it [Masca, masca]."
My hands were wet, and my stomach contracted. The jar with the peyote buttons was on the floor by the chair. I bent over, took one at random, and put it in my mouth. It had a stale taste. I bit it in two and started to chew one of the pieces. I felt a strong, pungent bitterness.




After eating them he ran around and around outside the house chasing the dog, barking, urinating, and throwing-up thirty times. Don Juan said it was to see if Mescalito, a sort of plant spirit, liked him or not in that Castaneda was not an Indian. Why the matter would be of any concern is not fully resolved because Don Juan's teacher, as I wax facetiously, was, according to Castaneda, Julian Osorio, who, like Castaneda, was NOT of Indian extraction either, but the son of European immigrants to the New World.

Apparently Don Juan was satisfied that it was OK to proceed with Castaneda's apprenticeship, Indian or not, as one month later, Thursday, September 7, 1961, under Don Juan's auspices, Castaneda was gulping down a brew concocted from Datura.[1] However, and this is a BIG however, in the Peyote-use situation Castaneda simply picked the Peyote buttons at random out of the coffee jar after they were offered and ate them. In the second case, the use of Datura, there was a huge long drawn out ritual. Special plant selection, special digging methods, special handling methods, etc. No such ritual was hinted at or accompanied the use of the Peyote. The VERY MOST Don Juan did in relation to Castaneda using Peyote was tell him, "Chew it, chew it." Eighteen months later, July 4, 1963, during the most infamous of Castaneda's experiences, where he turns into a crow including the full ability to Fly --- which was promulgated by the use of Datura by the way and NOT Peyote --- it was preceded by an even more elaborate ritual than the first incident using Datura. Why? Because it was Datura that held the most respect. It was Datura that was the most potent. It was Datura that DID what it was supposed to do. It was Datura that he learned the use of from the Informant. And it is Datura, not Peyote, that contains high concentrations of tropane alkaloids --- primarily Atropine, Hyoscyamine, and Scopolamine --- all major ingredients traditionally sought out and revered in shamanistic practices for their unusual applied characteristics, especially so for incorporation into Flying Ointments.




To wit, on July 4, 1963 Castaneda applied the ointment he and Don Juan concocted over a period of days. Following that application Castaneda, it has been reported, turned into a crow with the full ability to fly. The thing is, once again, almost everybody attributes the crow scene and ability to fly to the use of Peyote or mushrooms --- when in reality it actually transpired through the use of Datura and only Datura.

In THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Chapter Six, in a segment dated Saturday, July 6, 1963 Castaneda writes:




On Monday, July 1, I cut the Datura plants don Juan had asked for. I waited until it was fairly dark to do the dancing around the plants because I did not want anybody to see me. I felt quite apprehensive. I was sure someone was going to witness my strange acts. I had previously chosen the plants I thought were a male and a female. I had to cut off sixteen inches of the root of each one, and digging to that depth with a wooden stick was not an easy task. It took me hours. I had to finish the job in complete darkness, and when I was ready to cut them I had to use a flashlight. My original apprehension that somebody would watch me was minimal compared with the fear that someone would spot the light in the bushes.

I took the plants to don Juan's house on Tuesday, July 2. He opened the bundles and examined the pieces. He said he still had to give me the seeds of his plants. He pushed a mortar in front of me. He took a glass jar and emptied its contents -- dried seeds lumped together -- into the mortar.




Notice Castaneda writes "I cut the Datura plants," - Datura plants, not Peyote, not mushrooms. Once the Datura was on the stone slab that served as a mortar, following Don Juan's instructions, Castaneda made the ointment, the application of which, through certain ritual, transformed him into a crow. Absolutely NO Peyote or mushrooms were involved in any way in the making of the ointment OR in the ritual causing the transformation.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda and Don Juan: Datura or Peyote?   Mer 20 Mag 2009 - 12:09

NOTE: In that there are a number of species of Datura there is some confusion as to what Datura Castaneda may have used. According to Castaneda in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge a shaman-sorcerer has an Ally contained in the Datura plants commonly known as jimson weed. Don Juan called that ally by one of the Spanish names of the plant, yerba del diablo (devil's weed). According to Don Juan, as he related it to Castaneda, ANY of the species of Datura was the container of the ally. However, the sorcerer had to grow his own patch, not only in the sense that the plants were his private property, but in the sense that they were personally identified with him.

As for the "separate" Daturas, more or less on an official basis --- but not necessarily on a common basis as the names, species and terms are usually intermixed (although it must be said, even plant taxonomist disagree amongst themselves whether D. stramonium and D. inoxia are different species while D. inoxia and D. metaloides are considered alternate names for the same species) --- D. stramonium is most often the Datura species refered to as jimson weed, while D. metaloides (also sometimes D. wrightii) is usually applied to Sacred Datura, and D. inoxia is Toloache. Don Juan's own plants belonged to the species inoxia, however there was no correlation between THAT fact and any differences that may have existed between any of the species of Datura accessible to him. (see)



FOOTNOTE [1]





According to Castaneda in the THE TEACHING OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Chapter 3, on September 3, 1961 he and Don Juan Matus collected Datura plants from the field. Taking the plants back to the house Don Juan sat on the floor with his legs crossed and with a round stone mano began working them over on a flat slab which served as a mortar, mashing the root inside a bag. Occasionally he washed the stones in water kept in a small, flat, wooden basin. At the same time, under his breath, in a low, almost silent voice, he he sang a monotonous, nearly unintelligible chant. When he finished mashing the root into a soft pulp he put it in a larger, second wooden basin. He also placed the mortar and the pestle into the same basin, filled the whole thing with water and carried it to a rectangular trough sitting along the base of the back fence. There he told Castaneda the root pulp had to soak all night outside the house so it could catch the night air. Citing the date September 7, 1961 Castaneda describes what happened next:




When we returned hours later, it was dark. On the bottom of the basin there was a layer of gummy substance. It resembled a batch of half-cooked starch, whitish or light gray. There was perhaps a full teaspoon of it. He took the basin inside the house, and while he put some water on to boil, I picked out pieces of dirt the wind had blown into the silt. He laughed at me.

"That little dirt won't hurt anybody."

When the water was boiling he poured about a cup of it into the basin. It was the same yellowish water he had used before. It dissolved the silt, making a sort of milky substance.

"What kind of water is that, don Juan?"

"Water of fruits and flowers from the canyon."

He emptied the contents of the basin into an old clay mug that looked like a flowerpot. It was still very hot, so he blew on it to cool it. He took a sip and handed me the mug.

"Drink now!" he said.

I took it automatically, and without deliberation drank all the water. It tasted somewhat bitter, although the bitterness was hardly noticeable. What was very outstanding was the pungent odor of the water. It smelled like cockroaches.




Please note that in the September 7, 1961 incident above, the use of Datura was a potion, that is, Castaneda drank a warm tea-like broth. Two years later, during the July 4, 1963 incident wherein Castaneda transformed into a crow and flew, the Datura was no longer a drink or brew but a rubbed on Flying Ointment. However, the use of a warm tea-like broth rather than an ointment is not unlike what the Wanderling wrote about regarding HIS Journey one night high in the mountains of Jamaica under the auspices of a Shaman man of spells called an Obeah --- and no doubt, closely similar to the nearly same type experience under the guidance of the tribal spritual elder at the sacred Sun Dagger site. Equally as similar is the fact that Don Juan poured the contents of the basin into an old clay mug that looked like a flowerpot. It was still very hot, so he blew on it to cool it. He then took a sip and handed the mug to Castaneda. The Wanderling writes in Zen, the Buddha, and Shamanism:




The Obeah poured a warm tea-like broth into two small bowl-shaped cups without handles. He took one and gave me the other, gulping down the liquid while motioning me to do the same. (see)





It should be brought to the attention of the reader that NONE of the symptoms recorded by Castaneda after drinking the liquid he and Don Juan made from Datura --- symptoms such as sweating, stomach cramps, seeing red spots, uncontrollable nervousness, or after sleeping it off, a "strange vigor" --- were experienced by the Wanderling after either of the two events mentioned above. Since the Wanderling did not develop or experience symptoms similar to those as described by Castaneda under Don Juan, it is interesting that Castaneda did. It could be that Don Juan's expertise was somewhat cruder or less sophisticated than the Obeah or tribal spiritual elder OR Castaneda simply created the results as he thought they would be or should be out of whole cloth.

Although it is written as though he wasn't, it should be recalled that at the time of his experience with Don Juan and the use of Datura, Castaneda himself was not totally un-versed in almost all aspects and use of the plant. He had learned all about the four heads, their various purposes, the roots and their significance, and the method of preparation, cooking and rituals involved in the use of Datura somewhat earlier under the mastership of the informant while on the Road Trip with his anthropological colleague Bill --- although nowhere is it clear or stated specifically that Castaneda actually participated in the use of Datura himself while in the field with the informant or otherwise. Any use, outcome, symptoms, or end result under the direct guidance of the informant would have closer replicated that of the Obeah or the tribal spiritual elder. While it is known Datura is available on most of the islands in the Caribbean including Jamaica, for the record, the warm tea-like broth brewed by the Obeahman was not made from Datura. A plant known as Branched Calalue was probably used --- which, like Datura, is identified, as being a member of the Solanum genus, most likely Black Nightshade, Solanum nigrum L. Thus said, a difference in the outcomes of symptoms is certainly a possibility. It is an utmost certainty though, that the tribal spiritual elder used Datura at the Sun Dagger site.
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MessaggioOggetto: Re: Castaneda and Don Juan: Datura or Peyote?   Oggi a 15:24

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