Is the ally in shamanism real? An actual spiritual entity, an ethereal or inorganic-being of some sort called up from the spirit world or beyond the conventional plane by the Shaman or sorcerer to assist them in accomplishing their tasks or deeds however pure or unsavory? Or is the concept of an ally really no more than a conceptual construct, a word-thought construction created by the non-Shaman or layperson to wrap an understandable meaning around an unknown, indescribable POWER known only to, and reachable only by, the Shaman and similar ilk?
Carlos Castaneda apprenticed under a Yaqui Indian Shaman named Don Juan Matus that Castandeda refers to interchangeably as a sorcerer and man of knowledge. In lineage his teacher's teacher was a Shaman-sorcerer known as a Diablero, an occult spell-master with evil powers said to have the ability to shape shift. There is some controversy if Don Juan Matus was a real person or a composite of several different people, but one or several, most agree Castaneda's observations regarding Shamanism still remain valid. In his works Castaneda writes that a sorcerer's power, that is, a Shaman's power, is "unimaginable." Castaneda goes on to say in a copyrighted interview in Time Magazine (March 5, 1973):
"The full use of power can only be acquired with the help of an "ally", a spirit entity which attaches itself to the student as a guide. The ally challenges the apprentice when he learns to "see," as Castaneda did in the earlier books. The apprentice may duck this battle. For if he wrestles with the ally - like Jacob with the Angel - and loses, he will, in Don Juan's slightly enigmatic terms, "be snuffed out." But if he wins, his reward is "true power the final acquisition of sorcery membership, when all interpretation ceases."
However, Castaneda had written previously in his first book THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way Of Knowledge (1968) from information gathered in the field from Don Juan Matus in 1961, some twelve years before the Time magazine article:
The idea that a man of knowledge has an ally is the most important of theSeven Component Themes , for it is the only one that is indispensable to explaining what a man of knowledge is. In my classificatory scheme a man of knowledge has an ally, whereas the average man does not, and having an ally is what makes him different from ordinary men.
An ally isA POWER capable of transporting a man beyond the boundaries of himself; that is to say, an ally is a power which allows one to transcend the realm of ordinary reality. Consequently, TO HAVE AN ALLY IMPLIES HAVING POWER; and the fact that a man of knowledge has an ally is by itself proof that the operational goal of the teaching is being fulfilled.
In reality, the "full use of power can only be acquired with the help of an 'ally'," that Castaneda speaks of, like the use of medicinal plants, drugs, or herbs (Aushadhis) --- which he used intially, but denied the necessary use of later --- is a second level of use between the Shaman and the actual power source, the same source the "ally" would draw upon for power.
The key to it all, and what most people miss when they start discussing an "ally" is (1) "a spirit entity which attaches itself to the student" and (2) the ally "challenges the apprentice." A STUDENT, not a full fledged Sorcerer or Shaman. Also, the ally "challenges the apprentice." Again, an APPRENTICE is the one challenged, NOT a full fledged Sorcerer or Shaman being challenged by the ally. Why is that?
While what Castaneda is trying to impart from his first book rings true "... a man of knowledge has an ally, whereas the average man does not, and having an ally is what makes him different from ordinary men," the "having an ally" should really read "having power." People think that an ally is an entity of some sort, when in reality it is an euphemism --- a euphemism for the POWER of the POWER OF THE SHAMAN. Castaneda actually says so when he presents in his first book that "An ally is a power" and "...to have an ally IMPLIES having power." However, and this is the clinker, either you have it or you don't, it is NOT implied or garnered from another. The true Power of the Shaman is not divisible, the power and the Shaman are ONE. It is not held and shared with or by an ally then metered out in some fashion. The statement by Castaneda that reads "...to have an ally IMPLIES having power" should read the other way around "...to have POWER implies (to others) of having an ally," the implying simply being not much more than the layperson or non-shaman superimposing a word-based understanding around the perceived phenomenon.
However, ally or no, Sorcerers and Shamans using powers to call up answers, predict the future, facilitate or induce spells, or garner assist or knowledge from planes other than the conventional were thought to have a spiritual servant, a "familiar spirit," in obeisance from other realms. The word "familiar" is from the Latin familiaris, meaning a "household servant," and was intended to express the idea that Sorcerers and Shamans had spirits as their servants, ready to obey their commands. Having a "familiar" as a servant is a far cry from a ally as outlined above. Just the same, the punchline is Sorcerers and Shamans "were thought to have familiars." That doesn't mean they HAVE one, only thought to have one. Basically what you have here is a word-based description shaped around the phenomenon. It is a verbal explanation by the layperson to make sense of how any unexplained form of the Power of the Shaman manifests itself. (see)
There is on record such a thing, not so much a product of other realms as most think of other realms, although rare, known as a Tulpa that is often CONFUSED as being an Ally or familiar. A Tulpa is a being (or object) whose existance comes to the conventional plane through nothing but the sheer willpower of the thought process, taking on a fully materialized and functional physical form as endowed by the processor of the thought. They are not an entity whole and independent of the maker, like say an Ally or familiar is envisioned. Nor do they have powers or abilities beyond or greater than their creator. So too, for the most part, unlike the similar thoughtform servitor, Tulpas do not remain or stay in obeisance as a familiar is said to remain. Of Tulpas, Alexandra David-Neel writes in Magic and Mystery in Tibet (1965):
Once the tulpa is endowed with enough vitality to be capable of playing the part of a real being, it tends to free itself from its maker's control. This, say Tibetan occultists, happens nearly mechanically, just as the child, when his body is completed and able to live apart, leaves its mother's womb. Sometimes the phantom becomes a rebellious son and one hears of uncanny struggles that have taken place between magicians and their creatures, the former being severely hurt or even killed by the latter.
Tibetan magicians also relate cases in which the tulpa is sent to fulfill a mission, but does not come back and pursues its peregrinations as a half-conscious, dangerously mischievous puppet. The same thing, it is said, may happen when the maker of the tulpa dies before having dissolved it. Yet as a rule the phantom either disappears suddenly at the death of the magician or gradually vanishes like a body that perishes for want of food. On the other hand, some tulpas are expressly intended to survive their creator and are specially formed for that purpose.
See also: Apportation Revisited.
As for the ally, what is meant when I say "people think that an ally is an entity of some sort, when in reality it is an euphemism?" Basically that the term ally is a description wrapped around the phenomenon --- a verbal or word-based explanation by the layperson, and sometimes the Shaman, as found in Castaneda's and Don Juan's case and others, to make sense or explain the physical manifestations people encounter, see, feel, or experience from the results of the POWER called up by the Shaman.
Why is such the case? Because humans have a tendency to remake the unknown into the familiar, something they know and can relate to. Humans in doing so are highly anthropomorphic, that is they apply "human-like" and sometimes "nonhuman-like" but recognizable tendencies around the phenomenon. Just like some people see faces in the grilles and front ends of cars while others see archers and goats and snakes by connecting the dots of stars in the constellations, they also apply human-recognizable attributes to manifestations of the power. When something is seen or understood to have been moved or changed or interacted with by the Power of the Shaman, somehow hands and arms and sometimes claws and teeth and other such things are created in the mind's eye to make sense of it all. Hands and arms and claws and teeth of course, by default, means some sort of a body for them to be attached to --- which, again by default, means a head, mind, and possibly conscious, independent thought. Viola, the power is NOW a entity. NOT!
My personal experience with the supernormal perceptual states called Siddhis and my apprenticeship under the Shaman man of spells called an Obeah, indicates a totally different situation than an entity scenario. With the real or true Shamam the Shaman and the power are ONE --- the physical manifestation or phenomenon of that integrated power or force is actually a longer reach or extension of the Shaman, focused through his own abilities or level of expertise. That level of expertise can vary from being very minuscule and tiny to beyond scope --- with the results depending on the abilities, will, and intent of the individual. It can be like the sun focused to a pinpoint on your skin using a magifying glass and how quickly and powerful the burning sensation is, to that of the power of ocean waves. You may be able to stand against a mild wave or two, but even giant mountains are eventually turned to nothing but sand or even less over time by their power.
So said, the Shaman himself is not immune from anthropomorphic tendencies. In that he was probably raised and used to living and operating in the everyday world of the conventional plane where objects, devices, and people are designed and function the way they do and are, he has to touch, handle or interact with them in such a fashion as they are designed --- with hand like extension. For example, even though the power or force of the Shaman seems like it transpires as if a hand may be involved, and others may mentally visualize or attach a hand to the phenomenon, NO physical hand, fingers or arms are actually involved. The same goes for the rest of the features and movements attributed to an entity.
Considering all of the above then, the question arises, who or what did I encounter at the Sun Dagger site and as outlined at the bottom of Julian Osorio? If it was the Death Defier or the spritual deity Yei known as Changing Woman (Asdzaa Nadleehe, the woman who is transformed time and again) or She Who Dries You Out called the Old Woman of Fajada Butte (Tse Diyil), were they of this world, products of the mind, or enities or inorganic beings from beyond the conventional plane? So too, what of the burnt man and the gold necklace in CARLOS CASTANEDA: Before Don Juan?
CARLOS CASTANEDA: Datura or Peyote?
TALON AND SCRATCH MARKS OF THE GIANT BIRD
MONSTER FROM THE ID, FROM THE 1956 MOVIE FORBIDDEN
PLANET. HOLLYWOOD VERSION OF AN ANTHROPOMORPHIC
CREATURE FROM THE MIND. LOOSE ADAPTATION FROM THE
1611 WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE PLAY ENTITLED THE TEMPEST.
CLICK THE GRAPHIC TO SEE IMAGE PRESENTED AS A SOLID.
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THE INFORMANT AND CARLOS CASTANEDA
CARLOS CASTANEDA: TIMELINE
POWER OF THE SHAMAN
SHAMANISM WEB CIRCLE
OCCULT, BLACK ARTS, OR IMPLEMENT OF GOOD?
MEDITATION ALONG METEOR CRATER RIM
SHAMANS AND SHAMANISM
THE SUN DAGGER
THE WANDERLING'S JOURNEY
THUNDERBIRD SITE LIST
ON THE RAZOR'S
FOOTNOTE  SEVEN COMPONENT THEMES
The goal of Castaneda's teachings, according to Castaneda, is to show how to become a man of knowledge, that is, a Shaman-sorcerer in the lineage of himself, Don Juan Matus and Don Juan's two direct alledged teachers Julian Osorio and Elias Ulloa. The following seven concepts are its proper components: (1) to become a man of knowledge is a matter of learning; (2) a man of knowledge has unbending intent ; (3) a man of knowledge has clarity of mind; (4) to become a man of knowledge is a matter of strenuous labor; (5) a man of knowledge is a warrior; (6) to become a man of knowledge is an unceasing process; and (7) a man of knowledge has an ally. Each of the seven, as explained by Castaneda, are expanded on by going to the above link.
THE SEVEN AFRICAN POWERS
Although a lot of people do not know it, nor are all people particularly pleased by it or willing to accept it, by Castaneda's fourth book, Tales of Power (1974) and written in a time period circa autumn of 1971 --- ten years after his first use of psychotropic plants under the auspices of Don Juan on Monday, August 7, 1961 --- Castaneda is blatantly DENYING the use of or need of drugs in any way, shape or form, just like I have stated above and for the same reasons. If you recall I wrote:
In reality, the "full use of power can only be acquired with the help of an 'ally'," that Castaneda speaks of, like the use of medicinal plants, drugs, or herbs(Aushadhis) --- which he used intially, but denied the necessary use of later --- is a second level of use between the Shaman and the actual power source, the same source the "ally" would draw upon for power
So said, Castaneda, in agreement with the non-use of drugs as I have stated above --- because a true shaman can reach the Power of the Shaman without outside crutches --- in Castaneda's fourth book in the chapter titled: "An Appointment with Knowledge" he writes:
Finally I managed to steer the conversation onto the topic of my interest. I began by mentioning that I had reviewed my early notes, and had realized that he had been giving me a detailed description of the sorcerers' world from the beginning of our association. In light of what he had said to me in those stages, I had begun to question the role of hallucinogenic plants.
"Why did you make me take those power plants so many times?" I asked.
He laughed and mumbled very softly, "'Cause you're dumb."
I heard him the first time but I wanted to make sure and, pretended I had not understood.
"I beg your pardon?" I asked.
"You know what I said," he replied and stood up.
He tapped me on the head as he walked by me.
"You're rather slow," he said. "And there was no other way to jolt you."
"So none of that was absolutely necessary?" I asked.
"It was in your case. There are other types of people, however, that do not seem to need them."
Again from Castaneda's fourth book, Tales of Power in the chapter titled: "The Strategy of a Sorcerer"
The extraordinary effect that psychotropic plants had had on me was what gave me the bias that their use was the key feature of the teachings. I held on to that conviction.
It was only in the later years of my apprenticeship that I realized that the meaningful transformations and findings of sorcerers were always done in states of sober consciousness.