"I was waiting in a border town for a Greyhound bus talking with a friend who had been my guide and helper . . . . Suddenly he leaned toward me and whispered that the man, a white-haired old Indian, who was sitting in front of the window was very learned about plants, especially peyote. I asked my friend to introduce me to this man."
Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan (1968)
"I was sitting with Bill, a friend of mine, in a bus depot in a border town in Arizona. We were very quiet. In the late afternoon the summer heat seemed unbearable. Suddenly he leaned over and tapped me on the shoulder. 'There's the man I told you about,' he said in a low voice."
Carlos Castaneda, A Separate Reality (1971)
One fateful day sometime late in the summer of 1960, a day that, although running thick with destiny, found three men sitting uneventfully amongst a number of other passengers and highly transitory types in the waiting room of a small bus station in the Arizona border town of Nogales. The day was the exact same day, as described in the two paragraphs above, that Carlos Castaneda met for the very first time, the Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer, Don Juan Matus that he would soon apprentice under.
Two of the men in the station were waiting to board a Greyhound bus to Los Angeles. One of the two WAS Castaneda, the soon to be successful author of a dozen best selling books. The second man, who was not traveling that day, was the colleague friend of Castaneda, Bill, that brought him to the bus depot. (see)
The third man, like Castaneda, sitting uneventfully in the bus station that prognostic day and waiting for the bus to Los Angeles, was me.
I had ended up in Nogales because a few years out of high school and tired of working as a technical illustrator --- all the while being faced by the draft in the next few years or so --- I decided to take a leave of absence and head into Mexico with a buddy of mine.
He and I had shopped around and bought a used six-cylinder 1951 Chevy panel truck that was in pretty good shape. Over a period of a few months we outfitted it like a camper with fold down bunks, table, sink, stove, and portable toilet. Early one Saturday morning we crossed into Mexico at the Tijuana border with no idea how long we were going to be gone.
After traveling east a short distance to Tecate we sort of turned around and doubled back toward the Baja Pacific coast ending up near Ensenada. From there we went south on some pretty crummy roads eventually going eastward across the peninsula to the little town of Santa Rosalia, taking a ferry across the Sea of Cortez to Guaymas.(see) On the road south just before it turns more eastward across the peninsula to Santa Rosalia we turned on Highway 18 not far from Guerrero Negro as I wanted to catch up with a man I hoped to meet who was said to live at a place called El Arco. The man was Colonel Harvey Greenlaw, the onetime second in command of the infamous Flying Tigers of World War II fame. I had read his wife's book Lady and the Tigers (1943) and heard somewhere along the way that Greenlaw lived there. Since I was close by and most likely would never be back I made it a point to look him up, spending a couple of days.
After crossing over to Guaymas we continued on passing through Guadalajara, turning toward Zacatecas to see the mysterious ancient ruins of La Quemada, aka Chicomostoc, ending with an interesting set of results.(see) We then circled back toward Lake Chapala, San Miguel Allende and a bunch of other places ending up seeing the pyramids in Mexico City, the Great Pyramid of Cholula, and Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan. We stopped whenever we wanted and stayed as long as we wanted. Compared to most of the people in the countryside we came across, as well as the locals in the towns we went through, we had all the money we needed to spend on anything we wanted including gas, food, lodging, girls, and beer.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months. Eventually we made a decision to return home. We headed north along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico through Vera Cruz then westward inland toward central Mexico turning north along the spine of the Sierra Madres. It was nearing the end of the summer of 1960 when we found ourselves in a little northern Mexican town somewhat south of the Arizona-Mexico border called Magdalena. While there my buddy got hooked up with a beautiful raven-haired local girl and wanted to stay a few days. She told us there was a horse ranch nearby owned by a guy named Maldonado that raised, sold and rented horses and she thought going horseback riding would be fun. The girl, after fixing me up with a girlfriend of hers --- and my buddy and I truly not thinking with much more than our little heads --- headed out to the ranch.
The ranch turned out to be a fairly big spread with it's own railroad spur and a rather nice hacienda type house with several out buildings and modern equipment --- tractors and such --- all pretty nice by local Mexican standards. As a matter of fact it was my suspicion that the two girls we were with probably wouldn't even be able to access the ranch if they had not been traveling with us.
It had been at least six years since I had been on a horse, and even though people say it is just like riding a bicycle, that is, you never forget, for me it wasn't quite like that. About forty-five minutes into the ride something spooked my horse and not having the expertise to handle her I was thrown from the saddle. My foot got stuck in the stirrup and before I could work it loose and the horse stopped I had been dragged over the gravely soil for quite some distance. Needless to say the event ruined the whole day. I went back to the hotel to recuperate. A couple of days passed and in the meantime my full of hormones buddy took off to parts unknown with the truck and girl he had met. With no sign of him returning anytime soon and being sore and achy all over with possible broken bones and internal injuries, I made the decision to get back home to the states where I hoped a doctor could look me over. The owner of the ranch had given me some medicine to help reduce the pain --- which I am sure was intended for horses --- and, although it reduced the pain quickly and efficiently, it put me into a sort of cloud-like stupor. Feeling a need to stay at the very least with a semi-clear mind, being in a foreign country and all with no friends and not knowing anybody, I opted not to take any more after the second day.
The road from Magdalena leads directly to Nogales. I got off on the Mexican side and walked across the border to the U.S. side --- heading straight for the bus station. Because of the injuries I was holding myself up and steadying my pace with a walking stick. So too, despite the heat of the day, in that the side of my face was so scratched up and wasn't really healed, I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt pulled up over my head along with a large pair of dark glasses.
After buying a ticket to Los Angeles I began feeling somewhat more in control of things being back in the states. Because of that safety net, and since I was still in such pain, I took some of the medicine the ranch owner gave me --- then settled in on one of the benches.
The bus station was not what I would call extremely busy, however people did keep coming and going and I soon found myself constantly moving farther and farther down so people traveling together could sit together. In the process, without realizing it, I had moved some distance away from my walking stick. I was sitting in this sort of oncoming stupor as the medicine began kicking in looking out across the depot from a newly aquired vantage point when out of the blue I saw two people I thought for sure I recognized sitting together talking. Knowing one of the men without a full and total element of doubt was kind of on the iffy side, but I was sure I had met him in my youth many years before, a onetime Pothunter turned reputable archaeologist that I knew as Larry, whose full name was William Lawrence Campbell, known in and around the desert southwest as Cactus Jack. As a young boy a man that I was told was an archaeologist had given me my first prospector's pick, an item I had treasured way into young adulthood. Unexpectantly, some six, possibly eight years after the bus station encounter we are talking about here, while traveling with my Uncle and a tribal spiritual elder, I briefly crossed paths with Campbell when he stepped up to our table in a small roadside cafe near Taos, New Mexico. In the process of that meeting not only did he confirm he was indeed the man that had given me the prospector's pick when I was a boy I also recognized him as being the man I had seen that fateful day in Nogales. Although the subject of Castaneda came up and he talked openly about a number of things related to Castaneda with my uncle and the elder during the hour or so we were together that day, before I was able to turn the topic of the discussion to the bus station specifically, apparently done with HIS side of the conversation, he finished his meal and without any attempt to pay, got up, went to the mens room, then simply left.
The other man sitting in the bus station that day I knew I knew for sure. It was Carlos Castaneda. I had seen and talked to Castaneda probably only a few weeks, possibly just days, before my buddy and I left on our trip to Mexico some months before. Why either Castaneda or Campbell would be in a bus station in Nogales in the heat of the summer and how either of them would even know each other was a mystery to me. Of course, although the bus station was not very large, because of my disguise, neither of them, even though they may have noticed me, would not have recognized me. When I started to get up to go over to pay my respects and ask what the heck the two of them were doing in Nogales I discovered my walking stick was either gone or out of reach. Plus, my mind was beginning to haze over from the medicine, sort of removing me from the surroundings.
Before I was able to get to my walking stick and stand up someone put their hands on both of my shoulders from behind, gently inhibiting my ability to get up. It was my buddy. He told me that after several days with the local raven-haired Mexican girl, followed by a somewhat sizable argument between the two, he decided to check in on how I was doing at the place we had been staying in Magdalena. There he learned I had gone north on my own. Figuring the only way home after crossing the border would be the bus station in Nogales he looked there first. He basically picked me up under the arms and dragged me out to the truck, all the time me trying to tell him I had two friends in the depot I needed to talk to. I was jarred out of a deep sleep the next day hundreds and hundreds of miles from the bus depot after we got stopped at a routine highway immigration check point outside of Oceanside, California and the officials wanted to see who the "dead guy" was laying on the floor in the back of the truck.
Later on, after motoring north then west toward the South Bay, with me sitting back in my usual spot in the front seat on the shotgun side, I asked my buddy why he didn't let me see my two friends at the bus station. He said I could NOT have been at the bus station for any length of time by the time he arrived and figured there was no way I could have any friends of any stature there, guessing I must have been hallucinating or something. Taking it upon himself he simply took me out to the truck, threw me on the on the bunk in the back, and headed home.
After we returned from our trip to Mexico my buddy and I basically went our separate ways. He got married and bought a hardware store and I returned to work sanding brightwork for multi-millionaire David Halliburton Sr. on his yacht come marlin boat.(see)
During that same period I turned as much attention as possible to study practice in Zen under the auspices of my Mentor. Then, seemingly out of nowhere and catching me off guard, a rare opportunity arose when my mentor arranged for me to study under the venerated Japanese Zen master Yasutani Hakuun Roshi --- without much success on my part it must be added. Then, pretty much as expected, Uncle Sam seemed to need me more and I was drafted into the Army:
"For a vast number of young men growing up around the same time I did, after reaching a certain age, they were uprooted from whatever they were doing by the then in place friendly Selective Service System, otherwise known as the draft, and plunked down into the military. And so it was for me. Following a crowded ruckus-filled overnight 400 mile train ride from the induction center in Los Angeles to Fort Ord I, along with several hundred other potential GIs, at 4:00 AM in the morning, was herded into one of a whole line of cattle trucks and taken to what they called the Reception Company Area. Then, after being issued two pairs of too large boots along with several sets of too large olive drab shirts and pants, and having the good fortune of completing eight weeks of basic without incident I was sent to Fort Gordon, Georgia to attend the U.S. Army Signal Corps School for what they called Advanced Individual Training, or AIT."
The Peace Corps Volunteer and the Asian Warlord
Even though we still lived in the same general area, except on the rare occasion when my buddy and I inadvertently crossed paths someplace or the other we never really saw much of each other after I was drafted and discharged from the Army. In the meantime the 1960 incident in the bus station slowly slipped away from my my memory banks, and, except for the one short interlude mentioned below, it was all but forgotten primarily because during the intervening years a number of things happened incuding me Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery that completely pushed back any thought or concern with Carlos Castaneda or bus stations --- until 1968 that is. Then, in 1968, Castaneda's first book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, was printed. The book became a huge, best selling success and almost overnight Castaneda became a public icon and incredibly wealthy --- with the Nogales bus station playing a key role.
The one short interlude that briefly interrupted the all but forgotten portion of the incident transpired three years after my initial 1960 bus station visit --- while, of all things, I was still in the Army.
At the end of August, 1963, during the Martin Luther King speech, I was a member of a team operating classified transmitting equipment in a AN/GRC 26-D communication van parked along the beltway in Washington D.C. a few miles away from the Lincoln Memorial, the site of the King speech. Somewhere in there, either before or after the King speech, and I don't remember which because at the time I was doing all kinds of travel for the military, for whatever reason, the Army decided they wanted me to participate in other extra-curricular military activites for a couple of weeks out west. They put me, along with a handful of other slovenly GI types, on board an unmarked company C-53 with all the windows covered over on the inside by aluminum foil and masking tape and flew us out on a cross-country middle-of-the-night flight to a place called Pinal Air Park, sometimes called Marana Air Park, near Marana, Arizona.
Not so much now, but in those days the air park was a small off-the-radar former air field, albeit then as now, still located about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson and basically run for the most part by Evergreen, a former CIA subsidiary. Interestingly enough, for our purposes here, the air park, being in Marana, is located probably less than an hour and a half drive over a wide open desert highway from Nogales.
When we finally caught a weekend break in our duties, a few GIs and myself, dressed in our best-cover civilian attire, albeit sporting white sidewall haircuts, crossed into Mexico at the Nogales gate for a few days of non-military extra-curricular activities of our own making.
It had been three years, and because of the training and the transition between civilian life and the military, a lifetime ago, since I had been in Nogales following the horseback accident. For some unexplained reason ever since the Army had sent me to Arizona and I discovered how close I was to Nogales I had been chaffing at the bit to get back to see the bus station. The first chance I got I broke away from my group of buddies and crossed back over the border to the U.S. side and headed straight to the depot. Why I am not sure. It was almost as though I was expecting to meet someone or experience some sort of a feeling about something. But nothing. In 1963 it was still a good five years before Castaneda's book was to be published. Any meaning regarding the station in relation to Castaneda or Don Juan Matus was yet to bear any significance. Even so, there I was walking around almost in reverence, looking in all the nooks and crannies, both inside and out, drawn as though on a spiritual quest.
To tell the truth, even though it had been only three years since I had been there I was not able to fully experience a total recall of the place, only a vague remembrance. Walking across the border and to the bus station I knew I had been there and seen the place before, but even so, for me it was more like standing in front of Edward Hopper's painting Nighthawks. Something about it is familiar and maybe even hauntingly based on reality, yet, although you know you could fit in and might even belong, you are still somehow removed because you know it is a painting and cannot step into it.
NIGHTHAWKS by Edward Hopper. Oil, 1942, 30X60 inches. Chicago Art Institute
Flash forward now to present day and a fresh perspective. A contempory reader of my works by the name of John Esposito informs me that after coming across DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined on the internet he decided to check out the Nogales Greyhound Station for himself. Since I haven't been back since that 1963 visit Esposito offers some interesting insights. Esposito writes:
Of course this is 46 years later, but the station is in an old building in the old part of town, and is probably the same station. Naturally, it might have had some renovations, in particular new seats (i.e. newer than 1960).
It is not at all contradictory for CC to have claimed that DJ was "seated on a bench by the corner" 30 years after claiming that he was "sitting in front of the window." This is because the seating area is all but surrounded by windows. There are windows on two sides, the counter on the third side, and a niche with vending machines and no seats on the fourth. In other words, ALL of the seats are near windows, regardless of whether they're in corners. Both front corners of the seats are near windows, as is one of the back corners, too. The only inconsistency I see is that there are no benches, but it seems very likely that the old benches were replaced with the rows of connected plastic seats within the last few decades.
I do, however, see a problem with CC's claim that DJ walked 50 yards to his bus(Active Side of Infinity, p. 39). It hardly seems likely that it was even 50 FEET, but then it's all too easy to exaggerate with numbers, and CC may have been a world class exaggerator! It's trivial, but it bothered me because it caused me -- for decades -- to visualize the event quite differently. I was expecting a dusty rural bus station, and what I got was quite urban, right at a very busy border crossing. (see)
In Castaneda's first book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, and in most of the other books in the series afterwards, Castaneda goes on-and-on one way or the other in his various bus station Introduction Scenes of how, BECAUSE of being in the depot that day in Nogales following the Road Trip with his colleague Bill, he met the shaman-sorcerer he calls Don Juan Matus --- the man he not only eventually apprenticed under, but who also became the main thesis he wrapped all his best selling books around.
Because of that alleged bus station meeting, when people hear about ME being in the Greyhound bus station in Nogales in what appears to be the exact same time as Castaneda and how he describes it in his books, they always want to know if I saw Don Juan or the "white haired old indian" in the bus station too --- AND IF SO, did I see Castaneda talking or interacting with him in any way, shape or form.
Without beating around the bush, the answer is basically a flat NO --- although I must admit that doesn't mean the meeting did not happen, only that I wasn't witness to such a fact.
The closest that any of what Castaneda writes about happened just as I was trying to get up but couldn't because I no longer had my walking stick with me nor was it within reach. As I tried to move I knocked my dark glasses askew across my face and before I could readjust them, my eyes, apparently with pupils dialated wide open from the medicine, allowed a huge amount of bright light to pour in inhibiting my ability to see clearly.
Suddenly, directly in front of me blocking most of the light pouring into the room and my eyes, a darkened silhouette of what looked to be a white haired old indian, who could have been anybody, seemed to appear out of nowhere. He stood silently before me, and as my eyes cleared, without a word handed me my walking stick. From that moment on, replicating almost down to the letter my experience as described in THE MEETING: An Untold Story of Sri Ramana, the whole episode began to flow forward as though in slow motion and I somehow felt totally absorbed yet at the sametime, separated and far removed from my surroundings. All the while the phenomenon unfolded, taking forever as it did, there was a dominating background ringing sensation in my ears similar to that caused by pressure deep under water that inturn disallowed me to construct clear, conscious everyday thoughts. Before I could gather my abilities to respond, which I didn't necessarily want to anyway because it felt so good, my buddy interceded and I ended up in the truck only to wake up days later in California, long gone from Arizona, Nogales, Castaneda, and things shaman.
The second thing most people want to know after I mention the "white haired old Indian" in the bus station handing me my walking stick is: Did I recognize him? For more on that, please see Footnote , below.
Finally, for most people, the most staggering question after the "white haired old Indian and if I saw him or not" question IS --- since I was at the bus station on the same day in question that I saw Castaneda and, as stated above, reported seeing a "number of other passengers and highly transitory types in the waiting room" as well --- WHY is it that NONE of them, or for that fact anybody else, EVER come forward like I have and stated they saw Castaneda there too? Why only me?
The answer is quite simple. For one thing I had met and interacted with Castaneda previously. I knew him. It would have been highly unusual that anybody else traveling or going in and out of that funky little border town bus station that day for any reason would have known or recognized him. Most people think of Castaneda as they have come to know him, famous. And he was, but only so AFTER his first book was published. However, as I have presented in CARLOS CASTANEDA: Before Don Juan, prior to his book being published "Castaneda wasn't even 'Castaneda.'" If you recall, the bus station incident did not transpire until after the Road Trip ended in the summer of 1960. Castaneda's first book was not even released for public consumption until 1968, EIGHT full years after the Road Trip/Bus Station episode. Up until that time (the release of his book), for the most part, nobody had ever heard of Castaneda. Before his book Castaneda was truly not much more than a cipher of an undergraduate lost among hundreds of similar unheralded blank-faced vacuous students enrolled in the anthropology department at UCLA. He had only just enrolled in UCLA and was, like everybody else new to the huge campus, a full-on unknown with anything related to him there. It isn't likely anyone at anyplace or anytime would have recognized him, know him, or know of him beyond the small circle of hibituates such as his then wife Margaret Runyan and a couple of her friends along with two or three former L.A. City College buddies he typically traveled with. 
Why has Bill not come forward? In the beginning it could be he was never aware he was Bill --- or for that matter, never aware in the beginning that the young Hispanic he was traveling with eventually turned out to be Carlos Castaneda. So too, in either of the two cases, if he found out or become aware of the situation later relative to his life, maybe, on an official level, he decided to just let it go.
If you recall, the Road Trip and the meeting at the bus station in Nogales happened at the end of summer of 1960. Castaneda's first book was not even published or released for public consumption until 1968, EIGHT full years after the Road Trip. Up until that time (the release of his book), for the most part, nobody in the much wider scheme of things had ever heard of Castaneda. So said, even though Castaneda is called Castaneda by Campbell, and thus then by me in the above text, at the time of the meeting we are talking about here Castaneda was NOT the Carlos Castaneda he would become. Considering Castaneda was virtually an unknown at the time to almost everybody, the only reason he would even come up in conversation between my uncle and Campbell in the first place was the fact that the two of them had him in common as a mutual acquaintance. That mutual acquaintance came about as found in the following from the source so cited:
"My uncle told me that he first met Castaneda while he was on one of his bio-search trips in the desert. At the time of that meeting, he said, Castaneda was traveling with 'a cowboy that lived in his truck.' It was those seven words from the mouth of an eyewitness, the informant, combined with the above quotes as written by Castaneda that confirmed, at least for me, the existence of Bill or a Bill-like character in real life. One of the reasons my uncle's quote 'a cowboy that lived in his truck' rang so true for me is because much later I ran across a similar quote relating to Campbell from a totally independent source. A major chronicler of William Lawrence Campbell, AKA Larry Campbell, Thomas J. Carey, in his investigating research attempting to fine tune the background of who Campbell was and what happened to him, in an interview of a person that knew Campbell in later years, wrote that 'he (Campbell) lived out of an old camper truck' --- which pretty much sealed for me the fact of who Campbell was."
CARLOS CASTANEDA: The Road Trip
After reading the Don Juan books years later I always ask myself, and continue to wondered to this day, if my Mexico traveling buddy had NOT shown up when he did and stopped me from going across the bus station, and instead I interacted with Castaneda and his colleague at such a level that I dominated their time and redirected their attention, would Castaneda have missed altogether meeting the old man he says turned out to be the shaman-sorcerer Don Juan Matus? Castaneda would have continued to be a nobody and Don Juan would have gone unhearlded. Or would've they? If nothing else, Castaneda might have met Don Juan as preordained, but most likely I would have been on the same bus to L.A. with him, and since we knew each other and Bill wasn't riding with him that day, most likely Castaneda and I would have sat together --- which inturn could have modified the downstream outflow for both of us.
At the very beginning of my trip into Mexico, sometime shortly after crossing the border and turning toward the east, my buddy and I stopped at a small cantina just outside Tecate to eat. The eating area was separated from the bar by a wall with a double-wide arched opening between the rooms about midway down. A rather loud discussion on the bar side degenerated into a fight between two men ending with one of the men stabbing the other. The stabbed man stumbled into the eating area basically falling across our table, dying. Everybody scrambled to get out. Someone in broken english told us we should get the hell out before the authorities arrived. Just as we started to move cop types were coming in the front door on the bar side. Some guy running by motioned us to follow him. We dashed through the kitchen and out into a darkened dirt alley behind the cantina. Dogs were barking. The street had a muddy center gutter I had to jump. Someone pulled us through a door of a building across the way that was lit only by a dim lantern --- which was instantly blown out and the door locked behind us from the inside. Before the room went dark I could just barely make out a dozen or more people squatted along the walls and below the windows. We waited the longest time. Finally the dogs stopped barking and people began leaving. A smattering of people stayed and my buddy, who could speak and understand a little spanish, said he had been told it would probably be best if we stuck around a little longer as well.
If the man that was stabbed died of his wounds that night or if the man that did the stabbing joined us in the room across the alley I never learned. There was though, a sort of strange man, about 45 or 50 years old that was insisted on by others in joining us on our drive to the coast the next morning. A man that when, a couple of hours into our trip we stopped along the road to pee, he just wandered off into the desert and did not come back. My buddy told me while I was dozing off the night before the man had performed some kind of a doctoring or healing ritual over the stabbed man in a room adjacent the room we hid in. In so many words, as best my buddy was able to translate it, the man said he was a Yaqui, and a shaman of sorts, who called himself Abeulo Cachora Matorral, abeulo being the spanish word for grandfather --- a rather funny word to ascribe to oneself when one is only 45 or 50 years old. Although I did not know it at the time, in an interesting turn of fate, the man turned out to be Tezlcazi Guitimea Cachora, Grandfather Cachora, a man who thought by many to be the "real" Don Juan Matus. I can say for certain though, that he was NOT, that is not, the old man mentioned above I saw at the bus station. See also Ken Eagle Feather.
A half of dozen years or so after my trip to Mexico, sometime into the mid-to-late 1960s, while visiting the mining camp compound of an old Mojave Desert prospector by the name of Walt Bickel I was introduced to a man named Alex Apostolides (1923-2005). In those days Apostolides was doing a variety archaeological surveys and said to be a Field Director in archaeology for UCLA. In an excellent, quick, one paragraph synopsis, Bill Gann, one of Apostolides foremost advocates, writes the following regarding a potential connection between Apostolides and Castaneda:
"(Castaneda) and Alex were colleagues at UCLA back in the Sixties. The great sorcerer discussed the shamanic world with Alex, long before he published his many mystical books.
"One wonders if Castaneda learned a thing or two from Apostolides, and if some of this knowledge later turned up in the guru's mystic writings. As an archeologist, Alex knew Mexico well and worked the ancient Aztec and Maya digs for many years. He was in the archeology department at UCLA when Castaneda was still working on his thesis that was later published as "The Teachings of Don Juan." Some have even implied that Alex was Castaneda's model for his famous Yaqui Indian sorcerer."(source)
Following several years of on-and-off archaeologist related work in Mexico (as well as a few other places) Apostolides settled down in El Paso, Texas. Sometime in or around 1978 (plus-or-minus a year or two) he was on his way back from Utah after having participated in a study that had to do with rock art. He had come across an ancient Native American petrograph that he thought might depict the Crab Nebula super nova of 1054 AD. Apostolides contacted a professor at UCLA given credit for having introduced Carlos Castaneda to shamanism by the name of Clement Meighan who had discovered similar petrographs on the Baja peninsula in 1962. Meighan suggested several people close by in the general Utah, New Mexico area that might help to confirm Apostolides' suspicions, of which my uncle was one.
It was because of that suggestion he and my uncle met. What was staggering to Apostolides was that the brother of my uncle (my father) was a long time friend of Walt Bickel from the old days and, as a matter of fact, as written about in The Tree, my father was Bickel's VERY FIRST mining partner. During Bickel's later years, the time we are talking about here, Apostolides and Bickel had developed a very close friendship. As it was, Apostolides thought so much of Bickel and the area he operated in that he had his ashes dispersed at the base of Black Mountain just north of Bickel's camp when he died --- which all tied together laid the groundwork for a strong mutual understanding between Apostolides and my uncle.
What is of interest to us here is when casual conversation between Apostolides and my uncle somehow turned to Castaneda --- AND how it was related back to me by my uncle a few years later --- Apostolides, at least by the time of their meeting in the late 1970s, had met William Lawrence Campbell and was aware by then that Campbell was the "Bill" in Castaneda's works.(see) Apostolides told my uncle that before he went into Mexico the archaeological team he was coordinating his efforts with was looking to recruit one or two additional team members and Campbell showed up as a potential candidate. Campbell had come highly recommended, however, since the archaeological investigations centered around Mayan sites in Mexico and possibly other countries such as Honduras, Guatemala, et al, any dig workers over any extended period of time would be required to have passports. The thing is, and unusually so for an experienced archaeologist, Campbell did not have a passport. At first the interviewers thought he just needed to renew his, but, as it turned out, he said he never had one.
Prior to any of those formal interview session and it became clear that Campbell would not be able to participate, Apostolides --- who was not part of the the interview team and maybe even being recruited himself --- and Campbell had sat around in casual conversations quaffing down a few beers over a period of several days bullshitting.
During those conversations, because Apostolides knew Bickle and also knew my dad had been Bickle's first mining partner, he told Campbell that he had met me sometime before Castaneda's first book was published. He also told Campbell that I had told him I had seen Castaneda and another man I knew sitting together and talking at a bus station in Nogales at the end of the summer of 1960. Campbell said he also knew me, having met me a few times in conjunction with my uncle, the last time being maybe 1968 or so in Taos, New Mexico. However, in a very positive confirmation of the facts he did admit to Apostolides it was true that he had been at the bus station with Castaneda at the time so stated and was sure he was most likely the other man, BUT, and he was sure of this, he did not recall seeing me there. He did say he and Castaneda had met with my uncle a few weeks before in the desert but there was no sign of me traveling or being with my uncle at the time either that he had any recollection of. He also said when he and I had met ten years before (i.e., circa 1968) in Taos and we had breakfast or lunch together --- a rather extended meal that spanned a respectable period of time --- I didn't bring it up or say anything one way or the other about having had seen him in Nogales.
AND NOW THIS:
ABOUT THE WANDERLING AS THE AUTHOR OF THIS SITE:
Over and over people ask why is it that they should accept what I have written about Castaneda as having any amount of credibility?
For one thing I personally knew, met and interacted with Castaneda many times --- however, it was done so long before Castaneda became Castaneda. Matter of fact he was still a nobody student trying hard to obtain an AA degree from Los Angeles City College, working at Mattel Toy Company, and when I knew him, considered himself mostly as an aspiring artist rather than anything that remotely resembled an author or shaman. Secondly, and unrelated to Castaneda and I knowing each other, my uncle was the Informant that is so widely mentioned in Castaneda's works both by him and others, that introduced him to the rites and rituals of the use of the plant Sacred Datura that sent him into his initial experiences of altered states. Third, because things in Castaneda's life, lore, and legend have been repeated over and over so often that they have taken on a life of their own rather true or not, in an attempt on my part to confirm, clear up, or have them discounted, I have interviewed, talked to, or conversed with a number of individuals that were prominent in his life --- especially so in areas that raise conflict when people read one thing about him and I write another.
Originally when I first started writing about Castaneda it was for one reason only. It had to do with help substantiating an incident in my life that revolved around what are known in Buddhism and Hindu spiritual circles under the ancient Sanskrit word Siddhis. Siddhis are supernormal perceptual states that once fully ingrained at a deep spiritual level can be utilized by a practitioner to initiate or inhibit incidents that are beyond the realm of typical everyday manifestation.
In that the incident that occurred in my life, although bordering on the edges of what is generally conceived in the west as Shamanism or possibly the occult, was actually deeply immersed on the eastern spiritual side of things. To bridge the understanding between the eastern and western concepts I brought in for those who may have been so interested the legacy of one of the most well read practitioner of such crafts in the western world, Carlos Castaneda. Although highly controversial and most certainly not the fully unmitigated expert in the field, he is widely read and a known figure when mentioned, by camps both pro and con. So said, Castaneda has the highest profile in of all individuals to have claimed the ability through shamanistic rituals the ability to fly --- thus, for reasons as they related to me I used Castaneda in my works as an example. In doing so it opened a virtual Pandora's Box of never ending controversy, causing me to either ignore or substantiate what I presented. Hence, as questions were raised by me in my own writing or raised by those who read my material more pages were created to explain who, what, when, where, and why.
SO, DID THE WANDERLING FLY?
The following people were all major movers in the life of Carlos Castaneda, and at one time or the other I met and talked with them all, which is more than most people who write about Castaneda has ever done. And I only did so on and off over time primarily to clarify questions about Castaneda that I had read that just did not make sense. Most people who question what I have presented about Castaneda simply gather their information from the standard already in existence party line. Some of the people I've talked to in reference to Castaneda who, following some rather extended discussions, clarified a lot for me --- after Castaneda himself of course, others are people like C. Scott Littleton, Alex Apostolides, Barbara G. Myerhoff, Edward H. Spicer, Clement Meighan, who Castaneda dedicated his first book to, and Castaneda's ex-wife Margaret Runyan.
Interestingly enough, my interview with Runyan came about because before she married Castaneda, she had been engaged to another author, the cowboy and western writer, with over 100 books to his credit, Louis L'amour. It just so happened my uncle who, if you recall, was the Informant in Castaneda lore, just happened to know L'Amour. My uncle took me with him one day he went to see L'Amour. When I had a chance to meet Runyan years later I used me knowing L'Amour as the wedge to talk with her. As it was, and not many people know about it, my uncle, who was influential with Castaneda also, along with another man deeply seeped in Native American spiritual lore by the name of H. Jackson Clark, worked together funneling Native American spiritual facts to L'Amour used as a theme in two of his books that borderlined much of what Castaneda wrote about, titled The Californios and Haunted Mesa.
NOTE: If you have not read any of the Footnotes as of yet please scroll down toward the bottom of the page.
THE BLACK CONDOR: THE MAN WHO COULD FLY LIKE A BIRD
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POWER OF THE SHAMAN: WHERE DOES IT COME FROM, HOW DOES IT WORK?
MEDITATION ALONG METEOR CRATER RIM
SHAMANS AND SHAMANISM
THE SUN DAGGER
THE SAIGON TEA GIRL
REGARDING THE NOGALES BUS STATION CIRCA 1960
To make it clear to readers of Castaneda's works, as well as for fact checkers and historians who nit pick every little potential discrepancy, Castaneda's use of the word 'Greyhound' in describing the bus station as being a Greyhound Bus Station is in fact a misnomer.
However, while it is true the bus station was NOT a Greyhound Bus Station in the classical sense, being actually the station for a local regional carrier called Citizen Auto Stage, it was in fact a de facto Greyhound station in all reality to-and-for Greyhound customers because the Greyhound company worked in concert with the Citizen Auto Stage bus line to ferry Greyhound passengers to the main Greyhound Bus Station in Tucson for continuing trips throughout the nation.
In that a person could buy a Greyhound ticket through to any of it's destinations at the Nogales station just as though it was a Greyhound station, for Castaneda, as far as he was concerned, at least in his works, it WAS a Greyhound Bus Station --- Greyhound being more familiar and making more sense to his readers, rather than go into any irrelevant or story distracting distinctions between the two. So too, as for myself, because Castaneda used the term Greyhound, to maintain consistancies and not confuse the readers, I use the same term --- although you will notice, if you read my works carefully, I use the word Greyhound sparingly, most often just calling it the Nogales bus station.
To show you how important bragging rights to a Greyhound affiliation was to carriers like Citizens Auto Stage, a northwest bus company calling itself Mt. Hood Stages, that provided similar services on a route between Portland, Oregon and Bend, Oregon was NOT listed on Greyhound maps or schedules. So said, because of the oversight that Greyhound would not resolve, Mt. Hood took them to court as found in UNITED STATES v. GREYHOUND CORPORATION, 363 F.Supp. 525 (1973), United States District Court, June 27, 1973:
"(T)he Index Map shows the connecting service of Citizen's Auto Stage Company's route between Tucson, which Greyhound serves, and Nogales, Arizona, which Greyhound does not serve. TheIndex Map refers not only to the Greyhound table 585 showing Citizen's service, but also refers to Citizen's table 4071. Thus, Greyhound's omission of Mt. Hood's route between Portland, which Greyhound serves and Bend, which Greyhound does not serve, was discriminatory against Mt. Hood, as opposed to its treatment of other non-Greyhound carriers."(source)
The Greyhound affiliation for those smaller local carriers was like a badge of honor setting them apart from any competitors, that is why it was so important to Mt. Hood Stages. As I remember the Nogales station, Greyhound logos and the fact that it was a sanctioned station providing services directly to and with Greyhound was pominently displayed. Looking back I don't remember any major prominence of Citizens Auto Stage overriding what I recall regarding Greyhound. In those days Greyhound was THE long distance bus carrier (I never thought of Trailways). Most likely in the 1960 era we are talking about here after I crossed the border I asked somebody where the local bus station was. When I walked in, again most likely, I saw the Greyhound logos, purchased a through ticket to Los Angeles and that was it. As you will learn later, my buddy took me from the bus station before I ever got on a bus, plus by then the horse medicine I took was beginning to kick in. So too, again as you will learn later, in 1963 when I went back to the bus station I never rode a bus either. If Citizen Auto Stage used a bus of their own with their own identification rather than Greyhound logos I never personally knew. When Castaneda transfered busses in Tucson he probably didn't think about it one way or the other when it came time to write about it. Far as I remember, much to the chagrin of the naysayers, with my own experience, the station was a Greyhound Bus Station --- albeit some history of the station seems to say otherwise.
If you read the page on William Lawrence Campbell reached here, through the Pothunter link, or through the previously cited links above, you will have learned that, at least in his later years anyway, Campbell was known for his ability to spin tall tales. One of the stories he told, and I cannot be sure how accurate it is, involved Carlos Castaneda.
As mentioned above, my uncle and I had been sitting in a small cafe near Taos, New Mexico with a tribal elder friend when Campbell, whom my uncle seemed to know, stepped up to the table and invited himself to join us. Before long the conversation turned to Castaneda and Campbell told the following story:
"Castaneda had shown up at the archaeology dig site a few days earlier. The two of us had seen each other or passed by each other on a number of occasions at the site, but we were yet to meet or talk. Although other student level people were either working at the dig and/or participating in various aspects of camp maintenance, Castaneda wasn't. He basically went around most of the day bugging high ranking anthropologists asking nothing but a continuous stream of unending questions. As I viewed it, in that he didn't seem to be there to participate in the dig nor particularly willing to help around the camp Castaneda wasn't being received very favorably by anybody at any level.
"It was just after sunset and a number of us, like we often did, were gathered around the fire bullshitting and going over the days events in the evening twilight. Castaneda had joined the group but basically just sitting there looking at the fire. Sitting directly across from him was a young woman that I had not seen before who had been reading a book until it got too dark to see. Her legs and lap were partially covered with a blanket and when the darkness set in she had placed the book on her lap folded open to the page where she had left off, with the cover facing up. I was just in the process of introducing myself to Castaneda, shaking his hand and telling him my name was Campbell like in the soup when a powerful gust of wind suddenly came out of nowhere -- like aVortex or dust devil --- which was a nearly impossible happenstance for so late in the day. The wind tore loose part of a close by canvas shelter top and the sudden noise of the flapping canvas and swirling dirt and dust must have startled the woman with the book because without thinking she jumped to her feet and in doing so, grabbing the blanket, the open book fell from her lap right into the fire.
"Without a moment of hesitation Castaneda reached into the fire and pulled out the book, brushing it off and folding it closed. He then handed the book back to the woman. When he did he looked at the title then at me. The title of the book The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell. When he looked back at the woman she was gone."
The reason I am able to recall Campbell's story so vividly from that day in the cafe is because of how fascinating all of the incredible coincidences seemed to be, yet how nonchalant both my uncle and the tribal elder reacted to it all. Years later I discussed the incident over a period of some hours in some depth with my uncle and he basically dismissed the whole thing saying Campbell was merely a gadfly. However, I looked at the incident somewhat differently. In Castaneda's eighth book Power of Silence, Don Juan tells Castaneda that when a person's Spirit has something extremely important to communicate, it will "knock" three times. As found in CASTING BONES: The Art of Divination if one has the ability or is spiritually intune with such things, three clear, unambiguous "meaningful coincidences" will be received showing that a certain decision is needed to be made or that an indication of a prediction is correct:
- Campbell steps up to introduce himself to Castaneda. As soon as he says his name an unusual (for that time of day) vortex-like gust of wind comes up and blows loose a nearby canvas shelter top.
- The noise startles the woman sitting directly across from Castaneda that had been reading a book. She jumps up and the book falls into the fire.
- Instinctively Castaneda reaches into the fire and pulls out the book. When he hands it to the woman he sees the title of the book is The Hero With A Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell.
Even though I mention I discussed the incident above many years after our conversation in the cafe and my uncle basically dismissed the whole thing saying Campbell was merely a gadfly, he did not dismiss everything totally. In so saying, he still knew and maintained a great respect for the natural order of things, the unfolding of events, the role of those involved in the events, and the power within and behind those events. For example, during that later discussion or one closely related, I tried to get my uncle to clarify some of my questions regarding the emaciated man thought by me to possibly be the Death Defier. The following, regarding that discussion, is found in a footnote to Julian Osorio, said by Castaneda to be Don Juan's master teacher:
During that discussion I tried to entice him(my uncle at the original source) to repeat for me what he had said that night outside the cave, verbatim, in whatever language it was, then translate into English the actual indepth meaning behind the words. He told me it ended that night in front of the cave and not to concern myself. However, he refused to say the Defier's name out loud intimating that he, my uncle --- and I quote --- "did not want to be found." According to Wallace, as told to her by a Castaneda confidant, by invoking the Death Defier's name in Tula, that is Nahuatl, the Defier's spirit will awaken.
So said, my uncle saying Campbell was a gadfly or not, my uncle still carried ahead of himself that great respect in the unfolding of events. That respect --- if you want to call it that --- truly shows up in the above where my uncle says he refused to say the Defier's name out loud intimating that he, my uncle --- and I quote --- "did not want to be found." It shows up over and over in his actions as well as in the many conversations I had with him, one example being the above interaction between the mysterious woman at the firepit and Campbell. Regarding that interaction, Campbell said:
"Without a moment of hesitation Castaneda reached into the fire and pulled out the book, brushing it off and folding it closed. He then handed the book back to the woman. When he did he looked at the title then at me. The title of the book The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1949) by Joseph Campbell. When he looked back at the woman she was gone."
My uncle told me that even though Castaneda looked back immediately after handing the book to the woman and she was gone, such was not the case with what Campbell saw from his vantage point across the fire. If you recall it was just after sunset and a number of people, including Campbell and Castaneda were gathered around the fire talking and going over the days events in the evening twilight. Campbell told my uncle, even though the woman was gone for Castaneda in the almost micro-second it took him to look back, such was not the case for himself. Campbell said, looking toward the woman across the fire after Castaneda handed her the book, he caught a glimpse of her dark silhouette between the flames rising superimposed against the twilight sky, and then almost in a wisp of smoke the blackened silhouette seemed to sail through the air beyond view in the darkness.
In that I had a similar incident transprire as a young boy at the Sun Dagger site, I was curious if it could have been the same woman. As it turned out she did not seem to be.
However, as part of that initial curiosity, when I asked my uncle if Campbell had ever made mention of what the woman looked like he said he had asked Campbell once. Campbell told him he had never seen the woman around the camp previously and only saw her briefly for a few moments across the fire that night. But, if he had to describe her, he thought she did not seem like a student or dig worker, but, although not dressed in the fashion of an Indian woman, more like what Hollywood thought a movie Indian woman should look like. Fairly good looking, probably around thirty with a somewhat Rubenesque body. She had a full face, high cheekbones and long black hair done in two long braids.
In Castaneda's third book Journey to Ixtlan (1972) in a section called 'A Worthy Opponent' dated December 11, 1962, Castaneda writes that over a month before he had a horrendous confrontation with a sorceress called 'la Catalina.' 'La Catalina' had been mentioned briefly previously in his first book with a date being cited by him as November 23, 1961, intimating from the words of Don Juan Matus that it was the very first time he, Castaneda, became aware of her existance. However, it wasn't until Journey to Ixtlan was released that Castaneda attemped a visual description of what "la Catalina" looked like:
I scrutinized her carefully, and concluded that she was a beautiful woman. She was very dark and had a plump body, but she seemed to be strong and muscular. She had a round full face with high cheekbones and two long braids of jet black hair. What surprised me the most was her youth. She was at the most in her early thirties.
Castaneda's book Journey to Ixtlan did not come out for general consumption until 1972. The conversation between my uncle and me, wherein the description of the woman at the firepit was brought up, happened some two to three years prior to that.
It should be noted the above footnote in similar format and form shows up in relation to the commentary and text found in CARLOS CASTANEDA: The Shaman and the Power of the Omen.
The mentioning of the "white haired old Indian" that handed me my walking stick invariably brings up the question: Did I see or recognize anything that may have indicated the "old Indian" was or was not Don Juan Matus? So too, sometimes the questioners are refering to a potential Don Juan incident when, as a young boy, my Uncle and I were on one of our excursions deep into a remote part of the southern New Mexico desert to visit a very strange man my uncle was somehow associated with. Those familiar with my discussions on that incident ask, if not Don Juan, could the "old Indian" in the bus station have been the very strange man I met in the desert instead? The answer to both questions are the same.
In relation to that excursion, at the bottom of the page on Don Juan Matus I write, without further elaboration:
For all I know the very strange man that handed me the feather as reported in The Boy and the Giant Feather could have been Don Juan --- or for that matter, even better, the very strange man might have even been Don Juan's own unknown, albeit, unnamed master teacher said to have been a diablero. (see)
In monday morning quarterbacking my answer is: possibly. I like to think the "old Indian" in the bus station and the man that I met on the excursion was one and the same person. However, when the meeting in the desert occurred I was a ten year old boy. The meeting at the bus station in Nogales was some thirteen years later. With my uncle the meeting in the desert had meaning. In the bus station when the old Indian handed me my walking stick it was, at the time, no more than one more meaningless happenstance in a long string of happenstances, and not seemingly worthy of filing away in my memory banks for posterity --- although waking up days later and hundreds of miles away with the whole thing carrying the perfume of a dream sequence may have entered into it. Unknowingly, the stick-handing episode apparently subconsciously continued to gnaw away and fester inside me, hence I think, contributing toward my need to return to the bus station when given the chance while in the army.
As to the meeting in the desert, in Julian Osorio I write:
TheOld Man In the Desert was not Indian like the Navajo or Hopi I had been used to interacting with in most of our travels in the desert southwest. Neither was he a brown Mexican nor Anglo white either. However, as a boy I still thought he was an Indian, primarily because he looked like one --- although he spoke Spanish instead of any Indian dialect I was familar with. As I look back now there is a chance he may have been Yaqui or possibly of strong Mesoamerican heritage. To be truthful my sophistication in such matters at the time just weren't refined enough to assimilate all the subtle nuances.
And that's the problem. As a mere ten year old boy my sophistication wasn't refined enough to assimilate all the subtle nuances. Later, in the bus station following my trip to Mexico, even though in hindsight it seems I was being told something --- and you as a reader might ask yourself how could I be so stupid or naive --- for some reason, even though I had an inkling, my latent ability to grasp or sort through all of it at a higher or more sophisitcated level, at the time, still just wasn't up to it. After all it was a full five years before the incident I describe in Dark Luminosity. So too, it was well before any sort of major experience surrounding the rise of the super normal perceptual states of Siddhis as well as fifteen years before the incident with the man of spells called an Obeah high in the mountains of Jamaica. Between the 1960 Nogales bus station observation we are talking about here and the experience with the Obeah, a HUGE learning curve occurred. Somewhere along the way it was as though a deep intuitive understanding or grasping of a giant Zen Koan unfolded, after which for the life of me I cannot figure out why or if there ever was a non-understanding.
When the trip finally concluded and my buddy and I pulled up in front of the house and I finished gathering all my stuff together from the panel truck after months and months on the road I discovered the walking stick I had become so fond of was missing. When I asked my buddy if he had seen it he told me he remembered a stick leaning next to me in the bus station when he picked me up but thought it must belong to somebody else because it had what looked like Indian or Native American stuff attached to it. When I asked what he meant by Indian or Native American stuff --- which I was not able to recall having anything like that attached to it --- my buddy said it had a small, double strand of leather string with maybe ten or so colored beads tied to the top in a slightly carved groove.
Interestingly enough, if you went to the suggested link above titled The Boy and the Giant Feather you may recall that the very strange man my uncle went to visit in the middle of the desert gave me a feather that had a double strand leather string with ten colored beads tied to the quill, one bead for each of my years he said. Somehow the feather disappeared only to surface years later in the hands of my uncle and with me by then, an adult. When he gave me the feather the double strand leather string with ten colored beads was noticeably missing.(see)
In and around the time of the Taos meeting mentioned above in the text, my uncle and I had a series of several meetings. In one of the meetings my uncle and I had just prior to his death he told me that the old man I met in the desert those so many years ago had, at age 107, died, citing the night of October 31, 1978. During the year 1978 an unusual TWO new moon's in one month occurrence transpired and it just so happened to occur in October, with the second of the darkened new moons on, of all things, All Hallow's Eve, Halloween night, October 31st, the same night of the old man's death --- a major convergence of conditions and coincidences.
To the majority of people such an occurrence most likely does not mean much. However, for the occult, voodoo and others of similar ilk, such a rare event as having the darkened second new moon of a two new moon month happen on, of all nights, All Hallow's Eve, is a convergence of major proportions that carries a deep significance. It means POWER in the hands to those who can so channel it, COSMIC POWER. Any event perpetrated during such a narrow band or limited time period carries a destiny with it that similar events at another time won't or can't.
As to All Hallow's Eve, All Saints Day, otherwise known as All Hallows Day (hallowed means sanctified or holy), falls on November 1st. The evening prior to All Hallows Day, October 31st, was the time of intense activity, both human and supernatural. Originally people celebrated All Hallow's Eve as a time of the wandering dead, but over time the supernatural beings came to be either dominated by or thought of as evil. To propitiate those spirits (and their masked impersonators) people began setting out gifts of food and drink. Over time All Hallow's Eve became Hallow Evening, which eventually became Hallowe'en.
See ZEN, THE BUDDHA, AND SHAMANISM. Scroll down to to the sub-section titled Once In a Blue Moon.
As to the "old man in the desert" dying at age 107 as told to me by my uncle, amazingly Don Juan's reported teacher, Julian Osorio, was said by Castaneda have died, coincidently, at age 107 as well. The following is from the previously cited paper on Osorio:
If Osorio was born in 1871 that would have made him around 77 years old at the time of my visit to the old man in the desert. Osorio reportedly was never cured of his tuberculosis and lived to the ripe old age of 107, 30 years beyond the 77 years of my meeting --- although how Castaneda arrived at the 107 figure is not clear as Don Juan reportedly left the world in 1973 and for all practical purposes Castaneda ended his apprenticeship with him well before that.
At the very least, having a "white haired old Indian" hand me my walking stick in the bus station DOES, if nothing else, put a white haired old Indian in the bus station at the exact same time as Castaneda. If it was Don Juan Matus or not or if Castaneda and the white haired old Indian met or not, I can't say --- you have to take it from there.
Interestlingly enough, it should be noted that the 1871 year of birth calculated for Osorio and the death of the old white haired Indian on October 31, 1978 as told to me by my uncle comes out to be the 107 as quoted by Castaneda for the death of Osorio. Castaneda writes that Don Juan Matus was born in 1891 and that he was twenty years old when he met Osorio. He also writes that Osorio was twice Don Juan's age when the two met, making Osorio 40 years old --- hence then, making Osorio having been born in 1871. Quite the coincidence of numbers from a variety of different sources if none of it is not so.
"Yet Castaneda never produced a single reliable witness to support any of his tale. Nor has any come forward in the last thirty years. Where is 'Nogales Bill,' who introduced Carlos to don Juan?"
It is quite clear throughout the writings of Castaneda that at the time of the meeting in the Nogales bus station that neither he nor Bill had any sort of a clue as to who the white haired old indian was or what power he may or may not had. The white haired old indian of course, according to Castaneda, turned out to be Don Juan Matus, the powerful Yaqui shaman sorcerer he studied under and the mainstay of all of his books. What most people do not realize or often overlook is that eight years transpired between the time of the bus station meeting and the publication of Castaneda's first book. I am not sure if Bill ever did figure out that the white haired old indian and Don Juan were the same person, and if he did, it was so many years after the fact that it just didn't matter to him one way or the other to him anyway.
The reason I think such is the case is because in NONE of the major introduction scenes as described by Castaneda --- which are NOT actual introduction scenes because Bill NEVER introduces them --- does Castaneda cite Bill as actually knowing or repeating Don Juan's name. To wit, in synopsis, how Castaneda presents the introductions:
IN TEACHINGS (1968): A Friend (Bill) greeted (Don Juan), then immediately left (Castaneda) alone not even bothering to introduce the two of them.
IN REALITY (1971): Was sitting with Bill. Bill got up and went to greet the man and forgot to introduce them.
IN JOURNEY (1972): A friend had just put them in contact. He left the room and they (Don Juan and Castaneda) introduced themselves to each other.
IN INFINITY (1998): Already knew about the mysterious old man who was a retired shaman. A strange anxiety suddenly possessed (Castaneda) that made him jump out of his seat and approach the old man, immediately beginning a long tirade.
It is, however, much, much more than Castaneda's colleague Bill just NOT knowing the old man's name. Even though he had seen the old man in the past and knew he was a companion or friend of the Cloud Shaman, Bill DID NOT know --- or even have the remotest inkling --- that the old man was a powerful shaman-sorcerer. Remember from above the following quote which pretty much clarifies Bill's position:
Bill said convincingly that he had encountered people like him before, people who gave the impression of knowing a great deal. In his judgment, he said, such people were not worth the trouble, because sooner or later one could obtain the same information from someone else who did not play hard to get. He said that he had neither patience nor time for old fogies, and that it was possible that the old man was only presenting himself as being knowledgeable about herbs, when in reality he knew as little as the next man.
For the complete introductions scenes in their entirety --- as written by Castaneda --- click HERE.
There is one caveat and it is found in an interview with Castaneda in 1968 on KPFA radio wherein on the transcript Castaneda says:
"I met Don Juan in a rather fortuitous manner. I was doing, at the time in 1960, I was doing, I was collecting ethnographic data on the use of medicinal plants among the Arizona Indians. And a friend of mine who was my guide on that enterprise knew about Don Juan. He knew that Don Juan was a very learned man in the use of plants and he intended to introduce me to him, but he never got around to do that. One day when I was about to return to Los Angeles, we happened to see him at a bus station, and my friend went over to talk to him. Then he introduced me to the man and I began to tell him that my interests was plants, and that, especially about peyote, because somebody had told me that this old man was very learned in the use of peyote.
Which sounds as though his friend, which is presumed to be his anthropological and Road Trip bus station colleague Bill --- because in Castaneda's books, both in the past and those at the time yet to be published, it is --- and in this interview, unlike how he was written about other times, Bill knows the "old man" and knows he is not just some old fogie but someone of some consequence.
In the interview Castaneda says Bill "knew about Don Juan" and that he "knows that Don Juan was a very learned man in the use of plants." As clear as that sounds it still doesn't mean that Bill knows the old man is Don Juan, only that he knew OF him and that he was a very learned man in the use of plants --- which is no secret. After all Bill was quite clear that he knew the "old man" was a companion or a teacher of the Cloud Shaman and that he had seen both of them together in the distance various times many years ago. It is Castaneda that eliminates the "old man" reference and interjects the name Don Juan into the interview. It is presented to the listener as though Don Juan's name was known, however it was really presented by Castaneda after the fact --- eight years after the fact. By then everybody with any interest knew the "old man" in the bus station was, according to Castaneda, Don Juan, so HE calls him Don Juan. If you notice in ALL four of the books cited above, Bill does not, in any instance, use Don Juan's name OR actually introduce Castaneda and the "old man" to each other. He either immediately left, forgot to introduce them, or, as in the last case, Bill wasn't even mentioned and Castaneda took it upon himself. Why in all the above scenarios did Bill NOT introduce the two of them together? Simply put, Bill did just not know the old man's name, period. Rather than be embarrassed he just slinked away. Again, for the complete set of introductions scenes in their entirety as written by Castaneda, click HERE.
An introduction of a totally different type, albeit however brief, is my own connection to Carlos Castaneda in my youth. As to how that connection came about, that is, my meeting with Castaneda, please see: CARLOS CASTANEDA: Before Don Juan.
As to the quote below, which was extrapolated from a Castaneda forum some years back, that shows up at the top of this foonote and has been used by me in other places throughout my works:
"Yet Castaneda never produced a single reliable witness to support any of his tale. Nor has any come forward in the last thirty years. Where is 'Nogales Bill,' who introduced Carlos to don Juan?"
The "Castaneda never produced a single reliable witness to support any of his tale" I suppose could be applied to me in a round about way except for the Castaneda (himself) never produced part. The thing is, relative to what what I have presented in the totality of this paper, how many summer of 1960 Greyhound bus station events in Nogales could Castaneda have had? As for any reliable part, would suggest to those who may be so interested to visit:
CASTANEDA'S 1960s PAPER ON DATURA
About 600 miles south of Guaymas my buddy and I came into the city of Tepic located about 130 miles northwest of Guadalajara. In Tepic we met a proto-hippie American girl around our same age while shopping for fruits and vegetables in an open air market. Making dinner together she stayed the night. She was traveling north by bus alone. We told her we were headed south with our only real goal being to squeeze in as many ancient ruins as possible. She said she had just come from Guadalajara and had heard that northeast of there, near a city called Zacatecas, were some fabulous ruins of an ancient city named Chicomostoc that nobody even knows who built it. Since we were halfway down Mexico and had not seen one ruin yet, my buddy and I decided to go there. The girl said if we didn't mind, if we going to the ruins, she would like to join us, then continue north from Zacatecas --- besides that she said, she could show us around Guadalajara as she had spent a week or two there.
After a few days in Guadalajara we headed northeast on the road to Zacatecas. No sooner had we got out of the urban area and into the mountains when a beat up pick-up truck with high boards on the sides holding in a ton of junk and coming from the other direction went out of control. It basically crossed the road right in front of us, turned sidways, then smashed into the embankment ending with the hood up, horn blaring and steam coming out all over the place. Our truck ran up our side of the road into the dirt and, except for a series of rough bumps and nearly flipping nothing happened. However, when the dust settled and we got out we could see that three adults and a young boy who had been walking alongside the road had got caught up in the accident and the young boy, around seven or so, had been been hit by the pick-up fairly severely.
We attended to the people hurt as best we could, assessed the damage and backed our truck down onto the road. It was quite clear the boy was hurt pretty bad and needed medical attention. Since we were the only ones left with a vehicle that was drivable we loaded everybody up who wanted to go, including the young boy and his parents, and headed back toward Guadalajara.
As we got into the northern suburbs of Guadalajara called Zapopan a man from the pick-up traveling with us said he had relatives nearby and they could direct us to a doctor. When the lady of the house saw the young boy she insisted the boy stay and have a doctor come to him. Soon a crowd began to gather outside the house, I guess because of the three gringos, our truck with U.S. plates, and an injured boy. A doctor showed up and he and the parents of the boy got into an almost shouting match. Shortly thereafter, for whatever reason a priest arrived. Then a second one, a more of a bigshot one. He told us the boy and his parents were Indians called Huichol and they wanted to take the boy home so he could be dealt with by a traditional healer. The thing is, the priest said, the doctor did not think the boy would survive the trip north into the mountains.
Enter the proto-hippie. She said why don't WE take one of the parents and go get the traditional healer. Everybody heard the suggestion and everybody thought it was a good idea, except maybe my buddy and me. Two days later we were back with the healer and his apprentice. By then the boy was doing fairly well on his own and in the end it all turned out OK. My buddy and I never made it to Chicomostoc and the proto-hippie left with the healer. His apprentice, instead of going with them, went with the second priest.
The priest was Father Ernesto Loera Ochoa, a Franciscan priest from the Basilica of Zapopan. The apprentice healer, Ramón Medina Silva.
THE ANCIENT RUINS OF LA QUEMADA
There have been a few complaints regarding a certain ambiguousness or lack of specifics regarding some of the stated time-date references of the events so cited between Apostolides and my uncle. For example: "Sometime in or around 1978 (plus-or-minus a year or two)" and "at least by the time of their meeting in the late 1970s." Those so expressing such concerns have placed, it seems, within the context of those concerns, a slight whiff of suspicion that the lack of specific dates implies in some fashion that maybe what has been presented may not have transpired at all.
When Apostolides and my uncle crossed paths I was living in Jamaica, having left during the winter of 1977 and apprenticed under a Jamaican man of spells called an Obeah, not returning until the spring of 1981. By the time I got back and my uncle and I resumed our discussions on a regular basis it had been a few years since he and Apostolides had participated in their talks. Even then, initially, none of it was on the forefront of OUR conversations --- and by the time it did come up my uncle just didn't have any specific dates at his command. That is to say, sometime around 1978 or late in the 1970s Apostolides looked him up to see if my uncle could add any insight into the potential super nova petrograph he discovered. My uncle knew it was sometime in the late 70s because I was gone. Other than that he never recorded any of it for posterity.
The other problem people have is why didn't any of the information flow the other way. In other words, Apostolides didn't seem to share any outcome of any meeting with my uncle that anybody is aware of, and especially so anything regarding any contact between himself and William Lawrence Campbell and Campbell being "Bill" in Castaneda's writings. I am not able to speak for Apostolides. I talked with him quite a number of hours one evening with a group of desert folk at Bickel's camp before hitting the sack way past midnight --- but, that was over 40 years ago --- so I really can't say what made him tick one way or the other. To get a better handle on Apostolides and why he might do or not do anything I defer to the works of Bill Gann, who, according to what he has to say on his web pages, had developed a rather long term friendship with him. From Gann's own writings:
"Alex recalled on the rare occasion he would discuss his relationship with Castaneda, 'was to keep one foot firmly planted in reality. Carlito didn't listen, and often lost his way.'" Alex certainly never claimed any particular influence on Castaneda. Then, there was much about the wandering Greek I didn't know. I was, after all, a foolish young man in the days Alex lived at Bickel Camp. Perhaps he didn't feel I was worthy of the topic.
"It seems Alex had simply experienced much success, knew a myriad of famous people, and had so many interesting life experiences, he didn’t have time to tell the whole story. That, and there was much of his narrative he didn't want told. In fact, when I first wrote an early version of this bio, he reviewed it and said something like, "Yea, yea, that's good enough," by way of critique. Then he asked that some really good parts be removed. Years ago Alex was also upset with me for publishing the 1972 story about Walt Bickel. To me getting the first story about Walt Bickel in print in California State University’s Daily Titan was a great triumph. Alex felt I had blown the cover of a place that we should keeping a secret."(source)
The rare occasion he would discuss his relationship with Castaneda --- that pretty much clarifies Apostolides position it would seem and why, maybe, not a whole lot filtered down from the events told to me by my uncle.
In the paragraph this Footnote is referenced to the final sentence reads:
"It isn't likely anyone at anyplace or anytime would have recognized him, know him, or know of him beyond the small circle of hibituates such as his then wifeMargaret Runyan and a couple of her friends along with two or three former L.A. City College buddies he typically traveled with."
Although the contents of the above sentence could easily be taken to apply only to the 1960s time period of the bus station meeting, it actually embraces a small slice of a much larger picture of Castaneda and how and why anybody at anytime who didn't specifically know him would have a hard time recognizing him enough to step forward --- even years and years after he became famous. Author Keith Thompson, in an interview of Castaneda a full 34 years AFTER the bus station meeting for New Age Journal Magazine (March/April 1994), writes the following in a preface to his interview:
"Literary agents are paid to hype their clients, but when the agent for Carlos Castaneda claimed that he was offering me "the interview of a lifetime," it was hard to disagree. After all, Castaneda's nine best-selling books describing his extraordinary apprenticeship to Yaqui Indian sorcerer don Juan Matus had inspired countless members of my generation to explore mysticism, psychedelic drugs, and new levels of consciousness. Yet even as his reputation grew, the author had remained a recluse, shrouding himself in mystery and intrigue. Aside from a few interviews given seemingly at random over the years, Castaneda never ventured into the public spotlight. Few people even know what he looks like. For this interview, his agent told me, there could be no cameras and no tape recorders. The conversation would have to be recorded by a stenographer, lest copies of Castaneda's taped voice fall into the wrong hands."
"After we returned from our trip to Mexico my buddy and I basically went our separate ways. He got married and bought a hardware store and I returned to work sanding brightwork on a yacht come marlin boat owned by multi-millionaire David Halliburton Sr."
My buddy and my "separate ways" didn't happen instantly in the matter of a second overnight, but more of a slow drip, drip, drip widening of interests --- i.e., girls --- as we each began concentrating and narrowing more and more of our efforts on single specific members of the opposite sex over about a two year period. Then, with one of those specific girls, he got married and I was drafted. By the time I returned from the military he was expanding his family with newborns and my focus had diverged to such a place we just never reconnected.
I write the above because it has been brought to my attention that my travel in Mexico buddy, who I was so close to in those days but lost contact with upon our return and never reconnected, out of nowhere a couple of years ago suddenly and unexpectedly died of massive heart attack. I never met his wife, at least after they were married, or any of his kids. Nor do I know if he ever related to them of our travels together or if he ever knew himself how important those travels were to me and my life. In later years I saw him dining with friends or family across the room in a restaurant one night, but never went over to talk with him. If he saw me or not I don't know.
My buddy was born in Iowa the same year I was. A few years after he was born, around the start of World War II, his family moved to Redondo Beach, the same town I lived in. The two of us started elementary school together but never really knew each other. Fifteen years later, after I moved back having lived with a number of foster couples during the intervening years, the two of us graduated from Redondo Union High School. Around our junior year, but more so during our senior year, we discovered we had a lot in common, especially jazz, and started hanging out together, --- enough so that a few years after high school and with both of us, especially me, sort of just languishing, we headed off to Mexico together for the whole of the summer of 1960.
Not long after we returned from Mexico he moved to the small beach city just north of Redondo eventually buying a hardware store --- the same hardware store he had worked for part time while in high school --- becoming a distinguished member of the community. As my buddy was becoming more and more distinguished I was doing other things. See:
THE SAIGON TEA GIRL