It has long come down to us from out of the ripples of shamanistic lore that the quasi or semi organaform-being called the Death Defier was a human from long ago who, on becoming a shaman-sorcerer, used his powers to try and escape death. He managed to alter his form so he would more closely resemble inorganic beings. However, in the process, he was trapped by the lure of power from those same inorganic beings. Eons later he managed to escape. Existing on a thin threshold between the not-fully human and the inorganic he couldn't eat, yet still needed energy. To evade his former captors and sustain his form, he needed to constantly search for energy. In the year 1725 AD the Death Defier, addicted to living and needing energy, down on power, in his last dying moments, cornered a then minor shaman from a long line of minor shamans by the name of Sebastian. In a noticable weakened state he was able to extort energy from him --- but only through a deal. To stay alive each generation of shaman-sorcerers in Sebastian's lineage would GIVE the Death Defier some of THEIR energy in exchange for knowledge --- knowledge and secrets gained or learned by the Death Defier over thousands and thousands of years. Thus the Death Defier "earned" the name tenant and by doing so, a new lineage was born. The secret is, in making the deal, the crafty Sebastian and those that followed, have given the the life-addicted Defier only enough energy to survive.
Some years before that 1725 meeting, at the time of the Spanish Conquistadors, the Spaniards, using their swords, guns, and cannons, all deployed under the flag of their religion, either destroyed or eliminated most of the ancient sorcerers the same way the shaman-sorcerers of the early European tribes in the Old World had been either destroyed or eliminated. In spite of the sorcerers ability to turn into animals, birds or giant birds, harness the elements and the use of an Ally, their power was unable to withstand the continued and overwhelming onslaught of the ever increasing number of Spaniards. A turning point did not occur until 1725 when the Death Defier came into contact with Sebastian.
Two hunderd and thirty-five years later, sometime in the late summer of 1960, UCLA student-anthropologist and soon to be best selling author Carlos Castaneda crossed paths with a nearly white-haired Yaqui Indian he came to call Don Juan Matus at a Greyhound bus station in Nogales, Arizona.- Although he had been told by his fellow colleague, a former onetime lowly Pothunter turned highly reputable amateur archaeologist and eventually to be called by the name of Bill in various Castaneda writings, that the old man was an expert on medicinal plants and such, unbeknownst to Castaneda at the time, Don Juan was also a powerful Shaman-sorcerer linking back in lineage to Sebastian.
Approximately one year after that initial meeting Castaneda began an apprenticeship under Don Juan, in turn learning a good portion of Don Juan's craft and eventually joining his lineage of Shaman-sorcerers. It is from that apprenticeship that Castaneda's series of twelve books sprang. As the chronology of the books unfold, Don Juan tells us through the words of Castaneda that EVERYTHING about himself --- that is, what Don Juan has ever learned or come to know and whatever he is/was or turned out to be --- was a direct legacy from his teacher, Julian Osorio. In turn Osorio had inherited everything from his teacher, Elias Ulloa. Elias had learned from Rosendo; he from Lujan; Lujan from Santisteban; and Santisteban from Sebastian. Before Sebastian there were eight others, but, according to Don Juan, they were quite different. They had a different attitude toward sorcery as well as a different concept of it, although they were still directly related to his line of sorcery. It wasn't until Sebastian's encounter and eventual alliance with the Death Defier, also sometimes called the tenant, rendered in the masculine in Spanish by Castaneda as el desafiante de la muerte and "the tenant" as el inquilino, that the lineage truly changed. That encounter dramatically altered their lineage and is considered the single most stringent tangent point that deliniates the "old" seers from the "new" seers.
It was from the downstream outflow of that lineage that Don Juan, in the early to mid-1960s, took Castaneda to meet the Death Defier for the very first time. Castaneda was introduced to a MAN, a strange Indian who was not old but not young either and very, very thin, almost emaciated. In Art of Dreaming (1993), Chapter 11, The Tenant, Castaneda remembered mostly the emaciated man's strange accent and his use of one odd metaphor when describing things he allegedly had seen: mis ojos se pasearon, my eyes walked on. For instance, he said, "My eyes walked on the helmets of the Spanish conquerors."
HOW THE DEATH DEFIER RELATES TO DIABLERO:
In his first book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968), Castaneda writes that Don Juan Matus learned his craft from a Diablero:
"In describing his teacher, Don Juan used the word diablero. Later(Castaneda) learned diablero is a term used ONLY by the Sonoran Indians. It refers to an evil person who practises black sorcery and is capable of transforming himself into an animal - a bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other creature."
As for Don Juan's teacher being a diablero and being in his lineage, none of the teachers named, from Sebastian on, seem to fit that description. However, regardless of the names, Osorio and Ulloa included, it still seems the true indentity of Don Juan's actual REAL LIFE teacher was never discovered. Both Osorio and Ulloa, as well as the others, although perhaps "real" and perhaps shaman-sorcerers in a lineage as Castaneda says they are, as I see it, are really no more than stand-ins. It was when Don Juan LEFT Osorio in 1925 that the diablero and his true teacher comes comes into play.
The shaman-sorcerers, or man of knowledge as Castaneda calls them, were, for all practical purposes, purged or wiped out by the Spanish Conquistadors. The actions by the Conquistadors is not totally dissimilar to what happened to the African priests and tribal spritual elders that were brought to the New World via the slave trade. Although haphazardly eliminated rather than in a methodical fashion by the power of a sovereign nation, those that made it alive, young or old, experienced or beginner, used their knowledge as their only way to gain the upper hand or power over their slave masters. In the process the strengths of their religious beliefs eventually diverged. They became magnified by time and place, existing side-by-side and sometimes overlapping. One branch veered toward what one might consider more coventional shamanism with some minor tribal sorcerey while the other branch increasingly went more and more underground, manifesting itself toward the occult and cloaking itself in the ever more secret as found now in, for example, on the African-Caribbean side of things, Obeah and on the Spanish-Mexican-Indian side of things, diablero.
Added to the mix as well, on the Mexican-Indian side of things, at the time of the conquest the Aztecs and others in the region (and in their historical past) practiced human sacrifice, a total antithesis to the religion promulgated at the end of the sword by Cortez and his ilk. The indigenous Mesoamerican religious class was divided between the ruling class priests in the major civilization centers with their sacrifices and that of the more simple religious practices as found amongst the regular hinterland folk with their more-or-less general Shamans, spiritual elders, and root doctors. On the human sacrafice side of things, whether a layperson or priest in acceptance with the rituals or not, there is a sort of underlying evilness that the practice carries ahead of itself. That split, between the onetime sacrifice adherents and it's innate connotation of evilness and the practices of the healers, is what drove the early shaman-sorcerer atmosphere at the time of the conquest --- to a point where eventually there existed a dual or double branch, of which one ended being diableros. The Spanish overlords blanketed both with the same heavy hand, but it is easy to see that regular folk would have a tendency to seek out, use, support, and if need be cover up or hide the healer types, while the opposite would be true for the others. It probably ran deep that it wasn't too many years before the priestly class were raiding their villages for sacrifices. More than likely individuals of that branch found themselves isolated, shunned and ostracized, all the while facing the clear probability that they could be turned in or exposed. Like the Obeah spellmasters that would come a few years after them in the Caribbean they found themselves going more and more into hiding and underground to practice their craft, increasingly concentrating and embracing the power while letting evaporate any semblance of the other branch.
As stated above, in the lineage before Sebastian there were eight others, but, according to Don Juan, they were quite different. It is my belief that the original eight in lineage were from the general healer side of shaman-sorcerers and that the Death Defier was from the yet unnamed other branch. Sebastian liked the power and knowledge of the Defier all right, but not what backed it up. So in a sense, with the alliance formed between Sebastian and the Death Defier there became a sort of combined synthesis of branches, with the power of the unnamed branch muted. It wasn't until Don Juan came upon the scene and liked the power as well, that in 1925 he decided to leave Osorio and seek out a teacher on the pure, now named, diablero side of things. For more on the Death Defier please see Julian Osorio. Equally as interesting and continuing in a similar vein, The Sun Dagger.
For the record, it is not just Death Defier-like inorganic beings that are known for "staying alive" over long periods of time. Some seemingly normal organic beings such as a variety of swamis, gurus, and teachers that have come to be known in the west, but originally said to have been associated with the mysterious hermitage somewhere in Tibet called Gyanganj --- a secret place of great masters said to be hidden in a valley high in the mountains of the Himalayas or possibly on on the flatlands to the north of Kailash-Mansarovar --- are reported to have had extremely long life spans. Trailanga Swami lived 300 years while the highly venerated and mysterious Indian sage Mahavatar Babaji is rumored to still be alive after 1800 years. Equally of interest is the digambara monk that contributed to Sri Ramakrishna's full Awakening, Totapuri. Totapuri, like Trailanga Swami, is said to have lived 300 years as well. Gyanganj, the home of immortals, is known throughout western cultures mostly as Shangri La, but generally in history and Buddhist lore as Shambhala.
NOTE: If you have not read any of the Footnotes as of yet please scroll down toward the bottom of the page.
Can a nicuicanitl huiya Xochitl in noyollo ya
nicmana nocuic a ohuaya ohuaya
o xoxpanxoco o xoxopanxoco
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DEATH HAD A FACE
Some people would question the validity that the Spanish Conquistadors or anybody else would have the ability or power to destroy or eliminate most or any of the ancient sorcerers or shamans depicted as being so potent and powerful by Castaneda and others. In the above you may recall the following:
In spite of the sorcerers ability to turn into animals, harness the elements, or the use of an Ally, their power was unable to withstand the continued and overwhelming onslaught of the ever increasing number of Spaniards.
If you have gone to the website called Diablero you will find quoted a conversation between Castaneda and an old Indian man he was questioning about whether diableros ever existed and if so, were there any alive now, that is, in the present day time. The old man tells Castaneda they were all killed, the last being in 1942. Castaneda, sort of dumbfounded, asks who killed them and the old man replies:
"All the people of the tribe. The last diablero I knew about was S- - (at this point Castaneda leaves the full name out in the text using only a capital "S" and a dash). He killed dozens- maybe even hundreds of people with his sorcery. We couldn't put up with that and the people got together and took him by surprise one night and burned him alive."
And that is the secret. The old man says the people got together and took him, the diablero, by surprise. That is how the Spaniards were able to eliminate the sorcerers --- after no doubt what was an initial learning curve of failure, as stated above and incorporating surprise, the power of the sorcerers and shamans was unable to withstand the continued and overwhelming onslaught of the ever increasing number of Spaniards.
In the above to which this footnote is referenced the following is presented:
"As for Don Juan's teacher being a diablero and being in his lineage, none of the teachers named, from Sebastian on, seem to fit that description. However, regardless of the names, Osorio and Ulloa included, it still seems the true indentity of Don Juan's actual REAL LIFE teacher was never discovered. Both Osorio and Ulloa, as well as the others, although perhaps "real" and perhaps shaman-sorcerers in a lineage as Castaneda says they are, as I see it, are really no more than stand-ins. It was when Don Juan LEFT Osorio in 1925 that the diablero and his true teacher comes comes into play."
The question is, IF the true indentity of Don Juan's actual REAL LIFE teacher was never discovered, was the Old Man In the Desert that I met traveling with my uncle on a deep excurison into the desert, and said to have tuberculosis not unlike how Osorio is written, AND Osorio --- the actor that according to Castaneda, during one of his theatrical tours met Elias Ulloa, who inturn transmitted to Osorio the knowledge of his lineage of sorcerers and thus down to Don Juan and then to Castaneda --- ONE and the SAME person? OR was the old man in reality the actual REAL LIFE teacher of Don Juan that was never discovered?