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Don Juan's Teacher


the Wanderling

In his first book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968), Carlos Castaneda writes that HIS teacher, the Yaqui Indian shaman-sorcerer he apprenticed under he calls Don Juan Matus, learned his craft from a person Don Juan calls a Diablero. So saying, Castaneda presents the following to his readers:

"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."

However, for whatever reason, as the chronology of the Don Juan books unfold through the words of Castaneda, the all important aspect of the word diablero used by Sonoran Indians and ONLY by Sonoran Indians, quickly fades into the shadows of non-thought and non-existence as Don Juan tells us that EVERYTHING about himself, that is, what he 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 --- who was, interestingly enough, as written by Castaneda, NOT of Native American/Indian extraction. Nor was he Yaqui, Mesoamerican, or Toltec Nagual either, BUT the son of European immigrants to Mexico. 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 that the lineage truly changed.

Castaneda, ignoring or tossing aside any earlier referenences regarding a Diablero as teacher, all the while trying to clarify anything he could for the reader about Osorio, asked Don Juan what he looked like. Don Juan responded by saying:

"Do you know that to this day it's hard for me to visualize him? I know that sounds absurd, but depending on his needs or the circumstances, he could be either young or old, handsome or homely, effete and weak or strong and virile, fat or slender, of medium height or extremely short."

Now, Don Juan may or may not be waffling OR Castaneda, using his thoughts and words through the voice of Don Juan may or may not be waffling. However, waffling or no, to show how a common thread runs through the occult and things shaman and how they draw sustenance and nourishment from the SAME source, notice, no matter how widely separated others may seem in culture, time, distance and execution, how closely Don Juan's description of Osorio parallels that of Obatala, one of the major Orishas of the Seven African Powers:

OBATALA --- also sometimes, Obatalia. From the same root-word as the most feared and respected of the shaman and occult-related men of spells called an Obeah:

Obatala is androgynous and sometimes depicted very old, sometimes quite young. He is gentle, a sky-god, but corresponds to Damballah, the primordial serpent as well. Notice the heavy ring of integrated opposites in his being such as mother-father, androgynous, young-old, dark-light, good-evil, right-wrong --- paralleling such deep religious themes as the concept of Sunyata for example.

Again, Castaneda asked for clarification. In addition to saying Osorio was thin and muscular, Don Juan responded a second time with:

"His hair was black, thick, and wavy. He had a long, fine nose, strong big white teeth, an oval face, strong jaw, and shiny dark-brown eyes. He was about five feet eight inches tall. He was not Indian or even a brown Mexican, but he was not Anglo white either. In fact, his complexion seemed to be like no one else's, especially in his later years when his ever-changing complexion shifted constantly from dark to very light and back again to dark. When I first met him he was a light-brown old man, then as time went by, he became a light-skinned young man, perhaps only a few years older than me. I was twenty at that time."

In the above, from the eighth book of Castaneda's series, titled Power of Silence (1988), Don Juan, speaking of Osorio, makes him out to be fairly healthy young man. However, some years before when Ulloa and Osorio met for the very first time, it wasn't quite like that. Ulloa came across him laying face down in a field bleeding to death through his mouth, so much so that he thought the young actor was not going to survive. Osorio told him he didn't want to die, that he was too young. Using herbs Castaneda says Ulloa was carrying in his pocket, but most likely carried in a Medicine Bag or pouch, Ulloa was able to stop the bleeding. He then told Osorio he would never be able to repair the damage inflicted on his body, but he could --- no doubt, using the Power of the Shaman with directly aimed impulses toward conditions [1] --- deviate his Karma infected approach toward the cliffs of death. Ulloa took him to the mountains, taught him the ancient secrets, and with time Osorio became one of the most respected of sorcerers. Although he was never cured of his tuberculosis he still lived to the age of 107.

Notice now the comparison, and almost allegory, of how, some twenty years later or so, Don Juan meets his OWN benefactor or teacher Julian Osorio:

As Don Juan tells it, just as he was reaching twenty years of age he met a man that cajoled him into taking a job as a laborer at a sugar mill located on an isolated plantation. The foreman of the mill basically just took possession of Don Juan and made him a slave. Suffering undue harm, bodily injury, and desperation, with no other course of action, Don Juan escaped. The violent foreman eventually caught him on a country road and shot him in the chest, leaving him for dead.

Don Juan was lying unconscious in the road, bleeding to death when Osorio happened along. Using his healer's knowledge, he was able to stop the bleeding, then took the still unconscious Don Juan home and cured him.

Continuing in 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:

  1. For Osorio the first coincidence --- or Omen as the case may be --- regarding Don Juan was a small Vortex like cyclone or dust devil that lifted a cone of dust on the road a couple of yards from where he lay, bringing attention to him in the first place.

  2. The second omen was the thought which had crossed Osorio's mind an instant before he had heard the sound of the gun shot: that it was time to have an apprentice.

  3. Moments later, the third omen. He ran to take cover and instead collided with the gunman, putting him to flight, preventing him from shooting Don Juan a second time and finishing the job.

Osorio immediately evaluated the three omens and knew Don Juan would be a perfect candidate to be his apprentice. Notice as well, in both cases, the near death or symbolic Death of the Shaman --- Osorio found near death from tuberculosis; Don Juan near death shot in the chest --- the Symbolic Death of the Shaman being one of the four major criteria for becoming a Shaman.(see)

Moving on, I put Osorio's birth year at or close to 1871. That would make him right near 40 years old when he first crossed paths with Don Juan and somewhere near half that age when he first met Ulloa. Ulloa left the world eight years after he and Don Juan met, making his passing around 1919. Six years later, 1925, Don Juan made the decision to abandon his apprenticeship under Osorio and returned to his roots --- the Yaquis or Yumas. This is where things begin to get a fuzzy, but where I think the Diablero comes in.

When I was around ten years old or so my father remarried, my real mother having died some years earlier. My new mother, or Stepmother as the case may be, having noticed a propensity toward art on my part, persuaded my Uncle, who was a fairly well established artist in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the time, to come to Los Angeles, California where we lived, and tutor me. She set him up in a fully equiped artist's studio and covered all expenses. All he had to do was develop my budding art talents and arrange for me to have as many creative experiences as possible.

As time crawled by in Los Angeles for my uncle, mumbling under his breath that he was unable to fully adjust to the daily stresses of what he saw as city life, took to directing more and more of his attention toward returning to his old haunts in the desert southwest. Especially so after a trip I took to Catalina Island, returning rattled with what happened to me. After hearing my story, which I sum up in THE MEETING: An Untold Story of Sri Ramana, right away he started figuring out ways to get back to the desert and take me with him. It seemed like we went everywhere and visited everything. Some were secret and sacred places, others more historical and well known.

One of the not so secret but more well known places we visited was the onetime wide open western town of Tombstone, Arizona --- the town too tough to die --- where, on October 26, 1881, the infamous gunfight at the OK Corral occurred. There, for the first time that I can remember, I heard the word tuberculosis. Someone there told me that at the time of the OK Corral, Wyatt Earp's friend, the gunfighter Doc Holliday, was dying of tuberculosis, and because he knew he was dying anyway, was fearless in the face of death --- and the reason why he was so deadly.(see)

One day 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. After arrival the two sat together in the shade outside the man's shack and talked for a good part of the day while I either played with the dogs or sat in the cab of the truck fiddling with the radio tying to find stations that wouldn't come in. 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)

On the way across the desert in the truck my uncle told me the man we were on our way to see had tuberculosis. I remember it specifically because of how impressed I had been by the fact that Doc Holliday had been dying of tuberculosis, and because of it, being deadly --- I somehow liked the idea of being deadly.

The man my uncle went to visit was old with nearly pure white hair. Even though I recall the tuberculosis aspect quite well because of the impression it made on me regarding Doc Holliday, it is true I was a young boy at the time and must admit an inability to remember EVERY small detail. If I had to describe the "strange man" further, tuberculosis or no, I would be hard pressed to say he was deadly. As well, although he was no longer young, judging by how he still looked, most likely in his youth he would have been slim and muscular, with a long, fine nose, strong big white teeth, an oval face, strong jaw, and shiny dark-brown eyes. He was probably somewhat shorter than five feet eight inches tall, albeit with a slight hunch of an old man. Castaneda had written that Osorio, just like the old man in the desert, had tuberculosis, but he had also written that Osorio, as mentioned previously, was NOT an Indian, being the son of European immigrants to Mexico --- making any sort of Indian background or possible appearance of same practically nill --- as well as making it equally tough for Osorio to be a diablero since in Castaneda's own words diablero was a term used by Sonoran Indians and only Sonoran Indians.

The old 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.

Interestingly enough, some four years after spending a few days in the desert with the old man, I went with my uncle to the east coast to meet with my uncle's longtime friend, Albert Einstein. I was stunned, and most surely in awe of how the fully educated and noted scientist and the shoeless old man in the dirty baggy pants living in the desert somehow seemed so similar. It is not so much how they looked per se', because for sure, when I remember how Einstein looked or see a photograph of him I don't see a long, fine nose. However, as I struggle for words here, there was almost the exact same kind of aura or knowledge about the two them that you could feel or comprehend in your bones or gut somehow --- rather than knowing who they were being flashed over undulating thought-surfaces in a thin, veneer-like conceptual overlay using someone else's words. Seeing a man of Einstein's stature living in surroundings such as Princeton you might expect it. An old Indian living out in the middle of nowhere in a dirt floor shack is another thing.

On our second day with the old man we took off in the pick-up --- with me riding in the back and the two of them in the cab --- and under the directions of the old man, followed a rough almost non-road trail down into an area where a small stream trickled through the rocks. Stopping the truck we walked along the stream until we came upon a strand of willow trees where the stream curved and flattened out into a pond before it continued on. Turning and pointing up into the rocks above and behind us the old man said something in Spanish to my uncle. My uncle told me the old man said there was a small cave up in the rocks that was very sacred and wanted the two of us to climb up to it. I already had a somewhat frightening and extraordinary exprience involving a tribal or spritual elder sometime before at the Sun Dagger site and I wasn't excessively over eager to go through it again. After assurances from my uncle I hesitantly aggreed to go along.

Leaving the old man behind in the cool shade of the trees we climbed the steep side of a mountain until we reached a rock ledge at the very top. After reaching the vantage point of the ledge I could easily see we were in the foothills of an even higher range of mountains that hadn't been visible from the lower level of the creek. My heart sank as I thought we were going to have to climb farther. However, although there didn't seem to be any discernible trail on the way up, along the ledge there seemed to be the vaguest outline of a path. My uncle turned to follow the path like he had been there before and I trailed along in his footsteps. In a short distance my uncle stopped like he was looking for a recognizable landmark of some kind. He cupped his hands over his eyes and looked up toward the sun, then in a few more steps, basically out of nowhere we suddenly came upon a small shallow cave concealed amongst the rocks.

The cave was perfect for the two of us to sit in side by side out of the sun. My uncle's head nearly touched the top of the cave and our backs fit almost perfectly along the cool surface of the curved rock wall. When I commented on how nice the cave was my uncle told me it was man-made, having been carved out by ancient people thousands of years ago and that animals and insects and even people shied away from it because it had been infused with something that made living things feel ill at ease. Even so, I didn't feel it. At first, except for being tired from the climb, I felt quite comfortable there, I even liked it. Something about it gave me a good feeling inside. However, as time passed and in that we had no food or water and the sun began to drop low in the sky flooding the cave with heat and light, that feeling of good and comfortableness began to wane. Still we sat. The sun finally reached the top of the mountains across the valley. The very second the sun touched the mountains in its downward path I could clearly see it was centered exactly behind the point of the tallest mountain peak along the chain and perfectly aligned with the cave. I had watched the shadow of the peak and that of the wedge shaped sides from the mountain slowly crawl cross the valley below and upward along the foothills like a giant wave engulfing everything in its path until the very tip of the shadow touched into the cave. Then suddenly like an explosion of light it was gone, the black of the mountain glowing with illumination of the setting sun going down behind it leaving nothing but a slight glow along the horizon. With the sun gone it got very dark and cold.[2]

Still we sat. I was tired, cold and hungry but, as the night wore on I began to get drowsy. Soon I was closing my eyes and nodding off, then slumped over in deep sleep.

I was jarred awake hearing my uncle talking with someone just outside the cave. Thinking the person might be the old man with food or water to share I scrambled out. The person he was talking to appeared in the dark to be an old man all right, but not the one we left at the creek. This old man was very thin an emaciated, dressed in what I would almost call a dirty white peasant outfit along with what appeared in the darkness to be the paraphernalia of a shaman. His skin was extremely dry with a color almost like the dull light yellow found on the white part of over-cooked bacon. He seemed startled to see me as though he didn't expect anyone to be there. He reached out his hand in an effort to touch me and my uncle stepped between us, grabbing his arm at the wrist and stopping him. When I moved to see the man more clearly my uncle again repositioned himself between us, blocking a clear view, all the while still holding the man's wrist. With his free arm behind his back my uncle pushed me toward the cave. The unexpected move caught me off guard and I lost my footing, falling backward onto the floor of the cave.

My uncle let go of the emaciated man's wrist, the two men yelling at each other eye-to-eye in an ever increasing volume. The man's bony arms were now fully outstretched in a straight upright position above his head with his baggy sleeves slipping to his shoulders and his hands curved down at the wrists, his long fingernails almost like claws --- all the while hissing like a cat in my uncle's face.[3] Suddenly the man brushed past my uncle and lunged toward the cave. I shut my eyes and pulled myself up into a fetal position to protect myself when through it all I heard my uncle yell something at the top of his voice in Spanish. Then sudden silence. I waited for the impact and the grip of the man's hands, but nothing. I opened my eyes. My face was covered with a dirty white peasant shirt and on the floor of the cave was a pair of matching white pants along with the thinning end of a huge teardrop shaped pool of grease from outside the cave --- but NO sign of the emaciated man.

When I asked my uncle what had happened he told me he and the old man back at the creek were just ensuring my future, and it wasn't Spanish he had used, but, as I was to learn years later from my uncle, Latin prefaced with a northern Oaxaca or Popolocan language corruption of an ancient Mesoamerican word (or name) that I think was Xoxonapo.[4]


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. Even if Castaneda did not know, my uncle knew. In one of the meetings my uncle and I had just before he died he told me that the old man I had met in the desert those so many years ago had 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.[5]

The bigger question for me is, was The Old Man In the Desert I met 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?

I don't think so.

If you remember from the above, Osorio was around 40 years old when he first crossed paths with Don Juan and somewhere near half that age when he first met Ulloa, making Osorio at the time of that meeting about 20 years old or so. I also write that when Ulloa first saw Osorio during that meeting Osorio was laying face down in a field bleeding to death through his mouth, having lost so much blood that Ulloa thought the young actor was going to die. Yet when Don Juan met Osorio twenty years later he was described as very slim and muscular. His hair was black, thick, and wavy. He had a long, fine nose, strong big white teeth, an oval face, strong jaw, and shiny dark-brown eyes and a light-skinned young man, perhaps only a few years older than Don Juan who himself was 20 years old at the time. A fairly remarkable recovery for a 40 year old man found dying face down in his own blood with tuberculosis twenty years before.

In my opinion the old man in the desert was the actual, real honest-to-goodness teacher of Don Juan Matus, the diablero of Yaqui or Yuma descent that he sought out after leaving Osorio following Ulloa's death and that Castaneda was never able to meet or confirm. In A Separate Reality (1971) Castaneda writes:

"I remembered that Bill and I had once driven all day looking for the house of an "eccentric" Mexican Indian who lived in the area. We did not find the man's house and I had the feeling that the Indians whom we had asked for directions had deliberately misled us. Bill had told me that the man was a "yerbero," a person who gathers and sells medicinal herbs, and that he knew a great deal about the hallucinogenic cactus, peyote. He had also said that it would be worth my while to meet him. Bill was my guide in the Southwest while I was collecting information and specimens of medicinal plants used by the Indians of the area."

Castaneda says he and his colleague Bill had spent a whole day looking for the house of an "eccentric" Mexican Indian who lived in the area. At the time of the above quote he and Bill were sitting in the Nogales Greyhound Bus Station --- the implication being that the area was somewhere adjacent to Nogales. Since the two of them had just returned from their Road Trip around the desert southwest, and it ended in Nogales rather than several hundred miles further toward the west than say, Yuma, then more than likely they had just come in from New Mexico or the general northeastern Sonora region.

In the third book of his series, Journey to Ixtlan (1972), Castaneda writes that after returning to Los Angeles he "prepared himself for six months" and when he "felt ready" he went back looking for Don Juan, however NOT to or around Nogales, Arizona, but Yuma, Arizona. Citing a date during the winter recess at the end of the fall semester 1960 (i.e., Saturday, December 17, 1960), after allowing a full six months to lapse without ever seeing or talking with Don Juan since their bus station encounter Castaneda writes:

"I found his house after making long and taxing inquiries among the local Indians. It was early afternoon when I arrived and parked in front of it. I saw him sitting on a wooden milk crate. He seemed to recognize me and greeted me as I got out of my car."

So, Castaneda and his experienced driving around the southwest guide, Bill, drove around a whole day six months before and could not find "the house of an 'eccentric' Mexican Indian who lived in the area" (Nogales/Sonora), but Castaneda on his own, after simply asking a couple local Indians in a effort that he calls taxing inquiries, drove right up in front of Don Juan's house in Yuma.

Noticeably, where I mention in my writings about an "excursion deep into a remote part of the southern New Mexico desert" making it (the location) possibly difficult to find, Castaneda writes about a town (Yuma) that you can drive right up in front of Don Juan's house and park. It leads me to believe we are talking about two different places and most likely two different people.[6]

What Carlos Castaneda did, as a writer, was to implement the so-called writer's literary license, and shuffle together bits and pieces of information regarding Don Juan's REAL teacher gleaned from discussions over time and apply it to the actor and non-diablero Shaman-sorcerer, Osorio (i.e., at least tuberculosis; not so clear on long, fine nose, etc.), in turn eliminating his real teacher from the equation. That is why by the time The Active Side of Infinity (1998) was written Castaneda had moved the "eccentric Mexican Indian," albeit correctly indentified now as a "terrifying sorcerer," to Yuma. To wit:

"I did remember Bill mentioning, in a very casual manner, but not in relation to the cloud shaman, that he knew about the existence of a mysterious old man who was a retired shaman, an old Indian misanthrope from Yuma who had once been a terrifying sorcerer."

Why would Castaneda do such a thing? He had to give his readers something. Don Juan was highly reluctant to share or reveal in real life to anybody, Castaneda included, who his actual teacher was --- because by doing so, in that his teacher was still alive, it could set into motion the possibility of eroding away or wilting his teacher's powers, white light shields, etc., making him vunerable to potential enemies such as predatory organic, inorganic, and other negatives. So said, in conversations with Castaneda, Don Juan was much more forthcoming regarding Osorio, but, because of his concerns, reluctant to divulge any amount of anything regarding his real teacher --- so Castaneda simply meshed the two together.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Over and over people ask why is it that they should accept what I have written about Castaneda as having any amount of credibility?

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.(see) 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.

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 he 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, in an attempt on my part to confirm, clear up, or have them discount any number of things that have shown up or said about Castaneda and his life, things that have taken on a life of their own as fact because they have been repeated over and over so often, I 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.

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 after some discussion clarified a lot for me, after Castaneda himself of course, 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.






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XOXONAPO. Possibly also Xoxopanxoco

Roughly, in translation, an old person ready for death, senile. Specifically, The Death-Defier, as described by Carlos Castaneda and rendered in the masculine in Spanish by Castaneda as el desafiante de la muerte. Also sometimes, The Tenant, rendered in the masculine in Spanish as el inquilino. However, Amy Wallace, in her book Sorcerer's Apprentice (2003) writes that the Death Defierís name Xoxonapo, AKA: Xoxopanxoco, means "fruit of eternal spring" in Nahuatl, a southern Uto-Aztecan language. John Bierhorst, a recognized expert in Aztec language and literature, lists the word Xoxo:pan, (freq. of xopan), in translation as "in summer, every summer" and freely, "in sping" (when referring to new growth). He cites as an example:

Xoxo:pan xihuitl i:pan tochi:huaco[h] = we come to do as herbs in spring.

Xo:pan is green place, green time (i.e., spring), as opposed to the dry season.

Xo:tl means green, x:o:co means "by means of green."

For me there isn't really too much difference in translation. For a person "ready for death," actual death could be the FRUIT of "eternal spring." As applied, Xoxonapo Xoxopanxoco appears to be more of an oxymoron, as the Death Defier seemed to strive toward life at all costs rather than seek the FRUIT of eternal spring --- which I translate as death.

My uncle died in 1989. The Wallace book was published in 2003. The discussion regarding the cave with my uncle as outlined in Footnote [2] transpired sometime well before either of those two years. During that discussion I tried to entice him 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.

I am not sure how accurate all that is. My uncle told me it ENDED that night in front of the cave, yet he was hesitant to the point that he refused to verbalize the Defier's name out loud. If it ended, then what's the problem --- unless there is more than just one Death Defier. And if there is, why would invoking one Defier's name awaken the spirit of another, especially to the point you could be found?

The major problem I have with the whole Death Defier situation is a personal one and goes back to those Friday night after work artist meetings described at the bottom of DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined? and the full page CARLOS CASTANEDA: Before Don Juan. Those artist get togethers happened over a period of time before Carlos Castaneda, who was a regular participant at those meetings, ever heard of or thought of Don Juan Matus. However, at those meetings, on a minimum of two occasions, I either mentioned or told the cave story in an almost fully unabbreviated fashion as I have presented it above. I am certain Castaneda was in attendance for at least one, possibly both of those unabbreviated times. At that, the only reason I bring it up is because in Castaneda's eighth book Power of Silence (1988) in the section entitled THE MANIFESTATIONS OF THE SPIRIT: The First Abstract Core he describes, at least up to the appearance of the emaciated man, an almost exact scenario --- carved out cave and all --- that transpired between himself and Don Juan.

So, what am I saying, that Castaneda copied my story? Could be. Or it could be, unrelated to anything I said, that he himself was taken to one of the three seasonal caves by Don Juan Matus or the old man or both. So too, although such an occurrence seems to be highly remote, he could have, after hearing the story and getting wrapped up in the various events as they unfolded, searched until he found one of the caves or someone who could take him there.

As to the emaciated man disappearing with a teardrop shape of what could only be called a pool of grease leading into the cave remaining, Castaneda, talking with an old Indian man regarding diableros and if any are left is told by the old man:

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."

"How long ago was that?"

"In nineteen forty-two." (i.e., the year 1942)

"Did you see it yourself?"

"No, but people still talk about it. They say that there were no ashes left even though the stake was made of fresh wood. All that was left at the end was a huge pool of grease." (source)

Pool of grease or no, there was neither fire nor wooden stake involved in the confrontation between my uncle and the creature that night. Although the grease pool was outside the opening of the cave following the incident initially, within seconds it evaporated, soaked into the hard rock surface, or simlpy disappeared altogether. However, in the instant before I covered my eyes and hit with the peasant clothes, I am sure, like the ability of the witch-like shaman sorceress 'la Catalina' I saw a large wisp of smoke disappating against the darkened starlit sky similar as in the event written about 'la Catalina' below. My uncle stated he himself observed no such phenomenon outside the cave that night:

"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 Castaneda's third book, Journey to Ixtlan, in the section titled A Worthy Opponent dated Tuesday, December 11, 1962, Castaneda writes of 'la Catalina' not unlilke the creature at the cave, having a similar ability as the woman at the firepit. Castanteda says:

"I kept my eyes glued to that spot and suddenly, as if in a nightmare, a dark shadow leaped at me. I shrieked and fell down to the ground on my back. For a moment the dark silhouette was superimposed against the dark blue sky and then it sailed through the air and landed beyond us, in the bushes. I heard the sound of a heavy body crashing into the shrubs and then an eerie outcry."


Can a nicuicanitl huiya Xochitl in noyollo ya
nicmana nocuic a ohuaya ohuaya
o xoxpanxoco o xoxopanxoco



The word conditions is an english word used in context from the Sutras for the Sanskrit word Pratyaya which means (roughly): "the pre-existing conditions that allow primary causes to function." Which basically means if the conditions are absent, then the causes are prevented.

Conditions are the milieu, stage set, or playing field where acts or impulses unfold. They can be increased by other conditions, decreased by other conditions, or replaced by other conditions to accelerate or postpone results in the stream of events. Which means that conditions can, but not necessarily DO modify. They arise primarily on a broader scale from causes in the distant past. When conditions do manifest themselves they are for the most part not defined, that is, they are undefined or spent, meaning they cannot create or impact figuratively further downstream responses. However, even though they are spent, they are still extremely powerful in how they impose themselves on the immediate circumstances in which they are operating. To wit:

Any shift in any fashion in the conditions up or down or across the stream relative to the cause will impact the resultant outcome of that cause.

On the scientifc side of things, no matter how complex any system may be or appear to be AND, even though it may not be able to be determined or known, they rely upon an underlying order. To that extent very simple or small systems and events can cause very complex behaviors or events. This latter idea is known as Sensitive Dependence On Initial Conditions, a circumstance discovered in the early 1960s by Edward Lorenz the scientist usually credited with the discovery of the Butterfly Effect --- making reference to the fact that small, almost imperceptible happenstances or events, over time, can have huge and momentous consequences.

It is in those areas of conditions that the Shaman operates, where small yet powerful well aimed Shaman directed impluses ever so slightly nudge the conditions which inturn modify the outcome.(source)


Many people have asked me about the cave. My uncle told me it was man-made and very ancient. It was quite clear it was located and made where it was because of its exact alignment with the setting sun and the major mountain peak across the valley. When asked about the timing for me being there I am at a loss for words as I was never informed one way or the other by my uncle or the tribal spiritual elder that it was somehow coordinated because of a given celestial event or any other reason. However, as I look back now I am convinced being there must have been because of the solstice or the equinox --- although in either case, the importance of that being so was never made clear. In that I was off from school at the time it must have been summer or possibly fall, but I really can't say as I do not remember. I do know that I had already been with my uncle at the Sun Dagger site and our timing there was designed to coincide with an extremely "special time," that special time being an occurrence of a very rare astronomical phenomenon of the moon being full at the EXACT same time as the summer solstice. Initially the Sun Dagger event did not seem to involve me, only my uncle and the spiritual elder we were traveling with. But the results were quite different before we left. The event in the cave ended with a similar involvement.

Who originally built the cave, how ancient it really was, and why it was so important to go through all the trouble to align it with the equinox or solstice is also a mystery to me. Years later I asked my uncle where the cave was and how to find it. He told me it was a very sacred place, but when the time came it would be revealed to me. He also told me including the cave we had been to there were two other mostly hand-carved caves spread out along the ridge for a total of three, each one aligned with one of the seasons and the mountain peak across the valley --- one for the two equinoxes, one each for each of the solstices.

Even though my uncle had told me that when the time came it would be revealed to me, to this point in time, and even though many upon many years have elasped, such has not been the case. I can tell you that as I was leaving the cave very early the next morning and looked back I could see the ridgeline was slightly crescent shaped curving fairly sharply toward the west and rather slowly curving back toward the west at the other end --- almost as though the center of the crescent was directly in the middle facing toward the mountian peak across the valley. Hiking back to the truck, after I asked, my uncle told me as you sat in the cave facing toward the equinox sunset, the summer solstice cave was to the left of the equinox cave along the ridgeline, which was in the middle of the three, while the winter solstice cave was to the right.

Although, as presented in The Last American Darshan, I had been to and seen, as a very young boy, Arunachala, the holy mountain of the venerated Indian sage the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, I did not remember it primarily because of mitigating circumstances. However, the first time I saw a picture of Arunachala depicting it in a distance view, as a grown-up, thinking back to my experience at the cave, even though the mountain peak was way across the valley from the cave, the shape of the peak looked exactly like Arunachala.


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 well as going to the above link, for an even more indepth elaboration please visit Footnote [3] at CARLOS CASTANEDA: Don Juan Matus and the Nogales Greyhound Bus Station.

Continuing, in the second sentence of the same paragraph as the above I write:

"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."

The question continually comes up, in that I say Osorio lived to 107 years of age on this page as well as several other of my Castaneda/Don Juan related pages, where DOES it show up that Castaneda says it? The following quote is found in WHEEL OF TIME: The Shamans of Ancient Mexico (1998) in the Commentary section related to The Fire From Within (1984):

"The nagual Elias didn't have great expectations about the actor, who was lazy, slovenly, self-indulgent, and perhaps even a coward. The nagual was quite surprised when the next day at five in the morning he found the actor waiting for him at the edge of the town. He took him to the mountains, and in time, the actor became the nagual Julian- a tubercular man who was never cured, but who lived to be perhaps one hundred and seven years old, always walking along the edge of the abyss."

In the 1984 book The Fire From Within, of which the Commentaries attest to, Castaneda doesn't mention one thing or the other as to what age Osorio may or may not have lived. However, by the time his 1998 book comes out Castaneda is saying (in the above quote) Osorio lived to be perhaps one-hundred and seven years old. That is because sometime between 1984 and 1998 Castaneda must have somehow became privy to the fact that Osorio had died. Not knowing the specific month, day or year (October 31, 1978), he hedges his bets by using the word "perhaps" as in "(Osorio) lived to be perhaps one hundred and seven years old."

the Wanderling


In a chapter of ACTIVE SIDE OF INFINITY (1998), called 'A JOURNEY TO POWER: A Tremor in the Air,' Castaneda writes that BEFORE his bus station colleague Bill had any experience in the desert southwest interacting with Native Americans, tribal elders, or being in and around sacred grounds or deeply held spritual places he DID NOT believe in such things as ghosts, apparitions, or floating essences primarily because he had a very pragmatic, serious, and scientific upbringing. However, after traveling in such exotic surroundings in and around the desert for so many years Bill tells Castaneda:

"(W)orking in the field, all kinds of weird crap began to filter through to me. For instance, I went with some Indians one night on a Vision Quest. They were going to actually initiate me by some painful business of piercing the muscles of my chest. They were preparing a sweat lodge in the woods.

"I had resigned myself to withstand the pain. I took a couple of drinks to give me strength. And then the man who was going to intercede for me with the people who actually performed the ceremony, yelled in horror, and pointed at a dark, shadowy figure walking toward us.

"When the shadowy figure came closer to me," Bill went on, "I noticed that what I had in front of me was an old Indian dressed in the weirdest getup you could imagine. He had the parapherna of shamans. The man I was with that night fainted shamelessly at the sight of the old man.

"The old man came to me and pointed a finger at my chest. His finger was just skin and bone. He babbled incomprehensible things to me. By then, the rest of the people had seen the old man, and started to rush silently toward me.

"The old man turned to look at them, and every one of them froze. He harangued them for a moment. His voice was something unforgettable. It was as if he were talking from a tube, or as if he had something attached to his mouth that carried the words out of him. I swear to you that I saw the man talking inside his body, and his mouth broadcasting the words as a mechanical apparatus.

"After haranguing the men, the old man continued walking, past me, past them, and disappeared, swallowed by the darkness."

Notice how similar the "dark, shadowy figure" he speaks of resembles the emaciated man outside the cave, i.e., the parapherna of a shaman, a pointed a finger that was just skin and bone, his voice was something unforgettable, etc. Matter of fact, Castaneda's words telling how Bill describes the voice of the old man describes almost exactly how I remember the voice of the emaciated man outside the cave:

"It was as if he were talking from a tube, or as if he had something attached to his mouth that carried the words out of him."


There is a person OUTSIDE the typical circle of Castaneda's closest disciples that has gained some traction by the name of Ken Eagle Feather, a follower and advocate of what he calls the Toltec Path, who says in his writings that he met and studied under the "SAME" Don Juan Matus that Castaneda writes about in his books.

Where I say "for the first time that I can remember, I heard the word tuberculosis," it sort of has a caveat to it. I HAD heard the word tuberculosis previously, I just did not remember it. When I was growing up polio was the disease du jour that everybody was worried about and I, as a young boy, knew of. Tuberculosis was something you just did not hear about in my circles so, in that I did not identify with it, it just did not ring through.

However, like I say, I had heard the word tuberculosis previously, I just did not remember it. When I was around nine years old I went with my Stepmother to see a man she knew that was in the hospital. She said he was a longtime friend and was recuperating after having been in the army.

In those days it was just a few years after World War II and lots of veterans were still recuperating and since my stepmother said the man had been in the army and was in the hospital I just connected the two together. When she said he had tuberculosis I just glossed it over without ingesting its meaning. I am not sure what the nature of her business with the man was, but basically I just thought it was an honorable thing to see a veteran in the hospital.

How little I knew. I remember he was introduced as Johnny. Years later I found out "Johnny" was a bigtime member of the mob named Johnny Roselli. While it is true he had been in the army, having gone in on December 4, 1942 at age 37, he only served until he was arrested on federal charges March 19, 1943. On December 30, 1943 he was found guilty and sentenced to ten years in federal prison. On Aug. 13, 1947, after serving roughly three and a half years Roselli was paroled. So when my stepmother and I saw him in the hospital he may have been recuperating alright, but not from the army, but prison. In his own way Johnny Roselli was a lot like Doc Holliday, deadly.