Carlos Castaneda on Drugs

Amy Wallace’s book, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, is about her years in a complicated relationship with Carlos Castaneda. It contains these words:

Carlos despised this association with drug use. He explained in books and lectures that don Juan had given him psychedelics in the beginning of the apprenticeship because his thinking was so rigid that “he needed to be blasted with dynamite.”

Wallace also says,

While Carlos eschewed recreational use of all psychedelics, he wrote in detail about how “power plants” had moved his assemblage point away from “me-me-me,” The great difficulty, he explained, was to maintain this shift when the drugs had worn off.

No matter how goofy some of his ideas were, this is one place where Castaneda is absolutely right. But the Beatles said it more elegantly–

How often have you been there?
Often enough to know.
What did you see when you were there?
Nothing that doesn’t show.

How Often Have You Been There?The sad thing is, whatever realms Castaneda visited, if what he brought back was any indication, they might be realms we had better stay out of. In personal relationships, he seems to have taken an attitude that anything he did was okay, because it was him doing it. Any act of psychic manipulation or mental cruelty could be justified by him, as part of the teaching process. His disciples were supposed to be grateful to be on the receiving end of the sorcerer’s stern attentions, his correction, mockery, and denigration.

He was not what we normally think of as a well-adjusted human being. For many who walk the paths of seekers, just to be functionally human would be enough. But for Castaneda and his associates, humanity was the booby prize. They aspired to be witches, sorcerers, Chacmools, and so forth. It’s no wonder they were weird. There is more about their leader’s seemingly unspiritual and often objectionable behavior on another page.


On Wednesday, March 5, 1997, Corey Donovan attended Part III of the Cleargreen Night Sessions (at Dance Home in Santa
Monica) and as usual took shorthand notes which he later transcribed and published. He quotes some of the dialog between Castaneda and one of his inner circle.

[Castaneda said,] “People who smoke a lot of marijuana don’t make good lovers. The father of a friend of mine in school did a study on it and concluded that because it makes their knees and elbows weak, they just lie flat on top of the woman and smother her.” Florinda groaned. “This is a science,” he responded.

Castaneda is, of course, the subject of one of the chapters of Acid Heroes.

What movies and music did Carlos Castaneda like?

Carlos Castaneda: Media Worth Consulting

Radio interview
YouTube offers a 1968 Pacifica Radio interview, which is the only one of many audio recordings of the sorcerer himself, recognized as authentic. (Kind of irksome to listen to. Castaneda frequently does that “uh” thing.)

Stage Production
is a rock musical, and the story behind it, which Bill Graham and Ken Kesey are parts of, is fascinating. (Go to the History page). Described as “music from the past for the future.” There are even two different versions of the work, produced in different years.

Carlos Castaneda’s Chacmools Interview part 2/3
Chaacmol supposedly meant “thundering paw” in Mayan, and the three women interviewed on this New Age TV show were the sorcerer’s fierce guardian warriors. If you start with Part 1, there is a bunch of bla bla bla to sit through first, so might as well go straight to Part 2 and get right into some Chacmool conversation. Kylie Lundahl’s recitation of the Castaneda belief system is strangely compelling, almost hypnotic in its weird fascination.

Crumb Comix
Full-page comic by Aline and R. Crumb, published in The New Yorker, Sept 28, 1998, titled “How Sweet It Is, For a Privileged Few.” A bunch of people are sitting around a table.
Somebody says, “Listen, you have to send me a Tensegrity beanbag when you get back to the States.”
Somebody else says, “A what? I refuse to aid and abet the stupidest thing I ever heard of.”
Another person says, “Hey, Tensegrity is the cutting edge! The hippest of the hip!”

Tales from the Jungle
Divided divided into 10 segments for YouTube, this was a 2006 BBC show.

It starts out with the aftermath – the skeleton found in the desert, belonging to Castaneda’s adopted daughter/lover, and talks about the disappearance of several other women around the time when the shaman died. There’s an interview with Richard DeMille, who was the first Castaneda debunker.

One of DeMille’s complaints was that the personality of Don Juan was dark and dour in the first book, lighthearted and even clownish in the third book, yet these two chronicles purport to cover the same time period. Well, that alone is not enough to condemn anybody. DeMille says, “There’s no way Don Juan’s personality could change from day to day‚Ķ.” But he is so wrong, if you believe Amy Wallace, who knew Castaneda very well for many years. In her book, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, she describes how his personality could change from minute to minute.

In your own life you may have known people like this. What makes them that way might be alcohol; it may be a personality disorder; it could be prescription drugs or the other kind. Or just because the person is a control freak. An unscrupulous leader can keep the people so occupied with anticipating and placating his tantrums, they have time for little else. And if you believed Castaneda, his mood shifts and contradictions were teaching tools, employed as part of his sorceric teaching method.

Castaneda’s first wife, Margarita, and his son, say that he actually did go on all those trips, and they back up the story that there were many boxes of field notes at one time. When challenged by DeMille, Castaneda said they were destroyed when one of his Los Angeles homes suffered a basement flood.

Some people believe everything Castaneda wrote and said. Others believe nothing, and many are in between or just plain don’t know what to think. Some feel that even if he did make it all up, no harm was done. On the contrary, the BBC program says the shamanic yarn-spinning was not a victimless crime. The Huichol people, for instance, were overrun by hippie tourists looking to score some peyote, which attracted the interest of law enforcement in both the US and Mexico, and “struck at the heart of the Huichol culture.” Peyote pilgrimages got them busted. And there were also “catastrophic consequences” in Castaneda’s own adopted Southern California culture and beyond.

In this TV show we meet Greg and Gaby, disillusioned former disciples who surveilled Castaneda’s entourage and searched through his garbage. They went public with their discoveries, such as evidence that Castaneda had married two of his witches in one week. Also on this program is Amy Wallace, talking about Castaneda’s sexual quirks.

Related: What Movies and Music Did Carlos Castaneda Like?

And of course Carlos Castaneda is in the Acid Heroes book…

Carlos Castaneda and Alan Watts

Amy Wallace’s book Sorcerer’s Apprentice – Between those covers lie many interesting tales. She relates the generally homophobic Castaneda’s disgust at learning that Alan Watts was gay. Watts had been his hero, and Castaneda was just crushed to learn the truth. Even worse, when the two men were climbing a staircase, Castaneda said, “he made a pass at my culo!”

And playing grabass wasn’t the worst of it. Watts got “stinking drunk” and horrified Castaneda with his impiety. These are Castaneda’s words about Watts, as reported by Wallace:

He was crude, cynical about spirituality, even sneering at his own books, books I had practically memorized! But worst of all was hearing Watts, my hero, declare “Of course we can never live up to the behavior we admire – that’s the beauty of it!”


You might dig this page:

What movies and music did Carlos Castaneda like?

Things Noticed

Ace Backwords, natural-born troublemaker and attention-getter, has made the news again. Check out this San Francisco Chronicle piece by Kevin Fagan.
People sure have a lot of opinions about it. The piece garnered 65 comments so far.

It has been suggested that Ace Backwords adopt the alternate persona of Face Bookwords, but so far no action on that front. Meanwhile, he can be found on Facebook under the old familiar moniker of Ace Backwords. And he has collected a boatload of friends. FB does enforce a limit, you know. A word to the wise.

Another suggested Facebook friend is Aline Kominsky-Crumb. Yes, she is related to R. Crumb. And an artist in her own right.

BN Duncan was not politically correct. Not surprisingly, he was Ace’s best friend. Now he’s gone but never, never forgotten.

Speaking again of the Beatles

A Toot and a Snore in ’74

Posted by JetWaveRadio on YouTube, this is a part of something called A Toot and a Snore in ’74, a Beatleg record with the participating musicians listed as John Lennon (his name is bigger on the album cover), Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Harry Nilsson, Jesse Ed Davis and Bobby Keys. The occasion was a product of Lennon’s “lost weekend.” It was the only time we know of when McCartney and Lennon played together after the Beatles broke up.

“Genius is Pain” from National Lampoon Magical Misery Tour

Tony Hendra as John Lennon is brilliant. He was one of the writers, too. This is about the funniest thing I ever heard. The visuals are great, by Rick Moore.

Did you know there’s a website called SuckMyBeatles?

Speaking of the Beatles

….and we were speaking of the Beatles, because several chapters of Acid Heroes are about them. So here is an official, High-Priestess-Endorsed recommended article:
The Beatles ‘bigger than Jesus’ on Google,” written by Harry Wallop for

Here on YouTube is 25-year old Paul McCartney being hassled by a journalist about psychedelics.
“I’m not trying to spread the word about this,” says Paul.
“I don’t think my fans are going to take drugs just because I did.”