The Secret Life of Carlos Castaneda

Coyote with rodent meal

Because she was one of them, a lot of the information about the women in Castaneda’s life (and bed) comes from Amy Wallace’s book, Sorcerer’s Apprentice. More comes from an enormously comprehensive website, Sustained Action,  created by Richard Jennings (aka Corey Donovan), who attended quite a few of the classes given by Carlos Castaneda. In a piece called “Sex, Lies and Guru Ploys,” he says,

It was also suggested… that this teacher’s “special powers” included the ability to accelerate the development of similar abilities in his “students,” and that he could even “fix” various “energetic” problems, holes and obstacles, especially in women, through what would be described in other contexts as casual sex.

Daniel Lawton, who attended classes in Los Angeles, noted that Castaneda was homophobic, which was obvious when he talked about such other teachers as Baba Ram Dass. Lawton gave it the standard interpretation: a man fighting his own latent homoerotic tendency, and said,

He required the women in his life to transform themselves into little boys. Their hair had to be short, their breasts hidden, and he didn’t like make-up.

Wallace offers this detail:

Carlos led a vast number of readers to follow his first dreaming exercise, to search for their hands in their sleep. (“It was really my penis don Juan told me to find,” he explained, “But my publisher wouldn’t let me say that.”)

Castaneda’s claim of being celibate for 20 years or whatever, forget it. He was always on the prowl. He surrounded himself with a cadre of women who taught his classes, handled his business affairs, disciplined the lesser disciples, managed his household, and considered it an honor to bonk him. One of his inner circle had been in the harem of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. They enabled his dictatorial ways and suffered enormous stress loads that often morphed into physical illnesses.


According to Castaneda, there are two kinds of people. A “bored fuck” is someone whose mother was not orgasmic, in association with that particular act. The consequence to the child: When he or she grows up, he or she must be celibate in order to follow the warrior/shaman path. On the other hand, a “non-bored fuck” is, obviously, someone whose mother was sexually satisfied on the occasion of conception. Anyone who started out as a “non-bored fuck” is born with plenty of energy. So when they grow up, they can have all the sex they want.

Any time he met someone, Castaneda had the power to suss out whether that person was a bored fuck or a non-bored fuck. By a strange happenstance, only the nagual himself and very, very few other people were entitled to have sex. He was openly judgmental of a woman guru who admitted to having an erotic life.

If a woman had sex with the nagual (Castaneda), his sperm would reach her brain, and alter it into something superior to human. Also, any other man she had sex with in the future would receive magical benefits of unimaginable quality. But – none of these women were expected to be having sex with other men in the future. On the contrary: the boss wanted them all to be eternally faithful to him. So, in practical terms, no one should have a chance to test out whether, like the flu, those magical benefits could be passed around.

There are creatures who have evil intentions toward us. They are known as fliers. A human baby girl is born with a horizontal bar of energy, which the fliers immediately take a big bite from. This wound could only be repaired by – you guessed it – having sex with Carlos Castaneda. Amy Wallace wrote,

More often than not, Carlos and I made love with such ardor that we wore one another out. These were the happiest moments in my nine years in the sorcerers’ world.

His euphemisms for sex included “shamanic penetration,” “implanting the nagual,” or “repairing the energy bar.” It would all be kind of cute, if not for the fact that Castaneda publicly proclaimed his own renunciation of sex. He demanded celibacy of his followers, unless of course it was the nagual they were being uncelibate with. He didn’t think much of stoned sex, either. At one of the “Cleargreen Night Sessions” where Corey Donovan took notes, Castaneda told the class,

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.


One of Castaneda’s control methods was to personally give the haircuts. If someone was out of favor, he would refuse to cut her hair, nor was anyone else allowed to cut it. So, among the harem, a shaggy head of hair was a badge of shame. But brownie points could be earned by bringing in fresh women, a disturbingly recurring item in the agendas of quite a few professional holy men. When the nagual eventually tired of a bedmate, she’d be assigned to find somebody new for him. Amy Wallace uses the word pimping, and she’s not talking about a fancy background for her MySpace page.

Castaneda had a great pickup line. “You’re the Electric Warrior,” he told Wallace and, as she later learned, others. Just put yourself in their place for a minute. The great man transforms your meeting into an event of cosmic significance. He reveals your true essence. You are a mythical, messianic entity, the one who will complete the magic circle, the team of otherworldly superheroes. The great man says, “You’re the being we’ve been waiting for – the creature to guide us to Infinity.” Who could resist?

In a Sustained Action discussion group, a woman described how she was approached. First, at a class, Castaneda whispered in her ear, “You have very good energy.” Then, one of his staff called her with an invitation to secret, private classes, where she was placed in the front row directly facing Castaneda. She was called again, by one of the inner circle women, with a request from Castaneda – may he call her at home? She was asked for the day and time of her birth, so the witches could cast her astrological chart. Castaneda himself told her that, through astrology, he had discovered that she was significant to his group and his cause.

Castaneda’s objectification of women was dictatorial. Amy Wallace wrote,

Taisha had spent years with Carlos’ favorite electrolysist, removing all body hair…..He dispatched me to Faye to create a perfect bikini line…. He insisted it was magically critical that I shave my pubic hair in certain ways – his directions altered over time. Carlos insisted, “This is of the utmost sorceric importance – you must shave the lower half of your conchita; it will allow the energy to flow smoothly, and make you less human.”

Wallace was given the unusual privilege of wearing shorter skirts and higher heels than the others, and Castaneda gave her the additional nicknames of Piernitas (little legs) and Piernudas (little nude legs).

Carlos Castaneda and Alan Watts

The sorcerer spoke bitterly of the traumatic occasion when he met Alan Watts, who got “stinking drunk,” and whose impiety so horrified Castaneda that he told Wallace,

He was crude, cynical about spirituality, even sneering at his own books, books I had practically memorized!

Disillusionment with his hero’s ugly attitude was only the beginning, to be followed by undignified ass-grabbing. When the two men were climbing a staircase, Castaneda said, “he made a pass at my culo!”

Did Castaneda ever apply that lesson to his own doings? When he worked his mojo to bring various women under his erotic thralldom, did he ever recall his own horrified reaction to a sexual advance? Did it ever occur to him that a young woman might find him just as unappealing as he had found Watts?

Politically Correct

(Originally published May 10, 2005)

WARNING:  This column contains sexism, racism, homophobia, and was printed with politically incorrect cyber-ink

It was probably in 1977 when I first heard the phrase “politically correct.” And I felt there was something odious about it right from the beginning. Though I wasn’t quite sure why.  A few years later, I started to be referred to in print by reviewers as “politically incorrect” before I was even sure what the term meant.

There was a situation here in Berkeley about 15 years ago that kind of symbolized my feelings about the phrase “politically correct.” There was this Berkeley City Councilperson — a nice lady, well-meaning, one of the better local politicos, so I don’t mean to ream her, but…  One day she decided to paint her house. She considered herself a Berkeley radical (not “liberal” but “radical” mind you, whatever the distinction was)  (apparently, “radicals” talked about “revolution” but “liberals” only talked about “social change”…I think that was the key difference, but I never really asked them). Anyway, being a politically correct sort, our heroic councilperson decided to paint her house with “politically correct paint.” I wasn’t absolutely sure what that meant: I think the paint didn’t have chemical preservatives in it. Or perhaps it wasn’t made by one of them evil multi-national corporate paint companies. Or perhaps the paint company wasn’t owned by one of dem Evil White Males but was “minority-owned” (preferably by African-Americans, or lesbians, that scored you the most points on the Berkeley Politically Correct scorecard).

So, the councilperson painted her whole house with this politically correct paint. Only, for some reason, the paint went rotten. (Perhaps there was a reason for those chemical preservatives to be in the paint after all.) The entire household smelled like the worst kind of rotten eggs. I mean, it reeked all the way across the neighborhood. And there was nothing they could do about it. Even when they stripped off the paint, the smell was embedded in the wood. So the whole house was permanently ruined.

And the moral is…. Well, you can guess what I think the moral is.

For 30 years I’ve been listening to this politically correct stuff. There’s a veritable MOUNTAIN of literature that can be filed under the heading of “Politically Correct.”  And for all its endless nuances, it can all be summed up in two measly sentences: “White males bad. Women and minorities good.” For 30 years I’ve had to listen to these people endlessly blame me and my fellow White Males for all the evils of the world. For 30 years I’ve had to listen to the implications that “minorities” and “women” know a better way. Now believe me, I’m sure us White Males deserve a certain amount of shit. But believe me, there’s PLENTY of manure to spread around for the rest of you.

The very phrase “politically correct” is odious.  I like to argue, but I consider argument and debate basically a forum for the exchange of ideas. The very phrase “politically correct” implies no exchange of ideas. It implies that they are correct and you are incorrect, right from the beginning: “I am right, you are wrong. The end.” The only “debate” (according to them) is explaining to you precisely WHY you are incorrect. And thanks, pea-brain.

It’s true that I, too, am pretty much dug into my positions. But on the other hand, I’ve changed my thinking and my opinions quite drastically over the years. In the face of new information, or a persuasive argument, I will in fact change my mind (or what passes for one). And how many people can you say that about? Perhaps its a sign of wishy-washiness on my part. Or an admission of failure, that I have in fact been wrong in my thinking many, many times in the past (which is true). But I like to think its a sign of an open mind.

On the other hand, I know another “radical” here in Berkeley; 35 years ago, when she was 17, she decided to become a ’60s-style radical/feminist type womyn. 35 years later, she still pretty much believes in the exact same schtick. She probably considers herself as “staying true to her ideals.” Somebody else might consider her a 50-year old woman with the mentality of a 17-year-old.

I heard that there was a Hollywood TV show called “Politically Incorrect.”  I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard enough about it to know how foul it is. The host is this little weasly Jewish liberal guy called Bill Maher (or something like that) who mouths off a lot. And that’s Hollywood’s version of being “politically incorrect.” For 30 years liberal Jewish Hollywood has been the primary disseminator of all this politically correct garbage, which they spew on the American public constantly, relentlessly, on a day-to-day basis.  And now, these same Hollywood Jewish liberals are going to tell us what it means to be “politically incorrect.” Sure.

(Of course, you’re not supposed to mention that Hollywood is dominated by politically correct liberal Jews, because they’ve deemed that fact to be politically incorrect, too. For obvious reasons.)

Another thing that cracks me up is when I see these celebrities — these movie stars, these rock stars, these famous pundits — getting up in front of the camera and expressing their typical liberal, politically correct opinions. It’s not that they’re mouthing these dull, predictable liberal platitudes that bothers me. I mean, everyone has the right to express their opinions. But that they always act like they’re being so daring and bold and heroic for doing it. When everybody knows what that game is. It’s called: Sucking Up To the Boss. The all know who’s signing their checks. Believe me.

But the most odious thing, to me, about this politically correct nonsense is how it constantly endeavors to edit out huge realms of truth. For “politically correct” doesn’t mean “politically truthful.” It merely means “politically fashionable.” Which is the true definition of that phrase.

Meanwhile, fashions come and fashions go. Twenty years from now they’ll take all that politically correct stuff —  this veritable mountain of politically correct literature and books and magazines and manifestos and movies and comic strips and etc — and they’ll  cram it all into a big, huge box and file it under the heading: “Politically Correct.” And then they’ll dump the whole thing in a big, big hole.

The end.