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CASTANEDA, DON JUAN:
Datura or Peyote?



_________________

the Wanderling



"I prepared myself for six months, after that first meeting, reading up on the uses of peyote among the American Indians, especially about the peyote cult of the Indians of the Plains. I became acquainted with every work available, and when I felt I was ready I went back to Arizona."

CARLOS CASTANEDA, Journey to Ixtlan (1972), in preparation for his first meeting with Don Juan following their initial bus station encounter six months earlier.



When it comes to the use of drugs and hallucinogens most people associate Carlos Castaneda with Peyote. However, it wasn't Peyote but actually the plant Sacred Datura --- known throughout the desert southwest as jimsonweed --- that played the primary role in his early experiences into other realities --- including, it must be said, his most famous and most oft cited experience where he turned into a crow and flew.

As opposed to the general reading public however, the majority of Castaneda critics, that is, those who are considered --- at least in the judgement of their own exaulted opinions --- specialists in the area or "in the know," usually strike their emphasis on Castaneda's use or non-use of Datura rather than on any comments regarding Peyote. Examples of same might be Jane Holden Kelley and Edward H. Spicer --- along with various seasoned anthropologists and others. Spicer, speaking of Castaneda specifically, is even on record as saying "I know of no information or reference concerning Yaquis using Datura." Which, by the way, is most likely a fair and accurate assessment on Spicer's part --- but Spicer's statement isn't really being put forth to be an accurate assessment, but to demean Castaneda's credibility and inturn, undercut anything related to Don Juan Matus.

However, whatever Spicer's motivation may be, in relation to Castaneda, such a criticism can easily be resolved in one of two ways or possibly even two out of two ways. First, Castaneda's use of Datura was NOT learned initially under the ausipices of Don Juan, but the informant, who was neither Indian nor Yaqui. Secondly, as found in DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined?, any concern is rendered almost moot because:


(in) and around the mountains and deserts of Sonora, southern Arizona or New Mexico Don Juan sought out, met and was taught by an isolated, real, albeit, unnamed shaman-sorcerer said to be a diablero. Now, if Don Juan's master teacher was actually a Diablero or thought to be such by tribal kinsmen, a shaman with an evil bent as stated by Castaneda, then, even though originally he might have had ancestoral ties or a blood-line tribal affiliation with either the Yaqui or Yuma, although highly respected and cautiously sought out, he was, like Don Juan himself, most likely a loner or an outcast.


If you remember correctly, Don Juan, after being born and raised in Arizona, moved or was taken to Sonora, Mexico when he was around ten years old by his father, whereupon almost immediately after arrival his father was killed. Mexican authorities shipped Don Juan south with other Yaquis in an apparent attempt to undermine their tribal units. In the process, as a young boy Don Juan lost much of his tribal affiliation and ability identifying with Yaquis on a specific family or village level. Plus, his mother was not Yaqui, but of Yuma extraction. As mentioned previously, it is known Don Juan lived with his mother until he reached age ten --- which are highly formative years. Plus, although there is nothing to say he did, there is a good chance, in that in his adult years he returned to the Yuma area, that he may have reinstated his relationship with his mother.



In 1960 Castaneda turned in a paper for his UCLA class, "Methods in Field Archaeology," taught by Professor Clement Meighan. Castaneda's ex-wife Margaret Runyan, in her book A Magical Journey, writes, regarding Castaneda's 1960 paper, what Professor Meighan had to say about the contents of that paper:


"His informant knew a great deal about Datura, which was a drug used in initiating ceremonies by some California groups, but had presumed by me and I think most other anthropologists to have passed out of the picture 40 or 50 years ago. So he found an informant who still actually knew something about this and still had used it."


Castaneda's 1960s Paper on Datura, turned in at the end of the spring semester of 1960 and well before he ever met or heard of Don Juan Matus, included fairly academic references to the plantís four heads, their various purposes, the roots and their significance, and the method of preparation, cooking and rituals involved, all information that he supposedly learns later from Don Juan between August 23 and September 10, 1961 and describes in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968). (A Magical Journey pp. 83-85 and 91.)

In his book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN, published nearly eight full years AFTER he turned in his paper to Professor Meighan related to the use and rituals of Datura, Castaneda recalls from Don Juan Matus and the Nogales Bus Station Meeting, the following:


"I then told him (Don Juan) that I was interested in obtaining information about medicinal plants. Although in truth I was almost totally ignorant about peyote, I found myself pretending that I knew a great deal, and even suggesting that it might be to his advantage to talk with me."


The interesting part is Castaneda saying he was interested in obtaining information about medicinal plants and his specific reference to Peyote. Up to this point (i.e., the end of the summer of 1960), according to an interview with Sam Keen in Psychology Today (1972), Castaneda's only real knowledge of Peyote was from having read The Peyote Cult (1938) by Weston La Barre. It was only AFTER Castaneda met Don Juan and went back to UCLA for the fall semester did he begin researching Peyote in earnest. As stated in the quote at the top of the page Castaneda then prepared himself for SIX MONTHS, becoming acquainted with every work regarding Peyote he could find. It was only at the completion of that research that he went back to Arizona looking for Don Juan --- not catching up with him for the first time following their bus station encounter until December 17, 1960.

By the time the bus station encounter with Don Juan Matus transpired through his chance meeting with a onetime lowly Pothunter turned reputable amateur archaeologist Castaneda sometimes calls Bill in his writings --- who he had met earlier on an archaeolgy dig in the desert southwest and eventually traveled with together on their infamous Road Trip --- Castaneda had already met the informant that Professor Meighan was talking about in the above quote. Castaneda knows, or is at least somewhat versed in the ACTUAL use OF and NOT just reading about Datura --- a fact confirmed by his ex-wife Margaret Runyan in her book and quoted above as well as being fully outlined in The Informant and Carlos Castaneda --- yet he goes on and on to Don Juan about Peyote. Why?

When used as a drug or simply ingested Sacred Datura is extremely powerful and toxic. Deadly is actually more like it. Utmost care is required in it's use and it's use mandates absolute total understanding of any and all potential outcomes and consequences. Again, although Castaneda was somewhat versed in the use of Datura under the auspices of the informant, he was probably not secure enough in his own abilities for it's use without an informed guide. Don Juan Matus, at least as he is written, is more of a Peyote-man, the informant is more of a Datura-man. As Castaneda writes him, Don Juan was never too fond of what he called Yerba del Diablo, the "devil's weed." In the narrative Don Juan claimed its power was not unlike that of a woman saying:


"She (Datura) is as powerful as the best of allies, but there is something I personally don't like about her. She distorts men. She gives them a taste of power too soon without fortifying their hearts and makes them domineering and unpredictable. She makes them weak in the middle of their great power."


Relatively speaking, Peyote is a much more forgiving drug than Datura --- much easier to understand, use, and administer. Only a few weeks or possibly even just days earlier than the bus station encounter, the informant, cloaked by shimmering desert heat waves, simply seemed to evaporate into the rocks and sagebrush without a trace, leaving Castaneda without a source. He wasn't about to lose the old man, hence he played down his recent experience with Datura and pushed Peyote.

In AUSHADHIS: Awakening and the Power of Siddhis Through Herbs a striking parallel is presented to Castaneda's account above of Don Juan stating Datura is as powerful as the best of allies, but there is something he personally didn't like about it as it distorts men and gives them a taste of power too soon:


In Sanskrit, the method of Awakening through herbs is called Aushadhi and an Awakening thus achieved, can, under the right circumstances and conditions, albeit short term, replicate at least partially the level of a Chalabhinna, an Arhat of the third level of realization with the ability of Iddhavidha, the power of transformation.(see)

It is written as well that the herbs used to awaken this potentiality should be obtained and administered ONLY through the Guru and NOT without a Guru. The reason for such is because there are certain herbs that awaken only Ida and there are others that awaken only Pingala; and there are those that can and do suppress either or both. Aushadhi or the herbal Awakening can be a very quick, albeit risky and unreliable method. It should be done only with one who is a very reliable person, who knows the science of it's use thoroughly, and versed in the arts thereof.


In the opening sentence I write:


"When it comes to the use of drugs and hallucinogens most people associate Carlos Castaneda with Peyote. However, it wasn't Peyote but actually the plant Sacred Datura, known throughout in the desert southwest as jimsonweed, that played the primary role in his early experiences into other realities."


Please note that I wrote Sacred Datura "played the PRIMARY role in his (Carlos Castaneda's) early experiences into other realities." How reviewers, critics and the minds of the reading public skewed that primary use of Datura into that of Peyote or even mushrooms is not clear. Over and over you find references to Peyote and Castaneda such as, for example, the following as printed in the San Francisco Chronicle August 24, 2003:


"Carlos Castaneda, an anthropology student at UCLA, had an incredible story to tell about his peyote-fueled adventures with an old Indian sorcerer he met at a bus depot on the Mexican border."


However, Castaneda is quite clear in his writings as to the chronology of it all and the overall importance of Datura rather than Peyote in the scheme of things.

While it is true that in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge it is shown that Castaneda's FIRST experience using any sort of psychotropic plants with Don Juan was the USE of Peyote taken on Monday, August 7, 1961, when he ingested some Peyote buttons --- the taking of which was technically a fluke and not considered much more than a test by Don Juan. If you remember, Don Juan was sitting around with a bunch of Don Juan's buddies generally carousing around when one of them brought out an old coffee jar filled with Peyote buttons and offered Castaneda the chance to partake of a few. Refering to that first time on August 7, 1961, Castaneda writes:


One of the men suddenly got up and went into another room. He was perhaps in his fifties; tall, and husky. He came back a moment later with a coffee jar. He opened the lid and handed the jar to me.

Inside there were seven odd-looking items. They varied in size and consistency. Some of them were almost round, others were elongated. They felt to the touch like the pulp of walnuts, or the surface of cork. Their brownish colour made them look like hard, dry nutshells. I handled them; rubbing their surfaces for quite some time.

"This is to be chewed [esto se masca]," Don Juan said in a whisper.


Castaneda then goes on and on sort of nervously indulging in meaningless conversation with the other men or making a bunch of excuses like needing to use the toilet. Don Juan again request Castaneda to indulge, albeit still on the quiet side yet with more force:


Don Juan urged me softly, "Chew it, chew it [Masca, masca]."

My hands were wet, and my stomach contracted. The jar with the peyote buttons was on the floor by the chair. I bent over, took one at random, and put it in my mouth. It had a stale taste. I bit it in two and started to chew one of the pieces. I felt a strong, pungent bitterness.


After eating them he ran around and around outside the house chasing the dog, barking, urinating, and throwing-up thirty times. Don Juan said it was to see if Mescalito, a sort of plant spirit, liked him or not in that Castaneda was not an Indian. Why the matter would be of any concern is not fully resolved because Don Juan's teacher, as I wax facetiously, was, according to Castaneda, Julian Osorio, who, like Castaneda, was NOT of Indian extraction either, but the son of European immigrants to the New World.

Apparently Don Juan was satisfied that it was OK to proceed with Castaneda's apprenticeship, Indian or not, as one month later, Thursday, September 7, 1961, under Don Juan's auspices, Castaneda was gulping down a brew concocted from Datura.[1] However, and this is a BIG however, in the Peyote-use situation Castaneda simply picked the Peyote buttons at random out of the coffee jar after they were offered and ate them. In the second case, the use of Datura, there was a huge long drawn out ritual. Special plant selection, special digging methods, special handling methods, etc. No such ritual was hinted at or accompanied the use of the Peyote. The VERY MOST Don Juan did in relation to Castaneda using Peyote was tell him, "Chew it, chew it." Castaneda even reports as much, that is, that Peyote requires NONE of the ritual and care of use as found in using Datura. In his second book A SEPARATE REALITY: Further Conversations With Don Juan (1971), in the section called "The Preliminaries of 'Seeing,'" Castaneda listening to Don Juan talking with his 30 year old grandson Lucio, hears Don Juan explain the simplicity of Peyote:


"Mescalito was available to any man without the need of a long apprenticeship or the commitment to manipulatory techniques, as with an ally. And because it was available without any training, Mescalito was said to be a protector."


No need for long apprenticships, commitments or manipulatory techniques with Peyote, only with the use of Datura. Eighteen months after Castaneda's first use of Peyote, July 4, 1963, during the most infamous of Castaneda's experiences, where he turns into a crow including the full ability to Fly --- which was promulgated by the use of Datura by the way and NOT Peyote --- it was preceded by an even more elaborate ritual than the first incident using Datura. Why? Because it was Datura that held the most respect. It was Datura that was the most potent. It was Datura that DID what it was supposed to do. It was Datura that he learned the use of from the Informant. And it is Datura, not Peyote, that contains high concentrations of tropane alkaloids --- primarily Atropine, Hyoscyamine, and Scopolamine --- all major ingredients traditionally sought out and revered in shamanistic practices for their unusual applied characteristics, especially so for incorporation into Flying Ointments.


To wit, on July 4, 1963 Castaneda applied the ointment he and Don Juan concocted over a period of days. Following that application Castaneda, it has been reported, turned into a crow with the full ability to fly. The thing is, once again, almost everybody attributes the crow scene and ability to fly to the use of Peyote or mushrooms --- when in reality it actually transpired through the use of Datura and only Datura.

In THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Chapter Six, in a segment dated Saturday, July 6, 1963 Castaneda writes:


On Monday, July 1, I cut the Datura plants don Juan had asked for. I waited until it was fairly dark to do the dancing around the plants because I did not want anybody to see me. I felt quite apprehensive. I was sure someone was going to witness my strange acts. I had previously chosen the plants I thought were a male and a female. I had to cut off sixteen inches of the root of each one, and digging to that depth with a wooden stick was not an easy task. It took me hours. I had to finish the job in complete darkness, and when I was ready to cut them I had to use a flashlight. My original apprehension that somebody would watch me was minimal compared with the fear that someone would spot the light in the bushes.

I took the plants to don Juan's house on Tuesday, July 2. He opened the bundles and examined the pieces. He said he still had to give me the seeds of his plants. He pushed a mortar in front of me. He took a glass jar and emptied its contents -- dried seeds lumped together -- into the mortar.


Notice Castaneda writes "I cut the Datura plants," - Datura plants, not Peyote, not mushrooms. Once the Datura was on the stone slab that served as a mortar, following Don Juan's instructions, Castaneda made the ointment, the application of which, through certain ritual, transformed him into a crow. Absolutely NO Peyote or mushrooms were involved in any way in the making of the ointment OR in the ritual causing the transformation.





NOTE: In that there are a number of species of Datura there is some confusion as to what Datura Castaneda may have used. According to Castaneda in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge a shaman-sorcerer has an Ally contained in the Datura plants commonly known as jimson weed. Don Juan called that ally by one of the Spanish names of the plant, yerba del diablo (devil's weed). According to Don Juan, as he related it to Castaneda, ANY of the species of Datura was the container of the ally. However, the sorcerer had to grow his own patch, not only in the sense that the plants were his private property, but in the sense that they were personally identified with him.

As for the "separate" Daturas, more or less on an official basis --- but not necessarily on a common basis as the names, species and terms are usually intermixed (although it must be said, even plant taxonomist disagree amongst themselves whether D. stramonium and D. inoxia are different species while D. inoxia and D. metaloides are considered alternate names for the same species) --- D. stramonium is most often the Datura species refered to as jimson weed, while D. metaloides (also sometimes D. wrightii) is usually applied to Sacred Datura, and D. inoxia is Toloache. Don Juan's own plants belonged to the species inoxia, however there was no correlation between THAT fact and any differences that may have existed between any of the species of Datura accessible to him. (see)


The whole of the above Notation, although entirety unto itself in regards to the information as provided, actually comes from FOOTNOTE [1] of DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined?. For more on the Castaneda Peyote/Datura discussion-controversy, please see FOOTNOTE [2] of The Informant and Carlos Castaneda as well. Again, if you have not gone to the all important Footnote [1] regarding THIS page and Castaneda's use or non-use of Peyote or Datura, please do so.



AND NOW THIS:


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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FOOTNOTE [1]



According to Castaneda in the THE TEACHING OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Chapter 3, on September 3, 1961 he and Don Juan Matus collected Datura plants from the field. Taking the plants back to the house Don Juan sat on the floor with his legs crossed and with a round stone mano began working them over on a flat slab which served as a mortar, mashing the root inside a bag. Occasionally he washed the stones in water kept in a small, flat, wooden basin. At the same time, under his breath, in a low, almost silent voice, he he sang a monotonous, nearly unintelligible chant. When he finished mashing the root into a soft pulp he put it in a larger, second wooden basin. He also placed the mortar and the pestle into the same basin, filled the whole thing with water and carried it to a rectangular trough sitting along the base of the back fence. There he told Castaneda the root pulp had to soak all night outside the house so it could catch the night air. Citing the date September 7, 1961 Castaneda describes what happened next:


When we returned hours later, it was dark. On the bottom of the basin there was a layer of gummy substance. It resembled a batch of half-cooked starch, whitish or light gray. There was perhaps a full teaspoon of it. He took the basin inside the house, and while he put some water on to boil, I picked out pieces of dirt the wind had blown into the silt. He laughed at me.

"That little dirt won't hurt anybody."

When the water was boiling he poured about a cup of it into the basin. It was the same yellowish water he had used before. It dissolved the silt, making a sort of milky substance.

"What kind of water is that, don Juan?"

"Water of fruits and flowers from the canyon."

He emptied the contents of the basin into an old clay mug that looked like a flowerpot. It was still very hot, so he blew on it to cool it. He took a sip and handed me the mug.

"Drink now!" he said.

I took it automatically, and without deliberation drank all the water. It tasted somewhat bitter, although the bitterness was hardly noticeable. What was very outstanding was the pungent odor of the water. It smelled like cockroaches.


Please note that in the September 7, 1961 incident above, the use of Datura was a potion, that is, Castaneda drank a warm tea-like broth. Two years later, during the July 4, 1963 incident wherein Castaneda transformed into a crow and flew, the Datura was no longer a drink or brew but a rubbed on Flying Ointment. However, the use of a warm tea-like broth rather than an ointment is not unlike what the Wanderling wrote about regarding HIS Journey one night high in the mountains of Jamaica under the auspices of a Shaman man of spells called an Obeah --- and no doubt, closely similar to the nearly same type experience under the guidance of the tribal spritual elder at the sacred Sun Dagger site. Equally as similar is the fact that Don Juan poured the contents of the basin into an old clay mug that looked like a flowerpot. It was still very hot, so he blew on it to cool it. He then took a sip and handed the mug to Castaneda. The Wanderling writes in Zen, the Buddha, and Shamanism:


The Obeah poured a warm tea-like broth into two small bowl-shaped cups without handles. He took one and gave me the other, gulping down the liquid while motioning me to do the same. (see)


It should be brought to the attention of the reader that NONE of the symptoms recorded by Castaneda after drinking the liquid he and Don Juan made from Datura --- symptoms such as sweating, stomach cramps, seeing red spots, uncontrollable nervousness, or after sleeping it off, a "strange vigor" --- were experienced by the Wanderling after either of the two events mentioned above. Since the Wanderling did not develop or experience symptoms similar to those as described by Castaneda under Don Juan, it is interesting that Castaneda did. It could be that Don Juan's expertise was somewhat cruder or less sophisticated than the Obeah or tribal spiritual elder OR Castaneda simply created the results as he thought they would be or should be out of whole cloth.

Although it is written as though he wasn't, it should be recalled that at the time of his experience with Don Juan and the use of Datura, Castaneda himself was not totally un-versed in almost all aspects and use of the plant. He had learned all about the four heads, their various purposes, the roots and their significance, and the method of preparation, cooking and rituals involved in the use of Datura somewhat earlier under the mastership of the informant while on the Road Trip with his anthropological colleague Bill --- although nowhere is it clear or stated specifically that Castaneda actually participated in the use of Datura himself while in the field with the informant or otherwise. Any use, outcome, symptoms, or end result under the direct guidance of the informant would have closer replicated that of the Obeah or the tribal spiritual elder. While it is known Datura is available on most of the islands in the Caribbean including Jamaica, for the record, the warm tea-like broth brewed by the Obeahman was not made from Datura. A plant known as Branched Calalue was probably used --- which, like Datura, is identified, as being a member of the Solanum genus, most likely Black Nightshade, Solanum nigrum L. Thus said, a difference in the outcomes of symptoms is certainly a possibility. It is an utmost certainty though, that the tribal spiritual elder used Datura at the Sun Dagger site.


the Wanderling's Journey

(click image)


















MESCALITO


Castaneda writes that Don Juan, in describing his teacher, used the word diablero. Later, Castaneda learned that diablero is a term used only by the Sonoran Indians and "refers to an evil person who practices black sorcery and is capable of transforming himself into an animal --- a bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other creature."

The word diablero has since fallen into the common lexicon. The same is true for the term "Mescalito." Before Castaneda and his use of the word, attributed to Don Juan, nobody had heard of it. According to Jay Courtney Fikes, who has field researched peyote both in theroy and practice with as much depth as almost anybody in the field if not more so, says "Mescalito," the name that Don Juan gave to the peyote deity as well as peyote, has never been mentioned by any of the seventy distinct tribes within the United States who subscribe to or use peyote as part of their religious ceremonies. Nor is the term "Mescalito" used or known to members of Mexican Indian tribes such as the Tarahumara or Huichol, "whose reverence for peyote is unsurpassed."

In Castaneda's second book A SEPARATE REALITY: Further Conversations With Don Juan (1971), in the section called "The Preliminaries of 'Seeing,'" on or near the September 8, 1968, date Castaneda lists in his book, Castaneda, listening to Don Juan talking with the shaman-sorcerer's 30 year old grandson Lucio, hears Don Juan confirm that Mescalito and peyote are basically interchangable words for the same thing:


"Is Mescalito peyote, Grandpa?" Lucio asked curiously.

"Some people call it that way," don Juan said dryly. "I prefer to call it Mescalito."


The two of them go back and forth discussing a bunch of things on and off ending up with:


"If all of you know that Macario (a Yaqui Indian who lived there) is a liar, how can you believe him when he talks about Mescalito?"

"Do you mean peyote, Grandpa?" Lucio asked, as if he were really struggling to make sense out of the term.

"God damn it! Yes!"

Don Juan's tone was sharp and abrupt. Lucio recoiled involuntarily, and for a moment I felt they were all afraid. Then don Juan smiled broadly and continued in a mild tone.



In Castaneda's first book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, in a section called A Structural Analysis he explains what is meant by the term Mescalito. He does so in such clear and precise way that to read it then try to rewrite it or explain it in a different set of words, in a transliteration sort of way, would water down or miss the point in what he is trying to say. Thus said, the following on mescalito is presented in Castaneda's own words:


Mescalito was purported to be a unique power, similar to an Ally in the sense that it allowed one to transcend the boundaries of ordinary reality, but also quite different from an ally. Like an ally, Mescalito was contained in a definite plant, the cactus Lophophora williamsii. But unlike an ally, which was merely contained in a plant, Mescalito and this plant in which it was contained were the same; the plant was the centre of overt manifestations of respect, the recipient of profound veneration. Don Juan firmly believed that under certain conditions, such as a state of profound acquiescence to Mescalito, the simple act of being contiguous to the cactus would induce a state of non-ordinary reality.

But Mescalito did not have a rule, and for that reason it was not an ally even though it was capable of transporting a man outside the boundaries of ordinary reality. Not having a rule not only barred Mescalito from being used as an ally, for without a rule it could not conceivably be manipulated, but also made it a power remarkably different from an ally.

As a direct consequence of not having a rule, Mescalito was available to any man without the need of a long apprenticeship or the commitment to manipulatory techniques, as with an ally. And because it was available without any training, Mescalito was said to be a protector. To be a protector meant that it was accessible to anyone. Yet Mescalito as a protector was not accessible to every man, and with some individuals it was not compatible. According to don Juan, such incompatibility was caused by the discrepancy between Mescalito's 'unbending morality' and the individual's own questionable character.

Mescalito was also a teacher. It was supposed to exercise didactic functions. It was a director, a guide to proper behaviour. Mescalito taught the right way. Don Juan's idea of the right way seemed to be a sense of propriety, which consisted, not of righteousness in terms of morality, but of a tendency to simplify behavioural patterns in terms of the efficacy promoted by his teachings. Don Juan believed Mescalito taught simplification of behaviour.

Mescalito was believed to be an entity. And as such it was purported to have a definite form that was usually not constant or predictable. This quality implied that Mescalito was perceived differently not only by different men, but also by the same man on different occasions. Don Juan expressed this idea in terms of Mescalito's ability to adopt any conceivable form. For individuals with whom it was compatible, however, it adopted an unchanging form after they had partaken of it over a period of years.

The non-ordinary reality produced by Mescalito was utilizable, and in this respect was identical with that induced by an ally. The only difference was the rationale don Juan used in his teachings for eliciting it: one was supposed to seek ' Mescalito's lessons on the right way'.

The non-ordinary reality produced by Mescalito also had component elements, and here again the states of non-ordinary reality induced by Mescalito and by an ally were identical. In both, the characteristics of the component elements were stability, singularity, and lack of consensus.