DIABLERO: from Spanish: diablo, devil --- a sorcerer connoting a sense of evilness; usually with the ability to shapeshift.
Carlos Castaneda is perhaps the foremost, or at least the most well known example of a person whose indoctrination process or apprenticeship, it has been said, was guided by a shaman-sorcerer influenced by a Diablero. Castaneda's teacher has been described in several books by the writer as being a Yaqui named Don Juan Matus who learned his art under the direct auspices of a Diablero. The following is how Castaneda presents it in his first book, THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (1968):
"At first I saw Don Juan simply as a rather peculiar man who knew a great deal about peyote and who spoke Spanish remarkably well. But the people with whom he lived believed that he had some sort of secret knowledge, that he was a brujo. The Spanish word brujo means, in English, medicine man, curer, witch, sorcerer. It connotes essentially a person who has extraordinary, and usually evil, powers."
"In describing his teacher, Don Juan used the word diablero. Later I learned that diablero is a term used only by the Sonoran Indians. It refers to an evil person who practises black sorcery and is capable of transforming himself into an animal - a bird, a dog, a coyote, or any other creature."
As the noted mystic, philosopher, scholar and cabbalist Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935) explains:
The basic principle guiding the sorcerer is an attempt to RECONCILE the opposing animalistic and divine aspects of man. The sorcerer's SOLUTION to this constant struggle is to SUPPRESS MAN'S DIVINE NATURE , allowing the base instincts to rise above and totally rule over the individual and society in general.
Evil is considered the direct opposite of that divine nature. Any attempt by anyone or anything, a spell caster, a witch, or sorcerer for example, to suppress that devine nature through the use of occult powers or any other means would thus then be viewed as a cohort, collaborator, or supporter of things evil --- and the why behind the reason the word diablero, as a sorcerer, carries ahead of itself the connotation of a sense of evilness. A.I. Kook goes on to say the means the sorcerer uses to reach his goal are complex, and some may have inherent worth. Some parts of his knowledge could also be utilized for the good. Recognition of evil is awareness of the negative side of creation, which can grant greater understanding of the positive side.
Buddhism and Zen negates the whole concept by viewing the opposites of reconciliation and suppression, animalistic aspects and divine nature, good and evil as samsaric, or dualistic.
That is, for one to exist or be, the other has to exist or be, making their "existence" EMPTY because one side can not stand alone and just "be" without contrasting or bringing into play the existence of the other. Although somewhat more complicated, simply put, AS AN EXAMPLE, in a Zen sort of way, the phenomenon of hot and cold. Although hot and cold seem to be the opposite they are NOT separate, but actually fully integrated-interdefused aspects of the same single, non-dual phenomenon. It is not to say if you touch something hot you won't burn yourself, only that both are inter-related aspects of a single non-dual temperature spectrum. That is why both the boiling point of water and the freezing point of water can be found on the same thermometer. So saying, in comparing aspects, there would be no "need" to suppress or reconcile. See CONSULTING MEDIUMS: What Buddhists Believe.
A HUGE COYOTE COMETH:
As to whether diableros existed or ever existed and if so, are there any still around today, Castaneda posed the question after an incident late one night driving along a lonely road deep in Mexico with two Indian friends. During that drive they came across what seemed to be a huge dog crossing the road. One of the Indians traveling with Castaneda said it was not a dog, but a huge coyote. Pulling over, Castaneda slowed to a stop in an effort to get a closer look. Unafraid, the animal stayed well within the range of the headlights for awhile then casually wandered off into the darkness and sagebrush. It was unmistakably a coyote, but it was at the very least twice the size of any normal coyote.
Castaneda's friends agreed that it was a very unusual animal, and one of them suggested that it could have even been a diablero. Later, Castaneda used the account of that experience to question several Indians in the area about the existence of diableros. Following are two results he published regarding his questioning, the first from an old Indian woman and her belief:
"Are there any diableros nowadays?"
"Such things are very secret. They say there are no more diableros, but I doubt it because one member of a diablero's family has to learn what the diablero knows. Diableros have their own laws, and one of them is that a diablero has to teach his secrets to one of his kin."
The second from a very old man:
"What do you think the animal was?"
"A dog from one of the ranches of that area. What else?"
"It could have been a diablero...?"
"A diablero? You are crazy! There are no diableros."
"Do you mean that there are none today, or that there never were any?"
"At one time there were, yes. It is common knowledge. Everybody knows that. But the people were very afraid of them and had them all killed."
"Who killed them?"
"All the people of the tribe. The last diablero I knew about was S--(at this point Castaneda leaves the full name out in the text using only a capital "S" and a dash). He killed dozens- maybe even hundreds of people with his sorcery. We couldn't put up with that and the people got together and took him by surprise one night and burned him alive."
"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."
Notice that the old man, when asked who killed them (i.e., the diableros), responds by saying "All the people of the tribe." The old man says that the tribe surprised the last diablero one night, apprently sometime in 1942, and burned him alive. The tribe did it in collusion --- a team effort. It is a tribal-level thing dealing with what seems to be a tribal member in some fashion. The old woman responding to the question about diableros tells Castaneda that such things are very secret. She goes on to say THEY, whoever "they" are, say there are no more diableros but she herself hedges her answer by saying she personally doubts that there are no more. She most likely bases her response on some sort of personal experience rather than on speculation.
It should be brought to the attention of the reader that in regards to the use of the word diablero by Castaneda's teacher, Don Juan, in describing HIS teacher --- as referenced from the quote above as found in THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN --- if you follow the narrative of Castaneda in his various writings he does go on to say, at least by his tenth and next to last book, titled Magical Passes (1998), that Don Juan at the age of twenty came in contact with a person Castaneda termed as a master sorcerer Castaneda calls by the name of Julian Osorio. Accordingly, Osorio then introduced Don Juan into a lineage of sorcerers that was purported to be twenty-five generations long. Don Juan told Castaneda that Osorio had been an actor and during one of his theatrical tours he had met another master shaman, Elias Ulloa, who transmitted to Osorio the knowledge of his lineage of sorcerers and thus inturn through Osorio to Don Juan, then down in lineage to Castaneda.
The question then arises, if such was the case as the above, a lineage of sorcerers, WHAT HAPPENED to the diablero aspect to it all? The following is found in The Death Defier:
As for Don Juan's teacher being a diablero and being in his lineage, none of the teachers named, from Sebastian on, seem to fit that description. However, regardless of the names, Osorio and Ulloa included, it still seems the true indentity of Don Juan's actual REAL LIFE teacher was never discovered. Both Osorio and Ulloa, as well as the others, although perhaps "real" and perhaps shaman-sorcerers in a lineage as Castaneda says they are, as I see it, are really no more than stand-ins. It was when Don Juan LEFT Osorio in 1925 that the diablero and his true teacher comes comes into play.
The fact that Castaneda's teachers Ulloa and Osorio do not fit the description of a diablero is neither here nor there in that it was not until AFTER Castaneda left Osorio in 1925 that his teacher, as a diablero comes into play. If the last diablero was killed in 1942 there was at least 17 years between 1925 and 1942 for Don Juan to study under one. However, as stated above, the death of the last diablero, or the murder of as the case may be, was at the tribal level dealing with a tribal person --- leaving open the high possibility of a non tribal affliated diablero (or diableros) to continue to exist. In DON JUAN MATUS: Real or Imagined the following is found:
(I)n 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.
At the bottom of the same page the following is found as well, inserted here with only this observation: The incident with the very strange man cited below --- and considered to be a diablero --- transpired sometime in the 1948 through 1950 bracket, some six to eight full years AFTER the death of the so-called last diablero:
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.
For more clarification on this diablero thing and whether ANY of Don Juan's teachers, as suggested in the above paragraph, could have been or were diableros or not --- or if it even matters --- please see The Death Defier as it gets into the background as to why Don Juan told Castaneda his teacher was a diablero and the importance of his reasoning behind it. See as well The Old Man In the Desert.
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.
SEE ALSO THE DIABLERA:
THE BEST OF
<<< PREV ---- LIST ---- NEXT >>>
THE INFORMANT AND CARLOS CASTANEDA
CARLOS CASTANEDA: TIMELINE
POWER OF THE SHAMAN
SHAMANISM WEB CIRCLE
OCCULT, BLACK ARTS, OR IMPLEMENT OF GOOD?
MEDITATION ALONG METEOR CRATER RIM
SHAMANS AND SHAMANISM
THE SUN DAGGER
THE WANDERLING'S JOURNEY
From a quote in the above text Castaneda relates he was driving late one night along a lonely road deep in Mexico with two Indian friends when:
"(T)hey came across what seemed to be a huge dog crossing the road. One of the Indians traveling with Castaneda said it was not a dog, but a huge coyote. Pulling over, Castaneda slowed to a stop in an effort to get a closer look. Unafraid, the animal stayed well within the range of the headlights for awhile then casually wandered off into the darkness and sagebrush. It was unmistakably a coyote, but it was at the very least twice the size of any normal coyote.
"Castaneda's friends agreed that it was a very unusual animal, and one of them suggested that it could have even been a diablero."
An interesting incident regarding a huge coyote, diablero or not, said to be at least twice the size of any normal coyote transpired under similar circumstances involving the Wanderling when he was a young boy. The incident, presented below, is extrapolated in part from the original source found at Sri Ramana Maharshi: the Last American Darshan and linked again at the bottom of the footnote:
When the Wanderling was around eight years old, because of the death of his mother some years previously, he ended up living with his grandmother. During that period of his life the man that married his mother's sister committed suicide. When neighbors heard all the screaming, commotion, and running around surrounding the event several of them came over to lend assist in whatever manner they could. During the ensuing milieu the Wanderling was accidently knocked unconscious by a falling garage door. Caught up in the confusion surrounding the suicide he was all but forgotten. One of the neighbors found him and carried him into the house and put him onto his bed fully clothed. The police and an ambulance arrived and soon law enforcement and paramedics were running all over the place. Along the way the Wanderling was attended to and his head wound dressed.
Sometime way late into the night or the still-dark early morning hours he apparently got up and wandered off. It wasn't until after sunrise that a family member discovered he was gone and nowhere to be found.
In the meantime an old man driving a jeep on the way back to his home located far away somewhere out in the middle of desert found the Wanderling walking all alone along some road. How he got to where he was or when or where he was found was never learned. The story told by his grandmother was that the old man had no money so, in those long-before cell phone days, he wasn't able to make a phone call --- nor did he have a phone at his shack. Instead he took the Wanderling to the house of a woman friend of his even farther out in the desert, also with no phone. Some weeks later they took him into town and left him at the sheriffs office.
When the Wanderling's grandmother came to get him the sheriff said he had personally known the old man and woman for a very long time and that both were fine and good people. The man was a rough and tumble old guy who was known to have been a onetime a muleskinner or swamper for the 20 mule team borax wagons that used to make the trek up and out of Death Valley and across the desert. Now days the sheriff said, the old man spent most of his time in one fashion or the other participating in Native American sweat lodge ceremonies and most likely the Wanderling did too. The sheriff assured the grandmother there was no need to worry about anything related to the Wanderling's overall well being during the time he was in their company. According to the sheriff the two just didn't experience the passage of time like others seemed to. The period of time he was with them was really no more than just a matter of them coming into town relative to their needs.
When the Wanderling's grandmother picked him up, strung around his neck was a small cloth sack like a Bull Durham tobacco bag filled with 50 or more pieces of buckshot. The sheriff told her that one day when the old man did not return the woman and the Wanderling went out across the desert looking for him. Although they didn't find the old man during their search they did come across a fairly large but barely alive coyote that had been all shot up in the hindquarters and left rear leg by buckshot. They took the wounded coyote, a coyote that was easily twice the size of any normal one, back to the woman's shack then spent the rest of the night and all of the next day pulling buckshot out of the rear and back leg of the animal, throwing the little lead balls into a pan. The woman patched the coyote up as best she could and nursed him back to health over a couple of days. Then, with his strength regained, the coyote simply limped off into the sagebrush. However, before she turned the coyote loose she took the buckshot that had been removed from the wounded animal and counted the lead spheres out into two equal piles, putting one pile into a little cloth bag and the other pile into a second identical cloth bag. Then she put one bag around the Wanderling's neck and the other around the coyote's neck.
Before the Wanderling and his grandmother left, the sheriff told her the old man and woman had driven into town that day and if she wanted to thank them for caring for boy he could arrange it. The old man was sitting in the jeep on the passenger side alone when they drove up to meet them. The woman was just coming out of a nearby grocery store carrying a handfull of items. The Wanderling's grandmother said the old man excused himself for not getting out of the jeep during the introduction because he had taken a terrifically bad fall in the desert some days before having scraped up his rear and left leg so badly he could barely move. She talked with them for awhile, thanked them and left. Before they got home she removed the bag from around the Wanderling's neck because she was afraid, since it was filled with buckshot, that the sight of them might upset her daughter considering how her husband died. The Wanderling's grandmother also told him there must be some kind of desert tradition or something because the old man in the jeep had what appeared to be small sack of buckshot tied around his neck just like the Wanderling's --- a bag that seemed to be an EXACT duplicate of the one that had been tied around the Wanderling's neck.
NOTE: Not all the the information found in the above footnote was garnered exclusively from conversations with the Wanderling's grandmother. Some of it was extrapolated and added to the mix from an interaction that occurred some years later with a Native American tribal spiritual elder. When the Wanderling was around ten years old or so he and his uncle spent a lot of time traveling in and around some very isolated sections of the desert southwest interacting with the indigenous populations thereof because of various, as his uncle called them, "art" related ties he had with them. On one of those trips they crossed paths with a tribal spiritual elder that apparently recognized the Wanderling from being with the old man at a sweat lodge ceremony. The elder knew the significance of the bags of buckshot between the old man and the Wanderling. As well, he told the Wanderling's uncle he remembered that the Wanderling was very special in that everybody knew as a young boy he had been touched by the Native American spritual deity or Yei he refered to as the White Painted Woman.
Again, the full incident with all the surrounding circumstances regarding the above can be found at:
SRI RAMANA MAHARSHI: THE LAST AMERICAN DARSHAN
RECOUNTING A YOUNG BOY'S NEARLY INSTANT TRANSFORMATION INTO THE ABSOLUTE DURING HIS ONLY DARSHAN WITH THE MAHARSHI
THE MAYAN SHAMAN AND CHICXULUB
THE LADY ON THE DOCK, THE PBY, AND HIGH BARBAREE