Carlos Castaneda facts for kids
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Carlos Castañeda in 1962
|Born||Carlos César Salvador Arana
December 25, 1925
|Died||April 27, 1998
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Education||UCLA (BA, PhD)|
|Subject||Anthropology, ethnography, shamanism|
Carlos Castañeda (December 25, 1925 – April 27, 1998) was an American writer. Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that purport to describe training in shamanism that he received under the tutelage of a Yaqui "Man of Knowledge" named don Juan Matus.
Castaneda's first three books—The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, A Separate Reality, and Journey to Ixtlan—were written while he was an anthropology student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He wrote that these books were ethnographic accounts describing his apprenticeship with a traditional "Man of Knowledge" identified as don Juan Matus, a Yaqui Indian from northern Mexico. The veracity of these books was doubted from their original publication, and they are now widely considered to be fictional. Castaneda was awarded his bachelor's and doctoral degrees based on the work described in these books.
At the time of his death in 1998, Castaneda's books had sold more than eight million copies and had been published in 17 languages.
According to his birth record, Carlos Castañeda was born Carlos César Salvador Arana, on December 25, 1925, in Cajamarca, Peru, son of César Arana and Susana Castañeda, both of them single. Immigration records confirm the birth record's date and place of birth. Castaneda moved to the United States in 1951 and became a naturalized citizen on June 21, 1957.
Castaneda's first three books—The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, A Separate Reality, and Journey to Ixtlan—were written while he was an anthropology student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He wrote that these books were ethnographic accounts describing his apprenticeship with a traditional "Man of Knowledge" identified as don Juan Matus, an Indigenous Yaqui from northern Mexico. The veracity of these books was doubted from their original publication, and they are now widely considered to be fictional. Castaneda was awarded his bachelor's and doctoral degrees based on the work described in these books.
In 1974 his fourth book, Tales of Power, chronicled the end of his apprenticeship with Matus. Castaneda continued to be popular with the reading public, and subsequent publications appeared describing further aspects of his training with don Juan.
Castaneda wrote that don Juan recognized him as the new nagual, or leader of a party of seers of his lineage. Matus also used the term nagual to signify that part of perception which is in the realm of the unknown yet still reachable by man—implying that, for his own party of seers, Matus was a connection to that unknown. Castaneda often referred to this unknown realm as "nonordinary reality."
While Castaneda was a well-known cultural figure, he rarely appeared in public forums. He was the subject of a cover article in the March 5, 1973, issue of Time, which described him as "an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a tortilla". There was controversy when it was revealed that Castaneda might have used a surrogate for his cover portrait. Correspondent Sandra Burton, apparently unaware of Castaneda's principle of freedom from personal history, confronted him about discrepancies in his account of his life. He responded: "To ask me to verify my life by giving you my statistics ... is like using science to validate sorcery. It robs the world of its magic and makes milestones out of us all." Following that interview, Castaneda completely retired from public view until the 1990s.
Don Juan Matus
Scholars have debated "whether Castaneda actually served as an apprentice to the alleged Yaqui sorcerer don Juan Matus or if he invented the whole odyssey." Castaneda's books are classified as non-fiction by their publisher, although there is consensus among critics that they are largely, if not completely, fictional.
Author and Castaneda critic Richard de Mille published two books—Castaneda's Journey: The Power and the Allegory and The Don Juan Papers—in which he argued that don Juan was imaginary, based on a number of arguments, including that Castaneda did not report on the Yaqui name of a single plant he learned about, and that he and don Juan "go quite unmolested by pests that normally torment desert hikers." Castaneda's Journey also includes 47 pages of quotes Castaneda attributed to don Juan which were actually from a variety of other sources, including anthropological journal articles and even well known writers like Ludwig Wittgenstein and C. S. Lewis. De Mille's work has also come under criticism of its own, however. Walter Shelburne contends that "the Don Juan chronicle cannot be a literally true account."
According to Jay Fikes's research in Mexico, Castaneda spent some time with Ramón Medina Silva, a Huichol mara'akame (shaman) and artist who may have inspired the don Juan character. Silva was murdered during a brawl in 1971.
In the 1990s, Castaneda once again began appearing in public to promote Tensegrity, described in promotional materials as "the modernized version of some movements called magical passes developed by Indigenous shamans who lived in Mexico in times prior to the Spanish conquest."
Castaneda, with Carol Tiggs, Florinda Donner-Grau and Taisha Abelar, created Cleargreen Incorporated in 1995, whose stated purpose was "to sponsor Tensegrity workshops, classes and publications.". Tensegrity seminars, books, and other merchandise were sold through Cleargreen.
Castaneda married Margaret Runyan in Mexico in 1960, according to Runyan's memoirs. He is listed as the father on the birth certificate of Runyan's son C.J. Castaneda, even though the biological father was a different man.
In an interview, Runyan said she and Castaneda were married from 1960 to 1973; however, Castaneda obscured whether the marriage occurred, and his death certificate stated he had never been married.
Castaneda died on April 27, 1998 in Los Angeles due to complications from hepatocellular cancer. There was no public service; he was cremated and the ashes were sent to Mexico. His death was unknown to the outside world until nearly two months later, on June 19, 1998, when an obituary, "A Hushed Death for Mystic Author Carlos Castaneda" by staff writer J. R. Moehringer appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
Four months after Castaneda's death, C. J. Castaneda, also known as Adrian Vashon, whose birth certificate shows Carlos Castaneda as his father, challenged the authenticity of Castaneda's will in probate court. The challenge was ultimately unsuccessful. Carlos' death certificate states metabolic encephalopathy for 72 hours prior to his death, yet the will was purportedly signed 48 hours before Castaneda's death.
After Castaneda stepped away from public view in 1973, he bought a large multi-dwelling property in Los Angeles which he shared with some of his followers, including Taisha Abelar (formerly Maryann Simko) and Florinda Donner-Grau (formerly Regine Thal). Like Castaneda, Abelar and Donner-Grau were students of anthropology at UCLA. Each subsequently wrote books about their experiences of Castaneda's teachings from a feminist perspective that Castaneda endorsed as authentic.
Around the time Castaneda died, his companions Donner-Grau, Abelar and Patricia Partin informed friends they were leaving on a long journey. Amalia Marquez (also known as Talia Bey) and Tensegrity instructor Kylie Lundahl also left Los Angeles. Weeks later, Partin's red Ford Escort was found abandoned in Death Valley. Luis Marquez, Bey's brother, went to police in 1999 over his sister's disappearance, but could not convince them that it merited investigation.
In 2003, Partin's sun-bleached skeleton was discovered by a pair of hikers in Death Valley's Panamint Dunes area and identified in 2006 by DNA testing. The investigating authorities ruled the cause of death as undetermined. .....
- Octavio Paz, Nobel laureate, poet, and diplomat. Paz wrote the prolog to the Spanish language edition of The Teachings of Don Juan.
- Michael Korda, editor-in-chief at Simon & Schuster, was Castaneda's editor for his first eight books and discusses their work together in an essay in Another Life: A Memoir of Other People.
- George Lucas has stated that Yoda and Luke Skywalker were inspired in part by don Juan and Castaneda.
- Amy Wallace wrote Sorcerer's Apprentice: My Life with Carlos Castaneda, an account of her personal experiences with Castaneda and his followers.
- Brazilian writer Lui Morais analyzes Castaneda's work, its cultural implications, and its continuation in other authors in Carlos Castaneda e a Fenda entre os Mundos: Vislumbres da Filosofia Ānahuacah no Século XXI.
In Spanish: Carlos Castaneda para niños
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