Carlos Castaneda

Copyright Michael D. Robbins 2005


Astro-Rayological Interpretation & Charts
Images and Physiognomic Interpretation

to Volume 3 Table of Contents


Carlos Casteneda—Anthropologist, Shaman: December 25, 1925, Cajamarca, Peru, 1:59 AM, EST. Died (of liver cancer), April 27, 1998, Los Angeles, California.                                          



(Sources: 2:00 PM, EST given by Ideman from Cosmic Seed  magazine; 1:45 AM given by Jansky; Marc Penfield gives 1:59 PM)                                                                                             

(Ascendant either late Aries or very early Taurus; MC, Capricorn with Jupiter in Capricorn conjunct the MC; Sun is also in Capricorn; Moon in Taurus; Mercury in Sagittarius; Venus in Aquarius; Mars conjunct Saturn in Scorpio; Uranus in Pisces; Neptune in Leo; Pluto in Cancer) Given the nature of the Don Juan books, one is led to suspect an Aries Ascendant, giving the will to penetrate into new and unknown ‘realities’.

Carlos Castaneda was an anthropologist who, while a student, spent five years in Mexico as an apprentice to a Yaqui Indian sorcerer or shaman.. He has published a number of books in the a field which an occultist would call astral magic. Among these are The Teachings of Don Juan, The Separate Reality, Tales of Power and Trilogy.  

The books are filled with examples of psychic experiences, labors, tests and struggles  upon the inner planes (a “reality” which is, apparently, separate and distinct from our normal physical plane reality conditioned by brain consciousness.) Students of the Ageless Wisdom will recognize in Castaneda’s descriptions the many possibilities and conditions present upon the astral plane—the plane upon which the Shaman functions with alert, self-possessed consciousness.                                

The trials, transformations and “shape changes” can be associated with the powers cultivated by seventh ray magicians. The occult note of the seventh ray (applied to the world of psychism) is easy to detect. The struggles (Mars) and trials (Saturn) occur in the realm of the astral plane, closely associated with Scorpio. Mars and Saturn are conjunct in Scorpio focused, in the Aries Rising chart, at the eighth house, where the world of the dead is encountered. If Aries is rising, the power of Mars in its own sign, Scorpio, will be enhanced. Saturn, is the exoteric and esoteric ruler of his Sun Sign, Capricorn, and so one can well understand the importance of this conjunction and how well it describes the extraordinary experiences about which he writes.                                                                                                         

If Taurus were rising (as some astrologers think) then Venus in Aquarius would be focal and Vulcan in either Capricorn or Sagittarius. The author thinks of the emphasized Scorpio Mars as more descriptive of the process. Assuming, then, an Aries Ascendant, Mercury would become the esoteric ruler, and its position in Sagittarius (in the eighth house of death and transformation) would put an emphasis upon Casteneda’s adventuring mentality, his power to ‘travel’ in the mind/psyche—for Mercury was the “Psychopomp” and did “lead into the mysteries”. As well, the Sagittarius decanate (the last) would be emphasized (with its ruler, Mars) and the position of the Sun in the ninth house (the generically Sagittarian house) would add to the spirit of adventure in consciousness.
Further, Chiron, the “Quest Guide” or director of the quest, would be rising in Aries from (H12) and would be a further testimony to the brave (Aries) journey into the “Collective Unconscious”—the field of the twelfth house.                                                                                                                        

Incidentals in the chart are seen in Neptune in Leo trine the Ascendant and Chiron, providing the imagination to write creatively about the teaching learn from Don Juan; Jupiter in Capricorn conjunct the MC giving success and a widely acclaimed reputation; Pluto in the third house deepening the mind and rendering it occultly aware; the North Node exactly conjunct the IC, showing that the ancestral depths (the lower levels of the aura) must be plumbed.                                                                                      

The predominating ray (the ray for which there is greatest love and enthusiasm) seems to be the seventh—in its occultly, magical expression. The chart reinforces the expression of this ray through the Aries Ascendant, elevated Jupiter (with its own seventh ray component) in seventh ray Capricorn and power-loving Pluto in Cancer—all these signs being distributors of the seventh ray. Capricorn provides the necessary self-control and control of the lower lives which the magician must possess. Aries indicates the necessary bravery and the willingness to face the unknown. Cancer represents respect for the occult traditions of the past. Uranus, the seventh ray planet trines Saturn/Mars (his planets of strenuous effort and self-mastery upon the astral plane) and is in harmonious aspect to the MC/IC axis. Further, Pisces rules the world of the Collective Unconscious, and seventh ray Uranus in this sign shows Castaneda’s magical power upon that plane. Whether he, himself, possessed all the powers of which he wrote is doubtful, but ever Don Juan must have his Castandea just as every Gurdjieff must have his Ouspensky.                   

The chart is endowed with much fourth ray as well—fourth ray Moon in fourth ray Taurus, fourth ray Mercury in fourth ray Sagittarius, and Mars and Saturn in fourth ray Scorpio.

During the past two centuries we have entered the ‘Age of the Magician’. The ancient magical lore is again emerging and receiving a presentation meaningful for the modern, intelligent Western civilization. The tradition, however, is ancient, and there are those Shamans who are repositories of this ancient fund of knowledge. Castaneda, with his Pluto (research) in Cancer (the past) has penetrated the depths of this ancient world, with its natural, almost instinctual (Moon in Taurus) magical process. He has presented to us a spiritual path for the magician (seventh ray) who is an inner warrior (first and fourth rays). In a period when an increasing number of seventh ray souls are coming into incarnation, and in which the tests of discipleship and initiation are being applied to them, Castaneda’s stories and his Don Juan are necessarily of consuming interest.


A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting.

All paths are the same, leading nowhere. Therefore, pick a path with heart!

Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use.

To achieve the mood of a warrior is not a simple matter. It is a revolution. To regard the lion and the water rats and our fellow men as equals is a magnificent act of a warrior's spirit. It takes power to do that.


On Friday, June 19th, 1998, it was reported in the San Jose Mercury News and many other papers that Carlos Castaneda had died some two months earlier, on April 27th, at his home in Los Angeles. According to the article (which first appeared in the Los Angeles Time), written by J.R. Moehringer:

Carlos Castaneda, the self-proclaimed "sorcerer" and bestselling author whose tales of drug-induced mental adventures with a Yaqui Indian shaman named Don Juan once fascinated the world, apparently died two months ago I the same way that he lived: quietly, secretly, mysteriously.

He was believed to be 72 ...
Though he had millions of followers around the world, and though his 10 books continue to sell in 17 different languages, and though he once appeared on the cover of Time magazine, he died without public notice, without the briefest mention in a newspaper or on television.

As befitting his mystic image, he seemingly vanished into thin air.

Oddly enough, the picture that accompanied his obituary was, obviously, a fake. Not only the presence of a "halo" surrounding the head of whoever's picture it actually was, but also the crooked neck angle, and a number of other features, immediately gives it away as a falsified photograph.

Your Enlightenment.Com host called the San Jose Mercury News to ask them if they knew that they had published a falsified photograph of Castaneda, and they said, "Yes, we know. And we don't know whose picture it actually is. And other papers, including the Los Angeles Times, also published the same picture."

How marvelous! The man who stressed the importance of releasing from, and erasing, personal history has managed to elude us to the end. His well-known dislike for having his picture taken served his own ends well, and to this day I personally, and many others, still do not know what Carlos Castaneda actually looked like.

Perhaps, of course, he is not dead. Perhaps this was just a trick, a fake-out, by a master of tricks and fake-outs. If so, we will probably never know. Anyone clever enough to have major newspapers publishing the wrong obituary photograph is certainly clever enough to keep the truth from us in other ways as well.

Many other mysteries also surround Castaneda. Was his mentor, Don Juan, real? Did Castaneda really change into animals and do such things as fly, or was that all just novelized subjective drug-induced experiences? Was Castaneda a cross between a journalist and a cultural anthropologist, or just a terrific writer capable of spellbinding our minds and hearts?

The answers to these questions are, by and large, unknowable. What is known is that Castaneda imparted a profound wisdom -- a state of knowingness and the belief that a different type of wisdom was possible -- to those who read him with an open mind, and that many of his techniques and teachings are still quite valuable.

Carlos Castaneda was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest consciousness writers of the past half century. His eerie books, written over a span of some 25 years, profoundly affected untold numbers of readers. He brought us into his strange world of sorcery, mystery, and enchantment, and in doing so, better prepared us -- in the long run -- to address the unknowable in our own lives. Thank you, Carlos, and may your impeccability allow you to avoid the Eagle's reach.

Carlos Castaneda (previously Castañeda) was born in Peru on December 25, 1925 and died in Los Angeles on April 27, 1998. In the US, he wrote a controversial series of books that claimed to describe his training in traditional Native American Shamanism.

Castaneda met the Yaqui shaman Don Juan Matus in 1960, which inspired the partly autobiographical works for which he is known. He inherited from this figure the position of nagual, or leader of a party of seers.

Castaneda's works contain descriptions of paranormal experiences, several psychological techniques, Toltec magic rituals, shamanism and experiences with psychoactive drugs (e.g. peyote). Carlos Castaneda's works have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages.

He wrote that he was born in São Paulo, Brazil on Christmas Day in 1931, but immigration records show that he was born 6 years earlier in Cajamarca, Peru. He anglicized his name by changing the "ñ" (in Castañeda) into "n". He moved to the United States in the early 1950s and became a naturalized citizen in 1957. He was educated at the University of California, Los Angeles (B.A. 1962; Ph.D. 1970).

His first three books, The Teachings of Don Juan: a Yaqui way of knowledge, A Separate Reality and Journey to Ixtlan were written while Castaneda was an Anthropology student at the University of California at Los Angeles. Castaneda wrote these books as if they were his research log describing his studies under a traditional shaman he identified as Don Juan. Castaneda was granted his Masters and PhD degrees for the work described in these books.

Castaneda's first two books were written during a time when the use of psycho-active drugs was popular, and was seen as a technological shortcut to the kinds of spiritual insights eastern mystics required decades of devoted work to achieve. In Castaneda's first two books he describes that the Yaqui way of knowledge also required the heavy use of powerful psycho-active drugs -- natural ones, like peyote and datura. Many young people used the apparent authoritative endorsement of psycho-active drug use to justify their own use of psycho-active drugs.

In his third book, Journey to Ixtlan, he essentially reverses this apparent endorsement of drug use. In this book he describes Don Juan telling him he only needed to use drugs with Carlos, because he was so dumb. In this book the way of knowledge that Don Juan describes was perceived by some as resembling the newly popular New Age movement. Castaneda, however, emphatically denied any real similarity between them in several lectures.

Castaneda was a popular enough phenomenon for Time magazine to do a cover article on Castaneda on March 5 1973 (Vol. 101 No. 10) that was five or six pages long.

His fourth book, Tales of Power, ended with Castaneda preparing to leap off a cliff that would mark his graduation from disciple to full-fledged Shaman. Since he recorded, in Journey to Ixtlan, that a man of knowledge didn't write about the activities of Shamanism, some writers thought this must necessarily mark the end of his series. They were very surprised to see he continued to produce more books. Despite an increasingly critical reception Castaneda continued to be very popular with the reading public. Castaneda went on to write fourteen books in all, three published posthumously.

In 1997 Castaneda launched a law suit against his ex-wife, Margaret Runyon Castaneda, over her book, 'A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda'; but this was dropped when Castaneda died.

Castaneda died on April 27 1998 from liver cancer. Little is known about his death. There was no public service, Castaneda was apparently cremated and the ashes were sent to Mexico.

Castaneda's philosophy
His books can be read as a philosophical/pragmatical text that express a world view by which a person can live one's life. There is a growing movement world-wide of practitioners of this philosophy.

This world view is unlike either traditional Western or Eastern culture. Though some precepts can be said to resemble Eastern "Zen" in terms of the disciplines taught and techniques used, the underlying structure is fundamentally different.

According to Castaneda, the most significant facts in a person's life are his possession of awareness and its impending termination at death. The primary goal of a Toltec "Warrior" is the continuation of his awareness after bodily death - to "dart past the Eagle and be free", in the words of the tradition, where the Eagle is the force which consumes the awareness of all living beings.

To cheat death in this way requires all of the discipline and procedures that constitute the Warrior's way of life. These practices are devised to maximise the Warrior's personal power, or energy. The condition of not wasting this energy is known as "impeccability".

Sufficient personal power leads to the mastery of awareness, chiefly the controlled movement of what is known as the "assemblage point". This is an artifact of the tradition's description of another world underlying what we perceive as ordinary reality. In this description men are glowing cocoons of awareness inhabiting a universe consisting of the Eagle's "emanations", described euphemistically as all-pervading filaments of light.

Our cocoons are intersected throughout by these filaments, producing perception, but we filter our perceptions by concentrating on only a small bundle. The assemblage point is the focusing lens which selects from the emanations. In its accustomed position, the assemblage point produces what we perceive as the daily world of human beings. Movement of the assemblage point permits perception of the world in different ways; small movements lead to small changes in perception and large movements to radical changes. For example, dreaming is presented as the result of a movement of the assemblage point; "power plants" such as Peyote, used in the early stages of Castaneda's apprenticeship, produce powerfully altered states of mind through such movement.

Castaneda describes complex and bizarre worlds experienced through the controlled movement of the assemblage point in dreaming; his premise is that the world of the dreams of a warrior is no less real than the world of daily life. This follows logically from the description of both worlds as being simply the result of positions of the assemblage point. He depicts complex interactions with unearthly beings in dream worlds and describes his fear of being physically trapped by these malicious but charismatic beings.

Amongst the various practices of a warrior, Tensegrity, a series of meditative stretching and posing techniques, is introduced in Castaneda's final works. The term is borrowed from architecture - "tensional integrity". Tensegrity is promoted by Cleargreen, Inc, a company founded in the 90s, closely affiliated with Castaneda, which runs workshops and sells various materials relating to Castaneda's work. There are many individual and group practitioners around the world. Tensegrity and much of Castaneda's other work are the subject of a variety of recurring disputes.

Interpretation and criticism (the Castaneda controversy)
Many critics doubt the existence of Don Juan, citing inconsistencies in Don Juan's personality across the books and in the sequence of events in the books. Many Castaneda supporters claim in turn that the very fact of handling awareness and perception accounts for this; and that the actual existence per se of Don Juan is irrelevant, since the important matter is the theme that Don Juan presents.

What is easily understood is the fact that the writing style changes greatly from the first to the last of the "Don Juan" books. The Teachings of Don Juan is an anthropologist's journal containing a lot of seemingly irrelevant, non-fiction information. The Eagle's Gift (eighth book) is a novel-like work with specific characters on a journey towards what they call "Total Freedom", and where the words of Don Juan seem more like those of a scientist.

As Castaneda was very elusive, and because his works were taken up by young people at a time when mystical and shamanic traditions were in fashion, many professionals cast doubt on the authenticity of contents of his works. When he followed up The Teachings of Don Juan with a series of equally popular books, including A Separate Reality (1971), Journey to Ixtlan (1972), and Tales of Power (1975), even more questions were raised as to how much of his work was true anthropology and how much was his own creation.

Another way to read the books is as a sort of game, almost like a detective novel. Depending upon one's approach, they could be either accepted at face-value in their entirety, or discarded. Some of the material could be considered true, some fictional; and some of the events described probably appeared to be real at the time, but could be interpreted as hallucinations. It is up to the reader to decide.

Significant characters In Castaneda's works
This is a list of characters, claimed to be real persons, mentioned in Castaneda's works. Castaneda makes it clear that these are not the persons' real names (ostensibly to protect their identity). In denoting their function within each generation of practitioners, terms are used which can only be understood by reading Castaneda's writings:

Significant event in the lineage
• The nagual Sebastian's encounter in the 1700s with an ancient seer, the "death defier", also referred to as the "tenant". That encounter dramatically altered their lineage and was what separates the "old" seers from the "new" seers. Castaneda stated that the death defier met with every nagual since Sebastien, including with Carlos.

By way of introduction, it would be foolish to present a biographical account of Carlos Castaneda without being very tentative. Not only was he a very private man, but also his writings are full of ambiguity. However, here goes ..

Carlos Ce'sar Arana Castaneda was born on Christmas Day 1925 in Sao Paolo, Brazil or Cajamarca, Peru (accounts conflict).

Castaneda suggested his mother died when he was seven and he was raised by his father, a professor of literature; however, it appears that his father was actually a goldsmith and his mother died when he was 24.

In 1951 Carlos Castaneda emigrated to the United States. As an anthropology graduate at UCLA he wrote his master's thesis about his journey through the Arizona-Mexico desert. Casteneda said he stopped in an Arizona border town, Nogales, and in a Greyhound bus depot, he met an old Yaqui Indian from Sonora, Mexico named Juan Matus.

This man was a sorcerer, or shaman, and under his tutelage over many years Castaneda experimented with hallucinogens to achieve 'states of nonordinary reality'.

The thesis was published as 'The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge' in 1968 and became an international bestseller.

In 1997 Castaneda launched a law suit against his ex-wife, Margaret Runyon Castaneda, over her book, 'A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda.' This was dropped when Castaneda died.

Not much is known about his death. There was no public service, and apparently Castaneda was cremated and the ashes sent to Mexico. According to Deborah Drooz, the executor of his estate, Castaneda died on April 27 1998 from liver cancer.

Carlos Castaneda's works have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages.



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