Carlos Castaneda  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Carlos Castaneda (December 25, 1925April 27, 1998) was a Peruvian-born American author. He wrote a series of books that purport to describe his training in traditional Mesoamerican shamanism, which he referred to as a form of sorcery. The books and Castaneda, who rarely spoke in public about his work, have been controversial for many years. Supporters claim the books are either true or at least valuable works of philosophy and descriptions of practices which enable an increased awareness. Critics claim the books are shams, works of fiction, and not empirically verifiable works of anthropology as claimed. Some contested aspects of his work are the descriptions of the use of psychotropic plants as a means to induce altered states of awareness. In Castaneda's first two books, he describes the Yaqui way of knowledge using for assistance the use of powerful indigenous plants, such as peyote and datura. In his third book, Journey to Ixtlan, he makes clear that the use of psychotropic plants 'power plants' or substances was not necessary to achieve heightened awareness although his teacher advised its use was beneficial in helping to free the stubborn mind of some persons. He states that Don Juan used them on Castaneda to demonstrate that experiences outside those known in day-to-day life are real and tangible.

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