This time I want to share not my own writing, but that of my husband Michael Peter Langevin. Simply because ... this article, recently published in the July issue of The Echo World, is great and of big interest to all the people out there fascinated by Carlos Castaneda.
My Personal Experiences with Carlos Castaneda Part 1
By Michael Peter Langevin
By Michael Peter Langevin
When I was in high school in 1968, being sixteen years old, I found a book in my favorite book store called The Teachings of Don Juan; A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, by Carlos Castaneda. I had read books on Native American shamanism. I had experienced my first adventures with mescaline and LSD, and this book put some new meanings into all of that. It offered a whole new way of viewing reality and learning to move in it. I read it multiple times and practiced many of the suggested exercises, from learning how to find my power spots wherever I was, to seeing auras. As the years passed by I read each of Castaneda’s subsequent books as they were released. I also traveled to South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean Islands and studied shamanism, voodoo, sanitaria and a wide range of occult and magical paths.
Eventually I helped found Magical Blend Magazine. The rest of the staff and I would write requests to our favorite famous people requesting articles or interviews. We would write fifty or more for anyone we would get a yes for. One day in 1985, the phone rang in the office. A staff member came to me and said that a guy who says he is Carlos Castaneda wants to talk to you. I was nearly speechless. This was unlikely since Castaneda had more or less removed himself from public view in 1973. But, the man convinced me he was Carlos and said he liked what we were doing with the magazine. He explained he had a magical act he did once a year. He would reach into his mail bag and pull out three letters and try to do what they requested. This month he had pulled out an interview request from Magical Blend Magazine, as well as one from a magazine from Brazil and one from a Latin American journalist. So, if we were OK with the arrangement, he was going to be interviewed in Spanish and send a copy of it to the Brazil magazine to translate into Portuguese and a copy to us to translate into English. We were to print the exclusive English version. This was big. Castaneda had done few interviews since the first book came out and none for many years. I thanked him profusely and we spoke a bit. We got the promised interview. We had it translated and cut it in half to print in two issues in a row to increase sales. It helped establish Magical Blend Magazine as a unique publication. Castaneda called after the second one appeared to basically let us know he thought we had done a good job and to say thanks.
The interview had impact apart from sales. Because we had been able to publish an exclusive interview with Castaneda, we were able to interview Miguel Ruiz, Alberto Villoldo, Victor Sanchez, Ken Eagle Feather, Lynn Andrews, Starhawk, Sun Bear and many other immensely popular spiritual teachers. Who wouldn’t want to be in the same magazine that had featured Carlos Castaneda?
When Castaneda decided to slowly step back into the spotlight in his last years, he lived on a large estate in Los Angeles, which he shared with some people he claimed had been his fellow students of Don Juan Matus. Among those who lived there were Taisha Abelar (formerly Maryann Simko) and Florinda Donner-Grau (formerly Regine Thal). Like Castaneda, Taisha Abelar and Florinda Donner-Grau were students of anthropology at UCLA. Each went on to write books that explored the experience of being students of Don Juan Matus and his world from a more feminist perspective. Living at the estate were also, Carol Tiggs, Amy Wallace, Kylie Lundahl, Bruce Wagner and Patricia Partin.
One day in 1992 we received a call from Florinda Donner-Grau who had just published Being-in-Dreaming: An Initiation into the Sorcerers’ World. We set up an interview and our readers loved it. One year later we received a call from Taisha Abelar who had just published The Sorcerer’s Crossing: A Woman’s Journey, a book on shamanism with a forward by Castaneda. We did an interview and our readers again loved it.
In 1995 Carlos Castaneda and some of his closest companions incorporated a company called Cleargreen and began spreading his new teachings called Tensegrity. This is a term used by Castaneda to refer to a way of being he claimed was taught to him by his teacher Don Juan Matus. It includes some movements called magical passes (positions of body and breath) that Castaneda claimed were developed by indigenous peoples of the Americas who lived in Mexico in times prior to the Spanish conquest, and had been passed down by 25 generations of Toltec shamans. Cleargreen was incorporated as a for-profit corporation founded by Castaneda in order to promote his Tensegrity teachings. The Cleargreen statement of purpose says in part, “Cleargreen is a corporation that has a twofold purpose. First, it sponsors and organizes seminars and workshops on Carlos Castaneda’s Tensegrity, and second, it is a publishing house.”
Castaneda and his people sent us videos and press releases and articles announcing and explaining Tensegrity and we did reviews and ran articles about Tensegrity. I was invited to attend for free at an expensive Tensegrity workshop. I readily agreed to attend and got to spend some time talking with Castaneda and his closest companions. They thanked me for our support over the years and treated me as an honored guest. Unfortunately, the whole experience was a bit of a let-down, and felt mechanical, rather than magical, to me.
Castaneda’s first wife, Margaret Runyan Castaneda, and his son, C.J. Castaneda, came out with a tell-all-book in 1996 called A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda. Margaret had been married to Castaneda for six months when his first book was released. Soon thereafter they were divorced. I contacted Margaret and C.J. and asked if they were up for an interview. However, as it turned out, they were so bitter and hateful of him that we decided not to run it.
PART 2 OF THIS ARTICLE WILL BE PUBLISHED IN THE AUGUST ISSUE OF THE ECHO WORLD.