Before Castaneda started his apprenticeship he was an undergraduate student enrolled in the anthropology department at UCLA. In that capacity, after a series of events, Castaneda found himself in the desert southwest on a quest to research medicinal plants without the grace of his professors. Because of that lack of support Castaneda was just about ready to give up and head back to Los Angeles when a colleague suggested they go on a Road Trip together. It is my contention that just before he went on that Road Trip during the spring into the early part of the summer of with a colleague he calls Bill Castaneda found himself in a deep state of despondency.
The depth and heaviness of that despondency, combined with one other factor , convinced Castaneda that if he was ever going to climb out of the academic quagmire he found himself in as well as find the answers to the questions he was seeking, he would have to follow through on the Road Trip. With an unknown outcome reeking with destiny, the trip, except possibly for Castaneda's non-understanding but unwavering sense of the Power of the Omen, started out relatively uneventful.
However, as a large portion of the literate world knows now, the trip ended, according to how Castaneda presents it, in the direct meeting between himself and Don Juan Matus, the shaman-sorcerer he eventually apprenticed under. The one other factor congruently placed into the mix was his colleague's last name.
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Although seemingly an extremely minor incident in the overall stream of events to most outside observers, Castaneda, upon hearing it for the first time was practically bowled over by it. The circumstances surrounding that initial meeting sent shivers down his spine striking him as being nothing less than a potential destiny-laden OMEN I get into the specifics of that first time in the very important Footnote  further down, the strength of which Don Juan would eventually call those forces. However, at the time, as no more than a mere neophyte Castaneda was subconsciously unable to stop himself, the powerful flow of events pushing him over the top into making his final decision to go on the Road Trip.
In his eleventh book, The Active Side of Infinity , Castaneda lays out in his own words how his colleague tried to convince him to go on the Road Trip. Castaneda writes: I felt so despondent that I turned him down. I see no point in pursuing this idea of fieldwork any longer. Come with me and see how you like the Southwest.
To wit, to back up the above, the following, culled mostly from Castaneda's eleventh book Active Side of Infinity , coupled with some rather long discussions with my Uncle , who had met Castaneda during the summer of , underlines more thoroughly both Castaneda's reference and mine to his despondency after hearing the advice from the seasoned anthropologists: In early , as an undergraduate student attending UCLA and well before he had any experience with or gained knowledge of Sacred Datura except perhaps some small inferences of the plant from the venerated Cahuilla Shaman, Salvador Lopez , Castaneda approached a tenured professor of anthropology with the idea of writing a paper called " Ethnobotanical Data " and publish it in a journal that dealt exclusively with anthropological issues of the desert southwest.
Castaneda was going to collect medicinal plants from all over the desert and have them properly identified by the UCLA Botanical Garden, then describe why and how the Indians of the southwest used them. The professor told Castaneda he thought that fieldwork was a travesty, saying he should pay more attention to his formal studies instead, perhaps thinking about studying linguistics or comparative religions, for example.
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Castaneda, somewhat dismayed and becoming even more downhearted about the whole thing, took his proposition to a second professor and the second professor ended up being even less helpful than the first, actually laughing at Castaneda openly. He told him his paper was a Mickey Mouse idea and that nothing in it was even remotely close to being anthropology. As a last resort, Castaneda, not wanting to give up on his idea, primarily because he wanted to be in the field and do original research instead of just library research, went to Arizona where he heard there were some reputable and high ranking anthropologists who were actually doing fieldwork in his same general area of interest.
There, Castaneda met with a number of extremely seasoned anthropologists, one of whom, according to discussions with my uncle was thought to be Edward H. Spicer , a professor who had written a great deal about the Yaqui Indians of Arizona as well as those of Sonora, Mexico.
The professor Castaneda met with didn't laugh openly or run him down to his face, but he didn't give him any kind of encouragement or advice either. A younger colleague of the professor was, however, more outspoken. He told Castaneda that he would be better off going back to the library at UCLA and simply sitting around researching what he needed from their huge catalog of herbalists' books.
As a so-called respected authority in his field it was his opinion that everything anybody would ever want to know about medicinal plants from the desert southwest had already been delt with, both in being classified, cataloged and published to-no-end. Most likely he said, they could be found sitting around totally unused and collecting nothing but dust on the shelves at UCLA. He finished by telling Castaneda, that in his experience, if any traditional curing practices did remain among the Indians of the southwest, they were not about to divulge any of them to a stranger.
At the time of the above radio interview Castaneda was heading toward the crest of power, fame, and fortune amongst a fairly wide general audience, and reluctantly so to a small core of smoldering beneath the collar academic peers. It was a lot different at the start of his Road Trip in the early summer of He was nowhere close to peer level in the minds of the "experienced social scientists" he came in contact with those in the field OR at the university. He was most likely thought of as nothing much more than a lowly undergraduate student the bottom-feeders of academia inturn undercutting his credibility in any and all of his ideas.
All of which, taken together, unnecessarily contributed to the depth of Castaneda's gut-wrenching despondency. Inside he was truly suffering. More and more he felt like he and the ideas he held were worthless. In the end it seemed as though there was nothing left to do except flat-out quit or take the advice of the seasoned anthropologists and leave Arizona for Los Angeles and a life of library research.
However, at the very last minute, a colleague Castaneda had met in the field stepped forward and out of the blue offered what he thought was a valid suggestion a Road Trip. The colleague was NOT even close to being one of those high ranking anthropologists or experienced social scientists. Although highly respected in the field, he was often categorized behind his back as not much more than a mere rock hound or pothunter by most of those same scientists but who, because of having met him years later through an association with my uncle, I have bypassed the derogatory pothunter label, referring to him instead as: " The rest is history.
For us the readers, though, regardless of the importance of the role the colleague played in the overall scheme of things or how Castaneda may have or may not have arrived at his decision to go, throughout all of his books the colleague remained nothing but anonymous to the core.
At the most he was called only Bill at one end of the spectrum to never being identified with a last name at the other. However, there is a slight perfume within Castaneda lore that his colleague Bill did have a last name: Campbell with his full name being William Lawrence Campbell. Interestingly enough there was another man Castaneda was most certainly aware of with the last name Campbell the noted author of classic mythology and the relationship of that mythology to Native American legends, by the name of Joseph Campbell , who wrote the standard The Hero With A Thousand Faces , an absolute must-read for anybody such as Castaneda who delved into similar or like areas.follow url
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So seeped in mythology was Joseph Campbell, George Lucas sought out all of his works along with Castaneda's it must be said for his Star Wars series as so found in Carlos Castaneda and George Lucas. Lucas even invited Campbell and his wife, the renown dancer, choreographer and director Jean Erdman, to his Skywalker Ranch north of San Francisco for a stay, such invitations being an extreme rarity for Lucas. Of course, at the time of the meeting between Castaneda and his colleague and their early summer of Road Trip together, even though Castaneda may very well have heard of Joseph Campbell through formal anthropological studies and required reading at UCLA or simply striking out on his own through a personal thirst for knowledge at this stage of the game, Joseph Campbell or not, Castaneda was YET to meet Don Juan.
The thing is, even though Castaneda was nowhere close to being a full-fledged Shaman or anything else of any consequence in the realm of the spiritual or occult at the time he continually kept finding himself having fleeting flashes of intuition in an almost primordial inkling of future events. So said, in a precursor to his shamanistic future it is my belief that: Paralleling a phenomenon that Buddhists refer to as Dharmadhatu , AND , combined with a growing despondency that was constantly being fed and re-fed by the non-acceptance of faculty powers-that-be, AND , even though Castaneda was yet to be formally coached or versed in things shaman, THAT just meeting a man with the last name Campbell would have been considered by him as nothing less than a perfect OMEN.
And Bill, who speaks only a few words of Spanish, made up an absurd phrase in that language. He looked at me as if asking whether he was making sense, but I did not know what he had had in mind; he then smiled shyly and walked away. The old man looked at me and began laughing.
I explained to him that my friend sometimes forgot that he did not speak Spanish. Don Juan speaking to Castaneda says: "The decision as to who can be a warrior and who can only be a hunter is not up to us. That decision is in the realm of the powers that guide men. That's why your playing with Mescalito was such an important omen.
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Those forces guided you to me; they took you to that bus depot, remember? So, I taught you how to be a hunter.
And then the other perfect omen, Mescalito himself playing with you. See what I mean? He didn't mean just any clown, however. It went much deeper than that. Don Juan was drawing on his knowledge of centuries of tradition from the history of the sacred clown , or as he is known, the Shaman-Trickster.
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Clown or no, through it all it is easy to see from the above that it is not just me and me alone making the case that the presence of Castaneda's colleague Bill being in his life is viewed as an omen but Don Juan himself making the case. He is saying that Bill's presence upon the scene in the overall scheme of things is not only an omen, but the Perfect Omen. That is the why Castaneda was moved to act but the final compulsion that pushed him over the edge to actually act was driven by a single overwhelming event as described in the ever important Footnote .
Although seemingly an extremely minor incident in the overall flow of events to most outside observers, Castaneda, upon hearing it for the first time was practically bowled over by his name, the results of which sent shivers down his spine and striking him as being nothing less than a potential destiny-laden OMEN and the strength of which Don Juan would eventually call those forces but at the time, as a neophyte, Castaneda was unable grasp and subconsciously unable to stop, pushing him over the top into making his final decision to go on the Road Trip.
The average man, in ignorance, believes that those forces can be explained or changed; he doesn't really know how to do that, but he expects that the actions of mankind will explain them or change them sooner or later.
A sorcerer, on the other hand, does not think of explaining or changing them; instead, he learns to use such forces by redirecting himself and adapting to their direction. Babaylan were highly respected members of the community, on par with the pre-colonial noble class. They were powerful ritual specialists with the capability to influence the weather, and tap the various spirits in nature.