Book Review of The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
reviewed on


Carlos Casteneda tells the following story about himself: in 1960, as a student of anthropology at UCLA, he made trips to the Southwest in search of information about the ways American Indians used medicinal plants; there he made the acquaintance of Juan Matus, an elderly Indian shaman who, within a year, made Casteneda the first-ever non-native apprentice in the ways of the Yaqui "man of knowledge," a brujo, a sorcerer. In the form of anthropological narrative, Casteneda told the story of his apprenticeship to Matus in a book called The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. It became an international bestseller, and many other books followed, including A Separate Reality, Journey to Ixtlan, Tales of Power, and The Power of Silence. The first several books are vivid and entertaining, whimsical and inspiring. Their two central characters, Carlos and don Juan-a sort of hallucinogen-ingesting Boswell and Johnson-are charming companions and antagonists on a series of mystical adventures.