Recapitulation is a term first used by Carlos Castaneda in his book, The Eagle’s Gift, published in 1982. In The Eagle's Gift, Florinda, one of don Juan's party of warriors, teaches Castaneda about the process and purpose of recapitulation. She explained that recapitulation consisted of "recollecting one's life down to the most insignificant detail" and that when a woman's recapitulation was complete she "no longer abided by the limitations of her person." She further explained that in the process of recapitulation one recounts all the feelings they invested in whatever memory they were reviewing.
Florinda told Castaneda that recapitulation often began with a list of items to be recalled. One then proceeded to work through the list one item at a time staying with the item until all of the emotions around the event had been felt. The recapitulation was done with the breath. While recalling the event, one inhaled slowly, moved their head from the right shoulder to the left. The next breath moved from left to right and was an exhalation. The purpose of the breath was to restore energy. When breathing from right to left one would "pick up the filaments they left behind" and when breathing from left to right they would "eject filaments left in them by other luminous bodies involved in the event being recollected."
Following Castaneda's introduction of the term recapitulation, Víctor Sánchez, author of The Toltec Path of Recapitulation: Healing Your Past to Free Your Soul, published in 2001, also wrote about a technique by the same name. For Sanchez, recapitulation is a procedure of self-healing. It is done by reliving the events of one’s past. The damage is caused by repetitive emotional conflicts. When these conflicts persist they drain one’s vital energy. Sanchez says he developed and adapted techniques of recapitulation described in his book from procedures he learned from his time with the Wirrarika people, whom he calls the surviving Toltecs. This is distinct from Castaneda's use of the term Toltec referring to modern magic practitioners based on older Toltec beliefs.
According to Kristopher Raphael, author of The Mastery of Awareness, Seeing Through the Eyes of a Jaguar, published in 2003, emotional charges blind one from perceiving reality as it truly is. Recapitulation is used to discharge one’s emotions so that they do not react and one can perceive clearly.
Lujan Matus, warns against allowing the social self to decide the direction of recapitulation because it directs the review to validate one's current mind-set rather than transcending it. He advocates recapitulation from the perspective of a seer, which is a totally different affair to methodical emotional analysis. This approach amounts to cultivating a living state where recapitulation spontaneously occurs and is dealt with in the moment.
- Castaneda, Carlos (December 1, 1991). The Eagle's Gift. Washington Square Press. pp. 287–288. ISBN 978-0-671-73251-6.
- Sanchez, Victor (July 1, 2001). The Toltec Path of Recapitulation: Healing Your Past to Free Your Soul. Bear & Company. pp. 13–16. ISBN 978-1-879181-60-1.
- Raphael, Kristopher (September 1, 2003). The Mastery of Awareness: Seeing Through the Eyes of a Jaguar, Part I. Lightwurks, LLC. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-9722956-5-9.
- Matus, Lujan (June 29, 2014). Whisperings of the Dragon: Shamanic Practices to Awaken Your Primal Power. CreateSpace. pp. 90–101. ISBN 978-1499525618.
Desper Jr., James "The End Of History: A Commentary On The Warrior's Way: A System Of Knowledge First Reported In The Books Of Carlos Castaneda" Third Attention Publishing, 2012