The Teachings of Don Juan
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Cover of 30th anniversary edition
|Publisher||University of California Press|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
|Followed by||A Separate Reality|
The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge was published by the University of California Press in 1968 as a work of anthropology, though many critics contend that it is a work of fiction. It was written by Carlos Castaneda and submitted as his Master's thesis in the school of Anthropology. It purports to document the events that took place during an apprenticeship with a self-proclaimed Yaqui Indian Sorcerer, don Juan Matus from Sonora, Mexico between 1960 and 1965.
The book is divided into two sections. The first section, The Teachings, is a first-person narrative that documents Castaneda's initial interactions with don Juan. He speaks of his encounters with Mescalito (a teaching spirit inhabiting all peyote plants), divination with lizards and flying using the "yerba del diablo" (lit. "Devil's Weed"; Jimson weed), and turning into a blackbird using "humito" (lit. "little smoke"; a smoked powder containing Psilocybe mexicana). The second, A Structural Analysis, is an attempt, Castaneda says, at "disclos[ing] the internal cohesion and the cogency of don Juan’s Teachings."
The 30th-anniversary edition, published by the University of California Press in 1998, contains commentary by Castaneda not present in the original edition. He writes of a general discouragement from the project by his professors (besides Clement Woodward Meighan, a professor who supported the project early in its conception. In the foreword, Castaneda gives "full credit" for the approval of his dissertation to Meighan). He offers a new thesis on a mind-state he calls "total freedom" and claims that he used the teachings of his Yaqui shaman as "springboards into new horizons of cognition". In addition, it contains a foreword by anthropologist Walter Goldschmidt, who was a professor of anthropology at UCLA during the time the books were written, and an introduction by the author. A 40th anniversary edition was published by the University of California Press in 2008.
The Teachings is referenced in the 2013 film A Case of You, in which the protagonist reads the book to impress his dream girl.
- "The Straight Dope: Did Carlos Castaneda hallucinate that stuff in the Don Juan books or make it up?". 2002-06-21. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
- Castaneda, Carlos. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Berkeley: U of California P, 1998: 155.
- Castaneda, Carlos. The Teachings of Don Juan. New York: Eagle's Trust, 1998. Google books. Web. 26 Nov. 2014. https://books.google.com
- Walters, Ray (11 January 1981). "Paperback Talk". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 December 2019.