The Teachings of Don Juan

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The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
The Teachings of Don Juan.jpg
Cover of 30th anniversary edition
AuthorCarlos Castaneda
CountryUnited States
GenreAnthropology, memoir
PublisherUniversity of California Press
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover & Paperback)
Followed byA 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 it is now widely considered a work of fiction.[1][2] 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."[3]

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".[4] 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 book was a New York Times best-seller, and it—along with its sequels—sold over 10 million copies in the United States.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "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.
  2. ^ Marshall, Robert (April 12, 2007). "The dark legacy of Carlos Castaneda". Salon. Salon Media Group. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  3. ^ Castaneda, Carlos. The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge. Berkeley: U of California P, 1998: 155.
  4. ^ Castaneda, Carlos. The Teachings of Don Juan. New York: Eagle's Trust, 1998. Google books. Web. 26 Nov. 2014.
  5. ^ Walters, Ray (11 January 1981). "Paperback Talk". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 December 2019.