I have read all the Carlos Castaneda's books, I practiced some of their exercises, some have been helpful but I've always been in doubt about whether Don Juan ever existed, or if the events in the books from Carlos Castaneda never happened.

About the author from Wikipedia:

Starting with The Teachings of Don Juan in 1968, Castaneda wrote a series of books that describe his training in shamanism. The books, narrated in the first person, relate his experiences under the tutelage of a Yaqui "Man of Knowledge" named don Juan Matus.

  • I've tried to clarify your question and provide some context, the part about whether it is a useful way of life would be off-topic here, so I just removed it.
    – Mad Scientist
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 16:02
  • Nice, I this to myself since I read the first book.
    – pedrofurla
    Commented Oct 5, 2011 at 19:20

1 Answer 1


Richard De Mille's "Castaneda's Journey" does a good job establishing factual discrepancies in Castaneda's accounts. Because Castaneda purported to be passing on a secret shamanic tradition, defenders can explain such discrepancies by appealing to either the need for secrecy or service to a higher truth.

A skeptical reader might note that the books are inconsistent in terms of character and content: Don Juan is a frightening figure at first but then later books portray him as more sly and jocular. The experiences reported get more and more fantastic until Castaneda is jumping off cliffs, and then they calm down in subsequent books. Members of Don Juan's circle come and go as if in response to narrative demands. Over time, the "tradition" described becomes less drug-influenced and more feminist, as if they were being tailored for the then-contemporary tastes.

  • Can you add an excerpt for kudos?
    – Sklivvz
    Commented Oct 6, 2011 at 7:41
  • I got rid of my copies many years ago... Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 2:07
  • 3
    To be fair, "frightening figure at first but then later books portray him as more sly and jocular" could reflect the two getting to know each other better and building a rapport, and "the "tradition" described becomes less drug-influenced and more feminist" could reflect the author's focus changing over time? Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 22:04
  • Well, the author himself says that he initially approached Don Juan because he was interested in the drugs, and was, initially, almost not interested at all in the non drugs related rituals; this changes over time.
    – giorgian
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 10:19

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