CARLOS CESAR ARANA CASTANEDA (1925(?)-1998)
Book 1. (1968) "THE TEACHINGS OF DON JUAN, A YAQI WAY OF KNOWLEDGE" (Учение дона Хуана: путь знания индейцев яки)
In the summer of 1960, while I was an anthropology student at the University of California, Los Angeles, I made several trips to the Southwest to collect information on the medicinal plants used by the Indians of the area. The events I describe here began during one of my trips.
I was waiting in a border town for a Greyhound bus talking with a friend who had been my guide and helper in the survey. Suddenly he leaned towards me and whispered that the man, a white-haired old Indian, who was sitting in front of the window was very learned about plants, especially peyote. I asked my friend to introduce me to this man.
My friend greeted him, then went over and shook his hand. After they had talked for a while, my friend signal led me to join them, but immediately left me alone with the old man, not even bothering to introduce us. He was not in the least embarrassed. I told him my name and he said that he was called Juan and that he was at my service. He used the Spanish polite form of address. We shook hands at my initiative and then remained silent for some time. It was not a strained silence, but a quietness, natural and relaxed on both sides.Though his dark face and neck were wrinkled, showing his age, it struck me that his body was agile and muscular. I then told him that I was interested in obtaining information about medicinal plants. Although in truth I was almost totally ignorant about peyote, I found myself pretending that I knew a great deal, and even suggesting that it might be to his advantage to talk with me.
As I rattled on, he nodded slowly and looked at me, but said nothing. I avoided his eyes and we finished by standing, the two of us, in dead silence. Finally, after what seemed a very long time, don Juan got up and looked out of the window. His bus had come. He said good-bye and left the station.
Part 1: The Teachings (Учение)
My notes on my first session with don Juan are dated 23 June 1961. That was the occasion when the teachings began. I had seen him several times previously in the capacity of an observer only. At every opportunity I had asked him to teach me about peyote. He ignored my request every time, but he never completely dismissed the subject, and I interpreted his hesitancy as a possibility that he might be inclined to talk about his knowledge with more coaxing.
In this particular session he made it obvious to me that he might consider my request provided I possessed clarity of mind and purpose in reference to what I had asked him. It was impossible for me to fulfill such a condition, for I had asked him to teach me about peyote only as a means of establishing a link of communication with him. I thought his familiarity with the subject might predispose him to be more open and willing to talk, thus allowing me an entrance into his knowledge on the properties of plants. He had interpreted my request literally, however, and was concerned about my purpose in wishing to learn about peyote.
Friday, 23 June 1961
Monday, 7 August 1961
I arrived at don Juan's house in Arizona about seven o'clock on Friday night. Five other Indians were sitting with him on the porch of his house. I greeted him and sat waiting for them to say something. After a formal silence one of the men got up, walked over to me, and said, "Buenas noches." I stood up and answered, "Buenas noches." Then all the other men got up and came to me and we all mumbled "Buenas noches" and shook hands either by barely touching one another's finger-tips or by holding the hand for an instant and then dropping it quite abruptly.
We all sat down again. They seemed to be rather shy - at a loss for words, although they all spoke Spanish.It must have been about half past seven when suddenly they all got up and walked towards the back of the house. Nobody had said a word for a long time. Don Juan signaled me to follow and we all got inside an old pickup truck parked there. I sat in the back with don Juan and two younger men. There were no cushions or benches and the metal floor was painfully hard, especially when we left the highway and got onto a dirt road. Don Juan whispered that we were going to the house of one of his friends who had seven mescalitos for me.I asked him, "Don't you have any of them yourself, don Juan?"
"I do, but I couldn't offer them to you. You see, someone else has to do this."
In the more than two years that elapsed between the time don Juan decided to teach me about the ally powers and the time he thought I was ready to learn about them in the pragmatic, participatory form he considered as learning, he gradually denned the general features of the two allies in question. He prepared me for the indispensable corollary of all the verbalizations, and the consolidation of all the teachings, the states of non-ordinary reality. At first he talked about the ally powers in a very casual manner. The first references I have in my notes are interjected between other topics of conversation.
Wednesday, 23 August 1961
"The devil's weed [Jimson weed] was my benefactor's ally. It could have been mine also, but I didn't like her."
Don Juan seldom spoke openly about Mescalito. Every time I questioned him on the subject he refused to talk, but he always said enough to create an impression of Mescalito, an impression that was always anthropomorphic. Mescalito was a male, not only because of the mandatory grammatical rule that gives the word a masculine gender, but also because of his constant qualities of being a protector and a teacher. Don Juan reaffirmed these characteristics in various forms every time we talked.
Sunday, 24 December 1961
"The devil's weed has never protected anyone. She serves only to give power. Mescalito, on the other hand, is gentle, like a baby."
Don Juan inquired periodically, in a casual way, about the state of my Datura plant. In the year that had elapsed from the time I replanted the root, the plant had grown into a large bush. It had seeded and the seedpods had dried. And don Juan judged it was time for me to learn more about the devil's weed.
Sunday, 27 January 1963
Today don Juan gave me the preliminary information on the "second portion" of the Datura root, the second step in learning the tradition. He said the second portion of the root was the real beginning of learning; in comparison with it, the first portion was like child's play. The second portion had to be mastered; it had to be in taken at least twenty times, he said, before one could go on to the third step.
Part 2: A Structural Analysis (Структурный анализ)
A Structural Analysis
The following structural scheme, abstracted from the data on the states of non-ordinary reality presented in the foregoing part of this work, is conceived as an attempt to disclose the internal cohesion and the cogency of don Juan's teachings. The structure, as I assess it, is composed of four concepts which are the main units: (1) man of knowledge; (2) a man of knowledge had an ally; (3) an ally had a rule; and (4) the rule was corroborated by special consensus. These four units are in turn composed of a number of subsidiary ideas; thus the total structure comprises all the meaningful concepts that were presented until the time I discontinued the apprenticeship. In a sense, these units represent successive levels of analysis, each level modifying the preceding one.*
Because this conceptual structure is completely dependent on the meaning of all its units, the following clarification seems to be pertinent at this point: Throughout this entire work, meaning has been rendered as I understood it. The component concepts of don Juan's knowledge as I have presented them here could not be the exact duplicate of what he said himself. In spite of all the effort I have put forth to render these concepts as faithfully as possible, their meaning has been deflected by my own attempts to classify them. The arrangement of the four main units of this structural scheme is, however, a logical sequence which appears to be free from the influence of extraneous classificatory devices of my own. But, insofar as the component ideas of each main unit are concerned, it has been impossible to discard my personal influence. At certain points extraneous classificatory items are necessary in order to render the phenomena understandable. And, if such a task was to be accomplished here, it had to be done by zigzagging back and forth from the alleged meanings and classificatory scheme of the teacher to the meanings and classificatory devices of the apprentice.
*For outline of the units of my structural analysis, see Appendix B.