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Saturday, October 14th, 2006

Time Event
12:05a
Castaneda ...
I'm getting so bad ... I used to dive right in to writing these reviews when I finished the book, now, you never know. I finished reading this a week ago, and am only getting off my duff to write about it because I'm within a couple of hours of reading of finishing up a follow-up similarly-themed book!

This is not to say I've been avoiding the subject ... The Power of Silence: Further Lessons of Don Juan was quite interesting ... it's just "what can you say about" a book by Carlos Castaneda? I'd read his "classic" first five books back in the 1970's, and they were certainly a significant factor in my subsequent Shamanic studies (although the work of the Peruvian Shamans with whom I've studied differed greatly from the "don Juan" model) ... and have since caught up with a couple of more.

If you're not familiar with Castaneda's books, they deal with his contacts with a Yaqui Shaman by the name of don Juan Matus ... Castaneda starts out as an earnest anthropologist and ends up as a Nagual. There is much conflicting opinion on the veracity of these stories, but it is very difficult for an outsider to judge ... there is a base-line consistency in the "mythos", however, which leads me to believe that these are, in fact, actual transmissions of a particular tradition (often referred to as "Toltec").

What is most interesting in The Power of Silence is the information on don Juan's "lineage", with stories about his teacher and his teacher's teacher, along with background on how don Juan was trained. In fact, a substantial part of this book is don Juan spinning these sorts of stories. There are other elements which involve Castaneda (including some fascinating stuff about not being able to remember really important information that one has learned in altered perceptions), but this is largely a book about the different styles and personalities and approaches of these shamanic teachers.

This is available in a paperback reissue edition, so you should be able to find it in your local store, but you can snag a copy of the hardcover from Amazon's new/used vendors for as little as two bucks (and can get a "like new" copy for under seven). Would I recommend this to somebody who hadn't read much in the genre? I don't know ... it could be confusing without the in-depth context the other books provide. However, if you read his early books and hadn't caught the later ones, this provides a very valuable look into a different area of the knowledge!


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