By Dr. Dean Chavers
He came out with his first book in 1968 at the height of the New Age craze in California. The next thing you know, anthropologists, literature professors, sociologists, historians, and others who should have known better were requiring their poor students to read Castaneda. He eventually published 12 books about Don Juan, and they sold 17 million copies.
There was no Don Juan, there were no long stays in Mexico, and there was no apprenticeship in what Castaneda called “sorcery.” It turned out that he had spent about six months in Tucson in a motel, not meeting with the mysterious Don Juan, but making the whole thing up.
His main controversial point was that Don Juan Matus, his made-up subject, was a witch man who could have out-of-body experiences. It is amazing to me that millions of people could believe this junk. But as my wife Toni says, people bought it and read because they wanted to believe it. But the truth is that no matter what a shyster such as Castaneda says, no Indian or any other person can fly through the air.