The Teachings of Don Carlos

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don carlos

The titular ‘Don Carlos’ refers to Carlos Castaneda. But of course, the ‘Don’ is really a reference to Don Juan Matus, who initiated Castaneda into the Toltec tradition of Shamanism. In his book, The teachings of Don Carlos, Victor Sanchez aims to articulate Castaneda’s many genre-defining works into more clearly defined practices. It is clear that Sanchez too, has authentically explored shamanism as a spiritual lineage. And while he definitely succeeds in bringing down Castaneda’s works into useful and more clearly articulated practices, much of the spirit of Shamanism, which was so vividly communicated in Castaneda’s work, is missing here. Sanchez’s book is therefore useful […]

Overworld

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overworld

The overworld resembles what is called ‘heaven’ in many traditions. It is the place where beings such as gods, angels, spirits and holy ancestors dwell. In shamanism, the shaman’s soul leaves her body in a state of trance and she travels to either the underworld or the overworld. Usually for the purpose of healing others. In contrast to the underworld, the overworld is a place of brilliant light, ‘high up’, light as a feather, transcendent and spiritual. Many traditions posit these ‘peak experiences’ as the goal, including humanistic psychologies and new-age spiritual traditions. In contrast, the tradition that became modern depth psychology, including Neo-Platonism and […]

Underworld

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underworld

In Greek Mythology, the underworld is called Hades, as is the god who reigns there. The underworld is the place where the souls of the dead go. In Shamanism, the shaman’s soul leaves her body in a state of trance and she travels to either the underworld or the overworld. Usually for the purpose of healing others. In contrast to the overworld, the underworld is dark, low, turbulent, difficult to navigate and emotionally ‘heavy’. It is said to be very difficult to travel to the underworld and impossible to return, once there. In most traditions there is usually a very dangerous river one has to […]

Nagual

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nagual

The word nagual is pronounced ‘nahwil’ and comes from ancient Toltec culture, a shamanic culture that flourished between 900 and 1168 CE. And whom the Aztecs regarded as their cultural predecessors. In his book on Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Carlos, Victor Sanchez helps us to get a sense of the nagual: ‘The nagual is that about which it is not possible to think. … No one knows anything about what lies beyond the borders of the island. The nagual would be all that space of unfathomable mystery surrounding it. Although the nagual cannot be understood or verbalized, it nevertheless can be witnessed and […]

‘Seeing’ the world

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Seeing the world

‘Arrogance and habitual patterns are obstacles to experiencing drala.π In order to discover magic in the world, we have to overcome the individual neurosis and self-centered attitudes that prevent us from experiencing the greater vision beyond ourselves.’ – Chogyam Trungpa, from Shambhala, the Sacred Path of the Warrior Description of the world It is striking how people often behave in ways that are contradictory to the truths they proclaim to believe in. Of course, we easily notice this in everyone else, but rarely see how we do it ourselves. But this simply illustrates how much of what we do and say are ripples emanating from […]