A "bloody" warrior's path: The dark secret life of Carlos Castaneda
How responsible is UCLA for the massive crimes and suicides that happened after the "honoris causa" guru's death?
"Witches don't die; they burn inside out," said Don Juan Matus, a fictional Yaqui native in one of the best-known bestsellers of history, 'The Teaching of Don Juan.'
However, since Carlos Castaneda died of cancer in 1988, unveiling the truth to his followers who had spent fortunes on his "tensegrity" courses, many refused to believe it.
"The Nahual is a sorcerer," they said. "It was his double who died."
This is only one of many lies from the infamous messiah of the counterculture - a man who inspired celebrities such as Jim Morrison, John Lennon, George Lucas, or Oliver Stone.
The Spanish investigator Manuel Carballal, author of 'The Secret Life of Carlos Castaneda,' compares Carlos Castaneda to Charles Manson:
"Both of them lead a sect in California in the sixties; they were both called Carlos, were short and looked alike," told the writer who devoted almost a decade to research Castaneda's life to The Objective. "The difference between them is that Castaneda got something more remarkable than to induce people to kill: he got them to commit suicide."
In 'The Other Reality,' one of Castaneda's last books, Don Juan tells the anthropologist that to become a witch and access the other inner reality, warriors must jump into the void. A young woman called Janine Emery, who had read every one of Castaneda's books, did so and threw herself off a bridge.
Similarly, a man killed his brother-in-law because he was sure that he was "stealing his energy," quoting Castaneda's work.
The guru, who had forced his adepts to break family bonds, be celibate and refuse maternity -and, of course, invented sexual rites at his convenience-, used to humiliate them to "destroy their egos," always speaking as Don Juan.
"When Castaneda said 'This is Don Juan's word,' it had the same effect as Jesus's word for a Christian," says Carballal.
After his death, desperate letters used to arrive in Cleargreen, the guru's company led by one of his "witches," Carol Tiggs. His other close collaborators had vanished after the news.
Similarly, Patricia Lee Partin, known as "the blue explorer," and Castaneda's spiritual daughter, was found dead in the California desert eaten by coyotes.
And Florinda Donner, whose brother assures she died by suicide "because of the weight of guilt."
When Carlos Arana Castañeda, arrived in San Francisco from the town of Cajamarca, in Peru, he did it like many other immigrants looking for a better life. He worked as a taxi driver and bookseller, and his friends called him "brujo" since he was fascinated with the occult.
"He left a wife and an illegitimate daughter, Charito, who was the reason behind his decision to erase his past," the writer explains.
During the first years at UCLA, where he was studying anthropology, one teacher asked him to interview a real native. When he read Castaneda's work, and despite the lack of any scientific proof, the professor was astonished by his literary talent and asked him to write a book.
"It was the sixties. Timothy Leary had led a scandal when he gave LSD pills to his students to get other states of consciousness. Consequently, Reagan, who was the California governor at this time, prohibited it. And suddenly there was a guy who tells the students there is a shortcut to get the same experience," the teacher said.
Afterward, Simon&Schuster bought the rights for publishing "The Teachings of Don Juan," it became a huge success, and was followed by twelve other books. Suddenly, a Peruvian anthropologist - who could have been a new Tolkien - was a multimillionaire celebrity.
"The mistake made by those who investigated Castaneda's past was to think he was inspired by other readings. Instead, he based his works on war and spy movies. Hence the rumors about his supposed work as an agent for the CIA", the author summarized.
Castaneda could have been just another guru, but his ideas went beyond thanks to UCLA's support - he even received an "honoris causa" after 'Journey to Ixtlan' was published.
Nowadays, UCLA is still silent about its mistake.