The Teachings of Don Juan – Review

I decided to pick this book up as it is a cult classic from the 60s psych realm.  From what I understand, the book was number 1 best seller and highly influential to the  psychedelic social movement.  It was also highly a acclaimed anthropological study.

This is the story of Carlos Castaneda and his pursuit of learning the sacred plants of the Yaqui nation, under Don Juans apprenticeship   Specifically the Datura aka the “Devils Weed” and Peyote.  The story has vivid descriptions of Carlos’s plant preparations and experiences under the apprenticeship.

The book was submitted for Casteneda’s thesis, however has drawn a significant amount of criticism over the years, specifically for plagiarism and authenticity.

I was thrilled to pick this book up.  Even though I heard about the criticism, I was hoping to gain knowledge from whatever “Don Juan said” in his teachings.  Truthfully, I did not really come away with anything from this book.  It’s a shame, because as I was reading the book, I just felt as though it was phony.  There were too many instances of direct quotes from specific instances, that he had with Don Juan,  that had me feel like I was reading a novel, instead of authentic piece of anthropologic work.

It was interesting to learn about the preparation process for these plants, as well as, the  superstitions that accompany them-from a Yaqui perspective.

I had a hard time finishing this book and I don’t think that I’ll ever come back to it.  My opinion certainly differs from much of the ratings/reviews on the web, however I just couldn’t stay interested in this one.

Rating: 5/10


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Documentary on Carlos Castaneda