AP Wire Stories - Jun 1998
From the AP News Service,
Friday June 19th, 1998 08:23:10 PDT
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Carlos Castaneda, a godfather of the New Age movement whose best-selling books claimed to relate the ancient mystical secrets of a shaman named Don Juan, has died. He was believed to be 72. Castaneda died of liver cancer April 27 at his home in Westwood, said entertainment lawyer Deborah Drooz, a friend and executor of his estate.
This picture is not of Carlos Castaneda. The AP News Service must not have known this.
"He didn't like attention," Drooz said in Friday editions of the Los Angeles Times. "He always made sure people did not take his picture or record his voice. He didn't like the spotlight. Knowing that, I didn't take it upon myself to issue a press release."
For more than 30 years, Castaneda claimed to have been the apprentice of a Yaqui Indian sorcerer named Don Juan Matus. He had millions of followers around the world, and his 10 books continue to sell in 17 languages.
Castaneda, who held a 1973 Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles, said he met Don Juan in Arizona in the early 1960s while researching medicinal plants, and followed when the shaman moved to Sonora, Mexico.
His first book, "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge," was a best seller when it appeared in 1968, as were several sequels that purported to track Castaneda's 12-year apprenticeship.
In the works, Castaneda described supernatural, peyote-fueled journeys with a sorcerer who could bend time and space. The books were critically praised -- respected author Joyce Carol Oates called them "remarkable works of art."
Castaneda argued that reality is simply a shared way of looking at the universe that can be transcended through discipline, ritual and concentration. The sorcerer, he said, can see and use the energy that comprises everything but the path to that knowledge is hard and dangerous.
Don Juan said "that in order to navigate into the unknown like a shaman does, one needs unlimited pragmatism, boundless sobriety and guts of steel," Castaneda said in a 1997 interview.
While his books sold millions of copies worldwide, critics doubted that Don Juan existed.
Castaneda always maintained that all his experiences were real.
"This is not a work of fiction," Castaneda said in the prologue to his 1981 book, "The Eagle's Gift." "What I am describing is alien to us; therefore, it seems unreal."
Castaneda himself rarely made appearances and never allowed himself to be photographed or tape-recorded.
"A recording is a way of fixing you in time," he said. "The only thing a sorcerer will not do is be stagnant."
While Castaneda contended that Don Juan did not die but rather "burned from within," he had no doubt about his own mortality.
"Since I'm a moron, I'm sure I'll die," he told the Times. "I wish I would have the integrity to leave the way he did, but there is no assurance."
Castaneda was obscure even on such matters as his birth. Immigration records indicated he was born Dec. 25, 1925 in Cajamarca, Peru, while a volume of "Contemporary Authors" placed it on Dec. 25, 1931 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
No funeral service was held and his cremated remains were taken to Mexico.
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WASHINGTON, June 19 (Reuters) - Carlos Castaneda, the best-selling author whose tales of drug-induced mental adventures with a Yaqui Indian shaman once fascinated the world, apparently died two months ago, the Los Angeles Times said on Friday.
Castaneda, believed to be 72, died April 27 at his home in Westwood, California, according to entertainment lawyer Deborah Drooz, the Times said.
The cause of death was liver cancer. Castanada wrote 10 books. He once appeared on a Time Magazine cover as a leader of America's spiritual renaissance, but he died without public notice.
He immigrated to the United States in 1951. He was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, or Cajamarca, Peru, depending on which version of his autobiographical accounts can be believed. His ex-wife, Margaret Runyan Castaneda, wrote in a 1997 memoir: "Much of the Castaneda mystique is based on the fact that even his closest friends aren't sure who he is."
"He didn't like attention," Drooz told the Times. "He always made sure people did not take his picture or record his voice. He didn't like the spotlight. Knowing that, I didn't take it upon myself to issue a press release."
No funeral was held and no public service of any kind took place. The body was cremated and his ashes were taken to Mexico, Drooz said.
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