The eleven books of Carlos Castaneda record his apprenticeship with a Yaqui Indian, Don Juan Matus, who plays Socratic mentor to Castaneda’s skeptical anthropologist.
“Sorcery” in this case means a path of experience that stands apart from the experiential habits of humanity (French sortir, “to leave, depart”).
Through a long process of trial and error, Castaneda manages to alter the parameters of perception and explore other worlds. In the process of his adventures, he encounters certain alien inorganic beings who present an obstacle or test for the shaman. In Magical Passes, Castaneda wrote:
“Human beings are on a journey of awareness, which has momentarily been interrupted by extraneous forces.”
We have a predator that came from the depths of the cosmos and took over the rule of our lives. Human beings are its prisoners. The predator is our lord and master. It has rendered us docile, helpless. If we want to protest, it suppresses our protest. If we want to act independently, it demands that we don’t do so...
According to Don Juan, the sorcerers of ancient Mexico called the predator, the flyer,
“because it leaps through the air... It is a big shadow, impenetrably black, a black shadow that jumps through the air.”
This description matches thousands of accounts of the bizarre jumping movements, sometimes sideways, executed by alien Greys who accost people at random. Fleeting black shadows are less often reported, but they play the major role in the long and detailed report of alien activity by John Keel, The Mothman Prophecies.
Gnostic writings contain descriptions of alien predators called Archons, Arkontai in Greek. The texts from Nag Hammadi describe them as heavy, elusive, shadowy creatures. The most common name for them is “beings of the likeness, shadow-creatures.” Could the Archons be compared to the “mud shadows” described by Don Juan?
First, there is the matter of the influence of the predators or flyers on humanity. In The Active Side of Infinity, Don Juan tells Castaneda that “the predators give us their mind, which becomes our mind.” This alarming statement suggests an immediate parallel to Gnostic teachings. Gnostics, who directed the Mystery Schools of the Near East in antiquity, taught that the true mind of human beings, nous authenticos, is part of the cosmic intelligence that pervades nature, but due to the intrusion of the Archons, this “native mind” or "native genius" can be subverted and even occupied by another mind.
Don Juan tells Castaneda that the predator’s mind is “a cheap model: economy strength, one size fits all.” This description fits the hive-mentality of the Archons. Sorcerers call this uniform alien mind “the foreign installation, which exists in you and in every other human being.”
Don Juan makes a number of statements pertinent to strategies against alien intrusion. He says that the sorcerers of ancient times “found out that if they taxed the flyers’ mind with inner silence, the foreign installation would flee, giving to any one of the practitioners involved in this maneouver the total certainty of the mind’s foreign origin.” In other words, the realization that another mind can operate in our minds only becomes fully clear and certain when the foreign mind has been exposed and expelled.
Gnostic texts describe direct, physical confrontations with Archons of two kinds, an embryonic or foetal type—hence, the Greys of modern UFO lore—and a reptilian type. The usual tactic of the Greys is first to stun and then infiltrate the mind of the human subject. In the First Apocalypse of James, the Gnostic master instructs a student in how to confront the Archons.
For more on confronting Archons, see A Gnostic Catechism.
The archetypal format of the “journey through the planetary spheres” was well-known in antiquity, particularly in schools of Hermetics and Kaballa. In Tantra Vidya, O. M. Hinze compares the Gnostic ascent through the seven spheres with the raising of kundalini through the seven chakras in Indian yogic traditions. Don Juan does not use the seven-level scheme, but his description of the flyers can be fitted into that scheme. The correlation works especially well if we equate the “serpent worship” of certain Gnostic cults with Kundalini yoga practice, which may in turn be equated with "the fire from within” and the Plumed Serpent in several Castaneda books.
On the use of Kundalini to repel alien intrusion, see Kundalini and the Alien Force.
The human character-traits attributed by Don Juan to deviation by the foreign installation are identical to those ascribed to the Archons in Gnostic writings: envy (covetousness) and arrogance (egomania) are said to be their primary features, while their behaviour demonstrates that they are mindless drones (routinary), greedy for power over us and too cowardly to come out in the open and reveal themselves.
It would be misleading to make Don Juan’s revelations comply in a strict and literal way with Gnostic teachings, but these initial parallels are striking, and there is much more. Here is an outstanding instance where indigenous wisdom from the Americas tallies with the esoteric teachings of a long-lost spiritual tradition in the Near East. The Toltec-Gnostic parallel may seem remote and improbable at first sight.
The alien mind penetrates into our story-telling activity, the narrative power so crucial for humanity to make its way in the cosmos. This is one of the ways, or the most effective way, that we are deviated from our proper course of evolution. For the human species, the capacity to achieve intent depends on developing plots, stories, narratives that can guide us from initial conception to final goal.
Human purpose is manifold, and so the manner in which we are being deviated is likely to be multifarious. In the immense complexity of intrusion, clarity and concentration are indispensable assets. In a startling remark, Don Juan asserts that “the flyers’ mind has no concentration whatsoever.” This remark recalls the Gnostic assertion that the Archons have no ennoia, no will of their own, no intentionality. Concentration might be defined as the coordination of attention and intention. To concentrate is to bring a certain depth of attention (Bythos) to intent (Ennoia).
the Toltec exposure of an alien mind or foreign installation that makes us less and other than we humanly are: comparable to the Gnostic idea of a dehumanizing ideological virus implanted in our minds by the Alien/Archons.
the importance for the sorcerer of mastering intent: comparable to Gnostic emphasis on ennoia, intentionality, which aligns us with the Gods and elevates us above the Archons.
Castaneda’s emphasis on syntax (correct attributions, and the use of mental command signals for directing intent): comparable to Gnostic teaching on ennoia, mental clarity, and correct attribution (right use of definitions).
the Toltec assertion that predation is “the topic of topics”: comparable to the Gnostic emphasis on the intrusion of the Archons. Facing intrusion is essential, because if we cannot see how we are deviated, we cannot find our true path in the cosmos.
the work with lucid dreaming, astral travel, projection of the double, in Gnostic circles and the Mystery Schools: comparable to many episodes in Castaneda.
the Toltec model of great bands of emanations that pervade the universe: comparable to the emanations or streamings from the Pleroma described in Mystery School revelation texts.
the Toltec distinction between organic and inorganic beings: comparable to the distinction between humans and Archons in Gnostic cosmology.
the Toltec exploration of other worlds and dimensions through the practice of non-ordinary awareness: comparable to age-old shamanic practices of the Mystery Schools.
Don Juan’s description of the “luminous egg”: comparable to the oval of clear light in Gnostic revelation texts and the augoeides or "auric egg" of the Mysteries.
the Toltec figure of the Eagle, a primary metaphor in Castaneda: comparable to the same figure in the Nag Hammadi Codices where the instructing voice of sacred mind, perhaps equivalent to Castaneda’s “voice of seeing,” states:
“I appeared in the form of an Eagle on the Tree of Knowledge, the primal knowing that arises in the pure light, that I might teach them and awaken them out of the depth of sleep” (The Apocryphon of John, 23.25-30).
the organization of the sorcerer’s party into eight pairs of male and female sorcerers: comparable to the organization of the Mystery cells into sixteen members, eight of each sex. (Artifactual evidence: Orphic Serpent bowl, and Pietroasa bowl.)
the cultivation of the fire from within, Kundalini, or the Plumed Serpent of the Toltecs: comparable to the Winged Serpent and divine Instructor of the Gnostics.
the mechanism of the assemblage point.
It would take an entire book to develop these parallels at length. Three factors out of the ten are of particular importance. These factors are the luminous egg, the great bands of emanations, and the role of certain inorganic beings as allies.
Don Juan’s instructions regarding the assemblage point are as baffling as they are fascinating, and far from clear. The dynamics of sliding or shifting the mechanism are difficult to understand, and even harder to visualize. Moreover, it seems that the assemblage point is a weird item, not comparable to anything found in any other sources.
There is, however, a rare piece of testimony from the Mysteries that describes the assemblage point in exactly the manner found in Castaneda.
In The Subtle Body in Western Tradition, Gnostic scholar G. R. S. Mead cites the lost writings of Isadorus, the husband of Hypatia and one of the last Gnostics who taught at the Mystery School (the Museum) in Alexandria. Isadorus’ original work is lost, but it was paraphrased by another writer, Damascius, so a few faint indications of his teachings can be surmised. Isadorus is said to have described the augoeides, “golden aura,” comparable to the luminous egg of Castandea.
Thus, one of the weirdest details in Castaneda’s writings is confirmed by a teacher of the Mysteries who lived in Alexandria the 5th century CE.
Gnostic seers located the habitat of the predatory Archons in the planetary system, exclusive of the Earth. The Archontic realm would then be assembled from the seven inorganic bands. Within the domain so assembled, the Archons would be on their own “turf.” Their presence in the world assembled around us, the biosphere ruled by the laws of organic chemistry, would be an intrusion. Nowhere does Castaneda indicate that the predatory entities come from these seven bands, but the conclusion is obvious. He does say explicitly that the flyers are inorganic beings, so the conclusion is not only obvious but consistent with his syntax, his system of description.
Don Juan specifies that sorcerers can and usually do initiate contact with inorganic beings. They do this by shifting the assemblage point and crossing into the unknown territory of other bands, or sliding into unknown regions of our own band.
“Once the barrier is broken, inorganic beings change and become what seers call allies.”
These allies can be deviating or even deadly, but mastering them is one of the primary tasks of the new sorcery. There are numerous allies in the cosmos at large. According to many indigenous traditions, earth is visited by many kinds of other-dimensional beings who serve as allies and guides to humanity. The dark, shadowy predator would seem to be a unique category of inorganic beings who is perhaps not an ally at all, or else a particularly difficult ally to master.
Don Juan stressed the need to confront this inorganic being to experience “the total certainty of the mind’s foreign origin.” The “predator that came from the depths of the cosmos and took over the rule of our lives” may certainly be equated to the Archons of Gnostic teachings. Don Juan describes Alien intrusion and its main consequence, behavioral modification, in a most vivid manner.
“The flyers are an essential part of the universe… and they must be taken as what they really are — awesome, monstrous. They are the means by which the universe tests us.”
The parallels between Gnostic materials and the new Toltec sorcery of Carlos Castaneda are striking and present sobering insights on the human condition, if nothing else.
“All we can do is discipline ourselves to the point where they will not touch us,” Don Juan advises.
Significantly, he says will not, not can not. He also says that the alien predators are the way the universe tests us, as just noted.