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Carlos Castaneda's Biography

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It would be foolish to present a biographical account of Carlos Castaneda without being very tentative. Not only was he a very private man, but also his writings were full of ambiguity. However, here goes ..

Carlos Ce'sar Arana Castaneda was born on Christmas Day 1925 in Sao Paolo, Brazil or Cajamarca, Peru (accounts conflict).

Carlos Castaneda suggested his mother died when he was seven and he was raised by his father, a professor of literature; however, it appears that his father was actually a goldsmith and his mother died when he was 24.

In 1951, Carlos Castaneda emigrated to the United States. As an anthropology graduate at UCLA he wrote his master's thesis about his journey through the Arizona-Mexico desert. Casteneda said he stopped in an Arizona border town, Nogales, and in a Greyhound bus depot, he met an old Yaqui Indian from Sonora, Mexico named Juan Matus.

This man was a sorcerer, or shaman, and under his tutelage over many years Castaneda experimented with hallucinogens to achieve 'states of nonordinary reality'.

The thesis was published as 'The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge' in 1968 and became an international bestseller.

In 1997 Castaneda launched a law suit against his ex-wife, Margaret Runyon Castaneda, over her book, 'A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda.' This was dropped when Castaneda died.

Not much is known about his death. There was no public service, and apparently Castaneda was cremated and the ashes sent to Mexico. According to Deborah Drooz, the executor of his estate, Castaneda died on April 27 1998 from liver cancer.

Carlos Castaneda's works have sold more than 8 million copies in 17 languages.

Documentaries about Carlos Castaneda include the BBC's Tales From The Jungle.


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