Category Archives: Books

Thorns, True Tales Of The Weird – Horror Novel

This is my world. It is full of ghosts, demons, bizarre anomalies and impossible survivals. It is a world that most people never see or only have a fleeting glimpse of. I have been immersed into this world for most of my life. Everything in this book is real. It happened to me and to those around me. My name is Raymond Towers and these are my True Tales Of The Weird. Rating: HIGH controversy.

This e-book is available through Smashwords and other digital booksellers. You can purchase this title or preview 20% of it free by clicking the link down below.

Thorns – True Tales Of The Weird



Greetings, dear reader, and welcome to my nightmares. Well, not exactly my nightmares… Better said, welcome to my reality.

On the one hand, we have the physical world. It can be studied, measured and defined. It is somewhat predictable and sane. On the other hand, we have the spiritual world, which cannot be quantified and which refuses to allow itself to be plotted or mapped or pigeonholed. The spiritual world is nowhere to be seen, and yet it is always around us and even inside of us. Many, many great civilizations have held the belief that the spiritual world goes hand in hand with science and truth.

In modern times, most people don’t come in contact with the spiritual world. Even if they did, they wouldn’t know how to deal with it, as these people cannot grasp something that cannot be grasped, something that can’t be poked with a needle and mounted into a glass-cased collection somewhere for observation and study. These people merely shrug their unconvinced and materialistic shoulders and label people like me as liars or lunatics.

I ask you, who is the real lunatic? The person who closes his or her mind and only listens to what their politicians, scientists and religious leaders, or even worse, their television, claim to be the ultimate truth? Or the person who opens their mind and at least makes an attempt to grasp what is really out there?

Sadly, I must relate that I have comparatively little experience with the positive side of the spiritual world. Of the other end of the equation, however, I can state that I have seen far more than my share of The Dark Side. I have fallen into it and drowned within it. I have reveled in its insanity like a mad drunk. It seems to me that I was cursed from birth, and this black curse has done everything in its power to prevent me from seeking out and gaining knowledge, to torment me in both nightmares and in real life. On several occasions, this darkness has even tried to take my life. Through it all, somehow, and sometimes miraculously, I have survived. These are my true tales of the weird. Read them as fiction, if you’d prefer not to face the truth of the grimmest of realities. If you prefer to have a restful night’s sleep.

Or, if you have the stomach for it, read this book as what it truly is: the truth as I have experienced it. The incidents described herein are or were very real to me, and I have not twisted or otherwise augmented the experiences as I saw them. I have no solid, scientifically provable explanations for any of the following events, although I did have a number of witnesses in nearly every instance. In some cases, through conjecture and research, I have been able to reach certain conclusions and I have noted them after the incidents or tales. A few of the stranger events I have no idea how to rationalize. I would be wasting both your time and mine in trying to do so, so I won’t bother making the attempt.

Enough of this drivel. The presentation is about to begin.

Carlos Castaneda: A Separate Reality (Audiobook)

I don’t believe a word of this as truth but it is great fiction. castenada himself admitted it was pure fiction. he laughed and said the royalties payed the rent. – Frank Cascio


YT description: A club for lovers of books, audiobooks, e-books –
The thought — action of the mind, mind, mind. Final or intermediate result of thinking
Let’s see what we got today at the fair illusions. From each according to thoughts
Time for thought and time for meditation
Time for thought and time for music
We all have our talents and it is good

Title: Carlos Castaneda – A Separate Reality – Complete (YT link) Uploaded by Audiobook – Planet in the galaxy М87.

Carlos Castaneda: A Separate Reality – (1971) 3 stars.

Run time, audiobook: 2 hours, 35 minutes. My initial impression after listening to the condensed audiobook version is that Castaneda simply wanted to write and sell more books. There did not seem to be much in the way of metaphysical insight or the revelation of secret plant-based knowledge as seen in the first book. Here are my notes after a slow reading of the full book:

In the introduction, a strange encounter between Castaneda and Sacateca occurs. The old man performs strange movements that put Castaneda into a state of unease powerful enough to cause the younger man to leave. Don Juan later explains that this performance was in actuality a sorcerer’s dance. The dance had will or intention in its purpose. This is in accordance with my belief that many types of magic are simply force of will applied to a specific purpose.

Chapter 1 – Don Juan makes a statement that I find of profound importance. His apprentice feels sorry for a large group of shoeshine boys that have to eat a restaurant’s leftovers to survive. Castaneda’s view is that he is well off compared to those boys. Don Juan questions that idea, and goes on to offer that the boys are just as capable of reaching great heights as anyone. The reason I find this concept deep is because it shows how a person’s soul can ascend despite poor or unfortunate circumstances. From the way Don Juan’s words were written down by Castaneda, it is clear to me that the old man knew a lot more of the spiritual world, and how it works, than he has so far let his apprentice know about. This is not apparent to a casual reader, however, but it is a glimpse into the mechanics of the non-material universe.

Chapter 2 – I’m writing this down as a curiosity that I might use in my fiction later. A crow sees an ally like a pointed hat, wide at the bottom and thin at the top. They usually appear dull and heavy. They are also described as dripping clothes and foreboding. When spiritually seeing, Don Juan describes real men looking like shiny eggs, and false men or allies as pretending to look like real men. Later, Don Juan mentions how vicious allies can be. An ally caused his benefactor to burn himself so badly the man looked as if a mountain lion had mauled him. Don Juan also said his ally once pushed him into a burning woodpile. I’ve been trying to hold back on my speculation so far, so I won’t color the narrative too much or guess at things that are not really in the story. However, I must mention that these allies, which a brujo or sorcerer can use for good or bad, in temperament sound a lot like the sinister forces a traditional witch might call upon while casting a curse.

Chapter 3 – There are times when it seems as if Castaneda’s paranoia is getting the best of him. Also, during a peyote ritual, the participants ingesting the plant claim to have seen Mescalito hovering around Castaneda, who has abstained from taking part. These instances could be fiction, but based on my personal experience with dark spirits, they could very well be real as well. Also interesting is how far the people had to walk to get to the ritual site, which was an hour away, at night, from where the rest of the houses were located.

Chapter 6 – A master sorcerer can turn into an eagle. An evil sorcerer turns into an owl. Lyric or dilettante sorcerers change into other animals, such as crows. Eagle sorcerers can pass through the ten layers of the ‘other world,’ while other sorcerers can only travel through three.

Later in this chapter, a strange scene is described, where Don Genaro climbs up the side of a mountain by clinging to it. Genaro goes on to leap across a waterfall by landing on several rocks at the very edge. Castaneda thinks this a very impressive show of skill and balance at climbing. Don Juan tells him at a later time that Genaro used not physical skills, but spiritual energies. These energies are described as fibers of light extending from the navel. Castaneda observed the man’s physical movements, but if he had a sorcerer’s sight, he would have seen the fibers gripping the mountain and the rocks in the waterfall, and moving or propelling Genaro across from one place to the next. Don Juan moderately berates Castaneda for not being able to see what was truly happening.

Chapter 7 – Castaneda describes seeing a monstrous animal after smoking a pipe with Don Juan. The animal is a hundred feet tall and stood erect. It hat two wide, short wings. Its body was covered with tufts of black hair, its muzzle was long and drooling, and its eyes were burly and round like white balls. This could have been a simple gnat flying around while Castaneda was under the influence.

Chapter 9 – Don Juan is able to pick out a traumatic scene from way back in Castaneda’s childhood. It is unclear to Castaneda if he might have mentioned that incident while under the influence of drugs, or if Don Juan really saw into his past.

Chapter 13 – While under the influence, Castaneda sees a man in a field in Chapter 12. Don Juan has to turn Castaneda’s head away when the unknown man starts in his direction. Here in Chapter 13, Don Juan is trying to get Castaneda back to normal by repeatedly dunking his head into an irrigation canal near the house. When Castaneda is taken into the house, he briefly freaks out and states he saw that same man from the field, this time close enough to almost touch him. This sounds very familiar to a ghost or thought-form attaching itself to a person. Don Juan keeps telling Castaneda that this mental state is a very dangerous and probably mortal state to be in. Later, Don Juan tells Castaneda that he as seen the ‘ally.’ He also say that if one meets an ally out in the wilderness, the ally might kill the person.

Here is a point I think is important. Don Juan claims that when meeting an ally, a warrior or sorcerer must come prepared with respect and strength. If this is not observed, the ally may justifiably turn on the person. I’ve heard this in other shaman tales from African, Nordic and witchcraft practitioners. The spirits give specific instructions; if they are not followed to the letter, the spirits mete out harsh punishments as a result.

Chapter 14 – Castaneda tosses in an additional encounter about the witch Catalina that he did not write about in his first book. I really don’t like this idea that Don Juan tricked him into becoming an apprentice sorcerer, and that Castaneda was put into a dangerous situation. If this scene was so important, why was in not included in the first book? Why did Don Juan have to trick him at this point, when he had already been an apprentice for a long time? I don’t know; this scene sounds like dramatic bullshit to sensationalize what has so far been a very boring book. Also very disheartening is the idea that a sorcerer is only slightly above a normal man in terms of power. If that’s the case, why did Castaneda write 5 books about slightly above average spiritual / drug-enhanced events?

Chapter 15 – After having smoked out, Castaneda describes the spaces between sounds and music as ‘holes.’ Apparently, he needs hard drugs to figure this out. This experience with the holes becomes transcendental in some way, and later Don Juan makes the typical excuse that he can’t tell Castaneda more because he’s not ready, or in this case, because Castaneda has no ally.

Chapter 16 – Don Juan describes and entity that attaches itself to people or houses. This entity has no power or secrets to give, and is described only as a shadow. A second entity is revealed as a malicious spirit that will trouble people and haunt houses. This goes in with my research into spirits, demons, ghosts and thought-forms, and includes my personal experience in haunted houses.

Later, Don Juan mentions that a sprit that touches an object, especially a weapon of some sort, causes that object to become a ‘power’ object. This also fits in with the idea of possessed items. He reveals a third type of spirit that can only be found by approaching it alone and at remote places. This spirit is an ally that reveals secrets. An ally spirit will try to frighten a man or topple dangerous objects on him, such as trees. This spirit cannot be defeated through struggle. A man must bear the attacks if he is to overcome it.

Strangely, Castaneda described the sound of branches breaking as lusty, and the sound of feet sloshing through mud as sensual. This sounds to me like exaggerating a rather mundane experience of becoming paranoid in the woods. He sensationalizes events with animal comparisons such as flocks of birds, waves of rats and herds of kangaroos.

Chapter 17 – Castaneda has strange experiences with Don Genaro. Genaro’s eyes become larger and brighter, and he develops feline attributes.

My Conclusion – This set of five books is the culmination of an apprenticeship that lasted ten years. Book 1 was novel in the concepts it presented, but Book 2 was basically a reinterpreting of what already took place, with a few new incidents of action to break up a very boring narrative. After ten years, Castaneda is still a hardheaded wimp who keeps acting as if he’s a spoiled ten-year old kid. Don Juan is berating his apprentice half the time, and laughing at him the other half.

Through documentaries, I’ve seen what young Chinese men have to go through before they are accepted into Shaolin kung-fu monasteries. The wait time can be as long as one full year or more before the aspiring young man is even allowed to enter the front gates. For Don Juan to have his disciple at this same level of denseness and stupidity after an entire decade can only mean he is a very incompetent instructor of shamanism. If you go to any martial arts school, and you can’t advance past the first couple of belts after ten years, you’d better believe somebody in the teacher / student dynamic is severely lacking in talent and drive.

Castaneda is a fool to sensationalize parts of the story while trying to wow the readers. Tell the story as non-fiction, if this is a true and accurate account, and leave the imaginative sections up to the reader. Describing a few soft pats on the back of the neck as a herd of kangaroos tells me the writer had to pad the narrative with bullshit. Going through the same notes from the first book, and adding these ‘new’ short bits is a sign to me that this is about selling more books and making more money.

Maybe that ‘new’ bit about the witch Catalina might have been relevant in the first book, which had a half-assed account of her? Maybe those ‘new’ bits about Don Genaro climbing a mountain with tentacles instead of hands, or doing lateral somersaults by rolling over on his head, or going to the back of a house and suddenly the mountains start rumbling, maybe we should go a little further in explaining those parts, just maybe? All this nonsense about you’re not ready, Castaneda, or we’re not going to tell you, or you missed it and we’ll try it again in a sequel, those all sound like bullshit. I’ve got dozens of books on shamanism from all over the world and I haven’t read perennial teasers like that, which are less page turners for me and more page burners. Don Juan isn’t a joker; he’s a joke. And here’s this fool Castaneda buying the old man groceries, buying his relatives tequila and driving him all over Mexico out of the kindness of his book-selling heart.

I’ve got all five books in this series, and I’m going through a very thorough reading of them so I can really grasp the material. After reading this one, I really don’t want to go on. I heard part of the audiobook for Book 3, and from the start I hear yet again that the unoriginal Castaneda is going over his same notes for a third effing time. How about this? Let’s write two books of 250 pages, okay, instead of five books of 120 -130 pages each. This dime store novel approach is really driving me nuts, and so is the constant rehashing of the same dates and events with ‘new’ understanding of them.

In the past, I’ve heard Castaneda described as a charlatan and liar, and I can see what critics are talking about. I’m going to toss the rest of the books into the back of the reading pile, because I don’t want to go through more of the same BS. I’m taking at least a month before I even look at the next one.

Carlos Castaneda: The Teachings Of Don Juan – Second Review

I reviewed the audiobook version before, and then I went through the written text and wrote some additional notes. Here’s a link to my original post, with a link to the audiobook on Youtube:

Carlos Castaneda: The Teachings Of Don Juan (Audiobook)


Carlos Castaneda: The Teachings Of Don Juan – 2nd Review

I am in the process of reading the full book and taking notes as I go along.

In the introduction, I read about power kernels, which are kernels of corn that have been enhanced by magic. These kernels are very similar to the chicken bones used by the shaman I mentioned in the audio book review. In Castaneda’s description, the kernel is set in a place where the victim will come across it. No animals will eat the kernel because they can sense the magic within it. When the victim comes in contact with the kernel, the magic goes into the victim. The kernel becomes a normal kernel and the victim is poisoned and doomed to die in three months. A knowledgeable shaman can suck the poison out, but there is a danger to the shaman if he is not careful. As an add-on, I think these details: the three month effect of the poison and the ability of the shaman to suck the poison out, match my recollection of the South American shaman and his chicken bones.

In chapter one, Castaneda mentions rolling around on the porch while trying to find his comfort spot. He writes that he sees discoloration of the floor in his peripheral vision. I think this is very important, as I see numerous light anomalies from my side vision also. I wonder if this was not a change in the environment, as Castaneda believes, but an actual entity glowing to make the spot known. Castaneda describes feeling apprehension as he searches for his comfort spot. Perhaps this is the entity again, either prodding him or trying to scare him.

I’ve mentioned previously that if a person is not accustomed to sensing ghosts or spirits, that person’s first reaction is fear. I believe this is due to the electromagnetism spirits give off, which is very different from the evil energy that demons or malevolent entities emanate. The place where Castaneda finally fell asleep just happened to be his comfort spot. Coincidence or synchronicity?

Further on in chapter two, the book mentions how observers watched Castaneda play with a dog while he was under the influence of peyote. I think whoever produced the audio version did the public a very big disservice here by leaving out some important details. From the recording, I assumed it was the spirit of a dog that had appeared out of nowhere to communicate with Castaneda. The extra details from the book show it was real dog interacting with Castaneda in normal canine behavior, while the man was under the influence and having a strange trip. This spirit that Juan calls Mescalito sounds like a fraud at this point.

‘Mescalito shows himself to be different to every man.’ To me, that sounds a lot like the subconscious of every individual.

Chapter 3 – Several items have been mentioned so far, including smoke, Peyote, Devi’s Weed and a pipe. They are all described as having their own separate qualities, uses and restrictions. These sound a lot like specialized thought-forms.

Later on in chapter three, Don Juan prepares a mixture using various measured portions of plants. I don’t recall hearing this from the audio book, but he cuts Castaneda and adds the author’s blood to the mix. This bloodletting can also be found in many forms of magic. Most notably, witches use blood and mashed bread and milk to feed to animals that later become their familiars. Also, in alchemy homunculi, which are artificial familiars, are created through bloodletting.

Chapter 5 – Castaneda is given two live lizards during the preparation for a mix. One lizard has its mouth sewed shut. The second has its eyes sewed shut. Don Juan tells him to put both lizards up next to his temples and ask any question he wants answered. This is done for the purpose of divination. Tarot and Oracle cards work in the same way; a question is asked first, and then the cards are shuffled and drawn out to give the reply. Notice how later on Castaneda has a vision. He asks if he can ask questions while the vision is taking place, but Don Juan says no. A question or multiple questions must be asked at the start, which the lizards then went on to attempt to answer. Again, this is how every form of divination I have studied works. The query has to be firm and salient in one’s mind just before the divination begins. Also note how the sorcery may take over the sorcerer. I’ve touched on that aspect in my original review for the audio book version.

Chapter 10 – Don Juan mentions that in a crow’s perspective, crows are white, pigeons are blue and pink, and seagulls are yellow. This sounds a lot like a DMT experience.

George McDonald: The Cruel Painter (Audiobook, Gothic, Horror)

This is a really crappy story loosely presenting the topics of vampires and Lilith. Circa late 19th century.

Librivox link


Title: Gothic Vampire Tale The Cruel Painter Supernatural Fantasy Audiobook (YT link) Uploaded by Free Books.

The Cruel Painter by George McDonald – (2006) 1 star

Run time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. I didn’t like this story very much. Normally I toss it and move on to the next thing without bothering to post it. This story makes a weak show of horror and confusion encompassing a romance story. That is, the story gives me the impression of a romantic type putting on a bed sheet and pretending to be a ghost. Oooh, how scary! The reason I gave this story a listen is because the keywords of Lilith and vampires were associated with it. George McDonald, sorry, but you don’t know much about vampires and you don’t know shit about Lilith. I’ve seen that bitch in my nightmares as far back as junior high, and as recently as 2014 in my lucid dreams and automatic writing. Besides that, the description of the love story sounds very detached and empty, with no emotional impact for me. This story is as boring as a science lecture. Next!

Monster Mayhem – Horror Collection

Monsters and more, monsters galore! What hides in the shadows? What lurks in the night? What reaches out for your throat to provoke a scream that curdles your blood, to violently shake the life from your body? Could this be your answer? This full-length collection of dark prose, short stories and novellas will surely appease your palate for all things beastly and ghastly. Rating: HIGH controversy.

Purchase or read 20% of the collection Monster Mayhem free at Smashwords, and have a look at my author’s profile page. You can also earn a free, Creative Commons Version of this collection in pdf form from my author’s site at Raymond Towers Dot Com.


A short story from this collection:

Hidey-Hole Monster

Little Samantha should have told her cousin Amy about the thing hiding in her closet, but she’d been too upset at the time. The unruly Amy hadn’t been in the house two hours before she began getting on Sam’s nerves, what with her constant nagging about where Sam kept her candy stashed, and her callous treatment of Sam’s playthings.

Hadn’t Amy deliberately knocked over and dismantled her pretty building-block dollhouse, the one that Samantha had labored over for the better part of a week? And hadn’t Amy dared to snatch away her crayons and start drawing penises on half the characters in Sam’s coloring books? And when Amy had pushed the grill over in the backyard, hadn’t Samantha taken the blame, since she’d been the one chasing her cousin while trying to get her favorite dolly back?

Dorothy Dookie, that’s what Amy had rechristened her doll, formerly known as Dorothy Duke, Fashion Model. That had been the last straw for Samantha. When she’d been informed that Amy was to sleep in her room that night, Sam had been too upset and too fatigued to argue about it. Instead, she meekly went about brushing her teeth and getting ready for bed. The monster, she knew, would be taking care of her incorrigible cousin soon enough.

The thing lived in her closet, or more accurately, it emerged from a hole in the plaster along the closet’s back wall. Her dad said he’d get around to fixing that hole sooner or later, but he’d been saying that ever since they’d first moved in, and that had been six months ago.

It was as big as a cat, but it was gray and lumpy and dragged itself across the floor in a most repulsive manner, when it thought everybody was asleep. It might have remained in the closet, had it not developed a bad habit of chewing on Samantha’s shoes that forced the girl to store her footwear elsewhere. Whatever it was, it was strong enough to push the closet door open, and to wreak havoc on any cookies or crackers Sam might have lying about, even if they were all the way on top of the dresser.

More than once, Samantha had woken to the sound of the creature cleaving its savage-looking teeth into her dolls or building blocks. On one occasion, she’d dared turn on her lamp to catch a glimpse of the monster before it staggered back towards the closet and into its hidey-hole. The sight of its penetrating red eyes, sharp little fangs and grayish-brown matted hair was enough to make her regret having produced the revealing glare. Ever since then, the poor girl had resorted to throwing her hefty roller skates at it, in the dark, in the hopes of scaring the beast away. (She might have designated the thing a giant rat, were it not for the fact that it had no legs and rolled forward like a furry caterpillar.)

It might have taken two full minutes before the monster slinked from the far side of her room and back into the closet, yet it was always just fast enough to vanish as her groggy parents entered the room to find out what she was screaming about.

Her mom and dad had never believed her, just as they hadn’t believed that her precious cousin Amy could have deliberately shoved over the barbecue grill, in a successful effort to make Samantha look bad. Of course, Samantha had been infuriated when her own mom and dad had taken Amy’s side over that of their own daughter’s. But sometime soon, very soon, Amy would be getting her just desserts.

Sam vividly imagined the monster, skulking from its hidey-hole in the closet and worming its way out and across the carpet to where the unenviable Amy slept in her sleeping bag. In her mind, she could see the little beast sniffing about, and opening its fierce mouth in order to start chewing on her cousin’s face.

Keeping her head hidden under the covers, Samantha waited patiently in the darkness. When the shrieking eventually erupted in the cozy bedroom, it took all of the young girl’s effort to keep the mischievous grin from forming on her little mouth.

That would be the last time Amy gave her a hard time, ever.

Apocalypse Now! – Science Fiction Collection

These are the end times, as seen by humanity before, during and after the catastrophic events that will forever change life on Earth. Included is a collection of 31 titles, from poetic fragments to 3 large story arcs in the dark fantasy and science fiction genres. Here is the doom, pain and survival. The Apocalypse has begun. This e-book contains a MEDIUM amount of controversial subject matter.

Purchase or read 20% of the collection Apocalypse Now! free at Smashwords, and have a look at my author’s profile page. You can also earn a free, Creative Commons Version of this collection in pdf form from my author’s site at Raymond Towers Dot Com.


A Story Fragment – Fleeing

“Mum? I’m scared, Mum.” The small boy squeaked, even as he tried to remain still in the cramped corner of the basement that his mother had stuffed him in.

“Hush now.” His mother quietly warned him. In her hands she held a makeshift spear, a former broom whose handle had been sharpened to a lethal point. “It’ll all be over soon. I promise.”

He’d heard those same words before, and from quite a few others, the small boy recalled. And all of those others who had made similar promises to him were now gone. They were the only two people left now: just him and his mother.

His mother crouched lower to the dank ground, as if she’d sensed danger lurking nearer. As a result, the boy clamped his hand over his mouth, so no audible words might leak out and give away their hiding place.

Shadows began darting across the few spots of daylight that managed to creep into the broken basement, when his mother’s sudden gasp jolted him. “Boy, you’ve got to run and hide, just like I showed you!”

The boy felt even more terrified than before. “But Mum…”

“Do as I told you!” His mother shrieked. “Go now!”

Hearing the rising panic in her voice, the boy barely managed to turn around in the confined space. A moment later, he was scampering through the tiny tunnel the adults had built as an escape route of last resort.

There was a nightmarish scream behind him, of such ferocity that the boy could barely comprehend that his mother was capable of making it, and then he remembered her earlier commands; “Whatever you see, whatever you hear, you don’t stop for it. Do you understand? You don’t stop for anything!”

Even as his mother’s desperate cries mingled with an approaching and savage guttural roar, the boy felt the tears start to stream from his eyes. He felt his face contort into a twisted caricature of grief and raw fear.

As the boy fled through the hole, clawing at the loose dirt and feeling the damp earth seep into the fabric of his tattered jeans, he never looked back.

Not even once.

Carlos Castaneda: The Teachings Of Don Juan (Audiobook)

YT description: audio ends at about 2h50 mark; the second and third books are already up on youtube so thought it was a good idea to install the first!

Title: The Teachings of Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda, Audio book (YT link) Uploaded by Idomeneo.

The Teachings Of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda – (1968) 4 stars

Run time for audio book: 2 hours, 50 minutes. For years and years I’ve been hearing about how great this book is, and I finally got around to giving the audio book a listen. This is an abridged version, so you won’t get everything that is in the book, which runs at about 120 pages or so, but you will get the most salient information. I may or may not read the book and give an additional commentary, if I feel like doing that.

To an intermediate extent, I have researched Native American culture, shamanism and skinwalkers, so I had an idea of what to expect here. In that respect, I did not come across much that I had not researched before. Basically, hallucinogenic substances are smoked or eaten, and a lot of trippy shit ensues. This is well documented in other cultures ranging far and wide in time and place, from the Viking era to Voodoo Africa to the shaman of South America. There is always ritual and ceremony involved, and every culture has its own forms of deities that it reveres and / or worships. In the case of Don Juan, it is Peyote / Mescalito that must be honored and not disrespected, or else! I have communicated with a shaman from the northern U.S. who calls upon Nordic deities, and I’ve read about entities from witchcraft and other cultures, where if a practitioner does something wrong the spirits will castigate and sometimes even kill their shaman. I saw one occasion where an American blonde woman tried to experience Indian Kundalini, and whatever came over her was enough to inflict here with a severe nervous tic that was odd and repulsive to look at. People have to walk a very fine line when accessing higher realms with drugs, whether they be natural or manmade. That’s why I refuse to take them!

What can this account add or refine to our pool of knowledge? Okay, we know that people claim there are numerous spiritual dimensions past our physical world. In addition to the cultures I’ve already mentioned, you can add the Egyptian and Tibetan Books of the Dead and the Gnostic concept of Archons to that mix, which I believe were also accessed or witnessed through hallucinogenic consumption. These materials may have been as simple as burning a toxic incense, or in the case of some Greek oracles, by placing divination temples too close to places that gave off toxic gases. It can be assumed that certain plants like Ayahuasca, Peyote and the Amanita Mushroom stimulate parts of the brain into opening portals to higher realms, or at least to the inner subconscious at profound levels.

The most intriguing concept I’ve heard is that these plants are living, sentient beings that live in this and other dimensions simultaneously. This isn’t that hard to correlate. For example, our human body lies in the physical world, while our soul is in the spirit realm. So where do thoughts and feelings come from, because they don’t come from either place. In that respect, why can’t plants and animals also exist in multiple dimensions? By consuming a mushroom or chewing on a peyote bulb, the living entity we are ingesting is allowing us a brief time to visit its realm, according to some. This can’t be dismissed easily because sometimes the information revealed in the ‘trip’ is accurate or prophetic. For example, I live here in San Diego, on the West Coast of the U.S. but I have lucid dreamed details of multiple people from England that I later met online, and that’s only through using dream practice and meditation. I can’t really get high off weed, but after smoking a tremendous amount one night, I was only mildly buzzed and saw a ghost who looked like a Hispanic or Native American man from the 1700s or 1800s hanging around me for several hours. Imagine what can be accomplished through deep mediation and a drug specifically used to advance that state of mind like some of these shaman are doing.

Moving on to the skinwalker and shamanistic angles. I’ve heard a lot of tales from all over the world about what I consider to be very stupid shaman. I heard of a shaman from South America who ingested a large amount of Ayahuasca, and afterwards he ate a number of chicken bones that he later vomited out. These bones were ‘magic’ after they came out of the man’s stomach. This shaman got into a spiritual war with the shaman from another village. The shaman hurled a chicken bone at his rival, but he hit his rival’s brother instead. Allegedly, the bone went into or through the man’s body. The brother later died from poisoning. I read another account where a Native American shaman was so jealous of his neighbor’s shiny new truck that he turned into a wolfman and went to attack his neighbor’s house and vehicle. From my buddy from Eritrea, I got a story about a man who had a pretty wife. The local shaman wanted to sleep with this pretty woman, so when her husband went to work, the shaman transformed his self into the image of the husband and went to sleep with the wife. The wife and other people swore they saw the man’s double or Doppelganger in the neighborhood, when the man was actually miles away. I’ve read of similar happenings from the Canadian Inuit and in China as well. Here in Castaneda’s book, we hear about a skinwalker who changed into a dog for the grand purpose of going into a neighbor’s house to eat cheese. Are you effing serious? What good is shamanism and changing into animal / spirit forms, if all you end up doing is scratching the truck of the guy across the street or eating your neighbor’s cheese and getting shot and killed as a result?

The great Western alchemists and magicians aren’t doing any better, mind you. We have Crowley who, gasp, made a guy trip half a block ahead of him, and we have Dees who, gasp again, caused a marble to float out of a window in front of witnesses. There was a popular phrase in the 1980s; Where’s the beef? I’m certainly not seeing it, and I’ve been looking for the beef for decades now. What are modern ‘sorcerers’ doing today? Well, we’ve got mind-freaker Cris Angel toying around with playing cards and Dynamo, I think it was, pulling long pieces of bread out of the palm of his hand. So what? Is that really the extent of magic historically and also contemporaneously? Even The Powers That Be can’t get a full lockdown on the masses, despite vast resources and wealth, Kabbalah, Sacred Geometry, Numerology, Witchcraft and other devious means. The bad guys, both the intelligent ones and the dunces, are only like two steps ahead of the rest of us. That’s not very far!

Look at this example of Don Juan. He has all this power and mystique that Castaneda is in wonder and awe of, but what is Juan doing with that power? Well, nothing really. He smokes out, he chews his little Peyote, and he teaches Castaneda to do very little. The big thrill is to witness and have a chat with this Mescalito character, but what knowledge is really being revealed here? I see Castaneda learning more about his self than anything else, which leads me to believe, again, that he is only unlocking his own subconscious and not really accessing anything like divinity, Akashic Records or universal / Jesus consciousness.

You don’t really need hallucinogenic drugs to get in touch with your inner self. You can do that naturally. For contrast, I can call upon tons, and I mean tons, of apparitions, light anomalies and shadows to appear in my apartment nearly every single night. After dealing with these entities for over four years now, I find that if I ask them bigger questions or questions involving others and myself, I get iffy answers. If I ask questions about me and only me, such as will I have a good day or a bad day, or will I see X news or Y news on today’s alternative news sites, or are my favorite chips on sale at the store, I have a 75% accuracy. In that respect, my ‘spirits’ are more like vague Tarot cards or like flipping coins while concentrating on a strong / belief intent.

Basically, your physical experience is subjective, so what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. At the same time, there are a million ways for you to reach your Higher Self / Spirit Guides / angels, or whatever else you believe in, without scaring the crap out of yourself like Castaneda did several times in the book. You start with prayer or meditation to clear you mind, you eat healthy and you do your regular exercise. Once you have that down, you ask your helpers or your subconscious to show you the next step. Depending on how ready or grounded you are spiritually, you might get a quick or delayed response. If you try something for a time and it doesn’t work, you move on to something else until you find something that does work. The basic tenets will always be Service To Others or Service To Self. From my years and years of research and hands-on practice, I don’t think anybody can reach the level of the famed Arthurian Merlin or the Biblical Moses during the fabled time of the Exodus. As far as I can tell, those levels of power are out of the reach of today’s humans. If you do follow the Left Hand Path, which is alchemy / magic and not Satan, do us all a favor, leave the petty jealousies and bickering behind and do something for the common good.