THE TOPIC OF TOPICS
Gnostic Parallels in the Writings of Carlos Castaneda
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. Over more than twenty years, Castaneda learned the theory and practice of a new discipline proposed by his mischievous and demanding teacher. The art of the “new seers” involves revising ancient secrets of Toltec sorcery transmitted to don Juan through a late lineage dating from the 18th century.
“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.”
In Castaneda’s final book, The Active Side of Infinity (1998), don Juan challenges Castaneda to reconcile man’s intelligence, demonstrated in so many achievements, with “the stupidity of his systems of beliefs... the stupidity of his contradictory behaviour.” Don Juan relates this blatant contradiction in human intelligence to what he calls “the topic of topics,” “the most serious topic in sorcery.” This topic is predation. To the horrified astonishment of his apprentice, the elder sorcerer explains how the human mind has been infiltrated by an alien intelligence:
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...
Sorcerers believe that the predators have given us our systems of beliefs, our ideas of good and evil, our social mores. They are the ones who set up our hopes and expectations and dreams of success or failure. They have given us covetousness, greed and cowardice. It is the predators who make us complacent, routinary and egomaniacal.
According to don Juan, the sorcerers of ancient Mexico called the predator the flyer (italicised by Castaneda) “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? This question raises the general issue of parallels between don Juan’s Central American Toltec shamanism and the shamanism of the Mystery Schools of ancient Europe. Let’s consider some of these parallels.
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. They warned that the Archons invade the human psyche, they intrude mentally and psychologically, although they may also confront us physically as well. Their main impact, however, is in our mental syntax, in our paradigms and beliefs, exactly as don Juan says of the flyers.
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.” The foreign installation (italicized by Castaneda) pulls us out of our syntax. It deranges our indigenous abilities to organize the world according to the language proper to our species. The role of correct syntax in the sorcerer’s mastery of intent is one of the central factors in the later teachings of Don Juan. The sorcerer's concern for deviation of syntax, and consequent derouting of intent, parallels the importance of language and correct definition emphasized in Gnostic teaching.
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. Only then do we understand how “the real mind that belongs to us, the sum total of our experience, after a lifetime of domination has been rendered shy, insecure and shifty.” The “real mind” of Castaneda can be equated to the nous authenticos of the Gnostics. The main effect of the flyers upon our mind is seen in mental conditioning, brainwashing. This is also the main effect of Archontic intrusion.
BEWARE OF DISTRACTIONS!