Castaneda Meets Jodorowsky
By Danio Monti

I am the one who sent the excerpts from Cocagnac's book to the Nagualist, years back. The renewed discussion on the topic, is spurring me to find some time to contribute to the list with some new information.

A lot of things about Pachita can be found in the book by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Psicomagia. Una terapia panica (original Spanish edition is dated 1995). I own it in the Italian edition which, by coincidence, has the same title as the original (Mexican?) version. I don't know of any editions of it in English.

Of course, Alejandro Jodorowsky is a world renowned movie director, creator of "El Topo," "The Sacred Mountain" and a few other titles. But he was also for several years an assistant to Pachita during her healing practice. I cannot report all that's in his book on Pachita, because there are really too many pages, and the book is worth reading.

Yet, the book reports also a meeting of J. with Carlos Castaneda, and I'll improvise a (slightly) abridged translation of this section of the book from Italian:

At that time--the 70's--I [Jodorowsky] was well-known in certain ambiences for my movie "El Topo," that for some people had become a sort of reference in the matter of magical cinema. Castaneda had seen it two times, and he liked it very much.

I was in Mexico in a restaurant, where they serve delicious fillets and you can drink excellent wine. I was in the company of a Mexican actress who recognized a friend of hers at a table with a man. When Castaneda--the man was nobody else than him--heard who I was, he sent his friend to our table; the woman asked if I would like to meet him. "Of course," I answered, "I am a great fan of his!" The woman said that he would come to our table, but vice versa, I offered to go myself. . . . .

I proposed to Castaneda that we go to his hotel, but he preferred to go to mine. We seemed two orientals: we tried to surpass each other in courtesies. He insisted on putting my likings before his and I, obviously, did the same. . . . .

In Mexico it is possible to determine the social class to which a man belongs by his simple physical features. Castaneda seems a waiter. . . . . But as he speaks, he transforms himself into a king; behind every one of his words we can perceive a very vast culture. . . . .

More than a wise man, I can say he is a nice man. We became friends in an instant. He dressed with simplicity and was just at the end of a good fillet with Beaujolais for a drink. . . . . He did not resemble don Juan, but the Castaneda of his books: I found the same tune, the same voice, so to speak. . . . .

My impression is that his books have a basis of truthful experience, starting from which he elaborates and introduces concepts extrapolated from worldwide esoteric literature. Inside his books you can find Zen, the Upanishads, Tarot, dream theory. . . . . One thing is for sure: he really scours all Mexico for his researches...

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I believe this character [don Juan] to be a genial invention of Castaneda who, surely, met with several Yaqui sorcerers. . . . .

In the first place, he called to inform me that he was to be early by five minutes to our appointment. I was touched by such a delicacy. Then, once he arrived, I said to him, "I don't know if you're a fool, a genius, a fake, or if you're saying the truth." He assured me that he wrote nothing else than the truth, and started to tell me an incredible story about how don Juan, with simply a stroke on his shoulders, catapulted him 25 miles. . . . . Because he was distracted by a woman passing by ... he also told me of the sexual life of don Juan, who was capable of ejaculating fifteen times in succession. On the other hand, it seems to me that Castaneda himself likes women very much. He asked me if we could do a movie together. Hollywood had offered him a lot of money, but he didn't like that don Juan would be Anthony Quinn. . . . . Suddenly, he was hit by a case of diarrhea, with his stomach aching strongly, a thing, he said to me, that never happened to him before. I myself was complaining of sharp pains to the liver and right leg. It was strange that all this started at the moment we were beginning to talk of a possible common project. . . the pain was such as to compel ourselves to drag along the floor. I sent for a taxi and accompanied him to his hotel. Then, I went to Pachita, for an operation. I insisted that Castaneda come himself to such an extraordinary woman, but he didn't. I had to stay three days in bed. Once recovered, I phoned for him at the hotel, but he was already gone. I never saw him again, life separated us. A warrior leaves no trace. . . . .He told me these don Juan stories with such an intensity. . . . . I am accustomed to theatricals, to actors, and it seemed to me that he was not a liar. A fool and a genius at the same time? . . . . His contribution has been immense: he has developed a spring of alternate knowledge, the South American source. He has revived the idea of the spiritual warrior ... he rediscovered for our times the work on lucid dreaming ... his books reveal many forgotten things. So, truth or lie, it doesn't matter. If it is a hoax, it's a sacred hoax. . . . .

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By chance, some time after reading Jodorowsky's book, I had the opportunity to speak with Jodorowsky himself about his interest in Castaneda's work. I told him that it seemed to me that the work of Carlos had influenced greatly his movies. He agreed, but added that there was no doubt that at the same degree his movies influenced Castaneda in writing his books. He then recalled his meeting with Castaneda, in terms very similar to those reported above. He also told me that Federico Fellini, who until near the end of his life felt compelled to do a film drawing from Castaneda's books, had contacted him. Fellini was convinced that only J. was adequate to write the screenplay for that movie.

Besides all this, Jodorowsky is also renowned as a comic writer. His most famous work in this field is the Cycle of the Incal, done in collaboration with Europe's greatest comic artist, Moebius.

It is interesting to note that Moebius too is somewhat related to Castaneda's work. In fact, he affirms that some of his recent productions in comics are done while he is in a 'dreaming' state. Looking at them makes this plausible: some of his panels are very ethereal, as though suspended in a strange enchantment. For those who are interested, I know Moebius comics are published in the U.S. by Dark Horse.