The Non-Guru of the Non-Cult
By David Worrell

Castaneda was an artist. He, the guru who was not a guru, the creator of "groupless groups" and similar anomalies, perhaps gave rise to what one might have to call a non-cult. :-)

It would have to be a non-cult you see, because . . . it was almost impossible to join. Traditionally, "cults" take in almost anyone and try to keep them from leaving. But Castaneda and company created a feeling of exclusivity that made people desperately want in.

About the guru thing. It was often implied that we treated Castaneda as one. But . . . he almost always acted like one. He would come in and do his big monologue every week. Occasionally he would take a few questions, but there was never anything even approaching a "dialogue." He was the master and we were the pupils, regardless of what he said.

Castaneda would focus endlessly on the problems and stupidities in life. "Nobody loves you, everyone's controlling and manipulative, everyone's insane, everyone gets old and senile. Do you just want to go into the office forever?" One would think: "Hell no, of course not." :-) (Just like at a multi-level marketing presentation.)

Castaneda was partial to women, and surrounded himself with an inner circle of women. The way the story goes (as told by some of the women themselves), Castaneda would occasionally bring in new women for a short time, doting on them, involving them emotionally and sexually, often telling them they were the "electric warrior" (apparently he told several of them this), giving them the impression that he was bringing them into his non-group, and then . . . he would dump the woman, and would not communicate further with her. In the opinion of several people, Castaneda apparently executed this rather crushing maneuver in order to increase his own energy. And I must admit, this explanation seems plausible. . . rather, I should say it is possible that Castaneda believed it would increase his energy.

Males were never allowed into the innermost circle. The closest were Tracy and Bruce, but even they always appeared to be kept at something of a distance from Castaneda.

Editor's note: For more information and definitions regarding "cults" and "cultic relationships," please see the following links:

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