Vol. 1 No. 2
legacy that Joseph Long wisely rejected at the 1974American Anthropological Association conference inMexico City.
Summarizing (Schroll with Schwartz, 2005), Krippnerbelieves Price-Williams' research provides clearevidence that Castaneda consistently and significantly “borrowed ideas” from Douglas without ever askingand without acknowledging their source. But, in astrange ironic twist, if Krippner's suspicions prove tobe true, then Price-Williams should be proudCastaneda chose to exploit him. Because thecounterculture in 1968 was ripe for Castaneda's talesof a seemingly uptight middle-class Latino whoseencounters with an old Mexican Indian unveiled anon-ordinary reality, a numinous state of consciousness, and corresponding way of life thatprovided a serious challenge to rational secularscience (Castaneda, 1968, 1971, 1972).
also provided a psychological sense of
for a generation seeking analternative paradigm to EuroAmerican science'sdominant story. This, says Kremer:• Has led to well-known consequences which arehighly problematic—for example, the threat of nuclear holocaust and the possibility forecological catastrophes such as the destructionof the rain forests and the ozone layer, thepollution of air and water, nuclear accidents,and so forth (Kremer: 189, 1988).Consequently, and I think Price-Williams willunderstand where this statement is coming from, itwas more believable to a rebel generation forCastaneda to tell these tales than to hear themessage from a white establishment anthropologist.Considering the importance of raising both public andscientific awareness of shamanism, if Castaneda hadnot bestowed this discussion with his charisma,colleagues such as Michael Harner (1980, 1993)might have had to invent him. The double irony is
was a white establishment anthropologist
who hadsome unique insights into the clash (that hasincreasingly been acknowledged) between theworldview of indigenous people's, and our scientificview of the world.
Throughout their many conversations Price-Williamsnoted that Carlos repeatedly mentioned a book hereally wanted to write,
Art of Sorcery
. This bookwould explain why sorcery is an art and not a science.Krippner said he considers sorcery to be a technology—neither science nor art. He also stated that Price-Williams had concluded that Castaneda was theembodiment of his own (Price-Williams') shadow andtrickster personality; thus, knowing Castanedabenefited him toward the integration of his ownshadow. In sum, while Price-Williams and Krippneragree that Castaneda’s books are not importantanthropological documents, these books played animportant role in furthering anthropology'sinvestigation of shamanism. More recentlyCastaneda's influence lead to one of the best book’son shamanism I have ever read, Stephan V. Beyer’sthoroughly researched book on ayahuasca shamanism(2009). Beyer’s years of study in Peru provides an in-depth analysis of both healing shamanism, and itsdeadly opposite sorcery.
Castaneda's Influence on Methodology
Anthropologists (and most social scientists) prefernomothetic or etic/quantitative analysis to ideographicor emic/qualitative methods. Challenging this eticpreference, Castaneda argued that understandingshamanism requires becoming a practitioner. SarahWilliams revisits this argument:His [i.e., Castaneda's] narratives of his interactionwith the Yaqui shaman argued that one could notunderstand the shamanic worldview without becominga shaman. No informant could ever convey this,because so much of it was experiential. Morefundamentally yet, all the Castaneda writingsproposed the idea that non-technological peopleswere not primitive, and were as capable of insight astheir technological counterparts; albeit in differentareas of human functioning. . . . What had beencategorized in anthropology as “magical thinking” wassuddenly proposed as a valid perspective that thediscipline must master to fulfill its self-defined task of understanding human beings and their cultures(Schwartz 2007:7, quoted in Williams:66, 2007).My deepening inquiry toward reconciling etic/objectivity and emic/subjectivity has benefited fromCastaneda's contributions to the researchmethodology of social science. Specifically,Castaneda's claim that the only way to trulyunderstand shamanism is to become a practitionersupports the need for subjective narratives as thestarting point of all social science research. Schroll(2010) argues:Contemplating these concerns (which involved acognitive reiteration of our previous discussion) ledme to the hypothesis that becoming a shamanicpractitioner transcends our most far-reachingnomothetic and ideographic methods. This is whyshamans use precise objective methods whenteaching initiates, because initiates must first liberatethemselves from their enculturation, erasing theparameters of our culture that frame the symbolicconstruction of our worldvidew. Controversies as tothe legitimacy of Castaneda's research do notdiminish this challenge, unless we avoid discussing asomatic tradition of mystical experience (Schroll2005). Joseph Long's interest in psi phenomena, andthe many students and colleagues his inspired,support the importance of understanding this corereligious experience (Long 1977). Without this, ascience of consciousness would have no reason to