The International Journal of Ecopsychology (IJE)


Don Juan is a fictional character. Yaqui in Sonora and Arizona have no history of peyote rituals. These two facts help explain why, by 1975, Castaneda’s followers were seeking shamans comparable to Don Juan among the Huichol of Mexico. In recent years peyote tourists have invaded the sacred land where Huichol venerate the peyote spirit. The rising tide of tourists in that area is rapidly depleting peyote and has stimulated Mexican authorities to incarcerate Huichol peyote hunters (Fikes, 1993; 2013). In the early 1990s Castaneda created a cult, Tensegrity, which taught disciples stylized movements combining “tai chi, modern dance and karate” (Marshall, 2007). He established an inner circle, demanding that his followers sever all family ties or “erase personal history.” He seduced women followers and probably induced several of them to commit suicide (Austin, 2007; Marshall, 2007). Castaneda’s erratic “acting out” and his insistence that followers cut themselves off entirely from everyone essential to perpetuating their identity exemplified harmful practices described by his followers.


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