Magical Passes: Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico

Magical Passes: Practical Wisdom of the Shamans of Ancient Mexico

by Carlos Castaneda

Thirty years ago, Carlos Castaneda published The Teachings of Don Juan, the story of a magical journey into the unknown. Under the tutelage of don Juan Matus, the young anthropologist entered another world and emerged to give readers of his first book glimpses of the "nonordinary reality" of a Yaqui Indian sorcerer. Castaneda wrote eight more books, most


Thirty years ago, Carlos Castaneda published The Teachings of Don Juan, the story of a magical journey into the unknown. Under the tutelage of don Juan Matus, the young anthropologist entered another world and emerged to give readers of his first book glimpses of the "nonordinary reality" of a Yaqui Indian sorcerer. Castaneda wrote eight more books, most recently The Art of Dreaming, which describes don Juan's teaching methods as well as the sorcery arts he made Castaneda practice.

Castaneda learned that for us to perceive any of the worlds that exist beside our own, we must not only covet them but find sufficient energy to seize them. Magical Passes offers readers the key to the energetic conditioning for the first time. In his revolutionary new book, Castaneda reveals a series of body positions and physical movements that have enabled various shamans and their apprentices to navigate their own sorceric journeys. By sharing this centuries-old wisdom, from a tradition that stretches back more than 27 generations, Castaneda makes it possible for readers to travel to some of these other realms, which are as real, unique, absolute and engulfing as our own world. He offers both a philosophical history of magical passes and an innovative, easy-to-understand instructional format, complete with more than 450 computer-generated illustrations. Written with humor, clarity, and authority, Magical Passes further illuminates the true meaning of sorcery and magic.

Carlos Castaneda is the author of nine bestselling books, including the acknowledged classics The Teachings of Don Juan and most recently The Art of Dreaming.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It has been 30 years since Castaneda published The Teachings of Don Juan, the first volume of his continuing story of his extraordinary apprenticeship to a Yaqui Indian sorcerer. In the eight books that followed, Castaneda maintained secrecy about many of the practices he was taught. Here, however, he lifts the veil on aspects of a tradition that he claims reaches back 27 generations, revealing a set of physical movements, called "magical passes," allegedly discovered by shamans of ancient Mexico. The purpose of the movements is to "agitate" and "redeploy" stuck energy fields within the body, inducing "inner silence," a "heightened awareness" and "an optimal state of being." Castaneda has adapted these movements into his own modern version, which he calls "tensegrity," a combination of the words tension and integrity, "the two driving forces of the magical passes." These postures and movements deal with issues including intent, "recapitulation" (remembering all one's life experiences), decision-making, dreaming, left- and right-body integration (similar to current views of left- and right-brain processes) and "masculine," or aggressive, energies. All of the movements are clearly illustrated through 486 halftones, but some if not most may be difficult to achieve without personal instruction. They do, however, seem to offer the possibility of offering a unique new path to opening the perceptions and releasing energy in the body. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Cult author Castaneda has written nine books (e.g., The Teachings of Don Juan, LJ 3/1/69) chronicling the life and practices of Yaqui sorcerer Don Juan Matus. While these books talk about the magical and shamanistic practices of Don Juan and his lineages, this new book begins with Don Juan chiding Castaneda about his physical well-being (or lack of it) and then teaching Castaneda the physical movements practiced by the sorcerers. These magical movements are called "tensegrity"a combination of the tension of contracting and relaxing with the integrity of the body moving in one complete unit. The bulk of the book is a detailed step-by-step description and photographs of the movements, which can be done following the book but require a concentration that cuts out extraneous thought. Recommended for collections where Castaneda's other books are popular and for collections on meditation and movement.Gail Wood, SUNY at Cortland

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

The first time don Juan talked to me at length about magical passes was when he made a derogatory comment about my weight.
"You are way too chubby," he said, looking at me from head to toe and shaking his head in disapproval. "You are one step from being fat. Wear and tear is beginning to show in you. Like any other member of your race, you are developing a lump of fat on your neck, like a bull. It's time that you take seriously one of the sorcerers' greatest findings: the magical passes."
"What magical passes are you talking about, don Juan?" I asked. "You have never mentioned this topic to me before. Or, if you have, it must have been so lightly that I can't recall anything about it."
"Not only have I told you a great deal about magical passes," he said, "you know a great number of them already. I have been teaching them to you all along."
As far as I was concerned, it wasn't true that he had taught me any magical passes all along. I protested vehemently.
"Don't be so passionate about defending your wonderful self," he joked, making a ridiculous gesture of apology with his eyebrows. "What I meant to say is that you imitate everything I do, so I have been cashing in on your imitation capacity. I have shown you various magical passes, all along, and you have always taken them to be my delight in cracking my joints. I like the way you interpret them: cracking my joints! We are going to keep on referring to them in that manner.
"I have shown you ten different ways of cracking my joints," he continued. "Each one of them is a magical pass that fits to perfection my body and yours. You could say that those ten magical passes are in your line and mine. Theybelong to us personally and individually, as they belonged to other sorcerers who were just like the two of us in the twenty-five generations that preceded us."
The magical passes don Juan was referring to, as he himself had said, were ways in which I thought he cracked his joints. He used to move his arms, legs, torso, and hips in specific ways, I thought, in order to create a maximum stretch of his muscles, bones, and ligaments. The result of these stretching movements, from my point of view, was a succession of cracking sounds which I always thought that he was producing for my amazement and amusement. He, indeed, had asked me time and time again to imitate him. In a challenging manner, he had even dared me to memorize the movements and repeat them at home until I could get my joints to make cracking noises, just like his.
I had never succeeded in reproducing the sounds, yet I had definitely but unwittingly learned all the movements. I know now that not achieving that cracking sound was a blessing in disguise, because the muscles and tendons of the arms and back should never be stressed to that point. Don Juan was born with a facility to crack the joints of his arms and back, just as some people have the facility to crack their knuckles.
"How did the old sorcerers invent those magical passes, don Juan?" I asked.
"Nobody invented them," he said sternly. "To think that they were invented implies instantly the intervention of the mind, and this is not the case when it comes to those magical passes. They were, rather, discovered by the old shamans. I was told that it all began with the extraordinary sensation of well-being that those shamans experienced when they were in shamanistic states of heightened awareness. They felt such tremendous, enthralling vigor that they struggled to repeat it in their hours of vigil.
"At first," don Juan explained to me once, "those shamans believed that it was a mood of well-being that heightened awareness created in general. Soon, they found out that not all the states of shamanistic heightened awareness which they entered produced in them the same sensation of well-being. A more careful scrutiny revealed to them that whenever that sensation of well-being occurred, they had always been engaged in some specific kind of bodily movement. They realized that while they were in states of heightened awareness, their bodies moved involuntarily in certain ways, and that those certain ways were indeed the cause of that unusual sensation of physical and mental plenitude."
Don Juan speculated that it had always appeared to him that the movements that the bodies of those shamans executed automatically in heightened awareness were a sort of hidden heritage of mankind, something that had been put in deep storage, to be revealed only to those who were looking for it. He portrayed those sorcerers as deep-sea divers, who without knowing it, reclaimed it.
Don Juan said that those sorcerers arduously began to piece together some of the movements they remembered. Their efforts paid off. They were capable of re-creating movements that had seemed to them to be automatic reactions of the body in a state of heightened awareness. Encouraged by their success, they were capable of re-creating hundreds of movements, which they performed without ever attempting to classify them into an understandable scheme. Their idea was that in heightened awareness, the movements happened spontaneously, and that there was a force that guided their effect, without the intervention of their volition.
Don Juan commented that the nature of their findings always led him to believe that the sorcerers of ancient times were extraordinary people, because the movements that they discovered were never revealed in the same fashion to modern shamans who also entered into heightened awareness. Perhaps this was because modern shamans had learned the movements beforehand, in some fashion or another, from their predecessors, or perhaps because the sorcerers of ancient times had more energetic mass.
"What do you mean, don Juan, that they had more energetic mass?" I asked. "Were they bigger men?"
"I don't think they were physically any bigger," he said, "but energetically, they appeared to the eye of a seer as an oblong shape. They called themselves luminous eggs. I have never seen a luminous egg in my life. All I have seen are luminous balls. It is presumable, then, that man has lost some energetic mass over the generations."
Don Juan explained to me that to a seer, the universe is composed of an infinite number of energy fields. They appear to the eye of the seer as luminous filaments that shoot out every which way. Don Juan said that those filaments crisscross through the luminous balls that human beings are, and that it was reasonable to assume that if human beings were once oblong shapes, like eggs, they were much higher than a ball. Therefore, energy fields that touched human beings at the crown of the luminous egg are no longer touching them now that they are luminous balls. Don Juan felt that this meant to him a loss of energy mass, which seemed to have been crucial for the purpose of reclaiming that hidden treasure: the magical passes.

Meet the Author

Carlos Castaneda was the author of the bestselling books, including the acknowledged classic The Teaching of Don Juan and most recently The Art of Dreaming and Magical Passes. He departed on his definitive journey in 1998.

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