The Anthropologist Who Became a Shaman Cult Leader

The Anthropologist Who Became a Shaman Cult Leader

While browsing an antiquarian bookstore in Quito, Shabono: A Visit to a Secluded and Magical World in the South American Rainforest, was written by an anthropologist named Florinda Donner. Published in 1982, I found it as interesting as most scholarly books. Instead, I got a fascinating adventure that would put even Indiana Jones to shame.

The book begins with Donner, a German immigrant studying anthropology in California, feeling hopeless. She spent weeks on the Venezuelan-Brazil border, tracking down an indigenous healer who refused to divulge the secrets of her trade. Preparing to return to the United States empty-handed, she befriends a kind but crazed old woman who wants to introduce her to her village deep in the rainforest. The woman dies on the journey, and when the donor reaches the village, she participates in a ritual of drinking banana soup flavored with the woman’s ashes.

And that’s just the first few chapters. Donner then experiences an existential hallucination after sniffing epena, a tryptamine derivative, and narrowly avoids being kidnapped by another tribe.

The tale of Shabono It was so compelling I couldn’t believe it was true. The book was praised for its writing but was torn for its lack of academic rigor. He claims to have plagiarized the testimony of a Brazilian woman who was held captive in the same area of ​​the Amazon and believes he fabricated the whole thing.

As shocked as I was to learn all of this, it turns out that the rabbit hole runs much deeper.

It’s hard to tell the story of Florinda Donner from Carlos Castenada. He claims, in the center of his 1968 best-selling book, that he met the Yakui sorcerer Don He Fan He Matus. Teachings of Don Juan, while waiting for a Greyhound bus in Arizona. Critics questioned Don Juan’s existence, and Castenada, who hated being questioned, made no attempt to locate him.

nevertheless lesson Though shunned in academia, it had a great impact on the general public. Psilocybin Castenada’s memoir of becoming a raven after inhaling her mushroom powder and smoking devil’s weed was a must-read for anyone involved in the sex and drug culture of the late ’60s.

He may have been a poor anthropologist, but Castenada was a fine storyteller who knew how to use his talents to captivate those around him. Don Juan In the book, Castenada, then a billionaire, bought a two-story house in Westwood Village, Los Angeles. This is where his personal writer’s following thrives and comes to be considered by some to be a full-fledged cult.

One of Castenada’s followers was Gloria Garvin, who sought him out after reading the book. lesson Influenced by pumpkin pie mixed with hashish.

“You were always like a bird, like a bird in a cage” garvin remembered Castenada told her at the first meeting. “You want to fly. You’re ready. The door is open. But you’re just sitting there. I want to take you. I’ll help you soar.” If you come with me, nothing can stop you.Castenada got in touch and encouraged her to study anthropology at her alma mater, UCLA.

Also from UCLA, Castenada recruited Florinda Donner, who helped write Shabono and witch’s dreamamong other books.

Castenada used to refer to her favorite followers as “witches.” The witches lived with him on the Westwood estate and wore the same short hairstyle. They also claimed to have met the semi-fictional Don Juan. recruited other witches in lectures and seminars on shamanism and human transcendence inspired by salon.

They say that in order to become a real witch, Castenada, who had publicly shown himself to be single, had to be put to sleep.

According to testimony, Castenada’s supporters had all the characteristics of a cult. Followers were pressured to cut contact with his friends and family. Only Donor, who was considered to be Castenada’s intellectual and spiritual equal, kept in touch with his parents, albeit sporadically. I encouraged him to become financially dependent on him.

Despite his obsession with immortality, Carlos Castenada died of liver cancer in April 1998. new york times “Even his age is uncertain,” reported when news of his death was made public after weeks of withholding.

As soon as one mystery left the world, another entered. The day after Castenada’s death, Donner and her three other women near Castenada disconnected their cell phones and appeared to vanish into thin air. Castenada’s adopted daughter, Patricia Partin, has also gone missing. Her abandoned Ford Her Escort was found in Death Valley. Years later, her body was also found there.

None of the disappearances have been properly investigated by the LAPD, and so far all citizen journalists and internet investigators trying to uncover the fate of the witches are at a dead end.

A former follower believes the woman took her own life. During her lifetime, Castenada often spoke of suicide, seeing her death as a gateway to the higher plains. When his health began to deteriorate, the witches reportedly acquired guns. One of the witches who disappeared with Donner, Taisha Her Abelal began drinking, but told those around her, “I’m not in danger of becoming an alcoholic.” salon Quote “I’m leaving.”hit again salon, Castenada had told Partin to “drive into the desert as fast as you can” in a Ford Escort “if you need to climb to infinity”. Doubtful, but ultimately inconclusive.

I’m sure those who survived Castenada sincerely believed everything he preached.former follower said salon“He was increasingly hypnotized by his own fantasies.”

So did the witches.of Shabono, Donner parades fiction as fact. She may have originally tried to parade fiction for fact in order to gain fame and fortune, but the reader is left to see the young anthropologist enter her own fantasy world of life and death, drugs and mysticism. I get the strong impression that the further you step into it, the more difficult it becomes. For her to separate reality from imagination.

Anyway, it’s a really good book.

Alexandra Solorio
Introducing Alexandra, an accomplished cannabis writer who has passionately pursued her craft for a decade. Through a decade-long journey, Alexandra has cultivated a profound connection with the cannabis world, translating her expertise into captivating prose. From unraveling the plant's rich history to exploring its therapeutic marvels and legal evolution, she has adeptly catered to both connoisseurs and newcomers. An unwavering advocate, Alexandra's words not only enlighten but also advocate responsible cannabis use, establishing her as an indispensable industry voice over the past ten years.

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