1 Carlos Castaneda's extraordinary journey into the world of sorcery has captivated millions of Americans. In his eagerly awaited new book, he takes the reader into a sorceric experience so intense, so terrifying, and so profoundly disturbing that it can only be described as a brilliant assault on the reason, the dramatic and frightening attack on every preconceived notion of life that is don Juan's remarkable legacy to his apprentice.
2 At the center of the book is a new and formidable figure, dona Soledad, a woman whose powers are turned against Castaneda in a struggle that almost consumes him. Dona Soledad has been taught by don Juan, transformed by his teachings from a bent and gray-haired old woman into a sensual, lithe, deeply sexual figure of awesome and mysterious power, a sorceress whose mission is to test Castaneda by a series of terrifying tricks. In dona Soledad, Carlos Castaneda has recorded for the reader a personality as instantly recognizable as don Juan himself and has illuminated the strengths and the feelings of a remarkable woman who, despite her sorceric gifts, expresses some of the deepest and most basic feminine concerns and ambitions. For dona Soledad, drawn out of the shadows of a defeated and meaningless life by don Juan, has herself become a warrior, a hunter and "a stalker of power." Castaneda's combat with her, his gradual realization that she not only derives her power from don Juan but is fulfilling his plans, is all a prelude to an astonishing discovery. For Castaneda unfolds for the reader a sorcerer's family, in which dona Soledad, her "girls," Lidia, Elena ("la Gorda"), Josefina and Rosa, themselves changed and transformed by don Juan, are part of a small closed society in which the teachings of don Juan have become a way of life, touching and explaining every aspect of the world, altering the relationships between them so that they are no longer mother and children, man and wife, sisters and brothers, friends and enemies, but disciples, witnesses, accomplices in don Juan's grand design.
3 Extraordinary as all Castaneda's books have been. The Second Ring of Power goes far beyond anything he has written before: it is a vision of a more somber, frightening and compelling world than that of Castaneda's years of apprenticeship the world of a full-fledged sorcerer, in which dangers lie in wait on the journey to impeccability and freedom, and in which the message of don Juan must be transformed into real life.
Jacket Painting and Design by Robert Giusti
(C) 1977 Simon and Schuster
1 A flat, barren mountaintop on the western slopes of the Sierra Madre in central Mexico was the setting for my final meeting with don Juan and don Genaro and their other two apprentices, Pablito and Nestor. The solemnity and the scope of what took place there left no doubt in my mind that our apprenticeships had come to their concluding moment, and that I was indeed seeing don Juan and don Genaro for the last time. Toward the end we all said good-bye to one another, and then Pablito and I jumped together from the top of the mountain into an abyss.
2 Prior to that jump don Juan had presented a fundamental principle for all that was going to happen to me. According to him, upon jumping into the abyss I was going to become pure perception and move back and forth between the two inherent realms of all creation, the tonal and the nagual.
3 In my jump my perception went through seventeen elastic bounces between the tonal and the nagual. In my moves into the nagual I perceived my body disintegrating. I could not think or feel in the coherent, unifying sense that I ordinarily do, but I somehow thought and felt. In my moves into the tonal I burst into unity. I was whole. My perception had coherence. I had visions of order. Their compelling force was so intense, their vividness so real and their complexity so vast that I have not been capable of explaining them to my satisfaction. To say that they were visions, vivid dreams or even hallucinations does not say anything to clarify their nature.
4 After having examined and analyzed in a most thorough and careful manner my feelings, perceptions and interpretations of that jump into the abyss, I had come to the point where I could not rationally believe that it had actually happened. And yet another part of me held on steadfast to the feeling that it did happen, that I did jump.
5 Don Juan and don Genaro are no longer available and their absence has created in me a most pressing need, the need to make headway in the midst of apparently insoluble contradictions.
6 I went back to Mexico to see Pablito and Nestor to seek their help in resolving my conflicts. But what I encountered on my trip cannot be described in any other way except as a final assault on my reason, a concentrated attack designed by don Juan himself. His apprentices, under his absentee direction, in a most methodical and precise fashion demolished in a few days the last bastion of my reason. In those few days they revealed to me one of the two practical aspects of their sorcery, the art of dreaming, which is the core of the present work.
7The art of stalking, the other practical aspect of their sorcery and also the crowning stone of don Juan's and don Genaro's teachings, was presented to me during subsequent visits and was by far the most complex facet of their being in the world as sorcerers.