Well, here is something different for sombunall of you: A new book, Illuminating Don Juan, by Peter Marquis, an old hippie/shaman from northern California, about an old guy in Mexico who (it is claimed) was the real Don Juan, the shaman who taught writer Carlos Casteneda in Casteneda's famous series of books.
Also, in an interesting twist, this controversial book is put out by Pelorian Digital, i.e. the publishing and design company founded and run by Rasa, of Hilaritas Press fame.
"We have an old friend who has long been on something like a shamanic journey, enough so that he considers himself a shaman. He’s nearing 70, so he’s certainly had a lot of time to have experiences. I never know what that means when Westerners call themselves a shaman (we just don’t have that tradition, for the most part, unless you start talking about people like Crowley, I suppose), but since I’ve met a few indigenous shamans (one Russian and a couple of South Americans), I know that the calling can come from a deep internal struggle that I’m sure anyone from any culture can experience.
"Okay, so Pete’s an old hippie, you might say. He’s said that about himself. He’s long had an interest in Mexican shamans. He devoured the Castaneda books, like many of us, and so he was surprised that just as the pandemic was starting, a friend of his told him that if he drove to Mexico, he would introduce him to the actual shaman who inspired the character of Don Juan in the Castaneda books.
"Pete's book is the story of his travels from his home in Mt. Shasta, California back and forth to Mexico during two years of a pandemic, and his desire to figure out if this was actually the real guy, Castaneda’s Don Juan.
"Pete’s Mexican girlfriend, Gloria, helps to pave the way in macho Mexican culture. It seems Don Juan, or Kata Kachora, as he is known, at 108 years old, is interested in acquiring wife number six, and Gloria was an attractive prospect, or at least the old guy was not shy about his affections. But that’s only a slight side note in a story that involves Pete attending shamanic ceremonies, arranging to put solar panels on Kata Kachora's house, buying land overlooking a sacred ceremonial site, evading bandits on some the more remote Mexican highways, smoking weed in seedy Mexican hotels and smoking weed in pristine mountain meadows – in short, it’s a cool story, and Pete is certain that his beliefs about the identity of Castaneda’s Don Juan will outrage what he sees as the “mainstream Castaneda community.” Already, mentioning that he was writing the book in a Facebook post, the post caught the attention of a Castaneda group where they proceeded to attack him. That’s probably good for his book sales.
"As an old friend, and knowing I was a publisher, Pete told me about the book when he was mostly finished and had already sent $2500 to a vanity press outfit, that honestly, when I looked them up online, they seemed okay. However, he was frustrated with their work. He sent me their proposed cover for the book and their edited “ready-for-ebook” MS Word file. The cover was immediately suspect because their design had a spine that was so wide it would be appropriate for a book of no less than 900 pages. Pete’s book is 174. The spine needed to be about a half an inch wide, at most, and their design had a spine that was a ridiculous inch and a half wide. The Word file was no better. It was very poorly formatted and would have resulted in a terrible eBook. I immediately felt bad for Pete, and since I was waiting for a couple of folks to finish up some work for upcoming Hilaritas Press projects, and I felt I had a bit of time, I told Pete that I would fix up the Word file and redesign a book cover for him."
This being the California New Age community, marketing and promotion has been an interesting process, Rasa further explains.
"So now, Pete begins his saga as a new book writer. He lives still in Mt. Shasta, and the New Age scene here could not be more stereotypically 'far out.' Sometimes that’s quite cool. There’s some very cool electronic and acoustic music for example, but there is also a large percentage of the people that RAW was thinking about when he quipped, 'My function is to raise the possibility, hey, you know, some of this stuff might be bullshit.' Pete gave a printout of the book to a young guy he met at a drum circle who said, 'Yes! I’m really good with promotion and social networking! I can help promote your book!' A few days later Pete asked the guy if he finished the book. He said, “No, instead of reading it, I have it sitting next to me when I’m meditating. I’m absorbing the book.”
More conventional folks are being pressed into service to design a website for the book and to promote it on social media.
I haven't read the original Don Juan books, maybe someone could volunteer to write a review of the new book for me? I was given a Kindle of the title, I can lend it to anyone willing to read it and review it for me.