“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same”
― Carlos Castañeda , Journey to Ixtlan


I sometimes struggled with the flow of the story, and it was an effort to motivate myself to keep reading at some moments. However, all in all, there are very important pieces of advice spread throughout the pages, and for a good reason, Carlos Castañeda is viewed as one of the most important contributors to psychedelic literature. Below I have added a detailed summary of this novel.

Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan is a memoir by American author and shamanic intellectual Carlos Castañeda. First published in 1972, this book is the third installment in the series of his experiences and explores the teachings of Yaqui Indian shaman Don Juan Matus, with whom Castañeda began an intense philosophical apprenticeship while on assignment for an anthropological study.

Castañeda remained Don Juan´s apprentice from 1960 to 1971, an interval during which the shaman tried to enlighten Castañeda about his shamanic tradition and perspectives. Don Juan also tried to help Castañeda access what he believed to be a parallel reality using a Yaqui psychotropic hallucinogen known as peyote. Initially reluctant to have Don Juan as his mentor, he came to adopt and espouse many of the sorcerer´s views.



In this book, he attempts to convince readers that alternative realities exist, validating the methods of knowledge-making utilized by the shamanic cultures with whom he has been in contact. Journey to Ixtlan begins with Castañeda´s endeavor to find Don Juan to learn more about the Yaqui Indian´s usage of plants of their psychotropic effects. Don Juan quickly converts Castañeda from his carefully formulated research plans, instead declaring that Castañeda should become his apprentice in order to see from his own experience how psychotropics are used. Don Juan teaches him the art of “stalking” and “dreaming,” which are techniques to expand one’s awareness and break free from the confines of ordinary perception. Castaneda explains that Don Juan´s view, and eventually his own view, was that psychotropics merely offer windows into alternate realities. With shamanic training, one can establish a more permanent connection to the same realms that one accesses to psychotropics like peyote.



Don Juan teaches Castaneda that by letting go of the attachments and expectations that bind us, we can break free from the limitations of our everyday lives and open ourselves to new possibilities. This entails a profound shift in perception, enabling us to see the world in a different light and engage with it more authentically. (for a deeper summary, listen here)


Below you can listen to the audiobook: