For many years, Gloria Garvin of Joseph was the sorcerer’s apprentice and soul mate. Until, that is, the sorcerer succumbed to the temptations brought on by fame and fortune and Garvin finally decided to break free and start a life of her own.
The name of Carlos Castaneda is known the world over. Castaneda’s famous books, ‘The Teachings of Don Juan,” “Journey to Ixtlan,” “Tales of Power,” “The Art of Dreaming,” and several others, contain fantastic tales purporting to document Castaneda’s apprenticeship to a Yaqui Indian sorcerer.
Castaneda’s books were so mind-blowing and “out there” that they dissolved many people’s ideas of reality. That caused hundreds if not thousands of people to come to Castaneda seeking his help in re-ordering their world views according to ancient Mexican shamanism. But Garvin, now 60, knew a different side of Castaneda, before his books had catapulted him into the position of being a guru to the masses.
The story of how Garvin met Castaneda begins in 1968, in a classic tale of the times in which she and her friends were hitchhiking to San Francisco in beads and sandals and flowers in their hair. They were traveling up to see some friends who lived in Haight-Ashbury and would see the Grateful Dead perform at the Filmore West.
While there, she met a person who was reading a review of Castaneda’s first book, “The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge.” Castaneda’s descriptions of his encounters with Don Juan ‘seemed gritty, raw and scary,” Garvin said in an exclusive interview with the Chieftain.
It piqued her interest so much that when she came back home to Santa Monica, Calif., she mentioned it to an aunt who worked in the UCLA graduate research library. It turned out that her aunt knew Castaneda and offered to introduce her to Castaneda and his then-girlfriend Joan Barker.
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At age 22, Garvin herself was majoring in philosophy at UCLA at the time. Castaneda was also studying at UCLA, majoring in anthropology. They arranged to meet with Castaneda and his girlfriend at the Student Union Building on the UCLA campus. Garvin brought her own boyfriend along.
She had had a certain expectation of what Castaneda would look like – expecting a certain dashing adventurer look for the anthropologist. Instead, however, he was “whimsical” and even “flaky,” a “whirlwind type of guy” with a round face,” she said. “Carlos just has the most sparkling eyes, a grin that just won’t stop,” Garvin recalled.The four of them had a five-hour lunch in the SUB, talking and laughing a lot. Throughout that time, “Carlos pretty much focused on me,” she said.
Afterwards, Garvin remembered Castaneda asking why she had brought her boyfriend with her, saying: “Why did you bring that nincompoop along? He’s not a warrior – you are a sublime warrior, a sorceress beyond compare.”Thus, from the first time they met, they seemed to share a strong connection. Castaneda encouraged Garvin to switch majors from philosophy to anthropology.
But for the time, Castaneda stayed with his girlfriend and Garvin stayed with her boyfriend. Garvin eventually would become engaged to the “nincompoop,” until Castaneda pleaded with her to break it off.
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