Cachora Comes to the Holy City: Don Juan in Santa Fe

Copyright 2002 - by Steven McFadden

Saturday night, January 12, 2002  two days before his 88th birthday, a man named Cachora, spoke with an audience of about 170 people at the Church of Religious Science in Santa Fe, NM, a city noted for its spiritual history and destiny.

cachAn elder of the Yaqui Indian Nation, and a Nahual (man of power), Cachora has remained a mystery figure for decades. But now he is coming forward from his homeland in the Sonoran Desert of Mexico into the public realm. It is time for this, he says. Chachora says says he is the real man who is portrayed as the enigmatic shaman don Juan in the series of books by Carlos Castaneda: Journey to Ixtlan; The Teachings of Don Juan; and so forth.

With a bright canopy of stars in the night sky, and just hours before the Capricorn New Moon, the Santa Fe teachings began with a Chief’s song offered by Golden Eagle (formerly Standing Elk). He is an Interpreter and Chief for the Yankton Lakota Sioux peoples of South Dakota. Golden Eagle drummed and sang to honor Cachora, and to honor all the Chiefs who serve the Sacred Hoop.

Cachora appeared dark and intense at first, his eyes shaded from the light by a black sombrero. The hat was formed with a humble downturned brim, and crowned with a single golden eagle feather set in the right side of the woven band. He stood straight and strong through the night. Except for when he was speaking, Cachora kept his hands joined together over his solar plexus, above his red tunic, but behind his deerhide vest edged with cowry shells.

Even the shade of a hat could not long conceal the elder. He showed himself to be radiant in health, lithe, open of heart, filled with deep sincerity and hearty humor, and welcoming to all the people. One observer said he seemed “as solid as a beam of mesquite,” a famously tough tree. A human being of attainment, he demonstrated throughout the evening his faith that this potential rests in every human.

Cachora said that he knows 4,000 plants, and how they can be used medicinally to help people heal. He said he spends his time in the mountains, to study and to gather plants, and to teach his apprentices. But recently, Cachora said, he had been guided by Sprit to come forth and teach more widely in the world.

After a few brief introductory remarks, spoken in Spanish and translated to English, Cachora invited any and all questions. “Come on,” he said over and over, “ask.’

Here is a synopsis of Cachora’s translated remarks through the evening, as paraphrased by this reporter:

  • He was asked his thoughts and feelings about the earth and humanity right now, with everything that is going on in the world? I believe the future of humanity is opaque, he said. We are not seeing much in the way of peace and harmony.
  • Earth changes will continue to come upon the Earth, and a comet, too.
  • Santa Fe is sacred. Remember this. There would be plenty of water here, no crisis, if the people take care of the land and perform their ceremonies and prayers — no matter which spiritual tradition — and respect the earth. “If you give offerings, there will be plenty of water.”
  • The plants and trees are sad. Dry. They are not respected by the people for the crucial contribution they make to our lives. Gather and use them with respect, always offering a prayer. Don’t mistreat them. “Plants are our life. We must care for them.”
  • Cachora mentioned that his father had long ago worked in the mines near Santa Fe, and so he knew the area well. I know the caves and the mines here, he said. They are sacred.
  • Through the evening he several times made dismissive remarks about the books of Carlos Castaneda and claims that they might in some way accurately represent him or his teachings. Of Castaneda, Cachora twice said that he was “un pinche loco.”
  • Cachora answered yes, when asked if there were traditional teachings in his culture about people of different faiths, colors, and nationalities coming together at the time of global crisis, and uniting in mutual respect to work for the health of the earth and all that lives upon it. He said this process — what many would call an unfolding of the legend of the rainbow warriors — is happening now.
  • There’s not too much we can do about government, and wars, and harmful corporations, but we can work on ourselves. Pray and purify yourself. Don’t be ashamed of yourself. Love and accept yourself. Follow your vision.
  • Thank Creator for the day, every day. Sunrise is the best time to do this.
  • Purify yourself. Do it with prayers at sunrise. And do it with Purification baths (Sweat Lodges) at the time of the Full Moon. Meditate and pray in the mountains. This is necessary in the world now.
  • It’s better to meditate outdoors, where you can be in direct contact with the forces of nature.
  • Keep your diet to natural foods, with no chemicals and no genetically engineered components. For health, food should natural and clean, as Creator designed it.

At the end of the teachings, Golden Eagle closed the circle with his drum and a spirit song that, he said, Lakota people sing to honor Pte San Wi (White Buffalo Calf Woman). We have had this song a long time, he said, it was given to the Lakota the first time White Buffalo Calf Woman came among the people: 16,000 years ago.

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