The Margins: Ep.03 – “The Dreamer and The Dreamed”

THE MARGINS: Oddly-Shaped Ideas

"The dream is a double."

The Dreamer and the Dreamed is a story about a sorcerer’s apprenticeship and his terrifying psychic tests to master the art of dreaming. In a dramatized mashup using excerpts from Carlos Castaneda’s 1974 book Tales of Power, archival radio interview clips and original music, a portrait emerges of the young Castaneda’s first encounters with the enigmatic Yaqui sorcerer Don Juan who teaches him that reality is just “perceptions” and the code of the shaman.


The writer Margaret Atwood once opined that even if Castaneda’s work wasn’t true it was undoubtedly brilliant. What prompted that clarification and argument? Castaneda’s work is both fascinating and for more than a bath full of critics, a complete fabrication. A hoax.  A fraud. A piece of intricate fabulism dressed up as cultural anthropology. These critics deny, or haven’t found sufficient evidence for, the existence of illusive sorcerer Don Juan. And these books on magic, shapeshifting, dreaming, time travel and the power to alter or create physical matter? Poppycock. It simply can’t be true.

Carlos Castaneda's Tales of Power Book Cover

(No one has ever met the Yaqui Indian and many disciples and researchers, following rumors and vapors, made the pilgrimage to Mexico and returned empty-handed but resolute. After all, who could track down an actual sorcerer?) Critics point to the convenient destruction, or convenient loss, of all of UCLA anthropology student Castaneda’s field notes for the works and the author’s rather tricky opaqueness (But check out the section in the episode on “You Must Erase Your History.”)

Yet, Castaneda was a spiritual rock star, a lightning rod of the new age, psychedelic, psychotropic, peyote eating, LSD dropping sixties and amassed a feverishly devoted following of practitioners, believers and dilettantes who read Aldous Huxley. Even as the man and his works, which sold millions of copies, spin, mysteriously spin, under a cloak of controversy.

We’ve added a list of Castaneda’s works and if you want to read more on the “controversy” we’ve provided a list of critical works as a good launching place. We also present the full 1969 interview between Theodore Roszak and Castaneda which first aired on KPFA (plus the transcript).

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About the Show

It has a late night radio vibe. In a mix of audio stories about obsessions and the supernormal, interview mashups, dramatic readings from obscure, trippy journals, scripted fiction, immersive storytelling and soundscape collage, the podcast explores the idea that there are thoughts living between the spaces, in the cracks of things you can’t explain. In “The Margins” of oddly-shaped ideas. Some episodes are a fleeting three or four minutes; others can rock an hour. Listen to the series.

show notes

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Production CREDITS
Writer-producer: Francesca Robin
Audio Engineering: Tim Baron of TimBaronVideo
Production Company: Liquescence Media


00:06 There are just perceptions, not facts.
13:22 Teach me to code reality differently.
19:50 A man could turn into a cricket…or a bird.
32:25 I took meticulous notes.