A Definitive Journey

BluebonnetI recently was reminded of my search for my former teacher, Dr. Jenny Lind Porter, which culminated in April this year with my discovery of her home address followed by my writing an old-fashioned letter to her. She doesn’t have a computer.

The reminder was a message from someone else who is searching for her. This little journey has been shared by a couple of other former students who were also searching. And maybe for reasons that are obvious, this reminds me of a book by Carlos Castaneda, Journey to Ixtlan [1]. By the way, Castaneda was mentioned in this month’s issue of Psychiatric Times in an article about a psychiatrist, John Mack, who identified too closely with patients who reported they’d been abducted by aliens. The author, Greg Egighian, PhD, notes,

“The issue of how far a professional may legitimately go in allying and empathizing with his or her subjects extends well beyond UFOs and aliens…” “…anthropologists widely rejected the work of Carlos Castaneda, a PhD in anthropology, after he adopted and became a vocal advocate for a form of Yaqui Indian shamanism.6 – See more at: http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/blogs/history-psychiatry/psychiatrist-aliens-and-going-native#sthash.ZUxNowuZ.dpuf

Back in the ’70s when I was a student at Huston-Tillotson College (now Huston Tillotson University), I was reading Castaneda’s trilogy, and I was struck by the lyrical metaphor of Journey to Ixtlan.

Well, OK, I didn’t think of it as metaphorical then. I was blindsided like Mack (“the psychiatrist who wanted to believe”). It was only decades later, after I became a geezer, that I “realized” Castaneda’s works were literature, perhaps never intended to be taken as scientific documents. At least, that’s my opinion now and it seems shared by others, who conceptualize it within the framework of mindfulness (see link in the tweet below):

Nowadays, I think of Huston-Tillotson College (HT-C) as a place very much like Ixtlan. Obviously I could travel back to Austin, Texas and find it. And I could probably find Dr. Porter’s address–maybe. But I’m not interested in making the journey.

And there’s been no reply to my letter to Ixtlan.


1. Castaneda, C. (1972). Journey to Ixtlan: the lessons of Don Juan. New York, Simon and Schuster.