Toltec Dreaming – Ken Eagle Feather

Toltec Dreaming: Don Juan’s Teachings on the Energy Body
Ken Eagle Feather
Bear & Company, 2007
256 pages

Note: This review was originally written for newWitch magazine.

I really tried hard to like this book. Unfortunately, I’m just too skeptical of the author’s claim that he met don Juan Matus, Carlos Castaneda’s teacher of questionable existence, in the flesh. Additionally, saying that don Juan told him to learn from Castaneda’s books because don Juan’s English wasn’t good enough is suspect and sounds like an excuse for not using more reliable sources. The bulk of the source material is Castaneda’s works, which have been highly questioned in both anthropological and modern shamanic fields—and labeled as plastic shamanism by American Indian tribes in Mexico and elsewhere. Rather than backing up the shaky research with more solid sources, his bibliography is littered with more New Age fluff.

Poor scholarship aside, the techniques in the book are pretty good. It’s a heterogenous mixture of Eastern philosophy and New Age practices, aimed at helping the reader become a more effective dreamer. Awareness of the energy body, meeting with Death, and lucid dreaming are just a few of the topics covered. Eagle Feather is an excellent writer, and provides a good array of techniques to help build one’s dreaming ability. As a practical guide to dreamwork and related practices, this is a decent choice. And the author’s writing style is easy to read, punctuated by anecdotes that illustrate the material. Regardless of source, there’s some good, usable material available in these pages.

It’s just a shame that the questionable “Toltec” material wasn’t backed up by direct sources other than Castaneda. If you’re looking for good dream techniques or if you’re a fan of Castaneda’s works, this may be the book for you; however, take a huge lick of salt with it. If you’re looking for genuine indigenous shamanic practices, look elsewhere.

Two pawprints out of five.

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11 Comments

  1. Luis Abbadie said,

    May 5, 2009 at 6:18 am

    Don Juan told him to read Castaneda’s books? That actually made me laugh out loud.

    Considering that Toltecs disappeared completely a couple of centuries before the Spanish came to Mexico, it’s a good rule of thumb to discard any and all books which claim to contain “Toltec” teachings as fake.

  2. Desert Druid said,

    May 14, 2009 at 7:43 am

    You know I don’t mind people writing a book on the Castaneda’s technique, but be genuine about it. We don’t need to hear the hogwash about the author taking with Don Juan…just tell us you compiled some good techniques that seem to work and I’d probably buy it.

    Castaneda in my opinion was a charlatan, his books are bunk, good reads though in terms of fictional shamanism. What’s curious is that alot of his techniques work and work surprisingly well, I may have to look at this book.

  3. aruntabear said,

    May 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    Funny how a pagan wants to have proof when pagans that I know are just not that concerned with proof, only the magic of their own belief systems. One must always look beneath the surface of the words to find the truth.

  4. lupabitch said,

    May 27, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    If someone wants to present good techniques, that’s one thing. But when those techniques are couched in fictitious information presented as fact, it throws a pall over everything. Even if the techniques work, you still have numerous people running around claiming to practice things based on a culture that hasn’t been around for centuries and which left no written records to pass on. I would do the same thing to a book on, say, Wicca that might have some good practical material, but that presented Wicca as something based on bunny farts.

  5. mysterious being said,

    August 9, 2009 at 8:21 am

    the castaneda mythos (and related writings) can be summed up by a particular quote from don juan:

    “It’s better to get something worthwhile done using deception than to fail to get something worthwhile done using truth.”

    all too often so-called “spiritual” people hide behind the deceptions and controversies of castanedas life and works, rather than grasping the actual content therein.. simply because they cannot ascertain its value. if you are able to see the essence of the living knowledge contained in these stories, you would never dismiss them as purely fiction – regardless of how many liberties or half-truths or outright lies there are

    claims of lineage and so-called historical facts and so forth are utterly meaningless to the serious practitioner. the real transcends all accolades or qualifiers, as it is evidence of itself. you cannot approach it by proxy, so to be concerned with such derivative associations is to reveal such “practice” as yet another indulgence of the artificial social mind, a silly game of spiritual materialism where only those with the shiniest trophies are worthy of being truly “holy”.

    here is a modern translation of the buddhas message for you:

    get over yourself

    • Hayden said,

      November 17, 2009 at 6:33 am

      thanks for saying that so well. these specious debates about source authenticity are a waste of time. Bottom line isn’t whether or not Ken Eagle Feather is the Second Coming, bottom line is, “Is he teaching something worth knowing and using?”

  6. Gary said,

    January 7, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I personally don’t lke the fact that the book falsifies it’s origin in such a blatant way and it DOES matter becuase spirituality is about truth ! Also (and this is something that needs to be understood) notions of cute little primitave native people with their sappy cute little religion about self help and love are RACIST
    in the extreem and racism is never spiritual. Racism of this type is a symptom of desymbolization and a broken damaged ego and damaged identity and white racial guilt. Often “new Age” religion look like nothing more than atempts to sooth insanity. There are right now today native peoples in mexico and south america who need our help protecting them from the oil companies. They also are there for anyone to ask about spirituality. We don’t need to fake what they think and make them out to be characatures of loving kindness. We can speak to them and understant them as the complex and interesting people they really are rather than making up fake stories about them. On a more factual note the new age ideas presented in these type of books are vary far away from the reality of south and central american religion. There is and always has been something quite disturbing and brutal about ancient south american native culture. Apon close examination we find militarism and brutal genocidal wars. Human sacrifice and even religious canibalism. Sure there are some cool dream pactices but they exist along side killing the neighboring tribe and shrinking their heads and hanging them around as trophies. Lets Get Real ! Real is spiritual.

  7. jay said,

    February 25, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    I found his books very helpful and I think you all should listen to my comment..

    so many of the comments here i found a bit negative, and quite ignorant in some ways.. sorry I just found so much irony in the review here, as ken eagle seems to bring up the subject of ‘perspective’ in reference to our own ‘reality’ or ‘dream’ we are constantly changing.
    But in reading this book and also ‘tracking freedom’ by ken eagle, I found myself enjoying the book – as you should with any book. I think you all have forgotten what exactly don Juan tells us.. about primary reality and our secondary realities. You should really re-read the first few chapters of this book then..
    Remember, does it really even matter if don juan was a ‘real person’ & remember, the primary reality, the source reality and the wisdom within – is ever changing and ever evolving as it is infinite as we are and we are dreaming all of this.

  8. RA said,

    February 25, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    What I like about Ken’s books are that anyone, repeat anyone, can get a clear idea of the shaman’s path from reading him – whether one practices or not – and be sure that they are getting “the straight skinny.”
    I don’t agree with much of the Toltec way, as I believe it is too foreign for most average Americans to accept, that is, truly adopt; but the way of viewing the world in shamanic terms as outlined by Castaneda has become part of the cultural currency, so it’s useful to employ. As a method, it’s easy to point to the nagual and tonal and explain being and nonbeing in shamanic terms, for example. Whether we are all fodder for the Eagle, well, that’s a philosophic point perhaps best left to left-brained individuals with lots of time on their hands. I believe, as Ken notes, that how we view our world is a product of “cuing,” that is, connecting to select understandings that join to make a world view. Some of the concepts of the Toltec way, in my mind, are too harsh, they stem from a world in which “lack” is the order of the day, breeding a stoicism that teeters on nihilism. My world is a much more joyful world, filled with exciting possibilities. It’s also a lot less lonely.
    But much of what Ken writes about are actual practical applications that are useful and described in a way that can become powerful tools used as second nature. For example, stalking your weaknesses, or predilections, or being aware when your controlled folly comes forward. One tool I’ve been using a lot lately, reminded of it reading Ken’s book, is recapitulation. Simply stated, and Ken does much better in the book, that’s when you remember an event that is freighted with negative emotions and walk through it again, reexperiencing every emotion, every nuance of the event, and allowing it to be more fully imprinted from a larger point of view. This allows for tremendous inner growth and healing by taking the “charge” out of past negative events, and it frees energy for use now.

  9. Jo said,

    April 18, 2010 at 1:58 am

    I actually don’t feel qualified to comment. All I want to say is that I have met Ken…and spent time with him at the Monroe Institute….and I found him to be a very genuine and authentic human being.
    Jo Buchanan, Australia.

  10. Cyberseer19 said,

    April 20, 2010 at 6:49 am

    There will always be rip off conman like ken eaglefeather. If You want to read about toltec sorcery go with all of Carlos Castenada books and victor Sanchez


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