I have quite a bit of experience with Castaneda’s works.
I agree with defectron, Narius, and The Cusp. From what I’ve experienced, not only does this stuff work, but it is some of the most advanced stuff that magic books talk about. You’ll need to read carefully to find the gems though, and usually they come in the form of don Juan’s words or Castaneda’s experiences. The question of validity is irrelevant; it works, and it works stronger than anything else I’ve found in print.
An example or three:
The very first experience I had relating to Castaneda was after reading four or so of his books in a week. Working from home and being self employed allows me this advantage. I was exhausted, at the point of not being able to stand. I passed out on my couch.
When I opened my eyes, after dreaming of the assemblage point, there was a spider on my couch.
I’m not talking about a regular spider. I’m talking about a ball of brown and black the size of my fingernail, with six legs that were sheer bone, no eyes, no mouth, nothing. The reason I classify it as a spider was that it “felt” like such. I blinked. The spider started moving across the other side of my couch, and scurried towards my hand before entering through the thumb, and disappearing.
I had just woken up. I was not in a trance. I was doing nothing. Certainly not dreaming.
I had been able to move my assemblage point slightly for a long time. Nothing major like a shapeshift but I’ve been able to “flip a switch” in terms of the technique and become slightly older, younger, smaller, larger, faster, slower, etc. and so forth. I don’t think it was major- imagine an invocation, except you’re not invoking anything except another permutation of your energies.
One day, I went fully to the “left” as it is referred to.
I can’t go into detail about everything that happened in that state of extraordinarily heightened perception, but I will say that a common occurrence was for me to hear the engine of a car and feel the vibrations from it travelling across the road from three blocks away. These weren’t minor perceptions, however- I could hear the engine as if I was standing next to it, and the vibrations were intense enough that I fell over at one point.
In the Castaneda books, the “allies” are discussed- spirits that sorcerers can tame by fighting them, physically (“wrangling” or “wrestling”), and that have roars as loud as thunder.
One night, I was ready to capture my own. I could feel it. So I continued reading on a clear, cloudless twilight.
At about midnight, maybe twenty minutes after, a clap of thunder pierced the air. I looked outside. Not a cloud in sight.
Four minutes later, it happened twice, with ten seconds in between.
One of my spirits, a large serpent I work with, physically materialized on the table before me, and shouted at me that it had arrived.
I found the ally waiting for me by a tree in my backyard. It was roughly seven feet tall, and a largely featureless humanoid save for its hole of a mouth and elongated, sharp skull.
Tackling it was like what I imagine being electrocuted is like. But, tackle it I did, and held on despite being put on a metaphorical electrical chair, and I held on for dear life. I had no idea what was going on, except that a seven foot tall spirit had materialized physically in my backyard with skin like lightning and challenged me by roaring and making me temporarily deaf.
When the feeling of death passed, I opened my eyes and found that I was on the ground. The spirit laid sprawled out on the ground in front of me.
“It is over,” it said in a person’s voice. It sounded like a middle aged man who was out of breath. “You have bested me.”
I’m not going to say what I do with said ally, but rest assured that it remains my strongest companion that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.