Carlos Castaneda on Sun Gazing
Author and Shaman Carlos Castaneda writes about a shamanic practice that was taught to him by his teacher Don Juan Matus in his book Journey To Ixtlan. Carlos Castaneda was guided to intently watch the setting sun. He felt a surge of energy in parts of his body and a lightness of being. Don Juan then explained the significance of the shamanic practice.
Journey to Ixtlan page 93:
Undoubtedly there was something indescribably pleasant for me on that hilltop. Eating, like resting, was an unknown exquisite sensation.
The light of the setting sun had a rich, almost copperish, glow, and everything in the surroundings seemed to be dabbed with a golden hue. I was given totally to observing the scenery; I did not even want to think.
Don Juan spoke to me almost in a whisper. He told me to watch every detail of the surroundings, no matter how small or seemingly trivial. Especially the features of the scenery that were most prominent in a westerly direction. He said that I should look at the sun without focusing on it until it had disappeared over the horizon.
The last minutes of light, right before the sun hit a blanket of low clouds or fog, were, in a total sense, magnificent. It was as if the sun were inflaming the earth, kindling it like a bonfire. I felt a sensation of redness in my face.
“Stand up!” don Juan shouted as he pulled me up. He jumped away from me and ordered me in an imperative but urging voice to trot on the spot where I was standing.
As I jogged on the same spot, I began to feel a warmth invading my body. It was a copperish warmth. I felt it in my palate and in the roof of my eyes. It was as if the top part of my head were burning with a cool fire that radiated a copperish glow. Something in myself made me trot faster and faster as the sun began to disappear. At a given moment I truly felt I was so light that I could have flown away. Don Juan very firmly grabbed my right wrist. The sensation caused by the pressure of his hand brought back a sense of sobriety and composure. I plunked down on the ground and he sat down by me.
After a few minutes’ rest he quietly stood up, tapped me on the shoulder, and signaled me to follow him. We climbed back again to the peak of igneous rock where we had sat before. The rock shielded us from the cold wind. Don Juan broke the silence.
“It was a fine omen,” he said. “How strange it happened at the end of the day. You and I are so different. You are more a creature of the night. I prefer the young brilliancy of the morning. Or rather the brilliancy of the morning sun seeks me, but it shies away from you. On the other hand, the dying sun bathed you. Its flames scorched you without burning you. How strange!”
“Why is it strange?”
“I’ve never seen it happen. The omen, when it happens, has always been in the realm of the young sun.”