Moths and Carlos Castaneda

One of my favourite and most captivating reads throughout the years has been the collection of books by Carlos Castaneda. Although he has a substantial body of work with over 10 books, I don’t recall ever purchasing any of them. However, through the years, I have come across each and every one of them, as if by chance and fate.

As I travelled around the world during my late teens and 20s, staying in different hostels, I would often stumble upon these books in the most unexpected places. Sometimes they would be lying in the street, and on other occasions, someone would see me engrossed in one of his books and offer to swap with me the one they were reading when we were both finished. As a result, I didn’t read them in the order that they were written, but it seemed as though the right book would always find its way into my hands at just the right time.

 Carlos Castaneda penned his first three books during his time as an anthropology student at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). These books served as a detailed account of his apprenticeship under a traditional “Man of Knowledge” named Don Juan Matus, who was said to be a Yaqui Indian from the northern regions of Mexico. Castaneda’s research and the experiences he recounted in his books earned him both his bachelor’s and doctoral degrees. However, the veracity of his accounts has been questioned by many over the years. Entire books have been dedicated to scrutinizing the authenticity of Castaneda’s narratives, and there is ongoing debate regarding the very existence of don Juan Matus. Despite the controversies surrounding Castaneda’s work, his books have captivated and inspired countless readers with their unique blend of anthropology, mysticism, and spirituality.

Regardless of the level of fictionalization that Carlos Castaneda may have applied to his books, I believe that they still hold value and have been a significant resource for me in trying to comprehend certain intense experiences I have had since childhood. Castaneda’s depictions of alternate realities and ways of seeing the world have assisted me in understanding some of the visions I have experienced since childhood. For example, I would fall into states where the world was comprised of beams of light, which I could relate to a phenomenon Castaneda referred to as luminous filaments. His descriptions helped me make sense of these experiences and expand my understanding of reality beyond the tangible world. While there may be controversy surrounding the authenticity of Castaneda’s work, his books continue to resonate with readers who seek a deeper understanding of the world beyond the physical realm.

While I was staying   in Southampton, in a house with a unique energy, I stumbled upon the fourth book in the series by Carlos Castaneda, called Tales of Power. The cover of my particular copy featured a strikingly large moth, which I soon discovered was a significant symbol and motif throughout the book. Interestingly, as if on cue, the first in a series of synchronicities began to occur. A beautiful, fluffy white moth found its way into my room. Although it’s not entirely unusual for moths to enter a room through an open window at night, I had never before seen such a gorgeous and enchanting moth. It was larger than most UK moths, but not beyond the realm of possibility. The appearance of white moths among the Appalachian Indians in the USA was considered a sign that the ancestors were present, offering protection and love. This experience with the white moth further solidified my fascination with Castaneda’s work and the mysterious ways in which the universe seemed to be guiding my journey.

Interestingly, the symbolism and perception of moths vary widely across cultures. While some cultures view moths in a positive light, others see them as omens of darkness and misfortune, regardless of their colour. In our own Western culture, moths are often associated with the supernatural and horror genres. For example, they feature prominently in films such as ‘The Mothman Prophecies’ and ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ while the beast in the TV series ‘Magicians’ is often surrounded by moths. Personally, however, I have always found moths to be captivating creatures, albeit somewhat tragic with their obsession with light. As the saying goes, they are like moths to a flame.

After the white moth departed, I was surprised to see another moth appear, this time a stunning yellow one. It was the most elegant and feminine moth I had ever seen, with a beautiful and exotic appearance. Once again, it was quite furry and absolutely gorgeous, and I had never seen anything remotely like it before in the UK.

As I continued to read Tales of Power, the arrival of these moths seemed more than a mere coincidence. In the book, Don Juan reveals, “Knowledge is a moth.” He further states “the moths are the heralds, or better yet, the guardians of eternity,”

Don Juan further declares “for some reason, or for no reason at all, they are the depositories of the gold dust of eternity.” He continues, “the moths carry a dust on their wings, a dark gold dust. That dust is the dust of knowledge.” “Knowledge comes floating like specks of gold dust, the same dust that covers the wings of moths.”

“The moths have been the intimate friends and helpers of sorcerers from time immemorial.”

 Then another moth arrived that blew me away. It was huge, I felt its wingspan was close to 50cm with intricate wings. If the other moths were very soft and feminine and elegant, this moth had a more masculine energy, it radiated power. There was no way this moth was native to the UK and I began to speculate how this could be possible, perhaps there could have been some breeder close by or they could have come on a cargo ship as we were within 10 miles of a cargo port. But why particularly come to my room while I’m reading that book about Moths being bringers of knowledge.

As I sat there pondering the significance of this massive moth’s arrival, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder. Its wings were a complex tapestry of patterns and colors, and it seemed to exude a powerful energy that was beyond words. As I gazed at it, I couldn’t help but think about the passages in Tales of Power that spoke of moths as the guardians of eternity, the depositories of the gold dust of knowledge. Was this moth, with its imposing size and masculine energy, a messenger sent to impart some deeper wisdom or insight?

Despite my attempts to rationalize its presence, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something otherworldly about this moth. It was as if it had come from a different realm altogether, drawn to my room by some mysterious force. And as I watched it flutter its wings, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude for this unexpected encounter with the mystical world of moths.

No one else who lived in my area that I knew reported a similar experience. The moth stayed for several days and a number of people came to my house to see it. Nearly everyone found it intimidating and scary, some literally ran out of the house as fast as they could. Unsurprisingly I found it stunning, for me it confirmed the magical world that society always tries to deny. It confirmed my path and intensified the lessons I had gained from the book.

This all happened before access to the internet was commonplace, so I was unable to research into the phenomenon at that time. To be honest I never found anything quite like it. Years later as I got access to the internet I searched for the world’s biggest moth and it initially came up with the Atlas moth, which was somewhat similar. Although the wings did not seem as intricate as the one I saw, but there can be quite a lot of variation between moths.

I visited Kew gardens in London because I knew they had some Atlas Moths, but they were nowhere near as large or as impressive as the one I saw. More recently I did some searching on the internet and found out that the Hercules Moth is now considered the biggest moth in the world, and I think it looks more like the one I saw. It states the maximum wingspan as being 27cm and I feel the one I saw as being closer to 50cm, perhaps my memory has inflated the size but for sure it was at least 27cm.

I did a search to see whether this had ever happened before or since and I have seen that someone in 2012 had an Atlas moth turn up on their windowsill in Ramsbottom in the UK. The moth apparently had a 1ft (30cm) wingspan and unsurprisingly freaked out the residents of the home initially thinking it to be a bat. The very fact that this became a media sensation featuring on television and in newspapers, shows how rare appearances such as this are.

I guess this is the time where people will start saying I don’t believe you, where is the evidence, but I did not have a camera at the time and never actually thought to take a picture. It was a different time then before everyone had a camera phone and I was always travelling at that time and only had one small bag of possessions.

I will close this story with a favourite quote from the Tales of power book I was reading when the moths arrived, indeed it is probably my favourite quote from all of Carlos Castaneda books. It is very relevant to this story and indeed all the stories in this Beyond Coincidence book as it is the very essence of synchronicity.

“Do you know that at this very moment you are surrounded by eternity? And do you know that you can use that eternity, if you so desire? There! Eternity is there! All around! Do you know that you can extend yourself forever in any of the directions I have pointed to? Do you know that one moment can be eternity? This is not a riddle; it’s a fact, but only if you mount that moment and use it to take the totality of yourself forever in any direction.”

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