How She Used Neville Goddard's Teachings to "Attract" Mystic Author Carlos Castaneda

How She Used Neville Goddard’s Teachings to “Attract” Mystic Author Carlos Castaneda

Excerpt from Margaret Runyan Castaneda‘s memoir, A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda. She mentions how she used Neville Goddard’s teachings to “demonstrate” mystic author Carlos Castaneda as her future “husband” partner.


“Lydette Maduro, who lived with her mother and father in Hollywood, was one of Carlos’s good friends during his early days in Los Angeles. He called her Nanecca and saw her frequently prior to the end of 1955. It was Lydette, as I recalled, who brought Carlos to my apartment in December of that year. Mrs. Angela Maduro, Lydette’s mother, had made two cocktail dresses for me and wanted her daughter to deliver them. Carlos accompanied her on the errand. I was living at 5301 W. 8th Street in an apartment building owned by my aunt. When the two of them arrived at the apartment, I asked that they wait a moment while I tried on the dresses. Carlos walked silently to the cor­ner of the room and sat down. Lydette helped me change and we meas­ured and tugged at the dresses to make sure they were right. It wasn’t until on her way out that Lydette introduced her companion.

“Oh Margarita, this is my friend Carlos from South America;” Lydette said.

He was a short dark man, with black curly hair that gathered in a dangling cluster of tiny curls at the forehead. His eyes were large and brown, and the left iris floated out a bit, giving the impression that one eye was always looking beyond you. It was a flaw that he sought to hide by squinting quizzically or looking away, which made him seem painfully shy. He had the look of a high countryman, short but slim with an ample chest, thin eyebrows, a broad, ingratiating smile and the aquiline nose of one with more than a random share of Indian genes. Though he said nothing, I found him intriguing.

A few days later, I made a trip to the Maduros’ to pick up the finished dresses. Anticipating that Carlos would be there, I carried with me a copy of The Search, a spiritual book written by my mystic and guru, Neville Goddard. He was there and seemed genuinely pleased by my gift and we talked for a while about Sao Paulo and art. Carlos explained that he was an artist and would like to do a bust of me, preferably in terra cotta, which was his specialty. It was the kind of promise he’d often use to flatter women. In the front of The Search I had written my name, address and telephone number. We talked for a moment about Neville, but there wasn’t really much time. Carlos promised to read the book and return it to me.

A native of Barbados, Goddard had moved to the United States and had become relatively well-known along the West Coast as a teacher. Earlier in his life, he had taken an Indian teacher named Abdullah, learned what he figured was the meaning of everything and now spent his days traveling between Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, lecturing and writing. His spiel was vintage mystic-William Blake, the Bible, an occasional Platonic reference-giving the whole thing a schol­arly respectability. Neville had a commanding physical presence and a slow, powerful delivery. He spoke the way he wrote, which is to say in a kind of uncluttered Kahlil Gibran prose. I attended all his lectures and bought all his pamphlets and books. “God is I-AMness consciousness;’ said Neville. “Christ is your wonderful human imagination.” “Nothing;’ he preached from the podium at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, “absolutely nothing is without significance.” But Neville felt that man couldn’t understand the ultimate internal meaning of the Cosmic Nexus, as it were, and instead sees the world as a moving panorama of meaningless events. The mystic often alluded to Plato’s allegory of the cave and quoted from the Hebrews about how “things which are seen and were not made of things which do appear” and so forth. The real gasper, though, was from William Blake. He’d sometimes conclude with it, standing there at the podium and saying with that great booming British accent, “All that you behold, tho’ it appears without, it is within, in your imagination, of which this world of mortality is but a shadow… and one day, like Nebuchadnezzar, you’ll awake and find that you’ve never lived and never died except in the dream.”

During Lydette and Carlos’s first visit to my apartment in December, I mentioned that I planned to attend a Neville lecture that evening. And later, finding Carlos at Lydette’s, I ran over a couple of Neville’s precepts when I handed Carlos the book. My purpose in loaning the book was two-fold. I did believe quite deeply in Neville and often did a bit of proselytizing on the side when I had the opportunity. But I also wanted to see Carlos again and figured that one good way was by writing my name and telephone number on the inside front cover of The Search.

Thinking he would certainly notice it, I waited for the call.

For six months, there was nothing. But I didn’t give up. Instead, I employed one of Neville’s curious mystical teachings, something he called “controlled imagination” (controlled dreaming), which boiled down to concentrating intensely on a goal until it became a reality. Neville encouraged his students to raise their wishes through dreams to an unconscious urge. He told them to consider what they wanted to accomplish and to concentrate on the end desire at night in bed before falling asleep. Sleep sealed the instructions given the subconscious mind. So, for six months I focused all of my mental energy and on a Saturday night at 9 PM in June 1956, Carlos called and asked if he could stop by and bring along some paintings he had done.

I asked about Lydette, whom I assumed would accompany him.

But Carlos answered as if he hadn’t the slightest idea who Lydette was. At first, I thought it was a gag, that Carlos was merely pointing out that he’d be alone. But later I found this is the way Carlos often did it. He had a habit of going full-bore into relationships and then breaking them off suddenly, sometimes pretending he had never heard of the person.

“I used to fall madly in love,” says Carlos,  “cling to the poor girl and then-pow! – it was all over and she’d been used up and I was looking for a new girl to fall for. It’s a social pattern we learn to repeat and repeat until we get old and say, ‘There’s no love, no excitement left. I’m ready to die.’ It’s a pattern we take for granted-we think there’s no other possibility.

“Well, Don Juan told me to stop all that. He said making romance the sole purpose of your life-or making anything the sole purpose­ was ridiculous. Of course, if someone crosses your path you have that sense of the marvelous, that here is yet another wonder, you must give your awareness to that. But you must tap others only lightly- not use them up.”

All of this developed after his first visit, when Carlos brought his oil paintings over to me. He proudly showed off his paintings. They were highly stylized and colorful. One was of an old black man or shadowy Amazon Tribesman hunched over his drum and beating out a furious rhythm with waves of motion rolling off his back. Carlos sat on the divan next to me, holding each painting up and explaining his various influences-Dali, Gusone, Dore, El Greco, Goya and so on. They were bold, almost primitive designs, and to my mind, they were pretty good. But Carlos seemed to have these ambivalent feelings. His work was good, but there were too many rough edges that needed work. It was something that time and experience might solve; but I noticed sometimes in the moody flicker of his smile, an uncertainty in his own ability.

I went to the kitchen and took out a bottle of Mateus wine, which became Carlos’ favorite, and which he jokingly referred to as his most valuable teacher. It was not his art that impressed me this particular evening, but the mere fact that he had come to visit. His mere presence verified Neville’s mystical technique. For six months, I had tried “con­trolled imagination”-imagined being with him, talking with him and being most happy with him – and now here he was. Something beyond logic had compelled Carlos to come and there was no way you would convince me otherwise.

Before the evening was over, I was talking about Neville and “controlled imagination” and the New Mysticism, which brings all of your senses into play – you see, hear, feel, and smell all that you imagine you already have and then let it go. Three days before, I had listened to Neville discuss  “controlled imagination” and quote from the Song of Solomon about how someone searches at night on the bed for the soul of the person he loves.

He taught that dreams have a peculiar power and dreamers can, under the right circumstances, manipulate the dream and select from a variety of thoughts those few that are powerful. Neville’s idea was to pick a relaxed situation, such as on the bed at night before sleep, and create a scenario in the mind which implies that you already have what­ ever it is you want. That’s all there is to it. By acting as if the wish were already a reality, the wish, more often than not, becomes reality. To set up dreaming, Neville suggested that his students coast gently to the edge of sleep and concentrate on one object, one goal. Slowly, the divi­sion between dream and real-life becomes arbitrary – they become the same, there is no difference. All I knew for sure was that I practiced “controlled imagination” religiously and suddenly here was Carlos in the flesh, in my apartment, showing off his acrylic paintings.

Carlos was not convinced. But he was interested in this idea that dreams and real-life are equally valid in the scheme of things. And he was intrigued by Neville’s faith in dreams and his attempts to manipu­late them.

The theoretical unity of the dream and real life was an old idea, La Vida es Sueno (Life is a Dream) was standard reading for Cajamarca school children. Pedro Calderon de la Barca, that devil-bearded Jesuit and baroque dramatist, had seen life as a shadow, a snaky penumbra trailing the dream. But it was more than the message that attracted Carlos, it was Neville himself. He was so mysterious. Nobody was really sure who he was or where he had come from. There were vague references to Barbados in the West Indies and his being the son of an ultra­ rich plantation family, but nobody knew for sure. They couldn’t even be sure about this Addullah business, his Indian teacher, who was always way back there in the jungle, or someplace. The only thing you really knew was that Neville was here and that he might be back next week, but then again…

There was a certain power in that position, an appealing kind of freedom in the lack of past and Carlos knew it. Neville wasn’t the only mystic in town during the mid-1950s. The whole California coastline was beginning to stir under the influence of an emerging band of psy­chics and practitioners of extrasensory perception.

The reigning dean of the paranormal was J.B. Rhine, an American botanist who had been engaged in psychic research since the late 1920s. It was Rhine who coined the words extrasensory perception and psi (for psychic phenomenon). Working out of his laboratory at Duke University, Rhine studied his test animals and various “sensitives” who read cards they could not see. Much of the data suggesting fantastic suc­cesses for ESP served as ammunition for the faithful out among the doubters. An enthusiastic group of psychic aficionados emerged in Los Angeles and San Francisco. There were science fiction collectives and spiritual cults and mystery-philosophers like Neville, all together in a great bursting popular scene. High school students were writing term papers in the 1950s about the “new” psi phenomenon. The college lec­ture circuits were suddenly glutted with psychic experts who joined hip young poets and folkies on the bill, Hollywood made it unanimous-by cranking out a series of instant sci-fi and flying saucer movies.

Carlos found himself in the middle of this. He generally avoided this kind of ersatz occultism. The curandero as magic man had been a prod­uct of the unenlightened masses. But now you had intelligent college kids from upper-middle-class families caught up in this bizarre talk of psychic research, and here I was, a slender and rational girl, suddenly babbling on at him about a Barbados-born mystic as if he were the Buddha. It wasn’t just happening in California, of course. There were housewives and mechanics looking out their windows at the red Georgia landscape, and Texas dentists, Iowa farmers and a thousand others, all searching for something, something, that had a suspicious look as if maybe it were green and glowing and doing impossible maneuvers in the black spectral night sky. Everyone was into this occult business in one form or another, and we were no exception.

Carlos began seeing me frequently after that first visit.


Sitting over cups of Chinese tea one evening in September 1957, I began to proselytize on behalf of Neville. Earlier that week, during his regular Thursday night lecture at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Neville had dis­cussed the I AM. It was one of his pet ideas, drawn from the Biblical ref­erence for man’s essential nature, although its origin probably was in the Babylonian water cults or even before in the primitive dreams of Neanderthals. To Neville it was a fundamental idea, pure and correct, a product of the basic brainstem! The I AM! (God in Man).

“It’s like the Christian soul,” I was saying to Carlos. “Like the Hindu Atman. It’s sort of like the nameless presence within every­ body.” Then I turned straight to Neville, memorized from one of his many books, which the mystic was turning out at his own printing house on South La Brea Avenue. “When you understand Carlos, you’re neither rich nor poor, strong nor weak, neither Greek nor Jew, bond nor free, male nor female. All these conceptions limit man. They hold him in captivity.”

Carlos was polite, saying he understood, thinking it was all very interesting. And it was sort of interesting. To Carlos this I AM business was really something he’d felt all along. It was tantamount to saying that the past was more than just a series of years and places and arbitrary designations, more than a collection of social constructs, limits, bonds, bound­aries-cerebral impedimenta. Some of the things Neville was saying Carlos had believed for years. He still had the copy of The Search I had given him the second time we’d met. Skimming through it, he’d found lit­tle beyond the incomprehensible jargon of the philosopher. But I could make sense of it. I had the ability to draw from all the books those few passages that really meant something to him, those special phrases that triggered the flags. Gradually, Carlos began to develop a mild interest in mysticism and rogue philosophy and psychic phenomena.

Still, he had this uncomfortable feeling about people such as Neville, who appeared to be just another of those eccentric philosopher-mystics from Laguna Beach or some such place. He wondered about the homemade books and the expensive lectures and Neville’s own weekly TV show. But the bookstores around the beat districts and the universities were stocking his books right along with the J. B. Rhine studies in parapsychology. By 1957, Rhine was on the skids. He had been the darling of the occult back in the 1930s, but two decades of criticism from conventional laboratory types and journalists like H.L. Mencken had decimated his Society for Psychical Research and had reduced his work at Duke University to little more than a parody of itself. But even if Rhine wasn’t doing well in the mid-1950s, there were others who were doing just fine. There was a renewed interest in the occult across the country, a sort of paranormal revival which by 1957 was rolling full-bore with ESP, flying saucers, and American International sci-fi John Agar movies. After I talked about the I AM, and the magazines about clusters of UFOs over Kansas, and all the rest of it, Carlos decided to test the psychic waters himself.

He made a deck of ESP cards with five symbols: a circle, a square, an addition sign, a star and a flowing wave. For months, we tested the hid­ den side of each other’s perception. The living room coffee table at my apartment was the logical place to do all this, basically because it was private. Carlos was a bit embarrassed by the ESP card testing and he rarely included anyone else in his experiments. There were variations to the testing, but generally Carlos would place the cards face down in the Albatross at the beach or The Point or a couple of places in Hollywood where the poets read.


What’s more, Neville taught that dreams have power and that by arranging them according to one’s personal wishes one can alter the future. The heart of Neville’s prophetic spiel was developing a confidence in getting what you want through intense dreaming and “controlled imagination.” Carlos read only a little of Neville’s work; he never took him seriously enough to work his way through all his books. It was mainly through me that he learned about Neville’s ideas on dreaming and all the rest of it, and that was back in 1958 over wine in his own apartment.

The idea of ”setting up dreaming,” Carlos says in Journey to Ixtlan, came to him in August 1961. Two weeks earlier, he had eaten peyote buttons and, at the height of a soaring hallucination, he had played with a neighborhood dog. It was an enchanting experience the way Carlos told it. The dog became suddenly iridescent and, as both he and the animal drank water from a dish in a silly, giddy episode, fluid suddenly came flowing out their pores, giving both long, gleaming, iridescent manes. It was Carlos’s first hallucinogenic adventure. The following morning, Don Juan explained that the dog was actually the incarnation of Mescalito, the power or deity contained in peyote. It was a good sign and the Indian figured that his apprentice might be ready for heavier stuff. Don Juan explained that dreaming was real and that a person should think of it in those concrete terms. A strong individual can choose and select what he wants to be part of his dream. To “set up dreaming” is to manipulate those elements of a dream in a way that will affect day-to-day life. According to Don Juan, it was all a matter of power-unity, a sense of the nature of things, control over one’s life. This was all rather abstract, but clearly resem­ bled Neville’s technique of altering the future as a route to money or success or whatever. Dreaming Don Juan-style brought everything into focus-there were no differences between sleep and waking.

Neville said much the same thing. Even the preliminaries were similar. As preparation for setting up dreaming, Carlos stared at his folded hands in his lap. Neville, in his lectures, instructed his students to lie on the bed or sit in a chair and just concentrate on what they felt was their ideal self, their ideal situation. Claim to be ideal, Neville prom­ised, and “your present world of limitations will disintegrate as your new claim rises like the Phoenix from its ashes.”

The techniques were the same, but so was the goal: to shake the apprentice out of the rut of ordinary real-world perception. To go beyond. With the I AM, Neville proposed that the real individual should be devoid of past or future. It was the man without the cultural and social impediments. But the idea of erasing the personal history and recogniz­ing the individual without the limitations and attachments of past was all part of Don Juan’s early teachings. More importantly, it was some­ thing that Carlos actually had begun doing years before meeting Don Juan or hearing about Neville.

Then there was the beacon of light. One Tuesday night, I went to Carlos’s apartment after one of Neville’s lectures at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre. The subject on this particular evening had been something called the awakened imagination. Neville said someone who possesses an awakened imagination is special and he sometimes appears as a bea­con of light, a great white glowing face. It was supposedly a real quality, even for a few non-Nevilleites who were extremely attuned, such as artists, scientists, inventors, people with vivid imagination.

In 1958, Carlos was working on a terra cotta bust when I burst into the apartment and starting going on about the latest Neville spiel. He listened for a while. The thing that convinced me was that right in the session, in the middle of the convoluted dissertation, Neville’s face actu­ally began glowing. It was almost like a beacon in the front of the theatre. All he had to do was talk about something and it happened. Carlos looked up from the sculpture and laughed.


One day in early spring of 1958, I left the office at 666 South Labrea to go up the street to the dry cleaners before the noon hour rush. I picked up my clothes, waled out on the street and saw no one around. I was alone walking toward the office – suddenly, I saw Neville coming toward me. As he approached me, I looked at him and smiled – he returned the smile – we never spoke. As he passed me, I turned around to be sure it was Neville I had seen – as I did so, he looked back, smiled again and kept walking. The strange thing was I had been on a street alone with him, but as I turned back to walk ahead, I was on a normal street at noontime.

For a moment, I thought I had flipped. I could not understand this, because Neville was in San Francisco giving lectures for two weeks. He wasn’t in Los Angeles at all.

Well, you can bet I didn’t go back to the office and talk about my strange encounter with Neville.

That evening when I saw Carlos, I related the whole happening to him and wondered how this could happen. I said the next time Neville is lecturing here in town, I’m going to ask if he ever appears to anyone in one city while he’s in another city. Carlos didn’t react much to this tale of being in two places at the same time but said he’d be interested to know what Neville would say when I asked about it.

The next time Neville lectured I was right there. I knew I wanted to ask about his appearance to me that day on Labrea Avenue.

When the lecture was over and he made himself available to answer questions for fifteen minutes, I was ready! However, a strange thing happened. Before I had a chance to ask my question, someone else rose and asked him if it is possible, when he’s in another city, for him to appear as though he is real in Los Angeles to anyone. He looked at this person, then he looked at me and said, yes, he could appear to people he wanted to appear to. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He had appeared to me for some reason. I still don’t know why he truly had the ability to be in two places at the same time, or, at least, I know I saw him in what seemed to be an unreal circumstance.”

Neville Talk and Bilocation

How She Used Neville Goddard's Teachings to "Attract" Mystic Author Carlos Castaneda
Article Name
How She Used Neville Goddard's Teachings to "Attract" Mystic Author Carlos Castaneda
Excerpt from Margaret Runyan Castaneda‘s memoir, A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda. She mentions how she used Neville Goddard’s teachings to “demonstrate” mystic author Carlos Castaneda as her future “husband” partner.