The Hunt for Cult Leader Carlos Castaneda’s Witches

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The story starts off in a typical fashion: a cult leader gains notoriety and wealth, purchases a compound, and fills it with disciples, primarily young women, who serve as his sexual subordinates. But in reporter Geoffrey Gray’s twisty examination in Alta of Carlos Castaneda and his sect of devoted chacmools, female followers named after pre-Columbian Mexican sculptures, the story takes a different turn. His six head “witches” disappeared after Casteneda passed away from liver cancer in 1998. One was found dead in the desert, leading many to believe the group had carried out a suicide pact to follow him into another realm. But as Gray digs deeper into Castaneda’s estate, he begins to question who was in control at the time of the spiritual leader’s end.

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