In 1960 Carlos Castaneda first met don Juan, a Yaqui Indian feared and shunned by the ordinary folk of the American South West because of his unnatural powers. During the next five years don Juan's arcane knowledge led him into a world of beauty and terror, ruled by concepts far beyond those of western civilization. Using psychedelic drugs - peyote, jimson weed and a mushroom called 'humito' - Castaneda lived through encounters with disembodied spirits, shamans in the form of huge wolves, and death in the shape of silver crows. Three times he met Mescalito, the god of the peyote. Finally, after a night of utter terror in which he knew that his life was threatened by forces which he still cannot fully explain, he gave up his struggle to become a Man of Knowledge. After several months of indecision, he wrote this book.