More About the Author
My latest book, Unknown Huichol: Shamans and Immortals, Allies Against Chaos, summarizes what I learned from four shamans; by making many pilgrimages with them to sacred sites, observing their rituals and translating many of their songs and myths. I hope my 2010 book, Unknown Huichol, will disseminate little known truths about shamanism. Accurate and insightful understanding of esoteric oral traditions is rare in today's world, which is still dominated by sensational & self-aggrandizing stories about shamanic practices.
As an undergraduate I was inspired by the books of Carlos Castaneda. After completing my doctorate in anthropology at the University of Michigan I wrote an expose: Carlos Castaneda, Academic Opportunism & the Psychedelic Sixties. During my research some professors threatened me with lawsuits. My first publisher, Madison Books, abandoned publication of my Castaneda expose because of threats of litigation made by Peter Furst. I sued Peter Furst but my case was dismissed by New Mexico's Supreme Court.
On my website--www.jayfikes.com--I invite readers to decide what if anything is missing for waterfall jumping in Mexico, as described by Furst, Myerhoff and Castaneda, to be defined as fraud and conspiracy. The 2007 BBC film documentary called Tales from the Jungle, Carlos Castaneda is my favorite sequel to my expose.
As a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. I participated in a coalition dedicated to restoring religious freedom after the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Smith. As part of that lobbying effort, I began writing a biography of a prominent Native American Church leader, which was later published as Reuben Snake, Your Humble Serpent. Since 1999, teaching social anthropology students at Yeditepe University in Istanbul has given me an opportunity to learn more about symbolism and ritual while preparing lectures for them. I have continued doing research with Huichol shamans, including making pilgrimages, that I began in 1976 in Santa Catarina. See my website, www.jayfikes.com for updates about my research and books.