What is the Purpose of the Petty Tyrant?


Dear Lujan,

What is the purpose of the ‘petty tyrant’? Don Juan shared his experience with one and it left so many questions in me. Do I need to conquer him or her when they present themselves? His experience in Castaneda’s book is so dramatic, it freaked me out.

I ask this because I was confronted with this very difficult yet valuable experience. My ‘petty tyrant’ has been a woman I work with, who behaves- through my eyes- in the worst possible ways towards others. She is in a very influential position and maneuvers herself well within the social structure, using covert aggression to elicit compliance. We have had disagreements where I will simply not submit to her manipulation, which made me a target of her backdoor power games. Part of me was so scared that there would need to be some major show down that I just avoided her as much as possible.

Over the years, though I worked towards creating as much distance from her as possible, I was drawn into conversations with others where I would state my wariness and disapproval of her behavior. I always regretted it after, since I knew it was feeding some sort of fire and it pressured my heart center.

So this week, I partly set myself up to attend a week long meeting where she would be present, and where she would be in a position to offer me assistance or reject me. I could also choose to be completely independent from her. There were others there who knew of my opinion of her, yet are beholden to her influence as she maneuvers herself so that people keep her happy. Everything was so incredibly set up for this strange situation, even the weather, our locations, our commitments! I went into this knowing that it would challenge me, yet at the same time I was tired of fighting this petty tyrant in my heart. The emotional pull to ‘teach her a lesson’ and ‘wake others up to her manipulation’ were keeping me trapped and I wanted to move on.

Since childhood I have felt like an outsider in social situations, so being thrown into one with no way out made me reflect on this imprint. The inner struggle on this went on for days, spilling over into my dreamscape, until my heart asked to be closer to hers, and fill the void left by the shadow’s influence. I don’t know how to explain this. My heart simply spoke to her heart, and I stopped fighting then turned my gaze within.

I took the lowest position, allowing myself to be vulnerable and for her to reject me socially several times, yet remained fully independent and unconcerned so that the rejections had no impact on me or my needs. When she pushed me aside in an effort to elicit compliance (playing the tit-for-tat of the social “Golden Rule”), I simply moved in another direction of benefit for me, finding the freedom to be unconcerned. It is the strangest thing I’ve ever done. Some part of her knew she was being of service to me- though she outwardly rejected me socially-, and that I was the one causing the actions.

Now when I think of her in my heart, I feel love for her, for she has shown me the value of being unimportant and open my heart to whatever comes while staying fluid and unconcerned.

Much love to you,


Luma, there are many ways to decipher the description of the petty tyrant within the abstract meanings of Carlos Castaneda’s writings. The obvious context is that of adversarial circumstances, as you have described and experienced within your elucidation. It seems that you have resolved the meaning within the context of your own life.

Clarity and immovability is a way to personal power. Being immovable does not mean resistance or reluctance towards change. It is to become the mountain.

As we all know, to view a mountain is entirely different to climbing a mountain. As it overcomes you, you begin to view it from an alternate perspective. Yet it has done nothing to you personally by viewing you.

It witnesses your struggle to obtain footing. This is immovability; when you realize you contain the power of that mountain through witnessing the fact that you are being witnessed.

This is when the petty tyrant’s actions appear as they are: feeble. For there is the consistency and determination of change that awaits and watches all things traveling to their inevitability.

And this is where the knowledge of the abstract cores from Juan Matus are revealed for what they really are; only one piece, one step towards one’s self-mastery.

For those of you who are waiting for the follow up to the questions in the post about Sleep Paralysis: The Shaman’s Approach, they will be answered next week.

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  1. Due to general consensus, the complete essence of the theories that have been elucidated in Carlos Castaneda’s books, can no longer be fully realized.

    The teachings are syntactically circular and via this fact are now subject to logical conclusions that are but a reflection.

    And we all know that we cannot see our own eyebrows without a mirror.

    And if we do happen to find our eyebrow within a mirror, it is quite often that we bask in our own vanity.

    That is why I prefer an Oriental approach to this subject and keep a watchful eye for two elements that reveal themselves in all circumstances.

    If anybody wishes to ask questions about this I am open to answer.

    • “That is why I prefer an Oriental approach to this subject and keep a watchful eye for two elements that reveal themselves in all circumstances.”

      Lujan, what are these two elements? When I read this there was a subtle shift in my ‘seeing,’ like ripples on the water’s surface.

      • Luma, these two elements have many variables. The first is white tiger, which is an expression of anger and violence.

        The second is a poison dragon.The expression of this is covert underhandedness.

        When someone is not neutral they are either one or two of these elements combined. They can only have this description.

        One must learn to discover them through interaction. They are wind caught in the body.

        The fire turtles from Awakening the Energy Body dispel these evil winds.

        • Lujan, what is the wind? And how is it caught? When you wrote about it, for me I saw an open door and an energy- foreign- entering, creating distraction. I felt it as an imposition on my very nature that warped my sense of being. I saw this open door image along time ago too, in the context of the shadow’s intrusion and the wind shadow entities.


  2. YES the petty TYRANT, what do we mirror through the petty TYRANT…? Worth reading… How our shadows take the form in the outside world through situations, other people’s behaivours… I am dealing now with a very challenging petty TYRANT. its very interesting to see in my personal experience all of a sudden a person I never imagine, (I felt the sign in the guts to be careful when we met, I did not follow it) became my petty tyrant today. Very tough challenge but a good one that has reminding me again about boundaries and self love, compassion and for God’s sake to follow my very good intuition and guts feeling. Thank YOU Lujan Matus for this teaching.

  3. “This is immovability; when you realize you contain the power of that mountain through witnessing the fact that you are being witnessed.”

    Thank you, Nagual.It all changes when the gaze is turned within.

    I’m still finding my footing, yet so much within myself has become clear.

    I had a strong moment of recognition after reading your post. I saw Don Juan’s story completely differently. The petty tyrant as the ego that enslaves the hearts true freedom to dream, the personality that holds onto having to prove oneself to the outside world again and again in never ending reflections. Don Juan had to risk death to overcome its slavery.

    It has made me look within honestly, as to how much I am drawn to the vanity that maintaining the ideas of self within me.

    Much love,

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