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Articles by Victor Sanchez


Shamans in the real world


The Surviving Toltec


New: Oracles Beyond Myth


The Mayan Calendar, Myths and Truths


Spiritual Smuggling




Oracles Beyond Myth


What is the real meaning of an authentic oracle?


After the publication of my book The Toltec Oracle and now the launching of its on-line version, I have been asked if an oracle can be something real or if they are only a trick for gullible minds.  I think is a good question which deserves some reflection.


Unless you are into esotericism, the word "oracle" may sound to you as an alleged divination tool or even as a scam. You may not even know what an oracle is but chances are that the word "oracle" does not seem as something real or serious for you.


I say this because I used to have a similar idea myself.


I have never been a fan of esoteric topics because I have always preferred what I can prove and experience by myself, rather than what you have just to believe.


Nevertheless, oracles have been part of the spiritual traditions of the human kind all the way from the Delphi Oracle in ancient Greece, to the old Toltec Oracle of Teotihuacan or the oracles among the indigenous people from Africa, Asia and the rest of the world.


But what really is an oracle? Can an oracle provide any real benefit for discerning people? Do you need to be a "believer" to be able to consult and learn anything from an Oracle?


The word oracle has several meanings, depending on the context. It is generally understood as something or someone to consult with about important issues of our life. It can be a book, a place, an object or a person that communicates the questions of the one consulting the oracle to some kind of divinity or deep knowledge source and then provides answers for the questions. 


At its most superficial sense people think about oracles as a way to foretell the future. However, in a more serious and realistic approach, an authentic oracle works not by predicting future events, but instead by helping people to look at the past and the present of their life in a clearer way. This clearer perception could help us to understand the events of our life, and from that deeper understanding, get to be able to deliberately shape our present and future. A good oracle should help us to get a sense of meaning and direction for our life.


As the skeptical type that I have been all my life, I can tell you with absolute confidence that there are authentic oracles for discerning people interested in their soul development.


And yes, it is also true that there are fake and superficial oracles for naive people who would love to have someone foretelling the future for them. The motivation behind that expectation is the expectation of avoiding the fact that we came to life to make decisions in the middle of the mystery... but no, we cannot skip that, which is not a bad thing; it only seems threatening because of our unhealthy relationship with the mystery. 


Fake oracles tend to be used for superficial questions and to provide superficial and ineffective answers. We are not interested in those.


An authentic oracle -on the other hand- is not a divination tool but an instrument of traditional-ancient knowledge that works as a mirror of the soul. This mirror is helpful to look into the meaningful issues of our life from a deeper and wider perspective, beyond the limitations of the ego driven mind. Because of this, an authentic oracle is an instrument for self-knowledge to see things from a different and more powerful perspective. 


Another way to describe an oracle is as a sacred space in which we can reflect and look at ourselves and our life from the perspective of ancient wisdom developed over millennia, but which remains alive because of the strength and consistency upon which has been built.


The Toltec Oracle is one of such authentic oracles, built upon the base of the profound spiritual and psychological principles for the evolution of the human soul discovered and developed by the ancient Toltec and Maya.


Its modern version arises from my own research on the main philosophical and psychological principles of theTlamatinime (man or woman of knowledge among the Toltec) for personal and spiritual growth and the working principles of the universe that have the most influence in our everyday life.


As any other real oracle, the Toltec Oracle is not a divination tool, because the Toltec philosophy in particular -rather than trying to foretell the future- was focused on acknowledging and embracing the mystery of life.  Their motto was to learn how to navigate that mystery in the most efficient and joyful way.


As a tool for personal development, The Toltec Oracle is very practical; even though is rooted in deep philosophy and spirituality, is completely focused in what we can do through action in our real life. That is why it will respond to your questions not only with poetic and rich philosophical concepts for you to reflect about, but also with practical suggestions


In addition, the Toltec Oracle can be studied as a text book to learn about the Toltec philosophy and its spiritual dimension.


I invite you to try the Toltec Oracle, either in its printed version or through an online-consultation.


If you are interested in human and spiritual development, you will feel at home by the hand of the knowledge of the ancient wise people from Teotihuacan and Tula.


If you are a skeptical, you may be surprised -as I was- by discovering the there is something real in an authentic oracle and that the richness and the beauty of the Toltec spiritual concepts may indeed bring something fresh and invigorating into your life.



Why don't you give it a try?


Victor Sanchez



For the printed version you can go to the printed books section in my web-site here:




For the online-consultation you can visit the Toltec Oracle On-Line web site here:









By  Victor Sanchez


Note: This article has been published with a different title in Magical Blend magazine, issue 69 (first quarter of 2000)


During the last twenty years, shamanism has changed from being an important issue for anthropologists involved in cultural research, to becoming an attractive issue for non-specialists interested in healing and spiritual growth.


Since the word “shamanism” has transcended its origin among indigenous people from Siberia and it is used so much by members of the modern urban societies nowadays, it is appropriate to briefly explain the way I understand that word and the way I use it.


From a superficial perspective, shaman is that person who has the knowledge and power to deal with supernatural forces, most of the time in order to heal. Those supernatural forces could be spirits, gods, entities, energies, or God.

 Initially, our interest in shamanism had to do with the fantasy of meeting a “real shaman” to be healed or blessed by his or her supernatural powers. As the years went by, our focus on shamanism has changed: Nowwe want to be the shamans to heal others and heal the world. Books, workshops and seminars on shamanism for that purpose are being offered extensively around the world. Many people are reading those books and attending those workshops with the fantasy of becoming a shaman, getting power and solving the eternal need to stop being “nobody” and eventually becoming “somebody.” This pursuit is another example of the kind of things we are willing to do because of the lack of sense in our lives.


It is interesting to notice that for the modern man, the idea of shamanism is related with the idea of power. Power to heal, power to change the events of life, power to bring the rain, good fortune, etc. My experience among indigenous people from Mexico, who I call “the surviving Toltecs,” has shown me a very different perspective. Shamanism is related with the idea of service, rather than the idea of power.


The flesh and bone shamans I have known are recognized for their commitment to the service of their communities as their primary feature. What’s extraordinary about them is not so much how big their power is, but how extreme their vocation to serve others is without asking for rewards. They don’t charge for their work. Rather than having income as a result of their activities as shamans, they are the poorest among the poor ones, because besides working as hard as others to make their lives as peasants, they additionally expend a lot of time working hard in the service of their communities.


Because of their extreme generosity and nobility of spirit, I have been always reluctant with the way the word shamanism is used in our modern world where oversimplification is the rule. Nowadays, anybody who has read a little bit about indigenous knowledge or participated in workshops on shamanism presents him or her self as a “shaman” in order to sell an image that can be admired by others.


In my work, giving lectures and leading seminars around the world for so long, many people such as workshop organizers and media interviewers have tried to “dress me” with the title of “shaman.” I have never accepted that, because I know real shamans and their offering of an entire life of service to reflect spirit, without a trace of self-importance in what they do. Because of that, I would never dare to put myself at the same level of those men and women of bare feet. I know that my audiences will not be that big, because I don’t participate in the dance of masks, pretending to be a shaman or a “nagual.”


In my opinion, most times what is behind the compulsive need to wear titles is self-importance. The need to present oneself like “the one” in front of others has made so much damage both for the “illuminated” ones and their followers. I know those titles are convenient for marketing and profits, but for me, freedom has a more precious value. At the end, we all die as we lived. Death is not impressed by our titles.


Real shamans are not those getting rich by taking the money of their “apprentices”. On the contrary, they are usually poorer than the people of their community, because they have double the work: the one they have as peasants to make their living, and the work of the shaman-healer, which is not paid. Therefore, their own business takes a secondary place, in relation with their sacred task.


Of course, shamans of the real life are not like the perfect indigenous masters of the books. Their bodies bleed, their hearts suffer, their children get sick, their souls cry and laugh. Indigenous shamans in the real world are facing the violence of a time when their whole world is being devoured by the boundless greed of the white man. And they are resisting. They are fighting to survive and keep the treasure of their spiritual tradition alive. Not just for them, not even just for their children, but for the entire world. You and me included.


What makes them so precious to humanity is that they are making a miracle through raising themselves and their people from the existential misery and solitude in which we live, to reach and become one with the most extraordinary force in this universe: the unspeakable, the Great Spirit. And the most extraordinary is that they are making this miracle of recovering the lost unit, at the same time they are struggling with extreme poverty. They are human beings, just like you and me, dealing and fighting with the material world, just like you and me. But they are able to raise themselves from the pain and confusion of the material world, to reach the Spirit, and become one with God. And the big news is that what they do, we can do. They are showing us the way, but it is our responsibility to do the miracle by ourselves in our own life.


My experience with shamanism has shown me that the task of the shaman has little to do with achieving individual goals. Shamans are not doing what they do as a personal issue. They are participating, together with their community, in the task of remembering and keeping alive the means to return to Spirit and live in harmony with it. Those sets of procedures are called “Tradition,” which is not a body of beliefs but a body of practices.

 Those practices are so effective to bring the people to the other side of their own awareness, that I call them “Shamanic Technology for Health and Freedom”.


Now, let’s change the focus from the shaman as an individual to the shamanic experience as a possibility for everyone. While the shaman is a specific person, playing a specific role in the magical time of the rituals and ceremonies, the shamanic experience is lived and shared by all the individuals involved in the event. In this sense the shamanic experience is both individual and collective, therefore is open to all the members of the group as long as they follow the proper procedures.


The goal of the shamanic experience is to bring the participants back to the lost unity with the unspeakable force moving everything in the universe. The separate poles: sacred and mundane, spirit and matter, the self and “what’s out there” all become one during the shamanic experience. Our two internal sides, tonal and nagual, get reintegrated and we experience the unity of our double nature.


The goal of the shamanic experience, the recovering of the unity or our two sides, tonal and nagual, is the secret promise in the Toltec symbol of the feathered serpent Quetzalcoatl. The serpent represents what crawls, the tonal, the material world. The eagle represents what flies, the nagual, the Spirit. But unlike the Aztec symbol where the eagle is killing the serpent[1], in the Toltec symbol Quetzalcoatl, the eagle is not killing the serpent, but they become one: the feathered serpent, the unity of spirit and matter, the equilibrium between tonal and nagual.


The shamanic experience is important for us, members of the modern urban societies, not just because it could be exciting or fun to become a shaman. The shamanic experience is deadly important because our lack of appropriate means to re-connect our selves with Spirit is causing the continual self-destruction process, both as individuals and as a species. 


We need shamanic practices that happen to be appropriate for our time and our society. It would not be enough just to try to imitate the rituals and procedures of indigenous people. Shamanism and Tradition are a series of practices and techniques to manipulate and heighten awareness. But the specific expression of these technologies are, and should always be, in accordance with the specific features of the people who are going to use them. This means that while the shamanic practices of the indigenous people should be related to the features of their way of life as peasants who live in close contact with nature, our practices should be related to the kind of world and life we have in modern cities.


Our effort in AVP, has been to develop methods and procedures for the people of the modern world, so they can do by themselves the “shamanic jump” to the other side of themselves and to the other side of reality. The reason for this journey through the shamanic experience is because there is no health without completion. Only by recovering and integrating the experiences corresponding to our double nature, we could reach what constitutes our natural rights: power, health and freedom.


Because of this, my work of all these years has been to try to create a bridge between the shamanic experiences kept alive among indigenous peoples and our modern societies. I am convinced that the big disease of our time is the lack of experiences where we may remember and live again our hidden awareness, the other self, and the sacred connection we have with everything surrounding us.


[1] The Aztec symbol may be seen in the shield of the Mexican flag: an eagle devouring a serpent over a red fruit cactus. The Aztec people constituted just two hundred years of history in Mexico, from 1325 when they founded their capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, to 1521 when the Spanish started the destruction of their world.




"The Surviving Toltecs"


by Victor Sanchez


A Little of History


Let's begin from the beginning. For ethnologists and historians, the Toltecs were the pre-Columbian Indian people that lived in central Mexico - mainly from 8th century to 12th century. Their capital city was Tula in the Mexican State of Hidalgo. After the 12th century, the Toltecs abandoned Tula; codices and registers from 16th century talk about the Toltec dispersion, supposedly related with the departure of their leader, Quetzalcoatl. One of the most interesting, found in the codices is the one that talks about Quetzalcoatl going to a cave under the Chapultepec Hill (in Mexico City), where he would enter into another dimension (Mictlan, Nahual or Omeyocan) and disappear forever (include a footnote: see "Historia del Nombre y fundacion de la Ciudad de Mexico, by Gutierre Tibon, Fondo de Cultura Economica). Anyway, what it clear, is that Toltecs did spread themselves in ancient Mexico influencing with their knowledge many other indigenous cultures, such as the Mayas. That is history.


The fact is: The Toltecs are considered the greatest civilizators of the past, not only nowadays but since the 16th century when the Aztec people were used to call "Toltec", a man of knowledge, as a resemblance of the great wisdom of the Ancient Toltecs, and the Toltequity to be the highest level of knowledge a human being can achieve.

For average people, the Toltecs were some kind of wise Indian people that disappeared many centuries ago. Since the Toltecs left so long ago, anyone can state whatever he or she wants about them... anyway, the Toltecs are not here to defend themselves, or at least it seems so...


Are they still here?


Maybe because Toltec Indians have no voice in the topics about Toltec Indian knowledge there is so much controversy among non-indian teachers of Toltec knowledge. But, there is one point that almost nobody is taking into account: there are indian communities in the present Mexico, preserving and keeping alive the practices of ancient Toltequity. That's what I have discovered, and that is the body of practices I am involved with, and from where I have taken the clues for making a practical and wise use of the proposals contained in the books of Carlos Castaneda (See The Teachings of Don Carlos, Practical Applications of the Works of Carlos Castaneda" , by Victor Sanchez, Bear and Company). The way and techniques I have developed inspired by the writings of Castaneda, do not pretend to reflect the unworldly goals of Castaneda's tales, but those which are congruent with the Toltequity I have learned among the living Indian Toltecs in the Mexican mountains where they do live.


I have written the testimony of my experience among the surviving Toltecs in the book "Toltecs of the New Millenium" (Bear and Company). In that book, I have included many references, photos, official witnesses, etc., in order to let people know that what I am talking about is really happening in the same world in which they are living, because I think it is important for the reader to be sure that what he or she is reading, it is real... especially when this reader is looking for something to apply in his or her life, in the everyday world. It isn't my interest to criticize anybody, but this is my point of view and I just want to be clear about it.


Additional Information About the Surviving Toltecs


The inheritors of the ancient Toltequity call themselves Wirrarika. Most of them speak only the Wirrarika language but some speak Spanish also. Even though they are more than 50,000, not all the members of the community share the same amount of knowledge related with their spiritual tradition.

Among the Wirrarika, there are special groups of people called Jicareros, which are the keepers of the ancient magical practices. They live levels of experience in the world of perception that the other members of the community can't even imagine.


The spanish word "Tradicion" (tradition, custom, etc.) doesn't mean for the Wirrarika people a body of beliefs, but a body of very efficient practices, oriented for the practitioner to achieve highest levels of awareness and perception.
Among the surviving Toltecs, the figure of the master, as we are used to think of in western and some non-western societies, doesn't exist. They are used to learning directly from "Spirit". The man of knowledge, the shaman is a mere vehicle that pushes the practitioner to look for the Spirit at the sacred places. There aren't books, there aren't formal teachings and there aren't human teachers. There are just sets of specific actions, which are the way to knock on the door of Spirit. If Spirit opens the door, the learning begins. You cannot just hear about "Usi" (Wirrarika word for Great Spirit), you must see it and hear it for yourself, without intermediaries. That's the way of the Toltec.


The surviving Toltecs are indians which are involved in their own world and they do not seem to be interested in the non-indian world. They are not interested in teaching or selling anything to us. They are only interested in surviving and keeping the Tradition alive, because it is their way to assume their own role as fields of energy, as real sons and daughters of the Sun, with the same nature as Great Father Sun and with the same love as Great Mother Earth.


This is the message of the surviving Toltecs Indians:


We are children of the Sun and our nature is to shine!




Spiritual Smuggling


By Victor Sanchez

A new phenomenon is becoming a trend in the convoluted spiritual scene of our times: the contraband of spiritual techniques.

I have been observing this trend since the beginning of my first years (early 80's) creating groups for personal and spiritual development in a very peculiar field where anthropology, psychology, spirituality, poetry and magic blend with each other. For this new field, I created first the name "La Otra Brujeria" (The Other Sorcery).  Some years latter (middle of the 80's) I decided to change the name for "El Arte de Vivir a Proposito" (The Art of Living Purposefully).

After giving lectures, writing books and leading workshops worldwide for so many years, I understand as natural, the spontaneous impulse of wanting to share with others the experiences that have touched our soul and which we have found valuable and powerful for our own growth and transformation. The one who receives, should share with others not so much what he has learned, but in fact the person he or she has become through such work or experience to achieve balance in his or her own life. This is a natural reaction and even a natural need of our heart, which is consistent with the nature of the energy which nature is to flow. The energy needs to keep flowing. Always.
However, often this is confused with the ego-driven need of wanting to profit in the shortest possible time, through taking or copying what others have created through long years of work, service and often sacrifice. This happens with those that after one or two short visits to indigenous communities, go back to their city world, transformed in shamans, teachers, seers or priest of a practice that indeed belongs to another culture. This happens too with those who participate in one or more workshops and then, without notifying or asking for permission from those who created or developed such trainings, go later presenting a copycat of what they experienced only once or twice, as if it was their own creation or development. Some other times, they invent spiritual teachers who supposedly taught them what they stole from such trainings.

Well... there is so much of this.. but at the same time,  what is the line between a noble learning and later sharing process and the crude stealing of techniques and procedures created by someone else just for the sake of gaining fame and fortune? The truth is that that line is so fine and movable that would be almost impossible to say who is so totally clean to be the one entitled to throw the first stone.


Often times, one of the most typical signs of counterfeit is the lack of acknowledgement.


Those who learn and want to share in good faith, ask for permission, make agreements and do not have a problem with acknowledging and keep a strong sense of gratitude toward those who taught them the core bones of what they know.  Those who are authentic, have the gratitude and the acknowledgement so readily coming out of their mouths, because in their hearts, they carry love for the sacred connection that put them on a path, or that nurtured the path they were perhaps working even from before. On the contrary, the phonies make everything they can to hide the sources and the names of those from which they stole what they are trying to preach. If somebody asks the though questions, they will say that they learned what they are trying to teach, from numerous teachers "all over the world" or that they received their knowledge from a unique spiritual teacher, conveniently dead by now, who choose them as the unique inheritors of their sacred knowledge.


Phonies love to wear titles that they give to themselves. They try to use those titles to profit not only in money but in the admiration that their arrogant ego craves as the substance which will help them to believe, for a moment, that what they are trying to represent... is real.


I personally think they never succeed in totally cheating themselves, because deep inside... somewhere in a place of their soul that they try to avoid... they know what they did and they condemn themselves to never be able to speak the whole truth of what they do. This way they condemn themselves to the isolation of their true self. Yes, they can make money because so many people want to believe in book-like characters instead making the effort of a more discerning spiritual quest; however what is fake does not stand exposure to the light and therefore some darkness will always haunts them.





(Commentary by Victor Sanchez about the December 2012 event in Real de Catorce, SLP. Mexico)


Because the Long Count cycle of the Toltec-Maya Calendar of 5125 years comes to an end this upcoming December, many are prophesying either the end of the world or the beginning of a new era of spiritual enlightening. I don't think either is the truth.


What is commonly known as the "Mayan Calendar" is really the Mesoamerican Calendar and because the Toltec are the true and main cultural and spiritual matrix of Mesoamerica (South of the United States, Mexico and Central America), the Mayan Calendar is indeed the Toltec Calendar as well. As a matter of fact this calendar is not just one, but the combination of three: the sacred calendar (Tsolkin for the Maya and Tonalpohuali for the Toltec), the Solar Calendar and the Long Count. Nevertheless, Hollywood movies, new age books and rumors have promoted this idea that the Maya prophesied the end of the world in December 2012. That is simply non-sense, the Toltec-Mayan understanding of time was not a meant to foretell the future, but instead a way to understand their own history and a reflection about their own placement and responsibility within the never ending line of time.


However, the end of a such long calendar is not trivial; it happens only every 52 centuries and only very few human generations have the opportunity of being present in that special moment. In terms of meaning the understanding of time achieved by the ancient Toltec and Maya has a lot to teach us in this era in which time seems to be just the space in which so much seems to come down to: buy-as-much-as-you-can-right-now- and- that's-all-that-there-is.


When I started hearing the stories about Mayan prophecies and the world ending on December 21, 2012, my first reaction was of disbelief: how come we got the Mayas to become prophets of doom? My second reaction was to engage in a counter-campaign against those fiction-based misrepresentations of the Mesoamerican culture. Instead I wanted to spread the understanding that the ancient indigenous knowledge is precious, powerful and inspiring without having to mix it up with fantasy. Then I thought that –in the other hand- if we celebrate the new year as something especial after a counting of just 365 days, perhaps it could make much more sense to celebrate the completion of a cycle longer than 5000 years! Well… 1,872,000 days, to be accurate. I know we don't live using the Mayan Calendar and we don't look at time from such a long perspective… but maybe we should. If we did, perhaps we could look at human evolution and personal responsibility from a wider and deeper perspective that would serve better to the cause of our survival as species.


Because of this I decided to organize a special event that would have the double purpose of:


1. To Celebrate the completion of the 13 Baktun (the long count has 13 Baktuns, which are periods of 144,000 days) and…

2. To help the understanding of the real treasures that the Toltec-Maya knowledge about time and spirit has in store for us.


Is in this context that I envisioned a, Celebration of the New Cycle of the Toltec-Mayan Calendar. But, how should we celebrate such a long and extraordinary cycle? Well –I thought- a celebration is about joy… but how could joy be there if we do not understand that, that we are celebrating? Then I got the picture that our celebration would have both: joy and understanding. But that kind of understanding requires more than just words and ideas; it requires the kind of learning that takes place only through experience and the kind that touches the heart. And this is how; I arrived to this idea of a learning-through-experience celebration. I hope you can come.


For full information about the event, just click here: