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  • Writer's pictureJohn Thompson


There is something more than enchanting about the sands of Carmel Beach, the sound of the breeze in the cypress boughs, and the cold currents in the bay. That undefinable something has a magnetic quality that somehow resonates with the neurology of unique individualists, and among all the free-spirited souls that are drawn here, Jaime D'Angulo y Mayo was among the rarest of our Bohemian sages.

Jaime and his wife Carey built a home here in 1914. The 27 year old physician was drawn to the healing arts and the lore of Californian and Mexican Indians, familiarizing himself with seventeen different languages they used. He felt that to truly understand a tribe one had to think and dream in their languages.

Fascinated with the psyches of these native peoples he gravitated towards psychology and during the First World War trained doctors to treat the psyches of those wounded souls who were crippled in the trenches of his native France.

Born in Paris and educated by the Jesuits, he grasped the French approach to spirituality, but yearned to grasp more "primitive" insights and wilder intuitions.

As a young girl Carmel's Virginia Evans noticed the fire in Jaime's eyes as he rode into her family's campsite in Big Sur. Jaime was drawn to her father, the noted physician Dr. Saxton Temple Pope, who had mastered the healing arts as well as the bow and arrow. For three months in 1918 Virginia's family camped on the Cooper Rancho in Big Sur. Her father and his friend, University Of California anthropologist Prof. Alfred Kroeber had been friends with Ishi, the last of his gentle tribe.

Virginia watched wide eyed as Jaime leaped from his horse, swept his black sombrero from his long glistening hair, and bowed gracefully to the ground. Accepting Jaime's offer to be guests in his camp, the men rode off with Virginia's brothers, whose horse was then bitten by a rattle snake. The "shaman"/"doctor" quickly treated the horse's leg, chanting a spell and disinfecting the poison from the wound, at no charge.

As a student at U.C. Berkeley Virginia saw Jaime on campus from time to time as Kroeber had invited him to teach there in the mid Twenties. His language research was legendary on campus. Throughout the Twenties he published 28 technical papers, four of them in French, such as "Le Musique chez Indians de la Californie du Nord."

In 1933 he left academia for his 120 acre Ranchitos Los Pessares ("Sorrow') on Partington Ridge. As one of the homesteaders there, he purchased the land for ten dollars an acre from Roche Castro. During the Depression, his self sufficient garden and his skills as a "poacher" fed his family. During those hard times Keith Evans recalls "A lot of people hunted deer out of season. He wasn't alone in ignoring the game laws, and the fish and game warden just looked the other way because they knew people were hungry."

Evans recalls that Jaime was feuding with his neighbor Castro because the former friend did not mend his fences, allowing cattle to wander into Jaime's garden."Jaime shot one of the steers with his 30-30 and invited his friends to the ensuing barbeque. When word of this reached Castro, and then the sheriff, the eccentric anthropologist was charged with rustling and was driven to the County Jail in Salinas. Jaime claimed that he would go insane if he entered the tiny cell because he had claustrophobia. So they put him up in a hotel till he saw a judge the next day, and he was ordered to make restitution to Castro."

Virginia points out that Jaime and Castro had been friends until their feud began. "Castro was illiterate, but he was also in love with a local school teacher, so he urged Jaime to ghost write his love letters. As far his own love life, Jaime and his first wife divorced and he remarried a graduate anthropology linguist from UCB, Nancy, an attractive but otherwise conventional woman who at first seemed devoted to Jaime and his eccentricities. They adored their son and daughter, Guiomar and Alvar, and taught them lore from diverse cultures.

During the summer of 1933, Nancy and her little girl "Gui" drove to a nearby party while Jaime and Alvar roared off in another car. Hurrying towards a get-together at the Post Ranch, Jaime's car went off the road in Torres Canyon. When he regained consciousness at the creek bed, he was laying on top of Alvar. Some accounts say Jaime's broken rib had pierced the boy's heart. Others say Alvar drowned below Jaime. As Jaime was known for his erratic driving and rum consumption, neighbors could understand why the grieving father blamed himself for the tragedy.

For the rest of his life Jaime was seen as a dark tragic figure, howling in the moonlight. The Indian heritage that he revered included tales of men "who had lost their shadows and wandered aimlessly in search of them." Never wanting to appear miserable and pitiful, as that could be seen as an attempt to provoke sympathy, these shadowless wanderers were driven by a gnawing need to become "wild."

Both Keith and Virginia recalled Jaime's image as an unwashed and untamed "wild man", lean and weather-browned, with long curly hair, often drunkenly beating on his drum and chanting in ancient tongues. Working through his loss in this way, he was making the effort to transform himself into a shaman. While some saw him as cantankerous and intensely unpredictable, the Evans visited him in his milder moods.

"Jaime seemed really to like Keith," Virginia recalls "so we didn't see him lose his temper

or drink in excess. He'd cook in a fireplace in the center of his living room, reminiscing and sharing insights about native lore in his unique accent. Although he didn't bathe he didn't smell bad. Some said he smelled like a pine tree warmed by the sun."


In Jaime's biography by his daughter Gui, "Old Coyote Of Big Sur" (1995), DeAngulo reads "The Witch" to famed writer Mabel Dodge Luhan and her native born husband Tony Luhan. (page 266). Tony told Jaime "These things belong to the Indians. They are not for the whites." Even today some with part Esselen blood, will not fully share their sacred knowledge with "whites." However, for Jaime all "people" were of one family, not segregated into ethnic, tribal, or "racial" groups. He did not have an "us versus them" conceptual frame that saw "whites" as undeserving of knowledge from native cultures.

On page 374 Jaimes's friend and neighbor Keith Evan is mentioned. He had shared his knowledge with Keith and Virgina. who was the last surviving friend of Ishi's till her death in Carmel at age 101. As a girl Ishi made many gifts for Virginia, as he had almost no other opportunities to spend time alone with little children that he adored. The native spirituality that Ishi shared with little Virgina was not that different from the sacred teachings that De Angulo shared from his heart.

Both Keith and Virgina, and their friends Ishi and Jaime avoided the word "god" as it could mean anything to anybody. However they and the original Esselen knew of a "Higher Power" in Universal Consciousness, that cannot be summed up in one word, a power that is "interconnected" always to all "PEOPLE", all of them deserving to hear truth.

(John Thompson, graciously submitted this portion from his 1993 Carmel newspaper article) We wish to thank John Thompson for his contribution and it is reprinted as submitted without editorial comment or change.

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