CHARLES LANGLEY is the former news editor at the London Evening Standard, Europe’s best-selling evening newspaper. Raised in England, he set out across the United States in 2003 to drive from Florida to California but wound up on a Navajo reservation in Arizona. At a peyote medicine ceremony he met a shaman named Blue Horse. After earning a degree in anthropology at the University of New Mexico in 2007, he became Blue Horse’s apprentice and began compiling an archive on the workings of Navajo traditional medicine. Langley and his wife, nuclear physicist Andrea Palounek, live in New Mexico.
Meeting the Medicine Men(Nicholas Brierley, London and Boston, 2008)
Spirit Land: The Peyote Diaries of Charles Langley (2017)
Biggest literary influencers:
Piers Plowman (William Langland), John Bunyan, Dylan Thomas
Last book read:
The Square and the Tower by Niall Ferguson
The book that changed your life:
Without doubt this was A Fair Stream of Silver, a collection of Celtic myths and stories beautifully rewritten by Ann Moray. I was 19 years old and already a tough young reporter working the mean streets of north London, when one evening drinking outside a pub (we did a lot of that), I noticed the bookshop next door had discounted some books and put them out on a rack. One of these was Moray’s A Fair Stream of Silver. Reading it, I understood for the first time there was a literature and mysticism binding the twilight of the past to the bright day of the present and future. Tapping into it I found a deep vein of inexhaustible cultural insight that allowed me to enter a strange, new and exciting world. All my subsequent life has been about answering the voices calling me to enter, explore and understand those worlds that lie beyond the ordinary.
Favorite literary character:
Shakespeare’s Henry V. He shows how to act when the chips are down. The real Henry was probably nothing like Shakespeare’s version, but he’s magnificent so who cares.
Currently working on:
The working title is A Cast of Long Shadows, the third volume of what will be a four-volume work on my life as a Navajo medicine man’s apprentice.
Words to live by:
Napoleon: “First you commit yourself, and then you see.” Important, because it underlines that commitment comes first. All else follows from that.
Advice to new and aspiring authors:
As the industrial revolution and white expansion wiped out his traditional world, Smohalla, an Indian prophet, warned his people that the world of work would destroy all they had ever dreamed about. “My young men shall never work,” he told them. “For those who work have no time to dream, and it is only through dreams that we may grow wise.” To be successful, or to write at all, an author must know how to dream. However, for real life to be real, it is necessary for at least part of the dream to become reality. Make your books the reality part of your dreams
“Langley is the spiritual successor to Carlos Castaneda.”
– Universal Soul Radio, BBS Radio
“A transcultural genius! Poignant, inspirational, and truly amazing! Couldn’t put it down, a real page turner! Beyond belief and yet made to be entirely believable by the succinct writing.”
– Amazon Five-Star Review
“Langley did a wonderful job sharing his experiences with the shaman Blue Horse and the Navajos. The book is fast-paced and very engaging. He does an excellent presentation of Navajo practices without giving away their deepest secrets.”
– Monique Chapman, “Get Over It!” Podcast, Blog Talk Radio
“A powerful and intriguing read that is full of mystery. This fast-paced read is sure to grab your attention taking you into a world that is unknown to many.”
“Charles Langley brings this world of real witchcraft, real magic and peyote medicine to life like no one I’ve ever read because he is a part of it. This isn’t fiction, it isn’t made up, the writer is a real medicine man’s apprentice and he knows what he is talking about. I’d recommend this book to anyone … actually, correct that … I’d recommend this book to everyone!”
– E. Faria, Amazon Five-Star Review
“A very different book to what I normally read. I enjoyed it very much. A small window into a culture I knew very little about. The honesty of the author was compelling, his doubts still there. I can understand how he felt. We all have these doubts of faith at times.”
– Bookworm, Amazon Five-Star Review
“Fantastic read and an excellent follow-on to Meeting the Medicine Men. This was a fascinating book and an excellent insight into the traditions and beliefs of the Native Americans and how their lives are intertwined with their spirituality. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Native American culture.”
– Damo, Amazon Five-Star Review