This essay is from paraquem
Published on October 7, 2001
George Lucas & Carlos Castaneda in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Yoda, the shaman
"The idea of using another person, perhaps an alien, for Luke to play off of came up during story meetings. George Lucas and Leigh Brackett thought that the alien could be an Indian desert type, very childlike even though he?s an old man" (Annotated Screenplays, page 167)
The above passage, which gives us the earliest concept for Luke?s new teacher in "The Empire Strikes Back", is about the clearest indicator that Castaneda?s teacher, Don Juan Matus, was to provide the basic blueprint for the greatest of all Jedi Masters, Yoda. Further though, the reference to the old man with childlike qualities also shows that Lucas intended to imbue this new Jedi master with character traits similar to those of Don Juan. In addition to this childlike aspect of both characters we also have their immense power, and awe-inspiring, magical abilities to take into account. Of interest also, is that "Lucas and Brackett had lengthy discussions about Luke?s training with Yoda and decided to turn the lessons into proverbs and commandments" (Annotated screenplays, page 181) - again, very reminiscent of the lessons which Castaneda receives from Don Juan, and of their parable-like retelling in the books themselves.
Another idea, which did not make it on to screen, was to show Yoda " ... during the training ... always smoking from his gimer stick, a short little twig with three branches at the far end". (Annotated Screenplays, page 183). This may allude to the shaman?s ingestion of psychotropic plants as an aid in their quest. (No surprise though, that we never see Yoda actually smoking, given the implications - Star Wars being a family oriented franchise).