“Let her give you the inner woman who is so lacking in you”: Jodorowsky on learning from Ejo Takata and Leonora Carrington in late-Sixties Mexico City (Arthur, 2008)

Originally published in Arthur No. 30 (July 2008). Art direction by Yasmin Khan and Michael Worthington.

Top: Scene from Pénélope (1957), a play by Leonora Carrington staged by Jodorowsky in Mexico City, with set design and costumes designed by Carrington. Bottom: Jodorowsky, as seen in a still from his film El Topo (1970)


Seeking wisdom in late-Sixties Mexico City, filmmaker ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY found several unusual masters. In this exclusive excerpt from his new book, The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky (translated by Joseph Rowe), he discusses his encounters with the Japanese Zen monk Ejo Takata and the Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington

I was raised by a merchant father. All the wisdom he had to offer me could be summed up in two proverbs: “Buy low and sell high” and “Don’t believe in anything.” I had no teacher from whom I could learn to love myself, others, and life. From adolescence on, driven by the thirst of an explorer lost in the desert, I sought a master who could show me that there was some meaning in my useless existence. A voracious reader of literature, I found only self-absorbed and pretentious meanderings there. A very cynical phrase by Marcel Duchamp led me to flee that sterile world: “There is no finality; we construct from tautology and arrive at nothing.”

I sought consolation in books of Eastern philosophy, holding for dear life onto the notion of enlightenment or awakening. I learned that Shakyamuni Buddha awoke while meditating under a tree. According to his disciples, the holy man perceived the deepest truth by ceasing to preoccupy himself with the question of his survival after death. Twenty-eight generations later, in China, Bodhidharma sat in silence for nine years in front of a stone wall until he discovered in his consciousness that fathomless emptiness, like a pure blue sky, in which neither truth nor illusion can be distinguished. . . . The longing to free myself from the terror of dying, of being nothing, of knowing nothing, had dragged me implacably into a quest for this mythic awakening.  Striving for silence, I ceased to be so attached to my ideas. To further this goal, I wrote all of my beliefs in a notebook, then burned it. After this, requiring calm in my intimate relationships, I shunned the vulnerability of any sort of self-abandon, always setting up aloof relationships with women, thereby protecting my individualism behind panes of ice. When I met Ejo Takata, my first true master, I wanted him to guide me to enlightenment by purifying my mind of the last illusions I had not yet succeeded in uprooting. I saw myself as conqueror of both mind and heart.

“Feelings no longer dominate me. Empty mind, empty heart.”When I solemnly proclaimed these words before my Japanese teacher, he burst into laughter, which was quite disconcerting. Then he answered: “Empty mind, empty heart—intellectual raving! Empty mind, full heart: That is how it should be.”


Born in Kobe in 1928, Ejo Takata began to practice Zen at the age of nine in the monastery of Horyuji, under the direction of Roshi Heikisoken, the head authority of the Rinzai school. Later, at Kamakura, he entered the Shofukuji Monastery founded in 1195 by Yosai,† the first monk to bring Chinese Zen Buddhism to Japan. There, he became a disciple of Mumon Yamada of the Soto school. The life of these monks aspiring to enlightenment was very hard. Always living in groups, deprived of intimacy or privacy, they ate little and poorly, worked hard, and meditated constantly. Every act of daily life—from how they slept to how they defecated—adhered to a strict ritual.

After living in this way for 30 years, in 1967 Ejo Takata decided that the times were changing. It was useless to preserve a tradition by remaining closed up in a monastery. He decided to leave Shofukuji and encounter the world. His determination led him to embark for the United States, for he desired to know why so many hippies were interested in Zen. He was received with great honor in a modern monastery in California. A few days later, he fled this place with only his monk’s robes and twenty dollars in his pocket. He reached a major highway and began to hitchhike, communicating mostly with gestures, because he spoke little English. A truck carrying oranges picked him up. Ejo began to meditate on the odor of the fruit, with no idea where he was going. He fell asleep. When he woke up, he found himself in the immense city that is the capital of Mexico.

Ejo Takata

By a series of coincidences, I had the chance to meet this master. Seeing that he was homeless, I offered him my house, inviting him to transform it into a zendo. There, the monk found his first honest students: actors, painters, university students, martial arts practitioners, poets, and so forth. They were all convinced that through meditation they would find enlightenment: the secret of eternal life which transcends that of the ephemeral flesh. It was not long before we realized that Zen meditation was no game. To sit very still for hours, striving to empty our mind, enduring pains in our legs and back, and overwhelmed by boredom was a heroic undertaking.

When Ejo Takata first visited my house in order to choose the right space for his teaching, I showed him my large library proudly. I had been surrounded by books since childhood, and I loved them as much as I loved my cats. I had a sizeable collection of books on Zen—in English, Italian, French, and Spanish—but the monk glanced at them only briefly. Opening his fan, he moved it rapidly to cool himself. Then he left the room without a word. My face darkened with embarrassment. With this gesture, he was showing me that my erudition was nothing but a disguise for my lack of true knowledge. Words may show the way to truth, but they are not the truth. “When you’ve caught the fish, you don’t need the net anymore.”


Time passed. Thanks to the support of the Japanese embassy, Ejo was able to set up a small zendo in the university quarter of Mexico City. For five years, I arose each morning at six o’clock to drive for at least an hour through heavy traffic in order to arrive at the zendo for two meditation sessions of 40 minutes each. Yet it became clear to me that my path in life was not that of a monk. My ambitions were becoming centered on the theater. Nevertheless, Ejo Takata’s teachings—to be instead of to seem, to live simply, to practice the teaching instead of merely reciting it, and knowing that the words we use to describe the world are not the world—had profoundly changed my vision of what theater should be. In my upcoming production, a theatrical version of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, I had stripped the stage of its usual décor, including even curtains and ropes, and had the walls painted white. Defying censorship, the actors and actresses undressed completely on stage after reciting lines from the Gospel of Thomas: “The disciples asked him: ‘When will you be revealed, and when will we be able to see you?‘ And Jesus said: ‘When you shed your clothing without shame, and when you take your jewels and cast them under your feet and trample them like little children, then will you be able to contemplate the Son of the Living One and have no more fear.’”

Ejo proposed that the two of us meet once a week at midnight—he chose this dark hour because it is symbolically the beginning of the new day’s conception. We engaged in conversations which literally began in the darkness and ended with the light of dawn. 

Continue reading


High-res trailer, info website on new Jodorowsky film debuting at Cannes:


Low-res trailer:

English translation of voiceover and text from youtube contributr:

0:14 You and I are nothing but memories. 0:20 Never a reality. 0:24 Something is dreaming us. 0:27 Give yourself to the illusion. 0:29 Live. 0:30 (AFTER ‘HOLY MOUNTAIN’) 0:36 (AND EL TOPO ‘THE MOLE’) 0:42 (THE NEW FILM BY Alejandro Jodorowsky) 0:49: ‘The darkness will swallow everything’ 0:57 Everything you are going to be, you already are. 1:01 What you are searching for is already inside you. 1:05 Be happy for your sufferings, 1:09 Because of them, you will come to me.


This poem by Peter Lamborn Wilson was published as a letter to the editor in the final issue of Arthur, No. 31 (Oct 2008). It was in response to the piece by Alejandro Jodorowsky in the previous issue, an excerpt from his newly translated memoirs, The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky, detailing his informal apprenticeship to Leonora Carrington in Mexico City in the late ’50s…


# 1
Mexico City is absolutely.
Or was.
With a claridad that would’ve seemed
glossy as bone except for the fecality
of its plutonian fruit. Especially
Leonora Carrington – the secret hardness
of colonial baroque – its refusal to be
reasonable – its crown of owls

Chocolate is Mexico’s great
contribution to Surrealism.
With unbroken incantations in the
voice of a lion prepare (on wild rocks)
a soup made of half a pink onion, a bit of
perfumed wood, some grains of myrrh, a
large branch of green mint, 3 belladonna pills
covered with white swiss chocolate, a
huge compass rose (plunge in soup for one minute)
Just before serving add Chinese “cloud” mushroom
which has snail-like antennae &
grown on owl dung

As modern Hermeticist she ranks with Fulcanelli
a Madame Paracelsa who tells yr
fortune in the sense of buried treasure.
It seems you yourself have psychic gifts
which are only exacerbated by her soups.
Molé as Dalí realized surrealizes all
dishes via its resemblance to excrement
e. g. over boiled lobsters (serve
with pink champagne). Shit you can sculpt.

Like gunpowder which was invented solely
to exorcize demons – a secret passed
along the Silk Road to Roger Bacon
who unfortunately leaked the recipe
to the uninitiated – Carrington
embodies both the siesta & the
anti-siesta. A Madam Adam
with a handcranked gramophone with a horn
lacquered black with gold pinstriping that
plays only beeswax cylinders of Erik Satie
or Gesualdo. Here alone exile
attains an elegance & impassibility known
only to stoned Rosicrucians.

To live absolutely. A tricky trajectory between
clinical dementia & the sloppy lace
curtain Irish kitchen gemütlichkeit that
usually passes (present company excepted
of course) for life outside literature &
even for true love. Or else it’s
the altitude — mushrooms & chocolate — under the
asphalt the bloodsoaked landfill —
cactus cowskulls &
drunken fusillades of flowers.

(NOTE: Soup recipe by L. Carrington; see The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky.)

Peter Lamborn Wilson
New Paltz, New York

Arthur Radio Transmission #23 w/ Prince Rama of Ayodhya

At the center of a wind tunnel, we find ourselves stuck between perspectives. Is the world moving at a million miles around us, or are we the ones who are flying? This week, join hands with Hairy Painter and Ivy Meadows as they plunge into the unknown, fortified by Prince Rama of Ayodhya‘s ancient primordial howls, growling synthesizer moans and consciousness-melting pulsations, which swirl like electrified streams of sonic debris in the positively charged atmosphere… “Give yourself. Lose yourself.

DOWNLOAD: Arthur Radio Transmission #23 w/ Prince Rama of Ayodhya 6-27-2010

playlistum lyeth beneathio…

keiji haino – look, darkness and light both begin to copy
clara rockmore – the swan
conrad schnitzler – electric garden
s.d. batish – raga tilang alaap
far east family band – live in l.a. 1978
seltaeb – nug mraw a si ssenippah
alejandro jodorowsky – tarot will teach you/burn your money
arthur russell – the name of the next song
robert johnson (on speed? <—–http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Johnson_musician Playback_issues_in_extant_recordings) – – hold my body down
rusty santos – feel radio signals (botanical mix)
pocahaunted – time fist
julian lynch – topi garden 2
mawan te dhiyan – surinder kaur & parkash kaur
sun ra – celestial road
albert ayler – the wizard
sonny sharock – black woman
nagane aki – the wind that flows through the trees
paul metzger – the uses of infinity (side a)

Continue reading


This week’s collage, including illustration of Alejandro Jodorowsky by Will Sweeney and photo of Ira Cohen by Gerard Malanga. Double-click for fullscreen + scroll.

Let’s take a silver train underground
to the back streets of Atlantis
thru the corrugated iron roots &
then to the peak itself, to the
saddle of the last ridge past strewn
finally meandering thru cascading snow
wearing miner’s hats on the perpendicular
dark night &
going up to the edge of the Southern Cross
where we reach at last the pure white
glistening glaciers &
begin to chant over bones in rags
of Scorpio
Armless in the sticky substance how could
they ever have had a chance?
Permission will not be required
only poems of blood offered to
the memory of TREE
It is not ice which is eternal
but the fury of the absolute
separating the void from the spirit
of man,
uplifting like life when it is used
against itself,
that is, Radical Love — & again, we
are reduced to living beings
Caught by the instant
we are taken away
We live in the imprint of the flame
& we are helmeted within the internal
where the ray begins its passage
across the indignant sky
Vain clouds uncaring in a tangle of
culminate in the hermaphroditic mirror…

– Ira Cohen (taken from “Atlantis Express”)

Read more of Ira’s dome-shaking poetry here.

Stream: [audio:http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/Arthur-Radio-Transmission-13-4-11-2010.mp3%5D
Download: Arthur Radio Transmission #13 4-11-2010

This week’s playlist…
Continue reading

"Fabulas Panicas (Panic Fables)": comics written and drawn by Alexandro Jodorowsky ('67-'68)


On his return to Mexico in the late-’60s, Jodorowsky started writing and drawing a subversive weekly comic strip (”Panic 
Fables”) in the right-wing newspaper The Herald.

“For four or five years every Sunday I drew a comics page, a complete story,” he told me in 2003. “But it was very basic. When I saw [cartoonist and future Jodorowsky collaborator] Moebius making the drawings, I stopped. And I never make any more.”

Here are some sample pages via http://fabulaspanicas.blogspot.com/—go there to see larger jpgs…









"In the center of the horror, 
of the civilization, there is the happiness to be alive." —Jodorowsky (1999)


Visionary Poly-Artist ALEXANDRO JODOROWSKY talks with Jay Babcock about 
psychomagic, shamanism, video games and Marilyn Manson—as well as his 
spirit-bending films and comics.

originally published in Mean Magazine #6 (Dec ’99-Jan ’00)

A man holds all the universe within him; and art is his view of it. But in 
the work of some artists spiral  vast galaxies of meaning and imagination 
that dwarf by many magnitudes the plebian earthbound work of others. 
Seventy-year-old Alexandro Jodorowsky—post-Surrealist filmmaker, author, 
puppeteer, Tarot expert, post-Jungian psychological theorist, playwright, 
novelist—is one such artist.

Screen Jodorowsky’s El Topo or The Holy Mountain, read The Incal or Metabarons comics, or listen to one of his interviews or lectures, and you 
encounter a one-man spiritual multiculture at play: the anthropological 
erudition and enthusiasm of Joseph Campbell roughhousing with an outrageous 
artistic sensibility that begins at Bunuel, Beckett and Breton and ends in 
some psychedelic sci-fi super-space: the kind of man who can screenwrite 
”He lifts up the robe and draws a pistol” and then comment Talmud-style in 
the margins, “I don’t know if he draws it from a gunbelt or from his 

Unfortunately, for all but the most clued-in and hooked up in the 
English-sqawking world, most of Jodorowsky’s artistic and philosophical 
output of the last 30 years has been tantalizingly unavailable: films have 
gone unissued on video, comics and other written work have gone 
untranslated or dropped out of print. But, finally, at the turn of the 
century, the situation is changing.

Jodorowsky’s “lost” 1967 film Fando & Lis has been reissued on DVD by San 
Francisco-based Fantoma Films (who have generously included a director’s 
commentary track by Jodorowsky and the excellent, full-length ’95 French 
documentary La Constellation Jodorowsky), The Holy Mountain has been released for the first time (legally) on video, and, perhaps most 
significantly, the U.S. branch of Humanoides Associes has begun an 
ambitious program of printing English-language editions of Jodorowsky’s 
prodigious graphic novel output.
So the time seemed right to give the endlessly aphoristic, giddily 
profound Mr. Jodorowsky the kind of forum in American publications he 
enjoyed in the early ’70s when El Topo and The Holy Mountain were consecutive 
midnight movie successes and the Chilean-born director was regarded by many 
surviving counter-culture types (John Lennon, Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper 
among them) and journalists as The Guy Who Just May Have the Answer.

rang Alexandro in Paris at midnight recently to find out what he’s up to, 
what he’s thinking and get him to reflect a bit on his long and storied 
career, even if he once said, “As soon as I define myself, I am dead.”

That said, let us attempt a synopsis for the new initiates.

Continue reading

ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY interviewed by Mark Pilkington

Alejandro Jodorowsky
A brief meeting with the magus of cinema
By Mark Pilkington for Fortean Times

A legless gunslinger crosses the desert atop an armless man’s shoulders; a thirsty hippo quenches itself at the fountain of youth; the invisible man wrestles an enormous anaconda in a mobile pharmacy: every great Jodorowsky film confronts the viewer with a riotous cavalcade of symbols drawn from the collective unconscious. Or at least the collective unconscious as imagined by Jodorowsky…

These days, aged 77, he’s busy writing and directing plays, writing comic books, performing his Psychomagikal healings, reading tarot cards in a Paris café and, when I caught up with him, promoting the new, extremely welcome, box set of his first three films: Fando y Lis (1967), El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973).

Given the brief window of time available, and the fact that there’s plenty of information about his career available elsewhere, I tried to steer conversation – as much as it is possible to steer a conversation with Jodorowsky – in other directions…

MP: You’ve described your films as ‘initiation cinema’ and ‘healing cinema’, can you talk about what this means.

AJ: In order to talk about initiation and healing cinema, we need to talk about the ‘industry’ of movies. The movie industry is a business for entertainment. And who controls this business?… The tastes and demands of normal people, no? But normal people represent mediocrity, not art; their entertainment is vulgar and gives you nothing with which to change your life. It’s like a cigarette; you smoke tobacco, and it gives you nothing, unlike marijuana, which always gives you something. That is the industrial picture.

In order to think about the ‘initiatic’ picture, we need to break with industry. The goal of industry is to make a lot of money – this is the measure of a film’s art. Three hundred million dollars – it’s a masterwork! If it doesn’t make money, it’s an awful picture, a failure. But the initiatic picture doesn’t work with money, it works with soul, with spirituality. A lot of spirituality is a good picture, lack of spirituality is a bad picture. It’s different.

And then, what is it to heal somebody? In reality, the biggest illness is not to be what you are but to be what the other wants you to be – the family, the society, the culture. They tell you “You need to be like this, with these morals, with these feelings, with this economy, with this political thing, with this religion”. And then, you go and sign a form that puts you into a spiritual jail for your entire life. The initiation, initiatic cinema, frees you from all these forms, from the artificial world where you started out in the belly of your mother.

Initiating – the art initiation – reveals to you the hell, this prison, and shows you how to escape from it. And to heal you is to give you the opportunity to be yourself and to have your own opinion. Hitchcock, in movies, is an ill person. Why? Because he has disguised himself as a genius of movies, but in reality, he’s making his movies in jail, because he’s saying, “That is a system that will make terror. This, the public will love. There, they will be anguished.” He’s directing your emotions; everything is done to hypnotize you in order to react in a certain way.

In a healing picture, they don’t say you need to react like that. You will react as you react!

MP: So, Hollywood film is mind control?

AJ: Yes, mind control. And all American pictures are US propaganda, it’s a form of imperial power.

Look at 300. First it is propaganda against Iran. Second, it deifies physical strength. It is preparing the young person to kill for his country in the anti-Islamic kamikaze! 300 is also racist towards black people – the bad people are monsters and black. And the emperor of the bad guys is also gay! Your initiation comes when you begin asking “Why? Why?! Why a gay? Why [is he] the biggest black person? The Persians are not like that! Why?!” It’s a critical initiation; that is when you start to know the limits of the jail we are born into.

But we need to go in another direction – we need to go see The Holy Mountain after that, The Holy Mountain criticizes, but then it proposes a possible path to liberation.

MP: Do you think ‘The Holy Mountain’, ‘El Topo’, ‘Fando y Lis’ – could have been made at all today? Is it even possible to make films like that anymore?

AJ: People say, ‘Ah, it was nice back in the day, because you could make films like this.’ But, actually, it was worse than today. Making Fando y Lis I almost got killed, really killed. The Mexican Minister of Defense called to threaten me, saying he wanted to kill me, I had to escape, they wanted to lynch me. It was not easy, but I did it. But if someone [like me] at 40 years old, 30 years old wants to do that, he will do something like that, but he needs to have enough courage and enough desire to make art as I have.

MP: And do you see anybody doing this today?

AJ: It’s difficult because my friends who are big talents get destroyed by Hollywood. Guillermo del Toro, I like him because he’s the next generation, but I knew him before his recent success – he’s full of talent, but now he’s obliged to do Hollywood style, mediocre films. Or Sam Raimi – now he’s making Spiderman, you know? It’s a shame! And all the big directors in the Asian movement, of Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, their talents are absorbed into Hollywood. And even the story, for example, for the original The Infernal Affairs is fantastic, but the Hollywood remake, The Departed, it’s awful, just a display of big egos, no?

MP: I completely agree. Did you see Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto?

AJ: No, I didn’t see that.

MP: It’s good – the central sequence of that, when they visit the Mayan city, is one of the wildest things I’ve seen since your own films. You should see it.

AJ: Sometimes, there are things that inspire me. For example, in the film The Prestige. I find something there that is metaphysical. Like Borges, no? The guy who was killing himself. That was something good. The mystery of prestidigitation was something that interested me there. Sometimes you don’t ask a picture to completely work. In an awful picture, you can find something fantastic. Takashi Miike, for me, is some kind of genius in some moments, and very terrible in other moments – it’s terrible! But in some moments he is incredible! I don’t admire Miike Takashi completely, but I admire a piece of Miike Takashi.

MP: Is the act of directing and producing a film closer to mediumship, priesthood, or neither?

AJ: Everything! When I made Santa Sangre, for example, I didn’t see a single person. Not one friend, no women, no nothing. I slept five or six hours a day because I worked until midnight and woke at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning. I ate very little. I didn’t speak with anyone from the outside world. I just made my film. For me to make a picture is a kind of vital thing – you do it or you die. You need to be there. And when I came in the morning, then I gave the shot of the day. And when we finished shooting, all the technical people said, ‘What is the first shot for tomorrow?’ Ah, that made me angry, but I would tell them, and then I changed it in the morning!

MP: And how did you choose your crews?

AJ: It’s always some kind of compromise, it’s a searching process. The most important choice for me is the cinematographer. And they will help me to shoot the person he needs. Etc. And the actor is an encounter. But the most passionate thing for me is [finding] the places where I shoot. I travel in a jeep always, traveling into the city…

Shooting Santa Sangre we found a site where they were demolishing a house and creating a huge dust cloud. It was terrible, dirty, dirty! But I thought, ‘Go inside the cloud.’ And we went inside the cloud, we crossed the cloud, and there was the church. It was exactly what I needed, it was a church built specially for prostitutes. They all sat nearby and charged three dollars for their services. One dollar for the woman, one dollar for the pimp, and one dollar for the priest! Incredible, no?!! One dollar for the priest for every fuck!

MP: In your life, you’ve done many things – mime, filmmaking, theatre, writing, music, mysticism, therapy – is there anything you can’t do?

AJ: In my life, what is the most important for me – I work a lot – is what is the least commercialism: to make poetry. That for me is important, no? Very few people can read that. Poetry? Nobody reads poetry now. And I am lucky, they publish me. And I like to write theatre, now I am writing theatre, and I am directing a play in Turin, Italy. Then later in Naples, then in Belgium.

MP: Do you consider yourself to be of a particular nationality?

AJ: Well, I like Chile, because I was born there, but I don’t feel myself to be any nationality at all. In reality, I don’t have any one definition, no name, no nationality. This is good because every country I go to I like the country, it’s very good.

MP: Were psychedelics ever part part of your work?

AJ: No, the audience who came to see El Topo was full of people smoking marijuana. When they came to see The Holy Mountain, it was LSD. Myself, no. Because I was making the picture – why would I need that myself? I had one experience on mushrooms, and one experience with LSD, in order to know what they were like. It was with my master, Oscar Ichazo, who ran the Arica school of analysis. He initiated me one night, for eight hours – only one time. I think every person, starting from Bush and Blair and all that, they [should] take mushrooms one time, in order to open the mind – just one time. Because these dirty politicians only speak about materiality, not one word about spirituality. They need to open their minds.

MP: Have you ever experienced things that you could not explain or things that seemed mystical or paranormal?

AJ: This is my assistant, a kind of bodyguard. Ask him because he’s the person who sees more of the magic my life.

Assistant: Yes, there are many unexplainable things. You know, Alejandro has been reading Tarot for like 40 years, and he’s healed many people who stutter. Like ten or eleven! It’s very strange. I’ve seen him doing psycho-shamanic operations; and then when you discuss with the people afterward, it’s like they’ve been healed of something! It’s not really visible, though if you have the eye, if you look really closely and concentrate on the thing…

AJ: Now it’s a form of art for me. I do it… I do what I need to do. Now when I start to read the Tarot for a person, the person says something, and then we go on. I say to the person, ‘There, you are economizing two years of psychoanalysis’, because psychoanalysis doesn’t heal you, but helps you to live. But in order to heal – we need to do something more. But for me, life is weird, it’s full of little miracles!

MP: Do you pray? And if so, to who or to what?

AJ: No, I don’t believe in praying to an external god, but I think in the interior of ourselves, we have what I call the interior world. A world which is a clear point of light, which is not you, but it is the fountain of life within yourself. When they discovered America, there was a fountain where you wash and get young – the fountain of youth. The fountain of health is inside you. And every night, I try to approach there. That for me is to pray, to make emptiness and to come to the centre of yourself, to try to go there.

MP: Do you think it’s possible for the mind to exist separately from the body?

AJ: Yes. In my youth, I was a body who had a soul. Now I am a soul who has a body. For example, now I am having a little problem with asthma because I have the flu – and in the moments when I feel bad, I say, Okay, I will go inside myself. In order to let the body live his life, I will live my life. But, anyway, we are very, very, very mixed in our bodies. But in another way, we think the body is our servant, but our master also.

MP: You’re 77 now. How are you coping with growing older?

AJ: It’s fantastic! I like it a lot. I don’t want to change myself. If you said, Do you want to be 40 years old [again] and I would say, maybe my body, but not my mind. It’s a nightmare, a social nightmare to get old – to get Parkinson’s, to become an idiot, but every day the brain is making new connections and is developing, like the universe. Your soul is getting better and better because you are losing what is not necessary. It’s fantastic to get old! It’s an incredible feeling of freedom, incredible!

Now, for example, to make love, sometimes I have erectile problems. Sometimes it’s not so easy. But it’s not [a problem] because I can use my hands, I can caress – you can satisfy a woman in an incredible way, as the lesbians do it! What is the problem? Even at 80 years old, you don’t have sexual problems! [Laughter]

MP: We’ll print that! Death is a recurring theme in your films…

AJ: Not anymore… because in the past, I knew what despair was. Every night, I despaired that my life as over. And suddenly I opened my eyes… I don’t know how many times I’ve slept since. Death is the same. You die and there’s nothing – so you don’t suffer. And if there is something, immediately you will know.

MP: You have no fear of death?

AJ: Not anymore. I am completely prepared to die – spiritually, not corporally. My body wants to live. The body always wants to be immortal, not to die. And the soul accepts death – that is good. But it’s not good if my body wants to die, because my life is shorter. You menace me with a knife, and I will defend myself, I will ask somebody to protect me, no? Even if I say [to myself], “I can die.” I understand that.

MP: Do have any beliefs about what happens afterwards?

AJ: Why? Why be curious about what will happen, it will happen anyway, it will happen! Either I’ll go there or there – everything will happen. It’s fantastic – the future is fantastic! Anything that will happen will happen!

MP: Are you optimistic about humankind’s future?

AJ: Civilization can come to an end. But I believe that if man was created, it’s not because man wanted to exist, it’s because the universe wants consciousness. And there are all these threads of the universe working for us in order to make a new mutation. We are creating a new brain. Because we have three brains, no? The Reptilian, the mammalian and the cerebral cortex. We will make a fourth brain.

We are monkeys now, but this will be rearranged. If we don’t do that, our children will do it. Without a revolution, without anything. The next generation will change everything…

The Jodorowsky Collection is available now from Tartan DVD. It contains beautifully remastered editions of Fando y Lis, El Topo and The Holy Mountain, the three films that cemented Jodorowsky’s reputation as one of cinema’s great iconoclasts. A wealth of extras includes short films, documentaries, symbolic commentaries and, the icing on the cake, complete soundtracks to both El Topo and The Holy Mountain – the latter a collaboration between Jodorowsky and jazz trumpeter Don Cherry. Bravo!

With thanks to Alyssa Joye.