Jodorowsky’s hallucinatory, enlightening films have long been treasured favourites of mine. The documentary La Constellation Jodorowsky (available on the Santa Sangre DVD) is a revealing delight, and afforded me my first real glimpses into the life of the man behind these fabulous cinematic gems. Even better, the director’s commentaries on the recent release of El Topo and The Holy Mountain, are wild, eye-opening trips that are less a step back from the films into detached insight than they are a step through into the astonishing “real world” realities that gave birth to the artistic realities of these works.

The pleasures for Jodorowsky fans just keep on going as we start to get English translations of his numerous works already published in French and Spanish. This book takes the reader on a rollercoaster through Jodorowsky’s turbulent and frankly incredible series of magical encounters, mostly in Mexico during the ’50s and ’60s, and mostly with a series of beguiling and wise women. Threaded through these feminine initiations is Jodorowsky’s obviously pivotal relationship with his Zen master, Ejo Takata. They share many sake-soaked koan sessions, a gruelling seven-day meditation with next to no food or sleep, and numerous ups and downs through the decades this book spans.

Visited in dreams by mushroom maestra María Sabina, engaged in a magical exchange of energies with surrealist painter Leonora Carrington, involved in a torrid affair with the fantastically intimidating Mexican actress and sometime Satanist “La Tigressa”, rescued from an assault and initiated into spiritual massage by the mysterious doña Magdalena, sexually enlightened by G.I. Gurdjieff’s daughter Reyna d’Assia… Jodorowsky’s life—if you resist the temptation to take him as a egomaniacal fantasist—is a bizarre, fertile compost that reveals the strange fruit of his films to be natural growths rather than improbable concoctions.

Written simply and vividly, at a cracking pace, this deeply enjoyable book expands the mind of the reader through the devastating combination of Zen-infused insight, salacious yarns, and a brutal, compassionate honesty about human being.