The book is divided into two sections. The first section, The Teachings, is a first person narrative that documents Castaneda's initial interactions with don Juan. He speaks of his encounters with Mescalito (a teaching spirit inhabiting all peyote plants), divination with lizards and flying using the "yerba del diablo" (lit. "Devil's Weed"; Jimson weed), and turning into a blackbird using "humito" (lit. "Little smoke"; a smoked powder containing Psilocybe mexicana). The second, A Structural Analysis, is an attempt, Castaneda says, at "disclos[ing] the internal cohesion and the cogency of don Juan’s Teachings."