Hank Wesselman

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Henry Barnard Wesselman (born 1941) is an American anthropologist known primarily for his Spiritwalker trilogy of spiritual memoirs. In them, he claims to have been in contact with "Nainoa", an ethnic Hawaiian kahuna (shaman) living some 5,000 years in our future. The books envision the imminent collapse of Western civilization as a result of Global Warming. On a more positive note, Wesselman perceives an ongoing "wide-spread spiritual reawakening" which he dubs the "Modern Mystical Movement."[1]

Together with his wife Jill Kuykendall, Wesselman leads New Age shamanic workshops and tours for the Esalen Institute and other, similar institutions. They divide their time between northern California and Captain Cook, Hawaii.

Professional background[edit]

Wesselman is a native New Yorker who received his undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and his doctorate in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. During the 1960s he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria, among the Yoruba. He has participated in paleoanthropology research in east Africa's Great Rift Valley.[2] His research specialty is involved with the reconstruction of the pale-environments of early man sites (See Science magazine, Oct 2, 2009) and the cover story of National Geographic, July 2010.

He was an instructor at American River College and Sierra College, both in California, and has also taught classes for the University of California at San Diego; the University of Hawaii at Hilo; the Kiriji Memorial College in Igbajo, Nigeria; and Adeola Odutola College in Ijebu-ode, Nigeria.[3][4][5] The Esalen Institute Faculty.

He is the author of The Spiritwalker Trilogy—Spiritwalker 1995, Medicinemaker 1998, and Visionseeker 2001—as well as The Journey to the Sacred Garden 2003; Spirit Medicine (with Jill Kuykendall) 2004; Awakening to the Spirit World (with Sandra Ingerman) and The Bowl of Light 2011.

Publications[edit]

Spiritwalker trilogy[edit]

  • Spiritwalker: Messages from the Future. Bantam, 1995 (HC) and 1996 (TPB). ISBN 0-553-37837-6
Describes an ongoing series of spontaneous, dream-like visions beginning in the early 1980s, in which Wesselman seemed to see through the eyes of "Nainoa", a man of Hawaiian ancestry living on the western coast of what is today North America 5000 years after the collapse of the "Great Age" of technology. Nainoa, a member of a Hawaiian-based society which has re-peopled America's west coast. The series begins as Nainoa is sent into the continent's interior on a mission to seek out the descendents of the "Americans" and, if possible, find horses. On the journey, Nainoa explores his shamanic calling, learns of his relationship with Wesselman, and makes contact with the "Ennu", a tribe of hunters and gatherers descended from Canadian Eskimos. The Spiritwalker trilogy explores Wesselman's struggles with what to make of these experiences, and records an extraordinary story as the anthropologist is drawn into the shaman's world of mystery and magic.
The future California-Nevada region is depicted as including rainforest and an inland sea, as well as a wide variety of exotic megafauna such as elephants, lions, longhorn cattle, and several monkey and ape species. Wesselman speculates that the ancestors of these animals may have escaped from zoos during the collapse of Western civilization. Both human populations shown in the book live at a neolithic level of technology, with some metal artifacts such as fishhooks.
The sequel books (below) are often compared with the writings of Carlos Castaneda, and reference the work of Michael Harner. Besides Nainoa's future world, Wesselman describes various spiritual experiences, including cosmological visions as well as encounters with spirit beings. (See magical realism.)
Continues the story with Wesselman's 1989 return to academic life in California, and Nainoa's c. 70th-century return from the American interior, back to his own society and homeland. There he studies to become a kahuna; makes an enemy in one of the other priests; and meets a love interest, the spiritually-aware Maraea (possibly a descendent of Wesselman's wife, or perhaps of them both). Nainoa inadvertently kills the enemy by calling upon "spotted tiger man", a spirit familiar--identified with a "leopard man" which Wesselman had encountered and painted.
Continues Wesselman's story from 1995 to 2000 around a series of eight visions, which Wesselman and Nainoa gradually come to experience together. A key concept is that of the dorajuadiok, a powerful spirit-being which Wesselman describes as an "energy field" and other quasi-scientific expressions. Much attention is given to Wesselman's exploration of neo-shamanism and other spiritual interests. At one point he learns that his father had experienced similar time-shifts, and was convinced that he had been a seventeenth-century French swordsman.
"Meanwhile", in the far future, Nainoa marries Maraea. Thanks to Maraea's political connections (her grandmother is a "governor"), he is assigned the task of starting a new colony on the eastern shore of their inland sea (i.e., a future, inundated version of California's central valley), with the ultimate goal of building a road which will allow the importation of horses from the Ennu.
This volume contains several references to Jesus, including a visionary experience of him by Wesselman. During his training as a kahuna, Nainoa is taught a shamanistic version of the Lord's Prayer which his teacher attributes to the ancient "Americans."

Other books[edit]

  • The Omo Micromammals: Systematics and Paleoecology of Early Man Sites from Ethiopia -- December 1984
An introduction to understanding and practicing Core Shamanism. The book includes an experiential CD with drumming and rattling tracks designed to induce altered states.
  • Spirit Medicine (with Jill Kuykendall)- July 2004
An overview of shamanic healing from the Hawaiian Perspective. The book contains an experiential CD for healing exercises.
  • Little Ruth Reddingford and the Wolf - September 2004
A re-imagining of the Little Red Riding Hood story.
  • "Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation" (with Sandra Ingerman) - March 2010.
Two accomplished shamanic teachers join forces to present a modern upgrade of the shaman's practice and worldview for modern people. Includes an experiential CD.
  • "The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman" - May 2011.
Hank Wesselman's account of his eight-year friendship with the Hawaiian elder and kahuna nui Hale Makua which includes previously unpublished kahuna wisdom and Polynesian philosophy.

Contributions[edit]

Research Papers[edit]

  • "Of Mice and Almost-men: Regional Paleoecology and Human Evolution in the Turkana Basin". in Paleoclimate and Evolution, with Emphasis on Human Origins, eds. Elizabeth Vrba et al. Yale University Press, 1995, pp. 356–368.
  • Asa Issie, Aramis and the origin of Australopithecus, Nature 440, 883-889, ISSN: 0028-0836, EISSN: 1476-4687, April 13, 2006. [2]
  • "Small Mammals" in Ardipithecus kadabba: Late Miocene Evidence from the Middle Awash, Ethiopia. eds. Yohannes Haile-Selassie and Giday Woldegabriel. University of California Press, 105-133, 2009.
  • "Taphonomic, Avian, and Small-Vertebrate Indicators of Ardipithecus ramidus Habitat", Science 326 (issue 5949), 66, October 2, 2009.

References[edit]

External links[edit]