Medicinemaker: Mystic Encounters on the Shaman’s Path, by Hank Wesselman. Bantam Books, New York, 1998. $22.95 hardback, $13.95 paperback.

Reviewed by Maya del Mar

Hank Wesselman is an anthropologist who has taught at the University of California and the University of Hawaii, as well as participated in investigating the origins of humankind at the Great Rift Valley in Africa.

This is the second of Dr. Wesselman’s books about his profound adventures into the spirit world where he enters the being of a Hawaiian man, Nainoa, whom he later discovers is his own descendant, living 5000 years in the future. (See the January 2001 issue of Daykeeper for a review of the first book, Spiritwalker.)

Dr. Wesselman is an extraordinary storyteller, and both of these books make gripping reading, as well as providing insight into some of the exciting possibilities of spiritual growth through entrance into non-ordinary reality.

Nainoa, on his quest to find horses in continental North America, encounters a small group of humans, the Ennu, whose social framework is much looser and more free than that of his own group. Some of them, including a wise medicine man, eventually return with him to his own group, and the interplay between the two styles of living, mediated by the outlook of the modern American, is fascinating.

Dr. Wesselman’s first experiences in other worlds are shocking and threatening. But at the same time fascinating. As they continue and develop into coherent life stories, he becomes able to combine his ordinary life experiences with the otherworld experiences so that they all make a broad pattern.

As he becomes more and more able to become a bridge between worlds, his perspective and understanding increase enormously. As Dr. Wesselman shares with us, he inspires the reader to explore new horizons of his/her spiritual consciousness.

Hank Wesselman shows us the shaman’s path through his own example. He uses his own experiences, framed in the language of shamanic traditions, with an emphasis on Hawaiian traditions, to impart much spiritual wisdom.

The future which he sees impresses him greatly, especially the complete lack of technology, the few people, and the changes in the landscape. The sea level in his native California has risen 300 ft., and much of the land is now under water.

In his ordinary life, he continues to research global warming.

Hank says that in the opinion of a substantial sector of the scientific community, an ecological catastrophe of unparalleled proportions is looking humanity right in the face.

It may not be long before rising seas inundate huge areas, including ports where shipping of oil, food, and other necessities takes place, and including farmlands where food is grown. In Hank’s forays into the future, the huge Central Valley of California, one of the world’s premier agricultural areas, was a huge lake—as, in fact, it has been in the past.

Dr. Wesselman pinpoints two major sources of help to deal with this looming catastrophe. One is the transnational corporations. The time has come for them to take responsibility for the survival of the human species.

The other source of hope and help is the modern mystical movement. He defines it, and says that across the nation a quarter of the population belongs to this large group of spiritual seekers. They all possess a strong sense of social justice and are deeply concerned about the quality of human life.

Both of Dr. Wesselman’s books help us to see into a possible future, and through that vision to face squarely our present. He, the modern mystic, believes that if we act now, drastically, on both spiritual and practical levels, that humanity can continue to live on earth.

Dr. Wesselman can be reached at