Reclaiming Wonder and Hope with Hank Wesselman, Ph.D.

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Wesselman encourages us to move beyond “hand-me-down” beliefs and religions. Instead he invites us to co-create with spirit and follow a path of direct experience of the sacred. Our collective plunge down the steep slope of progress has come at the cost of a deep, intuitive connection with nature and our authentic spiritual selves. This has resulted in a collective and profound disenchantment of life. Wesselman recollects several poignant memories of personal times of enchantment. He shares with us the meaning and origins of the Native American Ghost Dance, which is a “reaching back into the past to connect with deceased ancestors.” This dance was a tremendous gift by the Northern Paiute prophet named Wovoka to the Native American community at a time when the ancestors were gone, the elders were gone, and all those who knew the prayers and the songs and the magic were gone. Wesselman tells us, “The purpose of the dance was to bring back knowledge from the past to help revitalize Indian culture and spirituality.” In many ways, we’re faced with a similar situation today. We are in desperate need of an upgrade, a new story upon which the mythic foundation culture rests. He says, “The old story about who we are, what we’re doing here, and what this world is all about is no longer supporting us. It’s no longer meaningful to us and we’re in need of a new story.” He goes on to remind us that often we do not include our human species on the endangered species list. This deep dialogue explores a way to reclaim the wonder and hope that will give meaning to our lives and our world. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Hank Wesselman, Ph.D. (1941-2021) was a respected paleoanthropologist who worked with noted anthropologists around the world including in Ethiopia investigating the mystery of human origins in the Great Rift Valley. Besides his training and scientific work, he was a shamanic student, practitioner, and teacher.

In addition to his scientific publications, his seven books on shamanism include:

To learn more about the work of Hank Wesselman to to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • The difference between a medicine person and a shaman
  • Several poignant experiences that steered Wesselman’s life into the world of shamanism
  • His experience with Sandra Ingerman in a Michael Harner workshop
  • Why we need to revitalize our cultural mythos, our collected cultural story
  • How the Ghost Dance revitalized the Native American People
  • What are the two paths of our lives: our destiny and our fate
  • What is the oversoul, the spiritual aspect of ourself that does not die
  • Why we need to pay attention to hunches, slips of the tongue, and other intuitive downloads
  • Why helping and fixing is not as powerful as serving
  • What are the three important questions that Jack Kornfield says we should ask at the end of our lives

Host: Justine Willis Toms         Interview Date: 10/1/2016         Program Number: 3597

Music Playlist

From Album: Awakening the Fire
Artist: R. Carlos Nakai & Will Clipman
2013 Canyon Records #CR-7108 

Opening Essay: Track 05 Portal
Music Break 1: Track 06 Shaman’s Trance
Music Break 2: Track 04 First Morning
Music Break 3: Track 10 Convergence