Andrew McCabe

The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, written by former Deputy Director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, is a book every single US citizen should read. It will make you proud of the men and women who serve to protect your country. It will also enlighten you into some of the background of the machinations of the Trump administration, especially its relationship with the Department of Justice and the FBI.

The Threat is written autobiographically by McCabe regarding his time in the FBI. He served as second-in-command to James Comey before Comey got fired by Trump. He then took over the reigns of the FBI until he also got himself fired. Neither of these men would bow to Trump by pledging loyalty to him. Instead they both insisted their loyalty was solely to the country they served, its constitution and the rule of law.

This book, in addition to revealing some of the politics happening in Washington these days, gives a fascinating inside look at some of the ways in which the nation’s top law-enforcement officers operate.

I will not go into any detail of the contents, but suffice to say that this book should be read by every US citizen resident. It is a well-written account of McCabe’s tenure in the FBI, especially his last couple years.

Linda Backman

Looking through the entire list of old posts, especially the “Reviews” section, I could not believe that I had never written a review of Linda Backman’s first book, Bringing Your Soul to Light: Healing Through Past Lives and the Time Between. It was published in 2009. In 2012 I travelled to Boulder, Colorado, to attend a training session in BLSR, Between Lives Soul Regression, put on by Linda Backman’s organization, the Ravenheart Center. Earlier I had taken an online course in PLSR, Past Lives Soul Regression with Linda Backman. All of this as a way of introduction to this remarkable woman!

In this review I will deal with her first two books, the one mentioned above, and her second, The Evolving Soul: Spiritual Healing Through Past Life Exploration. I am just beginning her third book, published in 2018, and will review that at a later date.

First, a bit about the author. Linda is a licensed psychologist, having practiced since 1978. In the early 1990’s, through a personal experience of encountering the soul of a partner who had just died. She began researching information on what she was experiencing, and was led to training under Michael Newton, who is a pioneer regression therapist. Newton’s two books, Journey of Souls, and Destiny of Souls are highly, highly recommended reading for anyone even remotely interested in this topic.

Linda Backman began her own regression hypnotherapy practice and has guided innumerable people in recovering memories they have of previous lives and the time in-between incarnations. Drawing from the knowledge of her many sessions with clients she explains some of the lessons we can learn from soul regression. These lessons are detailed in her first book, with many transcriptions of sessions she has guided.

These sessions are most often profound, life-changing events in a person’s life, as I myself have experienced, and detail in other posts on the Urban Monk site. Because many of the aspects of soul regression are detailed elsewhere, I will not go into great detail in reviewing Dr Backman’s first book.

Her second book, however, delves into more detail in areas I am currently more interested in, so I will say more about that here. [more to come!!]

more NDE’s – three stories

George G. Ritchie (with Elizabeth Sherrill): Return From Tomorrow.

Mary Neal: To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again.

Howard Storm: My Descent Into Death

Each of these books chronicle an NDE. The first two have aspects which make them compelling. I will begin with a brief look at Ritchie’s book. George Ritchie was an army recruit in the last years of WW II. In 1943, while in basic training in Texas, he got critically ill and experienced the typical NDE when he medically died and was resuscitated.

This NDE is one of the earliest I have read about, in my decades-long interest in these phenomenal occurrences. In 1943 the term, Near Death Experience, had not even been coined. By the time his story was chronicled and published, it had been recognized as a somewhat common experience of those who have been pronounced dead.

George Ritchie did not realize for quite some time that he had “died”, and he spent considerable time trying to make sense of what he was sensing. Later in his life, he encountered some of the locations he visited while in spirit, receiving confirmation of the reality of this mystical experience.

As with so many NDExperiencers Ritchie did not want to return to this life, and indeed was very angry at finding himself in this world. But after a year or more, and after intensely praying to be released from this life, asking for reasons why he couldn’t go back to the wonderfully peaceful, loving environment he had come out of, he came to accept that he really was destined to live out his human life.

He then, over a period of some months, or years, began to experience what he described as the face of Jesus in other people. And he realized he was not alone; he realized he was still being assisted by heaven’s emissaries, especially the Christ. He became a doctor, and after practicing for some eight or so years, trained to become a psychiatrist. In this capacity he found he could help people change their lives in deep ways.

In fact, the book is set up as him telling a client his story, over the weeks and months he came to see Dr. Ritchie. This client was dying of cancer, and was bitter about this. Dr. Ritchie sought to install some hope into his life through the sharing of his own story. He was successful!

Mary Neal is also a medical doctor, practicing as a spinal surgeon in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. An avid outdoor enthusiast, she and her husband were on an adventure kayaking down a river in Chile with a group. In some pretty extreme rapids her kayak became trapped between some rocks and she ended up under water. She drowned, was eventually rescued, and revived.

During the time she was “dead” she experienced an NDE. Again, she went through some pretty typical elements of NDE’s. The book, however, is almost more about her life after the NDE and how it affected her life, her practice, and dealing with deaths in her family, including a son.

It really is an incredible story. It is well-written, and keeps the readers’ interest right to the end. She speaks as a Christian, but in a totally non-preachy way. Church and religion are just part of who she is, and she projects no judgement on anyone else’s views. I never got any impression she was trying to convince anyone of travelling her path. She simply related her experience as just that: her experience, and nothing more.

Dr. Neal’s book is certainly more accessible than Dr. Ritchie’s, a much older book, but both books are worth searching for and reading. (I had to read Dr. Ritchie’s as an e-book, something I do not find particularly enjoyable.) However you find them, enjoy the stories. They are worth the effort!!

Howard Storm’s book, however, I do not recommend, at all. It is poorly written, and becomes very preachy. The reader is definitely given the impression that they must follow Storm’s path. Do not waste your time reading this book.

More Eben Alexander

Five years ago, near the beginning of Urban Monk, I read the near-death-experience (NDE) of Dr. Eben Alexander, titled Proof of Heaven. A year or so later he wrote a follow-up, called, Map of Heaven(Clicking on the above names will link you to my reviews of these books.)

Now he has written another book, Living in a Mindful Universe. Here Dr. Alexander goes deeper into the implications of his incredible NDE, implications for this life here-and-now, on earth. I highly, highly recommend reading this book. It is filled with incredibly helpful information to help us all to “live in a mindful universe”. I cannot do justice to a full review of this book, but will share just a few insights gained from my reading.

The subtitle of the book is, A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Heart of Consciousness. He deals a great deal with the importance of consciousness. Keep in mind, Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon. He has delved academically and literally into the depths of the human brain. He deals at length with the questions of the connection between the brain and human consciousness, and with the location of memory inside the brain.

His NDE helped him realize that consciousness is separate from the physical brain. After all, his brain was almost completely deteriorated in the course of his illness. Especially the neocortex, the most advanced and most evolved areas of the brain. His illness, bacterial meningoencephalitis, “ate” his brain from the outside in. That is, it destroyed first the outer, neocortex layers of the brain. “Such a complete inactivation of my neocortex, the outer surface of the brain, should have disabled all but the most rudimentary experiences and memory…” (p xiv). And yet, during the time his brain was being destroyed he experienced a most vivid and ultra-real supernatural experience. The memories of this NDE persisted so strongly that “. . . I was driven to find an explanation for the journey I took during the coma. . .” (p xiv). “This very real experience happened, and I was conscious of it–and my consciousness did not depend on having an intact brain.” (p xv)

His medical and academic studies had not led him to any sort of a belief in anything outside the prevalent materialistic, scientific world view. So began his pursuit of answers to the questions of physical brain, consciousness and memory.

Science has thus far not been able to locate any area of the brain which contains memory. And yet Eben came out of his coma with such incredibly vivid memories, that he was led to conclude that there must be another location for our human memory and consciousness. His experience had been vastly different than his intellectual training.

“There is a considerable difference between believing something, and knowing it. It is crucial not to simply believe what others say and then adopt those beliefs, including everything stated in this book. It is most beneficial to learn firsthand, to cultivate and trust personal experience in order to develop an inner capacity of knowing. Each of us will proceed on a slightly different path, according to unique motivations and goals. Letting go of ingrained beliefs can be extremely valuable in order to comprehend a situation from a fresh perspective.  In fact, this is what science is all about. A truly open-minded scientist considers all available evidence before making any judgment. (p 36)

He knew what he had experienced; he had such vivid memories resulting from his NDE. So he had to question the beliefs of his chosen field. Along the path of discovering more about NDE’s he encountered all the issues often arising from these experiences, including the concept of reincarnation.

This phenomenon of reincarnation supports the observation that memories do not seem to be stored in the physical brain. Finding a location for memories within the brain has completely eluded neuroscientific efforts. Just as filter theory allows that the brain is not the producer of consciousness, likewise, we use the brain to access memory from an information field (e.g., the quantum hologram or Akashic record) that exists outside of it. . . . This is not simply a discussion of what one wants to believe, but, as much as possible, we must address the world as it is. We must consider that reincarnation is apparently something that happens to us all (with or without our belief in it) and offers a richer view of our lives here on earth. (p 182)

Another concept he wrestled with is that we make decisions as souls prior to entering our life on earth. We choose the time and place to be born, and the outlines of what hardships we will encounter in order to learn certain lessons from this particular life.

Recognition that the soul lessons resulting fr0m the hardships, struggles, and conflicts in life might serve a purpose offers great insight in living our lives. And the more open you are to accepting the opportunities that these challenges present to become stronger, the more you are able to spare your future lives that continued suffering. If a particular lesson wasn’t properly learned, you might plan an even more daunting situation in the next lifetime. Should you successfully learn the lesson, it would never have to be repeated again and you could move on to the next challenge.


This concept may seem counterintuitive, especially when it comes to extreme hardship and adversity. We might find it difficult to accept that we have intentionally planned less than ideal situations for ourselves. But when we make these plans, we have full knowing that the situation will be temporary and we will be generally unaware of the underlying arrangement during life. To add to the confusion of programmed forgetting, often we choose an experience opposite of something we wish to learn in order to understand from a different perspective. From the vantage point of here and now some of our decisions seem to be illogical, but nonetheless a pragmatic choice at the time it was made. (p 189)


We are all essential to this evolution of consciousness, and we cannot simply opt out. No one gets out of here dead–there is ultimately no escape from the continuum of conscious awareness. It is wise to embrace this glorious gift of physical life, and to rise to the challenges it presents to afford the possibility of true learning, growth, and transcendence. This is not to say such a thing is easy, especially in our modern culture. (p 204)

He goes on then, together with his coauthor, Karen Newell, to discuss ways in which we can participate more fully in the awareness of our own consciousness. These methods include listening to recordings called, “brain-wave entrainment audio recordings”, which Karen Newell helped develop. He also goes briefly into methods and disciplines which others have developed. But he stresses the importance of getting in touch with our own higher selves, with the wider consciousness which is out there. “. . . that informational substrate underlying our universe appears to be made of profound unconditional love. Those who have been to that brink and peered beyond, whose emotional state has been resonant with that infinite love, never forget that experience–they are forever changed. They know they are one with the universe.” (p 227)

We can all come to see the hardships in life, illness, and injury as the stepping-stones on which our souls can grow and ascend toward that oneness with the Divine. (p 237)

Then, quoting Ram Dass, he cautions,

Got to be careful not to go through the door of enlightenment too fast; that would be going through the door with your ego on. Good way to get delusions of grandeur, a messianic complex, to wind up in a mental institution. You’ve got to be really pure. You can’t just make believe you’re pure. (p 247)

All in all, a very profound book, well worth seeking out and reading it. I’d appreciate hearing any reactions to the book.

Dazed and Confused

As we enter the last month of 2018, I identify with Led Zeppelin: I feel Dazed and Confused. I hear messages from many sources, and they’re not always in step with each other. There are some who predict great changes as we approach the winter solstice of 2018. (And I recognize that calling it the “winter” solstice is very North American biased!!)

Looking around at the world today, there is great turmoil. There is great divisiveness. There is great uncertainty. Where are we going? Where will we end up? What will we need to endure in the next little while?

Yet, in the midst of all this confusion there are voices proclaiming great and positive changes coming soon. And many of these, might I say, psychic, voices are sounding very positive. It is difficult to resolve all this, to come to grips with what is really on the horizon.

The positive messages mainly surround topics like “disclosure” and “ascension”. There are numerous ones who say this world will not be allowed to enter nuclear war. There are some who say the world will not be allowed to destroy itself. There are beings overseeing our world and they care deeply what happens to it.

Some of these messages I have been hearing for years. And for years I have been hearing that we as a planet, as a human race, are moving ahead in a spiritual sense, that we are evolving, growing, improving. Watching the evening news brings decidedly other scenarios.

So I end up, as we approach the end of 2018, dazed and confused. I don’t know what the right message, the most correct interpretation is. Which way will we go, as individuals and as a collective? I do feel a sense of expectation, curiosity, mostly positive anticipation of what may come. But I also feel it may not be an easy time. There may be intense difficulties ahead. Buckle up!!

Signposts of Life

Whenever we celebrate an event that is a decade, it is a big event. This year, 2018, I had two such celebrations. I turned 70 years old. And my wife and I celebrated our 50th anniversary!! So 2018 was special to me for two reasons.

We had talked about our upcoming 50th for a couple years. We wondered how to best celebrate this event. We have lived in numerous far-flung locations throughout our fifty years. To throw one huge event would mean people travelling from far and wide, and then getting together with people they don’t know. The only common connection at such an event would be us, the honoured couple.

We decided that it made more sense to have separate celebrations with smaller groups of people from these various eras and locations of our past. So we did this. Beginning in 2017 already, we had events with past friends and with family. Friends from the 1970’s were in Alberta in September, and we had a great visit with them. Earlier in the summer our oldest son and family were here for an entire month, during which time we were together as an entire family: both sons, their wives and children. It was an absolutely fabulous time.

Summer of 2018 all of my wife’s siblings came from various places throughout the southern U.S. We were together for a marvellous week, showing them a small slice of our life in Calgary. We went to the mountains, we explored downtown, visited an old motorcycle shop, ate together.

In late summer, our best friends from the 1980’s informed us they would be in town. We had a great time together in a restaurant reconnecting.

In late September we had a reunion with my two brothers back in the land where we three boys were born, southern Manitoba. This week included one evening where numerous cousins got together for an early Thanksgiving meal; some had driven hours to be there. It was a great time to renew family acquaintances. And being together with brothers and sisters-in-law was great.

During all these events we did very little formally, but made an effort to note the importance of this year of “decade” celebrations.

Both my family and my wife’s live in widely scattered areas; and we don’t see each other all that often. But it was so good to all be together for a few days, reminiscing, reconnecting, sharing our thoughts of the future, etc. I tried reassuring, especially family members, that my wife and I are doing quite well financially. We are probably better off than we have ever been in our life. Health-wise we are both doing quite good. Although a couple health scares this year have made us very aware of our mortality!!

Turning points, like this “decade” year, cause a person to take stock of the past, to envision the future, but mostly to just grab hold of the present and enjoy life. For ourselves, we are together after 50 years, newly mortgage-free, blessed with grandchildren, loving sons and daughters-in-law.

I don’t know what the future holds. Things around us in the world seem quite topsy-turvy, but I am mostly quite optimistic. Things might seem bad, they may get worse, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is relationships, family and friends, that enable us to see that light now, and give me hope that we will be able to get through whatever the future holds.



Over the years I have collected many albums of music. Initially, of course, this was by LP’s.  In the 70’s I went through a few years of cassette tapes, though I never saw this as my primary method of replaying music I enjoyed. While the 80’s saw me gradually shifting to CD’s, I was still searching for LP’s. Now, of course, with the advent of digital music all has shifted. But I still own quite a collection of both LP’s and CD’s. Many of my favourites I have changed over to digital and will put various playlists of music onto my iPhone.

I was listening to a large playlist a few weeks ago of folk, pop and early rock-and-roll. With over 900 tracks on this playlist, songs don’t come up all that often. A Dan Fogelberg song came on which I had not heard in quite some time, years probably. I own only one of his albums, High Country Snows and have always enjoyed this album. The song I heard that day was called, The Higher You Climb. The words struck me as reflecting my own journey in some way.

The higher you climb, the more that you see;

The more that you see, the less that you know;

The less that you know, the more that you yearn;

The more that you yearn, the higher you climb.

There is another verse, but this is the one which spoke to me. Listen to the words: the more that you see, the less that you know. It would seem that the more you see, the more you should know. But no, the more you see, the less you know. As I have climbed higher and higher in a spiritual sense, I know I can see more and better than ever in my life. Yet, it seems often that the more I see and learn, the less I know!!

For my self this can only be explained as the more I see and understand of the spiritual dimensions the more I realize there is to know. And in relation to that increased realization, I know less than before, proportionally, even though I know so much more!!!

It is an exciting concept!! I know that we will move into eternity continually learning and learning. We will climb higher and higher, always seeing more, and realizing there is so much more to know, yearning to see and know more and more!! I love it. I thank you Dan for encapsulating a simple truth so artistically!!

Cloud Atlas

I have both read the book, and seen the movie. The book first: It is a very well-written, entertaining tale. Rather, it is a series of tales. After beginning the book as a library copy, I realized that it was long and involved enough that I went and purchased my own copy. It presents at first almost as a collection of short stories. But as I was working my way through them, it became obvious that there are connections weaving their way through completely disparate stories. These threads are not always immediately obvious, and I did not always understand them. But the stories of themselves are completely engrossing, so I didn’t mind not always understanding the larger picture. These stories cover history from several centuries ago, into the future, well into the future.

I will not delve in any detail into the content of the individual stories; I will allow the reader to discover those. One of the drawbacks for me personally was that I read the book over quite an extended period of time, reading other books in between (usually as library books became available, with a deadline). This made my comprehension of the overall sweep of the threads of Cloud Atlas difficult to follow. My recommendation, based on this experience of the book, is to read it over a shorter period of time. It seems to me this would be a very excellent book to take on a several-week holiday!!

Then I checked out the movie! This helped put the various threads into much clearer perspective. The movie covers the various vignettes piecemeal, jumping back and forth from one to the other. I am aware that the movie did not receive great reviews; I believe this to be the result that it could be quite confusing to follow for anyone not having read the book, and understanding what the author, David Mitchell, was attempting to accomplish.

The movie version includes some very high-profile actors, headlined by Tom Hanks. What the movie did, was clear up, maybe simplify, the threads running through the various stories. And the overall message was stunning!! At least to me!! What is presented in the movie is the concept of living various lifetimes, during different eras of history, being incarnated in vastly varying roles in these various incarnations. The movie also depicts the idea of us being incarnated with other souls who have accompanied us throughout our history, often playing very different roles in different lifetimes. So in the movie you have characters played by the same actors, in the various vignettes, relating to each other in very different ways, from historical episodes, to quite far into the future.

For any of you who have been following my often rambling posts on Urban Monk, you know that I’ve been learning about this sort of thing over the past couple decades. Each of us is part of a soul family. We agree to incarnate, often together, but with varying roles. We might be siblings, good friends, rivals, parents or children, etc, during our various lifetimes. And this is always done for the growth of the individual soul in their own progression.

To see this presented in a main-stream movie release is quite astounding!! As they say, art often reflects the truth of what is occurring in society. And I believe what Cloud Atlas does is to present spiritual truths to and about society.

I highly recommend both the book and movie. If you can do only one, see the movie. But be aware of the dynamics of the overall story being presented, to avoid confusion.


I was raised in a conservative religious community. From earliest age I attended Sunday School and church services. As a teen I began singing in the church choir. In my early twenties I drifted away for a period. But a “chance” encounter caused me to reconsider and to give Church another chance. This led over a time period of a few years to some very intense Church experiences. This in turn led me to apply for and attend seminary, earning an MA in Biblical Studies. I tried my hand at pastoring, but quickly discovered I was not cut out for that. I seriously considered teaching, but knew that pursuing that as a career goal necessitated more schooling to obtain a PhD.

During my adult years I gradually became more and more aware of deeper spiritual truths than those I had been learning (and teaching) in Church.

     [By the way, when I capitalize “Church” I refer to organized religion in general. Uncapitalized I am referring to my local “church”, or to a specific church body.]

These truths fairly quickly led to criticism from other conservative, evangelical church members. I learned to keep my new directions mostly to myself, asking my questions in settings outside of church.

I have been aware over the years, that the direction I am heading is fairly common. And it is fairly common to find people following this path turning their backs on Church (or any other form of organized religion). During my journey I have been spared that. I have never felt a need to reject Church; I have always valued my own upbringing, even though viewing it as skewed and incomplete. I accept the world into which I incarnated. I value and honour it.

I view this humility to be a gift from the Divine. I have learned to view my own stance as not yet complete; I am still on the journey; I expect to continue to grow in my understanding of “God”, the Spirit realm, the Universe, the “other side”, the afterlife, heaven, however you want to term “it”. When I do reach the other side, will I be rejected for a flawed theology? Not on your life do I believe that!!

And if I view my own beliefs that way, I can afford to be non-judgemental about others’ views. Every person must walk their own path, living by the truth as they come to understand it. My only encouragement to others is to be open to new understandings; don’t assume that everything you have been taught throughout your life is necessarily the complete truth.

While meditating a few days ago on some of these ideas, I came to see Church as a container, a nice, neat little box for us to live in. For myself, this container held me secure for many years. It allowed me to grow, to question, to explore, to seek new understandings. I have outgrown this container, but this in no way invalidates the role this container played in my life. And this in no way invalidates or judges those who remain in this container. The fact that I no longer need the container of Church does not mean I believe that others should also loose themselves from this container.

I was having this discussion with a conservative evangelical friend a few years ago. He kept trying to get me to say that I thought he was “wrong” in holding to his beliefs. “If you believe what you do, and I believe very differently, then you must think I am wrong.” He could not conceive of a position where I thought both of us could be totally “right” in where we were at with God and Church and all, that I could continue to believe things quite at odds with Church orthodoxy, while he remained in line with Church teaching.

I believe Church has played an important part in the development of western society. It has handed down truths contributing to the civil cultures we find ourselves in. There has been a definite, positive role Church has played.

Personally I think that role is coming to a close. This is a personal belief; I don’t know if I’m right in this. But I think there is a parallel pattern in scripture which this aligns with. In the New Testament there is a definite concept that the old pattern of being God’s people was passing away, and that the new way of being, that is, Church, was taking it’s place. The term used connotes care-taking, guardianship, teaching. The Greek term is actually “pedagogy”.

And I believe that history is repeating itself. The Church, which has been the “pedagogue” of western society is passing away and a new pattern will emerge. What that will look like I have no idea!! But I expect it to be exciting to experience!!

While musing on this over the past few days, I felt there was more to say on this subject, but could not quite put my finger on how to say what I was sensing. Today, while driving city bus (my occupation), I got into an interesting conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness person, who was on his way to do “ministry”. I was sharing some of my thoughts on the above, that none of us can claim to have a complete “hold” on the truth, that each of us are imperfect in what we believe, etc.

Thinking about this later in the afternoon, I thought of the story in the Bible of Peter in the boat during a stormy night. Seeing Jesus approaching them, walking on the waves, Peter asked to join him. “Come,” said Jesus. And Peter got out of the boat to walk across the water to his Master. Yes, he began to sink, but the assumption is that if he had not doubted, he could have continued to remain atop the waves.

I have been asked to get out of the boat!!! This boat, the container of Church, was no longer sufficient for Peter (or for me!). I was invited to “Come”. Get out of the box, or the boat, and trust. Have faith.

I am hoping that I get to see this JW again (I drive this same route twice a week till the end of August). I want to thank him for inspiring this fitting end to my musings on the container of Church.


Hank Wesselman

I have at times blissfully gone long periods in my life, interrupted by sudden startling discoveries, wondering why I had not seen this before. Three books by Hank Wesselman are in that category.

I have been exploring spirit dimensions for quite some time now. One of the things I have noticed is that people experiencing the spirit realm may do so through different tactics. They may come at this search in many different ways, whether it is religion, personal experiences, traditions, the experiences of others, there are many and varied ways people come to expanding their consciousness. Many experience the spirit realm spontaneously, without any prior desire or intent. I have noticed that there is a lot of similarity from these various ways. This congruity between what people are learning that gives great credibility to the information coming from the “other side”. What I mean by that is that people learning about the spirit realm, no matter how they come at it, must be experiencing the same dimension; and by coming “back” with information and knowledge which is so similar that lends credence to the truth of what is out there: life on the other side of this earthly dimension.

Wesselman’s books add to that pattern. He comes at the exploration of the spirit realm from a place quite different than most of the authors I have been reading over the years. And yet his experiences fit quite nicely into the information I have been learning from other sources.

Hank Wesselman comes to the quest from the perspective of shamanism. Like many others I have read, his initial encounters with the mystical occurred unsought. After all, he is a scientist, a PhD in anthropology. He was among a fairly select group of scientists exploring the ancient beginnings of human life on this planet. He would spend weeks and months at a time in the African Great Rift Valley area searching for clues about life’s earliest years.

As with most people of scientific persuasion and training he was not in the least bit interested in the mystical areas of life. In fact, when he first began having experiences which he could not explain from his scientific world view, he knew that his fellow scientists would not accept one of their fellows delving into the weird! He was very hesitant about beginning to share these experiences with others, thinking it might mean the end of his career which he had spent many years and dollars achieving.

One foggy summer morning. . .I experienced a full-fledged altered state of consciousness just before dawn. This was a spontaneous event, achieved without the catalyst of any mind-altering substances or disciplined spiritual practice, and for its duration, my physical body was rendered paralyzed by ecstatic feelings of power or forces that were quite formidable. Yet my mind was fully awake and hyper-aware, and it was in this expanded state that I had a direct encounter with what a tribal person might call a spirit.

Nothing in my academic training as an anthropologist had prepared me for these experiences,and I responded to them with an intense curiosity. I was not one of those worthies who had spent decades studying at the knees of the wisdom masters, practicing meditation and  yoga, hoping for visions and transcendent experiences, nor was I a member of the psychedelic explorers club. In those days, I worshipped solely at the altar of science. (p xi,xii of Visionseeker)

To my mind, anyone coming at this with no previous intention lends credibility to their experience. A person like that has less preconceived notions of what to expect, what their experiences “should” be like, what patterns they should be following, how this fits with previous beliefs, etc.

These sudden, unexpected glimpses through the portal often change the whole direction of our lives, and as a result, we come to an inescapable conclusion–that the everyday world that we all take so much for granted is not at all what it appears to be on the surface. (p 291 of  Visionseeker)

So it was with great eagerness that I tackled these three books. In fact, I had to go to some lengths in acquiring them. My local library had only the first volume, and it only in ebook form. These books were published between 1995 and 2001, so they’ve been around for awhile, and are no longer readily available. But they are well worth the effort required to obtain them. Read them, by all means!!!

The three books Wesselman wrote detailing his shamanic experiences and the knowledge he received through them are: Spiritwalker: Messages from the Future; Medicinemaker: Mystic Encounters on the Shaman’s Path; and Visionseeker: Shared Wisdom from the Place of Refuge. These books are will written, very entertaining, real page turners. Which is surprising to find in books of this genre. I eagerly attacked each new chapter, wondering what would happen next, both in Hank Wesselman’s life, and in the future which he connected with.

Wesselman’s shamanic visions occurred spontaneously over a period of a number of years. During these “expanded states” he achieved contact with a being living in the future. Over a period of time, he learned through this contact that Nainoa, as he came to know him, was living approximately 5000 years in the future. Nainoa was living in an area approximately where San Francisco, California, is today. Ocean levels had risen significantly, so that there was a huge inland lake, or bay, where the current Sacramento/San Joaquin valleys are. Nainoa’s community lived a fairly “primitive” lifestyle. All present day technology seemed to have disappeared. His community was quite organized, living a farming and fishing existence.

This community of people had immigrated a couple centuries earlier from Hawaii. The language they spoke was a mixture of current Hawaiian, which Hank was somewhat familiar with, having himself lived in Hawaii for some years. Nainoa also knew some of the ancient “English” so that when they did establish communication abilities they were able to make themselves understood to each other. Plus, as has happened in other circumstances, communication in the spirit realm is often by intuition and thought, rather than through actual words.

In the first book, Spiritwalker, Nainoa is sent by his chief on a journey to explore the interior of the land, across the mountains to the east (what we call the Sierra Nevadas). He has quite the experiences crossing the mountains. Once he was mostly through them, he encounters a group living even more primitively than his own people. This cultural group calls themselves “Ennu” people. Their history, which comes down to them through oral culture, is that they are descendants of what I gathered are today’s Innuit people of northern Canada. They had gradually migrated south, into what is today’s Nevada. From their knowledge it would seem that much of North America was uninhabited in their day, aside from a few nomadic groups such as they themselves.

You have to realize, dear reader, that I am offering my own interpretation of the information Hank Wesselman was receiving through experiencing Nainoa’s journey. The author does not do a lot of interpreting himself. He does contemplate how our current civilization could have almost totally collapsed and disappeared. Nainoa does encounter a few remnants of today’s technology, but mostly our cities, roads and such have been totally overgrown. Nainoa’s community does have a very few relics that have survived, or been discovered. But just about all we know today has disappeared in the subsequent millennia. I did not pick up from the books that Wesselman ever learned how or when our modern society collapsed.

The way Hank Wesselman presents his stories is to alternate chapters detailing his current life as Hank with chapters where he encounters Nainoa’s world through Nainoa’s eyes. In the beginning he becomes aware that he is looking at this world through Nainoa’s eyes, but does not have direct contact with Nainoa. Nainoa, however, slowly becomes aware that someone, some other being than himself, is periodically residing in his consciousness.

Through these experiences, over several years, Wesselman and Nainoa gradually grow in their relationship and knowledge of each other. Eventually Nainoa is also able to access Hank’s consciousness and experience Hank’s world. And they are able to “converse” through exchanges of thought consciousness. This exchange of communication and subsequent knowledge of each other’s worlds, gives both of them huge insight into their own worlds.

They also discovered they were genetically connected. I, myself, suspect from what I have  learned from other modalities that they might have been the same soul-being incarnating in different times. At any rate, Nainoa begins to view Hank as his “ancestor”, and Hank views Nainoa as his “descendent”. There is one artifact which connects them; it is a unique rock Hank discovered during a stay in Hawaii, which evidently was handed down through the generations and ends up in Nainoa’s chief’s possession.

I won’t go into any more detail. There is so much to this fascinating story! I don’t want to spoil it any more than I already might have. Go discover it for yourself. You will not be disappointed!!!