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Shamanism & Altered States

Date: 02-20-03
Host: George Noory
Guests: Hank Wesselman

Dr. Hank Wesselman spoke of his anthropological studies into human origins as well as his "inner space" experiences derived through shamanic practice. "Under the skin all homo sapiens are Africans," Wesselman said, adding that the different racial features developed around 30-40,000 years ago.

While doing field work in Ethiopia in the 70's, Wesselman encountered "something (that) stepped through a rift." It was this spirit presence he witnessed that started him on his odyssey and vision quest. One thing Wesselman discovered was that simple drum beats or rattle sounds could quickly elicit a trance state similar to that experienced by shamans. He included some of this music on a CD that comes with his book Journey to the Sacred Garden, and George played a portion on the program (warning drivers to pull over or turn down the volume!). "There's a portal inside of us and the drum or rattle is one of the keys that opens it up for us," said Wesselman.

"I've come to understand through my own field work that we actually come here as souls but many of us may also live lives on other worlds beside this one," Wesselman said, explaining that in the spirit realm we are outside of the space-time continuum. "I believe I was projected through the stars into another world," he said of a meditation experience inside an Egyptian pyramid. Wesselman found himself looking out through the eyes of a different person at a room composed of geometrical blood red stones. His body had long limbs, granular skin and was the color of a football.

Spotlight on: Shamanism

Hank Wesselman Ph.D., teaches shamanism workshops across the country. "Shamans are men and women who can achieve expanded states of awareness in which they can perceive and communicate in ways not possible in our ordinary waking state of consciousness," Wesselman explained in an interview with Deepak Chopra. In traditional cultures, shamans often help to heal community members who are suffering from either physical or psychological maladies.

Referring to shamans as "spiritual activists," Wesselman said their work is often accomplished with the aid of guardian spirit helpers. From the shamanistic perspective illnesses don't really come from bacteria and microbes, but rather from three internal states: disharmony, fear and soul loss. "Soul loss is regarded as the most serious diagnosis and the single greatest cause of premature death or serious illness," Wesselman said.

A person might lose an element of their soul after undergoing severe trauma such as from an assault or accident, Wesselman detailed. In such cases a shaman may embark upon a "soul retrieval" mission, where they team up with their spirit guides to track and recover the missing soul parts. "Only in this way can the soul be restored to its original undamaged state, and only in this way can the patient be sure that the illness will not reoccur," he said.

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