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The first person anthropological account has become a genre of nonfiction unto itself, ever since Carlos Castaneda braved peyote shamanism in Mexico in the 60s. Since then, the field has in some ways become gentler, more ethical, and when possible less ethnocentric. This experience includes the works of Wesselman, who has received shamanic training, but who cannot release everything he has learned.

Wesselman’s experience with the Hawaiian shaman Makua rings true: this account of lessons learned in a friendship and mentorship developed over years does lead to received wisdom, and Wesselman takes pains to ensure the audience knows he did not receive everything, and that there is still much more on Hawaiian shamanic tradition that could be lost.

Hardcore scholars might still give this book a “lower class” rating because of its first person delivery, and because Wesselman repeats concepts typical of New Age thought in 2012. Aside from a mention of a car-free and Starbuck’s-free dystopian future, there appears to be a legitimate process in the experiences sought.

An enjoyable account, recommended for a read by those who enjoy comparing first person shamanic accounts such as those written by Carlos Castaneda and Wade Davis.

~ review by Diana Rajchel

Author: Hank Wesselmen, Ph.D.
Sounds True Inc., 2011
pp. 267, $16.95 US

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