Shamanic messages from the future: An interview with Hank Wesselman
Hank Wesselman began his career as a paleoanthropologist after completing his undergraduate work and his master’s degree in zoology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He then served in the United States Peace Corps, living among people of the Yoruba Tribe in Nigeria, which is where he first became interested in indigenous spiritual traditions. He went on to earn his doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. Over the past 45 years, he has worked with an international group of scientists exploring the fossil beds of eastern Africa’s Great Rift Valley, seeking answers to the mystery of human origins. His fieldwork has allowed him to spend much of his life with tribal peoples who have rarely, if ever, been visited by outsiders. These were among his first encounters with traditional shamans.
Dr. Wesselman is also a shamanic practitioner and teacher — or shamanist, as he says — now in the 36th year of his apprenticeship. The books in his autobiographical trilogy — Spiritwalker, Medicinemaker, and Visionseeker — have been published in 14 languages and reveal the nature of his initiation into the shaman’s world, a reality that growing numbers are eager to experience themselves. He is also the author of The Journey to the Sacred Garden: A Guide to Traveling in the Spiritual Realms, The Bowl of Light, which shares the teachings of an authentic Hawaiian kahuna mystic regarding the end of this cycle of ages and the beginning of the next; and his most recent The Re-Enchantment: A Shamanic Path to a Life of Wonder. He has also co-authored with his wife Jill Kuykendall, Spirit Medicine and The Spiritwalker Teachings; with fellow shamanic practitioner Sandra Ingerman, Awakening to the Spirit World; and with Raquel Abreu Little Ruth Reddingford and the Wolf — a story for children. All are available on Amazon.
Hank and his family live on a small farm in Honaunau, on the big island of Hawai’i. He and Jill also travel regularly to teach shamanic workshops at places like Esalen, Omega Institute, and Breitenbush Hot Springs. Visit their website at www.sharedwisdom.com.
The MOON: You’re a scientist by training and profession; not a spiritual seeker. In fact, your first shamanic experiences were spontaneous — even forced upon you. Please tell us about your journey.
Wesselman: It actually began when I was doing field work in Ethiopia. I would often find myself out in a tented safari camp for up to three months at a time. It’s one thing to go camping over Labor Day weekend, and then come home and have a shower and a meal. But it’s something else to be out in the desert for that length of time, surrounded by miles and miles of wild country, wild animals, and wild people — many of whom had never seen a white man before. Your consciousness begins to shift.
We were doing survey geology, archaeology, and paleontology — the study of fossils — in sediments that stretched for 70 miles and across time — from 800,000 to three and a half million years ago. It was out there among these eroded land forms, in what I called “the whispering lands” because of the breezes that blew through, that I began to have spontaneous visionary experiences, strikingly like those of indigenous shamans.
As an anthropologist I knew “about” shamans. I knew they are the gifted visionaries in traditional societies who can do three things:
First, they can achieve expanded states of awareness and connect with the unseen aspect of reality, what they call “the spirit world.” To shamans — and indeed, most traditional people — reality has two components — both equally valid and real. One is seen and the other unseen.
Two, shamans can enter into relationship with the inhabitants of the spirit world, who may be ancestors, or animals, or even the organizing forces of the universe. They often approach these spirits on behalf of other individuals, or their entire community. Essentially, they make themselves a bridge between the transpersonal world of spirit and the personal world of form, and allow power, or energy, to flow from that world into this one.
Three, shamans perform or facilitate what we call “miracles,” results that defy the known laws of nature. Over the years I’ve witnessed dozens of major miracles, including spontaneous healings from cancer, Crohn’s disease, endometriosis, IBS, and more. While I provided “the coordinates,” so to speak, and the drumming to help participants enter non-ordinary reality, even non-indigenous, first-time practitioners have had experiences that would pass muster in any indigenous shamanic circle.
So, back to my first shamanic experience in the early 1980s in Africa. I was working with two Kenyan tribesmen and a third man, Atiko, who was an Ethiopian shaman known locally as a “crocodile whisperer.” He could talk to the spirit of the crocodiles — and these were 25-foot-long man-eating crocodiles. He could swim across rivers and not be bothered, and could bless the waters so that people could bathe without being harmed.
The four of us were working to excavate a site millions of years old, which contained the fossilized remains of elephants, crocodiles, and many other animals, including Australopithecus, a forerunner of Homo sapiens. Every so often I would feel a creeping feeling that I was being watched. Because this was big predator country, I paid attention to these feelings.
The day came when my coworkers and I were packing up for lunch and I felt the feeling again. As I stood up very slowly, I saw that Atiko was looking at something to my left. I slid my eyes in that direction and saw something move — a large, dense shadow. But when I turned to look at it directly, it disappeared — exactly as if it had stepped through a gap in the fabric of the universe and zipped it shut behind him.
“What was it?” I asked Atiko.
Although Atiko spoke six languages, English wasn’t one of them. He studied me carefully before saying, in Swahili, “Shaitani.”
I later found out that shaitani meant “spirit.”
I didn’t believe in spirits at the time, so I had to file that experience away under “Unknown,” or “Inexplicable.” But it haunted me for years. Then, a decade later, when I was living in Berkeley, California, I had a spontaneous encounter with a spirit and, as the culmination of a series of intense physical sensations, underwent a shamanic journey to visit a future descendant, a young man of Hawaiian ancestry named Nainoa, who was living on the west coast of the North American continent 5,000 years in the future.
The MOON: What do you mean by “underwent a shamanic journey”?
Wesselman: I mean that I traveled psychically. I was aware of my physical body lying essentially paralyzed in the bed next to my wife in Berkeley, but I was experiencing being within the body of Nainoa, who was living in a tropical North America in a traditional Hawaiian village 5,000 years after the fall of Western civilization.
I realize how far-fetched this sounds. My scientific mind didn’t know what to make of it either. I had climbed to the top of my profession and was working with people like Mary and Louis Leakey and Donald Johanson, the paleoanthropologist who discovered the remains of “Lucy,” an early australopithecine dated to about 3.2 million years ago. I was a respected scientist. Yet the feeling I had was that I had climbed the wrong ladder and that, in fact, the ladder I wanted to climb was leaning against a different house entirely.
That house was shamanism, which was not widely practiced in the West at the time, but which has become of increasing interest because of the ease of access it offers to the spiritual realm. Once this connection is made, life can become an extraordinarily enhanced adventure.
As a result of the shamanic experiences I’ve had, and pursued, and taught, I’ve become kind of a wandering medicine person, teaching workshops at places like Breitenbush Hot Springs Center in Oregon, Esalen Institute in California, and the Omega Institute in New York. These workshops themselves become life-changing experiences.
About 15 years ago I took a group of shamanic students with me to Peru, where we met an Andean shaman, who told me that, as western people expand their culture throughout the world, traditional people are drawn to that culture and away from their traditional teachings. Their practice of shamanism wanes. But shamanism is simultaneously taking root among westerners. The shamanic traditions will change in response to its new carriers, but this is to be expected he assured me. This is how the practice refreshes itself, keeping the wisdom and technologies vibrant and alive. Certainly, my spontaneous shamanic experiences were not based on any learned, or taught, technique.
The MOON: But what about cultural appropriation? Many indigenous people are angered and frustrated by the cultural appropriation implicit in taking on indigenous shamanic practices. What do you say to them?
Wesselman: I’m sympathetic, because indigenous grievances are many and legitimate. It’s extremely ironic that we want to adopt a people’s spiritual practices after we’ve destroyed the people themselves. It’s rather like the State of California putting the grizzly bear on its flag — after wiping out every single grizzly in the state. However, the shamanic tradition is a worldwide phenomenon and shamans exist in some form in every culture. If we go back far enough, all of us are descended from indigenous ancestors, so the ancient shamanic tradition is one of the birthrights of all peoples everywhere. The tradition changes as we make it our own.
Moreover, I followed no tradition in having my first series of shamanic experiences. As I explain in Spiritwalker, my first experiences began with entering a paralytic trance, which would come upon me spontaneously. In other words, I’d not employed any technique such as drumming, or fasting, or chanting, or dancing, or ingesting mind-altering substances. Nevertheless, I’d be drawn to the consciousness and body of another man — a man living 5,000 years in the future. I could hear his thoughts, feel his feelings, tap into his memories, see the world through his eyes. I experienced what he was experiencing as he experienced it.
When the episodes began, I seriously considered checking myself into a psychiatric hospital for evaluation. Of course, they would have medicated me, and that would have been the end of the experiences. I didn’t do that and, as a result, I got to experience a future reality that takes place in the Central Valley of California, which has become an inland sea surrounded by the tropical vegetation of a Costa Rica. In other words, the worst-case scenario of climate change has transpired. The seas have risen to wipe out coastal populations and flood the Central Valley and the North American climate has become tropical.
The man I “visit,” Nainoa, embarks upon a trek through the tropical forest and discovers the remains of a great city. He encounters the same spirit — a leopard man — that has also visited me since my childhood — although my parents told me that he was just “an imaginary friend,” and I believed them. However, I now think that I was able to have these experiences — to accompany Nainoa on his explorations — in part because of this leopard man’s assistance.
When Nainoa is taken — again spontaneously — on his own first shamanic experience, he also encounters the same dark shadow being that I encountered during my first experience in California. Indeed, perhaps that shadowy figure was the spirit Atiko saw — and I only felt — in the desert. I believe that dark shadow being was what Joseph Campbell calls the “Guardian of the Threshold,” whom seekers encounter at the beginning of “the hero’s journey.” The Guardian reveals to humans the existence of realms of power beyond our imagination — just outside the borders of our “reality.” If we recoil in fear to this revelation, we don’t gain access; the door to the other reality remains closed. But if, as in Nainoa’s case and my own, we remain open, curious, and indeed, adopt a sense of wonder and awe about it, we are granted access to the transpersonal dimensions of reality; the world of the shaman.
The MOON: You gain access to time travel to a far distant future. And you gain access to the lived experience of a future descendant. But you also gain access to a future with grave implications for our own present.
Wesselman: Yes. And I had those experiences in the 1990s…The evidence for that worst-case scenario has grown far stronger since.
As a paleontologist, I’m aware that radical climate change can occur rapidly — far more rapidly than our present models forewarn. Prior to the Pleistocene was the Pliocene period, which ended roughly 2.5 million years ago. The Pliocene was a greenhouse world, with carbon dioxide levels similar to what ours are now, sea levels 300 feet higher, and no polar ice caps. As that period began to deteriorate, ice formed in the polar regions as temperatures — and sea levels — dropped.
Then, around 11,700 years ago, the last Ice Age came to an end quite suddenly. All the great glaciers and ice fields melted and the oceans rose about 300 feet. We know this from sediment cores collected from deep beneath oceans and lakes, and from bubbles of ancient air trapped inside ice cores taken from Antarctica, Greenland and elsewhere. A wave of mass extinctions ensued, wiping out the megafauna on which our nomadic hunting ancestors depended. We could return to this landscape very rapidly — with the sea level 300 feet higher than it is now — in less than 50 years.
This certainly seems to be happening, despite the protestations of the climate change deniers. More than two billion people — maybe more — currently live in coastal regions most directly impacted by rising sea levels. And of course there are other impacts of catastrophic climate change, as we are witnessing this fall with hurricanes Irma, Jose, Katia, and Maria; floods in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh; and wildfires across the United States and Canada. This is what we can expect from catastrophic climate change.
So, on the one hand, the conclusions one is forced to draw from my journeys to the future are dark. The positive side of the story, at least from my perspective, is the access to an incredibly expanded world of spiritual awareness. Adopting this path truly has led me to a life of wonder.
The MOON: The fact that western civilization collapsed after only about 200 years, by Nainoa’s people’s estimate, puts collapse at right about our present time. Doesn’t that give you grave forebodings?
Wesselman: People ask me this all the time: when is collapse going to occur? Obviously, I don’t know. What Nainoa recalls from the histories of his people — who were Hawaiians — is that the seas rose rapidly and catastrophically, resulting in chaos, starvation, and a rapid die-off of the human population. This was what the Hawaiians passed down from their own experience. They don’t know what happened to the mainland Americans. No technology or records had been found.
Nainoa’s world is one without electricity; without iron; without engines. It is an agrarian society; while the people Nainoa encounters farther inland on his trek are nomadic hunter-gatherers. All advanced technology has disappeared. That appears to be the future we’re headed towards if we don’t reverse course.
The MOON: Yes, but as you point out, the climate deniers are currently running the show, so reversal isn’t likely.
Wesselman: Yes. In my most recent book, The Re-Enchantment: A Shamanic Path to a Life of Wonder, I delve into the unseen spiritual forces that influence our lives. On the positive side, these are guides, helping spirits, and oversouls. However, on the dark side are what I call “the masters of deception,” who infect the political and corporate leaders running the world today. They are so corrupt that, although they know the truth about climate change — they’re preparing to deal with it as a security risk — they publicly deny it and act to protect their profits, rather than the planet or its people. These masters of deception are not even spirits; they are thought forms created by humans who take on their own identity and draw their power from those they infect. They can be thought of as psychic vampires. The Cree Indians called them wetiko; the Hawaiian kahuna called them e’epa; while the Gnostic mystics called them archons. In all cases, they’re talking about a contagious psychospiritual disease of the soul, which projects its own negativity and evil onto others — thereby justifying its own violence. In Jungian psychology, this is classic shadow material.
In another book, The Bowl of Light, I describe my relationship with a Hawaiian kahuna elder, Hale Makua. Polynesian kahuna are very mystical people and don’t typically share their knowledge with outsiders. But Hale Makua heard about me as a result of my book, Spiritwalker, and came to check me out when I was doing a workshop here on the Big Island of Hawai’i, back in 1996. He came with a group of Hawaiian spiritual warriors, probably thinking to put me in my place as some New Age fakir who didn’t know what the heck I was talking about.
Hale Makua strode into the room — a great big man with a beautiful carved walking stick, a big beard down his chest, wearing a bold Hawaiian shirt and shorts. He was introduced to me as Hale Makua, whom I’d heard of, though never met. I was nervous now and launched into a rather academic talk on the “modern mystical movement.” He watched for about 45 minutes, during which my talk ended. Then I felt a gentle tugging on my soul, rather as if someone had me by the shirt collar. So I said, “Makua, I’m getting the feeling that you want to say something to me. Would it be correct for me to ask you to speak?” I didn’t know what the protocol was for addressing an esteemed Hawaiian kahuna.
I watched him to do something that I didn’t understand at the time, although now I do. I watched him dissociate and achieve an expanded state of awareness so that he could check in with his spirits regarding what it was okay to say, or not to say, and then, in a matter of seconds, he was back. He looked at me with great amusement. There were 50 people in the room, all aware of who this guy was. He wasn’t “just” another kahuna. He was the big kahuna, a direct descendant of King Kamehameha on his mother’s side and of High Chief Keoua on his father’s side. (Genealogy is everything in Hawaiian culture. It determines you.) He said, “A friend of mine gave me your book, Spiritwalker, and I read it. Then I read it again to make sure I got it right. Then I went down to the beach and put your book on the sand and called in the spirits of the ancestors. We had a talk about you.”
There was complete silence in the room.
Then he continued. “The ancestors asked me what your name is, and I told them ‘Hank Wesselman.’”
He grinned at me. “The ancestors told me I wasn’t pronouncing your name right. It’s supposed to be ‘Vesselman,” like the canoe. You’re a vessel.”
He was watching me as I slowly went into shock because indigenous elders generally don’t like it when outsiders trespass on their spiritual traditions. But of course in the Spiritwalker books I’m describing the Hawaiian kahuna spiritual tradition.
So he smiled and said, “Don’t worry. We Hawaiians don’t write; we talk. We share what’s in our hearts with another. But in your culture it’s the tradition to write. I’ve read your book, and I’m here to encourage you to write, because you’re making my job easier.”
This was the beginning of a very interesting friendship that continued over the last eight years of this remarkable man’s life. He shared with me a lot of the deep mystical wisdom of the Polynesians, which I’ve recorded in The Bowl of Light. He died in a car accident in 2003 after spending a week with us at our home. On the last night of his life he looked at me and said, “I know you’re going to write about me, and you have my permission.” Although Makua has been gone for 13 or more years, many people have told me, “He’s still teaching through the pages of your book.” As an anthropologist and practicing mystic in the shamanic tradition, that is very gratifying to me. Have you had the opportunity to read The Bowl of Light?
The MOON: No, but earlier this year I had the opportunity to interview Kahuna Kalei’iliahi, who told us that Hawaiians believe we each come into this world carrying a bowl of light.
Wesselman: Yes, that’s a very well-known story and an interesting metaphor. When my wife and I had an opportunity to spend our first afternoon with Hale Makua it was at the edge of the crater at Volcano National Park, which is an active volcano and was currently erupting — and has been since 1983. At the end of the afternoon, Makua gave me a simple wooden bowl and said, “This is your bowl of light.”
He then explained that, when humans come into the world, they each come with a bowl of light from their oversoul, their aumakua, which divides itself and sends in a bowl of its light that takes up residence in a new human when we draw our first breath. The breath is the vehicle of transfer of light from the higher self to the embodied self. The Hawaiians call this breath of life hā. The light we received sustains us and nourishes us throughout our lives. But whenever we step into the negative polarity — when we take something that doesn’t belong to us, whenever we injure someone with our words, or thoughts, or deeds, whenever we achieve success as the result of someone else’s failure, it’s like you put a stone in your bowl and some of your light goes out. Slowly but surely as we go through life, we fill up our bowl with stones so there’s hardly any light coming out anymore.”
He looked at me very seriously then and said, “The main problem in the world today is that it is being run by men and women whose bowls of light are filled with stones and there’s no light coming out anymore. Hopefully we’ll realize what we’re doing before it’s too late.
“Do you know what we do then?” he asked.
I’m sitting there with this guy who’s at least a head taller than me, who really looks like a big kahuna, and I’m hanging on every word.
He turned the bowl over and said, “You dump it out!” and he burst out laughing.
“In Hawaiian, that’s called kala, cleansing, but the thing is, after that you’re required to live your life differently. You become a spiritual warrior.”
He said that the spiritual warriors walk a very narrow path, constrained by three spiritual directives. The first is to “Love all that you see with humility.” I’m thinking, “Wow, easy one first.” Makua read my thoughts and burst out laughing again. “Listen,” he said, “I worked on that one for seven years.”
Number two, “We must live all that we feel with reverence,” which means respect. Makua was fond of observing that the foundation stone of the western mind is dominion. Our father God gave us “dominion” over each other and the beasts of the field and the planet. As a result, we’ve been very bad stewards of creation.
In contrast, Makua said, the foundation stone of the indigenous mind is respect. That’s a very different approach to life. I had to agree with him. I’ve lived with indigenous peoples. I spent two years with members of the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. Everyone I met during those days treated me with the utmost respect, which was a very new experience for me.
Number three, we’re “to know all that we possess with discipline,” which means self-discipline. So for us, for you, for me, for your readers, this is our job as modern mystics, or shamanists, or spiritual practitioners of whatever persuasion.
The MOON: Can you say more about the third directive?
Wesselmen: Yes. The things that we “possess” are the gifts we come into the world to share. That’s our “medicine,” in the shamanic sense. We must give our gifts to the world with discipline. Consider all those spiritual warriors, big name teachers, for example, who stumble on the path through abuse of their power. Often these get inside their students’ heads and move the pieces around. That’s not what they’re supposed to do; that’s an abuse of their power. Spiritual growth is supposed to be about liberation, not being a surrogate for someone else’s ego.
Or consider the spiritual teachers who abuse their students’ trust by exploiting them sexually. That’s not self-discipline; that’s self-indulgence. I don’t care if you want to have sex with someone, but then you can’t be a spiritual teacher. If you want to be a spiritual warrior you have to lead your life differently than other people.
By the way, I don’t believe there are any “masters.” I believe that we’re all students on the path; we’re all apprentices. Some may have been apprentices longer, but what even the most practiced of us “know” is still dwarfed by all that we don’t know.
The MOON: Wasn’t Jesus a shaman? Reportedly, he could walk on water, calm the storms, and even raise the dead…So how is Christianity different from shamanism?
Wesselman: Perhaps Jesus and the Buddha were indeed shamans. The New Testament even describes a powerful “shamanic” experience that preceded Jesus’ ministry: he went alone into the desert and fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Solitary fasting is a time-honored tradition for inducing a shamanic vision, but in actuality it was probably four days and four nights. During that time, Jesus was tempted to use his spiritual power to turn stones into bread and relieve his hunger; to make a spectacular display of his power by throwing himself from a cliff so that the angels would swoop down and rescue him; and to bow down to the Devil and gain the kingdoms of the world. But Jesus exercised great self-discipline and refused to use his spiritual powers for personal gain. Throughout his ministry, however, he did use his spiritual — or shamanic — access on behalf of the poor, the outcast, the sick and the suffering. Moreover, he told his disciples that they would do “All these things, and more.” So there’s nothing inherently inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus and shamanism.
I think that the reason Christianity has broken with its shamanic or mystical roots can be attributed to the intercession of the church, which has always sought to come between believers and a direct connection with a living, changing spiritual dimension. Another factor is the church’s insistence upon a single supreme Deity and its fear and intolerance for a multifaceted expression of that Deity through nature, animals, the elements, and other beings. The church has sought to portray these expressions — and practices for interacting with them — as the work of “the Devil.” But Jesus himself advised that we could discern good from evil “by their fruits.”
The MOON: Nainoa’s Chief Kaneohe said that failures of leadership at the highest level incur a great karmic debt. I also wonder what karmic burden the rest of us may incur by going along with bad leaders, these so-called “masters of deception.”
Wesselman: Yes. In the U.S. we now have a crisis of leadership at the highest levels — from the White House to the Congress to the board rooms of capitalism. I think that this crisis will reach a point where the entire complex will cease to function. What happens next? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone can predict. But it’s quite obvious to me that we can’t continue to do what we are doing. This is an unsustainable system…and the only good thing about it is that it’s unsustainable.
People have asked me if I think the future I visited with Nainoa is the only one available to us, and I’ve said, “No, I think it’s one of many possible futures. But I do think it’s the only one available to us if we continue on our present course.”
So, the first thing we must do is become aware of the masters of deception, realizing who and what they are. Because if we can see them, we become invisible to them. We have to recognize that they represent thought forms that we had a shared responsibility in creating. For example, we share the responsibility for seeking to benefit at another’s expense; for seeking to justify systems of oppression and exploitation, rather than simply dismantling them; for seeking scapegoats — enemies — that justify our expressions of violence; and so on. We must each do our own shadow work to acknowledge these aspects in ourselves and others.
The MOON: It doesn’t seem to me that we become invisible to them if we call them out. Rather, it seems that they attack us. We draw their fire.
Wesselman: The Cree call these people wetiko, psychic vampires. As we know from watching vampire movies, vampires don’t cast a shadow on the ground, nor a reflection in a mirror. That’s because they don’t like to be seen; once they’re seen, the game is over. That doesn’t mean they don’t attack; it means that everyone now knows they’re evil and people are no longer taken in by them. They lose their ability to fool and infect others. If they’re not called out, those they infect may go deeper and deeper into the negative polarity and reach a place where they can no longer self-correct. They cross the threshold into the realm of evil and they actually contribute to the realm of darkness.
There are evil people in the world; in our government; in business at the highest level.
The MOON: So what is our collective responsibility to correct or resist these arch-deceivers? What karmic debts are we incurring by failing to do so? Or is that not our kuleana?
Wesselman: It’s not my place to say what each individual’s responsibility is. Our kuleana, our sphere of responsibility — varies from person to person. Some of us are activists; some are healers; some are artists; some inventors. We all must act within our own sphere with the full force and discipline of spiritual warriors.
The MOON: You talk about dreaming a new future, which is a shamanic art. We travel to a positive future and connect psychic grid lines to pull it to us. How can we dream a more positive future for the Earth and its inhabitants?
Wesselman: Shamanism is a form of active dreaming, dreaming while awake. Once you’re in touch with your helping spirits, I don’t believe you can go too far wrong. Bear in mind that we are monitored 24/7 by the unseen world of the spirits, as well as our own higher self, which serves as our spirit teacher through our intuition. As the Andean Quechuan teacher in Peru told me so many year ago, “We have been aware for some time that the dreaming of the western world is corrupting the planet. We became aware by tapping into the dreams of the west. The time has come to make a massive correction. We do that by dreaming of the future we want to live in.”
I believe this is very much possible for us. The Cultural Creatives is a phenomenon described in a book of the same name by Paul Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson. Paul Ray is an anthropologist and Sherry Ruth Anderson also wrote The Feminine Face of God, which is a tremendous book. Paul Ray had been doing demographic studies for 14 years and discovered — as has the Pew Research Foundation since — that 27% of westerners describe themselves as “spiritual, but not religious.” In Paul Ray’s estimation, that represented about 50 million people in 2000; two years later he raised the estimate to 70 million. There are another 100 million “cultural creatives” in England and Western Europe. These are not small numbers, and they appear to be growing. For some reason, however, we’re “under the radar” of the mainstream media, possibly because we’re not organized into an identifiable group. And perhaps that’s a good thing. We’re not as easily targeted.
I believe that these “cultural creatives,” who are “spiritual but not religious,” are the new transformational community — the seed people — the vanguard that will lead us into a new paradigm. We’re the ones who form the bridge from the last cycle of ages to the new one that has just begun.
In this transitional period it does seem as if everything is unraveling, but I think that’s part of the process. The old world has to fall apart to make room for the new one. And that’s our job: To love all that we see with humility; to live all that we feel with reverence; and to know all that we possess with discipline. That’s how we’ll make a new world.