A book review by Madhuri.
Apocalyptic visions in literature tend to stop just post-calamity: straggling bands of foragers and marauders in burnt-out, blasted landscapes; or, a few hundred years later – as in The Gate to Women’s Country, by Sheri S. Tepper, where new societies have evolved and are living their uneasy new formations. (Highly recommended, that book.)
Apocalyptic vision though, is, generally speaking, one of my least favourite things. It usually seems as though the writer, or speaker, has his own agenda: really, he just needs Dynamic meditation, so that he’ll feel better, and stop projecting doom around, annoying the rest of us. Why go to this ultimate negative when it hasn’t even happened yet? Why not have a good time, right now?
But I recently read a book that gave me a completely different feeling about the Blackened Future… one so far-reaching, and credible, and beautiful – that I felt myself accepting it almost wholly.
A skeptical, logical-minded scientist – an anthropologist, living in Hawaii – suddenly begins having inexplicable experiences: out-of-body journeys where, as his body stays paralysed in bed beside his wife, he journeys to a time 5,000 years in the future, where he meets his own descendent, a young villager and (though at first he doesn’t know this) putative shaman.
This all really happened – the book is a spiritual memoir, clearly and eloquently written.
The young man in the future becomes aware of his visiting ancestor, and amazing meetings, and learnings on both sides, take place.
What really struck me was the veracity of the thing: the story takes place in Hawaii and the western U.S., and there’s an immense rock wall running up through California, from an earthquake; ice has long ago melted so that the seas are 600 feet higher than they are today. People are aboriginals – and there are not too many of them – but the forests and plains are full of animals – lions, tigers, horses, snakes, etc etc – many descended from escapees from zoos. This is all very convincing.
Descriptions of daily life are clear and beautiful. It makes me think of Osho’s The Greatest Challenge: The Golden Future, where he says, “My vision of a new world, a world of communes, means no nations, no big cities, no families, but millions of small communes spread all over the earth in thick forests, lush green forests, in mountains, on islands…” In Spiritwalker, people are wild, playful, expressive (and utterly carnivorous, by the way!) and yet, one of the things I most appreciated was the lack of violent confrontations in the book. People had, when the seas rose and oil could no longer be transported, and supply chains collapsed – gone through a period of violent civic unrest; most people were killed; but 5,000 years later all was well and people thrived and enjoyed themselves.
I recognize some elements of the out-of-body journeys from my own (though I never went journeying to the future!) And, perhaps most mind-blowing of all, we see Time in this book as non-linear, but simultaneous – it’s all happening right now; we get to visit parallel dimensions. And those dimensions come across as wondrous and lovely… including our own.
The book left me feeling optimistic – people last; and even come to their senses in some degree; and the beautiful planet is rich and effulgent and full of life. Highly recommended.
Note: the book is number one in a trilogy. I hope to read the others too.
Review by Madhuri
Henry Wesselman, a native New Yorker, received his undergraduate degree in zoology from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and his doctorate in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley. Together with his wife Jill Kuykendall, Wesselman he now leads shamanic training workshops for the Omega Institute and other, similar institutions. They divide their time between northern California, Oregon, and Captain Cook, Hawaii. sharedwisdom.com