Holy Man and Psych (2)

Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D. is a theoretical physicist who specializes in quantum physics and the relationship between physics and consciousness. He is the author of a number of books, including Taking the Quantum LeapThe Dreaming Universe, but is probably best known for his appearances in What the #$*! Do We Know? and The Secret, two New Age documentaries about consciousness, quantum physics, and the “law of attraction.” In the late 1980s, Wolf was exploring the relationship between quantum physics and Indigenous “shamanism.” He was developing a series of hypotheses about how shamans “enter into parallel worlds” and investigating whether shamans could really see “into another arena of space-time.”

The only problem was he’d never met any “shamans.” He had heard about the Lakota Yuwipi ceremony where the shaman serves as “an intermediary between the supernatural and the common people,” but he had never participated in one. A traditional Yuwipi ceremony is not something that many non-Indians have ever experienced or would even know how to process. So he had no idea what to expect when he flew to Rapid City and was introduced to Douglas White.

We interviewed Dr. Wolf for HOLY MAN: THE USA vs. DOUGLAS WHITE. He told us about his experiences with Douglas on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that he wrote about in his book The Eagle’s Quest. In the book Dr. Wolf describes what it was like going to one of Douglas’ ceremonies:

“Doug took off his shirt and his shoes and socks . . . he was nearly seventy years old. I noticed that he had many wounds on his chest, mainly centered around his breast. These were wounds given to him in the traditional Plains Indian ceremony known as the ‘sun dance’ . . . As he stood there preparing for the event I suddenly realized – with total conviction – that Doug . . . was a powerful shaman fully in control of his physical and spiritual faculties. When I first met him, he appeared old and shrunken. When he performed the ceremony, he appeared tall and youthful.” 

Dr. Wolf is one of the many thousands of people who experienced Douglas White’s healing ceremonies. Douglas White became a wicasa wakan or holy man in 1941 and served his people as a medicine man, sun dance leader, and elder.