Wesselman does have a PhD and did teach for a time at several schools. It seems he left that behind all the way back in 1994. Selling seminars for several grand a night certainly pays better. I haven't heard of anyone in academia speak of him, but my guess he has about as little credibility left as the other anthros turned Nuage seminar sellers, like Castaneda or Harner. And I'm sure claiming to be able to talk with healers from 5000 years in the future doesn't help his case either.
Found an interesting review of Wesselman's book by...guess who? Bolding is mine.
Who are the best teachers of Hawaiian spirituality?, May 13, 2011
By Pono AlohaThis review is from: The Bowl of Light: Ancestral Wisdom from a Hawaiian Shaman (Paperback)
If you want to learn about Hawaiian spirituality, would you rather learn directly from Hawaiians, or from someone raised in a different culture interpreting what one Hawaiian has said? No matter how good the intentions of an author or how advanced his degrees, he cannot help but filter the information he receives. That is why I prefer to read books written by Hawaiians.
Unfortunately, some of the publicity has said that this is the "only" and the "first" book about Hawaiian kahuna tradition, so someone who is new to this field may not realize there are actually many books written by Hawaiians on the kahuna tradition. Three that are a good start are Tales from the Night Rainbow (with the original bowl of light story), Change We Must: My Spiritual Journey, and Nana I Ke Kumu (Look to the Source) volume I.
The problem of a Western filter on a Hawaiian's words can be seen in this book. Hale Makua is quoted as saying, "We live in an interesting time, one in which an increasing number of aspirant disciples of the positive polarity of acceptance, aloha, are searching for truth in their journey of self-discovery. In accordance with this, there is an awareness that has appeared in the Western world, one that has been formalized in a way that appears to be meaningful to Western people. It involves what you would call an archetypal force - an Oversoul field - what we know as 'Aumakua. This one calls himself Michael. ... This spiritual entity is a matrix that is said to be composed of more than one thousand personalities subsumed into one predominant expression. And this expression in turn is in communication with many human beings with whom it has come into relationship in order to be of service to humanity at large."
If you go to YouTube and search on Hale Makua, you will find some videos of him talking. Compare those to this quote. Do you hear the same vocabulary, rhythms of speech, cadence, and concepts? The language in this quote sounds like it was written by a Ph.D., not spoken by Hale Makua. Also compare these concepts to those you read in the other books mentioned. In Hawaiian tradition, `aumakua are the spirits of your ancestors, not an oversoul field. Nor do traditional Hawaiians use a number like "one thousand." There are sacred numbers in Hawaiian mysticism but this is not one of them. No doubt some of the quotes in the book are from Hale Makua but others seem to be a Western, New Age interpretation of what he might have said.
Another question you might ask is do Hawaiians consider Hale Makua to be a kahuna? In recent years, quite a few Western authors have written about "kahuna" who are not considered kahuna by Hawaiian elders. These authors were no doubt impressed by the wisdom of the Hawaiians they met, and perhaps used the title as a way to show their deep respect. However, "kahuna" is a title that is given to one who comes from a long line of kahunas, who is picked to study as a kahuna by their kahuna ancestor, who studies their entire lifetime with the kahuna, and who, shortly before the death of their kahuna teacher, is given the "ha" or breath of knowledge to take up the lineage.
The author of this book clearly respects Hale Makua and was deeply impacted by him. However, the lineage that he gives in the book is not a kahuna genealogy, it is a warrior chief lineage. Maybe that is not important to the casual reader, but to a Hawaiian or to anyone who seeks authentic Hawaiian wisdom, it is. Interestingly, in talking to Hawaiians who did know Hale Makua, they said he was a well-respected Vietnam veteran, but they were not aware of any kahuna lineage or training he might have.
If you are looking for a book of New Age philosophy, this one is as good as any. If, however, you seek traditional Hawaiian wisdom, read the books written by Hawaiians recognized by other Hawaiians for their teachings.