Tom Pinkson was born in the heart of New York City in 1945. The death of his father when he was four years old set him on path of exploration that began with psychosomatic illness, and later juvenile delinquency, but eventually took him to the far reaches of the Amazon jungle, the Andes mountains and to an eleven year apprenticeship with a group of Huichol Indian shamans in the Sierra Madre of north central Mexico. Seeking deeper truth about the mysteries of life and death, he sought out and found numerous shamanic “Medicine” teachers who initiated him into totally different realms than those from which he had come.
During this time Tom also earned three college degrees, including a Ph.D. in psychology. His doctoral dissertation, “A Quest for Vision,” described his successful work with heroin addicts in the early 1970s using a wilderness treatment program that included mountain climbing, river running, snow camping, ski touring and vision quests in the High Sierra. The quests continue to this day, forty years later with people coming from all over the United States to join him on these powerful experiences of solitude and adventure in the back country of Yosemite. From working with drug addicts, he went on to help start the second hospice program in the United States, offering support services to the terminally ill. From there, he was invited to join Dr. Jerry Jampolsky at the Center for Attitudinal Healing in Tiburon California to work with children facing life-threatening illness which he did for thirty two years.
Tom went on to create his “Recognition Rites Honoring Elders" along with a CD recording using music and song to open hearts and minds to the wisdom of deep being. Walking in two worlds, the shamanic world of indigenous spirituality, and the Western world of a psychologist, consultant, teacher, sacred storyteller, and ceremonial and retreat leader, Tom serves as a bridge-builder, bringing what he calls “The Teachings of the Elders” into practical applications within the modern, urban setting. From major corporations to pediatric oncology units within prestigious cancer treatment centers, from the academic world to rites of passage work with children, adolescents and adults, the dying process and subsequent work of grief, mourning, and rebirth, Tom’s work has had dramatic impact in enriching people’s lives, described in his three books, SHAMANIC WISDOM OF THE HUICHOL: MEDICINE TEACHINGS FOR MODERN TIMES, Do They Celebrate Christmas in Heaven? Spiritual Rite of Passage Teachings from Children with Life-Threatening Illness, and FRUITFUL AGING: MEETING THE CHALLENGES — MINING THE OPPORTUNITIES.
Tom is also the founder and director of a non-profit, spiritually based community, “Wakan,” which offers a variety of programs and services helping people find and remember what is sacred in their lives. He has appeared on international TV and radio, written numerous articles, and produced video and audiotapes on attitudinal healing, spirituality and shamanism.
Tom has two grown children, three grandchildren and lives with his wisdom-woman wife Andrea, in Northern California.