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What is Shamanism?

Shamanic practices have been pervasive in cultures past and present. The word ‘shaman’ comes from the Turkic, Turko-Mongol and Tungusic cultures of ancient Siberia. It refers to an individual who travels into spiritual realms and receives information about healing the spirit through divination, returning lost souls, cleansing excess negative energies, and restoring balance to individuals and their communities. 


A Shaman serves as a conduit for spirits to connect with an individual. Shamans are intermediaries between the physical and spirit realms and treat illness by asking for healing, power and/or help from the spirits.

Shamanic healing is accomplished using methods and practices to  communicate with the spirits. It is not a religion per se but an ancient method of accessing the infinite amounts of help available to us, if we simply ask.

Core shamanism is a system of fundamental cross-cultural principles found in all shamanic cultures. These methods are easily integrated into contemporary life and provide easy, safe, reliable means to manifest positive life-changing results. 


The Way of the Shaman


The founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Dr. Michael Harner (Michael J. Harner) pioneered the introduction of shamanism and the shamanic drum journey to contemporary life and is recognized as the world leader in this movement. 

Read Michael Harner's personal account: "My Path in Shamanism."

In his half century of anthropological fieldwork, cross-cultural studies, experimental research, and firsthand experience, Michael Harner arrived at the core methods of shamans worldwide. The applicability of this core shamanism to contemporary Westerners has been substantiated by the experiences of his thousands of students. The experiential methods are simple, safe, and have been used successfully by them with positive life-changing results.

Honoring the oral tradition of indigenous shamans, for the last quarter of a century Dr. Harner has conveyed his shamanic knowledge first-hand through teaching and experiential work rather than through writing. Today he and his staff annually teach thousands of students internationally who, in turn, introduce thousands more to shamanism.

The Foundation for Shamanic Studies 


Started in 1979 as the Center for Shamanic Studies, the Foundation for Shamanic Studies presents the world’s foremost training programs in shamanism and shamanic healing. They are based on the pioneering work of anthropologist Michael Harner, who brought shamanism to contemporary life in the West after extensive field and cross-cultural investigation, experimentation, and personal practice.


He originated, researched, and developed core shamanism, a system designed for Westerners to apply shamanism and shamanic healing successfully to their daily lives. This system is based upon the underlying universal, near-universal, and common features of shamanism—together with journeys to other worlds—rather than upon culture-specific variations and elaborations.

Since the West overwhelmingly lost its shamanic knowledge centuries ago due to religious oppression, the Foundation’s programs in core shamanism are particularly intended for Westerners to reacquire access to their rightful spiritual heritage through quality workshops and training courses. Training in core shamanism includes teaching students to alter their consciousness through classic shamanic non-drug techniques such as sonic driving, especially in the form of repetitive drumming, so that they can discover their own hidden spiritual resources, transform their lives, and learn how to help others.

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