Track: Shamanism and Its Potential for Modern Man
Transcultural Shamanic Experiences: Some examples from Indigenous and Core Shamanism
Why, in the twenty-first century West, are many people drawn to shamanism? In a world dominated by a materialist philosophy and a sovereign view of objective reality, who are those who question this limited perspective? Among them are visionaries, explorers, romantics, adventurers, the curious, and the courageous—those open to seeking new ways of being. Certainly, shamanism offers rich opportunities to discover and experience a new worldview. It also challenges us to immerse ourselves in a reality quite foreign to most in their daily lives.
Although the roots of shamanism are hidden in distant antiquity, remnants of itlong survivedin remote areas around the globe.We saluteindigenous peoples who have maintained their shamanic traditions. They and the ethnographers, travelers, missionaries, and scholars who reportedwhat they witnessedprevious to this century left us a rich legacy through which we can approach an understanding of shamanic experiences. Interestingly, in recent years, a revival of shamanism has been taking place among some indigenous peoples whose shamanic heritage hadbeen at risk.Still, the fate of this ancient spiritual tradition—its survival or its extinction—remains uncertain at this time.
All of us, Westerners and traditional peoples, have an opportunity to secure a hopeful future for this common human heritage. To this end, an innovative research and teaching system, Core Shamanism, draws on the accumulated knowledge ofindigenous shamans, including ethnographic and historical records, experimental research, and the direct experiences of those Westerners becoming initiated into the deepest roots of shamanic knowledge and practice.By understanding and honoring the past, we are able to learn from itfor posterity.
For clarity it is necessary to reach a working understanding of what shamanism is, to investigate how it is expressed, and to experience it in our own lives. Audio and visual examples from both indigenous shamans and contemporary Western shamanic practitioners will augment this discussion of the indigenous roots of Core Shamanism.
Dr. Sandra Harner, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies in partnership with her husband Dr. Michael Harner, has deeply engaged in the study and practice of shamanism for more than fifty years. Fieldwork has taken her to indigenous peoples of the American West and Southwestern United States, Samiland, and Eastern Ecuador. She published her experimental research on psychological and immunological effects of the shamanic journey and designed a training in cultivating creativity through shamanism. Working with individual clients she has introduced the basics of the shamanic journey to them in a systematic way such that they develop their personal spiritual connections and proficiencies. As an example of one client’s spiritual growth in this process, she published “Ema’s Odyssey: Shamanism for healing and spiritual knowledge;” it is a study of 10 years of shamanic journey mentoring with the spirits. Her passion is to open the joy and ecstasy, the dynamic potenciality and vitality of shamanism, for individuals to experience in their own unique and authentic ways and to bridge the worlds, facilitate deep understanding, compassion, peace and hope through this ancient practice.