Core Shamanism - What is it?

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. Core shamanism does not focus on ceremonies, such as those of Native American medicine men and women, persons who do both shamanism and ceremonial work.

When invited by indigenous peoples who have largely lost their shamanic knowledge, the Foundation may send a team to help them establish firsthand shamanic contact with their own spirits and learn from them. With this work done in short time, the team leaves. The Foundation has done this by invitation in various parts of the world, including the Arctic of Eurasia and Canada, and in central Asia.

Where the survival of indigenous shamanism is threatened by outside forces such as religious and political persecution, the Foundation may designate elderly shamans as Living Treasures of Shamanism and provide lifetime stipends to help them pass their precious knowledge on to their peoples.

The Foundation also maintains a great archive, the Shamanic Knowledge Conservatory, containing irreplaceable documents, books, audio-visual media, and artifacts to preserve endangered shamanic knowledge for future generations.

Income from donations, workshops, and other activities of the Foundation help support these and other projects of the Foundation, which is a nonprofit public charitable and educational organization.


Michael Harner, Ph.D.

In memoriam, 1929—2018

Administrative Office

Foundation for Shamanic Studies

PO Box 1939

Mill Valley, California 94942


(415) 897-6416

The Way of the Shaman:

The Work of Michael and Sandra Harner

The story of Michael and Sandra Harner is the history and development of core shamanism, the universal, near universal, and common practices of shamanism worldwide. This documentary movie takes us through Michael's early expeditions as a young anthropologist in the jungles of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian Amazon and his life-altering insights into shamanic power. The Harners established the Foundation for Shamanic Studies to preserve, study, and teach shamanism for the benefit of all, leading to a worldwide renaissance of shamanism and shamanic healing through the Foundation's premiere international training programs. The film is an informative and inspiring look at the people behind the evolution of this groundbreaking spiritual healing methodology that honors and builds upon the ancient knowledge of the world's shamans. Through these methods, thousands of students have discovered hidden spiritual resources, transformed their lives, and learned how to help others and our precious Earth.

Michael Harner, Ph.D.

In memoriam, 1929—2018