Shamanic Knowledge Conservatory

This unique archive is preserving endangered shamanic knowledge for future generations. Initiated by Michael and Sandra Harner, preservation work has continued for decades. In February 2024, the Foundation secured a dedicated space in the San Francisco Bay Area to house the SKC. Work is ongoing to organize research materials, books, and artifacts, with the goal of making them accessible for research and to inspire appreciation for and understanding of shamanic peoples and contemporary shamanic practice.

Western Collection. A comprehensive catalogue has been compiled of the collection, which includes nonordinary reality maps, transcriptions, student homework from the Three-Year programs, general submissions, and researched data.

Shamanic Cultures and Practices. The Foundation has acquired over 65,000 indexed pages related to shamanism and shamanic practices worldwide. There are five categories culled from 396 cultures: shamanic healing, about shamans, cosmology, eschatology, and divination.

To ensure the survival of this irreplaceable material, much of it has been digitally preserved, with copies stored in various locations against a future calamity. In addition to the indexed pages, the collection contains books, manuscripts, artifacts, drums, and various audio-visual media.

Through a network of faculty members and field associates, the Foundation engages in research and experimentation for publication and to increase understanding and knowledge of shamanism and core shamanic methodologies worldwide. Research includes rediscovering and testing lost shamanic knowledge, which is an important aspect of creating, updating, and adding depth to Foundation training programs.

The Legacy Project

The Legacy Project is devoted to the preservation and organization of the SKC materials as a scholarly and teaching resource. It focuses on the non-MONOR materials (see description of MONOR below), including books and periodicals, shamanic artifacts, field notes, photographs, slides, and audio-visual media, and other materials collected over the past century by Michael Harner.

Substantial progress was made in 2017 when the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, invited Michael Harner to donate his personal papers and library of over 5000 books and 3000 periodicals. The Bancroft is preserving the unique collection as a gift from Michael and Sandra Harner and the Foundation, making this immense body of shamanic knowledge accessible to the public and to scholars and researchers.

Mapping of Nonordinary Reality (MONOR)

The Foundation’s MONOR project contains the world's foremost database of cross-cultural accounts of shamanic journeys, near-death, and other nonordinary explorations. A longterm goal of this endeavor is to construct a map of the hidden universe discovered and rediscovered by shamans and others through the ages, independent of culture. This requires a great deal of anthropological experience and knowledge in order to accurately compare these shamanic experiences cross-culturally.

Beginning in the early 1970’s Michael Harner began collecting the experiences of Westerners engaged in shamanic practice, with special attention to their shamanic journey experiences to the Upper and Lower Worlds. As this collection expanded, the FSS established its MONOR Project especially to discover what, if any, cross-cultural regularities existed in the experiences of shamanic journeyers, both in the West and in indigenous societies. Today the collection includes:

  • Over 70,000 pages of researched data on cross-cultural shamanism and shamanic healing, and books and journals regarding the same.
  • Over 35,000 pages of voluntarily submitted descriptions of shamanic journey and other visionary experiences of contemporary Westerners. The collection began with audio recordings of Dr. Harner’s experiential and experimental workshops in Core Shamanism, both nationally and internationally. Found nowhere else in the world, the collection includes the very first shamanic journeys contemporary Westerners have experienced.

Dr. Harner’s book Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality contains several of these descriptions of shamanic journeys. Some of the contemporary narratives are compared with the rare written accounts of indigenous shamans of the past.

Research on Shamanic Healing

The Foundation studies the effectiveness of shamanic healing methods to help deal with illness and other problems of daily life. Significant findings become incorporated in the training offered to medical doctors, psychotherapists, and others through the Foundation's educational programs. (See “Core Shamanism and Healing: Information for Physicians and Health Professionals,” in Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters With Another Reality, Appendix D.)

The Shamanism and Health Program collects, studies, and archives reports of healing and cures following shamanic treatment of physical, emotional, and mental disorders. Many anecdotal accounts have been collected. Further research, experimentation, and analysis is necessary to discover more about how shamanic practices complement mainstream medicine.