When Michael Harner first introduced The Way of the Shaman in 1980, shamanism was little known outside of academia. The renaissance of contemporary experiential shamanism is largely due to his pioneering work over the last several decades researching, developing, and originating the methodologies of core shamanism.

As a result of Dr. Harner’s groundbreaking work, today tens of thousands of the Foundation’s students and many thousands more who have learned from these students are practicing shamanic methods of direct revelation from the spirits—a welcome phenomenon that offers hope for our Earth and its inhabitants. At the same time, the rapid growth of interest in shamanism and the resulting proliferation of programs and trainings that claim shamanic roots has resulted in much confusion and misunderstanding about what core shamanism is and about its power and efficacy.

As taught in the workshops and training programs of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, core shamanism:

  • Consists of the universal, near-universal, and common features of shamanism, together with journeys to other worlds, a distinguishing feature of shamanism.
  • Offers students the opportunity to learn and practice authentic, powerful, and effective shamanic healing and divination methods to high ethical standards–working with guidance and power provided by the compassionate helping spirits.
  • Is an independent spirituality, a path of direct revelation from the helping spirits.

The Foundation’s training in core shamanic methods provides the basis for a shamanic practice. To practice successfully, however, in addition to the methodology, one must build strong connections with the helping spirits, who provide the power for effective healing. These connections develop in strength over time through disciplined training and experience. Ultimately, we have found that success as a shamanic practitioner is dependent upon:

  • Developing spiritual power through working with the compassionate helping spirits over a period of time.
  • A disciplined and ethical application of the core shamanic healing methods taught in the workshops and trainings under the guidance of one’s own helping spirits.

For more about Foundation training, see the Getting Started guide: https://shamanism.org/workshops/shamanic-training-getting-started.pdf

A great starting point for learning about core shamanism is the FSS workshops FAQ page: https://shamanism.org/workshops/faq.php. Many common questions are addressed, such as:

What is a shaman?

What is core shamanism?

What about the quality and authenticity of the Foundation’s training programs?

If I complete the training programs of FSS, will I be a shaman?

FSS ONLINE TRAINING. We now offer fully experiential online training via Zoom in the Shamanic Healing and Knowledge & Power series. FAQ Shamanic Healing Online Training Program.

In future Polestar columns we’ll talk about a number of these issues in detail, including some inspiring examples of the power of core shamanism in practice.

Polestar logo design by Carolyn Fee ©2010 Foundation for Shamanic Studies
FSS Polestar highlights some of the questions we are frequently asked about contemporary shamanic practice. “Polestar” is defined as “something that serves as a guiding principle.” It reflects our commitment to helping practitioners stay oriented to authentic shamanic methods and ethics, while maintaining their own independent spirituality, which comes from learning directly from the compassionate spirits. Send us your practice-related questions for consideration for Polestar. Email gro.m1721076786sinam1721076786ahs@o1721076786fni1721076786 with “Polestar” in the subject line.