Why Study Core Shamanism?

By Susan Mokelke, JD
© 2007 Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Inc.
I have spent most of my adult life working with non-profit educational organizations. It has been a great privilege to have meaningful work.

For many years, I worked with an organization concerned with global community. Our work stemmed from a belief in the principle that “all is one.” Our approach was primarily educational, appealing to the mind, and through knowledge and understanding, to the heart. For me, the experience was one of using the tools of logic and thinking to come to an awareness of our interconnectedness with all things. It was wonderful, useful, inspiring work.

© Steven Bourelle
Then, more than a decade ago I took the “Basic Workshop, The Way of the Shaman” with Michael Harner and the Foundation for Shamanic Studies – and a new level of awareness opened for me – a profound knowing with the heart about the oneness of all things. I knew the truth of our fundamental unity, not because I had reasoned it through or as a matter of belief, but because I had seen and experienced it for myself in a shamanic journey. And, by learning how to journey, I could now travel to other worlds at will, receive the wisdom and healing of teachers and power animals, and bring it back to everyday reality to help myself and others.

Michael Harner spent decades studying, working in the field with indigenous shamans, and experimenting with methods in Foundation workshops, to originate and develop “Core Shamanism,” the universal, near-universal, and common features of shamanism—together with journeys to other worlds—not bound to any specific cultural group or perspective. Because of his work, many thousands of students have rediscovered their shamanic birthright and travel once again to the realms where wise and helping spirits can be found.

Many who study Core Shamanism become shamanic healers. Though Western-style medicine is of immense value and can work wonders, it is not in and of itself complete. It does not deal with the “spiritual” aspect of illness. Shamanic healing does. Dr. Harner advises: “When you are ill, by all means obtain the best modern medical treatment available. But don’t neglect the spiritual. Indigenous peoples did not use shamanic healing for tens of thousands of years because they didn’t know any better. They used it because it worked.” With the reawakening of shamanism in the West and many trained shamanic healers available, a holistic course of treatment is now possible for us all.

Whether or not you see yourself as becoming a shamanic healer, it is my belief that everyone can benefit from learning shamanic journeying and experiencing firsthand the worlds of the helping spirits. Once you have personally experienced what it is like to be one with a wise and benevolent spirit, or a tree, an animal, or a rock, you know that everything is alive and whole and amazing. You are changed in a fundamental way. You can no longer look at any being or any aspect of this world as an object to be used – everything becomes a subject with a spirit of its own. And so your own subjective, caring nature is awakened. You begin to see as the shaman sees - with the heart. Your daily actions spring from a deep well of harmony and kindness, and that is what you begin to create in the world. Ultimately, it is people of whole hearts that will heal our world.

This article may be freely reprinted and copied, only in its entirety without alteration, as long as the following information and link to the FSS website is included:

For information about shamanism, workshops in shamanic journeying and shamanic healing, and shamanic resources and supplies, visit the website of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, www.shamanism.org.
©2007 Foundation for Shamanic Studies, Inc.