Workshops FAQ

1. What is a shaman?
While the work of shamans encompasses virtually the full gamut of known spiritual practices, shamanism is universally characterized by an intentional change in consciousness (Eliade's 'ecstasy') to engage in purposeful two-way interaction with spirits. Its most distinctive feature, which is not universal, is the out-of-body journey to other worlds." . . . What all shamans "do share is disciplined interaction with spirits in nonordinary reality to help and to heal others." . . . "Both in traditional indigenous settings and in contemporary society, shamans work within a holistic framework. They address the spiritual side of illness in a complementary relationship with the nonspiritual treatment of illness and injury." Michael Harner, Cave and Cosmos, p. 48. See also, Shamanic Healing: We Are Not Alone and FSS Polestar: What is a Shaman?
2. What is core shamanism?

Core shamanism consists of the universal, near universal, and common features of shamanism, together with journeys to other worlds, a distinguishing feature of shamanism. See also Michael Harner, Cave and Cosmos, pp. 45-46. Core shamanism was originated, researched, and developed by Michael Harner, Ph.D. (anthropology). 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.

3. How do I know if core shamanic training is right for me?

The best way is to experience the training first hand. Take the The Way of the Shaman: The Basics for an experiential introduction. Or, take The Shamanic Journey online. Visit a well-trained shamanic healer as a client and experience shamanic healing. (See the Shamanic Healing & Divination Directory.) Read the reference books at the end of this FAQ and visit the articles/video/media sections of the FSS website.

4. What about the quality and authenticity of the Foundation's training programs?

Internationally renowned anthropologist Michael Harner pioneered the return of shamanism and the shamanic drum journey to the West and is recognized as the originator and world leader of core shamanism. In his half century of anthropological fieldwork, cross-cultural studies, experimental research, and firsthand experience, Dr. Harner arrived at the core methods of shamans worldwide. He established the Foundation for Shamanic Studies to return this lost knowledge to present-day life. Started in 1979 as the Center for Shamanic Studies, the Foundation has been recognized as the foremost organization for the study of contemporary experiential shamanism and shamanic healing methods.

5. What training is required of FSS faculty members?

FSS faculty members have completed the Three Year Program of Advanced Initiations in Shamanism and Shamanic Healing and the Two Week Shamanic Healing Intensive. All faculty have had a minimum of three years shamanic healing experience; many have had active shamanic healing practices for more than a decade. In addition to these minimum requirements, they must have taken as a participant each workshop they teach at at least two times. They are required to update their training periodically with an advanced teacher to ensure knowledge of the latest content. New faculty are trained by faculty who have trained directly with Michael Harner. Visit the Our Faculty page for more about them and what students say about their teaching.

6. Can a person learn shamanism and shamanic healing without studying with an indigenous shaman?

Absolutely. Over the last several decades of the Foundation's work, tens of thousands of students have successfully learned to journey and to practice core shamanic methods to provide shamanic healing in their communities. 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. "For most Westerners, learning and practicing core shamanism, including shamanic journeying, is a far more productive approach than imitating a shaman's practices in a single culture, for each culture has its own symbolism, mythology, and conceptual elaborations. If that is not your own culture, then those elaborations, specializations, and meanings will not be appropriate for you in the way they are appropriate for that particular indigenous people." See Michael Harner, Cave and Cosmos, p. 46.

7. Does a person have to be especially sensitive or psychic to be a shamanic practitioner or healer?

No, in fact, if one is too sensitive they may not be suited for shamanic work. See FAQ #1. A shaman must be a "master of both realities" — able to fully interact with helping spirits in nonordinary reality when offering help and healing, and yet be grounded and present in this reality in order to bring that healing power here. A shaman must have training and discipline, along with strong connections to their helping spirits to be effective. "One of the distinguishing features of the shamanic practitioner is the ability to move back and forth at will between these [ordinary and nonordinary] realities with discipline and purpose in order to heal and help others." Michael Harner, Cave and Cosmos, p. 49.

8. If I already know how to journey, do I still have to take the Basic Workshop: The Way of the Shaman? If I learned how to journey with a non-FSS faculty member, do I still have to take the Basic Workshop through the FSS?

The Way of the Shaman: The Basics or The Shamanic Journey online with an authorized FSS faculty member is required in order to take further work with the Foundation. It has been our experience, through the course of many years of offering these trainings, that completion of the Basic Workshop (which is not just about journeying) is essential preparation for advanced weekend workshops. It is also necessary to providing a quality experience for all participants in the advanced weekend workshops, as then all students come from a common basis and understanding. Many take the workshop more than once to improve their knowledge and abilities.


After completing The Way of the Shaman: The Basics, you may take any of the advanced weekend workshops, in any order, except for Power Soul Retrieval Training, which requires more advanced preparation. Before you go on to advanced weekend workshops, you should make sure you have achieved some success in shamanic journeying and are able to contact at least one spirit of the Upper or Lower Worlds. If not, take The Basics again or practice the method at home until you are successful. The method for shamanic journeying, as developed by Michael Harner, is described in Cave and Cosmos, Appendices A & B. For more about the ONLINE training program, see the Online Workshops FAQ.

10. How soon can I attend the advanced residential programs such as the Two Week Shamanic Healing Intensive and the Three Year Program of Advanced Initiations in Shamanism and Shamanic Healing?

You may apply to attend these programs as soon as you have completed (or will have completed) the prerequisite workshops. Visit the website for information about prerequisites and the application process.

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

Training by itself does not make a shaman, though training and the resulting knowledge and discipline can help you form strong relationships with your helping spirits. True shamanic power comes from the helping spirits. If you make strong connections with these spirits, then they may give you the power to help others, ease pain and suffering, and find answers to difficult problems and life-issues. If you perform miracles of healing, your community may then name you a shaman.

12. Does the Foundation offer degrees or certification?

The Foundation does not offer degrees or certification as no one can certify a person as a shaman — it is the helping spirits who do that. See FAQ #11. The Foundation does, however, offer Certificates of Completion for a course of study, to acknowledge the considerable time, effort, and resources invested in shamanic training.

13. Does the Foundation offer Continuing Education Credits/Units (CEUs)?

Yes, The Foundation offers traditional Continuing Education Credits/Units (CEUs). Please visit the FSS Continuing Education Credits - Continuing Education Units (CEU) page. CEUs are also sometimes offered by educational organizations sponsoring FSS workshops. Continuing Education Credits will be listed by the specific workshop on the FSS workshops calendar pages.

14. Do I have to take the Two Week Shamanic Healing Intensive in order to take the Three Year Program of Advanced Initiations in Shamanism and Shamanic Healing?

No, the Two Week Intensive is not a prerequisite for the Three Year program, though the Two Week Intensive is highly recommended preparation for it. Two Week Intensive graduates will receive special consideration when applying for the Three Year Program. For those interested in shamanic healing, the Two Week Intensive offers the potential to learn shamanic healing methods in a concentrated way in a retreat setting, away from daily distractions; and it includes profound initiatory experiences not included in other trainings.

15. Do I need to take the weekend workshops if I have taken the Two Week Shamanic Healing Intensive?

The Two Week Intensive, among many other things, includes extraction healing training, psychopomp work (helping the souls of deceased people), and power soul retrieval training. The weekend workshops Extraction Healing Training, Shamanism, Dying, and Beyond, and Power Soul Retrieval Training also cover these primary methods, though the format and details may vary from what is experienced in the Two Week Intensive. Many students take the weekend workshops as well as the Two Week.

16. What can I do with my shamanic training?

After completing the training, many people become shamanic healers and work to help individuals suffering from illness. Some use shamanic methods in a more personal way, to help improve their own lives, to be more at peace, or to resolve troubled relationships or past suffering — to bring freedom, creativity, and joy into their lives.

17. Can I combine shamanism or shamanic healing with other healing modalities (such as medicine, psychology, Reiki, massage therapy, therapeutic touch, hypnotherapy, and so forth)?

Shamanism is a non-exclusive, holistic healing method that works well in conjunction with other healing disciplines, including psychotherapy, medicine, and other alternative healing practices. However, it is not recommended that one combine other healing methods with shamanism in a single session with a single client. Shamanic healing has its own unique effectiveness and power. It has been used for tens of thousands of years on every inhabited continent. It is recommended that you become a master of shamanism as well as a master of the other healing modality before trying to combine them. This is recommended not only to preserve the integrity of the practice, but for ethical and legal reasons, particularly if you are a licensed practitioner in another discipline.

18. How much do the workshops cost?

Faculty members are independent contractors. To register, obtain additional information, get fees and/or locations for a specific weekend workshop, contact the person or organization listed under "Contact" in the schedule. The Foundation does not register participants for its weekend courses and will refer you to the workshop contact for registration, fees and additional information.

19. Does the Foundation offer scholarships or discounts on tuition?

YES. The following discounts/rebates on tuition are offered to members of the Circle of the Foundation. Not a member? JOIN US!

IN PERSON WEEKENDS. Sponsoring and Council Members receive a 10% tuition discount on two FSS in-person (two-day) workshops in the USA and Canada per membership year. Discount must be used within one year of the start date of your membership. To receive the discount, contact the person/sponsor listed under "CONTACT" in the workshop schedule. Discount will be applied during registration. This workshop tuition discount may not be used in conjunction with the 50% tuition rebates for Native Americans on federally recognized tribal rolls for workshops taken in the USA and Canada.

ONLINE WORKSHOPS. Tuition discounts for online workshops are available to FSS Members (provided by faculty during registration): 7-hour ($10); 10.5 hour ($15); 14-hour ($20).

TWO WEEK INTENSIVE PROGRAM. Council Members receive a 10% tuition discount rebate for attending the Two Week Shamanic Healing Intensive. Discount must be used within one year of the start date/renewal date of your membership. 1. Note that you are a Council member on your application; 2. If accepted, pay full tuition and fees, plus room and board; 3. Upon completion of the Two Week program, send an email to the FSS at gro.m1721409661sinam1721409661ahs@o1721409661fni1721409661 requesting the 10% Council member tuition discount for attending the Two Week program; 4. The FSS will send you a rebate of 10% of the program tuition (does not include fees or room and board). This tuition rebate/discount may not be used in conjunction with the 50% tuition rebates for Native Americans on federally recognized tribal rolls for workshops taken in the USA and Canada.

TUITION REBATES FOR NATIVE AMERICANS. Scholarship tuition rebates are available to Native Americans on federally recognized tribal rolls for FSS workshops in the United States and Canada. To receive the discount, the student pays the full price for the workshop. After attendance, contact gro.m1721409661sinam1721409661ahs@o1721409661fni1721409661, and submit your ID verifying your listing on a federally recognized tribal roll. To verify your eligibility in advance, contact gro.m1721409661sinam1721409661ahs@o1721409661fni1721409661.

20. What is the schedule for the weekend workshops? How many hours per day?

The weekend workshop hours may vary slightly depending on the course, but usually start on Saturday and Sunday at around 9:30 or 10:00 am and end at approximately 5:00 or 5:30 pm, with an hour lunch break.

21. If I leave early or miss part of a workshop, will I still get credit?

It has been our experience, through the course of many years of offering these trainings, that completion of the The Way of the Shaman: The Basics is essential preparation for advanced weekend workshops. It is also necessary to providing a quality experience for all participants in the advanced weekend workshops, as then all students come from a common basis and understanding. Prerequisites have been carefully thought out for each workshop, to ensure that students are prepared to experience the content of that workshop. Full attendance, particularly at the Basic Workshop, is required. Except in cases of illness, where a participant has to leave early for that reason and informs the FSS faculty member teaching the workshop, the entire two days of the weekend trainings must be taken as a unit and completed in full.

22. If I have to miss the workshop, can I get a refund?

Issues of fees and refunds for weekend workshops must be addressed to the FSS faculty member teaching the workshop or in some cases the sponsor.

23. Do I need to have a drum or rattle to attend the workshops?

A drum and/or rattle is optional. However, most students find that their experience is enhanced by having a drum or rattle for the group drumming sessions. Drums and rattles are available in the FSS shamanic store (at a discount for FSS members). The website description of workshops where additional special items are necessary lists the items to bring. Typically, the FSS faculty member or his/her sponsor will let you know what items you should bring for a particular workshop; if not, ask the instructor. For all workshops, a drum and/or rattle, an eye covering/bandanna, and a notebook and pen are recommended.

24. What is the minimum age to attend FSS workshops?

Participants need to be at least 18 years of age to attend.

25. What is a shamanic journey?
  • "The shaman's journey (sometimes called the 'magical flight' or 'soul journey') to the worlds above and below is a distinctive aspect of shamanism compared to other spiritual traditions. The main purpose of these journeys is to obtain extraordinary knowledge and help from the other worlds for others or for oneself." (Michael Harner, Cave and Cosmos, Chapter 5, p. 67.)
  • "In these journeys, one can travel 'outside of time' through a normally imperceptible universe otherwise known mainly through dream and myth." (Michael Harner, Cave and Cosmos, Chapter 5, p. 70.)
  • A "guided visualization" is not a shamanic journey.
26. What about the ethics of shamanic practice?

The Foundation for Shamanic Studies is dedicated to the preservation, study, and teaching of shamanic knowledge for the welfare of the Planet and its inhabitants. In its training programs and work, the Foundation teaches and promotes only the positive, life-enhancing, and healing uses of shamanic knowledge. More about shamanic ethics...