Core Shamanism

"After having personally practiced shamanism, shamanic healing, and shamanic journeying for more than half a century, I can say that there is nothing I have encountered in reports of the spiritual experiences of saints, prophets, psychedelic drug experimenters, near death survivors, avatars and other mystics that is not commonly experienced when following classic journey methods using a drum."
—Michael Harner

Core Shamanism consists of the universal, near-universal, and common features of shamanism, together with journeys to other worlds, a distinguishing feature of shamanism. As originated, researched, and developed by Michael Harner, the principles of Core Shamanism are not bound to any specific cultural group or perspective. 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.

Join the thousands each year who take the Foundation's rigorous training in core shamanism. The training programs have been carefully designed and thoroughly tested to provide an authentic shamanic experience and practical results. What people are saying...

Susan Mokelke interviewed by Eileen Nash, producer of the Restoring Your Caring Soul program on the RHG TV Network, broadcast August 13, 2017. Copyright 2017 Eileen Nash.

Core Shamanism Versus Neo-Shamanism and New Age

"Shamanism is not 'New Age.' It is Stone Age and has been living ever since."
—Michael Harner

Core Shamanism has often been confused with Neo-Shamanism or considered to be a New Age practice. Anthropologist Joan Townsend, who has made a detailed study of the development and content of"modern shamanic spirituality," states:

"Those who practice Core and Neo-Shamanism object strongly to being included within a generic New Age category. Although some practitioners, esecially of Neo-Shamanism, do overlap with Neo-paganism and occasionally with New Age, to include them as merely one subset of a larger category seriously obscures the uniqueness of these explorations." (Townsend, p. 49.*)

Townsend goes on to highlight the considerable differences between Core and Neo-Shamanism:

"Core Shamanism is a conservative, purist approach to shamanism. Neo-Shamanism uses metaphorical images and idealized concepts of shamanism, which are often joined with beliefs and diverse rituals that have little to do with traditional shamanism. There are some areas of overlap between the two forms, but their foci are distinct." (Townsend, p. 51-52.*)

For more about the renaissance of shamanism in a contemporary context, as well as the history and development of Core Shamanism and its contrast with Neo-Shamanism, see Bill Brunton's article "The Reawakening of Shamanism in the West." ( Shamanism, Fall/Winter 2003, Vol. 16, No. 2.)

* Townsend, Joan, "Core and Neo-Shamanism," Shamanism: an encyclopedia of world beliefs, practices, and culture, Vol. 1, ed. by Mariko Namba Walter and Eva Jane Neumann Fridman, 49-57 (2004).

Related articles about Core Shamanism: "Why Study Core Shamanism?" and "Core Shamanism and Daily Life" by Susan Mokelke; "What Core Shamanism Has Given Me" and "A Personal Look at Core Shamanism" by Timothy Flynn.