About Shamanism


Shamanism is the worlds oldest spiritual practice, at least 40,000 years old. It is in every country and every culture in the world. It is not a religion because it has no dogma or required beliefs. It is experienced similarly but with unique aspects by each practitioner.

Shamans use a steady percussive sound, such a a drum beat, to journey to Non-Ordinary Reality where they are able to meet Compassionate Helping Spirits. Such spirits are highly ethical and very loving. Helping ethical humans seems to be their sole function, but they can do nothing without someone going to them with a specific intent for each journey. With repeated practice, the Shaman is able to develop spiritually, eventually able to create a working relationship of mutual trust and understanding with these helping spirits. Then the Shaman is able to obtain information, to seek guidance, and to perform spiritual healings for other people and for themselves. Healings include divination, retrieving lost soul parts, and extracting "things that do not belong." These healings can very significantly enhance one's personal spiritual power, their self image, and their perspective on their life. They also make it easier for the person's body to resist disease, and for the person to learn, to understand, to be creative, and to set and accomplish objectives more easily.


When you Drum Journey, where do you go?

The Foundation for Shamanic Studies describes it as going to Non-Ordinary Reality, or NOR. Our consciousness is normally in Ordinary Reality or OR. In NOR, one is able to meet Compassionate Helping Spirits, or CHS. (They are also called Power Animals, Animal Helpers, Compassionate Spirits, Compassionate Helpers.)

What is the difference between OR and NOR? 

From a Shamanic perspective all existence is divided into three spaces, Lower, Middle, and Upper Worlds. The Middle World is where we live in OR on our planet and includes the entire physical universe. The Lower and Upper Worlds only exist in NOR. They are safe places filled only with compassionate entities. They always want to help and teach in a positive manner.

    In the Lower World, you will tend to find animal,     plant and mineral spirits. The Upper World            tends to be inhabited by more ethereal entities     who often present in humanoid form. However,     any kind of entity may present in either the            Lower or Upper World, including ones that have     no counterpart in OR. Lower and Upper Worlds     are merely places in NOR, and are of equal            value.

How do you get to NOR? 

Most Shamans use steady percussive drumming. In a few moments, this lowers our brain waves from the rapid Beta level of 19-20 cycles per second - our ordinary waking consciousness - to the low Theta level of about 5 cycles per second. This level is ordinarily only reached in sleep. It is a calm, relaxed state that feels very good. It is a nice side benefit of Drum Journeying. At the Theta level, it is easy and natural to go to NOR. There are short, simple steps to do so, that you would choose.

What are Compassionate Helping Spirits (CHS)?

They are creatures and humanoid beings who choose to work with you. After meeting one, you will often see that there has been a long term relationship with that spirit. One person met Wolf and then realized he had always loved Huskys way above all other dogs. Another met Dolphin, went home and saw her home was filled with representations of dolphins - on her towels, a wall hanging, and on her blankets. For men
who chose a tattoo of a certain creature, the connection is usually obvious. They may be known creature of mythical ones such as Dragon.

What of humanoid Spirits? 

Some examples include Loho (an Australian Aboriginal dance leader), Merlin, Chief (American Indian brave), Mary Magdalen. Your connection with them may not be obvious, but each one you meet is one of your Teachers, one of your CHS.

If Shamanism is in every culture, how come I have not heard of it? 

With the advent of Western science and modern medicine, many Earth practices such as Shamanism and herbal healing fell out of favor and went underground for awhile, except for native practitioners on the mainland, in Alaska and Hawaii. As the limitations of modern thought, medicine, and science became apparent, they were sought again.

How was Shamanism returned to the West? 

Michael Harner, PhD, a U.S. anthropologist, many years ago was on a long-term field assignment to a tribe in remote Peru. They got to know and trust each other and taught Michael Harner to journey Shamanically. He had amazing and helpful experiences. Back in the U.S., he researched Shamanism around the world. He developed what he calls Core Shamanism, that is, those practices common to most Shamans around the world. He began to teach others and founded the Foundation for Shamanic Studies (FSS). He has personally introduced thousands to Shamanic Journeying. Indirectly through the Core Faculty of FSS, he has re-introduced tens of thousands of people around the world to Shamanic practices. FSS has representatives in every continent. Michael Harner continues to explore Shamanic Drum Journeying, and to develop new, advance workshops.

Why does Shamanic Drum Journeying attract so many people?

Because it Works! It improves one's quality of life, facilitates healings, provides useful guidance for almost any problem, and it enhances one's personal spiritual growth. Shamanism helps us reconnect to our spiritual roots. Besides, Shamanic drumming itself just plain feels good!

Do the CHS tell you what to do? 

Never. Each journey has an Intent that you choose. How you use information received is up to you.

Are CHS always helpful? 

Yes, through you may not realize how or how much until later! CHS may point out things you are doing that will or will not work well for you, or things that you have not thought much about or even overlooked entirely. They may suggest areas fro you to look into, all related to your Intents for that or similar journeys.

Once have developed a mutual trust and have a frequent on-going relationship with the CHS working with you, more assistance can be offered. This is especially true if you have selected your main or primary path for this lifetime. They may offer insights on unclear issues "floating around" in your consciousness that you didn't specifically ask about. As your own life Intent becomes clearer, they sometimes offer suggestions of areas for you to explore. I have found they do not always protect you from learning from experience on topics you didn't ask them about! Their assistance seems to be to help us grow in understanding and spirituality, not to prevent all negative experiences we cause to ourselves. They often use humor to guide you. For example, when I unjustifiably doubt myself, an old American Indian man comes up and knocks on my head with his knuckles, "Saying, nope, not hard enough yet."

What if your Intent is to change or control or even harm another person in some way?

Your CHS will not appear.  They only work compassionately.  You can always ask if there is anything you can do to help a particular situation or person.  There may not be.  It is helpful to remember that your CHS have an infinitely wider perspective than is available to us while incarnated.

Does Shamanism offer healings?

Yes, Shamans learn to facilitate spiritual healings with the aid of one or more of their CHS.  Spiritual healings are advantageous in themselves, and some may lead to  physical healings.  A common and helpful spiritual healing is a Soul Retrieval. Soul  parts often leave or are taken from us for a variety of reasons.  Retrieving them returns more of our personal power to us.  Life can become easier as well as more interesting.  Another common spiritual healing is an  Extraction.  For many reasons we pick up soul parts of others and also various other things.  These are a drag on our energy, on our spirit, and need to removed, with benefits similar to soul retrievals.


“Over tens of thousands years, our ancestors all over the world discovered how to maximize human abilities of mind and spirit for healing and problem solving.  The remarkable system of methods they developed is today known as shamanism.  Shamans are especially distinguished by the use of journeys to hidden worlds otherwise mainly known through myths, dreams and near-death experiences. A core feature of shamanism is that the world is divisible into three worlds, the Upper, Middle and Lower. The Middle, in which we live, has both ordinary and non-ordinary (or non-spiritual and spiritual) aspects, and belongs only to this immediate moment in time.  The Upper and Lower Worlds, in contrast, are purely spiritual and are found only in non-ordinary reality, where they exist outside of time.  The trained shaman can make ‘out-of-body’ journeys to these worlds, moving back and forth with discipline and purpose in order to help and heal others in these journeys. The Shaman transcends time, going back to look at the past or traveling into the future to seek assistance on behalf of others from compassionate beings found there. In these worlds, there is no separation between the shaman and everything else.  He or she knows, as ancient Siberian shamans knew, “That everything that is, is alive.”  The Universe is experienced as a unified whole, and the shaman partakes of the love and ecstasy of this transcendent reality.”