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Core Shamanism

Core shamanism is a system developed by Michael Harner, PhD  after years of studying many historical and contemporary shamanic practices throughout the world, as well as integrating his experiences studying and living with the Jivaro (Shuar) and Conibo tribes in South America during the 1950's to the 1970's.

A common feature among almost all shamanic practices was the use of sonic auditory driving, or the use of percussive drumming or rattles to induce an altered state of consciousness. Harner realized that drumming at a certain number of beats per minute could induce this altered state without the use of mind altering substances.  Thus, he could teach the fundamentals of  shamanic knowledge to Westerners without culturally appropriating any indigenous methodology or religious beliefs specific to any tribe.

Harner describes the principle concepts of core shamanism in his book Cave and Cosmos:

Another basic, usually implicit rather than explicit, assumption in shamanism is that there are two realities, and the perception of each depends upon one's state of consciousness.  Therefore, those in the "ordinary state of consciousness (OSC)
perceive only "ordinary reality" (OR).  Those in the "shamanic state of consciousness" (SSC) are able to enter into and perceive "nonordinary reality" (NOR).  These are both called realities because each is empirically encountered.
A corollary assumption is that individual beings encountered in nonordinary reality are themselves real.  These are called "spirits"and are considered real by shamanic practitioners because they interact with them firsthand...

Another core feature of shamanism is that the Universe is divisible into three worlds: the Upper, Middle, and Lower.  The Middle world, in which we live, has both its OR and NOR (or nonspiritual and spiritual) aspects. The Upper and Lower world, in contrast, are purely spiritual and are found in only nonordinary reality, where they exist "outside of time." The shaman often makes "out-of-body" journeys to the Upper and Lower worlds to seek assistance for healing and divination from compassionate beings there.
M.Harner, Cave and Cosmos, 251-274

Watch a free video about Michael and Sandra Harner here:


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