My Experience with Shamanism

My introduction to shamanism came from Native American friends, who upon hearing about some meditative experiences I had had, asked if I knew about shamanism. When I told them I had heard the term, but didn’t know what it meant, they told me they recognized in my experiences what they thought was shamanic. Furthermore, they urged me to join them at Michael Harner’s basic workshop in core shamanism through his Foundation for Shamanic Studies offerings. In their words, ‘Maybe you ought to find out what you’re really doing.’

I did join them in 1986, and I’ve continued my training and work since then. Of course, I hadn’t been ‘doing shamanism’ before 1986, but I’d certainly had some shamanic types of experiences. After 15 years of shamanic practice, in 2001 I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland, to pursue a PhD in shamanism at the University of Edinburgh. What unfolded was an initial MSc in Celtic & Scottish Studies, in which I identified shamanic elements in several stories that had been gathered by ethnologists in Scotland.

That became the foundation for a PhD in Religious Studies/Divinity, which I received in 2005. For that, I interviewed several communities of contemporary shamanic practitioners in Scotland to discover whether their work contained elements of core shamanism. It was a privilege meeting those practitioners, and I’ve included their websites in the resources that follow. Their stories are included in my book.

Whether facilitating a drumming group, teaching a class on core shamanism, doing shamanic healing with those who’ve requested my help, reading and writing about shamanism, or taking time each day to connect with my spiritual allies, shamanism has become an integral part of my life. I am a founding member of the Society for Shamanic Practitioners.

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