Core Shamanism

So you’re curious about Core Shamanism? Well, you’re in for a fascinating journey! Core Shamanism is a spiritual practice that taps into ancient traditions and universal techniques, enabling individuals to connect with the unseen world and access spiritual guidance. It strips away the cultural trappings of specific indigenous cultures, empowering you to embrace the essence of shamanic practices and integrate them into your modern life. Through rituals, drumming, and trance-like states, Core Shamanism opens the doors to healing, self-discovery, and deep connection with the divine. Get ready to embark on an adventure of the soul like no other.

Understanding Core Shamanism

Definition of Core Shamanism

Core Shamanism is a belief system and spiritual practice that revolves around connecting with the spirit realm and harnessing its power for healing, guidance, and personal growth. It is a contemporary adaptation of shamanic practices found in various indigenous cultures around the world. Core Shamanism focuses on universal shamanic principles and techniques that can be applied to anyone, regardless of their cultural background or beliefs.

Origins of Core Shamanism

Core Shamanism was developed by American anthropologist Michael Harner in the 1980s. Harner’s extensive research into shamanic practices across different cultures led him to distill the core elements common to shamanism worldwide. Recognizing the potential for these practices to be integrated into modern life, Harner founded the Foundation for Shamanic Studies to teach and promote Core Shamanism.

Key Principles of Core Shamanism

There are several key principles that form the foundation of Core Shamanism. These include the belief in non-ordinary reality, the existence of helping spirits, and the ability to enter altered states of consciousness through shamanic journeying. Core Shamanism emphasizes the relationship between the shaman and their helping spirits, who provide guidance and healing power. Another principle is the belief that shamanic practices can benefit individuals, communities, and the planet as a whole.

Foundations of Core Shamanism

Belief Systems in Core Shamanism

Core Shamanism encompasses a wide range of belief systems that embrace the interconnectedness of all beings and the spiritual dimensions beyond the physical world. While these beliefs may vary among practitioners, common themes include the belief in spirits, the power of nature, the presence of unseen forces, and the spiritual evolution of the soul.

Power Animals and Spirit Helpers

One of the central aspects of Core Shamanism is the relationship with power animals and spirit helpers. Power animals are animal spirits that provide guidance, protection, and healing energies by sharing their wisdom and power with the shaman. Spirit helpers, on the other hand, can take various forms such as ancestors, angels, or mythological beings, and they assist the shaman in their work and journeys.

Shamanic Journeying Techniques

Shamanic journeying is a technique used in Core Shamanism to enter altered states of consciousness and travel to non-ordinary reality. Practitioners achieve this through rhythmic drumming or rattling, which helps to induce a trance-like state. During the journey, the shaman connects with their helping spirits, explores different realms, and seeks guidance, healing, or information for themselves or others.

Shamanic Healing Practices in Core Shamanism

Soul Retrieval

Soul retrieval is a fundamental healing practice in Core Shamanism. It is based on the belief that traumatic experiences or soul loss can lead to the fragmentation of a person’s essence or soul. The shaman journeys to non-ordinary reality to retrieve and reintegrate lost soul parts, helping the individual to heal and regain wholeness.

Power Retrieval

Power retrieval is another healing technique used in Core Shamanism. It focuses on restoring lost personal power. The shaman enters a trance state to journey and retrieve the client’s lost power from the spirit realm. This process can help individuals reclaim their vitality, confidence, and ability to navigate life’s challenges.


Extraction is a practice in Core Shamanism that involves removing misplaced energies or spiritual intrusions from a person’s energy field. These intrusions may manifest as energetic blocks, emotional imbalances, or physical ailments. The shaman uses various methods, such as sucking, blowing, or using tools such as stones or feathers, to extract the intrusive energies and restore balance.

Psychopomp Work

Psychopomp work refers to the shamanic practice of guiding the souls of the deceased to the afterlife or assisting lost spirits in finding their way. This practice is based on the belief that some souls may become stuck or lost in the spirit realm after death. The shaman acts as a mediator, helping these souls transition to the next phase of their journey.

Tools and Rituals in Core Shamanism

Drumming and Rattling

Drumming and rattling are integral to Core Shamanism, as they create rhythmic and repetitive sounds that induce trance-like states. The steady beat of the drum or rattle helps practitioners enter altered states of consciousness, allowing them to connect with the spirit realm, communicate with their helping spirits, and embark on shamanic journeys.

Use of Sacred Plants

While not a requirement in Core Shamanism, the use of sacred plants can be incorporated into practice for certain purposes. Substances such as entheogens or psychoactive plants are sometimes used to facilitate expanded states of consciousness during shamanic journeys or ceremonial rituals. However, it is important to approach the use of these plants with caution and respect, as their effects can be potent and require careful preparation and guidance.

Ceremonial Objects

Ceremonial objects play a significant role in Core Shamanism as tools for focus, intention, and expression. These objects, such as feathers, stones, crystals, drums, and rattles, hold energetic significance and are used to enhance the shamanic practitioner’s connection with the spirit realm. They may also be utilized in rituals, ceremonies, and healings, imbuing them with symbolic meaning and power.

Dancing and Chanting

Movement and sound are powerful tools in Core Shamanism. Dancing and chanting are used to induce trance-like states, access altered states of consciousness, and connect with the healing energies of the spirit realm. These practices can be performed individually or in group settings, creating a powerful collective energy that supports healing, transformation, and spiritual growth.

Integration of Core Shamanism and Modern Life

Benefits of Core Shamanism in Contemporary Society

Core Shamanism offers numerous benefits in our modern society. It provides a framework for personal healing and self-discovery, allowing individuals to address emotional, mental, and spiritual imbalances. Core Shamanism also offers practical tools and techniques that can be used to navigate life’s challenges, increase resilience, and cultivate a deeper connection with the natural world. Additionally, Core Shamanism can foster a sense of community, cooperation, and interconnectedness, promoting environmental stewardship and social harmony.

Ethics and Responsibilities in Core Shamanic Practice

Ethics and responsibilities are fundamental aspects of Core Shamanism. Practitioners are encouraged to approach their work with integrity, respect, and humility. This includes obtaining informed consent from clients, maintaining confidentiality, and ensuring the safety and well-being of all participants. Shamans are also entrusted with the responsibility of keeping the teachings and practices of Core Shamanism authentic and true to their roots, while acknowledging the importance of adaptation for the needs of the contemporary world.

Challenges and Considerations of Practicing Core Shamanism

Like any spiritual practice, Core Shamanism has its challenges and considerations. Practitioners must navigate cultural sensitivity and avoid appropriating or disrespecting indigenous traditions. Additionally, the integration of shamanic practices into modern life requires a balance between honoring tradition and adapting to the needs and values of contemporary society. There may also be personal challenges in deepening one’s connection to the spirit realm, maintaining ethical boundaries, and managing the potential intensity of shamanic experiences.

Roles of a Core Shamanic Practitioner

Healer and Facilitator

A core shamanic practitioner serves as a healer and facilitator of healing processes. By connecting with the spirit realm and working with their helping spirits, shamans can access healing energies and wisdom to assist individuals in their journey towards physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. They may use various techniques such as soul retrieval, power retrieval, extraction, or psychopomp work to address specific issues and support the holistic healing of individuals.

Guide and Mentor

A core shamanic practitioner also acts as a guide and mentor on the spiritual path. They help individuals deepen their connection to the spirit realm, develop their shamanic skills, and navigate their personal journeys of self-discovery and transformation. Shamans may provide guidance, offer teachings, and share tools and practices to empower others to engage with their own spiritual growth and healing.

Community Support

Core Shamanic practitioners often play a vital role within their communities, providing support, solace, and guidance to individuals and groups. They may lead ceremonies, rituals, and workshops, fostering a sense of community, connection, and collective healing. Shamans may also work towards environmental conservation, social justice, and the well-being of their community as a whole.

The Global Growth of Core Shamanism

Core Shamanism in Different Cultures

Core Shamanism has spread beyond its original origins in the West and has been adopted in various cultures worldwide. While cultural adaptations exist, the core principles and techniques of shamanism remain intact. It is important to approach cross-cultural practices with cultural sensitivity, respect, and understanding, honoring the diverse traditions and belief systems from which shamanism has emerged.

Influence of Traditional Shamanic Practices

Traditional shamanic practices have had a profound influence on the development and evolution of Core Shamanism. The teachings and techniques borrowed from indigenous cultures have been respectfully adapted and synthesized into a universal framework accessible to individuals from all walks of life. Core Shamanism acknowledges the wisdom and richness of traditional shamanism while recognizing the need for adaptation in the modern world.

Core Shamanism and Cross-Cultural Adaptation

The cross-cultural adaptation of shamanic practices raises important considerations and challenges. The risk of cultural appropriation, misrepresentation, and dilution of indigenous traditions is significant. It is crucial for practitioners to approach Core Shamanism with cultural respect, humility, and integrity, acknowledging the roots of these practices while also recognizing their ongoing evolution in a broader cultural context. Learning from authentic indigenous practitioners and supporting indigenous communities are essential steps in honoring the origins of shamanism.

Training and Certification in Core Shamanism

Overview of Core Shamanic Training Programs

Training programs for Core Shamanism vary in content, length, and structure. These programs usually provide participants with an introduction to foundational shamanic practices, teachings on journeying techniques, and guidance on working with helping spirits. Training programs may also include workshops, retreats, or mentorship programs to deepen the practitioner’s understanding and proficiency in shamanic arts.

Teachers and Lineages

Core Shamanism is typically taught by experienced practitioners who have received training and initiated into shamanic lineages. These teachers have extensive knowledge and experience in shamanic practices and guide students in developing their skills, connecting with their helping spirits, and integrating shamanism into their lives. Different teachers may have different lineages and approaches, each offering unique perspectives and insights into Core Shamanism.

Certification Process

Certification in Core Shamanism is not standardized and may vary depending on the training provider or organization. Some programs offer certification to acknowledge a practitioner’s completion of a specific level of training and competence in core shamanic practices. While certification can provide credibility, it is important to note that the effectiveness and integrity of a shamanic practitioner go beyond formal certification and depend on their experience, ethics, and ongoing personal growth.

Continuing Education

In the realm of Core Shamanism, learning is considered a lifelong journey. Practitioners are encouraged to engage in continuing education and personal development to deepen their skills, knowledge, and connection with the spiritual realm. This may involve attending advanced workshops, participating in advanced training programs, seeking mentorship, or engaging in personal shamanic practices to evolve as both individuals and practitioners.

Critiques and Controversies of Core Shamanism

Cultural Appropriation

One of the primary critiques of Core Shamanism is the issue of cultural appropriation. As Core Shamanism draws inspiration from indigenous cultures, there is a risk of diluting or misrepresenting the traditions and practices of these cultures. It is essential for practitioners to approach shamanic practices with cultural respect, understanding, and acknowledgment of indigenous roots.

Misuse and Exploitation

Another controversy surrounding Core Shamanism is the potential for misuse and exploitation. Some individuals may claim to be shamanic practitioners without proper training, experience, or respect for the ethical considerations involved. This can lead to harmful experiences, false promises, and misuse of power. It is crucial for aspiring practitioners and those seeking shamanic services to research and choose their teachers and practitioners carefully.

Lack of Regulation

Core Shamanism is not regulated by any governing body, which can lead to inconsistency and a lack of standards in teaching and practice. While this allows for freedom and diversity in shamanic expression, it also poses challenges in terms of quality assurance and accountability. It is important for practitioners to exercise discernment and seek out reputable training programs and experienced teachers to ensure their journey in Core Shamanism is safe and authentic.

Exploring Parallel Practices to Core Shamanism

Ecstatic Dance

Ecstatic dance is a practice that involves moving the body freely and expressively to music in a safe and supportive environment. This form of dance can evoke altered states of consciousness, enabling a connection to the spiritual realm and facilitating personal transformation. Ecstatic dance can be seen as a parallel practice to Core Shamanism, as it shares the intention of self-discovery, healing, and connection with the divine through movement and music.

Plant Medicine Ceremonies

Plant medicine ceremonies involve the ritualistic use of entheogenic substances, such as ayahuasca, peyote, or psilocybin mushrooms, for healing, spiritual exploration, and self-discovery. These ceremonies often draw from indigenous traditions and beliefs, and they can provide profound insights, healing, and personal transformation. While separate from Core Shamanism, plant medicine ceremonies share a similar intention of connecting with the spirit realm and accessing healing energies.

Sweat Lodges

Sweat lodges are sacred ceremonies found in various indigenous cultures. They involve entering a small enclosed structure, often made of wood or stone, and undergoing a ritualistic sweating process while engaging in prayers, chants, and purification rituals. Sweat lodges serve as a way to connect with the elements, ancestors, and spirit guides. Though not exclusive to Core Shamanism, attending sweat lodges can be complementary to shamanic practices, as both involve purification, ceremony, and connection with the spirit realm.

Vision Quests

Vision quests are traditional rites of passage found in indigenous cultures. This practice involves going into nature, fasting, and engaging in solitary reflection and prayer to seek guidance, clarity, and a deeper connection with oneself and the spiritual realm. Vision quests can be seen as a parallel practice to Core Shamanism, as they share the intention of personal transformation, introspection, and connection with the divine through solitude, nature, and spiritual exploration.

In conclusion, Core Shamanism offers a contemporary approach to shamanic practices accessible to individuals from diverse backgrounds. It emphasizes universal principles, such as connecting with the spirit realm, working with helping spirits, and utilizing shamanic journeying techniques for healing and personal growth. While Core Shamanism provides a framework for integrating shamanic practices into modern life, practitioners must approach it with cultural sensitivity, integrity, and ethical considerations. By understanding the foundations, healing practices, tools, roles of the practitioner, and global growth of Core Shamanism, individuals can embark on a meaningful and transformative journey in their exploration of the spirit realm.

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