Michael Harner (born 29 April 1929) is the founder of the "Foundation for Shamanic Studies" and the formulator of "core shamanism." Trained as an anthropologist, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Columbia University, Yale University, and the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, where he chaired the anthropology department. In 1987 Harner left academic anthropology to devote himself full-time to the study and teaching of shamanism as president of the non-profit Foundation for Shamanic Studies.


Harner received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley in 1963. In 2003 he received an honorary doctorate in shamanic studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies. In 2009 two sessions on shamanism were given in his honor at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association.

According to author Daniel Noel, while at UC Berkeley Harner sat on Carlos Castaneda's dissertation committee; Castaneda's dissertation was "Sorcery: A Description of the World," which he later published with few changes as Journey to Ixtlan.[1] Susan Grimaldi wrote an article for Shaman's Drum magazine in response to Noel's book.[2] Grimaldi notes that Harner never taught at UCLA where Castaneda was a graduate student.

In a 1977 article[3] for the official journal of the American Ethnological Society, Harner noted that it was well recognized that the Aztecs were unique in the world regarding the unparalleled scale of their human sacrifices. He also observed that their nutritional situation was similarly unparalleled for a major civilization, resulting in protein and fat scarcity. He proposed that widespread cannibalism, ritually presented as placation of the gods, explained the large-scale capture and sacrifice of war prisoners. Harner's theory was endorsed and supported by Marvin Harris[4], but criticized by Ortiz de Montellano[5] who suggested that the Aztec diet did not require cannibalism. (The subject of Aztec human sacrifice and cannibalism remains controversial as evidence continues to accumulate.)[6]

Way of the Shaman

The Way of the Shaman[7] is the first practical text on shamanism anywhere in the world and included important experientially tested evidence that shamanism and the shamanic journey were legitimate practices connected with an altered state of consciousness and entrance into another reality. He showed, also for the first time, how the shaman's drum, when used properly, was an effective tool in this process, just as he had earlier shown that hallucinogens were a legitimate tool in Amazonian shamanism and quite possibly in medieval European "witchcraft."[8] Roger Walsh and Charles S. Grob in an interview with Michael Harner in Higher Wisdom wrote that "What Yogananda did for Hinduism and D. T. Suzuki did for Zen, Michael Harner has done for shamanism, namely bring the tradition and its richness to Western awareness."[9]

Starting in the 1970's, Harner was the first to train contemporary Westerners in the practice of classic ways of shamanic healing such as guardian spirit and soul retrieval, spirit intrusion removal, shamanic depossession, and psychopomp work. His sharing of these methods with thousands of students was in the form of what he named, "core shamanism," his distillation through cross-cultural study, experimentation, and practice, of the underlying principles and practices of shamanism worldwide. Anthropologist Joan Townsend clearly distinguished Harner's core shamanism from neo-shamanism. [10]

See also


  • Harner, Michael, The Jivaro: People of the Sacred Waterfalls (University of California Press 1972)
  • Harner, Michael, Hallucinogens and Shamanism (Oxford University Press 1973)
  • Harner, Michael, The Way of the Shaman: A Guide to Power and Healing, Harper & Row Publishers, NY 1980


  1. Noel, Daniel, The Soul of Shamanism: Western Fantasies, Imaginal Realities, Continuum International Publishing Group, 1999.
  2. Grimaldi, Susan (1977). Observations on Daniel Noel's The Soul of Shamanism: A Defense of Contemporary Shamanism and Michael Harner. Retrieved April 27, 2008
  3. Harner, Michael (1977). "The Ecological Basis for Aztec Sacrifice." American Ethnologist, 4(1):117-135.
  4. Harris, Marvin (1977). Cannibals and Kings
  5. Ortiz de Montellano, Bernard R. (1978). "Aztec Cannibalism: An Ecological Necessity?" Science, vol. 200, pp. 611-617.
  6. Stevenson, Mark (2005). Evidence May Back Human Sacrifice Claims.
  7. Harner, Michael, The Way of the Shaman: A Guide to Power and Healing (Harper & Row Publishers, NY 1980)
  8. Harner, Michael, Hallucinogens and Shamanism (Oxford University Press 1973)
  9. Higher Wisdom, Roger Walsh and Charles S. Grob, eds. Albany: State University of New York Press. 2005.
  10. Townsend, Joan B. (2004) "Individualist Religious Movements: Core and Neo-shamanism." Anthropology of Consciousness vol.15(1), pp. 1-9.

External links

no:Michael Harner ru:Харнер, Майкл

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