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FSS E-Newsletter


MARCH 2012
FSS News
Articles and Information
Healing Words
My Windhorse by Joy Markgraf

My Windhorse by Joy Markgraf

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I began active participation in shamanism during 1961 in the Amazon and on subsequent return trips. The consciousness-changing substance used there in shamanism was, of course, ayahuasca. Initially I assumed that consciousness-changing plants of one sort or another were probably essential in the "trance" or "ecstasy" associated with shamanic journeying and practice. But after doing much cross-cultural research, I reluctantly concluded by the late 1960's that shamans in most indigenous cultures altered their state of consciousness without the use of biochemical substances. My research also led me to conclude that percussion sound was far more widely used than plant "medicines" to achieve what I later called the Shamanic State of Consciousness. So I began to experiment with drumming for my personal shamanic journeying and discovered that, with the proper discipline, I could achieve basically the same shamanic results as with consciousness-changing substances. 

- Michael Harner


"The History and Work of the Foundation For Shamanic Studies" in Shamanism, Vol. 18, Nos. 1 & 2 (2005).

Michael Harner



Spring World - 2008 Saulius Lukse
2008 Saulius Lukse/istock.com

There is something gratifying in having science confirm what shamans have always known.Perhaps this is because for centuries humans have glorified the rational mind as the pinnacle of evolution on this planet and have tended to categorize anything that does not fit into this limited paradigm as the superstitious beliefs of primitive minds. To the uninitiated, shamanism seems like magic or imagination. It is a rare occurrence in a beginning workshop if no one asks after the first journey experience: "How do I know I am not making this up?" It takes discipline and often many journeys before you know the reality of the shamanic realms, not as a matter of belief but as a matter of personal experience. Still, it is satisfying when the science of physics comes together with what Michael Harner calls the "science of spirits," as it did recently in an article describing a "radical" new theory from molecular biologist Dr. Erik Andrulis: "Earth is alive, asserts a revolutionary scientific theory of life emerging from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. The trans-disciplinary theory demonstrates that purportedly inanimate, non-living objects -- for example, planets, water, proteins, and DNA -- are animate, that is, alive." Or, as a Siberian shaman might declare simply from his or her own research: "Everything that is, is alive."


Susan Mokelke



FSS News



♦ The East Coast Two Week Shamanic Healing Intensive, taught by David Corbin and Nan Moss, assisted by Elaine Egidio, will be held October 21 - November 1, 2012, in Madison, Virginia. The Two Week Intensive, offered on the West or East Coast, is the best preparation for the FSS Three Year program.

♦ The 5th North American Three-Year Program in Advanced Initiations in Shamanism and Shamanic Healing with Alicia L. Gates, assisted by Amanda Foulger, will begin October 28 - November 2, 2012 in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.

♦ New Weekend Workshop - Shamanism Practicum: Guidelines for a Healthy Shamanic Practice with Susan Mokelke. First public offering in the San Francisco Bay Area, July 28 - 29, 2012. More below.    


Please check the website for PREREQUISITES for these training programs.


For details and to REGISTER for the above programs, contact registrar Michael Flanagin: flanagin4@msn.com, (503) 282-6315.



The January 2012 Gathering of the Council was one of the most exciting ever. ♦ Beginning on Friday evening, FSS faculty member and Field
Br David Steindl Rast & Michael Harner
Brother David & Michael. Photo by John Lawrence.
Associate Leslie Conton introduced her video, Tibetan Shamans: Protectors of All Living Beings, an inspiring ethnographic study about  nine Tibetan shamans in exile. Her video beautifully captures the powerful practices of the shamans.
♦ On Saturday, the participants were treated to a meaningful dialogue between honored guest Brother David Steindl-Rast and Michael Harner. Brother David described his work with the subject of gratitude and the essential role it plays in building a better world.
♦ Faculty member and Field Associate Kevin Turner gave an interesting slide presentation with video excerpts about his Foundation-sponsored visit to Mongolia, including a talk at an Ulaanbaatar bookstore to introduce the publication of Michael Harner's The Way of the Shaman in Mongolian, and his meeting with several Mongolian shamans.
Living Treasure Siqingua
Siqingua divining.
Photo by John Lawrence.

♦ John Lawrence and Susan Grimaldi then shared about their meeting with FSS Living Treasure Daur shaman Siqingua in Inner Mongolia, China, showing fascinating video clips of the shaman performing healings. They also made a long trek to the East Taiga of northern Mongolia to visit a shaman of the Tsaatan nomadic reindeer herders. Details of both Kevin's and John and Susan's expeditions can be found in the December 2011 issue of the Shamanism Annual.
♦ Julie Strong, a physician and shamanic practitioner from Canada, shared her research into the "Shamanic Roots of Western Medicine."
Mongolian shaman Zagdaa in costume.
♦ The gathering ended with a powerful healing session for four participants by Mongolian shaman Zagdaa, who just happened to be visiting the San Francisco area and at the last minute was able to attend the Council gathering. To our amazement, it turned out that Zagdaa was one of the shamans that Kevin had spent time with in Mongolia. Through her interpreter Zagdaa expressed her thanks to Michael Harner for his work and to the Foundation and the membership for their support for shamanism.

The informative interview of Michael Harner, Shamanic Healing: We Are Not Alone, originally appearing in Alternative Therapies and in Shamanism has been translated into Chinese by Michelle Chen of Taipei, Taiwan. 16-part interview in Chinese.


Pau Pasang Rhichoe
Pau Rhichoe.
Photo by Sarah Sifers.

We are saddened to report that we recently received news that Tibetan shaman Pau Pasang Rhichoe has passed on (circa March 20, 2012). Pau Rhichoe was a gentle healing soul and he will be missed. His family is in the midst of his ghe-wa (rituals in the deceased's honor), to culminate May 9. We will provide more details when available. Thanks to FSS Field Associates Larry Peters and Sarah Sifers for keeping us informed.




We are pleased to announce the first public offering of a new advanced weekend workshop Shamanism Practicum: Guidelines for a Healthy Shamanic Practice, developed and taught by Susan Mokelke, July 28 - 29, 2012 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Subjects to be covered include the ethical practice of shamanic healing and divination; legal considerations; what to say to potential clients; the screening process; payment issues; useful forms to have; organization of your practice; and other pragmatic matters related to practicing shamanism in an ethical, professional, and effective way. Prerequisite: Basic Workshop: The Way of the Shaman. More information and online registration...

Robbie StauferWe are pleased to welcome Robbie Staufer as an FSS faculty member for Boulder, Colorado. When Robbie read in The Way of the Shaman that shamanism has been practiced nearly universally across the globe and throughout time, she suddenly felt that, spiritually speaking, she had come home. She was inspired to learn all she could. In addition to an ongoing shamanic healing practice, Robbie facilitates a bimonthly drumming circle, and sponsors the FSS Colorado workshops taught by Amanda Foulger. She works as a freelance web developer and has a Masters in German language and literature from Cal State Fullerton, and a Masters in Information Systems from Regis University in Denver. Robbie has many years of teaching experience at the college and university level, and remains deeply involved in learning from her ordinary reality teachers, as well as her spirit teachers and power animals.

Certificates of Completion are available to graduates of many of the FSS advanced residential training programs in shamanism and shamanic healing, including Harner Shamanic Counseling. Certificates of Completion acknowledge the considerable time and effort involved in the completion of FSS advanced trainings in core shamanism, such as the Two-Week Intensive and the Three-Year program. (Please note that these do not certify a person as a shaman.) Find out more and request your HSC, White, Bronze, Silver, and Gold certificates online.

Solstice by Beth Lenco
Solstice by Beth Lenco
Members of the Circle, we invite you to share your work with us by submitting a photo of one of your creative works related to shamanism. Periodically, we will select a few of these photos to post on the FSS website. Photos of works might include paintings, sculpture, drums/rattles, weavings, and photos of shamanic places. (Submissions must follow the guidelines below.) View the slide show Artwork of the Membership
Guidelines for submission of photos of shamanic artwork:
1. Must be a member of the Circle of the Foundation; 2. Must be the creator of the work submitted and hold the copyright; 3. No photos of people, please, unless you have a written, signed release to publish the photo; 4. One photo only per person. Please include your name and the title of the work, with a few words description. Send the photo as an email attachment to the Editor, Susan Mokelke.

Articles and Information


Recent research studies have indicated that health benefits are experienced as a result of participation in drumming circles, such as an enhanced immune system; reduction in anxiety and

increase in self-esteem; and ability to more effectively retrain the brain following a stroke. Read the article from examiner.com. Submitted by Shana Robinson, Maryland. Find a core shamanic drumming circle on the FSS website. See also Sandra Harner's work on "Shamanism and Immune

Mohan Rai Nepalese Shaman
Mohan Rai, Nepalese shaman and founder of the Shamanistic Centre, performs a ritual in Kathmandu.

Response," on CD and in Shamanism, Fall-Winter 2003, Vol. 16, No. 2, pp. 9-14.


After decades of modernization when shamans were almost wiped out, "urban shamans" are returning to practice among Nepal's metropolitan middle class and among Westerners looking to be healed. Read the article from france24.com. Submitted by Timothy Flynn, California.

Told by John Trehero to Ake Hultkrantz, transcribed by Geraldine Hultkrantz. Mortimore Publishing, Lander, Wyoming. 2009.


This collection of folk tales was made by the late Swedish ethnologist, Ake Hultkrantz (1920 -2006), during visits to the Eastern Shoshone of the Wind River Valley in Wyoming between 1948 and the 1970's. The stories, transcribed by his widow, Geraldine, were told primarily by medicine man John Trehero (1887-1985). The volume is illustrated with photographs of local petroglyphs and drawings by Shoshone children who, according to the book, were the main intended audience of the tales, traditionally told to them in the evening.


The stories sometimes show resemblances to certain fairy tales of European folklore and the influence of Christianity. This is not surprising, considering the early influences of French Canadian and American fur trappers, and missionaries, in the region. Nonetheless, there is also much of a clearly indigenous origin, including creation myths and information on spiritual power, beliefs, and practices. Geraldine Hultkrantz is to be commended for producing this interesting volume, honoring both her husband's legacy and the traditions of the Eastern Shoshone, and for helping to save disappearing knowledge. (Read 2003 versions of some stories online on the Wyoming Lands and Ways website.) 

Michael Harner 



Shamanic Myths of Tuva cover
Shamanic Myths of Tuva

After two years of hard work, in the summer of 2011 the Foundation for Shamanic Studies in Europe finished the German translation of FSS Living Treasure Professor Mongush Borakhovitch Kenin-Lopsan's book Shamanic Myths of Tuva. FSS European Director Paul Uccusic served as the publisher, with Isolde Schmitt as the main translator (Russian-German), supported by Aldynai Seden-Chuurak (Tuvan-English), who is a teacher at the Tuvan State Lyceum in Kysyl. Artist Alexandra Uccusic provided the illustrations. Paul and Roswitha Uccusic and Isolde Schmitt traveled to Tuva in December 2011 to meet with Professor Kenin-Lopsan and introduce his book to Tuvan shamans and at the University of Tuva. In January 2012, a special presentation was held for the Austrian public at the Ethnographic Museum in Vienna. Read the full report from Paul Uccusic. Articles from The New Research of Tuva online magazine: Tuvan shamans speaking in German and Austrian publishers of works about shamanism visited Tuva.


NOTE: Each issue we plan to post on the website or provide a link to an article or other media with useful information about shamanism or shamanic healing. Check the Articles section for several varied perspectives on shamanism and shamanic healing, many from past issues of Shamanism and the Shamanism Annual, the Foundation's scholarly journal - one of the exclusive benefits of the Circle of the Foundation.


Healing Words

by Timothy Flynn

You were born to journey, like some of us were born to cook. One of my favorite Pixar movies, Ratatouille, covers this topic well. While not everyone will cook, anyone (even a rat) has the chance to. We may not all wake up with a new recipe for pumpkin gnocchi stuck in our heads (man, did that turn out good), but we can all follow a recipe - maybe even tweak it a bit, or at least slap together a sandwich.

We can also change our consciousness and learn to work with spirits in a multitude of ways. It just comes with the pulse, eating, and everything else that makes us human. Though we may not know it, an awareness of the spirit world and our ability to immerse ourselves there, like happy rat chefs in a kitchen, is an essential ingredient in what makes us human. When you practice shamanic techniques, or like me, teach workshops on them, you wind up facing a lot of the same issues the rat Remy struggled with.
  • "How can you be doing this work, what are you - the reincarnation of Pocahontas?" (You're delusional because you secretly think you're human - you're not!)
  • "You can't learn this stuff, you're too white to be doing this." (You're a rat, not a person, you'll never learn to cook! Also known as: "Only the French can cook.")
  • "Thief! If you can do this it's only because you've robbed oppressed people of something that was never yours to begin with!" (Maybe you can cook because you stole ideas for your cuisine from other cultures, but you don't deserve to cook because you're a thieving rat.)
  • "OK so you CAN work with the spirits, but you only know enough to get yourself and other people into trouble." (Maybe you can cook, but I bet you'll poison someone because you're a rat.)
Mental patient, fraud, thief, or spiritual pariah, pick at least two and go back to being just a rat. It shouldn't be surprising that these issues surround this kind of spiritual work. After all, we've robbed ourselves and every other culture we've come across of their ability to journey for centuries. It's hard to control people (especially your own) if individual spiritual revelation is readily at hand. Where would fast food chains be if everyone cooked their own food?

Drum by Charley Conatser.
Drum made for Tim by Wild Horse Charley Conatser.
We know how to cook, we've just been taught so well how NOT to cook we can't even imagine boiling water. From the outside, a shamanic journey must look as alien as a spice rack looks to a generation raised on fast food. Spirit world? Nah - just pass me the Xbox and a bigger helping of Cheez Whiz.

Spirit-wise peoples would probably consider many of the shamanic practices I teach for the Foundation basic spiritual self-care. It's the stuff your ancestors would have grown up around and taken for granted, like having a Mom who knew how to turn those leftovers into an incredible stew. While it represents a profound shift in perspective for us, for many others it's what they had for lunch.

In the end Remy broke into the culinary world based solely on the excellence of his rendition of a peasant stew - ratatouille. The word "pagan" derives from "peasant," denoting the spiritual practices of country folk that included shamanic techniques we practice today. Like a peasant stew, shamanic work is deeply nourishing to many of us, awakening an Earth-bound love that can transform our world. The extraordinary is really the ordinary, the ordinary is extraordinary.

My goal, and that of others like me, is to reintroduce a visionary practice into our modern culture that can save lives, ease suffering, and guide us in many of the ecological challenges we face. So if you're ready to step out of the fast food line and back into the kitchen, check out the classes on the Foundation for Shamanic Studies website. The stove is hot, we're ready to teach practices that feed your soul.

Timothy Flynn is a shamanic practitioner and an FSS faculty member in Monterey County, California. He can be reached at Alchemist's Journal. For more about the core shamanic practices pioneered by Michael Harner and taught through the Foundation, visit shamanism.org.


Internationally renowned anthropologist Michael Harner pioneered the return of shamanism and the shamanic journey to contemporary life. In 1979, Michael and Sandra Harner established the Center for Shamanic Studies, the precursor to the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, which took over the function of the Center in the mid-eighties. FSS is dedicated to the preservation, study, and teaching of shamanic knowledge for the benefit of the Planet and its inhabitants. Join the thousands of people each year who take the Foundation's rigorous training in Core Shamanism, the universal, near universal, and common, principles and practices of shamanism not bound to any specific cultural group or perspective. The training program has been carefully developed by Dr. Harner and thoroughly tested to provide an authentic shamanic experience and practical results.


FSS E-Newsletter



Susan Mokelke, Editor

Timothy Flynn, Contributing Editor 



The Foundation for Shamanic Studies E-Newsletter is issued several times a year and contains information and articles about shamanism, shamanic healing, and the Foundation's activities. It is designed to offer interesting and practical information for shamanic healers, students, and those interested in shamanism. We welcome your feedback and ideas. Please contact the Editor, Susan Mokelke.


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