A Tribute to Dr. Michael Harner

Founder – Foundation for Shamanic Studies

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“If I were to die tomorrow, I’d feel that I’d done more than I had ever hoped. I feel very lucky that way. I never envisioned this path, and I never envisioned so many students wanting to seek it. Now there are so many people who are well-trained and prepared to work with and learn from the spirits. My legacy is my students as much as anything, because they will carry on, and some will go farther than I have ever gone.”

Michael Harner


  • 1929 – Born in Washington, D.C.
  • 1956-57 – Began learning about shamanism while studying with the Shuar (Jívaro) tribe of the Ecuadorian Amazon
  • 1960-61 – Started practicing shamanism with the Conibo people of the Peruvian Amazon
  • Late 1960’s- Discovered that the same shamanic results can be achieved with drumming and percussion as with consciousness-changing substances
  • 1963 – Received Ph.D. in anthropology Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley
  • 1970’s – Started introducing Westerners to shamanism
  • 1979 – Founded the Center for Shamanic Studies in Norwalk, Connecticut
  • 1980 – Published The Way of the Shaman, making shamanism accessible worldwide for the first time in centuries
  • 1980’s – Begins teaching Foundation workshops in core shamanism
  • 1985 – With Sandra Harner, founded the non-profit Foundation for Shamanic Studies
  • 1987 – Resigned professorship to devote himself full-time to shamanism. The Center for Shamanic Studies is integrated into the new Foundation for Shamanic Studies
  • 1988 – Teaches the first Three-Year Program in Advanced Shamanism and Shamanic Healing on the West coast
  • 1991 – The Living Treasures of Shamanism program is started, in conjunction with the FSS Field Associates program, to help preserve shamanic knowledge for the future generations
  • 1994 – The Foundation for Shamanic Studies is relocated from Connecticut to Mill Valley, California
  • 1998 – In Russia, assembled Siberian shamans of the Buriat people publicly declared Michael Harner a great shaman upon witnessing his shamanic healings
  • 2003 – Awarded an honorary doctorate by the California Institute of Integral Studies in recognition of his achievements in shamanic studies
  • 2003 – Received an honorary doctorate in recognition of his achievements in shamanic studies
  • 2006 – The Shamanic Knowledge Conservatory is formally established in Novato, California
  • 2006 – Susan Mokelke comes onboard as Assistant, then Executive Director. Michael begins to devote more time to research, experimentation, and writing his life’s work
  • 2008 – The Foundation streamlines its operations by combining its Mill Valley administrative office with its Shamanic Knowledge Conservatory in Novato
  • 2009 – Honored with the “Pioneer in Inte-grative Medicine Award” by San Francisco’s Institute of Health & Healing, as one of the world’s foremost authorities on indigenous healing practices and their relevance in contemporary times
  • 2009 – Honored by California Pacific Medical Center’s Institute for Health & Healing with the “Pioneers in Integrative Medicine Award.” He also received special academic recognition through the presentation of sessions dedicated to him at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Philadelphia
  • 2018 – Died: February 3, 2018
“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. Michael Harner is widely acknowledged as the world's foremost authority on shamanism and has had an enormous influence on both the academic and lay worlds."

Roger Walsh and Charles S. Grob authors, Higher Wisdom