Toward the Ancient Future

Andrei A. Znamenski

in The Beauty of the Primitive

Published in print July 2007 | ISBN: 9780195172317
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199785759 | DOI:
  Toward the Ancient Future

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In the United States at the turn of the 1970s, the countercultural revolution, which turned many Americans on to hallucinogens and alternative lifestyles, was on the decline. Many spiritual seekers felt fatigue from the psychedelic and communal experiences and longed for natural, individually-oriented spirituality. One of these spiritual seekers was Michael Harner, an anthropologist who, while formally remaining an academic, gradually grounded himself in the countercultural community. Harner experimented with drugless spiritual techniques from native North American, Siberian, and Sami traditions, which rely more on drumming, rattling, chanting, and guided meditation. Since his thinking resonated well with the sentiments of many spiritual seekers, his workshops began to enjoy popularity. In 1980, he established the Foundation for Shamanic Studies (FSS), the first school of modern shamanism, which organizes, systematizes, and disseminates archaic knowledge worldwide. Thus, shamanism entered modern Western nature communities. Given Harner's role as one of the first to spearhead the shamanism idiom in modern Western esotericism, this chapter discusses neo-shamanism in Europe and North America as well as Harner's spiritual experiences.

Keywords: Michael Harner; shamanism; countercultural revolution; FSS; esotericism; Sami traditions; sociology

Chapter.  18406 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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