Author Topic: Michael Harner and The Way of the Shaman  (Read 49583 times)

Offline Eris

  • Posts: 8
Harnerism?
« Reply #30 on: May 25, 2019, 03:32:50 am »
I am new to these forums, and I'd like to ask a question to help in my understanding of the group's views.

I'll use Michael Harner as an example because he's so (in)famous. Please understand I am in no way defending him.

Let's pretend that Harner had done the following while writing "Way of the Shaman":
* He titled the book "Way of the Seeker" instead.
* He called his unified system of techniques "Harnerism" instead of "core shamanism".
* He never charged anybody for his services and teachings, and he instructed his students to be the same way.
* He stated at the start of the book something like, "I am of European descent, and not related to any of the indigenous tribes and nations of the Americas. The spiritual techniques I describe in this book are inspired by what I have learned regarding spiritual techniques from a variety of indigenous holy/medicine ceremonies, but the beliefs of every indigenous tribe/nation are different, and never should be "lumped" together under a single umbrella of so-called 'Native-American spirituality.'"

If Harner had done all that, how do you think NAFPS would feel about him and his works today?

Thank you. I look forward to gaining understanding from your response.

Offline Laurel

  • Posts: 150
Re: Harnerism?
« Reply #31 on: May 25, 2019, 11:37:54 am »
Harner would still be mixing up and repackaging indigenous ways nobody gave him permission to share, so I don't think most people's reactions would be much different. He'd still be saying "All these ways I was taught can be blended together for anyone at all to use, and no harm done. They're all the same and you can learn them all in a motel seminar in one weekend!" That's...really degrading to the various traditions he was taught.

And he could tell his students not to charge, but sooner or later they would charge. Because, as now, his students would probably consist mostly if not entirely of white people wanting to "feel more indigenous." And we white people like money. Heck, the way we prove a thing is worth doing is by either charging money or paying money to do it. There would be nothing preventing his students from charging, and if Harner made it a priority to hunt them all down and scold them, I doubt he'd have time for doing much of anything else.

Which he wouldn't. Harner would not, in fact, do any of this stuff that "kindasorta sounds a little bit better than" what he is doing (it doesn't really). We know because he didn't do it, he doesn't do it, and he shows no sign of ever changing. He shows no sign of caring what indigenous people think of him, and I don't think he ever will. The kind of mindset that says "Oh, these old ways are pretty cool, but they're really all the same. I, a white anthropologist, can improve them! When I'm done, I'll put my wisdom in a book for others!" is nothing but ego and is unlikely to produce good works of any kind.

He'd still be teaching messed-up, partly made-up stuff and calling it indigenous. That would still be very wrong.

A lot of fake shamans seem to miss this point. They decide that if they don't use the S-word, and/or don't charge money, they can do whatever they want to and the cultures they're ripping off won't care. They're wrong.

I am new to these forums, and I'd like to ask a question to help in my understanding of the group's views.

I'll use Michael Harner as an example because he's so (in)famous. Please understand I am in no way defending him.

Let's pretend that Harner had done the following while writing "Way of the Shaman":
* He titled the book "Way of the Seeker" instead.
* He called his unified system of techniques "Harnerism" instead of "core shamanism".
* He never charged anybody for his services and teachings, and he instructed his students to be the same way.
* He stated at the start of the book something like, "I am of European descent, and not related to any of the indigenous tribes and nations of the Americas. The spiritual techniques I describe in this book are inspired by what I have learned regarding spiritual techniques from a variety of indigenous holy/medicine ceremonies, but the beliefs of every indigenous tribe/nation are different, and never should be "lumped" together under a single umbrella of so-called 'Native-American spirituality.'"

If Harner had done all that, how do you think NAFPS would feel about him and his works today?

Thank you. I look forward to gaining understanding from your response.


Offline Laurel

  • Posts: 150
Re: Harnerism?
« Reply #32 on: May 25, 2019, 11:43:24 am »
I didn't realize when I wrote this that Harner has passed away.  Speaking of him in the present tense was a mistake. I should have said we know he wouldn't change his ways because he never did. And because the harm he did continues to spread and spread.

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Re: Harnerism?
« Reply #33 on: May 25, 2019, 06:44:32 pm »
Merging with Harner thread.

Offline Eris

  • Posts: 8
Re: Michael Harner and The Way of the Shaman
« Reply #34 on: May 25, 2019, 08:42:59 pm »

Harner would still be mixing up and repackaging indigenous ways nobody gave him permission to share, so I don't think most people's reactions would be much different.

Your insights make a great deal of sense, and I appreciate you taking the time to explain your thoughts so well.

Pretty much the only way Harner's book could be acceptable, I think, would be if he had removed all mention of indigenous rituals, practices and beliefs --  if he had not claimed anything in his book was connected with the spirituality of any indigenous culture -- and if he had written only about the ceremonies he made up himself.

Or maybe the best thing he could have done was to never have written his book.

Again, thank you for helping me to grow and learn.

-- Eris

Offline Sparks

  • Posts: 1143
Re: Michael Harner
« Reply #35 on: November 14, 2019, 11:21:48 pm »
Does the poster claim that Michael Harner at that time [2004] was married to Sandra Ingerman? At the time of his death about a year ago, his wife, Sandra Harner, was clearly a different person than Sandra Ingerman.

The question has been resolved. They were never a married couple:

According to Alameda City, California records, [Michael Harner] in fact married Sandra Dickey on 16 Jul 1966. I have found no record of Sandra Dickey and Sandra Ingerman being the same person. Attaching the record. Hopefully the attachment works.