General > Frauds

Michael Harner and The Way of the Shaman

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A.R.:
In another thread Educatedindian wrote:


--- Quote ---While I agree very much with networking on similar issues, I've never cared much for the idea of trying to find similarities between very different traditions. It's too easily transformed into the pseudo shamanism ideas of people like Michael Harner, that it's OK to exploit any tribal tradition because somehow they're really all the same.
--- End quote ---

It is some years ago now, that I read the book The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner, and was actually totally horrified.
Called it mutant, Frankenstein form of shamanism.
Now I read, that he does workshops called: "Core Shamanism"

Personally I don't think that there is anything wrong in finding similarities between different traditions per se, but the problem I found with Michael Harner's approach, was that at the very core of it IS "Western thought", or "Western model for Reality" or "Western Reality Orientation" (of which I've spoken earlier).   
What Michael Harner then does, is to pin outer "Shamanic" expressions and practices onto that "Core Grammar of the Western Thought", in a manner that can be likened to that of  decorating a Christmas Tree. 
Hence the quotations and the beliefs expressed in his book become terribly distorted.

Could have picked the book to pieces, pointing out these distortions from almost every page, but didn't want to get into it, wanted to push that book right out of my mind as it was just too sick to dwell on any further.   
There is a huge difference whether you are describing "shamanic" anything  from the viewpoint of the insider of that tradition to  the explanations of an outsider-looking-in .....


In The Regional Conference on Circumpolar and Northern Religions & Shamanism held in Helsinki, Finland 1990.... Sandra Harner was also a guest speaker.
Michael Harner's take on "shamanic drumming" was a study of the emotional and psychological effects "shamanic" drumming had on his study subjects:

Excerpt from Harner's speech:

"Each participant using his or her own tape recorder and player with earphones and Dolby sound reduction made a journey to the accompaniment of taped drumming (Harner 1980b:Side A, a steady regular beat at the rate of about 257 beats per minute) for twenty-seven minutes (cf. Harner 1988a) with the express purpose of activating the immune response. Saliva samples were collected in sterile plastic cups with lids, labelled, and immediately refrigerated. Participants also completed Speilberger's State Trait Anxiety Inventory, STAI, (State version only) and Schlosser's Well-Being Scale WBS-58. WBS-58 is a preliminary, refined version of WBS-36. Filler items in WBS-36 were omitted in accordance with Schlosser's proposal (Schlosser 1990: 137) as were three items not appropriate to current state and 35 new items added".

Many people have been "taken" in by Harner, Buryats and Finno-Ugric academics alike, thinking of him as a person helping in "Shamanic revival".  And I suppose there are no problems, people taking "saliva samples" what not,  but when the near universal (Harner's words) techniques and methods of shamanism are practiced without traditional cultural  perspective, then very core essence of these so called "shamanic techniques" is ignored and arrogantly bypassed.

Nothing "shamanic" can even be attempted without the full inner comprehension of the Traditional Cultural Core Cosmological Shamanic Worldview.

So if the Traditional Cultural Core Perspectives are ignored, how can Harner possibly be aiding in preserving "Shamanism".

A.R.


Jallan:
Hi guys, this is going to be my first post on this forum so....

I have recently decided to order Harner's book "The Way of the Shaman" but apparently there's been a lot of criticism on his work on this forum. I seem to be unable to post in the "frauds" section of the forum so I'll ask here. How big a fraud is this man? After all if the practical aspects of what he describes work (I'm referring specifically to journeying and the like) then it isn't a complete waste of money is it? Are there at least some useful things to be found in his book? I want to make sure I'm not just wasting money, paper and energy here. But in the end, practical experience beats any book.

thanks.

Defend the Sacred:
If you go to the main page and search on "Harner" or "Michael Harner" or "Core Shamanism", many threads will come up.

Main threads and info on Harner: "Core Shamanism" http://www.newagefraud.org/smf/index.php?topic=236.0
(the links in the first post are down, but accessible via the Wayback Machine. Links updated further down the thread)

The Michael Harner foundation "Foundation for Shamanic Studies" http://www.newagefraud.org/smf/index.php?topic=1295.0
   
Harner's Foundation Becoming a Cult? http://www.newagefraud.org/smf/index.php?topic=161.0

critter - a white non-ndn person:

--- Quote from: Jallan on January 05, 2011, 01:54:50 pm ---Hi guys, this is going to be my first post on this forum so....

I have recently decided to order Harner's book "The Way of the Shaman" but apparently there's been a lot of criticism on his work on this forum. I seem to be unable to post in the "frauds" section of the forum so I'll ask here. How big a fraud is this man? After all if the practical aspects of what he describes work (I'm referring specifically to journeying and the like) then it isn't a complete waste of money is it? Are there at least some useful things to be found in his book? I want to make sure I'm not just wasting money, paper and energy here. But in the end, practical experience beats any book.

thanks.

--- End quote ---

Hi,

I understand what you're saying, regarding there might be something true or
of value in his books, which make it not a complete waste of time.

Thing is, all frauds/fakes use a bit of truth. The best lies are founded on a
very small bit of truth. It doesn't make it better or worthwhile to pursue.


educatedindian:
I'm not certain what you mean by practical. If you mean does it have accurate information, the answer is no. It's so general and generic as to be useless. Academics don't use his work. It's impossible to accurately or even respectfully condense thousands of traditions into one book.

If by practical you mean can it help you find a spiritual path, again, how could an inaccurate work possibly do that? I always recommend people look first to the traditions of their ancestors. If you use the search button at top, look for threads like Alternatives to Nuage, NAFPS HIghly Recommends, For Those With Recently Discovered Indian Ancestry, and the like.

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