Foundation for Shamanic Studies

Photo of Cat Saunders with Michael Harner at Esalen (1992 training in shamanic studies)

Cat with Michael Harner at Esalen (1992)

By Cat Saunders

Anything I tell you about shamanism must come from my own experience. In the shamanic worldview, if I experience something, it’s real. This includes all levels of experience, not only consensus reality.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always known that dreams and imagination and other-world experiences are just as real as the world I was allowed to talk about at the dinner table.

In those days, I didn’t have a framework for talking about these “other” worlds, but the knowing was there all along. It’s in my blood.

In 1974, when I was twenty, I started doing shamanic journeying informally and met my first power animal. Several years later, a shaman connected me to the Foundation for Shamanic Studies, which was founded by Michael Harner.

My study and practice of shamanism grew tremendously under the wise and compassionate tutelage of the Foundation’s faculty, most notably Michael Harner and Sandra Ingerman. I am deeply indebted to these two extraordinary mentors.

Michael Harner, Ph.D., is a world-renown shaman, teacher, and author of many books, including The Way of the Shaman. Michael came to shamanism via anthropology, which gave him a vehicle to study tribal cultures all over the world. Over many decades, Michael gleaned the shamanic techniques that are universal to cultures all over the world and across time.

The practice of cross-cultural shamanism is a legacy that belongs to all of us, and the Foundation for Shamanic Studies is dedicated to making these universal techniques available to anyone. In addition, the Foundation is involved in many diverse projects, such as scientific research, interdisciplinary collaboration, interspecies communication, and grants to support the livelihood of present-day shamans who are considered living treasures.

Check out the Foundation’s website for more information about their wide array of programs, workshops, and resources.



Cat Saunders, Ph.D., is a counselor in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is also the author of Dr. Cat’s Helping Handbook: A Compassionate Guide for Being Human (available through Amazon). Contact Cat by emailing her or by calling 206-329-0125 (24-hour voicemail).