Shamanism and Science – One Step from Building Bridges to Cooperation

26.06.2016 von Dr. Andreas Hirsch

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Report from the FSSE-Conference at the Johannes Kepler University in June 2016

Shamanism and science – at first glance these represent two paths of knowledge that couldn't be more different. On second glance although not only inner commonalities of those two ways of looking at the world emerge, but also quite a few opportunities to build bridges, even to collaborate in a complementary way. Such an opportunity to ponder all things they share, was the conference "Shamanism and Science", which was realized by the Foundation for Shamanic Studies Europe in Linz. On 9th of June 2016 at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, experts from different areas of science met with practitioners of shamanism – all in all more that 165 participants from more than 10 countries and two continents.

The breadth of the spectrum of the talks and the workshops – which were oriented on practice – mirrored the multitude of concepts of reality that are involved with a complimentary view on shamanism and science. Quite a number of the speakers have accepted the challenge to integrate work with a scientific basis with a shamanic view of the world and with shamanic practice. Artistic works, which follow up on shamanic traditions or are inspired by the shamanic experience, completed the spectrum of contributions.

With his analysis of methodic parallels of science and shamanism, which both rely on experience, Roland Urban offered the foundations for an understanding of shamanism as a "science of non-ordinary reality." He drew a picture of the perspectives for a collaboration of both fields as being not only useful, but essential for the future. While the anthropologist William S. Lyon discussed and demonstrated questions between consciousness and quantum physics against the background of his rich experience with healing ceremonies of North-American Indians, archaeologist Jutta Leskovar not only asked how far shamanism dates back, but also explored practical applications of shamanic divination serving archaeological research. Futurist Kai Goerlich looked into the potential of bringing modern future research with its "air of magic" and the pragmatic implications of methods of shamanic divination together. Alexandra Uccusic presented illustrations from her children's book "Florian Featherlight and the Quest for the Magic Pearl", which shows journeys to another world as a path to bring healing for other people. Andreas J. Hirsch asked for ways to overcome the currently omnipresent hatred, while following the lineages linking pioneers of modern science like Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler, who at the same time had practiced alchemy and astrology, and present-day scientists like Michael Harner, who – while coming from the science of anthropology – developed Core-Shamanism and introduced a renaissance of shamanism.

Two areas of shamanic practice drew special attention: The physician Thomas Schmitt discussed experiences from his medical-shamanic outpatient clinic, which was founded in 2007 in Vienna for patients with a cancer-diagnosis. The artist Anatol Donkan together with his workshop group created spiritual wooden sculptures in the tradition of the Nanai, which strongly influence his own work.

The book "Shamanism and Science", which was published on the occasion of the conference, contains the contributions of the speakers as well as additional texts on the subject by authors including Michael Harner, Anett C. Oelschlägel and Günther Wirsching. It is available from the Online-Shop of the Foundation for Shamanic Studies.