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Meet Steve Serr 

Steve Serr, Ph.D., M.Div

Unfortunately, not everyone has had the same opportunity to learn shamanism. Although access there have been plenty of retreats and these were ordinarily wide open, the resources to afford the expense of travel, tuition, food and lodging during a weekend or more away from home, were not available to more than a privileged stratum of society.

One person who felt this was wrong (even if perhaps unintentional) that there had been a real limitation of shamanic studies to what turned out to be an economically advantaged and educated, narrow range of people, was Dr. Steve Serr, who during his own training realized that our global, ancestral, shamanic spirituality was undeservedly being limited. For him, it was hard enough to scrape together the cash to go learn. But looking at those around him who had been able to do it, no matter what the reasons, shamanic education was sadly very limited to those who could afford it. What had been humanity’s original spiritual practices had somehow become more available to a financially advantaged segment of society.

That rubbed him the wrong way, and got him thinking about how shamanic instruction ever came to this. First, he tried to change this by offering live classes for practically nothing. That was short lived, as he quickly realized that he wasn't even meeting his own expenses for offering the class! The goal was laudable, but the approach was wrong. There had to be another way.

Shamanism has traditionally been taught in humble surroundings, even in the midst of nature. Shamans were not historically known to have large homes in the suburbs and a BMW on the driveway. Sure, there always have been mendacious teachers selling spiritual knowledge at high prices. And, there have always been a smaller segment of society who have been able to afford it. As Steve puts it: "People have been people, and shamans and students were and are, no exception.” The situation continued to bother him so he turned to creating a way to again widen the availability of shamanic information and return it to the world from which it came.

Moreover, there was another matter that made him grumpy. Contemporary civilization had long since lost shamanism’s village and tribal nature which had allowed for the time-honored, individual and sustained relationship between teacher and student. What had always been, had become a thing of the past. Given the limitations – and advantages – of the contemporary world, Steve insisted that we find a way to return to the teaching standards that shamanism had known since the dawn of human time. Again, Steve challenged this, and at one or another of the courses he attended, approached individuals whose shamanic practice seemed strong to see if he could receive from them a long-term, sustained mentorship. But alas, people would come from far and wide to take these classes, and return to their homes far away. Face-to-face, one-on-one mentorship was impossible in a world where learning was based on travel and intermittent gatherings.

Given the financial and logistical difficulties that students had even attending shamanic classes, there had grown a subtle, but omnipresent conception that learning shamanism required the physical presence of a teacher. Having himself taken some well-organized internet classes in other subjects, Steve realized that when an online curriculum was put together correctly, the contact between teacher and student became both individualized and sustained. Given the rebel that he was, he started to challenge this and explored up and down why such an idea even existed.

Since there was no 'sustained one-on-one' relationship between teachers and student in the educational gathering anyway (the teacher sat at the front, talked from a distance, and student broke off into groups of two or three to then practice what they had learned), where was this supposed benefit coming from by the teacher being somewhere in the same room?

It took him nearly two years to gather and sort through the tremendous amount of information about shamanic practice and healing that he had learned, test this against his own experience, filter through all of that and pick out the best practices, frame this within his own umbrella of understanding, test what he had brought together with face-to-face students, clarify what was unclear, and create a comprehensive, grounded, world-class curriculum. His goal was to provide an opportunity to learn shamanism worldwide where the costs of education and the access to education were no longer prohibitive.

What he did was 'buck the system'. Willing to put up with initial public hesitation, some biting criticism, widespread professional disregard and negativity, he went ahead. The result was Shamanism 101.

So, Who is Steve

There is nothing remotely stuffy or mysterious-seeming about him. Just look at his photo. Steve doesn't try to put on an act, and even has referred to himself as "that geeky white guy". As a person, he is quite low key, generally avoids being out in public, doesn’t refer to himself as a shaman (though yes, he does tend to be somewhat reclusive), and becomes visibly uncomfortable when people call him that.

He says:

“I always wince a little when people try to call me a shaman. I mean, there is so much baggage that accompanies that term. We are not the practitioners of the past, but live in the very different world of the 21st century. The idea of a ‘shaman’ as ‘one who knows’ always sounded so mysterious and ‘booga-bo’ to me, when it is really not the shaman at all, but the spirits who are doing the healing work. Ok, the shaman has some difficult practices to get good at, and that can take a lot of work, and the learning curve can be quite steep. However, the shaman is part of the healing team with the compassionate spirits and any shaman who puffs him or herself up as being 'special' is just themselves, and trying to kid you: they can’t even begin to do divination or any kind of healing work... it's the spirits that do that. The shaman is more or less just along for the ride."

“My goal was to create a shamanic training program that could provide anyone with an exemplary foundation, that can even serve someone in a professional practice should they choose to pursue it. I succeeded at that, but learned a number of things along the way. Some people choose to study shamanism to become professional healers, and some, simply to be able to serve themselves and their friends. In all cases, they deserve have access to learn how to provide shamanic healing. But, there is something more which is probably most important to me, and something I bring into all of my classes: shamanism is a profound, personal, and lifelong path of growth and healing. It is a spiritual path. This is what truly inspired me."

“Actually, we can now study and learn shamanism in an unprecedented manner. The contemporary world has information and insight into the functioning of our universe that is new to humankind; information that our shamanic ancestors did not have! In some ways, we are always reinventing shamanism to meet the specific needs of an era. For instance, look at Shamanism 101! We now live in an online world, we no longer live in a tribal village, and these two facts of life make an obvious ‘fit’. Putting things like this together is nothing new. The shaman has always gathered the wisdom of the past, collected the knowledge of the present, and brought these things together.”

Steve’s research interests have fallen in three primary areas: The first, has been in creating a curriculum of studies in shamanism, focusing on the techniques and understanding that are most often shared among shamanic practitioners worldwide. His particular passion has been to enable the technological educational ability of the internet to allow a dramatically widened access to this ancient healing art so that anyone on the planet with a computer, could take part in a comprehensive and ‘benchmark’ training program. Secondly, he developed a new model of personal growth based on shamanic techniques, that supports individual discovery and development. Thirdly and amidst all of this, he explores and enjoys writing about the sacredness of nature with its potential to help heal the wounds of civilization, and reintegrate humanity with Gaia.

Currently, unable to stop himself from taking on more projects, he is incapable of 'retiring' in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Most recent adventure was becoming certified and registered as an emergency medical technician and has been responding with a New Mexico volunteer fire department.

Steve was once the founder and editor of an online ‘e-zine’ called Butterfly: The Journal of Contemporary Buddhism, and more recently, the first editor of The Marshall Creek Project Newsletter that later became Shamanism 101's ‘e-newsletter’ when Shamanism 101 began to take form, a newsletter that explores Earth-centered spirituality and understanding such as is found in shamanic practices, Earth-centered spiritualties and sacred naturalism.

“My bigger sense," he says, " that this all teaching and learning about shamanism and shamanic healing is because we are becoming aware of a dire need to protect, reconnect with, and heal both ourselves and our sacred Earth. I think there's no other way of explaining the big picture: we are being summoned back into a caring, intimate relationship with nature. I believe it is from here that our original spirituality appeared. It is really a joy to be a part of helping us return to it."

Degrees, Certifications, Experiences

Ph.D., Clinical Psychology
M.Div., Department of Ecology and Environmental Religious Studies
M.A., Government
B.A., Social Sciences
Three Year Training Program, Advanced Shamanism & Shamanic Healing
Two Week Intensive Course, Advanced Shamanism & Shamanic Healing
Shamanic Extraction Healing Training
Shamanism, Dying and Beyond
Shamanic Counseling Training Program
California Shamanism: Medicine of the Coastal Redwood Mountains
California Shamanism: Bear Medicine & Doctoring
Unraveling Curses
Basic Heart Centered Depossession Training
Advanced Heart Centered Depossession Training
Mediumship Training
2-Week Vision Fast Training
Mojave Desert Vision Quest
Inyo Mountain Vision Fast
California Men's Vision Fast
Certified Hypnotherapist (2)
Certificate in Clinical Pastoral Education
Certificate in Hospice Services
Certificate in Brief Therapy
Certificate in Paraprofessional Crisis Intervention
Certificate in Teaching Family Training
Certification Exam passed, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Level 2 Counselor
California Community College Instructor Credential
Registered Emergency Medical Technician, EMTB, New Mexico