Three important conferences on shamanism were held in 2008, two of which were not easy to get to from the United States — the World Psychedelic Forum in Basel, Switzerland, March 21–24, and the Fourth Annual Amazonian Shamanism Conference in Iquitos, Peru, July 19–27. A third conference — the 25th International Conference on Shamanism and Alternative Modes of Healing — was held closer to home, in San Rafael, California, August 30–September 1. If you missed these conferences, there are still ways to access at least some of the presentations.
- At the World Psychedelic Forum, more than fifty experts from all over the world met and discussed the psychedelic experience, including such heavy hitters as Stanislav Grof, Ralph Metzner, Jeremy Narby, Jonathan Ott, Daniel Pinchbeck, and Michael Winkelman. An entire day was spent on the topic Legacy of the Shamans: Ancient Traditions and New Dimensions. You can take a look at the whole program here, and a report of the conference is here. Couldn’t make it? You can still get audio recordings, for a price. Videos of at least a few of the presentations are available for free here.
- The Fourth Annual Amazonian Shamanism Conference also had a distinguished group of speakers — Pablo Amaringo, Howard Charing, Frank Echenhoffer, Richard Grossman, Martina Hoffman, Jan Kounen, Dennis McKenna, Robert Venosa, and many others. Recordings of a few of these presentations in a variety of audio formats — unfortunately, often of poor sound quality — are available without charge here.
It is likely that videos will also be available soon, but not for free. Soga del Alma, the sponsoring organization, has made available videos from the 2005 and 2006 conferences, under a sort of rental arrangement. For £15 you can watch all thirty-one of the presentations from those two conferences, as streaming video, as often as you wish, for a period of one year. To get a sense of what the videos are like, you can get a free look — although registration is required — at Dennis McKenna’s 2005 presentation, Ayahuasca and Human Destiny. That talk, by the way, has now circulated widely, and is available both as a podcast and in its written form.
- The 25th International Conference on Shamanism and Alternative Modes of Healing included presentations by Stanislov Grof, Jürgen Kremer, Stanley Krippner, and many others; you can still see the entire program here. Especially noteworthy were presentations by a number of scholars and practitioners of Mongolian shamanism — Batbayar Gonchigdorj, Purevsuren Begziav, Sumiya Tserendorj, Battsetseg Bataa, and Saruul Magsar. Audio recordings of the conference are available here, but only as a complete set, and they are pricey.
I look forward to the day when all such conference presentations, as a matter of course, will be made immediately available as podcasts and vidcasts.