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Jonathan Horwitz


Jonathan HorwitzI have always known that there is more to life than what we are told. Because of my experiences in Viet Nam in the sixties, I felt that people in non-western cultures still knew something which we had forgotten. I found it, amazingly, while sitting in a university library as an anthropology student - the world is alive. For the next ten years I continued to read about shamanism and experimented with the things I read. I had many powerful experiences, but I didn’t know what to do with them. I had no teacher to help me to understand.

In the early 80’s I reconnected with Michael Harner who had just written The Way of the Shaman. During a long weekend course with him I learned to shift my consciousness and entered the World of the Spirits. All the deep experiences of the past ten years fell into place and I felt myself walking on my path. In 1984 Michael asked me to teach with him and in 1986 I taught my first solo workshop. In the same year I founded the Scandinavian Center for Shamanic Studies with Annette Høst. I have never stopped teaching shamanism since then.

The path toward becoming a shaman means to become an apprentice to the spirits, and this changes one’s experience of life. Accepting these changes is perhaps the greatest challenge. In the beginning, many people find it hard to understand what the Spirits are saying to them. As a teacher, I feel my role is to help people to find the road to the spirit world, encourage them to accept the power offered, and learn how to bring the power back to the physical world.

I have been teaching shamanism for more than thirty years, not only in England and Scandinavia, but Hungary, Russia, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Scotland, Ireland and even the USA. I am seen as an elder in the resurgent shamanic community. But I still see myself as an apprentice to the Spirits. Being able to work this way is a great gift, and as my own Spirit Teacher said: “The greater the gift, the greater the responsibility.” Part of this responsibility I feel is encouraging connection. A few years ago I invited those who have worked with me to form an international shamanic community, and ever since we have been exploring the power of people working together – together with each other and together with the Spirits.

A big change came in my life when I found a beautiful home in the woods of southern Sweden - Åsbacka - where I now live and practice with my partner, Zara Waldebäck. As well as teaching abroad, here we work with smaller groups doing trainings and retreats, individual mentoring and healing. My path to get here has taken many years so far, and I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t met everyone I’ve met on the way and been to all the places I’ve been, from my native Pennsylvania to Viet Nam to Europe, Denmark and Sweden, to Greenland to Lapland - and to the world of the Spirits.

While I am inspired by the shamans of other cultures, I do not use rituals belonging to them, nor do I work with psychotropic plants, hallucinogenic drugs or dogmatic systems. The shaman works by asking for help, and I am given rituals by the Spirits for bringing power and for healing – for “making whole”. The Spirits are my teachers, and to contact them I use song, drums, rattles, dancing, and silence. Although I have and use many beautiful rattles and drums, shamanism, for me, is not essentially about power objects and exotic equipment. Shamanism is about life. Life is change. Shamanism is change with power.

Contact Jonathan via email or on ÅSBACKA FACEBOOK


** Read more about Annette Høst
** Read more about the SCSS
All photos by B-Joe