Psychonauts are always looking for connections. Between the insights gained during a journey and the world unfolding around them; between a profound YouTube short and something whispered by a DMT elf.
Like all impassioned enthusiasts who’ve had their lives positively impacted, we subconsciously look for any opportunity to insert psychedelics into the conversation: Something slipped your mind? Did you know mushrooms are extremely neuroplastic? Discussing human evolution? Heard of the Theory of the Stoned Ape?
Nothing is safe. Not even the holidays. For apparently even Santa is a shroomhead.
Ancient Shamanic Traditions and Magic Mushrooms
The holiday season surrounds us with its traditions and colors and symbolisms, passed down to us through the generations. But could a more mind-bending influence lurk behind these myths?
At the heart of this theory are the ancient shamanic traditions of the indigenous Sami people in the Arctic regions of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia. These shamans, known for their spiritual and healing rituals, reportedly used Amanita muscaria, a red and white psychoactive mushroom. This mushroom, also known as the fly agaric, bears a striking resemblance to the red and white colors traditionally associated with Santa Claus.
Shamans, during the winter solstice, would collect these mushrooms, dry them, and then distribute them as gifts on the solstice. This practice is theorized to be a precursor to our modern tradition of gift-giving during the Christmas season.
Also, the shaman might have entered homes through the chimney (or smoke holes in yurts) due to deep snow blocking doors, another possible parallel to the Santa Claus myth.
Reindeer and the Fly Agaric Mushroom
Another intriguing aspect is the connection with reindeer, an animal central to both Sami culture and the Santa Claus narrative. Reindeer are known to consume Amanita muscaria mushrooms in the wild, and this behavior might have contributed to the myth of flying reindeer, a key element in the story of Santa Claus.
Christianity and the Integration of Pagan Traditions
As Christianity spread into the pagan areas of Europe, many pre-Christian beliefs and customs were integrated into Christian festivities (like Christmas taking place around the winter solstice). It’s theorized that the psychedelic rituals of the Sami might have merged with Christian traditions, evolving over time into the modern Christmas celebration.
Of course, this is just a theory. But a fun one based on some historical and cultural facts. Imagine local medicine men and women, revered as intermediaries between the physical and spiritual worlds, incorporating the mushroom into their winter solstice practices. Consuming them would induce vivid visions, believed to be journeys into the spirit realm, fostering connection with ancestors and guiding spirits.
The shamanic journeys bear striking similarities to Santa’s iconic midnight escapades. Imagine, under the influence, reindeer depicted on Sami cave paintings coming to life, their powerful legs propelling them through a starlit sky. The shaman, adorned in red and white to mimic the sacred mushroom, becomes a benevolent gift-giver, distributing wisdom and knowledge gleaned from their trip. Healing local residents with this medicine and receiving food in return (milk & cookies?).
So, this Christmas, as you sip on eggnog and gaze at the twinkling lights, remember that beneath the jolly veneer might lie a whisper of ancient ritual, a journey through altered consciousness, and perhaps, a deeper appreciation for the role psychedelics have played in our shared cultural evolution.
Check out this video from The Atlantic for an animated version of this theory
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