Growing up in Canada, Christmas was a very special time of year. I loved all the fuss in the months leading up to the big day. The snow, the lights, the music, the mood, everything about it was magical and ethereal.
In my adult years, I’ve begun to notice the consumerism, the post-Boxing Day slump, and the January and February blues. All of these contributed to not celebrating Christmas as much and kinda ignoring the holiday altogether.
Who else can relate?
I had known for some time that Christmas and magic mushrooms had some interesting coincidences, and I recently decided to do some further research.
A fresh look on a timeless tradition
My research has brought to life a whole universe that I had previously been ignorant of.
Learning about the true meaning of Christmas and its actual origins has revived a festive spirit in me. Despite the coverage, this topic has received from New York Times, NPR, The Independent, The Atlantic, Newsweek, and Vice.
It is impossible to know for sure the absolute accuracy of the connection between these psychedelic myths and this time of year. Nonetheless, here’s what I’ve managed to uncover:
What do magic mushrooms have to do with Christianity?
The Sacred Mushroom And The Cross is a book that really lifted the curtain on the link between Christianity and sacred mushrooms. It unpacks “the sacred mushroom as the emblem and embodiment of divinity”. This body of work is one of the first modern explanations of the correlation between psychedelic mushrooms and the current traditions of Christmas.
It is scientifically factual that fungi are closer to animals than plants. Fungi breathe in oxygen and expel C02 just like we do.
This classic red and white mushroom, also known as Fly Agaric is probably the most infamous. Easily recognizable and often feared.
Thought of as poisonous due to the neurotoxins found within, this mushroom not only contains muscimol and DMT but also amatoxins that can potentially destroy the human liver.
Such a mushroom typically is found in Siberia, Lapland, and Northern European regions.
The Sami People living in Lapland somehow figured out that animals can eat these mushrooms, not be poisoned.
Reindeer and caribou are native to areas like Siberia and Lapland. They are known for seeking out the Amanita muscaria for their use. This mushroom is not toxic to their physiology, though we are not certain if it produces a psychoactive effect for them.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Rudolf had a red nose, constantly foraging in the snow for their favorite snack.
Why do reindeer fly? Some correlate it to hallucinations induced by the mushrooms. On the other hand, Norse Gods were depicted as riding on animal-lead chariots and flying high in the sky.
Reindeer and caribou
Not only do these animals love mushrooms, and the amatoxins are not harmful to them, their urine contains all the psychoactive compounds from the mushrooms. Shamans were known to drink the urine of these reindeer.
Far from palatable, it was one way to prepare these mushrooms making them safe for human consumption. Mercifully, another way of preparing this sacred mushroom was learned and these methods are much more familiar to us today, read on.
Flying reindeer making endless deliveries during one night meant that these animals exerted themselves to get the job done. Legend is that their tenacity consequently sprayed their blood and spit onto the landscape below to create a mushroom ring around the world, spreading spores to generate more mushrooms.
St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children, dates back to the 4th century. His reputation for kindness and generosity has immortalized him and is revered for his ability to create miracles for the poor and unhappy. He was the patron saint of Russia and Greece during the Middle Ages. Eventually, The Dutch introduced Sinterklaas as Santa Claus to American colonies in the 17th century.
In Lapland, local shamans would go out and harvest Amanita Muscaria mushrooms, which grow almost exclusively under pine trees.
They would hang harvested mushrooms on the pine trees or evergreens to dry them and reduce the weight of his big sack. Once adequately dried, the shaman (Santa) would deliver these gifts to every home around the world.
Santa has been described as an entheogen. An entheogen generates the God within. Perhaps this is how Santa knew if you were naughty or nice. Being under the influence of psychedelics is a deeply self-reflective state, and we are not able to deny what we know about the actions we’ve taken.
Northern tribes were not only reindeer herders, but also had a shamanic culture. They defined a shaman as one who knows or knows the spirits.
We have learned recently that if the Amanita Muscaria mushroom is prepared properly, it is not toxic nor does it require drinking urine.
The Egyptians figured out a way to consume the mushroom in a kind of sacred cake. Just around the time of the winter solstice, they would have a ritual honoring the anointed one ‘Christ’ by eating this sacred cake ‘Mas’.
Perhaps drinking urine is what needed to be done if the Shaman was away from home. Those that received the gift of the sacred mushroom through their chimneys were able to prepare the Fly agaric correctly and safely.
Logistics of delivery
How can global deliveries be made globally by one guy in a sled in one night? Finland and Siberia are so close to the North Pole that the Christmas Star was their guide.
Deliveries to such snowy landscapes meant that the Sami and the Siberians were snowed into their yurts and could not open their front door. Deliveries of harvested mushrooms from the local shaman would have to happen exclusively through the chimney.
Pine trees have a symbiotic and almost exclusive relationship with this mushroom. An ancient belief is that these mushrooms were the fruit of the pine tree. This ‘seedless’ fruit was a mushroom and thus labeled as virginal and therefore sacred.
Pine trees produce cones that oddly resemble the human pineal gland.
The human pineal gland is also the producer of DMT in our bodies, one of the major compounds also found in this mushroom. Truth be told, DMT is arguably found everywhere from plants to animals and inside our bodies. Highly psychoactive yet also indigenous to all living and growing beings.
Trees, in particular coniferous trees, were seen as portals between worlds for shamans and spirits to move between worlds. The placing of a star, the North Star, on top of a pine tree was thought to connect this Lower world to the Upper world.
Who’s been naughty or nice?
Children would write lists for Santa. Lists of toys they wanted to receive. Perhaps these lists are what we now call ‘Intentions’.
Santa would be fed with cookies by the children to make sure he could fulfill the rest of his deliveries and as an offering to their shaman.
Once down the fireplace, Santa would deliver the partially dried mushrooms to each household. These would be hung in stockings over the fireplace, strung along like garlands, or hung on the tree to be dried further for safe consumption.
Not every part of the holiday originates from the mystical and the divine.
Boxing Day originates from the tradition of the wealthy giving to the poor on the day after Christmas, which in itself is lovely and heart-warming.
The cool thing about growing up is that despite not having the same sense of wonder as I did when I was a child, We can now design our holiday rituals. With all these myths uncovered, maybe Christmas will be less about consumerism and more about wonder, awe, and connection.
For me, the Christmas holidays are about the careful use of entheogens. A time for personal reflection and community. A time to nurture me and those around me. A time to rest, hibernate, play, connect, laugh, and give.
The holidays don’t need to be chaotic and overwhelming. We get to choose. How will you celebrate this year now that we’ve figured out Santa was a shaman?
No matter how you celebrate, this year.
Shine bright. Do good. Flow strong.