One of the highlights of Graham Hancock’s lecture in support of his new book Entangled is when he shows us how the mythological character that he refers to as “Father Christmas” (better known in the U.S. as Santa Claus) has much in common with Siberian Tungus shamans who fly high on fly agaric (amanita muscaria) mushrooms, eaten by reindeer whose urine is then drunk by the shamans — and whose urine is then drunk by villagers, passing through up to seven bladders before potency is lost. Gross, right? Yes, but effective!
disinformation reader Dainius sent along a link to a similar account, saying it’s “about how the meme of Santa Claus was born in the minds of tribal psychonauts, and shows the fascinating links between Christmas and shamanism,” by Mark Adams at the Aminam Recro blog:
These red and white mushrooms, Amanita muscaria, were found in an alpine forest around Creede, Colorado. A. muscaria was the “sacred mushroom” used by the ancient tribal peoples of pre-Christian northern Europe. Its bright coloring suggests the colors of Santa’s garments and of holiday lights.
Although most people see Christmas as a Christian holiday, most of the symbols and icons we associate with Christmas celebrations are actually derived from the shamanistic traditions of the tribal peoples of pre-Christian northern Europe.
The sacred mushroom of these people was the red and white Amanita muscaria, also known as “fly agaric.” This mushroom commonly is seen in books of fairy tales and usually is associated with magic and fairies. It contains potent hallucinogenic compounds once used by ancient peoples for insight and transcendental experiences. Most of the major elements of the modern Christmas celebration, such as Santa Claus, Christmas trees, magical reindeer and the giving of gifts, are originally based upon the traditions surrounding the harvest and consumption of this most sacred mushroom.
The World Tree
Ancient peoples, including the Lapps of modern-day Finland, and the Koyak tribes of the central Russian steppes, believed in the idea of a World Tree. The World Tree was seen as a kind of cosmic axis onto which the planes of the universe are fixed. The roots of the World Tree stretch down into the underworld, its trunk is the “middle earth” of everyday existence, and its branches reach upwards into the heavenly realm.
Amanita muscaria grows only under certain types of trees, mostly firs and evergreens. The cap of the mushroom is the fruit of the larger mycelium beneath the soil which exists in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the tree. To ancient people, this mushroom was literally “the fruit of the tree.”
The North Star was also considered sacred, since all other stars in the sky revolved around its fixed point. They associated this “Pole Star” with the World Tree and the central axis of the universe. The top of the World Tree touched the North Star, and the spirit of the shaman would climb the metaphorical tree, thereby passing into the realm of the gods. This is the true meaning of the star on top of the modern Christmas tree, and also the reason that the super-shaman Santa makes his home at the North Pole…
[continues at the at the Aminam Recro blog]