Within the “previous world”, the psychoactive legal highs fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) has been intently related to northern European and Asiatic shamans and their rituals. Researchers have documented its use or presumed use by quite a few cultures all through Europe and Asia. In Siberia, its use predates the crossing of the Bering Straits into North America.
Through the Pleistocene, using fly agaric entered Alaska, unfold out throughout North America, and ultimately south into Mesoamerica. Nonetheless, using the fly agaric mushroom fell by the wayside within the “new world” as a result of availability of liberty cap mushrooms (Psilocybe spp.). Liberty caps grew to become the popular psychoactive fungi as they had been extra simply tolerated and produced extra intense experiences.
Fly-Agaric’s Affect on Trendy Midwinter and Christmas Celebrations
Why does Santa Claus put on a crimson coat and pants trimmed with white fur and black boots? Why does Santa come down the chimney and into the home to ship his items? Why do reindeer pull Santa’s sleigh? Why does Santa carry his items in a sack? Why does Santa have such rosy cheeks?
There’s a saying that behind each delusion lies a wee little bit of reality. The reply to those questions could also be present in pre-Christian rituals practiced in northern Europe on the time of the winter solstice. The gathering, preparation, and use of fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita muscaria) had been central to many northern European and Asian peoples’ winter solstice celebrations and ceremonies.
Within the days main as much as the winter solstice, the fly agaric mushroom seems beneath timber, principally firs and spruces. The fly agaric mushroom’s cap is darkish crimson to reddish-orange with creamy-white small patches dotting the cap in an irregular sample.
In central Asia, shamans wore particular clothes to gather the fly agaric mushrooms. Their coats and pants had been crimson with the collar and cuffs trimmed with white fur and topped off with black boots. The shaman collected the fly agaric mushrooms in a particular sack. After accumulating the mushrooms, the shaman would return to his village and enter the yurt (a conveyable tent dwelling) by means of the smoke gap on the roof; does this sound acquainted?
Through the ceremonial ritual, the shaman would devour and share the sacred mushrooms with the members. The smoke gap was a gateway or portal into the religious world the place the individuals would expertise many visions. Among the many Sami (Laplander) peoples, the hallucinations related to ingestion of fly agaric gave the feeling of flying in a “religious sleigh” pulled by reindeer or horses (i.e., Santa in his sleigh journeying out into the evening to present items).
A facet impact from consuming fly agaric mushrooms was a rosy, crimson flush to the cheeks and face. Widespread winter rituals included drying and stringing fly agaric mushrooms close to the fireside. To at the present time, many individuals everywhere in the world nonetheless beautify the household fireplace and Christmas tree with strings of popcorn, cranberries, and mushroom ornaments. It’s a reminder that many winter solstice traditions have long-forgotten histories introduced ahead into fashionable secular festivities, together with the Christmas vacation.