This Christmas, let’s go back to the old ways… we should all do some mushrooms. After all, it’s an ancient tradition. That’s right. A lot of our Christmas traditions honor the use of psychedelic mushrooms and the proof is visible throughout our current customs. But, it’s not about getting high. There is a deeper meaning behind the mushroom use. In fact, it’s the true origin story of the spirit of Christmas. In case you have never heard it, here is the story behind our holiday traditions and a mushroom hunting wordsearch.
Santa was a Koryak Shaman
The Koryak are the indigenous people of the Far East of Siberia. During the winter solstice, a Koryak Shaman would gather the hallucinogenic mushrooms, Amanita Muscaria. Donning red and white regalia to honor the mushrooms, the shaman would look for them under pine trees. On the eve of the winter solstice, they would use be mushrooms to go on a spiritual journey. The belief was that the mushrooms could answer any of the problems in the village that were still leftover from the previous year. Ultimately, this would wipe the slate clean and allow for a fresh start in the coming year. Now, who wouldn’t want that as a Christmas present?
Siberian Koryak Shamans
Amanita Muscaria – A Red and White Mushroom
Amanita muscaria is the mushroom that inspired Christmas and it grows from late summer to early winter. There have been very few reports of human death but Amanita muscaria are classified as poisonous. Noted for their hallucinogenic properties, these mushrooms also contain the natural stimulant ibotenic acid.
Known for increasing adrenaline, ibotenic acid causes increased physical strength and ability. So what does this mean? Eating these mushrooms would literally make you jump around as fast and far as they could, giving them the common name ‘fly amanita or fly agaric’. The use of these mushrooms can be seen in traditions such as:
Red and white Christmas colours
Santa’s ability to fly around the world in a night
Presents under a tree – Amanita muscaria typically can be found growing under pine and birch trees
Random Reindeer Fact – Reindeer are native to Siberia and they love Amanita muscaria. In fact, it’s their favorite food. We don’t know for certain whether the reindeer get high but their behavior is definitely suspicious. There have been numerous reports of prancing, jumping, and frolicking.
Every winter solstice, far in the North, someone dressed in red and white would collect brightly colored mushrooms. Eating the magical funghi would send them on a spiritual journey and they would be gifted with great knowledge. When their trip had ended, they would share this newfound wisdom with the village; giving people the ability to let go of their troubles for a fresh new year. Today, Christmas has definitely evolved into something else but this year, maybe it’s time to bring back tradition. Whether they are psychedelic or just plain delicious, honor the spirit of the holidays and eat some mushrooms.
Mushroom Christmas Wordsearch
It’s the time of year again… time to go gathering and find some fungi! The names of different mushrooms are hidden throughout the wordsearch below.