HO HO HO!
I hope that this day finds you happy, healthy, and joyous and that there is a fire in your fireplace, or at least in your heart!
We're having a melted winter here in Pennsylvania this winter day, it's raining actually, and although I'm not much into snow nowadays, I kinda miss it.
I miss those snowy Christmas mornings, so bright, and sparkly and clean...everything is like a pristine diamond...with a smell of pine and stuffed cabbage- that's a Romanian traditional dish, that my mom would always cook around Christmas.
Truly magical times.
And there were gifts...
Have you ever wondered why on Christmas every year we cut down and bring evergreen trees inside our homes?...decorate them with fancy ornaments, and put presents underneath them?
Well...I have a lesser accepted hypothesis for you...and it's a fun story, I promise.
At least it'll change the way you see Christmas.
Well here we go
For millennia, the indigenous people of Lapland and Siberia, known as the Sami, led by their shaman, performed magical healing rituals using the psychoactive mushroom Amanita Muscaria.
Imagine it's winter in Lapland, and the shaman- who's a healer, collects the mushrooms, dries them by hanging them on a tree-much like our Christmas tree ornaments, then loads them into a sack, and on December 21- which is the Winter Solstice, would go from house to house to deliver the gifts.
These shamans were mostly older, bearded men, and during these ceremonies and rituals, were wearing red and white garments, to honor the mushroom.
During the winter solstice, the entryway to the yurts was buried under several feet of snow, so the other alternative entryway was the smoke hole.
And his gifts were rather those of healing or advice... as the shamans, in the Amanita trance, would go get advice from a different realm, and bring back the gifts from the psychedelic trip.
And they were rewarded with food.
Lots of food.
The Amanita mushroom also has magical associations with animals.
Fly Agaric, as it is also called, is also a favorite food or reindeer, male ones in particular.
For thousands of years, the lives of Sami shamans and the reindeer have been entwined, and Amanita was important to both of them.
In autumn, the reindeer seek out the mushroom, even under snow- perhaps because of the effect of the mushroom?
In humans, the psychoactive chemical- muscimol- heightens senses and creates visions of flying...and we can only imagine that the reindeer seek out the mushroom so eagerly for the same effects.
The Sami shamans would consume the mushroom in their rituals and even drank urine from reindeer that were presumably under the influence, as the urine still has the psychoactive effects, without the toxins.
Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention. The Amanita Muscaria mushroom is a poisonous mushroom but can be dried, or metabolized by a reindeer or a human to neutralize the toxin.
We have a shaman from Lapland, which is the North Pole, who rides a reindeer-drawn sled, enters people's houses through their chimneys, eats red&white magical mushrooms, goes on a trip around the world in one night, and brings back gifts.
...And the reindeer love the same mushroom, which gives the sensation of flying.
So maybe...the Santa who travels the globe in one night, defying space&time...is actually a shaman!
With that knowledge, we can view Christmas in a different light...
Instead of a material holiday, as a time to think more spiritually about one's life, and gifts, and take this time for reflection, ad looking inward.
We can ask Santa for a different kind of gift.
The vision to dream about mushrooms, shamans, ancient rituals, and psychedelic reindeer.