I have a few friends who are serious mushroom pickers on Vancouver island, who are very busy, as this is the season. I've been spoiled, I must have eaten a dozen chanterelle based meals in the last month. The other day I noticed two really beautiful mushrooms drying:
A little bit of research shows me that the world's most familiar looking toadstool is officially named Amanita Muscaria. Now I've heard of hallucinogenic mushrooms before, but I thought they all were based off Psilocybin. Anyway, this has taken me to all kinds of interesting places researching these locally found mushrooms, but the most interesting discovery was today, when I learned that apparently these mushrooms are why we have Christmas!?
- Most common Christian holidays were forcefully stolen from a pagan ritual and rebranded for their purposes, and Christmas is no exception. (historical experts guesstimate Jesus' birthday around June or July)
- Santa Claus, the North American character as we know him today was a marketing gimmick created, and still proudly claimed by Coca-Cola, based off the Dutch Sinterklaas. This goes back to the pagan god of Odin, who hosted Yule(tide), which was a great hunting party in the sky.
- The amanita muscaria mushrooms grow only under certain types of trees, mostly firs and evergreens. So when you have presents under this type of tree, it is to celebrate the time of year when these type of mushrooms would grow under such trees.
- Unlike a lot of poisons or drugs that animals avoid, reindeer are often found in the same regions as where these mushrooms are found, and will happily eat them. These mushrooms provide extra energy to those who consume it as well as potential euphoric and hallucinogenic properties (including sensations of size distortion and flying), giving the active, jumping reindeer the affect of flying.
- A lot of this came from Scandinavia, where at the time the locals would live in 'yurts', which are like a teepee with a large hole in the middle; used both for ventilation as well as an entrance/exit. Hence, you would get these gifts brought to you down the chimney.
- The red outfit and white round buttons on his jacket and hat should be obvious at this point...
So in fact Christmas was created by pagans to celebrate this solstice, and the special harvest around this time of year. So which Christmas are you going to celebrate? This original holiday? The racist Dutch version of Christmas with Sinterklass and Black Peter? Or the Christmas that Christians stole from the Pagans? Or the commercialized Christmas that Coca-Cola stole from the Christians?
Regardless, I hope we can all agree it should be a little less about consumerism and a little more about friends and family... Happy holidays!
As a footnote regarding the mind altering properties of these mushrooms:
These mushrooms can effectively be called drugs, I don't condone or recommending eating these. If you do, first please do your research. This includes all of the drug related information from Erowid on Amanita Muscaria, as well as your local library, and after talking to your doctor and local mushroom experts who've verified what you're about to eat isn't poison, like the white Death Cap (Amanita phalloides). Unlike psilocybin, a tryptamine, the muscimol found in these mushrooms is a potent, selective agonist of the GABAA receptor; this means it's a more of a dissociative than a psychedelic experience.