Naughty or Nice: The Shaman Knows

I find it hard to believe that this Santa debunking, especially with its ethnobotanical connections to mushrooms, has eluded me all these years.

And the jury is still out on the extent of validity to these claims of shamanistic rituals involving raindeers flying (high on shrooms), bags of gifts (Amanita mushrooms–bright red with white flecks–dried in stockings by the fire overnight); the Earth Tree whose tip was the NORTH star…and a number of other SantOID factlets.

Here is a list of resources from many many more. In an earlier day, I’d have done more work to weave this into a story of my own, but today–NAH. And of course, Clement Moore did his part, and Coke did their part to pimp the jolly ol’ Cheer Leader of Seasonal Consumption, for whom I left cookies on a plate more than one Christmas Eve.

And final proof of his existence: the cookies were GONE the next morning!

The Shamanic Origins of Christmas

Have a Merry, Trippy Christmas | Psychology Today

Santa is a ‘shroom. And the reindeer are all tripping. – Steph’s BestSteph’s Best

Did ‘Shrooms Send Santa And His Reindeer Flying? : NPR


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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. As often happens, I learn something brand new and of interest to my old botanical-major mind! What fun these factoids are!

  2. Did the carrot you left for the reindeer get partially eaten & have large tooth marks on the remaining piece?

    And, Santa also drank some of the cocoa that was left for him.

    You just have to believe.

  3. A useful starting point might be Ronald Hutton’s book. The subject of shamanism is a treacherous one, one that can lead you in circles until you are quite lost. I got interested in it when I was completing my degree in anthropology and I’ve never lost interest in it, but a core interest in shamanism leads to many other threads of inquiry, which will consume vast amounts of time. Certainly, David Abrams’ books are very much related to an interest in shamanism. Enjoy your adventures, but be sure and take a large container of salt with you!