Santa is a Mushroom - The Shamanic Origins of Christmas

by Tahnee McCrossin December 06, 2021 2 mins read

SuperFeast | Santa is a Mushroom - The Shamanic Origins of Christmas

Have you ever wondered how on Earth we ended up with a man dressed in red and white dropping in through people’s chimneys with his flying reindeer friends as our Christmas fairy tale?


We all know that Santa is a fun guy (see what I did there?), with his jolly smile and his annual mission of delivering presents to children the world-over.

Mase has been sharing the shamanic origins of the Santa story for years and I love it. It’s always super interesting to think about where the cultural icons we grew up with actually originated from. We've also got a pretty wicked story about cordyceps and it's zombie-like characteristics!

You might’ve heard that Coca Cola created Santa (not entirely true, though they did craft the image of a fat, jolly Santa), but did you know that the real history of Santa involves shamans, mid-winter festivals and mushrooms?

In particular, a type of mushroom called Amanita muscaria, the beautiful red and white mushrooms you may remember from fairy tales you read as a kid.

The amanita also happens to be a pretty potent hallucinogen.

From Rudolph’s glowing red nose (yep, it’s a mushroom stuck on the end of his face there), to Santa entering through the chimney (necessary when the door to your yurt is buried in snow - and also a reference for entering another dimension with the help of a certain mushroom!), much of the lore of Santa can be explained by the shamanic traditions of the Arctic regions, specifically around Siberia.

"Santa is a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world," Professor Rush told LiveScience in 2012.

The Siberian shamans were well known for donning the red coats of reindeer to channel the animal’s spirits for their vision quests and the flying reindeer are indicative of what happens when one ingests the spotty red amanita…let’s just say that those reindeer aren’t REALLY flying. ;)

The reindeer reportedly LOVE getting a little wild on the amanitas, and are known to prance and dance (and leave yellow patches on the snow, which, when consumed {yep, reindeer pee!} that can get a wise old shaman high, too!) It was also common to receive dried fly agarics as a gift, hence the featuring of these ‘shrooms on many Christmas cards and in images of European Christmases.

The evolution of the Santa myth was later contributed to by the Scandivians. One of their gods, Odin, dons garb that is very similar to our modern Santa and visits children with gifts.

Kids in Scandinavia leave food for his horse, just like we do for the reindeer. As the story of Santa travelled, it's shamanic and pagan roots merged with Christianity and the myth was passed around through European and then American culture, leaving us our current incarnation of Santa - a fat, jolly dude with a fat, jolly wife and a tribe of elves.

Still sounds pretty trippy to us! :)

We’re not saying you should give your family THOSE kinds of magic mushrooms this Christmas, but we do think our Mason’s Mushrooms blend makes a pretty awesome gift (all the benefits of medicinal and functional mushrooms, minus the hallucinogenic effects!)

From all of us at SuperFeast, we're wishing you a very mushroom-y, joy-filled silly season and a Merry Christmas!!

New Scientist
Sagacious Mama
Books by John Rush

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