Santa the Siberian Mushroom-Eating Shaman

Posted On December 28, 2006

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A group of US psychedelicists and a UK mycologist have suggested that the image and concept of Santa Claus may be derived from Siberian shamans.

During the midwinter festival in Siberia, which is not far from the North Pole, shamans allegedly entered yurts through the chimney, bringing with them as gifts for the inhabitants a sack of fly agaric mushrooms (Amanita Muscaria), potent hallucinogenic fungi with broad red caps that are flecked with white spots.

Because the fly agarics are most effective when consumed dry, the red and white mushrooms were supposedly hung by the fireplace, much like the modern American tradition of hanging stockings by the fire.

The reindeers associated with Santa (a red and white Santa, of course) also can be explained by this theory since shamans were known to have drunk the urine of reindeers that ingested the mushrooms. Shamans partook of this questionable tonic because the reindeer’s body would convert the chemicals in the mushroom from a toxic form to a safer hallucinogenic form.

The vision-inducing nature of the entheogenic mushrooms can also account for the flight of Santa and his reindeers.