What if universally celebrated and everyone’s favorite Christmas character-santa claus – was a drug consuming shaman? And instead of gifts, he just brought wisdom and solutions to people’s problems? Do you reckon he’d still be as popular as the western pop culture has made him?
The origin of santa Claus can be traced back to numerous traditions and theories, like the story of saint Nicholas, a fourth-centuray Greek saint known for his generosity. Santa claus’ exemplar image can be dated to hundreds of years and even be found in the most unpredictable places and times.
Since the pre-christian era, this time of year has been associated with festivities and celebration’s. For example, Germanic people’s had the midwinter festival, yule, with occured around the winter solstice (21st December). The Romans also celebrated saturnalia, a celebration in honour of the god Saturn held on 17th December through 23rd December.
According to a new theory, Santa’s legend was born out of ancient shamans that existed in the region between Finland and Sweden. His origins can be interpreted from shamanic traditions followed by the Sami people indigenous to “Lapland”. The area is part of present day Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia.
Studies on the use of psychoactive elements in religious and ancient culturals rituals have found that Sami shamans of Lapland consumed a psychoactive and toxic mushroom called Amanita muscaria-‘the Holy mushroom.’
The mushroom allegedly gave psychic abilities and helped people to connect to supernatural realms. It is said that among the Sami, there was belief that those who consumed Amanita muscaria started to look like one with red blotches and a round figure.
This image of the shaman, who rode in on reindeer-pulled sleds and entered locals’ tents from the chimney, due to snow at the front doors, might have given the basis for the lore of santa. The shamans collected Amanita muscaria, dried them, and then gave them as gifts on the winter solstice.
The shaman was paid in food for the good news he brought, much like santa Claus paid in milk and cookies for all the gifts he brings. Researchers believe that the “gifts” that ancient shamans brought were more spiritual rather than worldly.