The Possible Psychedelic Origins of Christmas

There is a theory that the origin of the Christmas story involves “magic” mushrooms. At first glance, this theory may seem far-fetched and out of the ordinary expectations of what Christmas is all about. But there are many elements of the well-known holiday tradition that can be explained by this psychedelic history. “Magic” mushrooms are hallucinogenic substances that can alter your perceptions by influencing your senses and thoughts.

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Specifically, the Amanita Muscaria toadstool mushrooms are red with white spots. They have been used and prepared by shamans to induce high levels of consciousness that facilitate spiritual growth and produce vivid visionary experiences. A shaman is a medicine man or healer that has a powerful connection with nature and all creations of the universe. This leader will perform spiritual ceremonies among Indigenous cultures around the world and travel to sacred places to reawaken the energy of the land. Shamans know the universal spiritual wisdom of various Indigenous tribes, and their practices are rooted in nature.


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The Siberian shamans who worked with these mushrooms would ceremonially dress in red and white to honour the hallucinogenic Amanita Muscaria. Collecting the mushrooms was a task for the shamans during the winter solstice, and these special mushrooms were typically grown under pine trees. After the shamans picked bunches of these mushrooms, they would hang some on the leaves of trees to dry, and deliver them to the huts of the villagers. Carefully preparing the substance was an extremely important part of the ritual, because they have a natural toxicity in addition to their psychedelic properties. Drying the mushrooms before use reduced the toxicity, so villagers often placed their delivered gifts in bags by a fireplace.

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To deliver the special substances to the villagers, shamans would often have to go through the tops of huts because it was the only opening that wasn’t covered by snow. They would carry with them their bag of the Amanita Muscaria mushrooms for the well-behaved villagers. It was a special treat for those who were ready to experience psychedelic trances. During a hallucinatory experience, perceptions dramatically alter and may cause the user to perceive the common world around them in a drastically different way than they normally would. It can seem to the user like they have taken a strange trip to a foreign territory. The experience can be perceived as exceptionally enlightening or completely frightening depending on a variety of factors, such as the mindset of the user before ingesting the hallucinogenic substance.


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Animals that have been proven to like the Amanita Muscaria are reindeers, who actively seek out this special mushroom. Reindeers are common in Siberia and were also viewed as spirit animals of the shamans. It is said in this origin story that Shamans would actually drink the urine of the animals who have ingested this fungi to induce psychedelic experiences. The effects of the Amanita Muscaria mushroom include visions of people and animals flying as well as spiritual understandings.


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Now that we know some details of the psychedelic origin story, let’s lay out aspects of the Christmas story to find some strange comparisons. Every year around the end of December, a jolly old man dressed in red is said to come down the chimneys of everyone’s home bringing a bag full of gifts. He is carried through the sky by his magical flying reindeer to deliver presents for the good children of the world. To prepare for his arrival, we cut down pine trees and set them up in our homes. We decorate these trees with fancy ornaments that are typically red and white, and we hang stockings by the fireplace. Do we actually know why we do all of these things, or has it become a tradition that lacks a coherent origin?


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This theory involving hallucinogenic mushrooms can actually explain why the Christmas story involves fictitious creatures such as flying reindeer and a jolly old man dressed in red who brings presents to those who have been good throughout the year. The psychedelic experience brought on by the mushroom would induce altered states of consciousness which may be how these stories of our beloved tradition were likely formed. These are just some of the similarities between the tradition of Christmas and the stories of Shaman’s and “magic” mushrooms.


Although Christmas has been transformed into a highly materialistic holiday, where giving expensive presents is a common way to express love, this psychedelic origin story provides an alternate idea of what Christmas is all about. The true spirit of these yearly festivities is said to have evolved from celebrating the gift of the Amanita Muscaria mushroom from the earth.


If you would like more information about this possible origin story, you can check out the links below and/or watch this video