Just say “No” to Santa

Tis the season to conflate religion with profligate consumerism. It is a time to pretend that shepherds would be herding in the middle of winter so that the birth of a savior might coincide with pagan, winter solstice festivals. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that.

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The above picture is from a shopping mall in Dubai. How’s that for juxtaposing culture? But what i want you to look at is the base of the tree. See all those Smurf mushrooms?

Those are Amanita muscaria…otherwise known as fly agaric. They are particularly common in boreal forests and prefer life in the company of evergreen trees. They may be associated with Christmas because of the trees we choose to bring into our homes to celebrate the holiday. They also may be the explanation for flying reindeer and chimney slithering.

Reindeer are an odd animal to pull Santa’s sleigh because, well, there aren’t that many places where you can find reindeer (or caribou for that matter). Of course Santa lives in the far, far north and reindeer live in the same place so maybe it’s just a choice of geographical necessity for the old man. On the other hand, why would Santa want to live in the far north? Since he has access to flying reindeer he could live pretty much anywhere. The Sami of Lapland have flying reindeer too, though today they’re a little bit radioactive because of fallout from Chernobyl. Sami reindeer fly because they’re quite happy to supplement their diet of moss and lichen with Amanita muscaria, which is a fairly toxic/fun mushroom to consume. The Sami are known to follow tripping reindeer and collect the urine…which they drink. Now everyone’s flying. The toxicity of the mushroom makes for some unpleasant side effects, but the reindeer process most of the nastiness out of the mushroom while the urine retains all the fun.

Use of A. muscaria is widespread throughout Siberia as well. In times of mid winter mushroom festivities, the shaman will descend through the smoke hole of the yurt with a big bag of shrooms. When everything’s set and done, he makes his exit the same way…a feat that probably requires the mushrooms in the sack. It is also interesting to note that the shamans wear special attire for the pre-festival, mushroom gathering work: red and white fur.

Maybe there’s nothing to all this except coincidence. Perhaps we’re just dealing with a good story based on Christian saints in Europe bringing a little cheer and joy to children. But we must consider that our Christmas celebration has the ability to unlock subconscious desires and knowledge of our ancient ways. It may be high time that the DEA takes a long look at ole Saint Nick. The old coot might well be on the wrong side of the War on Drugs. Just look at how he tempts our children with freebies. Everything about his behavior suggests the pernicious acts of a common drug dealer. Tell me, how can he afford that pimped out sleigh when he doesn’t even have a job?

So when the kiddies stay up late in hopes of hearing the hooves of reindeer on the roof, keep in mind that they might really be hoping for the yellow snow more than a new bike. Keep an eye on them, because once they start running with the Santa crowd they probably won’t ever grow up to be president. You’ll be dragging them off of street corners and locking them in bathrooms for detox. Think about your children when you tempt the old man with milk and cookies, and remember…he’s only jolly when he’s high. You don’t want to deal with him when he needs a fix; he might just take your TV up the chimney with him.

Photo Credit:The Huffpo

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~ by Lex on December 25, 2008.

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