anthropogen

: of, relating to, or resulting from the influence of human beings on nature

New book from the World Agroforestry Centre – Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

The World Agroforestry Centre is pleased to formally launch the book: Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

This book brings together a range of work around landscape approaches specifically looking at the pathways, methods and tools needed for achieving sustainable multifunctional landscapes within the context of climate change.  It draws strongly on field experiences and case studies from across the developing world to concretely demonstrate how the concept of taking a landscape approach can be applied both in policy and practice. It presents scientific evidence in a way that is accessible and applicable by mid-career practitioners and policymakers in a bid to bridge science, policy and practice. This includes a section specifically identifying opportunities for private sector involvement in landscape approaches.

Here’s a link to download a PDF of the book: Climate-Smart Landscapes: Multifunctionality in Practice

 

Psathyrellaceae, Coprinopsis nivea, Snowy ink cap – W. Sonoma, CA

I’m pretty sure this is Coprinopsis nivea, but I could be wrong. If you have an ID correction please let me know via the comment forum.

In the photo below you will observe the bright white mushroom growing in its typical horse dung habitat.

Here are some previous posts / photos of mushrooms from this site…

Click photo to enlarge.

Coprinus latisporus

The Amanita muscaria / Santa Claus connection…

You know the winter holidays are approaching when the enigmatic fungi Amanita muscaria start popping up. I took these a few days ago in W. Sonoma county. Here’s a previous post with some background info.

Below I have included two articles exploring the Amanita / Christmas / Santa Claus / Reindeer / Siberian Shamanism connection. So, if you’re interested in seeing beyond the hyper-materialistic  / mass consumerism impetus behind the modern Christmas holiday, and if you would like to add a bit more intrigue to this years festivities, read on. You will find there is much more than meets the eye to this age-old tradition – it’s not just about polar bear coca-cola ads and worldwide conifer tree massacre! Plus, the Amanita muscaria / Santa Claus connection makes for a great Christmas dinner conversation topic.

Amanita muscaria Amanita muscaria Amanita muscaria

Magic Mushrooms May Explain Santa & His ‘Flying’ Reindeer

By Douglas Main

This Christmas, like many before it and many yet to come, the story of Santa and his flying reindeer will be told, including how the “jolly old elf” flies on his sleigh throughout the entire world in one night, giving gifts to all the good children.

But according to one theory, the story of Santa and his flying reindeer can be traced to an unlikely source: hallucinogenic or “magic” mushrooms.

“Santa is a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world,” said John Rush, an anthropologist and instructor at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif.

According to the theory, the legend of Santa derives from shamans in the Siberian and Arctic regions who dropped into locals’ teepeelike homes with a bag full ofhallucinatory mushrooms as presents in late December, Rush said.

“As the story goes, up until a few hundred years ago these practicing shamans or priests connected to the older traditions would collect Amanita muscaria (the Holy Mushroom), dry them, and then give them as gifts on the winter solstice,” Rush told LiveScience. “Because snow is usually blocking doors, there was an opening in the roof through which people entered and exited, thus the chimney story.”

But that’s just the beginning of the symbolic connections between the Amanita muscaria mushroom and the iconography of Christmas, according to several historians and ethnomycologists, or people who study the influence fungi has had on human societies. Of course, not all scientists agree that the Santa story is tied to a hallucinogen.

Presents under the tree

In his book “Mushrooms and Mankind” (The Book Tree, 2003) the late author James Arthur points out that Amanita muscaria, also known as fly agaric, lives throughout the Northern Hemisphere under conifers and birch trees, with which the fungi —which is deep red with white flecks — has a symbiotic relationship. This partially explains the practice of the Christmas tree, and the placement of bright red-and-white presents underneath, which look like Amanita mushrooms, he wrote.

“Why do people bring pine trees into their houses at the Winter Solstice, placing brightly colored (red and white) packages under their boughs, as gifts to show their love for each other … ?” he wrote. “It is because, underneath the pine bough is the exact location where one would find this ‘Most Sacred’ substance, the Amanita muscaria, in the wild.”

Reindeer are common in Siberia, and seek out these hallucinogenic fungi, as the area’s human inhabitants have been known to do. Donald Pfister, a biologist who studies fungi at Harvard University, suggests that Siberian tribesmen who ingested fly agaric may have hallucinated into thinking that reindeer were flying.

“Flying” reindeer

“At first glance, one thinks it’s ridiculous, but it’s not,” said Carl Ruck, a professor of classics at Boston University. “Whoever heard of reindeer flying? I think it’s becoming general knowledge that Santa is taking a ‘trip’ with his reindeer,” Ruck said.

“Amongst the Siberian shamans, you have an animal spirit you can journey with in your vision quest,” Ruck continued. ” And reindeer are common and familiar to people in eastern Siberia. They also have a tradition of dressing up like the [mushroom] … they dress up in red suits with white spots.”

Ornaments shaped like Amanita mushrooms and other depictions of the fungi are also prevalent in Christmas decorations throughout the world, particularly in Scandinavia and northern Europe, Pfister points out. That said, Pfister made it clear that the connection between modern-day Christmas and the ancestral practice of eating mushrooms is a coincidence, and he doesn’t know about any direct link.

Many of these traditions were merged or projected upon Saint Nicholas, a fourth-century saint who was known for his generosity, as the story goes.

The Santa connection

There is little debate about the consumption of mushrooms by Arctic and Siberian tribes’ people and shamans, but the connection to Christmas traditions is more tenuous, or “mysterious,” as Ruck put it.

Many of the modern details of the modern-day American Santa Claus come from “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (which later became famous as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”), an 1823 poem credited to Clement Clarke Moore, an aristocratic academic who lived in New York City.

The origins of Moore’s vision are unclear, although Arthur, Rush and Ruck all think he probably drew from northern Europe motifs that derive from Siberian or Arctic shamanic traditions. At the very least, Arthur wrote, Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are references back to various related Northern European mythology. For example, the Norse god Thor (known in German as “Donner”) flew in a chariot drawn by two goats, which have been replaced in the modern retelling by Santa’s reindeer, Arthur wrote.

Ruck points to Rudolf as another example of the mushroom imagery resurfacing: his nose looks exactly like a red mushroom, he said.  “It’s amazing that a reindeer with a red-mushroom nose is at the head, leading the others.”

Some doubt

Other historians were unaware of a connection between Santa and shamans or magic mushrooms, including Stephen Nissenbaum, who wrote a book about the origins of Christmas traditions, and Penne Restad, at the University of Texas.

One historian, Ronald Hutton, told NPR that the theory of a mushroom-Santa connection is off-base. “If you look at the evidence of Siberian shamanism, which I’ve done,” Hutton said, “you find that shamans didn’t travel by sleigh, didn’t usually deal with reindeer spirits, very rarely took the mushrooms to get trances, didn’t have red-and-white clothes.” But Rush and Ruck say these statements are incorrect; shamans did deal with reindeer spirits, and the depiction of their clothes’ coloring has more to do with the colors of the mushroom than the shamans’ actual garb. As for sleighs, the point isn’t the exact mode of travel, but that the “trip” involves transportation to a different, celestial realm, Rush said.

“People who know about shamanism accept this story,” Ruck said. “Is there any other reason that Santa lives in the North Pole? It is a tradition that can be traced back to Siberia.”

Read original article here.

Here’s another related recent article, find the original article here.

Did Magic Mushrooms Send Santa & His Reindeer ‘Flying’? Investigating Pre-Christian Santa Folklore

by .

As a child, the Christmas season always represented great things. The holiday cheer, the familial celebrations, and most exciting of all, presents. But as I grew into adulthood, the sparkling veil of the Christmas season soon revealed it’s true form – a religious-based, commercial lie meant to perpetuate consumerism and materialism.

I eventually let go of my jaded view of Christmas, and created my own meaning for the holiday season, which now saw the end of the year as a dedicated time to spend with the ones I love, and to reflect on the experiences and lessons of the previous year. Not that Christmas is the only time to do this, but let’s face it, life has a tendency to otherwise keep us preoccupied.

But recently my views on Christmas were challenged once again, after reading up on the pre-Christian history of Santa Claus and his ‘magical’ reindeer. I was shocked to hear a proposed theory of the story’s origins, which explained how Santa may have originally been a northern Eurasian shaman who used the psychedelic mushroom amanita muscaria, and that many of the well known Christmas symbols, such as the tree, the star, and the gifts, were actually inspired by esoteric practices involving the red and white magic mushroom.

A Siberian Shaman With A Bag Of Special ‘Gifts’

ShamanClaus

In his articleMagic Mushrooms May Explain Santa & His ‘Flying’ Reindeer, author Douglas Main explains how the story of Santa and his flying reindeer can be traced to an unlikely source: hallucinogenic or “magic” mushrooms. Speaking with John Rush, an anthropologist and instructor at Sierra College in Rocklin, California, Main learned more about Santa’s story.

“Santa is a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world,” said Rush.

According to the theory, the legend of Santa derives from shamans in the Siberian and Arctic regions who dropped into locals’ teepee-like homes with a bag full of hallucinatory mushrooms as presents in late December.

As the story goes, up until a few hundred years ago these practicing shamans or priests connected to the older traditions would collect Amanita muscaria (the Holy Mushroom), dry them, and then give them as gifts on the winter solstice,” Rush told LiveScience. “Because snow is usually blocking doors, there was an opening in the roof through which people entered and exited, thus the chimney story.”

The Christmas Tree Connection

Amanita muscaria grows freely around conifers and birch trees. Could the tradition of placing presents under the tree be symbolic of psychedelic fungi's symbiotic relationship to forest trees?

In his book, Mushrooms and Mankindlate author James Arthur points out that amanita muscaria, also known as fly agaric, lives throughout the Northern Hemisphere under conifers and birch trees, with which the fungi —which is deep red with white flecks — has a symbiotic relationship. This partially explains the practice of the Christmas tree, and the placement of bright red-and-white presents underneath, which look like Amanita mushrooms, he wrote.

From Northern Antiquities, an English translation of the Prose Edda from 1847. Painted by Oluf Olufsen Bagge.

Why do people bring pine trees into their houses at the Winter Solstice, placing brightly colored (red and white) packages under their boughs, as gifts to show their love for each other … ?” he wrote. “It is because, underneath the pine bough is the exact location where one would find this ‘Most Sacred’ substance, the Amanita muscaria, in the wild.”

Author Dana Larsen elaborated on the pre-Christian symbology of the Christmas tree in her article, The Psychedelic Secrets of Santa.She explains how the ancient northern European people, including the Lapps of modern-day Finland, and the Koyak tribes of the central Russian steppes, believed in the idea of a World Tree. The World Treewas seen as a kind of cosmic axis, onto which the planes of the universe are fixed. The roots of the World Tree stretch down into the underworld, its trunk is the “middle earth” of everyday existence, and its branches reach upwards into the heavenly realm.

The North Star was also considered sacred, since all other stars in the sky revolved around its fixed point. They associated this “Pole Star” with the World Tree and the central axis of the universe. The top of the World Tree touched the North Star, and the spirit of the shaman would climb the metaphorical tree, thereby passing into the realm of the gods” wrote Larsen.

“So Up To The House-Top The Coursers They Flew”: Breaking Down The ‘Flying’ Reindeer

Perhaps one of the most memorable aspects of Santa Claus mythology are his co-pilot counterparts, his flying reindeer.

Reindeer are rampant in Siberia, and are also known to include various fungi in their diet, as seen in the BBC Weird Nature video below.

Donald Pfister, a biologist who studies fungi at Harvard University, suggests that Siberian tribesmen who ingested fly agaric (amanita muscaria) may have hallucinated into thinking that reindeer were flying.

At first glance, one thinks it’s ridiculous, but it’s not,” said Carl Ruck, a professor of classics at Boston University. “Whoever heard of reindeer flying? I think it’s becoming general knowledge that Santa is taking a ‘trip’ with his reindeer,” Ruck said.

Controversy Over Linking The Pre-Christian Santa To The Modern Day Version of St. Nick

As convincing as the theory may be, many historians and anthropologists disagree with the Amanita shamanic version of Santa Claus, and claim that our current depiction of the jolly old man has in fact evolved from a 4th century Greek-Christian bishop named Saint Nicholas, who was known for his generous gifts to the poor.

A 13th-century depiction of St. Nicholas.

Then, in 1823, a New York City aristocratic academic by the name of Clement Clarke Moore wrote the infamous poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (which later became “Twas The Night Before Christmas“), which was thought to have been inspired by the Christian bishop, and which envisioned an entirely new portrayal of St. Nick.  Throughout the next few centuries, the image of Santa Claus became ubiquitous throughout Western culture, and was re-sculpted and refined by clever marketing organizations such as Coca Cola. Hence the fat, bearded character we know today.

cokelore_santa_toys_cutout

But Germanic folklore tells an even different story of the true origins of Santa Claus. Prior to Christianization, the Germanic peoples celebrated a midwinter event called Yule. With the Christianization of Germanic Europe, numerous traditions were absorbed from Yuletide celebrations into modern Christmas. During this period, supernatural and ghostly occurrences were said to increase in frequency, such as the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky. The leader of the wild hunt is frequently attested as the god Odin, who bears the Old Norse names Jólnir, meaning “yule figure” and the name Langbarðr, meaning “long-beard.”

An 1886 depiction of the long-bearded Germanic god Odin by Georg von Rosen.

James Arthur wrote that at the very least, Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are references back to various related Northern European mythology. For example, the Norse god Thor (known in German as “Donner”) flew in a chariot drawn by two goats, which have been replaced in the modern retelling by Santa’s reindeer.

So Where Does Santa Really Come From?

santa2

The true origins of the pre-Christian Santa are convoluted to say the least, however, one can only consider that the version we see of Santa today is a conglomerate of folklore and mythology from multiple Eurasian cultures of the past. Therein lies the issue of tracing Santa’s true beginnings.

 

Lactarius fragilis, candy cap mushroom – W. Sonoma, CA

Two photos of Lactarius fragilis mushrooms from W. Sonoma County. As they dry out these intriguing mushrooms smell increasingly like maple syrup and are best cooked into deserts due to their unique aroma / flavor.

Here’s a previous post from two years ago with more info and photos on the Candy Cap mushroom.

Click photos to enlarge.

Lactarius fragilis Lactarius fragilis