The psychedelic origins of Santa Claus

[Video Link] guyjames says:

Is the myth of Santa Claus inspired by tales of Siberian shamans consuming sacred mushrooms? Why do we decorate our Christmas tree with tinsel and a star on top? Was Santa an early psychedelic voyager?

I have written a song and made an accompanying video exploring these important questions!

The song was inspired by this article by Dana Larsen: The psychedelic secrets of Santa Claus

Previously on Boing Boing: Reindeer on shrooms


  1. “Santa is two letters switched from Satan. I don’t trust him.”

    (Can’t argue with that!)

    [Trivia question of the day:  What does “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and African massacres and a Swedish oil company, and a former Swedish prime minister, and Wikileaks and Sweden’s political obsession to extradite Julian Assange have in common?  For the answer, please see outstanding example of investigative journalism below — Svenska style!]

    1. “shroons” are not the same as the red and white mushrooms!!!! as different as daisies and roses… 

  2. The tree is symbolic of the tree of knowledge.  The star or angel or top is symbolic of the ‘I am that I am’ or the true I of the inner self.  The globes are representative of the chakras or inner energy centers, the smaller lights symbolic of the points along the meridians.  The gifts under the tree are symbolic of the spiritual gifts (inner sight, divine knowledge, perceptual capacities, etc.) that a seeker of knowledge can gain by following a spiritual path.  When the tree is lit, the light shines brightly, symbolizing inner light, or consciousnessbliss.  (When it’s on fire, it’s symbolic of the need for the fire department to send the outer light back into darkness).  You can see this closely paralleled in Kabbalistic, Sufi, Tantric, and Tibetan Buddhist spiritual traditions.  I can’t really look at a Xmas tree in the same way after that.  Also, no fucking clue on Santa, but the theory sounds very promising.  

  3. shrooms+ similiar  kick started imagination. we owe them much. if shrooms were a part of “initiation” we would be a far saner populace. they may have been the decorations on the tree?  whilst drying ?

  4. Trivia time! Shrooms work their magic by constricting blood flow to the brain. You trip on shrooms because your brain is asphyxiating. The notion that our Solstice-time symbolism has its roots in drug use seems like the kind of idea a person with a choked-out brain might have.

      1. I wasn’t sure who was being silly here, but a quick wikipedia check suggests that RJ is either tripping or trolling (perhaps both?)

  5. If you found that interesting and want to know more about the origins of our modern Santa, check out this video, A Brief History of Santa, by the always informative and entertaining C G P Grey.
    I’m Santa, and I approve this message.

  6. Hi, I’m the author of this song – thanks for featuring it!

    Just as a shameless promotional pitch I’d like to add that the song is now available as a super-duper high quality name-your-price (until the official end of Christmas on January 6th) download from my bandcamp site:

    Why not buy it for a fundamentalist Christian in your life and have a chuckle at their confusion, while also simultaneously helping a starving artist just before Christmas? ;)

  7. It’s easy to dismiss this as nonsense, but there clearly is something to it, if you know about the history of santa claus.
    To start with, one of the “main ingredients” of this mythical figure is an older preceding mythical figure named st’ Nicholas, in the Netherlands know as “Sinterklaas”, Sinterklaas has always had one or more “black helpers”, figures who were often depicted as more or less devilish, lake Krampus, or Père Fouettard (the whip man) in France. Its is generally thought that this Christian tradition has roots in a much earlier midwinter flying man with black helpers, namely Odin and his two black ravens. The two ravens were called huggin (from old Norse “thought”) and Muninn (Old Norse “memory” or “mind”) and these two roamed the world of the humans and told Odin all that happened in the human world (including who was naughty and who was nice).

    Now in a Old Norse verse Odin claims that when he “sent out” his thought and his mind Odin was always worried they might not return.

    The theory is that odin is a depiction of a shaman that goes into a trance, not unlike a shaman from native americans who claimed to have an “animal spirit” they could call up using psychedelia. In such a state a shaman was said to be able to send out his spirit while his body stayed put. This was considered to be a dangerous thing to do because there was always a risk that the mind of the shaman could not “return to the body”.

Comments are closed.