One fantastic and wonderful origin theory of Santa Claus involves psychedelic mushrooms and shamanic rituals of the indigenous Sámi people who live in northern Finland. Paul Devereux wrote about this incredible hidden history in his fascinating 2008 book The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia. Then, Brooklyn filmmaker Matthew Salton blew mainstream minds with this fantastic New York Times "Op-Doc" short video on the topic.
For more on psychedelic Santa, check out the following pieces by Greg Taylor at the Daily Grail:
• "Santa is a Psychedelic Mushroom: Were Modern Christmas Traditions Influenced by Shamanic Folklore?"
• Santa's Long Trip Read the rest
In a Bolivian rock shelter likely used 1,000 years ago for religious rituals, archaeologists found a collection of drug paraphernalia that still contains traces of psychoactive plants. A pouch made from three fox snouts likely contained a stash of leaves and seeds. From New Scientist
(The items) include a 28-centimetre-long leather bag, a pair of wooden snuffing tablets, a snuffing tube, a pair of llama-bone spatulas, a textile headband, fragments of dried plant stems and a pouch made from three fox snouts stitched together. The snuffing tube and tablets feature ornate carvings of human-like figures.
Melanie Miller at the University of Otago, New Zealand, and her colleagues used mass spectrometry to analyse samples from the pouch and plant stems. They detected five psychoactive compounds: cocaine, benzoylecgonine (BZE), bufotenine, harmine and dimethyltryptamine (DMT).
The presence of these drugs suggests the pouch may have belonged to a ritual specialist or shaman with extensive knowledge of plants and their psychoactive properties, and used to hold leaves, seeds and other plant matter.
More in the scientific paper: "Chemical evidence for the use of multiple psychotropic plants in a 1,000-year-old ritual bundle from South America" (PNAS)
Read the rest