Forget about Coca-Cola

There are some fifty varieties of amanita muscaria, a mushroom that is widely distributed amongst the birch and fir trees of northern Europe and Asia [...]

Amanita muscaria was cerainly widely used in Siberia, Lapland and other regions of the far north, where shamans once used it to induce journeys from which they returned with prophecies, solutions, remedies and songs. These were semi-nomadic people, who followed the seasonal migrations of their deer. When the deer went in search of the mushrooms, the herders would go with them. When the deer ate their mushrooms, the herders would drink their urine, consuming the fly agaric's alkaloids after they were processed by the deer. They would also drink each other's urine too [sic], and the mushroom could be passed through the bodies of half-a-dozen people before its potency was lost. Getting pissed is now associated with alcohol - in Britain, at least - but it was the reindeer herders who started the trend. [...]

One of the most enduring manifestations of [the fly agaric mushroom's] old shamanic routes visits the modern world every year when Santa Claus, dressed in red and white, flies through the sky in a sleigh drawn by reindeer bearing gifts from another world.
That's from Writing on Drugs by Sadie Plant (London et al., 1999: Faber, pp. 93-94), who does not cite any sources in support of this surprising contention but appears to be serious.

So, happy holidays everybody, and should you get pissed, make sure you spare a thought for the reindeer. I'll be visiting family, so you shouldn't expect any new posts here for a few days, but there will be updates at the film blog due to the marvels of Blogger's scheduling function. Ah, the wonders of modern technology. The greatest gift of them all!

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