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75. What do thankfulness and hallucinations have in common?

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Let's Talk Holidays

The word Holiday once referred to religious days - a Holy Day. However, the term has morphed to mean a time of celebration, time away from work, time with family, or a time to travel... "I'm taking a holiday in Greece." I wish :))

In a belated acknowledgment of the Thanksgiving Holiday, I'd like to give thanks to each of you for supporting Spiral Herbal Remedies over the years. I'm extremely grateful.

I spent the Holiday with family and my partner Brian. We drove 3 1/2 hours each way, which gave us time to talk about our lives, and priorities while taking in what was often a spectacular landscape while rolling through the hills and along the coastline of CT. The drive was intersected by a big family, a big table, lots of love, and fabulous food. (We also had great ventilation, air purifiers, and everyone took Covid tests in advance. I know, I wish it was over too.)

Christmas, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, and Hanukkah are some of the Holidays coming up in December. I celebrate Christmas, although I'm no longer affiliated with a religion. For me, the Holidays are all about getting together with family.

This time of year has long been sacred to cultures around the globe as evidenced by enormous constructed structures that align with the Solstice on December 21st. These include Neolithic structures such as Newgrange in Ireland and Stonehenge in England along with Tulum in Mexico, and the Cerro del Gentil pyramid, in Peru.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice brings the shortest, darkest day of the year with only 8 hours and 43 minutes of sunlight. So why celebrate? This is also a transitional moment celebrating the needed pause for darkness, hibernation, and dormancy as well as the reality of moving into the light with incrementally longer days.

There are many traditions that predate and inspire ideas around Santa, the well-known representative of the Christmas Holiday. (If you've heard this story before, go ahead and skip to the end.) The most intriguing for me comes from the Sami people of central Asia and Lapland. In preparation for solstice ceremonies, shamans would collect the sacred fly agaric mushroom which grew under evergreen trees in the weeks leading up to the solstice. (Gifts under a tree.)

They wore red coats and pants trimmed in white fur around their collars and cuffs, along with tall black boots. They collected the mushrooms in special sacks. Upon returning home, they would sometimes enter their yurt, sack in hand, through the smoke hole on the roof. (This seems like a stretch but apparently, this second entryway was used if doorways were obstructed by snow.)

On the solstice, the shaman would conduct a ceremonial ritual that involved consuming the sacred mushrooms. These mind-altering fungi caused hallucinations that created the sensation of flying while allowing the shamans to commune with the spirit world.

The Sami peoples of Lapland rely on Reindeer for transportation, milk, and meat. Reindeer have a particular affinity for these mushrooms and seek them out during this growing season. When consumed the reindeer run around aimlessly, jump into the air, and make strange noises. (cough cough)

Some legends and traditions survive the passage of time. Some are adopted by other cultures and are given new context and meaning. If you look, you can often find their origin is rooted in truth.

***A word of caution *** Fly Ageric is considered poisonous. Shamans knew how to safely use these mushrooms. Some texts even suggest that the shamans collected reindeer urine and drank it rather than consuming the mushroom itself.

The Holiday season is a time of gift-giving and Spiral Herbal Remedies has plenty to offer. The Holidays can also be stressful, leading to health issues.

To help you navigate this time, use the coupon code JUMPINGREINDEER for10% off purchases in our shop - located at 810 Washington Ave, Brooklyn. Or click on this link to shop online.

The coupon is good through December 14th.

Again, please accept my deepest gratitude for your ongoing support of Spiral Herbal Remedies. Happy Holidays, wherever and however you celebrate.

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