It is the time of year when we welcome the light back into our lives. The Winter Solstice is a celebration of light. It holds magic of the time that is lost from centuries of unrest & hiding under ground. When we all celebrated with the changings of the seasons through nature’s rhythms.
There is magic in this time of year. We know this now, in the masses, through the promise of Santa Claus bearing goodies & gifts. The large man who sneaks into our homes, decorating the tree, leaving presents & snacks. The season of Santa Claus has become one of consuming & materialistic ‘wants’ for what is super cool in any particular year.
I, of course, was raised in this light of Christmas as well. In my family we held traditions of food & goodies. Centering around the Church & the beliefs that circulate throughout modern Christianity. I think that the Christmas Eve Service at Church was the only one I was particularly excited about. The songs, candles, decorations of the winter forest. I could feel the magic in those pieces of what the Church was bringing forth.
But I could feel the gaps more… I was always questioning the whole thing. How values seemed to be convoluted to what was supposed to be… vs the actuality of what loving your neighbor no matter what was. You still had to fit into a box to be ‘honored’ with the love of the Church. Another aspect of my ‘conventional’ upbringing that just didn’t mesh with what my heart, intuition & what I believed was God then was telling me.
There was something missing.
I could feel it & was determined to figure it out. I was 11 or so & had already seen spirits, heard messages from the trees & knew my dreams at night held true visions. These things, back then, I connected to God. So I wasn’t afraid. Hearing all the stories from ‘the Book’ I just figured that these things were normal. But I was told otherwise…
You all know my story by now…
I have resisted the ‘supposed to’s’ of society my entire life. Flowing through this herbalist existence by my gut. Feeling out what my ‘supposed’ to was by intuition, guidance from my dreams & the spirit guides who showed up consistently during pivotal times of my life. SO I won’t get too deep into that now.
This fascination with KNOWING magic surrounded Christmas has been a part of my life. Each year, from after Samhain (sow-in) season. My dreams shift to visions of dancing Amanita Muscaria mushrooms. Coincidentally… though I do not believe it to be mere coincidence… these mushrooms begin popping up Mid November & Fruit until Mid December each year in the Northern Hemisphere.
They dance in my dreams through the temperate forests I am walking through. Exclaiming of ‘the thirteen’! We are the thirteen! They happily beckon to me. Inviting me to come & join their ceremony. This dream has been reoccurring for years. Always during the time leading to the Winter Solstice & Christmas. Always ‘the Thirteen’ & me dancing through the forests with hoards of Amanitas dancing alongside me.
I really do think so! After this happening for many years… I decided there was something to this Amanita muscaria mushroom. So I dove into researching it.
SO MANY PARALLELS showed themselves to me.
Nordic Shamans worked with this mushroom, along side the reindeer that roam these Artic Lands… my heritage just happens to be of Nordic Decent AND I have felt Shamanic in my work with Herbs even before I started to have visits from my Spirit Shaman Guides.
The mushroom is known as the Santa-Shroom in certain circles because of this story… the lore of the Winter Solstice & its magic
Nordic Shamans would gather the mushrooms behind the reindeer digging them up in the pine forests of Norway & Sweden. Knowing that these fungi friends needed to be processed before the consumption occurred, the shamans would hang them in the pine trees to 'cure'. Decorating the forests with red & white globes... In traditional cultures, the shamans would dress in similar fashion to the plants that they worked with. This was an honoring of the sentient being that gave illumination to their souls & those of the people they helped. Winter in Norway & Sweden meant dressing warmly when out in the forest. The garb was said to be a read cloak lined with white fur. Along with a Red Cap with white trim. The shamans would gather their cured fungus around the solstice in sacks slung over their shoulders... dressed again in honor of their sacred mushroom...
Are you picking up what I am putting down here?
The story continues in the lands just below the Artic Circle, but I want to pause here. We have been raised to believe, for decades I’d like to add, that this mushroom is highly toxic. But subtle clues lead to the possibility of believing otherwise. Wouldn’t it be amazing to explore the Winter Solstice & its magic?
NOW. I DO NOT encourage ANYONE to go out & harvest this mushroom for ingestion. I do however encourage EVERYONE to go and find it. Sit with this sentient being & feel her energies.
I tell of my first real life encounter with this mushroom in my Portland Community Garden. A gorgeous Fly Agaric popped up out of the composted manure we had ordered from a local farm. Gleaming gorgeously underneath the seasonally spent tomato vines.
When I held this fantastical being in my hands, I felt a heat & spice that was unlike any other plant communication I had experienced.
This is when the dreams began for me. They have beckoned to me for years. If you are so bold to go down this rabbit hole of uncovering myths that lie in the Catholic Church, the Vatican, Louvre, the Ric Veda and bits and pieces here and there in Greece. You will begin to realize that maybe our society as we know it has been built upon hiding secrets of this famous & iconic mushroom. AND the Winter Solstice & its magic.
Beyond Santa Claus & the lore of Christmas. Through the inquisition to the times of Pagans & the Shamans who watched over the villages of people who lived by the Rhythms of Nature. The story of our Santa-Shroom continues now.
With this. I want to wish you all a very Merry & Bright Solstice time of year. Enjoy the Christmas Season & all the actuals & myths of what it is now. Maybe the Magic will find you in these stories.
Blessings of the season to you & yours from us <3
Our story continues with the Shamans of the land beneath the artic circle…
When the Shamans, dressed in red & white, were finished with their harvesting of the carefully dried Fly Agaric mushroom. They would head to the villages they over saw with their sacks. The lands of Norway, Sweden & the like were covered with snow this time of year. The homes were set up seasonally in the villages. Dug into the hillsides that created shelter & seasonal entrance. During the summer months their entrance opened up below the hillside. Out into the valleys they lived in, think of an 'open air' basement if you will. As the snow would begin to fall, this seasonal entrance would be concealed which added to the construct of warmth & shelter through the winter months. A hearth in the middle created space for cooking & warmth. This hearth held a large chimney like structure where the occupants of the home would leave & enter the snow covered hut. Each solstice, with the sack of shrooms, the shamans were said to bring enlightenment, tales of light, reverence to life, gifts of the underworld & divine messages to guide the people of their villages. They would come to visit each snow covered hut through the chimney, dressed as the amanita mushroom they brought as gifts. Magic. Mystery & Tidings of Joy were felt by all through these visits of the darkest time of year. The shamans joyfully visiting each home to light up their lives... We can see the magic in this story. Feel it even. See how our traditions mirror the ones of ancient, buried history. Merry Christmas to you all & to all a good night <3