Not often is Christmas associated with psychedelics, but the root of most holidays starts with ritual. Plant magic has been an integral part of seasonal ceremony. Long before Christmas was decking the halls, it was exploring the inner caverns of our psyche.
Often linked with the holiday season –libations are human’s preferred version of drugging self into ecstatic states that warm both blood and body. Holiday parties are community-bonding exercises where we throw back a few to rid ourselves of restrictions, to melt away inhibitions with corpse candles straight from Capricorn season. We search for wild(er) versions of ourselves. We seem to be following celestial ritual, one that readies us for rebirth. First, there’s a bit of death –one that’s feels like a hangover. And it is a hangover.
But once upon a time, as the story goes, holiday mushrooms were used instead of libations. It’s a story full of motifs and realities turned into myths.
Rituals on Replay
The Koyak of central Russia and the Lapps of Finland frequently ingest Amanita Muscaria, a fungi known for it’s stimulating and mildly hallucinogenic effects. With mood boosting properties, it’s the perfect antidote for a seemingly never-ending winter in which day and night blend into one single entity –one that obscures divisions.
The fleeting daylight hours push work ethic to the limits. It’s a season that tests boundaries as we squeeze a few hours of labor into receding days. We become quite shrewd without work load because in the work itself, ritual is never far. Armed with sickles we cut away flesh and bone –that witch no longer serves us.
The pith inciting the unzipping of self, not just for the ritual party, but for inner toil. It’s a season where tucking away into quiet, dark spaces with plenty of room for reflection, meditation, and rest is common –a time to delve into self exploration like never before, despite or in spite of magic mushrooms.
Much like city dwellers, tribe members seek sanctuary from the Capricorn’s monotony –the grinding goat, the slippery siren tail pulling us further under. Saturn’s demanding nature asks us to re-evaluate our place in this world. It’s the list of questions and doubts that Saturn posits –ponder our purpose. We either rise to the occasion or we sink. The ritual rest in consuming the mushroom, but also in the asking. Winter manifests ideal moments of questioning as we try to keep our bones from trembling.
Saturn creates winter ritual and brings the party favors. Capricorn never seems more absurd than while under the influence. So we keep feeding the mythical goat until it goes in for the bone marrow. Only then are we satisfied that something has happened. Or has it?
Shamans are the gatekeepers to animated states, they possess the knowledge of the fungi –they hold the skeleton key. Amanita Muscaria, a red and white spotted toadstool, is found under conifer trees –spruce or pine exclusively as Amanita Muscaria spores only travel on these seeds. Decked in red and white cloaks, Shaman imitate these sacred mushroom. The Christmas connection never more obvious.
In slipping on costumes of shaman proportions and color schemes, we, subconsciously, become both the healer and the patient –both picking and consuming the mushroom. We self-diagnose and self-medicate. We become an entire ceremony unto ourselves –for and by ourselves. We are the bone, plucked from a Saturn structure, on the mend, but ready to break again at any moment.
Dance of Death
Santa, whose birthplace happens to be the North Pole, is nothing but a replica of polar shamans.
But that’s not all. The season celebrates both Christ and Satan alike. It’s shape is a triangle. And it sets corpse candles ablaze. Truth is revealed not just in territorial realms, but in the stars. Cosmic language touching both heavens and hell –mere representations of spiritual states.
Drugs and drink incite rollercoaster like states. The highs astronomic and the lows demonic.
Mushrooms and the Christ Figure
Celestial patterns of the sun and the three stars that make up Orion’s belt along with Sirius paint the myth of the Christ figure.
For three days following the winter solstice, for those living above the 67° latitude line, the sun ceases to appear. The sun goes dead. When it reappears, hope is restored. The sun has saved humanity from an eminent death –one seen resting against the winter sky. With the sun back on the horizon, life is certain –at least for another year. And the pseudo-death one that demands celebration.
Study Christ’s halo rays, like Helios, like the center of the zodiac wheel divided into four elements –the center, all ether. Those rays also mimic the underside of a mushroom. Not only is the Christ figure the sun, but he’s also the miraculous mushroom that is found during a lifeless season –one that promises resurrection to those living in a perished season, one that reinstates the vital force.
It often feels like we die, too, during the holiday season. So many late nights, rarely a sunray seen –we become the walking dead. Some of us don’t see the sun for three or more days. Like the sun, we rest, only to rise again, stronger and with new sense of direction. Underneath the horizon, we encounter a respite that’s only possible under midnight skies. The clout of the season has taken effect and spawned evolution. We are a fungus unto ourselves, we spread seed, we blossom under dark, damp conditions and we survive the coldest season.
Capricorn, Cronus/Saturn, and Satan
In the darkest recesses of the winter season, we don’t just get drunk or drug ourselves. We also channel through Hades. With receding light, we become dwellers of the underworld –with Lucifer, the fallen angel, as our guide. Satan is Santa. Satan is Saturn. Capricorn, ruled by Saturn aka Cronos, is represented by the goat, is more Satan than we’d like to admit. He’s there to beckon us below, not to punish us or to prick us with his pitchfork, but to ask us to consider our shadow selves. Who are we when we go so deep into the darkness? Who are we when the light no longer allows our bodies to be visible? Who are we when exceed limits, go under the influence, then blackout?
Saturn convinces us to take part in building barriers for protecting that which we’ve created –like the very bones of our body. Saturn is also there to break down those barriers –inviting us to partake in a Amanita Muscaria session. Is it through Saturn’s representation of Satan that this becomes evident. Satan entices. And because we love to be titillated, we acquiesce. Not out of weakness, but out of sheer need to explore our underbellies, the umbrella of the mushroom itself.
Christmas should be mushroom centered. The season demands the conjuring of both Christ and Satan energies, the Saturn of boundaries and transitions, the Cronos of death time –may the holidays blossom like debauchery under pith. The holiday season is this: It is hunting the mushroom. It is ingesting it. It is becoming the mushroom. It is letting it transform us. Whether it’s the mushroom or libation, ritual celebration, or the killing of things, may this season be full of real and figurative mushrooms for the masses. After all, who are we if we don’t get to know the darkest parts of our psyche, even if the practice is drug induced?
jacklyn janeksela is a wolf and a raven, a cluster of stars, & a direct descent of the divine feminine. she can be found; & elsewhere. she is in a post-punk band called the velblouds. her baby @ femalefilet. her chapbook fitting a witch//hexing the stitch (The Operating System, 2017). she is an energy. find her @ hermetic hare for herbal astrology readings.