The original story of Santa Claus dates back to the ancestral traditions of the Kamchadal and the Koryak tribes of Siberia. During the night of the winter solstice, the shamans would go out into the forest and gather up bags of hallucinogenic mushrooms called Amanita muscaria. These fungi were bright red with white spots and are often included in fairy tale books and old Disney movies.
The shamans considered this outing a spiritual journey, and during their trip, they would intentionally identify the “Tree of Life” that they found by following the North Star, which held the key to solving the village’s problems of the past year. Since the mushrooms tended to grow under pine trees, this is typically where they would find them.
In honor of the mushroom’s colors, the shamans wore red outfits trimmed with white dots, while their reindeer skin boots would become blackened over time from exposure. The mushrooms the elders hunted are deadly poison but less so when dried so they would hang them on the lower branches of the trees to air out for a few days before taking them back to the village.
Oftentimes when they returned, the snow would have covered the door of the ceremonial yurt where the solstice celebration was to be held, so the only way in was through the opening at the top. This hole lets the smoke out from the fire burning inside. The lead shaman would then shimmy down one of the poles holding up the yurt with his sack full of goodies.
To dry the mushrooms out even further, the shaman would often put the mushrooms in stockings and hang them by the fire while the elders waited in anticipation.
Once the shrooms were dry, the risk of being poisoned from ingestion had subsided but was still there, and sometimes a few of the less fortunate would perish while tripping in another realm.
At some point, the tribesmen made a significant discovery. If they fed the mushrooms to their reindeer first, their livers would filter out the toxins and then the animals would pee out the chemical that created the psychedelic experience. The reindeer loved the fungi and readily gobbled up as much as was fed to them.
Consequently, there was plenty of yellow snow to scoop up and eat so this snow became the safest way for the tribe’s leaders to take their magical trips. It turned out the reindeer also loved the yellow snow made by the humans after the humans had eaten the yellow snow made by the reindeer, which completed the circle of bliss.
Whether the animals ate just the mushrooms or the human pee or both, they and the folks who ingested the mind-bending substance became quite frisky and as legend has it, seemed to “fly” when high. Off they would go then to the North Star to retrieve the gifts of knowledge they would then distribute to the community.