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Mushrooms Help Reindeer Fly High

December 25, 2010

Turns out the myth of flying reindeer might not be that far from the truth. According to scientist Andrew Haynes, reindeer, along with other animals in the wild, sometimes deliberately eat the hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria in order to amuse themselves during long winters.

Writing in the respected Pharmaceutical Journal, Mr. Haynes said, “They have a desire to experience altered states of consciousness.”

What’s the link between this mushroom and flying reindeer you ask?

In 1967 an amateur scholar named R. Gordon Wasson published a book arguing that Amanita muscaria was used in ancient ceremonies by shamans in the Far East. It is said both the shamans and the reindeer were known to eat these mushrooms. Man and beast alike hallucinated.

“For humans a common side-effect of mushrooms is the feeling of flying, so it’s interesting the legend about Santa’s reindeer is they can fly,” says Haynes.

Another interesting thing you might notice is the color of the hallucinogenic fungi: red with white spots. Sounds very similar to the colors of Santa.

Add it all up and what do you get? Flying reindeer and a mushroom that turns into a happy personification named Santa.

Just remember, don’t bother putting out carrots for Rudolph and company this year ““ they’d much rather have something a little harder.

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