Norse God in Chatham High Street (reprise)

April 21, 2007 at 8:24 pm (Chatham, mushrooms, Odin, Santa)

Since coming across the invocation of Odin in Chatham High Street recently, I have realised that he has been there all along in the space beneath the flyover.

This photograph shows him as his incarnation as Father Christmas/Santa Claus (relaxing at the beach with his robes hung up to dry)

This subtle transformation took some time, Odin’s Wild Hunt across the skies on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir became the more genteel trip at Christmas with eight reindeer. His red velvet robes trimmed with white fur are the pelt of a freshly skinned reindeer the bloody side outwards (presumably the 9th reindeer… a particularly unfortunate cervine 5th Beatle) . The shamanic use of Amanita Muscaria (fly agaric mushrooms) purportedly turns the skin on the face red… and therefore has been alleged as the origin of Rudolph’s red nose….

American psychedelicists Jonathan Ott, James Arthur, Jan Irvin and Andrew Rutajit as well as UK mycologist Dr. Patrick Harding suggest that many of the modern features attributed to Santa Claus may somehow be derived from those of the Kamchatkan or Siberian shaman. During the midwinter festival (holiday season) in Siberia (near the North Pole), the shaman would enter a yurt (home) through the shangrak (chimney), bringing with him a sack of fly agaric mushrooms (presents) to give to the inhabitants. This type of mushroom is brightly colored red and white, like Santa Claus. Although some question the relevance of this, the above facts provide many interesting associations. The mushrooms were often hung (to dry) in front of the fireplace, much like the stockings of modern-day Christmas. Furthermore, the mushrooms were associated with reindeer who were known to eat them and become intoxicated. Reindeer are also associated with the shaman, and like Santa Claus, many people believed that the shaman could fly. The fly agaric mushroom has appeared on traditional Christmas cards in Europe for many years.

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