There are a lot of crackpot theories out of there, and this might be one of them. But regardless of how true it is, it’s fascinating to think about the possibility that the idea of Santa Claus was inspired by psychedelics. This theory is apparently associated with Gnostic Christianity, which is an older, more Pagan interpretation of the religion. This largely extinct sect, according to what I’ve heard, was also heavily involved with entheogens. It seems like a lot of ancient cultures and traditions were as well. This not a consensus, but there is a lot of archaeological evidence to suggest that at least a large number of ancient mythologies were heavily inspired by psychedelics like mushrooms, peyote, and ergot, which contains LSD.
It’s easy for anyone who has used psychedelics to see how the cosmic struggle between good and evil, and the importance of enlightenment, could have been originally thought of by people tripping their balls off. A good trip can be the most transcendent experience of your entire life, but a bad one can make you go crazy and lose your faith in humanity. It’s entirely possible that the idea of enlightenment comes from developing the mental toughness to overcome horrifying challenges, and come out of hallucinogenic battle with a profound sense of accomplishment. These ideas are almost ubiquitous in ancient traditions.
This type of theory is even largely believed by John Marco Allegro, who is one of the four original people who investigated the Dead Sea Scrolls. He was the only one who was agnostic, and not an ordained Catholic priest. He outlines his theory in the book called The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross. It has to do with Christianity being essentially founded on psychedelic rituals and fertility cults, since the Dead Sea scrolls are even older than the bible.
This is the Gnostic legend of the character we now call Santa Claus, to the best of my knowledge; at least the fundamental details: Thousands of years ago, before Christianity, in Northern Europe, shamans were worshipped. They were the equivalent of priests, and they praised a sacred mushroom called the amanita muscaria. This contains psilocybin, which is the main active ingredient in the common green “magic” mushrooms about which probably everyone knows. The amanita muscaria is red with white dots on the top, and it has a different chemical structure than average mushrooms used for drug trips. It contains the red and white colours associated with Santa Claus. For some people, it has no effect, but for others, it is much more powerful, especially when you also drink your own urine. I’m not sure why that apparently happens, but I’ll take people’s word for that.
The shamans would go around villages, sometimes dressed in red, and visit people at their little shacks called yurts. They would carry around a sack of the amanita muscaria mushrooms, placing some of them under what we regard as Christmas trees today. There were apparently a lot of spruce, pine, and fir trees around this area during that time period. The villagers’ yurts had holes in the top to let out air from the fires they would light to keep themselves warm. The shamans would come through the holes in the yurts. They would place mushrooms on the walls near the fire to dry if they were wet from being picked from snowy ground. The villagers would eat the mushrooms, and commune with God.
This sounds similar to the story of Santa Claus, doesn’t it? Think about the symbolism. Santa, jolly from using psychedelics, carries around his sack of toys or gifts in the form of the ability to commune with God. He puts some presents under trees, which we later decorated to symbolize the place where you can gain the gift of transcendence. Santa comes through our “chimneys”, or the holes in the tops of the yurts, and puts the presents in front of the fire. When people wake up, we open our stockings to gain the gift of enlightenment, and find more presents under the tree. There are other parallels between the Gnostic legend and the story of Santa Claus, but these are some of the fundamentals.
I’m not saying that this is the truth of the fable of Santa Claus. There are many theories. I have barely investigated any of them, and I have no idea how plausible this theory is in comparison to others. However, I think that it’s enthralling to think about how mythologies originate. Some theories are much more exciting and crazy than others. But they all offer fascinating explanations for why we tell stories that ideologize ideas we collectively hold as sacred. Was the idea of Santa Claus inspired by psychedelics? No one really knows for sure, but it’s an interesting possibility.