Today's Santa Claus is a metamorphosis of many older mythologies, including Thor or Donner (German Donar) who wears red and rides in a Golden Flying Chariot pulled by two Goats (Cracker and Gnasher). In a sense, these goats were the ancestors to the now popular reindeer. What would the red and gold clad angel be doing with that nice basket? An Easter basket at Christmas is an interesting concept.
The icons, symbols, and relics that have managed to survive from the "Winter Solstice" celebrations of old, have a commonality that deserves some reflection, study, and perhaps even some reverence. Understanding that these traditions are borrowed ones, is central to getting at the heart of the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas is commonly thought of as a Christian holiday (the birth of Jesus). Many Christian beliefs and traditions were borrowed from more ancient religions and mythologies. This is well documented by authors such as Gerald Massey, Godfrey Higgins, Robert Graves, Kersey Graves and many others. The virgin birth, the incarnation of God, the sacrament, Christmas, Easter, etc. have all been adopted/stolen by Christianity as its own.
It is well documented by fundamentalists (apologists) that the Christmas traditions are Pagan in origin.. This simply means that their origin comes from the traditions of the country-folk (pagan). By contrast, the Pagan origins of most of the other attributes of Christianity are vigorously denied. It is also very easy to obscure, overlook and discredit the Egyptian, Mithraic, Germanic, Norse, Celtic, Greek, Hindu and Buddhist roots by lumping all non-Christian religions together and labeling them Pagan. These are certainly not simple country-folk religions. So to just say Christmas has Pagan roots, and not go further, is glossing over what exactly those roots are, and discrediting their study as worthless. Christmas icons, traditions and stories have hidden meanings. Although not initially apparent, a more thorough investigation reveals far more symbolic content (which is decipherable) than originally suspected. At the roots of this symbolism research is information about the secrets of the mushroom, regarding its habitats, forms, uses, preparations, and effects.
Shaman of Siberia and the Russian icon, St. Nicholas, both play parts in the tale of Christmas, providing clues as to where Christmas came from and why there are certain symbols associated with the holiday. It is these types of clues that will help (the questors) in the deciphering of the symbols. Siberian Shaman used/use (despite governmental oppression) the Amanita muscaria as a religious sacrament. It is used for spiritual vision, out-of-body travel into the realms of the spirits, and as a plant-spirit guide in teaching and healing. The value of the inebriant is placed highly among the commodities of the native tribesmen, fetching reindeer pelts, meats, and all manner of tradable goods in payment and barter. Interesting to note: If you aren't quick enough in the hunt, you will find only the mushroom stubs, the rest greedily gobbled up by the hungry reindeer.
The ancient shamanic use of Amanita muscaria in Siberia is well documented. Despite governmental oppression against its use, there are still many who refuse to accept the authorized state religion, and continue the shamanic traditions in secret. Just as the Siberian shaman (commonly dressing in red and white) would enter through the opening in the roof of a home where a ritual was to be done, Santa Claus also arrives on the roof and enters through the chimney. Just as the shamans would gather the mushrooms in bags which they would bring with them when performing a ceremony, Santa Claus also (on the Holy Day) brings presents in a bag. The Santa Claus we see today evolved from traditions developed in Germany. It is fairly common knowledge that the Weihnachtsmann (St. Nick) was an amalgamation of older Germanic/Norse gods such as Thor, Donner, Odin and Wotan. What's missing here is just as Santa flies through the skies in his sleigh, Odin (as well as the rest) rode through the sky in his chariot, which is depicted in the stars by "The Big Dipper". The Big Dipper is the chariot of Odin & Wotan, Thor, King Arthur, and even Osiris (of Egypt). The chariot that circles the North Star in a 24 hour period is thus also known as the sleigh of Santa Claus because it circles his mythological home, the North Pole. It is no surprise that Nordic/Germanic gods have connection to mushrooms in their mythology. As Thor throws his mushroom-shaped hammer to the ground, mighty thunders and lightning cracks cause the real mushroom(s) to appear. As the horses pulling Odin through the sky in his chariot become over-exerted, their blood-mingled spit falls to the ground and causes the Amanita mushrooms to grow at those exact points.
The Osiris mythology has even more to add to this. To the Egyptians; South was up (North). Osiris was the lord of the underworld, the South, (South=down) which is why he circles the sky in the furthest possible lower (southern) area. Not only did Osiris ride the sky in a chariot, but after his death Isis found that an evergreen (Cedar) had grown overnight from a dead stump to full-sized (this also relates to the Djed pillar); which was understood as a sign of Osiris' rebirth and immortality. Interestingly, the traditional birth of Osiris is the 25th of December. The 25th of December was also celebrated annually by putting presents around the Cedar tree. This tradition is at least five thousand years old. The birth of Horus to the goddess-virgin-mother, Isis, is perhaps the eldest representation of the goddess/son mythology, yet it is impossible to know this or the real age of the Astro-theological-Virgo-giving-birth-to-the-child/god/star mythology for sure. However it is the oldest source I have found; it is very old.
Drying the mushrooms was/is a necessary procedure typically accomplished by stringing them up (like popcorn) and hanging them above the hearth of the fireplace. shamans and lay people alike, would gather and dry them. They gather all they can since they are a valuable commodity. Reindeer (native to Siberia) are known to be quite fond of eating these mushrooms. The mythology of flying Reindeer reflects the supposed pharmacological effects of such a meal.
It is important to point out that this Christmas/Winter Solstice celebration, with all its various counterparts, transcends the world's religions. The reason that this celebration is held all over the planet in various forms may have something to do with this other commonality at which we are looking; it is certainly entwined in the symbolism.
From the: James Arthur Homepage