It was on this day (April 16) in 1943, that the Swiss scientist Albert Hofmann realized that he had accidentally absorbed a small amount of the compound he had been working with. What followed, according to Hoffman was, “an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors.” Hoffman had accidentally discovered lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as LSD--and the world has never felt the same.
Throughout human history, many cultures and societies have used hallucinogens for a myriad of entheogenic purposes—mostly religious and spiritual. Nomadic reindeer herders of Siberia had long taken the red and white hallucinogenic Mushroom, Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric. Some writers have noted the similarities between the hallucinatory rituals of Siberian Shamans and some of our weirdly psychedelic Christmas traditions, citing the visual similarity between the pudgy red and white mushroom and old Saint Nick himself. Both Siberian Shamans and their reindeer are known to have eaten the psychedelic mushrooms, which some have speculated has given rise to the Christmas tradition of flying reindeer, and little men are a regular sight in these mushroom induced Shamanic rituals—not unlike Santa’s little helpers.