It is interesting what Americans thinks about.
"Shamanism!" now that's a fad!
It's now August 15–a holy day for this seiðman! Oh, it's not like "Let's do a blót! Hail, FreyR!" This is the day that the Little Red Man runs through the mountains. Kind of like the Wild Hunt in reverse: fair evenings, nice weather, the opposite of fear, and a wealth of luck. Somewhere along the line, I quit believing in Santa Claus and the Toothfairy and acquired knowledge of mountain ghosts.
Belief is one of those funny things. For example, "I am a great non-believer." Which necessarily translates to "There is a lot of stuff out there, presented as true, which is really fairy-tale dust." Belief probably has more to do with "being in love with the idea of something" than actually having any real knowledge of it. It also means accepting something as true based on hearsay. I pride myself on being a knower of many things and a believer of few.
I know, for example, Óðinn,
Þórr, the Reindeer Man, the Herb Woman, and the Little Red
"Who are the last three? They can't be part of the Northern Germanic pantheon!"
Well, is that what you believe? You can believe in them or not–it makes no difference. I don't believe in them at all; I know them!
I am a Great Non-Believer. Most Americans
are Great Believers.
For example, I don't believe disease to be caused by germs, but most moderns do.
"Bovine excretions!" sayest thou.
Most moderns believe disease to be caused by germs because that's what our mothers and fathers, teachers/ preachers, doctors, professors, and textbooks tell us. But, really, how many of us have actually watched a germ causing a disease! I would venture to say, "None!" To watch a germ cause a disease is akin to watching self esteem be lowered by an angry mother: correlation does not mean causation. See? We never lost our ability to believe, we've just graduated from the Easter Bunny to Germs, that's all! It's socially acceptable and desireable to believe in germs. Most of us govern our lives based on this kind of hearsay.
I don't believe diseases to be caused by germs. I know germs are just along for the ride. Diseases are correlated to several things, and, as a seiðman, tracing backwards through the mess, it is possible (sometimes) to undo the thing that was done wrong whether on the part of the victim or on the part of a perpetrator. Belief has nothing to do with it.
"You're splitting hairs!" sayest thou.
No, I'm not. I'm talking about knowledge based on direct experience as opposed to belief based on rumors.
Here are some rumors about der Glückspilz:
1) It's used by Siberian shamans in the séances.
2) It's a powerful hallucinogen.
3) It's poisonous which is why it has the effect it does.
4) It's a Sacred Spirit plant of the North like peyote for the Native Americans.
5) Fly Agaric is the plant which was utilized by the berserks to induce their "rage."
Here's what I know:
1) Amanita muscaria is used as medicine by Siberian healers; ecstasy is induced by drumming and power although some of the weaker shamans use alcohol. The Sami noaide whom I worked with did not work well with the mushroom, neither did he know anyone who did (other than myself). Psilocybin is more common these days, is native to the European north, and is probably safer in the long run. Psilocybin is a less fickle ghost than the Little Red Man.
2) Although the Little Red Man can lead
one to a different world, this is done at his disgression not the imbiber's.
Most mushroom drinkers either have much wishful thinking (usually handled
during their story-telling of their marvelous adventures) or vivid
dreams which occur when they pass out. Our modern culture is much
more used to drugs like psilocybin, lysergic acid diethylamide, methamphetamines,
etc. which have quite a different action than the ghost of this fungus.
On the other hand, if he chooses, he can be one of the greatest
(Note: It is important to realize that the chemicals in the fungus are weak compared to other psychoactive plants. Power comes from interaction with the ghost of the mushroom, the Little Red Man, not from the mushroom itself.)
3) One man's trash is another man's treasure. Known lethal dosage is approx. 5.2 kilos of raw material. Only 2 deaths have ever been ascribed to amanita muscaria (Buck, 1984; 1 case) or amanita pantherina (Hotson, 1934) poisoning. Both cases involved old folks and it is not clear from the report if these mushrooms were the exact cause of death. I have never felt poisoned although those who have worked with me and the Little Red Man report otherwise. The effects of drinking him vary (apparently at his disgression) but sweating, dizziness, diarrhea, pressure with the esophagus, nausea, and vomiting are the most commonly reported.
4) I work with this plant in a much different
way than the Native Americans do with peyote. For me it is sacred
(but then so are some of the landmarks around my geographical area); this,
however, has to do with ghost's relationship to me. For people who
have little or no relationship to the ghost, it is probably best to simply
enjoy the splendor of his presence in the forests and wallow in the thought
that every August he sends his blessings in the form of luck down from
the forests and into the lives of even the most lowly Industrial/ Scientific
My relationship to the fungus is that he saved my life, and now I work for him. Am I addicted to the chemicals in it? A slave? Hardly. On the other hand, I am grateful for his assistance in my life. Without his loaning luck to me after mine was spent, I would know nothing but 6 feet of dirt on my rotting corpse. He has shown me beauty and given me knowledge that is not only useful in my own life but in the lives of others as well.
5) Ah, the Berserks. What would I
expect from a primarily Ásatrú audience?
Christian Rätsch in the Appendix of Metzner's The Well of Rememberance:
"Many attempts have been made to link the proverbial berserker ragewith the fly agaric mushroom. Yet in all the many reportsthat are availble describing the experiences with fly agaric, I am unaware of even a single case in which the mushroom eater was transformed into a brutal fighting machine. Alcohol is the only drug that is capable of provoking, revealing, or increasing a 'berserker rage' in the sense of 'picking fights.' Drunken persons often possess amazing strength. Anyone who has ever been in a fight with a drunken person knows what a bad memory it leaves behind. The fly agaric mushroom, with its synesthetic qualities, is quite unsuited for acting out aggression. Its effects are more like those of opium and elicit introverted ego-oriented experiences. " (p. 285)I concur. Personal experience tells me that either you vomit and puke or you feel whole and well. In either case, you will not feel like fighting.
Looking for a cheap high? By report, pot is much more satisfying. Are you a dead man? Then sell your soul to the Little Red Man!
But don't believe what I say, know
your own life. Passing around of silly rumors doen't seem to this
seiðman to be much of a life at all! Go to the mountains and
see the Little Red Man. If his ghost touches you, then know
the luck he offers. If you think you might like to try eating him,
don't go over 5.2 kilos and keep plenty of toilet paper handy.
Oh yeah, by the way, amanita virosa, amanita phalloides, and amanita verna are deadly even in low doses and often masquerade as amanita muscaria with a 50% - 70% kill rate. If you're looking for an afternoon of fun, at least demonstrate responsibility by taking along a person well acquainted with fungi. There are no old amateur mycologists!