Friday 9 December 2011

Father Christmas and the Fly Agaric

Traditional Santa Claus
Father Christmas is always dressed in a red and white suit and so too is the hallucinogenic Fly Agaric mushroom. Both are associated with reindeer too. Santa Claus has reindeer pulling his sleigh and reindeer eat Fly Agaric mushrooms. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer has a red nose as well. It all seems too much of a coincidence don't you think?

Several authors have theorised that the Santa Claus myth came about because in Lapland and parts of Siberia the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) was used by shamans because of its hallucinogenic properties. Not only that but reindeer eat the fungus and their urine could be drunk, as can that of humans who have consumed the red and white toadstools, in an effort to become in the visionary state of intoxication it provides. There is simply too much of a coincidence that the Fly Agaric is bright red and white and that the costume that Father Christmas wears is the same colour scheme.

Author and filmmaker Chris Everard has written extensively in his new book Stoneage Psychedelia about the uses of the Fly Agaric. Everard also puts forward the view that many religions were based around the use of this hallucinogenic fungus and other herbs that have mind-altering properties.

In hallucinatory states the user of a shamanic substance, such as the Fly Agaric, may well feel they are mentally flying or voyaging to other realms. In the Santa Claus story he is helped by reindeer that enable his sleigh to fly through the sky. It all seems far too much of a coincidence dont you think?

Read more here: Father Christmas and the Fly Agaric

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Catfish are the bottom-feeders

Walking Catfish (Clarias batrachus) 

There are very many fish known as catfish in the world and most of these have whisker-like barbels that have earned them the name. Lots of the species found in the tropics are popular with tropical fish enthusiasts who like to keep them in their aquariums as pets. There are some really weird species of catfish such as the Walking Catfish and the Glass Catfish, and yes, the former travels over the ground and the latter you can see through!

I know that when I was younger and had a whole lot ot tropical fish tanks that I had a growing collection of various types of catfish. They fascinated me because of their unusual appearances and behaviour. I never saw any types of catfish as ugly though I am sure many people might view them that way.  On the contrary I find their whiskery faces rather cute.  I also really enjoy watching catfish rummaging around looking for food, food that other fish have missed out on.

Many people think that catfish will keep a tank clean and that they live on the dirt that accumulates but this is not true. Catfish need proper food just like other species of tropical fish. It is just that many types of catfish are adapted to search in the bottom substrate for food that may have escaped into it. This is where their barbels come in handy. Some types of catfish have sucker mouths that are used for grazing on the algae that grows on rocks, plants and the glass sides of an aquarium. 

Catfish are the bottom-feeders

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.