Category Archives: Uncategorised

Have We Been Barking Up the Wrong Tree?

Over the last decade, our world has been rocked by research that has – in theory at least – pulled the rug out from under many of the tenets held sacred in not just the manual therapy and rehabilitation field, but in the strength & conditioning and athletic training sector for decades, centuries – even millennia.

Perhaps, more concerning, in spite of this new research and attempts to apply it in the clinical arena, the rates of persistent pain are still increasing… suggesting we may be barking up the wrong tree. See here for a good example:

But why is this?

One potential explanation for this is the vantage point from which information is assessed.  When we look at data as truth, we are stuck at the scientific, materialistic level of consciousness; the level at which many of these claims for posture being irrelevant, biomechanics being redundant or motor control not working, arise from. 

When we transcend that level of evaluation, we see that the data being utilised to paint a black and white picture of “what is” is, in fact, in itself flawed (even though it’s the best data we have available to us currently)… and there is just too much additional clinical and experimental data to define so starkly “right and wrong”; instead we have to come to the realisation that it is an either/or, pluralistic, shades of grey reality.

Wilber’s model of conscious development (note each level is transcended and included)

But, then again, if we can begin to integrate those shades of grey we begin to create a greater, more reflective, whole… And if, ultimately, we can colour in the grayscale to produce a glorious technicolor view of our reality then a truly wholistic picture of human function begins to emerge…

2020 Vision Seminars, March 2020.

And THIS is what I will be presenting to you at 2020 Vision – bringing more insight to cut through the confusing and often dumbfounding research; as well as showing how to apply it more fluidly clinically.

For more information or to book your place, head here:

NOTE: Earlybird closes 31st January!

GDPR notice: Bare, Buttocks & Breasts

As you’re probably aware, GDPR is upon us, and so this page is here to serve as a thank you to all those who have signed up to be part of my tribe in the past, and to act as a taster to those who may like to sign up for future updates and events.

As a thank you, I am making one of my professional webinar series available for free through until Sunday 2nd June here.

The title, Bare, buttocks and breasts may be controversial, but the content should be thought provoking and informative.  I hope you enjoy it…

Any feedback is most welcome!

If the link doesn’t work in your browser, you can go direct to our Vimeo page here.

MOST IMPORTANTLY!!!   … if you’re keen to receive notices on future webinars, events or products  -and occasional useful health & performance tips – pop your details on the form below and we’ll stay in touch!  Thanks again.

Barefoot Legend Bruce Tulloh Dies

Bruce Tulloh, former European 5000m champion and Barefoot legend passed away this week at the age of 82.  Tributes to him and his life’s achievements can be found all over the web already.

Bruce Tulloh (Credit: Athletics Weekly)

I first met Bruce in 2011 when, in my then-role as Vibram’s UK distributor of Fivefingers footwear, we were at the London Marathon Exhibition and an old man was loitering around our stand picking up various Vibram Fivefinger shoes, flexing them, turning them, smiling, shaking his head and laughing.

After a few moments I went over to him and asked if he had seen the product before.  He said he hadn’t but, in his typically modest style, explained that he “used to run a bit barefoot”…

Subsequently he explained that he had won the European 5000m championships running barefoot in 1962, and that his name was Bruce Tulloh!

As you can imagine I was shocked, pleasantly surprised and slightly embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of him (1962 was a bit before my time… at least that’s my excuse)!!

We gave Bruce a pair of Vibrams to trial out and give us some feedback on.  You can see some of that feedback in an interview we did with him here:

Unfortunately, after over an hour of discussion, we realised that our second camera had a technical failure, and because we shot the video in the garden, around 4 minutes in, a helicopter flew over masking the sound… so we never actually used the video.

Now Bruce has run off, barefoot no doubt, to explore new dimensions, I felt it would be a fitting tribute to share some of his story and to also recommend some of his books for aspiring runners that can be found (as always) on Amazon, or from his own site here.

I’m sure the apparent irony of the title of his last book won’t be lost on many readers, but I think the point here is he did a pretty darned good job at it for 82 years…  If it’s not the years in the life but the life in the years, Bruce certainly hit a level of attainment to inspire many others to live a fuller, happier, healthier life and, as Eckart Tolle says:

“Life is not the opposite of death…  Birth is the opposite of death.

Life just is.”

Keep on running Bruce – thanks for inspiring us all.

iWEbinar Series

For 2018, we wanted to come up with something new for Matt Wallden Webinars…

As awesome as the feedback has been from our 2016 and 2017 webinar series*, if there’s one thing I learned from my experience in distributing the Vibram Fivefingers footwear for 10 years, it was that you need to constantly develop, innovate and reinvent your product, or it starts to become dull!!

* We are still offering 3 conventional webinars this year, see here.

 What is an iWEbinar?

The iWEbinars are a fusion of podcast and webinar, providing the best of both worlds; the structure and visual engagement of a webinar, with the freedom of a discursive exploration of the subject matter between two experts in the field.


2018 iWEbinar Series from Matt Wallden on Vimeo.

In short an iWEbinar is an

  • interview-webinar, an
  • information-dense webinar, an
  • integrated-knowledge webinar, an
  • interactive webinar,
  • with two hosts – a WE,
  • in a webinar format…

this is an iWEbinar.

The first in our iWEbinar series is a discussion with my long-time friend and colleague, Jon Bowskill.  Jon has inhabited an elite medical space within the world of spinal rehabilitation for nearly 20 years.  After working alongside surgeons, radiologists, pain management specialists and manual therapists at the London Spine Clinic in Harley Street for several years, Jon moved around the corner and opened up his own multidisciplinary centre,  The Bowskill Clinic.

Jon and I will be discussing the various objective tools he and his colleagues utilise in top-flight practice to objectively understand what most of us can only assess subjectively; static & dynamic posture, movement skill and sagittal balance, among many other fascinating topics.

For more information or to join us on Thursday 8th of March, click here.

Other upcoming iWEbinars include a 4-part series with CHEK Faculty Member, Jator Pierre, and a 3-part iWEbinar series with Metabolic Typing founder, Bill Wolcott, plus iWEbinars with Paul Chek discussing an upcoming JBMT paper we have written called “The Ghost in the Machine – Is Musculoskeletal Medicine Lacking Soul?

Conscious Nutrition

  • Challenges with stubborn weight?
  • Concerned about cholesterol?
  • Confused by which dietary advice to follow?
  • Struggling to shake off aches and pains?
  • Sick & tired of feeling sick & tired?
  • Allergies & hayfever?

Pop along to Greenwise next Thursday to get an understanding for:

– When and why alcohol can be good for you… and when to tame it

– Why a high cholesterol diet can be highly beneficial

– How full-fat options improve your health & reduce your risk of putting on weight


– When sugar is a help and when it’s a hindrance

– Whether organic is worth it, or GMO is better

– How a slice of toast could be your worst enemy

– How nutrition fits into a bigger picture of life

Matt Wallden, a leading holistic health practitioner* will draw on over 20 years of clinical experience to deliver an informative, insightful and free talk to answer all your nutritional questions on Thursday 6th July, for free at Fetcham’s Greenwise Wholefoods Shop & Cafe.

Join us for professional guidance and prosecco on Thursday!

Please feel free to post any questions you may have below, and Matt will do his best to answer them within the presentation or in the Q&A afterwards.

See you there!


Ergolution – evolutionary solutions to ergonomic challenges

For many years, ergonomics has been broadly considered an important investment for business owners, yet the bulk of research and advice in this field has focused on seating, work stations, angles and expensive mouse mats or key boards…  This is a huge mistake.


Ergolution provides a greater context – in fact, the biggest context – for why and how we “work”.  Back pain – the 3rd leading cause of time off work is not due to sitting with poor posture; it is far more complex than that.
The common cold – the 2nd leading cause of time off work is not due to a lack of Vitamin C supplementation; it is far more complex than that.


And stress – the leading cause of time off work is not due to a lack of yoga; it, too, is far more complex than that.


Yet, in spite of this complexity, there is a thread of simplicity that runs through the heart of work performance; and that is what we will be exploring in our webinar on Thursday.

Included within your £25 investment for the webinar are:

  • Access to the 100+page chapter Matt wrote on Rehabilitation & Movement Re-education which covers much of the biomechanical background to Ergolution
  • A free copy of the upcoming eBook of the same title “Ergolution”
  • Ongoing access to stream or download the webinar after the event


To secure your place, or to find out more click through here.


2017 Power Series Webinars

Power Series WebinarsAfter the great success of the 2016 monthly webinar series, we will continue to host webinars in 2017, though in our market survey we have had more requests for workshops and one-to-one mentoring.

As such, we are offering a Power Series of 4 webinars this year, one per quarter – running in March, June, September and December.

The first of these webinars, on Thursday March 23rd, will be covering the controversial topic of “The Core“.  Although you’d think that this topic has been “done to death” it turns out there there is still a huge amount of confusion – even in professional circles about the opinions of gurus that have perpetuated more than 2 decades after they were first debated.

The focus of the remaining 3 workshops are to be decided, but top requests so far include the following:

  • Working with identifying and correcting breathing pattern disorders
  • TMJ Dysfunction
  • Laterality Patterns and their role in injury
  • Ankle Sprain – mechanisms and rehabilitation
  • ACL Injury – how to treat and prevent
  • Primal Running – how evolution shaped us for optimal efficiency
  • Practical Applications of Shamanic and Subtle Energy Medicine

If you have any different requests, or like the sound of one or more of the topics above, please make a comment below and we will create the most sought-after webinars.

Thank you for your support and interest.


Reflections on George


It is not too often that a singer-songwriter-producer of the iconic status of George Michael comes around.  Like other greats, he was blessed with multiple talents and had the drive to deliver on them, sufficient to inspire multitudes.  He was a poet, a philosopher, and like many true artists had an uncanny knack to surf on the leading edge of the zeitgeist; watching it unfold in his wake as it became mainstream.  His political activism around Iraq was seen as misplaced at the time, but now anyone who knows how to operate Google can see his concerns around WMD’s were on the money.  Not least of his talents, was the voice of an angel… As Rob Lowe tweeted, now he can sing for them

Growing up in the 80’s, my experience of George Michael was that he was that good looking dude with a wicked voice and some catchy tunes; not anyone I was particularly focused on, just part of the mêlée that was the world of pop.

As I progressed into my teens and began to learn that, not only did George Michael have a great voice, but he wrote all his music – and arranged it – and produced it – and, as it turns out, played almost all the instruments, now I began to really respect the guy.

On top of that – and this is the key point – he was writing about things I could relate to in my own life – and sung them with a passion I felt deeply in my being.  An expression which left an impression.

screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-15-18-41It turns out, it wasn’t just me who liked him… there were others too – roughly 100 million – who liked him enough to buy his records, and when I had the fortune to go to his Concert of Hope to raise money for the Terrence Higgins Trust, I saw that there were thousands of young men there with their girlfriends – many with his trademark designer stubble who, like me, were inspired by this icon – people who resonated with him, and wanted to be more like him.  With lyrics like this

If you are the desert, I’ll be the sea,

if you ever hunger, hunger for me,

whatever you ask for, that’s what I’ll be

 (From Father Figure, Faith Album, 1987)

… it’s not surprising that a generation of young men sung his lyrics to their girlfriends, or picturing a girl in mind who they could fall in love with… I recall sending these lyrics to my first true love who I took to the Concert of Hope.

Around the time of this song, George Michael was in the upper echelons of international stardom with multiple awards, critical acclaim and a Grammie to his name – and out-selling both Madonna and Michael Jackson…

In 1992, his status as one of the world’s best live singers was confirmed when his performance eclipsed in quality a line-up of the world’s greatest living pop stars at the gm-fm-tributeFreddie Mercury Tribute Concert; a performance that resulted in headlines suggesting that he may team up with Queen to become their new front man; something that never transpired.

His lesser known (and deliberately hidden) persona as a philanthropist was perhaps given away in his lyrics, such as those from “One More Try – “I’ve had enough of danger, and people on the streets, I’m looking out for angels, just trying to find some peace”… or his lead track from Listen Without Prejudice, Praying For Time, “This is the year of the hungry man, whose place is in the past – hand in hand, with ignorance and legitimate excuses.”

220px-george_michael_-_outsideThen, finally, it happened.  In 1997, George was outed.  Was this a shock?  Yes and no – there had been rumours for some time. People within the industry had called for George Michael to out himself – the openly gay Boy George being one of his better known critics on this front.  The way this happened was characteristically transmuted from humiliation into a humorous number 1 hit song.

Across his entire career though, what struck me the most, was that this man, a man who I had idolised to some degree, whose voice I loved, whose music and other talents had inspired me so deeply, was a gay man…  And, I recognised that we shared entirely common ground.  He was someone who experienced exactly the same feelings as me about those he loved; whose feelings I sung as my own – even sent romantically as a token of my love.  And what’s more (once again) it wasn’t just me who resonated in this way, it was millions of young heterosexual men around the planet.

screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-17-59-23If Ken Wilber is correct, the consciousness of people on the planet is in a steady historical
growth, moving from more traditional, mythical ethnocentric views (the realm of religion), where homosexuality is often denounced, toward more rational globalcentric views (the realm of science) that will continue to progress into holistic and integral views of our place in the Kosmos.  This view is ultimately inclusive and transcendent.

It may well be that George Michael’s greatest accomplishment, the most profound legacy he’s left us with, was to create a seismic shift in awareness of heterosexual men, that their homosexual counterparts aren’t so different, so alien, so “queer” – after all…

(And for those who barf at this notion, for those who do strongly hold to more ethnocentric, dogmatic “us and them” views, this may prove an interesting read…)

After all, if our ground of experience is our emotions, and George’s homosexual emotions are a perfect match for my heterosexual emotions, maybe there isn’t an “us and them”… maybe there is only a we.


I often tell my patients, we’re all here to inspire before we expire; and George Michael is someone who passes that credential with flying colours.

I, for one, will be forever grateful for his influence in my life and the joy, wisdom and insight he offered me – partly as a role model, partly as an inspiration, and partly as a father figure…

A tribute to George Michael, who died yesterday, but will live on in more ways than most, after what turned out to be his very own Last Christmas…


Hypocrisy in Healthcare

Of course, it’s all blown-over now, but just a couple of weeks ago, the internet was alight with a video that had gone viral showing an Australian chiropractor manipulating the thoracic spine (mid-back) of a little baby who had been brought to him because she was suffering with colic.

Image of the Autonomic Nervous System, borrowed from
Image of the Autonomic Nervous System, borrowed from

Using applied anatomy – something we will return to briefly later – the chiropractor used his highly honed palpation skills and identified tension and restriction at the level of the spine where the nerves exit to feed the digestive tract.  As is often the case in alternative or complementary medicines, the evidence base for whether or not colic can be effectively treated using manual therapies is relatively weak, but this published study does report subjective improvements.  However, it should be noted that conventional medicine evidence base is not too hot either – one report in the Journal of the American Medical Association claiming that 80% of allopathic medical approaches are not evidence based.

The understandable outcome of the video (which has now been taken down, but can still be viewed here) was that many people were shocked at the apparent “violence” of the treatment on such a helpless and vulnerable newborn.

Blog posts and official comments from governing bodies started appearing all over the internet some supporting and others condemning this highly trained, rational and well-intended medical professional.  From healthcare professionals to international news groups, the story appeared to have been blown up out of all proportion – perhaps there wasn’t too much else going on that week…  Or, perhaps there was (read on).

In my training as an osteopath it was a standard assignment to research and write a paper on the risks and benefits of high-velocity low-amplitude thrusts – also known more colloquially as clicking, cracking or manipulation techniques – the same techniques used by this chiropractor.  The reality, it turns out, is that the risk of spinal manipulation as a cause of serious injury or death is far less than driving a car, walking down the road or even having sex.  And just about the only danger Cervical Manipulation Several Hundred Times Safer Than Aspirinworthy of mention (with the exception of obvious risks, such as manipulating those with pre-existing bony pathologies, like osteoporosis) is manipulation of the upper cervical spine… but just how dangerous is that?  Well, it turns out that manipulation of the upper neck is several hundred times safer than taking an aspirin.

Of course, the baby featured in this most recent scandal didn’t have their cervical spine manipulated as when one >>applies knowledge of the anatomy<< the nerves that feed the digestive system exit the spine from the mid-back.  So the risks to the baby were even lower than “several hundred times safer” than aspirin.  And isn’t it slightly concerning that medical students barely learn anatomy anymore; so little surprise there were up in arms about this barbaric looking approach, as they probably didn’t really understand what the chiropractor was even attempting to do.  Even as far back as 2001 I was talking with a 5th year medical student from a renowned London-based Medical School, and he explained that he had done less than 24 hours total on anatomy; had experienced one 2-hour guest lecture on nutrition and that everything was about the pharmaceuticals – pharmacology, paediatric pharmacology, geriatric pharmacology, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, pharmacogenetics… Who could it be that is running this show?!!  I wonder what the average medical advice would have been to the parents of the child with colic?

I did consider putting up a video of a crying baby and recommending to the parents that they should give it Calprofen (a kind of “baby aspirin”) to see just how many YouTube hits that would achieve – as this would put the child at several thousand times more risk than a thoracic spine manipulation, but …

BMJ Report: Conservative Figures estimate medicine to be 3rd leading cause of death
BMJ Report: Conservative Figures estimate medicine to be 3rd leading cause of death

So why the furore?  Well, it turns out that this very same week none other than the British Medical Journal published a report highlighting that medical error is – conservatively speaking – the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.  An audio interview of one of the authors of the paper is available here where he explains why he would consider this “conservative”.

However, this information is not new.  This article, from the year 2000, reported very similar figures, while a subsequent follow-up with the Doctor Starfield, author of the article and Professor of Public Health at John Hopkins Hospital, suggested that when consideration is made of the lack of health education provided by medical doctors, they could reasonably seen as the leading cause of death in the US.  Now what was that medical student saying about learning about the body and about nutrition…?  This notion is discussed further here and here.

In other news, there have been (and are ongoing) young doctors strikes here in the UK and of course there is great concern about the adverse effects of this… but there may not be as much to worry about as people may at first think.  A report from the British Medical Journal, also in the year 2000, on similar incidents in the past have shown that when there was a Doctor’s strike in Israel the death rates actually fell…  In fact, it became such a strong trend (inasmuch as people weren’t dying) that the Undertakers were starting to go out of business.  It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. But it’s not just the BMJ, a review of the effects of 5 different doctors strikes was published in 2008 and can be viewed here.

So, when there is furore and excitement over what actually was a very safe, if slightly uncomfortable to watch, treatment approach, it may be worth stepping back and waiting to see what else is going on in the news to get a feel for the bigger picture…

We wish you Shamanic Christmas & a Pagan New Year

It’s commonly said that the true meaning of Christmas is all too easily forgotten in this consumer age… And this is true of course.  However, was it ever really truly understood? Perhaps it was – a long time ago.

One clue is in the name – but perhaps not for the reasons you think it is.  Christ, of course, refers to the figure Jesus Christ; whether he be historical or mythical.  But far from it being his surname, Jesus is only known as Christ because he christed himself; gave himself over to spirit, not for a political gain, but because of a higher knowledge or “gnosis”.

Whether you prefer to view it as a mythical or historical event, the symbolism remains the same.   The word Christ, has variously been defined as  meaning “the anointed”, ‘the messiah” or “the word” or “voice”.

The wisdom attributed to Jesus is also profound, and the various definitions of Christ highlight the notion of him being a “saviour” with a special message to offer.  This message was perhaps most clearly expressed in the following phrase:

Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.

Gospel of Thomas

The message to be conveyed was not that Jesus, as an individual entity, is in everything, but that spirit, life-force is in everything – even in a piece of wood or under a stone.  The traditional sense of spirit is akin to the contemporary view of The Force in George Lucas’ Star Wars; it surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together. Hence, it would make no sense that worship should be focused onto a single mysterious external authority figure, but should be on the life experience itself, to worship this all-pervading spirit in everything and everyone…

This leads on nicely to illustrate the profundity of “Christ-mass”.  It is when we all come together, or amass, with those we love – to be in high spirits, to worship each other, and give thanks for everything we share in our lives…

A Pagan View

Of course, the Pagan view on all this does not refer to a historical or mythical figure called Jesus who is the son of God, but the sun – the solar deity – that is the spark of life, or  what could be termed the Sun of God.

As described in ZeitgeistMovie, from the perspective of the northern hemisphere, the sun appears to move south and get smaller in the sky and is seen more infrequently from the summer solstice onwards.  The shortening of the days and the passing of the harvest when approaching the heart of winter symbolized the death process to our ancestors.  It was the death of the Sun.

By December 22nd, the winter solstice (today!) the Sun’s demise was complete; the Sun, finally reaching it’s lowest point in the sky after 6 months of gradual descent.

Yet, on the 22nd of December a curious scenario unfolds: the Sun appears to stop moving south for 3 clear days.  During this 3 day pause the Sun resides in the vicinity of the star formation known as the Southern Cross, or Crux, constellation.  Following this  spell, where the sun is still – or “dead” – on the cross, the Sun moves 1 degree north, on the December 25th.

This is a time for celebration as the Sun of God is reborn, the longer days, warmth, and harvests of the incoming year are once again in view .  And thus it was said: the Sun died on the cross, was dead for 3 days, only to be resurrected or born again on the 25th of December.

This is why Jesus and numerous other “Sun Gods” share the crucifixion, 3-day death, and resurrection motif within their stories.  It is the Sun’s transition period before it shifts its direction back into the Northern Hemisphere, bringing Spring, and thus salvation.

Other aspects of the Jesus as Sun God concept which highlight the Pagan insights into the symbolism behind the Christian story are described in ZeitgeistMovie or on this site.

Fathering the Mass of Christ

In recent centuries – and since hunter-gatherer times – the notion that the father goes out to hunt, to work and to bring back the “trophy” to the family or tribe has been a predominant theme. This theme is reflected in the choice of character for the contemporary Christmas story – not just the gender, but also the trophies he returns adorned with in the very midst of winter.  So, we’ve discussed the Son of God, but how about the Father of Christmas?  How did this other great icon of Christmas time come about and enter the public psyche?

In indigenous cultures, the wise person or “parent” of the tribe would have been the shaman – the person who people turned to at times of crisis.  The word “shaman” actually has its roots in the Tungus word saman which means “one who knows or knows the spirits.” Fittingly, the spirit of Christmas may originate from one who knows the spirits.  The story of Santa and his flying reindeer may be traceable to what might be considered a taboo source; hallucinogenic or “magic” mushrooms according to

“Santa is a modern counterpart of a shaman, who consumed mind-altering plants and fungi to commune with the spirit world,” according to anthropologist John Rush. Many of the characteristics we associate with Santa are strikingly reminiscent of Siberian shamanic practices.  Following are 8 ways that the connection with Siberian shaman helps to explain the story of Santa and his reindeer.

1. Arctic shamans delivered mushrooms on the winter solstice.

Shamans in the Siberian and Arctic regions traditionally call into community teepee-like homes with a bag full of hallucinogenic mushrooms as presents in late December.

Santa's boots coming down the chimney
Santa’s boots coming down the chimney

Historically, these practicing shamans would collect Amanita muscaria (the Holy Mushroom), dry them and then give them as gifts on the winter solstice. Because the snow was so deep, the doors were inaccessible so the only way they could enter the homes was to drop down through the chimneys.

That’s just one of the symbolic connections between the Amanita muscaria mushroom and the iconography of Christmas, according to several historians and ethnomycologists, or people who study fungi’s influence on human societies.

2. Mushrooms, like gifts, are found beneath pine trees.

Bauble or mushroom?
Bauble or mushroom? Mushrooms were traditionally hung on tree branches to dry them – up out of the snow on the ground.

In his book “Mushrooms and Mankind” (The Book Tree, 2003) the late author James Arthur points out that Amanita muscaria, also known as fly agaric, lives throughout the Northern Hemisphere under conifers and birch trees, with which the fungi — which are deep red with white flecks — have a symbiotic relationship. This partially explains the practice of the Christmas tree, and the placement of bright red-and-white presents underneath it, which look like Amanita mushrooms, he wrote.

“Why do people bring pine trees into their houses at the winter solstice, placing brightly coloured (red-and-white) packages under their boughs, as gifts to show their love for each other …?” he wrote.

Mushroom gifts under the tree
Mushroom found naturally under fir trees may represent the brightly coloured gifts under the tree.

“It is because, underneath the pine bough is the exact location where one would find this ‘Most Sacred’ gift, the Amanita muscaria, in the wild.”

Since the mushrooms needed drying, they were often hung along the branches of the trees or strung up in socks by the fire.

(Note:  these mushrooms should NOT be eaten, as they can be poisonous.)

3. Reindeer were shaman “spirit animals.”

Reindeer are also native to Siberia and northern Europe, and seek out these hallucinogenic fungi, as do the shaman.  It is certainly feasible that Siberian people who ingested fly agaric may have hallucinated that the grazing reindeer were flying.

“At first glance, one thinks it’s ridiculous, but it’s not,” said Carl Ruck, a professor of classics at Boston University. “Whoever heard of reindeer flying? I think it’s becoming general knowledge that Santa is taking a ‘trip’ with his reindeer.”

“Amongst the Siberian shamans, you have an animal spirit you can journey with in your vision quest,” Ruck continued. “And reindeer are common and familiar to people in eastern Siberia.”

4. Shamans dressed like … Santa Claus.

Traditional Siberian shamans out of reverence to the  mushroom which provides deep spiritual insight dress up to look like the mushroom in red suits with white spots, as illustrated here.

5. Christmas Trees & Stars

As well as the notion that the mushrooms tend to collect around the base of fur trees, a further Siberian tradition was to place a pine tree in their homes for ceremonial purposes. The upward pointing furs would provide symbolic power to propel their spirit up and out of the home via the hole in the roof.  Once the journey was complete, they would return through the smoke-hole/chimney with the gifts from the spirit world.

They also believed that the North Star was the very top of the Upper (Spirit) World, and because the World Tree was an axis that connected the entire cosmology, the North Star sat upon the very top of the World Tree – which is where the tradition of placing a star at the top of the tree comes from.

6. Rudolph’s nose resembles a bright-red mushroom.

rudolf the red nosed reigndeer
Reigndeer eating the mushrooms would, from certain angles, have looked like they had a “red nose”

Ruck points to Rudolph as another example of the mushroom imagery resurfacing: His nose looks exactly like a red mushroom. “It’s amazing that a reindeer with a red-mushroom nose is at the head, leading the others,” he said.

7. “A Visit from St. Nicholas” may have borrowed from shaman rituals.

Many of the modern details of contemporary Santa Claus come from the 1823 poem “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. The poem is credited to Clement Clarke Moore, an aristocratic academic who lived in New York City.

The origins of Moore’s vision are unclear, although Arthur, Rush and Ruck all think the poet probably drew from northern European motifs that derive from Siberian or Arctic shamanic traditions.

8. Santa is from the Arctic.

There is contention as to whether or not Shamans use sleighs for travel, however, the point isn’t the exact mode of travel, but that the “trip” involves transportation to a different, magical, celestial realm. Sometimes people would also drink the urine of the shaman or the reindeer, as the hallucinogenic compounds are excreted this way, without some of the harmful chemicals present in the fungi (which are broken down by the shaman or the reindeer), Rush said.

“People who know about shamanism accept this story,” Ruck said. “Is there any other reason that Santa lives in the North Pole? It is a tradition that can be traced back to Siberia.”

In closing

So, now you know a bit more about the magic of Christmas, the knowers of spirits, the deeper symbolism of all we do at this time, the celebration of new life and its cycles; and celebration of the ever-present spirit  in everything.

All that remains is for me to wish you a Shamanic Christmas and a Pagan New Year!  Let’s celebrate life and the renewal of the life-cycle!!

I’d like to thank and Xristiann blogsite for insights into the Zodiac connection with the story of Jesus, and Amaali Shaw who first made me aware of the shamanic connection with Santa for the first time last year, and the and sites for providing most of the information for this part of the post.