Reindeer and Amanita

Those who have done any research on Amanita muscaria use will have come across the legend that certain Northern peoples would drink the urine of reindeer who had eaten the mushroom, thereby getting high (it is a fact that the active chemical component of fly agaric passes into the urine untouched). Many of us have questioned this story, since it seems unlikely at best (how do you collect reindeer urine?). But intrepid psychonaut Andy Letcher (author of the highly recommended book Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom) has discovered there is indeed truth to this fabulous tale:

“This week I made my annual visit to the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance and there I met a reindeer herder, with herds in both Britain and Scandinavia. We got chatting and I asked him whether it was true that reindeer have a taste for human urine. Quite true. They’ll lap it up from the snow. And then, unprompted, he told me the following story.

Once, while living amongst the Saami, his hosts started feeding reindeer with fly-agarics, which the deer consumed with some relish. Waiting for nature to take its course, the fruits of micturition were collected in a bucket (strapped to the animals’ flanks perhaps?), boiled up in a pot (I’m guessing to concentrate the brew or perhaps to make it more potable) and shared round.”

Read the full story here.

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