Monday, December 20, 2004

MERRY CHRI$TMA$!

On my other blog, synthetic_universe, I've been compiling information describing the function of psycho active plant consumption on the evolution of human civilization. This is an idea that fascinates me because it involves many of my favorite themes: anthropology, history, and consciousness... i.e. the human condition. In my readings this past semester I found many examples of shamanic practices lying at the root of many of our cultural systems. An example is the pagan history of "Christmas" before it merged with the Christian celebration of Christ's birth. As it happened, this past week my wife returned from a visit with her extended family in San Antonio and brought back some trinkets of her Grandmother's German past. These were three German incense smokers shaped like little villagers smoking pipes. They looked a little like this:


I told her that one of them symbolised a "shaman", and to top it all off, later at a local book store I found this book:


I guess the point of this is that our cultural traditions in some ways extend backwards in history for several centuries, if not millenia. This is probably something eveyone knows, but how often do we actually consider what this means?

So, it's Christmas again, and I'm feeling conflicted. On the one hand, I love to see family and give gifts, but on the other hand, I hate the "BUY BUY BUY!" from the commercial sector which bombards my mind on a daily basis. I heard an economist suggesting that stock holders should "do their part" to assist the struggling economy this Christmas.

So, since when did Christmas become Chri$tma$?