Inuit Tribes and Siberian Amanitas

Inuit Tribes and Amanitas

Inuit people are the most widely dispersed group in the world still leading a partly aboriginal way of life. They live in a region that spans more than 3,500 miles. This region includes Greenland, the northern fringe of North America, as well as a sector of eastern Siberia.  Inuit are racially distinct from the North American Indians. In fact, the Inuit are closely related to the Mongolian peoples of eastern Asia. The Inuit – Aleut languages are unrelated to any American Indian language groups.

At no time did the Inuit possess a national or well – defined tribal sense. The Inuit emphasis was always on the local and familial group rather than on associations based on land and territory. The terms Inuit Indians, the Inuit Indians, Inuit tribe and Eskimo are not the correct names for these kind and gentle people.  Inuit simply means ‘The People’ in Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit and Inuit is the name they wish to be known by. Inuit – their rightful name, replaces ‘Eskimo’ a term based on a Algonkian word meaning ‘eaters of raw flesh.’

The Inuit tribes have a deeply-rooted Shamanistic culture, and had highly developed methods for initiating new shamans, such as various forms of isolation and self-denial, such as fasting, solitary confinement, celibacy, dietary and purity restrictions, and protracted prayer. Igjugarjuk, a Caribou Inuit shaman, claims to have been isolated by his mentor in a small snow hut where he fasted and meditated in the cold, drinking only a little water twice, for thirty days. After his initiatory vision, which was brought on by the consumption of the Amanita muscaria mushroom, he continued a rigorous regime involving a special diet and celibacy:

“Frequently a candidate will gain shamanic powers during a visionary experience in which he or she undergoes some form of death or personal destruction and disintegration at the hands of divine beings, followed by a corresponding resurrection or reintegration that purges and gives a qualitatively different life to the initiate. For example, a Caribou Inuit initiate named Igjugarjuk, in his long and arduous initiatory vision, was at one point reduced to a skeleton and then was ‘forged’ with a hammer and anvil. Autdaruta, another Inuit initiate, had a vision in which he was eaten by a bear and then was vomited up, having gained power over the spirits.” – James R. Davila, “Hekhalot Literature and Mysticism”

Amanita muscaria (named after Mt. Amanus, the first known habitat for this fungus) was used by ancient people to control fly populations by mixing it with milk to stupefy flies. The concoction did not kill the flies but once they were asleep, they could be easily disposed of. The Inuit tribes, including the Eskimos and individuals of Russian descent, have close relationship with reindeer, and were aware that the reindeer also had an affinity for the Amanita mushroom. The reindeer had such a great taste for the mushroom that they would be seen consuming the urine of other reindeer who had recently eaten a mushroom. If you wanted to catch a reindeer, all you had to do was to urinate and they would come running.

The shaman would urinate and the followers would consume the urine.  The consumption of the urine was a common practice for several reasons:

1. The mushroom was highly valued and expensive
2. The chemicals responsible for cramping were filtered out during the first metabolism (which made the drinking of urine popular).
3. Consumption of the urine also allowed the next person to experience a greater intoxication and permitted up to five people, each one drinking the lasts urine, to become inebriated with just one mushroom.

Eventually the Soma ritual was gradually forgotten, although the Soma deity still exists in the Hindu religion. As the population spread and was variously subsumed by other cultures, they began to substitute other plants, and the identity of Soma was lost for 2000 years. Mushroom stones dated as far back as 6,000 years ago indicate the existence of a mushroom religion in Mesoamerica at least that far back.