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Glimpse (#98) was the back panel of the Painted Monastery of Voronet. Here you see a side panel fresco of Adam and Eve tempted by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

Startlingly, however, the couple is not eating an apple at the serpent’s behest but a hallucinogenic Amanita muscaria mushroom – recognizable as the classic Disney cartoon mushroom with the red cap and white spots. Sounds hard to believe but there it is, 532 years old. It’s the center panel of a triptych, the left panel has Adam and Eve each grasping an Amanita stalk, the right panel knowing they are naked covering themselves with fig leaves.

In all three panels, the Garden of Eden is an Amanita garden. This is devotional art by deeply devout Christians over 500 years ago. What’s going on? Amanita muscaria is commonly found in the Carpathian forests to this day. Did the Voronet painters engage in Amanita ceremonies giving them visions they used to paint their churches? Did those visions make them decide it was Amanita and not an apple that Eve ate?

From time immemorial, people have used hallucinogenic plants to commune with the spirit world. Researchers have shown that Soma, the god instantiated on earth in the earliest Hindu texts, is Amanita muscaria. And they’ve made another connection. Google Amanita muscaria + Santa Claus to find out. Better be sitting down. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #99 photo ©Jack Wheeler)