Ingolf Stern, Seattle
Amanita Muscaria is your Santa Claus. The red suit with white highlights comes from Amanitas color scheme. It is also the much-misunderstood Easter Egg. Children were sent into the woods to collect them and rewarded for their harvest with sweets. Amanitas are traditionally hung by the fireplace to dry so they can be eaten. Normally they are hung in small sacks or in socks over the mantle. They were also hung right on the branches of fir trees underneath which they grew. This is the source of your Christmas decorations, the bright red glass balls you hang on your tree but never knew why. You will also see Amanita in religious iconography including much Papal regalia. Properly prepared Amanita is a safe way to see what is normally unseen. Not for kids. This mushroom has been a friend of humanity for eons. Cuidado! It's yellow cousin the Pantherina and other lookalikes will kill you dead. Know before you go!