P. betulinus

Mycos !williams at wkpowerlink.com
Thu Aug 13 13:00:32 EST 1998

Recently went through Frazer's "The Golden Bough ",  and found a
reference to a mushroom that went by the name of "Baran" in a place
called Norrland which I'm assuming is an old name for a scandinavian
country. This mushroom was used in a pagan ritual to repel trolls and
other characters of the local mythology. Does anybody have any idea
what the botanical name for this fungus might be ?. Or at least a good
place to start looking for info ? Also, he refers to a birch loving
fungus that I am going to assume is Piptoporus betulinus which was
used in starting a special form of the Beltane fires in the western
european pagan tradition. Thus started fires were refered to as "need
fires" and apparently had special properties. I find this extremely
interesting as this fungus has a long history of use as a  fire
tinder, razor or knife sharpener and even currently as a base to mount
insect collections on. It was even determined that the Iceman or
"Otzi" when found had a sample of this fungus in his posession. For
what purpose of course no-one knows but the above gives one a few
reasons to speculate. For those of you unfamiliar with the Iceman, he
was that mummified corpse found high in the European Alps that had
many of his posessions perfectly preserved. He is believed to about
5000 yrs. old and remarkably had a copper axe that predated any known
by many hundreds of years forcing many archeologists to  revise their
chronologies regarding such matters.  Does anybody have any more
anecdotes regarding this fungus ? It appears to have a long-time
attraction  to people going far back into prehistory. Thanks for any

Gary Williams

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