This may be the most exciting news we’ve ever told you about, dear reader. It comes to us from an article in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner of Fairbanks, Alaska. The newspaper has a comments feature. Their headline is Fungus Man and the start of it all. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:
Alaskans love fungi. This was evident one Saturday when author and mycologist Lawrence Millman offered a mushroom walk at Creamer’s Field on one of the wettest days of the yellow-leaf season. “Eighty people showed up in the rain, all eager to learn about fungi,” Millman said by email after returning to his home in Massachusetts. “I dare say the hunter-gatherer instinct is alive and well in Fairbanks.”
That is a strange beginning. Wikipedia has a write-up on Lawrence Millman. They say he’s a mycologist, a biologist specializing in Mycology — the study of fungi. Okay, but where is Millman’s mushroom walk going to take us? You must continue reading, dear reader. All will be revealed. Here’s where it starts to get interesting.
During a lecture at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Millman introduced the crowd to Fungus Man, a character in a Haida myth. Millman showed a drawing depicting a wide-eyed Fungus Man paddling a canoe. Fungus Man guides Raven, who sits in the front of the canoe holding a spear.
According to Wikipedia, the Haida people are natives of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Some live in British Columbia, and some live in Alaska. Okay, at this point we’ve got Fungus Man padding Raven around in a canoe. So what? Here it comes:
As the legend goes, Fungus Man paddled Raven the Creator to the land of female genitalia, “thus making it possible for homo sapiens to appear on our beleaguered planet,” Millman said.
Hooray for Fungus Man! Where would we be without him? Then we’re told:
Robert Blanchette of the University of Minnesota once fleshed out Fungus Man in the journal Mycologia: “Fungus Man originated from a bracket fungus with a white undersurface upon which Raven drew a face … Of all the creatures that Raven placed in the stern of the canoe only Fungus Man had the supernatural powers to breach the spiritual barriers that protected the area where women’s genital parts were located.”
You must admit, dear reader, this is much more satisfying than the creation account in Genesis. The article then tells us that some native people have a higher regard for fungi than others. That’s far less interesting than a journey to the land of female genitalia, but it’s still worth mentioning:
… Millman, a frequent visitor to the far north, noted in his lecture that Interior and coastal Alaskans didn’t seem to have the same reverence for fungi as the Southeasterners. … Perhaps, he said, it was because a Yupik translation of mushroom means “that which makes your hands fall off.” Or because some Natives of the far north explained mushrooms as “the (excrement) of shooting stars.”
That’s good to know. This is how the article ends:
“You can quote me as saying that Fungus Man is a far more benevolent deity than the Christian God,” Millman said. “(It’s) a pity no one believes in Him anymore.”
Yes, it is a pity. Of all the gods we’ve ever heard about, Fungus Man may be the most benevolent. It’s too bad Darwin never visited Alaska. The theory of evolution would have been greatly enhanced by this information. It still could be! More research is needed.
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