Soma is a name of a ritual drink, sacred in both Vedic and Zoroastrian religion. As Wikipedia states:

It is described as being prepared by extracting the juice from a plant, the identity of which is now unknown and debated among scholars.
In both the ancient Vedic religion and Zoroastrianism, the name of the drink and the plant are the same.
There has been much debate on the nature of this plant, but most of the scholars agree that it was psychedelic. This fact is pretty obvious in the ancient texts. In modern India, the ancient ritual of drinking soma is still alive. It is known as Somayag, but the plant used is a leafless wine know as – Sarcostemma acidum, a plant which is not hallucinogenic.

However, many scholars claim that this plant is a substitute, used in order to preserve the sacred ritual, as the original plant does not grow in India anymore.

So what was this plant? The hallucinogenic theories go from opium and ephedra to cannabis or even some mixture of these. But one of the proposals which are most common is “Amanita Muscaria – The fly agaric” mushroom.

From Wikipedia:

In the late 1960s, several studies attempted to establish soma as a psychoactive substance. A number of proposals were made, including one in 1968 by the American banker R. Gordon Wasson, an amateur ethnomycologist, who asserted that soma was an inebriant but not cannabis, and suggested fly-agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria, as the likely candidate.
Since its introduction in 1968, this theory has gained both detractors and followers in the anthropological literature. Wasson and his co-author, Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, drew parallels between Vedic descriptions and reports of Siberian uses of the fly-agaric in shamanic ritual.
Sami people and the magic mushroom

Now, there is another group of people, known as Sami, living in Scandinavia and parts of Northern Russia. The original name of Finland – Suomi probably comes from them.

Both Sami and Samoyed language belong to the Uralic group, meaning that they belong to the same group of people. This fact is largely ignored by the scholars who tend to see them as two separate groups just because they are not on the same branch of Uralic languages. But since the majority of Sami lives in Scandinavia and not Russia, the Russian etymology of “self” does not work here. Instead, we get the most incredible story:

Sámi refer to themselves as Sámit (the Sámis) or Sápmelaš (of Sámi kin), the word Sámi being inflected into various grammatical forms.
It has been proposed that Sámi (presumably borrowed from the Proto-Finnic word), Häme (Finnish for Tavastia) ( Proto-Finnic *šämä, the second ä still being found in the archaic derivation Hämäläinen), and perhaps Suomi (Finnish for Finland) ( *sōme-/sōma-, compare suomalainen, supposedly borrowed from a Proto-Germanic source *sōma- from Proto-Baltic *sāma-. in turn borrowed from Proto-Finnic *šämä) are of the same origin and ultimately borrowed from the Baltic word *žēmē, meaning “land”.
The Baltic word is cognate with Slavic земля (zemlja), which also means “land”.
I don’t know about you, but to me, this is a really long stretch.

But what I find interesting in the etymology above is the part “Proto-Finnic *šämä” – shama, as in shaman. What if their name is in fact related to the magic mushroom – a highly important element of shamanic rituals all over Siberia and Scandinavia? The term shaman comes from the Evenki (Tungus) language of Russia – another region where Amanita mushroom is sacred.

2 minute BBC video

So in a nutshell, we have a sacred, hallucinogenic plant of Ancient India and Persia, known as “soma”, from one side. One of the plants proposed is Amanita Muscaria. On the other side, we have the people known as Sami, and Samoyed, who still use this mushroom in their sacred rituals.

Could there be a connection?
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The origins of the Samoyed

Most of the scholars agree that Sami are indigenous people of Scandinavia. From Wikipedia:

They have inhabited the northern arctic and sub-arctic regions of Fenno-Scandinavia and Russia for at least 5,000 years. Petroglyphs and archeological findings such as settlements dating from about 10,000 B.C. can be found in the traditional lands of the Sami.
However, the same opinion does not apply for the Nenets. Their ancestral homeland lies to the west of Ural mountains, from where they have progressively moved in all directions. As “Ethnic Groups of North, East, and Central Asia: An Encyclopedia” states:

Linguistic evidence points to a common Samoyedic ancestry, probably in the West of the Ural mountains. In the first millennium BCE, the Samoyed tribes began to migrate to the east, northeast and the southeast…
Basically, the main migration of Samoyed simply followed the route of the river Ob, from their origins between Ural and Altai on the south – to their present homeland in the Arctic circle. This migration to the north had happened gradually, over a course of three millennia, as the northern areas were becoming more habitable.
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And according to professor David W. Anthony, author of “The Horse, the Wheel and Language”:

Soma was introduced into the Indo-Iranian culture from the Bactria–Margiana culture. The Old Indic religion probably emerged among Indo-European immigrants in the contact zone between the Zeravshan River (present-day Uzbekistan) and (present-day) Iran.
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Samoyed – the soma eaters?

Let us now summarize the facts:

People known as Samoyed originated on the north-west of modern-day Kazakhstan. They were present there since the 1st millennium BC. And they were using Amanita Muscaria mushroom in their sacred rituals since the dawn of time.
Soma drink probably originated in the south-east of modern-day Kazakhstan. It was popular during the 1st millenium BC. It was probably hallucinogenic and perhaps made from Amanita Muscaria.
Could then the Samoyed be the “soma eaters”, an ancient tribe whose prehistoric rituals might have influenced two great ancient cultures, those of India and Persia?

Soma, Santa Claus, and Coca-Cola

On a side note, it is already a well-known fact that the image of the Santa Claus comes directly from the Sami shaman and their sacred raindeers. Not only because of the characteristical clothing. The traditional Sami houses have the roof entrance, as the main door often ends up under snow. The shamans would visit people during the winter, selling the dried mushrooms, whose red and white colors are the colors of the Santa’s clothing.

But there is another interesting fact that everyone seems to miss out. The original Coca-Colla contained cocaine – it was a narcotic potion.

The logical question is, did the creators of the Coca-Colla image (perhaps inspired by the “Brave new world”) see this drink as a modern-day soma – hence the whole symbolic?

But if this is the case, how did they put all the pieces together?
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Samoyed as the Androphagi?

It is not clear how old is the idea that Samoyed means “self-eater”. However, the confusion could be of a really ancient date. Namely, Herodotus describes a tribe of “man-eaters” (Andophagoi) in the 5th century BC:

They are nomads, and their dress is Scythian; but the language which they speak is peculiar to themselves. Unlike any other nation in these parts, they are cannibals.
Wikipedia on Androphagi states:

Historian Marija Gimbutas has hypothesized that “Androphagoi” is a Greek translation of *mard-xwaar “man-eater” in the old North Iranian language of the Scythians. From *mard-xwaar one can derive “Mordva” or “Mordvin”, the Russian name of the Finno-Ugrian Erzya and Moksha peoples of east-central European Russia.
From Herodotus we can deduce a location for the Androphagoi that is approximately the same as that occupied by the modern Mordvins.
Mordvins are another ancient Uralic speaking group of this region. However, it is precisely the term Samoyed that could have been a cause of confusion. The remains of the mass-scale cannibalism were never discovered in this region – a fact that has baffled scholars for centuries.

In “A Commentary on Herodotus” by W. W. How, J. Wells we read:

Neumann (p. 212) thinks the Androphagi were Finns, quoting evidence that this people were said to practise cannibalism even in the Middle Ages; perhaps they are the ancestors of the Mordvinians, a Finnish tribe still surviving in the Volga basin.