The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications

Psilocybe azurescens Stamets et Gartz

 

Indigo Psilocybe

 

Family

 

Agaricaceae: Strophariaceae; Stropharioideae Tribe, Caerulescentes or Cyanescens Section

Synonyms

 

Psilocybe astoriensis nom. nud.

Psilocybe cyanescens Ossip nom. nud.

Folk Names

 

Astoriensis, azureus-kahlkopf, blue runner, flying saucer mushroom, indigo psilocybe

 

The history of Psilocybe azurescens is very new and mysterious. This mushroom was only recently discovered:

 

In 1979, Boy Scouts found an unusually large and strongly blueing Stropharia near the city of Astoria in the state of Oregon, close to the mouth of the majestic Columbia River. Stem lengths of up to 20 cm (!) and caps as broad as 10 cm were no rarity. By 1981, the mushroom was being grown outdoors on wood chips or cow mulch, methods that were originally developed for Psilocybe cyanescens and have been described in detail elsewhere (Gartz 1994). Soon these “new” mushrooms, which proved to be potently psychoactive, were called “Psilocybe astoriensis” (Gartz, in Rippchen 1993[**]), although no mycological description with a valid Latin diagnosis was published. (Gartz 1996, 189)

 

The initial description by Paul Stamets and Jochen Gartz was not published until 1995. This largest species of the genus Psilocybe grows on the remains of wood in the coastal region of Oregon and Washington, where it fruits in the fall (from the end of September to the beginning of November). Of all the Psilocybe species, this one spreads the most aggressively. “The mushroom even grew spontaneously on wooden clothespins that were lying about” (Gartz, in Rippchen 1993, 72**).

This mushroom is quite similar to Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa Stamets et Guzmán (cf. Psilocybe spp.) but is also easily confused with the sulfur tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare [Hus.: Fr.] Kummer).

The spore print can germinate on an agar surface within three days. Cultivating the mycelium is best done on a substrate of rye. Unfortunately, in Germany the cultivated mushrooms commonly do not fruit (B. Schuldes 1995).

Psilocybe azurescens can develop caps that are 10 cm in diameter and stems that are as long as 20 cm. Because it was discovered only at the end of the 1970s, it has been speculated that this is a new species that only recently evolved. It grows in a habitat that is very untypical for members of the Psilocybe genus. It thrives on sandy soil close to the ocean, usually in association with the grass Ammophila maritima(cf. Claviceps spp.). The mushroom quickly spread from Astoria and will certainly soon be common in the entire Pacific Northwest. It is the most potent member of the genus Psilocybe.

The indigo psilocybe (dry weight) contains 1.29 to 1.78% psilocybin, 0.18 to 0.37% baeocystin, and 0.27 to 0.5% psilocin. The alkaloid concentration is almost consistently the same among mushrooms that have been collected in the wild, those that have been cultivated in Washington state, and those that have become feral in Germany (Stamets and Gartz 1995, 23).

An experiential report written by a mycologist clearly demonstrates the potent effects of Psilocybe azurescens:

 

Psilocybe azurescens, which resembles a flying saucer (photographed in its type locality [natural habitat] near Astoria, Oregon)

 

 

To my surprise, the mushroom powder (1 gram) in the mixture of orange juice was tasteless, which I found positive in comparison to earlier experiments with Psilocybe semilanceata and Psilocybe cubensis. After some 20 minutes, the effects suddenly began in such a way that my body immediately dissolved into pure energy. This sensation of a remaining, isolated soul without a Christian/ church context that existed somewhere and sometime was extremely impressive. There began a journey through historical periods that was without precedent for me. The coarse structure of the white ceiling of the room dissolved completely, as when cobwebs are brushed aside, and a stage opened up. A multitude of historical events and experiences that my soul experienced as totally real alternated in quick succession. Once, the room was transformed entirely into the style of an ancient Egyptian tomb, and I lay in the center, which provoked a moment of sudden terror, for it had an absolute character of being real. But generally this flight through historical times took place in an essentially peaceful and meditative mood with many experiences of a transpersonal nature, as [Stanislav] Grof has described in detail. Personal problems no longer existed.

After some 5 hours, this journey beyond time and space ended with the rather abruptly developing sensation that my body and its union with the free-floating soul had been created anew. Aside from a certain tiredness, no other aftereffects were observed. During the following day, there was a very pleasant sensation of a special freshness of spirit that then slowly dissipated. (Gartz 1996, 91)

“A cold weather–tolerant species, P. azurescens is one of the most potent species in the world and exhibits one of the strongest bluing reactions I have seen.”

 

PAUL STAMETS

 

PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS OF THE WORLD

 

(1996, 96**)

 

Literature

 

See also the entries for the other Psilocybe species and for psilocybin.

 

Gartz, Jochen. 1994. Ethnopharmakologie psilocybinhaltiger Pilze im pazifischen Nordwesten der USA. In Jahrbuch des Europäischen Collegiums für Bewußtseinsstudien 1993/1994: 159–64.

 

———. 1996. Ein neuer psilocybinhaltiger Pilz. In María Sabina—Botin der heiligen Pilze, ed. Roger Liggenstorfer and Christian Rätsch, 189–92. Solothurn: Nachtschatten Verlag.

 

Schuldes, Bert Marco. 1995. Erfahrungen mit Psilocybe astoriensisEntheogene 4:30–31.

 

Stamets, Paul, and Jochen Gartz. 1995. A new caerulescent Psilocybe from the Pacific Coast of northwestern America. Integration 6:21–27.

 

Psilocybe (Stropharia) cubensis (Earle) Singer

 

Magic Mushroom, Divine Dung Mushroom, Golden Cap

 

Family

 

Agaricaceae: Strophariaceae; Stropharioideae Tribe, Cubensae Section

Forms and Varieties

 

The recently described species Psilocybe subcubensis may possibly be merely a subspecies or variety of P. cubensis (cf. Psilocybe spp.). Three varieties have been described:

 

Psilocybe cubensis var. caerulescens (Murr.) Singer et Smith

Psilocybe cubensis var. cubensis

Psilocybe cubensis var. cyanescens (Murr.) Singer et Smith

Synonyms

 

Hypholoma caerulescens (Pat.) Sacc. et Trott.

Naematoloma caerulescens Pat.

Psilocybe cubensis var. caerulescens (Murr.) Singer et Smith

Stropharia cubensis Earle

Stropharia caerulescens (Pat.) Sing.

Stropharia cyanescens Murr.

Stropharia subcyanescens Rick.

Folk Names

 

Champiñon, derrumbe de estiércol de vaca (Spanish, “abyss of the cow patties”), di-ki-sholerraja, dishitjolerraja (Mazatec, “divine dung mushroom”), divine dung mushroom, golden top, gold top, göttlicher düngerpilz, hed keequai (Thai), hongo de San Isidro, hongo maravilloso, honguillos de San Isidro Labrador (“mushroom of Saint Isidro the Farmer” [= the saint of agriculture]), hysteria toadstool, kubanischer kahlkopf, kubanischer träuschling, lòl lú’um (Yucatec Mayan, “flowers of the earth”), magic mushroom, nocuana-be-neeche (Zapotec), nti-xi-tjolencha-ja (Mazatec, “mushroom like that which grows on cow patties”), San Isidro, San Isidro Labrador, tenkech (Chol), tenkech (Chol: Panlencano), teotlaquilnanácatl (modern Nahuatl, “the sacred mushroom that paints in colors”), zauberpilz

 

The tropical Psilocybe cubensis (= Stropharia cubenis) prefers to live on cow dung. (Photographed in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico)

 

“Ample evidence supports the notion that Stropharia cubensis is the Ur plant, our umbilicus to the feminine mind of the planet, which, when its cult, the Paleolithic cult of the Great Horned Goddess, was intact, conveyed to us such knowledge that we were able to live in a dynamic equilibrium with nature, with each other, and within ourselves. Hallucinogenic mushroom use evolved as a kind of natural habit with behavioral and evolutionary consequences. This relationship between human beings and mushrooms had to have also included cattle, the creators of the only source of the mushrooms.”

 

TERENCE MCKENNA FOOD OF THE GODS (1992, 39)

 

History

 

Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Sing. (= Stropharia cubensis Earle), known internationally by the names magic mushroom and golden cap, is originally from Africa. It thrives on cattle dung and in meadows with deposits of dung. In symbiosis with African cattle, it has spread around the world, although it grows only in tropical or subtropical areas. Terence McKenna believed that this psychoactive mushroom exerted an important influence upon human evolution. According to his theory, consuming these mushrooms resulted in a “mental quantum leap” that transformed our apelike ancestors into “intelligent beasts” with a greater ability to survive. This psychedelic “primordial experience” led to the development of the first mystical mushroom rituals, which formed the basis for shamanism, mythologies, and religions (McKenna 1996*). It has even been suggested that this mushroom was the original soma.

This mushroom was first found in Cuba (hence its species name cubensis, “Cuban”). The Englishman S. Baker provided the first description of its traditional use in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) (Eight Years in Ceylon, London, 1855 [1884]). The shamanic use of Psilocybe cubensis in Mexico was discovered during research into the magic mushrooms of Mexico (cf. Psilocybe mexicana). There, it is known as hongo de San Isidro, “mushroom of Saint Isidro.” Among the Mazatec Indians, Saint Isidro is the patron saint of fields and meadows, the same locales in which this mushroom—which is exclusively coprophilous—is found (Heim and Hofmann 1958a).

Because this mushroom is frequently found in Palenque (Mexico), it has been suggested that the ancient Maya may have used it as an entheogen. Before the Spanish, however, there were no cattle in the Americas, and the mushroom requires their dung to grow. All of the evidence suggests that Psilocybe cubensis was introduced into Mexico during the late colonial period (Coe 1990).

In Thailand, Psilocybe cubensis is now the most commonly offered mushroom on the vacation islands of Koh Samui and Koh Pha-Ngan (Allen 1991; Allen and Merlin 1992a, 1992b). The omelets made with this mushroom are renowned. It is also common in Bali (Wälty 1981).

 

The fruiting bodies of Psilocybe cubensis, growing from the head of a mushroom user who has been enlightened from within. (Indonesian batik, twentieth century)

 

Appearance

 

The mushroom forms relatively large fruiting bodies with slightly convex caps that can grow as large as 8 cm in diameter. The caps usually have a yellow or golden color at their center.

Psilocybe cubensis can be distinguished from Psilocybe subcubensis, a Central American species known as suntiama, only on the basis of the size of its spores (Guzmán 1994, 1472**).

Distribution

 

Psilocybe cubensis is found throughout the tropics wherever there is cattle or water buffalo breeding or ranching, including Mexico (Oaxaca, Chiapas), Cuba, Guatemala, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Florida, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Australia. In tropical areas, the mushroom can fruit throughout the year. The mushrooms usually sprout from cow dung after it has rained.

Cultivation

 

Of all species of Psilocybe, this is the easiest to grow. The mushroom produces more psilocybin when grown on malt agar (Gartz 1987). Fruiting occurs most readily when air humidity is high and the temperatures are tropically warm (24 to 34°C).

Harvest, Storage, and Consumption

 

In the tropics, the fruiting bodies of Psilocybe cubensis are easy to collect. During the harvest, however, certain things should be taken into consideration:

 

Although many people eat the fresh mushrooms right from the field, this unhygienic practice is to be discouraged. Some mushrooms grow directly on the dung and may possibly have particles of dung adhering to their flesh. For reasons of safety, the wise user should select only fresh, healthy specimens that are free of insects and avoid those that are rotting. Before consumption, [the mushrooms] should be washed thoroughly with water; the conscientious consumer will also cut off the lower end of the stem.

To store, the mushrooms are dried in the air at more or less room temperature (devices for drying food are also suitable; they can also be dried on a grate near a source of warmth). Overly long drying processes and high temperatures should absolutely be avoided. When the mushrooms are crispy, they should be filled into airtight containers. They can then be placed in a freezer. In this way, they can be stored for months with only a very slight loss of effectiveness. The mushrooms should not be frozen until they are completely dry (otherwise, they will quickly lose their effectiveness). They also should not be preserved in honey while fresh (this will result in a disgusting fermented mass). If the mushrooms are going to be stored for only a few days, it will suffice to place them in the refrigerator. . . .

The dried mushrooms are clearly not very easy to digest, especially when they have not been sufficiently mixed with saliva. Mixing the mushrooms with juice or chocolate breaks up the tissue and allows the psilocybin to more easily enter into solution. It goes without saying that the mushrooms should be mixed with these carrier substances only immediately prior to consumption. Some users prefer mushrooms that have been sautéed in butter and are eaten with toast or potato chips. Lightly sautéing them over a low flame will not seriously lower the psilocybin content (it may be better to fry fresh mushrooms, so that any toxic components that may be present, e.g., gyromitrine and other methylhydrazines, will be destroyed). (Ott 1996, 191 f.)

 

An effective dosage of Psilocybe cubensis is regarded as 3 to 5 g of dried mushrooms. The user may want to use different dosages for different purposes, ranging from mild psychostimulation produced by a small mushroom to a “full blast” or a psychedelic breakthrough (Terence McKenna’s famous “heroic” recipe calls for 5 g “on an empty stomach in total silent darkness”). Psilocybe cubensis is the psilocybin mushroom that is most commonly available on the black market (Turner 1994, 27*).

Magic mushrooms are usually consumed in fresh or dried form.With time, certain specific forms of ingesting the mushrooms have been developed: Dipped in honey or powdered, the mushrooms may be drunk with cacao (cf. Theobroma cacao). From time to time, the mushrooms are also eaten with chocolate (cf. Remann 1989, 248*).

In Thailand, the mushroom is dried and then smoked or baked into cookies together with hemp (Cannabis indica) (Allen and Merlin 1992b, 213). The fresh mushrooms are incorporated into dishes in the same way that normal culinary mushrooms are used.

Ritual Use

 

In central Europe, cultivated mushrooms are used in ritual circles in the same manner as Psilocybe semilanceata. In Mexico, wild mushrooms growing on cow dung are used in shamanic rituals in the same manner as Psilocybe mexicana.

In central Europe, this mushroom has also been used with success in private healing rituals (Strassmann 1996).

Artifacts

 

On the Thai “mushroom island” of Koh Samui, an entire T-shirt industry has arisen that offers tourists hand-painted T-shirts with mushroom designs (Allen 1991; Allen and Merlin 1992a). The mushroom is also frequently depicted on Indonesian batiks (cf. Panaeolus cyanescens).

Constituents

 

The fruiting body contains a maximum of 1% psilocybin by dry weight. An analysis by Gartz (1994, 19**) found an average of approximately 0.6% psilocybin, 0.15% psilocin, and 0.02% baeocystin by dry weight. The quantity of active constituents is greater in the caps than in the stems (Gartz 1987).

Effects

 

As with all psilocybin mushrooms, Psilocybe cubensis produces strong visions that often feature shamanic characteristics:

 

The effects of the mushrooms [Psilocybe cubensis] began by manifesting themselves as waves of energy that ran through my body. I found the beauty that was proffered to my eyes to be even more valuable.

Suddenly a large snake glided toward me from the desert that surrounded us and slipped into my body. The next thing I noticed was that I myself had become the snake. No sooner had I gotten used to this condition than a large eagle descended and snatched me with its talons. My body shook from the blow, but I did not feel any pain. The eagle held me firmly in its clutches, ascended again, and flew directly into the sky until it had become one with the sunlight. My personal identity as a separate consciousness dissolved. The only thing that remained was the unity with the light. (Pinkson 1992, 144)

 

 

The American heavy-metal band The Big F was obviously inspired by the visionary powers of Psilocybe (Strophariacubensis when it named its album Is. Or is there another way to interpret this apparently mycological picture of magic mushrooms? (CD cover, 1993, Chrysalis Records)

 

“Did you know that it has been suggested that some ancient Indian brahman was unable to properly get his metaphor together, so that instead of declaring the mushroom that grows on the dung holy, he proclaimed holy the cow that produces the dung? Did you know that such misunderstandings also make it clear why it is indeed idolatrous to dance around the golden calf?”

 

MICKY REMANN

 

GLÜCKSPILZE [HAPPY MUSHROOMS] (1989, 260 f.*)

 

Literature

 

See also the entries for the other Psilocybe species and for psilocybin.

 

Allen, John W. 1991. Commercial activities related to psychoactive fungi in Thailand. Boston Mycological Club Bulletin 46 (1): 11–14.

 

Allen, John W., and Mark D. Merlin. 1992a. Psychoactive mushrooms in Thailand: Some aspects of their relationship to human use, law and art. Integration 2/3:98–108.

 

———. 1992b. Psychoactive mushroom use in Koh Samui and Koh Pha-Ngan, Thailand. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 35 (3): 205–28.

 

Bigwood, Jeremy, and Michael W. Beug. 1982. Variation of psilocybin and psilocin levels with repeated flushes (harvests) of mature sporocarps of Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Singer. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 5 (3): 287–91.

 

Coe, Michael D. 1990. A vote for Gordon Wasson. In The sacred mushroom seeker, ed. T. Riedlinger, 43–45. Portland, Ore.: Dioscorides Press.

 

Gartz, Jochen. 1987. Variation der Indolalkaloide von Psilocybe cubensis durch unterschiedliche Kultivierungsbedingungen. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Pilze Mitteleuropas 3:275–81.

 

———. 1989. Bildung und Verteilung der Indolalkaloide in Fruchtkörpern, Mycelien und Sklerotien von Psilocybe cubensisBeiträge zur Kenntnis der Pilze Mitteleuropas 5:167–74.

 

Heim, Roger, and Albert Hofmann. 1958a. Isolement de la Psilocybine à partir de Stropharia cubensis Earle et d’autres espèces de champignons hallucinogènes mexicains appartenant au genre PsilocybeComptes rendus de l’Académie des sciences, Paris 247:557–61.

 

———. 1958b. La psilocybine et la psilocine chez les psilocybes et strophaires hallucinogènes. In Les champignons hallucinogènes du Mexique, by Roger Heim and R. Gordon Wasson, 258–62**. Paris: Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle.

 

Katerfeld, Raoul. 1995. A glimpse into heaven—a meeting with Thailand mushroom spirits. Integration 6:47–49.

 

Ott, Jonathan. 1996. Zum modernen Gebrauch des Teonanácatl. In María Sabina—Botin der heiligen Pilze, ed. Roger Liggenstorfer and Christian Rätsch, 161–63. Solothurn: Nachtschatten Verlag.

 

Pinkson, Tom. 1992. Reinigung, Tod und Wiedergeburt: Der klinische Gebrauch von Entheogenen in einem schamanischen Kontext. In Das Tor zu inneren Räumen, ed. C. Rätsch, 141–66. Südergellersen: Verlag Bruno Martin.

 

Strassmann, René. 1996. Sarahs Stimmen—ein traditionelles europäischen Pilzritual. In María Sabina—Botin der heiligen Pilze, ed. Roger Liggenstorfer and Christian Rätsch, 183–88. Solothurn: Nachtschatten Verlag.

 

Wälty, Samuel. 1981. Einfluß des Tourismus auf den Drogenbrauch in Kuta, Bali. In Rausch und Realität, ed. G. Völger, 2:572–75. Cologne: Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum für Völkerkunde.

 

Psilocybe cyanescens Wakefield emend. Kriegelsteiner

 

Wavy Caps

 

Family

 

Agaricaceae: Strophariaceae; Stropharioideae Tribe, Semilanceata = Cyanescens Section

Synonyms

 

Geophila cyanescens (Maire) Kühner et Rom.

Hypholoma coprinifacies (Rolland ex Herink) Pouzar

Hypholoma cyanescens Maire

Psilocybe bohemica Sebek (cf. Psilocybe spp.)

Psilocybe mairei Sing.

Psilocybe serbica Moser et Horak

Folk Names

 

Blaufärbender kahlkopf, blauwwordend kaalkopje (Dutch), blue halos, böhmischer kahlkopf, oink, wavy caps, zauberpilz, zyanescens

 

This mushroom is most easily recognized on the basis of its peculiar wavy cap. It lives not on dung but on the remains of plants, rotting wood, and humus-rich soils. In older mushroom guides, it often appears under the name Hyphaloma cyanescens (Cooper 1980, 18**). It is native to North America and central Europe and is found even in Hamburg (Findeisen 1982):

 

This species settles on wood chips, which are often lying directly on the ground, so that the mushroom appears to sprout directly out of the earth. It is found primarily in parks in the Pacific Northwest, often in fairy circles, in amounts of up to 100 pounds. These mushrooms are one of the most potent species known and contain psilocybin and psilocin in amounts of up to 2% dry weight. (Gartz in Rippchen 1993, 70*)

 

Gartz (1994, 19**) found that specimens grown in Germany contain approximately 0.3% psilocybin, 0.5% psilocin, and 0.01% baeocystin by dry weight.

In central Europe, Psilocybe cyanescens is used in rituals in precisely the same manner as Psilocybe semilanceata (Liggenstorfer 1996). Here, cultivated mushrooms that contain a very high concentration of psilocybin are consumed. A visionary dosage is regarded as 1 g dry weight.

 

This painting by the Swiss artist Fred Weidmann was inspired by Psilocybe cyanescens.

 

 

The very potent Psilocybe cyanescens is easily recognized by its undulating cap.

 

“Studying the surface structure of the mushroom, this wave-shaped cap with the skin of an elephant, I know that this must be an Oink. Of course, an Oink, it could not be anything else. Explaining to the ‘tour guide’ what these mushrooms are really called, he agrees that this could only be an Oink! Since that time, this name for Psilocybe cyanescens, which was conceived of in a bemushroomed state, has been spreading like mycelia.”

 

ROGER LIGGENSTORFER

OINK, DER KOSMISCHE KICHERFAKTOR [OINK, THE COSMIC LAUGH FACTOR]

 

(1996, 181)

 

Literature

 

See also the entries for the other Psilocybe species and for psilocybin.

 

Findeisen, Lotte. 1982. Psilocybe serbica Moser et Horak, ein blauender Kahlkopf. Berichte des Botanischen Vereins zu Hamburg, no. 4: 27–29.

 

Kriegelsteiner, G. J. 1984. Studien zum Psilocybecyanescens-Komplex in Europa. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Pilze in Mitteleuropa 1:61–94.

 

———. 1986. Studien zum Psilocybe-cyanescenscallosasemilanceata-Komplex in Europa. Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Pilze in Mitteleuropa 2:57–72.

 

Liggenstorfer, Roger. 1996. Oink, der kosmische Kicherfaktor. In María Sabina—Botin der heiligen Pilze, ed. Roger Liggenstorfer and Christian Rätsch, 179–82. Solothurn: Nachtschatten Verlag.

 

Moser, M., and E. Horak. 1968. Psilocybe serbica spec. nov., eine neue Psilocybin und Psilocin bildende Art aus Serbien. Zeitschrift für Pilzkunde 34:137–44.

 

Müller, G. K., and Jochen Gartz. 1986. Psilocybe cyanescens—eine weitere halluzinogene Kahlkopfart in der DDR. Mykologisches Mitteilungsblatt 29:33–35.

 

Tjallingii-Beukers, D. 1976. Een blauwwordernde Psilocybe (Psilocybe cyanescens Wakefield 1946). Coolia 19:38–43.

 

Psilocybe mexicana Heim

 

Mexican Magic Mushroom, Teonanacatl

 

Family

 

Agaricaceae: Strophariaceae; Stropharioideae Tribe, Mexicanae Section

Forms and Varieties

 

The following forms have been named (all nom. nud.!; Ott 1996):

 

Psilocybe mexicana f. angulata-olivacea Heim et Cailleux

Psilocybe mexicana f. distorta-intermedia Heim et Cailleux

Psilocybe mexicana f. galericulata-convexa Heim et Cailleux

Psilocybe mexicana f. galericulata-viscosa Heim et Cailleux

Psilocybe mexicana f. grandis-gibbosa Heim et Cailleux

Psilocybe mexicana f. navicula-viscosa Heim et Cailleux

Psilocybe mexicana f. reflexa-conica Heim et Cailleux

 

The variety Psilocybe mexicana var. longispora Heim, first proposed by Roger Heim, is now regarded as a synonym for Psilocybe aztecorum Heim (cf. Psilocybe spp.).

Folk Names

 

Alcalde, amokia, a-mo-kid (Chinantec), amokya, angelito (Spanish, “little angel”), a-ni, atkat, atka:t (Mixe), chamaquillo (Spanish, “little boy”), cuiya-jo-to-ki (Chatino), di-chi-to-nize (Mazatec), di-nize, hongo sagrado, kong, kongk (Mixe), konk, little bird, mbey-san (Zapotec), mexikanischer kahlkopf, mexikanischer zauberpilz, Mexican liberty cap, Mexican magic mushroom, nashwinmush (Mixe, “earth mushroom” or “world mushroom”), ndi-shi-tjo-ni-se (Mazatec), nize (Mazatec, “little bird”), pajarito (Spanish, “little bird”), piitpa, pi-tpa (Mixe), pi-tpi, pi:tpi, piule de churis,375 teonanacatl, teonanácatl (Aztec), teotlaquilnanácatl (Nahuatl)

History

 

Ethnohistorical sources indicate that teonanacatl, the “divine mushroom” or “flesh of the gods” (Psilocybe mexicana and other species of the genus Psilocybe), was being ritually consumed and used in religious ceremonies in Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish. During the colonial period, the indigenous use of the mushroom was forbidden and brutally suppressed by the Spanish Inquisition. In spite of this, the mushroom cult has survived underground even into the present day. The psychoactive use of Psilocybe mexicana in Indian shamanism was rediscovered at the end of the 1930s. In the late 1950s, it was found that the Mixe Indians of Coatlan, Oaxaca, also used Psilocybe mexicana for shamanic purposes (Hoogshagen 1959).

Psilocybe mexicana was the first mushroom in which Albert Hofmann discovered the LSD-like substances psilocybin and psilocin (Heim et al. 1958; Hofmann 1958, 1959).

Distribution

 

Psilocybe mexicana is found exclusively in Mexico (Michoacán, Morelos, Jalisco, Oaxaca, Puebla, Xalapa, Veracruz) and Guatemala (Stamets 1996, 129 f.**). It grows in subtropical forests at altitudes of 1,000 to 1,800 meters and is found in the vicinity of liquidambar (Liquidambar styraciflua L.), oak (Quercus spp.), alder (Alnus spp.), and plane (Platanus lindeniana Mart. et Gall.) trees.

 

The historic culture of the Mexican magic mushroom (Psilocybe mexicana), photographed in the laboratory by Albert Hofmann. (Photograph: Brack)

 

Appearance

 

Albert Hofmann noted that Psilocybe mexicana can be recognized by its cap, which resembles a typical Mexican sombrero. It can grow up to 10 cm tall and has small bell- or hat-shaped caps (3 to 5 cm in diameter). In Mexico, it fruits from June to September.

Psilocybe mexicana can be confused with poisonous muscarinic Inocybe mushrooms, e.g., I. geophylla (Sow. ex Fr.) Kummer (cf. Inocybe spp.). It is also very similar to the species Psilocybe semilanceataand Psilocybe pelliculosa and is often confused with them (cf. Psilocybe spp.).

Psilocybe mexicana can be easily grown on a substrate of a Lolium species (cf. Lolium temulentum).

The fruiting bodies can be consumed fresh or dried. Mexican Indians often ingest the mushroom together with honey or chocolate (cf. Theobroma cacao). In former times, the mushrooms were steeped in pulque and drunk (cf. Agave spp.).

Carlos Castaneda’s claim (1973*, 1975*) that these mushrooms are dried and then smoked for their psychedelic effects has been the subject of considerable controversy and is highly doubtful (Clare 1988**; Siegel 1981, 330*).376

 

Nanacatl, the Mexican magic mushroom (Psilocybe mexicana and Psilocybe aztecorum), shown here in the Florentine Codex, the Azteclanguage chronicle of Sahagun (Paso y Troncoso edition).

 

Ritual Use

 

The literature from the colonial period contains numerous texts that provide information concerning the mushrooms, their effects, and their ritual and/or medicinal uses. The Florentine Codex, an early colonial chronicle by the Franciscan missionary Fra Bernardino de Sahagun, written in Aztec, reports:

 

Nanacatl. They are called teonanacatl,“flesh of the gods.” They grow in the flatlands, in grass. The head is small and round, the stem long and thin. It is bitter and scratches, it burns in the throat. It makes one foolish; it confuses one, it distresses one. It is a remedy for fever, for gout. Only two, three are eaten. It makes sad, depressed, distressed; it makes one run away, become afraid, hide. He who eats many of them sees many things that scare him and that make him happy. He runs away, hangs himself, throws himself from a cliff, screams, is afraid. It is eaten with honey. I eat mushrooms; I take mushrooms. It is said of one who is haughty, impertinent, vain that: “He has bemushroomed himself.” (Sahagun, Florentine Codex 11.7*)

 

Another Aztec text by Sahagun provides a rudimentary description of the mushroom ritual:

 

The first thing that one ate at such meetings was a black mushroom that they called nanacatl. It has inebriating effects, produces visions, and incites to obscene acts. They already take the thing early on the morning of the festival day and drink cacao before they arise. They eat the mushrooms with honey. When they have made themselves drunk with these, they begin to become excited. Some sing, others cry, others sit in their rooms as if they were deep in sorrow. They have visions in which they see themselves die, and this hurts them bitterly. Others see scenes in which they are attacked by wild animals and believe that they are being eaten up. Some have beautiful dreams in which they believe they are very rich and possess many slaves. But others have quite embarrassing dreams: they have the feeling of being caught while committing adultery or of being wicked forgers or thieves who are now facing their punishment. They all have their visions. When the inebriation that the mushrooms produce is over, they speak of that which they have dreamed, and one tells the other about his visions. (Sahagun 9)

 

In his Historia de las Indias de Nueva Espane, the missionary Diego Duran noted several times that mushrooms were ingested at festivals and were “drunk like wine” ( = pulque; cf. Agave spp.), although they were mixed with chocolate (cf. Theobroma cacao) (Wasson 1980**). Today, Psilocybe mexicana is still used by shamans of the Mazatec, Mixe, Zapotec, and Cuitlatec in a manner that is quite similar to its pre-Spanish use (Hoogshagen 1959; Lipp 1990; Miller 1966; Ravicz 1961).

Among the Mixe, the most important deity is the Earth Mother Naaxwin or Na:shwin (literally, “the eye of the earth”). The earth is regarded as the source of wisdom; the Earth Mother is omniscient and can see the past, present, and future. Since the mushrooms grow from the earth, they are regarded as extremely wise and full of knowledge. The Mixe originally believed that the mushrooms were born from the bones of primordial shamans and prophets. According to a different version of that belief, which was influenced by Christianity, the mushrooms are regarded as soothsayers because they are equated with the blood of Christ. It is said that as Jesus hung on the cross, blood flowed from his heart to the ground. Numerous flowers and edible mushrooms grew from this blood. Finally, the magic mushrooms emerged and supplanted the plants that had previously turned green. For this reason they are called na:shwin mux, “mushrooms of Mother Earth” (Lipp 1991, 187*). Accordingly, the messages of the mushrooms are known as the “voice of the Earth” (Mayer 1975, 604**).

Magic mushrooms are used primarily in ritual contexts by the mostly female shamans. They are eaten for divinatory purposes.377 They are used to recognize the causes of diseases, to predict the death and loss of family members, to localize lost objects, to uncover thieves and magicians, and to search for answers to familial problems. The mushrooms can also help in finding hidden treasures, discovering ruins, and experiencing ritual knowledge. The mushrooms normally speak Mixe, although they occasionally speak Zapotec as well (Lipp 1991, 187). Among the Mixe, the old pre-Spanish tonalámatl divination calendar is still in use. Some shamans use the mushrooms in conjunction with the calendar divination (Miller 1966).

Magic mushrooms378 can be harvested only in summer. It is said that they grow only on sacred ground. When a person encounters a mushroom, he should offer it three candles, kneel before it, and speak the following prayer:

 

Tum’Uh. Thou who art the queen of all there is and who was placed here as the healer of all sicknesses. I say to you that I will carry you from this place to heal the sickness I have in my house, for you were named as a great being of the earth. Forgive this molestation, for I am carrying you to the place where the sick person is, so that you make clear what the suffering is that has come to pass. I respect you. You are the master of all and you reveal all to the sick. (Lipp 1991, 189*)

 

The collected mushrooms are carefully placed on the house altar or stored in the village church for three days. Incense (copal; cf. incense) is offered to them. They are consumed either fresh or sundried. For three days before ingesting the mushrooms, a person must remain abstinent from sex and refrain from eating poultry, pork, eggs, and vegetables. It also is forbidden to drink alcohol (mescal; cf. Agave spp.) or to use other drugs or medicines. During this time, a person should also refrain from agricultural activities. On the morning of the fourth day, he or she takes a bath and eats a light breakfast (of only foods made from maize; cf. Zea mays). He or she fasts for the rest of the day. On the morning after the session, the person must eat a large quantity of chili peppers (Capsicum spp.); he or she should abstain from meat and alcohol for the following month.

The mushrooms are always eaten in pairs and also dosed in pairs: three pair for children, seven pair for women, nine pair for men (Lipp 1991, 189 f.*). Sometimes only the caps are eaten (Mayer 1975, 604**). In each session, a person should eat mushrooms of just a single species, because mixing the species can result in unpleasant, i.e., threatening, visions. Two eggs are laid next to the mushrooms before they are eaten. At the same time, “copal”379(incense; the resin of the palm Acrocomia mexicana Karw., from which palm wine is also obtained) is burned and a candle is lit. A prayer is offered to the mushrooms before they are eaten:

 

Thou who art blessed. I am now going to swallow you so that you heal me of the illness I have. Please give me the knowledge I need, thou, who knows all of what I need and of what I have, of my problem. I ask of you the favor that you only tell me and divine what I need to know but do nothing bad to me. I do not wish an evil heart and wickedness. I only wish to know of my problems and illness and other things that you can do for me. But I ask you, please do not frighten me, do not show me evil things but only tell all. This is for the person with a pure heart. You can do many things, and I ask you to do them for me. I now ask your forgiveness for being in my stomach this night. (Lipp 1991, 190*)

 

After the mushrooms are swallowed whole with water, one should be quiet. It is said that the mushrooms, like all other magical plants, do not like noise and will not speak if they feel disturbed. Normally the person who has eaten the mushrooms is accompanied by one or two friends or family members. They should pay attention to the things that the “bemushroomed” person says and fumigate him or her with copal smoke if problems arise. The visions that appear are shaped by culture. First one sees snakes and jaguars. After these have disappeared, the sun and the moon appear as a boy and girl, the children of the wind and the Earth Mother. Often, the “bemush-roomed” person only hears voices that give advice, provide diagnoses, or ask about the reasons for ingesting the mushrooms. In these visions, most people obtain profound insights into their state of health and learn how they may become healthy and complete (Rätsch 1996).

Artifacts

 

Some pre-Columbian Aztec manuscript illustrations (tlacuilolli) depict scenes that are usually interpreted as mushroom rituals (Caso 1963). In particular, several pages in a manuscript that has become known as the Codex Vindobonensis Mexicanus I give the impression of an entheogenic ceremony. A number of figures, each holding two mushrooms (pairs!) in their hand, are shown sitting in a ritual arrangement (cf. Rätsch 1988a, 174 f.*; Wasson 1983**).

In the comic Azteken [Aztecs], by Andreas (1992), Mexican magic mushrooms are ingested in order to solve problems.

Medicinal Use

 

The Aztecs used teonanacatl as a medicine to treat fever and gout (Rätsch 1991a, 267*). Today, Mexican magic mushrooms are still used as a remedy for a number of illnesses, including stomach and intestinal disturbances, migraines and headaches, swelling, broken bones, epileptic seizures, and acute and chronic ailments. Most Indians who are not shamans avoid the mushrooms and ingest them in low (subpsychedelic) dosages only in cases of illness. They fear confrontation with the mushrooms, which speak to them and can reveal things that may be unpleasant (Lipp 1991, 187 f.*).

“No one said that anyone had partaken of any kind of wine, not to mention had become inebriated; they spoke only of mushrooms of the forest that they ate raw and that made them become happy and beside themselves, but not wine. The only thing they spoke of was the tremendous quantities of chocolate that were drunk during these festivals.”

 

THE MISSIONARY DIEGO DURAN, REPORTING ON THE FESTIVITIES SURROUNDING THE CORONATION OF THE AZTEC EMPEROR AHUITZOTL (CA. 1496)

 

 

Psilocybin

 

 

Psilocin

 

“I saw Mexican scenes. Although I attempted to see things in the normal manner, this did not happen, everything was simply Mexican. I had the feeling that the physician who was supervising this experiment was a Mexican priest who had come to remove my heart. I thought that I was imagining this only because I knew that these mushrooms were from Mexico.”

 

ALBERT HOFMANN, REPORTING ON A SELF-EXPERIMENT380

 

Constituents

 

In his “classic” analysis, Albert Hofmann found concentrations of 0.25% psilocybin and 0.15% psilocin by dry weight (Heim and Hofmann 1958; Hofmann 1960b). Fresh mushrooms contain more psilocin (Stamets 1996, 130**).

Effects

 

Timothy Leary (1920–1996), a consciousness researcher and former Harvard professor, took his first “trip” with the magic mushrooms of Mexico. He encountered the “divine mushroom” while he was staying in Cuernavaca, Mexico, in 1960. This event did not simply change his life and thought but also led to profound changes in society and in the ways that science looks at the world. One of the first effects that Leary noted during his historical experience was that famous “cosmic laughter,” especially about one’s self and science:

 

I laughed about my daily pomposity, that narrow-minded arrogance of the scientist, the impertinence of the rational, the glib naïveté of words in contrast to the unadulterated, rich, eternally changing panoramas that flooded my brain. . . . I surrendered to the joy, as mystics have done for centuries when they looked through the veil and discovered that the world—as plastic as it might appear—is actually a small stage setting that is constructed by our mind. There was a flood of possibilities out there (in here?), other realities, an infinite arrangement of programs for other scenarios of the future. (Leary 1986, 33 f.*)

 

At the peak of his mushroom encounter, Leary had a profound and mystical experience of the world:

 

Then I was gone, off to the department for fantastic optical effects. The palaces of the Nile, the temples of the Bedouins, shimmering jewels, finely woven silk garments that breathed colors, of muso-emerald glistening mosaics, Burmese rubies, sapphires from Ceylon. There were jewel-encrusted snakes, Moorish reptiles whose tongues flickered, turned and reeled down into the drain in the center of my retina. Next there followed a journey through evolution that everyone who travels through their brain is guaranteed to experience. I slipped down the channel of recapitulation into the ancient production rooms of the midbrain: snake time, fish time, big-jungle-palm time, green time of the ferns.

Peacefully I observed how the first ocean creature crawled onto the land. I lay next to it, the sand crunching under my neck, then it fled back into the deep green ocean. Hello, I am the first living creature. (34)

 

This initiatory experience permanently changed the academically trained scientist:

 

The trip lasted somewhat more than four hours. Like most everyone who has the veil lifted, I came back a changed person. . . . In four hours at the pool in Cuernavaca, I learned more about the mind, the brain, and its structures than I was able to during the preceding fifteen years as a busy psychologist. (35)

 

As they did for so many people before and after him, the mushrooms taught Leary something important (or would it be more appropriate to say that he discovered it through the mushrooms?):

 

I experienced that the brain is an unused biocomputer that contains billions of unexplored neurons. I learned that normal waking consciousness is a drop in the ocean of intelligence. That the brain can be programmed anew. The knowledge about the functioning of our brain is the most pressing scientific task of our time. I was beside myself with enthusiasm, convinced that we had found the key we had been looking for. (35)

 

For many scientists and psychonauts, the Mexican mushrooms—and later the European and North American species as well—became keys to other worlds, realities, and conceptions of life that opened the normally locked doors to an expanded, visionary, or cosmic consciousness. Since that time, many have passed through these “doors of perception” and allowed the overwhelming adventures of consciousness to flow into their thoughts and actions, their scientific theories and philosophical treatises.

 

An ithyphallic shaman with magical staff and mushroom, above which a soul bird flies. (Petroglyph in the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona)

 

Literature

 

See also the entries for the other Psilocybe species and for psilocybin.

 

Andreas. 1992. Azteken. Hamburg: Carlsen.

 

Caso, Alfonso. 1963. Representaciones de hongos en los códices. Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl 4:27–38.

 

Heim, Roger, Arthur Brack, Hans Kobel, Albert Hofmann, and Roger Cailleux. 1958. Déterminisme de la formation des carpophores et des sclérotes dans la culture du “Psilocybe mexicana” Heim, agaric hallucinogène du Mexique, et mise en évidence de la psilocybine et dans de la psilocine. Comptes Rendus des Séances de l’Académie des Sciences (Paris) 246: 1346–51.

 

Hofmann, Albert. 1958. La psilocybine sur une auto-expérience avec le Psilocybe mexicana Heim. In Les champignons hallucinogènes du Mexique, by Roger Heim and R. Gordon Wasson, 278–80**. Paris: Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle.

 

———. 1959. Chemical aspects of psilocybin, the psychotropic principle from the Mexican fungus, Psilocybe mexicana Heim. In Neuropsychopharmacology, ed. Bradley et al., 446–48. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

 

———. 1960a. Das Geheimnis der mexikanischen Zauberpilze gelüftet. Radio + Fernsehen, Schweizer Radiozeitung (1960), no. 4: 8–9.

 

———. 1960b. Die psychotropen Wirkstoffe der mexikanischen Zauberpilze. Chimia 14:309–18.

 

———. 1960c. Die psychotropen Wirkstoffe der mexikanischen Zauberpilze. Verhandlungen der Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Basel 71:239–56.

 

———. 1961. Die Erforschung der mexikanischen Zauberpilze. Schweizerische Zeitschrift für Pilzkunde 1:1–10.

 

———. 1964. Die Erforschung der mexikanischen Zauberpilze und das Problem ihrer Wirkstoffe. Basler Stadtbuch (1964): 141–56.

 

———. 1969. Investigaciones sobre los hongos alucinogenos mexicanos y la importancia que tienen en la medicina sus substancias activas. Artes de México 16 (124): 23–31.

 

Hoogshagen, Searle. 1959. Notes on the sacred (narcotic) mushrooms from Coatlán, Oaxaca, Mexico. Oklahoma Anthopological Society Bulletin 7:71–74.

 

Lipp, Frank J. 1990. Mixe concepts and uses of entheogenic mushrooms. In The sacred mushroom seeker: Essays for R. Gordon Wasson, ed. Thomas J. Riedlinger, 151–59. Portland, Ore.: Dioscorides Press.

 

Miller, Walter S. 1956. Cuentos Mixes. Introduction by Alfonso Villa Rojas. Mexico City: INI.

 

———. 1966. El tonalamtl mixe y los hongos sagrados. In Homenaje a Roberto J. Weitlaner, 349–57. Mexico: UNAM.

 

Ott, Jonathan. 1996. Psilocybe mexicana Heim. Unpublished computer file. (Cited 1998.)

 

Rätsch, Christian. 1996. Das Pilzritual der Mixe. In María Sabina—Botin der heiligen Pilze, ed. Roger Liggenstorfer and C. Rätsch, 139–41. Solothurn: Nachtschatten Verlag.

 

Ravicz, Robert. 1961. La mixteca en et estudio comparativo del hongo alucinante. Anales del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia 13 (1960): 73–92.

 

Psilocybe semilanceata (Fries) Quélet

 

Liberty Cap

 

Family

 

Agaricaceae: Strophariaceae; Stropharioideae Tribe, Semilanceatae = Cyanescens Section

Forms and Subspecies

 

There are color variants that have white, brown, and bluish caps (cf. Dähncke 1993, 614 f.**):

Psilocybe semilanceata (Fr.) Quélet f.—brown caps

Psilocybe semilanceata (Fr.) Quélet var. semilanceata

Psilocybe semilanceata var. caerulescens (Cke.) Sacc.—the margin of the cap and the base of the stem turn blue

 

Two varieties that have been described are now regarded as constituting a separate species (Psilocybe strictipes Singer et Smith; cf. Psilocybe spp.):

 

Psilocybe semilanceata var. obtusa Bon.

Psilocybe semilanceata var. microspora Singer

Synonyms

 

Agaricus glutinosus Curtis

Agaricus semilanceatus Fr.

Coprinarius semilanceatus Fr.

Geophila semilanceata Quél.

Panaeolus semilanceatus (Fr.) Lge.

Psilocybe semilanceata Fr.

Psilocybe semilanceata (Fr.: Secretan) Kummer

Folk Names

 

Blue leg, halluzipilz, kaalkopje (Dutch), kleiner prinz, kleines zwergenmützchen, lanzenförmiger düngerling, liberty cap, magic mushroom, meditationspilz, narrenschwamm, paddlestool, pilzli, pixie cap, psilo, psilocybinpilz, puntig kaalkopje, sandy sagerose, schwammerl, spitzkegeliger kahlkopf, traumpilz, witch cap, zauberpilz, zuckerpuppe von der wasserkuppe, zwergenhut, zwergenmützchen

History

 

The liberty cap is the most common psychedelic mushroom in Italy. It is thought to have grown there for ten thousand to twelve thousand years. A number of late Neolithic rock paintings in northern Italy (Monte Bego, Valcamonica) depict mushrooms in shamanic contexts (Ripinsky-Naxon 1993, 154*).

 

The liberty cap (Psilocybe semilanceata) can be recognized by its cap, which resembles a dwarf’s hat. (From Winkler, 2000 Pilze selber bestimmen, 1996**)

 

 

Dried fruiting bodies of the liberty cap (Psilocybe semilanceata); this amount corresponds to approximately one psychedelic dose.

 

Toward the end of the Middle Ages, women in Spain who were accused of being witches apparently used liberty caps as a visionary inebriant (Fericgla 1996*).

After numerous Mexican species (Psilocybe spp.) were collected, described, and chemically analyzed (Heim and Wasson 1958; Wasson 1961**), the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, who had first discovered the active substances psilocybin and psilocin in Psilocybe mexicana, was informed by an inhabitant of the Alps that there were mushrooms in the Alps that had effects like those from Mexico. He said that he had often eaten these mushrooms and had a very precise knowledge of their effects. Hofmann then received a sample of the mushrooms, which belonged to the species Psilocybe semilanceata, and was able to detect psilocybin in them as well. The original work was published in a small scientific journal (Hofmann et al. 1963). Nevertheless, knowledge of the indigenous magic mushroom, which Alpine nomads had apparently once consumed in ritual contexts (Golowin 1991*), spread very quickly (Gartz 1986):

 

Today, it can be said that Psilocybe semi-lanceata is the psychotropic mushroom of Europe with regard to its distribution, study, and use. (Gartz 1993, 23**)

 

In Switzerland, collecting and ingesting Psilocybe semilanceata has been an established tradition for over twenty years (Venturini and Vanini 1995, 38 f.*). In Germany, the collecting and eating of Psilocybe semilanceata began somewhat later. The ritual consumption of the indigenous magic mushroom was first described by Linder (1981).

The mushroom can be collected from the end of August until the middle of January (Leistenfels n.d., 22**). It is either eaten while fresh or dried and stored. Occasionally, dried mushrooms are powdered and then ingested together with fruit juices, cacao, or chocolate (cf. Theobroma cacao). A handful of fresh mushrooms (30 to 40 g) or 2 to 3 g of dried mushrooms is regarded as a high dosage. In Switzerland, chocolate and 0.5 g of powdered liberty caps are mixed together to make cookies (“the genuine Swiss chocolate”). It is possible that the mushroom was once used as a beer additive.

Distribution

 

Liberty caps do not occur in Europe and the Americas alone but instead are now found throughout the world (even in Australia) (Gartz 1986; Jokiranta et al. 1984). Although the mushroom is now cosmopolitan, it has not yet been found in Mexico. This has led to the suggestion that Psilocybe mexicana may be simply a subspecies or variety of Psilocybe semilanceata, which is regarded as the most common and most widely distributed of all members of the genus Psilocybe.

Liberty caps prefer to grow in meadows with old dung deposits and in grassy, nutrient-rich locales (pastures). It is equally at home in the flatlands of northern Germany, the meadows of the low mountains of central Germany, and the pastures of the Alpine countries. It has not yet been found in forests. It thus appears to be an anthropophilous species that has spread through human activity. Its fruiting bodies mature by late summer and early autumn. In the United States, temperate zones in the Northwest (Oregon, Washington) are especially good areas to collect the mushroom (Weil 1975**); similarly good European areas include the Swiss Alps, Valcamonica (Fest and Aliotta 1990**), the Rhône valley, and Wales (cf. Remann 1989, 247, 262*).

 

An English postcard depicting the native magic mushroom (Psilocybe semilanceata).

 

Appearance

 

The cap (1 to 2 cm in diameter) is campanulate and acutely umbonate and often has a distinct papilla; it usually feels moist or slimy to the touch. The pellicle is easily removed. The narrow lamallae are olive to red-brown in color, while the spores are dark brown or purple-brown.

Liberty caps can be confused with some muscarinic fungi, e.g., Inocybe geophylla (Sow. ex Fr.) Kummer (cf. Inocybe spp.). It is very similar to the closely related species Psilocybe mexicana and Psilocybe pelliculosa (cf. Psilocybe spp.) and is often confused with them.

Ritual Use

 

Alpine nomads are said to have referred to Psilocybe semilanceata as the “dream mushroom” and to have used it traditionally as a psychoactive substance. Unfortunately, we have no details concerning this use (Golowin 1991, 63*).

The first description of a modern European mushroom cult appeared in 1981 in the catalogue Rausch und Realität—Drogen im Kulturvergleich [Inebriation and Reality—Drugs in Cross-Cultural Perspective], which was published on the occasion of a museum exhibition of the same name:

 

I [was able to take part] in a solstice ceremony in Canton Bern from Dec. 21–23, 1979, in which the little mushroom that I identified as Psilocybe semilanceata was used in the context of a cult that had existed for some seven years and that featured complicated sweat-bath rituals, prayers, pipe ceremonies (without psychoactive substances), mandatory fasting, fumigations, offerings, and music in a specially furnished room with a central altar. All of the people who were present (5 women and 6 men) were required to strictly avoid all drugs, including alcohol, sexual contact, eating meat, and “bad thoughts” for four days prior to and following the ceremony. During the meeting, strict fasting was required, although only two of the men ate twenty mushrooms each on the second evening following rituals of purification. This use clearly served an oracular function for the group. It was supported by intensive, hours-long drumming of all the participants. . . . For the group, whose ideology was shaped by a broad “pagan”-Christian-Buddhist-Hindu syncretism . . . the mushroom does not appear to fall into the category of “drugs” but was said to be a component of “the primordial religion.” (Linder 1981, 727)

 

Most participants in these modern mushroom rituals regard them as a form of “psychedelic shamanism” (DeKorne 1994*) related to American Indian rituals. However, they feel that they are practicing a revived primeval form of an entheogenic ritual that is accessible to all people as a result of the “collective unconscious” or the “morphogenetic field.”

Harvesting of the mushrooms is often preceded by a prayer to the Earth Goddess Gaia or an ominous mushroom deity; offerings such as small crystals may be placed on the borders of the pasture or meadow to give thanks to the spirit of the mushroom. The collector should eat the first two mushrooms so that he or she will then be able to recognize the right species and find it everywhere. Some mushroom collectors told me that the mushroom can be found only when the collector is in a “good mood”; people who are “weird or in a bad mood” will not be able to locate them. In Switzerland, a ritual method of collecting the mushrooms was observed in the 1970s:

 

The mushrooms are collected on native meadows while adhering to avoidance taboos, they are purified with sage smoke, dried, and stored in vessels that are also ritually purified. They are regarded as a “gift from God” or “from nature,” and only a limited number are collected. The largest specimens in each group are allowed to remain as the “leaders,” which are thanked and offered flour and other gifts. Songs are sung for the mushrooms so that the mushrooms that are hidden in the grass will show themselves. (Linder 1981, 727)

 

In Italy, a small booklet that provides easy-to-understand instructions for the sacramental use of the indigenous Psilocybe semilanceata has been published in an enormously large press run (Pagani 1993).

In modern rituals in central Europe, the mushroom is used in groups consisting of six to twenty participants. The rituals take place outdoors in especially beautiful settings or power places, in special rooms, or in tepees. Sweat baths, meditations, walks in the forest, and other such preparations precede the communal ingestion. Most rituals begin in the evening and last for about four hours, corresponding to the duration of the mushroom’s effects.

By far the most important ritual device is the talking stick, which is modeled after that of the North American peyote cult (cf. Lophophora williamsii) and plays an extremely important role in the rituals. It is a stafflike object that may be individually chosen and modified. After he or she receives the talking stick, each person is urged to communicate to the circle (by singing, speaking, silence, rattling). The other participants remain silent and offer their complete attention to the person holding the stick. The stick is passed around during all three phases of the ritual (always in a clockwise direction). Because each person can hold the stick as long as he or she pleases, individuals are able to ensure the ritual attention they desire. By using the talking stick, the communal circle, and the power of the mushroom, collective visions, ecstatic laughter, and individual insights occur. After the circle has ended, an evening meal is shared.

The next morning, the group meets for a communal breakfast. Most of the participants are hungry and have a healthy appetite. Much joking and laughter accompanies the meal, and sometimes people describe and discuss the dreams of the preceding night. After breakfast, the participants gather in the ritual room and assume their places in the circle. Sage (Artemisia spp.) is burned as an incense. The follow-up or integration of the experience is actually the most important part of the ritual. It is said that visions are valuable only when they have been communicated. The visions are to be taken seriously, for they provide guidelines for the future. The talking stick is then passed around for the final time, and the participants are urged to speak of their experiences. Often, it is only at this time that they realize that their question has been answered and that the mushroom has taught them much. Strong emotional reactions and expressions of thanks are common. Almost all of the participants leave the ritual with deep feelings of gratitude and with the sense that they have been initiated into the mysteries of the entheogenic mushroom and have recognized their own place in the cosmos. A ritual leader once noted:

“I . . . have come to celebrating with mushrooms the presence of all the Gods and Goddesses. Gods and Goddesses are my name for forces that move me. . . . Teo-Nanacatl was yesterday’s visitor, and having entered this abode of soul called Jeannine Parvati, is now written as first in my heart on the list of plant allies for healing.”

 

JEANNINE PARVATI HYGIEIA

 

(1978, 85*)

 

 

An English group known as the Magic Mushroom Band took its name from Psilocybe semilanceata, which is common in Great Britain. The free-floating eye in the cosmos depicted on the cover illustrates the visionary look into the infinite universe provided by magic mushrooms. It appears that the lettering can be deciphered only while under the influence of the mushroom (the album is titled RU Spaced Out 2). (CD cover 1993, Magick Eye Records)

 

You can always depend on the mushrooms. No matter what happened while the effects were being felt, whether people completely flipped out, experienced pure horror, were shamanically dismembered, or fell into paranoia, in the end the mushroom illuminates and disseminates its legendary healing power. (In Rätsch 1996**)

 

 

Psilocybe semilanceata in the heart chakra. (Embroidery on a T-shirt from Kathmandu, Nepal)

 

 

A computer-generated picture of liberty caps in the modern design of the techno/rave culture. (Detail from a postcard, ca. 1997)

 

Artifacts

 

For several years, naturalistic wooden models of Psilocybe semilanceata have been produced in Switzerland on lathes.

In the United States and England, it is especially common to see T-shirts decorated with mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe, and often with Psilocybe semilanceata. One T-shirt even features a guide to identifying Psilocybe semilanceata (Rätsch 1996**).

Liberty caps also appear in the iconography of the techno and rave cultures. They are sometimes found on the album covers, posters, and admission tickets of psychedelic rock groups (e.g., Grateful Dead, Aoxomoxoa, 1971; The Golden Dawn, Power Plant, 1988; Merrell Fankhauser and H.M.S. Bounty, Things Goin’ Round In My Mind, 1985; Phish). There is even a Magic Mushroom Band, which took its name from the native fungus.

In the Jugendstil and art deco movements, numerous lamps that look like naturalistic representations of the liberty cap were manufactured (Uecker 1992).

Constituents

 

Psilocybe semilanceata often contains high concentrations of psilocybin, some psilocin, and baeocystin. This species is one of the most potent Psilocybe species. According to an analysis by Gartz (1994, 19**), German specimens contained 0.97% psilocybin, no psilocin, and 0.33% baeocystin by dry weight. Mushrooms collected in the wild usually exhibit a higher concentration of psilocybin (up to 1.34% by dry weight has been measured) than is found in cultivated mushrooms. Total indole concentrations as high as 1.9% have been found (Gartz 1986). Swiss collections have been found to contain as much as 2.02% total alkaloids (Brenneisen and Borner 1988). In dried material, the active constituents can be preserved for quite some time:

 

The length of time in which the psilocybin remains in the mushroom material is astonishing. A mushroom exsiccation from 1869 that was in a Finnish herbarium was found to still contain 0.014% psilocybin. On the other hand, a sample from 1843 was found to not contain any more alkaloids. However, it is of course no longer possible to determine the manner in which drying was performed at that time. Temperatures above 50° C. effect the breakdown of psilocybin and its derivatives. In laboratory experiments, dried mushrooms and freeze-dried fruiting bodies were examined at room temperature. Here it should be pointed out that because of the porous structure of the freeze-dried mushrooms, a relatively rapid breakdown of the alkaloids will occur when they are stored for an extended period of time (months) at 20°C. For this reason, exsiccates that are produced for the analysis of natural products should be stored in a dry state at -10°C until extraction and chromatography are performed. (Gartz 1993, 31**)

 

Literature

 

See also the entries for the other Psilocybe species and for psilocybin.

 

Brenneisen, Rudolf, and Stefan Borner. 1988. The occurrence of tryptamine derivatives in Psilocybe semilanceataZeitschrift für Naturforschung 43c: 511–14.

 

Christansen, A. L., K. E. Rasmussen, and K. Høiland. 1981. The content of psilocybin in Norwegian Psilocybe semilanceataPlanta Medica 42:229–35.

 

Dawson, P. 1975. A guide to the major psilocybin mushrooms of British Columbia (Psilocybe semilanceata). Vancouver, B.C.: self-published.

 

Gartz, Jochen. 1986. Quantitative Bestimmung der Indolderivate von Psilocybe semilanceata (Fr.) Kumm. Biochemie und Physiologie der Pflanzen 181:117–24.

 

Hausner, Milan, and Marta Semerdzieva. 1991. “Acid Heads” and “Kahlköpfe” in Forschung und Therapie—Zum Stand der Psycholyse in der Tschechoslowakei. In Jahrbuch des Europäischen Collegiums für Bewußtseinsstudien (ECBS) (1991), 109–18. Berlin: VWB.

 

Hofmann, Albert, Roger Heim, and Hans Tscherter. 1963. Présence de la psilocybine dans une espèce européenne d’agaric, le Psilocybe semilanceata Fr. Note (*) de MM. In Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Sciences (Paris) 257:10–12.

 

Jokiranta, J., et al. 1984. Psilocybin in Finnish Psilocybe semilanceataPlanta Medica 50:277–78.

 

Linder, Adrian. 1981. Kultischer Gebrauch psychoaktiver Pflanzen in Industriegesellschaften – kulturhistorische Interpretation. In Rausch und Realität, ed. G. Völger, 2:724–29. Cologne: Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum für Völkerkunde.

 

Pagani, Silvio (pseudonym of a well-known mycologist). 1993. Funghetti. Turin: Nautilus.

 

Schwaiger, Saskia. 1994. Schwammerlrausch. Profil, no. 42 (Oct. 17, 1994): 88–89.

 

Schwester Krötenstuhl. 1992. Eine Reise im Herbst. Integration 2/3:129–30.

 

Stijve, T. 1984. Psilocybe semilanceata als hallucinogene paddestoll. Coolia 27:36–43.

 

Uecker, Wolf. 1992. Licht-Kunst: Lampen des Art Nouveau und Art Deco. Rastatt: Neff.

 

Young, R. E., R. Milroy, S. Hutchison, and C. M. Kesson. 1982. The rising price of mushrooms. The Lancet 8265 (1): 213–15.

 

Psilocybe spp.

 

Psilocybin Mushrooms

 

Family

 

Agaricaceae: Strophariaceae; Stropharioideae Tribe

 

The genus Psilocybe is divided into eighteen sections and includes at least 150 species (Brenneisen and Stalder 1994; Guzmán 1983 and 1995). The genus is represented in all areas of the world. Most species are rather small and have thin stems and more or less conic caps. In all species, the spore print ranges from purplish to violet to dark violet/blackish. Most species live on dung or prefer nutrient-rich soils with old dung deposits.

Some species have attained great cultural significance as traditional entheogens (see Psilocybe cubensisPsilocybe mexicana). Some species play a role primarily in the modern Western mushroom cult (Psilocybe azurescensPsilocybe cyanescensPsilocybe semilanceata). In contrast, most psychoactive species are not used in traditional contexts. New species, some of which represent very potent entheogens, are being discovered and described at an increasing rate (Gartz 1995; Gartz et al. 1994, 1995; Guzmán 1995; Guzmán et al. 1993, n.d.; Marcano et al. 1994).

The following species of the genus Psilocybe contain psilocybin. Most also contain psilocin, and some contain baeocystin (Allen et al. 1992**). Only a few of the potent species have any ethnopharmacological significance.

 

Psilocybe acutipilea (Speg.)

 

Psilocybe aeruginosa (Curtis: Fr.) Noordeloos [syn. Stropharia aeruginosa (Curtis: Fries) Quélet]—verdigris cap

 

Psilocybe angustispora Smith

 

Psilocybe argentipes Yokoyama

 

Psilocybe armadii Guzmán et Pollock

 

Psilocybe atrobrunnea (Lasch) Gillet

This small species is found in central European marshlands and grows on peat and peat moss (Sphagnum).

 

Psilocybe aucklandii Guzmán, King et Bandala

 

Psilocybe augustipleurocystidiata Guzmán

 

Psilocybe australiana Guzmán et Watling—Australian psilocybe

 

Psilocybe aztecorum Heim emend. Guzmán—Aztec psilocybe

This mushroom occurs in at least two varieties:

 

Psilocybe aztecorum var. aztecorum (Guz.) Guzmán

Psilocybe aztecorum var. bonetti (Guz.) Guzmán

 

It is used in Mexico in the same manner as Psilocybe mexicana (Guzmán 1994, 1462**).

Folk names: Nahua, apipiltzin, tejuinti, teunanácatl, teyhuinti nanácatl; Spanish, dormilón (“long sleeper”), niño de las aguas (“child of the waters”), niños (“boys”)

 

Psilocybe baeocystis Singer et Smith emend. Guzmán

 

Psilocybe banderiliensis Guzmán

 

Psilocybe barrerae Cifuentes et Guzmán

 

Psilocybe bohemica Sebek [syn. Hypholoma coprinifacies (Roll.) Herink]—Bohemian psilocybe

Now regarded as a synonym for Psilocybe cyanescens, as the species is confused with Psilocybe mairei (Sebek 1983).

 

Psilocybe brasiliensis Guzmán—Brazilian psilocybe

 

Psilocybe brunneocystidia Guzmán

 

 

Psilocybe baeocystis, common in the Pacific Northwest, contains psilocybin and the psychoactive constituent it is named for, baeocystin (approximately 0.1%). (Photograph: Paul Stamets)

 

 

This small and strongly blueing mushroom from the genus Psilocybe is found near Astoria, Oregon. According to reports of local mushroom collectors, its effects are primarily aphrodisiac.

 

 

Baeocystin

 

Psilocybe caerulea (Kriesel) Noordeloos [syn. Stropharia caerulea Kriesel, Stropharia cyanea (Bolt. ex Secr.) Tuomikoski]—blue psilocybe

 

Psilocybe caeruleoannulata Sing.: Guzmán

 

 

The Mixtec god Seven Flowers is depicted here holding entheogenic mushrooms in his hand. In cross section, these look exactly like Psilocybe caerulescens. He is listening to the music of the wind god Nine Wind (= Ehecatl), a manifestation of Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. (Codex Vindobonensis, p. 24)

 

Psilocybe caerulescens Murrill [syn. Stropharia caerulescens]—derrumbe

This mushroom occurs in several varieties:

 

Psilocybe caerulescens var. albida Heim

Psilocybe caerulescens var. caerulescens Heim—derrumbe (Spanish, “abyss”), di-chi-te-ki-sho (Mazatec), cañadas (Spanish,“canyons”), razón-bei, teotlaquilnanácatl (modern Nahuatl, “the sacred mushroom that paints in colors”)

Psilocybe caerulescens vat. mazatecorum Heim—ntixitho ntikixo (Mazatec, “abyss”)

Psilocybe caerulescens var. nigripes Heim—cui-ya’-jo’-o-su (Chatina, “mushroom of great understanding”), derrumbe negro (Spanish, “the black abyss”), kong (Mixe, “lord/ruler”), ko:ng-mus (Mixe, “ruler mushroom”), ndi-kisho (Mazatec), ndi-shi-tjo-ki-sho (Mazatec, “the small, dear things that shoot out”)

Psilocybe caerulescens var. ombrophila (Heim) Guzmán

This species is used in Mexico (Oaxaca) in the same manner as Psilocybe mexicana (= P. mixaeensis) (Guzmán 1994, 1441**), known in the Mixe language as atkat.

 

Psilocybe caerulipes (Peck) Saccardo

 

Psilocybe carbonaria Singer

 

Psilocybe collybioides Singer et Smith

 

Psilocybe columbiana Guzmán—Colombian psilocybe

 

Psilocybe coprinifacies (Roll.) Pouz. [syn. Hypholoma coprinifacies (Roll.) Herink]

Psilocybe coprophila (Bulliard ex Fries) Kummer [syn. Psilocybe mutans McKnight]—dung psilocybe

This mushroom is very similar to Psilocybe subcoprophila (Britz.) Sacc., although the latter has larger spores. It grows on dung throughout most of the year in central Europe.

 

Psilocybe cordispora Heim—atka:t (Mixe/Coatlán), dulces clavitos del señor (Spanish, “sweet cloves of the lord”), enedi:z (Mixe, “thunder teeth”), pitpi (Mixe), pi:tpimus (Mixe)

This species is used in Mexico in the same manner as Psilocybe mexicana.

 

Psilocybe crobula (Fries) Kühner et Romagnesi [syn. Geophila crobula (Fr.) Kühner et Romagnesi, Psilocybe inquilina var. crobula (Fr.) Holland]

Sometimes regarded as a synonym for Psilocybe inquilina.

 

Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa Stamets et Guzmán [syn. Psilocybe rhododendronensis Stamets nom. prov.]

 

Psilocybe dumontii Sing.: Guzmán

 

Psilocybe eucalypta Guzmán et Watling—eucalyptus psilocybe

 

Psilocybe fagicola Heim et Callieux

This mushroom occurs in at least two varieties:

 

Psilocybe fagicola Heim et Callieux var. fagicola Guzmán

Psilocybe fagicola Heim et Callieux var. mesocystidiata Guzmán

 

Both are known as señores principales (Spanish, “the principal lords”)

 

Psilocybe farinacea Rick.

 

Psilocybe fimetaria (Orton) Watling [syn. Psilocybe fimetaria (Orton) Singer, Psilocybe caesioannulata Singer, Stropharia fimetaria Orton]

 

Psilocybe fuliginosa (Murr.) Smith

 

Psilocybe furtadoana Guzmán

 

Psilocybe galindii Guzmán

 

Psilocybe gastoni Sing. (?)—di-nizé-te-aya (Mazatec)

 

Psilocybe goniospora (B. et Br.) Singer

 

Psilocybe graveolens Peck

 

Psilocybe heimii Guzmán [syn. Psilocybe hoogshagenii Heim var. hooghagenii]—atkadmus (Mixe, “mushroom judge”), atka:t, cihuatsinsintle (Nahuatl), Heim’s psilocybe, los chamaquitos (Spanish,“little boys”), los niños (Spanish, “children”), pajarito de monte (Spanish,“little bird of the forest”)

 

Psilocybe herrerae Guzmán

 

Psilocybe hoogshagenii Heim sensu lato [syn. Psilocybe caerulipes var. gastonii Singer, Psilocybe zapotecorum Heim sensu Singer, Psilocybe semperviva Heim et Callieux]

 

Psilocybe hoogshagenii Heim var. convexa Guzmán [syn. P. semperviva Heim et Callieux]

 

Psilocybe hoogshagenii Heim var. hoogshagenii Guzmán

 

A wooden shamanic staff in the form of a Psilocybe species, found in a prehistoric context of the Hopewell culture (Mound City, Ohio), approximately 40 cm long. (From Devereux)

 

Psilocybe hoogshagenii Heim [var. hoogshagenii] [syn. Psilocybe gastoni Sing. (?)]—atkadmus (Mixe, “mushroom judge”), atka:t (Mixe), cihuatsinsintle (Nahuatl), di-nizé-te-aya (Mazatec), los chamaquitos (Spanish, “little boys”), los niños (Spanish, “children”), teotlaquilnanácatl (modern Nahuatl, “the sacred mushroom that paints in colors”)

This species is used in Mexico in the same manner as Psilocybe mexicana.

 

Psilocybe inconsicua Guzmán et Horak

 

Psilocybe inquilina (Fries ex Fries) Bresadola [syn. Psilocybe ecbola (Fries) Singer]

This species, which is common in Europe and grows on small branches, decaying wood, and sawdust, is best recognized by its pellicle, which is sticky and easy to remove. A variety of this species, Psilocybe inquilina var. crobulaFr. [syn. Psilocybe crobula (Fr.) Lange ex Sing.], also occurs in central Europe.

 

Psilocybe jacobsii Guzmán—Jacob’s psilocybe

 

Psilocybe kashmeriensis Abraham—Kashmiri psilocybe

 

Psilocybe kumaenorum Heim

 

Psilocybe liniformans Guzmán et Bas.

There are two or more varieties:

 

Psilocybe liniformans Guzmán et Bas. var. americana Guzmán et Stamets

Psilocybe liniformans Guzmán et Bas. var. liniformans

 

Psilocybe lonchopharus (Berk. et Br.) Horak: Guzmán

 

Psilocybe luteonitens (Peck) Saccardo [syn. Stropharia umbonatescens (Peck) Saccardo]

 

Psilocybe magnivelaris (Peck apud Haariman) Noordeloos [syn. Psilocybe percevalii (Berkeley et Broome) Orton, Stropharia percevalii (Berkeley et Broome) Saccardo, Stropharia magnivelaris Peck apud Harriman]

 

Psilocybe mairei Singer [syn. Psilocybe maire Singer sensu Guzmán, Hypholoma cyanescens Maire]

This species is now regarded as a synonym for Psilocybe cyanescens.

 

Psilocybe makarorae Johnston et Buchanan

 

Psilocybe mammillata (Murrill) Smith

 

Psilocybe merdaria (Fries) Ricken—dung psilocybe

This little mushroom, which thrives on dung, has a cap that is 1 to 4 cm in diameter. In central Europe, it grows from spring until fall.

 

Psilocybe moellerii Guzmán [syn. Stropharia merdaria Fr. sensu Rea, Stropharia merdaria var. macrospora (Moller) Singer]

Psilocybe montana (Fries) Quélet [syn. Psilocybe atrorufa (Schaeffer ex Fries) Quélet]

This small mushroom feels dry to the touch. It lives in sandy soil, among short mosses, and at elevations well above the tree line. In Europe, it is found in the Alps.

 

Psilocybe muliericula Singer et Smith [syn. Psilocybe wassonii Heim, Psilocybe mexicana var. brevispora Heim]—cihuatsinsintle (modern Nahuatl), mujercita, mujercitas (Spanish, “girls”), nano-catsintli (modern Nahuatl), netochhuatata (modern Nahuatl), ne-to-chutáta (Matlazinca, “[dear] little sacred lord”), niñas (Spanish, “daughters”), niño (Spanish, “son”), quauhtan-nanácatl (?) (modern Nahuatl), siwatsitsíntli (Nahua, “little girls”)

This species is used in Mexico in the same manner as Psilocybe mexicana.

 

Psilocybe natalensis Gartz, Reid, Smith et Eicker—Natal psilocybe

The discovery of this potently psychoactive African species in Natal is of great ethnopharmacological significance:

 

It is the first blueing and entheogenic species that has been demonstrated to exist in this land. The comparatively large and entirely white mushrooms grow in pastures in the summer, although not directly on dung. . . . Germinating the spores on agar yielded a fast growing mycelium that also turned blue. (Gartz et al. 1995, 29)

 

The fruiting bodies contain up to 0.6% psilocybin, up to 0.04% baeocystin, and up to 0.21% psilocin by dry weight (Gartz et al. 1995).

 

Psilocybe ochreata (Berk. et Br.) Horak

 

Psilocybe papuana Guzmán et Horak—Papuan psilocybe

 

Psilocybe pelliculosa (Smith) Singer et Smith [syn. Psathyra pelliculosa A.H. Smith]—liberty cap

 

Psilocybe physaloides (Bull. ex Merat) Quélet [syn. Psilocybe caespitosa Murrill]

Found throughout central Europe, where it lives on nutrient-rich soils.

 

 

Psilocybe pelliculosa, a North American species, is easily confused with Psilocybe semilanceata and can have the same effects. It contains, however, considerably less psilocybin. (Photograph: Paul Stamets)

 

“True overdoses with psilocybin mushrooms appear to be almost impossible. Psilocybe intoxications are usually considered harmless. Between 1978 and 1981, 318 cases of psilocybe intoxication were registered in England, but none of them were fatal. The amount ingested ranged between a few mushrooms and 900 to 1360 grams and did not normally correlate with the symptoms of intoxication.”

 

RUDOLF BRENNEISEN AND ANNA-BARBARA STALDER

 

PSILOCYBE

 

(1994, 293)

 

“The contact with Christianity and with modern ideas has had little influence upon the reverence the mushroom ritual is accorded in Mexico. The mushroom ceremony lasts the entire night and often includes a healing ritual. Most of the celebration is accompanied by songs. Depending upon the species, between 2 and 30 mushrooms are eaten. These may be eaten fresh or crushed and drunk as a hot-water infusion. The choice of the species of mushroom depends upon the personal taste of the shaman, the purpose it is being used for, and what is seasonally available.”

 

RUDOLF BRENNEISEN AND ANNA-BARBARA STALDER

 

PSILOCYBE

 

(1994, 293)

 

Psilocybe pintonii Guzmán

 

Psilocybe pleurocystidiosa Guzmán

 

Psilocybe plutonia (B. et C.) Sacc.

 

Psilocybe pseudobullacea (Petch) Pegler

 

Psilocybe pseudocyanea (Desmazieres: Fries) Noordeloos [syn. Stropharia pseudocyanea (Desm.) Morgan, Stropharia albocyanea (Des.) Quélet]

 

Psilocybe quebecensis Ola’h et Heim—Quebec psilocybe

 

Psilocybe rzedowski Guzmán

 

Psilocybe samuensis Guzmán, Allen et Merlin—Samoan psilocybe

 

Psilocybe sanctorum Guzmán—sacred psilocybe

 

Psilocybe schultesii Guzmán et Pollock—Schultes’s psilocybe

 

Psilocybe semiglobata (Batsch: Fries) Noordeloos [syn. Stropharia semiglobata (Fries) Quélet]

 

Psilocybe serbica Moser et Horak—Serbian psilocybe

Now regarded as a synonym for Psilocybe cyanescens.

 

Psilocybe silvatica (Peck) Singer et Smith

 

Psilocybe singeri Guzmán—Singer’s psilocybe

 

Psilocybe squamosa (Persoon ex Fries) Orton

 

Psilocybe strictipes Singer et Smith [syn. Psilocybe callosa (Fries ex Fries) Quélet sensu auct., sensu Guzmán (1983), Psilocybe semilanceata var. obtusa Bon., Psilocybe semilanceata var. microsporaSinger]

 

Psilocybe stuntzii Guzmán et Ott [syn. Psilocybe pugetensis Harris]—Stuntz’s psilocybe

 

Psilocybe subaeruginascens Hohnel [syn. Psilocybe aerugineomaculans (Hohnel) Singer et Smith; Psilocybe subaeruginosa Cleland]

Two varieties have been described:

 

Psilocybe subaeruginascens Hohnel var. septentrionalis Guzmán

Psilocybe subaeruginascens Hohnel var. subaeruginascens

 

Psilocybe subcaerulipes Hongo

 

Psilocybe subcubensis Guzmán (see Psilocybe (Strophariacubensis, soma)

 

Psilocybe subfimetaria Guzmán et Smith

 

Psilocybe subviscida (Peck) Kauffman

 

Psilocybe subyungensis Guzmán

 

Psilocybe tampanensis Guzmán

 

Psilocybe tasmaniana Guzmán et Watling—Tasmanian psilocybe

 

Psilocybe thrausta (Schulzer ex Kalchbremer) Orton [syn. Psilocybe squamosa var. thrausta (Schulzer ex Kalchbremer) Guzmán, Stropharia thrausta (Schulzer et Kalchbremer) Bon]

 

Psilocybe uruguayensis Sing.: Guzmán—Uruguayan psilocybe

 

Psilocybe uzpanapensis Guzmán

 

Psilocybe venenata (Imai) Imazecki et Hongo [syn. Psilocybe fasciata Hongo, Stropharia caerulescens Imai, Stropharia venenata Imai]

In Japan, this psilocybin mushroom is known as waraitakemodoki, “false laughing mushroom” (Wasson 1973, 14**), or shibiretake, “narcotic mushroom” (cf. Gymnopilus spp.).

 

Psilocybe veraecrucis Guzmán et Perez-Ortiz—Veracruz psilocybe

 

Psilocybe washingtonensis Smith—Washington psilocybe

 

Psilocybe wassonii Heim [probably synonymous with Psilocybe muliericula; cf. Ott 1993, 312*]—siwatsitsíntli (Nahua, “little girls”), mujercitas (Spanish, “girls”)

 

Psilocybe wassoniorum Guzmán et Pollock—Wasson’s psilocybe

 

Psilocybe weilii Guzmán, Stamets et Tapia—Weil’s psilocybe

 

Psilocybe weldenii Guzmán—Welden’s psilocybe

 

Psilocybe wrightii Guzmán—Wright’s psilocybe

 

Psilocybe xalapensis Guzmán et Lopez

 

Psilocybe yungensis Singer et Smith [syn. Psilocybe acutissima Heim, Psilocybe isauri Singer]—atkad (Mixe, “judge”), derrumbe negro (Spanish, “the black abyss”), di-nezé-ta-a-ya (Mazatec), di-shi-to-ta-a-ya (Mazatec), hongo genio (Spanish, “genious mushroom”), pajarito de monte (Spanish,“little bird of the forest”), piitpa (Mixe), si-shi-tjo-leta ja (Mazatec)

This species is used in Mexico in the same manner as Psilocybe mexicana.

 

 

Like most species of Psilocybe, the dung psilocybe (Psilocybe coprophila) “loves” to live on dung, which it alchemically transforms into the so-called food of the gods. (From Winkler, 2000 Pilze selber bestimmen [Identify 2000 Fungi Yourself], 1996)

 

Psilocybe zapotecorum Heim emend. Guzmán [syn. Psilocybe bolivariP. candidipes Singer et Smith, P. zapotecorum forma elongata]—crown of thorns This mushroom is known in Mexico as hongo de la corona de cristobadaoopiule de bardahongo santo, et cetera, and is used in the same manner as Psilocybe mexicana (Guzmán 1994, 1450**).

Folk names: Zapotec, badao zoo, badoo, bei, be-meeche, beya-zoo, beneechi, mbey san, njte-jé, patao-zoo, paya-zoo, peacho, pea-zoo; Chatina, cuiya-jo-otnu (“the great mushroom saint”); Mazatec, di-nizé-ta-a-ya, nche-je; Spanish, corona de cristo (“crown of Christ”), derrumbe de agua (“abyss of the water”), derrumbe negro (“the black abyss”), hongos de la razón (“mushrooms of reason”), piule de barda (“inebriating plant of the crown of thorns” [cf. Rhynchosia pyramidalis]), razón guiol (“the guiding reason”), razón viejo (“old reason”)

“It should be mentioned that the rich fungal flora of Japan also includes a number of psychotropic mushroom species. Reports from the eleventh century already spoke of the renowned ‘laughing mushroom,’ and cases of unintended ingestion are noted. In our century as well, many involuntary intoxications are known from Japan, resulting from confusing psychotropic species with edible mushrooms. In addition to dung mushrooms, Stropharia venenata Imai, a close relative of Psilocybe cubensis that can also be classified in the genus Psilocybe, also grows there. Other mushrooms that contain the active constituent psilocybin are Psilocybe argentipes Yokoyama, Psilocybe subcaerulipes Hongo, and Psilocybe subaeruginascens Höhnel . . . the demarcations between the species are the subject of debate. To date, however, there are no definitive reports about a possible subcultural use of such species in Japan.”

 

JOCHEN GARTZ

 

PSYCHOTROPE PILZE IN OZEANIEN [PSYCHOTROPIC FUNGI IN OCEANIA]

 

(1995, 100)

 

Literature

 

See also the entries for the other Psilocybe species and for psilocybin.

 

Beck, J. E., and D. V. Bordon. 1982. Psilocybian mushrooms. The PharmChem Newsletter 11 (1): 1–4.

 

Benjamin, C. 1979. Persistent psychiatric symptoms after eating psilocybin mushrooms. British Medical Journal 6174:1319–20.

 

Beug, Michael W., and Jeremy Bigwood. 1982. Psilocybin and psilocin levels in twenty species from seven genera of wild mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 5 (3): 271–85.

 

Brenneisen, Rudolf, and Anna-Barbara Stalder. 1993. Psilocybe. In Hagers Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, 5th ed., 287–95. Berlin: Springer Verlag.

 

Gartz, Jochen. 1986. Ethnopharmakologie und Entdeckungsgeschichte der halluzinogenen Wirkstoffe von europäischen Pilzen der Gattung PsilocybeZeitschrift für ärztliche Fortbildung 80:803–5.

 

———. 1995. Psychotrope Pilze in Ozeanien. Curare 18 (1): 95–101.

 

Gartz, Jochen, John W. Allen, and Mark D. Merlin. 1994. Ethnomycology, biochemistry, and cultivation of Psilocybe samuiensis Guzmán, Bandala and Allen, a new psychoactive fungus from Koh Samui, Thailand. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 43:73–80.

 

Gartz, Jochen, Derek A. Reid, Michael T. Smith, and Albert Eicker. 1995. Psilocybe natalensis sp. nov.—the first indigenous blueing member of the Agaricales of South Africa. Integration 6:29–32.

 

Guzmán, Gastón. 1978. Further investigations of the Mexican hallucinogenic mushrooms with descriptions of new taxa and critical observations on additional taxa. Nova Hedwigia 29:625–64.

 

———. 1983. The genus Psilocybe. Nova Hedwigia, no. 74. Vaduz, Liechtenstein: Beihefte. Supplemental volume to Nova Hedwigia.

 

———. 1995. Supplement to the monograph of the genus PsilocybeTaxonomic Monographs of Agaricales, Bibliotheca Mycologica 159:91–141.

 

Guzmán, Gastón, Victor M. Bandala, and John W. Allen. 1993. A new blueing psilocybe from Thailand. Mycotaxon 46:155–60.

 

Guzmán, Gastón, Victor M. Bandala, and Chris C. King. 1993. Further observations on the genus Psilocybe from New Zealand. Mycotaxon 46:161–70.

 

Guzmán, Gastón, and Jonathan Ott. 1976. Description and chemical analysis of a new species of hallucinogenic Psilocybe from the Pacific Northwest. Mycologia 68 (6): 1261–67.

 

Guzmán, Gastón, Jonathan Ott, Jerry Boydston, and Steven H. Pollock. 1976. Psychotropic mycoflora of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California and British Columbia. Mycologia 68 (6): 1267–72.

 

Guzmán, Gastón, Fidel Tapia, and Paul Stamets. n.d.. A new blueing Psilocybe from U.S.A. Mycotaxon 65 (Oct–Dec.) 191–96.

 

Høiland, K. 1978. The genus Psilocybe in Norway. Norwegian Journal of Botany 25:111–22.

 

Imai, S. 1932. On Stropharia caerulescens, a new species of poisonous toadstool. Transactions of the Sapporo Natural History Society 13 (3): 148–51.

 

Koike, Yutaka, Kohko Wada, Genjiro Kusano, Shigeo Nozoe, and Kazumasa Yokoyama. 1981. Isolation of psilocybin from Psilocybe argentipes and its determination in specimens of some mushrooms. Journal of Natural Products 44 (3): 362–65.

 

Marcano, V., A. Morales Méndez, F. Castellano, F. J. Salazar, and L. Martinez. 1994. Occurrence of psilocybin and psilocin in Psilocybe pseudobullacea (Petch) Pegler from the Venezuelan Andes. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 43:157–59.

 

Matsuda, I. 1960. Hallucination caused by Psilocybe venenata (Imai) Hongo. Transactions of the Mycological Society of Japan 2 (4): 16–17.

 

Sebek, Svatopluk. 1983. Lysohlávka ceská—Psilocybe bohemicaCeská Mykologie 37:177–81.

 

Semerdzieva, Marta, and F. Nerud. 1973. Halluzinogene Pilze in der Tschechoslowakei. Ceská Mykologie 27:42–47.

 

Semerdzieva, Marta, and M. Wurst. 1986. Psychotrope Inhaltsstoffe zweier Psilocybearten (Kahlköpfe) aus der CSSR. Mykologisches Mitteilungsblatt 29:65–70.

 

“I was haunted by legends of ancient beers, obsessed with rumors of fanciful brews like the Guatemalan millet beer, spiked with psilocybin.”

 

T. CORAGHESSAN BOYLE “QUETZALCOATL LITE”

 

(1979, 170)

 

 

The cover of this CD of psychedelic/trance music features a Mexican mushroom stone in the middle of a computer-generated image of psychedelic perception. (Spirit Zone Records, 1996)

 

 

A CD of psychedelic/trance/techno music, under the sign of sacred psychoactive mushrooms. (EFA Medien, ca. 1997)

 

Singer, Rolf, and Alexander H. Smith. 1958a. Mycological investigation on teonanácatl, the Mexican hallucinogenic mushroom. Part II. A taxonomic monograph of psilocybe, Section Caerulescentes. Mycologia 50:262–303.

 

———. 1958b. New species of psilocybe. Mycologia 50:141–42.

 

Stijve, T., and T. W. Kuyper. 1985. Occurrence of psilocybin in various higher fungi from several European countries. Planta Medica 5:385–87.

 

Yokoyama, Kazumasa. 1973. Poisoning by hallucinogenic mushroom, Psilocybe subcaerulipes Hongo. Transactions of the Mycological Society of Japan 14:317–20.

 

———. 1976. A new hallucinogenic mushroom, Psilocybe argentipes K. Yokoyama sp. nov. from Japan. Transactions of the Mycological Society of Japan 17:349–54.

 

Discography of “Bemushroomed” Music

 

Allman Brothers Band, Where It All Begins (Sony Music, 1994)

 

Awkana, Earth’s Call (Wergo, 1993)—the cover features a Huichol yarn painting with a glowing mushroom

 

The Big F, Is (Chrysalis, 1993)—features a photograph of laboratory-raised Psilocybe cubensis

 

Braindub, In Your Brain (Sun Records, 1995)—a techno-mushroom-trip

 

Deee-Lite, Dewdrops in the Garden (Elektra, 1994)—the band is shown sitting in a garden with an oversized Psilocybe cubensis and fly agaric mushrooms

 

Merrill Fankenhauser & H.M.S. Bounty, Things Goin ’Round My Mind (1968)

 

The Golden Dawn, Power Plant (Independent Artists, 1967)

 

Harald Grosskopf, World of Quetzal (CMS Music, 1992)—musical version of an Aztec myth in which the god Quetzalcoatl ingests the magic mushroom

 

Hans Hass, Jr., Magic MushroomStrong (Aquarius Records, 1996)

 

Holy Mushroom (Efa Records, 1997)a psychedelic trance sampler

 

Ironic Beat, Move on Groove On (Rough Trade Records, 1995)

 

Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow (RCA Records, 1967)

 

Dr. Timothy Leary, Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out (The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 1967)

 

Magic Mushroom Band, RU Spaced Out 2 (Magic Eye Records, 1993)

 

Ministry, Filth Pig (Warner Bros. Records, 1996)

 

Mushroom, Early One Morning (1973)

 

Mushroom Trail, My Medicine (LSD/A&M Records, 1993)—opening the cover reveals textbook illustrations of a fly agaric and Psilocybe semilanceata

 

Mark Nauseef & Dave Philipson, Venus Square Mars (M•A Recordings, 1995)

 

Nevermore, The Politics of Ecstasy (Century Media Records, 1996)—mushrooms are praised as a sacrament

 

Phunk Junkeez (Naked Language Records, 1992)—the cover art includes psychedelic mushrooms

 

Porno For Pyros, Good God’s Urge (Warner Bros. Records, 1996)—the lyrics refer to Balinese mushrooms

 

Robbie Robertson & The Red Road Ensemble, Music for the Native Americans (Capitol Records, 1994)—“We ate the sacred mushroom / And waded in the water / Howling like coyotes / At the naked moon”

 

Sacred Mushroom, same (Parallax, 1969)

 

Shamen, Boss Drum (Rough Trade, 1992)

 

Shaw & Blades, Hallucinations (Warner Bros. Records, 1995)—the cover shows the musicians sitting in a field of psychoactive mushrooms

 

Space Time Continuum, Alien Dreamtime (Caroline Records, 1993)

 

Space Tribe, Sonic Mandala (Spirit Zone Records, Hamburg, 1996)

 

Stereo MC’s, Connected (Island Records, 1992)—the cover depicts several psychoactive mushrooms

 

The Tassilli Players, Outer Space (Universal Egg Records, 1996)

 

Tiamat, Wildhoney (Magic Arts, 1994)—“Honey tea, psilocybe larvae / Honeymoon, silver spoon / Psilocybe tea”

 

Tribu, IN Mixkoakali (Cademac Records, 1996)—includes a song titled “Teonanakatl (Hongo Divino)”

 

Rick Wakeman, Journey to the Centre of the Earth (A& M Records, 1974)

 

Yo La Tengo, May I Sing With Me (Slang 017/EFA, 1992)—includes “Mushroom Cloud of His”

 

Zuvuya & Terence McKenna, Dream Matrix Telemetry (Delirium Records, 1993)

 

Zuvuya & Terence McKenna, Shamania (Delirium Records, 1994)

 

“Bemushroomed” Literature

 

Boyle, T. Coraghessan. 1979. Descent of Man. New York: Penguin Books. Includes the psilocybin-inspired story “Quetzalcoatl Lite.”

 

Bradley, Marion Zimmer. 1982. The mists of Avalon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. In this international best seller, psychedelic mushrooms are said to produce a different state of consciousness.

 

“He knew about the mushrooms. Carlos also offered me some, and since I was starving, I ate quite a few as well. They tasted better than the coca, and I gained a little weight again. We often sat in the stubbly grass of an Indian savanna with a basket of hallucinogenic mushrooms, munching and looking up into the infinite starry sky. We both had visions. Carlos floated and conversed with dead magicians, while I always saw a woman as large as the heavens who was wearing a white doctor’s coat and who longingly held out her arms toward me.”

 

URS WIDMER

 

MEINE JAHRE IM KOKA-WALD [MY YEARS IN THE COCA FOREST]

 

(1995, 65)

 

 

On the cover of the album of the film music to Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out (1967), Dr. Timothy Leary (1920–1996) is depicted as a psychoactive mushroom. Leary’s life changed dramatically after his first encounter with Mexican magic mushrooms in 1960.

 

Braem, Harald. 1994. Der Herr des Feuers: Roman eines Schamanen. Munich: Piper. See Amanita muscaria.

 

Carroll, Lewis. 1946. Alice in Wonderland. New York: Grosset & Dunlap. See Carmichael 1996.**

 

Geerken, Hatmut. 1988. mappa. Spenge: Klaus Kramm. A literary mushroom trip; see the review by Martin Hanslmeier in Integration 2/3 (1992): 137–40.

 

———. 1992. fliegen pilze? merkungen und anmerkungen zum schamanismus in sibirien und andechs. Integration 2/3:109–14. According to the author’s own statement, the text was written while he was under the influence of fly agaric.

 

Huxley, Aldous. 1962. Island. New York: Harper & Row. In his novel Island, Huxley helped psychedelic mushrooms gain literary renown as “moksha-medicine,”381 the “reality revealer,” and the “truth-and-beauty pill” (p. 157). He wrote the following about the value of using mushrooms once a year in a ritual context: “The fact remains that the experience can open one’s eyes and make one blessed and transform one’s whole life” (p. 160). For Huxley, this ritual “mycomysticism” was a way to use the power of the mushrooms for a positive purpose: “And all that the moksha-medicine can do is to give you a succession of beatific glimpses, an hour or two, every now and then, of enlightening and liberating grace. It remains for you to decide whether you’ll cooperate with the grace and take those opportunities” (p. 197).

 

Lloyd, John Uri. 1895. Etidorpha or the end of the Earth: The strange history of a mysterious being and the account of a remarkable journey. Cincinnati: self-published. The mycologist John Uri Lloyd (1849–1916), after whom the journal Lloydia is named, worked his experiences with English mushrooms into this fantasy story, which had a considerable influence on Alice in Wonderland: “In any case, it seems clear that John Uri Lloyd’s bizarre hollow-earth novel Etidorpha was for him a kind of labyrinth at whose center he wished to place the apotheosis he had personally experienced in his own peregrinations in the realm of gigantic fungi” (McKenna 1990, 169**).

 

Moers, Walter. 1992. Schöner Leben mit dem Kleinen Arschloch: Sex, Drogen und Alkohol. Frankfurt/M.: Eichborn Verlag. The author provides clear instructions for using mushrooms: “Mushrooms. The mildest results are achieved with champignons, the wildest with fly agarics. Psilocybin mushrooms, small, inconspicuous fellows that sometimes have magical effects, lie somewhere in between. But don’t be afraid—if LSD is the Porsche among consciousness-expanding drugs, then psilocybin is the bicycle. This means that the limits of perception are never opened so drastically that you believe that you have five lips—three lips is the maximum. If you have taken the proper dosage, you will soon feel a love for all forms of life that you have never felt before: for people, for animals, for plants, and especially for mushrooms” (p. 32 f.).

 

Remann, Micky. 1989. SolarPerplexus: Achterbahn für die Neunziger. Basel: Sphinx. Contains a chapter titled “Glücks-Pilze” [Happiness Mushrooms], a report on an experience with Psilocybe.

 

Shea, Robert. 1991. Shaman. New York: Ballantine Books. This best seller, which has appeared in numerous editions, begins with a mushroom trip. A young man destined to be a shaman goes to a cave and eats magic mushrooms. In this way, he is initiated into the secrets of the shamanic universe and obtains great visions that are full of both significance and consequences.

 

Wells, Herbert George. 1904. The food of the gods and how it came to Earth. London: Macmillan and Co. In this novel, scientists develop a drug, “the food of the gods,” that causes enormous growth.

 

Widmer, Urs. 1995. Meine Jahre im Koka-Wald. NZZ-Folio (June 1995): 64–65. A satirical tale about Castaneda and his experiences with mushrooms.

 

“Bemushroomed” Comics

 

Mushrooms appear frequently in comics, usually as Psilocybe species or fly agarics (see Amanita muscaria). They also take on fantastic shapes. Sometimes mushroom trips are depicted (e.g., Jürgen Mick, Träume; Seyfried + Ziska, Space Bastards; Travel/Aoumri, Das Volk der Wurzeln; Jodorowsky/Arno, Alef-Thau). Some of the stories illustrate the use and effects of the mushrooms (Andreas, Azteken; Gilbert Shelton, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers; Howard Cruse, in Dope Comix no. 2, 1978). Magic mushrooms even appear in the Abenteuern des kleinen Spirou [Adventures of the Little Spirou]. The volume Der geheimnisvolle Stern from Hergé’s Tim und Struppi series (1947) deals with strange mushrooms that are both red and white. Similar mushrooms appear in Gazoline und der Rote Planet (1991) by Jano. At the beginning of Die Zeit der Asche (1987), by Chevalier and Segur, the hero swallows a mushroom egg and goes on a fantastic trip. Mali and Werner, in Der grüne Planet, show the “path to the troll oracle”: fly agaric mushrooms. In Gon 3, by Tanaka (1995), a small dinosaur eats psychoactive mushrooms and almost laughs itself to death.

Purported Psychoactive Fungi

 

A number of fungi are alleged to be psychoactive. Some species or genera are thought to contain the active constituent psilocybin (see the box below); the information contained in the literature, however, is contradictory. Other genera or species have a reputation of being psychoactive. Here again, the reports and other information contained in the literature are decidedly contradictory or incomplete.

In Australia, species from the genera AspergillusHypomycesHygrocybe, and Psathyrella (Bock 1994*) may be psychoactive. The mold fungus Aspergillus fumigatus Fres. is known to produce indole alkaloids (Moreau 1982; Roth et al. 1990, 174**).

 

 

The caterpillar fungus Cordyceps taylori, shown adhering to a larva. (From Kerner and Oliver, The Natural History of Plants, 1897)

 

 

Genera and Species That May Contain Psilocybin

 

(from Ott 1993, 309, 313, 317*)

Agrocybe farinacea Hongo

Hygrocybe psittacina (Schaeffer ex Fr.) Wunsche—parrot mushroom

Hygrocybe psittacina var. californica Hesler et Smith

Hygrocybe psittacina var. psittacina Hesler et Smith

Mycena amicta (Fries) Quélet

Mycena cyanescens Velenovsky

Mycena cyanorrhiza Quélet

Naematoloma popperianum Singer

Panaeolina spp. (cf. Panaeolus spp.)

Pholiotina spp.

Stropharia coronilla (Bull. ex Fr.) Quél. (cf. Roth et al. 1990, 112**)

 

Cordyceps spp.

 

Clavicipitaceae

This parasitic genus of the Order Hypocreales (Class Ascomycetes) is found throughout the world (Jones 1997). In Mexico, two species are reputed to be psychoactive:

 

Cordyceps capitata (Holmskjold) Link—hombrecitos, soldaditos

Cordyceps ophioglossoides (Fries) Link—hombrecitos, club head fungus

 

Cordyceps ophioglossoides and C. capitata infest the fruiting bodies of truffles (Elaphomyces spp.),382 which are found in oak and pine forests. In the area around Toluca (Mexico), these parasitic fungi were or are still used in nocturnal healing rituals. They are mixed with Psilocybe muliericula (cf. Psilocybe spp.), Elaphomyces granulatus Fr. [syn. Elaphomyces cervinus (Pers.) Schroeter, Hypogaeum cervinumPers.], and Elaphomyces muricatus f. variegatus and then powdered and ingested (Guzmán 1994b, 1446**). This fungus has been found to contain an indole alkaloid, the structure of which has not yet been clarified (Hobbs 1995, 86**; Ott 1993, 397*). Cordyceps ophioglossoides contains the antibiotic substance ophiocordine.

The two Mexican species are closely related to and hardly distinguishable from the species Cordyceps sinensis (Berk.) Sacc., which occurs in Tibet and southwestern China—especially in the highlands of Tibet—and is used for medicinal purposes. Rutting yaks sniff out the fungus and eat it as an aphrodisiac. The substance was praised as an aphrodisiac in the very oldest Chinese herbals, a reputation that continues to echo in the Chinatowns of our time (Davis 1983, 62–64). Attempts to cultivate the fungus, which is difficult to collect, have only recently proved successful. Extracts (alcoholic tinctures) are drunk as tonics and aphrodisiacs and are ingested even by athletes (not yet forbidden!) as doping agents. The effects are similar to those of ginseng (Panax ginseng). The tincture is also used as an antidote for opium overdoses and to treat opium addiction (Hobbs 1995, 82**). The coveted Chinese aphrodisiac dong chong xia cao is composed of the dried larvae of a moth (Hepialus armoricanus Oberthür) in which Cordyceps sinensis has grown. Six to 12 g is powdered and ingested as a tea (or mixed with other substances) in order to strengthen the body for erotic adventures and to overcome impotence. The drug contains cordycepinic acid, quinic acid, cordycepin, proteins, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, D-mannitol, and vitamin B12. Cordycepin has been demonstrated to have antibiotic effects (Paulus and Ding 1987, 114 f.*). Tinctures made from the powdered raw fungus are reported to have strong aphrodisiac effects as well as mild psychedelic effects that are primarily mood-improving in nature.

 

In Asia, dried larvae that live in symbiosis with the fungus Cordyceps sinensis are sought as aphrodisiacs and tonics. Some Cordyceps species are also attributed with psychoactive effects. (Dried larvae, collected in Tibet)

 

Dictyophora

 

Phallaceae (Stinkhorns)

The Chinantec use Dictyophora indusiata (Vent.: Pers.) Desv. [syn. Dictyophora phalloides Desv.], a species distributed widely throughout the tropics (Americas, Southeast Asia, Seychelles, et cetera), together with Psilocybe mexicana for ritual purposes. The shamans of Chinantla use the mushroom for divinatory purposes. They dry the mushroom and grind it. Two to three hours before the planned divination, they drink the powder with water (Guzmán 1994b, 1478**; McGuire 1982, 231**). The Lacandon Maya call this ritually important mushroom u ba’ay äh och,“the carrying net of the opossum.” The Lacandon and other peoples of Mexico consider the opossum383 a rascally trickster that is also associated with fertility and birth. The mushroom is regarded as inedible; its Spanish name is vela de novia, “bridal veil.” In Thailand, this mushroom or another species of the same genus is used in magical rites. Chemical studies of the genus are lacking (Ott 1993, 399*).

Hydnum repandum L.: Fr.

 

Hydnaceae (Hedgehog Mushroom)

Some Swiss mushroom enthusiasts have reported that the hedgehog mushroom, which is quite common and well known in Jura, is psychoactive. The mushroom is generally regarded as edible (Dähncke 1993, 1036**). The red-yellow hedgehog mushroom (Hydnum repandum var. rufescens [Fr.] Barla [syn. Hydnum refescens Fries]) is also considered edible (Dähncke 1993, 1036**). It is interesting to note that in Japan, mushrooms of the genus Hydnum are known as yamabushi-take, “mushrooms of the mountain priests” (Imazeki 1973, 37**).

Gerronema

 

Tricholomataceae

An analysis by Gartz (1986) detected the presence of psilocybin in two East German species of this genus:

 

Gerronema fibula (Bull.: Fr.) Singer [syn. Rickenella fibula (Bull. ex Fr.) Raith., Omphalia fibula (Fr.) Kummer]

Gerronema solipes (Fr.) Singer [syn. Gerronema swartzii (Fries ex Fries) Kreisel]

 

A subsequent analysis found neither psilocybin nor any other active substances (Stijve and Kuyper 1988).

Psathyrella

 

Coprinaceae

This genus, in the Order Agaricales (Class Basidiomycetes), encompasses approximately one hundred species. It is closely related to PanaeolusPsilocybin was reportedly found in a Japanese sample of Psathyrella candolleana (Fr.) Maire [syn. Agaricus violaceus-lamellatus DC., Agaricus appendiculatus Bull.], which is found throughout the world. This mushroom is attributed with psychoactive effects (Gartz 1986; Ott 1993, 310*).

 

The tropical stinkhorn Dictyophora phalloides has acquired a certain significance as a shamanic magical agent. (Photographed in the Seychelles)

 

Literature

 

Brøndegaard, V. J. 1975. Die Hirschtrüffel. Ethnomedizin 3 (1/2): 169–76.

 

Davis, E. Wade. 1983. Notes on the ethnomycology of Boston’s Chinatown. Botanical Museum Leaflets 29 (1): 59–67.

 

Furuya, Tsutomu, Masao Hirotani, and Masayuki Matsuzawa. 1983. N6-(2-hydroxyethyl)adenosine, a biologically active compound from cultured mycelia of Cordyceps and Isaria species. Phytochemistry 22:2509–12.

 

Gartz, Jochen. 1986. Nachweis von Tryptaminderivaten in Pilzen der Gattungen Gerronema, Hygrocybe, Psathyrella und InocybeBiochemie und Physiologie. der Pflanzen 181:275–78.

 

Ginns, J. 1988. Typification of Cordyceps canadensis and C. capitata, and a new species, C. longisegmentisMycologia 80 (2): 217–22.

 

Jones, Kenneth. 1997. Cordyceps: Tonic food of ancient China. Rochester, Vt.: Healing Arts Press.

 

Moreau, Claude. 1982. Les mycotoxines neurotropes de l’Aspergillus fumigatus, une hypothèse sur le “pain maudit” de Pont-Saint-Esprit. Bulletin, Société Mycologique Française 98 (3): 261 ff.

 

Stijve, T., and Th. Kuyper. 1988. Absence of psilocybin in species of fungi previously reported to contain psilocybin and related tryptamine derivatives. Persoonia 13:463–65.

 

 

Some species of the genus Psathyrella are attributed with psychoactive properties. (A Psathyrella species, photographed in Washington state)

 

 

In one old English herbal, the fruiting bodies of a Psathyrella species were described as “deadly poisonous fungi.” (Woodcut from Gerard, The Herball or General History of Plants, 1633*)