Mushroom has always been associated with nature and the undying beauty forests have to offer. When you find mushrooms, they are considered a good-luck symbol. Also in some countries, spiritual meanings of magic mushrooms are believed to exist.
In fact, finding a mushroom is considered to be very lucky and will mean that good fortune is at hand. In Germany particularly, mushroom ornaments are hanged on the Christmas tree in reverence for nature and in hope of good luck in the new year. Here’s the overview of what people in the past and in the present believed about mushrooms and magic mushrooms.
Magic Mushrooms with Spiritual Meanings
Humans have longed used mushrooms to alter consciousness and this extends far into the pre-history stage. With the help of archaeological evidence, many cultures from around the world show that these fungi were used for rituals and sacred practices. The earliest depiction of entheogenic mushroom consumption might be from a cave painting found in the upper Tassili plateau of Northern Algeria that goes back to at least 5000 B.C if not older.
Ever since that era, different cultures from around the world have developed traditions that use psychoactive mushroom species to bring about profound insight into the human predicament. In Mexico for example, both the Mazatec and Aztec cultures have a well-documented use of San Isidro (Psilocybe Cubensis) in their regions for hundreds or probably thousands of years.
While in Siberia the use of the Fly Agaric Mushroom (Amanita Muscaria) for intoxication is not just a long-standing tradition with the shamanic tribes of that area but it has also been linked to the origination of the myth of Santa Claus.
In Ancient Greece, psychoactive fungi seemed to have played a significant role in the development of culture and the great statesmen and philosophers would take part in an annual ritual to honor Persephone and Demeter. This would normally include the consumption of a visionary fungal drink.
These highly secretive ceremonies are also called the Eleusian Mysteries and were done in multiple days that is thought to help contribute to some of the ideas and profound insights that laid the foundation of great philosophical movements of an era.
Although the ingredients used in that sacred drink are not known with certainty evidence suggest that it might have used the extract of Ergot, which is an infectious fungal agent in the rye that is believed to contain psychoactive derivatives of Lysergic Acid (LSA).
These are just some of the mushroom spiritual meanings that we have uncovered so far. It may not be a lot but we have to look at the perspective that humans have long been using mushroom for different rituals and sacred practices. Long before we have known the psychedelic properties of mushrooms, our ancestors have used these in important events that have helped lay the ground for some of our practices in the present times.
Teachings of the Sacred Mushroom
For people who have not experienced the entheogenic mushroom, it’s always easy to believe that the visions and insights experienced by the users are just hallucinations. But for the user, it might be quite the opposite. The experiences they had with higher doses of psilocybin are often described to be indescribable.
Psilocybin is known to be a boundary dissolving compound that strips the user of their ego and sense of individuality. Once the user has been stripped of their ego and sense of individuality, he or she will soon come to realize and sense a deep interconnectedness with other lifeforms of the world or the cosmos.
This is often described in terms similar to a mystical or deeply spiritual experience. If you are the user, you can definitely argue that this is far from a hallucination experience. While the insights and sensations imparted can often be seen as a turning point in one’s life.
As deep as it may sound, a typical psilocybin session can bring about lessons that will make you think that all life has inherent value and to take care of that life. This lesson can be very well extended from caring for one’s life to those around them to all of Earth’s inhabitants and the dynamic multiverse beyond.
Magic Mushrooms in the 20th Century
Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman studied the extracts of Ergot in the early part of the 20th century. He was studying this for the hemostatic effects particularly to control excessive bleeding during births. While he was in the process of synthesizing the compounds in Ergot, he accidentally produced Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD). This is a powerful psychoactive compound that Hoffman discovered in 1938.
Home-School mushroom cultivation started with a banker named Gordon Wasson who made a trip to Mexico to follow up on a lead about a supposed mushroom practice outside the city of Oaxaca. While at Mexico, he encountered Maria Sabina the carrier of a shamanic tradition which used psychoactive fungi that induces vision as part of a healing practice.
Wasson was able to take part in different mushroom sessions with Sabina and when he came back to the States, he wrote a story for Life Magazine and that story became an instant hit for bohemians, beatniks and early hippies. Some of them went to Mexico and learned how to cultivate the mushroom on their own.
While the 1960s and 1970s saw a large scale production and use of LSD and magic mushrooms that eventually created a significant cultural shift in the US and abroad. But eventually, these substances were made illegal and was classified as drugs in the United States and was with at par with heroin and cocaine.
Consuming the Magic Mushroom
The consumption of the sacred mushroom should not be taken lightly. Most people in Western Culture are introduced to these fungi in a more casual or party-like environment, it is recommended to approach these fungi as something to be honored and respected. If you want to experience the best psychedelic experience take the following recommendations:
- Eat the mushroom on an empty stomach.
- Clear your head as well as your calendar of any drama, commitments or concerns.
- Take them to a place where you feel safe and comfortable. This will really depend on your individual preference and feeling.
- You should be surrounded by your closest and most trusted friends and family.
- Value the experience with openness. Others prefer to go in with questions while others like to see what comes.
- Make sure you have water within reach. Dress appropriately for the weather and for any changes you might encounter.
- You should take the mushroom rarely and always with respect. Honor this natural gift and give thanks for the lessons and the healing you have received.