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9 Facts About Hallucinogenic Mushrooms

More Complex, More Important, and More Interesting Than You Thought: 9 Facts About Hallucinogenic Mushrooms

The fact that you know so little about mushrooms is sad but understandable. What can be said about you if even scientists stopped considering them plants and only classified them as a separate kingdom in the 1970s? And this is despite the fact that mushrooms have accompanied our civilization for millennia. Edible ones as a source of sustenance, entheogenic ones as a source of knowledge. It’s time to finally end your ignorance. At least when it comes to hallucinogenic mushrooms.

№ 1. Branches Across the Planet

Psilocybin mushrooms grow on every continent except Antarctica. Today, official science counts 144 species of such mushrooms. There are only 4 in Africa, 15 in Asia, 16 in Europe, 19 in Australia and nearby Pacific islands. 22 in the USA and Canada. A whole 53 in Mexico. At least 43 species are attributed to Latin American and Caribbean countries. Thus, these mushrooms have accompanied human development all over the world. This is not even counting the fly agaric, whose growth range is also extraordinarily wide.

№ 2. Older Than It Seems

The fact that scientists have only recently been able to break down the miracle into chemical constituents has never been an obstacle to the active use of entheogenic mushrooms in ritual ceremonies. For example, fragments of rock paintings about 9,000 years old have been found in caves in Central America, depicting anthropomorphic figures holding mushrooms. Similar finds were also discovered in Algeria. However, they are, according to scientists’ calculations, 2,000 years younger. Thus, already in the Neolithic era, people actively used hallucinogenic mushrooms to communicate with higher powers.

№ 3. Visitors from Space

Some scientists lean towards the hypothesis of the extraterrestrial origin of mushrooms. Experiments have shown that spores can withstand severe temperature and pressure fluctuations, prolonged lack of oxygen, and other negative effects. This indirectly confirms that they are suitable for space travel. This means that there is a high probability that mushrooms entered the Earth’s atmosphere with one of the meteors and subsequently settled on the planet’s surface. As other living organisms developed and suitable soil appeared, these spores gave rise to more complex types of mushrooms through evolution.

№ 4. Animals Do It Too

Of course, members of the fauna see mushrooms primarily as a source of sustenance. Many eat them for another quite pragmatic purpose – to get rid of helminths and other endoparasites. But some remember the strange effect and indulge in fly agarics and psilocybin mushrooms specifically for the trip. Among the avid eaters are bears, moose, foxes, and, of course, northern reindeer, whose meat and urine are consumed by the tribes of Siberia and other cold regions to achieve a milder hallucinogenic effect. Experimental animals like goats are also sometimes not averse to experiencing another trip as part of scientific experiments.

№ 5. Engine of Evolution

You’ve probably heard the saying that work made man out of a monkey. But that’s only one aspect of evolution. Have you ever heard of the “stoned ape” hypothesis by the American philosopher and ethnobotanist Terence McKenna? When primates descended from the trees to the ground in search of food, their diet began to include psilocybin mushrooms. The substances contained in them enhanced visual acuity, which was vital for animals living by foraging. An increase in libido improved the chances of reproduction. Regular consumption of significant doses of psilocybin stimulated brain function, including areas responsible for imagination and speech activity. The combination of these factors allowed human-like primates to make an evolutionary leap and become the dominant species on the planet.

№ 6. The Creators of Santa Claus

The prototype of the jolly bearded fat man was Siberian shamans, insists John Rush, an anthropologist from Sierra College. Their essential attribute was a bag of hallucinogenic mushrooms, with which they gifted their fellow villagers. Since snow-blocked entrance doors were common in the North, shamans often had to enter homes through the chimney. This version is confirmed by classicist Carl Ruck of Boston University, pointing to their red-and-white festive garments, mimicking the color of the fly agaric mushroom. Add to this the flying reindeer inspired by a mushroom trip, as well as the frequent association of these mushrooms with coniferous trees that became a symbol of the holiday. But most importantly, shamans distributed gifts in such attire even before the birth of Saint Nicholas, who is commonly considered the prototype of the mythical bearded man.

№ 7. Fighters Against Addiction

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have confirmed that psilocybin mushrooms not only do not cause addiction but also allow individuals to break free from harmful habits. Thus, 80% of the participants in an experiment were able to quit smoking for at least six months after only three sessions with psilocybin. After mushroom trips, smokers fully realized the nature of their addiction and gained effective tools to combat it. Additionally, some noted that psilocybin helped overcome withdrawal symptoms at the physiological level. According to other data, these mushrooms can also liberate a person from alcohol and drug addiction.

№ 8. A Bridge to the Spiritual World

The already mentioned Johns Hopkins University became the base for another intriguing study. Scientists aimed to find out if psilocybin could be a source and catalyst for mystical visions. Volunteers indeed experienced what is called a spiritual experience in religious practice. More than 30% noted that it was the most significant event in their lives. Over 65% of participants ranked this experience among the top five events that most influenced them, along with the birth of children and the loss of loved ones. Some even reported dialogues with God and valuable revelations.

№ 9. Top-Tier Safety

According to the registry of toxic effects of chemical substances, psilocybin has a relatively high therapeutic index of 641. The higher the value, the safer the substance. Psilocybin’s index is more than three times higher than that of aspirin, which is 199. Nicotine’s index is minimal at 21. Therefore, despite potential physiological side effects like nausea and psychological ones like a bad trip, psilocybin is far ahead in terms of safety, even compared to common medicinal drugs.

In Conclusion

These are all intriguing but disparate facts designed to engage the general public. Many people may not have enough time in their lives to learn everything about the kingdom of mushrooms. However, to know oneself and the surrounding world with their help, sometimes just one ceremony may be enough.