There are dozens of species of psilocybin or 'magic mushrooms' belonging primarily to the genuses psilocybe, panaeolus, and copelandia (unrelated to psychoactive amanitaspecies). The effects of their ingestion resemble a shorter acting LSD trip, producing significant physical, visual, and perceptual changes. There are more than 180 species of mushrooms which contain the psychedelic chemicals psilocybin or psilocin. They have a long history of use in Mexico and are currently one of the most popular and commonly available natural psychedelics. Nearly all of the psilocybin containing mushrooms are small brown or tan mushrooms easily mistakable for any number of non-psychoactive, inedible, or poisonous mushrooms in the wild. This makes them somewhat difficult, and potentially hazardous, to identify. The primary distinguishable feature of most psilocybin containing mushrooms is that they bruise blue when handled.
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 Coadan, Oaxaca, also used Psilocybe mexicana for shamanic purposes. Psilocybe mexicana was the first mushroom in which Albert Hofmann discovered the LSD-like substances psilocybin and psilocin.
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". 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.
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", although they were mixed with chocolate. 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. 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". Accordingly, the messages of the mushrooms are known as the "voice of the Earth".
Magic mushrooms are used primarily in ritual contexts by the mostly female shamans. They are eaten for divinatory purposes. They are used to recognize the causes of diseases, to predict the death and loss of family members, to locailize 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. Among the Mixe, the old preSpanish tonalamatl divination calendar is still in use. Some shamans use the mushrooms in conjunction with the calendar divination.
Magic mushrooms 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. The collected mushrooms are carefully placed on the house altar or stored in the village church for three days. 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 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; 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. Sometimes only the caps are eaten. 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" (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. 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 "bemushroomed" 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.
This is the dose range for dry Psilocybe Cubensis. Fresh mushrooms are 9/10ths water by weight, and require 10 times the dose. For other types of psilocybes, see Erowid.
Light: 1-2 g
Common: 2-4 g
Strong: 4+ g
Light: 3-7.5 g
Common: 7.5-12.5 g
Strong 12.5-15 g
Heavy: 15+ g
This will greatly increase intensity, but lower the duration. The comedown is abrupt, yet gentle. Do not expect enough time for introspection.
Grind the mushrooms to a fine powder, then add them to an acidic solution (e.g. 1 tbps lemon juice, 8oz water), and drink on an empty stomach.
Onset: 15-60 minutes
Peak: 2-4 hours
Total duration: 4-8 hours
Psilocybin tends to induce more introspection than other psychedelics.
Mushrooms are known as being relatively safe psychedelics, with no documented causes of death from the consumption of psilocybin mushrooms. However, when picking mushrooms it is important to be sure about the species, as many wild mushrooms are poisonous and can cause death - with some poisonous strains looking similar to common psychedelic strains.
Refer to Psychedelic Harm Reduction for general information.
Psilocybin and psilocin are listed as Schedule I drugs under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Schedule I drugs are deemed to have a high potential for abuse and are not recognized for medical use. However, psilocybin mushrooms are not covered by UN drug treaties.
Psilocybin mushrooms are regulated or prohibited in many countries, often carrying severe legal penalties (for example, the US Psychotropic Substances Act, the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Drugs Act 2005, and in Canada the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act).