Last week we talked about acid, so I figured we might round it out this week with a chat about mushrooms. They are the most popularly used psychodelics, and also really interesting. They help Mario get big and powerful, they reportedly helped Salvidor Dali make time melt, and they've been used by countless barter fair attendees.

As a clarifier, most mushrooms don't get you high, but for proprieties sake in this article I'm using the term to mean those kind.

Mushrooms have long been used as a religious sacrament. As far back as 1000 BC people were using shrooms to get in touch with their spiritual diety. This was especially common in Aztec and other indigenous groups of Central and South America. The Aztecs called it “teonanacatl” which translates to “God's mushroom.”

In the modern age, the use of mushrooms for religious purposes has remained popular. Drugs that are thought to have religious mind-expanding properties are called entheogens and psilocybin mushrooms are the most commonly used of these drugs. Timothy Leary was a big advocate of the use of mushrooms.

Remember our old friend from last week Albert Hoffman? (he of riding his bicycle on acid fame) Well, he didn't stop when he discovered LSD. He went back to the lab and was the first person to isolate and identify psilocybin. He's basically the king of hallucinogens, and he also happens to be 101 years old and totally alive and sane despite years of hallucinogen use.

Something really interesting is that mushrooms are a huge subculture. And I don't mean the folks at Burning Man. I'm talking about people who are way into hunting mushrooms; they're like bird watchers, only fungal. They have mushroom events and field trips. They even have mushroom conventions. And judging from their websites they seem like a bunch of fun guys.

Mushrooms of the “magic” variety contain the ingredients psilocybin or psilocin, which are what produce the trip. The average dose of dried mushrooms is anywhere from one to five grams, and for the wet ones times that by ten. They typically cost about $5 to $10 per gram. Mushrooms are not physically addicting and are unlikely to cause a psychological addiction.

It takes about an hour for the stuff to kick in, and you can expect to be frying for anywhere from three to seven hours. The comedown can be kind of harsh, so if you decide to take shroomies, you might want to consider your schedule first.

People do mushrooms because it gives them a mood lift, it makes things kind of “silly” and there are lots of laugh attacks. They also make things kind of “weird,” so people have creative or philosophical insights.

But don't get the idea that everything's cool in “Shroom town.” Bad trips really suck, and can happen to anyone. A bad trip can mean intense and soul-crushing fear and anxiety, dizziness, passing out, nausea and stomach cramps, and suicidal thoughts.
The world can be a cold and lonely place for a person having a bad trip, and this is why it is very important to have a “sitter” with you or on call if you decide to take mushrooms. This is typically a person who isn't going to call you a scuzz for doing shrooms, but isn't going to try and mess with your head by planting seeds or making you feel awkward. This person should be a person you trust who can calm you down or talk you out of bad thoughts. If you are going to be this person for someone else or a friend is having a bad time google “psychedelic crisis” for some good tips and never hesitate to call 911 if you think they person is at risk of harming themselves.

If you are choosing to do mushrooms, here are some tips to reduce the risks of a bad trip or worse. First and foremost, you should not take mushrooms if you are in a weird headspace. We talked about this with acid, and it applies here as well. Crappy situations are not a good time to do any drugs, especially psychedelics, since they can trigger intense emotions (and not in a good way).

Also, if you are taking MAOI containing drugs, you shouldn't take mushrooms, since they can magnify the experience in a very negative way. Check your meds before you take the stuff to make sure they don't have MAOIs, or ask your doctor.

When we talked about acid last week, I mentioned that people who are predisposed to schizophrenia or other mental instability should be careful. This is also true of mushrooms, which can trigger the onset of these conditions.

So of the thousands of species of mushrooms, about 75 contain the trip inducing chemical psilocybin. These kinds of mushrooms come from all cross the globe, but 15 of the varieties grow right in our own backyard—the cold, dark, and moist Pacific Northwest.
This makes them a fairly easy to obtain substance. A simple walk in the woods with a trained eye can yield a bounty. But the thing is, most people do not have a trained eye. They end up getting regular old mushrooms, or as is sometimes the case, they get poisoned by a nasty toadstool.

Eating bad mushrooms can be a pretty serious deal, and even trained eyes mess up. It can cause extreme diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice, dizziness, and even death. I'm not trying to use scare tactics either dudes, I'm just letting you know if you are eating mushrooms picked in the wild by yourself or someone else, be really frickin' careful. Seriously.

Another risk when buying mushrooms off the street is the risk of getting a bad batch. A study was done that showed that of 688 street bought samples of mushrooms, only 62% contained psilocybin, 26% were regular ole mushrooms dosed with acid and 12% were totally bunk. It's unlikely that people who sell home grown mushrooms will be selling poisonous ones, but let it be a lesson that if you choose to buy drugs, make sure you know and trust the source.

One more quick thing: Psilocybin is illegal, and getting busted with mushrooms can get you in a real pickle. The laws are kind of weird though, since it's not actually the mushrooms that are illegal. It's actually just the chemicals that get you high that are illegal. The spores that grow mushrooms are totally legal and available for purchase on the internet, since they don't contain psilocybin. Growing the spores is considered “manufacturing” psilocybin and can get you an “intent to distribute” charge.
I think that about covers it. There are lots of good websites on mushrooms, and I'm always available if you have more questions.

Party on Wayne.