Psychedelic mushrooms containing the hallucinogenic substance known as psilocybin are typically called “magic” mushrooms. While a lot of people have heard that term in the past, not many know exactly what it refers to or what the actual background and history of the use of these mushrooms might be.
The mushrooms themselves have been around for a long time, and people have learned about their properties since time immemorial. The ancients were fully aware of them, and some cultures have even developed mystical beliefs that the mushrooms could provide a gateway to spiritual enlightenment through processes like the Shaman journey or various other paths dependent on obtaining altered states of consciousness.
The History of Psychedelic Mushrooms
If we want to get technical, we can say that the term “psychedelic mushrooms” is typically used to depict any of the hundreds of species of mushrooms containing psilocybin. When digested, this substance can produce psychedelic effects and altered states of consciousness, when it’s present in a large enough dosage. They are commonly known as “shrooms” in most parts of North America. There are associated mushroom spore syringe that are offered today.
The history of psilocybin mushrooms dates back to prehistoric times, as researchers have actually found them depicted in prehistoric art from tens of thousands of years ago. More recently, the mushrooms have been used heavily by Native North and South American tribes on the American continent for healing and shamanic initiations. As the Europeans invaded America, however, missionaries have begun discouraging the practice due to the hallucinogenic effects it produced, associating it with negative beliefs.
The mushrooms are used to this day in various indigenous ceremonies in places like Mexico. In 1957, an expedition founded by the CIA has examined the use of psychedelic mushrooms in such ceremonies, and a year later, psilocybin was discovered by the illustrious Swiss chemist, Albert Hoffman, who was also responsible for discovering LSD. Magic mushrooms were then popularized in America over the next decade by various researchers and psychedelic gurus associated with the Flower Power movement.
There are two well-known species of magic mushrooms that are known in the Americas:
- Psilocybe semilanceata which is used to a prevalent extent in North America, and is the main species found in Europe as well.
- Psilocybe cubensis which is associated most often with South and Central America, including Cuba, Jamaica and Brazil.
Because of the long and complex history of psychedelic mushrooms, some cultures still use it traditionally in this day and age. However, as the use of the psychedelic mushrooms is discouraged by law enforcement in many parts of the world, their reputation hasn’t helped much in restoring them to their former glory.
Avoiding Mainstream Stereotypes
The history of magic mushrooms shows us that these beautiful gifts of nature have never truly been forgotten. Even though they are currently illegal in most places, many states are already beginning to decriminalize psilocybin, as researchers are rediscovering the mushrooms’ remarkable benefits.
By understanding the background of psychedelic mushrooms, we can better identify what their positive and negative traits are in order to counteract the many negative stereotypes that are associated with them today.