Amanita Muscaria Fascination - by Jim DeKorne
(Excerpted from "Psychedelic Shamanism") - AVAILABLE
Next to Datura, there is probably more general fascination with
Amanita muscaria, the so-called agaric" mushroom, than any other
non-scheduled hallucinogen. The mythological mist surrounding this
fungi is so thick that probably nobody knows where the truth lies,
even as they tramp underfoot in the fog.
Perhaps the major myth (which, maddeningly, may be accurate under
certain circumstances) is that A. muscaria is a deadly poison — to
ingest is almost "certain death." On the other end continuum is the
hypothesis that this was the fabled Soma praised in the Aryan Vedas,
those ancient hymns of adulation for an unknown hallucinogen ("Soma")
which quickened the religious impulse in primitive humanity and kicked
off two of the world's major religions, Zoroastrianism and Hinduism.
Between these two positions, deadly poison vs. religious catalyst,
lies a vast area of fact and speculation. The following information is
This red mushroom with its white spots (the very archetype for a
"mushroom" in Western culture), is native to the Northern latitudes of
planet Earth. There are old reports that it was used ritually by
Siberian shamans, though I am uncertain of any modern observations of
this. Part of the mystique surrounding this fungi is the curious
observation that you can get high by drinking the urine of someone who
has eaten it. It grows only in the wild, usually associated with birch
trees, and cannot be cultivated. Much of the conflicting data on A.
muscaria stems from the extreme variability of individual specimens —
potency depends upon soil conditions, moisture, weather and genetic
makeup, i.e., strain or subspecies (of which there are at least six).
The time of harvest is also important:
"We have found, according to the data reported in many texts, that the
most important variable is the time of the season when the mushroom is
picked. The most powerful mushrooms were picked in the middle of
August when the season [was] beginning. In the mushrooms picked in
September the narcotic and physical effects were predominant whereas
in August the "visionary" and psychedelic effects were more
highlighted.... The amount of drug changes from 1-3 mushrooms in
August to 4-5 mushrooms in the middle of September. But even with the
higher amount the experience is not the same: in September the
physical symptom of nausea is more marked and less the narcotic and
visionary experience.... I think that the most powerful quality of the
Amanita muscaria is the sense of silent talking to oneself; it's a
kind of internal dialogue where a person has the feeling of important
revelation about his life, a feeling which is maintained for a long
time after the experience. I think that this mushroom could have a lot
to teach us about ourselves."
The above observations were made in Europe, so there may be
differences in specimens harvested in North America. The lethal dosage
of A. muscaria in Europe, as estimated in the quoted article, is
something like five kilograms of fresh material, far more than anyone
would be likely to ingest. Here is a hallucinogenic dosage
recommendation from an anonymous Xeroxed article mailed to me by a
"Suggested dosage for one adult: 10 to 15 grams dried material. Make
sure the cap to stem ratio is kept at about three to one. Preparation:
Pulverize dried mushroom material into a fine powder. A small electric
spice mill works best. Mix with one cup of water in a small cook pot.
Heat slowly to about 190 [F] degrees. Do not boil. Steep like tea.
Keep at 190 for at least one-half hour, using a candy thermometer to
monitor temperature, and stirring occasionally... Let cool enough to
consume. Consume solids and all. Straining out solids is not advised.
That is why it is best to have a fine powder. The elixir should be
about the consistency of tomato soup... Using soda pop as a chaser
works fairly well, but beware of caffeine unless you are used to it.
Special caution! This is not to be mixed with alcohol... Abstain [from
alcohol] for 48 hours preceding the experiment."
Repeating anonymous instructions like this for a substance which I
have never taken myself is questionable. I do it because of the
perennial interest in Amanita muscaria and because I trust the
correspondent who sent it to me. It also has a ring of authenticity to
it. (Litigiously-disposed readers are advised to re-read the
disclaimer at the front of this book.) The article goes on to say that
it is part of the experience to sleep for a while after ingestion:
"From one-half hour to one and one-half hours after consumption of
[Amanita muscaria] you will notice a particular nausea and drowsiness.
Here is where it is important -to relax. Do not fight it. Relaxing and
sleeping will relieve the nausea. Lie down and sleep it off for one to
two hours... This stage is critical for the transformation of crude
chemical into a purer refined soma. Upon awakening and rising, you
will understand, and enjoy, as a caterpillar metamorphosizing [sic]
into a butterfly."
The following is a description of an Amanita trip sent to me by a
The three participants were A, B and C. D was the sitter. Although she
had never sat or taken a psychedelic, she was a nurse, so it was felt
to be safe. The mushrooms had been picked about a week before and were
dried by a combination of sun, oven and fan. They were completely dry
by the time they were taken. Each subject took just under half a cup
of finely powdered chopped mushrooms blended with grape juice and
consumed at 10:10. They all took some capsules of algae afterwards.
At 10:20 C felt nauseated. A and B went for a walk. By 10:30 A and B
were feeling a little woozy, A more than B. A then lay down next to C
who had just vomited and drank her emesis. C got up again to vomit at
10:40 but couldn't stand the idea of drinking it again. A is feeling
definitely altered, queasy and nauseated. When his breathing was
shallow he felt sicker: when he breathed deeply and slowly it was not
too bad. B was moving around a lot saying if he moved he didn't feel
A is checking out, feeling like he is skimming an out of body
experience: "so ready to leave, just about gone, just about gone." He
is hearing things in the room and starting to salivate a lot. The
three of them had all prayed and meditated for a few minutes before
ingestion, discussing hopes, fears, feelings, most definitely a
feeling of gratitude, awe, fear, reverence: the world's oldest
Then followed a two hour bizarre twilight state. C was out, not
moving, rapid shallow breathing. (She is generally quite hyper
kinetic.) D was most worried about her. C was not sweating or
drooling. A and B were occasionally twitching, with a gleam of
perspiration over them and saliva pouring or dribbling rapidly out of
their mouths. B was apparently less out of it and more present,
wondering if he had taken enough. A did not know how much time had
passed. He thought he was either awake or dreaming dreams that were
totally life-like: dreamed in total awareness. He was only dimly or
not at all aware of the music. They were all lying 6 to 8 feet away
from 4 foot high speakers that were on very loud.
A threw off his blanket, he was both hot and sweaty and cold and
chilled. According to D., none of them showed any visible chills. A
was very stoned, feeling like it was unlike anything he had felt
before. He said: "psychedelic is too broad-based a term: it's too
all-encompassing, too much assumption that it was a psychedelic. It
was as if everything was exactly the same but totally unfamiliar. But
it all looked like I knew it to be." They all went outside laughing,
wondering: "What's going on?" They couldn't tell if they were
intoxicated or not. B didn't think so, neither did C, but A did. All
he could note was the shadows of the grass and plants looked
different, but in retrospect he said: 'It was this world about a shade
or quantum level off somehow in an eerie, profound, unmistakable way.'
They were ataxic and staggered. They were all quite happy. There was
minimal visual phenomena occurring. They all felt quite loving toward
each other but didn't feel concerned about sharing it, unlike MDMA.
They all felt like they were in it together, but it was clearly an
effort to say much more than a few clipped or short sentences. They
were too intoxicated to carry on a conversation. It was as if they
were all passing each other on the sea. B and C were hungry and not
that intoxicated. They were all cold and hot. All three of them had
gotten up off the floor at the same time sweating and drooling with
mushroom stench everywhere. A had some gas and cramps. He belched and
passed gas and felt better quickly, particularly after D convinced him
to drink some hot miso soup and take a shower.
B and C smoked a synergistic herb blend and then they both got much
more intoxicated. It appeared as if A was about thirty minutes ahead
of B and C. Originally B had asked when all three arose at 1:00 PM if
A wanted more. He said, "No way." Later B agreed he couldn't have had
any more once he finally came on. Music was incredibly intense, maybe
the most intense ever. Every note with its own rise, plateau, peak and
fall, along with every melody with its component parts. A felt, then
physically became each note: his body was every note. "Perfect," he
said, listening to the end of a New Age tape. There was almost too
much energy surging through him with the music — he wanted to scream
to release some of it. There was a feeling of predicting the future
and feeling the past — somehow the telescoping of time. His thoughts
about the future appeared to be a statement about what's happening in
the present, or what occurred in the past as the same. He said, "I
feel the past and the future as presently true." Some future plans
appeared to be automatically happening, as a matter of course.
There was an apperception of being taught: "I feel an incredibly old,
earthen, Druidic, arctic-summer, Siberian tree-spirit kind of entity."
It was powerful, old, wise and slow-moving: sepias and browns and pale
greens: "Here I am — can you, will you ask of me?" It seemed very
patient — the mushroom was gentle and beneficent, but too old to
really empathize with: a benign fairy god; a supreme-being everywhere
immovable. A felt he could put his hand through it without difficulty.
They all felt a little delirious at times. They felt that taking less
would help one remember better; although the experience wasn't too
much, it approached that at times. They all laid down until 4:00 PM
and got up feeling well. They took a fifteen minute walk, a little
wobbly, with the same weird double sense of reality as normal, yet
unmistakably different. By 5:30 they all felt great, hungry, able to
converse, giggling a lot. They smoked some marijuana in the hot tub.
All felt remarkably refreshed — no hangover at all: energetic, calm,
happy, blessed, astounded.
C verbalized something true for each of them: as soon as one observed
that something was odd or stoned or trippy, it changed: turned into a
flatter, less voluptuous organic experience. The mushroom did not want
you to become a detached observer. It was a lucid dream, but once it
became truly lucid (knowing you were in it) it was no longer a dream.
It was very odd for such a powerful effect to be so subtly determined.
They all slept well with no unusual dreams. The next day they all
commented that their vision seemed clearer.
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