Plant Spirit Shamanism: Fly Agaric

Just a few years in the past, I used to be known as as an knowledgeable witness in a legal case involving trance and possession. The circumstances of the case usually are not necessary to this text however, to not depart you hanging, needed to do with a person who had flown to the UK from Nigeria and was discovered to be carrying cocaine when he was stopped by Customs Officers. His defence was that he had been entranced, or probably drugged, by a bunch of males who had planted the cocaine on him earlier than he boarded the aircraft.

What was extra attention-grabbing for me was that I acquired to have lunch with one other knowledgeable witness, a toxicologist from one of many UK’s main instructing hospitals, who had a eager curiosity in mycology and deliberate to publish a e-book on the sacred use of fly-agaric (Amanita muscaria) in religious therapeutic and historic warriorship practices.

On account of his research, he had lately labored with a TV manufacturing firm who had made a documentary with him to check considered one of his private pet theories: that the Zulu Battle was fought by the indigenous folks beneath intoxication from the sacred mushroom. This had given them, not solely superhuman power and imperviousness to ache, however a way of fearlessness and their very own divine goal in battle. It was this that had helped them depart the sector victorious, he claimed.

Clearly, the TV firm couldn’t stage one other conflict to check this idea, however what they might do – and did – was to get two martial arts specialists into a hoop to struggle it out for the cameras.

Within the first a part of this experiment, the combatants met equally and fought just a few rounds collectively. Neither emerged as a transparent winner on this rigorously matched contest.

Within the second half, nonetheless, one of many fighters was given 5 strips of fly-agaric to eat. He was allowed to relaxation whereas it took impact, after which each fighters met once more.

Besides they did not, precisely. In response to the knowledgeable I used to be chatting with (curiously, over a lunch of mushroom paella), the fighter who had taken fly-agaric merely flew throughout the ring as quickly because the bell rang, hardly even touching the bottom, and threw his opponent so exhausting that he ended up on the ground exterior the ropes. The intoxicated fighter by no means even broke a sweat and was not respiratory at something above regular ranges when his opponent was counted out.

Utilization and results of fly-agaric

Within the fashionable West, we’ve got misplaced most of our historic ceremonial practices and now not imagine in a ‘spirit world’. Consequently, fly-agaric (whether it is thought of in any respect) is regarded solely as a harmful and probably toxic ‘drug’, slightly than a path to the divine.

In his e-book, Ploughing The Clouds, nonetheless, Peter Lamborn Wilson argues convincingly that fly-agaric isn’t solely the sacred Soma referred to within the Rg Veda, however that it was utilized in many European nations and was additionally central to the Irish Keltic custom of shamanism, which nonetheless continues in its primary kind, immediately.

The mushrooms themselves, vibrant purple with white spots, are gathered for ritual use in these traditions in the course of the hottest months of the 12 months – July and August – when they’re most infused with the ingredient of fireplace and the breath of the solar/Sky Father. Essentially the most highly effective mushrooms, in truth, are stated to dry themselves, able to be picked for his or her communion with man. These are thought of far ‘stronger’ than these picked early and dried artificially. Smaller mushrooms are additionally stated to have a lot higher energy than bigger ones, and it appears doubtless, from fashionable experimentation, that their narcotic results are actually extra intense in the course of the early rising section.

For non-ritual utilization, the mushrooms are utilized in a lot the identical means as coca leaves within the Peruvian Andes, to create a delicate shift in consciousness, accompanied by gentle euphoria and elevated power. In such utilization, the mushrooms are merely rolled right into a ball and swallowed entire, with out chewing. One bigger mushroom (Three-4cm) or 2-Three small ones is sufficient.

For prescribed ritual utilization, nonetheless, a number of mushrooms are usually consumed, often in a set, or units, of three. “The Rg Veda all the time speaks of Soma in units of three cups and, in Siberia immediately, three Amanitas are nonetheless thought of the right ritual dose”, says Wilson.

An elaborate ceremony will usually accompany the ritual consumption of ‘magic mushrooms’. This will likely take the type of a ‘hunt’ for the mushroom, adopted by the ‘killing’ of its spirit by symbolically attacking it with spears, golf equipment, or arrows, so it’s ‘made protected’ for human ingestion. It’s then ready in a time-honoured means which is designed in any respect levels to honour its energy, keep away from its wrath and, on the similar time, acquire management of its religious drive. Solely then is the mushroom eaten, beneath extremely contained, sacred circumstances, and in a Holy area defended by the shaman, who will lead the ritual all through.

As soon as ingested, what we might name the ‘narcotic’ results of fly-agaric start after about 30 minutes.

Outwardly, the intoxication might seem as involuntary muscle spasms, adopted by a way of the fluidity of actuality and sensory disorientation. Often, there’s vomiting, throughout which entire mushrooms could also be regurgitated. Paradoxically, nonetheless, this usually serves to accentuate the otherworldly sensations of flight and entry to a ‘non-ordinary’ area.

Inwardly, the shaman, and people who partake of this sacrament, are actually in communion with the gods.

In response to one description at, which, maybe, bridges the hole between outward impact and inward sensation, the affect of fly-agaric is that “the nerves are extremely stimulated and the slightest effort of will produces very highly effective results. If one needs to step over a small stick, he steps and jumps as if the obstacles had been tree trunks. If a person is ordinarily talkative, his speech is now fixed, and he involuntarily blurts out secrets and techniques, totally acutely aware of his actions and conscious of his secret, however unable to carry himself in test. A person who’s keen on dancing dances, and a music-lover sings incessantly. Others run or stroll fairly involuntarily, with none intention of transferring”.

Two of probably the most attention-grabbing features of fly-agaric are that it retains its effectiveness virtually completely, and that its results are simply transmitted to others, notably via ingestion of urine from the primary particular person to eat the mushrooms. The identical impact may be transmitted to a 3rd, fourth or fifth particular person in precisely the identical means.

In actual fact, the flexibility of the mushroom to behave on this means could also be partly on the root of the ‘Father Christmas’ myths which can be noticed within the Winter rituals of the West.

Within the shamanic traditions of Siberia, the shaman would ingest fly-agaric with a purpose to journey to the Sky Father and produce again presents of information and energy for his neighborhood. Wearing a heat, fur-lined, ritual costume, with a thick belt hung with bells, the shaman would make his journey at dusk to seek the advice of with these otherworldly spirits. Within the hours that adopted, the shaman would want to urinate and would possibly stroll into the woods to take action. Reindeers would then eat the urine-covered snow as a part of their regular grazing and in addition turn into intoxicated.

‘Flying’ (intoxicated) reindeers with one sky-borne human (the shaman) who controls them… the similarities in costume… the bells and the belt… the purple and white of the mushroom… the journey via the sky to ship presents… all the weather of the trendy day Father Christmas are there, making a slightly idyllic view of fly-agaric.

We should bear in mind, although, that the Amanita has not all the time had such a ‘peaceable’ status. The Vikings, for instance, are stated to have ritually ingested it with a purpose to enter the ‘berserker’ state, prepared for battle (certainly, the Icelandic title for fly-agaric comprises the phrase, ‘berserk’), simply because the Zulus did, in line with my toxicologist lunch mate.

Properties and chemistry

One of many first research of fly-agaric was made in 1863, by two German chemists who printed a e-book on the properties of muscarine, a poisonous alkaloid that that they had remoted from the Amanita. For nearly a century, their examine (which turned out to be incorrect) was taken as gospel and muscarine was erroneously believed to be the principle energetic ingredient of fly-agaric mushrooms. Varied confusions adopted and it was not till 1964 that its true constituents had been remoted – after which virtually concurrently by three totally different laboratories, in Japan, England and Switzerland. Lastly, the proper compounds had been recognized as ibotenic acid and muscimol.

Muscimol is the psychoactive constituent. A tiny a part of the ibotenic acid is modified to muscimol inside the human system, following ingestion of the mushroom, and this produces the results for which fly-agaric is understood.

Analysis reveals that ibotenic acid will create an hallucinogenic impact in people, at doses as small as 50mg. The onset of those results could also be speedy or fairly gradual, starting from 30 minutes to 2-Three hours, relying on physique sort, susceptibility, habituation, and the circumstances of ingestion.

In any case, three hours is often sufficient for the total results to be felt, which is able to then final for Four-Eight hours, relying on dose, and can usually embody muscle spasms (as if one is definitely taking a ‘journey’ of kinds), visible distortions (‘visions’), altered auditory notion (‘listening to voices’), and lack of equilibrium (modified perspective on ‘regular actuality’).

A substantial quantity of ibotenic acid is excreted rapidly after fly-agaric is consumed, and stays unaltered within the urine. This provides credibility to the Siberian expertise (together with the residual Father Christmas fable) since, after consuming the mushroom, the shaman would excrete ibotenic acid in his urine and reindeers might ingest this and reprocess its ibotenic acid content material as muscimol, producing an identical hallucinogenic impact. The animal would then excrete ibotenic acid in its personal urine, and the method would proceed.

On this means, a 50-100mg dose of ibotenic acid might produce 10-15mg doses of muscimol for as much as 10 customers, in order that one consumption of mushrooms will surely be efficient throughout 4 or 5 generations of animal or human ingestion.

Bushes and mushrooms, mushrooms and timber

It appears that there’s additionally a symbiotic relationship between the fly-agaric mushroom and the birch tree – the mushrooms develop within the shade of the tree – which might account for the ‘sacred birch’ custom in European shamanism.

Certainly, inside shamanism, timber, per se, are held as sacred, as properties of the elementals or gateways to spirit, and connections between totally different life types (such because the mushroom and the tree) are revered because the shamanic perception is that we’re all – each life kind – related, one to a different. This animistic precept of connection will surely have been strengthened for the shaman experiencing the magical results of fly-agaric, in order that the birch tree would turn into sacred by affiliation.

The fly-agaric mushroom continues to be discovered wherever the birch is widespread, together with the UK and the Americas. Distinguishable by its vibrant purple colouring and white spots, it’s best ready for ceremonial use (in line with some shamanic traditions, in addition to the recommendation of my toxicologist lunch mate) by reducing it into skinny strips that are then boiled in milk for 30 minutes or so. The liquor is then drunk and the mushroom strips eaten. Another is to dry the mushrooms and add them to vodka, consuming the alcohol-Amanita combination when the liquid turns orangey-red.

buy muscimol, in ritual utilization, fly-agaric should all the time be taken in a sacred means with the intention of unveiling true religious data, and with full reverence for its energy. To do in any other case is just to interact in ‘drug-taking’, with all of the inherent risks of misuse and the results of superhuman, Zulu-like, power which we mere mortals and Western suburbanites might then should take care of.