Guides | SAFE USE OF PSYCHEDELICS: PART TWO – Understanding the Effects
PART TWO of a guide for the safe use of psychedelics
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Chemical Collective or any associated parties.
There are more than 2 million known species of fungus in the world – with some estimates putting that number as high as 3.3 million. Of these, at least 10,000 produce the fruiting bodies we know as mushrooms. Only a fraction of these contain the magic ingredients that produce psychedelic effects. People have been using these mushrooms for their transformative powers for millenia. However, in the Western world, these incredible organisms have languished in obscurity. We are now experiencing a psychedelic renaissance. There is even legitimate interest from the scientific and therapeutic industries.
Despite the fact that these amazing fungi have existed for millions, if not billions, of years, the West as whole only became aware of their existence in 1957. An article entitled ‘Seeking The Magic Mushroom’ was published in Life magazine. In this article, amateur mycologist Robert Gordon Wasson described his participation in a Mazatec mushroom ritual in Oaxaca, Mexico. Wasson travelled to the region several times after reading an earlier anthropological work describing it. In 1955 Wasson and New York society photographer Allan Richardson eventually participated in a mushroom ritual with curandera, Maria Sabina, where they became, in Wasson’s words, “the first white men in recorded history to eat the divine mushrooms”. The article had a distinct influence on the American counterculture movement of the 1960s. This led many hippies to make the journey to Mexico in search of the mind expanding fungi.
The largest living organism on earth is a fungus. A vast network of mycelium, discovered in Oregon’s Blue Mountains in 1998, which dwarfs blue whales and redwood trees by orders of magnitude. To put it in perspective, this network occupies some four square miles (10 square kilometres) and has existed for many thousands of years. This is not just the largest, but possibly the oldest living thing on our planet. Whenever we see a mushroom growing in the wild, it is a very small part of a much larger system, operating beneath your feet. An enormous network of mycelial strands, branching out in every direction, with potentially more connections than the neural network of the human brain.
They break down dead flora and fauna, and recycle that carbon based material into useful nutrients that allow forests to thrive. Mycelium connects trees to each other and allows them to share nutrients, and essentially communicate with each other to keep their community healthy. The interfacing abilities of fungi have been, for the most part, overlooked by the scientific community but this power is undeniably essential to all life on earth.
Some species have seemingly otherworldly powers aside from being hallucinogens. Lion’s Mane mushrooms for instance have been discovered to have an effect on the brain known as neurogenesis which means they can create new connections, resurrect disused synapses and effectively repair parts of our brain that no other compound we know of is capable of. This has implications for Alzheimer’s disease, an affliction that impacts millions of people and for which there exists no traditional treatment that can actually repair the damage caused by the condition.
In a previous article I discussed The Stoned Ape Theory. I won’t rehash it here but I will summarise the parts that are pertinent to this discussion.
His hypothesis was that in the distant past the predecessors to modern humans went through a rapid phase of cognitive advancement. In 2 million years, their brains tripled in size.
(This might sound like a long time, but on an evolutionary scale it is unprecedented).
The theory suggests that these hominids began following herds of animals as a source of food. Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms thrive in the droppings of these herds. It stands to reason that these early hominids would have come across, and subsequently consumed them. The theory is that the transcendental power of these mushrooms being eaten over and over again was the catalyst for this massive leap in brain power – Like a software update for the organic computer that became the human brain.
So, when we discuss the transformative potential of mushrooms we have to consider all of the above, but it is really only when we consume magic mushrooms ourselves that we truly appreciate the amazing power of these incredible organisms.
So, you’ve curated your set and setting, made sure you’re in good company – whether alone, with a guide, or with some like-minded psychonauts – and you have a handful of dried (or a plateful of fresh) psilocybin mushrooms. What can you expect when you’ve eaten them?
After about half an hour, you’ll feel it in your body, an elevation of sorts that can be hard to describe. Depending on the size of the dose you’ve taken, colours will become more vivid and the world around you can take on liquid properties.
You may experience the beginnings of some geometric visuals.
Close your eyes and these visuals can become almost kaleidoscopic in nature. On a low dose, this might be as far as the experience goes.
For the next few hours the intensity will ebb and flow, like waves washing over you. It’s not uncommon to laugh, cry tears of joy or sadness, feel an intense connection to nature and face feelings you’ve repressed within yourself, sometimes representing pain that goes back years.
On high doses, this feeling of connection can become all encompassing. The innate sense that you are part of something bigger, something infinite that loves you and has been waiting for you all along. You might even feel your bodily senses dissipate as your consciousness literally becomes connected to every tree, every blade of grass and every star you’ve ever glimpsed in the night sky.
It is not always plain sailing, though, the same hand that guides you to discover this wonderful connection to everything might also force you to look at aspects of your psyche that have been holding you back. This can be painful, or frightening. Trying to fight this sensation only heightens the sense of fear. As if some inexorable force is saying:
This might sound wacky but it’s a truth that many who have gone the distance will confirm.
Some ancient cultures believed that this force was ‘the mushroom gods’ guiding you to revelations your consciousness needed to experience. Perhaps it is your own mind, unlocked by an amazing compound, breaking down barriers that your ego has been building for years. The truth is, no one knows the mechanism behind these mystical experiences but their transformative power is certain. Scientific studies are beginning to back up the anecdotal evidence that the psychonaut community has been accumulating for decades.
This has powerful implications for conditions like anxiety, depression, PTSD and addiction. Esteemed institutions such as Johns Hopkins, through their Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, have begun pouring funding into this area with astounding results.
Taking a large dose of these mushrooms can be extremely daunting, especially for those who have no experience with psychedelics. However, a new method for utilising the amazing potential of these fungi has become popularised in recent times. One that is much less scary than McKenna’s famed ‘5 dried grams in darkness’ – microdosing.
It is a simple concept at its core. Instead of facing one mind-blowing psychedelic experience, take a tiny dose of the compound fairly regularly, like you would a course of medication. This practice has exploded in the western world with some amazing results being reported. Users are expressing positive impacts on mood disorders, increases in creativity and even a loss of existential fear of death in people facing terminal illness.
New territory is being explored here and psychonauts are leading the way, experimenting with different consumption schedules, varying dosages and combining different compounds in what have become known as ‘stacks’. Where not only psilocybe mushrooms are being utilised but other fungi known to provide benefits like the previously discussed Lion’s Mane, and others like Turkey Tail and Rishi to name a few.
Paul Stamets has probably done more than any other mycology enthusiast to educate and popularise the amazing benefits of mushrooms, going as far as doing a well known TED talk on the subject. His book, The Mushroom Cultivator: A Practical Guide to Growing Mushrooms at Home, is a staple for anyone interested in growing their own medicine.
I have personal experience with this combination, which, in conjunction with some higher doses of magic mushrooms and other psychedelics, has changed my life for the better.
For a long time I was an addict, and I was in deep. I was hooked on cocaine for over a decade, which made me chain smoke. I spent a long time dependent on opiates and benzodiazepines. Psychedelics changed all that. It didn’t all happen at once and to be honest it’s still an ongoing battle to avoid triggers, but after discovering DMT and then having some powerful mushroom experiences, things began to change.
It helped that they have what I would describe as an ‘enchanted garden’ and are also some of the coolest DJs I know, so had a perfect playlist for a trip. I had an amazing experience, and got my first taste of that feeling of oneness I had read about. It was different to acid or DMT, it felt natural. Sitting on the grass watching the sunset and watching the stars come out was magical. My partner was with me too, and she had an amazing spiritual experience alongside me. This power of this mutual experience formed a lasting bond between us all.
I was also amazed at how good I felt afterwards. I wasn’t drained like after an LSD trip. Quite the opposite in fact. I felt revitalised. This sent me on a journey that led me to cultivate my own Golden Teachers (a strain of cubensis) and experiment heavily for the next few years with various doses and settings. When I found myself tempted back into the chaos my life had been before, I learned about microdosing and used the Stamets Stack to maintain balance in my life. These days I’m in far better control of my impulses and still occasionally take a course of micros when I’m feeling low or just want to be more creative or productive.
The transformative power of magic mushrooms cannot be denied, and the fact that major international research institutions are getting on board, only solidifies what psychonauts and mycologists have known for a long time. In 2021, Johns Hopkins was awarded the first federal grant in 50 years to investigate the therapeutic effects of a classic psychedelic – psilocybin. This represents a huge breakthrough in terms of mainstream thinking on the subject of these compounds. It is my hope that in the coming years, doctors all over the world will be prescribing mushrooms to people suffering from the plethora of mental illnesses that are currently plaguing humanity. Perhaps the answer to many of the problems seemingly ingrained into the modern human condition have been hiding in our forests all along, waiting patiently to be rediscovered.
Dev | Community Blogger at Chemical Collective
Dev is one of our community bloggers here at Chemical Collective. If you’re interested in joining our blogging team and getting paid to write about subjects you’re passionate about, please reach out to Matt via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
PART TWO of a guide for the safe use of psychedelics
PART ONE of a guide for the safe use of psychedelics
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Je viens de lire ce passage fortement intérréssant et je me demande a 61 ans si je peut me lancer dans cette perspective .
Hey Madjid. It’s never too late to start opening your mind to new experiences. Good luck!
Shrooms are the best
They’re pretty magical 😉
shrooms are amazing
Can’t argue with that!
Blog Straordinario 🙏👁️
Thanks my friend 🙂