Major Moments in the History of Magic MushroomsThere are more than seven genera of psychedelic mushrooms worldwide, and they grow naturally in nearly every region on the globe. As a result, the history of psychedelic mushrooms dates back thousands of years. In this post, we'll detail some significant events in the history of magic mushrooms. It's by no means an exhaustive deep dive, but it will give you some perspective on the major moments that shaped the history of psilocybin.
The History of Psilocybin Mushrooms
Ancient cultures utilized magic mushrooms in rituals and as a spiritual tool. However, written records mentioning magic mushrooms only begin to emerge in the 1600s. While psilocybin was viewed then with distrust and fear, magic mushrooms have piqued the interest of the religious and medical scholars in more recent times.
Psilocybin Mushrooms in Ancient Times
The relationship between humans and magic mushrooms dates back thousands of years. Some cave paintings from Europe may depict psilocybin mushrooms as early as 6,000 years ago, and some depictions in Africa date as far back as 9,000 years ago. However, psychedelic fungi planted their roots deepest in ancient cultures on the other side of the globe.
Stone carvings from archaeological sites in Central and South America depict humans and mushrooms interacting with one another. The connections between these statues and psychedelic mushrooms might seem tenuous alone. However, later written records appear to corroborate the interpretation of these carvings as referring to ancient psychedelic mushrooms.
Magic Mushrooms in the Age of Discovery
The 17th century account of a Spanish missionary named Bernardino de Sahagun appears to be the first written record of magic mushrooms in western sources. Sahagun was in the second wave of Catholic priests to reach the Americas arriving in what’s now Mexico in the 1640s. Upon his arrival, he began cataloguing the cultural and religious practices of the region’s native people.
Sahagun reported that the people indigenous to present-day Mexico ate psilocybin mushrooms with honey and chocolate for religious experiences. These mushrooms reportedly triggered visions and intense emotions in those who took it. After the experiences ended, those who had taken the mushrooms would discuss them with one another. Sahagun wasn’t a fan of magic mushrooms and believed indigenous people used them to speak with devils.
While Sahagun didn’t realize it at the time, the effects he was describing were caused by the psychedelic properties of psilocybin. His account is the first written record of psychedelic mushrooms in western sources. Subsequent Spaniards would go on to catalogue several different strains of magic mushrooms in what is now Mexico.
As the Spanish conquered Central and South America, they violently suppressed the spiritual beliefs of the people indigenous to that region. In its place, they forcibly converted the region’s native population to Catholicism. They didn’t manage to entirely remove psilocybin mushrooms’ influence on the region, though. Instead, they forced it underground.
First Appearance of Magic Mushrooms in English-Language Sources
It took more than 100 years after Sahagun’s account for evidence of magic mushrooms to appear in English-language sources. The first time any English written source mentions psychedelic mushrooms was in 1799 when doctor Everard Brande recounted his patient’s experience with an unknown type of agaric mushroom to a local medical journal. This account is also one of the first recorded psilocybin “trip reports” in history.
The doctor’s patient, a farmer, had collected an unknown species of mushroom while forging near his home. Without realizing the mushroom possessed any psychedelic effects the farmer made a stew with it and served it to his family. The account describes an experience that bears a striking resemblance to modern psilocybin trips. Brande describes how the farmer’s son was “attacked with fits of laughter” and that his “pupils dilated nearly to the circumference of his cornea,” two classic effects of magic mushroom trips.
Modern Society’s First Taste of Magic Mushrooms
The first Americans of European descent who took part in an indigenous magic mushroom ceremony were mycologists Valentina Wasson and R. Gordon Wasson. They wrote an article detailing their experiences in the May 13th, 1957 edition of Life magazine. The next year, Swiss chemist Albert Hoffman first identified psilocybin as the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, two decades after he discovered LSD in 1938.
The Wasson’s article in Life drew the interest of Timothy Leary, a psychologist and professor at Harvard. Leary took a trip to Mexico, and participated in a similar ceremony in 1960. Upon his return to Harvard, he founded the Harvard Psilocybin Project to research the effects of psilocybin on humans. Leary would go on to become an important figure in 1960s counterculture and an outspoken psychedelic advocate.
Modern Society’s First Taste of Magic Mushrooms
Today, magic mushrooms are well-known for their psychedelic and spiritual properties. There’s also growing acceptance of these fungi across society. Magic mushrooms are garnering attention as possible therapy aids for certain psychological issues like PTSD. Major medical institutions, notably Johns Hopkins University, have brought psilocybin medical research into the mainstream. Researchers at Hopkins are currently investigating possible therapeutic applications for psilocybin to help patients quit smoking, beat depression, and overcome eating disorders like anorexia.
Additionally, psilocybin microdosing is becoming widespread. This practice involves a user taking a low enough dose of psilocybin that they don’t trip, but instead feel elevated mood and creativity. Workers in the tech and medical fields utilize microdosing to help them think outside the box and find creative solutions to the problems they face at work.
Finding Magic Mushrooms
Knowing the history of magic mushrooms is only part of understanding these intriguing fungi. To truly appreciate the experience that magic mushrooms can provide, you need to try them yourself. It’s possible to grow your own – but that takes significant time, expertise, and effort.
Instead, consider buying magic mushrooms online. At BudStars, we don’t just sell cannabis. We also maintain an inventory of premium psilocybin products. With more than six strains of dried magic mushrooms and specialized stress relief and brain booster supplements, we have something for both the fledgling psychonaut and psilocybin aficionado. To learn more, check out our full listing of psilocybin products at our online store.