John W. Allen
© 2002 by John W. Allen
polish transl. http://www.psilosophy.info/khdaiumtazcsaobncearceag
original source: https://www.erowid.org/library/books_online/mushroom_pioneers/mushroom_pioneers2.shtml
Books by John W. Allen
Table of Contents:
This online publication of John W. Allen's book Mushroom Pioneers was HTMLed by Erowid and John Allen. Very small edits have been made to the text of the book, but largely the text remains as it was published as a CDROM by John Allen in 2002. The images have been edited for online viewing. Allen expanded the book "Mushroom Pioneers" after its first print publication in 2000. The current version of the book incorporates two other booklets published by John Allen in 1999 and 2000 about R. Gordon Wasson and Maria Sabina, respectively.
The HTML and editing by Erowid was conducted in November and December 2006 with permission of and in collaboration with John Allen. Typos and corrections will be corrected in the document and are invited from visitors. Errors and inaccuracies in the data in the text will need to be reviewed by the author before changes can be made to the document. Please submit any problems with this document to email@example.com.
Forward by David Tatelman
1.) "Use of psilocybian mushrooms constituted the fourth great wave of entheogenic awareness and distribution (after iffy plants like the Daturas, along with marijuana; the wave created by peyote and mescaline; and then that resulting exfoliation of LSD throughout a significant population in the 1960's and beyond).
"These wondrous mushrooms are notable in that they, a) are easily identifiable, b) spring up quite naturally across many segments of both the Old and New Worlds, and c) are gentle in action (in contrast to the 'coercive' nature of other major psychedelics, which tend to emphasize 'ego-death,' for instance).
"Here John W. Allen describes the rather long and strangely convoluted incursion of mind-altering mushrooms via historical vignettes, by snapshots of the principle players, and by the most extensive annotated bibliography of relevant papers and books ... that brings this entire field of knowledge into the 21st century.
"J. W., mycologist extraordinaire, I salute you!"
- Peter Stafford, author of The Psychedelic Encyclopedia, Psychedelic Baby Reaches Puberty and Magic Grams.
2.) "Mushroom Pioneers is a fascinating account of several individuals who were pivotal in the investigation of psychotropic mushrooms and the introduction of these phenomena into Western medicine and science. John W. Allen has documented an important historical development in this book, and provides his readers with a litany of men and women who rescued an ancient tradition from obscurity."
- Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Saybrook Graduate School; co-editor Varieties of Anomalous Experience.
3.) "John W. Allen, the mushroom man, is our celestial tour guide in a school without walls. Rogue scholar, adventurer and gentleman forager, his works surrounding psychedelic mushrooms are 'must reads'. Allen's books are essential and always a treat."
- Thomas Lyttle, editor "Psychedelic Monographs and Essays," and "Psychedelics Reimagined."
by David Tatelman
I first met John Allen when he published Magic Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest in 1976. I was utterly surprised when his book, written by hand, then published and printed by him on an AB Dick Offset Press, did as well as my own slick new book, Magikal Mushroom Handbook. Readers will appreciate his authentic knowledge of the local mushroom scene, not to mention how he personally sold copies, sometimes by leading hunts to his own private spots.
People in the field of mushrooms are very jealous of their turf. Professional mycologists feel superior to amateur mycologists. Those who make little or no money look with disdain at those who have been successful at selling books or products about mushrooms. John Allen has managed to make friends with just about everybody, the icons, the professors, and the amateurs, by proving that he truly loves mushrooms and knows where to find them perhaps better than anybody. Mycologists and authors alike have ended up working with John and acknowledging his authority in the field.
He has found mushrooms directly across from my office, and in places as far away as Thailand, India, Cambodia, Malaysia and Australia. If there is a mushroom to be found, John Allen can find it. He even has discovered a new species which now bares his name, which is more than I can say.
John has been an invaluable historian for the entire mushroom movement. He has self-published a whole library of books about the mushroom world, documenting our humble history.
It is only fitting that John would be the one to write a book about the history of those involved in the movement. I know he doesn't always appreciate being called that, but to me he will always be Mushroom John!
And I mean that as a mark of respect for all he has done for the field of mycology.
I first became interested in hallucinogenic mushrooms during the early fall of 1972. At that time, the literature on the subject was scant and mostly unavailable to the general public. Those who were aware of the sacred mushrooms did not share their knowledge and even that knowledge was confined to those mushroom species which grew in Mexico and the southeastern gulf states. Only a few knew of their existence outside of Mesoamerica. There was a driving force within me. I could hear the mushrooms calling out my name, and in my own way I called out to them. I needed something new in my life so eventually, out of desperation, I went to the University of Washington's library and inquired about these fungi.
Reference clerks at the Suzallo library were ignorant of the matter. Simply put, they did not know anything whatsoever about the sacred fungi of Mexico. What was I to do? I next met with Dr. Daniel Stuntz, head of the University of Washington's mycology department. Dr. Stuntz steered me in the right direction by referring me to an article by R. Gordon Wasson which had appeared in the 13 May 1957 issue of Life magazine. This article described Dr. Wasson's research and rediscovery of how the Mazatec Indians in Oaxaca, México, used certain mushrooms in shamanic ceremonies. He also gave me references to Rolf Singer and Alexander H. Smith's pair of articles in Mycologia vol. 50, which told of the traditional Mesoamérican use of the sacred mushrooms and also provided a key to several species of entheogenic mushrooms which were common in the Pacific Northwestern United States. These articles in turn led me to a pioneering ethnobotanical paper written by Richard Evans Schultes in the late 1930s.
This piqued my interest inordinately, hence I proceeded to look up several of these rare articles. However, when I began my research I found that several of the articles to which I had been referred by the late Dr. Stuntz were either missing from the bound library copies of the journals or had at least had the photographs of the mushrooms excised. Even the 1957 Life magazine article by R. Gordon Wasson was missing pictures from the copy which I found on the shelves at the University of Washington's library. Eventually I was able to purchase a copy from a used bookstore, which led me in time to find other publications about the mushrooms. Thus began my quest and life-long-study of the sacred fungi.
In the fall of 1977, I was most fortunate to attend the 2nd International Conference on Hallucinogenic Mushrooms at Ft. Worden near Port Townsend, Washington. It was at this conference that began my symbiotic relationship with these mushrooms. This new field of endeavor opened up many new avenues of research into subjects in which I had henceforth not shown the slightest interest.
As my knowledge began to grow, my studies came to encompass various and sundry fields spaced shelves apart or interspersed at intervals between shelves, in separate buildings, and even in numerous libraries. I digested every thing I could read related to the various fields tangential to the study of sacred fungi.
This also was the beginning of my relationship with the many scholars who had brought to the world's attention the existence of the mushrooms. Eventually, I would come to call some of these intrepid psilophores my friends. Among this first wave I include: Richard Evans Schultes (the greatest ethnobotanist of this century), R. Gordon Wasson (the founder of ethnomycology), Albert Hofmann (the discoverer of LSD), Andrew Weil (who first reported on the ludible use of psychoactive mushrooms), mycologists Gastón Guzmán (the Mexican authority on the taxonomy of these hallucinogenic mushrooms), Rolf Singer, Alexander H. Smith, Roy Watling, and others. This first wave might include the late Timothy Leary, György Miklos-Ola'h, and the late French mycologist Roger Heim.
The second wave consisted of a younger generation which emerged from the psychedelic sixties and included ethnopharmacognost Jonathan Ott, mushroom-cultivator Paul Stamets, mycophiles such as Gary Lincoff, Steven H. Pollock, Gary Menser, Bob Harris, Peter Stafford and publisher David Tatelman of Homestead Book Company (distributor of mushroom books and growing kits).
The third wave consists of the same generation who somewhat later embarked on this path, and includes such prominent researches as Jochen Gartz, Giorgio Samorini, Antonio Bianchi, Francesco Festi, Tjakko Stijve, Mark D. Merlin, Christian Rätsch, Roger Liggenstorfer, Dennis and Terence McKenna, Arno Adelaars, Karl L. R. Jansen, Hans van den Hurk, and others too numerous to mention (the many chemists, psychologists, shamanic healers, philosophers and poets). Last but not least, in the fullness of time, I now include myself in this third wave.
Psychoactive fungi of the genera Psilocybe and possibly Panaeolus have been traditionally used for over 3000 years. The use of these interesting fungi in magico-religious ceremonies as divinatory sacraments among several tribes belonging to the Nahua speaking Indians of Mesoamerica is well documented (Wasson & Wasson, 1957 186; Schultes, 1939 103, 1940 104).
These Nahua-speakers were the ancestors of the once mighty Olmecs, Toltecs, and Aztecs. Additionally, the Mayan cultures of Central America may also have employed the mushroom entheogens ceremoniously. The indigenous native inhabitants of Mesoamerica currently employ several entheogenic mushrooms for the purpose of healing and curing through divination via magico-religious veladas.
Jim Jacobs, a renowned investigator of the sacred Mexican "magic mushrooms" claims that "their use in a magico-religious ceremony is correct, but that their use is much broader" then one could possibly imagine.
We would know little or nothing of these indigenous peoples' use of the mushrooms, were it not for Doña María Sabina, a Mazatec curandera who shared her secrets with R. Gordon Wasson and photographer Alan Richardson and made it possible for all of us to experience her ecstatic and sacred knowledge. What led to these discoveries will now be presented below.
Many of the early Spanish chroniclers (which included naturalists, botanists and members of the clergy) sailed from far across the Atlantic. They may or may not have been the first to explore this brave new world of ours, but they are the first to have recorded the history of their discoveries. They traveled here under the fear of God, leaving behind them the terrors of the dark middle ages, and leaving behind them a world they were just learning to crawl out from under.
More than 500 years have passed since España triumphed over 700 years of Moorish rule. In 1469, 17-year-old Ferdinand V, ruler of the kingdom of Aragon met and married 18 year-old Isabella I, queen of Castile and Leon. This was an important step in making España a single kingdom. They had fought the Moors, the Mohammedan invaders who had ruled much of España for seven hundred years. In 1492, after more than twenty years of fighting, Ferdinand and Isabella conquered the city of Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in what is now Spain (Nat. Geo. Mag.)81. It was also, at this point in their history, that Spain began to expel most Jews from their country, forcing several hundred thousand Jews to migrate to other countries, except for those who converted to Christianity.
After the war with the Moors was over, Ferdinand and Isabella gave court to a navigator, who was also a map-maker as well, a man who claimed to know the "secrets of the winds." This man was Christopher Columbus, who had dreamed of sailing west for more than twenty years. At first, Columbus tried to get help from the King of Portugal, but failed. Then in 1485 he turned to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, who at that time were fighting to drive out the Moors from their country, so Columbus had to wait.
Finally his orders arrived, given to him by Ferdinand and Isabella: the royal degree directing him for his first voyage. These documents claimed that Columbus would be sailing to "certain islands in the sea" which he knew existed. Interestingly, Columbus had once sailed to Scandinavia and may have even heard stories about the travels of Leif Ericsson, thus presenting him with an incentive for finding shorter sailing routes to the Indies.
After their defeat in Grenada, the Mohammedan Arabs had shut off all of the eastward land routes to Asia. Portugal's explorers had not yet completed their passage around Africa, so new sailing routes were often discussed by the merchants yet no one was enthusiastic about attempting to find newer sailing routes to increase the trade of the country.
The purpose of Columbus' voyage and subsequent ventures across the Atlantic was to increase the resources of Spain with new avenues of commerce and trade. Eventually, they accidentally stumbled upon this brave new world, landing first at what is now San Salvador and later setting up the first colony in Haiti. Eventually Columbus explored most of the South American Coast, and Central America as far west as Panama.
In 1519, the Spanish conqueror Hernando Cortez landed with his men in Mexico and set up a new town, Vera Cruz, and then marched toward the capital city. Within two years Cortez had conquered the country (Nat. Geo. Mag.)81. Cortez also began the task of ordering his clergy to convert the Indians into Christians and stopped them from worshipping demonic idols and from performing their rituals which sacrificed human beings to the gods. While these human sacrifices must have seemed very cruel to the invading Europeans, it would be more reasonable to assume that Cortez turned out to be more cruel in his conquest of the native peoples and the way he conducted his conquest than what he was trying to destroy or change. Not only did Cortez destroy many of the Aztec temples but he also brutally put down all resistance. At the time of the conquest it was believed that there were more than 100,000 Aztecs who lived in the capital and over six million Indians living throughout Mexico.
Imagine the fear, which the native population held towards their conquerors. Here was an enemy who had greater powers than their mighty Gods. Weapons of mass destruction, more powerful than their spears and arrows. Muskets, rifles, cannons. Armored suits, mighty vessels which breached the sanctity of their waters.
Once the conquest had begun the invaders immediately began to build their churches, the base core of their spiritual imaginations. The many treasures they collected and cataloged were sent back to their homeland. They carried these precious cargoes to Spain in the name of God and King. Interestingly, many treasure vessels sank after their embarkation mainly because their precious vessels were too heavily laden with treasure. Ironically it was surely their greed which caused their ships to sink (remember that these were seasoned seamen. They were definitely good at their skills and they knew how to sail their ships). Furthermore the Spanish invaders were also seeking such treasures as the Coronado's "Seven Cities of Cibola" (the lost city of gold or "El Dorado" as it later became known), the "fountain of youth" and even aphrodisiacs to seduce young women.
During this period of conquest, they proceeded to rape the land of its many resources and strip away the native peoples of their culture, heritage and religion. Soon they thus began their indoctrination of their way of life into that of the native population. This was achieved largely through the fear of death; thus the conquerors began to civilize the heathens and converted many Aztecs to Christianity.
An interesting observation which has not before been under discussion is about one of the rewards given to all Indians who converted to Christianity. This meant that if any Indian was attacked, beaten on or in danger, it was the honored duty of the soldier or conquistador, all loyal to the King of Spain, to defend, with his life, any Indian who was of the same faith. We must not forget that the Moors were repelled and expelled from España; so that the Catholic church could exist. In fact, one of the titles of Ferdinand, King of España, was "Protector of the Faith" or "Keeper of the Faith," Thus the reason for the soldier to defend a Christian Indians life.
In contrast to this above noted observation, in the American colonies the English missionary breakaway Protestant laymen imposed their harsh religions doctrines and dogma on the native populations whom they encountered and were able to convert only small populations of the native inhabitants into their religions. However, English and European attitudes towards people of a different skin color were obvious (India is an example) and the Indians who became christianized were probably not even allowed to sit at the same table with their white brothers even though they were of the same faith.
Eventually, the conquerors had succeeded in their endeavor to devour the land they now lay claim to. Now the botanists and clergy began to initiate the long and somewhat tedious task of cataloging and recording on paper all that they had discovered in the new world.
During the initial conquest of Nueva España from the Caribbean throughout Central America to México, the use of inebriating intoxicants (including fungi) was a dominating factor in the culture and peoples of the Aztec empire. These sacraments were frowned upon by the Spanish invaders, who observed the Aztec priests and their followers being served the sacred fungi at festivals and coronations. It should be pointed out that the Spanish were very mycophobic and they were repulsed by the mere mention of any type of mushroom. They also deplored the pagan like rituals and the priests who employed mushrooms and other magical herb/drug plants as divinatory substances. They wrote in their histories that teonanácatl (Teunamacatlth), a term used by the Nahuatl speaking Aztec priests in describing the sacred mushrooms may have implied "God's Flesh or Flesh of the Gods." However, many historians wrote of the mushrooms in a negative view. For example: one author described the mushrooms as "Hongol demonico ydolo" (for more terms and names of the sacred mushrooms, see Allen, 1997c 5). According to Wasson (1980 174), "teo" meant awesome or wondrous and "nanacatl" implied mushroom or even meat.
Teonanácatl or "magic mushroom" was one of the most important of the many narcotic drug/herb plants described in several codices written after the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th century. The mushrooms were often administered among the common people, merchants, visiting dignitaries; and even the wealthy were known to have consumed them.
Other plants were also employed in the treatment of different ailments, divination's and for healing or curing and were also used during different seasons. Additionally, several other minor plants were also employed when the more popular remedies were not available.
Many plants used in these magico religious ceremonies more than 400 years ago by the Aztecs and as much as 2000 years earlier by their ancestors the Olmecs and Toltecs, and quite possibly the Mayan people, are still in use today. These include peyote (mescaline), ololiuhqui-tlitlitzin (morning glory seeds = ergine alkaloids), Salvia divinorum ("Leaves of the Shepherdess" a member of the mint family), Datura (jimsom weed, also known as torna loca, toloache or tolatzin), mescal beans (cytisine), puffballs (Lycoperdon mixtecorum) or (Lycoperdon marginatum). The former is referred to as "gi-i-wa" and means "fungus of the first quality" and the latter implies "fungus of the second quality." It has been reported that they cause auditory hallucinations. Use of these alleged puffball inebrients occurs primarily among the Mixtec shamans.
Second only to peyote are the sacred mushrooms referred to by the Aztecs as teonanácatl. The majority of the sacred mushrooms of Mesoamerica belong to the genus Psilocybe, and a few quite possibly belong to the genera Panaeolus and Conocybe.
Although indigenous use of many psychotropic plants in Mesoamerica is not uncommon today, the ritualistic or ceremonial use of the sacred mushrooms and other drug/herb plants can be traced back to approximately 1000 BC.
The numerous descriptions recorded by the clergy and historians concerning the effects of these drug/herb plants and their uses among the Aztec people are molded in fear and plastered in bigotry and false heresy. The effects of the mushrooms on those who had experienced them were often reported in a negative vein, most probably by the botanists and historians who were eager to appease their masters back in Spain. The Spanish historians often described the effects of these plants on native peoples as leaving their users in uncontrollable fits, claiming that the native people would even commit violent acts towards themselves and each other. Many would fall into rages as if in a stupor. These descriptions could very well describe an alcoholic syndrome in contemporary society.
The Spanish persecuted, often murderously, those who did not adhere to the catholic ways. It was because of this persecution which caused the native population to hide the use of these mushrooms from their Spanish peers. Thus word of the sacred remained a secret to most of the west until R. Gordon Wasson found the Oaxacan Shamaness María Sabina and wrote of his rediscovery regarding the existence of these mushrooms which are still considered sacred by indigenous peoples living in Certain regions of Mesoamerica (Wasson, 1957 140; Wasson and Wasson, 1958 187; see also Allen, 1997a 3, 1997b 4). The legend of that discovery is now retold here one more time so that all may learn the tale and tell it to others.
This volume of Ethnomycological Journals Sacred Mushroom Studies Volume VII presents an overview of R. Gordon Wasson's discoveries, four short biographies of the original pioneers who divulged the mysteries of the mushrooms, and their interrelationship with some of the many collaborators who forged new trails in these uncharted domains, presenting new insights into humankind's relationship with sacred mushrooms of the gods. Furthermore, there are many short biographies devoted to many of those brave psilophores who helped paved the way to the magical world of the wondrous mushrooms. Although the present study lists works devoted to psilocybian mushrooms, many of their authors are also prominent researchers and investigators of other kinds of visionary or psychoptic organisias. I have also included in this volume, revised versions of both volume I and II of my series Ethnomycologial Journals Sacred Mushroom Studies, María Sabina: Saint Mother of the Sacred Mushrooms, and Wasson's First Voyage: the Rediscovery of Entheogenic Mushrooms.
As noted in Volume IV of this series, the fear of persecution on the part of the Spanish conquistadores among those who used the sacred mushrooms and other entheogens for healing ceremonies became widespread throughout Mesoamérica. Naturally, the shamans who hid from the Spanish the special powers they derived from the sacred mushrooms concealed this use from public scrutiny, a situation which continues today in the form of (underground) psychedelic therapy in the United States and Europe.
Today in México, only a handful of remote montane tribes still practice the customs and rituals of what once must have been a splendid and powerful system of worship and empirical magic. So utterly complete was the neglect and ignorance in our western world of the ethnobiological aspects of Aztec and other Mexican shamanism, that in 1915, William E. Safford, a reputable and distinguished USA botanist who was than a sort of expert on the subject of many Native American psychotropic plants, claimed that the visionary mushrooms as described in the Spanish histories did not in fact exist and that the Mesoamérican Indians had never used such, whether before, during, or after the conquest. Disdaining the graphic testimony of several Spanish chroniclers, Safford dismissed the well-documented evidence of the chroniclers, mostly clerics, who described as mushroomic, the effects the mushrooms allegedly had upon those who consumed them. There is no evidence any of the Spaniards deigned to sample the psychoptic mushrooms.
Safford (1915)99 presented a botanical society the results of his study of an Aztec sacred inebriant referred to in a few historical sources as teonanácatl which means "wondrous mushroom." He claimed that the so-called wondrous mushrooms were in fact dried peyote buttons and that no mushrooms had been used as inebrients by the native peoples of Mesoamérica. Safford's colleagues displayed little interest when he claimed that the word teonanácatl simply meant peyote. In his paper, he reproduced a photograph of dried peyote buttons. These could easily have been mistaken for dried mushroom-caps, which is what they vaguely resembled to the untrained eye. Safford relied on the fact that "three centuries have failed to reveal that an endemic fungus is being used as an intoxicant in Mexico. Nor is such a fungus mentioned either in works on mycology or pharmacology, yet the belief prevails even now that there is a narcotic Mexican fungus."
According to Safford, the early Spanish descriptions of numerous medicinal plants from Mesoamérica led him to believe that the Aztec entheogen ololiuhqui was either the seed of Datura or of a morning-glory species, but he further denied that either plant provoked visionary effects (for a more detailed description of the properties of the sacred morning glory seeds, see Albert Hofmann's biography, "LSD: My Problem Child" 38).
As late as 1921, Safford still held firm to his theory by again denying the existence of the sacred mushrooms, claiming that they were simply dried peyote buttons. Safford (1923)100 also noted: "Peyote has been called a habit-forming drug, and some writers have likened it to hashish, or Indian Hemp, the latter which had been introduced into the country of México and our southwest under the name of Marijuana, is a most dangerous drug. Introduced clandestinely into prisons, it has of course, been the cause of riots. Its use is now forbidden in México by the government."
It should be obvious to anyone who reads the above letter by Safford that he was a confirmed pharmacophilac and thanks to his prominence the mushrooms continued to be obscured from the world until the late 1930's when they were once again brought to the attention of the scientific community.
In the second decade of this century, Austrian Blas Pablo Reko(1919)93, a physician with an interest in ethnobotany, learned that some groups of Indians living in the Mexican state of Oaxaca were still using psychoptic mushrooms in secret ceremonies perhaps involving ancient rites. These rites were performed apparently for the purpose of divinatory healing. Reko published his findings in a journal entitled El México Antiguo.
Reko subsequently discussed this discovery with his colleagues, who paid little attention to his mushroomic theories and showed no interest in pursuing this information on the supposititious use of inebriating mushrooms by the Indians of Mesoamérica. Reko wrote that teonanácatl was "Div. géneros de hongos, especialmente un hongo negro que crece sobre estiércol y produce efectos narcóticos." ["Various genera of mushrooms, especially a black mushroom that grows on dung and produces psychotropic effects"].
Reko (1923)94 later wrote to Dr. J. N. Rose of the United States National Herbarium that "I see in your description of Lophorphora (peyote) that Dr. Safford believes this plant to be the 'teonanácatl' of Sahagún which is surely wrong. It is actually as Sahagún states, a fungus which grows on dung heaps and which is still used under the same old name by the Indians of the Sierra Juarez in Oaxaca in their religious feasts." Safford's last defender, Huntington Cairns (1929)9, became the last person to expound the Safford theory.
B. P. Reko's cousin, Victor A. Reko (1928)95, published the first objection to Safford's claims. It appeared in a book written years later in 1936. Below is an excerpt describing the effects of the mushrooms taken from that book entitled Magische Gifte: Rausche und Betäubungsmittel der Neuen Welt ("Magical Poisons: inebrients and Narcotics of the New World"):
"The nanacates are poisonous mushrooms which have nothing to do with peyote. It is known from olden times that their use induces intoxication, states of ecstasy and mental aberrations, but, notwithstanding the dangers attendant upon their use, people everywhere they grow take advantage of their intoxicating properties up to the present time."
In 1936, an Austrian engineer, Roberto J. Weitlaner, who was also an avid ethnobotanist, spent four days in Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca, where he was engaged in linguistic investigations. Weitlaner had learned of the existence of the sacred mushrooms from a Mazatec merchant named José Dorantes. Dorantes had described to Weitlaner his reactions after eating three of the mushrooms which were given to him during a divinatory healing (Johnson, 1940)46. It was Weitlaner who first realized that these sacred mushrooms were most likely the teonanácatl described in the chronicles of the Spanish clerics. During this period, several mushroom specimens were collected and forwarded to Blas Pablo Reko. Reko in turn sent the specimens to Harvard University for botanical identification. However, the specimens spoiled before they arrived, thus further delaying their identification and proof of their existence to the scientific community.
In 1936, Weitlaner became the first white man in modern times to observe an actual sacred mushroom ceremony. Two years later, in 1938, his daughter Irmgard, her fiancé Jean Basset Johnson and two friends (Louise Lacaud and Bernard Bevan) continued the investigations begun by Weitlaner. These intrepid investigators were not only able to gather a considerable amount of data on Mazatec shamanism and the use of the sacred mushrooms, but in the process became the first westerners to witness a Mesoamérica shamanic mushroom ceremony. The velada was held in a hut in the tiny montane village of Huautla de Jiménez. Johnson (1939a)46 published two startling papers regarding his observations on Mazatec "witchcraft." Furthermore, while in Oaxaca, these investigators met Dr. Richard Evans Schultes and Dr. Blas Pablo Reko who were also in Huautla collecting ethnomycological data and mushroom specimens.
While Johnson referred to these ceremonies as examples of "witchcraft", it should be noted that ethnobotanist William Emboden (1979)16 mentioned that certain modern-day "witches" use a species of Panaeolus mushroom as one of many inebrients in their rituals. Emboden said that the fungus used by a cult of contemporary witches living in Portugal was identified by Roger Heim as Panaeolus papilionaceus which may or may not be a synonym for Panaeolus subbalteatus or possibly Copelandia cyanescens.
The collecting of teonanácatl mushrooms took place when a young Harvard botanist, Richard Evans Schultes, made a trip to Huautla de Jiménez with Blas Pablo Reko (Schultes, Pers. Comm. 1989)109 and collected several specimens of mushrooms which were suspected of being used in "magico-religious ceremonies." After sun-drying several specimens of these mushrooms, they mailed these samples to Harvard University for identification.
Mushrooms collected by Schultes (1939 103, 1940 104, 1978 106) and Schultes and Reko, were later identified asStropharia cubensis Earle, Psilocybe caerulescens Heim and some specimens of Psilocybe mexicana Heim which were mixed and confused by the presence of another mushroom identified as Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus. After these mushrooms were deposited in the herbarium at Harvard, confusion surrounded their botanical identification and their equivalence with the sacred mushroom of the Aztecs until the early 1950's (these discoveries will be discussed in Chapter Three).
Richard Evans Schultes is a most remarkable man. He is one of the pioneers involved in identification of New World shamanic plants, especially those from Mesoamérica and the Amazonia of Colombia in South America. His research into psychoptic plants is undoubtedly the most extensive ever undertaken by any botanical scientist.
Richard Evans Schultes, Jeffrey Professor of Biology and Director of the Botanical Museum of Harvard University (Emeritus), is a native Bostonian. Not merely a botanical explorer, he is a noted ethnobotanist and conservationist. Among his numerous awards are the Cross of Boyacá, Colombia's highest honor, and the annual Gold Medal of the World Wildlife Fund, presented by H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh; in 1987, he received the prestigious Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement.
His crowning achievement however, was the receipt of botany's Nobel Prize - the Gold Medal of the Linnean Society at London in 1992. Schultes is also on the exclusive list of 50 "Foreign Members" of that in itself exclusive society.
His explorations and botanical identification of thousands of plants from Amazonia is as immense as it is eclectic. During his fourteen years in the Amazon, Schultes had collected more than 24,000 plants new to science of which over 80 are entheogenic (Davis, 1996)12. He has also written more than two dozen books and over 100 scientific articles on his discoveries. He is, moreover the only living ethnobotanist to have more than two million acres of land named in his honor; Sector Schultes, part of an Amazonian ecological preserve formally designated in 1986 by the Colombian government.
The field of ethnobotany was Schultes' framework throughout his life. His field work in Oaxaca, México in 1938 and 1939 was somewhat limited due to the Second World War. However, he made history by pioneering the study of shamanic mushrooms of the Mazatec Indians.
Richard Evans Schultes was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 12, 1915. When he was about six years old, Schultes developed an illness which caused him severe stomach problems. During this period, his father and mother would read to him and one book which caught Schultes' attention was Richard Spruce's "Notes of a Botanist on the Amazon and Andes." This was young Schultes' introduction to the world of botany.
As a young child, Richard once read a floral guide given to him by an uncle and after studying it, would collect leaves to identify and press. It seems that this helped the young collector develop what some people refer to as "the taxonomic eye."
In 1936, Schultes was just another premedical undergraduate student at Harvard University and one of his classes was Biology 104. While attending a course on "Plants and Human Affairs", Schultes was assigned to read a book by Heinrich Klüver48 entitled "Mescal: The Divine Plant and its Psychological Effects." Unbeknownst to Schultes, this assignment was destined to change the course of his entire life.
Previously unaware of peyote, Schultes soon began to develop a burning desire to experience mescaline firsthand. Schultes met with his professor, Oake Ames, and soon found himself with funding (most of which came directly from the pocket of his mentor Ames). Eventually Schultes met Weston LaBarre, a young student from Duke University in North Carolina who also shared an interest in peyote (LaBarre went on to become an anthropology professor and the author of The Peyote Cult, the definitive book on the peyote religion and The Ghost Dance: The Origins of Religion).
Together, Schultes and LaBarre traveled to Oklahoma where both participated in a Native American Church peyote-ceremony with the Kiowa Indians. There Schultes consumed the sacred cactus on which he then wrote his senior honors thesis.
Schultes soon decided that economic botany was the study he would pursue, so he completed his graduate work on the medicinal plants of Oaxaca, México. Schultes interest in Oaxacan plants came from having read some of the selected writings of the 16th and 17th century Spanish friars and historians who mentioned the existence of innumerable medicinal plants, some of a psychoactive nature, including the morning-glory seeds known as ololiuhqui.
Not only did Schultes help rediscover the modern use of the ololiuhqui seeds among the Mazatec Indians, but along with Blas Pablo Reko also collected specimens of the putative sacred mushrooms known as teonanácatl - of which Safford had only just denied the existence (Schultes, Pers. Comm. 1989)109.
As noted previously, the first mushrooms collected by Schultes and Reko fit the botanical description of Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus. In his 1939 and 1940 papers on the identification of the visionary Nahua mushroom, Schultes alleged that the mushrooms mentioned by the Spanish chroniclers probably belonged to the genus Panaeolus. It was important for these scientists to collect and identify the species they believed were the Aztec teonanácatl, yet they couldn't find anyone to perform for them a shamanic mushroom ceremony such as they suspected continued being held in secret. According to Schultes (1969)105, "so few mushrooms were gathered, because of the unusually dry season, that it was not possible for me to ingest them experimentally; all were needed as voucher herbarium specimens."
Another mushroom Schultes collected among the Sierra Mazateca was known by the Mazatec Indians as kee-sho. This mushroom at the time was incorrectly identified by Rolf Singer asStropharia cubensis Earle. Schultes later collected specimens of Stropharia cubensis from dung after heavy rainfalls.
It was later determined that Schultes' identification of the mushroom known as kee-sho actually fit the taxonomic description of Psilocybe caerulescens var. mazatecorum Heim, a mushroom employed by Mazatec shamans in religious healing ceremonies. However, Schultes did collect Stropharia cubensis in Oaxaca in the late 1930's, but could not find any reference to its use prior to the conquest. It is not known if this species occurred in the new world until after the Spanish brought cattle onto the continent, most probably from India, the Philippines or possibly from Africa - although this species does occur in the manure of other ruminants. It is also probable that Stropharia cubensis was not one of the mushrooms being used by Aztec shamans and referred to as teonanácatl. Singer later amended this species to Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Singer. Schultes (1978)106 later wrote: "subsequent studies by R. Gordon Wasson, R. Singer, R. Heim and Gastón Guzmán, have indicated that Stropharia (Psilocybe) cubensis Earle is one of the more important sacred Mexican mushrooms" in use today.
In Palenque, México, it is referred to as San Isidro Labrador (St. Isidore the Plowman), so aptly named for a patron saint of agriculture of old México. Even though it is common in most regions throughout Southern México and Central America, there are many shamans who consider it inferior to other varieties and many do not use it professionally except when other species are not available. One possible reason it may be avoided is that it grows in manure; more likely this is simply because it is not pre-Colombian and associated with the offal of the conquistadores cattle.
Schultes then presented to the scientific community numerous references to the use of inebriating mushrooms by Mesoamérican shamans and others. Schultes reported in his 1939 and 1940 papers that several codices not only had described the existence of the sacred mushrooms, but had also vividly described observed effects on people who had consumed the mushrooms, thereby verifying their (the mushrooms) existence and use. Thus Schultes paved the way, so to speak, for the Wassons and others eventually to follow his footsteps, when he published these findings (Schultes, 1939 103, 1940 104, see also, Schultes, 1987 107).
Schultes' research and oftentimes tedious hard work into the realm of the shamanic mushrooms soon drew to a close as other events directed him to the heart of the vast Amazonian forest to study dart poisons and rubber. As the war years dragged on, the sacred mushrooms of México once again fell back into the shadows of oblivion. Nevertheless, Schultes' doctoral thesis on the medicinal plants of Oaxaca and his two published papers on teonanácatl (Schultes, 1939 103, 1940 104), eventually found their way into the hands of an interested reader, R. Gordon Wasson, a fifty-four-year old Banker with Morgan Guaranty Trust. Wasson, along with his wife Valentina Pavlovna Wasson was able to accomplish that which Schultes had been unable to ingest the shamanic mushrooms of the Mazatecs (see Allen, 1987 2, 1997a 3).
Both Schultes' and Schultes & Reko's original 1938 collections of Oaxacan fungi were forwarded from México to the Farlow Herbarium at Harvard University. They represented probably three different species (Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus, Psilocybe cubensis identified by Singer and Psilocybe caerulescens by recorded name). These collections were accidentally placed on a single herbarium sheet and were later separated in 1941 by mycologist Rolf Singer. In 1958, mycologists Rolf Singer and Alexander H. Smith conducted follow-up research on the previous studies by Schultes and Reko, Wasson and Heim. Singer (1958)116, used Heim's papers and illustrations from Wasson's Life article as a guide list and) described the labels for both collections of Schultes and Reko's fungi collections but was confused by Schultes' written description of a species that Singer believed was Panaeolus sphinctrinus. Interestingly enough, Schultes' macroscopic description of this species actually fit the description of Psilocybe mexicana Heim. The first label on this herbarium sheet read as follows:
"Springy meadows in rainy season. Huautla, July 27, 1938. Stem: 1-2 mm. diam: 10 cm. high; hemispherical but often cuspidate; gills dark brown-black, whole plant coffee brown, black when dry. Mexican name is she-to; tso-ska. Said to be poisonous in overdose of 50-60 mushrooms, but in moderate quantity it produces hilarity and general narcotic feeling of well being for an hour. Excess doses said to produce permanent insanity."
It appears that Schultes may have collected two different species of mushrooms in the springy meadows. One variety being Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinusand the other being Psilocybe mexicana. Singer (1958)116 had noted that "Springy meadows was the known habitat for Psilocybe mexicana and cuspidate is a characteristic feature of the genus Psilocybe, as are the brown gills which were mentioned and the coffee brown color of the mushroom." However, the black gills reported by Schultes would definitely fit the description of a Panaeolus species. Schultes had not reported that his collection occurred in manure or from the ground. If they were coprophilous Schultes would have mentioned it. Furthermore, she-to and to-ska are epithets used by the Mazatec and Chinantec to describe Psilocybe mexicana (see Allen, 1997b)4. The author also found the epithets to-shka and shi-to being used to identify a species of Panaeolus.
The second collection deposited by Schultes and Reko had originally been misidentified by Singer as Stropharia (Psilocybe) caerulescens. The paper on this second sheet read as follows:
"Plantae Utiles Mexicana, Oaxaca. Common Name (Mexican) nanacate. Tribe: Mazatec. Indian name: kee-sho. Habitat freshets during the rainy season. Locality: Huautla. Uses: from four to eight are eaten to produce a temporary narcotic state of hilarity. Said to be poisonous if taken in excess, causing permanent insanity" (Singer & Smith, 1958)116.
Singer mistakenly noted these mushrooms to be Stropharia caerulescens [syn.=Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Singer]. Later Singer realized that he had misidentified this species when he learned that the word kee-sho referred to the Mazatec Indian landslide mushroom later identified as Psilocybe caerulescens var. mazatecorum. Ott (1993)85, in a personal communication to the author, believed these mushrooms to be Psilocybe caerulescens Murr., a mushroom known to occur in sugar cane mulch and at roadside landslides, yet the habitat for this collection was listed as freshets, which as one may surmise, are the dung of cattle. Thus it appears that this second collection was probably Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Singer. Interestingly, in 1923, Psilocybe caerulescens Murr. was originally discovered and identified in Huntsville, Alabama, yet it has never been reported from Alabama since. However, this species has since been reported from Florida (Jacobs, 1975)44.
Singer (1958)116 noted that Santesson (1939)102, was probably the first author to publish data on both pharmacological research and chemical analyses of fungi believed to be the cause of what is known as cerebral mycetismus or psychotropic mushroom poison.
Santesson conducted laboratory experiments with extracts of various mushrooms using animal subjects in his investigations. However, it should be noted that it was actually Dr. Michael Levine who in 1917 attempted to investigate the suspected effects of Panaeolus venenosus (=syn. Panaeolus subbalteatus), a fungus known to cause cerebral mycetismus in humans, yet Dr. Levine did not attempt to isolate the suspected ingredients of the mushrooms during his course of research.
One of the mushrooms allegedly used in Santesson's experiments was Armellariella mellea (the honey mushroom). Singer wrote that he was in doubt as to Santesson's identification and asserted that the mushroom in question may have been either Psilocybe mexicana or Psilocybe cubensis, or possibly a mixture of both.
It should be mentioned that the above noted observation on Santesson's alleged identification of the "honey-mushroom" is based on the writings of Schultes who mentioned that Santesson had used the word Hallimahl, which Schultes identified as Hallimasch, a European name for the "honey-mushroom." Ott (1993b)85 states that Schultes was in error in his identification of this species (see Ott, 1993a 85: footnote 6, page 298). Recently Guzmán-Dávalos and Guzmán (1991)30 identified Gymnopilus subpurpuratus from Mexico as "staining green when handled." A related variety is Gymnopilus purpuratus Cooke & Masse, a species which has been identified as psilocybian. Both of these species macroscopically resemble the honey mushroom, so there is a possibility that Santesson may in fact have had a real hallucinogenic specimen after all.
Schultes' notes on specimens stored on a single sheet in the herbarium confused Singer (1958)116. As noted earlier, Schultes had identified one of his collections as Panaeolus campanulatus var.sphinctrinus, a possible divinatory mushroom. However, Singer then wrote that "the genus of Panaeolus was not used by the Mazatec Indians of the Huautla region either for magico-religious ceremonies or as a sacrament in shamanic healings." Additionally, Singer and Smith (1958)118 wrote, "we must insist, that the phenomena which belonged in the class of cerebral mycetism in the terminology of Ford (1923)19, and not fully identified (Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus) (Schultes, 1939 103, 1940 104), as being comparable with the hallucinatory-euphoric and lasting effects which have been described in literature as belonging to and coming from certain mushrooms of the genus Psilocybe. Aside from that we feel for certain that Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus is not now and never has been used as a drug catalyst for divinatory purposes or religious ceremonies by present day Indians in Mesoamerica", nor was it used as a sacrament by their pre-Colombian ancestors.
Schultes (1978)106 later wrote that "Wasson and Heim, and Singer and Guzmán [all] failed to findPanaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus in use and, as a result, have assumed that it should not be included in the list of hallucinogenically used Mexican mushrooms." The late French mycologist Roger Heim (1963)32, also asserted that "the Indians do not take Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus in their rituals", and Singer (1958)116 after one short field trip, categorically stated that "Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus is not used and perhaps, had been mistaken for Psilocybe mexicana Heim." The noted Mexican authority on the sacred mushrooms of Mexico, Gastón Guzmán (1977)27, called Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus a "false teonanácatl" while P. Antoine (1970)6 claimed that this belief has spread and still exists. However, eight years later, Singer (1978)117 still believed that no species of Panaeolus belongs to the group of Mexican hallucinogenic mushrooms which were known as teonanácatl. In 1979, Schultes wrote that "certain shamans and curanderas of the Mazatec and Chinantec Indians do employ the mushroom known as Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus in curative and divinatory ceremonies." These Panaeolus species are known to the Indians as tha-na-sa, shi-to and to-shka. They are bell-shaped or ovoid-campanulate shaped in the cap and appear to be yellowish-brown in color. Several of the early Spanish codices noted above that one of the yellow mushrooms described was called teonanácatl. The author also found these latter two epithets used by the Mazatec in describing Psilocybe mexicana.
Specimens of Panaeolus sphinctrinus collected in Mexico by French Canadian mycologist György-Miklos Ola'h (1969)82 were found to contain psilocine and Ola'h classified this species as 'latent' psilocybian.
However, as late as 1983, Guzmán still maintained that "in Mexico, no Panaeolus species is used as a sacred or divine mushroom among the Indians of Oaxaca, and that includes the Mazatec, Chatino, Zapotec, and Mixes, and of the Indians in the State of México, in spite of the fact that the species of Panaeolus are very common." Panaeolus species were collected independently as one of the sacred hallucinogenic mushrooms by two groups of investigators, Weitlaner's group and by Schultes and Reko. Previous chemical analyses of these collections revealed that some species of Panaeolus and even Panaeolus campanulatus var. sphinctrinus do contain the indole chemical psilocybine and psilocine (Ola'h, 1970 83; Ott, 1976 84; Tyler & Gröger, 1964 130). However, one should consider that in a single collection of a particular species, there may be more than two species represented - for example, one species might superficially resemble another, as in the case of Panaeolina foenisecii and Panaeolus subbalteatus, both of which resemble one another macroscopically.
R. Gordon Wasson was born in Great Falls, Montana in 1898. The son of an Episcopalian minister, he became the first ethnomycologist in the world. His interest in wild mushrooms spanned more than fifty years, during which time he rediscovered the famed sacred mushrooms of Mesoamerica.
R. Gordon Wasson's interest in mushrooms began during his honeymoon in the Catskill mountains. Wasson and his Russian-born wife, pediatrician Valentina Pavlovna Wasson were hiking one day on a forest-trail when suddenly she espied a cluster of mushrooms which she recognized as being similar to ones she used to gather from the forest for dinner in her native Russia. Overcome with great joy, Valentina picked as many mushrooms as she could carry and that evening she prepared and served them with their evening dinner. Of course, R. Gordon Wasson declined to eat any of the "nasty toadstools" his new wife had gathered from the forest and told her he did not want to awake a widower, thinking that all mushrooms were poisonous (Wasson, 1957a 140; Wasson & Wasson, 1957 186). It was for this reason that Gordon Wasson soon began to wonder why Slavic peoples love the mushrooms while some western Europeans abhorred them. Thus began the age of ethnomycology.
Wasson, who worked as a journalist, soon became interested in banking and in 1928 began working as an investment-banker for Morgan Guaranty Trust. By the early 1950's, Wasson had become a vice-president of J. P. Morgan & Company.
At that time, Wasson received an important letter from Eunice V. Pike, a missionary from the Wycliff Bible Translators. Pike had been living for many years among the Mazatec Indians in the southern Mexican State of Oaxaca. She wrote to Wasson informing him that there were Indian medicine-men and medicine-women who employed certain mushrooms in curative ceremonies. Pike informed Wasson that the use of these mushrooms probably originated prior to the conquest (see Pike & Cowan, 1959 89; Pike, 1960 88).
Wasson also received a letter from the noted Greek historian and scholar Robert Graves. Graves informed Wasson of two research articles written by Harvard ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes (see Davis, 1996 12), concerning a mysterious mushroom known to the ancient Aztec people as teonanácatl.
However, Schultes' papers concerning the use of these mushrooms by the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish conquest had generated little interest within the scientific community (Schultes, 1939 103, 1940 104). In fact, the question of whether or not the mushrooms ever existed had been raised.
Wasson received another letter from his Italian printer which included a sketch of a Guatemalan mushroom-stone carving some 2000 years old. The drawing represented a sculpture of a man with a mushroom projecting from his head. The sculpture had been discovered somewhere deep in the jungles of Guatemala.
These startling new revelations piqued Wasson's interest immensely, so he then contacted Schultes (Pers. Comm. 1988)108: "One day I was home from the Amazon. Wasson phoned me for references to México." Schultes then went on to say "I sent him to Reko who was very helpful to him and who introduced him to Weitlaner. Thus Reko still had his contribution towards the study of the mushrooms." (Blas Pablo Reko, along with Schultes, had collected specimens of the alleged sacred fungi for herbarium deposit and Roberto Weitlaner was the first westerner to observe a sacred mushroom ceremony during the late 1930's).
In 1953, Wasson and his wife traveled to México. After arriving in the Mazatec country and inquiring about the sacred mushrooms they finally succeeded in attending an all night velada (as the ceremony is called by the Mazatec shamans or curanderos, who officiate and perform them). This first ceremony was conducted under the guidance of a Mazatec shaman named Don Aurelio Carreras. At the first ceremony, Wasson observed the procedures and took notes of what transpired, but was not allowed to join in nor partake of the mushrooms, However, he was very ecstatic over the performance, and felt no regret for not having been able to fully participate.
Wasson led two more exploratory excursions into México during the following two years. On his third trip to Oaxaca and his second to Huautla de Jiménez, Wasson and his photographer-friend Allan Richardson themselves in the tiny village of Huautla de Jiménez perched high in the Sierra Mazateca of Oaxaca. On the night of 29-30 June 1955, Wasson and Richardson became the first outsiders to partake of the sacred mushrooms.
After Wasson and Richardson had found lodging, they set out on separate searches, asking everyone they encountered for help in their mushroom hunt. After several hours of fruitless questioning of the natives, Wasson decided to ask a local government official to discuss the secrets of the mushrooms with him. He went to the local municipio (city hall), although he was aware that many government officials were dishonest and corrupt, especially when it came to matters involving foreigners. But Wasson felt he hadn't much to lose by approaching the official.
Wasson met a man working in the office of the mayor who was the town's sindico. The sindico is the number two man in a municipio, and since his boss was away on business, he was the acting mayor. His name was Cayetano García Mendoza. After exchanging introductions and greetings with García, Wasson in his polite and humble manner discussed with him general topics such as the weather, maize-crop prices, problems with the drinking water, the current prices of coffee, etc. It wasn't long before Wasson found himself leaning over the counter towards Cayetano and whispering the Mazatec name for the mushrooms.
With that Cayetano appeared bewildered and astonished. How could a foreigner have knowledge of such a well kept-secret that very few Mazatec people would mention so casually? But in answer to Wasson's question, Cayetano replied that "nothing could be easier", and then he asked Wasson "to come to my humble abode after four o'clock, when I am finished with my day's work, and I would be ever so glad to help you with your unusual request."
Later that afternoon, Wasson and his friend Richardson arrived at the home where Cayetano resided with his two younger brothers, who were waiting for the strangers to arrive. Emilio and Genero led them down the road to a spot not more than a hundred feet from Cayetano's house, where they found an abundance of mushrooms fruiting out of sugar-cane mulch.
While Richardson began photographing the mushrooms, Wasson picked several and placed them gently into a paste board box which he had brought along for this occasion.
In the meantime, while Wasson was picking mushrooms, Cayetano proceeded to the home of his friend, Doña María Sabina, a sabia ('wise one' or 'wise woman'). Cayetano found Doña María alone in her home and related to her the events that had transpired earlier that day. He told her "that some blond men have traveled from afar in search of a sabia, and he quietly mentioned to her that the blond stranger had spoken to him in a soft quiet whisper, asking him in a discreet way, that he was seeking 'nti-xi-tjo (Estrada, 1976)17. Although Cayetano was somewhat startled by the question asked of him, he confirmed his feeling of the stranger's request, explaining to Doña María that the blond stranger "knew of what it was that he was talking about." Cayetano felt that Wasson was definitely sincere in learning the secrets of 'nti-xi-tjo. Apparently Wasson's discretion with Cayetano had confirmed his sincerity in seeking knowledge about the mushrooms and their use, which had convinced Cayetano to talk with Doña María, so to convey to her the message from the blond strangers from a far-away land.
Cayetano then explained to Doña María that he told the visitors "I know a true wise woman." Cayetano asked Doña María if he could bring the strangers to her home so that she might teach them the true knowledge of the mushrooms. Doña María replied, "if you want to, I can't say no".
Years later, María Sabina stated that she felt compelled to accept Wasson's request because of Cayetano's official position, and she assumed Cayetano's visit to her humble dwelling that hot summer day was official business.
Many years later, Wasson wondered if María Sabina would have shared her knowledge of the mushrooms with him had Cayetano not intervened as he did. In 1971, Wasson read an interview with María Sabina which appeared in the European magazine L'Europe, published in Milan. It reported that when Cayetano had requested her aid in helping the foreigners, she did so because she felt she had no choice. But she also declared that when she was asked to meet them [Wasson and Richardson] that she "should have said no."
By late afternoon, Wasson, Richardson, and their friends Emilio and Genero, had finished picking the mushrooms and returned to Cayetano's home just as he was returning from seeing María Sabina. It should be noted that a few days later, Wasson offered to pay Cayetano for the fine hospitality and services they had provided Wasson and Richardson, but Cayetano and his wife refused. They informed Wasson that they had been happy to help, and "didn't do so for money."
Cayetano requested that Emilio accompany them to María Sabina's home to act as interpreter. Once there, Wasson opened his paste-board box and exposed the mushrooms he had just picked. Doña María cried out in joy upon seeing the honguitos which she so loved and adored. She held them in her small hands, caressing them while talking to them in her own language. Arrangements were soon made for a velada later that evening.
On the evening of June 29, 1955, Wasson and Richardson became the first white people to consume the sacred mushrooms of the ancient Mazatec people, in a ceremony held under the supervision of curandera Doña María Sabina, who performed for them a velada or vigil at the home of her friend Cayetano García.
Wasson later wrote, "we all ate our mushrooms facing the wall where the small altar table stood. We ate them in silence, except for Cayetano's father, don Emilio, who was consulting the mushrooms about his infected left forearm. He would jerk his head violently with each mushroom that he swallowed, and utter a smacking noise, as though in acknowledgment of their divine potency. I was seated in the corner of the room on the left of the altar. The señora asked me to move because the word would come down there..."
"I joined Allan immediately behind the señora, we took about a half hour to eat our six pairs of mushrooms. By eleven o'clock we had finished our respective portions, the señora crossing herself with the last swallow. ... At about 11:20 Allan leaned from his chair and whispered to me that he was having a chill. We wrapped him in a blanket. A little later he leaned over again and said, 'Gordon, I am beginning to see things,' to which I gave him the comforting reply that I was too."
"The patterns grew into architectural structures, with colonnades and architraves, patios of regal splendor, the stonework all in brilliant colors - gold and onyx and ebony - all harmoniously and ingeniously contrived, in richest magnificence extending beyond the reach of sight. These architectural visions seemed oriental, though at every stage I pointed out to myself that they could not be identified with any specific oriental country..."
"At one point in the faint moonlight the bouquet on the table assumed the dimensions and shape of an imperial conveyance, a triumphal car, drawn by zoological creatures conceivable only in an imaginary mythology, bearing a woman clothed in regal splendor. The visions came in endless succession, each growing out of the preceding ones. We had the sensation that the walls of our humble house had vanished, that our untrammeled souls were floating in the empyrean, stroked by divine breeze, possessed of a divine mobility that would transport anywhere on the wings of a thought. Only when by an act of conscious effort I touched the wall of Cayetano's house would I be brought back to the confines of the room where we all were, and this touch with reality seemed to be what precipitated nausea in me."
What Wasson experienced during his first velada convinced him that he would never repeat it, but a few nights later he asked Doña María if she would perform again in order that he might record the proceedings. On this occasion Allan Richardson declined partaking of the sacred mushrooms so he might better photograph the session.
Doña María referred to Wasson as "Basson" and she allowed the taking of photographs by Richardson on the condition that Wasson would not profane her by allowing other people access to the photographs taken during the ceremony. She requested that Wasson only share them with his closest and dearest friends and that no others should see them. Eventually their publication in Life magazine made María Sabina known to the world. Although this event brought thousands of people into Oaxaca in search of these entheogenic fungi, María Sabina never expressed any resentment toward Wasson as a result.
On the night of July 5, 1955, Wasson's wife Valentina and their 19 year-old daughter Masha (in his 1980 book, The Wondrous Mushroom: Mycolatry in Mesoamerica174, Wasson mistakenly reported that Masha was then only 13 years old) became the first westerners to consume entheogenic mushrooms outside of a ritual setting. This would appear to be the first reported incident involving non-traditional use of psychoactive mushrooms (Wasson V., 1958)185.
Six weeks later, having returned to New York, Wasson again felt compelled to ingest the mushrooms from México, to ascertain whether dried specimens he had brought back were still active. This was Wasson's third experience with the sacred mushrooms.
During Wasson's many excursions into Mesoamerica, always seeking new information on the traditional use of entheogenic mushrooms he endeavored to link the enigmatic mushroom-stones of Central America to ritual mushroom use by Mayan peoples to cultic use in primitive Mayan societies.
Wasson believed there was a link between the mushroom effigies and the use of entheogenic mushrooms in Mesoamerica. Once during an excursion to the village of Juxtlahuaca, México, Wasson photographed a young Mexican girl grinding mushrooms on a matate or grinding stone. The mano she used to grind the mushrooms and her position while doing so, was similar to the posture and form represented on one of the mushroom-stones unearthed in Guatemala (Furst, 1986)20.
Studies by Villacorta & Villacorta (1927)135, Johnson (1938)46, Schultes (1939 103, 1940 104), Singer(1949)114, Wasson & Wasson (1957)186, de Borhegy (1961b)13, de Borhegy (1962)14, Lowy (1971 71, 1972 72), Ott (1976)84, Mayer (1977)74, Weil (1977)137, Wasson (1980)174, and others who followed the Wassons brought attention to ancient frescoes, paintings, illustrations and gold-work depicting sacred mushrooms (Schultes and Bright, 1979)110. The mushroom stones and other art works, including depiction's of mushroom motifs in paintings and sculptures gave ample proof that the entheogenic mushrooms had an important role in the development of spirituality in pre-Colombian cultures.
It is conceivable that some 3000 years ago in Mesoamerica, a sophisticated form of shamanism had flourished and prospered, revolving around the ritual use of entheogenic mushrooms and other visionary inebrients as major foci in the development of Mesoamerican cultures.
Wasson led a total of 10 field-trips into the wilds of Mesoamerica (1953-1962), gathering mushrooms and information on their use in their rituals by the various cultures who used them. Wasson sought the collaboration of many eminent scholars to assist him in these investigations. Specialists who assisted Wasson included: Roger Heim, Gastón Guzmán, Roberto Weitlaner and his daughter Irmagard Weitlaner Johnson, Guy Stresser-Peán, C. Cook de Leonard, W.S. Miller, Searle Hoogshagen, B. Upton and Albert Hofmann who was director of Natural Products at Sandoz in Basel and had discovered LSD before isolating psilocybine and psilocine.
"Nervous and paranoid" correctly describes a "short-order chemist" for the CIA, James Moore (Lee & Shlain,1985 67; Marks, 1979 73; Stevens, 1987 124), who secretly infiltrated one of Wasson's small expeditions into the Sierra Mazateca in 1956.
A scientist from the CIA's "Project ARTICHOKE" had traveled to México in search of a so-called "stupid bush" and other plants which might derange the human mind, politically useful to control enemies minds in war time. Large quantities of morning-glory seeds were sent to CIA laboratories for analysis by CIA scientists searching for compounds useful for extracting confessions, locating stolen or lost objects, perhaps even predicting the future. Visionary mushrooms were of special interest in these investigations. According to documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, James Moore was an expert in chemical synthesis who worked for the CIA. In 1956, Moore invited himself into one of Wasson's expeditions to México. He offered Wasson a grant for $2,000 dollars from a CIA-front known as the Geschickter Fund for Medical Research, Inc. In 1955, Wasson had declined to collaborate openly with the CIA.
Moore did not enjoy his single mushroom experience, perhaps due to the fact that he was not who he represented himself to be. Mayhaps this fact got the better of him, and under the influence of the mushrooms he saw himself as he really was. According to Moore, "I had a terrible cold, we damned near starved to death, and I itched all over. There was all this chanting in the dialect. Then they passed the mushrooms around, and we all chewed them. I did feel the hallucinogenic effect, although 'disoriented' would be a better word to describe my reaction."
Moore collected specimens for his CIA-sponsored research and returned to Maryland, where he endeavored to isolate for the CIA the active principle of both the mushrooms and morning glory seeds. Unfortunately for Moore he was unable to find the active ingredients with the fungi and lucky for the world that he didn't find them since they would of most likely been used as tools of mind war under the direction of the CIA.
In spite of the duplicitous antics of the CIA which predictably came to nothing, Wasson and collaborators documented traditional use of the sacred mushrooms in Oaxaca, Mexico and other states. Wasson and Singer found that several species and/or varieties of mushrooms were still employed ceremonially by some dozen Indian tribes belonging to various linguistic groups. Some of the Mexican Indians spoke no Spanish nor possessed a written language. The following indigenous groups used the sacred mushrooms: Mazatecs, Chinantecs, Chatinos, Zapotecs, Mixtecs, Mixes (Mijes), Nahuas and Otomies and possibly also the Tarascans of Michoacán.
Different Oaxacan Indian tribes prefer different species of mushrooms, and the attendant rituals vary somewhat from village to village. Even within a given tribe not all shamans will use precisely the same mushrooms, depending on what species be available at any given time. More than one species may be used perhaps for specific purposes, during a particular curing ritual (Wasson & Wasson, 1957)186.
The Wassons' discoveries regarding the visionary mushrooms in México became public knowledge in 1957, with the publication of a two-volume book Mushrooms, Russia and History, limited to 512 copies and never reprinted. Some university libraries have copies in rare-book collections.
Simultaneous with publications of Mushrooms, Russia and History were two popular articles in Life magazine (Wasson, 1957a)140 and This Week magazine (Wasson, V. P., 1958b)143. These articles by Gordon Wasson and the other by his wife, captured the beginning of the Psychedelic Era. Collectors of the Wassoniana have been known to pay up to $50.00 for a mint-copy of this particular issue of Life.
A third presentation to the world occurred in 1958, when Gordon Wasson and Roger Heim, together with Albert Hofmann and other collaborators, published Les Champignons Hallucinogènes du Mexique, completed by a second volume ten years later, Nouvelles Investigations sur les Champignons Hallucinogènes, both written in French, some [parts of which originally appeared as papers in Comptes Rendus Acad. Sci. and Revue du Mycologie.
R. Gordon Wasson died on Dec 23, 1986, and is survived by an adopted son and daughter.
Almost forty years have passed since the eminent ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson stumbled into the tiny Oaxacan village of Huautla de Jiménez in search of teonanácatl, the magic mushroom of Mesoamerican folklore. His lifetime of studying mushrooms and current three year quest in the foothills of Oaxaca came to an end at the doorway of a small earthen hut with crumbling mud walls and a sunken thatched roof. This hut was the life-long home of Doña María Sabina, the most renowned curandera in all of history.
According to anthropologist Joan Halifax (1979)31, "For many decades she had practiced her art with the hallucinogenic mushrooms, and many hundreds of sick and suffering people came to her wretched hut to ingest the sacrament as she chants through the night in the darkness before her alter."
Being a kind soul, Doña María welcomed Wasson into her hut and shared the secrets of the sacred mushroom. How could she know that this small, innocent gesture of generosity and kindness would radically change her life and the course of history forever. Despite Wasson's attempts to keep Doña María's identity a secret, the story of the Mazatec witch and her mushrooms of wonder spread throughout the west like wildfire - from the halls of Harvard to the back-beat streets of big town America (when R. Gordon Wasson first wrote of María Sabina and her Veladas in Life magazine (13 May 1957), he referred to her as Eva Mendez, a pseudonym intended to protect her from scalawags and thrill-seekers who might disturb or disrupt her life and those around her).
Wasson's story inevitably piqued the interest of many people. Hoping the mushroom could be a powerful tool in chemical warfare, the CIA sent an undercover agent to Huautla de Jiménez to collect specimens (Marks, 1979)73. Again, Doña María shared her secret. What else could she do? The mushroom had shown her that the Westerners would never give her peace. Reluctantly she gave in, but with each desecration of the sacred mushrooms she could feel her curing powers fading.
She knew the Westerners would be coming by the dozens (doctors, scientists, thrill-seekers, spiritual pilgrims) all looking for truth, salvation, the curing magic, or even the face of God. Resigned to her fates, Doña María patiently accepted each weary searcher into her home and performed the velada, the all-night vigil, for them. Each time she gave the visitors what they were looking for. Each time she gave away a bit of herself.
Now all that's left of Doña María are memories, memories of the humble woman who inspired the lives of Tim Leary, Ralph Metzner, Andrew Weil, Jonathan Ott, and countless others. Beyond her memory only the mushrooms remain, the tiny magic toadstools Doña María spent her life mastering. Now that she's gone, the only way to find her is through them, through the sacred ceremonies of Mazatec wizards and healers.
Can you make out her face, dark and chiseled with age? Can you hear her songs and chants cutting through the still blackness of night? Her spirit is out there, caught in an endless rainbow spiral of wisdom and beauty. Her ghost is waiting to be heard. Just reach out...
Wasson (Estrada, 1976)17 reported that María Sabina was born on the 17th of March, 1894. According to parish records María was baptized exactly one week after her birth. Her mother María Concepción said her daughter's birth was the day of the Virgin Magdalene (July 22).
According to a verbal account given to Señor Alvaro Estrada, Doña María first consumed the sacred mushrooms with her sister María Ana at an early age (possibly somewhere between the ages of 7 to 9-years-old). Doña María Sabina recalled that she and her sister were out in the woods tending the family's animals when they stopped under a tree to play games in the shade as little children often do when by themselves with no adults around. María looked to the ground and noticed several beautiful mushrooms growing under the tree and realized they were the same mushrooms used by a local curandero Juan Manuel to cure the sick.
Doña María reached down to the earth and carefully harvested several of the mushrooms exclaiming "if I eat you, you, and you, I know that you will make me sing beautifully." She slowly chewed and swallowed the mushrooms, then urged her sister María Ana to do the same. Slowly, young María began to realize that the mushrooms contained a very potent magic, one that she would never forget.
In the following months Doña María and her sister consumed the fungi several times. Once her mother had found her laughing and singing gaily and asked of her "what have you done?". However, she was never scolded for eating the mushrooms because her mother knew that scolding would cause contrary emotions.
According to Joan Halifax (1979)31 Doña María was eight years old when her uncle fell sick. Many shamans in the surrounding Sierras near her village had attempted to cure him with various herbs, but his condition only worsened. Doña María remembered that the mushrooms she had eaten while playing with her sister had told her to look for them if she ever needed them and that they would tell her what to do when she needed help.
Doña María went to collect the sacred mushrooms and returned to her uncle's home where she ate them. Immediately, Doña María was swept away into the world of the mushrooms. She asked them what was wrong with her uncle and what could she do to help him get well. According to Doña María, the mushrooms told her that an "evil spirit" had entered the blood of her uncle and possessed him. She would have to give him a special herb, but not the same herb which the other shamans and curanderos had previously given him. Doña María then asked the mushrooms where the herbs could be found and the mushrooms told her that there was a place on the mountains where the trees grew tall and the waters of the brook ran pure. In this place in the earth are the herbs which will cure your uncle.
Doña María knew the place the mushrooms had shown her and ran from her uncle's hut to find the herb. Just as the mushrooms had shown her, the herb was there. When she returned to her uncle's home she boiled the herbs and gave them to her uncle. Within a few days, her uncle was cured, and María knew this would become her way of life.
As Doña María grew older she became fully initiated into her role as a sabia (a wise one). She quickly became respected in her village as an honest and powerful sabia, and in her community she was a blessing to those who sought her services. For decades she practiced her healing arts, and countless hundreds of sick and suffering people sought out her magic. Except for her three marriages, where she was expected to care only for her husband, she continued her sacred practices throughout her life.
Being of the Mazatec (Nahua-speaking) people, María Sabina performed her ceremonies in Mazatec (in This Week magazine, Valentina Wasson, 1958 wrote that the ceremony was spoken in Mixtec). Like the pseudonym of Eva Mendez which R. Gordon Wasson gave to María Sabina, this latter report was also published with the intent of keeping her identity a secret from those who would abuse her livelihood.
Like many of the Mazatec shamans, curanderas, and healers, María Sabina referred to the mushrooms as xi-tjo, si-tho or 'nti-xi-tjo, meaning "worshipped objects that spring forth" ('nti = a particle of reverence and endearment, and xi-tjo = that which springs forth). Some Mazatecs refer to the mushrooms by saying "that the little mushroom comes of itself, no one knows whence, like the wind that comes, we know not when or why."
The sacred mushrooms which María Sabina used during an all night velada (vigil) are usually harvested in the evening when the moon is full, although sometimes they are gathered in the day (see footnote 1 at the end of this chapter). Mushrooms gathered in the moonlight may sometimes be harvested by a young virgin.
After the mushrooms are collected they must be taken to a church. There they are placed on an alter to be blessed before the holy spirit. If the virgin who picked the mushrooms comes upon the carcass of a dead animal, one which had died along the path she follows, she must then discard the mushrooms and find a new path back to the field where the mushrooms grew. There she must gather up more fresh mushrooms and then find a new trail leading back to the church, hoping and praying that she will not come across any more dead animals. Once the mushrooms have been consecrated on the alter they are ready for use.
The velada would begin in total darkness so the visions would be bright and clear. After the mushrooms were adorned and blessed by María Sabina, she would slowly pass each one through the swirling smoke of burning Copal incense. The mushrooms are always consumed in pairs of two, signifying one male and one female. Each participant in a ceremony consumes five to six pairs; though more will be given if requested. Because the spiritual energies of the sabia would always dominate the velada, María Sabina would normally consume twice as many mushrooms as her voyagers, sometimes up to twelve pairs.
In the tradition of Mazatec shamans and curanderas, María Sabina would first chew the mushrooms, hold them in her mouth for a while, and then swallow them. The mushrooms should be consumed on an empty stomach and eaten over a 20-30 minute period. She decides who is to take them and the spiritual energies of the sabia always dominate the sessions. These sessions are usually conducted at night, in total darkness so that the visual effects from the mushrooms will be fully effective. A candle or two may be used but is seldom necessary. As the energies of the mushrooms pour themselves into the spiritual voyagers, Doña María would chant, slap, and pound her hands against various parts of her body, creating many different resonant sounds while invoking ancient incantations.
The thumping chants would totally fill the space of her hut and go beyond the walls to the far horizons of infinity. The chants were used to invoke the mushrooms power and varied depending on the various illness or ailment which the healer is called upon to cure (see footnote 2 at the end of this chapter) (Krippner & Winkelman, 1983 52; also see Aromin, 1973 in Krippner & Winkelman, 1983). Being a devout Catholic her entire life, she would often blend ancient Mazatec rituals with Christian elements, such as the Eucharist of the Catholic religion. When the mushrooms were not in season, María Sabina would employ other sacred plants with Christian rites (see footnote 3 at the end of this chapter).
All accounts of María Sabina attest to the fact that she was indeed a humble and holy woman - a saint. Wasson himself described Doña María as "a woman without blemish, immaculate, one who has never dishonored her calling by using her powers for evil...[a woman of] rare moral and spiritual power, dedicated in her vocation, an artist in her mastery of the techniques of her vocation (Wasson,1980)174." In her village, Doña María was exalted as a "sabia" (wise one), and was known among many as a "curandera de primera catagoria" (of the highest quality) and an "una señora sin mancha" (a woman without stain).
Father Antonio Reyes Hernandez is a man of the cloth, a man with the love of God in him, and the Bishop who resides in the parish of the Dominican church which Doña María belonged to. In 1970, when Father Antonio had just completed his first year as the Bishop of Huautla, Alvaro Estrada (1976)17 had inquired of Father Antonio if his ecclesiastic elders in the church hierarchy opposed the pagan-like rites of the shamans and sabias in Oaxaca and elsewhere in México as his conquering predecessors had during the last three centuries. Father Antonio replied that "the church is not against these pagan rites - if they may be called that. The wise ones and curer's do not compete with our religion. All of them are very religious and come to our mass, even María Sabina. They don't proselytize; therefore they aren't considered heretics, and it's not likely that any anathema's will be hurled at them."
Father Antonio never admonished or condemned her for her work in the village. He was aware that her rituals and practices had been handed down to her through the ages from her ancestors. He also knew that her services were valid treatments for those who sought her shamanic talents. Father Hernandez always recognized her work with the sick and suffering as the mark of a true Christian - one willing to help the less fortunate. Although he knew that Doña María used the mushrooms and pagan practice to heal and cure, he also understood that María Sabina's nature was not of a demonic spirit, "nor was it" satanic or even heretic. He appreciated her spirituality and treasured her work as a long termed good standing member of his church.
A Bishop interested in experiencing the visionary effects of the mushrooms came to María seeking guidance. However, he was turned away since it was not the season for the mushrooms and there were no mushrooms available for a ceremony. The Bishop had asked María Sabina if she would teach her children her talents. María Sabina told the bishop that her talents could not be taught to others but could only be achieved by those whose wisdom had been already naturally attained. However, it is said that before her death in 1985, Doña María spent most of her final years teaching others her talent in the communication of the mushrooms (Krippner (1987) ))50.
As Doña María believed in the power of Christ, so she also believed in the power of the mushrooms. She gave of herself to her church and likewise to the mushrooms. While working for the church, her mass was spoken in Latin and her chants were always spoken in Mazatec, and it should be remembered that although Doña María was unlettered she was not illiterate.
Doña María was quick to notice that Wasson and his friends, being the first foreigners to (seek) out the 'saint children' (mushrooms), had no sickness or illness to cure. They came only out of curiosity, or to find God (Estrada, 1976)17. Before Wasson and the others strangers came to Huautla, the mushrooms had always been used to treat the sick. Doña María foresaw the diminishing effects in her ability to perform her duties. She claimed that as more outsiders used the mushrooms for pleasures, or "to find God," the magic of the mushrooms slowly ebbed from her spirit. Her energy, and the energy of the mushrooms, was slowly fading away.
While María Sabina felt this debasement of her powers and relationship with the mushrooms was caused by the young foreigners who frivolously sought out and abused the sanctity of the sacred mushrooms, it should be noted that seeking and finding one's own god may also be a cure for many of mankind's psychological ills, woes, and faults.
In the beginning, the first travelers who came to Oaxaca in search of the sacred mushrooms were polite and kind to María Sabina. They displayed mutual respect for her personage. Many came bearing gifts and pesos for her services. Doña María received many people (young and old) into her home and performed for them the sacred ceremonies of her ancestors. One of the greatest gifts one could present her with for her services were photographs of her and her family. Some travelers would offer her gifts of no value and many gifts she considered useless. One tourist offered her a large dog in payment for her time, but she refused. She was too poor to afford feeding the animal. Although poor, María Sabina was spiritually enriched.
Doña María had also been widowed twice in her lifetime and once one of her sons had been brutally murdered before her very eyes. She claimed to have witnessed the crime in a vision prior to its happening. This supports the Wasson's assertions that the mushrooms have telepathic properties. In 1984, María Sabina had found a third husband.
Her three room home in Oaxaca where Doña María performed her ceremonies was created of mud with a straw thatched roof and a dirt floor. The interior of her humble dwelling whose walls were crumbling with age had uneven earthen floors which were almost barren of furniture except for the simplest alter. A candle provided the only light since there was no electricity. On a few occasions she was presented with a mattress or two, but she rarely accepted gifts beyond the value of her daily needs.
After Wasson published literature on his rediscovery of an ancient practice which utilized hallucinogenic mushrooms ritualistically in Oaxaca, many young foreigners from the United States, Canada, Europe and South America, began their long treks and tedious pilgrimages into Mexico. Soon Doña María took notice that many native Indians and Mexicans alike were debasing her customs by peddling mushrooms to the tourists in order to feed themselves and their families. During this period, many came seeking the mushrooms and many came only to be turned away.
By 1960, María Sabina realized that she was known the world over. This new found fame brought her much grief, and the agony it caused her soul was evident in her eyes and face. It brought turmoil and profanation to her village and upon her work.
The lack of respect and the total disrespect which the foreigners displayed towards her "saint children" shook the very foundations of her wisdom, strength, and world. Like the ancient mysteries of the "temple of Dionysus" where silence of the ancient rites was golden, María Sabina claimed that before Wasson came, "nobody spoke so openly about the 'saint children'. No Mazatec before ever revealed what he or she knew about this matter (Estrada, 1976)17".
After Wasson had attended his first voyage with her, every one seemed to know who she was and what she did.
When Wasson was first introduced to María Sabina in 1955, it was only because of an introduction by her friend Cayetano (Wasson, 1957 140; Wasson, 1980 174; Allen, 1987 2). He was a trusted friend, and María felt that Cayetano's requesting her to meet with the stranger who had traveled from afar in search of a "sabia" was harmless. Upon first meeting Wasson, María Sabina believed him to be a sincere and honest man, and felt that he would respect her ways and never bring shame to her world. Although she cautiously accepted Wasson when Cayetano approached her, she would later accept many into her home, and there were also many whom she would turn away.
María Sabina placed her trust in Wasson and his friends, especially when she allowed them to tape and photograph her during an all night mushroom velada. She gave Wasson and Alan Richardson, his photographer, permission to tell her story to others. Doña María hoped that Wasson would not profane her image nor divulge her anonymity to the world in an improper manner. Because Doña María neither read nor wrote (her language has no written words) she would never fully know exactly what Wasson had written of her life.
By 1960, Doña María had decided that if "foreigners come to her without any recommendations [whereas Wasson had one], she would of course still show them her wisdoms" (Wasson, 1980)174.
During the 1967 summer of love, many drugs and rampant drug use spread from out of the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco into the main stream continental United States of America. Many young hippie types and college students soon traveled to México in search of the magic mushroom which they had read about or heard about from their friends (Swain, 1962 129; Finkelstein, 1969 18; Lincoln, 1967 69; Sandford, 1973 101; Weil, 1980 138).
Doña María soon began to understand the breadth of her fame when over the years she remembered the pilgrimage of "the young people with long hair who came in search of God" but lacked the respect for the mushrooms and greatly profaned them.
Later, Doña María realized that "the young people with long hair didn't need [her] to eat the little things." She said that these "kids ate them anywhere and anytime [they could find them], and they didn't respect our customs." Doña María also claimed that "whoever does it [mushrooms] simply to feel the effects can go crazy and stay that way temporarily, but only for a while."
Wasson recognized the traditional values of the religious motivations of the Mazatec shamans and sabias, explaining that "performing before strangers is a profanation and that the curandera who today, for a fee will perform the mushroom rite for any stranger is a prostitute and a fakir" (Metzner, 1970)75, yet María Sabina did perform rituals for strangers, sometimes for a fee and sometimes not. At times, she had been known to charge for services which she used to provide for free.
At one point an American tourist once ate too many mushrooms and completely flipped out. He caused "much turmoil" and anxiety in an otherwise once quiet and peaceful community. Another tourist, with a live turkey dangling from his mouth, ran stark raving mad through the streets of Huautla. This incident necessitated intervention by local policia who apprehended him before he could do harm to himself or others. This incident, along with several others, soon led to the expulsion of thousands of long haired thrill seekers from Mexico.
The actions of these young people created many scandals. With the influx of drug-oriented young people, local authorities began to prohibit the use of mushrooms. By 1976, the thousands of foreign invaders began to drastically diminish, allowing the federales to slowly move out of the area. To the native peoples of Oaxaca, the bad elements had finally subsided and peace had once again returned to the village.
Throughout the years Doña María had been hassled many times by local government officials because of her use of the sacred mushrooms with the foreign intruders.
On several occasions she was arrested and jailed for her activities and on one occasion her home was burnt to the ground. A journalist who interviewed her in 1969, tried to intervene for her in this matter. He personally requested that the governor of Oaxaca "leave in peace the most famous shamaness in the world, whom anthropology and escapism have ruined" (Estrada, 1976)17.
As noted above, Federal authorities, army and police included, began the expulsion of hundreds of young foreign travelers, who came to Mexico "in search of the mushrooms and God" (Jones 1963 45; Unsign., 1970 132).
Doña María believed in the sacred force of the mushrooms with the same enthusiasm that many people came to believe in "the Force" of George Lucas and Luke Skywalker. As the years passed since Wasson first came to Huautla de Jiménez, Doña María felt the force of the mushrooms diminish within her spirit. Doña María realized that with the coming of the white man, the mushrooms were losing their meaning. Doña María claimed that "before Wasson, I felt that the 'saint children' elevated me. I don't feel like that anymore. The force has diminished. If Cayetano had not brought the foreigners ... the 'saint children' would have [probably] kept their powers. From the moment the foreigners arrived, the 'saint children' lost their purity. They lost their force; the foreigners spoiled them. From now on they won't be any good. There is no remedy for it."
This revelation from María Sabina most assuredly rings of the truth. The debasement of the mushrooms by casual thrill-seekers is widespread throughout the planet. Apolonio Teran, a fellow sabio (wiseman) was once interviewed by Alvaro Estrada. Estrada asked Apolonio about the breach of sanctity of the mushrooms by debasement wondering if the mushrooms were still considered to be a sacred and powerful source of medicine.
Apolonio claimed that "the divine mushroom no longer belongs to us [the Indians of Mesoamerica]. It's sacred language has been profaned. The language has been spoiled and it is indecipherable for us... Now the mushrooms speak NQUI LE [English]. Yes, it's the tongue that the foreigners speak... The mushrooms have a divine spirit. They always had it for us, but the foreigners arrived and frightened it away..." Later Wasson (1980)174 agreed that "since the white man came looking for the mushrooms, they have lost their magic." This could mean that the magic is gone forever among the shamans and native peoples who worship them.
Wasson believed that Doña María's words rang of truth. In exemplifying her wisdom, Wasson stated that "a practice carried on in secret for three centuries or more has now been aerated and aeration spells the end (Estrada, 1976)17."
Before Wasson's death (December, 1986), he felt that he alone was responsible and accountable for what must surely be a sad and tragic end to a culture whose traditions and customs involving the sacred use of teonanácatl spanned and flourished majestically for almost three millennia. It now appears that the use of mushrooms among native peoples of Mesoamerica are in their final stages of extinction. Soon the cultural use of mushrooms and other sacred plants could vanish from the face of the earth.
Wasson's eloquent approach in presenting María Sabina's world to the public is without a doubt, beyond reproach. He presented a most unique tale of María Sabina and her sacred mushrooms. His writings took us where no man had gone before and he presented to the world her story as no other person would have. Wasson brought María Sabina and her world into view of the public eye. He told of her chants, her way of life, her reasoning, and of her magic with her fellow village members, all who visited her seeking her advice and divination. Wasson orated her virtues with the highest respect and the finest regards and what he put to paper was only the truth as she revealed it to him and as he first saw and heard it.
Wasson knew that María Sabina was relevant to the balance of nature within her community. He held an extreme profound reverence for the woman and her work. At the same time he displayed features of her spirituality without bringing shame upon her heritage. He presented her to the world with an integrity that brought enchantment with what he wrote. Wasson's discoveries in Mesoamerica and his integral interpretations are what María Sabina would have written and described if she had been able.
Because of Wasson's intrusion into her life and the myriad who followed, a part of María Sabina's world and way of life was taken away. However, the vast treasures of ethnomycological knowledge and wisdom which Wasson extracted from her world became public only because she shared it with the outsiders. This knowledge will now remain a part of history because it was recorded by an honorable man who cared about what he had observed, experienced, and wrote of.
María Sabina was many things: an earth woman, a mother, a sabia, a poet, a healer, a curer, a believer, an achiever, and a curandera who stood at the very edge of her universe and glimpsed the secrets and meaning of life. Doña María had shared her secrets of magic and plant knowledge with the outside world. Only through hope and prayer will the benevolence she provided to the world be fully understood and appreciated. Through the pursuance of R. Gordon Wasson's persistency in following his dream of the trail of the magic mushrooms, Doña María has truly presented mankind with a magical key (mushroom) concerning some plausible answers surrounding some of the mysteries of our religious beginnings and maybe the origin of the earth.
Doña María may be gone, but her spirit and her wisdom still remain. Reach out and take the wisdom she was so willing to share. Take it with care and share it with love and respect. Can you see her face in the dark? Can you hear her chanting?
Albert Hofmann became interested in the Mexican relatives of LSD late in 1956, having read about them in a daily newspaper which had piqued his curiosity. However, the newspaper article offered no information as to where the mushrooms might be obtained, so Hofmann had to wait two years before the sacred mushroom would come to him. It was because of Hofmann's research with LSD that the mushrooms finally found their way into his laboratory, where he was able to quickly isolate their active principles.
In 1958, in a spotless laboratory at the Swiss pharmaceutical firm of Sandoz in Basel, this trim 52-year-old research chemist, at the time the Director of Natural Products, performed an unusual experiment. Hofmann had succeeded in isolating and synthesizing two alkaloids first extracted from dried specimens of Psilocybe mexicana Heim. The mushrooms had been grown in vitro in Paris by the eminent French mycologist Roger Heim (Hofmann, 1958 34; Unsigned, 1959 131). For two years, Heim had sought unsuccessfully to isolate the active ingredients from the mushrooms. Aware of Hofmann's discovery of LSD, Heim had mailed some 100g of dried Psilocybe mexicana to Hofmann. Hofmann and his colleagues, after exhausting this supply of mushrooms, grew their own cultures of Psilocybe mexicana and other species.
At first Hofmann and co-workers tried to isolate the active principles of the mushrooms using animal bioassays (mice and dogs), which proved unsuccessful. These experiments were inconclusive inasmuch as the animals were unable to describe the effects the mushrooms, which were not evident to observers. Hofmann had exhausted the bulk of the mushrooms sent to him by Heim, and decided to ingest some of the remaining mushrooms to verify that they were indeed active. Albert Hofmann, the "Father of LSD", thus proceeded to eat 32 dried specimens (2.4 g.) of Psilocybe mexicana which, according to published reports by Wasson and Heim, was roughly equivalent to an average dose used by shamans in México during their curing ceremonies.
Hofmann had decided to ingest the mushrooms himself since he could not ask his colleagues to consume them until he had first tried them himself. Hofmann later wrote that the 2.4 grams of dried Psilocybe mexicana represented a potent dose by Indian standards. According to Hofmann (1980)38, "Thirty minutes after my taking the mushrooms, the exterior world began to undergo a strange transformation. Everything assumed a Mexican character. As I was perfectly well aware that my knowledge of the Mexican origin of the mushroom would lead me to imagine only Mexican scenery, I tried deliberately to look on my environment as I knew it normally. But all voluntary efforts to look at things in their customary forms and colors proved ineffective. Whether my eyes were closed or open, I saw only Mexican motifs and colors. When the doctor supervising the experiment bent over to check my blood pressure, he was transformed into an Aztec priest and I would not have been astonished if he had drawn an Obsidian knife." Hofmann also described some of the psychoptic effects, noting: "At the peak of the intoxication, about 1 1/2 hours after ingestion of the mushrooms, the rush of interior pictures, mostly abstract motifs rapidly changing in shape and color, reached such an alarming degree that I feared that I would be torn into this whirlpool of form and color and would dissolve." When the experiment had concluded, Hofmann was happy to have returned home from a very strange and fantastic world. Hofmann then related his mushroom experience to his colleagues, who were later also to ingest them. For subsequent studies, Hofmann and his colleagues used themselves as bioassay, which led quickly to isolation of the active principles, which were subsequently synthesized.
In March of 1958 they published their findings in Experientia. Eight months later, in November of 1958, Drs. A. J. Frey, H. Ott, T. Petrzilka and F. Trozler, all colleagues of Albert Hofmann, then published the chemical structures of psilocybine and psilocine.
The 16 June 1958 issue of Time magazine, reporting on Hofmann's synthesis of psilocybine and psilocine, wrote that he had dissolved five milligrams of pure-white crystals in a test-tube with water and while his colleagues and assistants looked on, had swallowed the potion, lain-down on a couch and waited. Hofmann reported "I am losing my normal bodily sensations... My perception of space and time is changing. ... Your faces appear strange..." and finally, "Now as I close my eyes, I see a wonderful but indistinct kaleidoscopic train of visions. They are vividly colored."
This account of June 16th, 1958, brings confusion to the actual dates of these experiments and is quite different from Hofmann's first reported experience with the 32 dried specimens in which he described himself as being in a partial paranoid- like state. This report of the crystallized chemical intoxication was published between the March, 1958 and November, 1958 issues of Experientia as mentioned above. Hofmann soon discovered that the effects from the mushrooms were similar to the effects he had earlier experienced from ingestion of LSD and speculated that both worked on the same part of the brain.
Hofmann reported that the mushroomic alkaloids were related to the natural neurotransmitter serotonine (5-hydroxytryptamine) and that their chemical structure was likewise similar to that of LSD. Hofmann and his colleagues named the substances in the Mexican mushrooms psilocybine and psilocine. The former given the pharmaceutical trade-name as "indocybin (Registered trademark)" in recognition of the Indians who first used the mushrooms. Indo both for the Indians and for indole, the nucleus in the chemical structure of psilocybine; and -cybin after Psilocybe. Sandoz then manufactured pills with 2 and 5 milligram doses of Indolcybin (Registered Trademark).
Three years later (Hofmann, 1980)38, Hofmann and his wife Anita accompanied Gordon Wasson on an expedition to the Sierra Mazateca where they were received most graciously by the now-famous curandera Doña María Sabina. Wasson, Albert and Anita Hofmann attended a velada and all requested a potion made from the leaves of Salvia divinorum, which gave an experience similar to that of the entheogenic mushrooms, although the duration of the leaves effects were shorter - two-three hours as compared to four-six hours for the mushrooms.
During the velada, Doña María Sabina did not consume the Salvia divinorum but rather partook of Hofmann's Indocybin pills which he later presented to her as a gift. "She was obviously impressed when it was explained to her that we had managed to confine the spirit of the mushrooms in pills." (Hofmann, 1980)38 María Sabina reportedly consumed 6 of the 5 milligram pills. In the morning she thanked Hofmann for the pills and added that there was no difference between the effects of the pills and the mushrooms, which quite amazed her. She was happy that now she would be able to perform her ceremonies when the mushrooms were out of season. Much later, however, she said she had not really appreciated that the foreigners had taken the power from the mushrooms and recreated it in a laboratory in the form of pills.
Hofmann and colleagues also synthesized various homologues and analogues of psilocybine (CZ-74, CMY-16, and CY19) and psilocine (CY-39 and CX-59), which were also made available for research by Sandoz and later the National Institute of Mental Health (Baer, 1979)7.
Albert Hofmann also became a collaborator and close friend of Richard Evans Schultes. Over the years they gave lectures at various conferences on entheogenic plants and also wrote two books describing their studies of entheogens (Schultes & Hofmann, 1973 111; Schultes & Hofmann, 1979 112).
According to Timothy Francis Leary, he was allegedly conceived on a military reservation known as West Point in 1920. His father Timothy (Tote) was a military man with a penchant for distilled alcohol and his mother Abigail was considered to be the most beautiful woman on post.
After an exciting non-conformist childhood, in August of 1940, Tim, as his father had done before him, entered West Point - a mistake if there ever was one. Because of Tim's shenanigans (drinking and covering up his actions), he was court-martialed and in two minutes of judgment Tim was acquitted. However, his sentence was total silence by his fellow cadets, a silence which lasted for more than seven months. During this period, Tim was constantly harassed and by August of 1941 he had decided to resign his commission from West Point (Leary, 1983)61.
In August of 1941, Tim began his study of human behavior at the University of Alabama with psychology as his major, yet by the fall of 1942, Tim was expelled for sexual misconduct and because of his expulsion he lost his draft deferment. In January 1943, Tim reported for basic training at Fort Eustis, Virginia where he was trained in anti-aircraft artillery. After basic training, Tim was selected for Officer's training and before too long Tim was promoted to corporal and assigned to the Acoustic Clinic as a clinical psychologist. After five years in the military, Tim and his new wife Marianne moved west and in 1946, Tim finally received his master's degree in psychology from Washington State University. His thesis was a statistical study of the dimensions of intelligence. In September, Tim was accepted as a doctoral student in psychology at Berkeley. It was at Berkeley where Tim began to foster his ideas on existentialism.
By 1959, Tim had become somewhat successful yet was sufficiently broke. He was the author of numerous scientific papers and two well-regarded books on the diagnosis of personality and had just finished typing a manuscript on new humanist methods for behavior change which he called Existential Transaction. Tim was living in a penthouse in Florence, Italy when he was visited by an old drinking buddy from Berkeley, a creativity researcher named Frank Baron. It was Frank who first told Timothy of the Sacred Mexican Magic Mushrooms. Frank even told Timothy that he had brought a bag of the sacred mushrooms back to Harvard. Timothy balked at the idea of the mushrooms and suggested to his friend about the possibility of losing his credibility if he babbled this information to any of his other colleagues. It was Frank Baron who set up an appointment for Tim with David McClelland, Director of the Harvard Center for Personality Research. McClelland was interested in Tim's ideas of existentialism, saying to Tim that "You're just what we need to shake things up at Harvard."
In the summer of 1960 (August), Timothy Leary began his lectureship at Harvard University. This began yet another colorful and exciting chapter in the history of the divine and sacred mushroom. Leary had read R. Gordon Wasson's amazing account recalling his rediscovery of "mushrooms that caused strange visions." This Life magazine article had apparently generated Leary's interest enough so that he wished he could someday experience the effects of the Mexican "magic mushrooms".
Because of Leary's interest in the sacred mushrooms as an adjacent to psychotherapy, clinical applications were soon brought to the academic scene and psilocybin became a new therapeutic tool in psychiatric medicine. This course would soon lead to the widespread recreational use of other drugs such as LSD, mescaline and marijuana, all of which were readily available to students, especially undergraduates, at Harvard University. Such use became pandemic, soon leading to mass civil disobedience in many large metropolitan cities throughout America. All of a sudden, millions of citizens throughout the United States started to take drugs. Eventually, interest and use of psychedelic drugs spread to other countries throughout the world.
While the use of these substances caused no mental or physical problems among those in academic circles where users reported that they experienced euphoria, insight and an awareness of God, there were many new unguided "trippers" who experienced severe dysphoria - resulting in what became known as a "bum trip" or "bad trip". It was because of the "bad trips" resulting from the frivolous use of LSD which eventually led to the prohibited use of these substances by mainstream society's law-making legislature. The death of TV host Art Linkletter's daughter who jumped from a window while high on LSD led the country into a mass hysteria, and many states as well as the Federal Government soon passed legislature banning the use, manufacture and sales of LSD and many other natural entheogenic plant substances. Years later Art Linkletter changed his attitude about many drugs and even felt that marijuana should be legalized.
Timothy Francis Leary holds the honor as the man most responsible for the creation of a new era by which mankind used psychoactive substances in search of neo-religious ideologies through the consumption of certain psychotropic herbs/plants. The use of these magical herbs by individuals who were interested in seeking god caused much confusion and disillusionment in the world. It offered many individuals an alternative lifestyle, one which had not existed for perhaps a millennium.
Because of a few individual dysphoric reactions which occurred in individuals who had ingestion psychoactive drugs, many new laws were created and voted upon, mostly out of fear by legislators who enacted new and harsh drug laws in ignorance - laws which would specifically curb the illicit use of drugs among common citizens of America. This occurred quite hastily in order to pacify the law-enforcement agents who had no real knowledge of drugs. This might cause one to ask, "How can a just society create unjust laws that make criminals out of its citizens?"
These unjust laws eventually brought forth a new breed of American citizens, young and old alike, from all walks of life, including law-enforcement officials. These laws also brought forth an unreal form of civil disobedience, where millions of citizens decided that they were not afraid of being arrested and sent to prison just because they felt that they were within god's right to smoke a joint, eat peyote or consume a sacred mushroom, or any of the other drugs/plants which society deemed to be unacceptable.
Nowhere in any other society or culture in the history of the world have millions of people so blatantly disobeyed the law with such ill-respect as in regards to the drug laws of America. If one is caught breaking these sanctions then that person is liable to prosecution and may be punished for his or her beliefs. Many casual users of entheogenic drugs/plants believe that the plants let them achieve a oneness with god. It must never be forgotten that, when Wasson (1957)140, Schultes (1978)106, Leary (1968)59, and Weil (1980)138 first experienced the majesty of spirit communion with mushrooms, many of the natural drug-plants were not illegal and that their initial exposure caused a reaction which brought unto them a symbiotic relationship with the magical plant and the true meaning of life. We must never forget that many different species of entheogenic plants were not illegal until the late 1960's and their existence was shared only by an elitist academic segment of society, who for many decades had kept their knowledge sacred and only shared it with their close friends or colleagues.
Under discussion are some of the factors which led to the popularization of hallucinogenic drugs, mushrooms included. The first clue regarding this domino effect, common among those people who have formed a sacred communion with entheogenic healing plants, comes from word of mouth among friends, the public press, drug sub-culture publications, television and Timothy Leary - who was the first person to bring the mushrooms, their effects and their benefits to the attention of the academic public.
While Wasson and his colleagues introduced us into the fascinating world of the "magic mushrooms," it was Leary who introduced us into the "psychedelic" age. He shared his special knowledge with the world. What else could he do once the mushrooms had spoken to him? "Tune in, turn on, drop out" found meaning with many. It became the creed of a whole generation. Imagine that, the beneficial and euphoric rewards of "mind-tripping" into the subconscious, what a trip. Fantastic journeys through the mind. By the early 1970's, President Richard Milhous Nixon had referred to Timothy Leary as "the most dangerous man in the world."
Prior to the "hippie" and "bohemian" invasion into Mexico during the 1960's by thousands of individuals seeking out the sacred mushrooms, Timothy Francis Leary, still a young Harvard psychologist, was spending his summer vacation in a quiet villa near the tiny village hamlet of Cuernavaca, Mexico. It was at Leary's rented villa resort swimming pool, while relaxing under the hot Mexican sun, that Timothy Leary consumed his first "magic mushrooms."
Leary was waiting for Gerhardt Braun, an anthropologist-historian-linguist from the University of Mexico. Braun was a frequent visitor to Leary's villa, and he had read of the mushrooms while translating ancient Aztec Nahuatl texts. His growing interest had aroused something within him, definitely causing him to want to experience the wondrous mushrooms. After a short period of time Braun learned that the so-called "magic mushrooms" could be found growing on the volcanic slopes of Toluca near the village hamlet of San Pedro.
However, it was on the streets of San Pedro, under an arch in the local market, that Gerhardt Braun finally purchased a bag of "magic mushrooms" which he had obtained from an elderly sun-baked Señora named "Old Juana." So, Braun, very excited, then called Leary at the villa in Cuernavaca to inform him that at last he had finally purchased some "magic mushrooms." Leary had first heard of the mushrooms from his friend and colleague Frank Baron. In Baron's own words, "And so I commended the mushroom to the attention of a colleague of mine at Harvard University, Dr. Timothy Leary, who was an active practitioner of group therapy. He [Leary] became interested in its possibilities as a vehicle for inducing change in behavior as a result of the altered state of consciousness that the drug produces (Baron, 1963)8." Thus began the "psychedelic age" as Leary and several of his friends would participate in their first communion with the sacred mushrooms of Mexico.
As Leary consumed the fungi (seven mushrooms, Psilocybe caerulescens Murr.), he complained of their somewhat bitter and acrid taste with no impending comprehension as to what was about to happen to him. He never thought for one minute that it would forever change the course of his life.
Leary (1968)59 later claimed that "It was the classic visionary voyage and I came back a changed man. You are never the same after you've had that one flash glimpse down the cellular time tunnel. You are never the same after you've had the veil drawn." Later, Leary returned to the market place where the mushrooms were purchased from Crazy Juana but he was unable to find her or anyone who might be able to provide him with more specimens of the fungi.
Later, Leary's friend and colleague Richard (Baba Ram Dass) Alpert, also from Harvard, had flown down to Mexico and offered Leary a ride back to Massachusetts. Leary decided to share with his friend some comments concerning his mushroom experience by describing to Alpert his most recent ecstatic and religious experience while under the influence of the metaphoric fungi. Leary claimed that "I was whirled through an experience which could be described in many extravagant metaphors but which above all and without question was the deepest [most] religious experience of my life" (Leary, 1968 59, 1983 61).
Alpert's response to Leary's experience came as a shock, since neither person had attained much knowledge in the field of psychoactive drugs. However, Alpert was familiar with the "tea" scene (the use of marijuana and hashish) and related to Leary his impression of the drug marijuana by mentioning that there were cults of beatniks and Bohemians in San Francisco who used hashish and marijuana in dark corners of jazz houses and other nightclubs. They did this in secret out of fear of being arrested for their illicit activities. Alpert even went on to refer to this practice as "cultic." At the time of this conversation, very little research had been conducted involving humans and psychedelic drugs. These comments by Leary and Alpert in the fall of 1960 appeared to be their only knowledge of drugs and drug use. This occurred approximately two to two and a half years before Leary had consumed his first tablet of Sandoz LSD. Of course, it should be mentioned that there were numerous sessions of drug therapy being conducted at Harvard where researchers in a controlled environment gave LSD, mescaline, marijuana, hashish and DMT to student volunteers.
For several years after Leary first consumed the sacred mushrooms in Cuernavaca, he had been offered LSD but was afraid to experiment with it (Metzner, 1970)75. The mushroom trip which Leary had experienced would soon trigger a series of events during the next few years, events which would lead to the massive popularization of many mind-altering drug/plants. Leary eventually came to prosthelytize the use of mind-altering chemicals and his advocacy of these drugs played a central role in their re-emergence into western civilization. The use of these drugs was like a religious revival, a revival of people from all walks of life, who would soon become willing pawns in the psychedelization of mind-altering drug/plants. These innocent pawns would soon began to experiment with many varieties of entheogenic drug/plants and use them as sacraments and as a new form or type of recreation. Leary's eminent concern of course would be to use these substances as adjacents to psychotherapy. Soon research grants were sought and applied for and eventually approved. Leary soon began to conduct laboratory experiments with human subjects in controlled environments, all within the framework of the law. It should be mentioned that when Leary conducted this research, most, if not all of the drugs he utilized, were legal at the time, possibly with the exception of peyote (mescaline) and marijuana.
Leary's first experiments using what became known as psychedelic drugs involved prisoners at the Concord Massachusetts Reformatory for Men. At first, Leary earned public acclamation among his peers and colleagues at Harvard by opening the door into a new and somewhat mystical dimension and an unusual approach to psycho-therapeutic research.
A new adventure and chapter into the often mysterious subconscious mind of man was about to formulate into existence, a concept in therapy that would shake the very foundation of an established Christian-orientated society. A society which would not condone mankind's intellectual use of mind-altering drugs as a way of life.
One of the most important factors which evolved from Leary's research with psychoactive substances was that Leary created an atmosphere where, because of him, millions of individuals began to use hallucinogenic drugs for purposes other than spirituality, healing or divination. However, who is to say that one's experience under the influence of such drugs is not of a religious nature? This frivolous use of mind-altering drugs created an overall negative attitude amongst the ruling class and legislative branches of the government. They were apparently afraid that these drug/plants would enable users to expand their natural minds into a more flexible opened mind and a new way of thinking - a way of thinking which was definitely not adherent within society's moral turpitude and Christian way of living.
Leary also began to turn friends on to these mushrooms and felt that theses sacred mushrooms should only be used by gifted people. Allen Ginsburg ate mushrooms at Leary's home in Millbrook, took off all his clothes and then ran naked from Leary's home.
He was not to be seen for more that a few months. Leary also turned on many other gifted people to the mushrooms during the early and middle 1960's (Koestler, 1960)49.
Leary first began his program of therapeutic mushroom use by placing an order with Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in Basil, Switzerland, for the mushroom pills known as "indocybin". Leary had no comprehension that his work with hallucinogenic drugs as an adjacent to psycho-therapy would ever become as popular as it did.
On the day Leary received his first batch of "indocybin" pills, he was at his home in MillBrook and his friends soon encouraged him to return to his office at Harvard to retrieve the pills. Leary and his friends had decided that if they were to attempt to use these pills on human subjects then maybe they should try them first. Before the night was over, Leary and several of his friends had somehow managed to consume the entire vial (100/ 2 mg. pills) of "indocybin". This caused Leary to then re-order another vial of the mushroom pills. It took several weeks for the pills to arrive, giving Leary enough time to prepare his group of researchers to begin implementation of his program. Leary, like María Sabina, also believed that the mushroom pills were no different in effect than the actual mushrooms which he had consumed while vacationing in Mexico (Leary, 1968)59.
During 1961 (Leary, Litwin & Metzner, 1963 65; Leary, 1968 59), and the following academic year, Leary and Jonathan Clark worked an intensive tightly structured program involving several small groups comprised of inmates from the Concord Massachusetts State Reformatory for Men. The experiments conducted by Leary and his colleagues on prisoners in this institution gave the psychopharmacologists a new insight into each prisoner's mind and life (Leary, 1961e) 57.
One of the primary goals set in the Harvard psilocybin research projects which used LSD, mescaline and psilocybin as an adjacent to psycho-therapy, was to set goals for the prisoners so that upon their release from prison they would be better able to adjust their lives - both physiologically and psychologically - back into society.
Another goal was to help the prisoners by changing their aggressive thinking disorders which originally caused them to be put in prison. It would appear that the ultimate goal of Leary and his associates would be to change these unhappy thinking anti-social individual souls into happy peaceful loving citizens who, upon release from prison, would end up becoming more productive members of society.
The end results of these early experiments using human subjects were quite satisfactory, but inconclusive as far as prison officials were concerned. The program was abruptly halted because of the adverse publicity which surrounded Leary and his use of consciousness-expanding drugs on human volunteers. Thirty-four-years later, follow-up studies to Tim's experiments at Concord were conducted and the results published (Doblin, 1999-2000 15; Leary, 1963 58; Leary, 1969 60; Leary & Metzner, 1968 63; Metzner, 1999-2000 76; Metzner & Weil, 1963 77; Riedlinger & Leary, 1994 92).
Another interesting aspect to Leary's approach to psychoactive substances occurred when Leary administered psilocybin pills to a pregnant woman. Leary provided this subject with psilocybin every two weeks during the woman's pregnancy until her delivery. Leary continued to do follow-up research on the woman for about one year after the child was born. Both the woman and child suffered no ill effects from the consumption of the mushroom pills. The mother did experience some nausea with vomiting while under the influence of the mushroom pills, but no other uncomfortable, unpleasant, or undesirable effects were noticeable or reported during the experience (Leary, Litwin & Metzner, 1963)65. Other studies by JWA in 1976-1977 (unpublished notes) indicate that severe nausea does occur from the consumption of psilocybin-containing mushrooms if taken during pregnancy and if taken with alcohol. Furthermore, no one should ever, under any set of circumstances, take any drugs when pregnant unless prescribed by a physician.
Another well-publicized experiment occurred in a University Chapel in Boston on the evening of Good Friday 1962. It was here that twenty theology students took part in Walter Pahnke's Psilocybin experiments. Ten students were given 30 mg. of psilocybin and ten others were given 200 mg. of nicotinic acid, laced with a small amount of Benzedrine to stimulate the initial physical sensations attributed to a psychedelic experience.
This experiment became know as "The Miracle of Marsh Chapel". During the following six months after this experiment, researchers collected extensive data which included tape recordings, group discussions, follow-up interviews and a 147 - item questionnaire used in quantifying the characteristics of a psychedelic experience (Stevens, 1987c 126, d 127; Leary, 1961c 55, 1961d 56; Koestler,1961 41; Roberts & Jesse, 1998 96).
Eventually, Tim was fired from Harvard for failure to attend his lectures. Interestingly, it was partially the fault of Harvard Crimson reporter Andrew Weil that brought Tim Leary his walking papers. Weil had been reporting on Tim's extra-curricular activities involving the giving of drugs to undergraduates which resulted in the firing of both Tim and his friend and colleague Richard (Baba Ram Dass) Alpert (Unsigned, 1963a 133, 1963b 134).
Years later, John Lennon and Yoko Ono wrote Tim that they had written a song during their Toronto bed-in in Tim's honor. The song: "Come Together".
In June of 1996, Tim Leary passed away and in March of 1997, one gram of Timothy Leary's cremated ashes, along with the ashes of "Star Trek's" Gene Roddenberry and 23 others, was launched into space via a satellite and is now part of the universe.
As a final word regarding some of the early research involved with hallucinogenic mushrooms, the author remembers hearing a story which circulated during the early 1970's which indicated that Sandoz laboratories in Mexico allegedly received a grant to study psilocybin.
They were supposed to manufacture a headache tablet to replace aspirin. According to this story, Sandoz could not produce a pill for headaches because they could not separate the visuals from the tranquil effects of the mushroom experience. It should be noted that this story has not been verified by the author. However, it would appear that if Sandoz had conducted such investigations, they could have made a mild pill which would have produced mild tranquillity in patients rather then a hallucinogenic visual experience.
Below are several dozen short biographies of some of those psilophorians whose interest in the sacred mushrooms goes far beyond that of their own minds.
Arno Adelaars - graduated from the University of Amsterdam, is a Dutch freelance journalist and has published a fine book on European psilocybian mushrooms, "Alles Over Paddo's". Adelaars, together with Hans van den Hurk and Claudia Müller-Ebeling, were the organizers of the October 1998 "Psychoactivity" conference at the Tropen Museum in Amsterdam.
Michael Aldrich - is curator of the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Memorial Library and author of "The Dope Chronicles 1850-1950". Mr. Aldrich presides over the largest collection ever assembled of drug-related material from all over the world.
John Marc Allegro - was a British theologian and expert in ancient and archaic languages of Asia Minor (1925-1988). During the 1950s, Allegro was a colleague of the international team of scientists assigned to decipher and translate the Dead Sea Scrolls and was therefore made an Honorary Adviser by King Hussein of Jordan. The publication of his brilliantly written basic study on the fly agaric as a possible origin of early Christian belief systems (The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross, 1970) gave him worldwide recognition, but led also to furious hostilities by orthodox theologians, who reacted angrily at the thought provoking title of his book and not justly recognizing the value of the scientific records which Allegro had formulated within the book.
John W. Allen - is an amateur ethnomycologist living in North America. Mr. Allen is the author of ten books (including Magic Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest (1976-1997) the oldest selling identification guide on entheogenic mushroom identification) and more than two dozen articles on the subject of visionary mushrooms and the editor and author of the series Ethnomycological Journals Sacred Mushroom Studies. Additionally, Mr. Allen has photographed mushrooms in America, Hawai'i, Southeast Asia, Great Britain and Europe.
Richard Alpert - also known as Baba Ram Dass, was Timothy Leary's colleague. He has worked extensively in the field of transcendental meditation, yoga and other eastern philosophies. Alpert, along with Leary, obtained a supply of synthetic psilocybine from Sandoz for use in experiments on prisoners at the Concord State Prison in Massachusetts.
James Arthur - (1958-2005) was deeply involved in studying mushrooms and religion. He was an author, lecturer, and performer who argued that A. muscaria and psilocybian mushrooms were very influential in Christianity and other religions. Arthur explored the idea that Religions have become entities far removed from their original intention as helpers of mankind and have, through ego-inspired misinterpretation of revelation and/or simple control motivation, becomes oppressive to mankind. His views were controversial and disputed by other authors in the field. Arthur also spoke publicly about other topics such as UFOs.
Wolfgang Bauer - is a German psychologist who has studied extensively on optical illusions by Prof. Rausch at the J.W. Goethe - Universität in Frankfurt/Main. Bauer is also editor of Sergius Golowin's classic treatise on witches herbs and magic mushrooms (Magie der verbotenen Märchen, Hamburg, 1973), which became a cult-book in the Seventies and which was secretly xerox-copied in the then communistic eastern part of Germany and later redistributed in the hippie-underground there. Furthermore, Bauer is co-editor of Integration - Journal for Mind-Moving Plants and Culture and also editor and co-author of Der Fliegenpilz - Traumkult, Märchenzauber, Mythenrausch (Aarau 2000). His collection of objects relating to the fly-agaric has been exhibited by the Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum (Hagen) several times throughout many European Museums.
Michael Beug - was Academic Dean at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Beug has taught mushroom identification at Evergreen and at mushroom conferences throughout the U.S.A. since 1972. He is also a contributor of photographs to more than a dozen books, and has published numerous scientific papers on mushroom toxins and mushroom- identification keys.
Frank Barron - was a colleague of Timothy Leary, who first told Leary that he had brought some mushrooms he had obtained in México back to Harvard. This was the first Leary had heard of their special power, and later inspired Leary to ingest these special mushrooms.
Antonio Bianchi - is an Italian anesthesiologist and toxicologist, and is an expert on visionary mescaline-containing cacti from Perú (San Pedro) and México (péyote). Bianchi has also studied the soma mushroom, Amanita muscaria.
Jeremy Bigwood - is a biochemist and mushroom cultivator. In the late 1970's Bigwood was a co-ordinator of the Second International Conference on Hallucinogenic Mushrooms, where he lectured on new and improved methods for the cultivation of Psilocybe cubensis. Bigwood was also co-editor with Jonathan Ott and contributor to Teonanacatl: Hallucinogenic Mushrooms of North America. He attended Evergreen State College in Washington State where he collaborated both with Michael Beug and Jonathan Ott. Bigwood and Michael Beug contributed two scientific articles to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology on potency levels of in vitro grown specimens of P. cubensis and other psilocybian mushrooms from the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Furthermore, Bigwood and Ott presented one of the first methods for inoculating shrooms spores using syringes.
Richard Glen Boire - is a California attorney who defends clients charged with drug-law violations. He is the publisher of a newsletter The Entheogenic Law Reporter, devoted to drug-related law and news. Boire is also the author of Sacred Mushrooms and the Law and Marijuana Law.
Masha Wasson Briten - is the adopted daughter of R. Gordon Wasson, who, along with her mother, Valentina Pavlova Wasson, became the first westerner to consume the magic mushrooms outside of a ceremonial context.
J. Christopher Brown - is a graduate student in Botany at the University of Massachusetts who helped to organize the Gordon and Tina Wasson Ethnomycological Collection at the Harvard Botanical Museum.
Carlos Castaneda - is an anthropologist who has written several novels ostensibly about a Yaqui Indian medicine-man named Don Juan. In the what is the first saga, being an account of an alleged relationship with a Yaqui Indian medicine man, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, mentions a smoking-mixture which Don Juan allegedly referred to as humilito.
Stephan F. de Borhegyi - is an archaeologist who studied the mushroom stones of Middle America and published a few papers regarding them.
Jim de Korne - is the author of Psychedelic Shamanism and has contributed two chapters in his book on the sacred mushrooms.
Richard de Mille - has exhaustedly studied the Carlos Castaneda controversy in the process shedding doubt on the authenticity of Castaneda's research and his books concerning his relationship with the (to De Mille) non-existent shaman, Don Juan.
Herman de Vries - is a Dutch artist who is also editor-in-chief of Integration - Journal of Mind Moving Plants and Culture. De Vries, spent most of his life suffering from asthma. Doctors told him that he would not lived beyond fifty years of age. However, on the 17th of January 1970, De Vries said goodbye to his illness after an LSD-experience which forever changed his life. And since that very day he has been in the best of health. De Vries believes that as a humans we all have an existential basic right to test and experience all the possibilities which nature offers us. As an artist, De Vries has participated in almost 500 exhibitions and his works are represented in 48 museums.
Rick Doblin - is the founder and current president of MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) and has recently conducted a follow-up study to Timothy Leary's, Concord Psilocybin Prison Project. Rick is currently in the Ph.D. program in Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and has previously graduated from Stan and Christina Grof's Holotropic Breathwork 3-year training program.
Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty - was co-author with R. Gordon Wasson of Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality, and is an expert on the Hindu epic Reg Veda, also having edited an anthology with some of the original text.
William Emboden - is Professor of Biology at the University of California at Northridge and author of Narcotic Plants, an excellent book on visionary and other psychoactive plants. A section of this fine book is devoted to mushrooms.
Leonard Enos - is author of the first identification manual for psilocybine-containing mushrooms common in the Pacific Northwest United States. Mr. Enos' "A Key to the North American Psilocybin Mushroom" is poorly written, illustrated with imaginative water-colors of the common species, and tells the prospective collector where, when and how to find several species of psilocybian mushrooms. There is also a un-practical chapter on cultivation of psilocybian mushrooms and another chapter on a so-called philosophy involving psilocybin mushrooms.
Alvaro Estrada - is a Mazatec Indian who speaks and writes Spanish. His interviews with María Sabina were the basis for her autobiography Vida de María Sabina: La Sabia de Hongos, translated into French as "Autobiographie de María Sabina: La Sage aux Champignons Sacrés"; English as "María Sabina: Her Life, Her Chants"; into Portuguese as "A Vida de María Sabina, a Sabia dos Cogumelos"; and in German as "María Sabina: Botin der Heiligen Pilze".
Michael Fehr - is director of the Karl Ernst Osthaus-Museum in Hagen (Germany). Fehr has organized several exhibitions on the studies and use of the fly-agaric mushroom Amanita muscaria. One article of importance to this work has Dr. Fehr discussing the role of psychoactive fungi as objects of museum didactic considerations published in Der Fliegenpilz - ein kulturhistorisches Museum (Köln, 1991), a book, of which Michael Fehr is also the editor.
Francisco Festi - is a researcher of entheogenic mushrooms and author of Funghi Allucinogeni: Aspetti Psicofisiologici E Storici (in Italian, 1985). An excellent book covering both Old and New World histories of usage, chemistry and pharmacology of these interesting mushrooms.
Nat Finkelstein - was just a young student when he traveled to México in the late 1960's. While their he was most fortunate to consume the sacred mushrooms. Finkelstein later wrote of his experience in an article for Psychedelic Review "Hongi Meester" relating his personal mushroom velada with María Sabina.
Peter Furst - is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the State University of New York at Albany, a member of the American Department of the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, and a research associate in ethnobotany at the Botanical Museum of Harvard University. Furst is the author of Hallucinogens and Culture; Flesh of the Gods; and Mushrooms: Psychedelic Fungi. The latter is part of the Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs series.
Jochen Gartz - is a biochemist and mycologist at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Gartz is also founder of the Department of Fungal Biotransformation at that University. Gartz has traveled extensively and conducted field-research in Europe, South Africa and the US Pacific Northwest. He has authored more than 50 scientific papers on the chemistry and cultivation of entheogenic mushrooms and has authored field guides (publ. in German and English) for the identification of psilocybian mushrooms. Gartz is the discoverer of a new entheogenic mushroom from Africa, which he named Psilocybe natalensis. His books include Magic Mushrooms Around the World (1996), an English translation of the two German editions of "Narrenschwämme" (1993); and (co-authored two books on CD-ROM with John W. Allen) "Magic Mushrooms in Some Third World Countries" (1998) and "Psilocybian Mushroom Cultivation: A Brief History" of which the latter is currently being translated into a German edition by Gartz.
Rich Gee - is co-author with Jule Stevens of How to Grow and Identify Psilocybin Mushrooms and author of an aquarium guide to the latest techniques for growing psychoactive mushrooms, Cubensis Aquarium Gardening Workbook Edition. Mr. Gee is a pioneer in the field of mushroom cultivation.
Ewald Gerhardt - is a European mycologist who has just published a revision of the genus Panaeolus.
Hartmut Geerken - is a german writer, musician and paramycologist. As a child Geerken shared a symbiotic relationship with wild edible mushrooms which helped in his survival during the famine after world war II. Increasingly intererested in fungi Geerken eventually became the Editor-in-Chief of Paramykologische Rundschau (a paramycological review; 1979 cont.). Geerken also conducted several field studies of Afghan fungi and in the late 1970s along the Afghan-Pakistani border discoverd the up to then unknown "boletus (tubiporus) pactiae gee". (s. Afghanistan Journal, Graz; 1978/1). Geerken also worked on hallucinogenic mushrooms and mycological folklore healing practises in the middle hindukush and introduced the term rabenbrot to the mycological discussion. In Namibia he did research on the Termitomyces 'omajowa'. Additionally, Geerken has also published numerous books of contemporary literature, directed radio plays and performances and composed musical works in which mushrooms always played an important role. He is also playing the musical works of the mycologist John Cage.
Allen Ginsburg - was one of the first people Timothy Leary introduced to psilocybian mushrooms. According to Leary, Ginsburg, after becoming inebriated by the mushrooms, ripped-off all of his clothes and from Leary's Millbrook estate ran stark naked down the street and was not to be heard from until several months later.
F. F. Ghouled - is author of The Field Guide to Psilocybin Mushrooms. Ghouled, along with colleague Richard Meridith, later published Psilocybin Cultivation after changing his name to F. C. Gould. This former book described collection of Psilocybe cubensis found only in the Southeastern United States from Texas to Florida and north to Georgia. Ghouled also alleged Amanita muscaria was the famed "magic mushroom" of México [sic!] and mis-identified two photographs of Psilocybe cubensis in their young stage of grow as Panaeolus subbalteatus.
Sergius Golowin - is a renown Swiss writer and folklorist, who in his book Die Magie der verbotenen Märchen (Hamburg, 1973), was the first person to infer that there was a connection between the caps of the dwarfs and other beings in fairy tales and the appearance of the fly agaric, a mushroom which sports a red cap (hat). Golowin is also the founder of the Psychedelic Folklore (Psychedelische Volkskunde) and has made in the early Seventies, a very impressive experiment when he bioassayed seven dried caps of the fly agaric. The account of his experience is printed in Der Fliegenpilz - Traumkult, Märchenzauber, Mythenrausch. Furthermore, when Dr. Timothy Leary was arrested in Switzerland after his flight from the U.S.A., Golowin started an initiative intended to get Leary out of Swiss prison and later attempted to help Leary get a residence permit for Leary to remain in Switzerland.
Adam Gottlieb - is author of The Psilocybin Producer's Guide, a poorly written book on cultivation with several identification errors which were never corrected in subsequent printings (Psychedelic Underground Library: Nine Rare Classics) and reissues of the original book and later the same errors were reprinted in an updated version of his booklet retitled as Psilocybin Production.
Robert Graves - was a British author and historian Who wrote also on Greek Mythology and was one of the first persons to whom R. Gordon Wasson gave the sacred-Mexican mushrooms. Graves wrote several articles about mushrooms, including one in which he described his experience while under the influence of psilocybian mushrooms - This article appeared in an issue of Holiday magazine (Graves, 1962)26.
Gastón Guzmán - is a Mexican mycologist, co-founder and past President of the Mexican Mycological Society. Guzmán has spent more than 44 years studying mushrooms, working mainly in taxonomy, ecology and ethnomycology. He presently works at the Instituto de Ecología, Xalapa, Veracruz, México, where he founded the Mycology Department in 1989.
Guzmán has published more than 350 papers on fungi and 8 books. His first book, published in 1977 was the first mushroom field guide published in Mexico. In 1983 Cramer published his monograph on Psilocybe (now out of print): The Genus Psilocybe: A Systematic Revision of the Known Species Including the History, Distribution and Chemistry of the Hallucinogenic Species. In 1995 Cramer also published a supplement to that monograph. Guzmán had described more than one hundred new species of Psilocybe throughout the world. His most recent book, published in 1997, is a checklist of Spanish names for mushroom species of Latin American mushrooms, a monumental work covering more than 5,500 common names with scientific equivalents (over 1600 species). Guzmán began his first studies in 1955 and 1957 became field assistant to Rolf Singer, then investigating the hallucinogenic fungi of México. In an obscure village of southern México, Guzmán attended an Indian ceremony where he partook of the visionary mushroom (Psilocybe cubensis).
Since 1995 and 1997 Guzmán has been honored as an Emeritus National Research Fellow in Mexico and an Emeritus Research Fellow of his Institution. Guzmán's current work is A Worldwide Geographical Distribution of the Neurotropic Fungi, Analysis and Discussion, a listing all of the known psychoactive species (218 and counting) and their worldwide distribution, co authored with John W. Allen and Jochen Gartz. This large monograph will appear in the Italian Journal Annal des Musei Civici de Rovereto. Guzmán is considered to be the leading authority on the taxonomy of the Mexican entheogenic mushrooms.
Richard and Karen Haard - were not directly involved in the study of hallucinogenic mushrooms, but they did publish in the mid-1970's one of the first field guides devoted specifically to the identification of both poisonous and hallucinogenic mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest United States. Richard Haard, Ph.D., is a graduate of Kansas State University, and formerly an associate Professor of Biology at Western Washington State College. Haard taught at the Nature Study Institute, Bellingham, Washington, which he and his wife Karen founded in 1974, and also worked as a biological-system consultant for various Indian tribes of North America. Karen Haard, B.Sc. is also a graduate of Kansas State University, and a former research technician in a biological laboratory.
Joan Halifax - is an anthropologist with an interest in shamanism and preliterate cultures that have used drug-plants. She was a close friend of R. Gordon Wasson's.
Martin Hanslmeier - is a German physician and psychotherapist who has been engaged in the study of mycology since childhood. Hanslmeier is also a painter and photographer of psychoactive fungi. His study on German psychoactive mushrooms (Mykographie einer Wiese in der Rhön) has been printed in Herman de Vries' catalogue of a large collection of herbs and plants (Natural relations, Nürnberg 1989). Also numerous articles on magic mushrooms have appeared in many journals and publications throughout Germany.
Bob Harris - is the author of Growing Wild Mushrooms and the creator, along with David Tatelman, of the Homestead Mushroom Kit. Harris also invented a wheat-straw pasteurizer to be used in mushroom cultivation.
Roger Heim - was the noted French mycologist who accompanied R. Gordon Wasson on several expeditions into the Sierra Madre of México and identified taxonomically the first seven species of hallucinogenic fungi used in traditional healing ceremonies in Oaxaca, México [see Wasson, 1957 140;Heim & Wasson, 1958 33]. Heim contributed amply to scientific journals, including more than fifty articles concerning the sacred mushrooms of México and, together with his colleague Roger Cailleux and many other specialists, was first to cultivate the entheogenic mushrooms.
Margaret Holden - is an English mycologist who reported on the poisoning of a young boy who had allegedly consumed Panaeolina foenisecii. Similar intoxications were reported by the Australian physician R. V. Southcott (1974)119 and by the American mycologist Orson Miller, (1971)79.
Hans van den Hurk - is the founder of the Conscious Dreams Smart Shop and wholesale operation in Amsterdam, which legally sells fresh psilocybian mushrooms, péyotl and other natural entheogens. Conscious Dreams, which now has five shops in Holland, was the first Smart Shop in Amsterdam and also the first to offer psilocybian mushrooms for sale. Conscious Dreams is renowned throughout Europe. Currently The legality of psilocybian mushrooms in the Netherlands is being challenged by the courts.
Aldous Huxley - spent the last decade of his life in the study of entheogens, after Humphrey Osmond introduced him to mescaline in 1953. Mr. Huxley is the author of Brave New World and Island, both of which were about drugs and their integration into society.
Jim Jacobs - has done field-work on psychoactive mushrooms throughout México, Canada, and the United States since 1975. His collections were described in the monograph The Genus Psilocybe by Gastón Guzmán. Jacobs is a member of the Oregon Mycological Society's Toxicology Committee and is an independent consultant with Oregon's Poison Control Center. Recently a species of Psilocybe was named in his honor Psilocybe jacobii Guzmán.
Karl L. R. Jansen - is the M. D., Ph. D., is a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and is the co-author, together with John W. Allen and Mark D. Merlin, of the paper An Ethnomycological review of Psychoactive Agarics in Australia and New Zealand, was published in a 1991 issue of Journal of Psychoactive Drugs. Jansen is also one of the worlds leading experts on ketamine. He has studied ketamine at every level: from photographing the receptors to which ketamine binds in the human brain, to publishing numerous papers on his discovery of the similarities between ketamine's psychoactive effect and the near-death experience. His writings have appeared in over 30 medical journals and popular magazines of our times. Jansen's recent book, Ketamine: Dreams and Realities, is a tour de force, and the authoritative tome on the subject. Jansen has also published several papers on the Thai narcotic plant known as kratom (Mitragyna speciosa).
Irmgard Weitlaner Johnson - is a specialist in prehispanic and contemporary Mesoamerican textiles and was one of the first westerners to witness a sacred mushroom ceremony.
Everett Kardel - a pioneer in publishing a successful Indentification manual for Pacific Northwest Psilocybe mushrooms is an Oregon author of an early identification guide for mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest (Magic Mushrooms), a unique pamphlet printed on a mimeograph machine.
Keewaydinoquay - [M. Peschel] is a North American Indian shaman from Miniss Kitigan, Michigan, a member of the Ahnishinaubeg, one of the few Native American tribes (located in Northern Michigan and Southern Ontario) known to uses a mushroom [Amanita muscaria] in a ceremonial context.
Edzard Klapp - has studied under the tuttledge of the well-known German mycologist Hans Haas (Die Pilze Mittel-Europas), having, at an early age, discovered the strangeness and the hidden secrets of the sacred fungi. In 1971, Klapp encountered The Sacred Mushroom and was began a long-time correspondence with the author John Marco Allegro. Further nurturing Allegro's beliefs, Klapp wrote an essay in 1982 (Rabenbrot). In this essay, Klapp discusses the amanita and its relationship and its association in hypothesis to the bread which the raven brought to Elija the prophet in the Holy Bible. This essay has been reprinted on many ocassions. The metalinguistic term "intentional speech" proved hereby of heurestic value. Carrying on his thesis, Klapp wrote The Masks of the Fly Agaric printed in Der Fliegenpilz - Traumkult, Märchenzauber, Mythenrausch (Aarau 2000).
Stanley Krippner - Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco, California. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, and is a Charter Fellow of the American Psychological Society and the American Academy of Clinical Sexologists. He is a member of the American Anthropological Association, the Association for the Study of Dreams, The International Council of Psychologists, the InterAmerican Psychological Association, The American Academy of Social and Political Science, the Center for Shamanic Studies, and a Charter Member of the International Society for Multiple Personality and Dissociation. He served as Director of the Dream Laboratory at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn for ten years, and for three years was director of the Child Study Center, Kent State University. Dr. Krippner has been a visiting Professor at the College of Life Sciences, Bogota, Colombia and the University of Puerto Rico, and a Lecturer at the University of Minais Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He is co-author of several books, including The Mythic Path, Personal Mythology, Spiritual Dimensions of Healing, and Healing States, co-editor of Broken Images, Broken Selves, and editor of Dreamtime and Dreamwork as well as eight volumes of Advances in Parapsychological Research. He has authored or co-authored over 500 journal articles, book chapters and monographs. Dr. Krippner, along with co-author Michael Winkleman, contributed a fine article on María Sabina to The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs and has a long term interest in shamanic medicine of Third World countries.
Weston LaBarre - is an anthropologist with a special interest in the use of entheogens by primitive societies. He is author both of The Peyote Cult, the definitive book on the peyote religion, and The Ghost Dance: The Origins of Religion and numerous journal publications on the subject of drug-use in primitive cultures.
Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain - are authors of Acid Dreams: The CIA, LSD, and the Sixties Rebellion, a book which retells the story of the CIA infiltration of R. Gordon Wasson's expedition to México in 1956. Their book also provides some insight into Timothy Leary's research at Harvard. See John Marks and Jay Stevens.
Roger Liggenstorfer - is co-editor of María Sabina. Botin der heilige Pilze. Liggenstorfer has contributed numerous articles to scientific publications. Additionally, Liggenstorfer also believes in "Oink" (the hidden power of Psilocybe cyanescens) which is derived from an experience on Psilocybe cyanescens, see his book on María Sabina.
Gary Lincoff - is president of the North American Mycological Society, employed at the New York Botanical Garden and is editor of the Audubon Field Guide to the North American Mushrooms and The Simon and Schuster Mushroom Field Guide. Lincoff has also contributed, with D. H. Mitchell, a 35-page chapter to the book Toxic and Hallucinogenic Mushroom Poisoning.
Frank J. Lipp - is professor in the Department of Anthropology of Duke University and has studied the use of psilocybian mushrooms among the Chinantec and Mixe of Oaxaca, México.
Bernard Lowy - was professor Emeritus in the Botany Department of Louisiana State University. He has served for 15 years as a member of the editorial board of Mycologia and contributed numerous articles on hallucinogenic mushrooms, including describing his collection of Psilocybe mexicana in Guatemala. He is posthumous co-author of a forthcoming book on the history of entheogenic mushrooms.
Thomas Lyttle - is editor and publisher of the now-defunct journal Psychedelic Monographs and Essays. Currently the editor of Psychedelics reimagined.
John Marks - is author of The Search for the Manchurian Candidate. Marks first uncovered the story of the CIA's infiltration of R. Gordon Wasson's Mexican mushroom expedition in 1956. See related information under James Moore, Jay Stevens and Lee & Shlain.
Dennis McKenna - has been involved in the interdisciplinary study of ethnopharmacology and plant hallucinogens for the past 25 years. He is co-author, with his brother Terence, of The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, and the I Ching, a philosophical and metaphysical exploration of the ontological implications of psychedelic drugs which resulted from the two brothers' early investigations of Amazonian hallucinogens in 1971. He received his doctorate in 1984 from the University of British Columbia. His doctoral research focused on ethnopharmacological investigations of the botany, chemistry, and pharmacology of ayahuasca and oo-koo-he, two orally-active tryptamine-based hallucinogens used by indigenous peoples in the Northwest Amazon. Following the completion of his doctorate, Dr. McKenna received post-doctoral research fellowships in the Laboratory of Clinical Pharmacology, National Institute of Mental Health, and in the Department of Neurology, Stanford University School of Medicine. In 1990, he joined Shaman Pharmaceuticals as Director of Ethnopharmacology. He relocated to Minnesota in 1993 to join the Aveda Corporation, a manufacturer of natural cosmetic products, as Senior Research Pharmacognosist. He currently works as a scientific consultant to clients in the herbal, nutritional, and pharmaceutical industries. Together with two colleagues in the natural products industry, he incorporated the non-profit Institute for Natural Products Research (INPR) in October 1998 to promote research and scientific education with respect to botanical medicines and other natural medicines. Additionally, McKenna serves on the Advisory Board of the American Botanical Council, and on the Editorial Board of Phytomedicine, International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology.
Terence McKenna - was a world-renowned guru of sacred mushrooms, author, evangelistic proselyte of the Amazon and the mind; and a noted lecturer, specializing in shamanic-plants, entheogens from the Amazon and spiritual transformation. Born in 1946, McKenna has spent the last twenty-five years of his life studying the ontological foundations of shamanism, in digesting mushrooms, yopo snuff, and ayahuasca. Together with his brother Dennis he published The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens and the I Ching, a scientific and philosophical effort to explain the results of their investigations into the phenomena of time and tryptamine pharmacology.
A narrative of the brothers adventures in the Amazon was the subject of a later book by Terence, True Hallucinations, although his last trip to the Amazon occurred in 1981 when he accompanied his brother Dennis on an expedition, sponsored by the University of British Columbia, to investigate the use of oo-koo-he, an orally active Virola hallucinogen used by the Witotos and Boras in Peru and Columbia. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, McKenna survived the sixties by traveling extensively in the Asian and New World Tropics and extensively studied and lectured on shamanism of the Amazon basin. Terence, along with his wife Kat Harrison and brother Dennis, was also a co-founder of Botanical Dimensions, a non-profit botanical garden on the Island of Hawai'i. Additionally, Terence was a popular lecturer among college students. Besides being co-author with his brother Dennis The Invisible Landscape and the classic cultivation guide written under the pseudonyms of Oeric and Oss, Terence was also the author of Food of the Gods. Terence passed away in April, 2000 from terminal brain cancer and he will be surely be missed by those whose paths he crossed and touched.
Gary Menser - was a real estate agent in Florence, Oregon and a past President of the Eugene, Oregon Mycological Society. He was author of Hallucinogenic and Poisonous Mushroom Field Guide (later retitled Magikal Mushroom Handbook). Menser was also an expert on truffles and their collection.
Mark D. Merlin - is a biogeographer in the Biology Program of the University of Hawai'i at Manoa with special interest in the ethnobotany and cultural history of entheogenic plants. He has published academic press books on Cannabis [Man and Marijuana: Some Aspects of Their Ancient Relationship, Fairleigh Dickinson, University Press, 1972], opium or Papaver somniferum [On the Trail of the Ancient Opium Poppy, Associated University Presses, 1984], and more recently co-authored a book kava (Piper methysticum), an important traditional drug-plant of many Pacific Islands [Kava: The Pacific Drug, Yale University Press, 1992]. The latter publication was later retitled as Kava: The Pacific Elixer. Dr. Merlin has also co-authored seven papers with John W. Allen on identification and non-traditional use of entheogenic mushrooms in Hawai'i and Southeast Asia.
Richard Alan Miller - is a warlock and herbalist who co-authored with David Tatleman the first psilocybian mushroom handbook featuring color photographs for identification of psilocybian mushrooms: The Magikal Mushroom Handbook. Miller also wrote another book, Magikal and Ritual Use of Herbs. In the first edition of the latter publication, Miller reported on the (non-existent) sexual mushroom-rituals of the Mazatec Indians. However, the Indians of Oaxaca refrain from any sexual activity for three days before and after a sacred mushroom ceremony. This portion of Mr. Miller's book was removed from subsequent editions.
James Moore - was a CIA "short order cook" [a chemist] who infiltrated one of R. Gordon Wasson's mushroom expeditions to Oaxaca, México in 1956. Moore even ingested the mushrooms during a ceremony and according to Peter Stafford (1992)120, in Moore's own words, Moore recalls that "I had a terrible cold, we damned near starved to death, and I itched all over. There was all this chanting in the dialect. Then they passed the mushrooms around, and we chewed them up. I did feel the hallucinogenic effect, although 'disoriented' would be a better word to describe my reaction." Obviously Moore had an uncomfortable experience, probably due to the fact that he was not whom he appeared to be. His mind caught up with his phoniness and placed him in an awkward and uncomfortable position. Mr. Moore eventually returned to his laboratory in Delaware where he attempted in vain to isolate the active compounds from the mushrooms - compounds which were to be used by the CIA in "non-conventional chemical warfare." Luckily for all of us, Moore was unsuccessful in this endeavor.
Henry Munn - contributed an excellent essay on the mushrooms of language (Munn, 1973)80.
Richard Hans Norland - is author of What's In A Mushroom? Part Three, a book on psilocybian mushrooms which contains a lot of graphs and charts on the chemical analysis of certain species of entheogenic fungi which were collected in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It should be noted that Norland failed to publish What's in a Mushroom? Parts One and Two. Furthermore Norland also advertised a psilocybian bibliography for $5.00 in advance of publication - This volume was never published.
György-Miklos Ola'h - is a mycologist and chemist at Laval Université in Québec, Canada. In the late 1960's, Ola'h conducted several studies of the genus Panaeolus and published a monograph, Le Genre Panaeolus, identifying several species Panaeolus mushrooms as latent psilocybian and/or non-psilocybian. Ola'h also studied species from Southeast Asia, Africa and the Philippines.
Jonathan Ott - is an ethnopharmacognosist, natural-products chemist and botanical researcher, is considered by many to be the "Master of Entheogens." A protégé of R. Gordon Wasson, Ott was one of the original organizers of the now-famous mushroom conferences of the late 1970's. Ott is founder of Natural Products Co., a small chemical-manufacturing business based in Vashon, Washington.
He is a fellow of the Linnean Society, and a long time member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Economic Botany and the Society of Ethnobiology. Ott co-authored a book and paper with his friend and teacher, the late ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson and has also collaborated closely with Richard Evans Schultes and Albert Hofmann. Furthermore, Ott is the author of Hallucinogenic Plants of North America, book on The Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Hallucinogenic Mushrooms, Teonanácatl: Hallucinogenic Mushrooms of North America (co-edited with Jeremy Bigwood) both out-of print, as well as The Cacahuatl Eater: Ruminations of an Unabashed Chocolate Addict, Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic Drugs, their Plant Sources and History. Most recently he published a book on the famous South American visionary-drug, Ayahuasca Analogues, as well as The Age of Entheogens and The Angels' Dictionary and Pharmacophilia or the Natural Paradises. Ott is working on a book of shamanic snuffs. Ott, together with Rob Montgomery, conducts annual seminars under the auspices of Entheobotany Seminars Corps. These annual entheogenic-plant seminars have taken place in Equador, Maui, Hawai'i, Veracruz and Palenque, Mexico.
Steven Peele - is curator and President of the Florida Mycology Research Center. At one time, Mr. Peele was the only private citizen in the United States who had a Schedule One permit for possession and sale of psilocybe spores, mushrooms and mushroom-cultures. Due to unorthodox methods for storage of such material, the DEA withdrew his permit. Peele publishes a newsletter, The Mushroom Culture: Journal of Mushroom Cultivation and a second Journal, TEO: The International Journal of Psychoactive Mushrooms.
Eunice V. Pike and Florence Cowan - are Wycliff Bible translators who lived among the Mazatec Indians of Oaxaca. They wrote two articles in Practical Anthropology on the Mazatecs who used magic mushrooms albeit Christian converts. These two women and Richard Evans Schultes gave R. Gordon Wasson the incentive to search for the mushroom cult he rediscovered in México.
Steven Hayden Pollock - followed in Andrew Weil's footsteps by reporting in scientific journals, a history of the contemporary use of psilocybin mushrooms as recreational drugs. Pollock also contributed several noteworthy papers on both Psilocybe and Panaeolus species to the scientific and academic communities. He was the first investigator to report on the use of visionary mushrooms in Hawai'i. Pollock was also involved in the propagation of Psilocybe cubensis and is noted for the marketing of what he referred to as "Cosmic Camote" or "Philosophers Stone." These epithets were given to the sclerotia of a new species discovered by Pollock, Psilocybe tampanensis. Pollock also produced a potent strain of Psilocybe cubensis which he named Matias Romero after a town in southwestern Mexico and was the first cultivator to use horse manure and straw compost for cultivating the visionary mushrooms.
Andrija Puharich - was a man who overcame poverty and many personal tragedies who etched his way through medical school, going on and establishing a Parapsychological research foundation to oversee his medical discoveries which covered over 75 patents. Puharich was a maverick, a dedicated researcher, a rebel scientist, scorned by colleagues, and revered and encouraged by those gifted with foresightedness, including Aldous Huxley. His involvement in the field of ethnomycology began when he first filmed forays delving into the ancient mysteries and secrets of the sacred mushroom rites of the Chatino Indians of Mexico and later, on a trip to the Hawaiian Islands where Puharich, along with Hawaiian Kahuna David Bray sought evidence that a mushroom may have been used and played an important role in the early religious rites of the Hawaiian people. Unfortunately, Puharich reported that he had not uncovered any conclusive proof supporting the mushroom theory, based on documented evidence which claimed that the mushrooms, which when eaten, gave the user extra-sensory perception. It was because of the similarity between the Hawaiian word "akua" referring to the supernatural and the word "aku" with a similar meaning in five other areas of the world which brought Puharich to Hawaii. Puharich was also interested in and supported Uri Geller, UFO's and was an authority on E.L.F. (extremely low frequency magnetic fields), pollution and its effects on human organisms. His book The Sacred Mushroom: Key to the Door of Eternity is a classic testament to his beliefs in the historical value of these mushrooms.
Christian Rätsch - is a cultural anthropologist from Hamburg, Germany, specializing in the sacred and secular use of magical plants. His fieldwork among the Lacandos of Chiapas includes study of Datura and balché potions. Rätsch's books include Gateway to Inner Space, Dictionary of Sacred and Magical Plants, and diverse publications on the Maya, alchemy, psychedelics, aphrodisiacs and oracles. Rätsch and his colleague Roger Liggenstorfer co-authored and edited a translation of Estrada's book on the life and times of the Mexican shaman Doña María Sabina (Maria Sabina: Botin der Heiligen Pilze). Rätsch is also editor of The Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness and author of Enzyklopädie der psychoaktiven Pflanzen. Botanik, Ethnopharmakologie und Anwendungen.
Alan B. Richardson - is a professional photographer and was a personal friend of R. Gordon Wasson. Richardson's photographs of María Sabina and her nocturnal velada graced the pages of Life magazine [May 13, 1957]. Richardson was the first outsider together with R. Gordon Wasson, to eat the sacred mushrooms.
Thomas J. Riedlinger - is a researcher who was editor of The Sacred Mushroom Seeker: Essays for R. Gordon Wasson. This book contains numerous essays in honor of R. Gordon Wasson, written by those who knew him best.
Ronald Rippchen - is the author and editor of a German book devoted to psilocybian mushrooms. Numerous articles by well-known authors in this field are presented and the book is lavishly illustrated.
Alexandra Rosenbohm - is a German cultural anthropologist and exhibition maker who is a specialist in trance-inducing plants and mushrooms in the context of historic and contemporary shamanism and witchcraft. She has developed and organized several exhibitions regarding that subject and has published books like Halluzinogene Drogen im Schamanismus (about the use of the fly agaric in Siberia). Rosenbohm was also editor and co-author of Schamanen zwischen Mythos und Moderne (Leipzig 1999) and Der Fliegenpilz - Traumkult, Märchenzauber, Mythenrausch (Aarau 2000).
Barry Rumack and Emanuel Salzman - are authors of an excellent book with several chapters devoted to visionary mushrooms, Mushroom Poisoning: Diagnosis and Treatment. It provides a good section on treatment for various kinds of mushroom poisoning, including that of Amanita muscaria.
María Sabina - was the famous Mazatec curandera who kept alive the archaic practices of her ancestors the ancient Olmecs, Toltecs and Aztecs. It was Doña María Sabina who first initiated R. Gordon Wasson and Alan Richardson in the "magic mushrooms" of México. Through the writings of Wasson and Wasson (1957)140, Heim and Wasson (1958)33 and subsequent writings by others, María Sabina became world-renowned as the most famous shaman of the twentieth century. (see Allen's [1997a]3 volume I of Ethnomycological Journals Sacred Mushroom Studies and Estrada's 17 autobiography of María Sabina).
Bernardino de Sahagún - was a Franciscan friar who documented the most important historical information on the use of the sacred mushrooms of the New World. It was Sahagún who first wrote down the word teonanácatl. Some other colored Spanish clergymen and historians also mentioned the sacred mushrooms in their writings - these include Juan de Córdova, Jacinto de la Serna, Diego Duran, Francisco Hernández, Alonzo de Molina, and Motolina (a pseudonym for Toribio de Benavente).
Luc Sala - is a German television personality involved in the media and various aspects of the European drug subculture. He is also the author of Paddos: Our Little Brothers. Starter Guide of Magic Mushroom Psychonauts. Published in the Netherlands in both English and Dutch editions.
Giorgio Samorini - is an Italian researcher of psychoactive plants and mushrooms with a special interest in the archaeology of mushroom art throughout the ages (including Amanita art and the art of the Tassilli plains). Samorini also has a special interest in the African entheogenic/aphrodisiac plant Tabernanthe iboga. Samorini is the only white person to have been initiated into the Bwiti cult of Gabon, Africa where this plant is used ceremoniously. Samorini has also studied the mycoflora of Italy.
Jeremy Sandford - is the author of In Search of the Magic Mushroom. Sandford describes his adventures in México while seeking out the magic mushrooms he had heard so much about.
J. H. Sanford - is author of an article about the accidental ingestion of psilocybian mushrooms in Japan. Some of the case studies provided by Mr. Sanford date back to the 11th century.
Georges Scheibler - is a Swiss mycologist who published the first European guide to identification of psilocybian mushrooms. After its publication Scheibler was harassed by Swiss authorities. European narcotics agents also believed that his book would lead to widespread abuse of the mushrooms in France and other European countries.
Alexander and Ann Shulgin - are chemists and authors of Pihkal: Phenlethylamines I Have Known and Loved and their new monumental work Tihkal: Tryptamines I Have Known And Loved, a book about their interest in the tryptamine compounds and the chemistry and chemical formulae of many analogues of psilocine and psilocybine.
Rolf Singer - was a leading figure in mycology who was also a prolific writer who held important academic and research positions in Europe, North America and South America. Singer also was a Research Associate in the Department of Botany at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois, from 1968-1994. Most noted for developing the nearly universally used classification for the Agaricales (mushrooms and related fungi), Singer reportedly named 86 genera, over 2460 species and infraspecies of fungi distributed in 222 genera. His 440 papers written in 9 languages, covered topics ranging from fungal systematics, nomenclature, ecology, ethnomycology, and mushroom cultivation. Singer, along with noted Michigan mycologist Alexander H. Smith, provided the academic world with the first monograph of the newly discovered species of psilocybian Psilocybes and their distribution in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Mexico. Both of these intrepid scholars hold a special place in the ethnomycology of the sacred mushrooms of Mexico. After Roger Heim provided the taxonomy and naming of the first seven species recognized from México, the late mycologist, accompanied by two young Mexican botanists, M. A. Palacios and Gastón Guzmán, arrived in Oaxaca, México to conduct a taxonomic study on the Mexican mushrooms. Soon they met R. Gordon Wasson, and eventually followed his footsteps tracing the route of the sacred mushrooms throughout Oaxaca, Mexico. Later Singer and his colleague from the University of Michigan, Alexander H. Smith, co-authored a short monograph on the taxonomy of psilocybian mushrooms common in the Pacific Northwestern United States and México (including a few species from México). They also contributed a paper on the sacred mushrooms among the Aztecs and their Náhua descendants. Singer was the second author to note the possible medical use of the sacred mushrooms after Valentina P. Wasson by writing an excellent article on the curative properties of these mushrooms among some groups of indigenous peoples living in Oaxaca (Singer, 1957)115. Furthermore, Singer contributed numerous articles to books and journals regarding both the medical and recreational use of the sacred fungi. His book The Agaricales in Modern Taxonomy was the first book in modern times to discuss the idea that Teonanácatl was a mushroom, even providing some evidence linking the word Teonanácatl to certain species.
Prakitsin Sihanonth - is the head of the Department of Microbiology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. Dr. Sihanonth is considered to be a leading authority on mushroom cultivation and excels in the identification of edible, poisonous and psychoactive mushrooms of Thailand.
Alexander H. Smith - was Professor Emeritus of Botany at the University of Michigan and who along with his colleague Rolf Singer, published some of the earliest papers on the occurrence of psilocybian mushrooms in the United States. Smith also once wrote a paper about the hallucinations of those who study hallucinogenic mushrooms, causing several defensive responses in privately published papers between Smith, Ott and Wasson.
Peter Stafford - is author of the Psychedelics Encyclopedia which covers many of the entheogenic plants used as ludible drugs by certain segments of contemporary society. This has a fine chapter on the history of entheogenic mushrooms and their pandemic ascent as a popular drug. Mr. Stafford is also a regular contributor to Bruce Eisner's Island Views, a quarterly publication devoted to psychedelic drugs and their social use in. Recently Stafford published a new book Magic Grams, containing interviews of scholars involved with entheogenic drug research and/or who's interest were similar and the pages are mingled with montages and collages.
Paul Stamets - is the Paul Bunyan of mushrooms common to the Pacific Northwest United States. Stamets has been studying mushrooms in the woods of the Pacific Northwest for more than twenty years, and has discovered and co-authored four new psilocybian mushrooms: Psilocybe azurescens, P. cyanofibrillosa, P. liniformans var. americana, and P. weilii. Stamets also runs a mushroomic mail-order business, Fungi Perfecti, which grows and sells gourmet and medicinal (no psilocybian) mushrooms, and conducts in-depth workshops on edible-mushroom cultivation. Stamets has lectured on psilocybian mushrooms at numerous universities and presented seminars and slide-presentations all over the world. His books include Psilocybe Mushrooms and Their Allies [out of print], The Mushroom Cultivator co-authored by Jeff S. Chilton, Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, and the recent book Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World.
Sam I. Stein - was an M.D. who wrote the first medical report concerning a negative reaction and bad trip after ingesting five dried grams of in vitro grown specimens of Psilocybe cubensis (Earle) Singer (Stein, 1958)122. Another important contribution was Stein's paper on the effects of Panaeolus subbalteatus and Psilocybe caerulescens in a therapeutic mode (Stein, 1959)123.
Jay Stevens - is author of Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream. Stevens devoted three chapters of this book to the sacred mushrooms. Mr. Stevens talks about the CIA involvement with the mushrooms and the controversy of the Harvard Psilocybin Projects initiated by Timothy Leary and Jonathan Clark. See related information under the headings of John Marks, Lee and Shlain.
Jule Stevens - is co-author with Rich Gee of How to Identify and Grow Psilocybin [sic] Mushrooms, a field-and cultivation-guide to mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest United States and Hawai'i. This guide has step-by-step photographs of the process involved in producing good strains of Psilocybe cubensis.
Tjakko Stijve - was born in Utrecht (Netherlands) where he received an education in analytical chemistry. Since 1967 he has lived in Switzerland, where (until his retirement in 1999) he ran a section on food contaminants in the Quality Assurance Department of Nestle. Early on he developed an interest in the chemistry of higher fungi, resulting in the publication of many papers on mushroomic toxins and on the bioaccumulation of potentially-toxic trace-elements in macromycetes. While studying tryptophan-derivatives in the early 1980's, he came upon the tryptamines bufotenine, psilocine and psilocybine in some fungi. This awakened his curiosity about psychoactive mushrooms, and prompted him to look for the tryptamines in (at that time) unexplored genera such as Inocybe and Pluteus. In the early 1990's together with mycologist André de Meijer, he made an inventory of the psychoactive mushrooms occurring in Paraná, a province in Southern Brazil. He is presently involved in a study on selenium and bioactive compounds in the genus Albatrellus, which will mark the end of his professional activities in mycochemistry. After his retirement, Stijve will explore a number of ethnomycological subjects.
Frederick Swain - was a student who traveled to México in the early 1960's and was graciously greeted by María Sabina who performed a mushroom ceremony for him. Swain wrote of his experience in the Journal Tomorrow, later reprinted in Psychedelic Review No. 2.
David Tatelman - is President and founder of the Homestead Book Company. By selling thousands of Mushroom kits and spores over a period of 25 years, he is directly responsible for most of the psilocybe mushrooms now cultivated in the United States. He also published one of the first field guides, The Magickal Mushroom Handbook and was the publisher of Paul Stamets' first book, Psilocybin Mushrooms and Their Allies. His genius has been in popularizing mushrooms to the masses.
Peter Vuchich - of Hongero Press was the first person to commercially sell Psilocybe cubensis spores, which he did by including them in his early book about cultivating mushrooms in the early 70's. Vuchich was also the first person in the United States to successfully advertise his products in High Times magazine selling spore kits to the general public.
Johanna Wagner - was a German ethnologist (1923-1990) who became a practicing medicine-woman (mganga) in Africa. In 1982, Dr. Wagner participated in a scientific experiment where she bioassayed fresh caps of the fly agaric. Her experiences with the fly agaric-man during an experience covering almost three days and nights, was recorded on tape and eventually published in Ein Füllhorn göttlicher Kraft. Unter Schamanen, Gesundbetern und Wetterbeschwörern (Berlin, 1985).
R. Gordon and Valentina Wasson - were pioneer researchers of the entheogenic mushrooms and they are also the main reason we are all here reading this manuscript. Together they coined the terms mycophobia and mycophilia. R. Gordon Wasson is also referred to as the Father of Ethnomycology. Wasson and his wife Valentina are the epitome of the heart of sacred mushrooms. In the middle 1950's, they became the first outsiders to partake of the sacred mushrooms. Gordon Wasson also studied the Aryan entheogen soma; the Kuma aborigines of New Guinea who used theragenic Boletus and Russula species, and extensively researched the use of Amanita muscaria among certain of Siberia. Later, he brought to the attention of the public and academic communities the discovery of a North American tribe which uses Amanita muscaria in a religious context [Wasson & Wasson,1957 186; Wasson, 1957a 140, Wasson, 1958b 143,Wasson, 1979 173, jpd on Ojibway].
Roy Watling - is an English mycologist, the Senior Principal Scientific Officer of the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland. Watling has contributed numerous articles on the taxonomy and use of psilocybian mushrooms from Australia and Great Britain and has published papers with Gastón Guzmán.
Andrew Weil - is a recipient of an AB degree in botany from Harvard University and also worked for the National Institute of Mental Health. Currently, Dr. Weil is the director of the Program in Integrative Medicine and clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson. As a fellow of the Institute of Current World Affairs, Weil traveled extensively in Mexico, Central and South America gathering information about medicinal plants and healing.
Weil was the first investigator to report on the ludible use of psilocybian mushrooms from the Pacific Northwest United States, Colombia in South America and México. He is a graduate of Harvard Medical School who has traveled extensively writing on drug-use throughout México, Central and South America. Weil is author of The Natural Mind, The Marriage of the Sun and the Moon, From Chocolate to Morphine, and numerous books on holistic health and healing. It was Weil who first reported on the ludible use of Psilocybe semilanceata (the 'liberty-cap' mushroom) in Oregon. Weil has also contributed several papers on psilocybian mushrooms to The Harvard Review, The Crimson (Harvard's newspaper), The Botanical Museum Leaflets of Harvard, The Journal of Psychedelic Drugs, The Journal of Altered States of Consciousness and Look Magazine.
Arnold Wolman - is author of a small pamphlet on Psilocybe cubensis. This 16-page booklet described the collection of P. cubensis from the southeastern United States. This guide was published in Chicago, Illinois and was somewhat limited in its distribution.
Anthony Young - is a mycologist from Australia who has studied extensively the Genus Panaeolus in Australia. He has also published a review of the genus Panaeolus from Australia.
Other Contributors in the Fields of Chemistry, Pharmacology, Psychiatric Medicine Field Identification and Cultivation
B. Aaronson; J. F. Ammirati; D. Ashley; M. Babos; V. Bandala; G. Bazanté; A. M. Becker; R. G. Benedict; H. Besl; C. Blake; H. Blaschko; J. Bonnard; L. R. Brady; A. Brack; R. Brunner; R. Cailleux; P. Catalfomo; A. Cerletti; J. Ceruti-Scurti; W. S. Chilton; A. L. Christianson; J. Clark; W. H. Clark; R. Cooper; J. Delay; B, Dubansky; C. Dubovoy; J. Fericgla; F. Festi; R. Fischer; N. Fiusello; A. Frey; N. Gabel; E. Gerhardt; G. Gloss; D. Gröger; L. S. Gurevich; M. Hall; G. M. Hatfield; T. Herrera; C. Hischenhuber; K. Hoiland; L. Holister; S. Hoogshagen; E. Horak; A. Horita; J. Jacobs; O. Janiger; J. Jokiranta; F. Kalberer; E. Kardel; C. King; J. Klan; H. Kobel; Y. Koike; G. J. Krieglsteiner; Th. W. Kuyper; R. Kysilka; Th. Lampèriere; D. T. Leslie; H. Leuner; A. Y. Leung; W. G. Levine; G. Litwin; A. A. R. Meijer; R. Metzner; R. Montgomery; V. M. Moser; G. M. Müller; P. Nicolas-Charles; E. Ohenoja; H. Osmond; A.-M. Quetin; A. G. Paul; W. Pahnke; P. Pichot; K. E. Rasmussen; D. Repke; J. E. Robbers; J. Rutschmann; G. Scheibler; S. Sebek; M. Semerdzieva; C. J. Shepherd; R. V. Southcott; Sam I. Stein; A. E. Stocks; Rick Strassman; Guy Stresser-Péan; F. Tapia; M. Taeschler; H. D. Thiers; F. Tonnesen; J. E. Trotter; F. Troxler; V. E. Tyler; P. Vergeer; D. Warshay; L. J. Weber; H. Weidmann; P. Witt; A. Wolman; M. Wurst.
The above list of pioneers are the majority of the original investigators of the chemical, pharmacological, mycological and psychiatric aspects of these interesting mushrooms. The author of this book hopes that this work will stimulate and inspire other students of mushrooms into furthering their ideas and research in this field.
The author would like to thank Jonathan Ott of Natural Products of Vashon Island, Washington for his time and consideration in re-editing this book prior to publication. Furthermore, the authors also give special thanks and appreciation to Jodi Meadows and to Rodman Reynolds for their assistance in editing the original manuscript. I would also like to acknowledge the assistance of Wolfgang Bauer of Germany for his help in several of the European authors biographies and the loan of several photographs for this book. Thanks go to Tjakko Stijve for the loan of his images, and for the French Review of the CD-ROM version of this book. And a special note of gratitude to my dear friends Linda Dear, Jan and Lome Nilsson, Gastón Guzmán, Jochen Gartz, Roger Liggenstorfer, Herman de Vries, Geoffrey Brooke, Mark Merlin, David Tatelman and Richard Evans Schultes, Paige Powell and Jonathan Ott for the use of some of their photographs and drawings and to the unknown photographers who took many of the pictures of the author with these scholars.
Forte, R. 1988. (Mag., Int.). A conversation with R. Gordon Wasson. ReVision the Journal of Consciousness and Change vol. 10(4):13-30.
Ott, J. and S. Pollock. 1976. (Mag.). An interview with R. Gordon Wasson. High Times vol. 14:23-30., 48. October.
Carpenter, D. 1957. (Mag., Letter). Life:16. June 3.
Lee, C. 1957. (Mag., letter). Life:16. June 3.
Ross, J. 1957. (Mag., letters). Life:16. June 3.
Rowley, L. 1957. (Mag., letters). Life:16. June 3.
Snyder, M. 1957. (Mag., letters). Life:16. June 3.
Stokes Jr., M. Y. 1957. (Mag., letter). Life:16. June 3.
Allen, J. W. 1978. Safe-Pik Mushroom Identification Guide. Publs. Frank and Cheeri Rinaldo. Seattle, Washington. On line copy at Erowid
Allen, J. W. 1997. Magic Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest. Psilly Publications and RaverBooks, Seattle, Washington. 12 color photos.
Allen, J. W. 1998. Magic Mushrooms of the Hawaiian Islands. Psilly Publications and RaverBooks. Seattle, Washington. Color Photos.
Allen, J. W. 1997. Teonanácatl: Ancient and Shamanic Mushroom Names of Mesoamerica and Other Regions of the World. Psilly Publications and RaverBooks. Seattle, Washington.
Allen, J. W. 1999. Magic Mushrooms of Australia and New Zealand. Www.erowid.org/library/books_online/magic_mushrooms_aunz.shtml/
Allen, J. W. and J. Gartz. 1997. Magic Mushrooms in Some Third World Countries. Psilly Publications and RaverBooks. Seattle, Washington.
Allen, J. W. and J. Gartz. 2001. Psilocybian Mushroom Cultivation: A Brief History Regarding the Contemporary Cultivation, Marketing and Use of Psilocybian Fungi. Psilly Publications. CD-ROM Productions. Seattle, Washington. With 140 photographs. October, 2001.
Allen, J. W., and J. Gartz. Septermber 2001. Teonanácatl: A Bibliography of Entheogenic Mushrooms. Psilly Publications and CD-ROM Production. With a forward by Jonathan Ott.
Arthur, J. 2000. Mushrooms and Mankind. The Book Tree. Escondito, California.
Davis, W. 1996. One River: Explorations and Discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest. Touchstone Publishers and Simon and Schulster. New York.
Enos, L. 1973. A Key to the North American Psilocybe Mushroom. Youniverse Press. Lemon Grove California.
Estrada, A. 1976. Maria Sabina: Her Life, Her Chants. An Autobiography. Ross-Erikson. California.
Friedman, S. A. 1987. Celebrating the Wild Mushroom. Dodd, Mead and Co. New York.
Furst, P. T. 1986. Psychedelic Fungi. Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs. Chelsea House Publishing. New York.
Gartz, J. 1997-98. Magic Mushrooms Around the World: A Scientific Journey Across Cultures and Time. The case for Challenging Research and Value Systems. Translated from the masterpiece "Narremschwammer" by C. Taake.
Guzmán, G., Allen, J. W. and J. Gartz. 2000. A Worldwide Geographical Distribution of the Neurotropic Fungi, An Analysis and Discussion. Anali dei Museo Civico vol. 14:189-280. Rovereto, Italy. (214 species described and 39 images).
Hofmann, A. 1980. LSD My Problem Child. McGraw-Hill. New York.
Leary, T. 1995 . High Priest. Ronin Publications Inc. Berkeley, California.
Leary, T. 1983. Flashbacks: A Personal and Cultural History of an Era. J. P. Tarcher Inc. Los Angeles.
Lincoff, G. and D. H. Mitchell (Eds.). 1980. Toxic and Hallucinogenic Mushrooms. Van Nostrand Reinhold. New York.
McKenna, T. 1993. Food of the Gods: The Search for The Original Tree of Life. Bantam Books. New York.
Menser, G. 1977 . Hallucinogenic and Poisonous Mushroom Field Guide. And/or Press. Berkeley, California. Re-issued as Magikal Mushroom Handbook. Homestead Book Co. Seattle, Washington.
Ott, J. 1976 . Hallucinogenic Plants of North America. Wingbow press. Berkeley, California.
Ott, J. 1993. Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic Drugs, Their Plant Sources and History. (see pp. 273-319. Natural Products Co. Kennewick, Washington.
Ott, J. and J. Bigwood (Eds.). 1978. Teonanacatl: Hallucinogenic Mushrooms of North America. Madrona Press. Seattle, Washington.
Reidlinger, T. J. (Ed.). 1990. The Sacred Mushroom Seeker: Essays for R. Gordon Wasson. Dioscorides Press. Portland, Oregon.
Rumack, B. and E. Saltzman (Eds.). 1978. Mushroom Poisoning: Diagnosis and Treatment. CRC Press. West Palm Beach, Florida.
Sanford, J. 1966. In Search of the Magic Mushroom. Clarkson N. Porter. New York.
Schultes, R. E. 1978. Hallucinogenic Plants. A Golden Garden Guide. Golden Press. New York.
Schultes, R. E. and A. Hofmann. Plants of the Gods. McGraw-Hill Book Co. New York.
Stafford, P. 1992. Psychedelic Encyclopedia. J. P. Tarcher, Inc. Los Angeles.
Stamets, P. 1978. Psilocybe Mushrooms and Their Allies. Homestead Book Co. Seattle, Washington.
Stamets, P. 1996. A Field Guide to Psilocybin Mushrooms of the World. Ten Speed Press. Berkeley, California.
Wasson, R. G. May 13, 1957. Life magazine.
Wasson, R. G. 1980. The Wondrous Mushroom: Mycolatry in Mesoamerica. McGraw-Hill Book Co. New York.
Weil, A. 1972. The Natural Mind: A New Way of Looking at Drugs and the Higher Consciousness. Houghton Mifflin. Boston, Ma.
Weil, A. 1980. Marriage of the Sun and Moon. Houghton Mifflin. Boston, Ma.
The Shroomery: http://www.shroomery.org/
Mushroom John's Shroom World: http://www.mushroomjohn.com/
Blue Honey: http://www.bluehoney.yage.net/
The Lycaeum: http://www.lycaeum.org/
Dissembodied Eyes: http://diseyes.lycaeum.org/fresh/fresh.htm/
North Florida Shroom Guide: http://jug-or-not.com/shroom/
Visionary Mushrooms: http://stainblue.com/
Hippie Haven: http://www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Marina/7382/
James Arthur's Holy Mushroom: http://www.sirius.com/~holy/mushroom.html/
On Line Drug Books: http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/lsd/bookmenu.htm/
The Psilocybin Solution: http://www.lycaeum.org/books/books/psilocybin-solution/
TRIP (Formerly The Resonance Project): http://www.tripzine.com/
International Mushroom Web Site Links
Copenhagen Mushroom Link: http://www.cheathouse.com/cmc/Link.html/
Danish Mushroom Site: http://www.cheathouse.com/svamp/
Italian Mushroom Site: http://www.nagual.f2's.com/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi/
Japan's First Mushroom Link: http://cosmicshrooms.com/
McShroom's Psilocybe Scotland Link: http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Geyser/2508/
Netherlands Amazing-Nature Mushroom Link: http://Amazing-nature.com/
New Zealand Shroom Connection: http://nevinninsky.com/
Norwegian Mushroom Site: http://users.lycaeum.org/~norshrooms/
UK Mushroom Map Link: http://members.tripod.co.uk/~shroommap/
Swedish Mushroom Site: http://mm.tech-no-logic.org/
Zauberpilze Swiss Mushroom Link: http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/marcian/index.htm/
Ryche Hawk: http://www.thehawkseye.com/
The Ones That Stain Blue: http://stainblue.com/
Spore Works: http://firstname.lastname@example.org/
Psilocybe Fanaticus (PF): http://www.fanaticus.com/
Mushroom Growing Teks and Links
Mushroom Growing Supplies Only
A complete listing of the Wasson's research and collected data papers can be found at: http://www.huh.harvard.edu/Libraries/wasson.html