Citation: Why Red. "A Difficult Night: An Experience with Amanita muscaria (exp20354)". Erowid.org. Jan 12, 2003. erowid.org/exp/20354
This report is written to share the lessons learned from a psychedelic session that happened under the influence of Amanita muscaria. There is little compiled information about A. muscaria available, yet the mushroom can be found in the wild and for purchase through online companies, so this report aims to share enough details about one session in hopes that future mistakes will be avoided.
The evening was a traumatic event that produced a variety of experiences for those under the influence and those whom were sober. This report neither condemns nor condones the ingestion of psychedelic substances. If you choose to participate in a session with A. muscaria, this report should be one of many used in your research. Respect for your mind, body, and setting can reduce the harm, which happens with such risky behavior.
Amanita muscaria is a large mushroom that is red with white concentric spots on its cap. Also known as the Fly Algaric mushroom or toadstools, the fungus is familiar though its representation in fairy tales. The caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland sits upon one as he smokes from his hooka, while the animated cartoon Smurfs live in them. These mushrooms grow from the spring through the fall at the base of Oak and Birch trees after a rainfall. They are found in the North East & West United States, the Ohio River Valley, Scandinavia, and as far away as Siberia.
The use of A. muscaria as a psychoactive substance is found throughout a variety of sources. Some speculate it may be recorded in the Rig-Veda around 2,000 BC as the sacred 'Soma' consumed and then recycled through drinking the eater's urine. A Native American author, Keewaydinoquay, writes in 1978 of the traditional use of A. muscaria by the Ahnishinaubeg (Ojibway) people who live near Lake Superior in North America. Debates exist between Norse scholars on whether or not the mushrooms were consumed by Viking Bezerkers before going into battle. Recent reports exist as well about the use of the substance in a recreational manner, yet its current spiritual use is rarely heard of.
According to Erowid (www.erowid.org), 'A. muscaria and all other Amanitas are unscheduled in the US. They are legal to sell, possess, or ingest.' This makes it an extremely attractive candidate to use for modern shamanic work conducted within the United States. Scientific research shows that there are two major active chemicals that bring about the unique muscaria experience. Ibotenic acid and muscimol work with a small collection of other constituents. Ibotenic acid is found in greater amounts within a fresh mushroom. In large amounts, its considered toxic causing twitching, dizziness, and nausea. When A. muscaria is dried the ibotenic acid is decarboxylated into the more psychoactive muscimol, multiplying the activity 'by a factor of five or six and reduces the undesirable side effects of fresh Amanita muscaria'. (Psychedelics Encyclopedia, Peter Stafford, chpt 9)
All sources warn about the extreme caution that needs to be used when consuming Amanitas. The white colored relatives of A. muscaria such as A. verna are extremely poisonous. Because only one of the white Amanitas was psychoactive, A. pantherina, it is best to avoid all white mushrooms unless one was an expert at recognizing the different species. Many sources state that potency of A. muscaria can vary greatly mattering on size of the cap and what season is was grown. Johathan Ott, whom witnessed a significant amount of Fly Agaric experiences, urges potential users to 'start with no more than 1/4 -1/2 cup of chopped material'.
With this literature research and the results of a recent, positive, and mild A. muscaria experience. I felt comfortable distributing some A. muscaria to a group of spiritually active people during the fall equinox in 2002. The following describes the experiment.
-Materials & Methods-
1/2 Max Cup of Dried Amanita muscaria
The above ingredients were blended into a beverage. While working with other companions to create a sacred space during a tattoo ritual, the beverage was served to the following female participants between the hours of 9 & 10 pm.
V - Smoker, over thirty, over 140 lbs. Took less than 1/2 a cup of the material
L - Mother, smoker, over thirty, over 140 lbs. Took less than 1/2 a cup of the material.
S - Non-smoker, over thirty, under 130lbs. Took 1/2 a cup of the material quickly.
D - Non-smoker, under thirty, around 130 lbs. Took close to 1/2 a cup of the material at twice the speed of D.
I - Non-smoker, under thirty years old, around 140lbs. Took less than 1/2 cup of the material over a slow period of time.
A male guardian was set to watch over the five participants while they were being hosted in a remote house far from any other homes.
V was the first to vomit after consuming the material. She was twitching lightly, had multiple out of body experiences giving her a pattern of lucidity moments towards L and the guardian throughout her journey. She fell asleep around 2am and reports of a permanent psychic opening between herself and what could be described as the collective unconsciousness. Total travel time was a five-hours.
L defecated an hour after consumption. Sometime afterwards she vomited. She experienced open-eyed visuals and had minor twitching. She was mostly lucid for the event as she spent time with her buddy V. She fell asleep around 2am and gratefully held her humor about the mess. B had a five-hour journey as well.
S vomited after consumption and maintained some lucidity while she cleaned after herself. She then ran from the hosts and had to be physically restrained for 45 minutes. It was noticed after she was sat still that her whole body was severely shivering and profusely sweating. The sanctuary hosts were seriously concerned about her well being and struggled with the thought of transporting her to a hospital. She was the least lucid in the guardian's opinion. She cleared up around 4am and finally slept around 6am. She reports to have an overwhelming experience that involved significant swings of positive and negative mental, emotional and spiritual levels. D's total journey time was eight hours.
D vomited about an hour or two after consumption. While she was vocally emoting a very positive experience, there was some serious concern about her epileptic-like convulsions from the guardian, male companion, and sanctuary hosts. The group reports that she was not lucid for a significant amount of time. She fell asleep around 3am. Total time was a six-hour journey.
I did not experience any vomiting. Bowl and urinary movements were normal. I experienced mild hand twitches that occurred with specific emotions. Lucidity was phasing in and out during the session and there was plenty of physical vertigo experienced. 2am arrived with a significant experience that was a completely thrilling, high flying, physical and mental exercise. Total time was a six-hour journey.
The summarized observations listed in the next paragraph are the specific ones mentioned in other A. muscaria sources that were experienced by the majority of participants during this session.
A. muscaria induces vomiting. Marijuana does not remove the nausea.
A. muscaria affects the body's ability to regulate temperature.
A. muscaria impairs motor coordination and causes mild to severe twitches.
Intense death/rebirth and out of body experiences can happen while under the influence of A. muscaria.
If a group wishes to experiment with this mushroom in a respectful manner, the following are some suggestions on how to proceed.
Start with smaller doses. 1/2 a cup of chopped material sold by the same ethnobotanical company produced very different sessions. Its clear that the product sold by the company can vary in strength. The doses should be given on a gradual basis. One suggestion is 1/8th of a cup of chopped material every two hours.
Establish a clear support system with sober guardians and experimenters before the next session. Complete attention should be given to the process. The session should be treated as a ritual for all involved. For every experimenter, there should be one guardian who will act as an escort, keeping the experimenter away from any dangerous actions. This will hopefully avoid an unsuspecting guardian from suddenly being overwhelmed with serious concerns. If this is not possible, a buddy system should be established for the experimenters. V & L's cooperative empathy should be an example to follow.
Participate in a preparation method such as fasting and stating group intent. The casual manner in which the material was distributed echoed the individual chaotic pieces that each person experienced. If another session happens, anyone whom will interact during the trip should work together as an active, listening group, while each individual still focuses on their own intent.
In summary, what was intended to be a social exploration into the subtle energies within our physical bodies became a stressful evening. While the potential behind these mushrooms becoming a modern spiritual sacrament is large, the hesitation about going through a similar experience subdues the dream. This fungus can teach some unexpected lessons for those whom simply desire psychic playtime. It might be best for you to live the Amanita muscaria experience vicariously through honest reports such as these.
Thank you for reading.
responsibility was stressed
mixed with faith in my body
and love from my friends
more was pushed than anticipated
thank you for your space
more was given than asked for
thank you for the emotional support
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