Plants - Drugs Mind - Spirit Freedom - Law Arts - Culture Library  
Is it important to you that the world have accurate information about drugs?
Please donate to support Erowid Center's vision!
From: (Bryan Butler)
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Subject: Re: Vikings and Mushrooms (long & referenced)
Date: 20 May 1993 08:56:37 GMT
Message-ID: <>

[ ... ]

excerpted from "The Hallucinogens", by A. Hoffer and H. Osmond, 
Academic, 1967, pp. 443-454, without permission

   l-Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids.  It is the
only indole amino acid but not the only precursor of indoles, since
substances derived from tyrosine may also be converted into indoles
of another sort.  Tryptophan is the potential precursor of the
indole alkylamines, that is, compounds which include bufotenine,
N,N-dimethyltryptamine, N,N-diethyltryptamine, serotonin, iboga,
and harmala alkaloids, psilocybin, LSD, lysergic acid amide, and
some yohimbe alkaloids.  With the exception of serotonin all these
compounds are hallucinogens and serotonin may be a neurohormone.
All the compounds listed are found in plants and a few in animals in
contrast to the adrenaline matabolite indoles derived from
adrenochrome which occur only in animals, so far as we know.


   Cohoba, the Narcotic Snuff of Ancient Haiti

   Safford (1916) reviewed the ancient and recent history of this
narcotic snuff.  There remained little doubt it was prepared from
_Piptadena peregrina_ and contained chemicals which produced
remarkable changes when inhaled or snuffed.


Fish _et al_ (1955a,b,1956) and Fish and Horning (1956) showed that
_P. peregrina_ seeds had 5 indoles.  The chief one was bufotenine.
Also present were N,N-dimethyltryptamine, bufotenine oxide, 
N,N-dimethyltryptamine oxide, and an unidentified indole.
   Jensen and Chen (1936) found bufotenidine in Ch'an Su and in the
secretion of _Bufo bufo gargarizans, Bufo fowleri_ and _Bufo
formosus_.  They found bufotenine in _Bufo vulgaris_ and _Bufo
viridis viridis_.
   Wieland _et al_ (1953) extracted bufotenine from the poisonous
mushrooms _Amanita mappa, Amanita muscaria_, and _Amanita
pantherina_.  Bufotenine was first found in the skin of several
toad species and the dried secretion (Ch'an Su) of the Chinese
toad has been known to be biologically active for centuries but
there are no records of toad skin or its extract being used as
hallucinogenic material.  This suggests that there is too little
bufotenine or that other substances which potentiate the effect of
bufotenine are lacking in frog skin.  We do not believe that Man
has not sampled toad skin.  Primitive man has been very adept at
selecting those species of plants and animals which contained
hallucinogenic compounds.


   The fly-agaric mushrooms are the only other natural source of
bufotenine.  But they also contain three other main constituents
(Buck, 1961).  Muscarin which is a parasympathomimetic substance
is present.  It acts directly on effector organs, smooth muscle,
and glandular cells.  Atropine prevents most of the effects.  Also
present in some species of _Amanita_ is a substance called
pilzatropin which may be l-hyoscyamine.  dl-hyoscyamine is atropine.
Finally a pilztoxin is present because even after the muscarine
present is prevented from acting by pretreatment with atropine,
there remains a psychological effect.  Narcoticlike intoxication,
convulsions, and death have followed in spite of adequate treatment
with atropine.
   Lewin (1931) described the use of the fly-agaric by the native
tribes of North East Asia in Siberia.  Lewin discussed briefly the
suggestion Berserkers consumed this mushroom to produce their
great rages.  The fly-agaric was in constant demand and there was
a well-established trade between Kamchatka where it did grow to
the Taigonos Peninsula where it did not grow at all.  The Koryaks
paid for them with reindeer and Lewin reported one animal was
sometimes exchanged for one mushroom.
   The Kamchadales and Koryaks consumed from 1 to 3 dried
mushrooms.  They believed the smaller mushrooms with a large
quantity of small warts were more active than the pale red and
less spotted ones.  Among the Koryaks, their women chewed the
dried agaric and rolled the masticated material into small
sausages which were swallowed by the men.  Lewin does not report
whether the women got some of the psychological response.
   The Siberians discovered the active principle was excreted
in the urine and could be passed through the body once more.  As
soon as the Koryak noted his experience was passing, he would
drink his own urine which he had saved for this purpose.  The same
mushrooms could thus give one person several experiences or
several people one experience.  After several passages the urine
no longer was able to produce the desired effect.
   The response to the mushrooms varied from person to person and in
the same person at different times.  The mushrooms varied in potency
and sometimes one mushroom was effective; at other times ineffective.
The first response occurred in 1 to 2 hours beginning with twitching 
and trembling.  Consciousness was maintained and during this induction
phase the subjects were euphoric and contented.  Then the visions came
on.  The subjects spoke to their visionary people and discussed various
matters with them.  They were quite calm but appeared entranced with a 
glassy stare.
   Other subjects became very jolly or sad, jumped about, danced, sang
or gave way to great fright.  Their pupils were enlarged.  Lewin believed
this was responsible for the distortions in size which occurred.  Small
objects appeared much too large.  This "deceptive perception is apt to
influence his action" ... "on the basis of his illusions the conclusion
which he arrives at is very reasonable."
   In large quantities more severe hallucinations and rages occurred.
The initial excitation could become more and more severe leading to
attacks of raving madness.  In some cases motor excitation was dominant.
The eyes became savage, the face bloated and red, the hands trembled
and the individual danced or rushed about until exhausted when he
apparently slept.  But he then experienced more hallucinations.  This
could then be replaced by another spasm of overactivity followed by more
hallucinations and fantasy.
   Ramsbottom (1953) described in more detail the use of these mushrooms
by the Berserkers.  According to him, fly-agaric or bug-agaric were
poisonous but not deadly and did not kill healthy people.  The potency
varied with district.  In some districts of France these mushrooms are
regularly eaten.  S. Odman, in 1784, first suggested that Vikings used
fly-agaric to produce their berserk rages.  Ramsbottom cited 12 authors
who referred to the use of these mushrooms by the Siberian tribes already
mentioned.  The Koryaks believed a person drugged obeyed the wishes of
spirits residing in them.
   Fabing (1956) and Fabing and Hawkins (1956) was convinced the
Berserkers did, indeed, use fly-agaric.  It is a very plausible explanation.
Going berserk occurred as follows.  The Norse took the mushrooms so that
the effect came on during the heat of battle or while at work.  During
the berserk rage they performed deeds which otherwise were impossible.
The rage started with shivering, chattering of the teeth, and a chill.
Their faces became swollen and changed color.  A great rage developed
in which they howled like wild animals and cut down anyone in their
way, friend or foe alike.  Afterward their mind became dulled and
feeble for several days.  In 1123 AD a law was passed making anyone
going berserk liable for several years in jail.  It was not heard of since.
   Fabing quoted Drew who described a modern reaction to _Amanita
muscaria._  A patient ate some of the mushrooms at 10:00 PM.  Two hours
later he developed diarrhea, sweating, vertigo, and salivation.  He fell
asleep but was awake at 2:00 AM disoriented, irrational, and violent.  ON
admission to hospital he was cyanotic, responded to pinpricks but not
to deep pain.  He was disoriented in all three spheres.  Somnolence
alternated with excitement.  He thought he was in hell.  He spoke 
continually and irrationally of religious matters.  A physician was 
misidentified as Christ.  When not in hell he was convinced he was in
Eden.  That evening his mental state cleared and next morning he was


Buck, R. W. (1961). _New Engl. J. Med._, 265:681
Fabing, H. D. (1956). _Am. J. Psychiat._, 113:409
Fabing, H. D., and Hawkins, J. R. (1956). _Science_, 123:886
Fish, M. S., and Horning, E. C. (1956). _J. Nervous Mental Disease_,
Fish, M. S., Johnson, N. M., and Horning, E. C. (1955a). _J. Am.
   Chem. Soc._, 77:5892
Fish, M. S., Johnson, N. M., Lawrence, E. P., and Horning, E. C.
   (1955b), _Biochim. Biophys. Acta_, 18:564
Fish, M. S., Johnson, N. M., and Horning, E. C. (1956). _J. Am.
   Chem. Soc._, 78:3668
Jensen, H., and Chen, K. K. (1936). _J. Biol. Chem._, 116:87
Lewin, L. (1931). "Phantastica: Narcotic and Stimulating Drugs:
   Their Use and Abuse."  Kegan Paul, London.
Ramsbottom, J. (1953). "Mushrooms and Toadstools. A Study of the
   Activities of Fungi."  Collins, London.
Safford, W. E. (1916). _J. Wash. Acad. Sci._, 6:547
Wieland, T., Motzel, W., and Merz, H. (1953). _Ann. Chem._, 581:10


In article <> writes:
>     Anyone had any experiences with this? What were the effects?

No personal experience, but I wrote the following at some point:

- Use

These mushrooms are usually eaten (and are said to taste fine), but
people have for some reason tried to smoke them.  This is minimally
effective.  If you want to try, use the skin, which is the most active
portion.  If you boil them, you may have to drink a lot of broth into
which the active principles have leached.  They are said to be of
slightly decreased effectiveness when dried, particularly after more
than a few months.  As smoking presumably pyrolyzes the stuff, don't
dry it at outrageous temperatures, or pan-blacken it.  :-)

The dosage has been variously recommended as "one to four caps", "one
or two mushrooms", and "30 grams of dried caps" for A. muscaria.  A
cap, of course, can vary in size from a half-inch sphere to an
eight-inch platter.  I have no idea.  Start way low.  The red variety
is said to be more potent than the yellow.

For A. pantherina, the one reference I have involves half a cup of
fresh mushroom per person.  This may be high; see "Effects" below.

- Effects

Reports of effects vary widely, as is to be expected from a natural
psychoactive.  The mental effects may become apparent within half an
hour, but more usually take an hour.  The duration seems to be
anywhere from four to ten hours.  Euphoria, ataxia, and sensory
alterations are characteristic, particularly alterations of hearing
and taste.  Visual effects have also been reported, as has nausea.  A. 
muscaria may also produce cholinergic symptoms such as "profuse
salivation and mild perspiration" [Ott].

[text deleted -cak]

	 PGP 2 key by finger or e-mail

Amanita are reportedly collected, dried, and stored by red squirrels for 
food in the winter.  It's not known whether they experience psychoactive
effects when eating them or not.  [by Erowid]

[quoted text deleted -cak]

I would be pretty scared to take these, but since I have this darn
Psychedelics Encyclopedia right here, let me see what it says.  Okay,
for starters, Fly Agaric is the same thing as Amanita muscaria (Pagan's
question left it ambiguous).  There's another one called Panther Caps or
Amanita pantherina that has the same psychoactive compounds - ibotenic
acid, muscimol and (less important) muscazone - but more of them.

Now these guys are somewhat toxic, but the other thing to keep in mind
is that the Amanita genus has the species that cause 95 percent of all
deaths from mushroom poisoning, so you damn well better know what
species you're munching on.  Amanita virosa (Destroying Angel), Amanita
phalloides (Death Cap),... well, I guess the names tell it all.
Apparently you only feel the poison of these bad guys TWO DAYS after you
eat them, by which time stomach pumping is seldom any use.  They look
similar to the "good" Amanitas, so be fucking careful.

One funny thing is that about half the books on mushrooms say Amanita
muscaria is deadly, but R. Gordon Wasson (who wrote "SOMA: Divine
Mushroom of Immortality", arguing that the "soma" of the Rig-Veda was
Amanita muscaria) claims that there's not a single firsthand account of
lethal poisoning by A. muscaria.  Supposedly, if properly dried they are
okay if you start with NO MORE THAN 1/4-1/2 CUP OF CHOPPED OR SAUTEED
MATERIAL.  According to Johnathan Ott, "These mushrooms are powerful.
The effective dose range may be narrow.  If it is exceeded, even by a
small amount, a dissociative experience may result, even a comatose
state or an inability to function.  Of course, there are many who desire
this kind of effect [I love that]; no doubt it would be alarming to
others.  There are many unanswered questions concerning the toxicity of
these mushrooms.  It has been suggested, and there is some evidence to
support this, that the toxicity may vary according to location and
season."  The drying process turns ibotenic acid into muscimol,
multiplying the potency by 5 or 6, and reduces bad side-effects.  

Apparently many people who take it say it's "not all that nice, perhaps
not even psychedelic".  But here's what Ott says: "After oral ingestion,
the full effects will begin in about 90 minutes.  For me these are
characterized by wavy motion in the visual field, an "alive" quality to
inanimate objects, auditory hallucinations and a sense of great mental
stillness and clarity.  The effects are distinctly different from
psilocybin, LSD or mescaline, and may last up to 8 hours.  Side effects
often include nausea, slight loss of balance and coordination, and
drowsiness.  Smoking produces a more rapid effect of shorter duration."

Need I repeat this?  Anyone who wants to mess with these should learn a
lot more about them than the above.


Newsgroups: alt.drugs
From: (aankrom)
Subject: Re: Amanita muscaria -experiment
Date: Fri, 17 Dec 1993 01:56:43 GMT

In article <> writes:
>I come from Finland.
>Maybe Amanita muscarias here in Finland are better than
>* Taavetti *

This is more than likely true. The European variety of A muscaria is 
hallucinogenic/intoxicating while the North American variety will 
only make the eater very ill. If youlive in North America, don't experiment
with A muscaria.


Ich fuehle mich so verlassen...


From: (chris)
Newsgroups: alt.folklore.urban,sci.skeptic,alt.drugs.psychedelics
Subject: Re: Book of Revelations and hallucinogenic mushrooms
Date: 5 Dec 1994 03:50:30 GMT
Message-ID: <3bu2m6$>

More on this subject:

Date:    Wed, 19 Oct 94 17:37 CDT
From: Tom Roberts                                       

Subject: guide.Graves, Robert. Difficult Questions, Easy Answers

Graves, Robert. (1973). Difficult Questions, Easy Answers. Garden
City, NY: Doubleday & Co.

ISBN: 0-385-04469-0 1973

Description: First American edition, x + 213 pages.

Contents: Foreword, 25 essays

Excerpt(s): Another variety of the amanita muscaria grows south
of the fortieth parallel, with the pine as its host-tree, and is
equally hallucinogenic.  That it was ritually used in Biblical
times is suggested by an unwritten Hebrew taboo on mushrooms,
broken only by the non-orthodox. (Arabs, by the way, are
mycophagous, which perhaps accounts for the mushroom eating in
those parts of Southern Europe occupied by the Saracens during
the early Middle Ages.)  I have elsewhere suggested that the
golden 'ermrods' laid up in the Ark together with a pot of
hallucinogenic manna really represented sacred mushrooms.  A
concealed reference to their use appears in the Book of Judges:
the unlikely story of how Samson collected three hundred foxes
and sent them into the Philistine's cornfields [grainfields] with
torches tied to their tails.  The Palestinian fox is not
gregarious and the task of capturing three hundred of them, at
the rate of one or two a day, and feeding them all until he had
collected the full number would have been a senselessly
exhausting one.  Besides, how could he make sure that the foxes
would run into the cornfields and keep the torches alight? The
truth seems to be that Samson organized a battalion of raiders--
three hundred was the conventional Hebrew battalion strength, as
appears in the story of Gideon--and sent them out with torches to
burn the Philistine's corn.  Indeed, in the 1948 Jewish War of
Liberation, a raiding battalion was named 'Samson's Foxes.'  But
why foxes?  Because the juice of the amanita muscaria mushrooms
(which still grow under the pines of Mount Tabor) could be laced
with ivy juice or wine to make the raiders completely fearless,
and because this variety, when dried, is fox-colored.  So are
other mushrooms, such as the popular chanterelle which the
Russians call lisichka, 'little fox'; but to clarify its meaning
the Bible specifies 'little foxes with fire on their tails'.  In
the Song of Solomon the Shunemite bride, about to take part in a
sacred marriage, urges her lover to fetch her 'the little foxes
that spoil the vines, for my vines have tender grapes'. She means
Solomon must fortify his manhood with mushroom-juice laced with
wine, the better to enjoy her young beauty.
     Why mycophobes called mushrooms 'toad's bread' or
'toadstools' can readily be explained.  When the toad is attacked
or scared the warts on its back exude bufogenin, the poison
secreted in the white hallucinogenic warts of the amanita
muscaria. In ancient Greece the toad was the emblem of Argos, the
leading state of the Peloponese, the emblems of the other two
states being also connected with the mushroom: namely fox and
serpent.  The division into states had been made by a legendary
king named Phoroneus, which seems a form of Phryneus, meaning
"Toad-man'.  The capital city was Mycenae ('Mushroom City') said
to have been built by Phoroneus' successor Perseus ('the
destroyer') who, according to Pausanicus, had found a mushroom
growing on the site beside a spring of water.  The toad was also
the emblem of Tlaloc, the Mexican God of Inspiration, and appears
surrounded by mushrooms in an Aztec mural painting of Tlalocan,
his Paradise. (Chapter 8, Mushrooms and Religion, pages 101-102)

Date: Wed, 16 Nov 1994 20:05:55 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Forte 
Reply-To: Robert Forte 
Subject: Re: Amanita muscaria
To: Bert Marco Schuldes 

Hello Bert,

What experiences do you have with the Amanita muscaria. How do you 
prepare it?  What amounts?

My friend Clark Heinrich and I harvest Amanita every season.  He has just 
written a remarkable book about it entitled STRANGE FRUIT, to be 
published by Bloomsbury in London this January.  He's claiming it to be the
body of christ and the philosopher's stone. He is following Wasson's line 
but he is not as careful as Gordon, more poetic, polemical, and far more 
outrageous. Huston Smith said his book is the most significant oon the 
subject since Wasson.  He claims to have broken through and been bathed in
white light after eating the  Amanita and after enduring many difficult

I've tried it several times, gradually increasing the amount. We make a 
tea of rehydrated mushrooms, mix with milk and honey, drink, and drink it 
again after it passes through you.  I've sweat and salivated like 
never before, and my vision was distorted. But the only entheogenic 
effects were barely felt sense of strong energy and desire to roam the 
forest. Concentration seemed improved when I sat in meditation. Higher 
amounts will certainly bring stronger experience but I like to go slowly 
into these things. My friend's material is very persuasive, alot of it. 

There may be more to the Amanita phenomenologicly, than is generally 
I knew Gordon Wasson in his later years. He'll probably be reborn as an 
Amanita muscaria. . .


Date:    Mon, 07 Nov 94 13:27 CST
From: Tom Roberts                                       

Subject: Boston: Hallucinogens Conference

Program: Myth and Reality
Saturday Nov. 12, 1994 10AM - 4PM
Sponsored by Maliotis Cultural Center and Boston University
at Maliotis Cultural Center, 50 Goddard Ave, Brookline, Mass.
No charge, but seating is limited, so call for reservations
     617-522-2800 Located on the campus of Hellenic College
The conference will explore the different ways in which cultures
define what they consider to be their history and reality, but what
other cultures claim is myth; focusing particularly on the cultures
of Meso and South America and Classical Greece.
Richard Evans Schultes/The Significance of the Hallucinogens of
  the New World
Thomas J. Riedlinger/ Mushroom Cult and Christianity
Carl A. P. Ruck/ Retracing the Way to the Eleusinian Mystery