Amanita Muscaria or Fly Agaric is another kind of hallucinogenic, psychedelic or magic mushroom.
It may even be more popular than Psilocybin mushrooms as it’s iconically represented in paintings and drawings worldwide.
What is Amanita muscaria
It’s the red one with white dots although it can also be brown or yellow with white dots/spots/warts and white gills.
It’s called Fly Agaric because there have been some speculations on it being used as a fly repellent when mixed with milk.
Musca means (to) fly in Latin so it’s unsure whether its name is relating to flies or a sense of flying in a state of trance that these mushrooms can induce when ingested.
People in the Middle Ages believed that flies can enter one’s head and cause mental illness so there’s some speculation on the name of these mushrooms deriving from delirium-like states also.
Amanitas are not to be trifled with. First of all, if by a mistake you take an Amanita from the wrong species (one not belonging to Amanita Muscaria strain), you may lose your life.
That’s why many old mycology books deem it to be deadly which is not necessarily true although they are, in the broad sense of the word, toxic.
North American Mycological Association states that there are “no documented cases of death from poisoning in the past 100 years” when it comes to these mushrooms.
The fatal dose of Amanita Muscaria is approximately 15 caps, but that varies since the concentration of chemical compounds depends on the regions, sessions, strains, etc.
Spring and summer mushrooms seem to contain up to 5 times more psychoactive compounds than autumn shrooms so be wary of the seasons when you go hunting for the Amanitas.
The “psychedelic” effects of Amanita Muscaria are less predictable than those of the Psilocybin mushrooms. That’s why it’s best to take them under supervision by a shaman in a shamanic healing ceremony.
It was once thought that muscarine was the main hallucinogen found in Amanita Muscaria. Muscarine indeed reacts with muscarinic acetylcholine receptors
However, the main psychotropic compounds in Fly agaric are muscimol and the ibotenic amino acid.
Most of the psychoactive ingredients are found in the cap of the mushroom.
Between twenty and ninety minutes after administration of this entheogen, a significant portion of unmetabolized ibotenic acid gets excreted through the urine of the consumer.
Muscimol and Ibotenic amino acid act like neurotransmitters.
Muscimol is a potent GABAA agonist and Ibotenic acid acts as an agonist of NMDA glutamate receptors and some metabotropic glutamate receptors that partake in the neural activity control.
These interactions are speculated to cause the psychoactive effects that ingestion of these mushrooms causes in the consumers.
Amanita Muscaria grows in the temperate or boreal parts of the Northern Hemisphere.
It’s native to the Mediterranean as well as Central America, Scandinavia, Siberian regions and places spanning from Europe to Asia and North America.
It is often a symbiotic life-form that goes well with trees such as cedars and pines and grows near trunks of these trees.
Santa Clause amanita Muscaria
An interesting thing about Fly Agaric is that it fashioned the old Santa Claus seeing how it’s usually red and white and it grows beneath trunks of pines, much like Christmas gifts.
You remember the old white-red socks that we sometimes hang from doorknobs, etc.? It’s because Siberian tribes used to dry Amanitas and hang them all around their huts and villages.
Flying deers? It’s a known fact that deers seek out these mushrooms for ingestion. How else would they fly?
While human species lacks some of the enzymes to metabolize the Fly Agaric without side-effects, deers don’t seem to mind eating a shroom or two. Talk about Rudolph getting high, huh?
It’s thought that Siberian shamans drank deer urine to better metabolize the psychoactive ingredients from Amanita Muscaria.
It seems that the compounds get refined by deer-enzymes so that they don’t cause sweating, twitching and other side-effects when ingested via urine.
Amanita Shamans would thus urinate in a bowl from which the villagers would drink to achieve enlightenment and pass on the gifts. The initial drinker acts as a filter and transmitter for the rest of the flock.
Imagine Santa flying through the sky and entering through the chimney to bring you gifts.
Now it all has a different connotation when you know that flying is an astral trance state caused by Amanitas and that Santa is actually a shaman bearing the gifts of knowledge.
Which gifts are we talking about here? Well, there are many and as is the case when it comes to enlightenment, it’s difficult to describe them.
Self-awareness, consciousness, visions, lucid dreaming, heightened intuition and senses, radical change of perception and perspective, death of ego, enhanced memory, feeling of bliss, you name it.
Another way to describe some of the after-glows is: analysis enhancement, cognitive euphoria, decreased or increased libido, dream potentiation, empathy, love and enhancement of sociability.
It has also been reported that the trips may bring a sense of unity and interconnectedness, existential self-realization or heightened introspection, sedation, pain relief, and muscle relaxation.
However, drowsiness, muscle spasms, nausea, increased salivation, perspiration, pupil constriction, sweating, euphoria and mood changes are also frequently reported so beware.
There were even notions that Vikings ate Fly Agaric in order to produce their berserker strength as suggested by the Swedish professor Samuel Ödmann in 1784.
It’s also speculated by R. Gordon Wasson that the famous soma talked about in the Rigveda may relate to Amanita Muscaria.
Here’s what you need to know about these shrooms:
Drying them is bound to increase their potency.
You don’t have to worry about having to drink your shaman’s urine.
A significant portion of Muscaria’s toxins are water-soluble they get cut in pieces and boiled twice for about 15 minutes in freshwater.
The more shrooms you boil, the more water and more time you’ll need, but leave it all to your shaman.
Watch out for heavy rain as it can sometimes remove the white flakes from the Fly Agaric’s cap.
White and light yellow or orange muscarias exist, but it’s not advisable to mess with those. White Amanitas are almost always deadly.
One mushroom from the Amanita genus – Amanita Phalloides, has toxins that damage every tissue in the body and it’s impossible to save its consumer even if he/she gets hospitalized in minutes after ingestion.
Amanita Muscaria is hard to cultivate as it has a mycorrhizal relationship with the roots of the trees so your connection to this mushroom will sometimes be marked by chance or fate.
Macropsia and micropsia may often follow the ingestion and they may even occur alternatingly or simultaneously to produce dysmetropsia which is a symptom of Alice in Wonderland syndrome
Alongside visual distortions such as teleopsia and pelopsia, changes in cognitive prefrontal lobe often occur. The cause or the effect of such occurrences is the loss of ego.
Loss of Ego
Loss of Ego is a radical shift in the perception of oneself as an integral part of universal unity. This entheogen may help you get back in tune with the cosmic flow and experience the spiritual harmony.
Here’s an excerpt of the Alice in Wonderland that speaks about the Alice syndrome and the total change in cognitive paradigm that all spiritual teachers and philosophers spoke about since the dawn of time:
A sleepy caterpillar sitting on the mushroom spoke to Alice:
“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar. This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation.
Alice replied rather shyly: “I hardly know, sir, just at present – at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.”
“What do you mean by that?” said the Caterpillar sternly. “Explain yourself”
“I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir”, said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see.”
“I don’t see,” said the Caterpillar.
“I’m afraid I can’t put it more clearly,” for I can’t understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.”
This little dialogue celebrated by the Jefferson Airplane’s song “White Rabbit” has inspired many artists and philosophers worldwide, as Alice herself without a doubt.
The Caterpillar here is an egoic mind, slow and blind, shrouded in smoke and fog, waiting to flourish and transform in the chrysalis of logic, rationality, and sternness.
There are some more iconic uses of Amanita Muscaria such as in the famous series of video games named Super Mario Bros.
Children’s picture books show fairies, gnomes, dwarves and garden ornaments employing fly agarics as houses or seats.
However, despite their colorful physique and widespread positive lore concerning gifts, flying, Santa Claus and Rudolph, Amanitas are not meant to be eaten at parties and without a good spiritual cause.
It’s not just the chemistry, but the spirits of the nature that communicate with you through the fungi and they decide on the power surge of your trip.
Careful when you look for amanitas too. If you take the wrong gift you may end up taking a trip from which you might not return.
As the saying goes, all mushrooms are edible – although some of them only once.
That’s why it’s best to take them under the supervision of an experienced shaman.
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