Evidence points to mushrooms being used for centuries - from Siberian shamans and the Mixtec Vienna Codex from the 1500s.
By 1968, magic mushrooms had become illegal and associated with counterculture in the US.
Mushrooms Shrooms Direct may seem innocuous enough, yet their role in human history cannot be underestimated. Mushrooms are natural mind-altering psychedelics that cause hallucinations when consumed, making them invaluable sacramental offerings from various ancient cultures.
Early on, our ancestors relied on mushrooms for medicinal use. Hippocrates famously employed mushrooms as anti-inflammatories; and Tao Hongjing - an alchemist from China dating back five centuries - listed numerous medicinal species as being effective against inflammation.
Modern ethnopharmacology truly took off after Wall Street investment banker Gordon Wasson and his wife Valentina published Life magazine's 1957 account of their mushroom field trips in Huautla de Jimenez, Mexico in 1957. Following Wasson and Valentina's discovery of Mazatec mushroom called Teonanacatl which reignited their interest for mushrooms; leading them to make annual trips to Maria Sabina's home where she would perform mushroom veladas for them to observe.
Timothy Leary was greatly impacted by Timothy Wassons' adventures and their mushroom cookbook, Mushrooms, Russia and History, which quickly became associated with countercultural movements in America and banned throughout much of Western society almost overnight.
The Psychedelic Age
Mushrooms have long been used by humans, and it remains evident they continue to have an immense effect on how we live our lives today. But why?
Timothy Leary was an iconic counterculture figure during the 1960s. Inspired by a Life article on mushrooms, he decided to experiment with them himself and claims his experience forever altered him - learning more in five hours than 15 years of school!
The Psychedelic Age brought with it an entirely new wave of mushroom use and consciousness expansion, popularised by rock bands like Grateful Dead who became known for creating music laced with mushrooms.
Even hip-hop, which didn't exist during the Psychedelic Era, has been heavily influenced by mushroom culture. If you enjoy hip-hop music, take a look at Mick Jenkins, Noname, Flatbush Zombies or Smino for some examples of amazing artists inspired by mind-expanding mushrooms.
Mazatec people, known for their rich traditions and beliefs, have long used sacred mushrooms - scientifically named Psilocybe semilanceata - to induce visionary experiences. Curanderos are indigenous Mexicans who use this treatment to treat mental illnesses, cure physical ailments and provide spiritual guidance.
Alternatively, experimental research suggests that mushrooms cause depersonalization and schizophrenia; Mazatec tradition states otherwise; rather they believe it works by healing divisions in consciousness and providing an existential solution to problems.
Therefore, the medicine woman insisted that mushrooms were not anachronisms; rather it is modern western society which is outdated in its concept of humanity. She noted that visions induced by mushrooms differ depending on individual perception; however they all share one feature in common: discourse. Subjects in other societies would likely experience their visions differently with differing emotional responses and colored illuminations.
The War on Drugs
Maria Sabina opened up her ceremonies to Western researchers during the 1950s and allowed for observation of ritualistic mushroom use by them - such as Wasson. Although Maria provided this knowledge anonymously, her work is widely recognized for opening the way for further psychedelic research in Western countries.
Mushrooms are once again being widely consumed, cultivated, and researched due to the shroom boom. Unfortunately, however, their potential as an answer for societal problems such as opioid addiction, depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is being limited by hardline politicians such as Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (a candidate for Attorney General under President Trump).
Nixon's War on Drugs, inaugurated in 1973, has been widely blamed for setting America on an unintended path toward increased drug enforcement and mass incarceration rates. Many suspect that there were ulterior motives behind its implementation; nevertheless, the Drug Enforcement Administration continues to operate today with an emphasis on controlling drugs even as evidence mounts that its efforts have not reduced drug abuse.