Psilocybin Mushroom History
The Aztec people had a closely related god of sacred psychoactive plants. Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers, was the divine patron of "the flowery dream" as the Aztecs called the ritual hallucinatory trance. The Aztecs used a number of plant hallucinogens including psilocybian mushrooms (teonanácatl), morning glory seeds (tlilitzin), Salvia divinorum, Datura (tlapatl or toloache) , Peyote (peyotl), and mixitl grain. Psilocybian mushrooms were used in ritual and ceremony, served with honey or chocolate at some of their holiest events.During the early 20th century there was dispute amongst western academics as to whether psychoactive mushrooms existed. Though Sahagun had mentioned teonanácatl in his diaries, an American botanist William Safford argued he had mistaken dried peyote buttons for mushrooms. This theory was strongly disputed by Austrian amateur botanist Dr. Blas Pablo Reko, who had lived in Mexico. Reko was convinced that not only did teonanacatl refer to psychoactive mushrooms as Sahagun had written, but that people were still using these mushrooms in Mexico. In the mid 16th century, Spanish priest Bernardino de Sahagún wrote of the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms by the Aztecs in his Florentine Codex :
"The first thing to be eaten at the feast were small black mushrooms that they called nanacatl and bring on drunkenness, hallucinations and even lechery; they ate these before the dawn...with honey; and when they began to feel the effects, they began to dance, some sang and others wept... When the drunkenness of the mushrooms had passed, they spoke with one another of the visions they had seen."According to Sahagún, the psychoactive mushrooms which were ingested by the Aztec priests and their followers were always referred to as teonanácatl though the term does not appear to be used by modern indians or shamans in mesoamerica. 3 The varieties most likely to have been used by the Aztecs are Psilocybe caerulescens and Psilocybe mexicana. Psilocybe cubensis, which is currently quite popular as it is easy to locate and cultivate, was not introduced to America until the arrival of the Europeans and their cattle.
Chemistry of Shrooms
The primary active ingredients of Psilocybe mushrooms are psilocybin and psilocin, and to a lesser extent baeocystin and norbaeocystin. The ratio of psilocybin to psilocin varies from species to species. The primary difference between the two compounds is that psilocin is unstable and breaks down when the mushroom is dried, while psilocybin lasts much longer (a 115-year old mushroom sample was found to contain some). The two are equally psychoactive, since one molecule of psilocybin breaks down into one molecule of psilocin.Psilocybin and psilocin are part of the tryptamine family (indole C8H7N & ethylamine side chain). Psilocybin is soluable in 20 parts water, while psilocin is only slightly soluable in water.8 They bear close resemblance to the neurotransmitter serotonin. How these substances work is still quite obscure. Primary effect seems to be the inhibition of neurotransmitter serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine aka 5-HT), i.e. a 5-HT2A post-synaptic agonist that mimics the effects to 5-HT to put it in jargon. This is the working hypothesis for LSD-25 at the moment and it's probably true for psilocybin as well. These substances also present some cross-tolerance. Psilocybin, psilocin and psilocybian mushrooms have very low toxicity - in tests with mice, doses up to 200 mg of pure psilocybin/kg of body weight have been injected intravenously without lethal effects (that would be 13 grams of pure psilocybin per average human (65 kg / 140 lbs). The ED50:LD50 ratio is 641 according to the NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects; compare this with 9637 for vitamin A, 4816 for LSD, 199 for aspirin and 21 for nicotine. According to Leo Hollister, Jonathon Ott, and John W. Allen, one would have to consume their body weight in fresh mushrooms or eat approximately 19 grams of the pure chemical substance to bring on death. As long as Psilocybin mushrooms are properly identified, poisoning is not a problem. There continue to be rumors that some psilocybian mushrooms contain small quantities of DMT, yet no chemical analysis that we know of has shown the presence of DMT. If it is to be found, it's in microscopic quantities, and as DMT is not orally active without an MAOI (monoamine oxidase inhibitor), it is quite unlikely to have any noticeable effect
The effects of mushrooms are greatly effected by dose and an individual's sensitivity to psilocybin. For some rare people 1/4 gm of Psilocybe Cubensis (a very small amount) is enough to propel them into full visionary states, with Open Eye Visuals, unpleasant stomach cramps or gas, and other High-Dose effects, while for others the same amount would be barely (if at all) noticeable, possibly causing a slight cold feeling during the first hour and other 'Threshold' effects. It is therefore important to get to know your individual reaction to small amounts of all entheogens. Be safe.The effect-time curve of mushrooms, as with other entheogens, are characterized by a short period between ingestion and 'Coming Up', a short (but often experientially long) Coming Up period, a Plateau period, Coming Down, and then After Effects. Psilocybin effects can be overwhelming and unpleasant, especially if you're not relaxed and ready for them. Experienced mushroomers strongly recommend starting with a low dose and increasing the intensity over several trials until one finds the dose they are comfortable with. "Boosting" with mushrooms, taking an additional amount sometime during the trip in order to increase the effects, is generally not considered very successful if it happens after the effects begin to taper at all. Some but not all of the following effects characterize the following effects levels. Please note that the minimum dosage indicated for Medium and High Doses are extremely low and those who reach these states with less than 1.0 gm of Cubensis are rare. You may be one of them, be careful. Threshold Effects : (from .25gm - .75gms P. Cubensis) Slight cold feeling, mild gas or nausea, nervous-feeling, slight pupil-dilation, mild visual changes including lights seeming brighter, lights having a 'starry' look, and noticing movement at the periphery of vision, giddiness, feeling more emotionally sensitive, and many other effects related to a change in neurochemistry. Medium Effects : (0.75gm - 2.5gms P. Cubensis) 'Cold' feeling, gas and/or stomach discomfort, nausea, pupil-dilation, open-eye visual effects: lights gain auras, star-pattern effects, rainbowing around lighting, lights seem brighter, often 'more beautiful', notice movement in periphery, sometimes increased ability to focus, sometimes reduced ability to focus, visual field 'distracting', visual field 'entertaining', closed eye 'visuals': normal closed eye 'blobs' take on patterns, shapes, distinct forms, increased ability to visualize creatively, spontaneous detailed images, feelings of time-dilation, feelings of `coming home again' which is often more pronounced for those who have used mushrooms before, feelings of belonging and connection, increased emotional sensitivity, increased ability to focus on emotional problems or memories, chance of becoming 'caught in a loop' thinking / dwelling on a single thought or feeling (usually negative or painful), realizations about past feelings, realizations about how to live, gain a new perspective on current lifestyle and behaviors, feelings of connection with those around you, noticing things which are normally ignored or taken for granted, feelings of wonder, spirit, joy, sadness, despair, religious awakening, contentment and possibly latent psychological crises can come out... High Dose Effects : (2.5gm - 10gms) All of the Medium Effects, usually with a significantly more uncomfortable Coming Up, more pronounced nausea sometimes (rarely) resulting in vomiting, sometimes significant mental discomfort associated with feelings of fear and often times accompanying a "what have I done to myself" or "how far am I going" thought, the unpleasant Coming Up effects usually lessen with familiarity and more knowledge about the safety and character of mushroom effects. High Dose Effects are usually characterized by the closed eye visualizations being significantly more elaborate and enfolding, religious revelation, spiritual awakening, near death experiences, loss of self, talking to seemingly external, autonomous entities, extreme emotional responses, repressed memories coming to life, latent psychological crises can come to the surface, intense feelings of wonder, connection, joy, fear. High Dose Effects can also include extreme time-dilation, with experiences of wall-clock minutes taking an experientially large amount of time, watching clocks or digital counters where the seconds seem to take minutes to count off. One of the most interesting effects is the feeling of awakening for the first time ever from a previous state of sleep, of liberation from what is now seen as a life-long state of bondage. Paradoxically, it is this new awareness which feels normal and natural and the previous fog which is seen to have been unreal all along. The bemushroomed seeker is convinced that, once gained, this awareness is impossible to lose, but inexplicably by the next day it is just a memory.