Updated: Apr 11, 2021
Disclaimer: I am not advocating for the use, production, or distribution of any controlled substance, as listed in section 1308 of Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations. This article was written with the intention of informing.
Regardless of who you are, or what you are doing, your brain is capable of producing 23 watts of power, 4.6 iPhones, or about 1/10th of the electrical energy required to power any 4×12 Cabinet. Using what seems like a small amount of electricity daily, it’s insane to picture how all 100 billion of your neurons structured themselves together to create the physical person your mind embodies while reading this. From the first time you burnt yourself, the route you took to get home, and the random detail you remembered from your last dream, the brute workforce between your eyes works silently, running on 500 calories of your total daily energy. It brought you right here, congrats.
The future of the world is becoming increasingly unknown. It can seem like we’re all collectively enduring a set of constantly changing circumstances that all converge to dictate the surrounding patterns of technology, social stratification, and exploring what it means to be a part of the human experience. Given the fact that your surroundings are bound to make up a strange environment, it’s no wonder why anyone would want to experience all it has to offer. This is what makes psilocybin useful, and for some people, life-changing.
Although magic mushrooms often leave users with more questions than answers, recent studies have gone so far as to prove twelve subjects with advanced-stage cancer and a diagnosis of acute stress to yield a diminished level of existential anxiety and depression, through varying levels of visionary reconstruction capabilities, and anxious ego dissolution. Ultimately, these studies were pursued in an effort to prove how foundational the substance is in removing barriers towards progression. The conversation is happening, and it’s waiting for you.
The cultural zeitgeist that psilocybin finds itself today is dramatically different from it’s convoluted past. Although a former scapegoat in the eyes of anyone from the Raegan era’s war on drugs (and still a Schedule 1 substance here in Arizona), new developments such as Colorado’s recreational legalization of the substance, Compass Pathways gaining FDA approval to use psilocybin for research into depression, and Johns Hopkins developing a department to use psilocybin in studies that examine PTSD and Addiction, all add to an extensive catalog of cumulative actions that are nothing less than groundbreaking not only for the psychedelic itself but for human development as a whole.
What seems to throw most people off magic mushrooms is the role they have with the aforementioned neurons inside your head. In fact, according to NIH, when serotonergic psychedelics (specifically LSD, Psilocybin, Peyote, DMT, and Ayahuasca) are consumed, the active chemicals lock themselves within the confines of the neural connections that interact with your neurotransmitter “serotonin”.
Really, these substances find a spot in your brain where they fit, and your brain carries on as normal (at least during the come-up). Once your brain has processed the substance (and as you start tripping), your prefrontal cortex enters an extrasensory state, wherein the location of your brain that is responsible for regulating the way you feel, the way you think, and how you perceive any stimuli making up your surrounding environment shifts, in an immensely powerful display of how delicate the human brain can be.
The system update your mind goes through following the trip has always found a way to navigate itself throughout the cultural landscape. Whether it be the Aztec translation of the P. Mexicana name “teonanácatl”, to the highly controversial archaeological site “Tassil Najjar” (which made its way throughout pop culture under the guise that at least one rock art piece features a shaman offering the substance to another individual), the substance has always asserted itself into entheogenic status throughout time.
Regardless if you buy into the counterculture that magic mushrooms have created, the undeniable fact is that if mushrooms represent anything, it’s the final fruiting stage of the fungi cycle dating back to their arrival 810 million years ago.
Making up only 1 of the mere 120,000 species of fungi that have been discovered so far, psilocybin-containing mushrooms fulfill an ecological role so hidden and microscopic, that it seems unreal to imagine that they are the single force that brings life to their environments. In their natural habitat, the black mold underneath your sink (S. Charterum), rotten food in your fridge (Penicillium), and the shrooms (P. Cubensis) you’re about to take are all united by one key trait: mycelium.
Mycelium is the link shrooms have with the spores they grew from. In short, Mycelium is what mushrooms are before they become mushrooms; a thick, interwoven, weblike organic structure that grows by consuming anything nutritional in its path. While mushrooms often get the most credit, the presence that mycelium has underneath the earth does so much more. Often acting as the sole resource for plants to communicate, the organism has been proven to be intelligent, responding to light, gravity, and touch.
These cell comprised, threadlike organisms have the capabilities that go as far as forming symbiotic relationships with over 90% of land plants. Species such as Mycorrhizae even form complex, maze-like, networks that interlink the tree roots of plants such as Saguaro cacti and Palo Verde trees. As one study conducted by the University of Arizona found, the plants use the fungus itself to ensure mutual growth through nutrient absorption.
Ultimately, the mycelium that grew the shrooms you just bought has one purpose: converting carbon from any organic matter and recycling it into food and energy for anything growing within the damp and dark confines that mushrooms thrive in. In fact, mycelium is so good at locating nutrients for growth, that when the organism was put on a map of Japan, it went so far as to mimic the country’s railway system in accordance with food that was placed around Tokyo.
Throughout this new era of social isolation, forces such as the internet have proven themselves to be a uniting tool allowing us to communicate with one another. The ability to send and receive information, resources and Tik Toks is unparalleled in comparison to any other period of time before now. With the burden we all share in processing the adverse effects that surround us daily, the probability of finding an insightful message through an organism as profound as mushrooms is in itself worth a trip. For a natural force that acts as nothing less than the decision-maker between death and life, nothing less should ever be expected.
In the case of learning more about fungus, mushrooms, and psilocybin, obtaining a grow kit for edible mushrooms, or even spores are the first step in providing a useful outlet to learning more about the roles the living things around you perform every day. If you are interested in seeing some of my work with spores and mycelium, I detail, interact, and share it on my Instagram.