Many people say they feel spiritual when they take magic mushrooms. Not surprisingly really when you consider that this fascinating fungi is steeped in a history which dates back to 7000 BC.
"Shrooms" or "mushies" were used by ancient tribes and civilisations as a means of entering the spiritual world. The medicine men of east Asia and Siberia and the Aztecs regarded them as sacred intoxicants. Things haven't changed! People still use them to reproduce the same out of body experience.
The effects are very similar to LSD, although many say the high is more natural. Small doses can bring on excitement while bigger doses bring on shape and colour distortions and vivid hallucinations.
Origin and Types of Magic Mushrooms
Many of these mushrooms grow wild throughout the world - although you can buy mushroom growing kits which are widely available on the Internet. There are a mind bending 90 species but the most commonly used types are Liberty Cap and the Mexican mushrooms (psilocybe cubenis). These are non poisonous but contain varying amounts of the natural hallucinogens psilocybin and psilocin - ingredients which are illegal in many parts of the world.
However the most famous magic mushroom of them all, and the least popular, is the European Fly Agaric which is not illegal as it contains ibotenic acid and muscimol - two conscious altering substances not yet banned. It's very distinctive: the red toadstool with white spots which often pops up in children's books. It also has very different and stronger effects than the others and if eaten raw is very poisonous, hence its lack of popularity.
In the majority of western countries both the possession and use of magic mushrooms were made illegal shortly after they became popular in the 60s and 70s .Elsewhere in the world they are categorised as Class A drugs along with LSD, cocaine and heroin because of psilocybin and psilocin. This has meant that their use has been driven underground and is not controlled.
Laws on Magic Mushrooms
Despite this, getting hold of them is very easy although picking them yourself is not recommended unless you know what you're looking for. What might look like a mushroom could actually be very poisonous fungi and that could be the last trip you ever take. The internet abounds with sites offering to sell you all sorts of mushrooms and mushroom growing kits.
Holland and the UK are the only two countries where they are legally sold in places dubbed "smartshops" and "headshops". You can even buy them in many local markets. Go down to Camden Market in London at the weekend and you'll find several stalls selling psychedelic fungi. In a way this is controlled selling of the drug and some say a case for legalisation. The headshops, smartshops and markets sell mushrooms in carefully measured doses with advice on how to consume them. They believe this makes it safer and cuts down the risk of a bad trip. Illegal dealers on street corners aren't so responsible.
But the law in the UK , where there are estimated to be around 300 fresh mushroom outlets, is very grey - the mushrooms are legal as long as they are fresh and unprocessed. But dry them or prepare them in any way and you are dealing with a Class A drug.
Once bought or grown they can be eaten raw, although it is more popular to have them dried and made into a tea or cooked in food in the same way as normal mushrooms.