The Mazatec Indians, who have a long tradition of using the mushrooms, inhabit a range of mountains called the Sierra Mazateca in the northeastern corner of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The shamans in this essay are all
natives of the town of Huautla de Jimenez. Properly speaking they are Huautecans; but since the language they speak has been called Mazatec and they have been referred to in the previous anthropological literature as Mazatecs, I have retained that name, though strictly speaking, Mazatecs are the inhabitants of the village of Mazatlan in the same mountains.
There are more than 1 dozen species of "magic mushrooms" in Australia and New Zealand. Four of these species are dung (manure) inhabiting mushrooms. They include Psilocybe cubensis and/or Psilocybe subcubensis (known locally as "gold caps" and/or "gold tops"), Psilocybe subaeruginosa, and Copelandia cyanescens (the latter is known locally as "blue meanies"). These four species contain the mind altering alkaloids psilocybine and psilocine and are the most common hallucinogenic mushrooms in Australia. In New Zealand, the most commonly used species are Copelandia cyanescens and Psilocybe semilanceata, the latter species is recognized throughout the world as the "liberty cap"). This species only occurs in manured soil and does not grow directly from the dung of cattle, sheep or other four legged farm animals. Psilocybe cubensis the most popular of these species, is well known throughout much of the world; however, this species is not known to occur in New Zealand. Other species described in this guide are known to occur in manured soil, in pastures, meadows, grazing lands, some lawns and in the bark mulch and woodchips of deciduous woods.
The Mazatec Indians, who have a long tradition of using the mushrooms, inhabit a range of mountains called the Sierra Mazateca in the northeastern corner of the Mexican state of Oaxaca. The shamans in this essay are all natives of the town of Huautla de Jimenez. Properly speaking they are Huautecans; but since the language they speak has been called Mazatec and they have been referred to in the previous anthropological literature as Mazatecs, I have retained that name, though strictly speaking, Mazatecs are the inhabitants of the village of Mazatlan in the same mountains. several members of a family eat the mushrooms together: it is not uncommon for a father, mother, children, uncles, and aunts to all participate in these transformations of the mind that elevate consciousness onto a higher plan. The kinship relation is thus the basis of the transcendental subjectivity that Husserl said is intersubjectivity. The mushrooms themselves are eaten in pairs, a couple representing man and woman that symbolizes the dual principle of procreation and creation. Then they sit together in their inner light, dream and realize and converse with each other, presences seated there together, their bodies immaterialized by the blackness, voices from without their communality. In a general sense, for everyone present the purpose of the session is a therapeutic catharsis. The chemicals of transformation of revelation that open the circuits of light, vision, and communication, called by us mind-manifesting, were known to the American Indians as medicines: the means given to men to know and to heal, to see and to say the truth. Among the Mazatecs, many, one time or another during their lives, have eaten the mushrooms, whether to cure themselves of an ailment or to resolve a problem; but it is not everyone who has a predilection for such extreme and arduous experiences of the creative imagination or who would want to repeat such journeys into the strange, unknown depths of the brain very frequently: those who do are the shamans, the masters, whose vocation it is to eat the mushrooms because they are the men of the spirit, the men of language, the men of wisdom. They are individuals recognized by their people to be expert in such psychological adventures, and when the others eat the mushrooms they always call to be with them, as a guide, one of those who is considered to be particularly acquainted with these modalities of the spirit. The medicine man presides over the session, for just as the Mazatec family is paternal and authoritarian, the liberating experience unfolds in the authoritarian context of a situation in which, rather than being allowed to speak or encouraged to express themselves, everyone is enjoined to keep silent and listen while the shaman speaks for each of those who are present. As one of the early Spanish chroniclers of the New World said: "They pay a sorcerer who eats them the mushrooms and tells them what they have taught him. He does so by means of a rhythmic chant in full voice."
Mind-altering (psilocybine containing) mushrooms have been traditionally used in religious healing and curing ceremonies by native peoples in Mesoamerica for more than 3,000 years. Today, the recreational use of hallucinogenic fungi by Westerners is widespread, especially in various regions of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Caribbean, Great Britain, Europe (especially in the Netherlands), Scandinavia, South America, Southeast Asia, India, Bali, Samoa; Australia and New Zealand. The modern, non-traditional use of
hallucinogenic mushrooms has been stimulated, by media reports in newspapers, magazines, word-of-mouth communication, the
World Wide Web and Internet, and also by the scholarly and popular journal publications of the renown ethnomycologist R. Gordon
Wasson, (Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary, traveler Jeremy Sanford, health guru Andrew Weil, and others (see Allen , Merlin &Jansen, 1991).This field guide reviews the history of both the accidental and purposeful use of psychoactive mushrooms in Australia and New
Zealand. Information in this guide has been gathered from personal experiences in Australia by the author and from reports in the scientific literature, news items appearing in the popular press, and personal communications with Australian and New Zealand (NZ)
professionals (Unsigned 1970; O'Neill, 1986).
The first livestock to arrive in Australia were brought from the Cape of Good Hope inMore than half of Australia's beef cattle can be found in the coastal areas of Queensland and New South Wales; and the 20 to 30 inch (500-750mm) rainfall belt of Queensland, New South Wales and Northern Victoria, generally provide adequate climatic environments for the growth of psilocybian mushrooms, especially after heavy rains. It has been suggested that "Psilocybe cubensis was introduced into Australia accidentally by early settlers along with their livestock." This same spore dispersal mechanism also probably applies to Copelandia cyanescens, Panaeolus subbalteatus and several additional species known to occur in or around the dung of other ruminants. This includes Psilocybe semilanceata and the non-hallucinogenic "haymaker's" mushroom Panaeolina foenisecii. While cattle are raised in all Australian states, as well as in the central lowlands, recreational users have been known to export these psychoptic species to various areas in Australia from areas where they were collected. In the case of New Zealand, hereafter referred to as NZ, cattle are the primary source for Copelandia cyanescens, but the "liberty cap" mushroom Psilocybe semilanceata only grows in the manured soil of four-legged ruminants and not directly from manure (Jansen, Pers. Comm., 1988). The identification section of this guide documents reported locations for more than 1 dozen species of psilocybian mushrooms in Australia and NZ which most likely have been used at one time or another for recreational purposes.
CATTLE AS A POSSIBLE DISPERSAL MECHANISM FOR PSYCHOACTIVE DUNG FUNGI
One may ask the question, "how did these mushrooms arrive in Australia and New Zealand?" Well some species may be endemic,that is, they were already there naturally. Other species such as the above described dung-inhabiting mushrooms most likelyappeared after the introduction of cattle on the subcontinent.The first livestock to arrive in Australia were brought from the Cape of Good Hope in1788, and included 2 bulls and 5 cows, along with other domesticated farm animals. Byl803, the government owned approximately 1800 cattle, most of which were importedfrom the Cape, Calcutta, and the west coast of America. It was during this period thatsome of the visionary mushrooms mentioned in this field guide probably first appeared inAustralia (Unsigned, 1973). According to Australian mycologist John Burton Cleland(1934), "fungi growing in cow or horse-dung and confined to such habitats, must in thecase of Australia, all belong to introduced species". It is believed to have been the SouthAfrican dung beetle which may have actually spread the spores. According to Englishmycologist Roy Watling of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Glasgow, Scotland, "it must beremembered that fungi can change substrate preferences and there are coprophilousfungi on kangaroo droppings etc." Some mycologists who have studied the "magicmushrooms" in Australia and NZ claim that the "use of P. cubensis as a recreational drugtends to confirm the belief that some farmers in early times may have added one or two basidiomes gilled mushrooms to a mealto liven it up and still do Margot & Watling, 1981)."
More than half of Australia's beef cattle can be found in the coastal areas of QueenslandIt has been suggested by an Australian physician that the general public in Australia, as well as members of its drug using subculture,Most recreational users of Psilocybe cubensis (when grown in vitro) require a dosage of 1 to 2 gm of dried mushrooms to produce an altered state of consciousness; a clinical dosage for Psilocybe cubensis, on the other hand, had previously been reported as ranging from 3 to 5 gm of dried material. This dosage would be comparable to the amount of fungal material consumed for religious purposes in a Mazatec Indian healing and curing ceremony. In 1982, one research team "found that the level of psilocybin and psilocin varies over a factor of 4 among various in vitro cultures of Psilocybe cubensis, while specimens from outdoors varied tenfold." A fresh dosage of Psilocybe cubensis in Australia would be approximately from 1 to 2 large mushrooms weighing up to as much as one fresh ounce, or as many as from 25 to 50 small mushrooms equaling the same weight amount. Ethnopharmacologist Jonathan Ott (1976, 1993) noted that he has observed "the ingestion of from 0.5 gm to 5.9 gm dried weight (10 gm to 40 gm fresh)", of various species of Psilocybe. Dosage for Psilocybe subcubensis would be the same as for Psilocybe cubensis. Both of these latter two species are macroscopically alike. The usual dosage for Copelandia cyanescens required to induce psychedelic visual effects ranges from 1 to 3 large specimens (cap diameter c. 5 mm), or as many as 5 to l0 medium-sized mushrooms (cap diameter c. 2.5 mm); however, personal tolerance to this species may occur with continued use, and some who consume large amounts of this mushroom have reportedly ingested as many as 50 to 200 fresh specimens of various sizes.
There are more than 1 dozen species of "magic mushrooms" in Australia and NewThe first livestock to arrive in Australia were brought from the Cape of Good Hope inMore than half of Australia's beef cattle can be found in the coastal areas of Queensland