Magic Mushrooms Around the World – A Scientific Journey Across Cultures and Time by Jochen Gartz presents new unifying theories based upon years of research into the ethnobotanical aspects of magic mushrooms. Jochen Gartz documents how it was not only early American cultures who used a range of mushrooms but also European cultures have a forgotten past with a number of psychoactive fungi. The book contains some rare descriptions of the use of psychotropic mushrooms. For instance, the story of two teenagers from London who on October 3, 1799, by mistake ate a meal prepared on, most likely, Psilocybe semilanceata picked from St. James’s Green Park resulting in visions of death, delirium, and laughter. Magic Mushrooms Around the World is a scientific journey with lots of notes and precise references but it is still highly readable for casual readers. From the book:
Nobody knows precisely when the first magic mushroom emerged from the shadows of prehistory to enter the light of consciousness. Nobody knows when the first magic mushroom was eaten by a human being. Nobody knows just who the first magic mushroom eater was. In seeking answers to these questions, we can only speculate. Mycophobes, however, are quick to voice their conviction that only a fool would be reckless enough to want to attain a higher state
of consciousness beyond the boundaries of everyday reality. And only a fool would attempt to do this by ingesting those odd little things that mysteriously thrive on decaying, humid soil, rotten wood and malodorous mounds of cow manure.
Historically, magic, mushrooms have been feared and hated` since antiquity: magic mushrooms were thought to be made from poisons that had dripped from serpents’ fangs; they were considered to be unclean emissions of evil spirits; moreover, mushrooms were a known cause of death and disease, bloated stomachs and insanity. Beliefs such as these have survived to the present day. They persist, for example, as figures of speech, such as the slick Austrian description of a societal misfit as someone “who ate those madness-inducing mushrooms.” But, there is another, very different, magic mushroom legacy as well…
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We have several other books dedicated to mushrooms and other natural entheogens. Here is a few of my recommendations: