A high level of consciousness makes it easier to take responsible action on critical global issues such as climate change, sustainability and racial justice. This type of consciousness can also help us to understand ourselves and our relationships better.
Psilocybe Mexicana is a common source of psychedelic mushrooms that are used in ceremonial rituals. It was first isolated and studied by Albert Hofman in 1959.
- Mushrooms are a source of energy
In many cultures, mushrooms are considered sacred herbs that help people achieve superior spiritual states. Mushrooms contain psilocybin, which alters serotonin levels and can cause altered perceptions and feelings of euphoria. While many people take shrooms for their psychoactive effects, they are also used to heal the body and mind. For example, psilocybin can help ease anxiety and depression. It is important to talk with a doctor before trying psychedelics like magic mushrooms. They can recommend the right dose for you.
The first sales of psilocybin-containing mushrooms to foreigners began in the 1950s in Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca. The mushroom trade was stimulated by botanical expeditions and by a collapse in coffee prices, which had been the main commercial crop in the Sierra Mazateca region. Foreign consumers visited Huautla, causing the town to become known as ‘the city of the fusion chocolate bar’. Gordon Wasson criticized this commodification of a sacred plant in his journal, claiming that the mushrooms were not traded for money ‘but change hands for filthy lucre by adventurers, miscellaneous crews of our society’s dropouts, and a variety of pseudo-researchers’ (Wasson 1970: 105).
It is important to note that the use of hallucinogens such as shrooms should always be supervised with a mental health professional or physician. Mushrooms are known to cause psychological and physical reactions when combined with alcohol and other drugs, such as cannabis, cocaine, and heroin. These substances can also be addictive, and users can experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop using them too quickly.
In addition to the effects of psilocybin on the brain, mushrooms can improve the immune system, balance hormones, and increase liver efficiency. Mushrooms can also increase energy levels by stimulating cellular metabolism and regulating blood sugar. These effects make them an excellent source of energy, especially when consumed as part of a healthy diet and exercise. Those who struggle with depression should consult a psychiatrist before taking psilocybin to avoid serious side effects such as psychoses. If you know someone who struggles with mental health issues, consider speaking with them about the dangers of psilocybin and urging them to seek treatment.
- Mushrooms are a source of inspiration
In recent years, mushrooms have reemerged as a source of inspiration for artists and designers looking to reimagine our relationship with nature. From their ability to break down harmful substances, to cleaning oil spills and rehabilitating radioactive sites, mushrooms are showing us new ways of looking at the world around us. This exhibition brings together a diverse group of artists and designers to celebrate the magic of mushrooms.
Mushrooms have been a source of inspiration for humans throughout our history. In fact, one of the first recorded uses of mushrooms was by the indigenous Aztecs, who used them in their religious ceremonies. Later, the mushroom was used by the Mayans and the Incas. By the late 20th century, mushrooms had become a popular recreational drug in the counterculture movement. In addition, scientists were able to identify the active ingredient in mushrooms, psilocybin.
The commodification of mushrooms began with Gordon Wasson’s article in Life (1957). He wrote that he was on a botanical expedition in Huautla de Jimenez, in the Sierra Mazateca in Oaxaca, Mexico, when he encountered a curandera, or witch doctor, who offered him and his companion Allan Richardson a ‘velada,’ or ceremony with psilocybin mushrooms.
According to classic texts on the subject, these mushrooms were harvested under strict ritual conditions and away from human gaze (Estrada 1977; Tibon 1983). The fungi were cut by hand in fields that were sacred to the gods. The curandera also held a divination ceremony for Wasson and Richardson. For this, she received a princely sum of 120 pesos.
As the popularity of mushrooms grew, the locals became concerned that they would be flooded with foreigners who were only interested in buying them and not using them in a spiritual context. Huautla was a ‘true mecca for hippies, psychopaths, adventurers and pseudo-research workers, the miscellaneous crew of our society’s dropouts’ (Gordon Wasson 1970). This influx led to the ‘profanation of the spirit of the mushrooms’ (Wasson 1970). In response, the government launched an operation in 1969 with helicopters to clear out ‘two thousand hippies’ from the area.
- Mushrooms are a source of healing
Many mushrooms are considered medicinal, which means that they have specific healing properties. They can reduce inflammation, protect against the oxidative damage to the brain caused by stress, and provide anti-depressant effects. Some, like lion’s mane and reishi, have even been shown to fight against neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Mushrooms have been a source of healing since ancient times. They have been eaten and tripped on for millennia, and some people believe that mushrooms were responsible for the evolution of consciousness (the “Stoned Ape Theory”).
The psilocybin-containing mushroom Psilocybe mexicana grows natively in North and Central America, where it has been used in indigenous cultural practices for more than 2,000 years. The first modern Westerners to study the mushroom were Valentina Pavlovna Wasson and her husband, Roger Gordon Wasson, who collected samples during a two year journey around Mexico (1953–55). They visited Maria Sabina, a Mazatec curandera credited with introducing psilocybin to the world, who taught them about the mushrooms and their healing properties. The Wassons then sent their findings to a French mycologist, Roger Heim.
While mushrooms do have some impressive health benefits, they’re not considered a cure-all. They don’t have the ability to kill cancer cells or cure AIDS, but they can offer many benefits for those who use them regularly. They can help prevent the build-up of plaque in the blood vessels, balance excess hormones such as oestrogen and cortisol, lower cholesterol levels, increase physical stamina, and relieve anxiety and depression.
They also act as adaptogens, helping the body deal with stress. And, because of their complex polysaccharides, they can act as immunomodulators, improving the immune system and reducing inflammation.
As a result of their many healing properties, the popularity of mushrooms is on the rise. Mushrooms have popped up in smoothie bowls at Whole Foods, and companies such as MudWtr and Moon Juice sell products that promote their medicinal qualities. You can even find them on Alex Jones’ infamous Infowars website as part of his ‘Mushroom Power Blend’ coffee, which claims to have anti-aging properties and “harmonize longevity, energy and spirit”. And if you listen to Paul Stamets—mycologist, author and activist for bioremediation—you’ll hear him talk about how mushrooms are healing our planet.
- Mushrooms are a source of inspiration
The mystical allure of mushrooms has long inspired artistic expression and spiritual exploration. They have also been used as a symbol of transformation and interconnectedness throughout history, often appearing in art, literature, folklore, and mythology. Today, mushroom-inspired art and design continue to capture our imaginations, serving as a reminder of the power of nature to connect us with one another and ourselves.
Mushrooms are among the most diverse organisms on earth. Whether edible, poisonous, or decomposers, they play an essential role in their ecosystems by breaking down organic matter and recycling nutrients back into the soil. They have a unique relationship with their environments, sharing some of the same functions as plants but without the need for photosynthesis to take in energy from sunlight.
From a visual perspective, mushrooms offer a unique opportunity to experiment with captivating color palettes and perspectives that evoke a sense of enchantment. Mushrooms can serve as a symbolic motif for various genres of art and design, from painting to sculpture to fashion and home decor.
Historically, many indigenous cultures have revered mushrooms for their perceived medicinal and spiritual properties. Some species, including Psilocybe mexicana, have been utilized as part of spiritual and ceremonial rituals. For example, the Aztec god of flowers, Xochipilli, is depicted wearing various entheogenic plants, including teonanacatl mushrooms on his knees and earlobes.
In more recent times, the popularity of fungi in culinary arts has sparked interest in mushroom foraging and mycology as a hobby. As a result, there has been an increase in people exploring the psychedelic effects of certain mushroom species, including Psilocybe. Recreational use of psychedelic mushrooms is illegal in Mexico, but efforts are underway to decriminalize it.
For artists and designers, mushrooms are a source of inspiration that can ignite their creativity and lead to breakthroughs in new realms of innovation. They can inspire new forms of sustainable materials and push the boundaries of design through experimentation with innovative techniques.