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Use of Magic Mushrooms Historically

© Uni Kaya

The Recorded History

There are early and extensive accounts in pre-Columbian history of Mesoamerican cultures like the Mayans and Aztecs using psilocybin. The Spanish forbade the use of psychedelic mushrooms in the 15th and 16th centuries. They considered it to be savage and uncivilized. The religious shamans ignored the Spanish law and continued using the mushrooms in secret. For over 400 years, they preserved their cultural heritage and continued including psilocybin mushrooms as an integral part of it.

In 1799 an account of psilocybin mushroom “intoxication” surfaced when four children were accidentally fed Psilocybe semilanceata. Then in 1971, psilocybin was made illegal by the UN as a schedule 1 drug. Today the UN allows countries who have signed its treaty to regulate psilocybin mushrooms as they see fit.

The History of Magic Mushrooms, BC (British Columbia)

In Canada, the community of Haida Gwaii holds the Canadian history of magic Mushrooms. This community and other first nations used the mushrooms for spiritual and medicinal purposes.

Magic mushrooms remain abundant and popular. The use of psilocybin is no longer a social and legal problem. Although hunting for local Liberty Cap mushrooms is still a pastime, the shrooms sold for recreational use are largely relegated to tropical and subtropical species, like Psilocybe cubensis.

The History of Magic Mushroom Use

Humans have included natural psychedelics in several cultures throughout our long history. Archeologists have found evidence in the Sahara Desert that humans used magic mushrooms over 7000 years ago. Evidence shows that magic mushrooms are represented in prehistoric art across several geographic regions. It is becoming highly likely that magic mushrooms have had a big influence on our cultural development. From religious symbolism and rights-of-passage ceremonies to art, social values and everyday life, it appears that psychedelic mushrooms have had an impact on our culture and expanded our minds.

Terence McKenna, in his ‘Stoned Ape Hypothesis,’ suggested that early or pre-humans ingested magic mushrooms, further suggesting that it very well may have led to evolutionary benefits, including advancements in intelligence. Although the scientific community is largely skeptical about this, there is evidence that points to it, and the concept is compelling. 

Canadian magic mushrooms

© Jonathan Solter

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