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Magic mushrooms

Magic mushrooms, also known as shrooms, are mushrooms that contain the psychedelic drugs psilocybin and psilocin. Many cultures have used these mushrooms in religious rites. In modern Western society, they are used recreationally for their psychedelic effects.

Maria Sabina

The most famous Mazatec shaman is surely Maria Sabina. She is responsible for introducing magic mushrooms and the Salvia divinorum plant to the world. One of her most famous quotes is:

"There is a world beyond ours, a world that is far away, nearby, and invisible. And there is where God lives, where the dead live, the spirits and the saints, a world where everything has already happened and everything is known. That world talks. It has a language of its own. I report what it says. The sacred mushroom takes me by the hand and brings me to the world where everything is known. It is they, the sacred mushrooms, that speak in a way I can understand. I ask them and they answer me. When I return from the trip that I have taken with them, I tell what they have told me and what they have shown me."

These are the words of a true shaman who has chaired and supervised many rituals.

Ceremonial use

The indigenous tribes use magic mushrooms only in the most sacred ceremonies. For the past four centuries, little was known about the worshipping of psilocybin mushrooms. It was even doubted whether mushroom played any role at all in the ceremonies. The Spaniards made such a fierce hunt for magic mushrooms that the ceremonies had gone underground, making it practically impossible for botanists to conduct research.
Early this century, there was finally change because an American botanist stated that the mushrooms are just as important to the indigenous peoples as the peyote. This led to a breakthrough, but it took another 25 years before a proper investigation could be done. Little by little the secrets of psilocybin mushrooms were unraveled. Ultimately, there are 20 different kinds of magic mushrooms genera described, the most important being the psilocybe family (i.a. Psilocybe cubensis, Psilocybe mexicana, and Psilocybe tampanensis).

These different types of mushrooms were part of the rituals of the Chinantec, Mazatec, Chatino, Mixe, Zapotec and Mixtec of Oaxaca. The current center of the use of magic shrooms is Mazatec. Every shaman has his own favorite mushroom. For example, Maria Sabina did not use Psilocybe cubensis in her rituals. Often there are specific mushrooms used for each ritual. A modern mushroom session lasts all night in which the shaman sings for hours on end to meet the spirits of the elderly. In the Western world we use magic mushrooms for recreational use without any respect for the rules and rituals described. Nowadays you buy a growbox and a few weeks later, you can already make your first trip.


As with many psychedelic substances, the effects of psychedelic mushrooms are subjective and can vary considerably among individual users. The mind-altering effects of psilocybin-containing mushrooms typically last from three to eight hours depending on dosage, preparation method, and personal metabolism. However, the effects can seem to last much longer to the user because of psilocybin's ability to alter time perception.


Psilocybin mushrooms are regulated or prohibited in many countries, often carrying severe legal penalties. Since magic mushrooms were banned in the Netherlands in 2008, Dutch psychonauts massively switched to magic truffles (sclerotia), which contain the same active substances but are slightly milder in effect. The reasons why shrooms are prohibited, are incomprehensible. Shrooms are relatively harmless if you use them correctly, and the use of legal substances such as alcohol is much more harmful. Magic mushrooms in their fresh form still remain legal in some countries though, such as Austria.