Hallucinogenic mushrooms are perhaps the last thing you'd expect to find growing in the Queen of England's garden of Buckingham Palace, but it is found there the same Amanita muscaria — commonly known as fly agaric, or fly amanita.
The species is native to temperate and subarctic regions in the Northern Hemisphere and are most common found in almost all Northern Hemisphere pagan cultures.
Photo from Etsy shop IssaFelt
Amanita muscaria contains muscimol that produces feelings of euphoria, hallucinations, muscle jerks, drowsiness, sweating, pupil dilation, and increased body temperature. Symptoms appear 30 to 90 minutes after eating this mushroom and are most intense after two or three hours. People who eat these mushrooms usually fall into a deep sleep. Some people describe the effects of eating Amanita muscaria as similar to being intoxicated by alcohol.
Image from Pinterest
No other mushroom presents more of hidden symbolism than the fly agaric, Amanita muscaria. It is the most recognizable mushroom on the planet, and is widely known as the hallucinatory ‘shroom responsible for Alice’s trip into Wonderland and quite possibly our beloved images of a red-suited Santa Claus and his flying reindeer.
Image from Lewis Carroll book ''Alice in wonderland'', drawings by John Tenniel, 1941
Ancient tribes and civilizations used hallucinogenic fungi to enter the spirit world. The fly agaric may have been the earliest hallucinogenic substance used for religious or shamanic purposes, dating back possibly over 10,000 years. The shamanic preparation and use of the mushroom are meant to induce higher levels of consciousness, vivid visions, spiritual growth, elation and hyperactivity. They also alter the perception of sight, sounds etc (the senses) and change/enhance the feelings and thoughts of the user. The shamans were intermediaries between the common folk and the unseen worlds of spirit. The shamans, or medicine men, of East Asia and Siberia used the mushroom mentally ‘flying’ to other levels of reality.
Reindeer in northern Europe are drawn to the amanitas euphoric effects. The Siberian people would note the intoxicated behavior of such animals and slaughter them to get the same effects from eating the meat. Reindeer meat meals are still traditional even for modern Christmas table:) and Christmas reindeer sweaters became as icon to bring this special Christmas feeling in your home:)
Sweaters from Etsy shop DeerSweaterStore
Nordic design from Litha Creations wood phone cases collection
The active hallucinogenic ingredient is passed out in the urine of those ingesting the mushrooms. Sometimes the shaman/medicine man, takes the mushrooms, and then the rest of the tribe drink his urine. Though sounding highly unpleasant to modern ears, if the shaman had been fasting, the urine would have mainly been water containing the hallucinogenic compounds.
Siberian shaman working with Amanita Muscaria
Amanita muscaria, like other Shamanic plant medicines, are indeed hallucinogens. The psychedelic compounds are muscimol and ibotenic acid and, if eaten raw, the mushrooms can cause sweating, nausea, chills, salivation, and vomiting. But when dried or boiled before consumption, the chemical make-up is changed and the effects become milder, creating a sense of inebriation, impaired balance, euphoria, and increased clarity of thought.
Litha Creations has made product collection associated with this ancient psychedelic traditions and these designs are still very popular specially as Christmas gifts.
Our favorite design is Vintage Amanita, we love this old style drawing and we are happy to see how it turned out in our products.
See more from our mushroom collection here.
Happy New Year and Merry Christmas !