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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The 'Shroom Trip to End all 'Shroom Trips *Probably Chalk Full of Spoilers*

I probably should not be posting this for a variety of reasons but I am going to break the up the monotony of the constant facts and true events with a somewhat amusing scene from the book where Liz trips on 'shrooms for the first time. Now, as I have told you all before, except for pot and booze I have never touched any of the substances I wrote about in this book so when it came time for Liz to do 'shrooms, I had to call up friends with far more experience than I had. This was before I lived on the internet and I wanted personal experiences, not surgeon's general warnings concerning the dangers of drugs. Of course drugs are dangerous...that is why I choose not to do them. However, Liz was a liberated woman in the '60's and she was immersed in a counter-culture that did not give a shit about the dangers of drugs. She did not give a damned...unless it came to heroin. That was one line she would not cross. But psychedelics? Psychedelics she liked quite a bit and because this is a fictional book and Liz is a fictional person and the time period all of this occurred in is long gone (unfortunately) she is able to enjoy them. 

I have been accused once of glorifying drug use. To that I say the book. That's bullshit. Were there times when Liz had fun with the drugs she used? Of course. Why? Certainly not because I am glorifying it but because how many people have you ever encountered that did drugs and hated them every time? That isn't realistic and it would be foolish to try to portray a hit of acid or a few 'shrooms in a book from the point of view of a hippie in the '60's as being just would. If she constantly had bad trips, she wouldn't take it, right? It was apart of her life, apart of her culture, and if you intend to act as though that isn't the way it was, you have no business writing a novel like this. So, with all of that in mind, here was the amusing tale of Liz's first experience with some high grade 'shrooms the evening after her final day of class, May of 1968:

'By the end of the madness we had made a fortune, much more than usual for a typical debut album profit. We sold both the first and second set of albums that Chris had ordered and we had seriously cut into the business of the other shops around the area that sold music. We had decided to save that problem for later. In addition to a crazy amount of fives and ones we also received a little pile of drugs that Owsley and others were passing out. Among that pile was a psychedelic that I had not yet tried. At first I picked the baggie up in confusion. “Why the hell would someone leave a bag of mushrooms on the counter?” I questioned.
     Brian and Jack looked at one another and then looked at me with matching grins at my naivety. Brian came over to me and put his arm around me, taking the baggie out of my hand. “Elizabeth, dear, what you hold in your hand is not the typical mushroom. Oh no, not at all. These are magic mushrooms. I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about ‘shrooms?” I nodded because indeed I had. “This is what they were talking about. The fuckers will make you trip for hours. It’s a different trip than acid, easier to handle. The only drawback is that most people puke their fucking guts up…”
   “But after you puke the high is…fucking real high, ya know?” Jack offered with a smile. “I say we get a pizza and throw some of those little fuckers right on it and trip tonight. What say you, Mr. Professor?”
     Brian looked down at me with a strange expression that faded as quickly as it had come. “I say that sounds like a fine idea. We better grab jackets if we’re walking to the pizza place. This part of California remembers what spring is like.”
      We ended up driving to the nearest pizza place (a little hole in the wall place that was owned by a little man with a fake Italian accent) because we were on a mission. I kept hearing from both Jack and Brian that because I had good trips on acid I would have an amazing trip on mushrooms but they wouldn’t elaborate. I wanted to know just what I would see and if it would be different than acid I wanted to know how. The couple of hits I had taken off of the joint at the shop had certainly mellowed me out but I was always apprehensive, just a little, about taking new shit. Still, I couldn’t get much out of the two of them except that I was going to love it.
    As we drove back with the smell of a large pizza filling up my car, Jack announced, “The primaries here are the fourth of next month and Kennedy is going to be in L.A. for the counting of the ballets.”
     “I heard something about that. One of the students was talking about it. Something about him spending the evening at a hotel in town and how there are tickets and passes and shit to get into the little party that will be held there.” Brian offered.
    “You heard right. Lizzy, I know how you feel about this guy and the coverage would be great for the paper. I talked to some people I know on your end of the state and I managed to get two passes for the night. I don’t care who you take with you. I tried to get more but it was fucking impossible. But I got enough because you’re going. Nothing has officially been set up yet but I am working on getting you a one on one interview after the votes are counted. You’re good at what you do. If I can’t seal the deal I’m sure you’ll think of something. If you can get it you will. If you can’t than I’ll know it’s because it was fucking impossible.”
     I was absolutely speechless! Jack was in the backseat with the pizza on his lap so I turned around and navigated until I was able to hug him. “Thank you. I’ll make it worth your while.”
     “You’re good about that. You’re smashing the damned food though. Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to horse around in a moving friggin’ vehicle?”
      As promised, Jack had the new Rolling Stones album waiting for me on the coffee table and as soon as we got in the door I wanted to put it on. “Man, it’s not the kind of music I feel like trippin’ with tonight.” He protested as he helped Brian put mushrooms evenly over the pizza. “Besides, you heard most of it downstairs.”
    “Then what do you want to trip to?” I questioned.
    “Man, put that Doors album on.” He replied, as if it was obvious.
   “Which one?” I asked.
   “We are not tripping to The Doors, Jack. That fucking music is the last shit in the world anyone should trip to. If it is possible to have a bad experience on mushrooms, that would do it.”
     “Well, then what do you want to hear, Mr. Professor Party Pooper?” Jack asked as he investigated their collective work with a critical eye.
      Brian got up and went to the records. Within moments Jefferson Airplane’s tune ‘She has Funny Cars’ was coming from the speakers announcing that he wanted to hear Surrealistic Pillow. There were no disagreements. Jack got us all glasses of water, “So it won’t burn as bad when you throw up” he explained. I accepted it along with three slices of saucy, trippy goodness. Even with the pizza, the mushrooms tasted like shit. There was no denying that fact. I was not a mushroom eater in the first place but these were unbelievably foul. I decided that it was probably the taste alone that caused its victims to wretch but I said nothing. I ate my dinner like an obedient child and waited for something to happen. Twenty minutes passed without incident and then it began, the churning of my stomach, the feeling that I had made a horrible mistake and I was about to pay dearly for it. I moved so fast that I can barely recall rushing to the bathroom. I remember the strange feeling of everything coming up and I remember Jack and Brian talking behind me and then…and then….
     “Did you hear that?” I whispered, the dry heaving ending at last.
       “What, baby?”
      “Trees…leaves blowing….and people talking…What the hell are they saying?” I asked, not thinking that perhaps my friends were not in my trip.
    Jack picked up on my train of thought immediately, either to humor me or because he had come to visit me in this new place. “They are talking about us, man.” And then he started to laugh and the idea of these people in the trees talking about us seemed suddenly hilarious so I followed suite.
    I wanted to walk and the living room now seemed like a magical place with the sounds of music and trees and people….I had never done a drug that actually made me really hallucinate beyond seeing colors but this was a totally different ball game. I was in a park where once the living room had been. The furniture had grown to the height of trees and the carpet, once ugly and old, was now sweet grass. “So where are the people?” I asked because they seemed to be hiding from me.
    “We’ve got to go out to find them.” Brian suggested.
   Looking back on it, it was a horrible idea and it was amazing that we even made it out the shop door but we did and that was when the real adventure began. In every lamp post, in every slab of concrete, in everything there was a life hiding within and I could see it now as I never could before. One lamp post had a face unlike any I had ever seen, a sweet old face almost like a mother’s, and she told me that I had to follow the sidewalk uphill and turn left. She was telling me to go to the park. “Which park?” I asked.
   “The one with all the people.” She replied and I remembered the be-in and I knew she meant Golden Gate Park.
     “I always end up there. Why do I always end up there?” I asked.
    “Because you belong there.”
    I thanked her then, my question answered and my purpose served. I decided to do what she said and I was amazed to find that Brian and Jack were gone. Probably had a different path to follow, I thought to myself as I followed the sidewalk uphill. I walked a little while before I realized that there were little creatures with me, cute little guys. When I asked where they were going (there were four of them, all small but diverse in every other way) the purple one told me they were coming with me. I accepted this. They were not big talkers, these creatures; or rather they liked to talk only among themselves. I accepted this as well. It was fun to listen to them but I couldn’t understand a damned thing they were saying. The houses, the shops, the traffic of the city were all gone. Ever so often one of the creatures would tell me to stop and I would and when the creature told me to go again I did. That might have been what saved my ass from being ran over that night. But I was so deliriously happy just walking toward the park with my new companions.
    When we arrived at the park it was wild! There were trees everywhere. Any sign that once humanity had touched the place were erased. I saw a clearing in the trees and I heard laughter on the other side so I followed it and I came out in a meadow where people were gathered. Music was playing in the air from an unknown source and everyone was dancing and singing. I knew the song but I couldn’t remember the words. I could, however, dance with them. They accepted me, this nameless group, and they embraced me as one of their own. We were having a wonderful time. Suddenly a girl started to sing a song from my childhood. “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream,” She sang, “Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.” Here she stopped and looked at me laughingly, “Do you get it, Lizzy? Do you get it? That’s it! Life is but a dream!”
    I laughed at this but it made sense, perfect sense. Dreams, dreaming, sleep, sleeping…. I woke up with a start. I was lying in the grass where I must have gone to sleep. There were two police officers standing over me talking about public intoxication and jail…my meadow was gone, my friends were gone, and this place was not Golden Gate Park. “Where the hell am I?” I asked.'
'Shroom Trip Stories from Youtube (yes, they really DO have it all on youtube):

And a bad trip story because, well, bad trips happen too, man!

A completely non-biased description of Mushrooms: Take from
Psilocybin mushrooms (magic mushroomsteónanácatlteotlaquilnanácatlxochinanácatl) are fungi that contain the psychoactive compounds psilocybin and psilocin. There are multiple colloquial terms for psilocybin mushrooms, the most common being magic mushrooms or shrooms.

Biological genera containing psilocybin mushrooms include AgrocybeConocybeCopelandiaGalerinaGerronema,GymnopilusHypholomaInocybeMycenaPanaeolusPluteusPsilocybe and Weraroa. There are approximately 190 species of psilocybin mushrooms and most of them fall in the genus Psilocybe.

The writer Terence McKenna speculated that hallucinogenic mushrooms may have a history that dates back as far as one million years ago, originating in East Africa. He suggests that early hominids such as Australopithecus africanusAustralopithecus boisei, and the omnivorous Homo habilis expanded their original diets of fruit and small animals to include underground roots, tubers, and corms. McKenna claims that at this particular time, early hominids gathered psilocybin mushrooms off the African grasslands and ate them as part of their diet. He suggests that the psilocybin-containing mushrooms that were thought to have grown on the grasslands at that time were the Panaeolus species andStropharia cubensis, also called Psilocybe cubensis, which is a famous "Magic Mushroom" widely distributed today.

There is some archaeological evidence for their use in ancient times. Several mesolithic rock paintings from Tassili n'Ajjer (aprehistoric North African site identified with the Capsian culture) have been identified by author Giorgio Samorini as possibly depicting the shamanic use of mushrooms, possibly Psilocybe. Hallucinogenic species of Psilocybe have a history of use among the native peoples of Mesoamerica for religious communion, divination, and healing, from pre-Columbian times up to the present day. Mushroom-shaped statuettes found at archaeological sites seem to indicate that ritual use of hallucinogenic mushrooms is quite ancient. Mushroom stones and motifs have been found in Mayan temple ruins in Guatemala, though there is considerable controversy as to whether these objects indicate the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms or whether they had some other significance with the mushroom shape being simply a coincidence. More concretely, a statuette dating from ca. 200 AD and depicting a mushroom strongly resembling Psilocybe mexicana was found in a west Mexican shaft and chamber tomb in the state of Colima.
Hallucinogenic Psilocybe were known to the Aztecs as teonanácatl (literally "divine mushroom" - agglutinative form of teó (god, sacred) and nanácatl (mushroom) in Náhuatl) and were reportedly served at the coronation of the Aztec rulerMoctezuma II in 1502. Aztecs and Mazatecs referred to psilocybin mushrooms as genius mushrooms, divinatory mushrooms, and wondrous mushrooms, when translated into English. Bernardino de Sahagún reported ritualistic use of teonanácatl by the Aztecs, when he traveled to Central America after the expedition of Hernán Cortés.

After the Spanish conquest, Catholic missionaries campaigned against the "pagan idolatry," and as a result the use of hallucinogenic plants and mushrooms like other pre-Christian traditions was quickly suppressed. The Spanish believed the mushroom allowed the Aztecs and others to communicate with "devils". In converting people to Catholicism, the Spanish pushed for a switch from teonanácatl to the Catholic sacrament of the Eucharist. Despite this history, in some remote areas, the use of teonanácatl has remained.

The first mention of hallucinogenic mushrooms in the Western medicinal literature appeared in the London Medical and Physical Journal in 1799: a man had served Psilocybe semilanceata mushrooms that he had picked for breakfast inLondon's Green Park to his family. The doctor who treated them later described how the youngest child "was attacked with fits of immoderate laughter, nor could the threats of his father or mother refrain him."

In 1955, Valentina and R. Gordon Wasson became the first Westerners to actively participate in an indigenous mushroom ceremony. The Wassons did much to publicize their discovery, even publishing an article on their experiences in Life in 1957. In 1956 Roger Heim identified the hallucinogenic mushroom that the Wassons had brought back from Mexico as Psilocybe, and in 1958, Albert Hofmann first identified psilocin and psilocybin as the active compounds in these mushrooms.

Inspired by the Wassons' Life article, Timothy Leary traveled to Mexico to experience hallucinogenic mushrooms firsthand. Upon returning to Harvard in 1960, he and Richard Alpert started the Harvard Psilocybin Project, promoting psychological and religious study of psilocybin and other hallucinogenic drugs. After Leary and Alpert were dismissed by Harvard in 1963, they turned their attention toward promoting the psychedelic experience to the nascenthippie counterculture.

The popularization of entheogens by Wasson, Leary, authors Terence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson, and others has led to an explosion in the use of hallucinogenic Psilocybe throughout the world. By the early 1970s, a number of psychoactivePsilocybe species were described from temperate North America, Europe, and Asia and were widely collected. Books describing methods of cultivating Psilocybe cubensis in large quantities were also published. The availability of hallucinogenic Psilocybe from wild and cultivated sources has made it among the most widely used of the hallucinogenic drugs.

At present, hallucinogenic mushroom use has been reported among a number of groups spanning from central Mexico to Oaxaca, including groups of Nahua, Mixtecs, Mixe, Mazatecs, Zapotecs, and others.


Psilocybin mushrooms are non-addictive and rarely abused. They do create short-term increases in tolerance of users, thus making it difficult to abuse them because the more often they are taken within a short period of time, the weaker the resultant effects are. Poisonous (sometimes lethal) wild picked mushrooms can be easily mistaken for psilocybin mushrooms, but true psilocybin mushrooms are non-toxic, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a branch of the Center for Disease Control, rated psilocybin less toxic than aspirin. When psilocybin is ingested, it is broken down to producepsilocin, which is responsible for the hallucinogenic effects.

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 anywhere from 3 to 8 hours depending on dosage, preparation method, and personal metabolism. However, the effects can seem to last much longer because of psilocybin's ability to alter time perception.


Noticeable changes to the audio, visual, and tactile senses may become apparent around an hour after ingestion. These shifts in perception visually include enhancement and contrasting of colors, strange light phenomena (such as auras or "halos" around light sources), increased visual acuity, surfaces that seem to ripple, shimmer, or breathe; complex open and closed eye visuals of form constants or images, objects that warp, morph, or change solid colors; a sense of melting into the environment, and trails behind moving objects. Sounds seem to be heard with increased clarity; music, for example, can often take on a profound sense of cadence and depth. Some users experience synesthesia, wherein they perceive, for example, a visualization of color upon hearing a particular sound.


As with other psychedelics such as LSD, the experience, or "trip," is strongly dependent upon set and setting. A negative environment could likely induce a bad trip, whereas a comfortable and familiar environment would allow for a pleasant experience. Many users find it preferable to ingest the mushrooms with friends, people they're familiar with, or people that are also 'tripping', although neither side of this binary is without exception.

Spiritual and well being

In 2006, the United States government funded a randomized and double-blinded study byJohns Hopkins University, which studied the spiritual effects of psilocybin mushrooms. The study involved 36 college-educated adults who had never tried psilocybin nor had a history of drug use and had religious or spiritual interests; the average age of the participants was 46 years. The participants were closely observed for eight-hour intervals in a laboratory while under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms.

One-third of the participants reported that the experience was the single most spiritually significant moment of their lives and more than two-thirds reported it was among the top five most spiritually significant experiences. Two months after the study, 79% of the participants reported increased well-being or satisfaction; friends, relatives, and associates confirmed this. They also reported anxiety and depression symptoms to be decreased or completely gone.

Despite highly controlled conditions to minimize adverse effects, 22% of subjects (8 of 36) had notable experiences of fear, some with paranoia. The authors, however, reported that all these instances were "readily managed with reassurance."

As medicine

There have been calls for medical investigation of the use of synthetic and mushroom-derived psilocybin for the development of improved treatments of various mental conditions, including chronic cluster headaches, following numerous anecdotal reports of benefits. There are also several accounts of psilocybin mushrooms sending both obsessive-compulsive disorders ("OCD") and OCD-related clinical depression (both being widespread and debilitating mental health conditions) into complete remission immediately and for up to months at a time, compared to current medications which often have both limited efficacy and frequent undesirable side-effects. One such study states:

"Developing drugs that are more effective and faster acting for the treatment of OCD is of utmost importance and until recently, little hope was in hand. A new potential avenue of treatment may exist. There are several reported cases concerning the beneficial effects of hallucinogenic drugs (psilocybin and LSD), potent stimulators of 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors, in patients with OCD (Brandrup and Vanggaard, 1977, Rapoport, 1987, Moreno and Delgado, 1997) and related disorders such as body dysmorphic disorder (Hanes, 1996)."

"[I]f it can be established that this class of drug can indeed lead to rapid and substantial reduction in OCD symptoms, then it opens the way for a variety of future studies with new drugs that might possibly have the anti-OCD but not the psychedelic effects. [...] Psilocybin, LSD, and mescaline are extremely potent agonists at 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors and their binding potency to these receptors is correlated with their human potency as hallucinogens (Glennon et al., 1984). The acute improvement in symptoms described in the published case reports (Brandrup and Vanggaard, 1977, Rapoport, 1987, Moreno and Delgado, 1997) suggests that interactions with 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C receptors may be an essential component of anti-OCD drug action. The observations that administration of the non-selective 5-HT antagonistmetergoline or ritanserin exacerbate OCD symptoms further supports this view."


Dosage of mushrooms containing psilocybin depends on the potency of the mushroom (the total psilocybin and psilocin content of the mushrooms), which varies significantly both between species and within the same species, but is typically around 0.5-2% of the dried weight of the mushroom. A typical dose of the rather common species, Psilocybe cubensis, is approximately 1 to 2.5 grams, while about 2.5 to 5 grams dried mushroom material is considered a strong dose. Above 5 dried grams is often considered a heavy dose.
The concentration of active psilocybin mushroom compounds varies not only from species to species, but also from mushroom to mushroom inside a given species, subspecies or variety. The same holds true even for different parts of the same mushroom. In the species Psilocybe samuiensis Guzmán, Bandala and Allen, the dried cap of the mushroom contains the most psilocybin at about 0.23%–0.90%. The mycelia contain about 0.24%–0.32%.


Psilocybin and psilocin are listed as Schedule I drugs under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Schedule I drugs are deemed to have a high potential for abuse and are not recognized for medical use. However, psilocybin mushrooms are not covered by UN drug treaties.

From a letter, dated Sept 13, 2001, from Herbert Schaepe, Secretary of the UN International Narcotics Control Board, to the Dutch Ministry of Health:
As you are aware, mushrooms containing the above substances are collected and used for their hallucinogenic effects. As a matter of international law, no plants (natural material) containing psilocine and psilocybin are at present controlled under the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971. Consequently, preparations made of these plants are not under international control and, therefore, not subject of the articles of the 1971 Convention. It should be noted, however, that criminal cases are decided with reference to domestic law, which may otherwise provide for controls over mushrooms containing psilocine and psilocybin. As the Board can only speak as to the contours of the international drug conventions, I am unable to provide an opinion on the litigation in question.

Psilocybin mushrooms are regulated or prohibited in many countries, often carrying severe legal penalties (for example, the U.S. Psychotropic Substances Act, the UK Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and Drugs Act 2005, and the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act).

The prohibition of psilocybin mushrooms has come under criticism because psilocybin mushrooms are considered soft drugs with a low potential for abuse, very low toxicity, and no risk of addiction.

Magic Mushrooms in their fresh form still remain legal in some countries including Spain, Austria, and Canada. On November 29, 2008, The Netherlands announced it would ban the cultivation and use of psilocybin-containing fungi beginning December 1, 2008. The UK ban on fresh mushrooms (dried ones were illegal as they were considered a psilocybin-containing preparation) introduced in 2005 came under much criticism, but was rushed through at the end of the 2001-2005 Parliament; until then Magic Mushrooms had been sold in the UK.

New Mexico appeals court ruled on June 14, 2005, that growing psilocybin mushrooms for personal consumption could not be considered "manufacturing a controlled substance" under state law. However it still remains illegal under federal law.

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