Amanita Muscaria Vancouver, BC

Fly agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria, maybe one of man's oldest hallucination. it has been suggested that perhaps its strange effects contributed to man's early ideas of deity.
Fly agaric mushrooms grow in the north temperate regions of both hemispheres. The Eurasian type has a beautiful deep orange to blood red cap flecked with white scales. The cap of the usual North American type varies from creme to an orange-yellow. There are also chemical differences between the two. For the new world type is devoid of the strongly hallucinogenic effects of its old world counterpart.
The use of this mushroom as orgiastic and shamanistic inebriant was discovered in Siberia in 1730. Subsequently, its utilization has been noted among several isolated groups of Finno-Ugrian peoples (Ostyak and Vogel) in Western Siberia and three primitive tribes (Chuckchee, Koryak, and Kamchadal) in Northeastern Siberia. These tribes had no other intoxicant until they learned recently of alcohol. These Siberians injest the mushroom alone, either sun-dried or toasted slowly over a fire, or they may take it in Raindeer milk or with the juice of wild plants such as a species of Baccinium and a species of Eplobium. When eaten alone, the dried mushrooms are moistened in the mouth and swallowed or the woman may moisten and roll into pellets for the man to swallow.
Amanita muscaria typically occurs in association with birches.
A very old and curious practice of these tribesmen is the ritualistic drinking of urine from men who have become intoxicated with the mushroom. The active principals pass through the body and are excreted unchanged or as still active derivatives. Consequently, a few mushrooms may inebriate many people.
The nature of the intoxication varies but one or several mushrooms induce a condition marked usually by twitching, trembling, slight convulsions, numbness of the limbs, and a feeling of ease characterized by happiness, a desire to sing and dance, colored visions, and macropsia (seeing things grateful enlarged). Violence giving way to a deep sleep may occasionally occur. Participants are sometimes overtaken by curious beliefs, such as that experienced by an ancient tribesman who insisted that he had just been born! Religious fervor often accompanies the inebriation...
Fly agaric mushroom is so called because of its age old use in Europe of a fly killer. The mushrooms were left in an open dish. Flies attracted to and settling on them were stunned, circuming to the insecticidal properties of the plant.

- pp. 24 -27, Hallucination Plants by Richard Evans Schultes (1976), Golden Press

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