Mayan Mushroom?

The usage of hallucinogenic mushrooms by people of Mesoamerica is hard to refute. The hallucinogenic or narcotic usage of toads by these people is more controversial, but not improbable. The toad was nonetheless important as a symbol both of the moon and the fertility of the earth, witnessed by its appearance in calendric cosmology. I have included details of calendrical ceremonies and concepts to allow the reader to understand the importance of toads in the region irrespective of narcotic usage. There are links that bind toads to toad-stools in the folk concepts of the region, such as the Quiché Maya use of the name “toad's head” to describe inedible fungi.

Mushrooms and toads seem to be emblems of the afterlife or underworld (Aztec Mictlan, Maya Xibalba). The appearance of mushroom stones and toad-effigy bowls in burials suggests this. Occasionally both would appear together. The Pre-Classic burial mound at Kamingaljuyú which yielded toad-shaped bolws also contained “several small toad or frog mortars of gray stone, mushroom stones of coarse-grained lava, and a tripod mushroom with a jaguar head”.

Frogs and toads are, as emblems of the Cauacs/Chacs, associated with the lightning bolt. In the Old World, toadstools are linked with lightning and thunder and associated with amphibians. Among the Maya, similar concepts seem to exist. The fly agaric appears to have been employed as a hallucinogen in Mesoamerica, where it has names linking it with lightning. In the Mayan Tro-Cortesianus Codex, objects shaped like fly agaric are represented. They are executed in turquoise blue, and even white. The color may have symbolic value, as in the blue-green fungi in Aztec representations.

Images and excerpt from Adrian Morgan's Toads and Toadstools: The Natural History, Folklore, and Cultural Oddities of a Strange Association, (1995, p. 143).

For more on hallucinogenic mushrooms and their history, see:

Mayan Mushroom?
Mayan Mushroom Description
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