A couple of years in the past, I used to be known as as an knowledgeable witness in a felony case involving trance and possession. The circumstances of the case should not necessary to this text however, to not go away you hanging, needed to do with a person who had flown to the UK from Nigeria and was discovered to be carrying cocaine when he was stopped by Customs Officers. His defence was that he had been entranced, or probably drugged, by a gaggle of males who had planted the cocaine on him earlier than he boarded the aircraft.
What was extra fascinating for me was that I bought to have lunch with one other knowledgeable witness, a toxicologist from one of many UK’s main instructing hospitals, who had a eager curiosity in mycology and deliberate to publish a ebook on the sacred use of fly-agaric (Amanita muscaria) in religious therapeutic and historical warriorship practices.
On account of his research, he had not too long ago labored with a TV manufacturing firm who had made a documentary with him to check certainly one of his private pet theories: that the Zulu Battle was fought by the indigenous individuals below intoxication from the sacred mushroom. This had given them, not solely superhuman energy and imperviousness to ache, however a way of fearlessness and their very own divine function in battle. It was this that had helped them go away the sphere victorious, he claimed.
Clearly, the TV firm couldn’t stage one other conflict to check this principle, however what they might do – and did – was to get two martial arts consultants into a hoop to combat it out for the cameras.
Within the first a part of this experiment, the combatants met equally and fought a couple of rounds collectively. Neither emerged as a transparent winner on this rigorously matched contest.
Within the second half, nonetheless, one of many fighters was given 5 strips of fly-agaric to devour. He was allowed to relaxation whereas it took impact, after which each fighters met once more.
Besides they did not, precisely. In accordance with the knowledgeable I used to be chatting with (apparently, over a lunch of mushroom paella), the fighter who had taken fly-agaric merely flew throughout the ring as quickly because the bell rang, hardly even touching the bottom, and threw his opponent so onerous that he ended up on the ground outdoors the ropes. The intoxicated fighter by no means even broke a sweat and was not respiration at something above regular ranges when his opponent was counted out.
Utilization and results of fly-agaric
Within the fashionable West, we’ve got misplaced most of our historical ceremonial practices and not imagine in a ‘spirit world’. Consequently, fly-agaric (whether it is thought of in any respect) is regarded solely as a harmful and doubtlessly toxic ‘drug’, fairly than a path to the divine.
In his ebook, Ploughing The Clouds, nonetheless, Peter Lamborn Wilson argues convincingly that fly-agaric shouldn’t be solely the sacred Soma referred to within the Rg Veda, however that it was utilized in many European nations and was additionally central to the Irish Keltic custom of shamanism, which nonetheless continues in its fundamental type, right now.
The mushrooms themselves, brilliant crimson with white spots, are gathered for ritual use in these traditions throughout the hottest months of the 12 months – July and August – when they’re most infused with the ingredient of fireside and the breath of the solar/Sky Father. Essentially the most highly effective mushrooms, in truth, are stated to dry themselves, able to be picked for his or her communion with man. These are thought of far ‘stronger’ than these picked early and dried artificially. Smaller mushrooms are additionally stated to have a lot higher energy than bigger ones, and it appears doubtless, from fashionable experimentation, that their narcotic results are actually extra intense throughout the early rising section.
For non-ritual utilization, the mushrooms are utilized in a lot the identical manner as coca leaves within the Peruvian Andes, to create a mild shift in consciousness, accompanied by gentle euphoria and elevated vitality. In such utilization, the mushrooms are merely rolled right into a ball and swallowed entire, with out chewing. One bigger mushroom (Three-4cm) or 2-Three small ones is sufficient.
For prescribed ritual utilization, nonetheless, a number of mushrooms are usually consumed, normally in a set, or units, of three. “The Rg Veda at all times speaks of Soma in units of three cups and, in Siberia right now, three Amanitas are nonetheless thought of the correct ritual dose”, says Wilson.
An elaborate ceremony will typically accompany the ritual consumption of ‘magic mushrooms’. This may occasionally take the type of a ‘hunt’ for the mushroom, adopted by the ‘killing’ of its spirit by symbolically attacking it with spears, golf equipment, or arrows, so it’s ‘made protected’ for human ingestion. It’s then ready in a time-honoured manner which is designed in any respect phases to honour its energy, keep away from its wrath and, on the identical time, acquire management of its religious power. Solely then is the mushroom eaten, below extremely contained, sacred situations, and in a Holy area defended by the shaman, who will lead the ritual all through.
As soon as ingested, what we’d name the ‘narcotic’ results of fly-agaric start after about 30 minutes.
Outwardly, the intoxication might seem as involuntary muscle spasms, adopted by a way of the fluidity of actuality and sensory disorientation. Often, there may be vomiting, throughout which entire mushrooms could also be regurgitated. Paradoxically, nonetheless, this typically serves to accentuate the otherworldly sensations of flight and entry to a ‘non-ordinary’ area.
Inwardly, the shaman, and people who partake of this sacrament, at the moment are in communion with the gods.
In accordance with one description at Erowid.org, which, maybe, bridges the hole between outward impact and inward sensation, the affect of fly-agaric is that “the nerves are extremely stimulated and the slightest effort of will produces very highly effective results. If one needs to step over a small stick, he steps and jumps as if the obstacles had been tree trunks. If a person is ordinarily talkative, his speech is now fixed, and he involuntarily blurts out secrets and techniques, absolutely acutely aware of his actions and conscious of his secret, however unable to carry himself in test. A person who’s keen on dancing dances, and a music-lover sings incessantly. Others run or stroll fairly involuntarily, with none intention of transferring”.
Two of essentially the most fascinating facets of fly-agaric are that it retains its effectiveness virtually completely, and that its results are simply transmitted to others, notably by means of ingestion of urine from the primary individual to eat the mushrooms. The identical impact will be transmitted to a 3rd, fourth or fifth individual in precisely the identical manner.
In reality, the power of the mushroom to behave on this manner could also be partly on the root of the ‘Father Christmas’ myths which are noticed within the Winter rituals of the West.
Within the shamanic traditions of Siberia, the shaman would ingest fly-agaric in an effort to journey to the Sky Father and convey again items of data and energy for his neighborhood. Wearing a heat, fur-lined, ritual costume, with a thick belt hung with bells, the shaman would make his journey at dusk to seek the advice of with these otherworldly spirits. Within the hours that adopted, the shaman would want to urinate and would possibly stroll into the woods to take action. Reindeers would then eat the urine-covered snow as a part of their regular grazing and likewise turn into intoxicated.
‘Flying’ (intoxicated) reindeers with one sky-borne human (the shaman) who controls them… the similarities in costume… the bells and the belt… the crimson and white of the mushroom… the journey by means of the sky to ship items… all the weather of the fashionable day Father Christmas are there, making a fairly idyllic view of fliegenpilz