Hi, I’m looking to grow my own mushrooms for personal spiritual development. As they are ‘illegal’ I was wondering if you had any tips of where I can purchase seeds or baby mushrooms safely and securely?
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The very best mushrooms to work with are the ones that are indigenous to your area, so first of all I would suggest that you check if there are any where you live. In Sweden we have the Liberty cap (toppslättskivling) which can be found in old cow pastures roughly between September and November. It is best if you pick them yourself, since you infuse them with your own intention.
The next best thing to do is to grow them yourself. This is good for a number of reasons. You will know what you are growing, while a dealer might not know exactly what s/he is selling. You will also infuse them with your intention and care, which is good when working with your personal and spiritual development.
The laws surrounding mushrooms that contain psilocybin vary, so you will need to check what is applicable where you live. In Sweden the mushrooms are illegal, but not the spores. It is similar with cannabis where the plant is illegal, but the seeds are not. If you can get hold of spores you can start your own grow operation, but if the package is crossing borders I would suggest that you send it to a different address from where you will be growing it. In Sweden we have had a few cases of customs tipping the police about legal shipments, and then the police have come by a few months later when the grow operation is up and running.
Growing your own mushrooms is a little complicated for a beginner, but there are excellent guides to help you out. Browse Erowid for more information. You can also find good grow kits that contain everything you need. A much easier option is to buy grow boxes with ready mycelium in them. They are super easy to handle, but might not be legal where you live. In Sweden I am not quite sure. I have heard that the mycelium is actually legal, but I do not know of a court case that confirms it. If you know of one, please let me know.
If you can’t find a supplier that ships to your area I would suggest trying to find fellow enthusiasts that can give you some spores to get started with.
In Europe I would suggest one of the two shops that support me – Azarius or Zamnesia. I am not familiar with any shops outside Europe, but you should be able to google them easily enough.
People have always searched for the higher meaning of existence. In their search they have had sensations of the highest divine and tried to name that which cannot be named. They have sacrificed to Zeus, thanked Freya, asked Shiva for focus and God for mercy. They have searched inward and outward with dance, prayer, singing, yoga and meditation.
One of the oldest traditions in order to get in touch with the highest divine, and with the other realities that surround us, has been by using plants. In the beginning humans were very close to nature and talked with the sun and the plants, the wind and stones. Nature was a teacher who shared its wisdom, but who also helped humans to be able to get in contact to other realities.
Over time some people have however made the experience more academic than spiritual. While the original spirituality was based on every persons own experience and their own contact with the highest divine, nowadays many people are content to believe in a constructed religion. They do of course overlap, but I’m guessing that most religious people today do not have a personal experience of contact with the highest divine, but are satisfied with believing others’ descriptions of it.
To me there is big group of illegal substances that is intimately connected with spiritual exploration – mostly those we would call natural psychedelics. I’m talking about plants and preparations such as Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Peyote, Cannabis (semi-psychedelic), psychedelic mushrooms and Iboga.
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Ayahuasca is a preparation made from a jungle vine and another plant. Shamans have probably used it for more than 6,000 years to have contact with other realities and heal people. It is used almost exclusively in ceremonial contexts, but is banned in Sweden because it contains the natural substance DMT, which is also found in the human brain and appears to be heightened and released by prolonged meditation, sleep, and at the moment of death.
San Pedro and Peyote cacti are used in similar ways and in similar contexts, for deep transformative and spiritual experiences. As far as we know the knowledge to work with them is probably more than 4,000 years old, but as with all these substances it might very well have been used for much longer than that. Today the knowledge is kept alive by South American shamans and North American Indians. While the cacti itself is legal in Sweden, it is illegal to consume it because it contains the natural substance mescaline.
Cannabis is regarded in Hinduism as a gift from the god Shiva to mankind, created from his body. It has been used for more than 4,000 years, both spiritually as medically in Hinduism and Buddhism, but more recently also in religions such as Islam and Rastafarianism. It is celebrated for its spiritual, mystical properties, but also because it allows people to see through illusions and lies. In the drug context cannabis is among the least dangerous substances, much less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, but it is being fought with tremendous zeal. The active ingredient THC is easily spotted with a quick urine test.
Psychedelic mushrooms are available in hundreds of varieties and on every continent. The most famous Swedish psychedelic mushrooms are the Liberty caps, used by witches and shamans. In Europe, however, the Christian mass murder of dissidents makes it difficult to track past use. The mushrooms produce similar deep spiritual experiences including contact with other realities, past lives, a connectedness with nature and with the universe. Liberty caps are commonly picked in cow meadows after the first frost, but if you do so you are a criminal. All mushrooms containing the natural ingredient psilocybin are forbidden to handle.
Iboga is a West African shrub that contains the illegal natural substance ibogaine. It is documented to have been used in Africa in a spiritual context since the 19th century, but before that it is difficult to say. It gives deep transformative experiences and having taken Iboga one will often lie down for an entire day. Nowadays Iboga is most famous for its medicinal properties, as it has been proved to be able to break even deep rooted addiction with only one or two trips. But to do so is illegal.
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These are just a few of the illegal substances that have been used in spiritual practice for thousands of years before such recent phenomena as Christianity came along. Natural psychedelics are found on all continents, and maybe even in all countries. The tradition of using them in order to get in contact with other realities and with the highest divine has been preserved in many places in the world – by shamans in South America, witches in Europe, yogis and shamans in Asia and medicine men/women in North America, Africa and possibly Australia. However, they have for long periods been forced to go into hiding, because above all Christianity has violently persecuted them. Today this continues with the help of the disrespectful and discriminatory drug laws.
Drug laws thus not only violate minority rights, but also each person’s inherent right to their own spiritual experience and journey.
There are those who argue that these plants should only be used in their original cultural contexts, that is only the shamans of the Amazon should be working with Ayahuasca, and only the medicine men/women of North America with Peyote. With that logic the Liberty caps should of course be legal in Sweden. But besides that these people seem to overlook that we live in a globalized world and that the spiritual search has never let itself be confined to places or cultural context. Just as religions spread across the world and have borrowed freely from each other’s cultural contexts, shamanism is also worldwide and practitioners are inspired by each other. There have also been new substances used in similar ways, with similar spiritual effects and with similar healing properties – LSD, MDMA and Ketamine, to name a few.
Some people speak of religious freedom. I guess that would be the freedom to settle for believing in other people’s descriptions of the highest divine. I’m not interested in religious freedom. I require spiritual freedom – the freedom to have my own spiritual experience and my own contact with the highest divine. If my spiritual path happens to involve working with plants and in a tradition that is older than any religion, that is my business as long as I do not harm anyone else. A law that tries to stop me from doing so is nothing more than oppression and discrimination institutionalized.
The first time I bought magic mushrooms they were still legal in Sweden. After a night of heavy drinking my friend and I came home. We wanted to continue drinking, but there was nothing left. I brought out the small plastic bag of mushrooms. My friend did not want any. On the bag it said “Contains mushrooms for three trips. If you want to become a shaman, eat them all.”
– Why would you not like to be a shaman, I asked myself and proceeded to eat the whole bag.
My friend was a little worried at first, thinking that he would have to save me from jumping out the window, but calmed down when he saw me lying helpless on the floor. I lay there all night, unable to move from the spot. All around little figures were moving.
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Many years later I once again met the mushroom, but this time without alcohol and with a higher purpose. Early on in my exploration I found the humour of Terence McKenna, who was an ethno-botanist, philosopher and influential psychonaut. Five grams of dried cubensis mushroom is the effective dose, he argued, and he advocated meditation to get in contact with other realities.
I am obviously somewhat different than Terence, but on the whole I like his approach to things. He has a playfully irreverent yet respectful approach to the mushroom, paired with an incredible curiosity and the drive to try to describe what he experienced.
When I started working with the mushroom it was in five gram doses and one of the first things that the mushroom told me was that I should meditate with it. I did as it asked, layed flat on the bed and closed my eyes.
– Welcome into my body. I humbly ask you to heal me and help me grow. Please work with my body and show me what you do.
The first thing the mushroom then does is to penetrate the whole body. You don’t get that full body sensation if you focus on doing other things, such as talking or fooling around. That is why meditation and focus are such incredibly important tools for working with the mushroom.
For me the first meditation is a very intense experience, requiring that I am aware, fearless and curious. What comes up from one’s own mind can sometimes be hard to meet, but it is also heavenly to free yourself from it. I always go straight into what feels difficult or uncomfortable, because I know that is how I solve it. But there is another side to the experience that is not from one’s own mind, but from the contact with another entity. The mushroom is clearly a separate entity that one can interact with. It can provide access to unusual abilities, open up ones sight, contribute to healing, help to make contact with the spirit world, teach one about life and about our place in the infinite.
For me the meditation lasts approximately 20 to 30 minutes. It is obvious when it is done, because then the flow ceases abruptly. Then I find myself in an alternate reality where there are such things as spirits and magic. There are fairies and angels. I can communicate with trees and feel energies. I can dive into people, channel power, connect with past lives and see across time. My eyes become large and my reaction to the outside world like a child’s; like seeing everything for the very first time.
Terence McKenna speaks warmly of smoking cannabis when taking mushrooms. That is one thing I do not agree with. I feel it is disrespectful to mix the mushrooms with other drugs, at least if one hasn’t explicitly asked to do so in advance and got yes for an answer. I find that cannabis distorts the experience, making it more confusing and often resulting in the loss of the deep psychedelic connection one has with other people. There are those who think that they can dampen the intense effect by using alcohol or other drugs. I believe that you should never mix with such substances, since they are dirty. It is disrespectful to the mushroom and the experience itself. If the trip is very intense I recommend to: 1. challenge yourself to face that which is intensive and potentially frightening, in order to process it and heal. Trust the mushroom, be brave and go with the flow. If you need you can hold someone’s hand. 2. change the surroundings. Put some music on, go to another room or take a walk. When one changes the surrounding, the mood changes. 3. eat. If you really need to land from the experience food is earth and pulls one back to the physical reality. You may find it difficult to eat, but it is a respectful and natural way to land.
After six to ten hours I slowly begin to come back to ordinary reality, even if the spirit world continues to be close by. The time is ripe for conversation and play with fellow travellers, or for contemplation and rest. It is a time for vision, creativity and silence. That is when I begin to integrate the insights that the mushroom has given me, because the real trip is the rest of life, where we live what we have understood. This is a crucial step if the mushroom experience is to be something more than a temporary rush. It is here, in the rest of life, that the healing and growth shows.
Some people are born with the ability to navigate and fully assimilate the psychedelic experience. When I work with psychedelics I usually call in the spirit helpers I want to have with me (angels and such) and ask them to keep me safe and help me. I don’t need the extra protection, but I am happy to have them with me and work with them.
The vast majority of people would probably like to hold somebody’s hand the first times they try mushrooms. With a sensible guide by your side it is easier to dare more and travel further. It is often also good to have someone who can mirror you. I am certain that most people would love the psychedelic experience, and that they would be able to draw positive life-changing lessons from them. Used in this way the risk of injury are negligible, close to none.
It is however important to note that there is a group of people who should absolutely not use psychedelics. Anyone who is trying to escape from him/herself, who is terrified of what’s inside, who wants to continue repressing and living in denial, that does not want to challenge the ego, who does not want to have contact with other realities, that are afraid of the unknown and do not want to see their illusions crushed, should definitely not use psychedelics.
I had a little left of several different kinds of cubensis mushrooms.
– Mushrooms are mushrooms, I thought to myself. The active ingredient is still psilocybin.
After drinking the tea with the mushroom mixture I lay down to meditate.
Cacophony and anger.
A variety of entities tried to speak at the same time.
It was an effort to regain some sort of control. I managed to make contact with an entity that resembled a Sea cow. It calmed the others down and then explained to me in detail how incredibly stupid and disrespectful I was to have mixed all these different entities. Although we humans with our rudimentary knowledge of chemistry can trace a specific chemical formula in all these mushrooms, they are by no means the same. Each plant has its own specific energy. It has an origin and has grown in a specific place. A wild Swedish Liberty cap is very different from a grown Cambodian Cubensis, even if the effects can seem similar. Plant teachers come with different skills, the Sea cow explained.
After that I got to meet each entity separately and thoroughly apologize and promise never to mix them again. I was really ashamed of myself.
Photo: Endangered Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus) by David Hinkel