Blame it All On The Psilocybe mexicana
If you had to pick a single magic mushroom responsible for the elevating the awareness of magic mushrooms in Western, the Psilocybe mexicana is your candidate of choice.
Known to the Aztecs as teotlnanácatl, from the Nahuatl teotl (“god”) + nanácatl (“fungus”), its first known usage was by the natives of North and Central America over 2,000 years ago.
Psilocybe Mexicana: The History
The Psilocybe mexicana’s history weaves together the paths of 4 prominent figures associated with the modern resurgence of magic mushrooms:
R. Gordon Wasson: a J.P. Morgan banker who traveled to Mexico in search of psychedelic mushrooms and in his own words, became the “first white men in recorded history to eat the divine mushrooms.” in a ceremony conducted by Maria Sabina using Psilocybe mexicana. In 1957, he authored the Life article, “Seeking the Magic Mushroom,” which may have marked the birth of the American psychedelic counterculture and ultimately, the banning of psilocybin across much of the world.
María Sabina: A healer located in the Oaxacan village of Huautla de Jiménez who Wassan tracked down in 1955. She agreed to perform the “Velada”, an all night ceremony whose goal to commune with God to heal the sick. The ceremony involved consuming magic mushrooms, chanting invocations and vomititing as a way to coax forth the divine. It is purported that the mushrooms she used in her ceremonies were Psilocybe mexicana.
Roger Heim: On one trip to Mexico, Wasson was accompanied by French mycologist Roger Heim, who identified the species of magic mushrooms and sent samples to Albert Hofmann.
Dr. Albert Hofmann: (yes, that Albert Hofmann of LSD fame), was sent samples of mushrooms by Roger Heim in order for him to synthesize the active ingredient. He was working with specimens grown in his Sandoz laboratory, first isolated and named the active entheogenic compounds psilocybin and psilocin. Uncertain of whether or not the artificially cultivated mushrooms would retain their natural psychoactive properties, Dr. Hofmann consumed close to 3 dozen specimens.
Psilocybe Mexicana: Sclerotia
The sclerotia of Psilocybe mexicana are often cultivated for entheogenic use but have a lower content of active substances than the actual mushrooms themselves. Sclerotia is often confused with truffles, but this incorrect as truffles are reproductive structures (subterranean spore containers that spread their genetic payload through consumption by animals and subsequent excretion into new environments, while sclertia is hardened mycelium.
Psilocybe Mexicana: Potency
Although the potency of magic mushrooms is challenging to assess, Psilocybe mexicana mushrooms are reported to contain about of 0.25% psilocybin and 0.25% psilocin. Technically weaker than P. cubensis, which are said to contain 1.3% psilocybin and 0.35% psilocin.
Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “psilocin and psilocybin“. Encyclopedia Britannica, 5 Jul. 2018.
Ahmed Kabil: This Mexican medicine woman hipped America to magic mushrooms, with the help of a bank executive, January 2017