All over the world, hallucinogenic plants have played an important role in religious ritual, pseudo-spiritual discovery and the exploration of psychological states of non-ordinary reality.
One source of hallucinogenic (or ‘psychedelic’) experience is hallucinogenic (or ‘magic’) fungi. There are several species of mushroom that contain chemicals that will produce a hallucinogenic effect. The most commonly used mushrooms are those in the ‘psilocybe’ family, fungi that produce ‘psilocybin’. The mushroom psilocybe semilanceata or ‘liberty cap’ is the most common (and popular) hallucinogenic mushroom in the UK.
Liberty caps are very versatile. They can can be eaten raw or cooked, fresh, or dried, on their own or heated in water to make a ‘tea’. Some people add herbs or other flavorings to the tea to make it taste a little better.
The rest of this article refers to the liberty cap mushroom, just because it is the mushroom that you’re most likely to come across. If you’re contemplating using another species then it will be worth doing some more research. There are lots of different fungi. Different fungi grow in different environments, some change significantly at different stages in their growth cycle. Some hallucinogenic fungi (like the Amanita Muscaria, or ‘fly agaric’) should be cooked first to prevent poisoning. Others should never be eaten at all. It’s definitely worth investigating.
People have eaten mushrooms to get high for thousands of years. They grow wild, usually entirely uncultivated. Liberty caps can be eaten as soon as they’re harvested, fresh and uncooked, although some people might prefer to wash them a little, first. Like any fungi, hallucinogenic mushrooms will quickly deteriorate if they’re stored in an inappropriate environment producing a grim-looking foul smelling rich brown sludge. Which you would not want to ingest. Not even a little bit.
Liberty caps grow in open, well-manured grassland. Fields full of cows are a good bet. If you find something you think is a liberty cap growing in a forest it isn’t. Throw it away. Northern slopes of sheltered hills tend to be particularly productive. Liberty caps will fruit in the UK in late Autumn, before frost.
Higher than the sun…
It can take up to an hour for the mushrooms to take effect. Different mushrooms will contain varying quantities of psilocybin, and the effects will vary accordingly. It can be a great idea to use a small number at first, and increase the dose if necessary. Small doses will produce relaxation and a slight dissociation, a feeling similar to that obtained using cannabis. Higher doses can induce hallucinogenic ‘trips’ similar to LSD.
Where you are, who you’re with and how you feel will influence your experience significantly. A mushroom trip can last for 6-12 hours, with some disorientation the following day.
More trip-journals than you can shake a stick at are listed at The Shroomery. These helpful people even throw in a grow-your-own guide.
Hmmmm… what do we have here?
…and if you’re not growing-your-own, the most likely source for mushrooms is the natural world…that place outside your front door, where it gets all weather, and windswept. Probably somewhere green. If you are going mushroom-hunting it’s a good idea to take someone with you who knows what the mushrooms look like, and where they grow. If they know somewhere the right mushrooms have been found before, that’s obviously even better. If you can’t take an experienced mushroom harvester, take a good mushroom guide. I’ve been recommended ‘Collins’ field guide to mushrooms and toadstools’. There is of course a wealth of information on the ‘net.
Liberty cap mushrooms will usually have a cap that is 1-1.5cm in diameter, narrowly conical with a central, pointed projection. They’re pale yellowish brown, drying to almost white, although they will look darker when they’re wet. They are smooth and slightly sticky, with a darker striated margin. The gills are grey-brown to blackish brown, broad and crowded. The stem is generally in the range of 5-8 cm long by 0.3 cm width, slender, cylindrical, paler than the cap and often bruising bluish green towards the base. If you do a spore test (leaving a cap on white paper overnight, gill side down) the spore deposit is purplish black.
The primary reason for reading this information, and checking images, and finding the right mushroom, is to help you to prevent mushroom poisoning.
Preventing mushroom poisoning
Mushroom poisoning can be caused by picking the right species in the wrong condition – it is not safe to eat mushrooms that have been infested by worms or maggots. Older mushrooms should be avoided, as should wet or dirty ones (these tend to go off quickly). If you are going to store the mushrooms at all, remember that they deteriorate and rot quickly if they are damp, closely packed or left in an airtight container.
Mushroom poisoning can also be caused by picking the wrong mushroom in any condition. There are some very poisonous fungi out in the world. They don’t have a little sign around them saying “I’m poisonous! Don’t eat me!” and it really is important to know what you’re looking for. Mushrooms can change significantly at different stages in their growth cycle.
The symptoms of mushroom poisoning can manifest in 20 minutes, or may take up to 40 hours for more slow-acting poisons. Many different poisons can occur in mushrooms; the most common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, cramp, watering eyes, increased saliva flow, jaundice and breathing difficulties.
If you are with someone who is ill and has been eating mushrooms, take them to a hospital or doctor immediately – call for an ambulance if you’re stoned, don’t try to drive. If possible, take some of the mushrooms with you so that any poisons can be quickly identified. If the person has been vomiting you might want to take some of that with you, too. It might help the hospital to identify toxins.
Fly me to the moon…
Mushroom tripping isn’t something you should do alone. The psychological effects of tripping can lead some people into states of fear and anxiety attacks (‘bad trips‘). Being with friends can help you to move through these experiences more quickly and safely.
Like any other hallucinogen, your trip will be very much guided by your psychological state at the outset. If you’re feeling depressed, anxious or under stress then eating hallucinogenic mushrooms can amplify how you’re feeling.
Choose the right environment – somewhere relaxed and safe. Too many people – festivals or crowded streets – may cause you problems.
You should of course never try to drive if you’ve eaten magic mushrooms.
‘ello ‘ello ‘ello
Different countries do of course treat different substances differently in law. Currently, in the UK the possession and consumption of any mushroom is illegal. Psilocybin is contained in many hallucinogenic mushrooms (including the liberty cap) and is a phosphate of psilocin, which is a controlled drug. This raises complex legal issues with regard to magic mushrooms; generally, prosecution brought against people for possession of untreated mushrooms alone is likely to fail. Prosecutions have been successfully brought against people for treating or preparing mushrooms with the intent to consume them and the controlled drug (psilocin) contained within them. ‘Treating’ or ‘preparing’ could include drying, crushing or making a tea.
Psilocin is controlled by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as a Class A, Schedule 1 drug.
Other Class A drugs include heroin, cocaine and LSD.
:p I have recently got hold of sum mushrooms now I have taken the first lot but I read that if they are starting to turnt blue it is the psycobilia in them oxidising them making them inactive?? is this true!! coz mine are going blue!! n e way I also heard that by putting them in honey u can preserve them without them going mouldy etc has n e one else heard this?? please let me no or a.s.a.p or i’ve got a bunch of pointless magic mushrooms!! the ones I took where exellent though not to harsh just nice and fluffy! n e way p.l.u.r to u all. 🙂
You’ve probably already ate them all, but in future don’t worry mushrooms turning blue – in fact that indicates, they contain psylocybine or psylocine – which is is obviously a good sign.
If you have any further questions about mushrooms or any other drugs, use the force and check out the Erowid vaults:
You’ll find everything there – from scientific reports, through growers guides (and storage) to individual trip-reports.
I’ve been wondering whether it’s time to make an annual excursion to my usual spots. I’ve seen other field mushrooms out in great quantities both in the Midlands and down in Cornwall over the last week so I was wondering whether anyone has found any liberty caps yet. Dont worry I don’t want to know where you spot is, more whether with all this sodding rain we have had the little blighters are rearing their lovely little heads yet?
is still too warm down here in cow pat county… although some in random fields around devon after chlly nights about two weeks ago.
heard of large scale growth in cheltenham and lots of spots further north recently.
too much rain can be a bad thing, as waterlogged land rots the spores.
a nice dry september with misty dewy morings would be ideal for the little fellas
it’s that time, obv
its certainly feels like it. chilly and damp mornings will get the littluns up. i’m heading up to manchester next week to have a look at my spot.
i’ve had a few up in Nottinghamshire, ever a couple in my back garden, but my normal spot is still empty ?
After this warm spell, misty damp september mornings will provide us with a few i’m sure.
yay, Season. I a happy pixieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
hail the Season, for it is good..
got to go a huntin soon..
We had a load come through last week in Huddersfield. I know this as I came home friom work one night last week to find my flatmate and his bird tripping their tits off on them! was well funny!
good news. the spot i know is in teh general direction of huddersfield. will be heading up there this saturday for a day out picking.
Would that be out past Holmfirth by any chance (up at Yateholme)?
That’s the best spot I know of in Huddersfield, although I’ve heard Marsden has some good spots too.
Live near the airport but moving to headingley. Anyone seen anything in these spots, wheres best to look, i usually find a few on cricket pitches but never come across hundreds?
they are fucking everywhere.
theres more out already than all of last year. wet summer innit.
if anyone wants to come up with a tent and pick, let me know.
i got about 500 at the weekend. think i’ll pop up again this weekend to get a few more to see me through to christmas at least.
yeh wentie pikinon da weekend, found a nice little spot where we hadnt been before, and piked bout 500, there is definetly an increase in numbers this year, prob the weather int it. any one been pikin on dartmoor yet, i would like to know where yer fav spots are to be. pm me and ill let u in for a few.
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