Check your biology textbooks — mushrooms have more in common with us than with plants. They have their own kingdom of thousands of species with unique behaviors.
One of the many remarkable features of the Fungi Kingdom is the presence of the compound psilocybin is what we know as psychedelic mushrooms.
There has been in the western colonized world for some time a somewhat unsubstantiated fear of this compound, largely derived from caricatured portrayal of bad trips and kids run amok.
The fact is, fungi of various types are extremely useful and beneficial, including usage in common and important medical treatments. It’s tough to understate how important they are. Their planetary role is the decomposer and recycler. They can break down anything into elementals so those elements can be used again.
We have yet to tap into all they can help us with in our modern circumstance. Of course, the plants and the earth itself have always been around to nourish us. And are infinite possibilities we can keep discovering as all life continues to develop, from the micro to the macro. It’s up to us to be responsible with that, and turn away from destructive practices.
Psychedelic plants are gateways to corridors of perception. Amazing, isn’t it? In my *opinion this should not be treated lightly (not trying to dictate though); on the other hand, it’s not anything to fear either. Quite the opposite – to be treated with reverence. Indigenous cultures can and do teach this.
Because of their amazing neurological properties, psychedelics have a lot to offer in potential treatments for pervasive ailments, such as addictions, mental health traumas and degenerative conditions. There is already evidence that supports their ability to help re-wire the mind, to view things differently and thus heal. And there are many possibilities beyond.
Some want to understand things exactly within a scientific framework, others want to freely grow and partake. And for some they’re for sacred ritual use. All should be allowed, and this means decriminalization. Massachusetts, especially Somerville, has been progressive on this in 2021 with decriminalization of natural psychedelics, driven by the organizations Decriminalize Nature, Baystaters and the cannabis-focused Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council.
Decriminalizing means reconnecting to the earth, as well as providing possible relief and solutions for many people. It’s a process, and the assimilation of, for example, psychedelic assisted therapy will take great effort. Confronting trauma of any kind is difficult.
Psychedelics legislation also shines another light on racial disparity and the crucial issue of inclusion of all and cessation of drug arrests.
Psychedelic plants are one of so many displays of nature’s awesome power. They’ve been theoretically linked to even the creation of ritual spirituality and religion. Among the largest and oldest organisms on the earth are fungi, and the very largest known is in Oregon. For more information look to mycologist Paul Stamets — he’s suggested fungi have great intelligence as a worldwide network, like the Internet.
Some are concerned about the commercialization of psychedelics. I suppose some of that is inevitable, but decriminalization will level the playing field. I was actually encouraged by the appearance of an embroidered mushroom T-shirt at Burlington, as well as tie-dyed gear of all kinds including Hendrix tributes, because it represents disappearing stigma.
The psychedelic experience is not a casual one; it’s more a spiritual journey or multidimensional explosion (non-hallucinatory when microdosing), like Hendrix alluded to. You don’t see people destroyed mushrooms or cactus, or violent car accidents (yes, that’s an alcohol reference and alcohol, while damaging, is permissible). It’s widely known that psychedelic plants are not addictive. That said, it’s all in how you use a substance — anything could become addictive with a dependent approach.
Microdosing for various therapeutic reasons is becoming more common. The contemplation that comes with it should not be lost. When it comes to healing, this is important. Psychedelic substances provide a sort of shortcut, say rather than doing hours and hours of meditation, to arrive at heightened revelation or DMT experience. And that revelation could be both enlightening and shattering.
When it comes to microdosing for addictions, it’s obviously difficult to help people who are hooked on substances like meth and crack — and I think of Boston’s tragically infamous Methadone Mile here — but they don’t want to be, and perhaps psychedelic substances can open the next chapter on treatments that are much more effective and can make a lasting difference. This signals the end of the “war on drugs” which we can see nowadays has been racist, short-sighted, ignorant and ironically paranoid.
The process and interactions surrounding the legalization of psychedelics and all drugs (after all, some pharmaceuticals are suspect and highly addictive) is having a positive impact on the social, healthcare and economic fronts. Boston has a new Center for the Study of Psychedelics in Neuroscience at Mass General. Many have been vocal and taking action on this issue, especially the aforementioned organizations. I look forward to seeing what happens next in the this trailblazing state and across the country.