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The Magic of Mushrooms

Posted by Carolina Landolt-Marticorena on

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Playlist of the Week - Scientist Bill Richard's Playlist for Tripping

Bill Richards works in the psilocybin research lab at John Hopkins University with Roland Griffiths, bringing psychadelics back into the medical mainstream. As you may or may not know, 'set and setting' are key to a good trip, and music can play a solid supporting role: “At a trip’s peak, music becomes a mirror of transcendental forms of consciousness that may not even be registered in unitive awareness, but is present if needed — like a net below a trapeze artist,” Richards says.
The Long Form - Everything that's old is new again.

Only 18 months after legalization it seems that cannabis, at least in theory, will soon be everywhere: at the gym; in your cosmetics; and in your high protein morning smoothie. The swift mainstreaming of cannabis leads to the inevitable question: what is next? The answer here is obvious. Psychedelics -  and in particular, magic mushrooms or psilocybin  - are having a long-overdue moment. Let’s dive right in...

From research to recreation, hallucinogens are at the leading edge of our quest for new solutions to old problems. At the heart of this psychedelic renaissance is our desire for transcendence, to feel that we are more than the sum of our parts. In this we are no different than generations before us. The Mazatec of Oaxaca, Mexico have traditionally used psilocybin in ritual spiritual practices to the commune with the divine.

In an unexpected twist, a New York banker and a society photographer (?!) in the 1950s were the first outsiders to participate in the rituals documenting their mind-expanding experiences in Life magazine. This sparked a wave of interest in psychedelics with Albert Hofmann, the first scientist to synthesize LSD visiting the tribe in the 60s.

The powerful and long-lasting positive effects described by these pioneers sparked a wave of ground-breaking studies. Researchers saw the potential benefits of this novel class of drugs as treatment for psychological ailments and perhaps more interestingly as a conduit to spiritual awakening.

While at Harvard, Walter Pahnke administered psilocybin to a volunteer group of divinity students before mass in what is known as the “Good Friday Experiment”.  Afterwards, participants described a transformative mystical experience that profoundly shaped their lives, their interpretation of their faith and the world. Despite the positive results of this and other studies, research came to an abrupt halt when, fearing a counter-culture rebellion fueled by psychedelics, Richard Nixon (boo) criminalized all hallucinogens as part of his war on drugs.

But as we’ve seen for cannabis, all that is old is new again and the last decade has seen a renewed interest in the early promise of psychedelics. Our interest in exploring the link between psilocybin and the divine persists.

Echoing the “Good Friday Experiment”, researchers at Johns Hopkins have recruited religious scholars to consume psilocybin. The hope is that they will use their spiritual training to articulate the transcendent component of the psychedelic experience which seems to elude distillation into words.

Perhaps more pertinent for the non-religious among us is a similar experiment which studied the effects of psilocybin in healthy volunteers. Mirroring earlier studies, mystical experiences resulted in fundamental changes. Participants reported improved mood, and enhanced altruism, forgiveness, and interpersonal closeness. Many ranked this as one of the top experiences of their life and felt they had simply become better people.

The long-lasting benefits reported by participants suggests that it is not the drug itself but rather the experience and the memory of this experience that results in increased well-being.


Food for thought indeed. Next week we'll expanding on mushrooms into the larger forest with a look at a bit more science, along with guided meditations and foraging.
Heads up insiders - we're VERY excited to launch our newest pin design...
The News

Denver - which we'd now like to coin 'the city of the future' - is about to vote on decriminalizing psilocybin. Ballots concerning this initiative went out last Monday, April 15th, with the fate of the matter to be decided on May 7th during the city's election. Advocates for decriminalization would like to see less of the city's resources dedicated to nonviolent offences, and that a growing body of evidence points to potential medical benefits, including depression and end-of-life therapy. 
The Social Calendar

“I think of going to the Grave without having a Psychedelic Experience is like going to the Grave without ever having Sex. It means that you never Figured out what it is all about. The Mystery is in the Body and the way the Body Works itself into Nature.”
                                                                                                           - Terence Mckenna

As always, we love to push a few buttons - and we also love your feedback about it.
Until next time, keep the rubber side on the road. 

- Emma & Carol
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