|Fungi: A fundamental aspect of human culture|
What Are Fungi?
Fungi As Tools
References And Links
The relationship between fungi and humans has been interconnected since time immemorial. Our associations with these organisms go deep into our genetic history. Perhaps the most fundamental of all mushroom uses is the use of them as mediators to the Gods. It is this very aspect that trumps all other mushroom potential in human culture. It is the essence of the spiritual link of man to nature and the Mother Earth Goddess.
How can a mushroom become intregral part of humanity's existance? What new perspectives can be gained when one firmly puts their belief in the hands of a small growing organism emerging from the fertile soil of the Earth?
Dating back at least five thousand years before the rise of Christianity and long before the rise of the modern monotheistic cult on Earth, this painting represents perhaps the spiritual lifestyle of our archaic ancestors. Elsewhere in these badlands is a rock painting of mushroom men running in ecstasy amidst geometric shapes (Figure 2).
In the Siberian northlands, shamans have long used the fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) in their magic/divination practices. The use of fly agarics predate the crossing of the Bering Straight, and it is those Paleo-Siberians who brought with them the use of mushrooms in shamanism (La Barre). They spread into the Americas with a culturally programmed interest in seeking out hallucinogenic and psychotropic plants and fungi (La Barre). It is possibly this reason why there are so many more known psychoactive plants and fungi in the new world than all of the old.
The Psilocybe mushooms have often been discussed as factors of hominid evolution, in that the consumption of these mushrooms as a daily diet triggered the break away of consciousness of man from nature (McKenna). While evidence for these claims are more speculation and ideas than anything else, historical use of Psilocybe has strong evidence in Central America. Mushroom use was prevelant in Mexico prior the Spanish conquest and an important aspect of Mexican religion and life. The fungi were sacred and used in divination and healing. Mushroom stones (figure 4) have been unearthed from as far back as 1000 B.C.E (de Borhegyi). The mushroom using peoples of the Americas held on to their traditions from antiquity and through the violent persecution of the Spanish, until it was rediscovered in the early 1950's.