Fly Agaric Mushroom

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Old & New World Hallucinogenic Mushrooms

The beautiful "fly agaric" mushroom (Amanita muscaria) is unmistakable with its bright red cap covered with white scales (remnants of the membranous universal veil that once enveloped the entire stalk and umbrella-like cap). It contains the toxic, psychoactive alkaloid muscimole, so deadly to animals that the mushrooms were often left open in dishes to kill flies. Some authorities believe that this striking mushroom was the mysterious God-narcotic "Divine Soma" of ancient India.

A dried, Pacific coastal psilocybin mushroom Psilocybe cyanescens with an umbrella-like cap and stalk (left), two peyote (Lophophora williamsii) buttons (center) and a complete peyote plant (right). It is easy to see how the Spanish authorities could have mistaken the dried crowns or tops (buttons) of peyote cactus for the caps of teonanacatl mushrooms. The Aztecs may have fooled their conquerers into thinking that these religious plants were mushrooms, while the identity of one of their most spiritual and sacred plants (peyote) was actually a cactus.

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