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Sacred Mushroom of Visions

Edited by
Ralph Metzner, Ph.D.
with Diane Conn Darling

Published by Park Street Press, 2005


Teonanácatl was the name given to the visionary mushrooms of indigenous Mesoamerica by the Aztecs, who used them in shamanic religious ceremonies for healing and divination. Condemned by the Catholic church and driven underground, the mushroom cult re-appeared in mainstream Western culture through an article in LIFE magazine in 1957 by the legendary ethnomycologist R. Gordon Wasson, who wrote about his participation in a mushroom ceremony with a Mazatec sage woman healer named Maria Sabina. The psychoactive principle of the visionary mushroom was identified as psilocybin by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD. Psilocybin has beeen used as an adjunct to psychotherapy, prisoner rehabilitation, enhancement of creativity and catalyst for mystical experience; and is presently being studied as a treatment for OCD. The use of the mushroom, both wild and cultivated, spread from Mexico into North America and Europe, by seekers of consciousness expanding experiences – whether for self-understanding, spiritual exploration, creative inspiration or recreational hedonism. A worldwide mushroom culture was born that, like ayahuasca and other plant-based entheogens, still exerts, to this day, a hidden but profound influence in the worldwide renewal of a spiritual relationship with the natural world.


"This book provides an outstanding, comprehensive gathering of vital information from the psychedelic world. Experiences reported in this book permit a view of the astronomical ranges of consciousness reaching vastly beyond our ordinary understanding, revealing the incredible beauty and wonder of our universe, and the enormous potential that lies waiting for the serious seeker." Myron Stolaroff, researcher and writer, author of From Thanatos to Eros.

"This is a wonderful compilation of scientific information, historical lore, and experiential reports about the magical psilocybe mushrooms. This book tells how the magic mushroom came out of humble obscurity in the mountains of Mexico, to be the focuse of a subculture in North America and around the world. It is sure to be treasured for years to come." Andrew Weil, MD, author of The Natural Mind, Spontaneous Healing.


Introduction: Visionary Mushrooms of the Americas
Ralph Metzner

1. Ethnomycology and Distribution of the Psilocybian Mushrooms
John Allen and James Arthur

2. Global Ecologies, World Distribution and Relative Potency of Psilocybin Mushrooms
Paul Stamets

3. The Wondrous Mushroom Legacy of R. Gordon Wasson
Thomas Riedlinger

4. Biochemistry and Neuropharmacology of Psilocybin Mushrooms
David Presti and David Nichols

5. A History of the Use of Psilocybin in Psychotherapy
Torsten Passie

6. Prisoner Behavior Change and Experimental Mysticism:
Two Classic Studies from the Harvard Psilocybin Project
Diane Darling, Rick Doblin and Ralph Metzner

7. A Note on Current Psilocybin Research Projects
Rick Doblin, Ph.D.

8. The Mushroom Initiation of the High Priest
Timothy Leary

9. Initial Experiences from the Harvard Psilocybin Project
Ralph Metzner

10. Experiential Teachings of the Mushroom Spirits

The Mushroom Beings Would Help Us Return to our True Nature
Leila Castle

The Land of Eternal Waiting -
Report of a Mushroom Experience with Maria Sabina
Frederick Swain

A Mazatec Indian Curandero's Healing Practice Using
Psychoactive Mushrooms
Bret Blosser

I Was Awed by the Mysterious Precision and Generosity
of the Mushroom Spirits
Raoul Adamson

I Was Being Told to Paint with the Blood of My Heart
Kate S.

I Was Having a Conversation with the Sun
Evan Psilo

Shadow, Be My Friend

Where Ancient Spirits Dwell and the Air Hums
with Magic and Mystery
Cat L.

My Heart was the Doorway to Greater Vision and Awareness
Abraham L.

It Was the Divine Play of Hide and Seek
Jason Serle

The Power of Heart in the Face of Darkness

Encounter and Metamorphosis with the Sirenian

My Role, However Humble, was Necessary
and Cosmically Inspired
Phil O. Cybe

I Felt the Vitality of What It was Like to Be Primitive

I Saw My Entire Worldview and Value System Realign
David S.

Pondering the Separation between What I Experience
and What Actually Is
Mark Bryan

I Remember What It was Like Before I had This Face
Jack Silver

We Are All Actors and Directors in a Giant Cosmic Drama
Mark A. Schroll, Ph.D.

The Little Beings Tell Me that Laughing is Also Holy
Karin Riese

Mushroom Magic in the Lightning Field
Martin Goodman

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Ralph Metzner

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El Verano, CA 95433

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