Amanita muscaria: Amanita has always been known as the hallucinogenic mushroom used in shamanic rites to cause hallucinations

Amanita muscaria: Amanita has always been known as the hallucinogenic mushroom used in shamanic rites to cause hallucinations


L'A. muscaria it has always been known as the mushroom used, since ancient times in shamanic rites, to cause hallucinations.

This article contains information that can generate situations of danger and harm as it deals with hallucinogenic substances. The data present are for informational purposes only, not exhortative and in no case medical.






















Amanita muscaria


There Amanita muscaria also known as (Agaricus muscarius or Agaricus pseudo aurantiacus) whose vulgar name ismalefic egg, ovolaccio, false cocc, crazy mushroom,moscaria or fly agaric (for the British) is a mushroom that belongs to class of basidiomycetes and to family ofAmanitaceae which includes more than 10,000 species with over a hundred genera. In the order of the Agaricales, the Amanita genus is certainly the most studied and known.

This is one of the most popular and well-known mushrooms also due to the fact that its presence does not go unnoticed given the liveliness of its colors. It is very beautiful to look at, as it is possible to find species that can even reach 25 cm in height.

The hat (the fruiting body of the mushroom)it is fleshy and at the juvenile stage it is closed and hemispherical in shape which, once ripe, opens taking on the classic mushroom shape that we all know. To the touch it remains slimy with a very bright red or orange or yellowish color normally covered by small vesicles usually white or tending to yellowish which are nothing but shreds of the veil (a sort of protection that forms when the fungus is developing). white color that remain adherent to the top of the hat.

We see other fragments of the veil in the upper part of the stem to form a sort of collar.

The hat is supported by a stem, typically cylindrical, mostly solid (hollow in the central part) which remains enlarged in the lower part to form a sort of bulb forming white concentric circles.

In the lower part it presents numerous lamellae, very dense, white or slightly yellowish that develop the hymenium, the fertile part of the fungus from which the spores (the "seeds" of mushrooms to be understood) are formed.

If you cut the mushroom you notice that the inside of the pulp is white just below the cuticle of the hat while below it remains yellowish with an insignificant smell and taste.

The spores they are white and their number is almost incalculable in the order of billions in the course of a year.

There are several varieties that differ from each other for the different color of the hat ranging from more or less intense yellow to orange.

Amanita muscaria variety buxom

Amanita muscaria variety Sunrise

It is easy to find it both in summer and in autumn in the coniferous and broad-leaved woods even if it has a large number of host plants ranging from pine, poplar, fir, birch.


The story is based on the linguistic analyzes of different peoples, especially Asians. In fact, it has a long reputation as a mushroom used in shamanic rituals to cause hallucinations.

In the northeastern areas of Siberia

Numerous hieroglyphs have been found which date back to 1000-2000 BC. with figures of men with mushrooms in hats. This is the area inhabited by Chukchi people (who inhabit the Chukchi Peninsula at the northeastern end of Asia between the Pacific and the Arctic Sea where the Bering Strait separates it from Alaska) who still use the Amanita muscaria as intoxicating.

In the Rig Veda

(an ancient Hindu sacred text written in Sanskrit) dating back to 500 BC. there is often talk of an intoxicating called soma which the scholar Gordon Wasson in 1968 attributed toAmanita muscaria. Also confirmed later by numerous scholars even if some claim that it is theCannabis.

Recite one of the hymns: “We drank soma, we became immortal, we reached the light, we found divinity. What can the enemy do now to harm us and what harm can mortals do? It expands, Soma oh! Our life to live. These splendid waters grant a lot, to live.How the fire is lit by scrubbing so the waters are kindled! This will help us transcend our vision and increase our well-being! ”.

For all these reasons it is now believed that this mushroom is the first oldest psychoactive plant that has been used by man.

There are many peoples who still today have handed down and use the Amanita muscaria

:the chikchi, i Lapps (which currently mainly occupies the lands north of the Arctic Circle), i Koriak (or Coriachi, of Mongolian lineage living in the far north of Kamchatka, still populated today by groups of nomads, hunters and ranchers) and other populations that gravitate in the area of ​​the Bering Strait and central Siberia near the Ob and Yenisei rivers. In practice throughout the vast territory of Siberia where the figure of the shaman exists, this mushroom is still consumed today both for magical practices and for healing purposes. Also in the American continent there are reports of two populations, the Chippewa and the Dogribs, on the border between the United States and Canada in the area of ​​the great lakes, who use this mushroom in their shamanic rituals.

It is thought that the spread of the use of this mushroom is due to the migration in prehistoric times of Indo-European populations towards America from Kazakhstan to the Asian steppes, to the north of Germany and to the British Isles, arriving as far as France and Italy. other with him also the knowledge of the use of iron and bronze.

The American peoples of Mexico and Central America associated this mushroom with the supernatural forces that controlled the time although there is no documentation that associates them with magical practices. In the Mayan-Quiché language of the indigenous Guatemalans there Amanita muscaria she was calledKakulya (pre-Hispanic name of the god of lightning) while i Tzetzal-speaking Maya of Mexico they called him yuy chauk "Mushroom of lightnings". It is not known what this fact came from, although over time it was associated with more beneficial divinities.
According to some scholars it seems that the Amanita muscaria was used by the Vikings before their raids by giving them strength and aggression. This was deduced from the fact that a passage from Norse mythology tells how Odin was persecuted by demons and that from the mouth of Sleipnir, the six-legged horse, a red foam fell and turned into mushrooms.

Others who used theA. muscaria they were the Scottish clandestine salmon fishermen to give more resistance. They drank a soda based on A. muscaria and wisky known as Cathy (also used today) in honor of Empress Catherine of Russia (photo above) who greatly appreciated this drink.
Over time, the use of this mushroom was lost and anthropologists attribute this both to the great social and cultural changes that took place in the Neolithic and to the advent of Christianity which has always fought against the use of psychoactive substances considered pagan rites. Practically only when theAmanita muscariaassumed the role of "hallucinogenic plant" became a poisonous mushroom.


Several substances have been isolated from this mushroom:

Vanadium, (a chemical element with atomic number 23 and symbol "V" is a rare, soft and ductile element) which up to now has not been isolated in any other representative of the vegetable kingdom; mostly found in minerals compounded with other elements.

Muscarina, an alkaloid, discovered in 1869. When it was discovered it was thought that she was responsible for the hallucinogenic properties of the mushroom. In reality, it was later discovered that its action is entirely secondary, but it is responsible for the symptoms of nausea, vomiting and blurred vision. Among other things, it is present in minimum quantities of about 2.5 mg / kg.

Atropine, a tropan-alkaloid, present in several plants.

Bufotenin which is a poisonous active ingredient that is mainly secreted by some skin glands of toads (species Bufo bufo).

But the main substances, isolated in the laboratory and responsible for the hallucinogenic effects are:ibotenic acid, themuscimol and to a lesser extent themuscazone.

Ibotenic acid it does not cross the blood of the brain as it is but is partly transformed into Muscimol while the remaining part is eliminated. Laction is then carried out by the muscle which works as a GABA antireceptor (gaba antagonist). It has been shown to be particularly active in the cerebellum, cerebral cortex and hippocampus.

The muscimol, is expelled as it is from the urine, without being metabolized and this explains the custom evidenced by various writings, of drinking the urine of those who have eaten these mushrooms (in order to have the hallucinogenic effect) as the muscle passes through the kidneys without be modified so that urine would have the same effect asAmanita but without the negative effects of nausea and vomiting caused by muscarine which is not found in the urine so it is somehow metabolized.The use of drinking urine horrifies us Westerners but for the Native American and Oriental peoples it was normal to use it as a disinfectant and medicine. Therefore it should not seem strange that they drank the urine of those who had ingested the Amanita muscaria .

However, ibotenic acid naturally becomes muscle with time, a more stable compound. This fact is linked to the tradition according to which the Siberian natives let the mushroom dry in the sun or in the fire so that its effects are more powerful. They also used the smaller sized mushrooms with many "white spots" as they were said to be more potent than the larger, faded ones.

It has been ascertained that the quantity of these psychoactive substances is very variable depending on the place of origin of the Amanita. This is why the effects of the fungus are not always the same.


Traditionally they were used dry as fresh caused vomiting. Their effect starts about 2-3 hours after taking and lasts about 6-8 hours.

Some people smoke dry amanita with an almost instant effect but short-lived.

It is impossible to give certain indications on the minimum doses that can be toxic as it varies from mushroom to mushroom and from the areas where it is grown. Only a chemical examination can tell the percentage of active ingredient present.

It is known that koryaks like chukchis used to dry these mushrooms in bunches of three which was considered the average dose. Once dried and made crumbly they took them with a little water. Or they were chewed directly.

The bibliography on this mushroom is very extensive. In any case, many scholars affirm that if it is eaten as it is, without adequate preparation, it is deadly, vice versa if treated properly, considering that its toxins are soluble in water, it can be taken without problems as it still happens in Japan today and in some areas in southern France and Spain where they consume the mushroom for its psychoactive effects.

Any attempt to emulate the examples described above is strongly discouraged, as the side effects have not been tested: the majority of mycological texts advise against any type of food use.


TO physical level has stimulating effects on the parasympathetic system causing sweating, contraction of the pupils, decreased heart rate and increased intestinal peristalsis, nausea, disorientation.

No physical harm has been reported from prolonged use of this mushroom nor is it known to be addictive.

At low dosages it causes a feeling of intoxication, greater physical strength with impaired vision when seeing objects of different dimensions from the real one. Those who have studied the effects that these fungi cause have found that its effects are very subjective and vary a lot from person to person.


It is considered legal in almost all states as it is not counted among the psychoactive substances for which it can be safely grown, sold and owned. An exception is the state of Louisiana, in the United States, where the use of this mushroom is not legal if it refers to humans, while possession and cultivation is permitted for strictly aesthetic, landscaping and decorative purposes.


The name Amanitacoined by Persoon Christian Hendrik may derive from the Greek nameamanitai «Without details» or from Amanus a mountain of the ancient Roman province in Cilia south of present-day Turkey.

The name muscaria it would derive from the Latin muscarius«Pertaining to flies» due to the fact that its juice mixed with milk (or pieces of mushroom left to macerate) has excellent fly-killing properties (flies attracted to milk drink it and die).

Some scholars have pointed out that this mushroom, considered poisonous, "object of the evil one" is actually always associated with beautiful images, especially in Mediterranean countries. For example, have you ever noticed why when children draw a mushroom they draw it with a red hat and white dots? Or, have you noticed that the houses of the gnomes and the fairies are always represented with the red hat and the white dots? In practice it is associated with magical figures, so it can be linked to its shamanic origins that have remained dormant but still present in current culture.

In the original fable Alice in Wonderland

by Lewis Caroll illustrated Sir John Tenniel, when Alice meets the caterpillar, in chapter V, Alice finds herself in front of a gigantic mushroom on top of which is a caterpillar with a pipe, the typical one for smoking opium, listening to Alice's complaints for being too small in stature and the caterpillar finally tells her: "One side will make you taller and the other will make you shorter" and Alice replies: "One side of what? And the other side of what? " "Of the mushroom," said the Caterpillar, as if Alice had questioned him aloud and immediately disappeared. This can be safely linked to the fact that one of the effects of theAmanita muscariais to see things of a different size than they actually are (either very large or very small). And by eating the mushroom Alice changes its size.

Online bibliographic sources

  • College of Health
  • Las drogas as it is
  • Scientific Electronic Library Online (ISSN 1851-2372)

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