The Mushroom Closet

by Chris Bodenner

A reader writes:

To add to the mushroom closet: My wife was traveling in Mexico at a transition period in her life. She had been accepted into a graduate program to study archaeology, but wasn't sure if she wanted to go forward with it. While walking with another traveller outside the ruins at Palenque, a little man appeared out of the jungle, waving a little baggy like some kind of Mayan drug gnome, saying "Hongos, hongos, hongos!' She bought the mushrooms from him, ate them, and wandered through the ruins.

While tripping, she had a powerful realization that the jungle was overtaking the ruins, that the plants were alive while the ruins were dead, and that true power, or at least the power that she could feel and respond to, was in the plants and landscape rather than the architecture. She decided to study landscape architecture and horticulture instead of archaeology, and now, ten years later, she has a masters in landscape architecture and is becoming a somewhat prominent figure in the field. No regrets or second thoughts about making to a life decision while under the influence of a hallucinogen.

Another writes:

When I was in my late teens I was introduced to psilocybin mushrooms, and it was a revelation.

Aside from enjoying my beer, I've never been much of a drug user (I don't really 'get' the appeal of marijuana). Psilocybin helped me to understand and take control of my 'ego' ("ego death" is a common - temporary - effect of psychedelic drugs).

In my 20s, I went on something of a mushroom bender for about a week, and it changed my life. Sitting on a perch at a nightclub by myself, I sat and people-watched for hours, several nights that week. As I did, the influence of 'ego' on peoples' behaviours became crystal clear to me, as if they were walking around with illuminated ego-meters on their shirts. I watched as people posed, strutted, and searched for admiration and affirmation in the shallow waters of a dance club. I thought deeply about myself in my daily life, and realised that I was one of those people. Every day. I guess you could say I didn't like what I found.

That realisation stuck with me, and from that point forward, each day I made a conscious effort to be more at home in my own skin, and less worried about feeding my ego - but without losing my ambition to do things and achieve things for their own sake. But not to impress people.

Another thing that happened that week was that I fell in love a little bit. A girl whom I'd previously dismissed as a bit of a groupie came and joined me on my nightclub perch one of those nights. All of a sudden I was really hearing her, understanding her, listening to the musical sound of her voice. She turned out to be an amazing young lady. There's no happily-ever-after ending to this story, but she remains one of my most warmly-remembered ex girlfriends.

Since 2005, when fresh magic mushrooms became illegal in Great Britain (and thus difficult to buy, since I'm not someone who knows any drug dealers) I've taken up cultivation for personal use, and in the process discovered a fascinating hobby. Mycology can be an extremely addictive and challenging pastime. Nowadays, I probably spend less of my time growing my favourite drug, and more studying and growing gourmet mushrooms.