Sacred Mushroom of Visions
Edited by Ralph Metzner, Ph.D.
with contributions by Dennis J. McKenna, Ph.D., Charles S. Grob, M.D.,
J.C. Callaway, Ph.D.
2005. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press
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.