Earliest Evidence for Magic Mushrooms?

Shamanism is one of our favourite topics here at TDG, which is one of the reasons Daily Grail Publishing reissued Paul Devereux’s wonderful book The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia in 2009 (pick up a copy now from Amazon US or Amazon UK). For those that share our fascination with the historical development of shamanic use of hallucinogens, here’s some interesting news from New Scientist: Europeans may have used magic mushrooms to liven up religious rituals 6000 years ago – the oldest evidence of their use in Europe found thus far:

The Selva Pascuala mural, in a cave near the town of Villar del Humo, is dominated by a bull. But it is a row of 13 small mushroom-like objects that interests Brian Akers at Pasco-Hernando Community College in New Port Richey, Florida, and Gaston Guzman at the Ecological Institute of Xalapa in Mexico. They believe that the objects are the fungi Psilocybe hispanica, a local species with hallucinogenic properties.

Like the objects depicted in the mural, P. hispanica has a bell-shaped cap topped with a dome, and lacks an annulus – a ring around the stalk. “Its stalks also vary from straight to sinuous, as they do in the mural,” says Akers.

This isn’t the oldest prehistoric painting thought to depict magic mushrooms, though. An Algerian mural that may show the species Psilocybe mairei is 7000 to 9000 years old.

Also, this seems as good a time as any to post some video I’ve been meaning to share for a few months now (presented by a fellow-Grailer no less) – Michael M. Hughes’ talk “The Secret History of Magic Mushrooms” at the Ignite: Baltimore conference:

As already mentioned, make sure you have a copy of The Long Trip at your disposal – a great resource on the history of shamanism (and mysticism) in ancient cultures, plus purchasing a copy helps The Daily Grail keep running (once again: you can grab a copy from Amazon US or Amazon UK). Win win!