Magic Mushrooms’ Role in a Variety of Religious Experiences

Magic Mushrooms’ Role in a Variety of Religious Experiences

Mushrooms have a long and illustrious history—from prehistory, when our ancestors used it to preserve fire while walking across long distances, to today when we use it as a food ingredient. Of course, edible and medicinal mushrooms aren’t the only ones that grow in the wild. Humans have frequently used mushrooms—specifically psilocybin—in various religious ways. While we don’t condone drug use in any form, we think educating you about it is important since it offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of fungi and its uses throughout history. Check out our examination of magic mushrooms and their role in a variety of religious experiences below.

Religious Prehistory

Terrence Mckenna, a famous mystic and ethnobotanist, believed that mushrooms helped catalyze human evolution with their mind-bending properties. While scientists are still mulling over that theory, we have seen evidence in archaeological findings and cave paintings that feature what look like shamanic figures sitting around a campfire preparing mushrooms.

Anthropologists now accept that we’ve used psilocybin as early as 10,000 BCE. This early use might be because of how ubiquitous they are. You can find psilocybin in every country. Many evolutionary biologists claim that psilocybin consumption gave us our first taste of closeness with the divine and helped catalyze the development of animism in prehistorical tribal culture.

The Ancients

Let’s fast forward a bit. We find humanity using mushrooms throughout history for various religious rites. While the inner workings of these ceremonies are elusive, scientists believe that the Eleusinian mystery schools used mushrooms to create a mind-bending experience designed to initiate neophytes into magical rites that create a sense of theosis with the earth: specifically, the cult of Demeter and Persephone.

Some ancient Egyptians considered psilocybin to be the ‘Food of the Gods,’ and they often used it on special occasions—usually in connection to the Mystery Schools. Some scientists theorize that Brahmins—the priestly caste—used mushrooms to create Soma—a drink designed for consumption upon certain religious rites. As you can see, the times have changed and democratized all mushrooms, not just psilocybin. Today we can all try to grow mushrooms at home, but back then, it was strictly used for religious purposes.

Modern Day

Today, we see people using psilocybin to “cut out the middleman,” as it were. There’s a small yet growing minority of people who are using psilocybin to experience God directly rather than go to church, a mosque, or a temple. As you might guess, this movement started with the “flower children” in the ’60s and quickly fizzled out in the ’70s and ’80s. However, in 2023, we’re seeing churches crop up, like the Psanctuary church, which integrates it as a religious sacrament and spiritual access point to divinity.

Thus, our examination of magic mushrooms and their role in a variety of religious experiences comes to a close. With all these changes in place, we’re excited to see where the world of psilocybin will take us next.

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Article Author Details

Shea Rumoro