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MAGIC MUSHROOMS - Introduction

0. Introduction

What do we know about mushrooms, those strange things that grow in the dark, a life form that doesn't need light? As kids we were already fascinated by the stories they told us, about gnomes making their little houses in a toadstool and about poisonous mushrooms that were picked by witches for their evil practices. In biology class, they warned us that the most colorful ones were the most poisonous. It feels as if our culture has not much appreciation for these useful, beautiful, nutritious and even psychedelic life forms.
We do eat some of them, that's about all, and even then just a few varieties. That scores of other edible mushrooms exist, is only known to connoisseurs. This varies of course from culture to culture. In Eastern Europe and Asia they are held in higher esteem, although this is usually because they can be eaten or are used for healing.

"Shrooms" or hallucinogenic mushrooms are also known as Magic Mushrooms, Liberty Caps, Psilos, Fungi, Little Mexicans, Hawaiians, Holy Children or Mushies. In the Netherlands they are now known as "Paddos", which comes from Paddestoel, which means Toadstool. The word Paddo is quite nice, as it has its own cult-like flavor, so we will use it in this book, too. Because of their chemical composition, the hallucinogenic mushrooms produce a sometimes slightly wobbly feeling, a tendency to giggle and with a stronger dose a view to a different - magical - world. This effect is generally called `psychedelic', it means to say that our perception and consciousness are altered in a strange, even bizarre but sometimes also delightful and delicious way. The German word Zauber-Pilz or magical mushroom is therefore quite appropriate. There is evidence that magic mushrooms were used since the dawn of humanity. In recent times they were more or less rediscovered and after a first wave of interest in the sixties they have now gained popularity in the house-scene and as a `natural' eco-drug.
Paddo: a Dutch cult-word

In the Netherlands "Paddos" are clearly `in' since about 1995, when Conscious Dreams in Amsterdam was one of the first shops to sell them. There are now many, many `smart-shops', there is lots of media-coverage on the subject, people talk about them or share their experiences and it is quite easy to obtain them. The Dutch authorities have (so far) taken a relaxed view on the matter, so the use has spread. School kids use them, disco-goers like this treat, but what are the risks? Parents worry; while their teenage kid might be looking forward to their first try. Maybe a bit curious and insecure about it, but that spices up the adventure.

We can not and will not recommend a Paddo-trip to everyone. There are clear dangers, but on the other hand the magic mushroom has the potential to help you understand yourself and your perception of reality, a much needed commodity and it does that a lot gentler than alcohol or other drugs. Yet don't rush into it without some preparation, some scouting and some advice from more experienced psychonauts.
What can be done if you lack the experience? This book can help, as there is a lot to say about magic mushrooms: how to use them and how to learn the most from these `little brothers'.

We don't want to advocate the use of these or any other psychedelic chemicals, plants or compounds. They aren't just a recreational upper; this is about strong experiences and about substances that are not always harmless. Apart from the basic active ingredients like psilocybin these are nature products with additional alkaloids and substances that color every trip differently, although rarely harming the user. They can put you down and depress you, but they can also give you a strong psychological lift. You can't really get chemically) addicted to mushrooms, but you could start using them and keep on using them because of the kick, because you want something new each time or because you want to escape from the ordinary world for a while. Some people do get stuck there and get caught in a downward spiral, loose track or become depressed. It is nonsense to guarantee that nothing can ever go wrong. On the other hand, it is often a very pleasant experience and you can retain something very positive from this inward journey. You can gain more insight in what reality is and some authority over your own experience of it, and it can be very helpful to know what lives deep inside you. Most people who used them treasure the feeling that they reached inside and came a bit closer to the universe, the All, the God in themselves. It is all up to you; you can leave the magic mushrooms in the woods, or just try them once, or you can really prepare for the trip, the `inward journey'.
The best trip is a conscious trip!

If you really feel a strong need to try magic mushrooms, then this is the most intelligent approach and this book will at least give you some information about the history, background, sacredness, possibilities, and dangers of magic mushrooms. This book is intended to help you, so you'll be on more familiar grounds when you step behind the psychedelic curtain. If you have used Paddos already then we hope to make it easier for you to come to some understanding about your experiences and maybe to share them. If you have a broader interest, then there is a list of literature and video-information at the end of this book and we also provide a number of Internet sites about this subject. There, you can also find more detailed information about the different varieties, how they can be recognized, what the chemical compounds are, and so forth. Much is known about the various kinds of magic mushrooms, but this booklet is mostly about the experience, the trip and how to handle the various aspects of that jump into your own magic kingdom. For growers, mycologists and shroom-seekers there is a choice of books in English and also in German.
In writing this book we don't have any (political) goal; we don't even want to promote the use of mushrooms.
We also don't want to foster any unnecessary fears. This book is an introduction manual, a travel guide and preference for those who want to experiment or those (parents/teachers) who have to deal with the paddo-phenomenon, nothing more. The main message we want to convey is that this is about the sacred, not about something to just pop carelessly and unprepared into your mouth. The ingestion of magic mushrooms and the resulting trip is a step into an altered reality, and it will at least teach you, that everything, which is experienced through the senses, is colored and distorted.

L. S.

In this book, you will find some accounts of personal experiences as an example of what might happen. Illustrative and funny, but nothing more; everybody has his own trip.

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