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MAGIC MUSHROOMS - The history - The First

The First

In the Western World it was only in this century that some interest was stirred in psychoactive mushrooms. Ethnologist Richard Evans Schultes and biologist Blasius Paul Reko traveled as far as Mexico in their search for mushrooms. There they discovered that the so-called Veladas, Indian mushroom-ceremonies, were still held in certain areas.

In the fifties it was particularly the American R. Gordon Wasson who `freed the mushrooms from the dark'. This banker and his wife Valentina were fascinated by the differences in cultural appreciation of the mushroom in general, but only in 1954 did they come into contact with their use as psychedelic substance.

R. Gordon Wasson and his wife, accompanied by Alan Richardson, went to a small village called Huatla de Jimenez, in Oaxaca in the South of Mexico, the territory of the Mazatecs, where they participated in a so-called Velada with the famous curandera (healer/sorceress) Maria Sabina. There they experienced, as the first Westerners, a psychedelic mushroom-trip, in an impressive ritual with Christian as well as Indian influences. Their story hit the world at large, Gordon Wasson published an article in Life magazine that stirred up a huge response.
The timing was probably right because the popularity of mushrooms rocketed sky-high in the Western world in the sixties, in particular amongst hippies and other alternative groups, using mushrooms partly as a `natural' alternative for LSD.

Scientific investigations were launched; the active substances were analyzed (and synthesized), whereby Albert Hoffman - the discoverer of LSD - played an important role and soon became a part of the psychedelic movement of the sixties.
Hippies and sensation-seekers went en masse to Mexico, where poor Maria Sabina nearly collapsed under the attention. Her inspiration by the `holy children' got endangered: she became quite famous to the mushroom-tourists but as a result more isolated from her own people. Afterwards she was possibly not so happy to have shared the secret of the Velada.

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