Have you always wanted to try magic mushrooms, but worried about what to expect? Given that the range of experiences people have range from amazingly life-changing to terrifying, it’s no doubt that many people are hesitant to consume this ancient indigenous medicine.
Magic mushrooms refer to species of mushrooms which induce psychedelic experiences, thanks to the molecules psilocybin and psilocin. There are over 200 species of psychoactive mushrooms in the world, and some are considerably easier to consume than others.
Magic Mushrooms Have Been Used For A Very Long Time
While popularized as a recreational drug in the 1960s, magic mushrooms have been used ceremonially for thousands of years in nomadic tribes and even in ancient civilizations (the Aztecs called them “teonanacatl”, which translated means “the flesh of the gods”).
But not all psychoactive mushrooms lend themselves to easy magic mushroom trips. Some species simply aren’t that strong, others induce more nausea than revelation. For this reason, the most commonly consumed mushrooms are in the psilocybe genus, a genus of gilled mushrooms that includes several species with battle-tested psychedelic properties, of which psilocybin, psilocin and baeocystin are the main compounds responsible for the psychoactive effects.
If you would do a quick online search for “magic mushrooms experiences,” you would find a wide variety of experiences, ranging from the most sublime and spiritual to the most terrifying and fearful experiences.
So how do you know what kind of experience you are signing up for if you choose to consume magic mushrooms?
And how do you set yourself up for a positive, transformational trip?
Here are the 4 primary factors that will effect your magic mushrooms trip…
1. The Type of Magic Mushroom You Consume
The type of magic mushroom you take, and how much of it you consume, will have a profound effect on your trip.
Although the red and white capped Amanita muscaria is what most people think of when it comes to mystical mushrooms, it is not a traditional mushroom containing the psychedelic molecule psilocybin; instead it contains muscimol, which offers its own unique (and often unpleasant) experience.
The mushroom species that we consider “magic mushrooms” all contain psilocybin, psilocin, and a host of other molecules. They all work together synergistically to produce a unique psychedelic experience.
From a shamanic perspective, the different species would be considered to be different “teachers” each with their own personality and wisdom to impart.
The most commonly consumed psychedelic mushroom species are:
- Panaeolus: subbalteatus, tropicalis
- Psilocybe: baeocystis, caerulescens, cubensis, cyanescens, mexicana, pelliculosa, semilanceata, stuntzii
- Copelandia: cyanescens, cambodgeniensis
Of these species, popular varieties include:
- Psilocybe cubensis
- Psilocybe semilanceata
- Copelandia cyanescens
Magic mushrooms can also be found in truffle form – a dormant stage of the fungal life cycle, which is also legal in the Netherlands. Read more about magic truffles here.
For an easy guide to identifying the most common species of magic mushrooms, check out our Magic Mushroom Identification Guide.
2. Your Magic Mushroom Pre-Trip Preparation
If you’ve spent days or weeks preparing for your mushroom journey, eating healthy clean foods, meditating, practicing yoga, and going inward, you will have a different experience than if you decided to eat mushrooms on the fly, at a concert, washed down with a swig of beer.
That’s not to say you can’t have a positive recreational experience with magic mushrooms; just that your intention matters. If you expect to find profound healing insights from the shrooms, and then go out raving, you’re not that likely to get what you’re looking for. But if you approach them with respect and carefully plan your trip, you’ll have a better chance of having a deep and meaningful journey.
3. Your Set & Setting
Your psychedelic set & setting establishes the story-line of your magic mushroom journey. Set and setting describes the context for psychoactive and particularly psychedelic drug experiences: one’s mindset (shortened to ‘set’) and the physical and social environment (the setting) in which the user has the experience.
“Set” is the mental state a person brings to the experience, like thoughts, mood and expectations. “Setting” is the physical and social environment. Social support networks have shown to be particularly important in the outcome of the psychedelic experience.
If you want to increase your chances of having a profoundly positive magic mushroom experience, it’s best to be in sound mental and physical health, in a contained environment where you feel safe and comfortable, with easy access to water, food, and anything else you will need, alone, with a sitter, or in the company of trusted friends.
Putting yourself into a chaotic environment, like a noisy, crowded outdoor concert, increases your chances of getting disoriented. If you don’t have enough water or food, you can easily become dehydrated and fatigued. Throw in a strong psychedelic experience on top of crowds and thirst… you have the recipe for a bad trip. Having to seek medical services at a mainstream event, and confessing that you’ve eaten magic mushrooms, adds “dealing with law enforcement while tripping” as the ultimate buzz-kill.
4. Who You Are With During Your Magic Mushroom Trip
Are you doing a solo trip, facilitated trip or a group trip? A solo trip will be affected by how comfortable you are with yourself, and your environment. A facilitated trip will be affected by the intention of your session and your relationship with the facilitator, and whether that person is an experienced professional mushroom sitter, or a friend.
Madrinha Julieta, a Mazatec medicine women from Mexico, served everyone in the yurt a handful of niños santos. We each took our places in the ceremony; nobody spoke to each other, speaking during ceremony was discouraged.
Julieta prayed all night, in the Mazatec language and in Spanish. Her prayers in Spanish were entirely oriented towards Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and the Eternal Father. The altar that was set was mostly filled with Christian statuary, flowers, and other sacred objects.
As the niños santos started to take affect, I noticed a lighthearted and loving childlike quality to my experience. Different from ayahuasca, who can feel like a stern, but loving grandmother, the niños santos showed me my shortcomings, in a way that allowed me to laugh at myself, while feeling love for the person I was.
What was fascinating, was that in spite of the decidedly Christian set up of the ceremonial container, my internal visions were entirely ancient Egyptian, all night long. It was then that I realized, that the visions had less to do with the medicine I had taken, or what the ceremonial container was. The visions were in me. ~ Me
A group trip will be affected by the interaction of the people in the group and if there is a shared intention, like a group prayer, or if it is more of a social experience. If it’s a social experience, your relationship with the people in the group matters – are they old, trusted friends you are comfortable letting loose with, or are they new acquaintances, including a really annoying, loud guy?
8 Common Experiences of Magic Mushroom Trips
Now that you know what factors will influence your magic mushroom trip, what is the experience actually like? Every person’s magic mushroom trip is unique to that individual, due to the myriad internal factors that affect one’s experience and interpretation of reality, regardless of the species of mushroom you consume. However, in general terms, you can expect to experience the following phenomenon:
1. Visual Enhancement
The visuals may vary. Some individuals may experience more external visions, while others might perceive more internal visions. For some, visions may be light, but the journey filled with cosmic downloads. Typically, mushrooms will make your experience of the world more vivid. Colors are brighter, and if you are walking on grass, the Earth will appear to be abundantly alive…in fact the ground might look like it’s breathing.
You might see trails as birds fly across the sky, and as people, as well as other objects, move. You might see faces in trees and rocks.
If you’ve eaten a lot of magic mushrooms, and if they are the highly visionary species, you may see things that will make you rub your eyes and look again.
We were walking over a meadow at night, at an outdoor concert in the mountains. We had eaten way too many mushrooms. I started to notice a design unfolding at my feet in front of me – the grass had turned into a richly patterned Persian rug, weaving itself in undulating waves. As I marveled at this visual display, I noticed that suddenly, I had become tiny, or the grass had become gigantic. Instead of walking OVER the grass, I was now walking between the blades of grass, which sprung out from the ground in shoots of 3, each shoot topped by a circular ball.
I shook my head and rubbed my eyes, unsure at what exactly I was looking at. However, I couldn’t actually focus on anything, everything was moving in colorful swirls. The best I could do was focus on keeping one foot in front of the other. ~ Anonymous
2. Auditory Hallucinations
Sounds may appear enhanced and somewhat distorted, in highly comical ways. Some kinds of music sound amazing on magic mushrooms. Others, not so much. In fact, experiencing music on psychedelics may permanently alter your musical tastes.
3. Distortions in Time & Space
Many mushroom trippers will experience time slowing down or standing still. This may be because mushrooms have a way of making you extremely present, and the more present you are, the more aware of time you can be.
Distances may also appear to be warped, objects looking way closer or further away than normal.
You may also have a cosmic experience of space-time, calling into question our society’s belief in time being linear, and space being “out there.”
4. Emotional Release
Psilocybin mushrooms have the ability to heal trauma by allowing the user to revisit a traumatic experience from a different perspective. What comes with this experience is often a cathartic emotional release – through hysterical laughing, crying, and so on – giving way to the lightness of being and a new sense of self.
Current scientific studies include the use of psilocybin mushrooms in the treatment of depression, PTSD, and end of life anxiety.
5. Ontological Paradigm Shifts
Magic mushrooms have a remarkable way of making bullshit belief systems really obvious. I suspect that’s why authorities are terrified of people using mushrooms – not because they are dangerous to the individual but more because they are dangerous to those in power. If magic mushrooms were legal, you’d have tens of thousands more people rising up to overthrow the control systems that have been put in place to keep humanity meek and compliant.
A common magic mushroom experience is questioning the validity of your long-held beliefs, and an openness to try on new beliefs.
Part of the medicine of the mushroom is its ability to show you what’s really, truly important. It’s not a nice car, or a good job, or lots of money. It’s usually so much simpler… Life. Health. Family. Love.
6. Body Bliss
Magic mushroom users often report the physical sensation of being euphorically blissed out. Bodily sensations are pleasurably heightened, making yoga, dance, and massage wonderful activities to experience on magic mushrooms.
For the first time, ecstasy took on real meaning. ~ R. Gordon Wasson
7. Cognitive & Spiritual Rebirth
After going through a complete re-examination of your belief system, personal history, and experiencing the miracle of being alive in a fresh, and different way, you may feel a new kind of appreciation for everything you see, smell or touch. It is like you are a new-born baby again, exploring the world through your untethered senses and with an expanded mind.
You may come to understand your behavior, your role in the world and your surroundings in a new, more integrative way.
A study done at Johns Hopkins University revealed the extraordinary spiritual power of magic mushrooms. In interviewing the participants after the study, a third of them said their experience was among the top five most meaningful of their lives. A third ranked it in the top five most spiritually significant experiences of their lives while 62% of them stated that the experience was among the top 10 most difficult ones in their lifetime.
8. The Unexpected
Magic mushrooms are magical for a reason…eating them tends to bring on the unexpected synchronicities and experiences that seem to have a profound, life-changing implication for you. More importantly, they tend to connect us with something precious that many of us forget, lose touch with, especially as we grow older and life’s responsibilities weigh us down. And that is the magical wonder of life.
Final Note On Magic Mushrooms
What needs to be crystal clear is that different people will have different experiences, even if they consume the same psychedelics in the same setting. These experiences are unique every time and in a way, every psychedelic experience is like the first time – because you never know what you are going to experience.
Everyone experiences what they need to experience, even if it may be unpleasant. With all precautions taken, at the end of the day, how you are as a person will greatly determine your magic mushrooms experience, not vice-versa. This means that magic mushrooms are merely tools (albeit very powerful ones) for self-exploration, but other than that it is you who is creating the experience in itself.
Make sure that you consume these powerful medicines with someone you trust, ideally someone who knows how to facilitate such an experience and be careful with the dosage. It is better to start off with a smaller dose than with a bigger one. The set and setting in which you consume magic mushrooms is of crucial importance and can make the difference between an empowering life-changing experience and a traumatic experience.