A bite of Amanita – A fly agaric adventure

‘The fly agaric? Isn’t it deadly poisonous?’ Almost everyone knows the characteristic mushroom – red with white dots – but only a few realise Amanita muscaria is a psychedelic. A very special one, as she grows naturally in our forests, preferably under birch and pine trees. In autumn you have the most chance of finding her.

Ritual use

Amanita muscaria was ritually used in Siberia, Japan and the pre-Columbian Americas. In Europe the fly agaric appears frequently in fairy tales and on postcards. The mushroom is often associated with elves and goblins. It’s listed a few times as ingredient in Medieval recipes for witches ointment.

Poisonous?

Among western experts the mushroom was long time known as ‘very poisonous’. Wrongly: fatalities have never been reported. Fresh fly agarics do make you feel ill: nausea and vomiting is common. However, after preparation most of these side effects will disappear.

The trip is less predictable than that of the psilocybin mushrooms and can differ widely from person to person - and also per situation. The fly agaric may bring about a mesmerizing, dreamy experience. At the same time it may cause amnesia and general disorientation.

Fancy a bite?

Read about the day I took a bite from a fresh Amanita muscaria in our new encyclopedia article.