|"El Hongo Mistico! (The Mystical Mushroom)"
THE MYSTICAL MUSHROOM
By FREDERICK SWAIN
Primitive religious rituals have always fascinated me, and I have sought them out in my travels whenever possible. A few years ago I heard of the discovery of a new hallucinogenic mushroom in Mexico by the mycologist, R. Gordon Wasson. The religious rituals woven around the mushroom captured my imagination. I decided to investigate at the first opportunity. It was not till last fall that the opportunity suddenly came. I found myself in Mexico hunting for this mushroom, unfortunately with little knowledge of its nature, other than the meagre information that it produces strange visions when eaten. I knew also that this species of mushroom grows in the mountains of southern Mexico, and that there is a Curandera
(or Shaman) in the village of Huautla de Jimenez who performs religious mushroom rituals. I went to Mexico City with the hope of obtaining more detailed information before continuing on to the mountains. But those who might have knowledge of the mushroom at the University of Mexico were on vacation. A professor who had experimented with it at the Institute of Anthropology was in Europe. I could not find anyone who had even heard of the mushroom. So I was forced to start out alone by bus to the village, which I located on a map, in the Sierra Mazatec range in the state of Oaxaca.( Onward, explorers...Collapse )