Thursday, September 7, 2017

I'm on a serious mushroom kick

How do you work with something that doesn't have a lot of traditional metaphysical information behind it? I've looked, but, beyond a few words on fairy rings (don't go in 'em) and psilocybes (don't eat 'em), there hasn't been enough to satisfy the insatiable mushroom kick I've been on lately. I want to read about them, work with them, eat them, and save them in tiny jars. I want all of the mushroom things!

I think it started when I spotted these guys (and what's probably the most cursed dog park sign ever. Seriously, woe be to the dog who tries to lift a leg on something in the middle of this mess).

[caption id="attachment_3797" align="aligncenter" width="570"] It's a big 'un, too.[/caption]

Ever since then, I've been spotting the raddest mushrooms. My Instagram's been chock-full of all of the awesome plant and fungi photos my S.O. and I have been snapping, I love it. Finding and photographing them gave me the itch to start identifying them, and I've been caught up in a mycological fascination ever since.

Like, check these little fuzzy boys out (I think they're a type of Entoloma):

And here's a pale chicken-of-the-woods, which is supposedly as delicious as it is weird-looking:

And here's some honey fungus, which nobody seems to be able to agree on the edibility of. Half of my sources say
"Cut the caps off and cook them in butter!" while the other half say "Not unless you basically want to poop yourself to death":

The edibility of mushrooms is something I don't often have to worry about -- I've never liked them much, save for raw white button mushrooms sliced in salads. The more I learn about them, though, the more curious I am to eat them (especially the varieties that supposedly taste like crab legs). I've even been having an inexplicable desire for portobello burgers.

Though witchcraft and modern paganism is known for being pretty heavy on the use of herbs, I haven't been able to find much on the use or magickal associations of mushrooms. Sure, some psilocybes are used in a ritual context to trigger shamanic states and induce visions, but what about the humble guys? Plenty of them have medicinal value, too -- even cordyceps, which is probably best known as the fungus that turns bugs into something by David Lynch.

[caption id="attachment_3788" align="aligncenter" width="512"] Photo by Erich G. Vallery. CC BY 3.0[/caption]

Thus far, I haven't really found much. Fairies dance in fairy rings, and entering one can lead to great misfortune. Fly agaric is thought to be one of the ingredients in flying ointment, due to its psychotropic properties. On one hand, this is frustrating -- it can be tricky to develop a working relationship with an herb, animal, or other entity with nothing to really go on. On the other, it's exciting -- there's plenty to discover.

I'd also like to get into preserving mycological specimens as curiosities. I come across some really interesting ones, and I'd love to keep a sample of their fruiting bodies. Supposedly impregnating them with silicone is the best way to keep their shapes and colors intact, but that involves a lot of specialized chemicals and equipment I don't have access to. I'm afraid alcohol might cause them to lose some of their coloration or texture (some of the most interesting things about them, in my opinion), so that's out. Would vegetable glycerin work? I'm thinking I might pick up a couple of white button mushrooms and glycerin from the grocery store, sterilize a jar, and find out.

In the meantime, I'll be here with my fungi identification guides and a black truffle pizza.

P.S.: Looking to identify some fungi? This widget is pretty neat (just don't use it to determine whether or not you should eat them).


  1. Do some experimenting! Maybe you will be the one to write the book on mushroom magick.

  2. That would be awesome! There's a really overwhelming amount of information on mycology in terms of identifying mushrooms and preserving/preparing them properly -- I have my work cut out for me just getting started on learning about them. Maybe someday, though!

  3. I wish I could share all of the mushroom pics I've accumulated in the last couple of years. My kids love finding new (new to us) mushroom species in the woods, have me photograph the, and like you, we go home to identify them. The most curious fungi of them all is a mushroom we saw up at my parent's cabin. It was a couple of inches tall, the color of a typical button mushroom, but it's cap had a head full of hair that appeared to be blowing in the wind. I bet the hair was 2" long. It was weird and beautiful all at the same time.

  4. I have sooo many mushroom photos too! They are just so cool looking. :D

    I read somewhere that in the UK, there are 8 times MORE types of fungi than plants. It is crazy to think there are sooo many kinds of mushrooms. I'd have trouble listing more than ten!

  5. 8 times? Wow! I wonder if they only count mushrooms, or all types of fungi... I can't name very many either, but I'm trying to learn to become better at identifying common edible species around here.

  6. That sounds awesome! My S.O. snaps pictures of mushrooms that he passes by for me, we have some really beautiful ones around here. I'd love to be able to get a hold of some lion's mane, supposedly it tastes like crab meat.