The fly agaric !

Amanita Muscaria the Fly Agaric or my favourite the “Fairy Tale Toadstool”.

I often get a bit of stick from my foraging friends as I use this mushroom to its full potential and where others shy away because of folk lore and myths I embrace this fantastic mushroom .20140626-101457-36897204.jpg

Let’s start by looking at a few facts; Firstly, the name ‘Fly Agaric’; this is not because if you trip on it you can fly, ( you might feel you can ) but more because Fly Agaric , years ago was used as an insecticide in some parts of Europe such as England and Germany. It used to be sprinkled in milk to kill flies, so earning the name Fly Agaric. The use as an insecticide was first recorded by Albertus Magnus in his work De vegetabilibus around 1256. This fly killer is now known as Ibotenic Acid.
The second thing is yes there are Amanita’s that can and will kill you with the ease but thankfully the Fly Agaric is not one of them. It is dangerous, but if respected and prepared / processed properly can be a highly valuable member of the larder.

Deaths from the Fly Agaric are very rare, most poisonings from mushrooms in the uk are edible mushrooms that are eaten raw and so cause upset.
The other question I get asked a lot is ” did shamans really drink reindeer pee? ” the answer is- yes, and the evidence is there to back this up and if you think about it ,it makes real sense.
Anyone who knows about the effects of eating the mushroom or using it for it’s other recreational use knows that it can cause gastric upset and it seems that ingesting it second hand removes that problem, so in Shamanic communities the Shaman would offer their urine as gifts to the community.
Infact, there have been theories raised that Santa Claus was founded by this ritual. It is said that the shaman would climb into the dwellings and leave Muscaria as offerings for future celebrations .
There is one other less discussed myth that is believed in parts of the world that the Fly Agaric was the forbidden fruit that God forbade Adam and Eve to take in the garden of Eden rather than a shiny red apple, a shiny red mushroom.

I rate the taste of the Agaric quite high. You need to boil the cut pieces before you can eat them without suffering from any side effects. Muscimol is the chemical in fly agaric which causes hallucinations and this is removed by the process of boiling. Now if you are like me, you will be imagining a pan of sloppy mushrooms, but that’s not the case. Boiling seems to make the mushrooms firmer rather than softer, it binds the proteins making the texture quite meaty .
To remove the effects you need to boil the pieces for around twenty minutes and then cook them as you see fit. It’s important to boil the mushroom and don’t think that simply cooking it will process it. When the Agaric is cooked or dried the Ibotenic acid is turned into muscimol and infact is stronger than raw as a hallucinogenic .
The three chemicals that affect the body in fly agaric are: Muscimol, Ibotenic Acid, and Muscarine. The main chemical out of those that make you trip is the muscimol, the chemical which causes gastric upset is the Ibotenic acid .

So I suppose we should cover the other use of the Fly Agaric.
These mushrooms were effectively used by the Vikings when they were getting ready to invade a land. The Vikings used them to lessen their fear emotions, gaining their reputation for their fierceness. The people of many cultures of northern Europe lived in constant fear of invasion.
Vikings would enter a village fearlessly, wreak havoc among the people and carry off the women. Before entering battle, the Vikings would go through a religious ritual in which they would dance around the woods and consume Amanita muscaria.

So there are two common ways to use the Muscaria for recreation, the first is dried and smoked and the second is tea.
The tea is made from the water used to boil the mushroom before eating. Simply use this to make tea.
The tea is usually consumed a bit at a time as it can take a few hours to have any effect. Each mushroom can have a different strength and there is no way to measure the potency prior to consuming so caution is advised.
On July 18 2005 in the UK a law came into force meaning mushrooms or any fungus containing Psilocin or an ester of Psilocin are under the Misuse of Drugs Act and are now categorised as class A. Within this, Amanita Muscaria is not yet included and is still not illegal to possess.
At this point I want to make clear that I am not advocating the use of this drug, i’m just sharing the above for information purposes only.
Just because it isn’t illegal it doesn’t mean it’s safe!

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