Further evidence of mushrooms repairing the brain, creating new cells

Further evidence of mushrooms repairing the brain, creating new cells

Here’s a link I forgot to share from a month or two back, further to an earlier post about research from Imperial College London.

Jury Nullification – a tactic being used in the US to right some wrongs in the judicial system.

Jury Nullification – a tactic being used in the US to right some wrongs in the judicial system.

I’m not sure how applicable this is to the UK right now, but I though it was interesting and relevant.

As readers might have noticed, this blog has stagnated a little over the last couple of months. Well, it is a new year, and I hope to keep it more up to date. This will probably mean more content but not all of it being psychedelically tinged.

The joy of the hunt (no beagles required)

Image

With winter drawing ever closer, and the weather for the next couple of weeks looking mostly wet and miserable, I took the chance yesterday to make a foray into the Peak District on the hunt for the fabled Liberty Cap mushroom (probably the final one for 2013).

For legal reasons, I didn’t pick any of them up, but I must admit to eating a few along the way; chomping them directly out of the field is the only way to ingest them without becoming a criminal in the eyes of the state, since this avoids the act of possession (it is not a crime to possess the substance inside your body). What a free society we live in!

The sky was bright and unusually clear. It was cold but I wrapped up warm. Armed with some fruit, a bottle of water, and a solid intention, I cycled off into the hills. My intention initially was to find a certain number of the little blighters in order to make the day a success in my eyes. Somewhere along the way all of this changed. I think it might have been sometime after eating the 20th mushroom.

I have been ‘shrooming’ many times now, having discovered the hobby a few years ago. Many jaunts have been made that ended up walking around damp soggy fields in the drizzle, and it remains one of the few activities that can genuinely convince me to do such a thing. Whatever your view on the value (or lack thereof) of these psychedelic curiosities, it would be hard to deny that getting out in nature is good for the soul, and to me this is one of the biggest reasons why I have enjoyed it so much.

Yesterday was different, as it was the first time I have tried eating any of the prey during the hunt (though after you’ve eaten a few you start to question who is really the prey in this analogy) . I was recommended to try this approach by a friend from Wales, who said they spent a terrific day in the Preseli mountains after throwing caution to the wind and letting the day take them wherever it may. He added that such a method would make the hunting easier, as they appear to start ‘popping up all over’.

This sounded like a fine idea, since the weather was beautiful, and I was free from any other commitments. The result has been that it’s changed my relationship to the mushroom, to the hunt, and to life in general. Although, as stated previously, my aim was to encounter (and not pick..) enough of the fungus to view the day as well spent – albeit enjoying the beautiful scenery as an added advantage – very soon I completely stopped caring about how many I’d found.

It may be something to do with how many of the aforementioned walks around soggy fields in the beginning did not produce many finds, but there  develops a certain fiendishness around the act of finding a lot of specimens. See one and there are bound to be others nearby. See a bunch and you may be close to other bunches. When I see a whole bank with them strewn across it, I swear a little bit of wee comes out.

And until now, that seemed like a perfectly healthy attitude to have. Walking through nature under the influence of psilocybin really changes your perspective (I highly recommend it), but if you had goals when you set out, it also makes you quickly re-evaluate those goals.

It also made me think – something I had been doing a lot of for the last couple of days – mostly in response to hearing this stimulating lecture by Alan Watts. I started to think about all of the fears I have let into my life recently, and how much they are a result of my habit of prioritizing product over process. Due in large part to the fact that the majority of my life up to this point has been spent in academic institutions, which focus on results, I have become blinkered and I do the same.

I have become conditioned to look at the end product as the reason for doing things, rather than the actual journey itself as being the reward. And this is preventing me from moving forward in the things that I feel are important, for fear of failure. Yet it is important to embrace failure as one of the steps on the way to ‘success’ in most activities; it is very hard to achieve everything first time, so failure is a necessary stop on the way to reaching the place you want to end up (as described brilliantly by ‘Dilbert’ creator, Scott Adams, in this article).

So, when I got home I decided to meditate. But instead of meditating with a goal (to make myself calmer, less stressed and more in the moment for the rest of the day) like I would usually, I just did it for it’s own sake (like Watts describes in his lecture, mediation should be like art in that respect). And something clicked.

I hope to carry this intention with me into the future. I’m sure I’ll forget, but I’ll leave you with this short video – with speech from Alan Watts and animation by the South Park creators – that was shown to me by a friend and employer, and encapsulates this feeling: Music and life