This week we’re diving into healing with psilocybin mushrooms in the first of a two part collaboration series by Jessica Grotfeldt, owner and founder of Luz Eterna Psilocybin Retreats. In Part 1, you’ll get to know a little more about the fascinating science, biological functionality, and energetic power of psilocybin mushrooms and how they work to help us heal.
What are Psilocybin Mushrooms?
While there are different species of psychoactive mushrooms, Psilocybe cubensis dominates the discussion that has exploded into our collective cultural consciousness. Although used for millennia in ceremonial settings, and enjoyed recreationally by psychonauts and thrill seekers of all stripes, psilocybin has now been “discovered” by modern medicine.
In its synthetic form, psilocin is proving to be an effective intervention for treatment resistant depression and PTSD, conditions that have long eluded modern Western medical doctors. The promise of these controversial, breakthrough therapies have prompted a flood of interest in the medical community. Clinical trials using synthetic psilocybin are popping up all over Europe and the US. As interest grows in the scientific community, so has popular demand.
Today there are multiple points of entry into the world of healing with mushrooms, ranging from work with psychedelic “bio-hacking” guides catering to the tech minds of Silicon Valley, to psychedelic integration therapists, to shamanic healing retreats. But what makes psilocybin mushrooms so unique and what should you know when considering healing with psilocybin mushroom medicine? Let’s dive in.
Mushroom Café Mural at COSM by Krystleyez
The Magic of the Mushroom
Psilocybin mushrooms are the above-ground, fruiting body produced from the larger mycelium, a complex underground web that looks very much like the neural network in the brain. Fungi occupy a special place in nature which has a direct bearing upon how they work in your mind/body/spirit complex during healing work. In nature, fungi function in three important ways to compost, filter, and to connect.
COMPOST: As composters of the natural world, fungi surround dead and decaying matter with their mycelial bodies and break it down and into something new and usable. You will find them growing in the forest on fallen trees, in grasslands from decaying plant matter or from the waste material from grazing herbivores ranging from cows to elephants. They clean up the natural environment to keep it healthy by dispatching the detritus that threaten its health.
When ingested, entheogenic mushrooms act in very much the same way. Sacred mushrooms have an innate intelligence that guide them to wherever they are most needed. If you are holding on to emotional baggage or toxicity, sacred mushrooms seek it out, and compel you to observe the presence of what is no longer necessary in your life. When we hold on to what no longer serves us, we are unable to proceed along our path to personal fulfillment and happiness. When this happens we may feel stuck in the past, or experience prolonged depression. The composting nature of fungi uses the fertile soil of toxic memories, negative emotions, and trauma and transforms them into renewed energy to reclaim wellness.
FILTER: Fungi are part of nature’s filtration system. Pockets of fungal filaments called hyphae, provide the aeration essential to rich, fertile soil. By attaching themselves to the roots of plants, they capture excess carbon before it can be released into the atmosphere a contributing factor in climate change. Certain varieties of fungi can even be used to clean up water affected by pollutants, or petrochemical spills.
Psychedelic mushrooms function similarly when taken as a healing medicine. When people experience trauma, many find that they begin to see their lives through the lens, or filter, of trauma long after the conclusion of the event or events. Sacred mushrooms help us to clean the filter our inner systems so that we may return to the purity of the essential un-wounded self.
CONNECT: Just under our feet exists a vast tapestry of fine, interwoven fungal strands that act as the information superhighway of nature. This mycelial network creates healthy symbiotic relationships between themselves, plants and animals (including the human ones!)
In healthy forests, mycelium connects trees to one another allowing them to share resources, transferring essential nutrients and water to those that need it most. New saplings rely on nutrient sharing from older, more established trees in order to survive.
Interestingly, one of the number one reasons that people cite for deciding to heal with psilocybin, is that they feel disconnected, lonely and under-resourced in their lives. This disconnection has enormous consequences on the health of our mind, our bodies, and our communities. Psilocybin mushrooms help us to reconnect the mind to the body, the past to the present, they remind us how important it is to heal connections to friends and family. They show you, without a shadow of a doubt, that you are deeply connected as an essential part of nature itself. Whether the journey takes place in a clinical setting, in ceremony, in a wellness retreat, or with friends around the campfire, people working with psilocybin mushrooms report feeling part of something greater than themselves.
New Energy for a New Era
Each plant medicine has its own unique character and healing strengths. Ayahuasca is known as the wise, and strong grandmother teacher, San Pedro cactus is known as the grandfather who opens your heart, while the Mazatec people of Southern Mexico refer to mushrooms as los ninos santos or the sainted children. There are many theories for this moniker, but the adaptogenic nature of fungi embodies a creative, spontaneous energy.
Mushroom medicine helps to illuminate new perspectives and pathways forward in life. Mushrooms have a distinct intelligence of their own that guides your experience towards what it perceives to be the most pressing priority, targeting what needs to be healed in the moment. While it is important to have an intention in mind before healing with mushrooms, don’t be surprised if your journey takes a turn of its own. The power of mushrooms is to heal and reveal. Always remember to let go and trust the healing intelligence of the medicine.
SUSTAINABLE: Another benefit to healing with psilocybin mushrooms is its sustainability. The recent psychedelic “gold rush” is threatening the extinction of medicines such as ayahuasca and peyote, which not only grow in tiny micro climates in very specific regions but also resist cultivation.
In comparison, the 50 documented species of psychoactive mushrooms proliferate in a variety of climates, grow on every continent of earth besides Antarctica and are easily cultivated by both scientists and enthusiasts alike. Plant medicines are calling us to be better stewards of nature. When deciding which medicine best serves you on your healing journey, take into consideration what impact your choice has on the health of the environment.
GENTLE & SAFE ADAPTOGEN: Although working with plant medicines is not something to be taken lightly, psilocybin is arguably the most safe of all the plant medicine teachers. Unlike many naturally occurring plant medicines they are incredibly gentle and non-toxic in the body and actually encourage the new growth of neurons in the brain.
As adaptogens, they also help the body repair from the damaging effects of stress and work to restore physiological function. Furthermore, psilocybin has therapeutic benefits in many different dosages ranging from the sub-perceptual “micro” dose to improve quality of life, to Terrance McKenna’s so-called “heroic” dose, an experience of heal deep seeded issues and trauma.
**Contraindications: Certain drugs such as SSRI’s and MAOI inhibitors can have an impact on your psilocybin journey as does a history of psychotic and dissociative behavior. Please consult a physician or other expert if you are in doubt.
About Jessica Grotfeldt
Founder of Luz Eterna Psilocybin Retreats for women and co-founder of Sol Medicine Retreats (Yucatan, Mexico 2019.) Jessica brings many years of experience and dedication to her work as both a retreat organizer and a sacred plant medicine guide. Her own healing journey with sacred plant medicines and deep love for Mexico inspired her to create specially curated, spirit based medicine retreats for women in the land where the sacramental use of sacred mushrooms has been in continuous use for millenia.
Jessica’s journey with the healing magic of plant medicine began following her father’s diagnosis with cancer. After witnessing the profound effect that traditional medicines such as Mexican curanderismo and acupuncture had in helping him manage the pain and anxiety of end of life care, she obtained a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. However, her personal experience with entheogens began after a traumatic event ended in her diagnosis with PTSD.
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