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Psilocybin Mushrooms
by Erowid
1000 - 500 BCE Central American cultures build temples to mushroom gods and carve "mushroom stones" found in Mexico & Guatamala. 1  
c. 290 CE Chang Hua's "Record of the Investigation of Things" (Po-wu chih) describes what may be hallucinogenic mushrooms in Chin Dynasty China.   
13th Century In his treatise "De Vegetabilibus", Albertus Magnus cautions against eating mushrooms that "stop up in the head the mental passages of the creatures [that eat them] and bring on insanity". 2  
13th - 15th Century Vienna Codex depicts the ritual use of mushrooms by the Mixtec gods, showing Piltzintecuhtli and 7 other gods holding mushrooms in their hands. These were most likely psilocybin-containing mushrooms. (The Wondrous Mushroom)   
16th Century Xochipilli statue carved. Aztec statue depicts the Prince of Flowers decorated with 6 psychoactive plants: mushrooms, tobacco, morning glory, sinicuichi, cacahuaxochitl, and one unidentified.   
Jun 15, 1521 The use of hallucinogenic mushrooms and peyote are driven underground as use of "non-alcohol" intoxicants is forbidden by Europeans in Mexico. Catholic priests punish the use of entheogens by native people.   
16th Century Dutch physician Pieter van Foreest describes a case of a woman who was "flung into violent convulsions and the Riscus sardonicus [fixed grin, or uncontrollable laughter] by eating mushrooms". 2  
16th Century Codex Magliabecchiano written and illustrated, with at least one depiction of teonanácatl. 3  
1560 Spanish priest Bernardino de Sahagún writes in his Florentine Codex about the use of peyote and hallucinogenic teonanacatl mushrooms by the Aztecs. He estimates peyote has been in use since at least 300 B.C. 4  
1772 Physician W. Heberden writes to the Gentlemen's Magazine of a family eating mushrooms, which rendered them "all much disordered". The man "was unable to shut his eyes and was so giddy he could hardly stand; the woman felt the same symptoms in a more violent degree; and the child, who had but just tasted them, had convulsive agitations in its arms." 2  
Oct 3, 1799 First psychedelic mushroom experience/ingestion documented in a scholarly journal takes place in London. Dr. Everard Brande attends a family whose members, upon eating wild mushrooms, were seized with visions and laughter. The mushrooms were examined and determined to be Agaricus glutinosus, later reclassified as Psilocybe semilanceata (Liberty Caps). 5  
Mid 1800s Xochipilli statue discovered by Europeans in central Mexico.   
Aug 1904 American mycologist Franklin Sumner Earle (1856-1929) is the first to collect identified Psilocybe cubensis (originally designated Stropharia cubensis) in Cuba.   
Sep 1914 First hand experience report of intentional psilocybin-containing mushroom ingestion published in Science magazine, including detailed descriptions of visual effects, uncontrollable joking and laughter, and a rough timeline. 6   [More Info]
1936 Blas Pablo Reko confirms the existence of teonanacatl as the psilocybin mushroom, refuting the scholarly misunderstanding of that time that teonanacatl was peyote.   
1938 Schultes and Reko travel to Mexico and collect specimens of several psychoactive mushroom species which are deposited in the Harvard herbarium.   
1938 American anthropologist Jean Basset Johnson and his wife Irmgard Weitlaner become the first "modern" white people to witness a mushroom velada (healing ceremony) in Huautla, Mexico. 7  
1939 Richard Evans Schultes publishes a paper describing teonanacatl as a specific psilocybin-containing mushroom. (Probably the first academic release of this fact.)   
1953 Amateur mycologist R. Gordon Wasson visits Oaxaca Mexico and sits in on a mushroom velada. In 1954 returns to Huatla with Alan Richardson a photographer, to 'complete' his research of mind altering mushrooms. He returns again in 1955 with Richardson for the fateful velada with Maria Sabina.   
Jun 29, 1955 R. Gordon Wasson and photographer Allan Richardson participate in a mushroom velada led by Maria Sabina.   
May 13, 1957 Wasson publishes an article about psychoactive mushrooms in Life Magazine, the first popular media coverage of their existence.   
1958 Psilocybin is first isolated from psychoactive mushrooms by Albert Hofmann working at Sandoz Pharmaceutical in Switzerland. 8  
1959 Albert Hofmann first publishes the synthesis of psilocybin. 9  
1960 Sandoz Pharmaceutical begins producing psilocybin pills. They contain 2 mg of psilocybin per small pink pill.   
Aug 1960 Timothy Leary first ingests psilocybin-containing mushrooms in Cuernavaca, Mexico. 10   [Details]
Oct 1960 Timothy Leary first tries pure psilocybin. 10   [Details]
1960-1961 Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert begin a series of experiments with Harvard graduate students, using pure psilocybin. 8  
1960s Hofmann gives synthetic psilocybin to Maria Sabina.   
Apr 1962 Good Friday Experiment - 20 students at Boston University participate in a psilocybin ritual/experiment. 11   [Details]
1963 Leary and Alpert were dismissed from their academic positions at Harvard due, at least in part, to their continued experiments with students and psychedelics. 8  
May 28, 1963 Weil and Russin write a scathing critique of Leary and Alpert's work in the Harvard Crimson: Far from exercising the caution that characterizes the published statements of most scientists, Leary and Alpert, in their papers and speeches, have been given to making the kind of pronouncement about their work that one associates with quacks. 12   [Details]
Oct 24, 1968 Possession of Psilocybin & Psilocin are banned federally in the U.S. after the passage of the Staggers-Dodd Bill (Public Law 90-639) which amended the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.   
Oct 27, 1970 The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act is passed. Part II of this is the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) which defines a scheduling system for drugs. It places most of the known hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin, psilocin, mescaline, peyote, cannabis, & MDA) in Schedule I. It places coca, cocaine and injectable methamphetamine in Schedule II. Other amphetamines and stimulants, including non-injectable methamphetamine are placed in Schedule III.   
Oct 29-31, 1976 International Conference on Psychotropic Fungi    [Details]
1960-1977 Psilocybin is studied as a psychotherapeutic medicine through the 1960s and 1970s. FDA approved research with humans ends in 1977, not to be continued until the late 1990s.   
Oct 27-30, 1977 Second International Conference on Hallucinogenic Mushrooms 13   [Details]
Late 1990's Research with psilocybin begins to see a small resurgence.   
Jun 1999 An improved synthesis method for psilocybin is published. 14   [More Info]
2002 Possession and sale of psilocybin containing mushrooms becomes legal in the U.K. due to a statement from the Home Office that they are not illegal as long as they have not been prepared in any way.   
Jun 5, 2002 Japan. Psilocybin mushrooms become illegal to sell in Japan. Although already illegal to eat, Japanese head shops had previously been allowed to sell mushrooms.   
2003 Mushroom selling stalls and storefronts pop up around England, especially in London.   
Jul 2004 The British government announces that they have "re-interpreted" the law and are now declaring the sale of fresh psilocybin mushrooms a "preparation" and therefore illegal. Some shops close, but other remain open and some are shut down by police. Eventually charges are dropped and some shops remain open.   
Apr 7, 2005 The British government passes a new Drugs Bill expanding police powers and explicitly making fresh mushrooms illegal.   
Jul 18, 2005 New British ban on psilocybin mushrooms goes into effect.   
May 2006 Survey results published in Neurology show that both psilocybin-containing mushrooms and LSD may reduce severity and frequency of cluster headaches. 15   [Details] [More Info]
Jul 11, 2006 Research shows psilocybin can induce mystical experiences. 16   [Details] [More Info]
Apr 29, 2008 Albert Hofmann dies. 17   [Details] [More Info]
Dec 6, 2008 Entheogenesis Australis Symposium    [Details] [More Info]

  1.   Schultes RE, Hofmann A. Plants of the Gods. Inner Traditions, 1992.
  2.   Letcher A. Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom. HarperCollins. 2007.
  3.   Shultes RE. The Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants. 1976
  4.   Stafford P. Psychedelics Encyclopedia. Ronin. 1992.
  5.   Brande E. "On A Poisonous Species of Agaric". London Medical and Physical Journal. 1799;XI:41-44.
  6.   Verrill AE. “A Recent Case of Mushroom Intoxication”. Science. 1914 Sep 09;40(1029):408-10.
  7.   Wasson RG, Wasson VP. Mushrooms, Russia, and History. 1957.
  8.   Ray O, Ksir C. Drugs, Society, and Human Behavior. Mosby, 1996.
  9.   Hofmann A, Troxler F. "Identifizierung von Psilocin". Experientia. 1959;15:101-102.
  10.   Leary T. High Priest. Ronin Pub, 1995.
  11.   Pahnke W. Drugs and Mysticism: An Analysis of the Relationship between Psychedelic Drugs and the Mystical Consciousness. Thesis Harvard University, 1963.
  12.   Russin JM, Weil AT. "Corporation Fires Richard Alpert for Giving Undergraduates Drugs: First Dismissal Under Pusey", Harvard Crimson, May 28, 1963
  13.   Partial proceedings published as Teonanácatl: Hallucinogenic Mushrooms of North America, edited by J. Ott and J. Bigwood (1978).
  14.   Nichols DE, Frescas S. "Improvements to the Synthesis of Psilocybin and a Facile Method for Preparing the O-Acetyl Prodrug of Psilocin." Synthesis, 1999;6:935-938.
  15.   Sewell RA, Halpern JH, Pope HG Jr. "Response of cluster headache to psilocybin and LSD". Neurology. 2006;66(12):1920-2.
  16.   Griffiths RR, Richards WA, McCann U, Jesse R . "Psilocybin can occasion mystical-type experiences having substantial and sustained personal meaning and spiritual significance". Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2006;187(3):268-83.
  17.   Erowid. "In Memoriam: Albert Hofmann". Erowid Extracts, Jun 2008; 14:21.