Mesoamerican Mushroom Venus Blog

Posted on November 5, 2009 at 12:22 PM

I'm developing a blog on my web site, please give me feedback on my research, Carl.

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Reply Sue
10:15 PM on October 15, 2010 
Nice website. You think outside the box. I've heard bits and pieces of this mushroom idea before, but never really understood the details until I saw how you put it all together. You take the goofiness out of it.
Reply Matthalamew
7:40 PM on November 9, 2010 
Dear Sir,

It is a noble per-suite that you are engaging in. I have a feeling that this will be a success story.
Please see if I can help you, as I am an editor of the Teonanacatl Journal produced out of Florida.
A link for it is below. Shot, I guess you could say we are peers.
Reply Maya
9:52 PM on November 28, 2010 
excellent, I've never seen so clear the sacred mushrooms in the Codex, is very clear that it was used in their spiritual practices.
Sahagun "waked our of the dream"......... for me, it means Lucid dreaming.

thank you,
Reply mars
3:45 PM on December 1, 2010 
Hi Carl, Interesting comments about the mushrooms in Mesoamerica, But, I have to say you are way off base on the Andean interpretation. I see big problems with the iconographic analysis. The textile you feature is Chimu or late intermediate Central Coast, not Chavin. Since time immemorial Andean jaguars are shown with spots (no mushroom connection there). The headdress is most certainly not a Mesoamerican ballcourt. The costenos did not have the ballgame. Instead, the Chimu were heirs to Moche visual traditions, where it is very common to see the step-fret motif as iconographic sign for stepped pyramid, the crescent has long association with warriors and rulers, most probably related to the moon, called Si, which was the most venerated deity of the peruvian north coast during the later periods. The small shape at the figure's feet might be a mushroom, but it might also be any number of other things. There is not much, if any, precedent for looking at mushroom iconography in coastal Andean art. Not sure mushrooms grow very well there, due to the extremely dry desert conditions. Thus, with all due respect, you might want to rethink the south american assertion.
Reply Matthalamew
4:03 PM on December 1, 2010 
Hi Mars,

Sounds like you don't think these Andean cultures used mushrooms. I've done a lot of research on Meso-american mushroom, morning glory and DMT snuffs, and brews. The Andean's were certainly involved with these practices. We have surviving snuff trays from that area for sure. See Peter T. Furst's book Hallucinogens and Culture for a good work up on it.
Plus the Jagar has classically been linked to the Mushrooms - The WareJagar of the Mayas for example is tied to the transformation processes of altered states. I am suspicious that you are a regular archeological anthropological type who has little or no understanding of these sacraments.
You found this site, saw that claims were made to a specific favorite area of research of your own (Andean/Mocha) and said "no way!" Not my area of expertise - drugs are bad..."
Anyway that how it commonly goes. No offense meant - just trying to understand your block on this...
Reply mars
5:09 PM on December 3, 2010 
Dear Matthalamew,

No block on native use of transformative substances. Everyone knows that the ancient Peruvians were very much involved with shamanistic practices and hallucinatory travel. But in the dry desert environment, the hallucinogen of choice has been San Pedro cactus for the last 4,000 years or so. The archaeological and ethnohistoric records demonstrate this fact. Hallucinogenic mushrooms do not grow on the coast, and mushrooms of any kind are relatively rare, even in the highlands.

There is plenty of evidence that hallucinogenic snuff was used. Its even possible that powdered mushrooms found their way over the mountains from the Amazon. But the likelihood is equally great that other bufo related hallucinogens might also have found their way in. Furst?s research is very outdated. There are newer studies of Andean snuff trays. For instance, a large sample of Tiwanaku snuff stashes shows the powder was a type of anadenanthera seed (which grows on a tree). The tumis of Paracas textiles are indeed knives, not mushrooms. They have been found archaeologically, along with the severed heads of the victims upon whom they were used. No mushroom remains have been found with the Paracas bundles. Neither do colonial sources mention the use of mushrooms.

Its not that I am some anthropology type who has no understanding of these things (thanks for the put-down). Its an open forum, is it not? Perhaps I should ask you about your own block on people who might have read more books than you, or perhaps have a different take on things than you. Bottom line is, there?s no real evidence for mushroom use in the Andean regions.

Furthermore, all bulbous stem shaped objects are not indicators of mushrooms. All things similar are not interchangeable -- think penis, snake head, popsicle, gear shift knob?

In the end, the argument in favor of widespread mushroom use in Mesoamerica is made weaker by grasping so far afield. Unless there is some evidence more than simple visual likeness, the author really should stick to Mesoamerica, where there is actually a pretty strong case.
Reply JJ
6:32 PM on March 9, 2011 
Carl, I really enjoyed the writing and collection of pictures that you've brought together. You asked for critique, so in a "constructive" spirit, I offer this:

Somewhere on your website, I forget where (archeological notes, perhaps?), you say that psilocybin is the active ingredient in LSD. Buzzer sound. The active ingredient in LSD is LSD. LSD is a tryptamine, in the same family of chemicals as psilocybin, but it's LSD, plain and simple, and far more potent, microgram per microgram, than psilocybin.

Also, I forget what page it was on, but you presented a picture of someone hunting a sacred deer. You said they hold a blowgun. It looks more like an atlatl, a spear-thrower, to me.

I'm no expert on Meso-american archeology, but I'm under the impression that when the bow came to the Americas, the atlatl sort of went by the wayside. Perhaps an artistic portrayal of atlatl use indicates that the myth being illustrated occurred during archaic times.
Reply Cliff
7:30 PM on July 9, 2011 
This is a very interesting site. I have no doubts that the ancient Native Americans found various uses for mushrooms including eating them in ritual much as coca, datura, tobacco, and other plant substances were used. Part of the reason for such usage seems to have stemmed from the idea that the spirits contained in the plant were released or set free. Even today we still speak of the spirits of ammonia and of alcohol as spirits.

Mars has a point that everything that looks like a depiction of a mushroom may not be one. Even mushroom have a variety of shapes and lets not forget toadstools. One needs to look at the context of the shape in order to get anywhere near to what the scribe was thinking when he drew the glyphs.

Just to further complicate the matter, I think that the compositions were based on a form of written sign language which evolved to further communication between cultures as well as secure the all important cosmological beliefs over the generations. It is doubtful that information was encoded as the intent of gesture signs was to enhance communication not the opposite. Because much of the cosmology was based on metaphor and the use of dual imagery, it is not always easy for the present day researcher to keep things in context. Just because a mushroom was depicted does not automatically mean that it was eaten in a ritual. It is very likely that the imagery was associated with a meaning and basically was used as a word or short phrase. For example, we know that the imagery of a Jaguar related to the nighttime Sun. A Mushroom may have held the meaning of something that suddenly appears or sprouts up over night, especially after a rain. In some cases dual imagery may have been depicted in order to create both a mushroom and a phallic image. In such a, cosmological, context the meaning might well be one of a male spirit spouting up out of the earth.

The rules of written sign language combined basic gesture signs, form, and imagery and was organized in a layered manner to avoid overwriting. This would not have been a problem with the original hand signs that were made in the air and relied on the viewer's memory to maintain continuity. It was this very organization that resulted in odd forms that are often interpreted as gods. The overall effect is that many such strange and obscure forms act like a Rorschach test upon a modern observer. This has resulted in much distortion to the original cosmological view held by the ancient Americans.
Reply Comadrona
8:38 PM on September 26, 2013 
Fascinating work! But I beg to differ from your interpretation of the woman pouring maize kernels into a cooking pot, which you say might be mushrooms into a jar. For a start, the Florentine Codex documented daily life, as transmitted by Nahua assistants to Bernardino de SahagĂșn. The use of mushrooms for sacred activities would most likely have been kept secret, as the Nahua people soon learned that if they told Bernardino about their idolatrous ways, his missionary zeal got even more oppressive. Secondly, maize (or Cintli) was the foundation of the Nahua diet and tremendously important both as nourishment and as a sacred food which represented life to them. Hence the woman blows gently on them as she puts them into the cooking pot, so that they will not fear the fire. You can tell it is a cooking situation because the pot stands on the typical three-stone cooking fire, which are still in use today throughout indigenous Mesoamerica, and it is a woman who is doing the cooking. My understanding is that most sacred rituals were undertaken by men rather women - even then there was a certain amount of sexism around! Lastly, the kernels do seem disproportionately large and certainly could be the size of small mushrooms but, in most of the illustrations which come from the Florentine Codex, we see that perspective, relative size and proportion are not their strong points. However, I certainly learned a lot from your paper - Thanks!
Reply jose
6:11 PM on April 14, 2014 
i have a pictures of of a stonepiece that was found in a cave actually there were 11 stone peices from some are 18 inches tall also one is about 3 and a half feet tall weighing from 40lbs up to 100lbs the biggest there is one that has the body of a frog and the head whats seems to be a pecari or jabali but he is standing besides a mushroom