[We don’t have much information about any general use of psilocybin in Western Europe in past centuries. It wasn’t until the 1960s that there were reports of students collecting and using psilocybin-containing mushrooms as a way to get high. They were inspired by the previous decade’s publication of reports mentioned below.

Although psilocybin grows widely, the sixties phenomenon indicates that there was no remnant knowledge of use of psilocybin in European culture.]

“Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as psychedelic mushrooms, are mushrooms that contain the psychedelic compounds psilocybin and psilocin. Common colloquial terms include magic mushrooms and shrooms. It is used mainly as an entheogen and recreational drug whose effects can include euphoria, altered thinking processes, closed and open-eye visuals, synesthesia, an altered sense of time and spiritual experiences. Biological genera containing psilocybin mushrooms include Copelandia, Galerina, Gymnopilus, Inocybe, Mycena, Panaeolus, Pholiotina, Pluteus, and Psilocybe. Over 100 species are classified in the genus Psilocybe.
Psilocybin mushrooms have likely been used since prehistoric times and may have been depicted in rock art and pre-Columbian historical materials in Mesoamerica. Many cultures have used these mushrooms in their religious rites and ceremonies.”

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybin_mushroom>


“Psilocybin is present in varying concentrations in about 200 species of Basidiomycota mushrooms. In a 2000 review on the worldwide distribution of psilocybin mushrooms, Gastón Guzmán and colleagues considered these to be distributed amongst the following genera: Psilocybe (116 species), Gymnopilus (14), Panaeolus (13), Copelandia (12), Hypholoma (6), Pluteus (6) Inocybe (6), Conocybe (4), Panaeolina (4), Gerronema (2), Agrocybe (1), Galerina (1) and Mycena (1). Guzmán increased his estimate of the number of psilocybin-containing Psilocybe to 144 species in a 2005 review.

Many of these are found in Mexico (53 species), with the remainder distributed in the US and Canada (22), Europe (16), Asia (15), Africa (4), and Australia and associated islands (19). In general, psilocybin-containing species are dark-spored, gilled mushrooms that grow in meadows and woods of the subtropics and tropics, usually in soils rich in humus and plant debris. Psilocybin mushrooms occur on all continents, but the majority of species are found in subtropical humid forests. Psilocybe species commonly found in the tropics include P. cubensis and P. subcubensis. P. semilanceata—considered by Guzmán to be the world’s most widely distributed psilocybin mushroom—is found in Europe, North America, Asia, South America, Australia and New Zealand, but is entirely absent from Mexico.”

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybin_mushroom>

“The first reliably documented report of Psilocybe semilanceata intoxication involved a British family in 1799 (see our transcript of Doctor Brande’s report at /the-first-mention-of-hallucinogenic-mushrooms-in-european-medical-literature/), who prepared a meal with mushrooms they had picked in London’s Green Park. According to the chemist Augustus Everard Brande, the father and his four children experienced typical symptoms associated with ingestion, including pupil dilation, spontaneous laughter and delirium.”

Pasted from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybe_semilanceata>

“In 1955, Valentina and R. Gordon Wasson became the first known Caucasians to actively participate in an indigenous mushroom ceremony. The Wassons did much to publicize their discovery, even publishing an article on their experiences in Life in 1957. In 1956 Roger Heim identified the psychoactive mushroom that the Wassons had brought back from Mexico as Psilocybe, and in 1958, Albert Hofmann first identified psilocybin and psilocin as the active compounds in these mushrooms.

Inspired by the Wassons’ Life article, Timothy Leary traveled to Mexico to experience psilocybin mushrooms firsthand. Upon returning to Harvard in 1960, he and Richard Alpert started the Harvard Psilocybin Project, promoting psychological and religious study of psilocybin and other psychedelic drugs. After Leary and Alpert were dismissed by Harvard in 1963, they turned their attention toward promoting the psychedelic experience to the nascent hippie counterculture.

The popularization of entheogens by Wasson, Leary, authors Terence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson, and others has led to an explosion in the use of psilocybin mushrooms throughout the world. By the early 1970s, many psilocybin mushroom species were described from temperate North America, Europe, and Asia and were widely collected. Books describing methods of cultivating Psilocybe cubensis in large quantities were also published. The availability of psilocybin mushrooms from wild and cultivated sources has made it among the most widely used of the psychedelic drugs.”