The Wondrous Mushroom
The sacramental consumption of
entheogenic mushrooms called
teonanácatl in the Náhuatl language of the Mexica or
Aztecs of Mesoamerica, meaning literally divine or wondrous mushroom,
formed the basis of an important religious cult in the Pre-Colombian
The existence of a sophisticated entheogenic mushroom cult is indicated at
least as far back as 500 B.C. by
excavated from highland Mayan sites in Guatemala.
Frescoes from central
Mexico, dated at 300 A.D., have drawings indicating mushroom worship.
Sacred mushrooms figure prominently in the Mixtec Codex Vindobonensis, the
Aztec Magliabechiano Codex, and the Tepantitla frescoes of Teotihuacan.
The Mesoamerican mushroom cult survives in contemporary times in Mexico in
the religious rites of the Mazatec, Chinantec, Chatino, Zaptoec, Mije, and
Mixtec of Oaxaca; the Nahoa of Mexico; and possibly the Otomi of Puebla and
the Tarascana of Michoacan.
The species involved in religious rites in Mexico include: Conocybe
siligineoides, Panaeolus sphinctrinus, Psilocybe acutissima, P. aztecorum,
P. caerulescens, P. caerulipes, P. cordispora,
P. cubensis, P. fagicola, P. hoogshagenii,
P. isauri, P. mexicana,
P. mixaeensis, P. semperviva, P. yungensis, P. zapotecorum.
© Joel Snow
Created February 7, 1996Revised October 1, 1997
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- January 31, 2008 / 1:45 am