Mushrooms have been used as sacrament, celebration, ritual and divination in cultures across the globe for thousands of years. Today, there are hundreds of known species of mushrooms that produce hallucinogenic or visionary effects. If you’re interested in imbibing this ancient tool, read on for tips about how to have the best shroom trip possible.
Before the journey
Preparation (or lack thereof) can be a factor in what sort of trip you have. Practicing meditation, embodied movement such as yoga or dance, eating healthy and nourishing foods, journaling, being in nature, preparing with a therapist or coach and looking inward are great ways to cultivate more mind and body consciousness before a trip. Like a garden, we have to prepare the soil before we plant the seeds.
What species of magic mushrooms should I take?
There are many types of psychedelic mushrooms, most of which contain psilocybin, psilocin, baeocystin, and norbaeocystin. These compounds produce the hallucinogenic effect magic mushrooms are known for. Some of the more commonly taken species of magic mushrooms are the psilocybe cubensis, psilocybe semilanceata, and copelandia cyanescens. Of those species, there are different strains that have different potencies, so research the type of mushroom you have access to and find out how it compares to other strains in potency. Penis Envy mushrooms, for example, can have as much as 1.5x as much psilocybin as Golden Teachers.
All of these mushrooms are illegal in most countries, with a few exceptions. Some places have decriminalized all substances (Portugal, the state of Oregon), and some have deprioritized the policing of naturally occurring psychedelics (several cities in the US).
Truffles, or sclerotia, are legal to buy, sell, grow and possess in the Netherlands. They grow as underground offshoot clumps of psychedelic mushroom mycelium, and contain the same compounds as the standard psychedelic mushroom that fruits above ground.
How long does a shroom trip last?
In general, psilocybin mushrooms are more potent and longer-lasting than psilocybin truffles. Truffles are said to produce a more giggly, euphoric, light-hearted journey that lasts about 2-4 hours, whereas mushrooms may be more introspective, profound and sensory enhancing, lasting 4-6 hours. It’s important to remember that experiences greatly differ based on set, setting and dosage.
Dosage: how much shrooms should I take my first time?
There is no right answer for what dosage to start with. Some people advocate for starting low and slow with mushrooms. The benefit of this is to really get to know how the experience affects you at all different doses, and to ease into higher amounts over time. Others think that starting with a full dose, between 2-3.5g, is the better bet.
If you want to start small and work your way up, take note of how each experience at each new dose affects you. Maggie Sharpe, LCSW and Psychedelic Integration Therapist in Denver, CO shares that “the lighter doses tend to feel more anxious, almost turbulent, because the mind knows it isn’t sober, but not enough mushroom is in the system to really launch past your sober reality to a transcendent place of real change.”
If you do want to dive in headfirst, have a sitter with you. Even if you don’t interact with them at all; just having a sober person around in case of need is a smart idea.
Below is a table with information taken from Erowid, a non-profit educational and harm reduction site with over 60,000 pages of information about mind-altering substances, including the basic information, effects, health, legal status, chemistry, dosing, and trip reports. This table shows what a person can generally expect at different oral doses of psilocybin cubensis magic mushrooms.
Oral P. cubensis Dosages
|Light||.25 – 1 g|
|Common||1 g – 2.5 g|
|Strong||2.5 – 5 g|
Once you’ve decided what type of mushrooms you want to take, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Your mushroom trip
What do you want your experience to be like? Are you doing this at home alone or with trusted friends? Perhaps you are taking mushrooms in the care of a professional guide or therapist. What about at a concert or festival? Mushroom trips in recreational settings can still be formative experiences. Even a trip taken at the spur of the moment can be beneficial, although more unpredictable.
“The unpredictable nature of being around the energies of others in recreational settings, especially unknown people, can potentially create more anxiety. This can steer into a more difficult experience due to the sensitive and hyperstimulated state individuals can find themselves in on this medicine”, says Sharpe.
Here are some things to take into account as the trip starts:
- Fast. If you’re going to take shrooms, you might want to do it on an empty stomach. Magic mushrooms can bring on nausea, even vomiting, so it’s best to fast for 4-12 hours beforehand. The onset time may be quicker and the effectiveness of the mushrooms higher because there’s nothing else in your stomach to compete for digestion. Fasting can also reduce the likelihood of GI issues.If you’re preparing with dietary changes before the trip, consider eating vegetarian for at least the day before your journey. Indigenous cultures view this as a way to raise consciousness in preparation for the medicine session. Sharpe says that her clients have found that eating meats and root vegetables and minerals like sea salt can help some people to ground back into this reality after the journey is over.
- Drink water. Being hydrated is important. Chugging water is not as hydrating as drinking it gradually over the course of a few hours, so try to prepare ahead of time. Staying hydrated may fend off a headache after the experience. This kind of emotional work can be very draining and dehydrating to the body- sometimes more so than physical exertion.
- Consider the route of administration. What form are your mushrooms in? Dried, whole mushrooms can be eaten whole (chew well!), dipped in honey and eaten whole, broken up into little pieces and steeped in tea (ginger tea is great for staving off nausea), put into a smoothie, in nut butter, even sprinkled into food (not the most recommended option – see bullet point 1). Read about some great mushroom tea recipes and herbal combinations here. Dried mushrooms can also be ground up in a clean coffee grinder and then encapsulated for easier consumption and ingestion.
- Set your intention. Focusing on why you are taking magic mushrooms may help the energy and attention flow in the right direction. If you have a journal, you could write the intention inside, or write it on a piece of paper and hang it up somewhere where you’ll see it. Intentions can be like an anchor, creating a framework for the journey and providing something to return to for grounding when the seas get rough.
- Consider set. Set pertains not only to mindset but also personality, thoughts, mood, and expectations. How you enter a trip psychologically can impact the journey itself. Magic mushrooms can amplify the current mindset, so it’s important to consider how one is doing mentally at the onset of a journey. It may be helpful to let go of expectations, bring your intention to mind if you have one, and surrender to the process.
- Consider setting. Setting is where you are, who you are with, and what the environment is like. If tripping at home, clean up your environment and adjust the lighting so it is soft on the eyes. Consider burning a dried plant, especially one native to your location or your ancestry, to energetically cleanse the air. Both above ground and underground protocols often encourage sound-canceling headphones (with carefully curated playlists) and eyeshades to help facilitate a more internal experience.Taking mushrooms in a chaotic setting where you might end up worrying about interacting with other people, even law enforcement, can bring on anxiety in the psychedelic trip. If you are in a public place such as a festival or concert, scope out comfortable places that are away from the action, just in case. If you are with people, agree on a meet up place in case you get separated.Consider assembling a kit of items you might want during the trip, such as earplugs, first aid equipment, snacks, tissues, essential oils, a blanket or sheet to sit on. It’s important to have layers of clothing, as difficulty regulating body temperatures can be common on these medicines (not to mention, the temperature and weather can fluctuate outside, too).
Another thing to consider, whether tripping at home or out somewhere, is to have any medical supplies close, like inhalers, EpiPens, antihistamines, etc. in case of an allergic reaction or emergency.
- Make agreements. If you’re on your own, consider how you want to handle situations that might arise. Is there a person you really don’t want to text in the throes of your trip? Make a commitment not to do that. Consider downloading any music that you might want to listen to and putting your phone in airplane mode so that you don’t end up using it during the journey. Put measures in place to help keep you safe while you are in an altered state. This can vary from person to person, so look inward and think about what you might need, or seek the help of a coach or therapist to figure it out.With a group, discuss agreements before going in. Some questions to consider are, what are each person’s physical and sexual boundaries? What if someone wants to take more mushrooms or even another drug during the trip? What should you do in case of a medical emergency? What if someone is having a difficult experience; how can they ask for help, and how can the group support them? Talk about protocols for leaving the group as well; sometimes people want to be alone on a journey or need a change of scenery, so be sure to plan for that possibility. If you can, include a group member who has experience with mushrooms.
- Make plans for after the trip. If possible, arrange to have at least one day free of responsibilities immediately following your journey. This is an important time to allow for whatever is arising to have as much space as possible. Having to go back to work right away can cause anxiety, and even interrupt any psychological processes that are unfolding since your mushroom experience. “The brain is still neuroplastic (flexible) the next day after a trip,” adds Sharpe, “so it’s a good time to reinforce any new insights or perspective changes to help make them last.”