Monday, August 20, 2007
Wow, the Colors, Man, the Colors ...
Throughout all of human history, people have sought -- and found -- all manner of ways to alter their consciousness. Pick a place and time, and, bet the farm -- somebody there was getting stoned.
These ways range from beer and wine and distilled spirits to all manner of plants that provide a width swath of mind-altering chems, to exercise, fasting, breathing, you name it. The default mindset isn't enough for some folks, and they want to enhance it.
Among these brainchangers is a class of chems come to be known as psychedelics.
LSD, discovered by accident by a German chemist looking for something else entirely, is among the more recent mind-benders. Long before there was Sandoz, there were morning glory seeds, cacti, and assorted fungi.
In some cases where the original mushroom was more dangerous and there was a risk of serious medical injury or death, users would sometimes pick somebody to give it go, and then drink their urine, which would get them off without offering the same dangers.
You really have to want to trip to go that route ...
Among the fungi, the effects vary, but the magic mushroom, chiefly those of the psilocybe variety, has been sending folks on trips that are close-to-home-but-waaay-far-ranging for centuries.
One of the functions of government, it seems, is to make sure nobody has any unregulated fun, so the psychedelics as a class of drugs generally get made illegal as soon as somebody can get around to it, especially in societies with puritan ethics, such as our own. Unless you belong to certain indigenous tribes in the USA, pretty much all of the ones the government knows about are forbidden, even though some of them were legal until the government finally figured it out.
You could get pharmaceutical-grade LSD legally in the states until the early sixties, and designer drugs like MDA or MMDA popped up after that and were legal until somebody made them otherwise. Somebody is always looking for the next streetcar named Far Out ...
There is a certain obvious hypocrisy in our society about chemcially adjusting one's mind-set:
If you want to eat a magic mushroom and sit in your room grooving upon the complex patterns on your ceiling, and pretty colors, and you get caught with the fungus in hand, that will land you in jail.
If you want to have a few glasses of Southern Comfort while smoking a fat cigar, why, that's perfectly okay. Booze and tobacco make the government money, so no problem, even though both of those will kill you. (Of course, the wrong kind of mushrooms will destroy your liver, too, but not the ones that give you the nice innerspace voyage.)
It is the nature of these things that the law has to come at them crookedly. If you have a herd of dairy cows out in the back forty and some of these 'shrooms pop up on the old cow pies -- which is often where they grow -- then the law won't bother you. They can't.
The law recognizes that these things sprout wild where they will, and you cannot control the wind. Half the population would be in jail, elsewise, and that would include police, judges, preachers, and presidents.
You can squat down next to that turd-loving 'shroom and eyeball the fungus from six inches away with a platoon of State Po-lice circled around, and no problem. That's not against the law -- as long as you don't touch it.
Pluck it, however, you get busted on the spot.
More, the spores of this little mushroom, which even now you are probably inhaling with every breath, are perfectly legal. There is no psilocybin in these spores, and therefore they are not any more illegal than ragweed pollen. And there are places where you can buy these, either in the form of spore-prints or mixed with liquid inside a syringe.
Of course, these places do not in any way, shape, or form encourage you to take these spores, which are made available for study purposes only, and attempt to grow mushrooms with them. They warn you loudly and repeatedly against such things. Don't do it! they say.
Even though, if you are interested in how that process works in great detail, you can find it or a link to it from their websites, along with all the supplies necessary to grow any kind of, you know, legal mushroom you want.
Got to admire man's ingenuity. Somebody passes a law, somebody else will find a loophole in it before the ink is dry.
My hippie days are long past, and even though the parts I can remember I recall fondly, I have no desire to go back down that road. But it's interesting to know that the road is still there, even if I'm not ...