CA Mushrooms
CA Mushrooms

Book Review

Sacred Mushroom Rituals:
The Search for the Blood of Quetzalcoatl

By Tom Lane
2018, Solarwolf Publications
Paper: 308 pages
ISBN-10: 0999015370
ISBN-13: 978-0999015377
Price: $58

I’ve long been fascinated with the topic of ethnomycology. That is, the use of mushrooms—be it for food, fiber, or spiritual—by cultures around the world. The spiritual and ritualistic use of mushrooms by ancient cultures, in particular by Mesoamericans, has been the subject of countless books and sparked many personal journeys by those seeking to discover firsthand. Amateur mycologist R. Gordon Wasson was the first to bring Psilocybe mushrooms to the West’s attention. He learned firsthand from the curandera Maria Sabina. In the 1970s, Tom Lane set out on a quest to find the “active” mushrooms of Mesoamerica and met Maria Sabina. What he learned about the mushrooms, and himself, were life-altering and led to Sacred Mushroom Rituals: The Search for the Blood of Quetzalcoatl.

No doubt, many will compare this book to the writings of Carlos Castaneda and of Gordon Wasson, or The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby and others. And Sacred Mushroom Rituals is a very personal journey but it’s so much more. Lane’s approach began with science (he has a forestry degree and a masters of science education) and research (he was granted access to the trove of Wasson’s writings in the Harvard University collections). He put his life on hold to journey to central Mexico and to learn from wise elders, educated in the sacred use of these mushrooms. Lane spent nine months in 1973 living in the jungles of Palenque and the Sierra Madres del Pacifico of Oaxaca training with one curandero and two curanderas, learning the ancient sacred rituals of healing, divination, and spiritual traveling through sacred mushroom ceremonies. These ancient rituals, which were forbidden to outsiders,å are revealed, some for the first time, in this extraordinary journey into the world of the Mayans, Zapotec, and Mazatec.

Sacred Mushroom Rituals reads like a personal diary. And it kind of is. It was written from Tom’s diary while through-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine in 2016. Sacred Mushroom Rituals was originally written for his three sons and adopted Vietnamese daughter, accounting his journey to Quetzalcoatl, and how he met their mother, Shelley, during a velada at the home of Maria Sabina during his second excursion to Huautla de Jimenez.

This book is dense, but well written, and supplemented with many excellent images, as well as personal letters written to Lane by Gordon Wasson.

— Review by Britt Bunyard
— Originally published in Fungi