Herbalist Robert Rogers' new book explores benefits of psilocybin mushrooms

“I really believe that within two years there will be an ability in Canada for psychiatrists and psychologists to use natural mushrooms in clinical practice"

Fish Griwkowsky 5 minute read January 20, 2022

Local herbalist and nature author Robert Rogers thinks it’s only a matter of time before psilocybin mushrooms are again legal in Canada — as they were before 1975. He’s convinced they will help people open their minds to confront a long list of psychological issues, from COVID-19 anxiety to alcohol addiction to end-of-life demoralization.

“I really believe that within two years there will be an ability in Canada for psychiatrists and psychologists to use natural mushrooms in clinical practice,” says Fungal Pharmacy author Rogers. “And within five, it’ll be widespread legal.”

The 71-year-old writer’s new book, Psilocybin Mushrooms: The Magic, Science and Research, which you can buy on amazon.ca, is a delightful, encyclopedic flyover of everything shroomy — complete with easy-to-fathom chemical explanations and dizzying fractal art by Tool graphics man Alex Grey.

The 250-page book also includes historical depictions of mushrooms dating into prehistory, psychedelic mushroom taxonomy with scientific and common names — Blue Meanie being one of the most recognizable — and biographies of key fungal figures like Gordon Wasson.

Wesson first wrote about mind-altering mushrooms in Life magazine in 1957 after spending time with Oaxaca guide Maria Sabina, who later regretted her decision to share as it drew an influx of intrusive tourists to the once-quiet Mexican coast. But Rogers puts her up front in his biography section as someone who helped get us where we are today.

Shroomy Smurfs

Even the communal-living Smurfs are hilariously — yet appropriately — examined.

“Like some of the gods and goddesses in India, they’re blue,” notes Rogers, citing the colour many psilocybin mushrooms turn when handled. “And they live in mushroom houses, for God’s sake,” he laughs. “There’s quite a few connections like that that are intriguing.”

Rogers, and many others, even believe the feeling people experience of connecting to nature when using mushrooms might help us on an anthropological level. Call it a “shroom with a view” effect.

“Perhaps the greatest potential for the magic mushroom is helping all of us experience the interconnectedness of everything, that we are all in this together,” he writes. “Climate change, perceived threats from other cultures and the recent pandemic suggest a need for collective awareness of our fragile human state.”

Robert Rogers latest book, Psilocybin Mushrooms: The Magic, Science and Research. Fish Griwkowsky / Postmedia

At its driest, Psilocybin Mushrooms — his 58th book — meticulously details numerous double-blind, placebo clinical trials so people, Rogers says, can go look at the data themselves.

“That was more to satisfy the scientists out there,” says the author. “My goal in general was to speak to the already converted.

“But mostly to pass on the ‘Word’ to those not familiar with the idea of magic mushrooms except for the fear-mongering, and discuss how for many thousands of years different groups of people have been using them across the planet for their entheogenic journeys.”

Entheogenic is another word for psychoactive, hallucinogenic substances, referring to the “god within.”

On this note, brothers Terence and Dennis McKenna’s Stoned Ape Hypothesis is discussed in the book’s pages, which posits that our early ancestors, consuming psychedelics, came up with trippy, outside-the-box visions that may have advanced the species.

Rogers quotes numerous mushroom influencers, including the complicated Timothy Leary, describing their kaleidoscopic, often nature-connecting psychedelic trips.

Creating laws preventing people from using natural substances has always struck me as a bit bizarre

Robert Rogers

Rogers describes his own first trip in Vancouver in 1972 after he and friend failed to score Rolling Stones tickets.

“We went to Gastown, had a couple of beers,” he recalls. “This guy had this slimy bag of mushrooms. I didn’t even know what they were.”

After ingesting them, he ended up on the beach, carving a driftwood stick with male and female aspects one each end.

“Years later, at the downtown library, I was looking at a book of Tahitian art and honest to God there was the same stick!

“That kind of blew my mind — where did that come from?”

The mind-altering, disruptive effect of taking psilocybin mushrooms — with positive tendencies backed up by the lab studies — can help people see their own issues from new perspectives, and has been linked to hopeful results combatting everything from PTSD, internalized shame and even pathological narcissism.

Rogers compares the process to a stubbornly glitching computer rebooting.

“I think it’s a catalyst of change,” he explains. “It’s not going to change them in the sense of a magic bullet, but gives the opportunity for people to reexamine what’s been going on, and have some revelations of awareness.

“And I think that’s extremely beneficial.”

Psilocybe cubensis, one of the common magic mushrooms discussed in Robert Rogers’ book. supplied

The author — longtime friends with the late local survivalist and Bush Craft author, Mors Kochanski — says his herbalist side favours mushrooms in their natural states, rather than reduced to “synthetic psilocybin.”

“In the natural mushroom you have an entourage of different kinds of chemicals, and they appear to all work in sync, so that’s my preference.

“The movement towards a synthetic molecule, which some companies have done, is strictly to do with proprietary IP and protecting their investment so nobody else can use this molecule.”

Rogers notes local advocacy for legal psilocybin mushrooms includes work being done at the University of Alberta by Peter Silverstone, who’s done hundreds of clinical trials with ketamine to help set a framework to train clinicians running supervised psychedelic therapy sessions.

In 2020, the federal health minister began granting exemptions to people with terminal illness and treatment-resistant depression.

B.C. non-profit TheraPsil, meanwhile, sent a 165-page document to Health Canada in the fall outlining possibilities and challenging the government to outright end nearly 50 years of prohibition.

“There’s an exemption 40-some people have been given in Canada to take the mushrooms, grind them up and then — under supervision of their therapists — take them,” says Rogers. “And there’s a big push for that to be expanded a great deal.”

He notes Oregon, like Colorado with cannabis a decade back, has begun taking steps toward legalization as well.

“Creating laws preventing people from using natural substances has always struck me as a bit bizarre,” says Rogers, who lines up the destructive, and socially expensive, effects of tobacco and alcohol in comparison.

“Like, things that are growing in your backyard — you can look at them, but you can’t ingest them?” he laughs. “What is that?”

You can find Rogers’ bio and other books (and various essences) at selfhealdistributing.com.




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