Amanita Muscaria is a mushroom variety that can be found almost everywhere in the northern hemisphere. The fruit-bodies have a distinctive look - bright red or yellow caps, speckled with white spots (btw, those spots are washed off of the cap when it rains) - wherein the mycel itself forms a symbiosis with trees; Amanita Muscaria can be found near Birches, Pines or Firs, in North/South America, all of Europe, northern Asia and western Alaska. The vast majority of mycology sources denote Amanita Muscaria as poisonous and it is barely used as a psychedelic inebriant. The potency of the mushrooms is not predictable and - just like with magic mushrooms - varies greatly and induces an uncertain high (or not, is has been reported that some mushrooms had no effect at all). Numerous traditional cultures made/make use of this (highly underrated) mushroom with its psychoactive substances muscimol (also known as muscamol) and ibotenic acid - they appreciated the psychedelic effects whereas the latter nations demoted it to a fly repellent, hence the commonly known name Fly Agaric.
Amanita Muscaria appears to be able to adapt to plants of various families and is most frequently and easily introduced with imported trees. Generally it is associated with diverse conifers and birch, but it has also been found in symbiosis with eucalypti in Australia, to thrive in pure Linden forests in Norway and in mixed forest with other trees.
Amanita Muscaria has a bright to blood red cap, is 2-10" (5-30 cm) in diameter and the youngest mushroom is entirely covered with a white film. This film forms those typical white (sometimes yellowish) warts as the mushroom matures - (repetitive and/or hard-) rain can wash them off completely.
The color of the cap may fade drastically in direct sunlight or after a soaking rainstorm and while the fruit-body ages. Amanita Muscaria often occurs in concentric circles, but can appear randomly also.
Amanita Muscaria contains ibotenic acid (alpha-amino3-hydroxy-5-isoxazole acetic acid), muscamol (3hydroxy-5-aminomethy1 isoxazole) and possibly muscazone, with Muscamol appearing to be the primary active substance. A partial quantity of ibotenic acid decarboxylates into muscamol after ingestion, which causes the intoxication.
A "trip" on Amanita Muscaria is totally different from one on mescaline, LSD or psilocybin. Typical effects are (among others): distorted and/or altered hearing and taste, change of visual and sensory perception, total tranquility of mind and pure euphoria. Known side-effects are excessive salivation, ataxia and mild cases of increased transpiration.
Amanita Muscaria induces - just like magic mushrooms - an unpredictable high, sometimes mind boggling, and should only be ingested by experienced users.
The duration of an Amanita Muscaria experience can be anything from 4 to 10 hours.
Shamans traditionally used the sacred Amanitas for both spiritual and physical healing; in Kamchatka it is ingested in small quantities as a remedy for a sore throat. In the Western medicine the primarily reported effect is that it has a high potential as an analgesic.
Commercially, there are extracts made of Amanita Muscaria on the market - with a dose being ten times stronger than a regular dose of dried amanitas. The fine consistency of the extracts makes it much easier to measure out a specific dosage instead of experimentally trying to find out how many caps of the dried mushrooms you have to consume.
Usually the dried mushrooms are simply eaten, but they can be smoked as well. The effects set in faster when smoked, but are of a shorter duration and generally less intense.
Another method of preparation is heating water up to near simmer point, to about 190°F (88°C; do not let it boil) and add the mushrooms extract. Let this mixture simmer for about 30-60 minutes, stir well and then drink the whole brew.
The mushrooms are said to taste quite OK, but some can't stand the taste and ingest their dose in gel-caps.
The drying of the mushrooms is essential if you want to be sure your blend will show the desired effects - this process not only multiplies the potency by 5 or 6 by turning ibotenic acid into muscimol, but it also decreases bad side-effects.
For a first experience, 5 grams or less are an appropriate dose - from there one can gradually increase the dose until the desired effect is reached.
5-10 grams (or 1-3 medium caps) are considered a medium experience and a strong dose 10-30 grams (or 2-6 medium caps).
Varying greatly from person to person, the first effects can be felt about 30 minutes after ingestion.
Ibotenic acid is active at 50-100 mg; muscimol is effective at 10-15mg (both values refer to oral ingestion).
For a list of various recipes, download the free e-book Amanita Muscaria; Herb of Immortality (PDF).
Many people in Northern California reported that the mushrooms in their area are either much weaker than the specimen of northern Europe and Siberia.
The use of Amanita Muscaria is not recommended if you have zero prior experience with psychoactive mushrooms - the trip is absolutely unpredictable and home-made extracts can have a highly variable potency.
The use of Amanita Muscaria requires profound knowledge - while looking similar to the "good" ones, some are not psychoactive at all, some are edible and other species of the Amanita genus are deadly poisonous. Always make 100% sure you are consuming the right Amanita!
The effects of Amanita Muscaria vary greatly from person to person and depend on one's metabolism and how much and fast ibotenic acid is turned into muscimol.
Many people reported the effects of Amanita Muscaria (or Amanita Pantherina) were not enjoyable.
Often reported side-effects include slight loss of balance and coordination, nausea and sleepiness.
The symbiotic relationship of the mushroom and its host trees make it impossible to cultivate Amanita Muscaria in a laboratory, but if you have the right trees in your garden or area, you can take some caps (fresh or dried) in full sporination, cut them into small pieces and mix them into the soil nearby the trees. The main growth period of mycelia falls into the Spring and Summer months wherein the fruiting begins in Fall - depending on moisture of the soil.
Dried mushrooms can be stored for a long time, but their potency will decrease after a few months. Keep in a dry place.