The Wondrous Mushroom

The sacramental consumption of entheogenic mushrooms called teonanácatl in the Náhuatl language of the Mexica or Aztecs of Mesoamerica, meaning literally divine or wondrous mushroom, formed the basis of an important religious cult in the Pre-Colombian New World.

The existence of a sophisticated entheogenic mushroom cult is indicated at least as far back as 500 B.C. by "mushroom stones" excavated from highland Mayan sites in Guatemala. Frescoes from central Mexico, dated at 300 A.D., have drawings indicating mushroom worship. Sacred mushrooms figure prominently in the Mixtec Codex Vindobonensis, the Aztec Magliabechiano Codex, and the Tepantitla frescoes of Teotihuacan.

From the Aztec Codex

The Mesoamerican mushroom cult survives in contemporary times in Mexico in the religious rites of the Mazatec, Chinantec, Chatino, Zaptoec, Mije, and Mixtec of Oaxaca; the Nahoa of Mexico; and possibly the Otomi of Puebla and the Tarascana of Michoacan.

The species involved in religious rites in Mexico include: Conocybe siligineoides, Panaeolus sphinctrinus, Psilocybe acutissima, P. aztecorum, P. caerulescens, P. caerulipes, P. cordispora, P. cubensis, P. fagicola, P. hoogshagenii, P. isauri, P. mexicana, P. mixaeensis, P. semperviva, P. yungensis, P. zapotecorum.

Mixtec Glyph

© Joel Snow
Created February 7, 1996
Revised October 1, 1997