COMMON NAMES: Wavy Caps, Kaalkopje (Dutch), Blaufarbender, Blue Halos, Oink, Zyanescens
Psilocybe cyanescens is most easily identified by its wavy cap – indeed, its most common English-language nickname is derived from this characteristic. Unlike other psilocybin/psilocin-containing mushrooms, this one does not feed on dung, but rather on decomposing forest matter. Wood chips are a very common growth medium for wavy caps. As the mushroom grows and dwarfs these chips, it often appears as though they are growing directly from the forest floor. Although P. cyanescens is native to all of North America and central Europe, it is most heavily concentrated in the parks of the Pacific Northwest. There, these mushrooms are often found in fairy circles in amounts of up to 100 pounds! Psilocybe cyanescens is closely related to Psilocybe azurescens and Psilocybe bohemica, both very potent entheogens, as well (Ratsch 1998, 668).
While P. cyanescens are rarer in central Europe, varieties found there have a considerably higher concentration of psilocybin and psilocin than their North American counterparts. It is believed that this species spread to Europe from the Pacific Northwest. Its presence is also suspected by some in Australia (Hofmann et al. 1992, 55).
TRADITIONAL USES: In central Europe, mushroom cults enact elaborate shamanistic rituals constructed around wavy cap mushrooms. The first documentation of one of these cults appeared in 1981; that particular cult was seven years old when it was reported on, but it is possible that others began much earlier. The rituals of these cults involve many traditional trappings and strict regulations, as their goal is consciousness expansion. Perhaps the most common thread amongst the cults is the use of the mushroom in designated areas, usually beautiful outdoor settings. Other trappings include sweat-bath rituals, pipe ceremonies, fumigations, offerings, prayers, music, and the use of an altar or talking stick (a feature borrowed from North American peyote meetings). Some of the rules include avoiding all drugs, sexual contact, meat, and negative thoughts for days before and after the ceremony. Strict fasting also often accompanies the ceremony, as does communal drumming (Liggenstorfer 1996 cited in Ratsch 1998, 668).
These cults are generally influenced by perennial philosophy-based paganism, and don’t view these rituals as drug experiences, but rather as a form of psychedelic shamanism. The Earth Goddess Gaia is a common reference point during the collection and consumption of Psilocybe cyanescens. Among some of these cults, Psilocybe cyanescens is used interchangeably with Psilocybe semilanceata (Liggenstorfer 1996 cited in Ratsch 1998, 6674-675).
TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: The preparation of the wavy cap is similar to that of other mushroom that contain psilocybin/psilocin – they are picked and dried, or consumed fresh. About 1 g dry weight is considered an appropriate dose (Ratsch 1998, 668).
MEDICINAL USES: No information regarding the medicinal use of this mushroom. However, numerous recent research studies have explored the possible benefits of psilocybin containing mushrooms like this one in treating disorders ranging from anxiety and OCD to severe cluster headaches. If you have any information on traditional or modern medicinal uses of Psilocybe cyanescens, please do contact us.
TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: Psilocybe cyanescens is one of the most potent species of psilocybe mushrooms, containing alkaloid content of up to 2% dry weight. Alkaloids include psilocybin, psilocin, and baeocystine (Gartz 1994 cited in Ratsch 1998, 669).
As its active components are psilocybin and psilocin, this mushroom provides a similar voyage to others with the same constituents. The effects of mushrooms containing these components can be described as “visionary”; the user may experience personal or external-world insight. Other effects include visual or auditory hallucinations, including deeper appreciation for and an increased enjoyment of music and visual art. Users of mushrooms containing psilocybin and psilocin also report a feeling of interconnectedness with the Earth and the plant consciousness.
Hofmann, A., Ratsch, C., Schultes, R., Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers. Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 1992.
Ratsch, Christian., The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and its Applications. Rochester: Park Street Press, 1998.
Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009.