Amanita Muscaria mushrooms are noted for their psychoactive properties, due to their containing the hallucinogenic chemicals ibotenic acid and muscimol. Also known as toadstools, these mushrooms have long been associated with magic in literature. The caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland is portrayed as sitting on one as he smokes his suspicious pipe, and in animated cartoons, Smurfs are seen to live in Amanita mushrooms. Of course, circles of mushrooms growing in the forest are frequently referred to as fairy rings.
It has been reported that as early as 2000 B.C. people in India and Iran were using for religious purposes a plant called Soma or Haoma. A Hindu religious hymn, the Rig Veda also refers to the plant, Soma, although it is not specifically identified. It is believed this plant was the Amanita Muscaria mushroom, a theory popularized in the book "Soma: Divine Mushroom of Immortality" by R. Gordon Wasson. Other authors have argued that the manna from heaven mentioned in the Bible is actually a reference to Ukmagicmushrooms. Images of mushrooms have been identified in cave drawings dated to 3500 B.C.
In the church of Plaincourault Abbey in Indre, France is a fresco painted in 1291 A.D. of Adam and Eve standing on either side of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. A serpent is entwined around the tree, which looks unmistakably like a cluster of Amanita Muscaria mushrooms. Could it be true that the apple from the Garden of Eden may actually have been an hallucinogenic mushroom?
Siberian shamans are said to have ingested Amanita Muscaria for the purpose of reaching a state of ecstasy so they could perform both physical and spiritual healing. Viking warriors reportedly used the mushroom during the heat of battle so they could go into a rage and perform otherwise impossible deeds.
In the Kamchatka peninsula of Russia the medicinal use of Amanita Muscaria topically to treat arthritis has also been reported anecdotally. L. Lewin, author of "Phantastica: Narcotic and Stimulating Drugs: Their Use and Abuse" (Kegan Paul, 1931) wrote that the fly-agaric was in great demand by the Siberian tribes of northeast Asia, and tribes who lived in areas where the mushroom grew would trade them with tribes who lived where it could not be found. In one occasion one reindeer was traded for one mushroom.
It has been theorized that the toxicity of Amanitas Muscaria varies according to location and season, as well as how the mushrooms are dried.
Finally, it should be noted that the author of this article does not in any way recommend, encourage nor endorse the consumption of Amanita Muscaria mushrooms. It is believed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists Amanita Muscaria as a poison. Some companies that sell these mushrooms refer to them as "poisonous non-consumables."