Psilocybin mushrooms in particular have been used by human beings for centuries for ritualistic, shamanistic, and religious purposes, and just because our current government has decided to make these natural substances Class 1 controlled drugs doesn't change our perpetual desire to seek altered perspectives, larger truths, and good old fashioned intoxication.
Maybe this is why certain academics aren't afraid to don silly hats and wave their freak flags high. It would be impossible to act more clownish than hypocritical public officials who endeavor to contain humanity's ongoing search for higher consciousness.
Stamets, whose work in applied mycology is helping to solve world problems from oil spills to hunger; Gary Lincoff, an original founder of the festival and author of the Audubon Field Guide to Mushrooms of North America; Michael Beug, retired professor at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and den leader of sorts for his mentoring of leading mycologists and myconauts through the years; and Larry Evans of Know Your Mushrooms fame.
Nothing Festival for a breather, this old mining village turned ski resort has a history of attracting seekers, nonconformists, and iconoclasts. Did I mention the scenery? While the talks and slideshows at ShroomFest 31 had me circling my schedule with ballpoint ink until it ripped from the abuse, the pull of the San Juans was strong. On Saturday the mountains lured me away from the lecture hall for a foray up to Dunton Meadows.
It was hard, at least for me, to not see this limping, shroomified jalopy as a metaphor. The mushroom people are intrigued by a little-known kingdom that's barely on the radar of the average citizen. Just the same, this kingdom may be more crucial to human existence than we realize, and a dedicated band of adherents will continue to plumb its mysteries.