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Psychedelic Naturalism and Interspecies Alliance: Views from the Emerging Do-It-Yourself Mycology Movement

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Abstract

Do-it-yourself (DIY) mycology is a movement that has emerged in the last decade in North America. DIY mycologists specialize in easy and accessible methods of mushroom cultivation and mycological experimentation and mobilize a discourse of alliance with the fungal kingdom. They draw primarily on home cultivation methods innovated by Psilocybe cultivators in the 1970s and on creative applications popularized by commercial mycologist and psychedelic enthusiast Paul Stamets in the 2000s. As a counterpoint to the newfound visibility and legitimacy of lab-synthesized psilocybin in clinical psychiatry, DIY mycology exemplifies an alternate history of this multispecies engagement. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Pacific Northwest, this chapter begins with the tacit premise of the psychedelic/entheogenic movement that the use of psychedelics fosters ecological concern. Many DIY mycologists express biocentric ethics and eco-spiritual principles, but interviews revealed a diverse and nuanced relationship to psychedelics. I argue that DIY mycology is best understood as an interspecies (or cross-kingdom) engagement that is part of an emergent ecological ethics and deep ecology worldview, one that subsumes psychedelic experiences as one manifestation of that engagement. DIY mycology exemplifies how the spread of mycological know-how, fascination, and enthusiasm has fostered an engagement with fungi that extends far beyond psychedelics. To understand this engagement, I contextualize it within wider social and cultural shifts, particularly those that reformulated our practical, ethical, and conceptual relationship with the natural world. This movement attests to the existence of multiple means to enact these ethics and to foster meaningful relationality with nonhuman life in contemporary North American society and culture.

Steinhardt, J. (2018). Psychedelic Naturalism and Interspecies Alliance: Views from the Emerging Do-It-Yourself Mycology Movement. Plant Medicines, Healing and Psychedelic Science: Cultural Perspectives, 167-184. 10.1007/978-3-319-76720-8_10
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