Amanita, or the Fly Agaric mushroom is perhaps man's most ancient and widely used entheogen. Being rooted in a global Paleolithic shamanism, vestigial traces are pervasive in the northern hemispheres of both continental masses, and into Central America. Amanita shamanism persisted among various Finno-Ugrian peoples in Siberia into modern times.
Among the confusions involving the amanita mushroom, the active ingredient was thought due to muscarine, but a generation ago Japanese scientists discovered that the psychoactive ingredients were actually ibotenic acid and the alkaloid muscimole. The drying process, which is necessary for the preparation of amanita, transforms the ibotenic acid into the more active component muscimole.
by drying slices of the mushroom and consuming them either alone or in a beverage. If eaten it had to be moistened in the mouth first. Light intoxication accompanies animation and some spontaneous movements and hallucinations while great intoxicatiomn was known to be dangerous. Because the active ingredients of amanita passed through the user intact (unusual for psychedelics), those in Siberia shamanic societies who could not obtain or afford the mushroom often sat waiting to drink the urine of those who consumed the mushroom. This being widely reported by Russians when they happened upon the scene.
In the New World, amanita shamanism continued among the Athabascan, Ojibway and Ahnishinaubey native peoples of Canada and the Superior Lakes region of Canada and the Superior Lakes region to this day. However, this awareness like so many facts about entheogens was "discovered" with some surprise by Westerners only in the last generation.
Amanita has now been identified as the ancient Aryan god Soma, the only plant to be deified by humans. The 3500-year-old holy Rig-Veda hymns note Soma's preparation from dried plants, steeped in water, with the juice pounded out. This liquid was the filtered and consumedin a milky concoction. The Rig-Veda also referenced the drinking of urine. Yet for two thousand years, the identity of soma was lost, only to be rediscovered in 1968 by the founding father of ethnomycology Gordon Wasson.