Mushrooms are magical. For a long time, they were classified as plants but genetically they are more closely related to animals than plants. They look very small but the largest living organism on the planet is a mushroom. They live largely underground. The parts we see above ground are just the fruiting bodies. Mushrooms play a large role in the decomposition of organic matter and have fundamental roles in nutrient cycling and exchange in the environment. It’s also said that they play a role in communication between plants, functioning as a kind of plant-internet.
The most radical idea around mushrooms is that they also played a role in the evolution of humans, that they had a role in the origin of human consciousness. How did we, Homo Sapiens, become conscious? How did we make the jump from unconscious apes to conscious humans? How did we gain the capacity to think about ourselves? Nobody knows for sure. An interesting theory is the one that states that the consumption of mushrooms that give access to alternative states of consciousness caused the shift. There are mushrooms that contain a substance called psilocybin that causes animals to see the world differently. The so-called Stoned Ape Theory states that the ability to think about ourselves, our ability to use language, our connectedness to other people come from early humans eating mushrooms containing psilocybin.
The consumption of these mushrooms is known to create a mystical experience in already conscious humans, creating a feeling of connectedness to all living things. So maybe, mushrooms still have a role to play in human evolution into more spiritually conscious humans so we can deal with the emerging climate crisis which is at its core a spiritual crisis that is about our role, our position as humans on this planet.
Anyway, I find mushrooms magical. I photographed a lot of them this week on my nature walks. I wanted to share a couple of them with you.
Camera: FujiFilm X70
Location: Hulshorster Zand, Hulshorst, The Netherlands