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Stoned Ape Theory: Magic Mushrooms Accelerate Human Evolution

The Stoned Ape Theory and the Dawn of Human Awareness: Did Our Ancient Ancestors Evolve by Getting High?

The origins of behavioral modernity and exactly what makes us human are subjects which have fascinated people for centuries. What is the stoned ape theroy? There is a plethora of theories as to which antiquated human ancestor initially displayed characteristics that set them aside from other apes, and the factors that this habits may have developed.

One concern that people have attempted to find a description for is how people evolved from our Homo erectus forefathers, doubling our brain size within a period of about 200,000 years– which in evolutionary terms is the blink of an eye.

Terence McKenna— a renowned mystic and psychonaut— broke the traditional mold when he presented his theory of how human beings advanced so quickly in such a brief space of time. The theory, which is referred to as the ‘stoned ape’ theory takes a look at the concern from outside the box. However is it really as ridiculous as some people believe, or is it possible McKenna was on to something?

 

stoned ape theory
Stoned Ape Theory explains that human evolution pivoted once apes began experimenting with psilocybin magic mushrooms.

What is the Stoned Ape Theory?

The Stoned Ape Theory provided by McKenna proposes that the evolutionary leap in between Homo erectus and Homo sapiens was a result of a surprising addition to the human diet Psilocybe cubensis (magic mushrooms).

It sounds outlandish initially– how could eating mushrooms potentially make such a big difference that Homo erectus doubled its brain size? Terrence McKenna based the theory on research study conducted in the 1960s by Roland Fischer, a researcher who carried out a lot of research on the effects of psychedelic drugs, including DMT.

He believed that Homo erectus were forced to turn to new food sources, consisting of magic mushrooms, as the environment in Africa changed. The results of the mushrooms implied that the thought procedures of Homo erectus quickly rearranged.

Stoned Apes

The Stoned Ape theory argues that the effects of magic mushrooms played a critical role in the advancement of the types. Increased clarity of vision would make searching much easier. Increased libido would imply they were more prolific.

Terrence McKenna likewise notes the impacts of magic mushrooms on modern humans– promoting the language portion of the brain and causing religious experiences would have opened the course towards behavioral modernity and if Homo erectus had comparable experiences he calls them an “evolutionary catalyst”.

Sceptics of the Stoned Ape Theory

With a theory as extravagant as the Stoned Ape theory, it is unsurprising that there has been a great deal of skepticism. One of the problems raised versus the theory is a purely useful one– magic mushrooms don’t grow in Africa. Individuals who think highly in the theory might argue that we don’t have evidence they did not grow in Africa thousands of years back, but it appears like when the recognized environment, flora, and animals are considered our ancestors probably did not encounter magic mushrooms at that time.

Secondly, Terrence McKenna either exaggerated or misinterpreted Fischer’s research. An essential part of the Stoned Ape theory centers on the impacts the mushrooms have on clarity of vision, however the research study only pointed to enhanced vision within really specific parameters– and it would not have actually been in a manner in which assisted improve the chances of an effective hunt. There is also no scientific proof that magic mushrooms have a result on sexual desire.

There are a number of errors in Terrence McKenna’s research into human development– a few of the dates he gives for migration are incorrect by more than 100,000 years. This makes it not likely that his picture of human forefathers being forced to source brand-new foods in altering climates is precise.

The results of magic mushrooms are short-term. Any major advancements in behavior or believed procedure would not have lasted longer than any other results of the mushrooms.

The theory certainly captures the creativity and its advocates believe staunchly in the Stoned Ape hypothesis, but the data and additional research study in this case indicates the theory being invalid. However whether they agree with the hypothesis or not, something that the majority of the discussions about the hypothesis does settle on is that Terrence McKenna appears to have had much fun performing the research.

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How Ancient People Used Magic Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been used as food and medicine and for thousands of years, as a form of recreational substance. Known as magic mushrooms or shrooms, these fungi were, and still are, popular for their psychedelic effects. The practice of ingesting magic mushrooms actually date back to prehistoric times as evidenced by cave paintings found in different parts of the globe.

From ancient peoples of Spain to the Aztecs of South America, magic mushrooms have been used for rituals and religious ceremonies. The effects of shrooms were known to summon the gods and spirits. Here are a few ways ancient people have used magic mushrooms:

Evidence in prehistoric caves in Spain

Experts have uncovered evidence that prehistoric people have used magic mushrooms in religious rituals. Rock art found in a cave-dwelling near Villar del Humo in Spain showed that prehistoric people who dwelled in the area used Psilocybe hispanica over 6,000 years ago. The artwork revealed that the mushroom species was a vital part of their many rituals. It was also part of their daily life and devotion to their gods. These cave artwork were also evidence that magic mushrooms have psychedelic effects that were used to communicate with divinities.

Proof in the Tassilli Caves in Algeria

The Tassilli Caves in Algeria also has proof that prehistoric people believed in the power of magic mushrooms. These were used in summoning divinity which is why these a quality were used in various religious ceremonies. The caves revealed artwork that dates back 7,000 to 9,000 featuring the use of Psilocybe mairei in various religious festivities and events.

Magic mushroom use in Guatemala

Prehistoric cultures of Mesoamerica also used mushroom species of the Psilocybe genus in religious ceremonies like healing, communions, and divination.  There were also mushroom stones and designs located in prehistoric dwellings in Guatemala. Even until today, the people who lived in the area use magic mushrooms not just for rituals and ceremonies but is also for recreational use.

Statues in Colima, Mexico tombs

Aside from cave art that pertains to the use of magic mushrooms, statuettes of a mushroom that looks like the Psilocybe mexicana were seen in Colima, Mexico. A statuette was dated and was revealed to be from the 200 CE. These mini artifacts were used not just for decoration but also for religious rituals. The statuettes were found in the west Mexican shaft and tomb in Colima.  

Aztecs’ “divine mushrooms”

The Aztecs were not just builders and artists but they were also very religious. A species of mushroom called Psilocybe or teonanacati to the Aztecs were venerated as “divine mushrooms”. The agglutinative form of teoti is a god or sacred while nanacatl is mushroom. These magic mushrooms were used during the coronation of the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II way back in 1502. The mushrooms served during this special occasion were called genius mushrooms, wondrous mushrooms, and divinatory mushrooms because these were used in various forms of religious rituals. A Franciscan friar and ethnographer named Bernardino de Sahagun traveled to Central America after Herman Cortes and he reported the use of magic mushrooms by the Aztecs. The reports of de Sahagun has made it clear that the Aztecs knew about the mind-altering effects of magic mushrooms but took these as spiritual rather than mind-enhancing effects.   

Banning magic mushrooms during the Spanish conquest

After the conquest of Spain, the practice of using magic mushrooms by the Aztecs was suppressed. Spanish missionaries banned most of the cultural traditions of the Aztecs and the people were branded as idolaters. The missionaries also banned other hallucinogenic plants aside from mushrooms. They believed that these were used by the Aztecs to communicate with demons and evil spirits. The Spanish priests converted the Aztecs and wanted a move from teonanacatl to the Catholic sacrament. Most of the people found in large villages were converted but there were remote villages that still used teonanacatl. Magic mushrooms remained in these small areas and were widely used in many religious and social gatherings.

First accounts of magic mushroom use in Europe

Despite being banned by Catholic missionaries, the use of magic mushrooms spread slowly to many parts of Europe. The first reports of the use of magic mushrooms were in London and were cited in the London Medical and Physical Journal in 1799. A man accidentally served Psilocybe semilanceata, a species of mushrooms known for its hallucinogenic effects, to his family. According to reports, the man picked the mushroom in London’s Green Park but was unaware that these had psychedelic effects. The doctor who examined the family said that the youngest child of the man suffered from uncontrollable laughter. The man tried to make his child stop from his uncontrollable fit but was unsuccessful.

Present day use of magic mushrooms

Today, the use of magic mushrooms is still reported to be prevalent among some groups from central Mexico to Oaxaca. This includes groups like the Mixtecs, Mixe, Mazaltecs, Nashua, Zapotecs, and others. One such popular native shaman and the first contemporary Mexican curandera was Maria Sabina. She was a Mazatec who resided in the Sierra Mazaleca of Southern Mexico. Her practice of healing was based on the use of magic mushroom species like Psilocybe Mexicana.

Most of the magic mushroom species are found in Mexico (around 53 species). There are also species found in Canada and the United States, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Psilocybin mushrooms are found in all continents. These are dark-sported, gilled and grow in meadows and woods in places where there are tropical and subtropical climates. Most are found in subtropical humid species. The most widely distributed is the Psilocybin mushroom which can be found in all continents.  

And despite being present in almost all places on earth, Psilocybin mushrooms are still regulated in many countries. There are even places where there are severe penalties for carrying and use of magic mushrooms. But still, there are countries that consider it legal to buy mushroom spore kits and grow kits. In Canada for instance, magic mushrooms are considered schedule III which means you need a prescription or license to obtain, possess or produce psilocin.

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