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The History Of Liberty Cap Mushrooms

It’s fall, the most ideal season to pick mushrooms. In particular, magic ones are getting attention. Research is proving that psilocybin the primary psychoactive component in magical mushrooms, is a potential remedy for helping treat psychological disorders such as depression, addiction , and PTSD. In the US state of Oregon recently voted to allow the use of the mushrooms in therapeutic applications as an US first.

Of the more than 200 species that are psychedelic mushroom that have been discovered around the globe, only one species of them – Psilocybe semilanceata – is found in any quantity throughout northern Europe. As with other mushroom species, Psilocybe semilanceata tends to be recognized not through its scientific name however, but rather by its more common or folk name, which is the “liberty cap” mushroom.

For a long time, this annoys me for a long time. As an Roman historical scholar, I recognize that the liberty cap (the pileus to use Latin) as an hat that was given to the Roman slave to mark the occasion of their release. It was a conical , felt cap that was shaped in the shape of a smurf that has a definite likeness with Psilocybe semilanceata’s distinctive pointed cap.

How did an insignificant Roman social custom ended up giving its name to an era-old psychoactive substance? It was my experience that the answer is an assassination, several of revolutions, some poetic, smidge of xenophobia, and finally a extremely unusual discovery in science.

The liberty cap was actually a cap, worn by slaves who were free during the Roman world to signify their status as not property anymore but not actually “free” but soiled by their past. For the freedman it was a symbol of shame and pride.

However, in 44 BC the hat was made the status of a new currency in the culture after Julius Caesar was famously murdered on the Ides of March (March 15). To commemorate his participation in the murder, Marcus Junius Brutus (of “et tu, Brute” fame) created coins, the reverse of which carried the legend EIDMAR underneath daggers in a pair, as well as the distinctive Liberty cap. The meaning of Brutus’s coin was obvious: Rome herself had been liberated from Caesar’s oppression.

The use of the symbol by Brutus changed it from a lower status social marker to an emblem of elite status and one that had an extended life span than the shorter-lived Brutus himself. Through the rest period of the Roman period, the goddess Libertas and the liberty cap were common shorthand used by Emperors eager to highlight the liberty that their absolute rule granted.
Caps of revolution

After the fall of Roman power in Europe during the 5th century AD The liberty cap was largely forgotten. Then, in the sixteenth century when the interest in and explicit imitation of Roman antiquity began to grow throughout the nations of Europe The liberty cap was again a part of the popular awareness.

Books such as Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia (1593) discussed the significance of the hat for educated people as it began to be utilized as a symbol of power. When the Dutch exiled the Spanish out of Holland around 1577 in the year 1577. Coins with that liberty cap was created as well as William of Orange likewise minted liberty cap coins to mark his bloodless capture of the English throne in 1688.

However, it was during two of the major republican revolutions in the 18th century – the French and the American revolutions which made it an iconic symbol. It was now incorporated into the appearance of the Phrygian cap liberty cap (bonnet rougue in French) became popular not just as a symbol of power, but also as a real piece of headwear, or even a decoration.

In France On June 20, 1790, a mob of gunmen took over the royal residences in the Tuileries and forced Louis XVI (later to be executed by revolutionaries) to wear the cap of liberty. In America the revolutionary movements have declared their revolt in opposition to British rule by putting the liberty cap over an iron pole that was placed in the squares of their cities. In 1781, a gold medal made by none other then Benjamin Franklin to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Libertas Americana (the personification of American Liberty) is depicted with wild, flowing hair, a cap and pole of liberty draped over her shoulder.

From headwear to from headwear to

The revolutions in France as well as America were watched with a lot of worry from Britain. The pole and the cap of liberty certainly affected young poets by his name: James Woodhouse, whose 1803 poem, “Autumn and the Redbreast an Ode” is an impressive tribute to the varying beautifulness of mushrooms.

Whose tapering stemsare robust or light
Like columns, like columns are able to catch the view,
To assert a remark about where I go;
Each dome is supported by a shaped;
As fair umbrellas and furl’d or spread
Have their heads painted in a variety of colours;
Gray, purple, yellow white, brown
Shap’d in the shape of War’s shield or the crown of Prelate—
As Freedom’s cap or Friar’s cowl
Or China’s sparkling bowl that is inverted

It is believed to be the first time that we have ever seen a connection between the liberty cap’s physical form and the unique pixie cap of the mushroom. It was not used as it was a known name (note the imaginative imagery he uses with his other forms he mentions) It was rather invented by Woodhouse to express his poetic flair.

The metaphor caught the eye of a well-known writer, Robert Southey, who had analyzed the volume where the poem was published at the time of 1804. The year 1812 was when Southey as well as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, published Omniana which was a two volume collection of table conversations and other musings that were designed to instruct and inform those who aspired to become conversationalists. In the midst of attacks on Catholic practices and notes on the early English meter was the following note on”The Cap of Liberty. “Cap of Liberty”:

It is a common fungus that so precisely represents the liberty pole and cap and liberty that it appears to be offered by nature itself as the suitable symbol of Gallic republicanism. the mushroom patriots, adorned with a cap made of a mushroom, liberty.

It is not clear if Woodhouse nor Southey or Coleridge could identify the specific mushrooms they thought of by using the idea of the cap of liberty. However, the field of mycology – studying of fungi – began establish itself into the nineteenth century driven by the same kind of scholars who would keep a copy of Omniana on their bookshelf The name was clear and widely linked to Psilocybe semilanceata.

At the time the species was utterly tiny and obscure little fungus hidden from the eyes of anyone but dedicated mycologists. When common names for mushrooms were introduced into mycological books, Psilocybe semilanceata was routinely called the liberty cap.

The first such instance was Mordecai Cooke’s 1871 Handbook of British Fungi. It was in 1894 that Cooke released the book Edible as well as Poisonous Mushrooms in which he shrewdly described Psilocybe semilanceata within quotation marks in the form of “cap of liberty” precisely the phrase that was used by Coleridge and it appears that Cooke was intently using to quote. In the 20th century, the name was well-established.
The magic of a mushroom is revealed

The tale could, possibly be over however, it does have an enjoyable conclusion, where it is revealed that the liberty cap mushroom is relegated out of obscurity, being one of the hundreds of harmless LBMs (little mushroom with a brown color) only known by scientists and experts as possibly one of the most well-known European mycological species.

In the writings of Europeans on the traditions and religions of the indigenous peoples in Central America, there existed reports of a mysterious food called by the Aztecs Teonanacatl (“the the divine mushrooms”). These rumours have been dismissed as mythological nonsense that were not worthy of consideration as the shapeshifters from Norse and Icelandic mythology. In the early years of 20th-century the mythical mushroom captured the imagination of a most unlikely person on earth, Robert Gordon Wasson, vice-president of JP Morgan, a Wall Street banking firm JP Morgan.

In the 1920s, Wasson was fascinated by the field of ethnomycology (the study of human-human cultural relationships with mushrooms). Through studies that would result in an enormous bibliography Wasson went to Mexico and, following an extended and frustrating search, finally met an individual who was willing to guide him through the mysteries of the sacred mushroom. He was (perhaps) perhaps the only white man to deliberately consume a hallucinogenic fungus. He published his experiences in the year 1957 in a Life piece, “Seeking the Magic Mushroom”.

Wasson’s discovery caused an instant sensation. In 1958, a team headed by Swiss chemical scientist Albert Hofmann – the man who was the first to synthesize (and consumed) LSD – was able to determine the principal psychoactive component within the fungi, which was named psilocybin in an homage to being the mushrooms belonging to the genus Psilocybe that had the chemical. While the hallucinogens of different species of fungi are most prevalent throughout Central America, they began to be discovered throughout the world. A 1969 article from Transactions of the British Mycological Society confirmed that no other than the benign small liberty caps mushroom contained psilocybin.

Although it is true that there exist other psychedelic species which thrive within Britain (including the distinct white and red Amanita fly agaric, a muscaria which is a muscimol-based fungus, and not Psilocybin) The liberty cap has gained an image as the poster child for Britain’s growing psychedelic mushrooms. The current generation of “shroomers” cannot resist playing about the liberty cap’s name due to its connection with that transcendental “liberation” provided by psychedelics as well as grassroots groups like The Shroom Liberation Front attest to this fact.

However, in its origins this liberty cap’s picture is no connection with psychologists or the psychedelic advocates for drugs Timothy Leary (“turn on, tune in, and then quit”) and the counter-culture of the 1960s. More likely, and even a little bizarre it traced a trail through the political revolutions that took place in the early modern age through the assassination of the ruler Julius Caesar, to a conical cap that was worn by Rome’s slaves.