The following is excerpted from Don's book, "Amanita Muscaria; Herb of Immortality" from Chapter 11, "Natural Magic":
The following material details how to find and prepare Amanita Muscaria for use as a sacrament.
It is up to the reader to exercise caution and restraint when first trying the Amanita Muscaria mushroom; individuals vary widely in their response to various substances. It is much better to have a lighter pleasant effect than to be overpowered. While I personally have never seen anyone experience a bad effect, there is always that possibility.
Our ancient fathers called it the herb of Life; let’s keep it that way. The Amanita Muscaria is Sacred; treat it and yourself with respect. To find and consume the Amanita Muscaria mushroom is to embark on a spiritual quest.
This knowledge is given so you may have the power of choice. If you wish to use the herb for healing, you can, if you wish to explore the Sacred, its here. The herb of Life is your birthright! No man, or assembly of men, has the right to deny you contact with the divine.
Finding the herb of Life is a sacred hunt, the Amanita Muscaria mushroom, as mentioned in Natural Science, is a Mycorhiza mushroom. It lives in a symbiotic relationship with various species of trees such as Pine, Spruce, Larch, Birch, Beech, Maple, Hemlock, Fir, Hazel, Olive, and occasionally, the Oaks. So, I don’t hunt the herb as much as the trees that support it. The Amanita Muscaria mushrooms will always be found in association with these trees, in the area encompassed by the tree roots. The herb also needs drainage; sandy soil or sloping terrain seems to be preferred.
Over most of North America the fungus fruits from June to November. In California and Florida it fruits in some areas in the winter, the only sure way to discover where the herb is to spend as much time on the hunting as you can afford during its season.
Once you have found the Amanita Muscaria mushrooms in a certain place,
returning there to check from season to season is usually a good idea. Eventually you will compile a list of areas where you know the herb lives. It then becomes a matter of catching the fruiting. Do not be greedy, this plant is essential to the life of the forest; I always leave the older worm eaten and the very young buttons. The old ones don’t taste good but are still releasing spores while the very young buttons could easily be confused with a button of a different fungus. If all you find are young buttons; try to return in a day or two; they should be in their prime by then.
A prime specimen has a basically flat cap and is about its full size. It should be fresh looking and undamaged by insects, slugs or weathering. Rounded caps mean it is 1 to 3 days from maturity. Upturned edges on a cap mean it’s an older specimen; as long as they look fresh all three levels of maturity can be harvested.
A few simple items make harvesting easier. A basket to carry them in, lined with a clean cloth, a couple of small clean soft brushes to remove debris from the specimens and a flat blade screwdriver or an old stiff kitchen knife. Just slide the screwdriver or knife into the ground next to the specimen’s stem and pry up, it should just pop up whole.
It is a lot easier removing dirt and debris from the specimen before it starts to dry and the less dirt in the specimen basket the better, so I try to clean them thoroughly as I am harvesting with brushes and my fingers. Removing the stem from the cap at this time seems to result in less over all damage, as does segregating the caps from the stems in the basket since the caps are somewhat
Amanita Muscaria should be dried as soon as possible after harvest. Final cleaning of the herb should be done before drying. Sometimes a thin layer of soil is actually trapped in the skin of the stem’s butt. Gently scraping with a knife will remove it; a final cleaning can be done in this area after drying.
A basket of Amanita Muscaria mushrooms.
Preparing the Plant of Life
Once fresh specimens are obtained they must be dried before use! I remove the cap from the stem (if not already done) and slice the stem into quarters lengthwise the cap will dry whole. Placed on a screen or rack with good air movement they should dry in a day or two. If placed over a heating vent or oven dried, do not exceed 120 deg. F. A conventional food dehydrator with a temperature control works very well. Dry the Amanita Muscaria mushrooms until completely dry; it should be cracker dry, pieces should snap when bent. Once dry it should be placed in sealable plastic bags, sealing the dried herb of Life in the bags creates the most delectable fragrance, it’s no wonder the ancient Aryans also called it “Andhas” R.V. literally “the flower.” These bags can then be stored in glass or plastic containers; store in a dry cool dark area.
These dried Amanita Muscaria mushrooms should be aged for 2 or 3 months before using to allow a good curing of the specimens. Proper drying and curing is essential for both good taste and potency. The bread of Heaven can be simply eaten as is or used in the following preparations.
Dried Amanita Muscaria pieces being removed from the drier.
WARNING: Do not consume any carbonated beverage, (beer, soda, etc.) before or after consuming the dried Amanita Muscaria. It appears that Muscimol can be reconverted into Ibotenic Acid in the presence of carbonated water. This reverses the effects of drying where Ibotenic Acid loses CO2 and becomes Muscimol. The resulting effect being similar to fresh Amanita Muscaria ingestion nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, stupor, coma like sleep, excess salivation and no hallucinogenic effect!
In Soma: Divine mushroom of Immortality it is mentioned that the Siberian tribes using Amanita Muscaria often placed the dried mushroom into soups and stews thus creating magic food and this is one of the most enjoyable ways of consuming Amanita Muscaria. Crushed or powdered dried Amanita can easily be added to a bowl of stew, soup or oatmeal and actually makes the food taste better. This is probably the best way to begin using the Herb of Life.