- Current Festival Substances
- The experiment
- A medium dose, by itself
- Amanita, by itself
- A microdose along with cannabis
- A microdose along with a psychedelic
In the past 20 years, festivals and live music events have had a dramatic rise in popularity. (1) This comes at a time when Millenials and Gen Z'ers search for more in-person experiences over material goods. Festivals bring together like minded individuals who share a love for music, good energy and (sometimes) psychoactive substances.
Amanita muscaria, a psychoactive magic mushroom, has also gained popularity in the past few years. WIth these two trends, the inevitable question comes to mind: Does Amanita muscaria have a place at music festivals?
This is a question I pondered as I set myself up for 3 different festivals this past summer. If I am to sell this most intriguing mushroom, I should know how people can incorporate it into their lives - in a safe and life enhancing way. So I threw a tin of luminita into my festival backpack, and off I went to guinea pig myself into the world of drugs and music.
Current Festival Substances
If you go to a festival in North America in the 2020s you might come across people enhancing their experience with a variety of substances. psychedelics, dissociatives and empathogens are some of the most popular.
A current festival might include:
- The classics: MDMA, LSD, and mushrooms
- The new kid on the block: ketamine
- The all-nighter: cocaine
- The ever-popular: weed
- The always present: alcohol
Ask anyone if they are using amanita muscaria or muscimol and you will be met with questioning faces. In fact, I chatted with the wonderful free drug testing company “ANKORS” at Shambhala in western Canada if they were even able to test for muscimol or ibotenic acid in samples they received. They let me know that they didn’t. In fact, no one that was working at the ANKORS tent had even come across an Amanita product at a festival.
This didn’t give me high hopes for my experiment, but I trusted Amanita to not lead me astray.
For this test, Amanita was tested in 4 different scenarios.
- A medium dose, by itself
- A microdose, by itself
- A microdose along with cannabis
- A microdose along with a psychedelic
I did not want to try Amanita muscaria in a high dose, for safety reasons. Higher doses often lead to drowsiness and potential thought loops, neither of which are fun during celebrations.
I also did not want to mix Amanita with alcohol. The active molecule in decarboxylated Amanita, muscimol, acts primarily on the GABA receptors (just like alcohol). Combining the two can be dangerous and potentially lead to a depressed nervous system.
All other drugs (ketamine, opioids, cocaine) I do not personally consume (and do not recommend using at a festival) so they were left out of the experiment. In general, there is little out there on safe drug combinations with Amanita muscaria, so it's best to err on the safe side.
Test 1: Medium dose of Amanita muscaria by Itself
First I needed to know if using Amanita muscaria by itself in a party setting was the right move. I knew 3g at home with music and a fire was a great vibe, so I figured it was a good place to start. Plus, with all the lights, sounds and people, feeling grounded mentally might be just what a festival experience needed.
My first trial at Shambhala started out well. My consciousness expanded and I felt like I had a mental view of the entire festival in my mind. I knew how to weave my way to different stages at night and was totally present as I danced. A fun bonus was feeling warm, even as the evening chilled off. It was also the first time I got to see the famous “Persian-rug-like” tapestry visuals that Amanita sometimes provides its users.
Then I started to change my mind.
I was so present and clear minded, I wasn't quite able to let go. I was able to clearly lay out how this event was tying into my life’s path, but was that the time to think about such things? The dissociative effects also made me feel separated from the surrounding energy, which may be good for some, but not for me.
My second trial was at the local Seattle festival, “Bumbershoot”. It’s a more family friendly event, but the evening musicians can party like any other major festival. 3 grams and a big drink of water and then I waited. Similar vibes from the last trial came to pass. As I really started to enjoy myself, a very direct message came through in my mind:
“Don’t play with Amanita muscaria”
I questioned this thought. Was that from me? Was it from the mushroom? Someone else? I’m not sure, but it was so clear and concise, I felt the need to heed its advice. To be fair, I often tell others to respect Amanita, that it’s a medicine and not a drug. I should practice what I preach. That evening ended up being the last time I tried Amanita in that manner.
Rating: 4/10 - take caution.
Test 2: Microdosing Amanita by Itself
Me, and probably anyone that’s reading this is most familiar with microdosing Amanita. If not, I encourage you to start working with Amanita in small amounts. As a microdose, Amanita helps bring clarity, reduce stress and ground the user into the present moment. Unlike medium doses, a microdose is very gentle and does not distort your perception of reality.
Overall, it had potential to be of value at a festival.
The first trial was at the popular Beyond Wonderland festival in Washington. If you've never heard of this festival, it has a very "Alice in Wonderland" vibe, which I thought was very fitting for this experiment. But before I tried a micodose of Amanita, I wanted to go into the festival sober, to get a feel for the energy of the event. It was a lot. The music was loud, people were drunk and falling into me, and I didn't know what to focus on.
I was curious how Amanita would help.
I started small with 0.5g. I didn't quite notice when it happened, but I soon noticed myself letting go of all the stress I had held earlier. The drunk people didn't bother me as much, and the loud music was not so overwhelming. It was subtle enough that I didn't "notice" the Amanita energy, but strong enough that I had more control over my thoughts and emotions. Overall, a success.
The second trial was at Bumbershoot in Seattle. It's a family friendly event and being sober and psychoactive substance free is not unusual. This time, I went with 1g of Amanita, this time trying to find the upper limit of my perfect festival microdose. It was wonderful. I felt very present and in the moment and had no trouble making decisions. It was as if I had an increased ability to tap into intuition, allowing events to fall into place like magic.
Here's a couple examples of what I mean.
- While deciding on dinner at the festival grounds, none the food options felt right. I decided to just pass on food and trusted that I would get dinner later. Like magic, both of my friends ended up having too many tacos, so they each gave me their extras. Together, it made for the perfect dinner, and one that was totally free!
- Another magical moment happened when me and my friends disagreed on what musical act we should listen to. I felt a strong intuition to stay at the current stage and enjoy the musician we had just discovered. They felt differently and headed to another stage without me. 30 minutes later after dancing my heart out, I met back up with my friends. I was surprised to find out that the musician that they went to see was late and had only just showed up to start performing. What good luck!
Rating: 9/10 - great for those who want a sober, present and magical experience
Test 3: Microdosing Amanita with Cannabis
I’ll be honest with you all, I’ve used this combination several times in the past. It’s a good pair. The weed creates a nice high, but the Amanita reduces anxiety and grounds your mind. I was excited to try it at a festival.
First trial was at the Wonderland festival. 1g before a 5mg edible and into the festival grounds I went. The spaciness an edible often gives was not there. I was present in the moment, but having fun and laughing.
Ex) At one point I got quite lost trying to find the bathroom. Normally cannabis would throw me into an anxious tailspin, but not this time. I felt very "go with the flow". My thoughts were: “everything will work out perfectly”, and “don’t worry, we will find the bathroom”. 20 minutes lost in a festival ended up being a fun adventure.
Second trial was at Shambhala. It was the last day of the festival, and I wanted a more chill day on the farm. Same combo: 1g Amanita and 5mg of cannabis. Even with the lightheaded edible vibes, my mind was clear and I was able to lead my friend group around the festival grounds with ease. Music sounded wonderful, people were easy to talk to and I felt calm and present. It was a great night.
There was one major downside to the combination - thirst. Both Amanita and Cannabis are dehydrating substances - together they amplify that effect. If you are to try this combination, just be sure to carry a water bottle with you.
Rating: 8/10 - party pleaser combo
Test 4: Microdosing Amanita with Psychedelics
It’s no secret that psychedelics have become popular recently, especially when it comes to festivals. A recent study found that 28% of Americans have tried a psychedelic in their life (1), up from 13% just 10 years ago (2). For festival goers, that number is 73% (3). The downside to this popularity? The risk of a bad trip. This is a big deal in a place like a festival. There’s loud noises, dark pathways and overwhelming visuals. For those not prepared mentally, psychedelics at a festival may not be the best choice.
But what if you combined it with Amanita? I was curious.
First trial was at the wild and wonderful Shambhala. Anyone who has been to shambhala, knows it is like no other festival. The entire festival ground vibrates with energy, noise comes from every direction and it can be a lot for those who are sensitive (I’m one of those people). That didn’t deter me from taking 75mcg of LSD in the name of this experiment.
The world around me opened up and I was able to feel and experience everything in a new and unique light. After a couple hours, though, I felt overwhelmed. “I am strong” I told myself, “I am okay”. Nothing I told myself could make me feel better. At this point I completely forgot about the experiment and just wanted to leave the festival and crawl into bed. My friends were understanding but convinced me to relax for a bit at the "sanctuary"- a calm space set up for people overstimulated like myself.
As much I as tried, I couldn't get out of my head. Luckily, my partner remembered my original plan. He pulled out the tin of luminita in my backpack and shoved a couple of pills and a water bottle in my face. I resisted, but ultimately gave in.
30 minutes later everything changed.
My mind grounded itself and the overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety I had earlier melted away. I felt myself again. I was ready to go back into the festival and dance. Most importantly, Amanita helped me open my mind and heart up to the experience so that I could feel and enjoy all the wonderful energy that surrounded me. It was everything I could want from a festival evening.
The second time I tried this combo, I started with 1.5g of Amanita muscaria before the psychedelic. I was scared to have a redo of the experience I had had earlier and wanted enough Amanita to prevent a bad trip from occurring in the first place. That was a mistake. The higher amount ended up dulling the experience too much, making Amanita the star of the show and not the psychedelic.
In the future, I'll be brave and stick to the lower end of a microdose of Amanita. Less is more.
Rating: 9/10 - for those who are adventurous, this is a magnificent combo
Back to our original question: Does Amanita muscaria have a place at festivals? Yes, at least in microdosed amounts.
For people that get easily overstimulated or stressed in chaotic environments, having a tin of Amanita muscaria on hand can be game changer. A microdose may even help smooth out a bad trip or prevent one in the first place. For others, Amanita can add a bit of magic and clarity to experiences.
Most importantly, Amanita muscaria helps ground your mind and bring you into the present moment, so that you can more fully tap into and enjoy the experiences that unfold in front of you. At the end of the day: Isn't that what going to a festival is all about?
*Safety, especially at a festival is of utmost importance.
- Make sure you have tried Amanita muscaria at home first, and have determined what a microdosed amount is for you, before you try it at a festival.
- Do not combine Amanita muscaria with: alcohol, benzodiazepines, opioids, antidepressants or any other prescription pharmaceuticals.
Cover Photo: https://www.shambhalamusicfestival.com/stages
Psychedelic Festival Pic: https://www.denverpost.com/2023/08/24/things-to-do-weekend-denver-meow-wolf-tour-de-fat/