Choose Your Illusion: Psychotropic Fungi Spores, Visions, Hauntings, and Ghosts
Could psychotropic mold spores lurking in decrepit old buildings be the root cause of ghost sightings? In this story from The Daily Mail, science, mycology, magic, and myth collide in a bubbling cauldron of epic proportions, and I couldn’t be more excited! As if I need any more convincing that fungi are the masked & cloaked puppeteers pulling the strings of human history, researchers from Clarkson University are implicating the inhalation of toxic mold as a probable cause for visions, hallucinations, hauntings, and paranormal activity in some of New York’s most notorious haunted houses.
Researchers will be measuring air quality in several purportedly haunted locales across New York State, in order to deduce if there is a correlation between the airborn mold spores and brain inflammation. They will be comparing samples taken from several buildings where ghost sightings have been reported with samples taken from ho-hum homesteads with nary a ghost in sight, to see if there is a difference in the types of fungi between those two locales. “Experiences reported in many hauntings are similar to mental or neurological symptoms reported by individuals exposed to toxic molds,” said Professor Shane Rogers of Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. “Psychoactive effects of some fungi are well-known, whereas the effects of others such as indoor molds are less researched. Although allergy and asthma symptoms and other physiological effects are well established, there has long been controversy over the effects of indoor mold exposure on cognitive and other functioning of the brain. Reports of psychiatric symptoms including mood swings, hyperactivity, and irrational anger, as well as cognitive impairment are prevalent among those exposed to molds.”
No stranger to the far-reaching, miasmic, and often nebulous symptoms of brain inflammation, I can testify to the pervasive power of the altered states one can sink into under the right duress. According to the article, preliminary laboratory research on this subject is emerging that
“supports brain inflammation and memory loss in mice exposed to
Stachybotrys charatarum, a common indoor air mold, as well as increased
anxiety and fear.” Coupled with the subconscious suggestibility that permeates one’s experience in an infamously supernatural locale, we have an environment rife with illusory impressionability for spectral enchantment.
A friend of mine was reflecting on the widespread co-opting of mystical experience by the scientific community, and wondered aloud if it is truly wise and prudent to dismiss something that may be
magical as a construct of scientific phenomena. “Too much reality ruins the new eyes
of a child,” they ruminated. While I agree, I also believe that fungi and science are inherently magical, and the more mycology I
study, the more slackjawed, wide eyed, and agape with magic that I am. Where science and magic intersect is where Botanarchy dwells, and it is in this liminal slipstream where I prefer to hang my hat.