"A VISIONARY GUIDE TO MUSHROOM MAGICK."
JOHN W. ALLEN
My Review of “A Visionary Guide to Mushroom Magick by Arik Moonhawk Roper with essays by Daniel Pinchback and Erik Davis and notes from mycologist Gary Lincoff. Abrams. New York. 119 pages.
As an expert in the field of ethnomycology, author of nine books and more than 30 published papers on hallucinogenic mushrooms (see: http://www.mushroomjohn.org/articles.htm. I personally like the idea of the book but could never endorse it as a reliable guide for amateur foragers to use in identifying species of hallucinogenic psilocybian fungi in the wild as the context of the back cover of the book suggests that it is a 'comprehensive guide' to the species rendered inside the book."
This book presents a collection of 94 pages of full-paged watercolor renditions of hallucinogenic species. However, I find that the artist has failed in his attempt to macroscopically bring to the viewer of his paintings, an honest interpretation of many of the mushroom species represented in this 'visionary guide' of hallucinogenic psilocybian species. Thus, this provides a guide that is not reliable and should not be used by those interested in using it to identify psilocybine-containing mushrooms.
Also, the artist, Mr. Roper, has included in this visionary guide of Mushroom Magick, 9 species of mushrooms that are not psychoactive species, although some of those 9 species have been mentioned in other mushroom field guides as possibly hallucinogenic. And for the life of me, I cannot understand why he would insert pages with paintings of various species that are not the subject matter of the pictorial.
In many of the represented images, the stems are either too fat and thick or to skinny to belong to actual individual species as he presented them and many caps on said species appear to have caps in which their shapes are either too large and bulbous or look nothing like the actual mushrooms he has painted.
Another example of an incorrect representation of one of his renditions is of Psilocybe cyanescens, known to recreational users by the epithet, ‘wavy caps’ and while the cap, when mature becomes wavy, its edges turn upward and outward. However, in his image the cap is shown to have an incurved margin in a semi-wavy stage, a macroscopic feature characteristic of the genus Psilocybe, yet in his rendition of Psilocybe cyanescens, the margin is only incurved in young specimens. Once the caps become wavy, there is no incurved margin as shown in his image. Additionally, his sketches of the veil remnants on certain species found in the PNW and elsewhere throughout the world were enormously large and not representative of the species he drew them on.
And his renditions of Psilocybe fimetaria, Psilocybe subfimetaria (syn.=Psilocybe sierrae), Psilocybe stuntzii and Psilocybe silvatica are bad and do not macroscopically resemble those species at all. So is the case with many other rendered paintings in this book. Another example is his perfect life-like painting of a colony of Psilocybe semilanceata (liberty cap) drawing that is well done. However, the appearance of a second image of a cap of Psilocybe semilanceata with pure blue gills is incorrect. Bluing on psilocybian fungi is an identifying characteristic feature found only on the stems or caps of a psilocybine containing mushrooms. The bluing reaction is generally an indication of the presence of psilocybin in the mushrooms that tend to exhibit a blue coloration when the flesh of the mushroom is damaged from human handling or natural elements. The bluing occurs in more than 200 recognized species of wild mushrooms from around the world. Some potent species shown an intense bluing reaction when damaged yet some like the liberty cap or Panaeolus subbalteatus, rarely exhibit any bluing whatsoever.
Mr. Roper also labeled Panaeolina foenisecii as a Psilocybe rather then identifying it as a brown-spored species belonging to the genera of Panaeolina. Panaeolus species, unlike those in the genus Psilocybe, have black spores and Panaeolina foenisecii has brown spores. They are two different genera.
I would also like to point out another discrepancy I came across in viewing this book.
There are two paintings of Panaeolina foenisecii in Mr. Roper's book and both are referred to as belonging to the genus Panaeolus.
The first painting titled as Panaeolus foenisecii, features a cap that kinda resembles a completely dried bell-shaped mushroom cap.
In the 2nd image the painted species of Panaeolins foenisecii is printed as Panaeolus koenisecii and features a typo in the book where the 'k' should read as 'f' and Mr. Roper here has the correctly painted into the images, various shades and bands of color on the cap of the mushrooms, thus presenting a correct macroscopic interpretation of the species Panaeolina foenisecii. Yet in this typo the species is listed on the page of the book as Panaeolus koenisecii, a non-existing name for a species and as noted the letter 'k' should have been typed as an 'f'.
More surprisingly is the fact that one of the most prominent and respected mycologist in the world, Gary Lincoff. Mr. Lincoff is an expert in the field of entheogenic fungi, as well as edible and toxic mushroom identification and has contributed notes to this guide yet failed in catching these macroscopic errors in the author's many paintings featured in this visionary guide.
On the other hand, I was quite pleased with his renditions of Psilocybe cubensis and Amanita muscaria that are without a doubt, beautiful macroscopic representations of those two species. However, in the book, a species of Amanita not associated with the same chemicals found in Amanita muscaria is also accidentally listed as an active species.
Therefore, I could not, in good conscious, recommend this book as a field guide to be used by amateurs mushroom aficionados seeking a relationship with the mushrooms painted in Mr. Roper's pictorial. And at the same time must note that it is an amazing challenge to have painted all of these beautiful water colored renditions of magik mushroom species, even thought many in the guide are not active at all.
John W. Allen