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A Misunderstood and Misrepresented Mushroom

Kevin Feeney Author Interview

What was the idea, or spark, that first set off the need to write Fly Agaric: A Compendium of History, Pharmacology, Mythology, & Exploration?

There were really two sparks that gave life to this book. The first spark was to produce the book that I had always wanted. When I first developed an interest in this mushroom as a teenager there was very little written about the mushroom that was accessible and the articles and books that were available were frequently vague on a number of important points. I had always wished I could find something that was comprehensive and that could provide a solid background on the history, pharmacology, and mythology surrounding this mushroom. The second spark was the realization that in the decades since I first developed an interest in the Fly Agaric there remained an incredible vacuum in the literature on this mushroom. Thus, the goal of producing the book was to simultaneously fill this vacuum and to produce the book that I had always wanted.

What was the collaboration process like with so many people contributing to this book?

The collaboration aspect was one of the thrilling elements of putting this book together. There were challenges in selecting and contacting the authors and researchers that I wanted to participate but I couldn’t be happier with the selection of individuals who agreed to contribute to this book. Some of the contributors had previously published their work elsewhere, but many of these pieces had been out of print for years or decades and were difficult for readers to find. This provided an opportunity to re-introduce readers to some very interesting literature on this mushroom. It was also great to work with authors on new works, to discuss topics, and lay-outs, and to take a more active editorial role. There were also several chapters that I co-authored, and I feel honored to have had the opportunity to work with each of these individuals as a collaborator.

What is one thing about Fly Agaric that you think is misrepresented in the media?

One thing the media is frequently guilty of is using images of the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) in articles about Psilocybe mushrooms, frequently referred to as “magic” mushrooms. While the Fly Agaric is also psychoactive it is quite distinct from Psilocybe mushrooms, both in its appearance and in its pharmacology. There is potential for this misrepresentation to lead to confusion among readers, which could lead to unforeseen and potentially harmful consequences.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

There are no books currently in the works though I am presently working on several research articles related to the Fly Agaric, which will likely be published within the next two years.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

With more than two-dozen contributors and over 450-pages of content Fly Agaric is the most comprehensive book on the iconic red and white-spotted mushroom ever assembled. In the 29 chapters contained herein the reader is taken on a journey through history, folklore, and the magical landscapes experienced under the influence of the Fly Agaric, and its many close relatives. The reader of this book will learn:
How to recognize and identify over a dozen types of psychoactive Amanita species, subspecies, and varieties occurring in North America, and how to distinguish them from look-alikes.What psychoactive and other active compounds are found in psychoactive Amanitas, and how they affect the mind and body.The differences between the effects and experiences produced by psychoactive Amanitas and psychedelic Psilocybe mushrooms.How the Fly Agaric can be detoxified and safely prepared for the dinner table.The history of medicinal and homeopathic use of the Fly Agaric.How the Fly Agaric can be used topically and internally to treat conditions such as pain, inflammation, insomnia, and anxiety.Theories regarding the historical and religious use of psychoactive Amanitas around the world based on archaeological, folkloric, and other evidence.

Fly Agaric

Fly Agaric is what happens when a bunch of mushroom nerds get together and geek out about their favorite fungus- the Fly Agaric. The result is brilliant. The book is designed to be beginner-friendly. No prior knowledge is needed, because the book covers absolutely everything you would need to know, and Feeney has ensured that all the information in the book is 100% approachable. Something in the book is sure to grab your attention and, before you know it, you’ll be dragged into the weird and wonderful world of Fly Agaric fans.

This comprehensive book is divided into five parts, each with a different theme. It begins with a very useful beginner’s guide to mushroom hunting and identification. This section is full of helpful guides and safety information for any fledgling mushroom hunters. The second part is my personal favorite. It is a rundown of appearances of possible allusions to Fly Agaric use in religion, culture, and folklore. This informative book is very well researched, well written, and will likely change how you view some parts of history. Some of the conjecture used in this part is then backed up in part three where Feeney’s experts analyze archaeological evidence. The book then takes another turn in part four, where it becomes a Fly Agaric cookbook. It opens by telling stories of cooking with the mushroom and why doing so is a good idea. Feeney then takes over and tells us everything we need to know about cooking the mushroom. From nutritional information to actual recipes. Finally, the book ends in part five with the science of the Fly Agaric. This section is not too dry and is just as approachable as the rest of the book. The section has everything you could want to know if you wanted to experiment with Fly Agaric yourself.

Fly Agaric is a fantastic tool for anyone that wants to dive into this fascinating topic as it is extensive, thorough, and accessible. This enlightening guide would also make a great coffee table book. You’ll find yourself picking through it, reading the bits you find most interesting until you find you’ve consumed the whole thing. The book is a great read and Feeney and his writers have done an excellent job sharing their passion with the rest of the world.

Pages: 508 | ISBN: 0578714426

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