Saturday, October 23, 2021

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Sacred Mushroom Summit by A.E. Williams

Once again, the Speculative Fiction Showcase is delighted to welcome our occasional regular, A.E. Williams. As always, all views are the writer's own.


As you may have heard, there was a Sacred Mushroom Summit held up here in Gainesville, Florida the weekend of 9/11.

It was the first time such an event of this type was attempted, from what I have been able to gather.

Your obedient author was interviewed by The Gainesville Sun, and even quoted, which was no mean feat. Of course, the quote was immediately forgettable, as such things go.

But several interesting things occurred, that, when viewed through a particular lens, present a picture of odd synchronicity.

Let me illuminate you…


Mushrooms and psychedelics are undergoing a rebirth of sorts, in the psychiatric and medical fields of late. Even Newsweek recently did a cover story of how these relatively humble fungi are being re-evaluated in light of the pandemic. Many authorities are now concerned about the effects caused by global isolation, government mandates that change hourly and the general depression and boredom being experienced collectively by humanity. Within this context, it has been found that micro dosing of certain compounds found naturally in some hallucinogenic plants are providing positive results.

The sampling sizes are no longer just statistical outliers, either. Even such staid bastions of conservatism, such as Harvard, are proclaiming the benefits of LSD, DMT and psilocybin for treating depression.[1]

Of course, in their tradition of remaining staid and conservative, the Harvard article has its customary disclaimer:

All in all, it is still far too early to say whether microdosing is a viable way to harness the potential of psychedelics for mental health treatment. Much more research needs to be done to understand not only how it works, but what the potential consequences and side effects are. If clinical trials confirm the safety and efficacy of microdosing psychedelics, these could represent a new avenue for mental health treatment. (sic)[2]

But from where I was standing, (in front of an audience of experts with this kind of thing, giving presentations on quantum mechanics, multiverse theory, the portrayal of altered states in speculative fiction and the dangers of believing just anything) it was evident that Harvard was far behind the times.


Actually, ask Larry and Richard Siegal, Tom Lane, Pat High, Greg Lake and many others who attended the event for their perspectives on such cautious approaches.

While it is tempting to dismiss this research as the secret desires and fever dreams of a lost Hippy Generation, whose own fear and loathing has turned inwards during the pandemic, the fact remains that a solid and peer-reviewed body of knowledge has been published since the 1960’s.

Unfortunately, most of this did not occur in the United States. The history of racist and social persecution that began with alcohol, spread to cannabis, and engulfed all manner of medicines into the arcane Schedule mandated and enforced by the DEA has not ended, it seems.

The statistics presented at the Summit underscored the way that a patchwork of outdated, racist and oppressive laws continue to repress research in many states. The effects of these laws separate the classes, break up families, destroy lives and are applied in a random and unfair manner.

The Siegal brothers, renowned in their field for expert psychotherapy that includes treatment for depression, sexual disfunction and relationship counseling, illustrated this in their two presentations.

At times infuriating, but always illuminating, the two men presented evidence that described concerted attacks on blacks, Latinos and the poor by both the Federal Government and the financial barons of the Prohibition era, that persist to this day.

As one example, they detailed the establishment of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics in 1930. Led by the apparently insane[3] Harry J. Anslinger, this department mandated the control of drugs and cannabis. Anslinger was married to the niece of Andrew William Mellon,[4] of Mellon bank fame, and was aided by William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate.[5]

The legality of these racist laws, (every one of which was laced with a cynical treatment of legal citizens of the United States as dire as that of the Dred Scott decision), is only now being challenged. Thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and the ability to compile research and public records regarding this unfair treatment, some justice is finally coming to those whose lives were adversely impacted.[6]


Tom Lane and Greg Lake gave presentations of some note.

Tom is a degreed forester, who shared his remembrance of and respect for the mysterious curandera Maria Sabina.

He regaled the audience with stories of how he had partaken of the sacrament of the psilocybin-laced mushrooms during devout rituals of the Sacred Heart, which resulted in a transcendental experience of deification into the serpent god Quetzalcoatl. His research of various codex and stella regarding this mythology is formidable, and he has published a book on the matter.

Mr. Lake, an attorney, presented case studies of how contemporary religious communities are being impacted by the current laws, affecting their ability to partake of their sacrament.

Of particular note were the ways that indigenous people, who use ayahuasca in their rituals, were finding some measure of success in challenging state laws. Federal oversight is still a thorny issue.

Another speaker was Pat High, who gave a lecture on the care and raising of many types of mushrooms.

Disease is a major factor in raising a crop of fungi, and the presentation was received with much attention from farmers in the audience. Several participants had come from Taos, New Mexico and other similar venues.

The talks spanned three days, and were well-received. The audience was congenial, spirited and rapt with attention throughout. T-shirts, books and other items were for sale by vendors. A food truck provided sustenance for the body, while the talks provide food for the soul.

Then, there were the odd occurrences that seemed to be coincidental.

For instance, when I was speaking of my experiences in Teotihuacán, one of the women in the audience remarked about having been shown a secret compartment, where a cruciform pool of mercury vibrated during certain sacred times of the year. I was not privy to such a thing, but did not doubt her.

A few other members chuckled, but then Mr. Lane reassured them of its veracity. He pointed out that, in one of his earlier talks, he highlighted the identical cruciform shape that was sacred to the people who celebrated Quetzalcoatl and that he knew of the existence of pool of mercury.

The audience was suitably impressed, and so I continued.

I recalled a time when I was blessed by a shaman, in Mexico. The following day, I traveled to the pyramids, and specifically to Temple of the Sun. Although I didn’t choose to climb to its summit, I did circumnavigate the immense structure.

While resting from my walk amongst the ruins, an indigenous man walked up to me. He spoke to me in broken English, which was still far better than my Americanized Spanish.

“Senor, I have something, for your daughters,” he said, offering me a package, wrapped with a cloth.

He opened it to reveal tiny tortoises, carved from volcanic obsidian. There was one for each of my offspring. They were about the size of my palm, and had inlaid mother-of-pearl and turquoise.

How this man, whom I had never before met, knew the exact number, and had the matching number of these items is a mystery to me to this day.

Another member of the audience spoke of being blessed by a shaman, and upon her return to her home, finding a turquoise tortoise waiting by her door.

Weird, right?

The speakers gave insight into their particular fields of expertise, and the enthusiastic audience maintained a robust series of questions to challenge our perceptions.

And then came my own meager offerings…


On the morning of the first day, I jumped right into the fray, with a long discussion of The Nature of Reality.

Using mathematics, and a smattering of quantum mechanical concepts, I presented how fractals and the Fourier Transform go a long way in describing our perception of reality.

I showed the possible ways that our travelling through time presents an illusion of movement.

My contention is that the Universe is like a long tube, of infinite length and diameter. If sliced, like a salami, each of these individual slices are just identical pieces of a holographic whole. As we move from one slice to the next, the impression is given that we are moving through time. The initial direction, from the central axis, along the slices, in any given direction, are infinitely possible conditions. The movement to the next consecutive slice then allows a choice of moving along that slice in any direction as well. The combination of all of this is our perception of time. And, since we are all traveling unique paths on this journey, it also can be interpreted to impart a degree of divinity. This manner of existence can be thought of as an all-encompassing, infinite series of unique experiences, being delivered, stored and catalogued by a hive-mind consciousness.[7]

The second day I dove headlong into how many speculative fiction authors (and directors) have portrayed the use of nootropics, hallucinogens and psychedelics. From Gibson to Huxley, from Chayefsky to Thompson, I catalogued a slew of books and films that gave audiences a taste of what it might be like to “tune-in, turn-on and drop out.” Of particular note were the Ken Russell film “Altered States,” Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and the adaptation of the Philip K. Dick story “A Scanner Darkly.”

This led into some spirited audience participation regarding the actual reality of a ‘trip’ versus how they appear on-screen.

Once more, anecdotes from various members meshed, supporting their own experiences with random occurrences of others. This pattern would emerge again and again, and almost seemed contrived. But the videos[8] we recorded substantiated these weird intersections.

My final presentation gave the penultimate example of such coincidence. It was about the bending of reality to present a particular brand of ‘truth.’ Of how people can manipulate others, by use of propaganda, repetition of ideas and outright brutal force.

In my examples, I was listing various ‘conspiracy theories’ that had actually been proven out by time and investigative reporting to be true. These included the Tuskegee syphilis experiments on black men, the USS Pueblo affair, and the Manhattan project.

The audience was amused as I ripped apart each conspiracy, pointing out that, in actuality, they were intentional abuse of secrecy, designed to obfuscate in the name of ‘national security.’

In many of the cases, this was indeed a factor. In an appalling number of others, it was simply to avoid the notice of anyone who might object for moral reasons.

And, in many, it was just purely malign intent.

We bantered back and forth for a bit, regarding the definition of conspiracy theories, and semantics. I pointed out that nothing I was presenting was controversial in fact, only in the way that events were hidden, and eventually uncovered.

A few took issue with my global warming arguments, but that wasn’t really unusual. I was primarily using that example as how to how scientific ‘authorities’ might be bent to political winds, as is convenient to the powers that be, as it were.

But, the moment of true amazement arose when I was discussing the allegation that the Dalai Lama had been receiving funds from the Central Intelligence Agency, when he was forced to flee Tibet into neighboring Nepal. I made a joke along the lines of “Lama. Dalai Lama,” referencing Ian Fleming’s James Bond, as portrayed by Sean Connery, et al.

Suddenly, a member of the audience leapt to his feet, accusing me of impugning the good name of the spiritual leader!

When I pointed out I was making a joke, he grew indignant, and excitedly told us that not only did he know the ‘true’ facts regarding the matter, but that he had actually been in the room when the Dalai Lama informed his troops that they had to stand down! He claimed he was an actual revolutionary in the Tibetan Resistance forces!

This caused some degree of disruption, and it took a modicum of effort to regain control of the discussion. In the end, I managed to table the matter until after I had concluded my presentation.

We parted amicably, after spending about a half-hour discussing the political ramifications of CIA involvement.

Thus proving that old adage that truth can indeed be stranger than fiction!

The event concluded with promises of more Summits, and a sense of accomplishment for a job well done. I decided to look into growing some mushrooms on my farm, possibly for a commercial venture. I also decided to not try psychedelics anytime soon. At least, not without adult supervision.

Certainly, I had met some very interesting people, all of whom were life-long advocates of this particular and peculiar tribe. I wished them well, and took my leave. Starting the Suburban, I put on Tangerine Dream and drove away from the lush gardens of Historic Thomas Center, spying a few ‘shrooms in between the shrubbery.

Coincidence? I think not…

I returned to the North Forty, once more convinced that someone – or something – was out there.[9]


A.E. Williams

High Springs, Florida

October 7, 2021

[2] Man, I have ALWAYS wanted to do that! Sick!

[3] SOURCE: If you think insane is not a charitable description, I urge you to read about his personal attacks on jazz singer Billie Holiday. One of his contemporaries is on record as having said “Anslinger was "so racist that he was regarded as a crazy racist in the 1920s."

[4] For a more focused look on corruption during the 1920’s I recommend reading more on AW. I just do not have the space here to do it justice.

[5] Subject of Orson Welles’ masterpiece, “Citizen Kane.” Rosebud takes on a whole new meaning in light of this revelation.

[6] That this kind of thing is still endemic in the world, and especially the Unites States, is shameful.

[7] Incidentally, I do NOT partake of any mind-altering substances, save bourbon, the occasional scotch and other spirits and ales and such. Oh, and oxygen. This planet has just a tad too much for my alien constitution…

[8] I am currently working on editing these videos for inclusion on my YouTube channel, as well as other venues. Interested parties should stay tuned here on the Speculative Fiction Showcase!

[9] I, of course, totally ignored the bright lights in the sky as they followed me home. I am done with that ‘probing’ nonsense.

About A. E. Williams:

A.E. Williams has a unique background of military experience, aerospace engineering and intelligence analysis. He has a varied career, from inventor to consultant, and pretty much everything in between.

Born near Pittsburgh, A.E. Williams is man of a mystery.

As a young man, Williams served the United States government in various capacities, which he then followed with fifteen years as a consultant. Williams currently resides in rural Central Florida.

He does his writing at night, usually accompanied by a bottle of Maker's Mark bourbon and a large supply of Classic Dr. Pepper and ice.  

Website | Youtube

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