Wednesday, January 27, 2010


This morning, the coffee was named "Ambrosia". I had to look up the definition, out of curiosity for such a Greek-sounding word.

Definitions of ambrosial
* extremely pleasing to the taste; sweet and fragrant; "a nectarous drink"; "ambrosial food"
* worthy of the gods

In ancient Greek mythology, ambrosia (Greek: ἀμβροσία) is sometimes the food, sometimes the drink, of the Greek gods (or demigods).  It was brought to the gods in Olympus  by doves, so may have been thought of in the Homeric tradition as a kind of divine exhalation of the Earth.

Additionally, some modern ethnomycologists, such as Danny Staples, identify ambrosia with the untameable hallucinogenic mushroom Amanita muscaria: "it was the food of the gods, their ambrosia, and nectar was the pressed sap of its juices", Staples asserts.

The wikipedia entry goes on to talk about how it may have been as lowly of a substance as honey or mead, the drink made from honey. But I like the thought of my morning coffee being laced with some kind of magic mushroom.

We used to eat our mushrooms chopped up very finely and mixed with peanut butter or gagged down with orange juice. They imparted a bitter aftertaste on anything they were mixed with. After taking them, you had just a short while to get where you wanted to be until the buzz started coming on. I remember living in the Haight, eating the stash, and then boarding the bus to get out to Lands End. The group of us transferred from on bus to another and then once again, eager and urgent to get out into the open before the trip would begin. There was always a bit of doubt, a worry that this time, I wouldn't get high, that this time, the mushrooms might not be strong enough. Were they tinged with enough blue? Had they been in the freezer too long? Had the shrinkwrap leaked air in and sucked the potency out of the plant?

As I stepped off the last bus at the end of California street, the pavement waggled below me. The street lights wavered just a little, and the green lawn of the golf course glowed intensely as if the blades were spiked with neon. Perfect timing! we had arrived at the intended destination, and like clockwork, forty-five minutes after consumption, the world was about to become more visible. The thing about enhanced perception - when it's there, it's so obvious! And when the drug wears off and the windows of the mind close, you can't force them back open. Gradually, on mushrooms, the vibrations of the world become something that you can sense and see. The space between atoms, the motion of particles, the open space between the pore of one's skin - all that movement is visible, all the vacuums are filled with light. The walls or ceilings move with an undulating pulse. Body parts breath and sigh in the tempo of the heartbeat. The sky vibrates with wind and heat and moisture.

There is also the mundane to deal with - the slight nausea brought on by eating the fungus, and the thirst, and the dizziness that comes in waves. These are minor compared with the elation and thrill of seeing the world again with eyes that are bigger, as big as teacups, as wide as movie screens, as deep as the moon.

We climb past the golf course and gawk at the white-panted men driving miniature cars across the greens. We laugh and sigh and hoot and holler. We run up to the edge of the cliff and are blown back by the ocean wind and the sight of the enormous Golden Gate Bridge, which must have been strung across the gap by giants with engineering degrees. How could they have begun this project? How could they have set those pillars into the water? Climbed those towers and hung the wires? The bridge floats, suspended from itself, a magical construction. The color, burnt vermillion, against the brilliant azure of the water (tipped with white) and the golden honey brown of the hills on the far side.  What world is this? The only green in sight is the chemically treated, falsely trimmed artificiality of the golf course, where clowns drive their clown cars and take aim at tiny balls with their oddly shaped sticks. The rest of the world is toasted wheat. Every blade of grass is crisp and sharp.

We stand wobbly and gleeful at the sight of this wonder-touched world.

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