Mushrooms, including reishi, are also known to affect the psyche and perception in ways that aren’t yet fully documented or understood scientifically. Reishi does not induce psychotropic experiences, but it appears to expand perception. Let me attempt to explain some possibilities for this potential, as well as delve into many mysteries around the origins of life on Earth and the role advanced fungi (including reishi) may play in consciousness.
Reishi Mushrooms and Astrobiology
Some revelations may exist in the study of Astrobiology. Many mycologists believe that mushrooms are extraterrestrial life forms, due in part to their taxonomic sovereignty and because fungal spores are capable of surviving space travel. Mushroom spores are microscopic and light enough to drift out of our atmosphere and into space (gravitropism), potentially making Earth a cosmic fungal sporulation lab. The spores are initially launched from the fruiting body cells through ballasting processes that may involve diamagnetic electrostatic repulsion, propelling them high enough into the air to be caught in wind currents. (1)
Astrobiologists proposed that basic archaea and much of Earth’s prokaryotic (single-celled) life is extraterrestrial
Beginning in the 1970s, Astrobiologists proposed that basic archaea and much of Earth’s prokaryotic (single-celled) life is extraterrestrial, having originally blown into our atmosphere or arrived in blocks of ice and on meteorites. (2) In the case of the mysterious red rain of Kerala, scientists discovered the tinting was caused by moisture capturing an extraterrestrial algae that was drifting into Earth’s atmosphere. The event was preceded by a sonic boom that may have been from a meteorite that entered our outer atmosphere and exploded, dispersing the algae.3 Such microbes are called extremophiles, due to their resilience under heat, cold and pressure. Extremophilic organisms are now thought to be responsible for seeding planets with biologically active life.
Origination of the Reishi Mushroom
During Earth’s early stages, it is thought that bacteria sought refuge from solar radiation inside the permeable fat-filled membranes of algae cells, this forming colonies that eventually created cooperative intercellular organelles and mitochondria, leading to the rise of complex multi-cellular (Eukaryotic) life. (4) I discussed in my book Threshold to the 4th Chakra that it is unlikely that bacteria alone created these cellular components. Bacteria remain in their own kingdom and perform many symbiotic actions within their milieu, but they do not become functioning DNA of larger organisms. These scientists overlook another important kingdom responsible for the rise of complex life; fungi may have supported the development of microtubules of cellular cytoplasm, which serves as the information transport system of the cell. By this, I believe that bacteria, algae and fungi combine to create higher life forms.
Fossils reveal that Earth’s earliest masses of carbon material, called stromatolites, were composed of lasagna-like layers of algae and bacteria, enabling nitrogen fixing, molybdenum oxidation and other important components for life. As this material decomposed, carbon substrates formed, creating a medium conducive to fungal sporulation, and tiny filaments of mycelia permeated the substrates, creating nutrient-delivery systems that were remote, thus introducing the conscious transfer of information. I believe that without fungal mycelia, life would merely be composed of tiny organisms living and dying to create sandwiched mounds of matter. While bacteria and algae do function consciously, they would have continued within this cooperative environment into perpetuity. It wasn’t until mycelinating fungi created neurologic systems that symbiotic multicellular life with higher consciousness evolved.
A Higher Conscious Life
The cytoplasm found in eukaryotic cells has no physical similarities to colonized bacteria, but it does resemble fungal mycelia in structure and function. And now, for the mystery question: If fungi, bacteria and algae combined to create higher conscious life, when and where did this original evolution take place? If these microbes, archaea, diatoms, and spores have been transported to Earth over potentially vast distances and over spans of time (or even through time travel), then where did they come from? The only answer we can assume is: everywhere.
Earth’s oldest rock samples (approx. 3.5 billion years before present) contain fossilized cyanobacteria (algae-mimicking bacteria that can engage in photosynthesis). (5 ) This indicates that they evolved somewhere long before Earth’s atmosphere was established. These considerations imply that Earthly life follows a pre-established order that is symbiotic with all life in the cosmos, and indicates a universal blueprint. Every celestial body in the universe may be dusted with bacteria, algae and spores, and, depending on a planet’s proximity to a star, they will begin a long process of creating and regulating an atmosphere that is conducive for life, where evolutionary patterns will progress to create environments and organisms that share common biology with our planet.
A Mystery Unsolved
Then again, we must ask, where did all this begin? We can only humble ourselves in the face of this mystery, but we can also know that there are worlds beyond ~ before and after, for, if these lifeforms arrived on early Earth, they must have evolved on planets identical to ours. As mentioned, bacteria are functional symbionts of biological activity; algae create oxygen atmospheres, which, along with bacteria can congeal to create carbon substrates, but the advanced fungi appear to be the harbingers of consciousness, allowing organisms to cooperate and contemplate life, and by which Humans might even someday discover and communicate with life on other worlds.
Where did all this begin? We can only humble ourselves in the face of this mystery.
We have long known that mushrooms benevolently affect consciousness. Reishi is not psychotropic and does not alter perception, but benefits mental clarity and helps instill a reverent attitude. Reishi enhances spiritual enlightenment, and seems to “weave us into the mycelial web of life.”
1. Trail, F. Fungal cannons: explosive spore discharge in the Ascomycota. FEMS
Microbiology Letters 276.1 (2007): 12-18
2. Gibson, C., Schild, R., Wickranmanasinghe, C., The Origin of Life from Primordial planets. Int. Journal of Astrobiology (no date), UK
3. Louis, G., Kumar, S., The red rain of Kerala and its possible extraterrestrial origin. M. Gandhi Univ. press 2006.
4. Margulis, L., Symbiosis in cell evolution. New York: W.H. Freeman. 1981.
5. Schirrmeister, B., Gugger, M., Donologue, P., Cyanobacteria and the Great Oxidation Event: evidence from genes and fossils. Palaeontology, Vol. 58, issue 5, 2015 pg.769- 785.
Rehmannia Dean Thomas is President of Shaman Shack Herbs (shamanshackherbs.com) and creator of the online course on Tonic Herbalism (GateofLife.org). His books include Raw Chi, Shilajit; The Resin of Life, and Healing Thresholds.