The Oblique Dragon

Sigil magic, according to Phil Hine, is the quintessential form of chaos magic. It is culturally agnostic and can be effected either spontaneously or in a meticulously planned fashion. Similarly, the charging of a sigil can either be done via ritualized gnosis or through what Hine describes as ‘indifferent vacuity.’ (Hine, 82,88).

Indifferent Vacuity is the state of mind one has when forest bathing, or otherwise purposefully wandering or hiking in a forested area. There are shifts between this indifference and focus attention when foraging or seeking to commune with feral mushroomkin. One cannot be focused during this entire endeavor as there is too much information to take in when in the forest. We allow our subconscious to do a lot of the processing and when we begin to close in on our prey, then our attention becomes razor sharp on the goal. In Hine’s example, part of the brain is focused on note taking, but the other is focused on sketching out glyphs. When foraging we can’t be bothered by any of life’s stressors because all of our sub-processes are occupied in the background. When focused on a find of some mushrooms this is not dissimilar to our focus on the glyph for the brief time we allow it to burn in our brain — it is here and then, once we have collected our quarry, it is gone.

I would go further and connect the state of indifferent vacuity to the necessary state of mind when one is performing active imagination. In an active imagination state, we watch our inner visual dialogue unfold behind our eyes — our brain playing its combination of symbols and excess, excised data out like a surreal film until that moment when something happens that we know didn’t come from us, until we are surprised by the action. This is the same experience as our forest wander. We walk, allowing our sub-processing routines to run until we come upon a blip in the code, until we are surprised by the emergence of a mushroom against the backdrop of the woods. I imagine that this is the same way that, as Robert Roger’s describes in his work ‘Mushroom Essences’ , the Peruvian shamans that he learned from knew what conditions certain jungle plants were good for (Rogers, 2). The feeling of surprise is how spirits contact us when in an active imagination state. It is the same with plant and mushroom spirits. They grab our attention and when we pull into the sub-process that they interrupted, that is when we hear their message. As Roger’s states in his work:

“Magic and mushrooms impacts [those] around them, with shared visions and dreams… Distillation brings introspection that raises the psyche…” (Rogers, 6)

Sigil magic and mushroom foraging are similar experiences that are exhibitions of true freedom. Freedom is a theme that Anna Tsing dives into in ‘The Mushroom at the End of the World.’ She describes the history of the Pacifica Northwest matsutake trade and the communities that gathered around it. Beginning with veterans longing for quiet and loggers that could no longer find work the trade attracted Laotian and Cambodian refugees. She states that:

“the whites and Southeast Asians found a common vocabulary in ‘freedom’…” (Tsing, 68)

This could be a universal mission of all mushrooms, freedom to express one’s life where they please, or rather, where the environment allows — with the environment, the ecology, being the only governing body. Every mushroomer is, in essence, expressing a ‘mushroom-like’ life of subsistence on the land and reliance on a network of otherkin — or species not their own… this engagement in an ecological assemblage brings freedom from reliance on capitalism and participation in the lowest tiers of a salvage economy. It also brings the psychological freedom of no-mind, in thinking with forest-mind and the purposeful wander, in the exhilaration of the find and the gentle decompression once a quarry is found, collected, and the forager has moved on. Mushrooms are the sigils of the forest, they require our focused attention for the moment the surprise us and then we can let them, and our minds, go as soon as we move on deeper into the hunt. Tsing describes this state of being in the following passage:

“The mushroomers’ freedom is irregular and outside rationalization; it is performative, communally varied, and effervescent. It has something to do with the rowdy cosmopolitanism of the place; freedom emerges from open-ended cultural interplay, full of potential conflict and misunderstanding. I think it exists only in relation to ghosts. Freedom is the negotiation of ghosts on a haunted landscape; it does not exorcise the haunting but works to survive and negotiate it with flair.” (Tsing, 76)

Negotiating with spirits in a haunted landscape is an embodiment of sigil magic and, as such, a perfect description of chaos magic. Chaos magic and the freedom of living and thinking with mushroomkin are one and the same. Tsing is concerned with economics and we are concerned with enchantment (and usually with economics). She describes matsutake as being haunted by the city and foraging being haunted by the ghost of labor. She quotes one of her informants:

“Sai, a Lao picker, explained that ‘work’ means obeying your boss, doing what he tells you to. In contrast, matsutake picking is ‘searching.’ it is looking for your fortune, not doing your job.” (Tsing, 77)

Enchanting, especially when enchanting for wealth, is the same act. You are searching for the right combination of space weather, materia, words, feelings and your own position in the spirit ecology that will trigger the right probability set that will bring you the wealth you seek. Enchanting is looking for your fortune, and not performing a job. This is important. When I first began enchanting in earnest, I treated it like a job, enchanting everyday at the right planetary hour. It began to feel like work and also, after some initial success, began to have exponentially diminishing returns. Chaos magic should be looked at like mushrooming — know your trees, know your season, and let the details wash over you until the spirit world reaches out and grabs you by the sleeve.

In the course of researching this entry I came across a word to describe mushrooms that surprised me. The term is ‘actants,’ and it is generally used in literary theory to describe an individual, an animal or an object that has an active role in the narrative. The source of this description is a journal article on the psychiatrist Salvador Roquet, a student of the shaman María Sabina. He is described alternately as a visionary and a charlatan who pioneered the use shamanic techniques of healing in a clinical setting (Dawson, 103). Both he and Sabína are described as Others. A psychiatrist unsatisfied with the methods of his profession and allopathic medicine in general and a shaman living and operating on the outskirts of the community she serves, yet someone managing to be the center of it. They both crossed boundaries between worlds regularly — Roquet from the West to the indigenous and Sabína from her indigenous world into a widely influential role in the West through her association with R. Gordon Wasson (Dawson, 104). It is at this point in the paper that our term appears:

“both [Roquet and Sabina] viewed [mushrooms] as actants, or vibrant matter that produced bodily affects independent of language and other meaning-making practices… caused bodily disruptions… in ways that were not… culturally specific.” (Dawson, 105)

A culturally agnostic spirit-form pushing feedback from its kingdom to our own realm; this is the same process through which we interact with sigils. Mushrooms are the sigils of the forest. Mushrooms as ‘actants’ treat all humans as one species and do not differentiate in the same way as we do when we parse out cultural data when interacting with each other. They view us as Lovecraft’s monsters view us, they provide us with magic because that is what they are made of — all we need do is interact with them and the interaction occurs. That said, people will experience the magical, medicinal, and nutritional effects of mushrooms in different ways as all bodily sensations from drunkenness to pain, has been shown to be experienced differently between different cultural models (Dawson, 105). Mycophillic cultures will experience the effects of medicinal mushrooms in a different way than mycophobic cultures. What remains to be investigated is whether one feels the effects more acutely than the other? Or if the mycophobic cultural model can somehow frustrate the medicine given to the human from the spirit. While some effects will remain constant, as an equalizer between all humans, others will become differentiators. We very often get in our own way when practicing enchantment. An example would be an individual coming from a very religious upbringing attempting Solomonic magic or otherwise trafficking with demons. Their cultural model may frustrate initial contact, they could interpret initial communication with fear. An individual brought up as a pagan or having socialized themselves sufficiently in a magically-adjacent cultural model would ‘feel’ the visceral effects of demon contact differently and be more open to the communication. Similarly, an individual who has rejected a religious upbringing might have more difficulty in angel magic or communicating with saints. Mushrooms have a lot to teach us, but for the mycomage this lesson might be the most important as it points to the foundation of what chaos magic is built on — approaching all magic in a culturally agnostic manner was the mushroomkin approach us when imparting their gifts.

This paper also offers some clues on how to build a magical practice around the kingdom of fungi, for example, when the authors state that:

“[Roquet] was particularly taken with the ritual forms of the cures. This included the cleansing rituals that were woven into the… ceremonies, the careful attention to the timing and quantity… ingested, the aural, visual, olfactory, and other elements that could affect the… experience, and the capacity of the curer to ‘become god.’ If he could capture the essence of this process, he would be able to ‘assimilate and integrate ancient indigenous practices to the science of modern psychiatry with the respect they both deserve.’ The result would draw from both traditions in order to produce [integration].” (Dawson, 109)

We can see here that timing of our communing or invoking of mushroomkin is important, along with the entire environment that the spell is cast. My assertion is that this is not limited to psychoactive mushrooms but to all spirit-forms of that realm. Is the machine shed filled with plastic bags sprouting hundreds of pounds of oyster mushrooms the best environment in which to understand what they have to teach us? Or is it the landscape of the agroforester? Maybe it is just something less industrial, less capitalist, less like the plantation culture that every member of the kingdom of fungi rejects. We should pay closer attention to how all mushrooms are gathered and spoken to if we are to properly cultivate our practice as mycomages.

Roquet and Sabína collaborated closely, which lends his ideas of integration more weight than if he were just observing and interpreting into his own cultural model. Roquet’s work is a rare example of how indigenous and Western thought can, not only co-exist, but evolve together into something new. Integration is the antithesis of (or possibly the antidote to) appropriation. The author continues, describing the community of Huautla de Jiménez, Oaxaca, Mexico as it was encountered by Roquet in the mid 1960s:

“Roquet encountered a community in transition. New roads and government services had connected Huautla to the wider world. The town’s elite were increasingly bilingual, literate, cosmopolitan, and deeply ambivalent about the mystical reputation of the region, though outside the town center, traditions of mystical curing remained firmly entrenched. Poor residents, often living on the margins of the community and generally monolingual, maintained their belief in a supernatural domain that could be accessed by gifted interlocutors… Those who mastered this knowledge became curanderos, a term generally used interchangeably with ‘‘shamans.’’

Shamans often cured family, friends, and neighbors of physical and spiritual maladies, with the most accomplished among them also gaining a reputation as great healers. Shamanic healing operates through an uneasy balance of the universal and the local. Shamans gain their authority through their capacity both to conjure a sense of their specific rootedness in a place and to cure outsiders. Their cures are both ritual and process: ritual insofar as they rely on traditional scripts and practices (e.g., the need for confession, the nocturnal timing of the velada, and the requirement that participants be sober), but process because the transaction is unpredictable, dependent on the skill of the shaman and his or her capacity to manage the experience.” (Dawson, 110-111)

The traditions we are building on come from a place that is/was divided in that familiar plantation culture way, as all places infected with materialism and empire swiftly become. The division of the rich and poor and the maintenance of these traditions by the indigenous poor of the region are one of the reasons that we must use them as a model. It does not do to try to tear down empire by only using, for instance, the classical Venetian grimoires, as they were the tools of the Medici and other empire builders. We use these traditions, but without the awareness and modeling of indigenous traditions, we will never achieve our goal. Only these traditional magics that can be traced back to the beginning of humantime contain sufficient amounts of the right spiritual enzymes to begin to decompose the structures of materialism.

María Sabina began eating mushrooms as a little girl as a way to stave off the hunger that accompanied her extreme poverty (Dawson, 111). She was brought to the spirit realm through the path of extreme poverty, and came through the spirit realm into a place of global notoriety — the spirits speaking through her by changing her life experience and drawing representatives of other cultural niches to her doorstep.

Appropriation is the co-opting of a traditional spiritual path, a culturally-specific magical practice or indigenous lifeways as our own. Integration is looking to those lifeways, those world views, and finding the areas where ours and their naturally connect. It isn’t a becoming of something we are not, it is looking for wisdom in the Other. Mexico and Central America are excellent places to look for indigenous practices and, more so, indigenous world views, specifically their mycophillic views, that we can integrate into our own practice without a fear of appropriation. Let us shift then from María Sabina and the Mazatec and focus on the Mixtec people, the third largest native group in Mexico and, like Sabína and the Mazatec of Hualta, living with a high degree of economic marginalization. The Mixtec maintain a contemporary practice of interacting with wild mushrooms that can be traced back to ancient sources of knowledge either via codex or oral histories (Santiago et al, Abstract). Economic margination and a higher degree of mushroomlore are significantly correlated in many ethnomycological studies. Living and thinking with mushrooms aligns us with the economic and cultural Other and places us in opposition of empire and plantation culture.

Mexico is home to over 200,000 unique species of fungi, yet only around 8,000 of those have been cataloged. Of the 60 indigenous groups in the country, 12 of them possess traditional mushroomlore that inform them on how to use the gifts of many edible, medicinal and ludic (mushrooms used in craft, decoration and as toys) and, of course, religious use (Santiago et al, 3). If one subscribes to the theory that the Americas were first populated from South American at a point deep in timedepth and then only later from the North via the land bridge, it is rational to consider that the mushroomlore held by the Mixtec and other indigenous groups in Mexico is transmitted from some of the oldest extant points along the history of humankind. It is, in effect, our oldest relationship with the spirit-world and our longest relationship with spirit forms certainly on this continent. It is the oldest American magic.

The word Mixtec, according to the authors of ‘Traditional knowledge and use of wild mushrooms by Mixtecs,’ means People of the Clouds and the Mixtec call themselves, ñuu savi, or ‘people of the rain.’ We have seen in previous entries in the Myconomicon that mushrooms themselves are associated with the rain in almost every mycophilic culture across the globe, so in a way they are also a ‘people of the rain’ or certainly a universal rain spirit. The authors continue their description of the Mixtec as follows:

“The Mixtec language, which belongs to the Otomanguean languages, is a tonal language in which the meanings of words change depending on their pronunciation tone… The importance of mushrooms for the Mixtec group has been documented in both ancient and colonial manuscripts, including the Codex Yuta Tnoho, which probably has its origin in Tilantongo, in the Mixteca Alta of Oaxaca. This is considered the first documentary record linked to the cultural importance of mushrooms in Mexico, includes a history of more than 500 years and describes, in pictographs, the mythical origins of the Mixtec universe and the rituals associated with maize, pulque [alcoholic drink made by fermenting sap from the maguey, a type of agave] and… mushrooms that led to the first sunrise in the current era… The agriculture of Mixtec communities is of the subsistence and marginal types. Corn (Zea mays L.), beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.), pumpkin (Cucurbita spp.) and chili peppers (Capsicun annuum L.) are the basis of their diet. The diet of the Mixtec peoples in these regions is also complemented by animal husbandry and collected food, primarily more than 90 edible plant species, including vegetables, fruits and roots [11, 12], wild mushrooms as well as, to a lesser extent, hunting and insect gathering.” (Santiago et al, 3)

One way of living and thinking with mushrooms is to emulate (to the extent that non-indigenous humans are able) with the lifeways of those groups that have found equilibrium with these spirit-forms over the millennia. The easiest way for an Other into the lifeways of indigenous peoples (indeed, all culture groups) is through their food. One method of sympathetic magic could be the preparation and enjoyment of traditional recipes made from pumpkin, chili peppers, maize, beans and wild mushrooms. It is rational for the mycomagus to assume that the methods the Mixtec (for our example) prepare mushrooms and what other food they are paired with has been optimized to the needs and mission of their mushroomkin.

The Mixtec normally refer to mushrooms using two words, a root that most often is translated as ‘mushroom’ and a modifier that is a description of the mushroom or a reference to the spirit’s forest symbiot. Wild mushrooms have the generic name ‘xi’i,’ which means ‘dead’ or ‘dying.’ Another nod to the necromantic qualities of enchanting with the kingdom of fungi. Mixtec can distinguish and name all of the parts of wild mushrooms as well, rivaling the most detailed Western taxonomy (Santiago et al, 21)

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The depth of the detail given to the identification of mushrooms, the linguistic complexity, is a another clear indicator of the massive timedepth involved in the Mixtec’s relationship with mushroomkin. They also separate mushrooms linguistically from plants and animals, as we do, and very likely have done so for hundreds of years before Western botanists decided on that course (Santiago et all, 22). As an aside, I find it supremely intriguing the universality of the taxonomic process. Humankind is a species of curators, if nothing else. Corn Smut, our Soot Daemon is inevitably brought up again in the course of this research. The authors have this to say about the anomaly of Ustilago maydis:

“A peculiar case in the Mixtec classification system is constituted by a corn parasitic fungus. In this case, the Mixtec name used for the species Ustilago maydis, which is a fungus belonging to the Ustilaginales order that is consumed in the region, the word xi'i is not included because in the studied communities it is not considered to be a mushroom. Instead, the name that refers to the species is tɨkaa maa, which can be translated as "bad grasshopper" and relates to the black colour of the grasshopper (Sphenarium purpurascens) or to the dark brown liquid ejected by the mouthparts of these insects, which is similar to the colour of the spores of the fungus.” (Santiago et al, 22)

Sphenarium purpurascens

Sphenarium purpurascens

Bad Grasshopper is almost certain to be my new industrial rock band name if I ever stop blogging and podcasting and put my hands on a synthesizer again.

This is an excellent ethnomycological report and I recommend you seek it out yourself if these facts are of interest, as there is more depth in the article itself. The authors also relay how mushrooms are generally prepared prior to consumption. You see, there is ritual cleansing on both our side and on the mushroom’s side. We prepare to meet each other in the liminal space where spirits and humans interact, a space not conducive to either of us in our ‘natural’ state but a niche that can only be accessed via ritual. It is stated that they are first washed with water and any dirt, putrefaction or organic material is removed from the surface of the flesh. During the washing all mushrooms are inspected again to ensure they are edible and not a poisonous demon in disguise — this is done with special acuity for Cantharellus cibarius (xi’i veya), Agaricus campestris (xi’i nuu ite), and Marasmius oreades (xi’i daa).

Cantharellus cibarius

Cantharellus cibarius

Agaricus campestris

Agaricus campestris

Marasmius oreades

Marasmius oreades

Mushrooms are all roasted on a grill and then washed again to remove what is described as a yellow substance that can cause stomach upset and vomiting in some individuals when consumed in excess (Santiago et al, 7). I have taken notice in this research that preparing mushrooms over open fires or dry on a grill is prevalent in mycophillic cultures. Perhaps the West’s cultural practice of smothering mushrooms in butter or burying them in a ragu or other thick sauce is more a product of our mycophobia (which, you will recall, is inherited from our colonized minds) than a product of good taste. The ethnographers then take note of the herbs that are paired with mushrooms, such as epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides), hoja santa (Piper auritum Kunth), and spearmint (Menthe spicata).

Dysphania ambrosioides

Dysphania ambrosioides

Piper auritum

Piper auritum

Menthe spicata

Menthe spicata

The use of spearmint here is quite interesting and not an intuitive pairing to my Western (albeit, untrained in the culinary arts) mind. Hoja santa is translated as ‘Saint Leaf’ and Spearmint has been used for healing for thousands of years in many different cultures. It is important that mushroomkin are paired with these herbs before consumption.

It is reported that when an abundance of wild mushrooms are available the Mixtec do make a amarillito molé of them as is culturally appropriate in the state of Oaxaca. They use chili pepper, cloves and hoja santa with one of the following mushrooms: Agarics campestris, Cantharellus ciborium, Marasmius oreades, Neolentinus lepideus (xi´intaka’an ñu´u) and [Xerula] radicata (xi´i tuchi) (Santiago et al, 7). Of particular interest here is the fact that different types of mushroomkin are not cooked in the same dish, as all have their own individual preferences for how they like to be prepared, a true marker of individuality and respect for the spirit of mushroom on the part of the indigenous cooks.

Neolentinus lepideus

Neolentinus lepideus

Xerula radicata

Xerula radicata

The Mixtec don’t seek out mushrooms, typically, but collect them in the course of their everyday activities that intersect with wooded areas such as tending cattle, hunting, traveling and collecting firewood (Santiago et al, 7). This is another key difference between indigenous mycophilic practice and the Western mycophobiaspora — we largely (not exclusively, but for the most part) view mushrooming as a separate activity whereas the Mixtec, in this example, have integrated mushrooming into their day-to-day subsistence and social activities. They regularly dry mushrooms such as Schizophyllum commune (xi´i tnu kutu), for long-term storage as they can be stored this way without losing flavor (Santiago et al, 8).

Schizophyllum commune

Schizophyllum commune

The researchers report on knowledge of a mushroom that is used primarily as a ‘bioclimatic indicator,’ the aforementioned species Neolentinus lepideus [xi´i ntaka’a ñu´u, thunder mushroom (when God or land returns to talk)], which only emerges when there is thunder prior to the rainy season. From the paper:

“If the fungus develops in the months of February and March, that indicates that the rainy season will begin early and continue for a long period. Conversely, if it appears in the months of April or May, the rains will be delayed and the season will be short.” (Santiago et al, 8).

This is nothing less than reading country as a method of weather divination, in other words, a purely magical use of mushroomkin. The belief that this mushroom is linked directly with the manifestation of thunder and lightning across the landscape has recently gained the support of Western science as it has been repeatedly observed during experiments that mushrooms such as matsutake and Laccaria laccata will send up fruiting bodies in direct response to electrical charges (Santiago et al, 17).

Laccaria laccata

Laccaria laccata

The Mixtec prove to be keen observers of the environment. For example, they know that the local squirrels and deer consume Boletus edulis and Russula mexicana and that in doing so, they spread the spores of the mushroom to different areas - which is reported by the researchers as being a very advanced level of ecological awareness, which is both patronizing and flattering at the same time — a particular talent of Western materialists.

Boletus edulis

Boletus edulis

Russula mexicana

Russula mexicana

The researchers assert that mushroomlore is maintained by the Mixtec regardless of the amount and degree of acculturation undergone by the group. It is still taught to children and they have a working knowledge of the mushroom kingdom by the ages of seven or eight — being able to name a good number of mushrooms and their component parts (Santiago et al, 13). If we are to not only become mycomages ourselves but wish to impart this wisdom to future generations, we should follow this model and teach what mushroomlore we can to the youths in our life. Living and thinking with mushrooms is best started young as it takes a great deal of time to gain comfort with and acceptance from mushroomkin. Children are more readily accepted and become adults with a greater wealth of mushroomlore.

Which brings us to our spirit form for the week, Lentinus squarrosulus, or the White Shiitake mushroom.

Lentinus squarrosulus

Lentinus squarrosulus

Lentinus squarrosulus is a common edible in both Central Asia and Africa and there is evidence that it has been a food source from antiquity. It is known by many different names, over twenty in Africa, which is an indicator of its importance from a period when the continent was primarily tribal (pre-modern Africa). Once example of a local African name for L. squarrosulus is ‘ero ata achichianya,’ an Igbo term that relates to the mature mushroom’s tough flesh. The authors of ‘Bioprospecting of Lentils squarrosulus…’ also offer a translation of its Chinese name, ‘Shiitake with Tilted Scales.’ (Lau and Abdullah, 117) I sought clarification on this term and found the article cited as the source for the above name, ‘Nutritional composition of three domesticated culinary-medicinal mushrooms,’ where the authors state:

“L. squarrosulus, also called “shiitake of tilted scales,” was a tropical species found in the wild of southwest China, and was domesticated in 2007.” (Zhou et al, 44)

Showing that the original translation is ‘of tilted scales,’ rather than ‘with tilted scales.’ Scales in China related back to fish and dragons. The term tilted, or Xié is closer to ‘oblique’ in Chinese, but can also mean slanting or beveled. Scales, or Lín in Chinese is used in conjunction with the scale bearing animal, such as Lóng lín (dragon scales) or Yúlín (fish scales). It is also translated as ‘squama,’ which is a very specific shape, that of a scale lying down, or in the decumbent position.The full translated of shiitake of tilted scales is Xié lín mógū. Curiosly, mógū can also mean ‘dawdle.’ Our mushroom of the tilted scale then is related to other scale-like creatures in Chinese, such as the fish or the dragon. This connects to the story of the Golden Dragon, who began his life as koi that refused to believe that he couldn’t jump to the top of a waterfall found by his school on the Yellow River. Demons made the waterfall taller out of malice but eventually the golden koi achieved his goal and was rewarded by the gods and was transformed into the Golden or Yellow Dragon.

Another view of the translation, however, is that Shiitake of Tilted Scales, our Oblique Dragon, is a possible vector into the age old craft of steelyard, or balance scale, which is translated into Guīmó in Chinese. I am unable to find the actual Chinese term for White Shiitake, so both scenarios should be entertained. This creates a connection with the Chinese ‘Pian jing,’ or Book of Swindles - the first Chinese story collection about fraud, which contains eighty-four stories about swindling, counterfeit money, Misrepresentation and Theft in the Ming dynasty. The book focuses on interactions at the lowest level of the social order and takes place in an imaginal realm known as ‘Jianghu,’ which translates as Rivers and Lakes, a place of refuge for ex pats, political exiles, outlaws, martial artists, in essence a realm filled with Others. The opposite half of the realm of Jianghu is populated by merchants, civil service examine candidate, and traveling officials. There is a strong undercurrent of Daoist alchemy in it as well. The Golden Dragon is also a representation of the Yellow Emperor, Huangdi, who is the patron saint of Daoism.

The Oblique Dragon, our dawdling denizen of Jianghu, is considered a ‘paleotropical’ species of mushroom, meaning that it is theorized to have existed on Laurasia, Pangea or other stages of super-continental earth as it is now found in equatorial Africa, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and Australia. He prefers fallen tree trucks, old stumps and the exposed roots of trees and growing in tufts of six to thirty fruiting bodies. He is short lived above ground, indicating that he is primarily a cthonic spirit-form. Above ground he reaches his mature form in around 4 days and normally does not maintain that state for more than a week before going back to the earth from whence he arose (Lau and Abdullah, 117). In Africa he is an ally of the Yoruba, Esan, and Igbo having provided food and medicine for these tribes for millennia. In Asia, he is aligned with communities in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines where he is often grilled and served with a piquant condiment such as Agrodocle or with sweet curry. The authors of the paper also state that White Shiitake is consumed among the Semai, Temuan, Bateq, and Jakun Tribes of Peninsular Malaysia and the Aeta tribe of the Philippines (Lau and Abdullah,, 118).

The Yoruba connection is, of course, quite relevant for our own needs. Further research into the role of mushrooms and the Yoruba religion — which is widely considered as the font from which Voodoo, Santeria, and other Orisha worship sprung from — can be found in works such as ‘Mushrooms in Yoruba Mythology and Medicinal Practices’ and ‘Mushrooms and the Yoruba People of Nigeria’. For our Chaos Magic agenda, some efficient blend of Yoruba, Paleo-shaminism and Daoism could be a practical path to conducting enchantment with the assistance of the Oblique Dragon.

White Shiitake is employed in traditional medicine to treat anaemia, infertility, mumps, heart disease, cough, fever and fungal infections (Lau and Abdullah, 118). He contains high amounts of potassium, phosphorus, sodium and amino acids such as glutamic acid (which imparts the umami taste), aspartic acid, threonine, arginine, alanine, proline and tyrosine. Research has shown that when domesticated the Oblique Dragon has a markedly different profile than when found feral. When preserved sun drying was found to retain more of these nutrients than oven or smoke drying methods (Lau and Abdullah, 118-120). Up to 11% of Shiitake with Tilted Scale’s nutritional components contribute to an MSG-like flavor.

In the lab, the mycelial biomass of our dragon has been found to contain up to 58 grams to every 100 grams of biomass of protein, .5g/100g of fat, .4g/100g magnesium, 4g/100g other essential minerals and 2g/100g of B1. A broth can be made of White Shiitake’s mycelia by boiling it in water for approximately 30 minutes and filtering it through No. 1 Whatman filter paper (Omar et al, 2,4). The potential for a low fat, high protein broth alone is quite good. Keep in mind that Bone Broth only has around 5g/100g of protein content, meaning a mycellial broth of White Shiitake has 10 times the amount of protein found in this popular food as well as imparting the same or similar umami taste. The broth has also been found in studies to drastically reduce the effects of or even heal gastric ulcers through its suppression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the stomach (Omar et al, 2011, 4-7).It not only heals ulcers that have already occurred but it prevents them as well. Those individuals that suffer from ulcers could benefit from a daily cup of L. squarrosulus broth. Ulcers for many reasons, but a significant cause in the 21st century are stressors of the modern world. Our spirit form soothes the stomach and brings balance to that region of the human body. Balance in the core brings balance to the rest of the body. Ulcers create an inability to digest or even eat nutritional food, so a spirit-form that cares for this area of the human body is a beneficial one indeed. Moreover, the mycellial broth was also found to be rich in free-radical scavenging antioxidants, rounding out the potent medicinal properties of a naturally umami broth (Omar et al, 2015, 5964-5968).

Cultivation of our spirit-form is fairly straight-forward. By taking a liquid culture of L. squarrosulus, also popularly referenced by it’s Thai name Hed Khon Khao (White Wood Log Mushroom) by culture suppliers, and inoculate prepared spawn. Spawn that was found to be well received by White Shiitake were parboiled sorghum grains with approximately 75% moisture content autoclaved at a temperature of 250°F at 15 psi for 20 min and allowed to cool down overnight. After the spawn is fully colonized, it can be added to a sawdust substrate supplemented with 1% calcium carbonate, 1% sugar and in some cases, 20% wheat bran. Once the substrate is colonized, fruiting can be induced by the introduction of a water spray and allowing more oxygen to get to the substrate. And, as mentioned earlier, the fruiting bodies should be harvested for consumption on days 3 or 4 from after the 4th day they become tough and largely inedible.

The sigil for the Oblique Dragon can be used for those that often suffer from a sour stomach or other physical ailments related to the stressors of the modern world. It is also an excellent protective sigil against fraud or being preyed upon by otherwise dishonest individuals, particularly where money is involved. If you have a large purchase to make and are having doubts about the seller, try meditating on this sigil until the seller’s ethical ground is revealed.

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This sigil can also be used in conjunction with Yorùbá herbalism, or egbo’gi or Daoist guan (‘observation’) meditation which is the Buddhist practice of ‘just perceiving’ in an attempt to cultivate what is known as the ‘original mind.’ This is the same practice (or at least, extremely similar) that is referenced in the beginning of this entry, Phil Hine’s Indifferent Vacuity, the alternate form of gnosis that can be used to charge sigils. Thus, The Oblique Dragon sigil can be used as a type of ‘power-up’ when shoaling a number of other related sigils.

Sigil courtesy of Ghostly Harmless’ Sigilizer

References

Dawson A S (2015) Salvador Roquet, María Sabina, and the Trouble with Jipis. Hispanic American Historical Review.(95,1) pp 103-133

Hine, P., & Carroll, P. J. (2010). Condensed chaos: An introduction to chaos magic. Original Falcon Press. Tempe, AZ.

Lau B F and Abdullah N (2016) Bioprospecting of Lentinus squarrosulus Mont., an underutilized wild edible mushroom, as a potential source of functional ingredients: A review. Trends in Food Science & Technology (61) 116-131

Oghenekara A O, Okhuoya J A and Akpala E O (2009) Growth of Lentinus squarrosulus (M.) Singer on sawdust of different tropical tree species. African Journal of Food Science (3, 1) pp 7-10.

Omar N A M, Abdullah N, Kuppusamy U R, Abdulla M A and Sabaratnam V (2011) Nutritional composition, antioxidant activities, and antinuclear potential of Lentils squarrosulus (Mont.) mycelia extract. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine (2011)

Omar N A M, Abdullah S, Abdullah N, Kuppusamy U R, Abdulla M A and Sabaratnam V (2015) Lentinus squarrosulus (Mont.) mycelium enhanced antioxidant status in rat model. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. (9) pp 5957 - 5964.

Rogers, R. D. (2016). Mushroom essences: Vibrational healing from the kingdom fungi. North Atlantic Books, Berkely, CA.

Santiago H F, Moreno J P, Cázares B X, Almaraz J J, Zuárez J J A, Trejo E O, Montes de Oca G M and Aguilar I D (2016) Traditional knowledge and use of wild mushrooms by Mixtecs of Ñuu savi, the people of the rain, from Southeastern Mexico. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. (12, 35) pp 1-22

Tsing, A. L. (2017). Mushroom at the end of the world: On the possibility of life in capitalist ruins. Princeton University Press.

Zhou S, Tang Q J, Zhang Z, Li C, Cao H, Yang Y and Zhang J S (2015) Nutritional composition of three domesticated culinary-medicinal mushrooms: Oudemansiella sudmusida, Lentinus squarrosulus and Tremella aurantialbe. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms (17,1) pp 43-49

Mushroom Images

Agaricus campestris from FindingMyco

Boletus edulis from joulesofsoul

Cantharellus ciborium from Doc Lingo

Laccaria lactate from Shawn Taylor

Lentinus squarrosulus from Wikipedia

Marasmius oreades from John Plischke

Neolentinus lepideus from Geoff Balme

Russula mexicana from Alan Rockefeller

Schizophyllum commune from Cat Kerr

Xerula radicata from AJ

Mushroom Images Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution - ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.