35th Annual Telluride Mushroom Festival

28 09 2015

Upon arriving at Telluride for the 35th annual mushroom festival and setting up my tent at Matterhorn campground right outside the city I knew my week was off to a good start. “And you want to be my latex salesman?” a fellow camper asked me who was coming up from behind my car. A good laugh roared about as my neighbor campmate had noticed my “Vandelay Industries” bumper sticker on my car. The Seinfeld humor regarding George Constanza’s ploy at working at a fake company to keep getting unemployment benefits never gets old and whenever referenced good times seem to follow.

The Festival was simply a magical experience. I was a first timer and it was a great inroad to the world of entheogenic studies, insights, and contacts for me. I am a wellness professional and being educated in massage therapy, training, nutrition, and more recently working in crisis counseling and psychedelic healing I was advised to attend. It has been an interesting road for someone like myself. How does one go about working in the psychedelic healing community when in fact it is technically illegal? How does one even go about having conversations with people in the community when so many negative myths and fear propaganda have been spread regarding psychedelic substances? The Telluride Mushroom Festival was a confidence builder, extremely educational, and a total networking event for getting in touch with people who have all had positive experiences working with psychedelic substances as a form of healing. I will forever walk around with the motivation and knowledge of the people that helped me out at this festival. The collective consciousness of all of those people are truly standing for spreading positivity in the world and they are using an age old medicine that has been around for thousands of years. Yeah I know, not very creative right? Ha! However, creativity comes in all forms, and in this sense the creativity stems from thinking outside the corporate cultural box of medicine and recognizing what has worked for people since the dawn of time.

The festival had many avenues for all that is mushroom related. There was an environmentalism emphasis promoting how mushrooms can lead to being used to replace all materials that come from paper/wood and lots of other very common structural materials used in everyday life. All packaging products could easily be made out of mushrooms. This in turn could provide an easy, safe, renewable resource to replace fragile non-renewable resources or even renewable resources that are not as efficient to renew. Toxic pollutants could be a thing of the past and garbage could as well as the products that are made out of mushrooms are completely safe and biodegradable. The mind wanders with wonder and practical amazement at the thought of how this mushroom technology and development could lead to a world with dramatically less garbage. It is an environmentalist’s dream and a 999 trillion dollar idea that the whole world could benefit from. Information for this can be found at ecovativedesign.com

The festival had an emphasis on nutritional medicinal mushrooms being the cure and more importantly the preventable medicine for things like cancer and many other diseases and ailments. We live in a world where the use of pharmaceutical antibiotics are becoming obsolete and dramatically coming to a close. New pathways will have to be used to cure people and medicinal mushroom cultivation offers that cure. The evidence has been staggeringly positive for the medicinal and nutritional effects that mushrooms have on people.

There were also mushroom forays everyday where one could connect with nature in the beautiful wilderness in and around Telluride. There were knowledgeable guides who had ventured the world over in search of their obsession of the mushroom in its natural habitat. There were grow-it-yourself workshops to educate even the most dramatic beginning at how to cultivate on their own. There were movies by Gay Dillingham called “Dying to Know: Ram Dass and Timothy Leary” that shattered my view of history regarding what happened to some of the original pioneers of the psychedelic movement within the counter culture movement of the 1960s. I used to be a high school U.S. history teacher for crying out loud! The Beetles writing their “Come Together Right Now Over Me” song for Timothy Leary’s campaign for governor of CA against Ronald Reagan and the eventual bogus imprisonment of him shortly thereafter? How did I not know about this and the corrupt behavior our government did in terms of how they treated these people?! Ahhhh! There were international speakers like Giuliana Furci from Chile who were in charge of fungi foundations promoting the positive aspects fungi have on the everyday lives of people. And of course there were yummy, nutritional mushrooms all around to feast on if people were nice enough (they always were) to give you a piece of their prized, fresh find!

Above all else however, was the psychedelic and entheogenic emphasis of the festival, which is what the festival was originally founded on. Art Goodtimes, who was the poet laureate and one of the veterans of the festival delighted all with his charismatic good nature, and pleasant, poetic, and vibrant energy, wanted the festival to be called “Shroomfest.” However, he mentioned others had agreed this wasn’t the most politically correct name for the festival as after all the psychedelic mushroom is still illegal and labeled as an extremely addicting schedule one substance by the U.S. government having no medicinal value. Beware beware of the magic mushrooms! Clearly we are all addicts to its medicinal properties and the mind-expanding properties it brings upon its users that foster love and connection towards those all around. Actually, it makes sense. How dare we get addicted to something that doesn’t have a patent on it and can’t make money for big pharma corporations. How dare we become addicted to something that takes out the middleman of the federal government in terms of our healthcare. I am being sarcastic of course as magic mushrooms have not been found to be chemically addicting by any means. Furthermore though, our world gets turned upside down when we come to realize that our Food and Drug Administration and government does not have our best interests at heart in terms of health. Magic mushrooms offer a pathway for those in our community to heal themselves and be free from the addiction based drugs we are so often prescribed that lead to a quality of life that is far less than what it could be. The people at this festival are definitely a daring and courageous bunch standing for holistic, truth-based healing.

I am glad that as a first timer to the festival I could see and feel the psychedelic mushroom emphasis upon which the festival was based on. The festival has stayed true to its original intent after thirty-five years. There were many panels of people put on stage where intensely stimulating discussions raged regarding the positive effects of psilocybin (the “magic” ingredient in these particular mushrooms). John Hopkins University had an incredible presence at the festival showing forth their positive research with their patients with psilocybin. Psilocybin overwhelmingly produced intensely positive feelings in people relating to their depression levels, anxiety, stress, trauma, and addictions (at roughly a 70-90% success rate). The research was astounding and very appropriate even though it is far lagging behind what many people already know about the benefits of psilocybin. How many more studies need to be done in order for the incredibly blasphemous schedule 1 label to be removed on psilocybin? The culture is far ahead of the bureaucratic infrastructure of our government on this one and really it seems on most things in these modern times. Hopefully, it won’t be much longer but governments don’t like to admit they are wrong (especially that they’ve been wrong for decades)!

I have been to many other conferences, festivals, professional trainings, etc. and the Mushroom Telluride Festival stood out for me as one of the more incredible festivals I’ve ever attended. I credit the people as the reason for this. I know what you’re thinking, most festivals are extremely loving places where people are having a good time and delving into recreational behavior and stimulants. However, it was different here. Yes, people were having a good time and, yes, many were delving into their own psilocybin healing use but that’s just it. Psilocybin creates a mind-expanding experience. One gets taken out of where they operate mostly in their brain and are allowed to explore throughout the wholeness of their brain. The brain is a lovely place to be, especially when you’re not constricted to one small area. The people at this festival have the experience of using their whole brain. There are more amounts of love, acceptance, listening, empathizing, collaboration, knowledge, honesty, friendliness, fun, etc. They are a people that are experts at getting out of their own way and thinking beyond what the normal person thinks about. They are no inner cliques here or groups of people holding back others and the vibe is definitely one of veering away from any type of quick labeling of others. The content of the conversations and openness encountered were extremely motivating. It made me want to do more good in the world and it helped me more truly find my place in it. It made me really experience firsthand the positive affects and power these people have going for them and how people who are involved in and around psilocybin pay homage to such a simple, holistically grown mushroom that creates so much positive expansion and change. As Americans, it is easy to believe we have advanced so far and our technology in modern medicine is at the peak of efficiency and being right. In this particular example, it couldn’t be further from the truth. The civilizations of the past and their relationships with plants and psychedelics obtained a level of advancement that has left us far behind. The Telluride Mushroom Festival is a big part of this overall enlightening movement to bring medicine back to a place that works for people without the ill effects and misleading intentions of government and the corporate, solely for profit interested, pharmaceutical industries. I am proud to have met these people and be apart of this movement! It is one of the more meaningful things I’ve done with my life.

Art Goodtimes




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