Saturday, February 3, 2024

A Valentine for Valentina Wasson

Those in the know about the discovery of psilocybin mushrooms by Western civilization are hip to the 1957 Life magazine article written by banking executive and author R. Gordon Wasson about his experience taking mushrooms with curandera Maria Sabina in Mexico. 

What is not commonly known or appreciated is that Gordon's wife Valentina Pavlovna Wasson lead him to become interested in mushrooms, and that she published an account of her own experience with psychedelic mushrooms six days after Gordon's article. Valentina's account of her psychedelic journey appeared on May 19, 1957 in This Week magazine, a nationally syndicated Sunday magazine supplement that was included in American newspapers between 1935 and 1969.

"The walls suddenly receded and I was carried out—out and away—on undulating waves of translucent turquoise green," she wrote. "My mind was floating blissfully. It was as if my very soul had been scooped out and moved to a point in heavenly space, leaving my empty physical husk behind in the mud hut. Yet I was perfectly conscious. I knew now what the shamans meant when they said, 'The mushroom takes you to a place where God is.'" She traveled in her mind to the Caves of Lascaux and to 18th century Versailles, where, "I was struck again by the magnificence and intensity of the colors. Everything was resplendently rich. I had never imagined such beauty."