Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mushroom Mythology 2

                        A New Road of Archaeological Inquiry
                                                              By Carl de Borhegyi
                                                                  Copyright 2011
 Over the years there has been a lot of speculation among scholars concerning the true identity of the mystery plant in the Rig Veda called Soma, the only plant known to have been deified in the history of human culture, (Furst, 1972:201). While the hymns about Soma have come down to us through time, the botanical identity of Soma remains a mystery. Theories abound as to Soma's forgotten identity, yet among Vedic and Hindu scholars Soma is believed to be a species of Ephedra.                                         
 We know from the sacred texts called the Rig Veda, (Veda is a Sanskrit word meaning "to see") that Soma was an intoxicating plant worshiped as both a god and holy beverage by a people who called themselves Aryans. We are told that drinking Soma produces immortality, and that the gods drank Soma to make them immortal.
The Soma religion of the ancient Aryans is believed to have originated in the Ararat (Aryans) plains of Armenia in northeastern Anatolia, an area of present day Turkey that new evidence would suggest is the likely origination point for religion and civilization.
The Aryans, who introduced their Vedic religion into the Indus Valley civilization around 1600 B.C., believed that sacrifices were necessary to keep the world in balance. This balance was maintained through the acts of ritual sacrifice and the offering of a hallucinogenic drink called Soma (Sanskrit), and Haoma (Avestan) among the ancient Persians of Iran. After closely examining the archaeological and historical evidence, we find many parallels between the ancient Vedic religion of East India, China, and Iran, with the mythology and religion of the Americas. The evidence I present would strongly infer that the Indo-Aryans, or Chinese,  migrated across the Bearing Straits, or voyaged across the Pacific Ocean, around 1000 B.C. bringing with them their Soma religion and trophy head cultlong before the voyages of Christopher Columbus.
  The prevailing anthropological view of ancient New World history is that its indigenous peoples developed their own complex cultures independent of outside influence or inspiration.  Any suggestions to the contrary have been generally dismissed as either fanciful, racist, or demeaning. The peoples of the New World, scholars have argued,  were fully capable of developing their own civilizations as sophisticated as any found in Asia or the West. Today trans-oceanic contact between the hemispheres is still considered highly unlikely despite the exception of the Viking outpost discovered in Newfoundland in the 1960's, and the recent awareness that early humans reached far distant Australia by boat as many as 50,000 years ago. After viewing the visual evidence presented below, readers of this study may wish to challenge this view of New World history with a more open-minded acknowledgement of the capability of ancient peoples to explore their environment and disperse their intellectual heritage to its far corners. 
  Transoceanic contact with the ancient civilizations of the New World will remain a problem until it can be demonstrated without a shadow of a doubt that the traits of New World civilizations had their antecedent or origin in the Old World.
 My study of pre-Columbian art  began in 1996, inspired by a theory first proposed over fifty years ago by my father, the late Maya archaeologist Dr. Stephan F. de Borhegyi, that hallucinogenic mushroom rituals were a central aspect of Maya religion. He based this theory on his identification of a mushroom stone cult that came into existence in the Guatemala Highlands and Pacific coastal area around 1000 B.C. along with a trophy head cult associated with human sacrifice and the Mesoamerican ballgame.
  My study presents visual evidence of encoded mushroom imagery never identified before, "Hidden In Plain Sight",  that proves that the late ethno-mycologist Robert Gordon Wasson was in fact correct in surmising that the true identity of Soma was the hallucinogenic Amanita muscaria mushroom. Moreover, I also believe that both the Amanita muscaria mushroom and the Psilocybin mushroom were worshiped and venerated in Mesoamerica like the god Soma in ancient India and southeast Asia. These sacred mushrooms were so cleverly encoded in the religious art of both the New and Old Worlds, that prior to this study they virtually escaped detection.   
Quoting  R.  Gordon Wasson….
 ”What was this plant that was called “Soma”? No one knows. Apparently its identity was lost some 3,000 years ago, when its use was abandoned by the priests”.
” I believe that Soma was a mushroom, Amanita muscaria (Fries ex L.) Quel, the fly-agaric, the Fliegenpilz of the Germans, the fausse oronge or tue-mouche or crapaudin of the French, the mukhomor of the Russians. This flaming red mushroom with white spots flecking its cap is familiar throughout northern Europe and Siberia. It is often put down in mushroom manuals as deadly poisonous but this is false, as I myself can testify. Until lately it has been a central feature of the worship of numerous tribes in northern Siberia, where it has been consumed in the course of their shamanic sessions. Its reputation as a lethal plant in the West is, I contend, a splendid example of a tabu long outliving the religion that gave rise to it. Among the most conservative users of the fly-agaric in Siberia the belief prevailed until recent times that only the shaman and his apprentice could consume the fly-agaric with impunity: all others would surely die. This is, I am sure, the origin of the tabu that has survived among us down to our own day.”    (From Wasson’s, Soma of the Aryans: ttp://
 The following images of encoded  Amanita mushrooms are presented for educational, scholarly, and artistic research purposes. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work on this page is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.   
  Despite the reluctance of the archaeological community to accept a theory of a mushroom cult among the Maya, my father supported his theory with a solid body of archaeological evidence as well as historical evidence found recorded in various Spanish chronicles and Aztec codices.  
The historical evidence came to the attention of my father through his extensive correspondence with R. Gordon Wasson.  Wasson  pointed him toward reports of ritual use of hallucinogenic mushrooms among the Aztecs in a number of Spanish chronicles written shortly after the Spanish conquest.   Wasson also directed him toward reports of the existence of modern-day ritual use of hallucinogenic mushrooms in various parts of Mexico and, in particular, among the Mazatec Indians of Oaxaca. Together, Borhegyi and Wasson surmised that If the mushroom stones did, indeed, represent a mushroom cult, then the mushroom itself was an iconographic metaphor, and the mushroom stone effigies could supply the clues necessary to decipher their meaning.  
  As a result of my studies, and solid evidence from other Mesoamerican scholars, I have been able to expand the subject of mushroom cults far beyond my father's pioneering efforts. I have found an abundance of archaeological evidence supporting the proposition that Mesoamerica, the high cultures of South America, and Easter Island shared, along with many other New World cultures, elements of a Pan American belief system so ancient that many of the ideas may have come from Asia to the New World with the first human settlers.  I believe the key to this entire belief system lies, as proposed by R. Gordon Wasson, in early man's discovery of the mind-altering effects of various hallucinatory substances. The accidental ingestion of these hallucinogenic substances could very well have provided the spark that lifted the mind and imagination of these early humans above and beyond the mundane level of daily existence to contemplation of another reality.
 This study which is exclusively my own work presents visual evidence that both the hallucinogenic Amanita muscaria mushroom and the Psilocybin mushroom were worshiped and venerated as gods in ancient Mesoamerica. These sacred mushrooms were so cleverly encoded in the religious art of the New World, "Hidden in Plain Sight" that prior to my study besides the obvious depictions like mushroom stones they virtually escaped detection.  

  Ethno-archaeologist  Peter Furst, who supported  Borhegyi and Wasson's mushroom cult theory added: 
"The connection between these [mushroom] sculptures and the historic mushroom cults of Mesoamerica has not always been accepted. Though many mushroom stones are quite faithful to nature, they were, until recently, not even universally thought to represent mushrooms at all, and a few die-hards even now, in the face of all the evidence, reject this interpretation." (1972)
  One of the most influential archaeologists of the time, the late Sir J. Eric S. Thompson, was a major doubter of an ancient Maya mushroom cult. He wrote my father as follows:
 Quoting Sir J. Eric S. Thompson.... 
  "I had heard of the theory that these stones might represent a narcotic mushroom cult, but I would think it a difficult theory to prove or disprove... I know of no reference to their use among the Maya, ancient or modern" (Thompson to Borhegyi, March 26,1953, MPM Archives).    
  Thompson was not unfamiliar with mushroom stones. He had found an anthropomorphic mushroom stone representing a seated individual with a mushroom cap in the course of a trial survey of the Southern Maya area.  The specimen came from the Central Highlands of Guatemala. Thompson described the piece as a huge mushroom-like object that some anthropologists thought to be stone stools--though he admitted that they could hardly have been comfortable seats!  He also excavated and illustrated several tripod mushroom stones with plain stems at Finca El Baul on the Coastal piedmont of Guatemala. These he also described as stone seats. (Borhegyi in Wasson, 1962:49)

     The ballgame yoke fragment with footprint was excavated by J. Eric Thompson along with a tripod mushroom stone from a pit in front of Monument 3 at the Pacific coastal site of El Baul in Guatemala.

  The mushroom stone excavated by Thompson at El Baul  (Type D) came from an offertory-cache which included a small stone ballgame yoke, evidence that linked mushroom stones and mushroom rituals with the ritual ballgame and to the monument itself. Monument 3 at El Baul is a huge boulder sculpture representing a bearded individual with an aquiline-nose. I believe that the sculpture is an image of the (priest-king) Quetzalcoatl, and that the shrine itself was dedicated to Quetzalcoatl and to the planet Venus.  

   R. Gordon Wasson writes...
  "If I were to postulate the nature of a mushroomic cult, it would be of an erotic or procreative character. Sahagun says that the narcotic mushroom incita a  la   lujuria,-- excites lust. He described it in a dancing scene where it is eaten." (Wasson to Borhegyi 3-27-1953)  
  "Some Middle American specialists may challenge my assumption of a connection between the "mushroom stones", which ceased to be made centuries before Columbus arrived on these shores, and today's surviving mushroom cult." .... "For years I had only an assumption to go on , but now, thanks to discoveries made by the late Stephan F. de Borhegyi  and us, I think we can tie the two together in a way that will satisfy any doubter"   (Wasson,1972:188n)
 Eric Thompson mentions the erotic practices introduced into Yucatan by the Itza which he says was introduced as part of the cult of Quetzalcoatl-Kukulcan (J.E.S. Thompson 1966 p. 127)
 Thompson mentions that the ruler of Chichen Itza, Nacxit, was the name for Quetzalcoatl-Kukulcan, and that in the books of the Chilam Balam, he is called Nacxit Kukulcan who was ruler of Chichen Itza, who introduced violence and sin to Chichen Itza, (J.E.S. Thompson 1966 p. 128).
  Quoting Maya Archaeologist Stephan F. de Borhegyi....
      " I think that the story is as follows: the priest king Quetzalcoatl /Kukulcan, (Gucumatz) was expelled by his enemies from Tula (Tollan), sometime around 960A.D (Quetzalcoatl was accused with sodomy and incest.).  He left with a small group of his followers and went to Tlapallan, that is, the Laguna de Terminos region.  Here he apparently settled down.  It would seem that some of the Chontal tribes accepted the mushroom cult introduced by him and after a few years, the pressure of enemy tribes forced them to move on, led by descendants of Quetzalcoatl and his followers.  Some went northeast to Chichen Itza; others moved southward following the Usamacinta toward Guatemala" (Borhegyi to Wasson, April 1954).


Image of Quetzalcoatl as a "Weeping God"  from VANKIRK, Jacques, and Parney Bassett-VanKirk,  Remarkable Remains of the Ancient Peoples of Guatemala,  Norman: University of Oklahoma, 1996.)              

The stone carving shown above is a good example of the clever way in which the Precolumbian artist hid the sacred mushrooms of underworld jaguar transformation from the eyes of the uninitiated.   I believe that knowledge of the mushroom Venus resurrection ritual was considered so sacred that the artist deliberately obscured mushroom imagery. In this case the sculptor hid them behind the tears of the "Weeping God",  known in legend as Quetzalcoatl Ce Acatl, the bearded god-king of the Toltecs.  In order to distinguish this semi-historical Quetzalcoatl from Quetzalcoatl as the Feathered Serpent or Wind God deity,  the Toltecs prefixed his birth date to his name, Ce Acatl,  meaning "One Reed."
     Maya Archaeologist Stephan F. de Borhegyi....
   "...fanged anthropomorphic individuals with dangling eyeballs, are commonly associated with the god Quetzalcoatl in his form of Ehecatl the Wind God”. ( Borhegyi 1980:17)    
  While at first glance they give the illusion of dangling eye-balls, if you look closely at the mask you will see that the legendary tears of Quetzalcoatl are actually encoded Amanita mushrooms "hidden in plain sight." This bearded and fanged deity shared feline, serpentine, and bird-like features. Identified as a Feathered or Plumed Serpent by archaeologists in his earliest representations,  he took on many additional guises and attributes over the years, and became known by a great variety of names throughout the New World. I have elected to refer to him, as did the Toltecs and Aztecs, as Quetzalcoatl.
There is plenty of evidence in Mesoamerican mythology linking the many avatars of Quetzalcoatl, Jaguar-Bird-Serpent, to the duality of the planet Venus.  Eduard Seler was the first to link feathered serpent imagery to the planet Venus and Quetzalcoatl and Seler believed that the jaguar-bird-serpent image was associated with war and the Morning Star ( Milbrath ).  In Aztec mythology the cosmos was intimately linked to the planet Venus in its form as the Evening Star, which guides the sun through the Underworld at night, as the skeletal god Xolotl, the twin of Quetzalcoatl.  As the Morning Star, Quetzalcoatl's avatar was the harpy eagle.  Among the Quiche Maya,  Venus in its form as the  Morning Star, was called iqok'ij,  meaning the "sunbringer" or "carrier of the sun or day." (Tedlock, 1993:236). 

 According to Spanish chronicler Fray Diego Duran, (The Aztecs,1964, p.149) it was written that before Quetzalcoatl departed  his beloved Tula, he left orders that his figure be carved in wood and in stone, to be adored by the common people. “They will remain as a perpetual memorial to our greatness in the way that we remember Quetzalcoatl”.
           (Photograph of Maya mushroom stones by Dr. Richard Rose reproduced from Stamets, 1996) 
  The Preclassic Mayan mushroom stone pictured at the far left is from the site of Kaminaljuyu in the Guatemala Highlands, which depicts a mushroom emerging from the back of a crouching jaguar. Mushroom stones with a double edge or groove on the underside of the cap, have been dated to the Late Pre-Classic period about 300-100 B.C. by Stephan F. de Borhegyi based on the few mushroom stones that have been excavated in context at Kaminaljuyu. 

   Quoting the late Ethno-Mycologist Robert Gordon Wasson...
"In examining these mushroomic artifacts we must keep in mind that they were not made for our enlightenment. They were iconic shorthand summarizing a whole bundle of associations ,--whatever those associations were. The Christian cross is to be found in endless shapes, including the "effigy cross" or crucifix, and all stem back to a complex of emotions, beliefs, and religious longings. The crucifix would reveal to an archaeologist eons hence more than, say, a Maltese cross. So with the mushroom stones, the subject matter of the effigies holds the secret".    
  " There is little doubt that the substance called Soma in the Rig Veda has been identified as the fungus Amanita Muscaria."
"In the association of these ideas we strike a vein that must go back to the remotest times in Eurasia, to the Stone Age: the link between the toad, the female sex organs, and the mushroom, exemplified in the Mayan languages and the mushroom stones of the Maya Highlands. Man must have brought this association across the Bering Strait (or the land bridge that replaced it in the ice ages) as part of his intellectual luggage.”
  "When we look at the mushroom stones we must always remember that in pre-Conquest times most art, if not all, was religious, as it once was in Europe. And we must remember that the hold on the inner life of the Mesoamerican peoples of the ethnogeny, notably the entheogenic mushrooms, was all-powerful, as it is to this day in remote corners of highland Mexico. Those who have not explored the role of the entheogens * in the cultural past of Mesoamerica easily overlook that role or assume that it was of minor importance, solely because for us it is of no importance”. (Wasson, 1980:189).
   "I believe the whole corpus of surviving pre-conquest artistic expression should…be reviewed on the chance that divine mushrooms figuring therein have hitherto escaped detection”.  (from Thomas, 1993 p.644 11-17n)
[*] Entheogen, meaning “God within us” is the term used by Wasson for those plant substances that, when ingested, give one a divine experience.  This semantic distinction distinguishes their role in the early history of religions from their abuse and vulgarization by the “hippie” sub-culture of the l960's and 1970s.
Spanish chronicler Jacinto de la Serna, 1892 (The Manuscript of Serna) described the use of sacred mushrooms for divination: "These mushrooms were small and yellowish (Psilocybin mushrooms) and to collect them the priest and all men appointed as ministers went to the hills and remained almost the whole night in sermonizing and praying" (Quest for the Sacred Mushroom, Stephan F. de Borhegyi 1957).Serna in 1650 pointed out that the Aztec calendar was called the "count of planets". Serna  writes that the people of Mexico "adored and made more sacrifices to the sun and Venus than any other celestial or terrestrial creatures", and that it was believed that twins were associated with the sun and Venus (The Manuscript of Serna).
The Rig Veda, never mentions any planets by name, but identifies the planets by the family name of Vedic seers. Vedic names like Surya (the Sun), Soma (the Moon), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Budha (Mercury) are  the classical Hindu names for the planets, according to Vedic scholar David Frawley.  According to Frawley, originally there was one line or family of seers, the Bhrigvangirasas, and that they were divided into two groups, the Angirasas and the Bhrigus. The Angirasas were led by Brihaspati (Jupiter) and the Bhrigus by Shukra (Venus) and that with the diffusion and division of the Aryan peoples, some of the seers left with the migrating people. The Bhrigus according to Frawley "appear related to many people supposedly non-Aryan cultures of the ancient world whose calendars were based upon the cycles of Venus (Bhrigu) like the ancient Egyptians and American Indians and Mayans". Frawley suggest that based on astronomical references in the Rig Veda, that the Vedic seers had a calendar dating back to at least 6000 B.C. (from Gods, Sages and Kings: Vedic Secrets of Ancient Civiilzation p. 165-166).
 Out of the ten Rig Veda books, one hymn book is devoted entirely to Soma. The Vedas state that the god-plant Soma was found in the mountains and that the intoxicating juices from Soma were expressed from the flesh of the plant using so-called "Soma-stones."  The juices of Soma were then filtered through wool into large jars.  In like manner, mushroom stones, when they have been found in situ in the course of archaeological excavation, are often accompanied by stone grinding tools known as manos and metates.  Accounts of mushroom ceremonies still in practice among the Zapotec Indians of Mexico confirm the use of these tools in the preparation of hallucinogenic mushrooms for human consumption. Though separated by vast distances,  it is tempting to conclude that these manos and metates are, in fact, the same as the sacred stones described in the Rig Veda that were used to prepare the intoxicating drink known as Soma.

 Above are two of the nine miniature mushroom stones depicted and described below. They were found buried together in a Maya tomb, along with nine miniature stone metates and manos (Soma stones?) used in the preparation of a ritual mushroom beverage.  It was the mushroom communion in the Americas that actually transported one to the divine realm of the trinity. The nine mushroom stones were excavated from the Maya ruins of Kaminaljuyu, in Highland Guatemala.

       Amanita muscaria mushrooms encoded in Hindu and Buddhist art
     Above is a Hindu carved relief panel (Sanchi stupa second-first century B.C.)  In the middle of the carved panel is an umbrella-shaped object, located above what might be a depiction of the Soma stone used in the preparation rites of the Soma beverage. According to the Rig Veda, the Soma stones were used to press the juices from the Soma plant. (photograph from  
In both Iranian and Vedic Hindu mythology the haoma and soma plant grow beneath a sacred and mighty "world tree".   (Photograph from, Soma Haoma:  Identification of Soma and notes on lexeme corpora of ancient Indian languages.
                                                                     Soma ? 
 Amanita muscaria mushrooms encoded in Indus Valley fertility figurines 
   Above and below are ceramic female fertility figurines from the Indus Valley Civilization 3rd-2nd century B.C. which depicts the Mother Goddess or Earth Goddess, with multiple Amanita muscaria mushrooms encoded into her headdress.
                           Indus Valley Civilization female fertility figurines 
                           Soma: The Fly agaric or Amanita muscaria mushroom

                                                                         (photograph from the Walter Art Museum)            

 Earth Goddess figurine (Indus Valley 300 B.C) wearing a headdress that I would argue is comprised of five encoded Amanita muscaria mushroom caps, which could in fact be code, for the five synodic cycles of Venus.       
(Photograph of Amanita mushroom by

  Quoting Archaeologist David Freidel from the 1993 book Maya Cosmos...
    "we were surprised that every element of Maya cosmology, no matter where we started, drove us towards a few basic central themes: the creation of the cosmos; the ordering of the world of people, and of the gods and ancestors of the Otherworld; the triumph of the ancestral humans over the forces of death, decay, and dissease through cunning and trickery; the miracle of true rebirth out of sacrifice; and the origins of maize as the substance of the Maya body and soul. All of these themes are expressed in the Popol Vuh, the Book of Council of the K'iche (Quiche) Maya of highland Guatemala. The genesis stories in the Popol Vuh are a redaction of the central myths celebrated by lowland Classic Maya as a fundamental expression of their own genesis". These stories, as our colleague Michael Coe puts it, anchor Classic Maya thought in the same way that the Mahabharata and the Ramayana epics anchor popular Hindu experience and notions of royal power in Bali (Freidel, Schele, Parker, 1993 p.43).                           

        Mushrooms and the Fleur de lis Symbol Encoded in Indian Coins ?


  INDIAN COINS. Ancient. Magadha Janapada (c.600-500 BC), Silver Vimshatika, from the earliest series, approx 5.5g, (cf Rajgor series 10, 45-46) Baldwin's Auctions Ltd, Auction 71, 1247 and 1248
   Note the Fleur de lis symbol on the coin above right from the Kshaharata dynasty 1st century C.E.     
  INDIAN COINS. Ancient, Satakarni I, Lead Karshapana from the Nasik region, bull and swastika, rev tree; Nahapana, Lead Karshapana, lion to right, rev vajra or thunderbolt. Note the symbol of the Fleur de lis on the coin above in the upper right hand corner. The  Satavahana Empire covered much of India from 230 BCE onward. (From  (photograph of coins from Baldwin's Auctions Ltd, Auction 71, 1322 ) 
                                               Above is a sculpture of the Hindu trinity.     

   The female figurine on the left with encoded Amanita muscaria mushrooms in her headdress is from the Harappa culture, Indus Valley civilization 3rd-2nd century B.C.  The female figurine on the right with encoded Amanita muscaria mushroom in her headdress is from Puebla, Mexico, Tlatilco culture Early-Middle Preclassic period 1300-800 B.C.  Both female figurines depict what I believe are encoded mushroom inspired headdresses and both depict vulva-shaped or vulva inspired legs and hips referring to fertility. The idea of a Vedic Soma cult in the New World suggests a very early transpacific contact with the Americas.  

Above left is a standing female figurine from the Indus Valley Civilization, Harappa Culture 3rd–2nd century B.C.  20.3 cm (8 in.) Terracotta, modeled face and hand-modeled body Classification: Sculpture Type, sub-type: Figure Indian, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, John Wheelock Eliot Fund Accession number: 27.135 Provenance/Ownership History: Purchased by the MFA in 1927.

 Above right is a female figurine Tlatilco culture, Puebla, Mexico, Early-Middle Preclassic periods, 1300-800 B.C. Dimension: 6.75in x 0in x 0in 17.145cm x 0cm x 0cm
Purchased with funds provided by The Lake Family Endowment
2000.017.005 (

   (For documentation of a female fertility cult concept in Mesoamerica see Vaillant, 1950: 50-51, for documentation of a female fertility cult concept in the Old World see Pritchard, 1943) 

 Photograph © Justin Kerr 
Above, on the left, is the Amanita muscaria mushroom, and on the right a Maya figurine (300-900 C.E.) photographed by Justin Kerr (K 656a).  The figurine wears a headdress inspired by the Amanita muscaria mushroom. The figurine's contorted face depicts what Olmec scholars call the "Olmec snarl", a common motif in Olmec art which I would argue represents the mushroom's esoteric effect of jaguar transformation and the soul's mythical underworld journey.  The figurine holds in its hands a concave mirror.  Mirrors were used by shamans to see into the past and future and communicate with ancestors and gods.
  Above is an image of the under-side of an Amanita muscaria mushroom depicting the gills and severed stem and vulva.   ( 
                           (Copyright photograph: by ethno-Mycologist John W. Allen)
The sculpture above is from the ruins at Angkor Wat, located in present day Cambodia. It depicts three Apsaras, which are female deities in Hindu and Buddhist mythology who are able to change their shape at will. The sculpture depicts the Apsara on the far left, holding what appears to me and mycologist John W. Allen, to be a mushroom in her left hand. This would I believe, infer that the Apsara also has three stylized Amanita muscaria mushroom caps encoded in her headdress, below what appears to me to be pine trees, which would be a symbolic reference to Soma, the so-called mushroom of immortality, and of the World Tree, or Tree of Life, and that the number three would suggest a symbolic reference to the Vedic-Hindu-Buddhist Trinity, 
 For documentation of mirror gazing (captoptromacy) in Mesoamerica see T. Besterman, 1965,: 73-77; Museum of Primitive Art, 1965 and for documentation of mirror gazing in the Old World by J. Hastings, 1951: IV, 780-782) 
      LARGE Chinese Eastern Han Dynasty Sichuan Figure - Cook
  Han Dynasty Painted Pottery 'Sichuan' figurines depicting smiling ladies with (Soma) Amanita muscaria mushrooms encoded in headdress. The figurine on the right is called the Lady Holding a Mirror . 

  Late Classic (600-900 AD) Maya figurine, wearing what looks like a mushroom inspired headdress, Jaina Island, Campeche Mexico.       
      Photographs © Justin Kerr                  (Photo of Hindu statue from  
   The photo above on the left depicts the Maya deity scholars identify as the Maize God, known as First-Father, Hun-Nal-Ye.  The Maize God  sculpture itself is of the Late Classic period, and is from the Maya ruins of Copan, in Honduras.  He makes what appears to be the same hand gesture commonly depicted in Hindu and Buddhist art.  Maya Maize God or Buddha ? Note what appear to be three mushroom caps encoded in the Maya deities head, symbolizing rebirth and a divine trinity. The photograph on the right represents the Hindu goddess Lakshmi, who makes a similar hand gesture, and holds in her hands objects that look like stylized mushrooms.  
        Quoting  Maya Archaeologist David H. Kelley...
   "Much of Aztec religion looks like a modified Hinduism in which one important change was the deliberate abandonment of religious eroticism" (Man Across the Sea, 1971, p.62).

   Above is a ballgame yoke fragment with footprint, excavated by archaeologist  J. Eric S. Thompson, along with a tripod mushroom stone from a pit in front of Monument 3 at the Pacific coastal site of El Baul in Guatemala.

  Buddhism is named for its reputed founder Gautama who came to be known as the Buddha, which means the enlightened one. Gautama was an Indian prince of the 6th century B.C. and Buddhist legend holds that during Gautama's lifetime he left footprints in all the lands where his teachings would be acknowledged.  Buddha died when he was eighty, breaking free of the cycle of rebirth and reaching nirvana, after eating a so-called poisonous mushroom.  It should be noted that Buddha's miraculous conception by his mother, whose name just happens to be "Maya" may be the possible origin for the name given to the ancient Maya ?  According to the Rig Veda, the divine enlightenment of Soma was called Maya. Did Buddhist monks reach the New World in pre-Columbian times, as some scholars will argue, its very tempting to think that the country of Guatemala where the Amanita muscaria mushroom grows in abundance, was named after the Buddha and called the land of the Gautema?

                                    THE SECRET OF THE ANCIENT MAYA ?
    "Maya according to the Rig-Veda, was the goddess, by whom all things are created by her union with Brahma. She is the cosmic egg, the golden uterus, the Hiramyagarbha." (The Project Gutenberg EBook of Vestiges of the Mayas, by Augustus Le Plongeon)                    
  In searching for the origin of the name Maya, one should revisit the strange coincidence that the Sanskrit word for the divine power, and enlightenment from Soma was called Maya. We are told that the gods themselves were described as Mayin. Linguists have already identified a number of Sanskrit words in Quechua, the Andean language of the Inca (Fox, 2005, p.118).     
  According to the the New World Encyclopedia;   
   In the  Rigveda, the term Maya, (maya)  is introduced referring to the power that devas (divine beings) possessed which allowed them to assume various material forms and to create natural phenomena.                
    Maya (Sanskrit māyā, from "not" and "this")  In early Vedic mythology, maya was the power with which the gods created and maintained the physical universe.
    Maya is the power that brings all reality into being as it is perceived by human consciousness. Therefore, all the particular things contained within this material world are products of maya.
   Soma (Soma),was considered to be the most precious liquid in the universe, and therefore was an indispensible aspect of all Vedic rituals, used in sacrifices to all gods, particularly Indra, the warrior god. Supposedly, gods consumed the beverage in order to sustain their immortality. In this aspect, Soma is similar to the Greek ambrosia (cognate to amrita) because it was what the gods drank and what helped make them deities. Indra and Agni (the divine representation of fire) are portrayed as consuming Soma in copious quantities. (Excerpt is from New World Encyclopedia)
   The head shown above depicts what looks to me like five Buddhas sitting on a sacred mushroom. The head is in the collection of the British Museum and dates from A.D. 960-1279.  Buddha died of mushroom poisoning around ~479 BCE.

                                             Dr. Stephan Borhegyi, 1921-1969
   My father, "the Baron" examining a miniature mushroom stone from Guatemala. For more on miniature mushroom stones see Borhegyi de,  S.F., 1961, "Miniature mushroom stones from Guatemala,” American Antiquity, vol. 26: 498-504.
    In Mesoamerica I believe a ritual beverage made from juice expressed from the Amanita muscaria mushroom was probably consumed before battle and before the ritual ballgame. This mushroom beverage, I believe, was the same drink as the Soma beverage of the Rig Veda which reputedly enhanced one's bravery, and strength to its wildest levels.  Numerous ballplayer figurines have been found at Xochipala and at such other Preclassic sites as Tlatilco and Tlapacoya in the Valley of Mexico.  Borhegyi conjectured that a change in ballgame rituals and a switch from the Olmec influenced "hand ball game" most likely came as a result of the powerful influence of Teotihuacan and newly instituted Quetzalcoatl rites. (Borhegyi 1980: p. 24).  

   Stone board game pieces, from Mohenjo-daro
Harappa culture, Indus Valley Civilization

                          From, Games in Ancient Indus' Mohenjo-daro:

                                 Article from Past Horizons, Wednesday, February 16, 2011 
    (Photo above : bennylin0724, Flickr)(Image from   
    Archaeologists have also noted the almost exact similarity of an ancient board game played by the Aztecs called Patolli, with an ancient board game from India, called Pachisi (the so-called Pachisi-Patolli theory). Archaeologists like the late Gordon Ekholm argue that, because of the games layout and design, it could never have been developed independently on opposite sides of the worlds.
  For documentation of Patolli-Parchisi game in Mesoamerica and the Old World see Z. Nuttall, 1961,  S. Culin, 1898: 854 ff; S. Piggott, 1950: 190-191                         
The famous bronze statue on the left, of a young women sporting a club-like hand, is from Harappa, early Indus civilization. The figurine is thought to be about 4,500 years old. The standing female above right, represents a ballplayer from ancient Mexico wearing a protective helmet, ballgame glove and a mushroom-inspired ballgame protective cup and belt.  The figurine comes from the site of Xochipala, Mexico, Tlatilco culture in the western state of Guerrero, and dates to 1200-900 B.C.E  It is now in the  Princeton University Art Museum. Note the symbolic reference to the number three in the Harappa figurine's necklace, and the number of rings on the Tlatilco figurine's ballgame glove and ballgame belt or yoke. (For more on ballgame hand stones and ballgame gloves see Borhegyi, 1961: 129-140.   (photograph of Xochipala female ballplayer from Whittington, 2001).

                                       MUSHROOMS AND THE BALLGAME
(Photographs copyright Borhegyi)
 Pottery mushrooms dating to the middle or late Pre-Classic period have been found with  figurines of ballplayers at the archaeological sites of Tlatilco in Burial 154 (Trench 6), and at Tlapacoya in the Valley of Mexico ( Borhegyi 1980.).   A pottery mushroom (close up photo at right) was found near the figurine of an acrobat suggesting that  mushrooms may have been consumed to induce the super-heroic athletic ability and agility of a jaguar god or were-jaguar.  It might be important to note that the pose might represent an East Indian or Hindu yoga posture or a version of the “Dhanur Asan” “Vrischika Asan” which is an advanced yoga posture for people doing “Sheersh Asan”.  Pottery shaped mushrooms representing both the Amanita and Psilocybin mushrooms (Psilocybe mexicana), were likely used in bloodletting rituals. This blood-letting rituals was likely carried out after the consumption of sacred mushrooms, consumed before the ballgame and before the ritual of decapitation.
  Pre-Columbian pottery shaped mushrooms are reported to have been found in Mexico in the states of Chiapas, Tabasco, and Veracruzand in El Salvador, and Guatemala in both the highlands and the lowland Maya rain forest.
For more on pottery mushrooms see Borhegyi de, S.F., 1963, “Pre-Columbian pottery mushrooms from Mesoamerica”,  in American Antiquity, vol. 28:328-338.
  Ethno-mycologist  R. Gordon Wasson….
“There is nothing incompatible between the mushroom stones and the ball game. Those who have mastered the mushrooms arrive at an extraordinary command of their faculties and muscular movements: their sense of timing is heightened. I have already suggested that the players had ingested the mushrooms before they entered upon the game. If the mushroom stones were related to the ball game, it remains to be discovered what role they played”. (Wasson, from Mushrooms Russia & History, p. 178)
 The bemushroomed person is poised in space, a disembodied eye, invisible, incorporeal, seeing but not being seen….In truth, he is the five senses disembodied, all of them keyed to the height of sensitivity and awareness, all of them blending into one another most strangely, until, utterly passive, he becomes a pure receptor, infinitely delicate, of sensations”. (Wasson, 1972a:198;  Borhegyi, 1962)
 It should be noted that in the Rig Veda, there are recurring themes that allude to decapitation and the spiritual potency of the head. In the ancient Hindu texts known as the Brahmanas, that follows the Vedas, one of the cups of Soma is referred to as the head of Gayatri, the eagle who bore Indra down from the heavens after beheading the dragon Vrtra and thus obtaining Soma, only after the beheading of the dragon Vrtra (Rush 2013, p. 296).   

   The sculpture above is of a Hindu Goddess, holding what appears to be a mushroom in her right hand. Relief of Alasa Kanya at Vaital Deul, Bhubaneswar. Photograph from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.                               

The sculpture above is of the Vedic-Hindu god Shiva, holding what appears to be a mushroom in his right hand; ( Angkor Wat, Cambodia, ~1200 AD)  photograph taken by ethno-mycologist John W. Allen
            Above and below are images I believe depict the Buddha beneath a stylized mushroom.      
The caption to the photo above left identifies the image as a sandstone sculpture of Jina Parsvanatha, the 23rd ‘tirthankara’ (saint) of the Jain religion sitting beneath a Dhataki tree. (Image 2006AU5756 from the                      
  For a more detailed description on the sculptures presented above visit, 



  (source below: Gods, Sages, and Kings - By David Frawley p. 43-64)

"The Indians built ships, navigated the sea and monopolized the international trade both by sea route and land route. Indian literature furnishes evidence with innumerable references to sea voyages and sea-borne trade and the constant use of the ocean as the great highway of international intercourse and commerce". 

Rig Veda

"The oldest evidence on record is supplied by the Rig Veda, which contains several references to sea voyages undertaken for commercial purposes. One passage (I. 25.7) represents Varuna having a full knowledge of the sea routes, and another (I. 56.2) speaks of merchants, under the influence of greed,  going sending ships to foreign countries. A third passage (I. 56.2)mentions merchants whose field of activity known no bounds, w ho go everywhere in pursuit of gain, and frequent every part of the sea. The fourth passage (VII. 88.3 and 4) alludes to a voyage undertaken by Vasishtha and Varuna in a ship skillfully fitted out, and their "undulating happily in the prosperous swing." The fifth, which is the most interesting passage (I. 116. 3), mentions a naval expedition on which Tugra the Rishi king sent his son Bhujyu against some of his enemies in the distant islands; Bhujyu, however, is ship wrecked by a storm, with all his followers, on the ocean, "where there is no support, no rest for the foot or the hand," from which he is rescued by the twin brethren, the Asvins, in their hundred-oared galley. The Panis in the Vedas and later classical literature were the merchant class who were the pioneers and who dared to set their course from unknown lands and succeeded in throwing bridges between many and diverse nations. The Phoenicians were no other than the Panis of the Rig Veda. They were called Phoeni in Latin which is very similar to the Sanskrit Pani".   (
                     SOMA IN SOUTH AMERICAN ART        
  Ethno-archaeologist Peter Furst...
 "Little is known of the pre-Hispanic mushroom use in South America, with the single exception of an early Jesuit report from Peru that the Yurimagua Indeans, who have since become extinct, intoxicated themselves with a mushroom that was vaguely described as a "tree fungus" (Furst, 1976 p.82).                       
Above is a Peruvian figurine from the Denver Museum, holding what appears to be an Amanita muscaria mushroom in his left hand. Note the figurine's goggle shaped eyes, and the three esoteric symbols (probable trinity?), one on each leg and one at his waist. 
 In the course of my studies I not only found mushroom-related symbolism throughout Mesoamerica, but also in the art of the Inca, Mochica, Chavin, Chimu, and Paracas cultures of South America, and in the Rapa Nui civilization of Easter Island.  Peter Furst (1976, p.80-82)  writes that similar religious concepts of the Olmecs and Maya existed in South America. He has identified mushrooms and mushroom headdresses on Moche ceramic vase paintings (200-700 A.D.) such as those I found on the portrait vessels above and below.
Above are pre-Columbian ceramic Moche portrait vessels, from Peru wearing headdresses encoded with what I propose are Amanita muscaria mushrooms. The Moche culture reigned on the north coast of Peru during the years 100-600 A.D.

 Above, a gold mushroom inspired ornament, most likely was worn as an head ornament by an Andean ruler or priest. The ornament that bears the metaphorical shape of a half-sliced mushroom as well as a  ritual axe, is decorated with imagery reminiscent of the spotted caps of the Amanita muscaria mushroom.
  There is also plenty of evidence of a trophy head cult in the archaeological record of South America. According to Andean researcher Christina Conlee (Texas State University) large numbers of decapitated heads or so-called trophy heads have been found in archaeological excavations in the area of Peru.  At the archaeological site of Tihaunaco not far from Lake Titicaca, several dozen decapitated bodies were found in a burial arranged in a geometric layout, buried alongside drinking vessels suggesting the act of ritual (Soma) sacrifice.      
   Above is a woven textile from Peru, South America, Paracas culture 750 B.C. to A.D. 100. The textile incorporates what appears to be mushroom-Venus iconography associated with a bodyless human head. The axe in his hand shaped as a mushroom is a metaphor denoting mushrooms and the ritual of  decapitation opens the portal to Venus resurrection. The axe is purposely shaped to look like an Amanita muscaria mushroom.  I believe that the design below the figure's chin symbolizes Venus. Similar in design to Venus symbols from Mesoamerica and Easter Island, it represents the Evening Star aspect of Venus associated with the ritual of underworld decapitation.
  As in Mesoamerica and South America, we find plenty of evidence in India of human sacrifice, and the offering of trophy heads to the gods. One account of mass sacrifice took place in Assam in north-eastern India in 1565 A.D. at a ceremony celebrating the re dedication of a temple to Rajah Nara Narayana. The Rajah celebrating this event had one hundred and forty men decapitated, and then offered their severed heads on copper and gold plates to the goddess Kali, wife of the Hindu god Shiva (Davies 1981, p.76). 

The painted textile above from the Chimu culture of Peru, 1000-1400 C.E.  depicts a figure standing astride what I believe is an Amanita muscaria mushroom. The fanged figure is accompanied by two jaguars with spots alluding to the Amanita muscaria mushroom. They symbolize the underworld journey of the deceased and the effect of the mushroom as jaguar transformation.  Under the influence of the hallucinogen, the “bemushroomed” acquires feline fangs and often other attributes of the jaguar, emulating the Sun God in his journey into the Underworld. The esoteric association of mushrooms and jaguar transformation was earlier noted by ethno-archaeologist Peter Furst (1976:78, 80)The twin jaguars symbolize sacrifice and death in the Underworld, associated with the planet Venus as an Evening Star, while the twin birds symbolize the heavens and divine resurrection from the Underworld as Venus, the Morning Star.  
Images like the one above with encoded mushroom and Venus imagery generally depict rituals of self-sacrifice and decapitation in the Underworld, alluding to the sun’s nightly death and subsequent resurrection from the Underworld by a pair of deities associated with the planet Venus as both the Morning Star and Evening star. This dualistic aspect of Venus is why Venus was venerated as both a God of Life and Death.  It was said that (The Title of the Lords of Totonicapan, 1953 third printing 1974, p.184), they [the Quiche Maya] gave thanks to the sun and moon and stars, but particularly to the star that proclaims the day referring to Venus as the Morning star.Note that the figure above has a stylized mushroom or axe-shaped icon encoded into his headdress. This I believe is code for ritual decapitation under the mushroom's influence, and that the three-step design or icon on either side of the mushroom inspired axe alludes to the mushroom journey into the Underworld. In Mesoamerica this icon represents a ballcourt, and the ball court was thought of as the entrance to the Underworld. The three-step design, therefore, came to symbolize descent into the Underworld. The mushroom-shaped axe I believe is a metaphor or code for Mushroom-Venus resurrection, via the ritual of decapitation in the Underworld.
   The mythological stories of two brothers who are successful tricksters is a story which is found throughout South America (Harold Osborn 1968, 1983 p.124).
   It is reasonable that a belief in the redemptive power and divinity of hallucinatory mushrooms could have spread from one culture to another. The first mushroom cult, identified by its powerful artistic expression of the were-jaguar, dominated Olmec culture as early as 1500 B.C.  As early as 850 B.C. a were-jaguar cult begins to appear in South America, identified in the religious art of the Chavin and Paracas cultures of Peru. B.C.   
  For documentation of feline-human hybrid motif with fertility associations in Mesoamerica see S. F.  de Borhegyi, 1951a, 1951b: 110.  For documentation of feline-human hybrid motif with fertility associations in the Old World see M. Burrows, 1941: 209; H. G.May, 1931-1932: 73-98; W. F. Albright,1938: 1-2, R. S. Starr, 1937: I, 437-441; Kelso, J. L. and J. P. Thorley, 1945: 91;
Above left, "hidden In plain sight,"  the ceramic Precolumbian mask depicts the transformation of a human into a "were-jaguar," a half-human, half-jaguar deity first described and named in 1955 by archaeologist Matthew W. Stirling. The were-jaguar appears in the art of the ancient Olmecs as early as 1200 B.C.  I believe this mask symbolizes the soul's journey into the underworld where it will undergo ritual decapitation, jaguar transformation, and spiritual resurrection.  An Amanita muscaria mushroom (actual specimen shown in the photo on the right) is encoded into the head and nose of the human side, while the left half of the mask depicts the effect of the Amanita mushroom as resulting in were-jaguar transformation. The were-jaguar eventually came to be worshiped and venerated throughout Central and South America.  Mexican art historian, Miguel Covarrubias, demonstrated that later images of Quetzalcoatl, feathered serpents, and rain gods like the Mexican god Tlaloc were all derived from the Olmec were-jaguar associated with sacrifice and the underworld (Miller and Taube, 1993:185)
(photo below by Prof. Gian Carlo Bojani Director of the International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, Italy) (Photo of Amanita muscaria by Richard Fortey)          

Jaguar Effigy Incensario with an encoded stylized mushroom for a nose. Remujadas, Veracruz, Mexico. Classic period, circa 450-650 A.D. Height 14 ½”.  Above right is a cross section of Amanita muscaria fruiting body, (Wentworth Falls, Author, Casliber  Category:Amanita muscaria)   (Photo above left from Stendahl Galleries Fine Precolumbian Art).
  The ancient cultures of the Nahua and Maya developed similar ideologies and mythologies from the same Olmec roots. The sacred mushroom ritual shared by these cultures was intended,  I believe, to establish direct communication between Earth and Heaven (sky) in order to unite man with god. As told in the Popol Vuh, the sacred book of the ancient Quiche Maya,  the sun-god of the Maya, Kinich Ajaw, and his Aztec equivalent, Huitzilopochtli, would be extinguished in the underworld if not nourished with the blood of human hearts. Quetzalcoatl's essence in the world as a culture hero was to establish this communication. Quetzalcoatl taught that mankind must make sacrifices to the deity and transcend this world in order to achieve immortality. There is good reason to believe that this ritual was regularly performed  prior to sacrifice, whether the sacrifice was performed willingly by the participant, or carried out  by another individual.


     (jpg -
  (Photo of Amanita muscaria, Fly Agaric Mushrooms from Salvia Space Ethnobotanicals)                 
   Above, another Precolumbian incense burner (Toltec?) from Central Mexico encodes Amanita muscaria mushrooms as the "legendary tears of Quetzalcoatl."  Note as well that the scroll at the bottom of the censer repeats a hook-shape symbol that I have come to believe is another symbol of a religion based on mushroom rituals and the worship of the planet Venus.  
The Soma beverage, and the Soma sacrifice, according to Vedic scholars was the focal point of Vedic religion. According to the Rig-Veda, Vayu was the first of the Vedic gods to drink Soma.  As the Wind God,. he is  associated with sacrifice, death and warfare. The same can be found in Mesoamerican mythology, in which the god Quetzalcoatl, in the form of Ehecatl the Wind God, delivers mushrooms to mankind, and Quetzalcoatl like his Vedic counterpart Vayu, is also connected with the fate of the dead.  
Among the Koryaks of Siberia, the fact of the Amanita muscaria's seedless growth lead to the belief that mushrooms were “virgin-births,” born from the divine spittle of god--the fluid we know as dew, that magically appears at dawn. In Mesoamerica the legendary Hero Twins of Maya mythology were also born miraculously from the spittle of their father's decapitated head.
   In the groundbreaking book published by Robert Gordon Wasson and his wife, Valentina Pavlovna Wasson, titled Mushrooms, Russia and History  (1957), the Wassons reported on the ritual consumption of mushrooms (the Amanita muscaria) among Siberian and northern Asian peoples, suggesting the possible antiquity of the mushroom cult to Stone Age times. The Wassons surmised that our own remote ancestors, perhaps 6000 years ago, worshiped a divine mushroom (Furst, 1972, reissued 1990, p.187).
  R. Gordon Wasson postulated that...
" There is little doubt that the substance called Soma in the Rig Veda has been identified as the fungus Amanita Muscaria."
  In the New World beginning around 1500 B.C. an ancient people scholars call the Olmecs, appeared suddenly, their art and mythology fully developed and in full blossom, and built pyramids and megalithic stone sculpture adorned with the images of their gods and rulers.The pioneering achievements of the ancient Olmecs in the arts, architecture, and writing give us the first great civilization in the New World. The religion of the ancient Olmecs was grounded in sacrifice, and the need to offer men, women, and children to the gods. The ritual of decapitation was based on what I believe was an esoteric cult of the human head associated with a trophy head cult. Spread by the first true civilization, Olmec religion  set the tone for all future religious beliefs in the New World.       
               (Photo of Amanita muscaria mushroom from Royalty Free Stock Photos)                          
  The image above on the right is of an Olmec whistle photographed by Higinio Gonzalez of Puebla, Mexico. The figurine of a baby  likely comes from the San Lorenzo phase of Olmec culture, 1200-400 B.C.E.  These infantile baby-faced figurines, many of which depict the symbolism of a snarling jaguar, are a distinctive feature in Olmec art. This figure appears to represent an Olmec baby wearing an Amanita mushroom cap and holding a gigantic Amanita mushroom. According to ethno-mycologist Gastón Guzmán, one of the effects of the Amanita muscaria mushroom experience is to see objects as gigantic in size. (Guzman, 2010).
      The rise of the Olmec, the first complex civilization in the New World in the swampy jungles of the Gulf Coast has puzzled archaeologists for some time. Archaeologists contend that Olmec culture appears to come from out of nowhere in full bloom at the site of San Lorenzo, in Chiapas, Mexico. Carbon 14 dates place Olmec civilization at San Lorenzo at 1200 B.C.E. (M. D.  Coe, 1970, p.21). 

The discovery of numerous toad bones in Olmec burials at San Lorenzo suggests that the Olmecs may have used other mind-altering substances, such as hallucinogenic toad toxin, in various ritual practices (Coe, 1994:69; Furst, 1990: 28; Grube, 2001:294).  Mushroom-shaped stones, many bearing toad images carved on their base, have been found throughout Chiapas, Mexico, the Guatemala highlands, and along the Pacific slope as far south as El Salvador.  (Borhegyi, 1957, 1961, 1963, 1965a, 1965b). Gordon Wasson was the first to call attention to the pervasiveness of the toad and it's association with the term toadstool, with the intoxicating or poisonous mushrooms in Europe. Tatiana Proskouriakoff demonstrated that in Mayan glyphs the toad is the divine symbol of rebirth (Coe, 1993:196)

   Quoting ethno-archaeologist Peter T. Furst:
"It is tempting to suggest that the Olmecs might have been instrumental in the spread  of mushroom cults throughout Mesoamerica, as they seem to have been of other significant aspects of early Mexican civilization......" It is in fact a common phenomenon of South American shamanism  (reflected also in Mesoamerica) that shamans are closely identified with the jaguar, to the point where the jaguar is almost nowhere regarded as simply an animal, albeit an especially powerful one, but as supernatural, frequently as the avatar of living or deceased shamans, containing their souls and doing good or evil in accordance with the disposition of their human form" (Furst 1976, pp. 48, 79)."

 Vedic worshipers partook in the Soma ritual because it reportedly produced a divine sense of power and inspiration. They believed that the gods themselves joined in the ritual drinking.  By pleasing the Vedic gods with sacrifice, song, drink and food, the devotees hoped to gain the support of nature and win favor with the gods. Sacrifice in both religions was both a symbol of fear and one`s affection towards the gods.
 If the identification of the Vedic god Soma, the mystery plant, and ritual beverage described in the Rig Veda is in fact the Amanita muscaria mushroom, as proposed by Wasson, then there can be little doubt that the Amanita muscaria mushroom was indeed the model for the numerous small stone sculptures known as Maya "mushroom stones." 
 Above are the nine Preclassic mushroom stones that were found in a cache along with nine miniature metates at the highland Maya archaeological site of Kaminaljuyu on the outskirts of Guatemala City. The contents of the cache were dated by Stephan  de Borhegyi at 1000-500 B.C.  The tall jaguar mushroom stone depicted above on the left with handles was excavated separately at Kaminaljuyu.
 In describing the contents of a cache of mushroom stones depicted above excavated at the Preclassic site of  Kaminaljuyu in the Guatemala Highlands, Borhegyi wrote;

  Archaeologist Stephan de Borhegyi...
  "The cache of nine miniature mushroom stones {depicted below} demonstrates considerable antiquity for the "mushroom-stone cult," and suggests a possible association with the nine lords of the night and gods of the underworld, as well as the possible existence of a nine-day cycle and nocturnal count in Preclassic times. The association of the miniature mushroom stones with the miniature metates and manos greatly strengthens the possibility that at least in some areas in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica metates were used to grind the sacred hallucinatory mushrooms to prepare them for ceremonial consumption." (Borhegyi 1961: 498-504)

  It should also be noted that the late Archaeo-astronomer David Kelly, notes links between the Mesoamerican calendar and the Hindu lunar mansions that track the positions of the moon amid the stars, and links the Mesoamerican cycle of the Nine Lords of the Night to the Hindu planetary week of nine days, that refers to five planets, the Sun and Moon, and two invisible planets believed to cause eclipses (Milbrath, 1999 p.292). 
   Diffusionists will argue that the best piece of evidence for trans-Pacific contact, is that both India and Mesoamerica shared a similar calendar, and that the sophistication in both calendars could not have been a duplicate invention.
    The Vedic-Hindu religion of East India and the religions of Mesoamerica both venerated a trinity of creator gods, as well as recognizing hundreds of other named gods. Both cultures knew of the corbel arch, shared sacred numbers, and the development of a place-value system using the concept of zero. For documentation in Mesoamerica see  A. L. Kroeber, 1948: 468-472, and for documentation in the Old World see O. Neugebauer, 1951: 18,20,26,140-1460)  
        Photo of Robert Gordon Wasson by Allan B. Richardson. Courtesy Wasson Collection

     Mesoamerican Archaeologist Michael D. Coe...
   "I do not exactly remember when I first met Gordon Wasson, but it must have been in the early 1970's. He was already a legendary figure to me, for I had heard much of him from the equally legendary and decidedly colorful Steve Borhegyi, director of the Milwaukee Public Museum before his untimely death. Steve, who claimed to be a Hungarian count and dressed like a Mississippi riverboat gambler, was a remarkably fine and imaginative archaeologist who had supplied much of the Mesoamerican data for Gordon and Valentina Wasson's Mushrooms, Russia and History, particularly on the enigmatic "mushroom stones" of the Guatemala highlands. His collaboration with the Wassons proved even to the most skeptical that there had been a sort of ritual among the highland Maya during the Late Formative period involving hallucinogenic mushrooms" (from the book; The Sacred Mushroom Seeker: tributes to R. Gordon Wasson, 1990 p.43) 
My father was one of the leading researchers of the pre-Columbian ballgame before his untimely death in 1969. In his manuscript entitled...
  The Pre-Columbian ballgame:  A Pan-Mesoamerican Tradition; published posthumously in 1980, by the Milwaukee Public Museum. He writes that he believed that stone hachas , as well as anthropomorphic and zoomorphic vertically and horizontally tenoned stone heads, were symbolic of the human (trophy) heads of earlier times. Stone hachas were worn on ceremonial ballgame yokes, while the tenoned stone heads were set into the walls of formal ball courts. (1980:17) 

    A miniature stone hacha, the Spanish word for axe, from Veracruz, Mexico (Late Classic Period, 700-900 C.E.) ( photograph from Whittington, 2001)
Hachas, like the one depicted above, fit into the belt or yoke worn by ballplayers in the Mesoamerican ballgame. This hacha was probably used in ceremonies associated with the ballgame. The hacha represents a decapitated trophy head of a wrinkled faced and toothless old man wearing a cone-shaped hat. The wrinkled face and toothless mouth suggest the Old Fire God (Xiuhtecutli), while a closer look reveals the image of a sacred psilocybin mushroom encoded in the cheek and hat. The conical or cone-shaped hat, in this case mushroom-inspired, is a trademark attribute of the Mexican god-king Quetzalcoatl and of his priesthood.

     Anthropologist and author Irene Nicholson...
 "In spite of the great gulf that separates Precolumbian thought from our own in many of its external aspects; in spite of distortions, irrelevancies, decadence and subsequent annihilation by European conquerors of a great part of it; the culture which this mysterious leader established [Quetzalcoatl Votan] shines down to our own day. Its message is still meaningful for those who will take the trouble to make their way, through the difficulties of outlandish names and rambling manuscripts, to the essence of the myth".   (from the book, Mexican and Central American Mythology 1967, p.136)
  The late Maya archaeologist Lee A. Parsons, editor of my father's manuscript entitled The PreColumbian -ballgame:  A Pan-Mesoamerican Tradition;  published posthumously in 1980, by the Milwaukee Public Museum, believed the manuscript to be the most comprehensive study of the ballgame ever attempted. My father believed, but could not prove that the grisly ritual of decapitation and the so-called "trophy head cult" that was intimately connected with the Mesoamerican ballgame, did not originate in the New World but had its antithesis in the Old World.

  Quoting Stephan de Borhegyi... (from de Borhegyi 1980, p.25)
 "A final word on decapitation, the ballgame, and cultural diffusion may be in order. While human decapitation was a widespread custom throughout both the Old and New Worlds as early as the Paleolithic period, its association with ancient team games seems to have occurred only in central and eastern Asia, Mesoamerica, and South America (for ballgames in Southeast Asia, see Loffler, 1955). The use of severed human heads in the polo games of Tibet, china, and Mongolia goes back at least as far as the Chou Dynasty (approximately 1100 B.C. -250 B.C.) and possibly to Shang times (about 1750 B.C. -1100 B.C.). By the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), the polo game in China had become more refined and human heads were apparently replaced by balls. However, the custom of using "trophy heads" in the game must have survived in modern form in marginal areas, as evidence by the fact that the present day Tajik tribesmen of Afghanistan still use the head of a goat as a ball during the game (Abercombie, 1968). While more studies are needed along this line, it is tempting to suggest that the custom of using human heads in competitvive ballgames be added to the growing Pre-Classic inventory of "trans-Pacific contacts".

 Expanding on my father’s and Wasson's theory that the Amanita muscaria fly-agaric mushroom of Eurasia was likely the model for the ancient mushroom stones of Mesoamerica, anthropologist Weston La Barre, hypothesized in 1970, 

   Anthropologist Weston La Barre...
 "The American Indians interest in hallucinogenic plants represents a survival from a very ancient Paleolithic and Mesolithic shamanistic stratum, and that its linear ancestor is likely to be an archaic form of the shamanistic Eurasiatic fly-agaric cults that survived in Siberia into the present century, and that while profound socioeconomic and religious transformations brought about the eradication of ecstatic shamanism and knowledge of intoxicating mushrooms and other plants over most of Eurasia, a very different set of historical and cultural circumstances favored their survival and elaboration in the New World, which the early big-game hunters carried with them out of northeastern Asia as the base religion of American Indians"(Furst, 1976)  

                  Aztec incense burner depicting maize and Amanita muscaria mushrooms? 

    While reading through one of my father’s (Stephan F. de Borhegyi) correspondences with ethno-mycologist Robert Gordon Wasson, he mentions two interesting passages from native chronicles written around 1554.  Both related to indigenous use of mushrooms in Guatemala. 
  A passage from The Annals of the Cakchiquels,  (1953:82-83), records:
  “At that time, too, they began to worship the devil.  Each seven days, each 13 days, they offered him sacrifices, placing before him fresh resin, green branches, and fresh bark of the trees, and burning before him a small cat, image of the night.  They took him also the mushrooms, which grow at the foot of the trees, and they drew blood from their ears.”
   A passage from the Popol Vuh, (Goetz,1950:192) reads:
 “And when they found the young of the birds and the deer, they went at once to place the blood of the deer and of the birds in the mouth of the stones that were Tohil, and Avilix.  As soon as the blood had been drunk by the gods, the stones spoke, when the priest and the sacrificers came, when they came to bring their offerings.  And they did the same before their symbols, burning pericon (?) and holom-ocox (the head of the mushroom, holom=head, and ocox= mushroom”).

   Knowing that the Amanita muscaria mushroom grows in association with the pine and birch trees in the cooler elevations of the Maya Highlands, its likely that these effigy mushroom stones may have been carved to symbolize rebirth and venerate the victims of sacrifice, such as toads,  birds, monkeys, jaguars, deer, peccary, rabbits, birds and humans.  The effigy mushroom stones may have been used as markers to honor the sacred spot where mushrooms sprouted  after lightening struck the ground. The knowledge that mushrooms suddenly sprout from the ground when lightening strikes is a concept also found recorded in the Rig Veda. The Rig Veda states that "Parjanya, the god of thunder and lightening was the father of Soma (Lowy 1974, p.188 and Wasson 1969).
   In the Vedas, as in Mesoamerica, the sun is compared to a bird or eagle flying across the sky. Soma, called the "Father of the Gods,"  was said to have been stolen from the highest heaven by an eagle to bestow insight and immortality to its drinkers. Agni the "God of Fire" was the intermediary between the heavens and earth,  and his two heads often depicted in Hindu art represents both domestic fire, and the fire of sacrifice. In Mesoamerica Quetzalcoatl is credited with introducing fire and sacrifice to mankind, and for fixing certain days in the sacred 260 day calendar for feasts and ritual sacrifice. If the Vedic god Soma was a mushroom, than the connection can be made to  Quetzalcoatl who is also credited with bestowing immortality to mankind by introducing them to divine mushrooms, as seen on page 24 of the Mixtec Codex Vindobonensis (depicted on a previous page).
   The ancient myth of Quetzalcoatl’s creation was preserved for us by a Franciscan friar named Jeronimo de Mendieta in 1596. In his manuscript, Historia Eclesiastica Indiana, Mendieta writes that it was “Quetzalcoatl, the Mexican Prometheus, the beneficent god of all mankind, descended to the world of the dead to gather up the bones of past generations, and, sprinkling them with his own blood, created a new humanity”. (Alfonso Caso, 1958; THE AZTECS, PEOPLE OF THE SUN)
 Soma as a deity was the brother of Indra (Furst 1972 reissued 1990, p.225). Indra, who in Hindu mythology represents the King of the gods and Lord of the Heavens, was a heavy Soma drinking warrior god in the Rig Veda. His weapons were thunderbolts, and his invincible strength came from drinking Soma. He was believed to protect those who possessed the stones used in the preparation of Soma. The Soma-drinking Indra is celebrated in more hymns than any other god in the Rig Veda.   

   Above a sculpture of the Jain Goddess Ambika sitting on a feline or feline throne, holding a baby in one hand and what looks like the cap of an Amanita muscaria mushroom in her other hand. ( Photograph from  
     In Mesoamerica, the mushroom and the feline or jaguar is a symbol of the Underworld. The mushroom ritual in Mesoamerican mythology is deeply connected to blood sacrifice and the journey into the Underworld. In Mayan mythology  this epic journey into the Underworld is taken by a pair of mythical Twins in the Quiche Maya Popol Vuh. One pair of twins known as the Hero Twins enter the Underworld in search of their father and uncle who were both decapitated by the Lords of Death after losing a ballgame in the Underworld. In all likelihood the Hero Twins in metaphor probably represent the planet Venus entering the Underworld as a divine resurrection star in which both Hero Twins fail to resurrect their father from the Underworld, leaving him behind to rule the Underworld, as the Underworld Sun (jaguar). The twins in their own effort to be immortal, trick the Lords of Death by decapitating themselves, and in the end, they both are resurrected from the Underworld as the sun and moon. This myth represents a Mesoamerican metaphor, in which the same journey is made, (mushroom journey) by a ruler or priest, emulating the journey each night  by the sun, or Sun God as he travels below the horizon and into the Underworld, land of the dead, transforming into the Underworld jaguar, and sacrificing himself each night by ritual decapitation, to be reborn and resurrected as baby jaguar.                 
 Above and below are sculptures of the Hindu god Vishnu as Varaha, the boar avatar depicted here in separate sculptures with one foot on top of what appears to be a mushroom with little people beneath it.
         Above is a closeup of the same sculpture of the Hindu god Vishnu as Varaha, the boar avatar, depicted above with one foot on top of a mushroom.  I would argue that this is Soma, a mushroom metaphor for the World Tree, with little people underneath.

  Above is a figurine from Nayarit, Western Mexico, dated 100 C.E. depicting a figure under an  Amanita muscaria mushroom.  The figurine, which is 7.5 cm tall,  is now in the INAH Regional Museum in Guadalajara, Mexico.  According to first-hand reports written at the time of the Spanish Conquest, the Aztecs ate the mushrooms as well as drank a mushroom beverage in order to induce hallucinatory trances and dreams. During these dreams they saw colored visions of jaguars, birds, snakes, and little gnome-like creatures. Another theory proposed by mycologist Gaston Guzman is that one of the effects of the Amanita muscaria mushroom experience is to see objects as gigantic in size.  Amanita muscaria mushroom photo © Michael Wood.
Photograph © Justin Kerr:
Maya figurines from the Justin Kerr Data Base. Above, on the left, is a  bearded dwarf, K2853 holding a shield and wearing a hat designed as an upside down Amanita mushroom (Princeton Art Museum). In Mesoamerican mythology the dwarf is related to Quetzalcoatl and guides the dead in their descent into the underworld. On the right is a photograph of an Amanita muscaria mushroom with its trademark skirt  (photograph copyrighted and owned by the artist, Esther van de Belt ).  According to Gordon Wasson,  among the various tribes in Siberia where the inebriating mushroom Soma has survived, words used for, or to describe the Amanita muscaria mushroom personify it as "little men." 
  In Mesoamerican mythology dwarves were garanteed entrance into the paradise of Tlaloc called Tlalocan. In Maya vase paintings the dwarf is often portrayed as a guide of rulers, and priests as they journey into the Underworld.
     Photograph © Justin Kerr: 
   Maya vase K5505 from the Justin Kerr Data base depicts a bundle ceremony (bloodletting ceremony?) The female at the far right holds a vase with what may be a ritual drink (Soma sacrifice?).  The dwarf on the left gestures to an attendant who holds a staff and wears what appears to be an encoded mushroom in his headdress.

The mushroom inspired images I have presented to this point, most of which are cleverly encoded by the artist, are just a few of the many images I found that clearly  represent mushrooms and mushroom worship. In my study mushroom imagery occurred with such frequency and in such indisputably religious context that there can be no doubt as to their importance in the development and practice of indigenous religion.

  The red and white colors of the Amanita muscaria mushroom encoded below in Maya vase paintings.    
  Photographs © Justin Kerr # 6608

Owner: Denver Art Museum Denver CO
Maya vase K6608 from the Justin Kerr Data Base of Maya vase paintings, depicts three underworld jaguars which may symbolize the three hearth stones of creation, a "trinity of gods" in Maya religion known at the archaeological site of Palenque as GI, GII, GIII.  The underworld jaguars all wear mushroom shaped ear plugs, and wear sacrificial scarves, symbolic of underworld decapitation. The scarves metaphorically bear the colors and spots of the Amanita muscaria mushroom.

Photographs © Justin Kerr,
This Maya vase painting K638 from the Kimbell Art Museum, Ft. Worth Texas, depicts a prisoner stripped of his clothing, his arms bound behind his back, being led by priests into the underworld to undergo the ritual of underworld decapitation. The prisoner is followed by a priest holding an axe. He is dressed in the guise of the underworld jaguar. That the prisoner is an offering to a Venus God is indicated by the Venus glyphs in the cartouche at the lower right. The artist encodes the four cardinal directions and it's sacred center in the mushroom-inspired shields. The shields also encode three stems symbolic of the creator gods who represent the three hearth stones of Maya creation. The priest leading the way into the underworld wears a robe decorated with symbolic mushrooms. The portion of his headdress which is painted red is esoterically shaped to form a partial loop, the symbol of the religion.
The priest on the far right wears a red tunic with white  spots symbolic of the Amanita muscaria mushroom. The priest directly  behind the prisoner wears an Amanita-inspired hat with the same colors.  Dictionaries of Maya highland languages compiled after the Spanish Conquest mention several intoxicating mushroom varieties whose names clearly indicate their ritual use. One type was called xibalbaj okox, "underworld mushroom" in reference to the belief that the magic mushroom transported one to a supernatural realm known as the underworld  (Sharer, 1983: 484). The artist infers that  they all journey into the underworld as a group under the influence of Amanita mushrooms, including the prisoner who will be ritually decapitated by a priest dressed as the underworld jaguar.
                              MUSHROOM OR UMBRELLA ?          
                                  Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Avshalom Avital  
   Standing figure holding a mushroom, Comala style, Colima, West Mexico
250 BCE–250 CE  Clay and pigment  H: 55; W: 30 cm
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Maremont, Chicago, to American Friends of the Israel Museum
Accession number: B78.1549                                   
         Above are two figurines from western Mexico, Late Formative period  300 B.C. to A.D. 200.
  In Mesoamerica, mushrooms and dogs were believed to lead the deified dead into the underworld.
     ( Photograph on the left is from the Walter Art Museum,                                                
  (Photograph above right was provided by Dr. Gaston Guzman      <>) 
  Above is a sculpture that depicts the Hindu god Vishnu striding across the sky.  The closeup on the right depicts what I would argue is a probable Amanita muscaria mushroom representing the Vedic-Hindu god Soma and not an umbrella. Carved relief from Mahabalipuram, seventh century.           
    The photo above is of a mythological battle scene in which a couple of umbrellas are depicted. I believe that the so-called umbrellas above actually represent Soma. The encoded mushrooms in the scene represents what we already know from the Rig Veda, that Soma was consumed by the gods before battle .
 The photo above and the caption below are from                            
 The sculpture above, "Mahisasuramardini, eighth century A.D., Mamallapuram. This depiction of Durga, which is one of the treasures of Indian sculpture, shows the goddess killing the demon of ignorance in the form of a “mahisha”, or buffalo. In Indic thought the only evil is that of our own confusion, or lack of knowledge of the truth. Deities such as Siva and Durga are shown attacking and vanquishing the demons of our ignorance. The battle of Durga and the “mahisha“ is one such depiction of the victory of knowledge over ignorance, of good over evil".

 © South American Pictures/ Tony Morrison. ( Photo from internet,  (Photo from internet,
  Here, at the Inca ruins of Chucuito in Peru, not far from Lake Titicaca, we see stone objects  that tour guides say represent phallic stones.  
Archaeologist Gordon F. Ekholm writes in a letter to Borhegyi that archaeologists Marion and Harry Tschopik found what they described as mushroom stones in the general fill at a Late Inca site on the shore of Lake Titicaca. It should be noted that there is an Inca legend of White Men with beards  who inhabited the shores of Lake Titicaca, (White God = Quetzalcoatl?) who built a great city, 2000 years before the time of the Incas. (Ekholm to Borhegyi, March 12, 1953, Borhegyi Archives, MPM)  
Without doubt early man noticed the likeness of certain mushrooms to a human penis. This association could have led them to draw metaphors with fertility and birth. According to Mexican mythology, Quetzalcoatl created mankind and he did so from the blood he drew from his penis in the underworld.  The photo of the tallest and most noticeable monument shown above appears to have a  U-shaped cleft resembling the meatus of a penis. It could equally be Identified, however, as a well known Mesoamerican symbol of a portal or entrance into the underworld. I would argue that these stone statues actually represent mushrooms, some of which appear to have been ritually decapitated.   
   Quoting Dead Sea Scroll scholar John Marco Allegro....
     "Somehow man had to establish communications with the source of the world’s fertility, and thereafter maintain a right relationship with it. Over the course of time he built up a body of experiential knowledge of rituals that he or his representatives could perform, or words to recite, which were reckoned to have the greatest influence on this fertility deity. At first they were largely imitative. If rain in the desert lands was the source of life, then the moisture from heaven must be only a more abundant kind of spermatozoa. If the male organ ejaculated this precious fluid and made life in the woman, then above the skies the source of nature’s semen must be a mighty penis, as the earth which bore its offspring was the womb. It followed therefore that to induce the heavenly phallus to complete its orgasm, man must stimulate it by sexual means, by singing, dancing, orgiastic displays and, above all, by the performance of the copulatory act itself:"
       Ethno-mycologist R. Gordon Wasson writes...
"If I were to postulate the nature of a mushroomic cult, it would be of an erotic or procreative character. Sahagun says that the narcotic mushroom incita a  la   lujuria,-- excites lust. He described it in a dancing scene where it is eaten." (Wasson to Borhegyi 3-27-1953)
  Hindu sculpture depicting phallic worship. (from
    Maya Archaeologist David H. Kelley writes...
   "Much of Aztec religion looks like a modified Hinduism in which one important change was the deliberate abandonment of religious eroticism" (Man Across the Sea, 1971, p.62). 
   [--This abandonment of eroticism and its replacement with a violent cult of human sacrifice is definitely something which can be traced Archaeologically and which can be dated to the appropriate period equivalent to the Classical age of the Old World. The Mushroom cult seems to have diffused to the Old and New Worlds in its primitive but typical form (Shamanism)originally, developed into its full Vedic Soma religion in the Indus civilization period and then was transferred intact to the New World, especially mentioning the Maya realm. And then the specified abandonment happened and the religion became one of terrorism that steadily became worse and worse until the Aztec period.-DD]