There is significant speculation that the hallucinogenic qualities of the famed Fly-Agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria) were used for spiritual purposes by the Celtic and Pre-Celtic peoples of Ireland and Northern Europe particularly among the shamanic, ruling and warrior classes. It is said to have been of great import to the Druids who used the mushroom to communicate with what they saw as the realm of spirits and understood its powers as a gateway from this world to the next. Its association with the Fae is why we often today see the red-capped fungi portrayed in art of mystical themes.
Fly-agaric was referred to as the ‘Flesh of the Gods’ because it was believed that direct communication with the deities could be attained when it was consumed. The fungi posseses two toxins which are responsible for its psychoactive and hallucinogenic aspects. To minimise its side effects, it would be processed for consumption by being dried, made into drink, smoked or fashioned into ointments.
The Druids consumed the processed mushroom to ceremonially induce shamanic trances. Prior to event, care in preparation was of utmost importance and part of the ritual. The Druids purified themselves by fasting and meditating for three days, drinking only water and sometimes small amounts of herbs.
The ritual taking of the substance would allow them to attain altered states seen as doorways into the otherworld. Normally the Druid would be the only one initially authorized to take such a “trip”, but sources claim that he may not have been selfish with its benefits. It is what occured after the ingestion that seems of particular interest.
With the body having been purified, the first urine expelled after consumption was highly psychedelic. Through ritualized passing in what was an ancient form of urophagia, sources state that the lower ranked members of the clan or village would be allowed to capture and drink the urine of the Druid as the active chemicals from the Fly-agaric would pass unchanged into the golden liquid. The Druid also may have consumed his own urine and/or that of the other males of the circle or his rank at the time to enhance or create ultimate magical effect. A portion of the piss was sometimes stored for later ritual and may also have been used in beverages or potions.
The effects of drinking the urine would be that of directly eating the mushroom, therefore the euphoria attained could be shared. No one is sure how many times it was recycled via urine, but it is believed that the experience was considered so divine by the people that it could have been done so many times.
Celt men of the warrior class are speculated to have imgested the urine directly as it passed from the Druid’s body as to gain immediate and utmost power. They were also believed to have taken the urine – either from that which was saved or from a pre-battle ritual - before heading to war, as another of the agaric’s effects can be suppression of fear. The Celts were notorious for their fearless rages in battle, which could have been influenced by their consumption of the magic elixir. Many observers called them the ‘Bezerker Warriors’ from which the modern saying “Going Bezerk” evolved.
The warriors are thought to have also drank their own urine and that of their comrades in order to prolong or enhance the effect and carried it with them in battle and on journey. They also may have sometimes combined their urine concentrating it by partial freezing and ingesting the unfrozen liquid for a heightened hit…