Robert Gordon Wasson was an international banker, amateur mycologist, and author. His wife Valentina’s Russian upbringing included a comfort with wild mushrooms in contrast to Wasson’s innate fear and repulsion. They explored the issue together and in 1955 Wasson travelled to Mexico where he sought evidence of hallucinogenic mushrooms and their use by native people. He eventually met Maria Sabina, a Mazatec curandera and they became “the first white men in recorded history to eat the divine mushrooms”. He wrote up his experience in a famous article in Life Magazine in 1957: Seeking the Magic Mushroom, which reintroduced psilocybin mushrooms to the western public. This article was just as significant as Aldous Huxley’s 1954 book The Doors of Perception in sparking the West’s interest in psychedelics.
The same year they published Mushrooms, Russia and History, covering mushrooms in history, folk customs and folklore, diet, and culture in various European countries and Mexico. You can download both volumes here as a PDF:
The mushroom permits you to see, more clearly than our perishing mortal eye can see, vistas beyond the horizons of this life, to travel backwards and forwards in time, to enter other planes of existence, even (as the Indians say) to know God.
R. Gordon Wasson