How Psychedelic Mushrooms Support Me

Amanda Gelender 🔮
6 min readFeb 24, 2020
Photo by Finn Ijspeert of an Amanitas Mascaria mushroom with a red and white cap growing on a forest floor of brown leaves and green trees in the background
Photo description: Photo by Finn Ijspeert of an Amanitas Mascaria mushroom with a red and white cap growing on a forest floor of brown leaves and green trees in the background

This piece is my contribution to the #ThankYouPlantMedicine campaign to de-stigmatize and decriminalize psychedelic plant medicine. From microdosing to full dose experiences, psilocybin “magic” mushrooms have supported me tremendously me over the years. I also work intentionally with cannabis, which continues to bring me healing and positive transformation.

For context, I have struggled for many years with several mental health challenges including OCD, depression, and anxiety. I’ve been on many prescription medications over the years and am currently on an SSRI antidepressant. I’m from the Bay Area and live in the Netherlands where psilocybin is legal in the form of mushroom truffles.

Through my own personal transformations and the many sessions I’ve facilitated, I’ve seen first-hand how with supportive preparation (set) and environment (setting), psychedelic mushrooms have tremendous potential to support people in a multitude of ways (something that indigenous people have known for a long time).

Learning to work with psychedelics has been an ongoing process: Along with euphoric and joyful moments in trips, I’ve also had very challenging experiences where I was grateful to have a nourishing environment and supportive person at my side. While psychedelics are not for everyone at all points in their lives, they are now a vital part of my wellness and social change work. They also complement and enhance the therapeutic benefits of my other healing modalities.

I believe that psychedelic plant medicine, including psilocybin and cannabis, should be decriminalized and widely accessible for people to grow and share in community. Our focus must always prioritize access, justice, and equity over profit — a significant battle under racialized capitalism. But any movement to reduce individual pain has a responsibility to address the systemic causes of suffering. The rise of psychedelic medicine must include reparations to address the generations of damage inflicted on Black and Brown communities through colonization, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs. The global struggle for indigenous rights is pressing and deeply linked to all plant medicine practice.

I write my story about working with mushrooms in part because my whiteness shields me from impunity — I can speak openly about substance use with less risk than my friends of color. My ability to work with largely illegal medicines as openly as I do and with as little friction as I experience is a direct result of my whiteness — all of the times I have not been stopped and frisked by police, for instance. I hope our collective stories shared today lead to positive, systemic change. Here are ways psilocybin mushrooms have supported me:

New Ways of Perceiving

In mushroom sessions, I can access fresh perspectives on all facets of life. It can sometimes feel like being given a universal key to explore every room in the house of my brain. I can wander into any space and explore memories, desires, and fears in ways that often feel inaccessible in my standard state of consciousness. Heightened sensations and perceptive shifts in psychedelic sessions allow me to continually gain a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me. This is particularly helpful as someone who frequently experiences anxiety and depressive loops: A new mindset and path forward can mean tremendous relief.

Everything I encounter during a psychedelic journey can teach me a lesson, a mindset that also serves me well in daily life. I marvel with profound curiosity and appreciation for everything around me, even if I don’t have language to describe its complexity.

Creative Flow

Mushrooms help me to create without self-censoring. I write and draw freely and unselfconsciously, focused on the joy and power of creating rather than the output. New ideas emerge organically. I deepen my appreciation for music, art, poetry, and natural beauty, as I can perceive these mediums with enhanced meaning and feeling. I gain more forgiveness and understanding for my own creative process, helping me release the shame of not producing “enough” or “better.”

Feel my feelings

Mushrooms help me to feel my feelings with depth and profundity — I often weep, rage, marvel, and burst into uncontrollable laughter. Accessing the entire emotional spectrum helps me to better understand and appreciate my multitudes. The catharsis of full, embodied emotional release on psychedelics has been tremendously healing. Psychedelics help me process through trauma not just cognitively but with my whole being (body, mind, spirit).

Psychedelics let me access a well of inner wisdom which gives me a sense of safety, security, and groundedness in my daily life. In working with mushrooms and cannabis over the years, I now feel less resistance to change and more at ease in transition. Even though I have a long way to go in releasing my perfectionism and unnecessary fears, it’s been a relief to feel more at peace with the natural ebb and flow of things — endings, beginnings, birth, life, death.


Mushrooms help me feel through pain and trauma that is stored in my body and programmed into my cells. I can work through fatphobia and more easily release body shame. I can explore my embodied experience of gender and sexuality. I often experience a resounding, indescribable sense of somatic gratitude which spills into my daily life, relationships, and social change work in the days and weeks to come.

Deepened Connections

After sessions, I often have an enhanced desire for deep connection. I feel more present with myself and others, grateful for the time we have together. I‘m open to new, aligned connections. Because my sessions help me tune into my wants and needs, I feel less fear in sharing my truth and asserting boundaries. After sessions I often initiate uncomfortable conversations that I had been putting off or take the leap to do something I’ve been wanting to do but felt too afraid. I often emerge from trips revitalized, nourished, in deeper connection with those around me, and with a spark of optimism, which feels particularly important and elusive in these bleak political times.

Fuel to Imagine and Build a Better World

We still have a lot to learn about how psychedelics impact ideology and political change. But I certainly see their radical potential. Mushrooms can help us imagine possibilities outside of dominant paradigms and systems: Tunnels to a better world. Mushrooms let us dissolve boundaries and borders, reminding us that all of our fates are intertwined. They can help us engender deep empathy for all living things, reconnecting us with our roots in the natural world. Psychedelics are not just tools for individual improvement, as asserted by the medical model and dominant neoliberal paradigms. Our collective challenges are systemic and our solutions must be as well. Psychedelics aren’t a substitute for structural change, but they can open us up to new ideas, connect us to our values, and re-energize us to fight for structural solutions, breathing new life into our social change work.

As adrienne maree brown, author of Emergent Strategy, wrote, “Where we are born into privilege, we are charged with dismantling any myth of supremacy. Where we are born into struggle, we are charged with claiming our dignity, joy and liberation.” I think psychedelics can support all sides of this work. For those who experience oppression — particularly Black and Brown folks — psychedelics can be an access point to feel tremendous freedom and healing from generations of racial trauma. They can usher in powerful joy, release, and ancestral connection. They can with the process of decolonization , feeling freedom, worth, and truth outside of systems of oppression. And for those with privilege, we can work with psychedelics to explore how to best leverage our resources and positionality for a more just world. Mushrooms can help us all to dream up a better society and then boost our momentum and capacity to actually build that world.

Explore All Things — Mind, Consciousness, Dimensionality, Identity, and Spirituality

Mushrooms give us an opportunity tap into the interconnectedness of all things, the expansiveness of our consciousness, and the energy flow of the universe. They provide direct access to spiritual planes and ancestral wisdom (one the reasons why colonizers were threatened by indigenous sacred use of mushrooms was unmediated access to the divine). Each trip, mushrooms reveal more data in an unlimited stream of channels, windows, mirrors, and portals. They help to continually pull away at a seemingly endless series of veils, opening access into facets of dimensionality, nonlinear time, and consciousness. Psychedelic exploration will continue to have a tremendous impact on what we know about existence and consciousness.

With mushrooms I can deeply explore facets of my queerness, race, sexuality, and gender. I can melt walls I’ve built to shield and protect myself from pain. I can muster the courage to walk into the basement of my subconscious and see what I’ve been too afraid to look at — trauma, guilt, shame, death, failure, abuse, resentment, anxiety, sadness, uncomfortable truths. This work can be painful and exhausting, but it can also be gentle and fortifying. Each session I gain more embodied strategies to accept all parts of myself and traverse life’s challenges. It has been some of the most profound healing work of my life.



Amanda Gelender 🔮

🪐 Jewish queer anti-zionist 🇵🇸 TV/film, abolition, plant medicine 🍄 Writer | Poet 🌙