Of Autumn, Mushrooms and Vikings on Islay

I usually post images from Islay here and I have hundreds, if not thousands unused pictures that I'd like to share with you. Today however I want to take you to another part of the world, the part where I live. This afternoon I made a walk in our nature reserve and found this beautiful mushroom, picture below. I'm not sure if this particular species is present on Islay as well, what I do know is that this is the most beautiful mushroom there is, well according to me. This mushroom is called Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric. This is a poisonous and psychoactive basidiomycete fungus and is native throughout the temperate and boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Now that should include Islay as well.


Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric

I wouldn't have posted this image if there wouldn't be at least a slight connection with Islay. A possible connection can be found below and perhaps Islay has Norse influences due to this particular mushroom, who knows. A quote from Wikipedia:

A single source for the notion that Vikings used A. muscaria to produce their berserker rages was first suggested by the Swedish professor Samuel Ödman in 1784. Ödman based his theories on reports about the use of fly agaric among Siberian shamans. The notion has become widespread since the 19th century, but no contemporary sources mention this use or anything similar in their description of berserkers. "Berserkers (or berserks) were Norse warriors who are reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word berserk. Berserkers are attested in numerous Old Norse sources. Most historians believe that berserkers worked themselves into a rage before battle, but some think that they might have consumed drugged foods." Today, it is generally considered an urban legend or at best speculation that cannot be proven.

Tag: autumn mushrooms vikings

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