Are you curious about what inspired our new sister brand, Mystic Mushrooms?

Jonas, our founder, was taken on a long journey that led him to share Ora's Mystical Mushroom Enhanced Cacao which turned into building a relationship with medicinal mushrooms. 

In this newsletter, Jonas shares his magical story and relationship with mushrooms below!

Jonas's Mushroom Story

As a kid, I used to be scared of mushrooms. Maybe you were too?

I was scared to touch them when I encountered them in the wild as if they were some sort of alien life form that would jump out at me and harm me. My knowledge of mushrooms extended to just three types: the hard ones that grow out of trees in the forest, the button mushrooms from the store that we cook with, and the red poisonous ones on the forest floor. When I look back, it is no wonder I was scared … I didn’t understand them and I didn’t know how to connect with them.

It wasn’t early until my mid-twenties that the world of mushrooms beckoned me deeper. I learned that there were many varieties of highly medicinal mushrooms. I learned to cook with a range of edible mushrooms that were far more flavorful and textured than the ones I had grown up with. And I even forayed into psychedelic journeying with mushrooms. Most transformational however was going back into the forest, and learning to wild harvest and identify mushrooms. It is amazing to me that the earth produces such powerful medicines and tasty foods that desire to be in connection with us!

Now that my relationship with mushrooms has grown to cooking, health, and spiritual dimensions, when I find mushrooms it is with excitement of seeing a friend, and when I touch a mushroom, it is with gratitude and overflowing curiosity. I’ve learned the ethics of wild harvesting: asking for permission, taking only what I need, and leaving enough for others (both human and animal) to enjoy. I reciprocate for my harvest with gratitude, wildlands tending, and by shaking out the mushroom spores along my hike home to help spread the fungal organism.

It was cacao though that brought my frequency of relating with mushrooms to a new height.

Previously I struggled with having regularity in my relationship with mushrooms, especially the highly medicinal ones that I wanted to have in my body as often as possible. I’m not someone who is good at taking supplements, and I prefer to work with whole foods in my kitchen as much as possible. Cacao proved to be the perfect ally for the regularity I was seeking.

It is both a beverage I was in ritual connection with daily and a functional delivery mechanism that makes the mushrooms tasty and brings them deep into my tissues for best absorption. I also quickly discovered that cacao and psilocybin are perfect complements, and I never take psilocybin without cacao now because of the uplifting and connective container cacao offers.

Sharing Ora Cacao’s Mystical Mushroom Enhanced Cacao took me on a whole new journey right around the turn of the decade, as I became disillusioned with my original mushroom supplier due to their practice of selling myceliated grains as mushrooms. That’s when I began looking at the mushroom supplements industry in earnest and began feeling that as much as popular awareness of mushrooms had grown since my mid-twenties, there was something seriously out of alignment. That’s not to say there aren’t many good things happening. The volumes of people who have taken an interest in identifying and wild harvesting mushrooms. The integrous companies who grow fresh whole mushrooms for use in restaurants and home kitchens all over the country. Novel products such as mushroom packaging, and mycoremediation of toxins with fungal allies. The increasing consensus that psilocybin can offer therapeutic healing benefits and should be decriminalized and legalized. The list easily goes on.

But it is with mushroom supplements that I worry that we have rushed into a relationship where mushrooms and people are being exploited. It’s easy enough to surmise this, as when searching on Amazon there are dozens of brands competing on price and fancy marketing. How do you know who to trust and where to spend your hard-earned dollars for the health results you desire? To supply the mushrooms for the exponential growth in demand for healthy natural medicines, some substantial shortcuts are being taken that I think everyone who cares about mushrooms should know about.

I wonder about the fungal being. What makes it happiest?

Many plants, for example, the cacao tree, will tolerate us humans growing them in all sorts of unnatural ways, such as sun-drenched plantations and even with clonal hybridization. Similarly, mushrooms can be grown under artificial light, on cheap substrates such as rice and grain, and harvested before they even complete the development of medicinal compounds in their fruiting bodies. Yes, they will participate. But is that their optimal, happiest, expression? And is that ours? For making healing medicine, I think asking that question is crucially important. Because I know experientially that my body can tell the difference from cacao that is grown as described above versus cacao that comes from an intact rainforest ecology stewarded with permaculture principles and indigenous wisdom. And the same goes for mushrooms. My body can tell the difference when the fungus has been grown outdoors in hoop houses with sunlight and on their favorite substrates such as wooden logs. I can tell that the fungus is way happier when allowed to live and create its reproductive organ, the fruiting mushroom bodies, rather than when its mycelium is harvested prematurely and mixed with huge quantities of filler.

 

My body also feels better about using products that are what they say they are, rather than being lied to and told with deceptive test results that mycelium with filler is just as medicinal as fruiting body mushroom extracts. There are some people who will argue this point with me because they’ve invested so much in the brands they purchase from and because they want to believe what they’ve been told.

But I’ve seen the test results and I also trust my body. I believe in unadulterated whole foods, and if you are anything like me, I’m angry that the US mushroom supplement industry is lying to us. That I’ve spent way too much money on buying “mushroom” products that aren’t the real deal. That fungal beings are being exploited for profit, and that many people who want to heal are buying into unsubstantiated health claims. And I’m angry that this is legally permissible, that ground up myceliated grain is allowed to be sold as mushroom powder when it is not that.

I think that it is crucial as leaders in our communities to reclaim our reciprocal relationship with our medicines. Good medicine isn’t produced by exploitation. Healing our own bodies needs to go hand in hand with regeneratively healing the earth. Yes, it’s more expensive than the cheap products you can find on Amazon, but isn’t our health and the planet’s health possibly the best way that we can spend our money? That is reciprocity - when the production of the medicine we consume simultaneously respects and regenerates the planet. 

That’s why I think the term ceremonial mushrooms is highly appropriate. A quality standard that is reciprocal and not exploitative. Where you are actually receiving the health benefits that mushrooms are capable of delivering, and where the fungal organism is treated with respect and can grow happily. A way of relating to fungi in which we pause to honor their being. In the same way that you all already know that ceremonial cacao is worlds apart from conventional cacao, this is why I began Mystic Mushrooms. To restore the sacred to our relationship with some of our most healing medicines, in a world where the “health” industry, driven by single-purpose capitalism that is relentlessly willing to exploit us and our earth.

None of what we do with cacao and none of what we do with mushrooms would be possible without our supply chain partners. The thousands of farmers first and foremost, and the hardworking and highly sophisticated teams involved in the processing and testing of our products. The leaders and visionaries who have educated me, especially Jeff Chilton, the founder of NAMMEX. He has been working with mushrooms in China for over forty years and is dedicated to bringing truly medicinal mushroom products to people all over the world at the scales that are needed. When I shared my journey with fungi and wanting to share ceremonial mushrooms with my community, he gave me the all-clear to share his products, and even to sell below the price of his retail partner brand, Real Mushrooms. I share this with you here to offer full transparency in sourcing and to celebrate collaboration because it’s together that we rise. I am massively grateful for Jeff’s vision to produce the mushrooms we use, and for his trust in me to share the message of ceremonial reciprocity that our relationship with cacao has uniquely poised us to do. 

Thank you for being a part of this. Thank you for supporting us in our mission to reclaim the integrity of the Earth’s medicine with respect and reciprocity. Our success is because the people and the planet want this and need this. This is the P3 model of doing business, where our bottom line is Prosperity for People and the Planet.

Sending you all cacao love and happy mushrooms as we enter this last month of 2021.

Blessings,

Jonas

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The Ora Mission

We make the very best ceremonial cacao that is pure, accessible, and easy to use. Our products and services are our sacred activism in response to a consumptive and exploitative chocolate industry. We leverage our access and privilege for healing on the local and global scale, by pushing the envelope with a track record of truth telling, strong partnerships, and impeccable quality to back us up.