Bett Williams explores the history, use, and cultivation of magic mushrooms.
On this week’s episode, author and psychedelic explorer Bett Williams discusses The Wild Kindness: A Psilocybin Odyssey (Dottir Press, Sept. 1), “An exuberant endorsement of the use of psychedelics as an instrument of self-discovery” (Kirkus).
Williams advocates taking mushrooms on one’s own, in a natural setting—not in “an established Western psychopharmacological context,” à la Michael Pollan, as she writes in The Wild Kindness. They are an ancient medicine that will reveal their properties and powers on their own terms.
After a negative introductory experience in her teens (to be clear, it was not the mushrooms’ fault), Williams waited decades before establishing a regular practice of ingestion and communion with the plants, animals, and desert surrounding her New Mexico home. She learned the histories of Indigenous healers, connected with modern psychonaut communities, and began presenting at psychedelic conferences.
Williams, editor-in-chief Tom Beer, and host Megan Labrise talk about her great first experience taking mushrooms (and the not-so-great aftermath), what it means to claim “expertise” in a subject (or not), fungiculture, the challenges of capturing psychedelic tripping in prose, whether taking mushrooms is conducive to writing, and much more.
Then editors Vicky Smith, Laura Simeon, and Laurie Muchnick join with their reading recommendations for the week.
This Is Your Time by Ruby Bridges (Delacorte)
Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao (Simon & Schuster)
Collected Stories by Shirley Hazzard (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.