Butterfly Mushroom Spores
The giant glimmercaps that are the source of these spores are large agaric mushrooms, ranging from beige to vivid crimson, depending on the composition of the soil in which they grow. The brighter the red coloration, the more potent the herbally active properties will be. The flesh of the caps has a waxy feel, and a subtle scent reminiscent of wood ash.
Giant glimmercap mushrooms thrive in earthen caves and other warm, humid places such as low-lying, well-shaded ravines and gullies. They grow directly from the soil, rather than from deadfall, and seem to prefer to keep the company of a variegated crowd of other plants and shrubs nearby.
Like all agarics, glimmercaps hold their spores within the gill structures on the undersides of their caps. In size, shape, and color, each spore resembles a very small grain of brown rice. If intended for immediate use, the spores can be obtained simply by breaking apart the mushroom cap and sorting the spores from the pieces. For longer-term storage, leave the spores within the cap, where they will be sustained live for perhaps as long as a tenday, while the cap dries out. Once desiccated, however, the cap ceases sustaining the spores, and they will quickly shrivel and dry, losing their effectiveness.
Let us not mince words: butterfly mushroom spores are highly psychoactive. Minor doses can induce hyperesthesia, synesthesia, and mild euphoria; increased consumption causes vivid hallucinations which can vary in mood wildly, from intensely pleasant to intensely terrifying. Some orders of seers and mystics, including some within the present author’s own clergy of Sehanine Moonbow, prepare and use an elixir of these spores mixed with wine alcohol, commonly known as Seer’s Wine, in order to magnify these psychoactive properties, believing there to be profound spiritual insight waiting to be gleaned from sagacious interpretation of the visions experienced while under such influence. Perhaps unexpectedly, it is precisely this psychoactive property that makes possible one of the more potent known herbal potions: the potion of healing. The vivid hallucinations serve to loosen the subject mind’s reflexive grasp on transient reality, allowing the healing properties of the potion’s other components (Feverfew and Chinchona Bark, traditionally) to freely react to the subject’s true permanent pattern, rather than the temporary mental construct of self-image which includes such experiences as wounds and afflictions. Fortunately, since the alchemically derived magic of the potion is thus fueled by the induced hallucinatory receptivity, the process of executing the magic speeds through the altered mental state at massively increased rapidity, rendering the patient merely briefly disoriented, rather than incapacitated for hours by delusion and delirium.
The name “butterfly mushroom” comes from the tendency for several varieties of caterpillar to choose the stalks of glimmercaps on which to spin their cocoon. It is theorized that either the mushrooms’ scent or their psychoactive properties serve as a deterrent to the other insects and small animals which would seek out the cocoons to feed on the helpless protein-rich pupae within. On warm late spring mornings, areas with plentiful glimmercap mushrooms can often be easily identified by a rainbow profusion of new butterflies taking to the air for the first time, a sight which the author wholeheartedly recommends as a balm for the spirit.