Mushroom Fest Brings Great Ideas and Speakers to Town, if Few ’Shrooms
by Art Goodtimes
Aug 29, 2008 | 1041 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print

SUNNY SKIES … It was a beautiful three days, but that’s not what fungophiles were hoping for last weekend. We wanted rain. It had come earlier, and there were some great flushes of chanterelles and a few boletes two weeks ago. But the spectacularly warm weather last weekend meant few patches of choice edibles for festival-goers this year … Of course, as if on perverse cue, the weather turned on Sunday and now locals can expect some great ’shrooming this week as Hollywood types flock to town to celebrate the poetry of bouncelight indoors … But even without the natural bounty of mycelia’s fruiting bodies, it was still a great weekend.

13 GRANDMOTHERS … If I had heard vaguely of the 13 indigenous grandmothers who had formed an international council and had begun taking actions for peace, I had no idea of who they were. Nor what they were really about. Jyoti, spiritual director of the Center for Sacred Studies (P.O. Box 745, Sonora, CA 95370) and Grandmother Julieta Casimiro changed all that … Borne out of the flame of a sacred fire – ignited by Chief Shenandoah of the Iroquois Nation at the United National in 1986, carried subsequently as a torch of peace around the world and sparking into life in the aftermath of 9/11 in a gathering of indigenous women in the Catskills of New York in 2004 – the 13 Grandmothers have been making waves, peaceful waves, ever since … Their visit to the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, was the focus of a short film clip shown at Mushfest. Their near-arrest at the Vatican for praying in the papal square made headlines in Europe last month. And a full-length documentary on their work is nearing completion this year, For the Next 7 Generations … Here is an excerpt from their founding Statement: “We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth, the atrocities of war, the global scourge of poverty, the prevailing culture of materialism, the epidemics that threaten the health of the Earth’s peoples, and the destruction of indigenous ways of life. We, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, believe that our ancestral ways of prayer, peacemaking and healing vitally needed today. We believe that the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future” … To learn more about these amazing women and their mission, read Carol Schaeffer’s book, Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet (Trumpeter Press, Boston, 2006) and visit their website … For Telluride’s fungophiles, we got to meet Grandmother Julieta up close – an embodiment of all that the 13 Grandmothers are about. For years, we have heard about Maria Sabina, the Mazatec curandera that Gordon Wasson brought to the attention of the Western world back in the 50s, and even seen old archival footage. But for the first time this year we were able to meet and learn first hand from a Mazatec curandera who uses magic mushrooms as spiritual helpers in her rituals of healing and prayer, as she and her ancestors have been doing for thousands of years. “These holy children, the magical mushrooms that I talk of, are quite marvelous,” she told us, through Benito our translator, “miracles for the knowledge and light of understanding” … Jyoti and Casimiro gave several talks, and Grandmother Julieta even held a healing at Elks Park, though without her spirit helpers, since – as she explained, “We cannot carry these mushrooms with us, as the governments are watching us.”

KNOW YOUR MUSHROOMS … Another breakthrough this year at Mushfest was the showing of an advance rush of a new film by Toronto filmmaker Ron Mann about the Telluride Mushroom Festival, called Know Your Mushrooms. Mushroom gypsy Larry Evans of Montana, who also spoke to the gathering about forest restoration using fungi, was the star of the documentary, with John Sir Jesse and myself having small parts, and Gary Lincoff – the festival’s veteran mycologist – being the primary consultant for the film. I think Lincoff’s account of his first entheogenic experience will become an instant classic … For more info on the film, visit Mann’s website and watch the trailer

FUNGI MAGAZINE … Britt Bunyard set up a booth at Mushrest for the sale of his dazzling new mycological publication, Fungi (P.O. Box 8, Richfield WI 53076/$35 for five issues a year). This is a must read for any fungophile, with great stories, lush photography and important information. Their next issue will focus on truffles … What a great addition to the national mycology landscape. No mushroom enthusiast should be without this mag … And check out the website

DANIEL WINKLER … A dashing and ebullient mycologist, environmental consultant and scholar with a specialty in the Tibetan Plateau, Daniel Winkler loves mushrooms and leads mushroom tours at the foot of the Himalayas. Knowledgeable of Tibetan and Chinese as well as steeped in sacred texts and arcane mycological information, Winkler provided a fascinating look into the trade in Cordyceps sinensis (Yartsa Gunbu), a unique medicinal fungi that grows out of the caterpillar larvae of the ghost moth (genus Thitarodes) and has become approximately 8 percent of Tibet’s gross national product – the largest fungal component of any nation’s income in the world. For individual Tibetans, it can make up as much as 80 percent of their annual pay … His original work in this area was fascinating, concerned as he is for the long-term sustainability of Cordyceps harvesting, and one should visit his website to learn more,

KATRINA BLAIR … Another standout this year was a short slide show talk by Durango-based wildcrafter Katrina Blair, founder of Turtle Lake Refuge and teacher of sustainable living practices at colleges in California, New Mexico and Colorado. She and her acupuncturist friend Hiroki Ide hiked from Durango to Telluride over the course of six days, arriving in time for her lecture, and to serve up raw wildcrafted salads with plants collected on her journey at the Cook and Taste Party in Town Park following the parade. Her recipe for marinating boletes and chanterelles in wild berries was a tantalizing wildcrafter’s specialty … To learn more on raw foods, go to

AND MORE … And all of these wonderful speakers don’t even touch on the many other wonderful guests and events at the 28th Annual Telluride Mushfest, including Paul Stamets’s disciple Jim Gouin and his myco-restoration work, this year’s parade queen and master chef Rita Rosenberg’s cooking demonstration, Naomi Salzman’s mushroom paper-making class, our own Kris Holstrom’s demonstration myco-gardening, John Buerger’s mushroom weed control, Taylor Lockwood’s mushroom videos, Christopher Hobbs medicinal plants, poetry, music, forays, the fantastic gourmet mushroom banquet up in the Mountain Village, the parade, and more … What an incredible weekend, and thanks to the Telluride Institute for making it all happen.

NEW LAWS … At CCI’s Western District Meeting in Montrose two weeks ago we commissioners got an update on the many new laws passed this last session of the legislature. I’ll try to alert citizens to some of the more important ones for the next few weeks … One big money saver for county government was HB 1053 that allows counties to record and maintain plats electronically – which should save thousands of taxpayer dollars annually.

SAVING PARADOX … Rick Hollinbeck of Norwood tied for second place with his close up of a collared lizard in the contest John Metcalf of Ridgway sponsored to bring awareness of the natural beauty of the Paradox Valley that is slated for a massive uranium mill project. Fellow columnist Grace Herndon wrote quite eloquently about that issue in last Friday’s Watch … To see the winning photos, go to

© 2008 Art Goodtimes


Utah Phillips

Yep, every so often

you have to wake up

& jump off a cliff.

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