Cover book

“There’s a brilliant chemistry to mushrooms, and endless possibilities. We’re just at the beginning of understanding them.”
—Michael Pollan

An all-star team of professional and amateur mycologists, artists, foodies, ecologists, doctors, and explorers joined forces with time-lapse master Louie Schwartzberg to create Fantastic Fungi, the life-affirming, mind-bending film about mushrooms and their mysterious interwoven rootlike filaments called mycelium. What this team reveals will blow your mind and possibly save the planet.

This visually compelling companion book, edited by preeminent mycologist Paul Stamets, will expand upon the film in every way through extended transcripts, new essays and interviews, and even more facts about the fantastic realm of fungi. In these pages, you’ll learn about the incredible communication network of mycelium under our feet, which has the proven ability to restore the planet’s ecosystems, repair our health, and resurrect our symbiotic relationship with nature.

Fantastic Fungi is at the forefront of a mushroom revolution. Join us, and together we can create the shift in consciousness needed to restore our planet.

“We’re on the cusp of a mycological revolution that will have paradigm-shifting effects well into the future, where an emerging ecology of consciousness is rooted in practical solutions we can analyze, test, and verify.”
—Paul Stamets

PAUL STAMETS is the preeminent mycologist in the United States. He has discovered several new species of mushrooms, including Psilocybe cyanofibrillosa and Psilocybe azurescens; pioneered countless new techniques; published several best-selling books; and won numerous awards.

LOUIE SCHWARTZBERG is an award-winning producer, director, and cinematographer whose notable career spans more than three decades. Schwartzberg has earned myriad awards, including two Clio Awards, an Emmy nomination, and the NAPPC Pollinator Protector Award.

Selected Quotes from the Book Fantastic Fungi:

Mushrooms are a big part of the story, but they remain a mystery. In fact, it’s amazing what we don’t know about mushrooms. We know more about bacteria and plants and certainly animals than we do about mushrooms. They are hard to study and haven’t received the kind of research attention these other kingdoms have, but they hold great value if we look a little deeper. There’s a brilliant chemistry to mushrooms, and endless possibilities. We’re just at the beginning of understanding them.
~ Michael Pollan


Reflect on the mysterious truth that, if you turn your attention inward, you can become aware that you are aware. When you do so, an indisputable and profound inner knowing arises that is at the core of our humanity: We recognize that we are all in this together, and an impulse for mutual care taking arises. I believe that exploration of this inner knowing through contemplative and other spiritual practices can result in a profound, uplifting shift in worldview; a waking up to a sense of freedom, peace, joy, and gratitude that many people simply find unimaginable.
~ Rolland Griffiths


Paraphrasing the eminent psychotherapist Stan Grof, psychedelics are to psychology as the telescope is to astronomy or the microscope is to bacteria. To understand our inner worlds, we need the right tools, and psychedelics have been used by both Eastern and Western civilizations for thousands of years to understand the human soul and psyche. I believe they connect us to a kind of divine intelligence and answer questions that materialist science has been ill equipped to deal with.
~ Alex Gray


I’m struck by the fact that human beings seem wired for the kind of incredible, meaning-making, transcendent experiences that are at the core of the world’s major religions. Psilocybin, when competently administered with attention to mental set, environmental setting, and appropriate dosage, has been found to reliably facilitate such mystical experiences. Because many have said that institutionalized religions have drifted from their mystical core, my colleagues and I had a radical thought: What would we learn if we invited a diverse group of spiritual leaders—ordained practitioners from Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, and other traditions—to go through this important doorway? Most of them have spent the better part of their careers studying this landscape. Would there be a common experience? If so, what? If not, how would they be different? What might we discover about the genesis of human spirituality?
~ Anthony Bossis


In conceiving this study, we thought it might be useful for religious leaders to have an actual spiritual experience. There is certainly a long history of such intimate revelations across religious boundaries if you can imagine Moses’s burning bush, Isaiah’s temple visions, and St. Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus. And many mystics throughout the ages, such as Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard von Bingen, Plotinus, and Rumi, had direct experiences with some transcendent energy, something much bigger than them, and the impacts were profound. Perhaps a pastor would preach with more confidence on Sunday morning or a minister would bring greater depth to their work with the dying. In various ways, spiritual practitioners might appreciate more deeply the richness of their own tradition while being more tolerant of the spiritual paths of others.
~ William Richards


Psilocybin, used carefully, is proving to be a wonderful tool for prospectively investigating the nature and consequences of mystical-type experiences. In recent years, researchers in this area have made great strides. In light of increasingly robust scientific findings, surely the culture will come to accommodate these modalities where they prove useful in psychiatry and, when appropriately safeguarded and supported, for the betterment of well people.
~ Robert Jesse