Anastasia Shubina

Amanita Muscaria

Both attractive and repulsive, the amanita muscaria or fly agaric has a variety of symbolic meanings throughout many cultures. Many believe this mushroom to be lethally poisonous, as it was used for centuries to kill insects. Others, meanwhile, see the amanita as a delicacy with medicinal and cosmetic qualities.

The fly agaric was considered a way to access a magical reality, used by ancient shamans to commune with spirits, serving a role in various myths and fairy tales.

More recently, we have seen a renaissance in the amanita’s use, with its microdoses being used as an antidepressant. Visually, it has been used in neo-pagan art and ritual but still retains a reputation as a dangerous mushroom.

This ironic duality of admiration and horror — of fascination and mistrust — reflects our ever-shifting perception of folk traditions and magic.

In collaboration with Timofey Glinin