Decomposing the Shadow: A Book Reflection


“Decomposing The Shadow:

Lessons from the Psilocybin Mushroom”

A Book Reflection


After a quick investigation into the research being shared surrounding mycelium and this unique organism’s ability to decompose and re-balance our planet, it is easy to see mushrooms as an emerging solution to many of the challenges we are facing. Pioneers such as Paul Stamets are showing how mushrooms can be used for everything from cleaning toxic soils to creating natural insecticides, providing alternative fuel to treating small pox and the flu. Mushrooms are the decomposers of the planet; a fundamental key to transforming our linear consumption model into a regenerative circle. One particular type of mushroom could open the doors to a deeply personal inner transformation that has the potential to affect the larger community; the psilocybin mushroom.


Author James Jesso has recently released an invaluable contribution to the planetary healing process with his book, Decomposing the Shadow: Lessons from the Psilocybin Mushroom. In its pages he weaves together research and personal experience into a conceptual map of the inner psilocybin terrain. Jesso presents a convincing argument for the untapped and culturally suppressed potential of the ‘magic mushroom’ as a tool for cultivating psychospiritual maturity – a process of integrating all aspects of self into a fuller, authentic expression of one’s whole self. Framed within the backdrop of his personal story and a brief history of the mushroom’s role in Western society, Decomposing the Shadow addresses much of the negative and misdirected language surrounding the psilocybin experience.


In harmony with the role of mushrooms as decomposers of this world (and even the cosmos), Jesso illustrates how, when used properly, the psilocybin mushroom can be a teacher and guide through the healing process of decomposing our shadow. The magic mushroom can provide us with an opportunity to face our shadow (aspects of self we associate as being negative and often repress or project onto others as judgement) and in doing so, discover our courage through the practice of active surrender and acceptance to the experience as it is. This unique teacher acts as a catalyst in providing experiences that reveal a path for personal healing; it is we who then must walk it.


Written for those who have not experienced the magic mushroom and seasoned psychonaughts alike, Decomposing the Shadow is a courageous stand to dissolve the cultural stigma and blind dogma surrounding the psilocybin mushroom and “drugs” in general. Jesso is careful to explain that the psilocybin teacher is not for everyone and the often shared story of a ‘bad trip’ is a result of the anxiety and resistances to the experience that can accompany uninformed use. He provides tips, based on his own exploration, into creating a positive and lasting journey with the fungus – including setting intention, choosing a dose, dealing with gut rot, releasing expectations, integrating meditation and a detached observation of passing thoughts. The book is a must read for anyone seeking to dive into the healing potential of this teacher plant; through the lessons shared in its pages or through personal exploration with the mushroom.


As we all individually take responsibility for our personal healing and the integration of our fragmented and disowned aspects of self, we start to change the world around us. The magic mushroom is one avenue with which to explore this awareness and begin to decompose our shadow by unlocking “the nutrients contained within it to feed the soil of psychospiritual growth. They take us on a journey through and beyond the death and decay of repression, into the fertile grounds of budding maturity, courage, and confidence.”


Decomposing the Shadow has provided me with a foundation with which to reference and language my exploration of the inner psilocybin terrain. I am inspired by the focus and dedication to this courageous and often culturally confrontational path that James has chosen. His gifts are planting many healthy seeds for the growth and blossoming of constructive relationships with this incredible healer, the psilocybin mushroom. I am personally inspired by his example and am grateful to have witnessed this book through its creation process. The project incorporated the gifts from many talented individuals and was financed through a beautifully executed crowdfunding campaign, both testaments to the bright light that James brings to his community.


If you wish to check out more of the project, click here.

To read more writing by James, to follow his many workshops, videos, and talks, or to contact him, click here.

You can order the book here (there are a few different methods to support his dream through the link)


Much love,


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