The Web Of Life: Mushrooms, Fungi And The Mycelium Internet
The Kingdom of Fungi Is Mostly Invisible But It Is Everywhere
Even though the mycelium that lives in a mycorrhizal relationship with tree and plant roots in the soil are invisible, they interconnect everything on land through a web of life.
The Hopi Creation Myth
How the Grandmother Spirit of the Earth and the Grandfather Spirit of the Sky created the miracle of life.
Creator: “I want to hide something from the humans until they are ready for it. It is the realization that they create their own reality.”
Eagle: “Give it to me, I will take it to the moon.”
Creator: “No, one day they will go there and find it.”
Salmon: “I will bury it in the bottom of the ocean.”
Creator: “No, they will go there too.”
Buffalo: “I will bury it in the Great Plains.”
Creator: “They will cut into the skin of the Earth and find it even there.”
Grandmother lives in the breast of the Mother Earth and has no physical eyes but sees with spiritual eyes.
Grandmother: “Put it inside them.”
Creator: “It is done.”
Mushrooms, Fungi And The Invisible Mycelial Web of Life
Since the beginning of time, human cultures have honoured an interconnected web of life.
This great spirit is found in the mycelium in the soil and it also forms our bodies and who we are because we have emerged from the soil.
Many Native American peoples share a belief that they emerged from the Earth. Even the English word human is rooted in the latin word humus, which means soil.
We are literally soil beings and fungi are the mycelial magicians that interconnect life in the soil and self-organize the decomposition system of the life cycle that recycles and regenerates organic life.
As the ancient Blackfoot Proverb profoundly observes, "Life is not separate from death. It only looks that way."
Nature exists is a life cycle of growth, death and rebirth and the interconnected mycelial networks provide an invisible link that creates the conditions for this miracle of living and breathing life to thrive on Earth.
It's not easy to wrap your mind around something that is invisible. This short video explores the importance of fungi mycelium for terrestrial life.
The Billion Year Natural History of the Fungi Kingdom
To understand the natural history of life, you need to understand how mycelium terraformed the Earth and made today's awe-inspiring terrestrial biodiversity possible.
In 1998 scientists discovered that fungi split from animals about 1.538 billion years ago, whereas plants split from animals about 1.547 billion years ago.
This means fungi split from animals 9 million years after plants did, in which case fungi are actually more closely related to animals than to plants. The fact that fungi had motile cells propelled by flagella that are more like those in animals than those in plants, supports that.
Mycelium's vast structural network is responsible for creating top soil, decomposing plant debris, at the same time providing nutrients to the plant and animal kingdoms. In other words, mycelium is earth's life support system.
About 10,000 years ago, the technology of liquid fermentation—from mead to beer to spirits—and solid-state fermentation—bread and cheese—helped put humanity on a rapidly accelerating path of invention and advancement.
Mushroom symbolism is also found in early cave art and throughout the world's ancient religions and the religious temples of the Egyptians, Aztecs and Vedic cultures.
Today, they may offer our best organic technology to combat climate change and build a regenerative culture that live in harmony with natural law again.
Want to learn more about the miracle of fungi? Watch this fascinating short documentary with legendary Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki on the history of the Kingdom of Fungi.
How Fungi And Mycoremediation Can Help Us Save The World
Climate change is about to bring a world of pain and economic collapse to human societies. The next decade of the 2020s will be the most important of human existence thus far.
We will have to rise to this monumental ecological challenge and come together to build a regenerative culture or we will disintegrate into civil war, zero sum tribalism and possibly the collapse of advanced technological civilization.
Fortunately, we have many allies in the web of life that offer us natural wisdom that can help us save ourselves from the curse of human greed, envy and stupidity.
The answers are right under our feet. Studying the mycology of fungi can teach us to heal ourselves, the collective human tribe and the planetary ecology.
There is the abstract and metaphorical knowledge learned from books and there is the living wisdom learned from experiential learning and the study of the intelligence of nature.
In many ways, mycelium acts as the brain of terrestrial life. Fungi mycelium is an elemental force of rebirth that renews life and the Earth's soil.
Mycelium can produce biodegradable plastics, tasty meat substitutes, powerful medicines, detoxify pollution and eliminate waste.
The emerging field of mycoremediation is the next frontier of biological and environmental sciences that will help us clean up toxic mess created by the runaway growth of industrial civilization.
Fungi has always played a critical role in human evolution and they will are poised play a crucial role in the rewilding of the human family and the restoration of the beauty and wildness of Mother Earth.
If you're curious enough to go down the rabbit hole, watch this excellent talk by famed mycologist Paul Stamets exploring evolutionary biology, human evolution and the enduring mystery of consciousness.
“I see the mycelium as the Earth's natural Internet, a consciousness with which we might be able to communicate. Through cross-species interfacing, we may one day exchange information with these sentient cellular networks.
Because these externalized neurological nets sense any impression upon them, from footsteps to falling tree branches, they could relay enormous amounts of data regarding the movements of all organisms through the landscape.
I believe that mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind.
― Paul Stamets