This painting illustrates the significance of the fly agaric mushroom, Amanita muscaria, or, more specifically, ibotenic acid, the hallucinogenic compound that the mushroom contains, in human culture. The scale-shifting properties of the mushroom, said to have inspired Lewis Carroll’s Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, are depicted as a spiralling red and white-spotted screw-thread (based on the mushroom cap) around a telescopic staff (based on the mushroom stem). The groove of the thread links a Heavenly sky containing rain clouds formed from the spore-bearing “basidia” of the fungus to a Hellish inferno across an earthscape of mountains, forests, rivers, flood plains and sea. This thread symbolizes the Shamanic use of the fungus, and the endless communion of masculine (linear) and female (curved) themes, to transcend outermost and innermost realms of consciousness.

ibotenic thread alan rayner occurrity
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