When we think of soulcybin in Oaxaca (southern Mexico), the first thing that springs to mind when we think of Oaxaca is Maria Sabina, Huautla da Jimenez and hallucinogenic magic mushrooms. All that has been changing is Josefina Jimenez & Johann Mathieu’s pioneering work in mycology, through Mico-logica.
Mico-logica, based in Oaxaca’s Ixtlan, is home to Benito Juarez. This village is known more commonly as the Sierra Norte. Mico-logica has three main missions. They train visitors and Mexicans in low-cost mushroom cultivation. They also educate about the nutritional and medicinal benefits of mushrooms.
Mathieu, who was French-born, immigrated to Mexico in 2005. Mathieu, a French-born Mathieu, explained that it was quite a journey to Mexico from France to pursue a passion for mushrooms in a recent interview. “But there was not much opportunity to do studies and grow businesses in Western Europe,” he says. Mathieu explained that the Church had almost completely eliminated veneration for mushrooms over the centuries. However, he said that he learned that Mexico still values the medicinal and nutritional benefits of hongos. Mexico is far less mycophobic than the United States.
Huautla de Jimenez, located more than five hours away from the closest major metropolitan center, is over an hour drive. Mathieu came to realize that Huautla had a historical appeal and was in an area conducive for working with mushrooms. He would have to leave Huautla to help him grow a business or to inspire a wider interest in fungi. Mathieu began to notice the rising reputation of Oaxaca’s ecotourism communities of Sierra Norte, as well the Feria Regional de Hongos Silvestres regional wild mushroom festival, held each year in Cuahimoloyas.
Mathieu was able to meet Josefina Jimenez during the weekend-long summer mushroom event. Jimenez was originally from Mexico City and had moved to Oaxaca. Jimenez, who had studied agronomy in Mexico City, had spent close to a decade working in rural farming communities in San Luis Potosi’s Huasteca Potosina. He also worked with sustainable agriculture projects on the coast of Chiapas and in the mountains of Guerrero. Mathieu was a businessman, Jimenez was a life partner in Benito Juarez.