Golden Halo mushroom cap
Photo courtesy of Luminaire Mushroom Company

Meet the Heavenly Golden Halo Mushroom

This newly stabilized mushroom might make for the perfect museum dose—but there's still a lot to learn.

DoubleBlind Mag

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Published on
Updated March 18, 2024

Some say that mushrooms take us to the heavens—and this may be true whatever variety you consume. But, when your shrooms look like they’re adorned with a golden halo? Well—how apropos. To understand the Golden Halo mushroom, we’ll have to travel back in time. The exact origins of Golden Halo mushrooms are a bit of a mystery. Fruiting bodies may make their home above the soil, but in the age of drug prohibition, cultivation is an underground sport.1

Golden Halo Mushrooms: History and Origin

Cultivator Steve Woodbury claims to have gathered the original Golden Halo mushrooms in Jamaica, posting about it on Facebook in 2012.2 Posts about the mushrooms articulate that Woodbury found the strain while looking for landrace mushroom varieties outside of Kingston. Woodbury told DoubleBlind that his interest in mycology began in 1993, inspired by his horticulture teacher in North Hampton, Massachusetts. In an email to DoubleBlind, Woodbury claims that he never released spore prints of the real Golden Halo—which he saved because the spore’s coloring and oblong shape bare resemblance to early religious paintings when looked at under a microscope. Instead, he claims he released Brownie Halo, another Jamaican mushroom with a darker spore coloration.

Regardless of the details, before Golden Halo mushrooms made their way into the hands of mycophiles, they only existed in the wild: It’s only over the past few years that they were stabilized. A stabilized strain is grown from spores to the point that they are all nearly identical genetically. Various online spore retailers sell Golden Halo spores, but there’s no way of telling what cultivated strain they are actually selling. Golden Halo’s unique genome hasn’t been sequenced yet. Barlow says that the fact that the strain is newly stabilized means that it “likely still has many of the benefits of wild genetics. […] It colonizes substrates quickly, has good fruiting, and has a strong resistance against pathogens.”

Some strains marketed as Golden Halos may produce dense clusters of mushrooms in the first and second flush, Barlow adds. But again—there’s no way to tell what you’re actually getting. The term “Golden Halo” is also sometimes used to describe P. cubensis mushrooms in general, but that’s less common, says James Hin, founder of Psilo Temple.

READ: How to Grow Mushrooms: A Beginner’s Guide

golden halo mushrooms
Photo courtesy of DB 101 student grower

Characteristics and Features

“Golden Halo is a standard cubensis with medium to large mushrooms,” says Caine Barlow, a DoubleBlind resident mycologist. “What is notable is that they develop really pretty, flat, golden-colored caps with a darker zone in the center and a lighter zone at the rim. These are not the short, stubby, inbred mushrooms that are typical of the market, as they have beautiful, long stems that are thin and white.”

The most salient feature of Golden Halo mushrooms is “a gradient hue of gold in a halo shape on the cap,” says Nolo, a mushroom ceremony leader and generational Filipino tribal healer based in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, Utah. Cubensis varieties are famous for their golden or honey-colored tops. “Stems are white and slender, with sometimes a ring leftover from where the veil separates, very similar to the Golden Teachers.” 

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In the underground mycology scene, the name “Golden Halo” originally referred to the mushroom’s spore print, not the mushroom itself. “Although it is rumored that the original Golden Halo mushroom species held golden spores, this has not been my experience,” says Alexander Romer, mycologist and founder of Luminaire Mushroom Company. “This may be due to strain isolation and stabilization of the strain, which is not uncommon. From my experience, they appear more as a beautiful, lighter rust color.” In Woodbury’s perspective, the majority of people have never encountered “the original” Golden Halo at all.

Psychoactive Effects

Psilocybe cubensis mushroom strains all have the same general psychoactive effects, making you more contemplative, emotionally open, and perhaps playful. “At the end of the day, there are no real differences between strains when it comes to effects,” says Barlow. “It all comes down to what people make of the experience, i.e. expectations. If people feel they are going to have a particular effect, they are likely talking themselves into it. It is common for sellers of mushroom strains to claim different effects between strains, but with weaker species such as Psilocybe cubensis, this is a difficult one to take seriously.” What will make more of a difference, he says, are the set and setting with which you approach the mushrooms. Potency and dosage can also play a role in the overall trip experience. 

We can only speculate about the mushroom’s potency. Some user reports of mushrooms called Golden Halo suggest that the mushroom may have lower potency. A lower potency may indicate a tryptamine content of 0.5 to 0.9 percent, meaning that it likely won’t have a particularly strong effect, Barlow says. But only testing will be able to give a definitive answer. Tryptamine content also varies from mushroom to mushroom, and is strongly influenced by growing conditions. The low tryptamine content makes Golden Halo a good option for social doses and microdoses. “Otherwise, expect standard psilocybin effects such as euphoria, closed-eye visuals, and some very light open-eye visuals,” says Barlow. 

In Nolo’s experience, the Golden Halo strain “gives me energy, saturated sounds, saturated colors, and creativity for the day,” he says. “At 3-5 grams, this strain can start to get visual, and synesthesia of senses starts to get pronounced. Ceremonial doses are about 6-7 grams… and can last for as long as 4-8 hours depending on how your body is transmuting it.” Romer adds that “in comparison to other mushroom strains, one might say that these produce a more balanced feeling, while also having a quick onset time.”

Know Your Rights

Psilocybin mushroom possession and cultivation are not legal in most places. Psilocybin is a Schedule I controlled substance in the United States. However, mushrooms were never scheduled in Jamacia, and some forms of cultivation are legal in the US states of Colorado and, with a manufacturing license, Oregon. Many cities around the US have deprioritized mushrooms, but that doesn’t necessarily change their legal status. Magic truffles are sold legally in the Netherlands.

Growing Golden Halo Mushrooms*

Hopeful cultivators should follow the cultivation recommendations of their spore trader—so long as they are in a area where it is decriminalized, unregulated, or legal to cultivate. Strains marketed as Golden Halo could be any cubensis variety. Nolo has had good luck with his Golden Halos, whatever they may actually be. “This is one of the most resilient and fast-growing genetics there is,” says Nolo, with a full growth cycle from grain to fruiting lasting between four and five months or even shorter. “It’s not too picky when it comes to substrates, as it can colonize straw, hardwood, master’s mix, and its most favorite, animal dung.” Barlow adds that “it is also known to have a strong resistance against molds and bacteria, and this is a very good thing in a beginner mushroom.”

Golden Halo mushrooms grow best in warm, humid climates ranging from 70-78 degrees Fahrenheit, says Nolo. Like most Golden-Teacher-type strains, they can be found on cow dung in tropical locations—though they grow in the Pacific Northwest, says Romer. Barlow adds that “it is not a picky strain and will readily grow using most methods, from PF-Tek through to [being] bulked out onto manure or a combination of manure and straw.”

colonized grain spawn
Colonized grain spawn | Photo from DB 102: How to Grow Mushrooms Bigger & Better Yields

Golden Halo Spores 

According to Woodbury, Golden Halo spores are a light yellow, appearing almost translucent under a microscope. However, Woodbury also claims that these spores were never released for sale. The spore color of the strains marketed as Golden Halo on spore websites vary: Some are reddish brown. Barlow says that some are blue-black.

Collecting spore prints is likely a similar process regardless of what “Golden Halo” you have. Cubensis varieties disperse spores from their gills. So, the best time to pick the fruiting body is “right before it starts to break the veil,” says Nolo. “Or your canopy will get crop dusted with its charcoal gray spores. You can do two methods of reproducing the strain, such as spore printing from the caps or cloning through agar and liquid culture techniques.”

Golden Halo Pins 

Cubensis strains marketed as Golden Halo likely have similar growth patterns. Growing cycles generally depend on the setup and growing conditions. “Two to three weeks are needed to create spawn, another two to three weeks for substrate colonization, and pinning is required within a few days of introducing fruiting conditions,” says Barlow. Signs of pinning include mycelium threads and tiny brown bulb-like caps, according to Nolo.

READ: Types of Magic Mushrooms: 10 Shroom Strains You Should Know About

mushroom pins in grow tub
Signs of pinning include mycelium threads and tiny brown bulb-like caps | Photo courtesy of DB 101 student grower

Golden Halo Mushroom Legality

All Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms contain psilocybin and psilocin, which are Schedule I substances in the US. “However, the spores themselves do not contain these substances,” says C.L. Mike Schmidt, a lawyer at Schmidt & Clark LLP. “Therefore, in most states, mushroom spores are not considered illegal as long as they are used for their intended purpose, such as religious research, education, microscopy, and taxonomy.” This is with the exception of California, Georgia, and Idaho, which have made mushroom spores illegal.

“At the end of the day, unless you live in an area where they have been decriminalized, psilocybin-containing mushrooms are illegal to grow and sell,” Barlow confirms. However, a number of U.S. states and cities have legalized or decriminalized magic mushrooms, including Oregon and Colorado. Home cultivation is decriminalized in Colorado but not in Oregon—with the exception of state-licensed manufacturers. Selling mushrooms outside of state-licensed facilities, however, is illegal.

Golden Halo Mushrooms Potency

Though we contacted several testing companies, none of them had come across Golden Halo mushrooms or knew their potency. It can also be difficult to discern what is marketing and what is legitimate when buying spores or cultivated mushrooms, especially online. Most cultivated strains and varieties look alike because they’re all the same species: cubensis. So, just because someone says a mushroom is B+ doesn’t always mean that it is—and, at this time, there’s no way good to tell the difference. 

Golden Halo mushrooms likely have an average potency, says Barlow. “Potency is also often the result of growing conditions and having a nutrient-dense substrate,” he adds. “In time, we will likely see variants of Golden Halo—and get an idea of how much it can be pushed by breeding.”

Golden Halo Dosage

If anything, Golden Halos may have less potency than other mushrooms, as they have a lighter concentration of psilocin. This is “mostly preferred by people that are more sensitive to the effects of the compound — or perfect for the first-time patient,” says Nolo. “This strain is great for microdosing regimens and activities such as camping or hiking. On micro or macro doses, it can give you an uplifting or energetic benefit, sometimes giggly, sharper hearing, or gets you into a creative mood.”

Navigating a Solo Trip

Deciding to shroom alone is a matter that deserves thoughtful consideration, says Chaia Moon, a mindset and integration consultant. Interested in solo shrooming? Consider starting with the following questions: What am I hoping to learn from a solo trip? And, which tools and practices can I draw on to help center and ground myself during my journey? Learn more about navigating a solo journey here.

Safe(r) Trip Tips with Golden Halo Mushrooms 

Psychedelic-assisted psychotherapist Dr. Cat Meyer cautions against tripping alone. “Find a buddy who is not tripping, a trusted facilitator, or have a friend on call in case any emergency happens,” she advises. “Also, have the hotline for Fireside Project: 62-FIRESIDE for peer support nearby.” 

Meyer also recommends erring on the side of dosing low, as “it is not necessary to have a high macro or hero’s dose in order to have a powerful experience.” One should also avoid climbing things, going on baths or hot tubs, or going near fire while on mushrooms; Meyer suggests electric candles if you’d like a candle-lit experience. As the trip is starting, you can do breathwork, meditate, or listen to soothing music to calm yourself in order to have a better trip, she adds.

“If effects are a bit strong, laying on grassy ground (earthing), weighted blankets, and eating food will help ease out the effects,” Nolo advises. “Always know one’s dose and environment before taking any psilocybin. Meditative settings close to nature are always best. I prefer not to mix psilocybin with other compounds such as alcohol and synthetics, as it can disrupt your experience.” For a list of substances not to mix with mushrooms, Meyer suggests glancing at the site Tripsit.

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Psychological and Spiritual Considerations 

“Mushrooms affect the border between this world and the next,” says Dave Hodges, founder of the Church of Ambrosia. “Any amount of mushrooms that you do, you’re gaining access to your soul.” Many people who did not previously believe in anything otherworldly begin to after taking mushrooms. They realize who they really are, which can be both liberating and frightening — and comes with responsibility. 

“What’s really important is that you listen to the guidance that you’re getting and try to understand how to apply it to your everyday life,” says Hodges. “Your soul exists outside of space and time; it came into this space and time for a reason. It knows why you came here and what you’re supposed to do with your life. When you are doing what your soul came here to do, everything just feels easy; everything in your life lines up. It’s what people describe as synchronicity or manifesting. When you’re walking down this path, everything feels easy because it’s paved — but if you make a sharp turn to the right and start climbing up the hill through the dense jungle, things are going to feel much more difficult, and the world just isn’t going to feel right. You’re going to get poked and smacked, and it’s not going to feel pleasant.”

This is why it’s important to integrate any experience with mushrooms or other psychedelics — that is, apply it to your reality. You can engage in integration by speaking with a therapist or coach, journaling, meditating on the trip, and making changes in your life. People are “more than likely going to continue to have the same problems and face the same challenges,” says Hodges, “until they start listening to what they’re supposed to be doing.” Only then can they bring the heavens they’ve traversed back to Earth.

Notes

  1. Reporting note: Apart from searching internet archives and extensive interviewing, stories about the origins of different cultivated mushroom varieties can be difficult to confirm. What we’re writing now is based on claims from Steve Woodbury wrote into DoubleBlind in March via email, sharing his self-identified name. However, at this time, we do not have additional interviews to corroborate these statements. Woodbury passed along time-stamped Facebook posts showing Golden Halo spore prints as evidence. ↩︎
  2. Online, Woodbury’s work is often found under the name Steve Wood or Steven Wood. ↩︎

Disclaimer

This article is intended for educational purposes and should not be used in place of medical advice. DoubleBlind does not advocate participating in illicit activities. Always consult your local drug laws before engaging with any illicit substance. Psilocybin mushroom cultivation is illegal in many places, and violating the law can have serious consequences.

In the event of an emergency, please dial local emergency services. For mental health services related to substance abuse in the U.S., please dial the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at +1 (800) 662-4357.

Correction

This article was corrected on March 8, 2024 after receiving emails from Steve Woodbury, who identified himself in an email to DoubleBlind.

About the Author

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DoubleBlind is a trusted resource for news, evidence-based education, and reporting on psychedelics. We work with leading medical professionals, scientific researchers, journalists, mycologists, indigenous stewards, and cultural pioneers. Read about our editorial policy and fact-checking process here.

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DoubleBlind Magazine does not encourage or condone any illegal activities, including but not limited to the use of illegal substances. We do not provide mental health, clinical, or medical services. We are not a substitute for medical, psychological, or psychiatric diagnosis, treatment, or advice. If you are in a crisis or if you or any other person may be in danger or experiencing a mental health emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency resources. If you are considering suicide, please call 988 to connect with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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