Fungal Ecology with Jasper Degenaars
Ep 25

Fungal Ecology with Jasper Degenaars

Show Notes:

I'm thrilled to introduce my new friend, Jasper Degenaars, the educational mycologist who runs Fungi Academy. With over 2000 students from 45+ countries, Jasper has taught people about the wonders of mushrooms with a mission to make learning about mycology easy, fun, and exciting! In our conversation, Jasper dives into Fungi Academy's spirit of community, educational mycology, and the healing power of fungi at the intersection of life and death. 

Fungi Academy serves not only as an educational center for mycology but also as an intentional community. We touch on the array of beautifully produced online courses offered by Fungi Academy that contain everything you will ever need to know about mushrooms. Plus, Jasper shares his story of leaving his corporate sales job after a life-changing encounter with psychedelics and his perspective on structured psychedelic therapy versus self-exploration. 

So many overlook the importance of fungi in our ecosystem. Jasper hopes that through education, people will start to see how crucial they are in sustaining life on Earth and fostering a closer connection between humanity and nature. 

Join us for a deep and insightful exploration of the relationship between fungi, nature, and the human experience. 

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

Topics Covered: 

  • An introduction to Jasper and Fungi Academy
  • Fungi Academy's approach to building intentional communities 
  • Their new course offering and its comprehensive modules
  • The often-overlooked importance of lichen in mycology
  • A brief lesson on the evolution of fungi 
  • Fungi’s role in sustaining life on Earth
  • Jasper's perspective on the holistic use of psychedelics
  • How fungi have aided Jasper and his community during challenging times

Guest Info: 

Follow Me:


Episode Transcript

Jasper Degenaars  04:41

Hi Tonya


Tonya Papanikolov  04:43

it's wonderful to be connecting with you finally, and we were just saying that it's hard to believe that this is our first time I do feel like I know you but I feel like that's also the we can call it a blessing the blessing of the modern world that exists on a network known as the internet.


Tonya Papanikolov  05:02

how are you doing?


Jasper Degenaars  05:04

today? I'm great. Yeah, I'm about to leave this beautiful home the lake. I'm going on some adventures. I'm actually speaking of Lightning in a Bottle festival in a couple of weeks. So I'm stoked about that and like city for a couple of days. And yeah, things are things are good to sad that the rainy season was late. So like, it just started and normally right now is full on mushroom season. So I just fully prepared for like a week of like mushroom foraging with some of my indigenous friends here in Guatemala. And like, it just was super late, unfortunately, so low, but it's not happening. Well, it just started out. We're gonna get mushrooms in like 1015 days now. So


Tonya Papanikolov  05:41

got it and you'll be gone. I'll be Yeah. And so yes. You mentioned to our viewers, so you and the fungi Academy team are based in Guatemala.


Jasper Degenaars  05:51

Yes, exactly. Um, Lego Athlon. This is a new close to the Pacific coast. And it's like, it's a really beautiful mixing part of like, yeah, like excellent heroes like foreigners, indigenous communities, like Spanish descendant Guatemalans, it's like, and it's like this beautiful volcanic caldera sort of surrounded by volcanoes. So,


Tonya Papanikolov  06:17

and it has a it's just a lake. I did land. Yeah, it's like Teton. Yeah. Okay. Wow. I've heard so many things about I mean, what a sacred, sacred place. I have only heard stories, many, many stories, mythic creation, stories of Atlantis and all sorts of things. I would be so curious to dive into that with you.


Jasper Degenaars  06:41

Yeah. So the indigenous Mayan population as they call it, the belly button of the earth. Yeah. It's really cool. Feel free to come by anytime we'll have a bed and probably a room for you. So


Tonya Papanikolov  06:55

I would love that. I would love that so much. Jasper, what are you grateful for today?


Jasper Degenaars  07:00

Oh, I am very grateful for wherever, like decisions I made in my life to end up here. I'm grateful my body for being able to travel me. Like in all these places, I actually just had like an accident. I busted my knee. So it's been a little challenging walking the last couple days. So yeah, extra grateful that like what the body functions normally is like, oh, man, it gets through it. And now I have a swollen knee. And it's healing itself, you know. So I'm super grateful for that.


Tonya Papanikolov  07:32

Beautiful. Today, I'm grateful for being outside. I'm in Canada, I've been in Canada, and it's spring turning summer, and I just spent all day outside and the birds were just chirping. It was just it's so nice to breathe fresh air. And oftentimes, I'm sure it's a little different for you. But most of us are indoors. And yes, we can open windows and get fresh air and go on forest walks and all these things. But a large percentage of our lives are spent in little boxes. And it's very wonderful to just spend some of those work hours outside.


Jasper Degenaars  08:09

Oh, yeah, like I'm actually happy I can turn my camera around is just generally where I'm at. Yeah, and it's also known as the journal spring. So just like it's always temperature dream, it's pretty dreamy. I must say it's pretty dreamy. It's always like I think any location in the world has like pros and cons. You know, it's very isolated. And now, you know, there was all the mushroom conferences are coming up and some psychedelic conferences and it's just like, it's such an endeavor for me to get out of here and like fly and do all that stuff. So it's like, they also call displays of vortex so it's like, it's very easy to just be hermit, the one place which is nice, but sometimes I had a little bit of FOMO when especially when like breakin convention was happening and all my European friends were there.


Tonya Papanikolov  08:57

Out. Yeah. Which which conferences are you going to coming up?


Jasper Degenaars  09:01

So I'm going to birthing an ancient future which is happening in my home country of the Netherlands. That's the first of June. And unfortunately, I'm missing all the ones in the United States. It's not in my plan to go to the United States this year or last year I went to like Miko Fest and the radical mycology convergence and my ciliate the fest is also coming up that's in Washington, which that was really cool. But like the micro philia are like kind of the Shroom boom, or what I prefer to call the the mushroom Renaissance or something is not as prominent in Europe. It's slowly it's like catching up to what's happening in North America in many senses. So there's not as far as I know, like a big mushroom conference. So we're like we're just working on so if you're listening and you're in Europe, and you're like, Well, that sounds cool. We're trying to set up at least one day somewhere in Europe for people to come together and like have like a day surrounded around mycology and US microfiber It's so cool.


Tonya Papanikolov  10:00

And I guess you know, that kind of leads us a bit into what you what you do with fungi Academy? Well, you introduce a little bit of that and yourself to our listeners.


Jasper Degenaars  10:11

Yeah, so, so hard to notice like, just like how to introduce yourself and like what we do. It's so multifaceted in many ways. So I guess I can introduce myself first, like I'm, I was born and raised in the Netherlands. As some of you might know, the sacred mushroom what people have been referring to as psilocybin mushrooms have been illegal for basically my whole life. Although that changed to the truffles that contain these active alkaloids that people see and the rage about these days. And I had like a very life changing first experience that then I wanted to share with people and like I was at night, like I come from a lower middle class family. And I had like a minimum wage job. And these things were to buy them was pretty expensive. And one of my older friends, he had like a mushroom Grocott. So I was like, just as a like, economic decision, I decided to start growing my own. And I just like fell in love with the whole process, and just to see them grow. And then I kind of just wanted to know more and started like doing some sales studies, and then never really actually thought that this could lead me to a place where I'm right now I just love learning about these things. And then I quit my sales job. And I traveled the world. And I found sloths, big events for the first time in the wild, and like Thailand, and Vietnam, and Indonesia, and Australia, and I started getting more into forging, I had tried to find the Liberty capsule levels before but I had no clue what I was doing. So I didn't have any success. And yeah, it just always kept being a thing in my environment in my, in myself. And then I actually tried to like attempted this long journey without flying from Seattle, I tried to get all the way to the Amazon. And then I got stuck here in Guatemala. And finally, Academy was already in existence. It was founded by Oliver Mayer Ave, my mentor and their brother, who passed away beyond a little over two years ago now. And he kind of took me under his wing and showed me that there could be more in life than just we are just having adventures and like roaming the world, and I felt really connected to his mission and decided to stay. And then COVID happened. And then I was here. And then before you know it now we're four years further down the road. And yeah, like, I can feel like it always this, whatever live abroad means like it was kind of made for me. And yeah, I love teaching. And I think what we mainly teach is like, we're like a formal education center, but we also like an intentional community. So it's kind of like we teach people, mushrooms and fungi and ecology, but also about like, Okay, how do we like implement the lessons like on how fungi work in ecosystems, right? And how do we apply them for what we call the human mycelial? Network? I think a good example of that is like, I think most of your listeners are probably familiar with mycorrhizal fungi. And I don't know if many people know but there's this mic consents that occurs that like the fungi communicates with a tree before this symbiosis starts happening. And in that communication is often the idea that like, the fungi come with, like, Hey, I got this, you have this, let's trades. But I started seeing it in a little different way. When like, I think the fungi actually offer this stuff for free. They're like, Oh, here, have this nitrogen, have this phosphorus have this water. And then Tonya, like when somebody keeps giving you gifts for free? What's your first response? What do you want to do in return?


Tonya Papanikolov  13:32

Well, actually, what I just felt was like trust. Because in that instance, it's like, if someone's giving me gifts, I'm going to be like, you know, like, Do you want something? But I mean, like, what I was just imagined, as you were speaking, I was imagining that and I was like, it seems like it's this like slow embrace of a hand. And like inter intertwining, kind of like this friendship and trust that starts to get built, is how I kind of view that.


Jasper Degenaars  14:05

Yeah, no, exactly. And I think that trust is really important with this as well. But let's say that like somebody that you trust, it's like they make medicinal mushroom tinctures. They'll give you medicinal mushroom pictures. At one point, you're like, Okay, you've given me like five tinctures. What, like I need I need to give you something in return, right. This is like the, I think, a very basic human instinct. And for sure, I think, like is the lesson that I learned from like these systems, and it goes a lot further than just a micro Raizel system. And it's not perfect. They're not all benevolent. Like, there's no such thing as like black and white in nature. But I do think that, like just being generous, gives you so much in return. And I think that's like a beautiful fungal archetype. And there's so many of those lessons that we can learn from how fungi act in ecosystems that we can apply to our our lives, and I think it's a fusion of the really heady theory radical, what's the best substrate ratio? And like, Okay, what's like what alkaloids are being produced by mushrooms with the genius philosophy into the wonders of the more esoteric and yes, like my thought mythopoetic ideas? Yeah.

Tonya Papanikolov  15:14


My favorite. Exactly. You mentioned building a conscious community with fungi Academy. Will you tell us a little bit more about how that's going, what's working, what the challenges are, what that really looks like. And because I also think you're in this really special spot where so much I haven't been yet, but I feel that so much of that is happening there. I'd love to just hear your experience so far.


Jasper Degenaars  15:39

So we have like a pretty tight knit community of like the people that live there long term, we have like a long term Mayan residents, we have just people that like, come in and out on a more regular basis. But like, I think, Lake Atitlan is a bubble in a sense, and a lot of people come here for a year or year and a half, some people come back, but like for a journey. And I think since we are an academy, we're a school. Like for a while we had this idea that it's like maybe I don't know, how familiar are with some of the other international communities. But let's say Bucha mama, which is also more translucent in Costa Rica. But macabre is one in Portugal, that has like a collection that really lives on that, like in the community and the half translucent people. And I think finally Academy in its current stage is more of a school for intentional community. So people that are interested in intentional communities and their ways of living. And like, they come here and they learn some of those lessons of like, oh, how to communicate better, and like, Okay, this is a trigger, you think you're super Ashanti, I'd like a 30 minute meditation practice, and you come out of your meditation, and you see that Johnny didn't do his dishes again, and you get pissed off your truck players face, and then how to mediate those situations. I think that's a big lesson. I think a lot of people here leave with inspiration to either create or join a more permanent, intentional community. And it took a long time for us to figure this out. Because actually, we wanted to make this long term community and then it was always a big blob, and like a pivotal player would suddenly leave because they were called back their land of origin or they wanted to do something else. So it's been a lot of learning for us. And I think with that, there's also like a lot of learning for the people that have given their energy to the place. And I'm actually very happy with where we're at right now as in, okay, we're basically a school for also learning how to maybe do intentional community. Because also for myself, you know, I'm 29, like, like, a lot of us are under 30. And we're just like learning these things that are hard to learn somewhere else, because you can go and actually we have one example is a guy, Richard, he wrote his master's thesis on intentional communities. But it's the only person I know that actually has done like an academic study on what it means to intentionally live people.


Tonya Papanikolov  18:02

Yeah, cuz you're kind of you're ultimately in relationship right, with everybody in a unique and intimate way, in the sense that like, you're sharing space. What do boundaries look like? Like, there's so much I'm so curious to, to hear more and learn more, and try it out. At some point in my near future?


Jasper Degenaars  18:24

Yeah, it's a, I think it's a lesson that we all should learn. It's like, yes, it's a native state of being right. We are not individualistic organisms. We are pack animals. And that's, like, part of our rewilding that we have to learn how to collaborate with people outside of a business or romantic relationship.


Tonya Papanikolov  18:44

Absolutely. I love that you said that it's so so accurate, and timely. And I feel like What's with what is happening in our world, and divisions and you know, just ideologies, polarities, all of that stuff, being able to confront somebody who's doing something opposite to how you would do it in that moment, or even just a belief system. It's such a skill set and a muscle that I think is so useful for us to learn and get comfortable with. I think it's so beautiful, because my interpretation of fungi Academy and what you guys are doing and building is truly, truly a mirror for fungi in the networks and what they what they do what they inherently do. And I think as businesses and maybe in this space, you know, at conferences or speaking to other business owners, you probably hear that because we've all been activated and inspired by what we have seen. And for me, it's really acted as like as a mirror a metaphor. Yeah, like a mirror to see myself in another light form. And to know that there is a version of cooperation and interdependence, that is possible for us and just like continually working at that hadn't billions of years of working at that. And so, I think there's a lot of that shared amongst among amongst our fungal community, but it's really beautiful to see you guys actually like taking that to the next level, and living together and breathing together and building your living space in that in that way.


Jasper Degenaars  20:21

Thank you for recognizing that. And it's always a learning, right. And like, it's not like a lot of people might think it's like, oh, it's, especially during a pandemic. So this meme combines like, Oh, I'm gonna, like, buy some land, and we're going to live with the community with my friends and like, like, the thing is, like, it's often idealized and most intentional communities don't like stand up, like 99%, apparently, like fall apart within the first year, because it's very different. Like, it's always the same, like, mate, let me make a example of like, a romantic relationship, because they're very similar, like the same of the business relationship and the community. It's like, it's very similar for some reason, but like, you had the honeymoon phase in the beginning, like, that's, everybody loves the honeymoon phase, you got to soak that up, because that person is perfect. But you're gonna hit a point where there's gonna be conflict. And I think conflict inevitably is inevitable. You cannot escape conflict in your life. But it's how you deal with that conflict. And this is something we've not learned. And I think that's also what makes good relation romantic relationships that stand the test of time when you're like, Okay, you can be upset at each other. But how do you communicate when you're upset? And maybe you've communicated violently? Or you've like, everybody slips? Everybody makes mistakes? For sure. But how do you meant after you make that mistake? And I think that's really the key of like, successful community is like learning how to rebuild bridges that are having cracks instead of burning them down. Yeah, it's, it's not always easy, you know, and there's a lot of it's like, it's a house of mirrors, right? The communities like you're always reflected with, this is like a, you're always reflected for yourself, because it's not just living together. But it's also working together. You notice, like, we're running like a mushroom cultivation operation, we were also growing medicinal mushrooms, we extract their medicinal mushrooms, we've grown oyster mushrooms, there's also lots of little jobs that need to be done. And then there's a balance of like, okay, if somebody keeps saying that they're going to do something, and they're not going to do it, how do you communicate? And then there's so much. And like, I think it's very cool for everybody to at least try it out. And it's kind of like a wave, because some sometimes I'm like, really in it. And sometimes, like, I need to, like recluse and take a step back from the community because it got a little bit too much.


Tonya Papanikolov  22:42

Yeah, that's interesting, you said that I was just kind of imagining that to even just from moments of, you know, running a business where you just naturally, one day might be in your eighth type kind of state of like, this is the list these things, let's get this guy in there. And that going there, that feels good that day, and then a week goes by or you've overextended or whatever the case may be, and you need to step away. And I think that for me personally, like that balance, finding that balance, and also the permission for there to be that flow has been just so helpful, because it's, I'm similarly trying to disorganize my any belief systems I had around, like, what a corporate job looks like, or any of those types of things, you know, and you have to dismantle your things, and there's slip ups and all these things. But yeah, I imagine it would similarly just be this this balance of many, many things. It's the


Jasper Degenaars  23:43

human experience, right? Like, it's, it's always the experience, it's always the balance. It's always the ebb and the flow. And I think it's the beautiful thing, right. And I feel like also, it's very pure. And that also, I think, why like a lot of people right now are drawn to the psychedelic experience, because it's just like raw yourself raw energy, raw nature, our humanity in the sense, right. And I think, again, with this idea of rewilding, we've lost that rawness in ourselves. Were like the domesticated version of our species, a lot of us including myself, right? We we just finished the fungal ecology online course. And we ended with a module that was all about like, how can we be build our future with both fungi and then like, we had like a bit about food production and like, I just started writing and I just came to realization like, we only know the hunting grounds of the supermarket, right? I meet to like, like, that was the market, not a supermarket, but like, I think we're all like wanting to connect deeper to and this is sometimes a loaded term, but like, do our, like inherently native like crap. digitus primal self, and I think a big part of that is like coming in community and I think it's also more to the easier one, right because it's really hard to go and live in a jungle in a teepee with a bunch of people without electricity. That's I've done that as well. That's tough. Yo, that's not a luxury, right? I can call you on the internet and like, finding the balance of what like, what parts of us do, do we want to nurture?


Tonya Papanikolov  25:15

It's cool. We're like going on a tangent about intentional living. And I didn't expect it, but I love it so much. But it's cool, too. I was reading something the other day about this? You know, I think, for so many people, we are in some sort of an experience with like, how to become more embodied. And that can be difficult for a lot of us where it's like, who am I really, what do I need? What layers do I need to shed have I chosen this path for myself? What have been all of the things that have come at me, and there's this desire, right to be more of ourselves to live more truly and fully, and to be the biggest possible embodied version of ourselves. And that comes with great ease for some and more difficulties for others. But it's cool, because when you think about what community offers, it's the ability for somebody to truly, truly see you. And to have less of an opportunity to hide that. And so living with others is this like, true activity of constantly? You know, I imagine there's like circles and dinners, and just more and more opportunities to feel that safety and acceptance of who you truly are, who you want to be. And feel that from others. I can imagine it would be such a empowering and beautiful and just yeah, very big experience filled with lots of learning.


Jasper Degenaars  26:41

Yeah, no, that's that's the beautiful aspect, right? You feel part of something. And for me, I think a big lesson has also been the accountability. For example, it's so much easier if we decide to do a water fast as a community that, you know, oh, yeah, this person is doing it this person, what am I going to quit 24 hours in, like, I have to show up, I have to go to the kitchen and like, make food. So I'll be busted, you know, and like, by ourselves, it's so easy to kind of like break this commitment to ourselves. But I think if we have a network of accountability, it's like, I love that it's harder to do that. And it's easier for us to grow in the paths that we want to grow in. And I think also, this is an often overlooked situation with like, the whole psychedelic scene where like, I was in Canada, last summer, and I saw some of the stores and the stores also exist in, in the Netherlands where you could just go out and you can buy the sacred mushroom and like a plastic container, which is, you know, I think accessibility is important. But there's, there's certain parts to it as well, because, like, I think the integration aspect of these journeys is the most important one, right? Like, if you have a journey, that bike, you want to stop smoking tobacco, but everybody in your community and all your friends smoke tobacco, it's gonna be really hard to stop this habit, even though you've had such a strong, powerful realization. I think that's, that's one of the more beautiful aspects of intentional community, but also like just having circles of accountability. Like I go to a weekly man circle, I invite everybody to just find that group of individuals that they can feel safe in themselves with and that can help elevate them to the person that they kind of want to be.


Tonya Papanikolov  28:22

100% Yeah, yeah, because working maybe one on one with a coach is like up, like, you know, definitely not accessible for everybody. And the experience is so, so different to in community, like, often I'll practice I'll do breathwork or meditation, with communities, and in community. And I mean, the results I've had are actually like, 100 times more powerful with people because you, you start to elevate each other, you start to create this energetic force field. And I mean, I've had trickier than trippier experiences, like more psychedelic than any psychedelic experience, from being from breathing with people. And I always like to tell people that experience too, just because there's so many ways to enter these altered states. And community is like a pretty big key I do believe,


Jasper Degenaars  29:13

yeah. 100% like I have never had as strong of a breath work experience by myself as I do in groups. And I think there's it goes hand in hand with the way that like the psychedelic movement is going right now. It's really focused on these one on one sessions. With a trained therapist, I think there's wisdom in that for certain cases. And like the my most impactful moments where we're all in a ceremony and there's like one person holding the space and in certain Mesoamerican traditions, everybody partakes and in certain tradition, the space holder is choosing not to partake, but like I can always remember everybody I've ever sat in ceremony with and it just so powerful to see somebody else go through their process and MF like that into yourself and to go through such an experience together is really powerful. And before they like, unfortunately, they went bankrupt. But synthesis actually took in a very interesting study that showcase that there was more efficacy in these, the retreats that they did in group settings than on the one on one sessions.


Tonya Papanikolov  30:18

Wow, that's really fascinating. I want to switch gears a little bit and hear about the new course offering, and hear about your take on it. And there's so many incredible modules. And kind of the basis, you know, this whole of the basis of like, it's, it's a course about the study of our home. I love that. I love that you guys have that. And I just would love to hear kind of if you could walk us through what because you guys offer quite a few courses. And yeah, we'd love would love to just hear about the new one a little bit.


Jasper Degenaars  30:53

Yeah, thank you for bringing it up in yada. This name fungal ecology came up and then actually we went into the at the molecule of ecology, and it's like, what is the fungal home, right? I think it's like tied in with, like, a lot of people like the cultivate the in person cultivation retreats that we're doing is kind of our bread and butter. And a lot of people want to come to learn how to grow their own food and medicine, but then all of them blown away when we do our intro. And that's like only an hour and a half or something really short. I'm like, okay, these dysfunctions, fungi haven't ecosystems. And I felt that the more I talk to people and make illogical rounds or growers, or like people that are wanting to get into the psychedelic fields, there was a very basal understanding of what crucial players fungi actually our our rights, and there was just not like an accessible way for people to learn like the Yeah, like you have like a little sneak peek on these things. If you read untangled life, which is phenomenal. If you want to go a little deeper, you have mycelium running, but also like, felt it didn't tie the whole story full completely together. And like, We're such visual learners, especially these days, you know, it's like, I personally love YouTube. And like, I just felt called to just like start doing this fungal ecology course. And actually, we wanted to do it, like 15 minutes per module, and it became way more but we wanted to do like an intro. Then we wanted to do like the evolution of fungi on this planet, part of mycorrhizal fungi, separate FIDIC fungi, parasitic fungi, endophytic, fungi, lichens, fungi and foods chains. And then the future is fungi. Well, I was writing this and I was researching this and it like every door that kept opening and it's like, okay, well, it became way bigger. It's kind of like a documentary series now. So every module is about like, 4530 minutes. And we have nine modules. So it's like, pretty big on like, all of these different aspects. And, like, for me, I'm a big fan of fiction and stories, right? And I really believe that we learn better if there's a story. So we really try to connect this all in a economic illogical way to our human experience. And, for example, that there's just so much cool stuff around us. Like, for example, I learned while making this that like, it's estimated and lichen, like covered like 7% of the Earth's mass, you know, 7% which is just an astronomical number.


Tonya Papanikolov  33:27

I'm so glad you covered like in because I feel like it's always overlooked. And so huge, so beautiful. So I don't know that much about them and I want to know more.


Jasper Degenaars  33:39

Yeah, so just so much right, like so there's like, actually, like for mycological nerds out there. Like a really large genus Aspergillus, like it's everywhere, but like Aspergillus is now thought to have a like a nice origin story. And we're kind of finding this that like, like and might have been way older and then go in combination with somebody like in the conservative space, right? So I'm Doria elegance, beautiful orange, like and NASA put it in space for a year and a half and 71% of specimens survived. There's just like, why is that possible? So if anybody wants to know more about this, I made a video with after school on panspermia, and like that's, that's free for everybody to watch. And you just like, that's one aspect of life. But also, there's so much there's like, so I kind of like described it as the sandwich. So you have like the microbiome, which is kind of the protective layer, they have the photo by on which like does the photosynthesizing creates the sugars. But then you have this layer called the medulla. And we don't really fully understand it's like a few hours of water, but it's in a gas and like a plasma state. And there's like Endo, like Kenick fungi in there. There's like bacteria in there. There's like a whole ecosystem in this in this Magilla of the lichen and there's so much more to it, right like every time like I opened up a research article and there's actually like, there's not many lichenologist at all, like I was very surprised for like an organism that's so abundance. Wow. So that excites me, you know that there's so much to learn. I think that's also the whole thing of mycology and what we really want to imprint, right. Like, we don't really know much as a collective about these things. And there's so much to discover and like, that's what we're seeing with my college is a lot of citizen mycologist or amateur mycologist. Like our incredible contributors do, like what we know. So does an estimated 6.2 million species. And right now we've described 150 1000s Wow. Like, there's so much


Tonya Papanikolov  35:32

how do they have that estimation?


Jasper Degenaars  35:35

I think the estimation comes from like, so for example, we just did a masterclass with Dr. Pankaj is an expert on the ants at firm fungi. And there's a whole part of the genome or like, we know that these fungi work together with ants. But the DNA was sequenced by an ophthalmologist that we're studying the ads that just uploaded this to gene bank, but then never described them never did more work. So we like scientists are finding all of these fungi that they've never seen before. But there's just not enough mycologist to actually put in the work and get the paper down to have its own name. And have it described.


Tonya Papanikolov  36:12

Wow, that's wild. It's wild that yeah, so vast, and let you take us through kind of like the sequence of where you started, I would love for you to tell the audience a little bit about the evolution and where fungi started from, like taking us back to oceans and migrating fungi out to land and soils.


Jasper Degenaars  36:36

Yeah, so Well, of course, a lot of this is a mystery, right? We're working with very obscure data. And that's why it's fun, because there's a lot of storytelling, right? So right now, the estimate guests that we have that like oral argument that we have that life began on earth or was inoculated because panspermia, which is the idea that, like life originated somewhere else, and was introduced to Earth is actually a pretty legit scientific theory, which was like, we just shake everything that we believe and know about, like life on Earth to begin with, but like we know this apparently, because of like, filament clusters in rocks that are 3.4 billion years old, that like are, like found by geologist and they these filament clusters are apparently an indication to life. And maybe some of your listeners have seen this. I know Paul Stamets has talked about this before, but this mycelial cluster that was found in a lava deposits in South Africa, I believe, so they carbon dated this lava deposits. So you have these carbon atoms that are like in stable, and depending how long they've been in existence, they have more stabilized parts of the molecule. I'm not a geologist. This is kind of how I understand it. So it does like, the more you see, the older it is. So they calculated this lava rock like, was 2.4 billion years old. And they found this structure that looks in my opinion as somebody that looked at mycelium under a microscope before exactly like mycelium, and we're talking about 2.4 billion years ago. So that's very early on. So we have a lot of mystery in between that. But around this time, Earth was basically water and rock, there was no soil, there were no plans on the earth as far as we know it. And what the common narrative is right now is that fungi move the land first potentially even like together with some of these algae or cyanobacteria, and formed the first lichen and these like, and they can break down solid rock with this molecule called oxalic acid. And it breaks down some of the nitrogen from this rock that the photo biome can use for photosynthesis, so grows faster. So if not hundreds of 1000s not millions, but potentially a billion years, these initial fungi broke down his rock into something soil like that then paved the way for the plants to come to lands. So what's really interesting is we have fossil evidence of the ancestors of glomerular Mahkota, which are the the arbuscular mycorrhiza or endo mycorrhizae. That about 60 million years before we have the first evidence of plants with their own roots. And then the first evidence the fossil evidence we have from the plants of their own that have their own roots are called peat mosses. They also show indications that they have already established these endo our boats clerk Monroe micro the micro riser connections. So with that data, we can kind of say like oh fungi mycorrhizal fungi were the roots of plants before plants evolved their own roots. And when plants came to lands, animals followed and then the plants died, the separate FIDIC fungi started digesting that. Then at one point we had like bro tax IDs, which is a six meter tall fungus which we found all over the world for like I think it was also a something like 80 million years. And I think it just kept going. I think the last thing I want to say about the evolution is like the Permian Triassic extinction event, we don't really know what happens also know the grade dying about 90% of all animals die. This is before the dinosaurs. After this extinction event, we found in the first layer of the soil after or the crust after this extinction event, we found a lot of evidence of what is known to some people as the fungus that ate the worlds and the name slipping my mind a little bit, but like, it's estimated to be a fungus. But we find this all over the world. Because if 90% of animals and plants died, who is eating all of that stuff writes fungi. So like, they're always there when mass extinctions occur, and like to recycle those nutrients back into the soil, preparing them for the next generation of plants, and then the next generation of animals. And then often we see like hyper evolution because everything is trying to fill the niches of the extinct animals. So like, there's a lot more right like the only the module like the evolution is like 30 minutes or something. So we can be here for a lot longer. But that's kind of the gist that Mike without fungi, like all these plants around us, they wouldn't exist live on earth wouldn't exist. Without fungi. I think that's like the main key thing that take away. And they're often overlooked, right? It's like


Tonya Papanikolov  41:22

100%, I feel like that. So poignantly, kind of encapsulates probably what humanity, especially in North America has been really learning over these past four years with this big movement is how integral they are like, nobody knew. Nobody knew we didn't grow up with this knowledge. We weren't they were they've been Yeah, like you said, so overlooked. And so too. Yeah, to have so many people in this kind of mass awakening is pretty phenomenal.


Jasper Degenaars  41:56

Oh, yeah. No, it's like, it was so fun to be like, surrounded by peers and people that like have found their own niche and just like, nerd out about all these things. And like one little like, lifting of the veil of the chorus. Like, for example, we have science has never found a single plant that does not have fungi living within the cell walls of plants. It's never found, right? It's crazy. So there's no such thing as just a race. There's always fungi present. Wow. So okay, Another side note on this is that like, now, some researchers are thinking that like plants don't really make their own secondary metabolites. So like, they found that Allah is a morning glory seeds, like 98% of the LSA is actually produced by the fungi living within the cell walls of the plant. So now some people are saying like, Oh, is it? Easy? Campaigns are lazy? Yeah, exactly. Like it's caffeine actually produced by the plant or is it produced by fungus living within the plant? And crazy? Yeah.


Tonya Papanikolov  42:58

Oh, yeah. Wow. I haven't taken the course yet. But I was like, I'm pretty sure that's like, we like Rainbo team mandatory. We're all going to be taking the course. It's really just looks so so incredible. And yeah, so so in depth is do you have a favorite module? Oh, I'm sorry to ask.


Jasper Degenaars  43:18

It's like having a favorite kids. Like, it was interesting, because like, we've written a lot. And then like, during the production, we like I started writing again and like so. Because I've, you know, that's what happens. Like, I feel the same way. When you write a book at the beginning. You're like, Oh, my God, I suck at the beginning. Do I read beginning? Yeah. So it's hard. Because like, I love all of them. But I think the parasitic fungus one is like, like, that was pretty fleshed out. I like all of them. I also really like the module and Megan, and the last one we did, I think that they all have something different to offer, but they all like fuse everything together. Build.


Tonya Papanikolov  44:02

Is there one, you know, you were saying when people come to stay with you to learn cultivation, or whatever the case may be, and there's a little bit of education? What is this like, a big aha moment for a lot of your community? Like, what is it is it you know, I know it's all of it combined, but like, do you see the light bulbs really turn off? around something?


Jasper Degenaars  44:23

Okay, so like, what the big aha moment is actually like, I think most people leave the retreats and courses we do with like, oh, we came here for learning about mushrooms. And now we we have this really deep bond with these 18 people like that we weren't the same cohort with and we've like we felt like we were a family for like a week. I think that's the biggest aha moments, which is like funnily enough, I think it's also so we take the class to this local Mayan lady that grows oyster mushrooms from like corn cobs with like cold water, lime pasteurization, she used to travel like two hours to get spawn. Now she gets it from us and you If she has contamination like we replace it for her and like, because he uses sometimes spend all of her life savings on mycelium, and it didn't work out, and then she had to go back to cleaning apartments before she could do it, and we made sure she can do that, then she has like, she has a very low tech setup, let's call it like that. So some people that come and think that they need like double edge doors and like the needle, walk in autoclave and like in the end, it's you don't need much to actually have success. So I think that's also a really big moment when people say, I can do this. Yeah.


Tonya Papanikolov  45:31

Yeah, that's so so cool. Where do you kind of leave it in the future? Is finger like, just refund gave? Where do you leave kind of viewers at the end?


Jasper Degenaars  45:41

I think we sketch like, a little bit of my depressive module. Because we sketch the issues off and that we've made issues in the worlds but also with some hope, with the solutions are fun, go and like we just need more people helping out and like, although sometimes future can seem bleak. I think there's opportunities. And I think by being curious, and by connecting and by understanding that like we are as humanity, not only as human beings, but as humanity are not alone in this, like I feel really deep down that we like have this alliance with this other organism that, like, I think we can, like overcome all these issues. Right. And yeah, I think it starts by a lot of healing. And I think that's also why there's so much interest in psychedelics and but then after the healing is done, okay, how do we implement this? This healing this this free live and strong being in like, how do we apply that to create a better world, right? And that's a big, less, like, that's a big thing. I don't know if anybody that's like, ever fully figured it out. But I think, yeah, we're best, right? That's like, the only thing I think we need to do is do our best. And I think the main thing is like, make the connections, right? inspire other people to be in the mushrooms, right? Like, I never went to school for this, I just started doing it. And like, I found that I was so stoked about it, that excitement seeped into other people. And then they were excited. And now some of my students have started businesses or like extraction companies and like, big grow operations, people have started their own education programs. It's like, that's the goal, right? That we all are sharing our passion. And like, it doesn't have to be just mushrooms, you know, some people just more plants. As long as it's like, understanding that we are not separate from nature. That's really a thing that like, I want people to understand that there's no such thing as, oh, we need to protect nature's like, sure, we need to protect ourselves. That's, that's why we need to protect nature. Because we are nature.


Tonya Papanikolov  47:42

It's funny. I always think we need we all just need so many reminders of this. You go to bed and you wake up and yeah, we're just we're with our egos all day, we're with each other's egos all day, we're working at that. And that's for sure, I believe one of the beautiful experiences we came here for in 3d. And it's, it's what makes it so interesting. And the experience the experience, it's so beautiful, I really don't think we can have enough of those reminders. And it never gets old. And infusing that optimism. You know, I think fungi do provide that for so many people is like a sense of optimism, because there's so much doom and gloom and scariness out there that can be found. And you don't even have to look too hard. It's like, you know, there's a lot of it that's kind of built into media and whatnot. But it's beautiful that you've created something that can offer so much optimism and activation to start spreading this and building new systems. Because that's like, you go and you see what IT systems it's like it's it's, it's the most magnificent system. And I love that you said that, that reflection of us in them and them in us, because I that's you know, a big mission of ours as well as that reflection and that ability to not to have that sense of separateness, it's a journey.


Jasper Degenaars  49:04

It's a journey, right? We're even so separate that we're separated from ourselves, you know, and this is like, yeah, it's a big thing. And I think it's it is also bypassing that happens sometimes, like optimism, right? Like, we still need to do the work. And like also, what I do appreciate about the psychological community is like, people actually go out and go find the mushrooms and log them and do the PCR and you know, and I feel sometimes I like, that is by Pat, not always, of course, but like bypass with new people to psychedelics. And you notice it's a lot of, it's a lot of work, and it's love integration and, like, there's so much beauty around us. And sometimes we're just so clouded by what's happening around us that like we forgot to see the beauty and I think that's really important to understand that due to cosmic joke of life, right? Like, if you can laugh about yourself and we just Self messing up or making a typo or mispronouncing something, then, like I think then you're already disconnected from nature because nature in itself is not perfect. And therefore also very funny.


Tonya Papanikolov  50:11

Yeah. I'd love to hear your your take on, you're pretty closely connected within the psychedelic space and sacred mushrooms. Where do you stand on it? What are some of your personal hopes and wishes in terms of directions it goes in and the future message or words that you would share with those interested in the space in the space? Like any of it really?


Jasper Degenaars  50:36

Well? Yeah. So there's so many lines to this, right. I think the biggest fault we have in humanity right now is we don't have serious rites of passage. Like, I didn't know, when I was really a man, I had to, like, leave my continent and go on an adventure on the other side of the world to find out who I was, and I didn't have elders taken me and they'd been there for support their wisdom. And I think a lot of our generation has the same thing. And, like, to an extent, like the feminine body goes through its own rite of passage when the bleeding starts. But then also, there's such a disconnect from, like, a lot of mothers that like some people just get shoved a tampon in their hands, like, don't talk about this, you know, and like, I think that is a really important core thing that I think we should establish before accepting psychedelics on like a Mass Line intentionally into society. But on the other hand, I'm also super in favor of like, freedom and like, freedom of choice. And, you know, I started as a 18 year old that didn't know what the fuck I was doing. And I ate way too many mushrooms are way too much LSD had horrible situations after coming like ones after coming home drunk, and I spent all night in like, not a good time, and I had to work the next day, and everything was still moving. I had to learn that, like I that's, that was part of my path to have those experiences. And I was lucky enough not to have large emotional trauma or physical trauma from one of these experiences. But that also does happen. So for me, it's just like, it's hard, because I see the benefit in like, the really structured, guided session. But I got so much benefit out of just being a stupid teenager, like having fun and like finding my own edge. And I think that sometimes, like missed, right. Like, I think we hear the stories of some of these elders of like, oh, yeah, it's so many mushrooms. And I had this really crazy experience. Oh, but actually, I don't think we should do that right now. But it changed my life. But I think we should only do the therapeutic model right now, which they probably wouldn't have chosen for as an 18 year old, they probably couldn't afford it. So I think we need a more holistic approach, I think, ideally, like we have elders in the system that can Oh, you want to like experiences, I can at least talk to you after you do it. Ideally, this is the responsibility of the parents. But I also think that like if you are 19, and 18, and other people said younger, and you want to experiment you you can learn how to grow your own mushrooms, and you have a relationship with this organism. And you don't take them. Like the thing is, if you go to a store, you can take them very impulsively. But if you have to grow them yourself, there's already intention in that, right, whatever your attention is, if your intention is to have fun, that's also good intention. Like I think also this whole narrative that this is only for healing, and only for really traumatized people, and not at all for people that just want to have a good time. It's like it's so boring, like, it's completely fine. If you want to have a good time. It's just like, is that your intention? Fine. I think there needs to be space for everything. And right now, it doesn't feel that in a narrative their space, I think in the narrative, like, oh, we need to put this in this box or this box. But it needs to be in a box. And I don't necessarily think that it needs to be in a box. And with that, I think good education, right? Like, again, very blessed, very stoked. I'm from the Netherlands and actually have pretty good drug education when I was like growing up. And I was actually always super interested in reading trip reports on arrow with and learning as much as I could about a substance before ingesting it. And that already made me more prepared. Instead of somebody's like, oh, I don't know what this is, I'll just eat it and see what happens. Yeah, that can be a horrible experience, and it can also be the best experience of your life. So inherently, we have to like if we accept that we live in a quote unquote, rational society, we have to approach this from a rational point. And that the rational point is that time and time and time again, when we've researched which substances are most dangerous psychedelics, and up on this bottom, alcohol and nicotine, amphetamines fluid, Adderall is an impediment. And up on the top, and it's not like I like to enjoy like a nice glass of wine. Sometimes, like, there's nothing wrong with taking things that are dangerous, there's nothing wrong from with being a bungee jumper, or there's nothing wrong with getting in a car in the United States, which is arguably one of the more dangerous things people do every day. So I think it's shouldn't be criminalized to take risks. But then again, if we agree that we live in a rational society, sacred machines, and LSD and other tryptamines, and psychedelics seem to be on the lower end of the risk spectrum. So I think this whole holding it with all these super special gloves, you have to be so careful. It seems counter intuitive to how we are at least pretending to like rule this society in many senses.


Tonya Papanikolov  55:44

Yeah, I love that whole, the whole thing that really resonates with me too. And it's kind of like, I think we note as well, that that the way that we're trying to introduce this while it is it is within the old paradigm. And I think, of course, and it's with good effort, and good intention that it's being brought in, in the only way that they know how, and yet at the same time, it's not the system that we want to or that you know, that we can exist in with, you know, a bit more of this flexibility. And I love that you mentioned the fun aspect and the creativity, and the ability to just kind of explore some of those realms, because that is totally, totally being missed and overlooked. And is such a potent source of learning about oneself or creativity or any of it.


Jasper Degenaars  56:34

Think of all the good arts that came into the world because of relics.


Tonya Papanikolov  56:38

Yeah, I mean, I really do. I can think of so many. It's kind of interesting to me, when you were saying when you're talking about the rite of passage, I've had that conversation with a friend. You may know her Natasha,


Jasper Degenaars  56:51

Natasha Felpham. Yeah, yeah, of course, fellow Dutch person, oh, Dutch people? Yes, of course,


Tonya Papanikolov  56:57

I figured I love her. And we recorded a conversation about that as well. But it is interesting, because I feel like there's something genetic in us, that will and can still orient us some sort of some part of our cellular memory that can orient us towards those rites of passage, whether we know it or not, whether we could just look back and reflect on our life and reflect on the breadcrumbs and are able to see by looking back like, Oh, that was a really key moment for me. I think that gives me a little bit of hope, because it is perhaps happening. But could you imagine how that could be if it was intentionally happening at different ages? I mean, it would be a different a different place.


Jasper Degenaars  57:42

Yeah, and I think is a game of this rewilding mind. Like, you know, I'm not only into mushrooms, I'm also very much into and just a curious person also in history and like at the mythology and my career, so fuse all these things and like ethno mycology is a big one. But like, from my understanding of anthropology does not many are almost non Indigenous cultures that do not have some sort of rite of passage. And it's gonna be very extreme like I was I spent a year in Australia and like, the some of these Aborigines, like rites of passages like the 12 year old gets, like, taken by all these masked men from their mom to separate this, this codependency and like, sure, like, Hey, you have to take care of yourself, so you can take care of your mother and like, I'm not saying we should do something very drastic, like that, you know, but like, I think a lot of us are looking for this, right? Like we're looking for like, there's this whole thing of like the vision quest industry, and people are paying good money to go spend a week without food and water on a mountaintop in Mexico.


Tonya Papanikolov  58:41

Like five days in a cave, like literally five days in complete darkness. I don't know if you've heard of that one.


Jasper Degenaars  58:46

Yeah, actually, my friend I hear on the leg. He has like a really popular dark room meditation retreat called the Hermitage. It's so that's that's all he does. So he's like, super. Yeah, I've never dabbled in that myself. I had the curiosity. But I feel like I'm right now in the stage of them, just like, I spent so much of my early 20s Smoking weed on beaches and playing chess and pretty much the last couple years been like, Okay, I've wanted to be in the world and create things in the world. And I feel we all live in cycles, right? And I feel more easeful cycle with more interna generalization. So yeah, it's been passing out and like a dark room meditation retreats have been high on my list.


Tonya Papanikolov  59:29

Yeah, that's beautiful. I wonder if you would tell us a bit about the, you know, so intimately that fungi sit at this intersection of life and death, and they're used in such therapeutic ways for end of life treatment. My whole heart went up to you and your team when when you lost Oliver, and we were all like so deeply thinking of you and praying for you like our whole team. Thank you. You know, have fun guy how have fun guy helped you in that process? You No. And I imagine it would be because you're working so closely with them. And you see, you see what they do? And do you know, have they been an aid?


Jasper Degenaars  1:00:12

Well, of course, there definitely been. They're always an aid. It's interesting that that was not my first experience when it happened, we actually had like, like a really beautiful, like two week grieving period with the community here. And there's a really beautiful book written by Martin brechtl, the secret to the talking Jaguar, and he wrote it on the lake in the 70s, when the before the Civil War had happened here in Guatemala, that was instigated to eradicate some of these indigenous communities. It's when the, the knowledge of the ancestors was stronger. And he talks about, you need a village to grief. So I think we're in such a close loss, right? Like he was my best friend's business partner, thank mentor. Like, I think that grieving never fully stops. But also, there was so much grieving that happens directly after even without working with the mushrooms that like, I did venture with the mushrooms shortly thereafter, it was just affirmation, that this is what it is. And there's nothing wrong about what this is, right? It's not wrong, that he's not longer with us, although it's sads. And I kind of see him as my Obi Wan Kenobi. And like, then, like, you rephrase the story, right? Like you like he was the one that took me out of the tattoo weekend of the soul. And then like, taught me the way, the force and then like, he sacrificed his life in the fight against evil. Basically, that's what the mosh had shown me. And then I was actually Wow, that's a really big part of the journey to to, to have that. And I think I'm actually very grateful for all of you given me and I think a big part of the mushroom journey and like, also being there in the moment, and like having to deal with the authorities. And like, this is what really settled in for me, and this not not so much with the mushroom related, but I think it's a really important lesson for society. Because we're so afraid of death that we had to claim the body after because he had an accident. And this is just regular, when in Guatemala, somebody has an accident, they have to be delivered to the authorities for an autopsy. So we had to go in and like see the body and be like, Oh, that's him so we could prepare his body for cremation. And I saw the body and I was like, at ease. I was like, Oh, this is real. And like, I think we tried to hide the body, which tried to make it up, or there's all this embalming that happens in North America, which I think disconnects us from this. So I actually was very motivated to look at death rituals after that happened. And like, for example, in India has the tradition that the family washes the body. So they've really spent intimate time with the dislike the person that's passed body. So that's a part of the grieving process is being with the body. That's why this whole idea of the open caskets started and are like what continued? So the grieving was more of a community effort, and then the affirmation that that death is not wrong. And that he in the beyond was, was okay. was the kind of the cherry on top of working with the mushrooms in that sense? Yeah,


Tonya Papanikolov  1:03:16

yeah. Thank you, thank you for sharing that, by the way. And I know that there's, there's so much fear around death. And what the fungi can teach us a lot of what's happening in Canada right now specifically, is kind of around like end of life treatments. And of course, I haven't gone through that, specifically to face my own death or kind of done any specific work around that. It is something that we've all been touched with. And I think, for me, just even like, the understanding of mushrooms, and nature has helped me look at that with a little bit of a different lens.


Jasper Degenaars  1:03:54

Yeah, that's a new beginning. Right. Like that's, that's the beauty of it. And like I think also, it's in my early more explored the years I've had, and again, this is a loaded term, because I don't fully understand does not like the classic definition of the ego death. But I've gone through like journeys, that I felt best for a moment for God that I was a human on Earth called Jasper and everything was okay. I felt I was in the Beyond and everything was actually very, very amazing and beautiful. And that was when I was 19. And after that there's not been thinking or afraid of death at all. Like of course, there's this Whoa, I don't know what's happening. And it's that gets ready to get close. It's probably pretty scary. But like, I think that's why these experiences are so important that Terence McKenna says so beautifully is like having gone through life without a psychedelic experience is like having gone through life without sex is like the couldn't call it the better way. It's just so transformed. normative and powerful and it's kind of a crime that we're withholding this from people for no apparent logical reason. Like, there's almost no signs that this is like a high chance of self harming or harming others. It's a big crime and like, this is coming from the Netherlands. And legality also doesn't always mean that it's accessible. Because in the Netherlands, I was actually the odd one out as like, a lot of people take amphetamines and MDMA, but people are scared to death before psychedelics and LSD for the the narrative, right? And we need proper education. That is not bias to a certain story. And, yeah, that like that, to me is is really important that does not buy, we're not bias to only the benefits, right? Because you're gonna have an experience, you cannot have, like life changing experience, you can have a good time, or you can have a confusing time and you feel like, yeah, you need to talk to somebody and a shout out to fireside project, like thing that's super important work that now you can call a hotline when you have a challenging experience, and talk to somebody, like, and this is maturation of our culture, when we're like, okay, we claim that we're in libertarian societies, we're all like, oh, land of the free, but like, let people be free what they do with their body in a sense, but then have the safety net for when stuff does occur. And right now, we can do this for our peers, we can just for our friends, right? Like, we don't need the base


Tonya Papanikolov  1:06:30

assets and our and our consciousness, right, like, it's the body, but it's also this, I think, there's this like spirit connection, that we don't really have that much of it, if you if you look at like Asia, and even just different languages, the way that they have words, with like, just completely different meanings. In Asia, there's, like one word can mean so many things. And there's also like, just this poetry woven in about how a plant or a mushroom is described. And I feel like there's a little bit of that that's potentially like, for me, in my experience anyways, in North America growing up here, I had to figure out what a spirit really meant to me what a soul looked like for me. And so that's kind of like, you know, one of the big lessons that a psychedelic or mushrooms can teach us as well as this, like, Beyond The Beyond of this physical realm.


Jasper Degenaars  1:07:27

Yeah, I think they definitely are a really good tool. But I also have had those experiences like climbing an epic mountain. And I feel there's no one way and I feel that like, we need to open up that it's just because we're so hard headed in many senses, right? Like, I also want to, like, rephrase the narrative a little bit, because we have this in our culture, we were just the first to be colonized, right? Like Europeans and European descendants, right? I might, like I come from an area that was the northern border of the Roman Empire that was like, where all the Celts were annihilated by Julius Caesar over 2000 years ago. And in that initial genocides, we lost so much knowledge we because they didn't have we don't know much about the Celts, because they didn't have a culture of writing, they were very highly intelligent. And we just lost a lot of that and become regained that knowledge we don't necessarily like. And, like, I think we can learn and be inspired from other cultures. But I feel like sometimes there's this whole grab of like, this braising the indigenous peoples, like how can we be like you and like, yeah, we can learn or be inspired. But in the end, they come from a very different background, they come from a very different culture, and we can imply some of those and we can respect them. And we should definitely make sure to that, like these cultures are sustained, because they're like the lifeline for us to reconnect to our futures, like, spiritual connection that we we can have, you know, and I think we're in a very interesting time. Also, with psychedelics that we can make this new culture. We're here we like our ancestors have done this in the past we we can reinvent the wheel in a way that's actually hopefully is surfing and beneficial for generations to come


Tonya Papanikolov  1:09:12

of that. Very, very much. Yeah. What are you excited about? I know you have some travels coming up. Any kind of future plans for fungie Academy.


Jasper Degenaars  1:09:24

Wow, I'm always excited. So we just finished this really big project family ecology course. I am super proud of this. It's like, I think the best thing we've ever created.


Tonya Papanikolov  1:09:35

How long by the way, how long gets like super high production to like, the video is beautiful. Like, how long did this take? I


Jasper Degenaars  1:09:44

think we started two years ago, I started writing. And then we started filming really the bottom line like a year ago and then production and yeah, it's been Wow, it's been massive and so beautiful. Thank you. Thank you very much. And yeah, if any But he's interested you can reach out we can even make a discount code for like Rambo, mushroom people and like, we can make that happen. So yeah, I'm like really wanting to get this out through, like, I'm just proud of it, you know, it's just like, you know, I do a world, I could give it away for free. But like, you know, it's like we don't have investors, we're completely self funded. And we're always super grateful for anybody that wants to support this. We buy a course we don't take advertisement money for any of these things. Like we're just like, doing it out of love and taking massive, like pay cuts or not taking jobs just because we want to bring this like fungal education to the world. But also we understand that like, is it sometimes like, because there's so much love and production value went into it like a little bit? Yeah, they're not super. Like I understand if you're in a place where in like, yeah, it's like harder to make those decisions for yourself. I've been in that place to choose for your own education. We also offer scholarships for those people. So if you're really interested in you're not inflation measure opposition, please apply for a scholarship. But with that said, like, we're also working on opening up like a certain amount of the course. So people can check that out for free at least and like, basically have a taster of if they like it. And so we've made three online courses, the sacred mushroom cultivation course, the psychedelic journey were, of course, another fungal ecology course. And we've written a lot of original material, but we never had like a physical product. So it's the first time in announcing this. It's like, like, this is a social accountability, right? Because like now, I said it online. And I'm trying to conglomerated and do some more edits. And we're really trying to get like a branded version of the books out. It's


Tonya Papanikolov  1:11:35

amazing. That's like,


Jasper Degenaars  1:11:36

really what I'm looking forward to bring into the world next. Yeah, that will


Tonya Papanikolov  1:11:41

have even further even further reach. I can only imagine. And, like, the internet, you know, is like far and wide. But that's so so special. Congratulations. I know and feel how much time goes into creating something like this and how good you all must just feel having this in the world. And that's a it's a beautiful, it's a beautiful feeling.


Jasper Degenaars  1:12:05

Yeah, thank you. It's fantastic.


Tonya Papanikolov  1:12:07

Thank you so much for this beautiful chat. I'm just yeah, like, completely in awe of all of your wisdom. Your stories is super, super inspiring to myself and listeners. And I, I think we just we need more, so many more people activated and doing spreading this mushroom knowledge and fungal awareness in the world. So thank you, thank you. Thank you.


Jasper Degenaars  1:12:34

Thank you for seeing me and let me know I see you as well. I saw you were on my national Canadian TV about mushrooms not too long ago. That's awesome. What we need and like, I'm just stuck with this. Somebody like so thoughtful and like kind hearted and like intentional. Also just like the, like the who I see at the forefront of like spreading mushroom awareness and a different part of the world. So thank you for all your work. And I'm, like, super stoked to have this conversation. Thank you for facilitating, and I just like, Well, it's funny again, we're all about collaboration like the US helping each other is like always better than if we were like, oh, no, do you have a mushroom company? We should figure out how it's so silly. Some.


Tonya Papanikolov  1:13:15

Yeah, you know, I was as our as we were chatting, I was my partner and I he really wants to learn how to cultivate and grow. And we have some like fun ideas. So I had a vision of us coming to your cultivation course and like, it would be so amazing. Yeah, we can make it happen. I like we really should. I'm pretty serious about it. So we got to do it.


Jasper Degenaars  1:13:38

Yeah. Now feel free to reach out if you have any questions like, like, you guys would be super perfect. And like, we have tons of epic motion people that come out or like already have. It's such it's also a fun, super fun networking event and like, yeah, it's like that's the thing that like, I'm always so proud of like it's so epic every group.


Tonya Papanikolov  1:13:56

How many times a year do you run it?


Jasper Degenaars  1:13:59

We did a little bit too much last time we did like more in six months. And then we did two other like we did a human mycelium retreat and a sacred space holder one that's festive. The epic Julian vein. And Nikki weird. We did a lot last year so we're trying to do a little little less so we have one in October. That one is almost full. We have like three spots left already and then January two or three. Yeah. Okay, well also, if you guys want to come we can make an exception of course. Of course if you guys think if we're coming out October we can we can add a spot. Okay, but January and then we're working on that super epic gap guest teacher for March, but I can't like we're doing one in March but we haven't been answered yet because there's still needs we need some details.


Tonya Papanikolov  1:14:43

Okay, okay. Oh. Intrigued. Okay, lots to come.


Jasper Degenaars  1:14:48

But if you come in October because it's still mushroom season, and we're going out with like the super epic mine guy Reggie, who's like, you know, of the mushrooms and the local biosphere and you know all the indigenous Mayan names and he speaks English just like, that's definitely always a highlights.


Tonya Papanikolov  1:15:03

Okay, I'm gonna probably look into it right after this. Talk to Simon. I'll keep you posted. Okay, thank you. Thank you for your time. I hope the first of many chats together. And yeah, beautiful weekend


Jasper Degenaars  1:15:17

and likewise and we'll be in touch. Thanks, everybody for listening.


Tonya Papanikolov  1:15:21

Thank you.


Jasper Degenaars  1:15:23

Mush love.


Tonya Papanikolov  1:15:25

Bye bye. With deep gratitude thanks for tuning into this episode. If you liked it, hit subscribe and leave us a review that is always very appreciated. Mushrooms transformed my mind and body. And if you're interested in bringing medicinal mushrooms into your life and health journey, check out for our meticulously sourced Canadian fruiting body mushroom tinctures. Until next time, peace in and peace out friends



fungi, mushrooms, psychedelic, intentional community, grow, mycelium, mycology, plants, jasper degenaars, fungi academy, holistic medicine, psychedelic therapy, educational mycology, healing, mushroom education, learn about mushrooms, psychedelic mushroom course,