Stargazers[i] are a strain of Psilocybe cubensis. As sometimes happens, they are literally the stuff of legend—the stories commonly told about their history are mostly either wrong or at least not documented. We know very little for sure about this strain.
For the record, the dominant story is that Stargazers were one of the first strains to be cultivated, that it is a naturally-occurring strain, and that it was discovered near Machu Pichu. That part could be true, we just don’t know for sure.
What we know is that this is a fairly typical cube strain, moderate in most respects but fairly easy to grow, with a tendency to produce small mushrooms in big clumps.
Identification and Description
Stargazer caps are small to medium-sized, red-brown when young, then becoming golden brown and finally pale yellow with age. There may be spots, remnants of the universal veil sticking to the top of the cap. The stems are proportionately long, pale yellow in color, and have a ring, though the ring may be lost in some specimens. The gills start out gray and darken to nearly black as the spores mature. The spores themselves are purple-black.
Stargazers look like most other cubes. They don’t stand out in terms of physical form. Cubes in turn bear a strong resemblance to many other psychoactive mushrooms—and they are not all that different from a large number of other small, brownish, nondescript species, some of which are dangerously toxic. It’s not that they can’t be properly identified, it’s that identification requires know-how and attention to detail. People who pick and eat things “because they look just like shrooms!” don’t always live to tell the tale.
The effects of Stargazers are not even reputed to be different from those of other cubes. This is your typical P. cubensis high—altered mood, altered perception, altered thought process. Of course, anyone who thinks a typical P. cubensis high is nothing special hasn’t had one (or possibly has had way too many). The exact course of the experience will depend largely on what the user brings to it—setting and mind-set have a huge influence, as does the user’s ability to keep an open mind and move with the trip, learning from whatever comes up.
Potency and Dosage
Stargazer mushrooms appear to have moderate potency, although it’s like they are also somewhat variable. The standard dosing guides for cubes will likely be close to correct, but getting an unusually potent sample is still a possibility. It’s always better to err on the side of too little rather than too much, to “start low and go slow,” as they say. You can always take a little more later, if you want to.
Stargazer is reputed to be easy to grow, with good resistance to contamination. Any cultivation method that works with most other cube strains will do fine—though rye grain seems to be a special favorite as an initial substrate. Colonization time and fruiting time are roughly average. Incubation temperature should be in the mid-seventies (in Fahrenheit). Yields are often excellent.
Toxicity, Safety & Side Effects
Technically speaking, psilocybin—the “main ingredient” in most magic mushrooms—is a toxin. If you don’t believe that, imagine taking some by accident, not knowing what was about to happen, and perhaps having the symptoms come on while you’re driving or otherwise trying to be responsible. Accidental ingestion can happen, and should be treated by a doctor, just like any other case of mushroom poisoning—it is especially dangerous for children. Of course, more often psilocybin ingestion is very much on purpose. This is toxin that many “victims” seem to like.
Psilocybin can have unpleasant effects, too. The most common are, fortunately, minor—nausea, balance problems, excessive yawning. But there are more serious and less common effects, such as intense anxiety. In rare cases, psilocybin can cause convulsions, even death. The risk of serious side effects rises with the dose, which is why we say to err on the side of too little rather than too much. It’s also important to follow basic safety procedures and to take the time to properly prepare before the experience, and to properly process and integrate afterwards.
Then there is the very different, but quite real, risk of arrest. Know the law in your area.
[i] Pallay, A. (2022). Stargazer Mushroom Strain: Cultivation, Effects, and More.