These are a pair of Amanita muscaria mushrooms. My daughter spotted them as we were driving home from school the other day. I pulled over so we could take some photos and it was interesting how many cars driving by gave us curious looks! The mushrooms have a symbiotic relationship with pine trees, evidenced by the litter of pine needles surrounding these two. I had always thought that Amanita muscaria were deadly poisonous but it turns out the lethal dose is possibly around fifteen mushrooms. They have intense perception altering effects when ingested but can also induce copious amounts of vomiting. On erowid.org, a site for chronicling drug experiences, there are 66 posts reporting unpleasant experiences versus 32 positive ones. That works out to nearly a 70% chance of having a bad trip which are grouped in categories such as: Difficult Experiences, Bad Trips, Health Problems, and Train Wrecks & Trip Disasters. The individual posts run the gamut from, "First I Met God, Then I Was God", "The 20 Hour Nightmare", to "Accidental Feline Ingestion", (hope that doesn't mean they accidentally ate the cat!) The positive ones seem to support the idea of a Soma-like effect. Amateur ethnomycologist, R. Gordon Wasson, has argued that Amanita is the Soma mentioned in the Rig Veda texts of India but this has been largely discredited. Currently on view in the "Flora and Fauna" show at the Surrey Art Gallery is a lovely/troubling watercolour by Shary Boyle from her Porcelain Fantasy series. A couple is depicted reclining on top of an Amanita muscaria consuming various psychoactive substances. From their vacant facial expressions it is hard to tell which side of the 70/30 bad trip/good trip ratio they fall into (plus the added substances complicate the mix.) The show on tour from the National Gallery of Canada is definitely worth a visit!