Hildegaard, Mycologist

Person wearing robes and a wide-brimmed hat gazing into the middle-distance.

An avant-mycologist, specializing in the cultivation of fungal strains peculiar to the microbiome of urban Shanghai, Hildegaard Sauer has become well-known in Shanghai’s bohemian underground. Hackers, artists, spiritualists, and those interested in accelerated evolution all seek out Hildegaard for their unique offering of “Analog Augmented Reality” experiences.

Originally from Weisenbach, a sleepy village in Germany’s Black Forest, Hildegaard fostered an interest in mycology from an early age. With a remarkable gift for mushroom foraging, Hildegaard’s Grandmother considered them an essential tool in her kitchen. Hildegaard possessed a preternatural ability to locate and pluck out the choicest, rarest specimens to bring back to Grandmother’s kitchen. The mushrooms’ pale flesh flecked with black soil was difficult to distinguish from Hildegaard’s fleshy fingers as they handed them over to an appraising Grandmother. Hildegaard would always keep a few in their pockets, transfixed by the lacelike patterns of their gills or the sublime roundness of their caps.

None fully understand the science behind Hildegaard’s altered reality sessions aside from Hildegaard themself. This is in part because of the esoteric nature of the research, but is mostly owed to Hildegaard’s unusual speech patterns – a puzzling blend of German, English, and Sanghainese which flow together in lilting, dreamy verse. Hildegaard claims to have developed a process which allows users to jack into a mycelial network, comprising billions microscopic fungal strains discovered in subterranean Shanghai. Having spent years meticulously working to nurture and breed these specimens, Hildegaard has built what they refer to as “The Architecture.” Patrons can access this hallucinatory plane by consuming potent spore extracts which stimulate various parts of the brain. Hildegaard presides over the administration like a shaman, murmuring barely audible incantations throughout the process.

User experiences are varied: states of unparalleled bliss and euphoria; reliving a forgotten childhood dream; speaking with ghosts and spirits; time travel; activation of sentience on a cellular level; connection with the numinous; paralysis; death.

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