Plant Medicine: Huachuma (San Pedro)
Botanical name: Trichocereus pachanoi
San Pedro is a cactus native to the Andes Mountains of Peru and Ecuador. It has a long history of use spanning 3,000 years in traditional Andean medicine. In South America, it is also known as Huachuma. The earliest archaeological evidence discovered is a stone carving of a Huachumero found at the Jaguar Temple of Chavín de Huantar in northern Peru. Textiles from the same region and period of history depict the cactus with jaguars and hummingbirds, two of its guardian spirits, and with spiral symbols, representing its ability to produce a visionary experience.
Huachuma ceremonies where the plant is consumed as a tea are still held today in parts of the world. These ceremonies may cure illness of a spiritual, emotional, mental, or physical nature. They may illuminate the future through prophetic and divinatory qualities of the plant, assist one to overcome sorcery or saladera, to ensure success in one's ventures, to rekindle love and enthusiasm for life and to experience the world as divine. The San Pedro cactus brings in the masculine energy of the Heavens (from above), contrasting it to Ayahuasca which brings in the feminine energy of Mother Earth (from below).
One Andean shaman describes some of the effects of the plant: "First, a dreamy state… then great visions, a clearing of all the faculties… and then detachment, a type of visual force inclusive of the sixth sense, the telepathic state of transmitting oneself across time and matter, like a removal of thoughts to a distant dimension".
San Pedro is a teacher of great compassion and understanding. It shows us how to live in balance and harmony; how to love, respect, and honor all living beings. It shows us we are children of light, by being able to perceive this light within us. Each person's experience will be unique, as we are all individual beings. Drinking San Pedro is a personal journey of discovery, of the self and the universe.
My personal meeting with the Huachuma plant spirit was initially through an evening ceremony by Curanderas and healers from the North Coast of Peru, Doña Ysabel Chinguel and Doña Olinda Pintado as they performed a North Coastal sacred mesada plant ceremony. Chosen by the divine Spirit to be healers, they offered their feminine energy to heal our luminous bodies and reconnect with Mother Earth.
My second experience with Huachuma was on the sacred land of Kaua'i, Hawaii, with an intimate ceremony lead by my dear Shamanic teacher Sun Eagle. The ceremony began in the morning and was followed by a hike up Mountain Mahaleha where we drank from her pure, flowing spring water and received healings from the stone and tree spirits. This was a powerful initiation and an experience where I learned about the various types of energy (tree, flower, water, sun, stone, mountain) through Huachuma's teachings.
* These photographs of San Pedro come together and represent a beautiful family of cacti that spread their loving light into the organic greenhouses at good water farms in East Hampton, NY. The cacti are used as an ornamental presence to enhance the energetic vibration of the space, these plants are not cultivated for consumption.
* Words adapted by Lesley Myburgh, known in the Andes as La Gringa.