The San Pedro Master Teacher
Huachuma — also known as the San Pedro cactus — is a brew made from a variety of cacti mostly found in the Peruvian and Andeans highlands. A thick layer of the skin is exclusively used in the preparation.
This drink has been used for healing, spiritual and religious purposes by ancient cultures in the northern part of South America for over 5700 years and is still used in sacred drinking ceremonies by many spiritual communities in this part of the world.
Though San Pedro was traditionally used for spiritual purposes by specific tribes, it has become popular worldwide among those who seek a way to open their minds, heal from past traumas, experience a deep connection to the divine or nature, or simply experience a San Pedro journey.
It’s highly recommended that San Pedro only be taken when supervised by an experienced facilitator or shaman, as those who take it need to be looked after. A San Pedro experience leads to an altered state of consciousness that lasts for many hours.
Before partaking in a San Pedro ceremony, it’s often suggested that participants follow a regimen diet of light, mostly vegetarian meals, at least one-week prior to the experience and abstain from drugs, alcohol and sex. This is recommended in order to cleanse the body of toxins and maximise the effects of the experience.
San Pedro ceremonies are commonly held during the day although night ceremonies are also offered. They seem to each offer a different quality to the work with the plant. After the space is prepared and sacralised San Pedro is offered to participants, sometimes split into several doses.
After ingesting San Pedro, most people will start to feel its effects within 1-2 hours, sometimes a lot faster. The journey can last up to 8 or 10 hours
Those who take San Pedro can experience transient symptoms like nausea, vomiting & diarrhoea (all part of the cleansing effect), deep or intense feelings and strong visions.
People react to San Pedro differently. Some experience euphoria and a feeling of enlightenment, while others go through an increase of anxiety and panic. It’s not uncommon for those taking San Pedro to experience both positive and negative effects from the brew.
The shamans or facilitators present at all times offer help and guidance and monitor participants for safety. These ceremonies are sometimes conducted consecutively, with participants consuming San Pedro a few consecutive alternative days or mixed with a night ceremony. Every time you take San Pedro, it results in a different experience.
The navigation of the Huachuma space is a lot cleaner and peaceful, more linear. It is strong, grounded and powerful. Our connection with Spirit grows stronger and stronger until we are fully connected to these realms but journeying with Huachuma creates a very stable, rooted, connected and safe space.
On low to medium doses the cactus amplifies our connection to spirit to the degree where everything becomes information. There is no more question/answer duality. The formulation of a question in your mind immediately dissolves in a direct answer of remarkable beauty and depth. Everything becomes absolute information. We can tune in, meditate and receive all the guidance we need, whether it be about our own healing or where to go in life.
On a stronger dose the volume of the Spirit increases to the extent that the connection overlays the more common perception of physical reality as we know it. That’s when things become transcendent and dreamy. Up until that point Huachuma offers an extremely lucid and tangible experience compared to the more shifty and non-ordinary qualities of other entheogens.
This cactus is also inherently medicinal.
When I wander in the learning field of the cactus, it brings about very direct changes in my body and my tuning to spirit.
Whereas Ayahuasca shows you the realm of different otherworldly realities, Huachuma helps you deepen your connection to this world.
Appreciation, gratitude and earth-bound love flows naturally.
For all the above reasons, Huachuma is a great starter for those entering the domain of the teaching plants. For those with long-standing experience wishing to establish a direct connection to the expression of Spirit in our physical realm there is no match, in my very humble opinion.
To be approached, as usual, with humility, clear intention, deep respect and …harmony.
San Pedro unlikely many of the plant teachers require a free-will act of surrender, to engage deeply with it. Whilst you are usually completely capable of operating body and mental functions, you may opt for long periods of stillness.
Nausea is an expected but not systematic effect and it doesn’t usually last for very long. After the nausea wanes, San Pedro enters and moves through your consciousness. You enter a lucid but dream-like state.
Once the opening of your physical body to non-ordinary states of awareness happens, you will be introduced to a whole new dimension. Visions, feelings, a symbolic language and direct knowings are very familiar to the San Pedro language. You may also be introduced to your spiritual or animal-totem guides, and they will help you connect to the endless inner depths of direct knowing. The brain or mental activity is bypassed, or dulled to the benefit of another way of knowing. These are the hallmarks of the San Pedro journey.
Some have reported feeling extreme sadness, aversion throughout entire journeys, while others may experience nothing but bliss and joy. It depends on your psychological state, the intention you brought to the journey and the parts of you that need healing. The more opened or attuned you are to your experience as a whole, the more positive your experience will be.
As the non-ordinary awareness grows, you feel like your soul is voyaging beyond your body. As worldly objects glow with ethereal colour, you perceive a significant underlying energy to all things, and the world and yourself in it seem to click together in one huge, expansive understanding.
The above is typical of an experience with San Pedro. While San Pedro has been used by indigenous cultures of South America for thousands of years — making it the oldest recorded entheogenic medicine — it hasn’t enjoyed the popularity of the more famed master plant like Ayahuasca or psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. However, those who have experienced this powerful plant agree that it is a strong and kind medicine for whatever ails you.
When the effect wears off, your ordinary physical senses start to come back to you. And you can rest knowing that you have connected your mind with the spirits. Modern integration processes are usually offered to various degrees with the most elaborate ones being bridged by western-trained shaman or facilitators. These integration processes are usually offered the day after a ceremony.
Many people who have taken San Pedro claim that the experience led to positive, long-term, life-altering changes. Recent research has shown that San Pedro may benefit health — particularly brain, gut, immune and neurologic health — in a number of ways.
The main psycho active ingredients in San Pedro — Mescaline and other sympathomimetics compounds mimicking the effects of adrenaline and noradrenaline — have been shown to exhibit neuro-protective and neuro-restorative qualities in some studies. San Pedro is also highly alkaline and as such offers the benefits of boosting immunity, neutralising the acidity in your body caused by poor diet, stress or environmental toxins.
Various participants have claimed that this physical healing can include relief from such disparate conditions as diabetes, hepatitis, cancer, paralysis, joint problems, fever, high blood pressure, cardiac disease, and burning in the kidneys and bladder. San Pedro is also said to be an antimicrobial agent that can inhibit at least 18 different kinds of penicillin-resistant bacteria.