(This is a personal account of my experiences with the Wachuma – San Pedro – cactus. I am no doctor or psychologist, just a retired depressed angry kid looking for peace of mind, and came across the San Pedro plant on my journey through Peru)
Peru is home to some of the most diverse plant life in the world. From the coast, to the mountains, and to the Amazon Jungle, plants have had a profound effect on everyday life of Peru and its inhabitants. It is also home to some of the most powerful plant medicines in the world. Plant teachers, as the Shamans often refer to them; have a powerful spirit guide that works to heal you emotionally and spiritually once ingested. Of course the subject is highly debated and a huge stigma of negativity is often cast upon plants like San Pedro – Wachuma, being referred to as a drug, meant for recreational use. This claim is also made by mostly uneducated people who grow up on the other side of the world in a different culture and belief system. It is understandable the infamous reputation plant medicines like San Pedro get, but personally, there was no pill or medicine that western doctors could prescribe me that would help me with the deep issues I had been dealing with my entire life. San Pedro – Wachuma is first and foremost, a heart medicine. Emotionally, and spiritually the San Pedro takes hold and allows one to recognize their connectedness to all things as well as brings negativity and bad experiences in life into your awareness and forces you to deal with them.
Many people, like me, often suppress memories and these bad experiences deep within the subconscious, wasting a lot of energy keeping them from ever coming up ever again. Humans are masters of masks and consuming a plant like San Pedro – Wachuma lifts the veil and forces a person to release all negativity buried deep within them.
San Pedro is named after the Spanish St. Peter. St. Peter was said to hold the keys to the gates of heaven. It is a fitting and accurate name, considering the blissful state the cactus plant medicine of San Pedro induces. All of a sudden you do not feel separate from the natural world around you. Questions and thoughts about life suddenly become extremely clear, and you are able to do one of the most impossible things for a human to do, and that is to FORGIVE. Forgive yourself, as well as others who have wronged you. Grudges and silly quarrels with people seem obsolete, and you suddenly have a clear understanding of many negative components that have infiltrated your reality.
The logical and psychological aspects of the biology of the plant can be summed up pretty easy, yet it is often hard to understand based on preconceptions of what the term drug means to people. With a basic search of the San Pedro cactus, you will notice that the active chemical present and most responsible for the experience is mescaline. However, there are a number of other chemicals within the cactus that synergize with the mescaline and create an entirely unique compound that the Shamans call Wachuma (San Pedro) and it is this drink that helps and individual heal certain aspects of self that western doctors completely ignore. Their whole discipline and tradition is based on physical symptoms, and suppressing them. The shamanic healers of South America have a different mentality. Their focus isn´t so much the physical symptoms of a certain sickness, but what are the emotional and spiritual roots of the problem. The plant medicine San Pedro allows one to become self aware in a way they have never been, thus allowing one to identify with certain aspects of their mentality and emotional state with a disease or distress in their body causing the physical sickness.
This is no walk in the park. You can dismiss arguments of people claiming this as a recreational drug right from the beginning based on the extremely unpleasant taste of the brew. It is probably the most horrible thing you have ever tasted in your life. The smell, the texture or the appearance are powerful to say the least. It is a process to just drink, and not a very pleasant one. I used to look for ways to make the taste better, adding lemon, or coca leaves, but after a lot of attempts and a sudden realization of an important aspect of the whole San Pedro journey, I finally accepted there was no way around the taste. I had a sudden thought that the plant medicine San Pedro, this plant teacher, or spirit guide present within the plant itself was highly intelligent. It WANTS you to understand what you are drinking. It wants you to think about WHY you are drinking. Your intention is one of the most overlooked aspects of the entire process of drinking San Pedro.
Preparation of the San Pedro cactus varies. The most common way however is purchasing San Pedro powder from the local San Pedro Market in Cusco. The seller will most likely weigh out specific amounts depending on how many people will be drinking, and all you have to do is add water to the powder and drink. There is also the option to purchase a two to three foot cactus stalk. You would then need to harvest mostly the outer layer of the cactus, cook in boiling water for many hours before finally creating your San Pedro brew. The powder is ground up from the outer layers of cactus and isn´t a bad route to go. I personally enjoy both methods, the cooking of the cactus might make it a little easier to drink, but not much.
Often referred to as the great Grandfather Spirit, unlike the great Grandmother Spirit associated with another powerful plant medicine known as Ayahuasca which you consume in complete darkness, you want to drink the San Pedro in the daylight. Being in nature by itself with no plant medicine can be a source of healing in and of itself, but you add the San Pedro brew, and you have a healthy combination of intense healing properties meant to remind one of their connections with animals, plants and mother Earth herself. In western society we have built huge cities of concrete and metal. We often live repetitive lives within these concrete jungles for years and have considered this reality our natural state. The Earth, mountains, rivers, forests, jungles, these are our natural environments. How good it feels when we are surrounded by the NATURAL world. People use to be able to identify with their surroundings, naming all the plants and animals as well as working harmoniously WITH them. I am not trying to convince you of abandoning your life and running naked in the forest and living off the grid. Of course there needs to be a balance, and that is what the plant teacher of San Pedro offers.
The San Pedro cactus is a tool used to remind ourselves about that connection with all life on Earth and help us return to our natural or true state of being.
(Anton Christian assisting a couple of PERU PATHs friends with their San Pedro experience)
If you are interested in learning more about the medicinal Wachuma – San Pedro cactus and would like to expereince Ayahuasca & Pedro Journey this sacred shamanic brew, visit us on www.adventureperupath.com