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What is San Pedro Ceremony, or Huachuma?
San Pedro is a name given by Christians to this cactus after the colonial period in South America, specifically the Andes mountains areas. San Pedro refers to a Christian saint who holds the keys to the Gates of Heaven. This cactus plant teacher has been named appropriately for its powerful and expansive energy. Yet another name attributed to San Pedro cactus is Grandfather Wisdom.
It is not unusual for San Pedro cactus to grow as high as 20 – 25 feet high, with many branches reaching straight upward toward the sky. It is a normal looking cactus, with the typical green color one would think a cactus would have, and blooms once per year.
Some of the indigenous names for San Pedro are huachuma, chuma, and wachuma. Huachuma is one of the most common names used and a shaman who works with Huachuma is called a Huachumero. This is an important path for a young budding shaman to pursue, who will eventually become a Maestro (Master) Huachumero.
Huachuma is considered the greatest of all the plant teachers on the South American continent. South American shamans (Huachumeros) use this plant medicine to traverse the dimensions and meet beings in the spirit worlds. It is not unusual for people to have out of body experiences with San Pedro plant medicine.
The psychoactive ingredient in the San Pedro cactus that is best known for is the entheogen mescaline. This is also found in Peyote cactus and San Pedro is in the Peyote family, Peyote being the plant medicine teacher that is used primarily by Native Americans in the USA. Peyote is also used by the Huichol Indians in Mexico, who have an annual pilgrimage and spend a month in spiritual contemplation using Peyote. San Pedro is said by some users to be more pleasant than Peyote and more heart centered. That would be up to you to determine for yourself of course. San Pedro plant medicine is an individual experience and perception for everyone.
Huachuma (San Pedro cactus) has a long history of shamanic use, specifically by the shamans in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador and Peru. It is easy to cultivate and grows at the high altitudes of the Andes plentifully. Andean tribes have used San Pedro for decision making, healing, spiritual guidance and travel in the other dimensions, as well as for maintaining balance in the physical world.
Even today, Huachuma (San Pedro cactus) is used by the indigenous of both the Andes and the coasts in both Peru and Ecuador. To this day, the San Pedro Mesa Ceremony is a ceremony that is still used. This entails an altar which is used to place an object that symbolizes something important to the person participating in the ceremony, who wishes to attain guidance and wisdom about a specific matter or situation, healing of an illness, or simply for attaining higher consciousness.
First you will drink the prepared tea that the shaman has brewed, and then it takes about 1 hour for the effects to begin, which will last about 12-14 hours. Ayahuasca only lasts about 4-5 hours, but San Pedro lasts much longer.
Depending on the emotional and mental condition of the ceremony participant, it will seem chaotic or tranquil. It all depends on you and your inner landscapes. The presiding shaman and your environment will also be part of the equation as to how you perceive the movement of San Pedro (Huachuma) through your consciousness.
You will then find yourself in an awake dreaming state while the body falls asleep to some extent. You will most likely find yourself unable to move around very much, although you’ll be able to go to the bathroom and such. However, you will not feel like taking a walk or doing anything active. Your body may even feel fairly numb.
After a while, you will detach from the body somewhat, although you can always return to awareness of your body whenever you want. However, you are encouraged to go with the energy of detaching from your physical identity and move into knowing yourself as soul or spirit. Dimensional travel will be the result. You will feel as though you can walk the different worlds, and indeed you can.
You will see colors differently, and light as well. Things will seem to radiate and look “unreal”. You may feel as though you are literally seeing the energy of things. You might remember things you have long forgotten, you might dream things that are otherworldly, and possibly meet spirit beings in various forms and situations.
Emotionally, you may experience both extremes, positive and negative, and also every shade in between. If you feel like laughing, laugh. San Pedro (Huachuma) is teaching you joy. If you feel like crying, cry. You are healing something deep inside you. If you feel fear, go directly into it. This is a place you are retrieving your power again that you have given away to some experience, person or situation long ago.
San Pedro (Huachuma) will heal deep wounds from the past so that you can go on living your life in freedom, instead of fettered by past injuries. This cactus is used for healing inner afflictions, physical, mental and emotional. San Pedro is also used for attaining guidance from the spirit worlds, so don’t be surprised if you meet some angels along the way!
San Pedro lasts longer than Ayahuasca, which only lasts about 4-5 hours in total. San Pedro lasts about 12-14 hours, a much longer journey.
San Pedro Tea & Preparation
Huachuma (San Pedro cactus) tastes very bitter. It is dark brown if properly prepared. The cactus is cut into strips or rounds (no easy task!), and is then boiled for about 6-10 hours. It is a long process. The tea must be brewed with intention and love by the shaman, and is to be respected for the wisdom it will bring to whoever drinks it.
San Pedro is not combined with any other plant medicines (unlike Ayahuasca), and stands alone in the preparation process. San Pedro is a complete plant medicine teacher all by itself.