San Pedro cactus, or Huachuma, to give it its Quechuan name, is considered to have a predominantly masculine spirit and ideally complements the use of ‘Mother’ Ayahuasca, whose principle is considered feminine. This ancient medicinal plant from the Andes Mountains has a quite different energetic effect from Ayahuasca and is generally believed to be much gentler and more consistently enjoyable.
San Pedro ceremonies usually take place during the day as sense impressions are heightened and the ordinarily beautiful can become transcendentally beautiful. Shamans even claim that one can look more beautiful when drinking San Pedro. There may also be occasions when it is appropriate to conduct a San Pedro ceremony during hours of darkness, when it may be possible to receive messages from the spirits more clearly, primarily through intuitions, although some people may find the energy of San Pedro a little traumatic in the absence of visual stimuli.
The medicinal effect of San Pedro is quite different from Ayahuasca. This fast-growing cactus belongs to the same family as Peyote and contains mescaline, a chemical component with naturally occurring psychedelic effects. The state of non-ordinary consciousness experienced with San Pedro lasts about 12 hours and it usually starts having an effect one or two hours after being ingested. Unlike Ayahuasca, movement is not, as a rule, impaired with San Pedro; vomiting is not common, on the contrary, heat and a lot of energy are usually experienced even sexual energy. Most participants remain sufficiently lucid to converse intelligently, although, at times, the urge to laugh uncontrollably may compromise this process. Visions may be experienced but these are rare; most information comes from strongly felt intuitions.
A few hours after drinking the medicine, everyone takes part in one of the many ancestral Shipibo rituals which are preserved in Yosi Ocha, such as the rituals of the Palos Maestros (Teacher Trees), stone rituals, or rituals of Smoke or Fire, amongst others. The function of the ritual is to elevate and purify the spirit, promoting harmony both in the material and spiritual spheres and peace, joy, and prosperity.
San Pedro is an excellent medicine to experience an energetic connection with the elements of nature. It is highly recommended, while the medicine is active, to walk and meditate in the forest and to establish conscious communication with the different spirits of plants and trees. It is easy to get answers from them, but this requires asking the right questions and sustaining the connection until you experience the connection.
Many past traumas may be resolved during San Pedro ceremonies, including, sometimes, karmic difficulties carried over from past lives. Working with San Pedro involves an internal process of self-healing and a direct connection of self with the forces of nature leading to an expanded sense of consciousness; a psychic and emotional opening up offering a better understanding of our own nature and internal structure. The state of consciousness induced by San Pedro also helps the patient to understand more clearly the cleansing process undergone during their Ayahuasca ceremonies and generally helps to promote a better understanding and knowledge of oneself. Interestingly, the energy of San Pedro has been linked to the phases of the moon.
Various ways of preparing the Huachuma cactus are possible; it can be consumed fresh and raw, or else dried and powdered and boiled for several hours with water to refine a stronger extract, and indeed it can be prepared with a mixture of other medicinal plants, which may, for example, favor visions. It is essential that the dose is administrated by an experienced huachumero – in other words, a shaman who knows what he’s doing, and who knows exactly how the medicine has been prepared. In Yosi Ocha, we prepare ourselves all the medicines as close as possible to the moment of the ceremony to preserve all their properties intact.