San Pedro / Huachuma - Sacred Psychedelic Cacti

Huachuma / San Pedro ceremonies in the sacred vally, Cusco, Peru

 “San Pedro” is a pre-Columbian reference to the psychedelic mescaline containing cactus genus Trichocereus.

Andean archeological evidence supports that San Pedro has been used for at least 3600 years. During the Spanish Inquisition, Huachumeros were fatally persecuted. Only those who practiced the church-approved ritual of “San Pedro” were permitted to live, thus the lineage radically changed with much loss.

Today the practice of San Pedro lives, and the practice of Wachuma re-emerges from the cultural awareness of Chavin and other pre-Incan cultures.

Unlike the modern practice of San Pedro, Huachuma was commonly employed in tandem with Wilka. Wilka is what we now call Yopo. A powerful tryptamine-containing snuff made from Anadenanthera peregrina. Bufotenine, 5-HO-DMT, is the principle constituent in Anadenanthera Peregrina.

Source: Maxwell Wieland

Two pipes found in association with Anadenanthera seeds in northwest Argentina, which have been radiocarbon dated to 2130 BC, and which had residues that tested positive for DMT.

Source: Torres, 1995, p. 312-314.


Mescaline and other Alkaloids effect on Cognition

Of the plethora of alkaloids it hosts, mescaline is the most well-known. Peyote, Lophophora williamsii, also contains mescaline and other phenethylamines, however it is native to the central dry lands of the Americas.

Investigators have begun neuropsychological testing with Native American Church members. The investigators did not find any signs of impaired cognition in NAC members. Investigator: John Halpern, MD, Harrison Pope, MD Harvard Medical School – Cambridge, Massachussetts.


Species of San Pedro / Huachuma

There are many different “species” in the trichocereus genus, however they are not as clearly defined as in other plants as they are often phenotypically similliar.

The trichocereus peruvianus references trichocereus in Peru. This does not discriminate any phenotype within the botanically irrelevant boundaries, known as Peru. Thus, a large spectrum of differences are all associated with Wachuma / San Pedro.

Trichocereus can contain anywhere from no active alkaloids ( 0% ) to concentrations in the photosynthetic layer of 7%. Of the alkaloids 30-70% are mescaline, 3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine. The remaining 30-70% are similar molecules with synergistic and parallel properties. The unique combinations of these alkaloid concentrations provide a pharmacological identity we experience through digestion. Thus each cactus is different.

Source: Maxwell Wieland

San Pedro / Huachuma Today and in the Ancient Past

These days, San Pedro cactus — which contains chemicals with hallucinogenic properties — is used in healing ceremonies by people living in the Andean mountains of South America, primarily in northern Peru, according to Guerra-Doce’s paper.

But the earliest evidence of San Pedro cactus use was found in Guitarrero Cave, in Peru’s Callejón de Huaylas valley. Researchers found pollen and traces of the cactus in the parts of the cave that were occupied the earliest, which date back to between 8600 and 5600 B.C. Other evidence shows that a larger sample of material from the cactus found in the cave dated back to 6800-6200 B.C., according to the paper.


San Pedro / Huachuma Ceremonies in the Sacred Valley, Cusco, Peru

Munay Medicine hold San Pedro / Huachuma ceremonies at our high class retreat centre in the Sacred Valley, near Cusco, Peru.  Please visit our retreat pages or contact us for more information. Or click below to find out how we work with this sacred medicine.

How we work with San Pedro