San Pedro Ceremonies
Ashi Meraya uses this ancient medicinal plant from the Andes Mountains, incorporating optional San Pedro ceremonies in the Ayahuasca retreats. San Pedro, which is considered to have a predominantly masculine spirit, ideally complements the use of ‘Mother’ Ayahuasca, whose principle is considered feminine. San Pedro, or huachuma to give it its Quechuan name, has a quite different medical action from Ayahuasca, and its effect is generally considered to be much gentler and more consistently enjoyable.
San Pedro ceremonies generally take place during the day as sense impressions are heightened and the ordinarily beautiful can become transcendentally beautiful. Unlike Ayahuasca, movement is not, as a rule, impaired with San Pedro and sense impressions are enhanced. The shamans even claim that they will look beautiful when guests drink San Pedro, although I have been unable to verify this claim! 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, primarily through intuitions, more clearly 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; the state of non-ordinary consciousness experienced with San Pedro lasts about 12 hours. After drinking the medicine, all take part in one of the ancestral rituals which are preserved in Ashi Meraya such as one of the rituals of the Palo 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. 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. Many past traumas may be resolved during San Pedro ceremonies, including, sometimes, karmic difficulties carried over from past lives.
Visions may be experienced but these are rare; most information comes from strongly felt intuitions. Most participants remain sufficiently lucid to converse intelligently, although at times, the urge to laugh uncontrollably may compromise this process.
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 one-self.
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, favour visions. It is essential that the dose be administrated by an experienced huachumera – in other words a shaman who knows what he’s doing, who knows exactly how the medicine has been prepared. Interestingly, the energy of San Pedro has been linked to the phases of the moon.