Various parts of trees and plants have been used by people and healers for centuries. There are several plants as well which are indigenous to particular areas and have made their mark on public imagination.
There are many unique plants which can be found only in South America which are famous for their healing properties. These have been used by healers and shamans to help treat all types of ailments. One of these is the San Pedro cactus –healers also refer to it by alternate names like ‘el remedio’. It is supposed to heal as well as give users supernatural powers and the vision to get over and let go all worldly illusions. Another story attached to the San Pedro cactus is based on its name – St. Peter is the person who holds the keys to heaven. The belief is that using products derived from this cactus will help people heal and also discover their true, divine nature.
How is it used?
It is also called ‘huachuma’ by shamans and is used with great reverence in healing and religious rituals. Evidence of its use has been found dating back to 3500 years. One can find depictions of owls and people with owl faces holding a piece of the cactus – native people believe that owls are wise and teaching spirits. They also act as guardians to shamans and herbalists. Cactus related ceremonies are held even today. These ceremonies are held to help cure illnesses of the spirit, emotional and mental problems and even physical issues. It is believed that people can look into the future when they use San Pedro cactus extracts.
When one participates in a ceremony, it is believed that the experience becomes a master teacher. People get healed, they learn about different aspects of life and wake up – this is intended to help people reach higher levels of consciousness. Just as each person is unique their journey of discovery will be unique too. Drinking San Pedro tea will help people go on their personal journey. One can find a lot of anecdotal evidence about people getting cured of serious ailments and living fairly comfortable lives.
There are a few reasons why hallucinogenic drugs and experiences resulting from their use are viewed with skepticism. Many tribes use the San Pedro cactus which contains mescaline and other plants in religious ceremonies for healing purposes. People have benefitted by going through certain experiences by being able to go outside themselves and connect with different realms. They are usually guided through the process by shamans who have the experience to guide.
The cactus is used mainly for medicinal purposes – the way it is prepared is as follows. It has to be stripped of the thorns first and then sliced and diced into chunks. The cactus is then placed into a dish, covered with water and boiled to get the alkaloids out. The cooking process can last anywhere between 8-24 hours. After the mixture has cooled, it is strained and the liquid is collected in pots. People drink just a bit of the cactus juice and wait for a while to feel its effects. It is easier to drink the juice than eat this bitter cactus. It is a well-known fact that many people feel nauseous from eating or drinking this cactus. Drinking this juice slowly is a good idea to avoid stressing the body and the nervous system.
Growing this cactus from seed is a bit difficult as conditions are not easy to replicate. Most often, people use cuttings and good soil to grow it. Keep in mind that a lot of the cactus is required to make a few ounces of the juice – it has to be boiled really well for a long time and the end result is really concentrated. Fortunately, growing this cactus is legal – but possession of mescaline and other compounds is a punishable offence.