Sacred Plant Medicine
Ayahuasca & Huachuma (San Pedro)
The name Ayahuasca is derived from the Quechua words aya, meaning soul or spirit, and huasca, meaning rope or vine. This translates roughly to "cord of the dead" or "vine of the soul," and refers to a sacred plant medicine brew made from the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, which is native to the Amazon basin.
Believed to open a window into the soul, Ayahuasca’s role as a sacred healing agent and portal to the spirit world dates back more than 2,000 years.
Traditionally used in ceremony as a spiritual medicine, ayahuasca is regarded by indigenous peoples of the Amazon region as a healing plant or master “teacher plant” and represents the basis of their traditional medicines and the foundation of the magical-spiritual connection.
Today, working with Ayahuasca is an intense, profound and nearly always highly transformative experience that can facilitate deep healing on all levels of your being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
When taken in ceremony under the guidance of skilled and respectful shaman, and approached with dignity, respect, and open mind, and open heart, Ayahuasca is a gift that you invite in… and develop a relationship with.
It can serve as a doorway to inner worlds that enables access to higher states of consciousness and the experience of spiritual awakening, revealing the multi-dimensional nature of reality and ourselves and it leads us back to who we truly are.
Some say that following an Ayahuasca experience, you are no longer the same person you were before.
Aya is like a natural doctor, energetically removing any sickness inside your body…karma, emotional, trauma or sorcery. It can help release the disease, pain, depression, psychological problems or sickness in your body. It is a natural medicine that releases all your problems and releases the heavy energy.
Its medicine purifies you and living love is its cure.
The Ayahuasca Experience
The experience of ayahuasca in ceremony can bring about a profound state of altered consciousness and temporary "ego disintegration," allowing the initiated to move beyond their defense mechanisms into the depths of the unconscious mind — offering a unique opportunity to touch healing places that might not otherwise be possible.
Although Ayahuasca can be – and often is – hallucinogenic, no two experiences are the same. You may have visions…. or you may have no reaction at all. It is truly about your connection and communication with the plant spirit, and what your soul needs. Every person is unique, and every time is unique.
During the night you want to focus on ceremony, meditation and your intention. Set your intention – then put it aside. State what you want to work on….then let it go and then be open to whatever the plant wants you to work on. “I surrender and accept” should be your approach.
Trust the vine! Ask ayahuasca to do what you are really looking for. Aya already knows what your intentions are. Ask to heal the karma so your vision is clear and open. Heal what needs to be healed… and allow the aya to flow through you.
It is between you and creator...with no guarantees.
Shaman Don Guido's brew is gentle and is typically cooked for 12 days prior to ceremony. He begins each evening ceremony by taking the pulse of all participants and checking their energy before determining the amount of plant medicine each individual may take.
The ceremonial experience is enhanced by his singing of a unique Icaros, or medicine song, for each person in the group, to invite the spirits to present themselves, induce a profound state of healing and awareness, and to help deepen and integrate that healing.
The melody of the icaro itself has curative powers; it helps enhance and intensify the activity of the plant medicine. Icaros can be used instead of medicines. In fact, the icaro alone can cure and shape the visionary experience, opening up new landscapes and realms and calling forth the hallucinatory effects of the aya even without the ingestion of the plant.
The Science of Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca is a combination of several plants. Like a doorman stepping away, the vine banisteriopsis cappi provides the harmaline, an ingredient that prevents stomach acids from destroying dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Often called the “spirit molecule,” DMT is one of nature’s most potent hallucinogenic substances and is what is responsible for the often intense colorful visions. It actually comes from other plants added to the brew – the leaves of the chacruna tree, dried chacalpa leaves and other specific plants the shaman adds to the brew.
DMT is naturally manufactured in your body; under normal conditions, the human digestive system breaks down the DMT before it has a chance to affect the central nervous system.
Ayahuasca’s active ingredients are harmine and harmaline, alkaloids that are part of chemicals called MOIs – Monoamine oxidase inhibitors. These block the activity of certain naturally occurring enzymes, inhibiting the metabolism of other chemicals and allowing the DMT to work.
San Pedro (Huachuma)
In our Northern Peru journey, we work with renowned curandera and healer Dona Julia to experience the gentle clearing, blessing and healing power of the sacred plant medicine San Pedro (Huachuma).
Used for more than 3,000 years by the indigenous shaman of the coastal and mountain regions of Peru and Ecuador, Huachuma (or Grandfather Plant) is revered for its ability to help open the doors of perception, release barriers and limitations, and connect you with your heart space.
With this beautiful and amazing plant medicine, we have witnessed deep wounds healed, powerful transformations take place, and permanent healing realized even for those who have struggled for many years with chronic illness, trauma or other issues.
Huachuma, more commonly known as San Pedro in the Western world or Echinopsis pachanoi in botanical circles, is a tall (up to 20 ft), light green, night blooming, nearly spineless, columnar cactus native to the Andes Mountains. In its native habitat it grows at altitudes of 6,600 – 9,800 feet. This cactus is found in parts of Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, but is also cultivated in neighboring countries and many other parts of the world, including the southwestern United States.
It is considered one of the most ancient and revered plant teachers amongst the shamans of northern Peru, where it has been used ceremoniously for more than 3500 years. The earliest known use comes from a stone carving which dates back around 1300BC that very clearly depicts a huachuma shaman holding a tall San Pedro cactus. The carving was found at the Jaguar temple at Chavín de Huantar in Northern Peru.
San Pedro has a rich history of sacred shamanic use. It has been used to treat various ailments such as cancer, diabetes, hepatitis, fever, paralysis, problems with joints, high blood pressure, cardiac diseases, burning kidneys, and bladder to name a few. San Pedro is also a powerful antimicrobial that inhibits 18 or more penicillin-resistant bacteria.
The Energetics of San Pedro
It’s said that the goal of the shaman in a San Pedro healing ritual is to help the participant ‘bloom’ during the evening ceremony, make your subconscious ‘open like a flower,’ like the night-blooming Trichocereus, the family of cactus to which San Pedro belongs.
It draws its name from the Spanish San Pedro (Saint Peter), who in religious lore was said to hold the keys to heaven.
San Pedro has the ability to “open the gates” into another world where those who drink it can heal, discover their divinity, and find their purpose on earth. In ceremony, the plant is used to reconnect to the Earth and to realize that here is no separation between you, me, the Earth and the Sky. We are all One.
The plant reconnects you with the core of your being and brings you back to oneness with all creation. It brings you home to your true nature and helps you to peel off the layers of pain and fear. It opens the doors to deeper love and understanding.
San Pedro is not a hallucinogenic like ayahuasca, so you will not normally see images and pictures. San Pedro teaching is visionary instead; it heightens your senses of the natural world. It allows us to perceive and realize our connection to the more subtle web of energy. It widens our normal brain processes and expands our perception and experience of the world.
Each person’s experience is unique, as we are all unique, San Pedro is a personal journey of discovery, of the self and the universe. You can look around you and see the beauty of the world and notice how connected you are to everything: that you are beautiful and part of a beautiful creation. You become closer to the “true human being”.
San Pedro medicine teaches us to really live in the moment, to understand how much time and energy we waste on “re-creating” the past, imagining that we are still in that moment of pain or fear or loss when in fact it is just a memory, we cannot really live the past. It teaches us to let go the past and learn from it.
Through this plant medicine you may come to understand the bigger picture of the universe, the flows of energy within it, and how we connect to them so we can learn to become the true human; that is to know what it really means to be alive, to approach our lives accordingly, and to find the balance and healing we need.
San Pedro will always give you want you need – even if it is not what you thought you would get. You should work with the plant with intentions but not expectations.
San Pedro opens our eyes to what is “already there;” that is, to a world of miracles that is right before us all the time, but rarely seen because we are simply not looking for it.