Huachuma (San Pedro)

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At Magnetic Movement, we use several plants in a synergistic manner to facilitate the highest chances of healing and progression of consciousness. 

In our experience, certain psychoactive plants can work extremely well together, each offering benefits that complement the healing provided by the other. We are careful to use them at the appropriate times so that the best can be achieved by each plant in its own right. 

As with all plant medicines, we are embracing the mystery. "We don't know what we don't know"...  and that's why we are drawn to the plants. The plants we work most closely with are ayahuasca, medicinal mushrooms, huachuma (sometimes known as San Pedro), and pusanga. From time to time we introduce other plants at our ceremonies (rape, mugwort, sananga).

If there is anything you wish to know about the plants or retreats, feel free to check our FAQs, or send us a message

Huachuma is also commonly known as San Pedro and sometimes as 'Uncle'. Echinopsis Pachanoi is the taxonomical name given to it. The huachuma cactus is native to the Andes and has much in common with its Mexican counterpart, Peyote, in terms of appearance and the experience that imbibing it brings.

Huachuma has been used for 3500 years in the Andes. The plant grows alone in often high and dry landscapes. It is found behind many old churches from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and on the walls of some chapels you will find the painted images of the San Pedro cactus. According to Ross Heaven (author of Cactus of Mystery), a chapel in Ecuador depicts the baby Jesus rising out of a San Pedro cactus. 

From these murals one can assume that despite the many written church treaties condemning its use, that isolated and contemplative monks in the Andes seemed to have found the holy nature of this plant and used it to enhance their mystical experiences with Jesus and other divine guides. 

Some of my retreat centre colleagues preparing huachuma, in the Peruvian Sacred Valley of the Incas. Mescaline was extracted from the cactus skin and boiled for an extended period. Huachuma is consumed in liquid or powder form.

Some of my retreat centre colleagues preparing huachuma, in the Peruvian Sacred Valley of the Incas. Mescaline was extracted from the cactus skin and boiled for an extended period. Huachuma is consumed in liquid or powder form.

The active ingredient in huachuma is mescaline, a psychoactive substance that, like ayahuasca, brings about an altered state of consciousness. The mescaline in the huachuma cactus must be extracted carefully from the skin and prepared for consumption, or it will not have an effect. It is also known as a powerful healing plant, on both psychological and physical levels, so it also has much in common with ayahuasca. The difference between the huachuma experience and ayahuasca experience is 'night and day', however.

Mescaline was the substance that Aldous Huxley wrote about in his classic (but very short) book 'The Doors of Perception', which incidentally is the book that the band 'The Doors' named themselves after. This is a fantastic read thanks to Huxley's articulate description of his experience, gained as part of a study; one which ultimately turned out to be a life-changing visionary experience. 

Huachuma heals both physical and spiritual ailments

On a physical level, huachuma is incredibly healing. Andean huachumeros say that all physical conditions have a spiritual basis and that one session is often enough to cure the 'incurable'. They will tell you that there is nothing this cactus can not treat on a physical level, although it retains a certain element of mystery in the way that it conducts its phenomenal healings. On top of this, it is very alkaline, so it balances the body's pH; you will know this has happened by the way your eyes and skin glow after a ceremony, but you can prove it with pH testing strips. 

At Magnetic Movement we imbibe huachuma during the day, in the hours of sunlight. It is a journey that can be very 'light' in nature; it can also be intense at times, however, and it's a long one. It lasts between ten and sixteen hours on average. The visions experienced with huachuma can be extremely powerful, but there is a markedly different quality to the experiences it gives in comparison to ayahuasca, which contains DMT (Dimethyltryptamine).

The huachuma brew is boiled for several days, 24 hours, with someone on watch all night. We sing to the brew and set our intentions for working with it. 

The huachuma brew is boiled for several days, 24 hours, with someone on watch all night. We sing to the brew and set our intentions for working with it. 

Huachuma gives a visionary experience

The visions within a huachuma experience are both external and internal. Internally, you may see patterns, lattices, bright light coming from shapes that are hard to put your finger on but seem familiar (this is called the 'presque vu', or 'almost seen').

Externally, entire landscapes transform into sublime visions of pure beauty, and it is often felt that you can 'meet God' or 'see through God's eyes' with this medicine. 

As for the emotional (and even mystical) aspects of a huachuma experience, it lifts us up, out of our inner world, and into the light; the overall experience is characteristic of the huachuma's physical structure itself - a strong, straight cactus reaching up toward the sun.

Huachuma teaches us how to love, connect and be free 

The huachuma spirit is a benevolent one, here to activate our DNA, to heal us from chronic conditions, to connect us to our reality as light beings. It goes hand in hand with nature, and heightens the natural experience beyond imagination. 

The huachuma experience happens in the daylight so that the plants and colours in nature can be seen to take on a new vibrancy, a heightened luminosity; they seem to glow with more intensity than usual. Personal vitality levels increase noticeably, and a new-found energy can often sweep through the whole being.  

It is not uncommon for the huachuma experience to be a highly communicative, connective one. We can immerse ourselves in music, dancing, laughter, conversation and bonding - if we wish. Nothing is compulsory on our retreats, except mutual respect! The experience is frequently one of 'heart opening' and the feelings of love can be overwhelming at times. Being around people is such a pleasure!

Another fantastic element to huachuma ceremony is the food. The impact of the taste of these nutritional delights is equivalent to the experience of nature: the raw chocolate, the cherries, the carbs... you may well feel hungry and you are almost certain to revel in the taste sensations, another sense intensified by the huachuma medicine.  

Music and laughter, celebration of life without the daily baggage. Simplicity. Huachuma makes it all so easy. Book a retreat with us here