Meeting The San Pedro (Huachuma, Aguacoya) Spirit. San Pedro Cactus in Ecuador

imageNothing can prepare you for your first San Pedro encounter, to begin, there is nowhere as much information about it online or books written as there is for Ayahuasca; Almost everybody I’ve asked to describe their SP experiences has answered: “It’s hard to put into words”, and it has always taken me several days before I’m able to even attempt to journal my own SP experiences.

I had little reference to know what to expect, all I knew was that almost everybody in the retreat center (a lovely ranch offeribg San Pedro in Ecuador) tend to be very fond of the SP experience and they would refer to it as “fun time” (unlike Aya journeys deemed more serious, harsh and even a bit somber). Some of the experienced participants warned me to expect a long journey (8 to 16 hours) with eyes open visions and the words “blending, merging and dissolution of dimensions” used frequently….

*A Magical and Entertaining Ceremony

I had been reassured by the Aya plant spirit- in the strangest of ways- that everything would be alright  (read about it here) so I went into it without major fears. The ceremony started at night and the 1st noticeable effect was my mood, I was in very high spirits, mesmerized by the shaman and his songs, engaged and happy “everything seemed magical”. The shaman was quite a character, looked like a rock star and walked like a jaguar, his presence was otherworldly and his songs were powerfully delivered using a magical mix of world instruments…

He offered medicine many times throughout the night, I took some (few ounces) in every opportunity and at about 4-5 am in the morning he announced  the last chance to drink. I asked for a generous dose because I “wasn’t feeling any effects” (or so I thought naively enough and not recognizing my mood and lack of need to eat or sleep after more than 24 hrs as part of San Pedro’s doings) I thought I may not come to experience anything on this medicine and yet I was still happy and grateful for the ceremony.

As soon as the sun came out I knew something was off, I started to feel uneasy, the sunlight was looking weird and I just couldn’t pinpoint why, but I felt strange, VERY strange. The ceremony had finished … in the aftermath half of the participants seemed unaffected, the other half had different degrees of what I will call drunkenness /craziness going on… some were hugging trees, caressing the grass, giggling uncontrollably, and another handful (those that had drank the most throughout the night) had what I will call “freak out – paranoid face” I was able to tell, just by looking,  they were going through intense emotional turmoil…

*Freaking Out – Emotional Purging: Anger and Shame

My internal uneasiness kept bubbling inside and I concentrated in trying to calm down sitting in a small hill on my own, however several friends that had shared medicine this same night came talk to me … it was almost painful being in someone else’s energy field but I didn’t want to be rude (particularly with some of them, sweet souls I had truly come to care for..) So I stood quiet and listened…. When I tried to reply I found it was really hard for me (native Spanish speaker) to hold conversations in English so I excused myself and I was by then, using every bit of my strength trying not to freak out due to the increasing feeling of uneasiness growing inside me fast and by the minute….

I decided to go back to the community center and quickly figured it wasn’t a good idea, being inside just exacerbated my uneasiness feelings, yet the same ones were mildly soothed by been close to nature while sitting in the grass, the only problem was that many others were there too… Laying in the grass in a secluded  spot where I intended to remain quiet, I could hear several American participants laughing and I got VERY annoyed, out of proportion angry, as something about them really ticked me off. I don’t know exactly what it was, maybe they sounded drunk and vulgar or maybe it was their word choices referring to the medicines as drugs (which had never come to consciously bother me before) or maybe even their sharing of fears to the effects of this new and strange medicine, everything about them seemed to annoy me… deeply…

This internal feeling bubbled to an uncontrollable point where rage took over, I stood up and I was about to cross the field and punch one of them in the face (a significantly big and tall guy) I had lost control of myself and was consumed by anger. I had absolutely no idea of how to deal with this feeling as I had never experienced anything like it in my life… I prayed inside: “God let me make it to my room”, I don’t know how I was able to shift my direction and kept walking straight to the dorms.  I realized the showers were closer and my beach towel was still drying right outside them, so I went straight for a cold shower…. Shaking on the freezing water that came straight from the high altitude nearby mountains I started to call around? Where was San Pedro? I had assumed he would talk to me, guide me, let me know what was going on… in the same way  the wise voice or prescence  through the Ayahuasca experience  had cared for me and explained everything in my earlier sessions… Yet I was there with what felt like 20 years of unprocessed emotions coming down and choking me, no one soul around to help… I was crying by now, feeling waves of raw emotion.  After anger subsided, came waves of shame and pain for having become “like them” having become a westerner myself after a decade  of living in North-America. I had renounced my own heritage and I could see it clearly now… I felt deeply sorry for myself and the pain became unbearable  I screamed again inside me: Anyone around? Any guide? Any help? What is going on? Please?.. I heard the San Pedro voice for the first time: “You tell me” He was certainly not into breaking out this lesson for me so, I tried my best to gain composure and review my thoughts and feelings….. I said I’m angry.. I’m VERY angry to the disrespectful Americans, I feel guilty… I’m an accomplice here allowing for sacred plants to be shared with people that don’t get it… this is wrong… very very wrong. Yet, at the very same time,  I could see  I was wrong… this is not true I said almost immediately. It is not up to me… SP nodded in approval   (I sensed it more than actually seen any imagery) and replied “yes, they will realize at their own time, and you need to be compassionate and kind… they will remember you as such and truly understand deeply…” I felt a wave of relief on the uneasiness feeling pressure starting to lift.. Maybe 30% of the unbearable pressure had left my body… But before I could get too comfortable I was being prompted again: “what else?” SP said… I answered I don’t deserve this; I’ve become now one of them and with that realization shame and guilt started to leave my body…

I saw in the corner of my eye a little mirror that was glued to the shower wall and I looked into it… the water had turned my brows upwards and my face had a strange  look merging with or into a wild feline face (puma? jaguar?) back and forth blending with my own human face… Then this idea got in my head that if I could only fix my brows I could fix this so I started fighting with them -they seem to have an ability to raise up as soon as I had put them down- and my “human face” would turn back and forth into the feline face.. I stopped looking in the mirror… I said to San Pedro: I’m sorry… I never knew I had denied my own ancestry. I was never even aware of it, tears of shame and sorrow were going through my cheeks for just a few seconds before feeling another wave of huge release of maybe another 50% of the boiling pressure now leaving my body and I could sit in relief in knowing that this torture was going to pass… things would be ok emotionally again….SP nodded approvingly  as I headed out of the shower.

*Sand Pedro’s Love and Magic

After making it to my room and having changed clothes I realized I wasn’t going to be able to just stay in  (else I felt the inner turmoil energy starting to boiling up fast again). So I went back to the green areas despite the prospect of finding everybody else that had participated in the ceremony. When I made it back  I was in a completely different emotional state…I sighted in relief because I didn’t have any more energy to fight myself not to punch someone… Contrary to my earlier experience, I was overtaken by this feeling of love and understanding; I couldn’t care less for which ways or manners they used to refer to the medicines… I knew it didn’t matter, not even one bit… and there wasn’t anything that could make me feel other than love for them… I knew I had released a pesky aspect of my personality, a tendency to judge others… “In judgment there can be no love” were San Pedro’s final words before leaving me to my enjoyment of the exacerbated beauty of the mountains that seeme like breathing in and out magic and sacredness. Oh the beauty, oh the delicious company, wow the amazingly tasting food that was been passed around… everything senses wise was enhanced ten fold…

The visions, when they finally came, were delightful and I barely noticed when they started. In the marble bathroom floor I would see moving hoards of horses and wild cats running,… it was stunning and surreal…I enjoyed myself joyfully giggling silly in the grass for the rest of the day and  looking at the sky where enormous goddesses were formed out of clouds and smiled back at me… Imagery of moving landscapes and animals where everywhere I would gaze for more than a few minutes…. This lasted late into the following night and when I was finally able to sleep, it was peaceful and restorative, full of blissful dreams for at least 28 straight hours…. I will always remember very fondly my first encounter with grandfather Aguacoya …

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