Healing with San Pedro holds a very special place in my heart and today I want to share some personal insights on what makes it so powerful, and why you may want to consider working with this wise ancestral plant as part of your psychedelics healing protocol.
What is San Pedro?
Huachuma, achuma, aguacolla, San Pedrito, San Pedro (Saint Peter)… There are many names in many languages for this beautiful, powerful healing cactus. Native to the South American Andes mountains of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru, huachuma is one of many types of fast-growing mescaline containing cactus that has been used for thousands of years by Andean ancestors to invoke deep states of divination, healing, understanding, and to expand consciousness. At least 3,000 years of continuous ceremonial use by the Chavín culture have been documented in Peru.
In modern times, San Pedro is one of the most underrated, overlooked, and below the radar plant teachers on the psychedelic path. Because it grows quickly, and in abundance in the parts of the world where it is native, huachuma is a more sustainable option for working with mescaline over peyote, which is highly endangered and difficult to replenish.
Why I Love Healing with San Pedro, The Grandfather
San Pedro is considered to be an empathogenic medicine, creating feelings of connection to the all, a deep sense of love and openness, empathy, and awe. It is often called The Grandfather for its gentle masculine energy and spirit.
I received so much of my personal healing by working with San Pedro and ayahuasca together and allowing them to work as a team to teach me how to heal myself. While ayahuasca gets a lot of the press and credit as the ultimate plant medicine experience, for me, San Pedro did a LOT of heavy lifting as far as helping me take action to make real change in my life.
Healing with San Pedro helped me take back my power from addiction, enabled me to stand in my own authenticity, and helped me connect to my highest purpose and the vision I wanted for my life. The grandfather also helped me call in my partner, heal my relationship with the masculine energy, learn how to hold space in a safe way, and showed me how empathy was only the first step in learning how to work with others who are on the healing journey.
San Pedro does one thing very, very well — he puts us firmly, gently in our hearts. We are centered there, feeling, open, loving, and willing to remove the barriers that keep us separated from our true nature – light, love, health, abundance – all the good things we can’t access when we are suffering in ourselves. San Pedro allows us to be kind and loving to ourselves and others like no other medicine.
Keep in mind that everyone’s relationship with each plant medicine is different, and there’s know way to know exactly what will happen for you with San Pedro. Practicing patience, willingness (as always!), and choosing to cultivate a relationship with this medicine has helped me continue to have a profound and deep healing experience each time I sit with huachuma. I also experienced incredible results and release in my first few ceremonies, so it doesn’t have to be something you commit to doing for the rest of your life by any means.
How San Pedro Healed My Relationship with My Father
My first journey with San Pedro was very difficult, because when I connected to my heart, I found anger there. Rage. I was furious and victimized and filled with blame and hate toward my father who died in prison in 2012, and felt abused by men in general. I felt so abandoned by him, so betrayed and hurt by his crime and his actions, and so disappointed and afraid that I was somehow going to follow in his footsteps and never figure it out.
Most of all I was angry that my father had been taken from me in such a dark, violent, and painful way.
I had no idea I was carrying so much anger and pain in my heart. It was so far down inside me, and so deep that I had never been able to acknowledge it. Ayahuasca helped me to see and feel that I held this pain, and San Pedro brought the light for me to fully acknowledge my power to release it.
Healing with San Pedro allowed me to feel the deep pain of losing my father in such a brutal way, and to understand how none of what my father went through or did was actually about me. (Surprise!)
I was able to release the rage and grieve this loss, the trauma, and forgive him and myself for being angry at him. I learned there was nothing to forgive, because there was no sin.
Most importantly, I found deep, loving compassion for his suffering. I saw how much my dad had taken on in this life, and how he suffered so that I could have the chance to be the one to heal this darkness in my family. I saw his strength, and his power, and felt so grateful for choosing a father who gave me the gift of being free from addiction and suffering myself.
Sometimes we learn through good models and teachers, and just as often we learn how not to do things through pain and struggle with people we look up to. Each method is valid and important, and San Pedro is a master teacher for navigating through deeply held beliefs, wounds, and traumas and coming out on the other side fully free.
How We Get It Wrong with San Pedro
“When are the drugs going to kick in?”
A retreat guest leaned over to me during a San Pedro ceremony and asked this question with a huge grin on her face, and I felt so sad to see someone so obviously not getting the message.
Sacred plant medicines are not drugs. These are not “trips” meant to entertain and amuse us and distract us from ourselves. One of the main reasons I went into integration work was that many people came to retreats expecting to have a fun drug experience or check off their bucket list, and instead opened up intense healing processes that they did not necessarily have the tools or support to deal with alone. These plants are here to show us profound truths about ourselves, and will do so whether we are ready for it or not.
San Pedro can be quite fun. It has a magical, uplifting, connective quality that feels euphoric and wonderful and brings people together, creates a real sense of family and community, and helps many people feel more gratitude, love, and hope than they have in a long time.
It’s also a seriously strong medicine that can be super difficult for people, especially folks who have been through intense trauma or PTSD. I have seen people have ego loss on gentle doses, and when you’re new to mescaline, the masculine energy can feel overwhelming, intense, and scary. It lasts a very long time and there’s nothing you can do about it but wait it out.
San Pedro is a medicine best used in ceremony, with structure, intention, and respect for the plant’s power and healing abilities. Having an experienced guide, shaman, curandera, facilitator or medicine person is an important part of taking care to meet this medicine in a good way.
While there’s nothing wrong with the recreational use of psychedelic plants, (obviously with respect to their legal status in your area, we do not encourage, condone, or facilitate illegal use of psychedelics) discovering the plants as sacred, ancient teachers with infinite wisdom is a game changer that makes recreational use without intention feel pretty hollow and unfulfilling. We can enjoy our time with the medicines and also come with respect, humility, and the necessary preparation and care within ourselves to have the best experience possible.
Why Healing with San Pedro Can Be Difficult
Healing with San Pedro, especially at first, can be a very intense physical, emotional, and spiritual experience. When I began working with this medicine, I felt overwhelmed with fear caused by the electric divine masculine energy this medicine allows us to feel.
Because of my previously fractured relationship with the masculine, I was afraid of this powerful feeling, and I didn’t like the speedy, fast, jittery vibe I got. I didn’t understand what it was, and it felt foreign and confusing.
This difficulty helped me understand that I had a wound around the masculine energy and with my father, and from there I Iearned how to heal it. San Pedro helped me cultivate strong male friendships, find romantic love again, and bring myself into balance with the masculine.
For many of us, this is extremely difficult work. For those of us who have experienced violence, trauma, PTSD, and who have other prior health or emotional conditions, San Pedro may be a very tough experience. It may not be the right medicine for you, and that is totally ok. There is no one right medicine for everyone, and it’s very important to trust yourself and your experience and do what feels right for you.
Some people are also extremely sensitive to the empathic experience, and may find they cannot handle the intense heart opening, and “feeling everything” sensations that can happen in a group setting.
For me, this empathic overwhelm showed me how to protect my own temple and hold space for others, rather than try to feel everything with them, which ultimately damages you over time.
San Pedro can be hard on your body, particularly neurologically and physically. I have spent countless ceremonies with my head in a bucket for two hours at the beginning waiting to “adjust to altitude” as we say. It can exacerbate joint and muscle pain, effects often cause people to have trouble sleeping after the ceremony ends.
Lastly, San Pedro is a long acting medicine, and can have effect up to 12+ hours after taking a dose. Due to the effect of mescaline on the serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain, you may not feel your best the next day. Plan to rest and relax for a day after your ceremony to give yourself the most gentle experience possible.
Learning How to Heal with Psychedelics
Psychedelics are just one tool we can learn to use on our path of spiritual healing and personal growth. For some people they work really well, and for others, they may not be something you want to try or commit to putting in the work around. Everyone has different goals for working with these tools, and the ultimate magic of healing with psychedelics is learning to trust yourself, and fully be yourself as authentically as possible. That’s how they help us be better in this world.
Approaching San Pedro and all psychedelics with an open heart, an open mind, and willingness to go into yourself is the best way to begin a deep healing relationship with this medicine. Setting expectations aside, and allowing your experience and intuition to guide you is the best way forward. You have all the answers you need, and the medicines can help you find them within yourself. This is where the work of psychedelic integration begins, and it’s the MOST important part of the healing journey.
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