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La Mesa Norteña - San Pedro and the shamanic tradition of Northern Peru. Part 2
Shamans from different cultures and traditions have been using psychoactive plants since the dawn of human emergence. These plants have been used traditionally for guidance, divination, healing, maintaining a balance with the spirit or consciousness of the living world.
Howard G. Charing and Peter Cloudsley talk with Maestro Juan Navarro. The original interview was published in Sacred Hoop Magazine (2004).
San Pedro (trichocereus pachanoi) grows on the dry eastern slopes of the Andes, between 2,000 - 3,000 metres above sea level, and commonly reaches six metres or more in height. It is also grown by local shamans in their herb gardens. As can be imagined, early European missionaries held the native practices in considerable contempt, and indeed were very negative when reporting the use of the San Pedro. Yet a Spanish missionary, cited by Christian Rätsch, grudgingly admitted the cactus' medicinal value in the midst of a tirade reviling it: "It is a plant with whose aid the devil is able to strengthen the Indians in their idolatry; those who drink its juice lose their senses and are as if dead; they are almost carried away by the drink and dream a thousand unusual things and believe that they are true. The juice is good against burning of the kidneys and, in small amounts, is also good against high fever, hepatitis, and burning in the bladder." A shaman's account of the cactus is in radical contrast:
"It first ... produces ... drowsiness or a dreamy state and a feeling of lethargy ... a slight dizziness ... then a great 'vision', a clearing of all the faculties ... it produces a light numbness in the body and afterward a tranquillity. And then comes detachment, a type of visual force ... inclusive of all the senses ... including the sixth sense, the telepathic sense of transmitting oneself across time and matter ... like a kind of removal of one's thought to a distant dimension."
San Pedro, considered the 'maestro of the maestros', enables the shaman to make a bridge between the visible and the invisible world for his people.The Quechua name for it is punku, which means 'doorway'. The doorway connects the patient's body to his spirit; to heal the body we must heal the spirit. San Pedro can show us the psychic causes of illness intuitively or in mythical dream language. The effects of San Pedro work through various stages, beginning with an expanded physical awareness in the body. Soon this is followed by euphoric feelings and then, after several hours, psychic and visionary effects become more noticeable.
About the author:
Howard G. Charing, is an accomplished international workshop leader on shamanism. He has worked some of the most respected and extraordinary shamans & healers in the Andes, the Amazon Rainforest, and the Philippines. He organises specialist retreats to the Amazon Rainforest at the dedicated centre located in the Mishana nature reserve. He is the author of the best selling book, Plant Spirit Shamanism (Destiny Books USA).
Visit Howard's website