Sunday, 2 September 2012

San Pedro

If you didn't know, San Pedro is a hallucinogenic cactus that grows in the jungle ( It's been used as a medicinal drug for curing physical and phycological issues for centuries and recently it's becoming more and more popular for gringos travelling in South America to join in with the ceremonies. Now in preparation for this one must be abstinent from alcohol, recreational drugs, sex, caffeine and red meat for at least 3 days preferably more. So I'd been keeping to that  for 5 days then met with Javier, the Shaman who would conduct the ceremony. He's an immediately likable person who is very calm and seems trustworthy. Which is a necessity as you basically become a babbling stumbling idiot for 12 hours solid so it's important to have a good shaman. Basically the point of the shaman is they channel your thought process and get you to ask appropriate questions about yourself so that you can delve into your past and process all the bad experiences you've had in a positive way.

Ok, so the day of the ritual we met at 8am on an empty stomach. The other 3 people on the group were:

Maggie - A 29 year old girl from the states who was working and travelling in South America.
Laurie - A 45 year old woman from the states who had a lovely soft southern accent.
Brian - Laurie's husband. A 6.2 huge bloke who had a real gentle giant presence about him.

The important thing to note here is that all 4 of us were pretty run of the mill people, not hippies in the slightest way and no woolly lama fleece or shitty backpacker pyjama style trousers in site. the 4 of us and Javier walked for about 15 minutes to this spot by a river facing a big mountain. It was just outside of the tree line so that we would be in shade for most of the day and it was in a valley so that at certain points wind would gust through making the whole experience epic.

Ok, so I've been toying with how much detail to go into here as San Pedro makes you process all sorts of emotional issues you've had in the past. At the start of the ceremony you're asked to put your intentions into the cup before you drink the medicine. My intentions were to find clarity for what I wanted to do after I finish travelling as I have about 4/5 options for where I want to work. As it turns out, my intentions were answered in a different way than I expected. We all sat around in a circle facing Javier while he placed some objects around him and blew tobacco smoke over our head and hands. Then we took it in turns to drink the San Pedro, which tastes fucking gross! It was really cold as the sun hadn't passed the tree line so I headed up to the hill a bit to the dirt road to get some sun. Then while I was waiting for the stuff to kick in I decided to listen to a song on my ipod. Javier came over and asked what I was listening to (he had said before the ceremony that we should listen to music in moderation) so I told him Madonna, the power of goodbye. If you haven't hear the song its got a really nice melody and is kind of trippy for getting high to.I also told Javier that I was really cold so he suggested taking a walk for15 minutes then if I wanted to I could take more San Pedro if I wasn't feeling the effects.

After the walk I went back to my rug and was starting to feel the effects. I took a walk to the river and looked out to the other back where a Peruvian guy was moving some rocks around. Out of nowhere, Javier snuck up and said "they-re just rolling stones" at which point I started to giggle and I knew I was feeling the effects. So I laid down on my rug and started to think about things. He had said that usually peoples issues stem back to their parents so I started there. I thought about my dad and couldnt find any ill feeling there. Whatever there had been has clearly now all been sorted. Then I thought about my mum and it was nothing but positive feelings. Then I thought about my ex Hayley. I started to dwell on that, after all its because of her that I'm travelling. then I started to think of the good times we shared, particularly when we sat on a chair lift in Austria while skiing and singing billy Joel piano man together. Then I cried. I curled up into the fettle position and cried for about 5 minutes. Then I started to smell tobacco smoke and I knew that Javier was standing over me, kind of protecting me from myself. Then I realised that of all the moments we shared they were never truly perfect. And I found a lot of comfort in that.

Then I laid back, looked up and looked in front. Out of nowhere, there was a cow laying in front of me with a cactus stuck in its side. The irony of seeing a cactus stuck in a cow while I was high on cactus was hilarious to me. I started historically laughing! then I looked further up and there was a whole herd of cows on the distance, two of which were fucking. and I laughed for a while before realising that maybe the cactus was hurting the cow. Then Javier came over to have a chat and I told him about the cactus. He very calmly went over to the cow and took the cactus from its fur. like a boss. Then I looked up at the mountain and I could see leeshus (my puma) face looking at me which was nice. Then I had a bunch of other revelations mainly about my personality and love. And all of a sudden it became clear what I wanted to do next. But I wont go into details here in case the wrong people read this!

At sun set we all sat in a circle again around Javier and he performed the closing ceremony. This basically involved him singing a song and thanking all the plants, mountains, spirits etc for helping us today. Then we took a walk back to his house which was a lot of effort as the San Pedro was still in effect. Maggie was struggling a bit as she felt nauseous. I chatted a bit to the couple who said that they both took more medicine when they were offered. Brian, who was sick after taking the second batch, very much regretted that decision!

We all sat around and ate dinner at Javier's house, which is one of the coolest houses Ive ever been in. The building itself was in the shape of a bird and inside it was all open plan with crazy paintings, two disco balls and disco lights. It was kind of tribal meets art meets gay. But he had pulled it off well. So for dinner we had soup and carrot cake. Brian was really struggling with an upset stomach but the other three of us felt great. In fact, Laurie was fucking hilarious. The meal was like the mad hatters tea party, Javier was playing dad constantly asking us to concentrate and eat our soup, Laurie and Maggie were struggling with the effort of putting a spoon full of soup into their mouths and I was cramming bread into my mouth. Then Laurie made me laugh and I sprayed bread crumbs all over the table which Laurie said looked like confetti! After the soup we were offered carrot cake and I was the only person who was eating it. I have no idea why the others didn't want to eat it, it tasted lush and I knew that the sugar would help sober us up. Then sat and watched the disco ball make crazy shapes on the roof. Then after Javier had cleared up the table we went outside to look at the full moon light up the mountains and watch the stars. Then I saw a shooting star (I think the first Ive seen) which was cool. Then we went through to look at the temple which was essentially a building with a glass roof that acted like a green house so was really warm and cosy. We all then sat and asked questions about the up coming ayahuaska ceremony (Brian had taken himself to bed at this stage). Maggie and I slept in the temple and the following morning we all sat around and discussed our experiences.

So that was San Pedro for me. Apparently you can buy the stuff in the UK over the net but I certainly would not recommend or will be doing that as you really need a shaman with you too keep everything in check. For me, I think this will be a one off experience, however tomorrow I'm taking Ayawaska. Apparently its much stronger but lasts for much shorter time and the point of the Ayawaska is to face the issues that San Pedro brings up and to put them behind you.

Wish me luck....

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