It’s been a day now since my last (sixth) San Pedro ceremony at the sacred rock in Calca. I had travelled around Peru and Bolivia 3 years before, drawn to it by its ancient mysterious history and living shamanic traditions. Many of these interests I’ve been fueling from an early age with books from among others: Graham Hancock, Alan Watts, Aldous Huxley, Terence Mckenna, Alfred North Whitehead, Rupert Sheldrake, etc. Because of this whenever I travel, I tend to regularly check Graham Hancock’s website. This includes an alternative news desk, regular articles and updates by Graham, and a section with articles from authors of the month. Among these articles I noticed I was reading a couple of articles from the same author, Sergey Baranov. I was enjoying reading them until finally scrolling down far enough to see that he was living in the Sacred Valley, and I was in Cusco. 3 years ago I had tried Huachuma twice, but in a somewhat dodgy condition, just with some friends. It had been a good, though for different reasons somewhat confusing experience. I wondered if good guidance would make a difference, and ended up sending him an email, which he replied to the day after. We agreed to meet soon, I bought his book which I finished within 2 days, and met each other a week later.
There is no Huachuma journey quite like the ones with Sergey. I was talking with one of the people I drank with after the ceremony and concluded that we’ve never met anyone who quite embodies their medicine the way Sergey does. And that’s it, often overlooked by traditional shamans. Always bring yourself into the mix; respect tradition, but resist to be consumed by it. The show many shamans throw can be helpful for some, but is all too often a way to justify the price. For me, these masquerades can cause me to lose focus, and feel almost ashamed for the one performing it. Needless to say, it doesn’t help my experience at all. Unnecessary showmanship doesn’t add to character, and has a way of alienating the shaman from the participant. I’ve noticed that during Sergey’s ceremonies tradition is kept to a minimum to increase actual comfort, there is plenty of room for laughter, yet focus and respect are present. That’s the only way a healer may truly heal, as it includes all aspects of personality and is sincere. Humor is an important aspect of humanity which is often overlooked by spiritual folk, and I was glad there was a place for it in these ceremonies. Also, the very spirit of Huachuma has a sense of humor.
We wound up talking about Zen quite a bit, concluding that this (THIS!) is what people lock themselves away for in a cave for half a century. Maybe you are familiar with the Zen saying:
”Truth has nothing to do with words. Truth can be likened with a bright moon in the sky. Words, in this case, can be likened to a finger. The finger can point to the moons location. However, the finger is not the moon. To look at the moon, it is necessary to gaze beyond the finger, right?”
San Pedro will make you forget about the concept of a finger altogether. To try and form a view of the world constructed out of words, ideas and concepts seems ridiculous. What is left is a heightened sense of perception, watching the different gusts of wind move the grass, forming ingenious looking patterns. Simply sitting around and watching the clouds, twirling into the valley with an unbelievable grace. I tended to drift between a purely perspective state, and a dreamy state. The second may come with deep revelations and strange dreamlike stories. It may well make you laugh about the banality of it all, the overall simple, elegancy of nature. Creatures that make you jump up normally, seem awfully familiar. You’ll find yourself saying goodbye to a spider while looking for yet another spot to drop down and sit quietly, doing nothing. The process of a day becomes an obvious reality, and lovely to behold, watching the story unfold. The hollow Zen poems are loaded with meaning. It is this state that allows for many different things, it is mostly up to you.
I, myself, will return here someday and continue my work with this sacred plant. For now I write this review for you, hopefully inspiring you to try this yourself. None of this might make sense yet, but believe me when I say this is worth a shot. This might well be one of the least confusing or (possibly) disturbing entheogens I have yet used, and I do have some previous experience.
So, make up your mind! I will close with a line I wrote down, sitting by the river, while a rogue drop landed on the ink from my fine liner.
“Funny how we say; Beautiful day! And leave it at that, as if everything is said. The way the ink dissipates on the paper already outshines everything I just wrote. As it turns out, everything is crystal clear, even (especially?) without judging the day. The breeze is without description, quite special, yet nothing special.”
Good luck and have fun!