Flora in Andean, Vilcabamba, Ecuador

A San Pedro Cactus Consumption Experience

There were multiple episodes. It was as if time stood still.

It’s reckless and crazy to do on your own, –without a shaman– or any companions. But, back in the day, a man from a town would go out into nature to experiment, by himself. He would come back and share the wisdom he had found, and what the plant spirits had taught him.

It’s not for everyone as the experience could go any which way. The potential is limitless.

The cacti grow wild. It’s more medicinal than recreational.

Oddly, after an hour, the side of my body, around the midsection, felt separated from the rest of the body. I was able to easily let that feeling go as so many other senses were tuning in. I later attributed the awkwardness to three little sesame cookies I’d foolhardily eaten 30 minutes before.

The plant spirits will show you if you've put junk into your body.

I heard the earth extra intensely while walking along a surreal path. There was thunder. It felt like the ground was about to move. But it didn’t. My perception to the sounds were enhanced by at least 20-fold. I felt great seismic potential below. I visioned what earthquake victims had gone through, trapped under rubble, from their eyes. It was horrifically vivid.

I quickly moved my thoughts into the stunningly lush, Andean nature.

Walking down an incline felt unstable as I was shaking from the forces of nature. But, even with that instability, I was able to focus and achieve a state of enhanced equilibrium.

My feet felt as if they were melting into the earth, hugging it, pushing into it. This allowed incredible balance, even though I was still shaky from the enhanced sensory perception. I was able to experience little balance and complete balance simultaneously.

I imagined being swallowed up by the heavens, pushed around by animistic Gods, eaten up, spit out and flung back to the ground.

Here you are. You are nothing. It's time to start living, from scratch. 

It felt liberating.

When I came across people, I was able to snap into their world, and converse, tuned right in. But, a minute of small talk felt like an hour. Time moved slowly.

I was sitting among immense and dense trees when a fly/bumble bee hybrid, almost the size of a hummingbird, flew around me five or six times. It buzzed, telling me was aware I was there, before it buzzed down to titillate a flower. There was communication with a giant, flying insect.

How extraordinary.

During a stroll across a river I met an old local man and three playful dogs. They reminded me of the three I saw after they had been run over by a moving truck when I was very young. The dogs were similar in size and breed. The horrid images of the freshly run-over dogs and the memory of the owner screaming her eyes out for hours, became clear in my mind.

Fortunately, I was able to metamorphose my attention to the fun scene of these dogs running around and playing innocently with each other, enjoying their natural wonderland to the maximum. Naturally, and automatically.

One dog instantly seemed to become my best friend in the world. He walked and stopped with me for at least an hour. It seemed much longer. It felt as if this dog was going to follow me back to my lodging facility and never leave my side. But the time with the dog was just one of many episodes in the 15-hour span.

San Pedro Cactus Consumption a dog sits in tall, thick Andean grass in Vilcabamba, Ecuador.

There was a dog getting excited by the presence of my temporary companion. Fortunately, it could not get through the fence it was behind. The dog and I ascended up the dirt road that ran along the big inclined yard with the other dog. When I got to the end, Iurned and looked left at the dog –photo-. At this point he was sitting in the grass proudly and peacefully. We stared each other down. It was a beautiful, well-groomed creature.

The little dog and I hung out by the river where I observed the small canine examining things with his nose. His life was like mine at that moment. There was no time.

Eventually I came back across the older local gentleman who was working his land, or more specifically, the vast land that his gringo patron owned.

There happened to be a bench. He invited me to sit down. He told me how meat is filled with bacteria and bad energy, and how consuming it is not just bad for us but bad for the ecological make up of our incredible earth, too. While caressing another one of his little dogs, I told him how Koreans say that dog is the best meat. I could not believe that the man agreed, even though he didn’t eat animal food.

He was around 80, and must have seen a lot of things. He mentioned that nothing is natural anymore. I glanced at three big satellite dishes embedded in the mountain, impressed by the man’s wisdom.

A couple of gringos came by. The man kept talking. After the gringos said they couldn’t understand, I translated. They commented in English, and the man, back in Spanish, as if he understood the English. He did, even though he didn’t speak a word of it.

I got up from the bench and wobbled before attaining brain-body equilibrium.

San Pedro Cactus Consumption travelers enjoy the pulsating river while being immersed in Andean nature.

On the way back I enjoyed seeing people from the Meditation Center enjoying the pulsating river, immersed in Andean nature.

I arrived to find my bowl of fruit and a babako juice on the table outside my room. I had no interest in it. The shower felt good, but for some reason, I felt like I was in a dumpy and dirty warehouse, even though the bathroom and shower were nice.

When I got out of the shower I thought I had seen worms crawling around the sink. After close inspection, there were no worms.

I decided to collapse on the bed. Ridges on the high ceiling seemed to be moving and breathing.

I closed my eyes to find a world of plants. I was one, communicating with others, with gestures, not words. All the plants had their own persona. It felt odd, but OK. I couldn’t move. It was totally fine.

I opened my eyes, got up and spent a short time organizing.

I stepped out and lay in the personal hammock. I gazed over at the nearby mountain which now looked different. I saw human and animal heads and faces embedded in the landscape.

I noticed the German woman in the room next to mine was ill, sitting outside. She looked sicker than usual. I felt like helping her so I made my first ever pot of mate de coca in the vast and nicely equipped community kitchen. It soothed her while my heightened state was too sensitive to take a second sip.

The woman’s biologist / chemist friend came back from a walk. He told me that all animal food is laden with parasites that stay with us and keep us ill. He claimed that the meat industry is part of a cycle to keep people sick.

The societal machine tells them that they need pharmaceuticals, when in reality they need whole, non animal, plant based foods.

The man also said that people who eat a lot of pork, look like pigs. The same goes for beef and fish. This was his own theory. I had never heard anything like it. I was mesmerized.

I then had a conversation with another tenant, the one who had picked the cactus in the yard of the accommodation and spent half a day preparing –mostly boiling– it. I explained many intricacies of the experience up to that point. He understood perfectly as he had drunk double the amount I had the day before.

After the peak had finally started to wane, I felt great for many hours. I went into the town square and noticed things about peoples’ faces. It seemed that many people were related. This could be the case in many small towns. I noticed great fatigue in some peoples’ profiles, too.

I had conversations with acquaintances and recently made friends that I ran into.

I sat down and talked to artisans, and played with their children. I was completely coherent. It felt great to converse with people.

I drank the rancid liquid at 7:10 a.m. and finally felt hungry at 9 p.m, when I went to Natural Yogur and devoured a fresh papaya juice, green juice, vegetable crepe, a vegetable quesadilla and a side of guacamole. It all hit the spot. Ordering meat was beyond unfathomable. This feeling became deeper after the two conversations I had earlier that day.

The feelings lingered late into the night. I went to bed around midnight and slept deeply until 7:30 a.m. The next day I felt great, with more profound thoughts and heightened sensitivity. Yoga class was a breeze. Balance and flexibility felt enhanced.

San Pedro is not for everyone. That said, I have yet to meet a person who regretted the experience.

Have you had any experiences with plant medicine or do you plan to?

Note: This happened back in 2016 but hasn’t been published until now.

Here is the full collection of photos from Vilcabamba.

Comparable Content

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *