The San Pedro or Wachuma cactus is the name given to the psychoactive genus Trichocereus (T. pachanoi, T. peruvianus) which comprises about thirty species, mainly found in the Andes. San Pedro or Wachuma It is a large columnar cactus that grows up to heights of twenty feet and contains mescaline.
For more than 4,000 years, the San Pedro or Wachuma ceremony has been a continuous tradition in Peru. In the Old Temple at Chavín de Huántar in the northern highlands of Perú, a carving was found with the earliest depiction of a San Pedro or Wachuma cactus showing the huachumero Shaman holding a section of the Wachuma cactus as a staff as he leads the procession of initiatees to the ascending stairway leading to Lanzon.
When the European explorers landed in South America, they brought with them their religious texts, which dramatically changed the indigenous cultures. This introduction caused a change in practice for the indigenous people, and under such pressures, their spiritual practices involving the use of San Pedro or Wachuma was transformed by the doctrine of the Orthodoxy. In fact, the name “San Pedro” refers to Saint Peter of The New Testament, who is considered to be the keeper of the gates to Heaven, it is an appropriate label, as it opens the ‘doors of perception’
San Pedro or Wachuma, is used by Andean Shaman for guidance, decision making, healing, spiritual communion, trance, and ecstatic soul flight to access other realms in the three worlds of spirit. San Pedro or Wachuma helps one attain and remain in balance with the natural world.
Stories tell that in the time of the Incas, before making love in order to have magical children full of light, couples would participate in sacred San Pedro or Wachuma ceremonies to clean, heal and purify their spirits.