The principal way of working with plant medicines is to take part in a ceremony. A good ceremony provides a container and holding for the participants; a safe space to do one’s personal work. The person facilitating the ceremony holds the energy for the participants to ‘let go’ and delve into their personal medicine experience. For this reason it is important to feel safe with the person facilitating the ceremony.
At Hummingbird Retreat Peru our San Pedro ceremonies usually start the day before the actual ceremony when we gather together to make the medicine from vibrant fresh cactus. This enables participants to meet each other, begin their relationship with the medicine and place their prayers and intentions into the medicine pot. It is also an opportunity to begin one’s personal relationship and connection with the ‘spirit’ of San Pedro.
The following morning we meet at around 8:30am. After herbal teas and a last check-in we move down to the maloca (which is a traditional, grass-thatched, open sided building) to drink the medicine. San Pedro ceremonies are quite long, around 10 – 12 hours, after drinking we generally move out into the garden and everyone finds a place to relax and embrace their personal experience. Everyones experience is different depending on their intentions, the emotions they are carrying, along with a host of other factors.
This beautiful medicine works with each individual in a unique way. Bringing emotions to the surface to be released and healed, opening new connections within one’s body, heart and consciousness. So at any one time there may be people laughing, crying, shaking or throwing up, all these may be part of the ceremony experience and are all ways for the medicine to release energy that has previously been blocked.
When one first starts to work with plant medicines the first ceremonies may be themed around getting used to working with the medicine. Surrendering control can be a large part of this process. As one gets used to working with the medicine the path opens to go deeper into ones self and heal larger issues. There are exceptions to this however, as there are exceptions to most things in the plant medicine realm.
So back to the ceremony; as the sun sets and temperatures are dropping, we may light a fire outside or gravitate indoors to relax around the woodstove. By around 6 p.m. participants are often starting to land and are getting hungry so we serve a nutritious vegetarian meal with a light home-made dessert to help the process along.
Huachuma is renown as ‘heart-medicine’ and so on the day of the ceremony it is not useful to try and figure things out too much. It can be challenging for some of us to let go of our heads and the ‘need to know’ but it will make for a more fruitful day.
The morning following morning however things are often beginning to make “sense” and we hold an integration session to support participants assimilate and grow from their experience.