Huachuma, Wachuma, Achuma, San Pedro: Cactus of the Four Winds

San Pedro (Huachuma) ceremony with Shipibo Maestra Celia, in our centre in the jungle, near Iquitos (Peru).

San Pedro (Huachuma) ceremony with Shipibo Maestra Celia, in our retreat centre (in the jungle, near Iquitos, Peru).

“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.” Revelation, 6:1

San Pedro: The Magical Cactus of the “Cuatro Vientos”

Trichocereus Pachanoi B.R. is the botanical name of the night blooming and mescaline-bearing columnar cactus once known as “Achuma” and currently known in the Andean and coastal communities of Peru as “San Pedro”, “Wachuma”, “Huachuma”, or “Gigantón”. Botanists N. L. Britton and N. J. Rose were the first to classify the plant in 1920. It is found in Andean Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia; in Peru, it also grows in many places along the northern coast.

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San Pedro (Huachuma) brew. Photo: F. Sammarco © El Mundo Magico

Local curanderos maintain that there are seven different species of San Pedro, all distinguished by the number of longitudinal ribs. The one they most commonly use is a seven-ribbed cactus. The rarest and most revered one, has four ribs. This is the sacred cactus of the Four Winds, the San Pedro of the cuatro vientos. Those who find it are thought to be very lucky (Sharon, 1978:39), great shamans or about to become such (Polia 1997:19). This cactus is also reputed to have special healing powers, in lieu of the magical link with the number four – and its correspondence with the “Four Winds” and the “Four Roads” – the supernatural powers associated to the cardinal directions, invoked during the San Pedro healing ceremonies (Sharon, 1978:39).

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San Pedro (Huachuma) retreat, Peru

“In the dark recesses of the Chavín temples the gods sneered with their feline mouths, with their terrible projecting fangs, with their distorted eyes turned upwards, perhaps as effect of the sacred drugs used by their priests-oracle, whilst their hair, eyelashes and belt were formed by snakes whose hiss was almost likely to be perceived. From their backs protruded wings or plumed tails.

For thousands of years the Andean deity has reunited in itself elements of the three animals to express the totality of power in the three realms: that nocturnal and fertile of the earth and of the dead, symbolized by the snake; that of the living, of which jaguar and puma are lords, and that of the uranic deities, into which soar the majestic condor and the eagle.”

Mario Polia 

(Translation by Francesco Sammarco)


We currently offer San Pedro ceremonies in the Amazon, as part of our Ayahuasca retreats in Peru, or as a San Pedro retreat as such (8 days/7 nights). Huachuma ceremonies will be held – subject to availability, and as an optional extra – by Shipibo Maestra Celia Panduro and must be booked in advance, at the time of your Ayahuasca or shamanic plant diet/apprenticeship retreat. There needs to be an interval of at least 24 hours between each Ayahuasca and San Pedro ceremony.

There are different ways to prepare the sacred San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoifor healing, cleansing and visionary purposes. When prepared for visions, the cactus may be cooked for up to 10-12 hours. Depending on the purpose of the ceremony, the San Pedro brew may be prepared by boiling for several hours the sliced-up cactus on its own, or else, other plants may be added to the concoction, typically the Chacruna (Psychotria viridis) and Toé Brasilera/Toé Negro (Teliostachya lanceolata). Each shaman has his/her own style of preparing Huachuma and the purpose and intent of the ceremony may also decides on how the brew needs to be prepared. Maestra Celia only prepares the San Pedro brew with San Pedro cactus without the addition of other plant admixtures. Learn more about San Pedro (Huachuma), the Cactus of the Four Winds.


POLIA MECONI, Mario, Il Sangue del Condor – Sciamani delle Ande, I Nagual, Viaggi Sciamanici, Xenia, Milano (1997: 214), available from

Warning: Teliostachya lanceolata is said to cause loss of sight for three days, and must not be used carelessly and without the shaman’s supervision.