“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.
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).