So, you’re taking a psychedelic trip? Great, I’m sure you’ll have a blast. Here are the basics to a successful flight and how to avoid a bad trip, whether it’s with LSD, magic mushrooms, or San Pedro. Follow these and you’re onto a winner.
Interested in a private and legally facilitated 1-1 psilocybin experience? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call.
Respect The Trip
Sorry to start with a boring one but it needs to be said. Know that psychedelics are powerful substances and be prepared for a strong experience. It can be tough finding yourself in a trip that is more intense than you expected but if you’re prepared for a big experience then you’ll be ready to handle it. Psychedelics are different to other types of drugs so if you think it’ll be like weed or MDMA, think again. Consider your dose carefully.
Clear Your Schedule
Free yourself of obligations and unwanted distractions. Let go of to-do lists. Nagging thoughts of jobs or chores won’t help. Give yourself the whole day free and ideally the next day too. Switch your phone off – I was once with a friend who got a call from an upset girlfriend right as we were coming up and it marred the start of the trip. It was nothing that couldn’t have waited until the next day.
Choose Your Company Carefully
Be with people you trust and like. You’ll feel good in their company and it’ll be reassuring if things start to go south. Avoid abrasive friends, large crowds and others who aren’t also tripping, with the exception of a sitter. If you’re planning to fly solo, do your homework – see links at the bottom of this page.
Psychedelics are fun! Go in with a smile on your face and see it as an exciting adventure and an opportunity to learn. Not to say that there won’t be any difficult moments but this will push you in the right direction. If you find yourself in a tough spot just remember that you are in control and can change the direction of the trip at any time. It normally just takes a deep breath and a smile to bring you back to a good place.
Wear your most comfortable clothes, think loose, soft and warm. Being physically comfortable will help to relax you. If you’re going out, a blanket or something to lie on is nice. If you’re staying in, have a space where you can lie down and stretch out.
Don’t Fight It
You decided to take the substance, you took it, and now you’re having the experience. So don’t now decide that you don’t want it and try to resist, you’ll only struggle and make things worse. Open yourself to the experience and explore! As a wise man once said: Buy the ticket, take the ride.
A Little Preparation Goes A Long Way
A little preparation can make the journey so much more seamless and stress free. If you think you might want to write, have a pad and pen ready. Draw? Paper and colours. If you’re planning to go out for a bit, leave a packed bag by the door. Have some snacks ready. The time on the trip should spent enjoying it, not looking around for things or packing bags. Set it up to be that way.
The same applies with music. Make playlists ahead of time so all you need to do is press play and enjoy – you won’t have to continually play DJ. Navigating spotify and the entire history of recorded music whilst tripping balls isn’t that fun. If you’re tripping with a friend, make a playlist together beforehand. Having a ‘chill’ playlist on hand is always good, you can listen to it at the start for a gentle glide in and you can put it on again…
If It Gets Too Much
If possible, first get your self to a quiet or secluded place.
Take a deep breath. Relax. Remember, you’ve taken a drug and the effects are temporary, they will wear off. Focus on your breathing and relax your body.
If that doesn’t help, change something. Change the music or switch it off. If you’re sitting, stand. If you’re watching a video, try drawing. Go to another room or outside. If you’re with others, try spending some time alone – just be sure to tell them where you’re going and not just disappear. You don’t need to struggle through whatever is happening, just make an alteration to your situation.
If it feels like what’s happening will last forever, write down the time, put on a chill track and listen to it, then look again. You’ll see that time is passing and can reassure yourself that this will end. Things will go back to normal. Until then, enjoy the rest of your trip!
Peyote is a small spineless psychedelic cactus native to Mexico and southwestern Texas – scientific name Lophophora williamsii. Peyote contains psychoactive alkaloids, and like the San Pedro cactus, the main one is mescaline.
Peyote cactus, known as ‘hikuri’ to the Huichol people of Mexico
Spiritual Tool? Healing Agent?
Peyote has a long history of ritualistic and medicinal use by indigenous Americans and continues to be used as an entheogen by people worldwide today. It is reportedly capable of triggering states of deep introspection and insight that have been described as being of a metaphysical or spiritual nature. In addition to psychoactive use, some Native American tribes use the plant for its curative properties; to treat all kinds of ailments, from various types of physical pain to fever and skin diseases. More commonly, ointments for pain are made with peyote and sold on the streets of Mexico.
An peyote ointment for pain, sold in Mexico.
In Danger of Extinction
Peyote’s Natureserve conservation status is a G3, meaning that as a species it’s vulnerable on the global level. This is because, despite not being used that commonly worldwide, it’s extremely slow growing and the number of people on the planet consuming peyote exceeds the species’ ability to regenerate.
A couple of baby peyotes
The main problem is not that people are picking peyote, but how they are picking it. If the entire plant is pulled from the earth then the roots come with it and that’s the end of the plant’s life cycle. For the cactus to live on, only the head (the green part that grows above ground) should be removed. This leaves the roots intact in the earth which can then form a callus and grow back. The head is actually the valuable part – that contains all the mescaline – so there isn’t really any need to take the root too.
A paper containing information on the proper harvesting of peyote cactus – found in a house near to the desert in San Luis Potosí, Mexico.
Would you like to take your psychedelic use to the next level?
Join R/EVOLUTION, our one of a kind psychedelic course! R/EVOLUTION is a deep dive co-creative experience designed to empower you to find a personalised approach to using psychedelics for transformation and growth. Starts November 1st 2021!
How To Pick Peyote
If you’re planning to pick peyote, here is a method which leaves the roots intact, allowing the peyote to regenerate and grow back. You’ll need a piece of string, nothing more. Any type of string will do so long as its thick enough that it won’t snap too easily – think shoelace. [If you have a knife – check this video]
1. Firstly, you’ll need find a peyote. In Mexico it typically grows in the shade of this shrub. Can you spot the peyote in the first picture below?
2. Found it? Nice. Now clear the earth around it, making what is like a small moat.
3. Loop the string around it at ground level, as if you’re going to choke it.
4. Pull the string tightly from either side so the string cuts through the flesh, beheading the cactus. This will leave the root intact, and you with the head.
5. Cover the remaining root with some earth, and sprinkle a few drops of water on top.
6. Enjoy your peyote, happy in the knowledge it will grow back and someone else may discover it one day!
Reminder – It’s Illegal
I don’t like to end the post with this but unfortunately possession of peyote can land you in a lot of trouble. If you are caught by the police with peyote heads in Mexico you will probably go to jail. I imagine the same is the case in the States. For this reason I’d recommend eating peyote in the desert and not bringing any back with you after. Luckily police don’t generally hang out in the desert, so you can have your peyote journey there with no worries. Anyway, I think the desert is a fantastic setting for a peyote experience 🙂
Have you ever tried peyote?
What was the setting? How was your experience? I’d love to hear about it, so please leave a comment below.
My experience of drinking San Pedro in the Sacred Valley was an incredibly powerful, humbling and beautiful experience. I would seriously recommend it to anyone inclined to such experiences. It was a highlight of months of travel in South America and so in the spirit of sharing information, I’ve written this guide to taking San Pedro in Peru.
Interested in experiencing psychedelics in a legal and private setting? Contact me to find out more and set up a discovery call.
What is San Pedro?
San Pedro is a species of psychedelic cactus native to the Andes – scientific name Echinopsis pachanoi. Also known as Wachuma, the cactus contains the psychedelic compound mescaline, also found in the peyote cactus and the source of inspiration for Aldous Huxley’s classic ‘The Doors Of Perception’. The Spanish name San Pedro (Saint Peter) came after the Spanish conquest and refers to the disciple from the bible who holds the key to heaven – the cactus named after him as it’s believed to allow users to reach heaven whilst still on earth.
Echinopsis Pachanoi AKA San Pedro
Why in Peru?
If you’re interested in taking San Pedro, Peru is a great country to do it. The cactus has a history of use in Andean traditional medicine going back thousands of years and is a part of the native culture. Like ayahuasca, it is not viewed as a ‘drug’ in the same way that it is in the west, but rather as a plant medicine, an ally, or a teacher. The same stigma doesn’t exist around it as in western countries and this makes it a great place to do it; where it is an honoured and proud part of the culture. For this reason San Pedro is completely legal, and therefore openly and readily available.
Where Can I Buy San Pedro?
Head to Calle San Pedro
You can find San Pedro in the medicines aisle of Mercado San Pedro, Calle San Pedro in Cusco (San Pedro Market, San Pedro Street – should be fairly easy to remember). It is sold in powder form, after the cactus has been dried and ground. I’m sure there are many others places to get it seeing as it’s legal, but this is where I got it and buying it at the market was as easy as anything. It was very cheap and excellent quality. Just go to the medicines aisle and ask around for San Pedro. You can buy in batches of 33g – one standard dose. Cost
When I went one standard 33g dose cost 10 soles ($3 / £2)
Head to Seccion Hierbas Medicinales
1 standard dose is 33 grams. The general advice is to start by taking one dose and if you don’t feel anything after 2 hours, then drink more. If you are going to have a strong trip, typically you will start to feel effects before the two hour mark. Be sensible with your dosage!
Three bagged doses – 33g in each
One you have the dust, all you need to do is mix it in water and then drink it. No special preparation or boiling needed. It’s bitter as hell and not the easiest thing to get down, but then you weren’t drinking it for the taste were you?
N.B. My advice would be to drink on an empty stomach. This will help with the absorption of the San Pedro into your body, and will also lessen nausea, a common side effect of the cactus.
Pisac, a town about one hour from Cusco, has grown into something of a magnet for the hippie/alternative crowd, unsurprising considering the many ayahuasca and San Pedro retreats and ceremonies available there or in surrounding areas. I arrived into town the day before my trip and had passed all sorts of interesting characters and places as I walked through the narrow streets – there’s even an ayahuasca art cafe.
Where and How To Take It?
This is really up to you, but here are a few options as to where and in what manner you take San Pedro. Scroll down for more info on each one.
Option 1: Go to nature
Option 2: Find a guide or facilitator
Option 3: Organise your own gathering / hike / ceremony
Option 1: Go To Nature
This was the option I went for and in many ways the most straightforward. I wanted to be alone and in nature so it was perfect. Peru is abound with incredible nature so finding a place should be easy. Staying in Pisac, I just left town and went out into nature, through woods and by a river. Ifyou are going alone, pay careful attention to where you are going and be prepared. When deciding where I would go I asked a friend who I was staying with for suggestions. He’d been living in the area a little while and had done some organised Wachuma hikes there. He advised me an area of woods and told me to stay by the river. That was important advice as when heading back the woods were like a maze and appeared identical in all directions. Luckily, I was able to locate myself in relation to the river and follow it back towards town.
What to take?
Basically the normal stuff you’d take for a typical day out – water, shades, suncream etc. Here are some other specifics I’d recommend:
Clothes suitable for heat and cold
On my trip the temperature varied massively depending on the shadow of clouds – it was scorching under direct sunlight, then pretty damn chilly under the shadow of a large passing cloud. I changed clothes, switching between jeans and shorts, putting on and removing layers, a few times throughout the trip. Ideally find a spot in shade.
Something to lie on [e.g. sleeping/yoga mat, sleeping bag, picnic blanket]
During your trip you may well want to lie down. I took a sleeping mat for my trip and certainly made use of it, lying on it for a good 6 hours. You can of course just lie on the ground but I think its nice to have something to lie on. Depending on where you are it may or may not be easy to find a comfortable spot. I highly value physical comfort during a psychedelic experience and think it can make a big difference to the experience itself.
Water & Food
It may well be the case that you’re not hungry at all, but I think it’s best to be prepared, especially as you’ve just fasted, and also just in case you get lost and it takes you longer than anticipated to make it back. On my trip I took some snacks and ended up not eating anything. I had plenty of energy and was OK to walk into town before I finally ate a meal at a restaurant in the evening – around 24 hours since I’d last eaten, and 12 since drinking the San Pedro. Even then I wasn’t hungry but felt it would be a good idea to eat some nourishing food. Indeed it’s common that people have plenty of energy purely from the cactus.
Anything else is optional and additional. If you are in nature I don’t think there is much you will be left wanting; you will have the trees, the mountains and the sky!
What else you take depends entirely on you and what you would like with you. Here are some suggestions;
Pad & Pen – Personally I like to take a pen and pad with me and wrote a lot throughout my wachuma trip. At times I found writing in it was like talking to a friend, giving me a sense of company.
Music & Headphones/Speaker – I didn’t actually listen to anything but imagine it could be pretty awesome.
Marijuana – The nausea can be quite bad and weed can certainly help this. I smoked one joint as the nausea started to come on, about an hour after drinking, and felt immediately relieved. The nausea came back again a couple hours later – I smoked another small joint, and that was the end of the nausea for the entire trip!
Final note:Drink early
I think it’s a decent idea to make your way back out of nature before sundown – the cold will set in and the dark will make finding your way harder. Drinking early will mean you peak earlier in the day and then be ‘down’ to consensual reality earlier, making the return trip easier. Also I think it’s nice to have the whole day and trip in the sun. Another option would be to camp out in nature.
If you’re not with a friend and don’t fancy being alone, consider options 2 and 3.
Option 2: Find a Guide or Facilitator
There are plenty of guides and facilitators around the town of Pisac offering Wachuma hikes and different types of ceremony. Just google search ‘San Pedro Pisac’, check the facebook group Spirit Events Sacred Valley, or ask around when you arrive to Pisac. There are all kinds of events – from hikes in nature to ceremonies with mantras and sacred songs. If you do this you will be paying a fee and the price will include the san pedro so you don’t need to worry about buying any beforehand – you can just show up and your facilitator will give you the dose. If you go this route you should speak with your facilitator and clear up any queries you may have beforehand – procedure/schedule/dose etc. If you find shamanic or new age ceremonial type things to be a bit cringe or just not to your tastes, a hike would surely be preferable, or…
Option 3: Organise Your Own Gathering / Hike / Ceremony
Another option is finding some others and organising your own ceremony. This is more easy than it sounds. Many travellers’ and spiritual seekers can be found in Pisac and when I was there I met others who were just getting together and doing their own ceremonies (often ‘ceremony’ might be as simple as drinking a cactus mix sat around a campfire). The day after my own experience I was invited by an Argentinian to join a ceremony she was organising with her friends a few days later. Some others were also organising trips to Machu Picchu with a San Pedro stop en route. Needless to say you should feel comfortable with everyone who you plan on doing this with.
San Pedro can have powerful effects on the taker so I wouldn’t recommend taking the decision to drink lightly. However, if you do decide to you may well be in for an ineffably beautiful and potentially life-changing experience. I am still awed at what I experienced, and would absolutely drink again when the right opportunity arises. I’d love to hear how your journey with San Pedro is, so if you journey, please share in the comments. Safe travels!
https://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/cusco-s.jpg8001200John Robertsonhttps://mapsofthemind.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/MAPS-MIND-LOGO-29.pngJohn Robertson2017-02-19 20:44:212020-12-16 23:00:36Explorer’s Guide: Taking San Pedro in Peru
~ Download Your ~
Free DIY Psychedelic Exploration Guide PDF
Feel ready and prepared before your journey
Cover bases of preparation at a glance
Walk through with friend or group beforehand
~ Download Your ~
Free DIY Psychedelic Exploration Guide PDF
Feel ready and prepared before your journey. Cover bases of preparation at a glance. Walk through with friend or group beforehand