Prepare your mind and body
Many people have heard of the Ayahuasca ceremony, and the Wachuma (juice from the San Pedro cactus) will take you on a similar journey, though I have been told that the pre-ceremony preparation isn’t as strict as Ayahuasca. While some say that it’s best not to eat on the day of the ceremony, others believe that it makes no difference.
Wachuma is the Quechuan name for the San Pedro cactus. Although the use of psychedelics isn’t something I use recreationally, I make an exception in a controlled, ceremonial environment. It is said that if done with the right intentions, people can see into their past, future, and heal deep, emotional wounds. It’s best to go into the ceremony with no expectations.
A couple of days before the ceremony, we were told not to eat meat and have mostly fruit and vegetables (which I do anyway). It was also beneficial to try and clear the mind - either by less stress or meditation. The most important part is to be open-minded.
Of course, there can be side effects - about 15 minutes after drinking my second cup of Wachuma, I vomited on my way to another site where we would spend the rest of the day. It can take up to two hours for it to take effect, and Christian (the local shaman I met the week before) wanted us to move closer to the river where there was shade and a fresh breeze, and to kill a bit of time before it kicked in.
My personal experience
I lay down on one of the rugs Christian gave me. Looking upwards at the trees, I instantly began to feel sleepy, but that was more due to the fact that I have a gift for napping anywhere that I felt comfortable. His voice slowly faded in an out. Each time I closed my eyes I saw tunnels of colour - red, orange, murky green, and sky blue, swirling and dancing. In my slumber, I could hear Christian talking to Liliana, something about the Wachuma taking effect a lot faster with me.
The first vision came as I sat by the river bank. There was a small stream below, fed by the mountain glaciers. Across the river were the remnants of an abandoned brick house. The landscape transformed to a waterfall with the stream becoming a river - I stood on the wet rocks at the top of the waterfall about to jump into the black water. There were faint voices behind me and they were getting louder.
His eyes locked onto mine and waited to see if I would jump. He was wet from the river and stood by the bank, waiting. The waterfall wasn’t as tame as it is now, and the thought of jumping into the frigid waters made me doubt the decision to run away with him for a split second. Then pins and needles began to creep up my legs until my body was consumed by the fear – this is where my fear of heights came from. Vertigo is an all too familiar sensation and you don’t ever forget it.
It wasn’t like our lives were hard, but I felt that we weren’t allowed to be together. I didn’t go that far back, so I couldn’t tell you why we decided to run away from the village where we lived. My body recognised this place, it was like muscle memory. Snapshots of my old life came in flashes and he was there, the same face I now recognise in this life. We have met again in my present.
Whether you believe in past lives or not, I knew this wasn’t just my imagination. The feeling of sadness, regret and lost love was too intense. The man in my past was someone I loved deeply once, but I don’t know what happened to us because I didn’t want to see it. I stopped myself from knowing how I moved on from him, and what happened to the village woman in search of adventure.
In the future, we are laughing on top of a mountain. That familiar, still youthful face I know so well. The shape of his jawline, the beard, the eyes that sparkle when he’s thinking of something mischievous to say. My body quickly leaves this place and we see the view of the snowy mountains from our plane window. We are no longer in Peru. It doesn’t feel like the distant future because my face hasn’t aged that much, then again, I don’t age that quickly either.
Time passes slowly and quickly with the Wachuma. I never “blacked out” and I was always aware of my surroundings and what was happening around me. There was never a time I forgot where I was and often I would “wake” myself from my slumber to check on the others. How does it feel? When I was experiencing visions (only when my eyes were closed), I was alert and a lot more like lucid dreaming. Then as I opened my eyes, I often felt that dozy feeling when you first come to after a deep sleep.
During the ceremony, Christian played various instruments. He later explained the different uses - like the drum for more energy and so he can be heard from far away, the flute for calming those who feel overwhelmed, or the wind chime (which he said with a grin), was a gift from a friend in France and definitely not a Peruvian instrument.
After the ceremony, there’s a clarity to the indescribable pull towards Peru I felt just over a year ago. Have I told him? The man in my vision?
No, and I don’t think it’s my place. What I saw during my Wachuma experience is a message for me, not him. The instant familiarity of our connection scared me at first. He is in my present, and whatever lessons I need to learn that has brought us back together isn’t something I’m in a hurry to explore. For now, I’m content with letting that connection develop without expectations. It’s not easy knowing, but I am grateful for the clarity.
Ronna Grace Funtelar is a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and slam poet currently travelling in Peru. She is a hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.
Basically, a shorty who knows her life purpose.