Huachuma’s origins trace back to the Moche and Chavin cultures of northern Peru. The Moche’s lived in the mountains of Peru from 100-700 AD, or 3,520 years ago. The Chavin people were then the subsequent culture of the area. They existed in the region around 900 BCE to 200 BCE, or 2,900-2,200 years ago. It’s said that the Chavin culture then had a significant influence on the 15th century Incan culture that followed.
Incredible archeological evidence of huachuma use was discovered near the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. At the Chavín de Huantar Jaguar temple, a stone carving of a huachumero (a huachuma shaman) was found. In the huachumero’s hands was a San Pedro cactus.
Although an incredible discovery, the San Pedro cactus’ place in the Chavin culture’s art is typical. These continuous Chavin findings have thus made huachuma the oldest recorded psychedelic medicine.
Moche and Chavin shamans referred to huachuma as “Materia prima.” This means “a formless primeval substance regarded as the original material of the universe.” Although the Catholic church attempted to extinguish hauchuma’s use during the Spanish conquest, they ultimately failed to do so. Thus, the church gave huachuma its popular alias, San Pedro.
The background to this newfound name ties the cactus to Saint Peter. Believing Saint Peter holds keys to heaven, the church recognized the San Pedro cactus as another holder of heaven’s keys. In fact, this Andean plant allows its users to “reach heaven while still on Earth.”
Many believe that the Catholic’s attempt to quell huachuma usage led to its now traditional midnight ceremony starting time. Natives, wanting to keep their huachuma rituals intact, took part in the psychedelic during the darkest hours of night.