Experiencing Huachuma in Peru

16th September 2020

It’s my last night here Eco Yoga, where I’ve been volunteering for three weeks. Every day I help Damo prepare tasty, vegetarian food for the beautifully open-minded yogis and travellers who are staying here. We’re surrounded by mountains, mud huts and llamas and every day is more deepening than the last.

Right now, I’m sitting up in bed, writing by candlelight. I can hear insects chirping outside my window and dogs barking in the distance. My friend Neil, who I travelled with through Ecuador and lots of Peru, is here at the ashram with me. He’s funny, introspective and caring and it’s been wonderful reconnecting with him.

On Saturday, he and I did huachuma together — the native plant medicine from the San Pedro cactus. For hundreds of years, Peruvians have used the medicine to heal their bodies, gain insight and connect with Pachamama, mother nature. Neil and I drank the bitter tea in the morning and began hiking through the mountains. After one hour, our whole perceptions had changed.

With bare feet on the earth, we circled lagoons and reached peaks, amazed by the ethereal glow of moss, the energy that buzzed from the rocks and the way the water seemed to pulse in waves. We indulged in our heightened senses, pointing out the beauty of the valley and the vibrancy of the world around us.

Huachuma also swept us away with gut-punching realisations. I saw that Mother Nature is alive and breathing; that we don’t live on this planet, but are a part of it. It felt like every human is — and all animals are — made of earth. When we’re naked, we even look like earth — our skin the colour of rock, sand, mud.

I started contemplating civilisation and found it laughable. We almost never see the sunset because there are too many buildings in the way. We lay down concrete and suffocate the ground, wear rubber-soled shoes and walk through life disconnected from nature.

In the mountains, the day was slipping away and the air getting colder, so we made our way back to the Q’ello Q’ello, where we were staying for the night. After a nourishing bowl of soup, Neil and I rested by the campfire, cocooned by blankets and thoughts. We listened to music, sighed heavily under the full moon and allowed the day’s experiences to flow within us.

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