Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Chavin Herbalist: Trichocereus supplier direct from South America.

Chavin Herbalist: Trichocereus supplier direct from South America.

Chavin Herbalist is a great new Trichocereus supplier direct from South America. Unlike most suppliers from other areas around the world, with Chavin Herbalist you know their stock is wild harvested from habitat and personal collections in the areas they originate, not cross breeds from western horticulture that are all too often passed off as being 'pure' species. The harvesting is done in arrangement with the locals of the various areas of supply, which is a fantastic idea and great for the local economies. Personally I think it is fantastic what Chavin Herbalist is doing and I like the fact that whatever money that they make from this exciting new business will stay in South America. Chavin Herbalist has some seriously amazing stock that you just won't find anywhere else. The proprietor Huan, is a great guy to deal with and very friendly. They can be found at their Chavin Herbalist website and Chavin Herbalist facebook page.

Recently I had a chance to correspond with the Chavin Herbalist proprietor Huan, and asked him a number of questions about various topics of interest, including Shamanism, San Pedro and his exciting new business. Please read on to find out more: 

Q. Can you tell us a little about the people behind Chavin Herbalist, and what is Chavin Herbalist all about?

Chavin Herbalist is a network of production, harvest, trade and distribution of rare medicinal plants and cacti. We are researching seed germination technologies and ways to preserve the natural diversity, in order to provide the best genetics to plant lovers. My chosen name is Huan, I am a Brazilian student of biotechnology and have been cultivating medicinal plants for over nine years. Amongst all the different plants that I have worked with, the connection with San Pedro cactus or Wachuma, has been the strongest for me. 

On various travels to Peru, I came in contact with the Andean cultures and visited the mysterious ruins of Chavin de Huantar. Chavin is a Pre-Colombian culture that flowered 1500 years B.C. and is located in northern Peru. Petroglyphs from that time display a shaman figure holding a Wachuma cactus (Pictured above). This tells us how ancient the use of this medicinal plant is. 

Before I created Chavin Herbalist, I had for years been trading seeds with plant lovers from all over the world, whom I met online in the plant forums and in medicine circles. This network has been essential in the creation of Chavin Herbalist, because I knew that there existed a big community dedicated to the cultivation of plants and all of us share the same love of growing these plants.

Trichocereus santaensis
Q. What is it like living in such an amazing place?  

I live in Brazil, its a very diverse country with a rich culture of medicinal plant use, this is a very good base for me it is also easy to make trips to other South American countries.

Q. Is your stock locally sourced?

Yes, on visits to various Andean countries Chavin Herbalist teamed up with local plant cultivators from traditional communities. We work together with Mr. Aynor, a native from the village of Chavin. Aynor’s family grows corn and cacti in their fields and has been, for generations, living on their land. Aynor has become an important partner who provides the cacti fruits and seeds, which through our network are sold worldwide. In 2015 Boris and Raphi from Ecuador and Esteban from Salta in Argentina have joined our team. Another two families in the Sacred Valley, Peru are also producing seeds for us.
Trichocereus knuthianus
Q. Are your planning on sourcing your stocks from other areas in the future?

We frequently receive new genetics and update our stock, this year we will still release a new collection from Argentina and another one from Chavin. We are also in the process of coordinating a seed production of Wachuma in Colombia and have entered in contact with a botanical garden in Chile. 

Q. Are the plants in your stock list used shamanically in the local areas?

Yes, most of our material comes from places where the Wachuma cactus is an ancestral medicine, In Chavin the use of Wachuma is dated back 3500 years, the material that comes from Ecuador, and the Sacred Valley is produced by people who work shamanically, do sweat lodges and serve the medicine in healing circles.
Trichocereus peruvianus
Q. How old do you estimate are some of the plants that you harvest?

Our work is mainly dedicated to the germination, planting and propagation of the Wachuma cactus.
We are not the ones preparing or providing medicine. Our focus is to preserve the medicinal plants and make them more available. Harvesting mature plants increases the loss of the diversity. In order to preserve the plant in its natural habitat we work only with seeds from sustainable gardens.

Q. Do you feel a special connection to San Pedro from Chavin de Huantar?

Yes. It was with this one fruit from our first visit to Chavin, that the whole Chavin Herbalist project began. These plants brought back so much ancient memories, joy and abundance which has made it possible for their light to reach so far. In Chavin the Wachuma is called Tsunaq Waka and the plants from this region are truly enchanting, they have long spines, a skin of a bluish green colour, and can be found in big groups of tall cacti. The Tsunaq has a long story of medicinal and ceremonial use in Chavin and until today its influence can be felt in the whole region.

Q. Have you had a ceremony in the Chavin ruins?

In Chavin I attended a Wachuma ceremony and it was a deeply spiritual experience for me where I received insight into the origins of my connection with this place. It was so special because in this case came together a sacred plant in a place of power. I understand the ruins as a channel to higher dimensions of consciousness, and the Tsunaq is the key to enter profoundly.

Q. In your opinion what is it that makes San Pedro so special?

The one word that describes San Pedro for me is "energy". The plant has an energy that makes it possible, to heal yourself and transform your patterns, it helps to connect you with the creativity of your spirit, and it opens up your heart. The Tsunaq medicine brings you back into harmony with Pachamama, the mother earth and the great mystery of life.

Q. What sort of people do you think need San Pedro the most?

Nowadays exist so many diseases on so many levels, that almost everybody could use the help of the San Pedro medicine; Of course people who are physically sick need help, and entheogenic plants have all shown interesting results in the treatment in even such severe diseases as cancer. Then there are the people with emotional traumas and pains, whose heart is closed, the San Pedro cactus is a very good heart medicine. More and more people are mentally and spiritually ill. We all get brainwashed and confused into not doing what our spirit wishes to but what society expects. This existential confusion results into depression and similar spiritual diseases. The cactus medicine awakens you to your spirit and shows the illusion of the materialistic and capitalistic world, giving space for the nowadays so needed changes in our lives for a better future.

So many people are using prescription drugs and antidepressants. These substances are chemical, toxic to the body and the environment and create dependencies and an array of unwanted side effects. Phytotherapies are the ancestral and future healing modalities to much better serve the human needs of true healing. 
Trichocereus pachanoi
Q. Can you describe the most profound experience that you have had with San Pedro?

On the solstice of the 21 st December 2014, I participated in a meeting in Chavin de Huantar of local elders, shamans, anthropologists and artists. A very strong Wachuma medicine was served. The cactus helped me to feel the force of the ruins and the site became alive, the rocks started to be covered in patterns and my teeth grew to the size of a jaguar’s. I could understand why this ancient civilisation was related to the felines, I travelled down into the subterranean galleries of the ruins and so many memories came back. From that moment on I was even more enchanted with the mystery of this culture.

Q. What is your personal favorite Trichocereus and why?

In my personal view the Wachuma cacti of Chavin are the most beautiful and special ones in our collection, and my favourite one of all is the AD002. It is our first genetic, the plants that started it all. Cultivating this variety has brought us in contact with so many new friends, partners and cactus lovers from all over the world.

Q. If there is one Trichocereus that you don’t have, but would love to have which would it be?

This is a really hard question to answer. The variety of Trichocereus is huge!
A shaman told me about a 13 ribbed San Pedro from the north of Piura which is very ancient and special. I’d love to get some seeds from this variety!

Q. What advice would you give to someone just starting out with San Pedro?

If you want to get to know Wachuma, the best idea is to plant it, by starting with plants, seeds, clones or cuttings, whatever works best for you. When you plant cactus from seeds you can have many plants in a short time. It is amazing to watch the cactus grow. Cacti are special plants and not only reproduce through seeds, by taking a cutting from a plant you can make various exemplars from a single plant. This is how you make clones. From the place of cutting the cactus will sprout new pups. 
To get more information participate in the various facebook groups on the topic ( Such as Trichocereus Cacti Appreciation Group, the largest and best Trichocerus group on fb), in the cactus forums and blogs, where you can learn a lot about cactus cultivation and share your own experience.

By Brett Lothian ©. All photos used in this article are the property of Chavin Herbalist © (except for the second photo which is common use) and must not be reproduced without permission. 

If you would like Tricho Serious Ethnobotany to write an article about your Trichocereus, Cacti or Entheogen business, please feel free to contact Brett at bretloth@gmail.com. 


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