Trichocereus pachanoii, looking into the past from the future
By Alejandro Camino Diez-Canseco
Translated by: Cristine Tamayo Potter
Sculptures and pictures: Marcia de Bernardo


Article published in
June 2005 Issue


Connected, bound, genetically linked to the vastly diverse forms of life with which our species has interacted intimately during fifty thousand years of its existence, our present distancing from the natural world which surrounds us is a prelude to transformation or death.Throughout our pre- and stone age history, our curiosity and intelligence have led us to discover that, inside the vast world of animal and vegetable species, a few specimens revealed themselves to be endowed with a unique nature that made them sacred, communication vehicles that grant access to parallel or intersecting realities, many of which have a causal relationship with our own daily life.A world conceived as if it were solely constituted of a single living space, intensely dissected by the unimaginable dynamics of other dimensions. In other states of consciousness, one can accede to such multidimensional virtues as would allow us to penetrate popular mythos, such as the tales of the pink dolphins of the Amazon, that on moon-lit nights leave the rivers to capture maidens unaware. Those that are captured are taken to other worlds, hidden in the depths of the river, unknown by man. Limited to a world of anthropocentric theories and the routine nature of living to survive, the man who wanders will never discover the power of spellcraft, the force of the greatest storms over the human heart.

Take also the case of the jaguar, defined by a gaze that relects, in its impenetrable pupils, the power that comes from being capable of possession. The jaguar, its skin camouflaged by light and shadow, possesses certain souls known to be inmemorial descendants of the forest: shamans which cross from one world to another, manipulating forces and powers of the most varied nature.

Those that get to live the most diverse experiences, on the footpaths that are revealed by certain plants, do not feel superior. Their spirits are immersed in the incessant whirlpool of life and death, of the continuous transformation reflected in the transit of egg to tadpole and then to toad, or the intelligence that leads us to discover the power of manure to make the earth blossom.

None is more rich in the exploration of the other states of conscience and virtual and hypernatural realities than Banisteriopsis caapi, the ayahuasca vine or rope of the spirits, mother and teacher, tuned into since the time when man lived with the forest. What times those were! Full of labyrinths more seductive than the seeming dead ends and clouded destinies of a species whose intelligence has closed into itself. A species that did not search for the levels of cosmic consciousness in the life process that the elementary lichen or moss reflect from their most remote nanobes(1).

And also, there exists our connection with stone, dust and wind. And therefore the fascination in our prehistoric eyes towards those precious stones with which temples and the most visited oracles were built, like a hierophany on the crude face of this earth. The cult of stone is, and perhaps will be again, the most symbolic expression of a protocol of communion with nature, or with the power that transforms things, turning dynamic the process of life, death and transformation, making us feel the Earth rumble under our naked heels.


In Chavin de Huantar, the San Pedro cactus, wachuma or Trychocereus pachanoii, is the most visible door to the discovery of other states of consciousness, a process represented by the ubiquitousness of this cactus in Chavín iconography, staging its role as sacred vehicle and door opened towards knowledge to be revealed. This complex and, today, incomprehensible reality is, for our alienated contemporary world, a perhaps already belated proposal to enter a more fulfilling path with a wider variety of alternatives for the flow of existence: a more elementary dimension, closer to the ground and the wind that blows across the mountains. And, as well, not limited because of that, as the philosophers of the pure reason proclaim, or as revealed, for example, in the ponderous processes of knowledge and aknowledgement reflected in the intricate and elaborate indigenous Amazonian mythology. A proposal of transformation, an openness to the transit through other dimensions of consciousness, vastly diverse and infinite in nature. A proposal connected with the advent of hyperdimensional physics, that is breaking down the frames and principles of contemporary science.

Chavin then, bequeaths those lessons to us. Lost in time, but not for that reason alien to the long and convoluted human story and the many challenges with which it is presented. Lessons unheard of in a time borne down by the anthropocentric dogma of our singularity; a dogma also in process of collapse, taking with it seas, forests and deserts, a voracious consumerist hunger that will finally bring us to eat our own existence.

It is clear that the road our species has taken is lined by a thousand funhouse mirrors that ensure we stay on the deadly path drawn the day we lost consciousness of what we really are. And perhaps it is the secret held in each of the seven angles of the San Pedro cactus, each pointing towards the infinite pathways and multiple dimensions that can be open to this narcissistic primate about to jump to its death in a deep well of transparent mirrors.

We must, then, dig through all the thoughts of our ancient philosophies, lessons that graced these lands for thousands of years, and visions and understandings that lived and that were shared by hundreds of villages, tribes and kingdoms. Maybe they didn’t left us potatoes and maize, quinoa and alpaca, dances and textiles, and, among many other elements of our heritage, the respect and reverence towards our mountains. There are many ancestral values to be rediscovered. For a vast ignorant majority, faith misinterpreted as the removal of idolatry permeates their consciousness in a manner as lethal as the deadliest of modern drugs. The black flag of our scientific pseudo-ethics is casting an increasingly dark shadow. Unless it is the case that the night is always darkest before the dawn over the highest peaks of the tropical Andes, when the San Pedro cactus blooms and the mama quilla, or mother moon, bids farewell.

* *  *

(1) Nanobe: the most basic and simple expression of the forms of life on our planet and beyond, as has been demonstrated by rock samples brought from other planets.

“ojo de agua”