In northern Peruvian curanderismo, a variety of

club mosses are used by folk healers as medicinal

plants, amulets, and additives to the San Pedro

drink· (cf. Trichocereus pachanoi). In the northwestern

lowlands, club mosses are normally subsumed

under the name condor, condor, or condor

plant. In the highlands of Huancabamba and Las

Huaringas, they are known as huaminga. Only one

as yet unidentified species is included among the

magical plants of the category hornamo (cf.

Senecio spp.). Club mosses are also used as bath

additives and for magical defense during healing

rituals (Giese 1989, 227f.*).

Condor Plants Used in Northern Peruvian

Curanderismo

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Lycopodium spp. condor purga

condorillo

hierba de condorillo

hornamo lirio

hornamo loro

huaminga misha

huaminga oso

trenza amarilla

trenza shimbe
Lycopodium affine Hook. et Grev. condorillo
Lycopodium clavatum 1. trencilla verde
Lycopodium contigum Kltz. trencilla blanca
Lycopodium crassum H.B.K. trencilla
Lycopodium magellanicum condoro
Lycopodiumreflexum condaro
Lycopodium saururus hierba del condor condor misha
Lycopodium spurium trencilla. dellago
Lycopodium tetragonum condorillo de quatro filos
Lycopodium vestitum trencilla blanca

When condorillo or condor misha is added to

the San Pedro drink, the plant spirit appears to the

curandera as a condor. At the behest of the healer,

the condor can go on astral journeys and fulfill

small tasks. As a result, he can remedy harmful

magic and bring the lost soul back to a patient

suffering from susto, "fright" (Giese 1989, 249*).

There may even be some club moss species with

psychoactive effects:

It is possible that Lycopodium sp. also augments

the hallucinogenic effects of the San Pedro

drink. Manuel, a plant dealer from Trujillo,

said that the plant that he called "trenza

shimbe" and appears to be the same as "condor

misha" serves to improve the "visionary sight."

(Giese 1989,228*)

One plant dealer at a "witches' market" in

Chiclayo in July 1997 told me that condora, which I

was able to identify as Lycopodium magellanicum,

has hallucinogenic effects, especially when combined

with Trichocereus pachanoi.

More than one hundred alkaloids have been

found in the genus Lycopodium (Gerard and

MacLean 1986). To date, it is uncertain whether

there are any psychoactive alkaloids among these.

Six alkaloids have been detected in the Chilean

species Lycopodium magellanicum (Loyola et al.

1979).

It is possible that a psychoactive use of club

mosses is known in Chile or was practiced in

former times. Lycopodium paniculatum A.N. Desv.

is called llanca-lahuen, "precious medicine;' in

Mapuche and is known in the local Spanish as

licopodio, pimpinela, and palmita (Mosbach 1992,

55*). The Mapuche use another species, Lycopodium

gayanum Remy et Fee, which they call ngalngal,

as a sedative medicine. In the local Spanish, it

is known as harina de los brujos, "flour of the

witches" (Mosbach 1992,55*).
Literature

Gerard, Robert v., and David B. MacLean. 1986.

GC/MS examination of four Lycopodium species

for alkaloid content. Phytochemistry 25 (5):

1143-50.

It is possible that Lycopodium sp. also augments

the hallucinogenic effects of the San Pedro

drink. Manuel, a plant dealer from Trujillo,

said that the plant that he called "trenza

shimbe" and appears to be the same as "condor

misha" serves to improve the "visionary sight."

(Giese 1989,228*)

Loyola, Luis A., Glauco Morales, and Mariano

Castillo. 1979. Alkaloids of Lycopodium

magellanicum. Phytochemistry 18:1721-23.

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