Peru // Nasca and the south coast //

The witches of Cachiche

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In the down-at-heel suburb of Cachiche, history and mythology have merged into a legend of a local group of witches. The story dates back to the seventeenth century, when Spanish witches were persecuted for their pagan beliefs during the Inquisition. Seeking religious refuge, the witches emigrated to Lima, where they were also persecuted for their beliefs before finally settling in the countryside in particular the Ica Valley, in a village called Cachiche. For hundreds of years, the Cachiche witches operated in secret until the 1980s, when there was a renewed interest in alternative health practices and even the Peruvian presidents of the 80s and 90s openly consulted them about health matters. The popularity of Cachiche healing methods grew even more when a powerful congressman was dramatically cured of a terminal illness on TV by a Cachiche witch. Similar to witchcraft and shamanism along the Peruvian coast, Cachiche practices involve the use of San Pedro, a psychedelic cactus containing mescaline.

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