The meaning of coca

April 29, 2016

Coca means, according to some, food for travellers and workers and, according to others, non-food. We are talking about something that is food for some and not food for others, then … what is the Coca? Coca appears in pre-Columbian history as a sacred leaf akin to sun worship. It was a currency of trade exchange in the economies of the Inca Empire and this custom still survives in human nuclei deep Peru. This caused that extended throughout the territory, which is now a large part of South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile). Thus, we have a coke from the high forest that occupies two important roles in the Inca society: the sacred, as chosen from the sun and the profane, as currency exchange. Today keeps these two uses, the sacred and profane, though in a society with different guidelines. The common use in rural areas of Peru is like food to calm the hunger of peasants, and in the West as prostitution plant: cocaine. But … is something sacred use?

Coca is grown in areas cleared of the forest, between 300 and 3,000 masl There are varieties that have become accustomed to other heights as Coke or “Coca Trujillana of the Amazon” (Peru-Brazil-Colombia). It is intended that the leaves receive as much sunlight as possible. These act as batteries, light absorbing and storing it. After being harvested are subjected to another sunbath to dry slowly. In a good drying is the secret to be sweet leaves when chewed.

In the shamanic and medical context, we must understand the coca leaf as a receiver of sunlight, energy.

Coca Leaf to be fully assimilated by the body is accompanied by a mixture. This varies by ethnic cultures that use or have used the plant. The mixture plays a decisive role in the context of “coqueo or pijcho”. Chemically, the mixture is an alkaline solution mixed with saliva helps to assimilate the active ingredients of Coca. Shamanically represents the counterpart of the sheet, this being representative of the Sun, the mixture becomes the host of the Earth.

Quechua people in the Peruvian Andes have a curious way of coquear called “all against all” or coquear “force”. For them, a group of people comes together and groups of leaves at the discretion exchanged, following the rule of sharing, that is, that each individual must reach at least one group leaves to each of his colleagues and also receives a group at least each. It is considered as a form of collectivization and begins the meeting. In other ethnic groups, “coqueo” rules vary. Some “coqueans” in pairs and others expect to receive calls or goose which presides over the ceremony.