ChapterPDF Available

The historical origins of Santo Daime: Academics, adepts, and ideology

Authors:
The Internationalization
of Ayahuasca
edited by
Beatriz Caiuby Labate
and
Henrik Jungaberle
LIT
DedicatedtoRolfVerres
Cover illustration: Lars Wibranski
Pictures used for the cover illustration from:
Denizar Missawa Camurça, Thiago Martins e Silva,
Maria Betânia Albuquerque.
Gedruckt auf alterungsbeständigem Werkdruckpapier entsprechend
ANSI Z3948 DIN ISO 9706
Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek
The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche
Nationalbibliograe; detailed bibliographic data are available in the Internet at
http://dnb.d-nb.de.
ISBN 978-3-643-90148-4
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
©LIT VERLAG GmbH & Co. KG Wien,
Zweigniederlassung Zürich 2011
Klosbachstr. 107
CH-8032 Zürich
Tel. +41 (0) 44-251 75 05
Fax +41(0) 44-251 7506
e-Mail: zuerich@lit-verlag.ch
http://www.lit-verlag.ch
LIT VERLAG Dr.W.Hopf
Berlin 2011
Fresnostr. 2
D-48159 Münster
Tel. +49 (0) 2 51-620 320
Fax +49 (0) 251-23 19 72
e-Mail: lit@lit-verlag.de
http://www.lit-verlag.de
Distribution:
In Germany: LIT Verlag Fresnostr. 2, D-48159 Münster
Tel. +49 (0) 251-620 3222, Fax +49 (0)2 51-922 6099, e-mail: vertrieb@lit-verlag.de
In Austria: Medienlogistik Pichler-ÖBZ, e-mail: mlo@medien-logistik.at
In the UK: Global Book Marketing, e-mail: mo@centralbooks.com
The Historical Origins of Santo Daime: Academ-
ics, Adepts, and Ideology1
Beatriz Caiuby Labate and Gustavo Pacheco
Translation by Glenn Shepard, Revision by Matthew Meyer
Santo Daime is a Brazilian religion established in the 1930s in the city of Rio Bran-
co, in the state of Acre, Brazil by Raimundo Irineu Serra, now referred to as Mestre
(“master”) Irineu. “Santo Daime,” or simply “Daime,” are synonymous terms for this
religious movement whose practitioners and members are referred to by scholars and
by some of these religious branches as “Daimistas.” At the center of the religion’s
ceremonial practices is the consumption of daime, a psychoactive brew also known
as ayahuasca, hoasca, caapi and other local names. Daime is prepared from the
Amazonian liana Banisteriopsis caapi2 and the leaves of Psychotria viridis,3 a shrub
that belongs to the coffee family. The main psychoactive ingredient of the beverage
is dimethyltryptamine (DMT) derived from the Psychotria leaves, which is active
when ingested orally due to the action of harmaline and other ingredients found in
the Banisteriopsis liana.
There are in fact multiple, largely independent religious groups denominated San-
to Daime, all of which claim to follow Mestre Irineu’s teachings. Among these, two
principal factions can be identified. First, there are a number of smaller groups, most-
ly restricted to the state of Acre, known collectively as “Alto Santo” or “Alto Santo
line.” The main current within the Alto Santo tradition is the Centro de Iluminação
Cristã Luz Universal (The Universal Light Center of Christian Illumination,” or
CICLU), led by Madrinha Peregrina Gomes Serra, Mestre Irineu’s widow, and locat-
ed in Rio Branco, in Acre. The second major, and much larger, Santo Daime faction,
is known as Centro Eclético da Fluente Luz Universal Raimundo Irineu Serra (“The
Raimundo Irineu Serra Eclectic Center of the Flowing Universal Light,” or CEFLU-
RIS), based in the community of Céu do Mapiá, in the state of Amazonas and with
branch centers located in various cities throughout Brazil and in other countries.
CEFLURIS claims allegiance to Sebastião Mota de Melo, or Padrinho Sebastião
(“Godfather Sebastião”), himself a former disciple of Mestre Irineu. Padrinho Sebas-
tião died in the early 1990s, and his role within CEFLURIS was taken over by his
son, Alfredo Gregório de Melo, or “Padrinho Alfredo.” Sebastião’s widow, Madrinha
Rita Gregório de Melo (“Madrinha Rita”), also remains active within CEFLURIS.
The various churches belonging to the Alto Santo line, by contrast, do not recognize
the authority of Padrinho Sebastião and his heirs. Here, we investigate the historical
origins of the broader religious phenomenon known as Santo Daime without overly
concerning ourselves with the various divisions and competing claims of authority
that arose after the death of Mestre Irineu. Aside from Santo Daime, there are two
72 Beatriz Caiuby Labate & Gustavo Pacheco
other distinctive ayahuasca religions found in contemporary Brazil: the Barquinha,
founded in 1945 in Rio Branco, Acre by Daniel Pereira de Mattos, and the União do
Vegetal (UDV), founded in 1960 by José Gabriel da Costa in the city of Porto Velho,
Rondônia. In addition to these formally constituted religions, there are also numer-
ous, more recent groups found in urban centers and created largely by various “dissi-
dents” of the three established ayahuasca religions (Labate, 2004a). Although we
restrict our discussion here to the Santo Daime tradition, the arguments we develop
are certainly relevant to the broader phenomenon of ayahuasca religions in Brazil.
At the outset, it is important to point out that to some extent, members of Santo
Daime construct their own identities in dialog with and in contrast to other ayahuasca
religions, and vice-versa.
The beliefs and practices that constitute Santo Daime draw on a diverse set of cul-
tural and religious elements, many of which are widespread in Brazil, including folk
Catholicism, Kardecist Spiritism and other European esoteric traditions, Afro-
Brazilian religious practices, indigenous shamanism, mestizo ayahuasca traditions,
and Amazonian caboclo culture. It is sometimes difficult to identify and isolate these
various strands of influence since many of these traditions had already undergone
centuries of mutual borrowing and syncretism prior to being incorporated within
Santo Daime, as is the case,, for example, in the mutual affinities in belief and prac-
tice between Afro-Brazilian religions, mestizo divining, and folk healing in northeast
Brazil, and similar practices among assimilated indigenous peoples (Pacheco, 2004).
Nonetheless, both scholars and Daimistas themselves have attempted to trace the
migration of these various cultural elements and study their process of re-
signification within the symbolic corpus of Santo Daime. While recognizing the mer-
its of these various studies, we note their tendency to conflate the historical for-
mation of Santo Daime itself with the various authors’ personal representations of
this religion as constructed through time and in relation to Brazilian society. This
article focuses on the historical formation of Santo Daime by means of a panoramic
but critical review of the relevant anthropological and other literature, while analyz-
ing the implications of the different interpretations presented by various authors.
Anthropological Literature on the Origins of Santo Daime
There is a general consensus as to the three main cultural traditions present in the
formation of Santo Daime: the “indigenous” or more broadly “Amazonian,” associ-
ated with the preparation and use of the ayahuasca brew and certain aspects of the
ritual; the “European,” namely Catholic and esoteric (notably Kardecist) religious
and spiritual elements; and the “African,” including the presence of various Afro-
Brazilian entities in the Daime cosmology. Here, we review the main works dedicat-
ed to analyzing the historical formation of Santo Daime, pointing out the specific
elements they discuss without necessarily evaluating their broader theoretical argu-
ments (for a full literature review on ayahuasca religions, see Labate, 2004b; Labate,
Rose and Santos, 2009). We will postion these intellectual works within the larger
frame of the "Brazilian myth (or fable) of the three races." This can be considered as
a kind of origin myth for Brazilian society. Authors from different historical mo-
The Historical Origins of Santo Daime 73
ments have echoed a recurring narrative about the multi-ethnic origins of the Brazili-
an population, constituted over the past five centuries largely through the cultural and
biological "miscegenation" between indigenous natives, European colonizers, and
slaves brought from Africa. Inspired by 19th-century evolutionist thought, popular
understanding held that this mixing would make Brazil home to a "degenerated
race." In the 1930s the scholar Gilberto Freyre (1951, 1958), considered the father of
the "racial democracy myth," developed a positive reevaluation of "Brazilian misce-
genation," claiming that the process reduced the distance between social and ethnic
classes. The idea of Brazil as a "racial melting pot" was used in the official discourse
of the military dictatorship in the 1970s to emphasize the harmony between different
regions and social and political realities. This "myth of the three races" also has tre-
mendous currency in Brazilian popular culture and the social imagination, reflected
in such popular phrases as, "one good thing about Brazil is the mixture of races." If,
on the one hand, this myth serves to disguise enormous problems of racism and so-
cial inequality, on the other hand, it should not be considered merely a falsifying ide-
ology, since so many of Brazil's national symbols indeed reflect such mixed origins
(capoeira, candomblé, carnival, the national dish of "feijoada" bean stew), and since,
in both national literary production and in manifestations of popular culture, the three
main ethnic sources — indigenous, African, Portuguese — are indeed combined side
by side (Goldstein, 2003; Da Matta, 1987; Schwarcz, 1996; Ortiz, 1988).
The first major anthropological study of Santo Daime was presented as a confer-
ence paper in 1981 and later published by Clodomir Monteiro da Silva (1985). Ac-
cording to this author, Daime is notable for “traces of medium-based religions of
African acculturation,” but the predominant influence is “Amerindian” (ibid., p.
105). He makes a vague reference to the “survival of Dahomey [elements]” (ibid., p.
102) — referring to a religious cult of West African origin — an argument which he
develops further in later publications (see below). In his Master’s thesis, which fol-
lowed this first paper (1981/1985), Monteiro da Silva (1983) suggests that Santo
Daime emerged in response to social turmoil in the wake of the collapse of the Rub-
ber Boom economy after 1912, when tens of thousands of unemployed rubber tap-
pers — many of them migrants from the poorest regions of northeast Brazil — aban-
doned the idle rubber tapping concessions (seringais) in the forest to seek
employment in Amazonian towns. In this context, the early communities of Daimis-
tas can be seen as alternative social formations to the chaotic situation in cities over-
run by landless, unemployed rubber tappers; a kind of “halfway house” between the
seringais and the new urban lifestyle. In this interpretation, Santo Daime is seen as
an adaptive cultural system, or “rite of passage,” for rubber tappers expelled from the
seringais, and more generally for northeastern Brazilians displaced to the Amazon.
The resulting syncretic religion is thus characterized as an “individual and collective
shamanic trance” (ibid.) that mediates between Amerindian and Afro-Brazilian cul-
ture, and between rural (or forest-based) and urban social life.
In more recent work, Monteiro da Silva (2004) pays more attention to the Afro-
Brazilian influences in Santo Daime, which he characterizes as an “Afro-
Amazonian” religion. Citing other authors, he notes that the arrival of Afro-Brazilian
rubber tappers from northeast Brazil, especially the state of Maranhão, began around
the turn of the 20th century, before the spread, beginning in the 1930s, of Kardecist
74 Beatriz Caiuby Labate & Gustavo Pacheco
Spiritism and the Afro-Brazilian umbanda religion throughout the larger cities in
Brazil. In this revised interpretation, Santo Daime shows equal borrowings from both
Amazonian ayahuasca shamanism as well as from the Afro-Brazilian religions of
northeast Brazil, notably the Vodún cults of Maranhão. Specifically, the author men-
tions tambor de mina, the name given in Maranhão to the possession cults of African
origin known elsewhere in Brazil as candomblé in Bahia, xangô in Pernambuco, and
batuque in Rio Grande do Sul. Among the most important divinities in tambor de
mina are the Vodún, entities from the Fon (Jeje) pantheon, equivalent to the orixás in
Afro-Brazilian cults of Yoruba (Nagô) origin. As in other Afro-Brazilian religions,
tambor de mina includes multiple “nations,” or internally differentiated ritual sys-
tems, each associated with distinctive ethnic origins: for example Jeje, Nagô,
Cambinda, Cachêu, and Fulupa are among the nations present in the memories and
oral traditions of Afro-Brazilian religions in Maranhão. However only two of these,
the Jeje and Nagô have persisted as clearly demarcated religious entities, both de-
scended from the two oldest terreiros (Afro-Brazilian worship centers) in Maranhão,
the “Casa das Minas Jeje” and “Casa de Nagô” respectively, both dating to the mid-
19th century. Although it is perhaps the more prestigious and better-studied of the two
terreiros, Casa das Minas Jeje never developed additional branch centers in Mara-
nhão or elsewhere. In contrast, the Casa Nagô cult spread through the creation of
multiple branch terreiros in Maranhão, and later, Amazonia.
Monteiro da Silva (2004) associates the origins of Santo Daime with Fon (Jeje)
religious practices originating in Dahomey (since 1975, the Republic of Benin in
West Africa) by means of several pieces of evidence: (1) some of the founding fami-
lies of Santo Daime in Acre had belonged to the Casa das Minas Jeje in Maranhão;
(2) the names Titango, Tintuma and Agarrube, invoked as the three wise men in Mes-
tre Irineu’s hymnal and applied to three varieties of Banisteriopsis liana used in pre-
paring the daime beverage, are associated by this author with the royalty of Benin
(for alternative interpretations of these terms, see La Rocque Couto [1989], discussed
below), and (3) the words Daime and Juramidam (the most important spiritual entity
in Santo Daime) supposedly possess a secret meaning associated with the cult of Dã,
the sacred serpent of the Fon. However, we consider these conclusions to be embry-
onic and insufficient to suggest any direct connections between tambor de mina (and
thus religious practices of West African origin) and Santo Daime. Nonetheless, Mon-
teiro da Silva’s (2004) article represents the first, and for a long time, the only (cf.
Labate and Pacheco, 2004, discussed below) study that dealt specifically with the
influence of Afro-Brazilian religions in the genesis of Santo Daime.
A second important early study on Santo Daime is the book by Vera Fróes Fer-
nandes (1986). The preface, written by Acre state Senator Mário Maia, affirms that
Santo Daime is “the result of a complex syncretism, where shades of exuberant ritual
richness are mixed, combining fragments of Afro-Amerindian belief and culture that
are interlaced with the practices and habits of popular Catholicism” (p. 21). Accord-
ing to Fernandes, Daime possesses indigenous, Afro-Brazilian, and Christian, as well
as Kardecist religious traits. Indigenous elements include the use of ritual rattles,
divinization of natural elements, and the presence of a guardian spirit in the bever-
age, invoked for curing purposes. Thus for Fernandes, Santo Daime is a kind of
shamanism. The founder, Mestre Irineu, passes through a period of “initiation in the
The Historical Origins of Santo Daime 75
interior of the forest, typical of indigenous shamans” (Fernandes, 1986, p. 34). Padri-
nho Sebastião, a “shaman” figure, also received guidance from a “shaman,” Mestre
Oswaldo, a practitioner of Kardecist spiritism. Regarding African influences, Fer-
nandes (1986) mentions in passing that “informants from Alto Santo state that Mestre
Irineu obtained knowledge in Maranhão from the famous Casa das Minas [Jeje], tra-
ditional center of preservation of African culture and religiosity in Brazil” (p. 36).
With regards to European esoteric influences, Fernandes notes that Mestre Irineu
belonged to the Círculo Esotérico da Comunhão do Pensamento (“the Esoteric Circle
of the Communion of Thought”), a Brazilian spiritualist society founded in the early
20th century and dedicated to developing humanity’s latent mental and psychic pow-
ers (see Cemin, 1998; MacRae, 2000), as well as the Rosicrucian Order, a worldwide
humanistic and spiritual society which claims descent from the enigmatic Rosy-
Cross Brotherhood of 17th century Europe and even more ancient mystical traditions
(see Amaral, 2000, p. 221).
Fernando de La Rocque Couto (1989) follows previous authors in noting the
combination of elements from “native culture, represented by indigenous societies in
the region” and the “colonizer’s culture, represented by poor northeasterners fleeing
the droughts” (p. 16). While affirming that Santo Daime resulted from the encounter
of the “Catholic priest with the indigenous shaman and the pai de santo of popular
spiritism” (ibid., p. 17), he confers near absolute centrality to a supposedly indige-
nous origin. He sees Santo Daime as the “Christianization of indigenous shaman-
ism,” side by side with the “indigenization of Christianity,” through the “use of rat-
tles, the ritual dances, the use of names like tucum, currupipiraguá, marachimbé,
titango, tintuma and tarumim...as well as the ritual consumption of ayahuasca” (ibid.,
p. 17). As in Amazonian folk medicine, Daime is used to diagnose and cure illnesses.
For La Rocque Couto, Mestre Irineu first learned about the ayahuasca brew from a
“shaman instructor” named Antonio Costa, who formed, together with André Costa
and Irineu Serra, the so-called Círculo de Regeneração e Fé (Circle of Regeneration
of Faith, CRF), an esoteric center for ayahuasca consumption that preceded Santo
Daime. La Rocque Couto defends the idea that Daime constitutes a form of “collec-
tive shamanism” whereby all “shaman’s apprentices” or “potential shamans” are able
to partake of magical flight. He also notes that Padrinho Sebastião employed the me-
sa (“table”) works of spiritual incorporation of the spiritist tradition, where he “mani-
fested” popular spirit such as José Bezerra Menezes and Professor Antonio Jorge.
Alberto Groisman (1991) produced a very good ethnography of the Santo Daime
community at Céu do Mapiá. He claims that Daime demonstrates an “evolutionary
eclecticism” which permits coexistence “among diverse cosmological systems: um-
banda, candomblé, Kardecist spiritsm, and others, picked by adepts as they integrate
themselves, and connected with other spiritual traditions” (Groisman, 1991, p. 89-
90). Like La Rocque Couto (1989), Groisman notes Padrinho Sebastião’s association
with Kardecism prior to joining Daime. He goes further, however, analyzing certain
elements of Santo Daime cosmology — notions of reincarnation, spiritual evolution,
ridding oneself of karma to achieve salvation — that show a strong influence of spir-
itism. Although he also mentions Padrinho Sebastião’s pact with “Tranca Rua,” an
entity from umbanda, Groisman places much less emphasis on the Afro-Brazilian
matrices within Santo Daime. Citing Monteiro da Silva (1983), he states briefly that
76 Beatriz Caiuby Labate & Gustavo Pacheco
Mestre Irineu “came from a religious context in which Afro-Brazilian cults repre-
sented, perhaps, the strongest source of religiosity” (Groisman, 1991, p. 36). The key
to his explanatory model, however, rests mostly on the affinities he draws with sha-
manic systems. He develops the useful concept of “shamanic praxis,” and, after
demonstrating various points of contact and affinity, concludes that within the con-
text of this non-indigenous religious movement, indigenous shamanistic traditions
associated with ayahuasca use are only partially present.
Subsequently, Walter Dias Junior (1992) analyzed the spread of Santo Daime to
urban centers. Like other authors, he identified the plurality of traditions underlying
Santo Daime. In his words, “this doctrine can be seen as a cauldron where different
influences blend together, encompassing indigenous magico-religious thought, primi-
tive Christianity, Western esoteric traditions, and spiritism (including Kardecism as
well as umbanda and candomblé)” (ibid., p. 47). For Dias Junior, such syncretism is
made possible by the “ecstatic” characteristics of Daime, both through “divine pos-
session” and “direct contact with divinity” (ibid., p. 51). Belief in the existence of a
“God within,” and the importance of “mystical revelation” situate Santo Daime with-
in the “adorcist tradition” (i.e., the internalization of spiritual entities, hence the in-
verse of exorcism) and thus is distinctive from “Western Christian dogmatism” (ibid.,
p. 66). According to Dias Junior, the earliest Daime groups were composed “basical-
ly of blacks [Afro-Brazilians],” only later coming to “incorporate white [Luso-
European] elements” (ibid. 65). Like other authors, he confers a shamanic character
to the initiation process of both Irineu and Sebastião. He presents the interesting, if
speculative, interpretation that Mestre Irineu distanced himself from umbanda by
seeking syncretism with popular Catholicism and esoteric philosophies mostly as a
strategy for social legitimization and perpetuation of his cult, thus permitting the
“translation of shamanic experience into the religious conceptions of Western socie-
ty” (ibid., p. 69). Finally, he suggests that contact with urban centers facilitated the
incorporation of aspects of Kardecism, umbanda, candomblé and Eastern religious
philosophies.
Edward MacRae’s (1992) book is perhaps the most significant reference to date in
Santo Daime studies. He affirms that Daime was used from the beginning by urban
populations during the urbanization process. He recognizes remnants of “Amerindian
traditions” and “rural northeastern culture.” For MacRae, Irineu’s initiation, as well
as the idea that plants are inhabited by “spirits,” “spirit-owners” or “mother-spirits,”
reflects basic elements found in Amazonian shamanism. In Daime, however, teach-
ings are perceived as coming from the Virgin of Immaculate Conception, revealing
Christian influence. In terms of social organization and religious conduct, Santo
Daime also has much in common with folk Catholicism. MacRae points out that the
Christian ethic of good and evil distinguishes Daime from the moral ambiguities in-
herent in the Peruvian ayahuasca tradition known as “vegetalismo” (see Luna, 1986).
MacRae incorporates the concept of “collective shamanism” from La Rocque Couto
(1989), noting this as a “democratic” aspect of Daime. Unlike the latter author, how-
ever, MacRae characterizes Santo Daime as a millenarian movement with messianic
tendencies.
MacRae also analyzes changes in the CEFLURIS Daime branch brought about by
a growing middle-class urban membership beginning in the 1980s. In his analysis,
The Historical Origins of Santo Daime 77
this influence did not produce a further “whitening” or “Christianizing” of Daime,
but instead a reaffirmation of African and Oriental concepts and practices by new
adepts from the urban alternative or New Age sub-culture. In this context, illnesses
have been reinterpreted as emerging from psychosomatic causes, and healing through
Daime is associated with achieving “self-knowledge.” Daime is seen, moreover, as
providing a structured ritual setting for the consumption of psychoactive substances
(see also MacRae, 1997b on the role of socially sanctioned consumption of hallucin-
ogens in reducing adverse effects).
In another article, MacRae (1997a) notes Mestre Irineu’s ties to tambor de mina,
but observes that syncretic Afro-Brazilian rites were not popular at that time in Acre.
He suggests that, along the continuum of Afro-Brazilian medium-based religions,
Santo Daime is closer to the Kardecist pole than to umbanda. From Kardecism, San-
to Daime inherited notions of karma, reincarnation, spiritual evolution, “soul indoc-
trination,” charity for suffering souls, and the “Prayer of Caritas” (a spiritist prayer
received psychically by a 19th-century French medium). Influences from umbanda
are also noted in the establishment of a series of new spirit-possession or incorpora-
tion rituals (with or without loss of consciousness; cf. Labate, 2004b) by CEFLURIS
such as giras, trabalhos de banca and trabalhos de São Miguel. MacRae also points
out the “Esoteric Circle” (mentioned above) as the source for certain Daime doc-
trines such as the principle of “Harmony, Love, Truth and Justice” and the practice of
concentração (“concentration”). The Cross of Caravaca, associated with the Knights
Templar, and certain apocalyptic predictions in Daime are attributed to European
esotericism and Christian mysticism. Daime also shares certain undercurrents of ear-
ly Gnostic Christianity, such as the notion of intra-psychic divinity, where God is
located within the human soul, not outside it. Yet the latter notion is also consistent
with indigenous Amazonian shamanic religiosity.
Sandra Goulart (1996) carried out a sophisticated analysis of the historical origins
of Santo Daime. As in Monteiro da Silva (1983), Goulart situates Santo Daime with-
in the cultural and social reorganization that occurred after the end of the Rubber
Boom. She also notes the eclectic nature of Daime’s cultural and religious borrow-
ings and re-elaborations. However, Goulart claims a primary role for age-old popular
Catholicism in structuring Santo Daime’s social and institutional forms including
compadrio (godfather/godmother relationships), irmandades (brotherhoods), mutirão
(communal labor) and festas dos santos (Saints’ festivals). Citing various studies on
folk Catholicism, she notes how social relationships and leisure activities are given a
sacred character. The Daime ritual system, however, was also strongly influenced by
the syncretic vegetalismo ayahuasca healing traditions of Amazonia. According to
Goulart, Mestre Irineu’s encounter with ayahuasca is experienced by Daimistas as a
mythical transformation of man into plant. This myth is relived in the rituals by each
adept, who claim to metamorphose into “plant spirits.” However, she states the be-
havioral and dietary restrictions observed by Daimistas are perceived, in their under-
standing, as a kind of moral apprenticeship akin to Christian values, unlike the re-
strictions observed by vegetalista ayahuasca adepts.
Goulart, like other authors, notes the influence of Kardecist spritism in Amazoni-
an popular culture, which, alongside folk Catholicism, also influenced Amazonian
folk healers. Allan Kardec’s teachings resonated with the individualizing socio-
78 Beatriz Caiuby Labate & Gustavo Pacheco
economic trends of the 1930s by permitting direct communication between adepts
and the spiritual world; in this way “democratizing” trance. She also sees the Kar-
decist influence as representing a movement toward individuals’ “internalizing” their
life goals and orientations. This fusion or substitution of traditional Amazonian
shamanism with spiritism shifted the locus of spiritual power and privilege from spe-
cialized shamans to the individual adepts and their personal experience of ayahuasca.
Santo Daime expresses numerous spiritist concepts such as “relationships of opposi-
tion, tension and complementarity — between the Visible and Invisible Worlds, the
Material and Immaterial, Perfection and Imperfection, Good and Evil, Free Will and
Determinism — [which] are reproduced in Daime’s doctrine, although they take on
new and particular meanings” (ibid., p. 156). Kardecist influences in Daime also
emerged from Mestre Irineu’s association with the Esoteric Circle, which he joined
in the late 1940s. According to Goulart, some of the prayers and concepts found in
Daime doctrine—for example “mind control,” and the “Higher Self” and “Lower
Self” — come from the Esoteric Circle. Goulart notes that the process of formation
of Santo Daime has been rife with conflicts, as orthodox Catholicism has sought to
combat such religious heterodoxies.
Arneide Cemin (1998) carried out pioneering research with the Alto Santo line,
focusing especially on the Centro Esotérico de Correntes da Luz Universal (“Esoteric
Center of Currents of the Universal Light,” or CECLU), in Porto Velho, Rondônia.
Cemin criticizes Goulart’s (1996) work, claiming that Santo Daime’s roots should
not be sought in the social changes affecting Amazonian society after the 1930s, but
rather in the encounter between “the religious culture of northeastern Brazil” and the
“culture of the forest” which took place in the last few decades of the 19th century
and the first two decades of the 20th century. Her central thesis is based on the idea
that Santo Daime emerged from three main sources: Amazonian shamanism, folk
Catholicism, and esotericism (via the Esoteric Circle). While recognizing references
to Afro-Brazilian cosmologies and entities found in Mestre Irineu’s hymnal (for ex-
ample she mentions, Papai Velho, Mamãe Velha, and Caboclos), Cemin rejects the
claim that umbanda and spiritist influences are fundamental to Daime, since posses-
sion/incorporation and loss of consciousness, so important in these latter practices,
are not found in Daime. For Cemin, Santo Daime is a strictly shamanistic system,
whereby contact with the sacred is obtained through ecstatic flight, not spirit posses-
sion.
Also criticizing Groisman (1991), she argues that Santo Daime fully preserves the
basic pattern and ethos of ayahuasca shamanism, belonging to the broader phenome-
non which she calls “forest ayahuasca culture.” Cemin suggests, moreover, that the
important Santo Daime entity, Juramidam, is a reflection of the “Jurupari” masculine
initiation ritual found widely in Amazonia, especially in the Upper Rio Negro, where
it serves as a bridge across multiple indigenous cultures. Some elements of the Juru-
pari that Cemin notes in Daime include: vomiting as ritual purification, masculinity
as representing courage, restrictions on female participation, the notion of discipline
and initiatory tests, dance and the use of rattles, and an “astral” space where divine
beings and categories of power reside. Thus, according to Cemin, Juramidam carries
out the same mythic mission as Jurupari, seeking the perfect spouse for the male sun
divinity. We, however, do not see sufficient evidence to attribute historical continuity
The Historical Origins of Santo Daime 79
between the figure of Juramidam in Daime and the “mythical civilizing heroes” de-
scribed for Amazonian peoples practicing the Jurupari.
Another important historical source for Santo Daime, according to Cemin, is “di-
vine magic” or “astral magic” as practiced by the Esoteric Circle, thus affiliating
Daime with the Western occult tradition. Shamanism of “excorporation” in Daime is
thus seen as adapted to the model of European occultism, whereby contact with vari-
ous entities is only mental or spiritual (and hence not corporeal, as is the case for
Kardecist spiritism). Finally, Cemin offers an original contribution by suggesting that
Santo Daime religion, in its broadest sense, is organized along the lines of state ide-
ology, or rather, “the general model of Acre social formations: the rubber camp (se-
ringal), the military base, the military model, ultimately, everything that was consti-
tutive of ‘territoriality’ and thus identity of the Brazilians in Acre” (ibid., p. 95).
From the rubber camps, Santo Daime incorporated a form of patriarchic, agrarian
social organization based on a model brought by immigrants from northeast Brazil.
As is found in peasant groups in Brazil, Santo Daime at its origins also valued the
“civilizing” role of the military. Wearing of uniforms (fardamento), hierarchy, disci-
pline, and other values of Santo Daime doctrine are thus seen as related to a certain
military zeitgeist found in Acre at the turn of the 20th century, undergoing a process
of territorial conquest and militarization of social relations.
If we broaden the focus of our work to include the literature produced by Daimis-
tas themselves (though it is not always so easy, in this particular field of research, to
define clear boundaries between the “researchers” and the “natives”; see Labate,
2004), we find a number of references to other proposed sources of origin of the reli-
gion, including the mention of oriental traditions, especially Hinduism (Revista do
Centenário, 1992; Polari de Alverga, 1996; note that certain academic researchers
also suggest oriental connections; see Fernandes, 1986; Dias Junior, 1992). Daimis-
ta-authored studies also show a general consensus that the use of Daime is descended
from the supposed consumption of ayahuasca by the Inca royal family (Revista do
Centenário, 1992; Polari de Alverga, 1984; Carioca, 1999; Silva, 1996; Bayer Neto,
1999). The Quechua etymology for the term ayahuasca (apparently meaning “vine of
the soul”) is often cited in support of this argument, although there is no convincing
historical evidence in support of this claim. In particular, Eduardo Bayer Neto (1999)
develops the thesis of Inca ayahuasca consumption as a basis for Santo Daime. Tales
reflecting an Incan origin for ayahuasca are also indirectly reflected in the “History
of Hoasca” told within the distinct ayahuasca religion of União do Vegetal, and found
in the mythology of certain Panoan-speaking peoples of the Peru/Acre border region
(Luna & White, 2000; Labate, 2004a), suggesting historical connections with these
indigenous traditions.
Critical Considerations
Based on this brief literature review we can make a few observations. There are sev-
eral points in common across all the studies, most significantly, that Santo Daime is a
highly syncretic and diversified religion drawing on a multiplicity of religious, cul-
tural, historical and philosophical sources (see Labate, 2004b for more on syncretism
80 Beatriz Caiuby Labate & Gustavo Pacheco
in ayahuasca religions). Among the unanimously mentioned influences are indige-
nous and mestizo ayahuasca shamanism, folk Catholicism and European esotericism.
At this point we would like to point out a dimension that has been largely over-
looked by other researchers in this emergent field of studies. All of the mentioned
authors except Cemin (1998) based their studies on fieldwork carried out mostly
within the CEFLURIS tradition, though interviews with Alto Santo members are
included occasionally (Goulart, 1996; La Rocque Couto, 1989). The predominance
of CEFLURIS in the literature owes in part to the fact that this particular branch of
Santo Daime expanded widely in Brazil, unlike the Alto Santo tradition which is re-
stricted mostly to the city of Rio Branco. Thus CEFLURIS members, as well as those
who have carried out research among them, may have unconsciously assimilated a
perspective on Santo Daime associated with the values transmitted by Padrinho Se-
bastião and his followers, who see themselves as continuing the work of Mestre Ir-
ineu. This perspective has led to a certain research bias, since the CEFLURIS tradi-
tion shows a much stronger influence of umbanda and Kardecism than does the Alto
Santo tradition. This difference seems clearly related to the fact that Padrinho Sebas-
tião was involved with Kardecist spiritism prior to entering Santo Daime. Without
more subtle analysis, and without more comparative studies on Alto Santo, such spir-
itist elements within CEFLURIS have been assumed to be constitutive of Daime doc-
trine more generally. The same caveat applies to elements of Afro-Brazilian reli-
gious practice, often more apparent in CEFLURIS than Alto Santo. While pointing
out such influences and innovations that Padrinho Sebastião brought to the CEFLU-
RIS tradition, we do not mean to suggest that the Alto Santo tradition reflects the
“original” Santo Daime religion as founded by Mestre Irineu. (However, at least one
Alto Santo group — the one still led by Irineu’s widow, Madrinha Peregrina —
claims to maintain an orthodoxy in the “tradition of the Master’s time.”)
Thus the problem may lie elsewhere: the authors themselves may not be entirely
to blame for the contradictions found between different explanatory models, as these
contradictions may reflect underlying doctrinal differences between different Santo
Daime factions. Which is to say, the authors may sometimes unconsciously assume
that elements of doctrine specific for one particular group or faction are constitutive
of the historical trajectory of Santo Daime as a whole. This tendency is especially
evident in the sometimes heated disagreements between Cemin (1998) and Goulart
(1996). Cemin (1998) utterly rejects the spiritist and umbanda influences in Mestre
Irineu’s original teachings, noting, among other things, the fact that “there is consen-
sus within CICLU I Alto Santo in Rio Branco and CECLU in Porto Velho [specific
Alto Santo centers] that Daime has no connection with umbanda or spiritism” (p.
24). Thus this author appears to be reproducing, in her theoretical arguments, the
doctrinal self-representation of the Alto Santo faction, which rejects such affiliations
in the foundation of the religion. Yet even if we accept these statements for the sake
of argument, as soon as we turn our discussion to the comparatively non-
controversial influence of northeastern Brazilian and Catholic sources in Santo
Daime, we are immediately faced with the dilemma that these traditions are, them-
selves, heirs to centuries of syncretism with African and indigenous cultural and reli-
gious traditions. For example, Cemin notes that fragments of the indigenous Jurupari
complex are also present in the jurema and candomblé de caboclo rites found in Af-
The Historical Origins of Santo Daime 81
ro-Brazilian traditions. We are not suggesting that attempts to identify the (admitted-
ly diverse and complex) religious sources of Santo Daime should be abandoned;
however we do feel it is important to point out the difficulties, and at times circular
logic, of some arguments. Indeed, we ourselves have encountered similar problems
in identifying elements of Maranhão religiosity in the constitution of Santo Daime
(Labate and Pacheco, 2004).
We would also like to point out a certain elasticity in the definitions of the concept
of shamanism, which is widely used to characterize Santo Daime. The argument has
been laid out in greater detail elsewhere (Labate, 2004b), so we briefly note here that
the presence of indigenous referents in Santo Daime also relates to an important
ideological issue present within the broader field of Brazilian ayahuasca studies:
namely, asserting some degree of continuity between indigenous religious practices
and modern urban consumption of ayahuasca. This is a prickly problem, because
Santo Daime maintains an ambiguous relationship with its historical predecessors,
the indigenous and mestizo traditions. On the one hand, partaking of such a tradition-
al and supposedly ancient religious sacrament such as ayahuasca would appear to
confer legitimacy on Santo Daime’s use of what is considered, at least in many parts
of the world, a controlled psychoactive substance. In this regard, both Daime mem-
bers and anthropologist-scholars repeatedly assert ayahuasca use as belonging to an
“uninterrupted tradition” of age-old religious practice4: Mestre Irineu's initiation in
the “forest interior” is one example of the many overt analogies drawn with indige-
nous shamanism. On the other hand, there is an understanding — asserted in subtle
and less subtle ways — among Daimistas that Christian tendencies represent an
“evolution” of this practice in comparison with indigenous and mestizo contexts,
where ayahuasca use was somewhat chaotic and lacked coherent doctrines or moral
direction. Ayahuasca use prior to Mestre Irineu’s revelations is seen as bearing the
mark of sorcery, seductions to power, and false analogies. This ambiguity as to rup-
ture vs. continuity with indigenous ayahuasca practices, and a correspondingly am-
biguous attribution of positive vs. negative value to the role of shamanism and sha-
manic healing, appears to vary between social classes within the Daime membership.
Modern middle-class Daimistas tend to idealize indigenous peoples, while the lower-
class rubber workers who founded the movement, on the contrary, sought to distance
themselves from the stigmatized position of indigenous peoples within the frontier
social hierarchy. Inversely, however, while lower-class, ethnically mixed Amazonian
populations frequently turn to shamans, curanderos (healers), and rezadeiras (prayer-
based healers) for their medical problems, urban middle class people tend to prefer
Western medical care (see also Araújo, 1998; Pantoja & Conceição, 2006).
From the perspective of anthropological discourse, attributing or not attributing a
shamanic character to Daime speaks to ideological references in the broader society
such as the state, western medicine, and the media, which include their own repre-
sentations, value judgments, and stereotypes on such issues. For example, a distinc-
tion is commonly made between “sacred” or “ritualistic” use of traditional “plant
sacraments” by native peoples, in contrast to the “modern, urban” consumption of
“psychoactive drugs,” the former considered natural, legitimate, noble and authentic,
while the latter is considered morally dubious, inauthentic, and illicit. By asserting
Daime as a fundamentally shamanic practice, or some variation thereof, scholars and
82 Beatriz Caiuby Labate & Gustavo Pacheco
enthusiasts alike inscribe the phenomenon within a field of disputed representations
among such notions as indigeneity, alterity, tradition vs. modernity, cultural purity,
acculturation, cultural relativism, and so on (see Labate, 2004a).
Analogous to reflections on its indigenous and shamanic heritage, the establish-
ment of African heritage in Santo Daime also occurs within fairly elastic parameters.
While many of the authors note certain African elements in the genesis of Daime,
there is little in the way of concrete data and analysis in this respect. Entities such as
Titango and Tintuma have been invoked differently by different authors to support
opposing arguments of both indigenous (LaRocque Couto, 1989) and African influ-
ence (Monteiro da Silva, 2004). Jairo da Silva Carioca (1999) asserts that Daimista
entities such as Tuperci, Ripi, and Tarumim are indigenous, while Equior and Papai
Paxá are of African origin. Without entering into the merits of the various hypothe-
ses, we ask instead: to what extent do these various explanatory models, positing an
“indigenous-African-European” triad at the base of Daime, engage in a kind of ideo-
logical exercise by conferring a “truly Brazilian” identity – along the lines of the
three founding races myth - or legitimacy to Santo Daime? This interpretation is sup-
ported by passages in a number of works, especially those written from the “native”
Daimista perspective. Cal Ovejero (1996) states:
In the jungles of Amazonia, perhaps as nowhere else, have emerged certain cur-
rents which represent the four corners of the Earth. To wit: the animistic African
universe, the indigenous Amerindian world view, Catholic religiosity and the spiritist
science developed in Europe in the 19th century. (p. 92)
Francisco das Chagas Silva (1996) writes:
We know that the formation of Brazilian culture occurred from the basis of three different
cultures: white European, black African, and American Indian. The historical basis of
Santo Daime possesses the same cultural elements as the formation of Brazilian culture,
which is to say, the three distinctive cultural elements. Therefore, when we say ‘Brazilian
religion,’ we are referring to the doctrine of Santo Daime, in its history which relates to
three continents: Europe, Africa and America. (p. 8).
Carioca (1999) likewise claims that one of the most important moments in Mestre
Irineu´s trajectory is when he encountered Indians and mixed-blooded caboclo forest
people, “where the true junction between the three formative ethnic elements of Bra-
zilian culture is found: Indian, black and white” (p. 29). Fernandes (1986) similarly
observes, “The doctrine of Juramidam results from the union of religious characteris-
tics of the three formative ethnic elements in Brazilian culture: Indian, black and
white” (p. 36). Considering these recurrent themes, and remembering the lack of sig-
nificant factual data concerning Afro-Brazilian influences in the origins of Santo
Daime, it is perhaps not unreasonable to suggest that Mestre Irineu’s place of origin
(Maranhão) and ethnic identity (black) are sometimes put to use in an ideological
fashion to create a mythological representation of Santo Daime as emblematic of
Brazilian national identity, analogous to similar claims made about other Brazilian
cultural phenomena such as umbanda and the martial art form capoeira. This sort of
interpretation tends to be even stronger when Santo Daime expands abroad: while
nationally the religion struggles to obtain a sort of minimum stable public recogni-
tion in order to perform its activities peacefully (without State intervention, for ex-
The Historical Origins of Santo Daime 83
ample), for some foreigners, Santo Daime is taken as an “authentic” example of a
“Brazilian religion.”
Finally, we note that debate over the relative importance of African heritage in the
formation of Santo Daime is also significant in the definition of identities and fac-
tions within the broader field of ayahuasca religions in Brazil. Both the CEFLURIS
group of Santo Daime and especially the distinctive ayahuasca religion of Barquinha
practice “incorporation” of various spiritual entities. Such practices have recently
gained greater legitimacy in the “path” or linha (line) of Padrinho Sebastião. This has
generated conflicts with the Alto Santo tradition, which vehemently criticizes the
practice of incorporation as a perversion of the teachings of Mestre Irineu. Goulart
(2005) shows how accusations of feitiçaria (sorcery) and macumba (black magic) are
a recurring theme in doctrinal disputes among various groups, which define them-
selves in contrast to others. It is also worth speculating whether elements of racism
are reproduced in the “anti-incorporation” (and hence anti-African) stance of some
groups. While the followers of Padrinho Sebastião generally invoke his alliance with
the Afro-Brazilian entity (exu) Tranca Rua as a justification for trance and incorpora-
tion practices, other adepts of CEFLURIS refer to even more ancient customs, sug-
gesting that African practices are the basis of the Santo Daime doctrine. According to
this logic, the path of Padrinho Sebastião can represent, not just continuity with, but
also an improvement upon the tradition begun by Mestre Irineu. Those who hold this
belief constantly impute covert references to African entities in the hymns of Irineu
and his contemporaries, all the while reminding others of the more overt references
to African elements as well as Irineu’s own Afro-Brazilian heritage. Within this line
of interpretation (echoed by some of the academic works mentioned above), Mestre
Irineu disguised the practice of incorporation in Daime rituals because of cultural
prejudice and police persecution. In other versions, Mestre Irineu left it up to the
divergent and more unequivocally African-inspired Barquinha religion, whose
founder Daniel Pereira de Mattos first learned of ayahuasca in Alto Santo, to fully
develop the medium-based incorporation work.
When considering these debates, it is worth remembering that Mestre Irineu never
actually practiced incorporation, although he did design an exorcism ritual known as
the trabalho de cruzes (“work of crosses”) or trabalho de mesa (“table work”), in-
tended to drive away demonic forces (encostos; see LaRocque Couto, 1989; Goulart,
1996). Monteiro da Silva (2004) claims that Santo Daime includes a subtle form of
incorporation through notions such as the “owner of the hymn book” (dono do
hinário) and the “pullers” (puxadores), who lead the singing of the hymns. It is be-
yond the scope of this article to go into the specifics of the diverse forms of trance
present in the different Brazilian ayahuasca religions, including “irradiation” (irradi-
ação) in Barquinha, a kind of indirect incorporation without direct occupation of the
“apparatus” (aparelho, i.e., the body) by the spirit. However, interesting lines of
comparison could be sought within the universe of popular religion in Maranhão
state — itself located at the geographical transition between northeast Brazil and
Amazonia — which includes various intermediate forms of possession including
“irradiation” (Nicolau Pares, 1997; Halperin, 1999).
84 Beatriz Caiuby Labate & Gustavo Pacheco
Conclusion
Establishing the origins and characteristics of the religion of Santo Daime raises in-
teresting theoretical questions in anthropology, especially with regards to limitations
and possibilities for research into the genesis and development of hybrid cultural
manifestations, or local adaptations of Christianity. At the same time, such discus-
sions are relevant more specifically to the emerging field of research into Brazilian
(and more broadly Amazonian) religious movements and ayahuasca traditions, as
well as into other areas such as: the ethnology of Amazonian shamanism and mille-
narian movements; research into Afro-Brazilian religions; studies of the New Age
movement, globalization and post-modernity; and the history of drugs and forms of
social control. While situating their research within specific theoretical domains, an-
thropologists also negotiate power and legitimacy for the object of their studies —
the religious groups themselves — within the broader space of social discourse.
As we attempted to demonstrate throughout this text, different studies into the ori-
gins of Santo Daime also reflect ideological disputes within the arena of ayahuasca
religions, providing insights into multiple and sometimes conflicting interpretations
and representations of the religion among its membership. In this context, we hope
to have highlighted lacunae in the data, as well as the difficulties faced in trying to
fill them. The difficulty of achieving complete objectivity and precision in this field
of research does not mean that some degree of objectivity and precision cannot be
obtained. We hope that more detailed and rigorous research will help us to better un-
derstand how and why Santo Daime developed into the form we observe today.
1 This article is adapted from “As origens históricas do Santo Daime”, in: Álcool e Drogas na
História do Brasil, R.P. Venâncio and H.S. Carneiro (Eds.) (2005). Belo Horizonte and São
Paulo, Brazil: Editora da Pontifícia Universidade Católica-SP/Alameda, p 231-255.
We thank Brian Anderson for commenting on the translated version of the article.
2 Banisteriopsis caapi (Spruce ex Griseb.) C.V. Morton.
3 Psychotria viridis Ruiz & Pavon.
4 For a discussion on how scholars and common sense discourse draw uncritically on representa-
tions of ayahuasca’s ancient origins to bolster the phenomenon’s public legitimacy see Brabec de
Mori in this volume.
... Santo Daime is one of the Brazilian ayahuasca religions that developed out of Amazonia with the relocation of migrant rubber tappers to urban areas in the early twentieth century (Macrae, 1992;Labate & Pacheco, 2011). Raimundo Irineu Serra, the founder, was a Catholic rubber tapper of Afro- Brazilian parentage from the northeast of Brazil who came to the Amazon, where he encountered and participated in indigenous ayahuasca rituals. ...
... Further additions of urban Brazilian European esotericism in the form of Spiritism, as codified by Kardec, 3 combined to create a rich bricolage of influences in the Santo Daime tradition and in other similar religious groups (União do Vegetal, Barquinha). The religion was formally established in the city of Rio Branco, in the Brazilian State of Acre in northwest Brazil, in 1930(Macrae, 1992Pacheco & Labate, 2011;Dawson, 2013). As Santo Daime spread globally out of Amazonia, it has absorbed many different influences, such as: Afro- Brazilian religions Umbanda and Candomblé (Alves Junior, 2009;Dawson 2012), Eastern religions (Dawson, 2013;Watt, 2014), the multifarious themes contained within the category "New Age," and European pagan (Watt, 2014). ...
... There were, in 2013, approximately 100 regular practitioners of the "stricter" Santo Daime group, and several hundred occasional attendees of the more varied group. Both groups identified as being under the ICEFLU lineage, which has been the main conveyor of Santo Daime outside Brazil (Dawson, 2013;Labate & Pacheco, 2011;). ...
Book
Full-text available
During its expansion from the Amazon jungle to Western societies, ayahuasca use has encountered different legal and cultural responses. Following on from the earlier edited collection, The Expanding World Ayahuasca Diaspora continues to explore how certain alternative global religious groups, shamanic tourism industries, and recreational drug milieus grounded in the consumption of the traditionally Amazonian psychoactive drink ayahuasca embody various challenges associated with modern societies. Each contributor explores the symbolic effects of a "bureaucratization of enchantment" in religious practice and the "sanitizing" of indigenous rituals for tourist markets. Chapters include ethnographic investigations of ritual practice, transnational religious ideology, the politics of healing, and the invention of tradition. Larger questions on the commodification of ayahuasca and the categories of sacred and profane are also addressed. Exploring classic and contemporary issues in social science and the humanities, this book provides rich material on the bourgeoning expansion of ayahuasca use around the globe. As such, it will appeal to students and academics in religious
Article
The title for this paper draws on Santo Daime ritual activity being referred to as a ‘Work’ (Trabalho in Portuguese). Santo Daime is a new religious movement that continues to expand globally (Dawson 2013). In the 21st century it emerged in Ireland within a transforming and increasingly varied religious landscape. In 2007 a leader of a Santo Daime group in Ireland was charged with unlawful possession of DMT which is contained within ‘Daime’, or ayahuasca, the substance used in the religion’s central sacrament, under the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1977. This case is under appeal on grounds of the right to religious freedom under the Irish Constitution. I present here questions and discussion arising from interfaces between a new religious activity and the law, set against an increasingly ‘post-catholic’ Republic. I argue that experiences of Santo Daime in Ireland reflect a number of conflicting responses to new religious spaces in a post-colonial nation with a history of Catholic cultural and social hegemony.
Article
The Brazilian ayahuasca religions, Santo Daime, Barquinha, and União do Vegetal, have increasingly sought formal recognition by government agencies in Brazil and other countries to guarantee their legal use of ayahuasca, which contains DMT, a substance that is listed. This article focuses on new alliances and rifts that have emerged between and among different ayahuasca groups as they have sought and in some cases achieved formal recognition and legitimacy at the state and national levels in Brazil and abroad. It presents a historical overview of the origin of the main ayahuasca religions, and their connections to the Amazon region and the state of Acre in particular, where the political environment has facilitated petitions seeking the elevation of ayahuasca as cultural and historical heritage in Acre and Brazil. This process has resulted in the active selection of certain symbolic, cultural, and historical elements and subtle changes in the ways various ayahuasca groups represent themselves in the public sphere. It also resulted in the reconfiguration of political alliances and a recasting of the historical facts regarding origins. The article reflects on notions of origin, place, authenticity, and tradition throughout the ongoing transformation of ayahuasca from “dangerous drug” to state and national heritage.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.