G. William Barnard

Santo Daime


1890  Raimundo Irineu Serra, more commonly known as “Master Irineu,” founder of the Santo Daime tradition, was born in Brazil .

(c.) 1914  Irineu Serra drank ayahuasca for the first time in the Amazon frontier of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.

1930  The first “work” or ritual (trabalho) of the Santo Daime took place in Rio Branco, Brazil.

1965  Sebastião Mota de Melo (commonly known as “Padrinho Sebastião”) met Mestre Irineu for the first time.

1971  Mestre Irineu died.

1975  CEFLURIS held its first official work at Colônia Cinco Mil.

1982  Céu do Mar, the first church of the Santo Daime in the south of Brazil, opened under the leadership of Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza.

1983  Céu do Mapiá, which later became the official headquarters of CEFLURIS, opened.

1990  Padrinho Sebastião died. His son, Alfredo Gregório de Melo (Padrinho Alfredo) assumed command of CEFLURIS.

2009  A U.S. District Judge ruled that the DEA is explicitly prohibited from “penalizing the sacramental use of Daime tea” by practitioners of the Santo Daime in Oregon.


On December 15, 1890, Raimundo Irineu Serra, descendant of slaves and founder of the Santo Daime tradition, was born in São Vicente de Férrer, in the northeast state of Maranhão, Brazil. [Image at right] (Irineu Serra’s birthday was traditionally understood to be 1892, but a recently discovered baptismal certificate lists the date as 1890.) (Moreira and MacRae 2011:70.) In 1909, Irineu Serra left his drought-stricken homeland and made his way by boat to the state of Acre in the Amazonian region of Brazil, seeking work as a rubber tapper. Between 1910 and 1912, soon after arriving in Acre, Irineu Serra found work with the Commission of Limits (Comissão de Limites) that sought to determine the boundaries between the territory of Acre and Peru and Bolivia. (Moreira and MacRae 2011:82).

In 1914, in the frontier town of Brasileia, Irineu Serra met two brothers, Antônio and André Costa, also from Maranhão. (Moreira and MacRae 2011:86.) Antônio Costa told Irineu Serra about ayahuasca, after having been introduced to the tea by a Peruvian “ayahuasquero” known as Don Crescêncio Pizango. (MacRae 1992:48.) Ayahuasca is a psychoactive tea made from a vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and a leaf (Psychotria viridis) that was used by indigenous and mestizo peoples in the region. According to traditional accounts, soon after his first encounter with ayahuasca, during an intense visionary experience (miração) that took place while taking ayahuasca alone in the forest during an eight day fast, Irineu Serra saw the moon coming towards him, with an eagle perched in the center. From within the moon, a female spiritual figure, who at first was called Clara and who was later identified as the Queen of the Forest and Our Lady of Conception, appeared to him and gave him his mission to inaugurate a new religious movement. (Couto 1989:52.) Irineu Serra’s first hymn, White Moon (Lua Branca), refers to this experience. It took several decades, however, before the Santo Daime as it is practiced today took form.

During his early time in the Amazonian region, Irineu Serra had extensive contact with indigenous and mestizo peoples, not only learning how to make ayahuasca, but also mastering various methods of healing. (Carioca n.d.) Sometime around 1916, while living in Brasiléia, Irineu Serra began to participate in ayahuasca ceremonies with a group that he probably co-founded with the Costa brothers, known as the “Circle of Regeneration and Faith” (Circulo de Regeneração e Fé). However, Irineu Serra eventually left the CRF due to the severe persecution it received from local authorities, as well as likely because of disputes that he had with Antônio Costa. (Dawson 2007:71.) Ireneu Serra’s split from the CRF coincided with his separation from Emília Rosa Amorim, the mother of his only son, Vacírio Genésio, born in 1918, and his second child, a daughter, Valcirene, who died late in 1919. (Moreira and MacRae 2011:112.)

Early in 1920, Irineu Serra relocated to Rio Branco, where he returned to military service, joining the Força Policial (Moreira and MacRae 2011:112). Irineu Serra remained in the Força Policial until 1932, retiring with the rank of corporal (MacRae 1991:50.) For the remaining years of his life, Irineu Serra primarily supported himself as an agriculturalist.

By the early 1930’s, Irineu Serra began to be known as Master Irineu (Mestre Irineu) and the sacramental drink consumed in the “works”/rituals (trabalhos) began to be referred to as the Santo Daime, which in Portuguese means the “holy” (Santo) “give me” (Daime), as in “give me Light, give me Love,” invocations that are frequently found in Santo Daime rituals (Dawson 2007:72). On May 26, 1930, the first official trabalho of the Santo Daime religion took place, in Mestre Irineu’s home, with only Irineu and two other people participating (Fróes 1986:37).

During the next few decades, increasing numbers of people began to participate in the Santo Daime ceremonies, drawn not only by the power of the drink, but also by the healing powers of Mestre Irineu. The Santo Daime religion gradually began to take shape, with different liturgical formats emerging for rituals that focused on healing, meditation, and communal celebration. In 1937, Mestre Irineu married Raimunda Marques Feitosa and then separated from her in 1955. He married again one year later to the woman who is currently the leader of one important branch of the Holy Summit (Alto Santo) lineage of the Santo Daime, Peregrina Gomes Serra (“Genealogy” n.d.).

In 1961, at least in part as a way to help his new religion gain social legitimacy, many of Mestre Irineu’s key disciples, probably at his request, joined the Esoteric Circle of the Communion of Thought (Círculo Esotérico da Comunhão do Pensamento), a spiritual organization founded in the São Paulo in 1909 that disseminated a variety of teachings drawn from yoga, Theosophy, and Spiritism (Moreira and MacRae 2011:296). Several features of the liturgy of the Santo Daime can be traced back to this association, such as regular sessions on the fifteenth and thirtieth of each month; certain important prayers; and the principles of Harmony, Love, Truth and Justice as fundamental doctrines (Moreira and MacRae 2011:304.) It is also said that Mestre Irineu became literate by reading the Esoteric Circle magazines that were sent to him and his associates every month ( Carioco n.d.).

In 1963, the headquarters of the Esoteric Circle, after rejecting the initial name that Mestre Irineu proposed for his organization, Free Center (Centro Livre), suggested instead the name Center of Mental Radiation of the Level of the Divine Light (Centro de Irradiação Mental Tattwa Luz Divina). Mestre Irineu accepted this suggestion. However, sometime close to 1970, Mestre learned that the organizational leadership in São Paulo did not want Daime to be served during the Esoteric Circle meetings in Rio Branco. Mestre Irineu promptly replied, saying “If they don’t want my Daime they also don’t want me. I am the Daime and the Daime is me.” After breaking from the Esoteric Circle, Mestre Irineu began to refer to his center as the Center of Universal Christian Illumination (Centro de Illuminação Cristã Universal), a name which had earlier been proposed by the Esoteric Circle leadership in São Paulo, and which was the name by which his center was known for many years afterwards (Moreira and MacRae 2011:297-304).

In 1965, Sebastião Mota de Melo, commonly known as Padrinho Sebastião, met Mestre Irineu for the first time (Fróes 1986:54). Born on October 7, 1920 in the state of Amazonas, Padrinho Sebastião was a rubber tapper and canoe maker. [Image at right] He was also a Spiritist healer who channeled two well known entities in the Kardec Spiritist line, Doctor José Bezerra de Menezes and Professor Antônio Jorge. In 1959, he moved his family to the Five Thousand Colony (Colônia Cinco Mil), a settlement outside of Rio Branco where relatives of his wife, Rita Gregório, were already living (MacRae 1992:56). Continuing to act as a spiritual healer, Padrinho Sebastião developed a severe and chronic liver disease, and he eventually visited Mestre Irineu in search of a cure. Padrinho Sebastião received a complete cure after one session of drinking the Daime. During this session he experienced himself outside of his body, looking at it prostrate on the floor, while two men, “resplendent like fire,” took out his skeleton and organs and then using a hook, extracted “three nail-sized insects” that they said were responsible for his illness (Polari 2010:76-77). After this session, Padrinho Sebastião began to attend works at Alto Santo, a tract of land just outside of Rio Branco that had been given to Mestre Irineu by the Governor of Acre in 1945 and which became the new location of Mestre Irineu’s center (Dawson 2007:72). Padrinho Sebastião quickly rose in the church hierarchy, and with Mestre Irineu’s permission, soon set up an affiliated Santo Daime center in Colônia Cinco Mil. (Padrinho Sebastião and many of his followers, however, would frequently walk for hours to attend important “festival works” at Alto Santo).

After the death of Mestre Irineu in 1971, Padrinho Sebastião and his followers remained affiliated with the Alto Santo organization, although over time there was increasing strain between the two groups. They finally split from each other in 1973 after a dispute over how to respond to persecution by local authorities, a split that was formalized by the creation of The Eclectic Center of Flowing Universal Light Raimundo Irineu Serra, or CEFLURIS, (Centro Ecléctico da Fluente Luz Universal Raimundo Irineu Serra), which had its first official work in 1975 in Colônia Cinco Mil (Dawson 2007:75).

After a period of rapid expansion in the late 1970’s, Padrinho Sebastião, along with his family and about 100 followers, relocated in 1980 to a remote location in the state of Amazonas that came to be known as River of Gold (Rio de Ouro). Several hundred of his followers, however, remained in Colônia Cinco Mil. The Rio de Ouro site had been recommended by the Institute of Colonization and Agricultural Reform, or INCRA, (Instituto de Colonização e Reforma Agrária). After almost three years of hard labor, clearing the land, building houses, beginning to farm, and extracting latex from rubber trees, representatives of a company from the south of Brazil claimed ownership of the territory. Therefore, in January, 1983, Padrinho Sebastião and a small group of his followers, again following the suggestion of INCRA, relocated to another area, also in the state of Amazonas, this time deep within the forest on the banks of the Mapiá igarapé, a small affluent of the Purús river. During the next year, about 300 members settled in the location, which came to be known as Sky of Mapiá (Céu do Mapiá) (Schmidt 2007:57).

In 1982, the expansion of the Santo Daime tradition outside of the Amazon region began with the establishment of Sky of the Sea (Céu do Mar) in Rio de Janeiro by Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza. More Santo Daime centers were soon established in and around Rio de Janeiro, and in the next few years, the Santo Daime tradition spread to many other urban areas in Brazil. (Schmidt 2007: 59-60).

In 1990, Padrinho Sebastião died, and his son, Alfredo Gregório de Melo (commonly known as Padrinho Alfredo) assumed command of CEFLURIS. In the years that followed, Santo Daime groups with an affiliation to CEFLURIS were established in many locations in Latin America, Europe, Japan, and the United States.


While there are no universally mandated doctrines in the Santo Daime tradition, nonetheless there are numerous beliefs that, at least informally, most practitioners of the Santo Daime would agree upon. These beliefs are drawn primarily from the various hymn collections (hinarios) of Santo Daime elders (e.g., Mestre Irineu, Padrinho Sebastião, and others). The hinarios are said to have been “received” from the “astral,” the higher spiritual dimension of reality (Cemin 2006:265). Certain themes frequently appear within these hinarios, themes that can be traced to the most important hinario, “The Cross” (O Cruzeiro) of Mestre Irineu. For instance, the divine presence that is said to be incarnate within the Daime is called Juramidam, and is understood to be the spirit of the Christ himself. As such, Juramidam is seen as a divine being who saves, teaches, heals, and brings Light and Force and Love to the fellowship (irmandade), the brothers and sisters of the Daime community (MacRae 1992:53).

Daimista cosmology is complex. In many ways the Santo Daime is a synthesis of Christianity and various indigenous and mestizo beliefs and practices. Along with a type of animistic emphasis on the spiritual presence of the sun, moon, stars, earth, wind, sea, as well as an almost polytheistic recognition of a multitude of Divine Beings (Seres Divinos) populating the astral (spiritual) world, there is also a strong focus in the hymns on the figures of the “Divine Eternal Father,” the “Virgin Sovereign Mother,” and “Jesus Christ the Redeemer” (Dawson 2007:73). There is also an emphasis on various Catholic saints. St. John the Baptist is especially important, given that many Daimistas within CEFLURIS churches believe that Padrinho Sebastião was a reincarnation of his spirit (Dawson 2007:76). Grafted onto this hybrid structure, there are also a variety of neo-esoteric beliefs, such as the belief in karma, reincarnation, and spiritual evolution. These beliefs yield the understanding that our current experience of the world is illusory; and the panentheistic notion that a divine (“I am”) Self dwells within each person and pervades the entire universe. The loving presence and power of the Divine Mother is also repeatedly affirmed in the hymns, so much so that God’s nature itself often appears to be understood as simultaneously masculine and feminine (MacRae 1992:54).


The focus of Santo Daime ritual “works” revolves around various collections of hymns, either entire hinarios or selections of assorted hymns. After a communal recitation of certain prayers, derived primarily from Catholicism and the Esoteric Circle, and a ritual serving of the Daime, these hymns are sung in the ritual space (salão). [Image at right] In the center of the salão there is an altar (mesa), at times a square or rectangular table, or increasingly within CEFLURIS churches, a table shaped like a six pointed Star of David. In the center of the mesa is a cross (cruzeiro) with a second, shorter, horizontal beam running parallel to the original crossbeam. It is said by some Daimistas that this second crossbeam represents the second coming of the Christ, which is understood to be the birth of the universal Christ Consciousness within each person, a transformative process that is facilitated and accelerated by the Daime (Polari 2010:xxv). Also on the mesa is an assortment of candles, flowers, and pictures of various divine beings and/or Daime elders.

The major “festival works” commemorate Catholic religious holidays, the birthdays of Daime elders, or other moments of communal celebration. These works are often called hinarios, because the entire hinario of one or more Daime elders will be sung, or bailados (dances) in that they center around certain simple dance steps. These works typically start early in the evening and often last all night; they are punctuated by a break that lasts anywhere from an hour to two hours in the middle of the night. Daime is served several times throughout the ritual, men and women lining up on opposite sides of the salão to receive a small cup of the sacrament. During these works, the “uniformed ones” (fardados) who are the initiated members of the church, wear the white uniform (farda branca). [Image at right] For the women this is a rather complex outfit consisting of a long pleated white skirt topped with a shorter green pleated skirt, along a long-sleeved white blouse adorned with various ribbons and pins, as well as a simple tiara placed on top of their heads. For the men, farda branca is a white suit and trousers along with a navy tie and a small six-pointed star pinned to the chest ( Dawson 2007:74). The members are also organized in strict, almost military, formation in rows around the mesa, arranged according to characteristics such as their gender (men on one side of the salão, women on the other), height, age, and marital status. With the exception of short breaks, everyone is expected to remain in her or his place, dancing back and forth to certain simple predetermined steps, for anywhere from six to twelve hours. During this time they sing the hymns of the hinario, accompanied by the music of guitars and other instruments, such as the flute or accordion, and the rhythmic percussion of rattles (maracas). [Image at right] Ideally they feel the ecstatic and uplifting flow of the current (corrente) of Force (Força) that is said to circulate both horizontally in circular waves around the salão and vertically, down from the astral to this earth (Dawson 2007:76).

The concentration (concentração) is another important Santo Daime work. Indeed, the first official Daime work was a concentração (Fróes 1986:37). Members of the church wear blue uniforms (farda azul) during this work, as well as during most healing works and the Holy Mass. For women, farda azul is a white blouse, blue necktie, and a long pleated navy blue skirt. For the men, farda azul is a white dress shirt, navy blue trousers, a navy blue tie, and the star pinned to the chest (Dawson 2007:74). In larger Daime churches, the concentration works take place on the fifteenth and the thirtieth of each month. They last for around four hours and combine various selections of hymns and assorted prayers, with long periods of meditative silence and at least two servings of Daime. Concentrations take place while seated, except for the last section of the work when members are asked to stand while singing the final twelve hymns of Mestre Irineu’s Cruzeiro. These are known as either the Hinos Novos or the Cruzerinho, and they are understood to represent the summation of the teachings of the Santo Daime tradition. (MacRae 1992, 86.) The concentration/ meditation time period itself often extends for over an hour and takes place in complete silence. The expectation is that the Daimista’s attention is turned within and that s/he will attempt to quiet her/his mind and open up to whatever the Daime brings. This may include powerful visionary experiences (mirações).

While Daimistas are at times reluctant to speak of their mirações with others, the reports that have been gathered frequently emphasize that mirações are not static visions (Schmidt 2007:167). Instead, the participants take part in a dynamic process that can include the unfurling of stunningly beautiful geometric patterns [Image at right] within the consciousness of the participant; vivid interactions with a wide range of non-physical beings; travels to numerous, extremely diverse, spiritual dimensions of reality; and the transfiguration of the natural world, seen as shining with divine Light (Shannon 2002:17-19). Mirações can also involve the transmission of profound metaphysical insights. One American woman, describing her first time drinking the Daime, said,

“ I have never experienced . . . such deep inner rapture and peace. It was as though I was the center around which everything was spiraling—the spiritual core at the heart of the world of matter, the prism of Light in and through which the unfolding, divine play of Consciousness itself was arising and subsiding, manifesting and dissolving the world of form and illusion . . . . Amazing insights about the unified nature of Consciousness and matter as well as specific directives about my personal life mission spontaneously arose: everything was happening in such harmony and perfection ” (Personal communication).

Perhaps the most solemn of the Santo Daime rituals is the Santa Missa (Holy Mass). It is sung either on the first Sunday or Monday of the month, depending upon the lineage of the church, or on specific days connected to the death of community members or on the anniversaries of the death of prominent Santo Daime elders. The Santa Missa, after a recitation of the Catholic rosary and the consumption of Daime (Daime is not drunk by members of the Alto Santo line during the Holy Mass) focuses primarily on ten hymns that deal with the subject of death, hymns that are sung while standing, without any instrumental accompaniment (Cemin, 2006:274). In between each hymn, three Our Fathers and Hail Marys are also recited, as well as other Catholic prayers.

Both Mestre Irineu and Padrinho Sebastião were known as powerful spiritual healers, and so it only natural that healing works are another important element of the Santo Daime ritual repertoire. Daimistas tend to believe that illness, whether physical or mental, is typically the manifestation of an underlying spiritual imbalance. This imbalance emerges from the residual effect of actions in past lives and/or is affected by a person’s current mental or emotional states ( Dawson 2007:82). Although Daimistas will often use standard medicines, as well as a wide range of alternative therapies, in certain respects it is understood that drinking Daime is inherently healing, in that doing so offers a powerful context in which individuals can cleanse themselves spiritually, as well as gain insight into the underlying causes of their misfortunes (Schmidt 2007:128). However, from very early on, specific times were set aside for works that were dedicated to the physical and emotional healing of someone within the community. During the first decades of the development of Mestre Irineu’s community, for example, concentration works that carried a specific healing intent took place every Wednesday. While some scholars have argued that, during this early time period, mediumistic manifestations frequently occurred during these healing works, over time Mestre Irineu gradually began to phase out the presence of this sort of Afro-Brazilian activity (Labate and Pacheco 2011:83). Instead, he began to emphasize healing modalities found in esoteric contexts (e.g., the Esoteric Circle meetings), such as radiating astral energy (irradiação) ( Dawson 2007:83). Currently, the Alto Santo line of the Santo Daime tends to disparage mediumship, whereas the CEFLURIS line, which is more overtly eclectic in nature, has increasingly embraced mediumistic influences drawn, for example, from the popular Afro-Brazilian religion, Umbanda (Dawson 2013:26-30). Within CEFLURIS contexts, there are a wide variety of healing works in which mediumship is quite prominent. For example, a medium might incorporate various “higher” spiritual beings who seek to help in the healing sessions. Alternatively, the medium might manifest “suffering spirits” who, it is said, come to the works attracted by the Light of the Daime, seeking the spiritual “charity” that is offered there (Schmidt 2007:162).

The ritual preparation of the Daime itself (feitio), is arguably the most important ritual within the Santo Daime, in that it produces the sacramental drink that is the hub around which all Santo Daime ritual activities revolve. A rigorous, complex procedure that typically extends over a period lasting anywhere from several days to well over a week, the feitio is extremely labor intensive and demanding. Men are responsible for harvesting, cutting, scraping, and pounding the Banisteriopsis caapi vine (called jagube or cipó by Daimistas), since it is understood that the jagube is associated with masculine energy. In turn, it is usually the women who collect and clean the leaves of the Psychotria viridis shrub, known as “queen” (rainha – or chacrona) by Daimistas), which is thought to manifest feminine energy ( Dawson 2007:77). These two ingredients are then placed, in alternating layers, in a large metal pot that is filled with fresh water. The jagube and rainha are then cooked by men for several hours until the liquid is approximately one-third its original volume. This liquid is drained and set to one side. When enough of this liquid has been created, it is then poured over a fresh layering of jagube and rainha and boiled for several more hours until the person in charge of the process makes the determination that Daime has been made. This Daime itself is then frequently boiled and reduced several more times, making various concentrations of Daime, concoctions that are then cooled, bottled, and carefully labeled.[Image at right] Throughout the entire process, hymns are frequently sung, albeit in a rather ad hoc manner, and Daime is often served to the participants. The feitio is understood to be a genuinely alchemical process, during which the elements of fire and water combine with the masculine and feminine energies of the jagube and rainha. The mental and emotional energies of the participants are also said to merge with the Daime, hence the repeated emphasis on silence, focused and respectful attention, and harmony, in order to produce a material substratum capable of incarnating the divine Being that is the Daime (Dawson 2007:78-79).


The death of Mestre Irineu in 1971 was rather quickly followed by a series of institutional disputes and schisms, leaving in its wake a bewildering and complex web of groups that for the purpose of simplicity is often reduced to two major lines. Alto Santo is a cluster of churches located primarily in the state of Acre. The other set of groups consists of the churches in Brazil and across the world that are affiliated with CEFLURIS (Labate and Pacheco 2011:71).

Of these two lines, CEFLURIS is numerically much more prominent and organizationally diverse, but it is still relatively small. One recent estimate put the number of all those using ayahuasca in Brazil to be no more than 11,000 (Labate 2006:202). With the legal creation of CEFLURIS in 1989, which is headquartered in Céu do Mapiá, a range of statutes and bureaucratic structures were articulated in order to bring some basic institutional conformity to the various churches and groups affiliated with this organization. Nonetheless, CEFLURIS remains an evolving, decentralized, and diverse organization, with many local leaders at times modifying pre-existing ritual forms and/or claiming divine inspiration for the advent of new ritual structures (Dawson 2007:93-96). These innovations, in turn, often create strong antagonistic responses by those within CEFLURIS who attempt to maintain the traditional integrity and purity of the movement in the face of what appear to be ritual deviations.


In 1985, due to the increasing visibility of the use of ayahuasca in the urban areas of Brazil, a division of the Ministry
of Health placed Banisteriopsis caapi on the list of legally forbidden substances, but without the requisite consultation with the Federal Narcotics Council or CONFEN. After a petition from representatives of the União do Vegetal, another ayahuasca-based religion in Brazil that sought to overturn the ruling, CONFEN set up a working group to investigate the implications of ayahuasca consumption in Brazil (Dawson 2007:70). After two years of research, including extensive visits to numerous União do Vegetal and Santo Daime centers, CONFEN released its findings on August 26, 1987. CONFEN noted that ayahuasca had been used by ayahuasca religions for many decades without any noticeable social damage, and, in fact, that this usage led to increased social cohesion and personal integration. CONFEN therefore recommended that ayahuasca be removed from the government’s list of forbidden substances. Even though several subsequent complaints led to a series of governmental investigations, the ritual use of ayahuasca remains legal in Brazil (MacRae 1992:75).

Internationally, the legal status of the Santo Daime tradition varies from country to country. On February 21, 2006, the legal status of the religious use of ayahuasca in the United States was upheld when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the UDV. (Bronfman 2011:299). Following this, on March 19, 2009, a U.S. District Judge ruled that the DEA was explicitly prohibited from “penalizing the sacramental use of Daime tea” by practitioners of the Santo Daime in Oregon ( Case 1:08-cv-03095-PA Document 161). However, the legal status of the Santo Daime in other states within the U.S. remains unclear. The Santo Daime church is legal in the Netherlands, but its legality in other countries (e.g., Spain, England, Germany, Italy, France, Canada) continues to be contested, with varying degrees of success.

On September 27, 2006, CONAD (the political successor to CONFEN) approved a document created in November 11, 2004 by a Multidisciplinary Working Group (Grupo Multidisciplinar de Trabalho) consisting of representatives of the União do Vegetal, Santo Daime (both the Alto Santo and CEFLURIS lines) and Barquinha (another ayahuasca religion), as well as researchers from various fields. In this document, the various ayahuasca religions delineated the norms and procedures compatible with the religious use of ayahuasca, and offered a charter of ethical orientations that attempt to regulate the production and transport of ayahuasca, and to prevent inappropriate usage (Labate, MacRae and Goulart 2010:6). CONAD’s approval was formalized on January 1, 2010, making it legally binding throughout Brazil. (Resolution #1 of the Official Journal of the Nation – Diário Oficial da União – Section 1, pages 57-60).

Nonetheless, many internal disputes between the various ayahuasca religions in Brazil remain. One of the primary points of contention stems from the vehement opposition of the União do Vegetal, Barquinha, and the Alto Santo lineage of the Santo Daime to the prior use of cannabis by CEFLURIS churches in religious contexts. CEFLURIS Daimistas refer to cannabis as “Santa Maria.” Padrinho Sebastião was introduced to this “teacher-plant” in the mid-1970’s by the urban “backpackers” visiting Colônia Cinco Mil. He eventually claimed that Santa Maria was the feminine counterpart to the Daime, and Santa Maria began to be consumed during Santo Daime rituals, especially concentrations (MacRae 1992:58.) Later raids and legal threats by the authorities however eventually led to CEFLURIS officially stating that Santa Maria was not approved for ritual use, a prohibition that continues to this day (Dawson 2013:57.)

Image #1: Raimundo Irineu Serra, founder of the Santo Daime tradition.
Image #2: Padrinho Sebastião.
Image #3: Santo Daime ritual space (salão).
Image #4: The white uniforms worrn during Santo Daime rituals.
Image #5: Singing of the hymns of the hinario.
Image #6: Example of Santa Daime mirações.
Image #7: The ritual preparation of the Daime.
Image #8: Boiling of the Daime.
Image #9: The ayahuasca plant.


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Publication Date:
3 June 2013