Santo Daime

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Santo Daime (Ayahuasca)

A brief introduction of Santo Daime (Ayahuasca)

Santo Daime is a religious movement that can be traced as back as 1920's to 30's in Brazil. It is also dubbed as "The doctrine of Mestre Irineu" (Irineu being the founder). From the past two decades, Santo Daime has reached out in the world, gaining adherents from many countries and often being in the highlight because of the many legal troubles that this movement has faced. Central to this belief is the use and consumption of the Ayahuasca (lit. vine of the soul), which contains dimethyltrypitamine (DMT from now on). This is a psycho-active compound, and this influences the mind, behavior and the entire lifestyle of the user.

This belief started when Irineu first got a taste of Ayahuasca between the border of Brazil and Peru. This produced a series of events in his life which include visions and seclusion in forests. It was this time that people came to him in the wilderness to look for cure to various illnesses which they could not treat in their social and economic conditions. Santo Daime preaches the doctrine of love, peace and harmony with nature. Though this faith bears resemblance to Christianity, nevertheless it has amalgamated themes and practices from South American and African mysticism and Shamanism. Some of the imagery and practices are similar to Christianity like the singing of the hymns and the use of a Cross (though not the Orthodox one), it has adopted the beliefs and deities of the African pantheon.

These beliefs and practices were synonymous with the use of plants like Ayahuasca, but as Santo Daime spread in the western world, people from non-African backgrounds also embraced them. Physic actions and events are common to Santo Daime ceremonies. The followers sing and dance to hymns and then they create the Santo and Ayahuasca liquids. These liquids can also be consumed in a tea form and are also called by other names like "Cappi" or "Yage". Santo Daime ceremonies last very long. As long as 12 hours on average! As mentioned before, the psychoactive compounds inherent in these drinks create both positive and negative sensations in the devotees.

The most profound of these sensations are the visions they generate. This indicates that the healing bought forth by these drugs maybe mental or spiritual (depending on how you define those terms) and not physical. Devotees of Santo Daime are taught to "get in touch with their inner selves" and these physiological experiences are crucial to the healings. That is why the ceremonies devote a great deal of time to concentration, which typical of any primitive, meditative faith system.

Since Santo Daime's practices rely on drugs, this religion has been the focus on many legal battles in many countries of the world. The government of Brazil has legalized Ayahuasca and other related drugs legal for religious purposes and after many legal trials, it also gained acceptance in countries like the United States of America, France, Netherlands and Italy. Santo Daime and the use of Ayahuasca has also been the focus of many national and international researches.