by Krystle Cole
I have been deeply blessed with the opportunity to discuss the Santo Daime, a Brazilian entheogenic religion based upon the ceremonial use of ayahuasca, with one of its U.S. members. In the following interview, I will call this person “Anon” to preserve their anonymity and privacy.
KC: Could you tell us a little about Santo Daime church here in the United States? How long have you been a practicing member?
Anon: The Santo Daime church is not legal in all 50 states. Now, neither is it illegal, and we stay pretty close-knit to keep it that way. It is a little bit hard to justify to an employer, regardless of who they are and the legality of our church why we happen to be taking sacred hallucinogens. It’s a shame that this is the case, but people who have been more vocal about their involvement on a personal level have gotten canned or lost opportunities before. And back in the earlier 20th century, they were heavily oppressed to the point where our Spirit Guides called us to start up a home in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, several hours by boat away from the nearest settlement.
And it’s funny, most of the Daimistas (that’s what we call ourselves) are actually very together and grounded people. We have PhD’s, medical degrees, we’re psychologists, EMT’s, engineers, lawyers, most of us are in our 30’s or older to be honest! This is and has never been a requirement for membership, and we definitely have a bounty of free flowing people who are a little more at home with chaos magic. But I feel like the individuals who take their great dedication to spiritual work with a deep seriousness often find their physical lives overflow with bounty, funny how that can work.
I personally have been with the church for 4 years, having become a full-fledged member fairly recently. This process is not a bit of logical choice. You just know. In fact, pretty much everything about the Santo Daime church is divinely inspired in this manner. Those who the medicine reaches out to from this vein have some very specific reasons for going there. And there are definitely levels. Some people are a part because it’s a safe way to work with Ayahuasca medicine, but others take the nature of the mission of the church very seriously. And once again, the mission? You just know. There’s no evangelizing in our church. We do our work quietly and with respect for all the individuals and beings we’re working with.
KC: That’s very interesting. The next thing that I’m sure the NeuroSoup readers would like to know is what happens during a ceremony?
Anon: Ceremonies are called Works, and there are a couple things that are similar, and a great many things that are different depending on the type of work we’re doing. The first thing is the uniformity of opening and closing our works. The rosary is done, along with the burning of sacred smudges like Sage, cedar, Palo Santo. Some people call us Catholic, but the reality of it is that our work is not limited to the Catholic guides, and those guides are heavily misunderstood by mainstream Christianity. We work with nature spirits, elevated alien consciousnesses like the Pleidians and the Arcturians, many angels, saints, and the Christ energy, and pretty much anything else whose higher purpose is the enlightenment and teaching of the collective and individual human being. We all wear white, and everything is very formally done for the reasons that it helps frame our intention (set and setting anyone?) and it honors our guides and spiritual masters.
Our works vary according to our purpose. Concentrations are largely silent inward meditation, where our guiding spirits come to teach us and assign tasks to carry out in the physical plane. A great amount of Astral exploration happens in these works, and they’re fundamental for moving to the highest levels of consciousness and ego detachment.
Then there are healing works. These are seated, and everyone sings channeled hymns in Portuguese. These are amazing, deeply soul cleansing and enlightening. My first work was a healing work, and that was a really great idea!
Then, there are our dance works. We all dance together in perfect unison to generate a portal to the highest vibrational astral dimensions. These typically last from 9 to 14 hours. They’re called Works for a reason! We sing and hold space for hundreds of hurting spirits who come in to be healed. Our church’s purpose, besides the elevation of everything to a higher vibration is to serve as an astral hospital. And this is very difficult. The spirits that come in are from very dark, sad places. Some of you might call them demons. Some of them are. But it doesn’t matter, we’re equal opportunity healers. But they test us to see if we’re legit.
One thing about ayahuasca is that it makes you really, really look at the suffering in your own and others environments. And while you might have to separate yourself from it to hold down the light for your peers, a few of them are deeply experiencing severe suffering as they help themselves, other members of the church, or any number of spirits who might join. The trick is to hold down love and true compassion without feeling a sense of superiority, that’s what the spirits look to see. They want to be heard, and they want to know you’re legit. They tell you their thanks by helping you heal your wounded psychic self, by energetically purging, and often by causing you to puke, or shit, or both. Ayahuasca is no party, let’s be real here. It makes you puke and shit out your toxic garbage on all levels. Some people don’t come to use the medicine for this one reason! But I gotta tell you, it’s such a good puke. Like, thousands of years of karma flying out your mouth kind of puking.
Anywho, works are closed with the same seriousness by which they’re opened, and when it’s all done everything that got stirred up goes with the portal, off to have Angels purify it and do whatever Angels do with massive amounts of low vibrational energy. I dunno, I need to ask them now that I think about it! You leave having done massive spiritual work and you feel epic and awesome, and usually a bit hungry, because you fast and try to eat vegan for a few days before ceremonies.
KC: How has Santo Daime membership been helpful to you?
Anon: Ayahuasca is like hitting a jet engine that’s strapped to the roof of your car on the highway to spiritual growth. It is orders of magnitude more powerful than any other entheogen I’ve ever worked with. This could have something to do with the nature of entheogens taken ritualistically, but I’ve cross-referenced with my own experiences and found that it is way more effective than anything else out there. I had worked with the medicine in Peru before the Daime, but the purpose and focus kept me coming back.
Ayahuasca is so powerful, I really can’t explain it. You’re basically seeing from the eyes of god when you’re on it, and even though all of life is that experience, on Ayahuasca, you’re totally aware of that. Alex Grey has an incredibly accurate trip report from an experience of his that highlights both the power and the responsibility of being god. The Santo Daime is a bit different in the sense that it doesn’t employ spirit guides that aren’t already on an incredibly advanced understanding of the Universe, like Jesus Christ or the Hindu god Shiva for example. Though my experience with the medicine in Peru was incredible, and I’d never take it back.
On a personal level? Wow, it’s hard to put it into words, there’s just so much! Uuuuum…incredible insights into everything on all levels and the ability to be completely unfazed by the swirl of chaos that is life? While fundamentally understanding the holiness and sanctity of every perspective? Being able to heal entire rooms without anyone noticing what was going on? Feeling awesome all the time even when life throws curveballs? All of everything is absolutely perfect and my spiritual work is just my riding the waves of the universe? I am everyone and I love all parts of myself, even the ones that vote Republican and probably think I’m a devil worshipper. That’s what the medicine will teach you. Like I said, it’s in a class of its own.
However, as with all the best things in life, these insights are earned, not free. There are people out there who have abused Ayahuasca, and taken it casually. And they get fucked up really bad. Ayahuasca leaves your spirit so open that while you’re astral projecting, some big, powerful spirit may decides to kick you out of your body. Seriously, people get posessed. It’s rare, but it happens. And if it does, someone’s gonna have to go rescue your soul and perform a gnarly exorcism, and if you don’t know people who can exorcise spirits, you’re in a really bad way. Seriously, this stuff is hardcore. Don’t do pharmahuasca and go out to a festival. You’ll probably be fine, but do you really want to tempt never being able to inhabit your body again? Do it with a shaman or as a part of a legal church.
KC: If a person wants to become a member of the Santo Daime in the United States, how does he/she go about doing that?
Anon: Because the Santo Daime lives in a legal grey area in most US states and even in Brazil, we’re tough to find. We don’t evangelize, and that heaven/hell only one life crap is totally false. We transcend lives. So the way it works is, if Ayahuasca is meant to come to you, it will reveal itself. I know, that probably sounds like crap, but the shamans who do it illegally and the people like the UDV and the Santo Daime who are legal all understand how powerful and potentially dangerous this substance is. Ayahuasca is advanced psychonautics, and if the spirit of the medicine decides to reach out to you, yours will probably be a lifelong romance!
It’s hard not to sound elitist, but not everyone currently has the psychological willingness to look at their issues from a place of non-judgement and kindness. And just like with any other entheogen, if you don’t examine your shit, it will fuck you up. Bad trips are caused by not letting the medicinal aspect do its work. Ignoring feeling weird while you’re tripping always makes it worse. So does panicking. And when an ancient demon has its claws buried in your chest and it feels like it wants to rip out your heart, if you can’t have compassion for the poor suffering thing, then it might win. Now, the medicine has its own protections, and the odds are good you’d just walk around as a demon for an evening, but that’s still a really traumatic experience. This is really the only way to adequately explain why Ayahuasca is so hard to find, because it is up to the people who are responsible for preparing it and holding space to make sure that it is really right. And we don’t need to get sued by your family for you ending up in a mental institution the rest of your life.
However, and that was really bleak, anyone and everyone is fully capable of being ready to use Ayahuasca. Deep personal spiritual investment, and the use of other sacred entheogens spiritually will go a long way towards getting you ready for Ayahuasca. And really? I think we’d all love deeply for you to join us one day! Take it seriously, do a lot of prep, and cast intention into the universe that you will one day work with the medicine. Or spend a couple grand and go to Peru! But there are also people all over the country who work with the medicine in more traditional (also illegal, keep in mind) ceremonies. Ask the right psychonauts and the chances are good that you’ll be introduced!
As far as the Santo Daime is concerned, if you can find us, you’re well on your way to being ready! Such is the nature of the medicine! If a member invites you, you’re welcome to take that any time you like! There are churches in California, Oregon, Texas and Washington, as well as BC Canada and a few other places as well. Of course, there are only 5000 of us in the world, most in Brazil or Spain, so it can be tricky! But persevere! And when you find us, you’ll be ready. Good luck and infinite blessings!
KC: Is there anything else that you would like to say to NeuroSoup readers?
Anon: Once you can start using hallucinogens for healing, you’re on the right track. Aaaaand don’t mix white drugs (unless it’s Molly) with entheogens. They’re sacred, respect them and they will respect you!