For this episode of Samba like it Hot, we wanted to recount a topic the we had never heard about before until recently. In a discussion of plans for Christmas, a friend told us some friends of hers were coming to visit from California, but that one of them wouldn't be around as she was going to be participating in a week-long religious ceremony that involves preparing a hallucinogenic tea made of the combination of amazonian vines and leaves. What craziness is this? We asked her. She was surprised we hadn't heard about it before. I was immediately intrigued. For some reason, stories of strange religions and cults have always sparked my interest - but strictly for curiousity only - the idea of becoming involved with any such group gives me the heebie-jeebies!
She proceeded with an explanation of The Santo Daime religion. It originated in the Amazon by a Brazilian guy called Mestre Freire who was given the tea Ayahuasca by indigenous people there. This tea with it's psychedelic properties has been used by Amazonian peoples for ritualistic purposes throughout Peru, Brazil, Bolivia and Ecuador. The tea is extremely powerful, leading to visions, and psychological passages and purges. One interesting fact is the tea's properties are only reached by the combination of a particular vine and the leaves from another shrub - each alone do not produce the same effects as when they are combined.
Later, Freire founded a religious community and the religion has spread worldwide - there are factions throughout North America, Europe, Latin America and even Asia! Santo Daime is a mix of Folk Catholicism, African Animism, and South American Shamanism. The ceremonies of Santo Daime involve the making of the tea which they call 'Daime', and the imbibing of it, the singing of hymns and dancing in geometrical patterns, accompanied by marracas and some other instruments and bouts of silence for inner meditation. 'Dai-me' means give me, in following the main dictums of the religion which says 'Give me strength, give me Love'. Ceremonies last for as much as 15 hours, often from dusk until dawn!
Anyways, I have attached here a couple interesting videos found on you tube; give them a looksie if you too are now asking yourself, 'what is this crazy amazonian practice'? The dress itself - with all dressed in white, with crowns and sashes and stars is alone, fascinating! Also note the symbol of a cross with 2 horizontal bars instead of 1. Enjoy!