This book does not intend to present the only true story of Mestre Irineu. In reality, undertakings with proposals of this type are not viable, since any story is inevitably marked by the perspective of who makes it, the moment the story is told and the narrator’s purposes.

In this case, telling “the” story of the founder of Daime would be clearly impossible, since none of the authors of the book had the possibility of living with Mestre Irineu and, therefore, we could not even present an account that sought to reflect only our own perspectives. What we did in this book was to compile a series of reports, made mostly by their contemporaries, not shying away, however, from offering several of our conjectures, elaborated from an exercise of historical contextualization, based on documentary and bibliographical research, interviews and participant observation.

The lack of “objectivity” of our proposal is already evident in the use we made of the interviews at our disposal, since we did not fail to select certain interviewees to receive more prominent attention. Although for this we used criteria of representativeness and coherence that seemed to us to be the most appropriate, this process does not fail to reflect, even if indirectly, our evaluations and even prejudices.

In addition, we must remember that the same happens with the authors of the various reports, who also had to choose what to tell and how, taking into account not only who made the revelations, but also the long years and everything that happened from the facts narrated. This past, not always very recent, inevitably leads them to evaluate the narrated facts in a different way today than when they occurred. Thus, what might have seemed a positive attitude in the past, can now be evaluated more critically. What could have been a source of pride in the past, today is perhaps best forgotten. Or vice versa.

Additionally, we must remember that whoever tells a story inevitably has a purpose. Your story must have a beginning, middle and end to make sense and deserve to be told. There should, if possible, also be a “moral of history”. Thus, without even noticing it, those who make a report also reorganize the elements, seeking to impose an order and meaning that, ultimately, are reflections of their own worldview. In addition, over time, the memory tends to fade naturally, the so-called “mnemonic voids” occur and individuals, and even groups, are often led to fill the spaces left in the memory by forgetting, with material invented or borrowed from elsewhere, which they come to confuse with genuine memories. We are quite clear about the somewhat unconscious nature of this process, which, for us, exempts the narrators from any suspicion of purposeful lying.

Another source of knowledge that was very important to us was what anthropologists call “participant observation”: our long coexistence with different manifestations of daimistas, which helped us to assess both the representativeness of the informants and the relevance of different themes raised in the discussions. Our experiences, participating in the life and rituals of daime communities – without ceasing to drink a lot of daime – were essential for us to understand the importance that this practice has for the worldview presented by Mestre Irineu in his doctrine and community organization.

In order to deal with the fluidity of our informants’ memories, we also resorted to documentary and bibliographic research, seeking to collate information that was offered to us by memories with what could be ascertained from official documents and press reports. This should not be confused with a simple “verification”, in which the document would be taken to be more reliable and truthful than the memory. It is likely that we have done the opposite more often. Thus, we put into question several official documents, such as, for example, Mestre Irineu’s birth date, registered in his death document, or certain death dates inscribed on cemetery headstones. Perhaps the greatest use we have made of this documentary and bibliographic research has been to base ourselves in terms of the more general history, both of what was happening in Brazil as a whole, and of what was especially pertinent to Acre.

Equally relevant was the contribution of all researchers, academic or not, who preceded us and bequeathed us considerations and clarifications on our theme and (of crucial importance!) interviews of great wealth with characters central to history who are now deceased . Thus, we are very grateful to Jair Facundes, for access to recorded interviews with descendants of former members of the Circle of Regeneration and Faith (CRF), political friends of Mestre Irineu and their children, who are currently politicians whose importance goes beyond Acre’s limits and acquires dimension national. It was Jair Facundes who also mediated our most difficult interviews in the field. Without his help, our understanding of Mestre Irineu’s life and work would have been much more limited. We are, in the same way, grateful for the dialogues with his father, João Rodrigues.

Other sources we were able to consult and which, in some cases, we reproduced here were interviews and other reports collected by Clodomir Monteiro da Silva, Antônio Macedo (documentary video), Arneide Bandeira Cemin, Fernando de La Roque Couto, Sandra Goulart, Beatriz Labate , Gustavo Pacheco, Vera Fróes, Francisco Cal Ovejero, Eduardo Bayer Neto, Saturnino Brito do Nascimento, Jairo Carioca, Luiz Carlos Teixeira de Freitas, Florestan J. Maia Neto, and, from Revista do Centenário, Ana Ruttimam, Laura Van Erven and Rolando Monteiro. We thank all of them for their research, reflections and publications that help to compose the field of studies that is currently structured around the life and work of Mestre Irineu.

Access to documents provided by different agencies of the State and Municipal Governments of Acre, which have been keeping records of different natures and of great value for the work of historical reconstruction of Acre’s past, was also very important: the Historical Heritage of Acre, the Land Institute do Acre (ITERACRE), the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA), the Elias Mansour Foundation, the Garibaldi Brasil Foundation, the Rio Branco Forum and the Brasileia Forum. Finally, we cannot but be extremely grateful to our interviewees who shared with us their youthful memories. Among them we highlight Daniel Serra, Paulo Serra, Lourdes Carioca, Adália Granjeiro, Luis Mendes, Zé Dantas. Although we were unable to interview the late Percília Ribeiro, we made extensive use of the numerous statements she left, fundamental to our work.

When publishing the lyrics of several hymns in the Daime’s repertoire, we consider it essential to accompany them with the scores of their respective melodies, since we believe that they can only be properly evaluated when performed; preferably in the context of a doctrine ritual. Taking into account the great variations recorded in the performances performed in the different daime houses and traditions, it was necessary to carry out a comparative study of the different musical interpretations of official hymnals as recorded in recordings made in rituals at the centers: Queen Floresta Center, Illumination Center Christian Luz Universal Juramidam, Centro Livre Caminho do Sol and Alto Santo, considered by many as the most faithful to the tradition left by Mestre Irineu.

We want to make it clear that the musical analysis used here does not intend to present a single and true musical version of Daime’s hymns. We believe that undertakings with this intention are unfounded, as any performance of hymns is inevitably an interpretation of those who make it, a performance marked by the specifics of the moment in which it occurs, including the technical evolution achieved by the musician. We are also aware that our personal concepts and expectations do not fail to influence our own analysis of hymns. Thus, in this book, we chose to compile and compare several versions of hymns dated in time and located in different spaces, selecting the final version based on the congruence of melodic interpretations.

What could be considered a lack of “purity” in our proposal is already evident in the use we made of the recordings at our disposal, since we did not fail to select certain records to receive more prominent attention. Although we used for this criteria of representativeness and melodic coherence that seemed to be the most appropriate, this process does not fail to reflect, even if indirectly, our evaluations and even prejudices. We are aware that, without even noticing it, those who carry out a musical analysis also reorganize the elements, imposing an order and a sense that, ultimately, are reflections of their personal melodic perception. It is important to remember that, in this case, we are facing a living and dynamic musical culture, based on memory, which differs from classical musical cultures, in which musical writing predominates, capable of crystallizing in a more definitive and universal way the versions considered more faithful or “correct”. As in the cases of oral statements, we are aware that the passage of time also affects the musical memory of hymns interpreters in various ways and that their performances change over the years.

Taking into account that the records published here may also serve as guidance for the performance of these hymns where the Daime musical memory is faulty or non-existent, and keeping within the tradition of unison singing in the force in Daime centers and churches, we sought to score the hymns using musical tones that do not exceed the D note within the treble clef pentagram, to ensure a better vocal range. It is known that, in general, a small number of people can reach higher notes. Therefore, we thought it was important to take care to publish scores that were easy to sing. Another essential aspect in our study was that we only recorded the melodies, as we believe that the melodic structure of the hymns is the one that diverges the least in the analyzed versions.

In the same way, we understand that the rhythmic structure in Daime has little variability of performance between the venues of Alto Santo, but, at the same time, it demonstrates a very peculiar identity pattern in the musical expression of the culture. Therefore, we have reserved a part of this book exclusively for the analysis of rhythm (see Appendix N). Its harmonic structure, due to the very foundation of musical art, raises a greater variety of possibilities, so we prefer to leave it to the discretion of musician readers. Furthermore, we understand that it is not the objective of our book to deepen a musical debate about the hymns, but only to record them without any major complexity. Otherwise, the book would require a deeper knowledge of music from readers, limiting its reach.

We believe that it is necessary to make clear the point of view from which we are speaking. Although most of the field research was carried out in Acre, with brief visits to Maranhão, São Paulo and Rondônia, the preparation of the final text took place in the university context of Bahia, at the Faculty of Philosophy and Human Sciences at UFBa. There, reflecting concerns that currently agitate Bahian society, discussions are frequent about the ethnic composition of Brazilian society and the way in which values ​​originating in Europe and North America assume prominent positions, while our rich indigenous and African heritage is relegated to a subordinate condition, often ignored and even denied.

The main driver of these discussions is the dissatisfaction with social inequality and the way in which those who most visibly carry the phenotypes associated with African and indigenous ancestry face greater difficulties in their struggle for survival and socioeconomic ascension, suffering clear discrimination, especially in the spheres of education and work. The stigmatization suffered in the public sphere is reflected in the psychic health of individuals, who often end up internalizing the prevailing prejudices in society and begin to suffer from feelings of inferiority and inadequacy. In view of this problem, there is currently a strong social mobilization in Bahia that seeks to rescue the importance of the African and indigenous cultural legacy, giving it greater visibility and prestige. Therefore, associations of various types are formed that seek not only to provide positive value to personal appearance and cultural elements clearly of Afro-indigenous origin, but also to encourage those individuals who, in their personal lives, have erased or camouflaged this condition, to publicly proclaim themselves as blacks or Indians.

Another important element in this effort is the mobilization against discrimination and vilification suffered by Afro-indigenous cults by groups that claim to be Christians, the vast majority of which are neo-Pentecostal Protestants, but occasionally Catholics as well. Quite bizarrely in their anachronism, these groups insult and even physically assault practitioners of other religious modalities, claiming that their trance rituals would be satanic in nature. Spiritual entities of African and indigenous origin are disqualified and treated disrespectfully as “responses”.

In reaction to this state of affairs, Bahian society has been the scene of vigorous political and social mobilizations and the university community has sought to do its part, directing several of its education and research projects to the issue of race relations. One consequence of this is a growing racialization of the social debate, which at times even seems to give more prominence to issues of a cultural and ethnic nature than those of a socioeconomic nature. There is also a tendency to reify the multiple racial categories in force in society, reducing their subjective and self-identification aspects in favor of categorizations that sometimes appear to be more objective because they base their classification bases on more simplistic categories of “white” and ” blacks”, joining in the latter all those with black and brown skin color. Currently in Bahia, the issue is controversial and emotionally charged.

From this sociopolitical context, we developed the custom of submitting social issues to an analysis of the racial relations involved and, in the current case, we do not run away from the rule. Thus, we demonstrate that, despite the fact that most of the daimistas we know in different regions of Brazil are middle-class whites, the followers of the more orthodox forms of Daime in Rio Branco have different social characteristics. These, remnants of Mestre Irineu’s former companions or his descendants, come from the popular classes, although they are often currently in full social ascension, and, as for the color of their skin, they would be better classified as “pardos”, vague category of census statistics, little used in everyday popular language, but which serves to encompass a wide range of Brazilians of visibly mestizo, Afro-Indian-European descent and potentially subject to stigmatization, to a greater or lesser degree, due to To this.

We are fully aware that the system of race relations in force in a given location must always be understood in its own historical and social context, and we recommend avoiding mechanical transpositions of categories from one region or time to another. We are also aware of the important differences between the colonization processes of Bahia and Acre. The first, marked by the system of agriculture based on slave labor, mostly of African origin, engendered a society clearly divided between a minority of white masters and a dispossessed majority, made up of slaves and free men, blacks and mestizos .

In this manorial society, in which urban sophistication and the wealth of the rich were still present, the spaces of experience and social action of these two social groups were clearly separated. Although there was a considerable proportion of free blacks, physical characteristics denoting African descent were generally associated with captivity and servitude. Currently, despite the considerable social changes that have been taking place towards a real increase in democracy, as well as the recent revaluation of African cultural traits, situations of racial discrimination still persist. These, interacting with other aspects of the current economic system in Brazil, which promote income concentration and social exclusion of large parts of the population, continue to produce vexatious situations for individuals and for society as a whole.

In Acre, we find another story, equally oppressive and producing suffering, but different. Here, colonization was more recent and based on the rubber tapping system, with a riverside population dispersed throughout the forest, formed mostly by northeastern migrants living in isolation and great poverty. The work regime, although formally free, led the rubber tapper to incur debts with the owner of the rubber plantation, from which he entered into relations analogous to slavery. But the society that was formed did not have urban characteristics and the first cities in Acre, initially little more than villages, only emerged in the late nineteenth century. The owners of the richest rubber plantations generally resided with their families in distant regions, such as Manaus, leaving their land in Acre under the control of local agents, coming from the same ethnic mixture as the rubber tappers. This was made up of Indians, migrants from regions of the Northeast of great mixing, blacks, often from Maranhão, traders of Syrian-Lebanese origin and a few other white adventurers, coming from other regions of the country or from abroad. As the population contingent of migrants was predominantly formed by men, they ended up taking indigenous women as partners, further increasing the mestizo characteristics of the Acre population.

Thus, the resulting society in Acre would be much poorer and less sophisticated, but with less possibility of segregation based on criteria of class or race, since almost everyone was poor: mestizos, Indians or blacks, living in very similar conditions. Probably, that if it would reflect a lower perception of differences based on racial criteria, although the stigmas associated with more pronounced black phenotypes were not entirely absent. This situation would only undergo major changes in the 1970s, with the impetus of the military government to integrate the Amazon and the implementation of an agricultural system that brought in new waves of white farmers and rural workers from southern regions of Brazil. From that moment on, the region’s development began to follow a logic similar to that of the rest of the country, reproducing in Acre the sociocultural processes that occurred more generally, including in the realm of racial relations. Thus, a movement is currently developing in the region to raise awareness of the local black population and, significantly, one of its first proposals is to draw attention to the very existence of a black population in the region. (1)

This “blind spot” is, however, beginning to be repaired. In a recent official publication aimed at rescuing the importance of black influence in the formation of Acre, Mestre Irineu and Mestre Daniel Pereira de Matos were highlighted for having created typical Acre religions with an Amazonian configuration, incorporating religious elements of African matrix. (NRCNIRCN, 2007, p. 14)

In addition, it cannot be denied that in the very recent historical process of formation of a regional identity in Acre, Mestre Irineu and his Daime (2) community played roles of considerable importance, by providing the waves of former rubber tappers, expelled from the forest on the occasion from the downfall of the rubber economy, religious associative groups capable of helping them to integrate, both materially and in ideological terms, in their new urban context. (3) The importance of Raimundo Irineu Serra is currently recognized in Rio Branco by the attribution of his name to public places, an Environmental Protection Area, a neighborhood and a bus line.

We try to remain alert to the dangers of reinterpreting past times using, automatically, categories of our contemporaneity. Thus, it was pointed out to us that, even in current times, for some of his followers in Acre, the idea of ​​Mestre Irineu as a leader who militated in favor of political positions, such as the defense of black cultural traditions, seems somewhat far-fetched and not proven. This opinion was presented to us by Jair Facundes, a scholar and expert in the Daime community of Rio Branco, in which he has participated since his childhood. In order to be coherent with our initial posture, of openness to the diversity of positions we find in the field, it only remains for us to register it. We believe that this placement is, in part, a reflection of the way in which not much attention is currently paid to distinctions based on skin color among the Acre population, due to their predominantly mestizo constitution and the fact that, in this region, race relations tend to tend to present itself in a relatively less polarized way than in other parts of the country. It would also reflect the low impact that the military coup had on Acrean society in 1964, initially leading to little more than readjustments in the usual game of power shifts among the region’s traditional elites. As for Facundes:

[…] Mestre Irineu was black and suffered obvious prejudice. But he didn’t have a discourse for the liberation of the black or the affirmation of black culture. The statements that came to us indicate that he did not see himself as black, as he referred a lot to “old Maranhão”, but did not highlight the “black” aspect. It is certainly possible to interpret oneself too, as much as I am interpreting that he did not have a black discourse of affirmation or liberation, that he HAD a liberation discourse; after all, they are interpretations. It so happens that every interpretation must be based on facts and these do not show themselves able to sustain that Mestre Irineu consciously or unconsciously struggled against the situation of exclusion suffered by blacks in the country. And here is an important detail: his community was made up of people who ranged from generic and indefinable pardos to whites and blacks.

In short: Mestre Irineu did not rebel against the military regime, nor did he rebel against the inhuman exploitation that he himself suffered in the rubber plantations; just as he did not question the condition of black in society at the time, nor of the woman submitted to an inferior condition; or to non-recommended environmental practices. But in this there is nothing new: many religious or doctrinal leaders did not rise up against the aberrant injustices of their time: Gandhi did not rise up against India’s caste regime, nor did Buddha; Christ did not rise up against Roman rule and oppression or against the inferior status of women in Jewish society. This is reading the past with the political and philosophical references of our time. And it looks like a mistake to me. The Catholic Church driven by liberation theology that saw a socialist and revolutionary Christ, in a “rereading” of the Bible (4) […]. (Jair Facundes)

When working on this text, one of the aspects of Acre’s life during the period covered that most caught our attention was the degree of suffering caused by the rigors of work and by health problems. Health problems were numerous. Among the worst were malaria, but tuberculosis, malnutrition, leprosy, various skin problems, injuries due to accidents, attacks by animals, etc. they made life difficult for individuals and often for entire communities. That remote region of Brazil was almost entirely devoid of medical care, with only the alternative of home remedies, which were not always very effective. In moments of greater affliction, all that was left was to resort to prayers and to indigenous or mestizo pajelança.

Acting as a curator and influential community leader, Mestre Irineu developed throughout his career a strong charismatic aura. He was conceived by his followers as having miraculous healing powers and stood out as the man in crisis situations, when order seemed break or the future looked uncertain; being able to produce a prophetic discourse in which they could recognize themselves, when the representatives of the instituted order had nothing to say. (5)

Thus, based on his social prestige, Mestre Irineu would have implemented a symbolic power capable of building a new social reality, in which forms of perception and action would be inscribed in minds and bodies of his followers permanently, establishing among them new ways of seeing and acting in the world. (6) The legitimacy of his charisma was ritually reinforced by the performance of his hymns that featured his extraordinary powers as having been bestowed on him by the Divine Mother herself. In a way, we could say then that Mestre Irineu established a culture of the use of ayahuasca, but this, like any order of classification, would be subject to constant reassessments of its original senses. (7) As we will see below, such constant re-evaluation can be observed taking place in the Daime, as an intense dynamic, resulting from Mestre Irineu’s willingness to perfect his religious creation in permanent exchange with his personal, social and political context, but without ceasing to preserve certain basic, guiding principles of religion. (8)

Of central importance here would be the rules he developed for the production and religious use of daime, establishing standards for the interpretation of experiences produced under the influence of the drink within a religious framework that encompassed an order of values, rules of conduct and rituals, of great importance in structuring the lives of its adherents. These elements are now officially recognized as promoting a reduction of harm (9) and risks, thus enabling uses of the drink that are considered individually and socially healthy and constructive, despite the fact that it contains the psychoactive dimethyltryptamine or DMT, generally considered a drug of abuse. (10)

Charism theorists sometimes point to certain conservative aspects (11) of the performance of those who hold this type of power, as they enshrine the current sociopolitical order in the religious field. In the case of Mestre Irineu, we will see how, throughout the development of his doctrine, he was gradually discarding or giving less emphasis to traces of indigenous origin that until then characterized the traditional use of ayahuasca or huasca, such as the use of “chamados” (calls) and tobacco, as well as the invocation of beings clearly external to the Catholic pantheon, such as Currupipiraguá or Papai Pasha. He also vigorously repelled the old aggressive uses of ayahuasca, such as exercising witchcraft for a variety of purposes. In its place, he adopted hymn singing and other practices closer to Christian traditions. Thus, it carried out an important update of the ayahuasca codes, which until then were only understandable for certain ethnic groups, making them more compatible with the process that had been taking place in Acre for the implantation of a truly national Brazilian culture, but which did not fail to present the marks of Christian/Western hegemony prevailing in the country.

In addition, his appropriation of the symbols of order and civility in his time stands out. Thus, we find in the Daime several elements of the military organization, from the adoption of uniforms to the distribution of ranks inspired by the hierarchy of barracks; the use of civic emblems, such as the flag, but above all its proximity to political leaders considered conservative, especially its adherence to the regime imposed by the 1964 military coup.

We know that Mestre Irineu, despite the persecutions that he suffered (including an episode of imprisonment), used to adopt a conciliatory posture in relation to the government. We believe that it was as a political survival strategy for its religion that, in its position of great social vulnerability, it always chose to adopt conciliatory or legalistic attitudes in support of the constituted order, but without further elaboration in discussions of party ideology. After the implantation of the military dictatorship, he took a neutral position, not committing himself to the excesses or violence committed by the new regime. In this way he maintained the approval of military and political allies, some of whom were highly senior, and was able to continue his religious activities without further persecution against himself or his followers.

During this period, similar situations took place in other parts of the country. In Bahia, Candomblé and other Afro-indigenous religions were subject to stigma and persecution similar to those of Daime in Acre. Until 1976, for example, the functioning of the Bahian terreiros was subject to police supervision, through the Police Station for Games and Customs. But on several occasions during the military regime, Candomblé managed to get closer to state power and gain its support. After the restoration of democracy, the religion of the orixás and their followers, previously kept under suspicion, began to have relationships that were positively valued and publicized by the government (SANTOS, 2005, p. 142-145), which today contributes significantly for the prestige and self-esteem of black people, both locally and nationally.

Mestre Irineu’s political stance should not be perceived as contradictory, as the relations between culture (including religion) and power are inseparable and interdependent although, in cases like these, they can be intermediated by the reading of racial relations in terms of sociability, miscegenation or inequality. (SANTOS, 2005, p. 235) We must also remember that the universe of politics needs favorable and legitimizing representations in the context of culture and, along with time, it has found partnerships in different spheres, not only in religion, but also in the arts and the academy, for example.

The rapprochement between Candomblé and the state power that took place in Bahia was similar to that seen in Acre between the Daime and the government. In both cases, religious leaders needed to safeguard their religions, known to be minority and locally stigmatized, from persecution. There can be no doubt that political acceptance was extremely important for the Daime in the last years of Mestre Irineu’s life to consolidate itself as a legitimate culture in Acre.

Classically, it is understood that the charism of a leader, after his retirement from the scene, is transferred to the institutions he bequeaths. This is called the bureaucratization of charisma. (WEBER, 1991) In the case of Mestre Irineu, the process seems to have been somewhat different. At the end of his life, when Mestre Irineu left the partnership with the Esoteric Circle Communion of Thought (CECP), he would have said: “If they don’t want my daime, (12) they don’t want me either, I’m Daime and Daime is me”. Here it is clear that he considered himself to be the drink, the way to make it, the doctrine and the religious institution itself. Interpretations of these sayings in the sense that it became the drink in the literal sense, as a kind of daime spirit, are observable in the community. Thus, we can say that the drink gained a symbolic capital, representative of the master himself. In this way, where the daime (the drink or the religious institution) is, he is.

In other words, everything indicates that, in life, Mestre Irineu would be a more attractive focus than the drink itself, as it was from him that the prescriptions, rites and myths of religion departed. He was the epicenter of the daime cult. But, with his death, the drink and the institution would represent him as a legitimizing agent and, as the spiritual being “Juramidã”, he would then be present in all the Daime rituals, in which the drink is taken in the way he taught .

It is observed that, currently, the memory of Mestre Irineu (Juramidã) was linked to daime in such a way that other spiritual movements users of the drink, known generically as “neo-ayahuasqueros” persist in claiming its legitimacy through a connection with their tradition, even if they no longer share the same codes. (13)

Today we find, in the field of ayahuasca religions, centers that appeal to the legitimacy of tradition, without really having a link with it, only a distant connection based on the use of the drink, in a kind of continuity and break with the predecessor model. (LABATE, 2004, p. 271) Thus, we believe that the drink itself tends to be a more attractive focus than Mestre Irineu for later generations in the Alto Santo centers, other daimista lines and even other ayahuasca religions who use their memory linked to drink as a reference to legitimize themselves in the religious field.

The growth of ayahuasca religions and their concomitant expansion to other regions of the country, as well as abroad, has led the National Council on Drug Policies (CONAD) to be concerned with the regulation of the religious use of ayahuasca. Thus, during 2006, an official working group was constituted, composed of scientists (14) and representatives of different ayahuasca religions, with the purpose of guaranteeing the free exercise of their cults within a deontological framework elaborated in common agreement. This was the first time that the adherents of these religions were invited to participate, and on an equal footing, in official discussions on the regulation of their practices. Throughout the process, representatives of the National Secretariat for Drug Policy (SENAD), in charge of carrying it out, demonstrated great commitment to ensuring that procedures were carried out in the most democratic manner possible and that a wide range of different points of view were taken. in count. As a result, a final report was prepared with the conclusions agreed by the working group, which was finally approved by the CONAD plenary on November 6, 2006 (see Annex K) and made official by Resolution No. 1 of January 25, 2010, issued by the Cabinet Security Council and the National Drug Policy Council (see Annex L). At the same time, the possibility of registering the religious use of ayahuasca as part of the Acre and possibly national cultural heritage has been discussed.

Finally, we’d like to make a few quick comments about the writing of this book. It is the joint result of contacts that the authors have maintained, each in their own way, with the Daime, since 1988, for Edward MacRae, and 1995, for Paulo Moreira, periods during which both have been carrying out research, jointly and separately, about the subject.

Beneficiary of a FAPESB master’s scholarship and a CNPq grant-aid, Paulo Moreira carried out field research in Rio Branco, during 2006 and early 2007, deepening his knowledge of Mestre Irineu and Alto Santo in three visits. already acquired on several previous visits of different durations. He was also part of a project, coordinated by his dissertation advisor, Edward MacRae, called “The trajectory of Mestre Irineu and the Santo Daime Religion – Ayahuasca Ingestion and the Production of Trances, Mirações and Incorporations in the Alto Santo and CEFLURIS Lines”. (15) With funding from this project and research grant from CNPq, Moreira was then able to cover other expenses with travel, accommodation, data collection and analysis for her master’s thesis in anthropology, finally defended in December 2008 at the Graduate Program in Social Sciences at UFBa. This book is a re-elaboration of this dissertation, carried out jointly by the two researchers between 2008 and 2010, with the support of the Brazilian Association of Social Studies on the Use of Psychoactives (ABESUP) and the Interdisciplinary Group for the Study of Psychoactive Substances (GIESP).

Mestre Irineu in plain clothes
Mestre Irineu in plain clothes


1 See, by the way, the publication Negros no Acre produced by the Regional Nucleus of the National Center for Information and Reference of Black Culture (NRCNIRCN) at the Instituto do Meio Ambiente do Acre, where one of the articles has the title: And there it comes again the same conversation! Are there blacks in Acre?. (NRCNIRCN, 2007, p. 37)
2 Before proceeding with our analysis, we want to make it clear that throughout the book we use the term “daime” with a small “d” to identify the drink (ayahuasca), and we will use the term “Daime” with a capital “D” to identify the religion founded by Mestre Irineu, named after the drink and the community.
3 Anthropologist Clodomir Monteiro da Silva developed this idea in his pioneering dissertation The Palace of Juramidan – Santo Daime: a ritual of transcendence and de-pollution. (SILVA, C., 1983)
4 Jair Facundes in an email communication sent to Edward MacRae in 2009.
5 On this topic, see: Weber (1991, p. 158-159), Bourdieu (2005a, p. 73) and Moreira (2008).
6 For a discussion of the concept of the religious habitus of ayahuasca consumption, see the conceptualizations of Bourdieu and Mauss in Moreira (2008).
7 We are referring here to what the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins calls the “functional reappraisal of categories”. (SAHLINS, 1979, p. 9-10)
8 In our view, Mestre Irineu gradually formed, through his charisma, a “Religious Consumption Habitus of ayahuasca” among his followers, in the sense of the “habitus” category used by sociologist Pierre Bourdieu. For the author, the category “Habitus” takes on several congruent meanings, that is, for him it is primarily “acquired knowledge and also a possession, a capital, which indicates an incorporated, almost postural disposition of an agent in action, or a kind of sense of game that does not have the need to reason and rationally situate itself in a space”. (BOURDIEU, 1998, p. 61-62) Bourdieu also employs the notion of habitus as not only being a common code, or even a common repertoire of answers to common problems, or a group of particular and particularized thought schemes, but as, above all, a set of fundamental schemes, previously assimilated, from which, according to an art of invention similar to that of musical writing, an infinity of particular schemes, directly applied to particular situations, are produced. Or as a system of internalized schemes that allow the engendering of all the thoughts, perceptions and actions characteristic of a culture. (BOURDIEU, 2005b, p. 349) For him, the habitus would also produce individual and collective practices, therefore historical, in accordance with schemes engendered by that same history, that is, a system of dispositions from the past that survives in the current and tends to perpetuate itself in the future, updating itself in practices structured according to its own principles. (BOURDIEU, 2002, p. 178)
9 The harm reduction approach presupposes a more complex understanding of the drug issue, transcending the reductionism that considers the effect of these substances as determined primarily by processes of a pharmacological nature. This way of dealing with both the psychological and social effects of the use of psychoactive substances, trying to reduce the risks and damage that can be caused, considers that the understanding of the effects of these substances requires not only a knowledge of their performance in the body, but also also an understanding of the psychology of a given user and a knowledge of the sociocultural context in which the use takes place. Researchers such as sociologist Howard Becker (1976), psychiatrist Norman Zinberg (1984) and psychologist Jean-Paul Grund (1993), among others, have pointed to the need to take into account the knowledge held by the user group (a called “drug culture” or, in this case, the habitus of the religious use of ayahuasca), including aspects such as values, rules of conduct and social rituals that govern different modalities of use, as well as the user’s life structure and the degree of availability of the substances. Edward MacRae (1992) has been pointing since 1992 to how the doctrines and rituals of the Ayahuasca religions incorporate important elements that lead to the “controlled” and low-risk use of the psychoactive substances used in their rituals.
10 On November 6, 2006, the National Anti-Drug Council approved a report proposing the official regulation of the religious use of ayahuasca in the context of rituals of the Santo Daime, União do Vegetal and Barquinha religions, as well as those of other spiritual groups generically called neo-ayahuasqueiros. A discussion of the process of preparing this report can be found in the article by Edward MacRae (2008) The Elaboration of Brazilian Public Policies in Relation to the Religious Use of Ayahuasca.
11 See for example Bourdieu (2005a, p. 75).
12 Interview with João Rodrigues in March 2007.
13 Weber (1991) calls traditional legitimacy that which refers to tradition, to what “has always been like this”, “this is how it was done”, and charismatic legitimacy that legitimacy associated with direct contact with the divine plan. Thus, Mestre Irineu, as we know, enjoyed charismatic legitimacy, but his successors and other similar centers began to enjoy traditional legitimacy.
14 Edward MacRae participated as an anthropologist in the Multidisciplinary Working Group of Ayahuasca constituted by CONAD and based on this experience, he prepared an article discussing various aspects of the issue. (MACRAE, 2008)
15 CNPq Process No. 402398/06-8.

2 thoughts on “Introduction

  1. Hussein says:

    Dear receiver,

    Thank you for this valuable source that this website represents.

    The author refers to a book written by Edward McRae and Paulo Moreira as the reference for this website. I would be grateful if you could direct me to that book.

    With Love,

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