Santo Daime

Santo Daime โ˜จ #

Introduction #

N,N-Dimethyltryptamine Harmine and similar
DMT Harmine Tetrahydroharmine

Ayahuasca is a psychoactive brew used by various indigenous groups (including pregnant women1) in the Amazon. Incorporating ayahuasca as a sacrament, Santo Daime is a syncretic religion founded in Brazil in the 1930s. While traditional use of ayahuasca often emphasizes individual exploration, Santo Daime emphasizes group synchrony and communitas.2 I’ve attended Santo Daime works since Dec 2021. There are a number of areas that I think could be improved.

What is special about the group experience? #

Before suggesting improvements, I want to underline what is revolutionary about Santo Daime: the group experience.

The force of the daime draws one’s attention to the present and opens up more opportunity for choice. When group behavior is the reference point, your conscious choice to harmonize with the group can help relieve varieties of self-centeredness including feeling entitled, lack of connection, and internal conflict. In contrast, entitlement and arrogance are a risk when intention is limited to individual exploration.3 The group experience is a hugely significant innovation. If your experience of psychedelics is only individual exploration then you have not had a chance to appreciate their full transformative potential.

Lyrics #

Lyrics facilitate precise synchronization among the group, not just physically and physiologically but in the imaginal space. Since we have to recite something to achieve this degree of synchronization, we might as well recite something religious (i.e., unobjectionable). As far as I can tell, the preponderance of Christian and African religious material reflects nothing more than a historical accident.4 It would be nice if the hymns included more diversity in religious heritage.

Harmonies? #

Sung harmonies weaves two or more vocal lines together to create a richer, fuller sound than could be achieved with a single voice. Here’s a breakdown of what goes into singing harmonies:


  • Multiple notes: Instead of just one pitch, at least two different notes are sung simultaneously. These notes might be close together (like thirds or sixths) or further apart (like octaves or fifths).
  • Pleasing sound: The combination of notes should sound good together, not jarring or dissonant. This depends on the musical context and style.
  • Complementing the melody: Harmony parts typically interweave with the main melody, providing support, adding counterpoint, or even mirroring the melody’s emotional journey.

Types of harmonies:

  • Simple two-part harmonies: Often involve singing a third or sixth above or below the melody.
  • More complex harmonies: Can involve multiple singers and use various intervals and melodic patterns, building intricate layers of sound. Think barbershop quartets, gospel choirs, or jazz vocal groups.
  • Passing tones and suspensions: These are temporary notes that add brief moments of tension or surprise before resolving back to a consonant harmony.

Benefits of singing harmonies:

  • Enhances the emotional impact of the music: Adds depth, dimension, and expressiveness to the song.
  • Creates a fuller, richer sound: Makes the music feel more complete and polished.
  • Showcases vocal skill and musicianship: Demonstrates a singer’s understanding of music and ability to blend their voice with others.

So why don’t we do it (more) in Santo Daime?

Rosary ๐Ÿ‘Ž๐Ÿผ #

Abolish the rosary. ๐Ÿ“ฟ It’s so boring that the leader sometimes loses track of which prayer to say next. In general, minimize prayer repetition. Specifically, the mass could benefit from judicious pruning.

Prayers #

Some people seem to enjoy using prayer to communicate with a higher power, petition for help, or express gratitude. Perhaps I have been traumatized by placebo sacrament religions (and cults) where these activities feel fake to me.5 Another possible purpose for the prayers is to teach about the inner world. However, IFS conveys the same information with greater precision and finesse.

For example, consider Padrinho Alfredo’s Saint Michael Work. This work of spiritual cleansing and healing contains beautiful hymns, but some of the prayers are not great. ๐Ÿš”๐Ÿšจ

Offense: Utter lack of or insufficient compassion. ๐Ÿ’” These prayers condemn and exile evil instead of encouraging to understand the motivations of surprising behavior. Evil is not to be condemned but interrogated.6


Pages Prayer Hall of Shame ๐Ÿ’ฉ
49-52 Allan Kardec’s Prayer for the Beginning of the Meeting Keep away wicked spirits”
53-54 Allan Kardec’s Prayer for the Mediums “If I am tempted in any way to abuse, in any form, the gift bestowed on me by Your grace, or if I become proud of it, I ask that You take it back” (punitive self-flagellation)
59-60 Allan Kardec’s Prayer to Remove Wrong-Doing Spirits “clean your soul of its impurities in order to avoid bad spirits”
61-62 Prayer “I repel you with all the strength in my soul”

Punishment: Are you paying attention? ๐Ÿคฃ Evil should not be exiled or punished but interrogated. ๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿผโ€โ™‚๏ธ

Demand: Rescind these prayers and apologize. ๐Ÿšซ

I met Padrinho Alfredo face-to-face in Portland on 2024 Apr 07. Having met him, I am confident that he can receive this message as constructive criticism.

Posture and Gesture ๐Ÿชฝ #

There is too much to say! Visit here

Smudging #

Smudging is a ceremonial practice used in various Indigenous cultures (primarily North American) for spiritual cleansing and purification. The purpose is to cleanse people, places, or objects of negative energy, promote healing, and create sacred space. This is traditionally accomplished by burning dried herbs or smudge sticks (i.e., incense). The smoke is fanned with feathers or hands with specific intentions and prayers.

Unfortunately burning incense has been found to generate about four times the particulate matter as burning cigarettes. Worse, the incomplete combustion results in carbon monoxide, nitric oxides, sulfur dioxide, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and volatile organic compounds like benzene and formaldehyde. Feeling purified? Really? Just say “no” to smudging. ๐Ÿงฏ ๐Ÿšญ

Ginger ๐Ÿซš #

Some ayahuasca traditions regard purging as necessary and even powerful part of the healing process. Some even add emetic agents to the brew!7

  • Physical Cleansing: Many traditions view purging as a crucial element of physical cleansing, eliminating negative energies, toxins, and blockages from the body, allowing for deeper spiritual and emotional healing.
  • Psychological Release: Purging is often seen as a form of emotional catharsis, releasing pent-up emotions, traumas, and negativity, leading to deeper self-awareness and personal growth.
  • Spiritual Transformation: In some traditions, purging is considered a symbolic death and rebirth experience, purging the “old self” to make way for spiritual transformation and renewal.

While Santo Daime acknowledges the potential cleansing and cathartic effects of purging, it’s not considered a central focus of the experience. If some traditions use an emetic, why not offer an optional antiemetic in Santo Daime? Why not make ginger capsules8 available? Or pharmauasca?9 Or ondansetron (if not pregnant10)?

Cannabis #

There is some precedent for the use of cannabis in the Santo Daime tradition.11 I suggest ingesting 25mg ฮ”8-THC and 25mg CBD about two hours before the work commences. This low dose would help ease the experience during the first serving of Daime. As a bonus, cannabis is also an antiemetic.

Baptism ๐ŸŒŠ #

I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)

And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:7-8)

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Luke 3:16-17)

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is Godโ€™s Chosen One.” (John 1:32-34)

Daime facilitates presence of the Holy Spirit. Despite this, some congregations continue to perform water baptisms. I think baptism is generally a fine idea, to recognize those who publically vow to live in accord with the spirit of Christ. However, placebo sacrament baptism seems like a confused practice. We have Daime. Daime is sufficient to consummate baptism.

On the other hand: What’s wrong with a confused practice? Daime is a trickster. If people want water baptism, why not?

Co-signers ๐Ÿ–‹๏ธ #


Want to see these changes happen? Let me know if you would like to add your name here.

Notes #

  1. Guimarรฃes dos Santos, R. (2013). Safety and side effects of ayahuasca in humansโ€”an overview focusing on developmental toxicology. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 45(1), 68-78. ↩︎

  2. Turner, E. (2012). Communitas: The anthropology of collective joy. Springer. ↩︎

  3. Ego tripping: Why do psychedelics “enlighten” some people โ€” and make others giant narcissists? ↩︎

  4. It could be argued that the respectability of Santo Daime was in part due to its embrace of Christianity. Christian missionaries have often violently crushed traditions centered around the use of psychoactive sacraments that did not acknowlege Christianity (Muraresku 2020).

    • Muraresku, B. C. (2020). The Immortality Key: The Secret History of the Religion with No Name. St. Martin’s Press.
  5. I think it is important to be slightly sophisticated about what it means to be religious. For example:

    • Derren Brown: Fear and Faith (2012)
    • Carse, J. P. (2009). The Religious Case Against Belief. Penguin Publishing Group.
    • Luhrmann, T. M. (2020). How God Becomes Real: Kindling the Presence of Invisible Others. Princeton University Press.
  6. Schwartz, R. (2021). No Bad Parts. Sounds True Adult. ↩︎

  7. Ayahuasca Admixtures ↩︎

  8. Marx, W., Kiss, N., & Isenring, L. (2015). Is ginger beneficial for nausea and vomiting? An update of the literature. Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care, 9(2), 189โ€“195. ↩︎

  9. Aicher, H. D., Mueller, M. J., Dornbierer, D. A., Suay, D., Meling, D., Mueller, J., … & Scheidegger, M. (2024). Potential therapeutic effects of an ayahuasca-inspired N, N-DMT and harmine formulation: A controlled trial in healthy subjects. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 14, 1302559. ↩︎

  10. Picot, C., Berard, A., Grenet, G., Ripoche, E., Cucherat, M., & Cottin, J. (2020). Risk of malformation after ondansetron in pregnancy: An updated systematic review and metaโ€analysis. Birth Defects Research, 112(13), 996-1013. ↩︎

  11. MacRae, E. (1998). Santo Daime and Santa Mariaโ€“The licit ritual use of ayabuasca and the illicit use of cannabis in a Brazilian Amazonian religion. International Journal of Drug Policy, 9(5), 325-338. ↩︎