The Amazon town of Boca do Acre has become a maelstrom, blending hallucinogens with a complex syncretic religion blended from Christianity, Spiritism, Shamanism and African Animism.
Santo Daime, the religion that has made its home in Boca do Acre, was founded in 1930 by a Brazilian man who saw the Virgin Mary during an experience with the psychoactive vine Ayahuasca. Following his vision, he began formulating new religious views, which became Santo Daime. Daime, in Portuguese means “give me,” which accurately reflects a religion based on deriving strength and love from one’s environment.
When Santo Daime was first introduced, there were no spiritual texts, and many of the followers were illiterate. Instead, the religion relied on hymnal prayer and the consumption of “Daime,” or a brew made from Ayahuasca. The hallucinogenic experience is aimed at giving the user clarity and peace of mind.
Since its inception, the religion has gained a steady stream of followers in both Brazil, and across the world. There are even adherents to Santo Daime in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, its popularization has also brought demonization in the legal system of many countries. Since Ayahuasca contains an illicit compound, its use in religious ceremony is extremely controversial. However, recent court cases in the United States have essentially legalized its use in religious ceremony.
Aside from its supposed religious effects, a number of researchers have used Boca do Acre and Santo Daime as a launch point into the study of Ayahuasca’s medicinal benefits. Current research focuses greatly on the treatment of substance abuse with the drug, and results thus far have been varied and inconclusive.
Know Before You Go
Fly into Rio Branco and take a cab to Boca do Acre