Santo Daime is a syncretism spiritual practice, it is the fastest growing religion in the world. It was founded by Raimundo Irineu Serra, called Mestre Irineu, in the Brazilian Amazon in the 1930s. Today the community is based in Ceu’ do Mapia’ where Mestre Irineu’s disciple Padrinho Sebastiao, found his community after Mestre Irineu’s death. It became a worldwide movement in the 1990s. Mestre Irineu gave it the name of Daime, which is known generically as Ayauhasca.
Dai-me means “give me” in Portuguese, and daime amor, daime forca “give me love, give me strength”. Santo Daime is syncretism in that it incorporates elements of several religious or spiritual traditions including Catholicism, African Animism, and South American Shamanism. The religion has little basis in written texts. Instead, its teachings are learned experientially, through singing of inspired hymns, which explore perennial values of love, harmony and strength through poetic and metaphorical imagery. Ceremonies, which are called trabalhos, meaning ‘works’, are typically several hours long and consist of drinking Daime and either sitting or dancing while singing hymns and playing maracas, or sitting in silent ‘concentration’.
Overall the Santo Daime promotes a wholesome lifestyle in conformity with Mestre Irineu’s motto of ‘harmony, love, truth and justice’, as well as other key doctrinal values such as strength, humility, fraternity and purity of heart. Ayahuasca, which contains the psychoactive compound dimethyltryptamine (DMT), has been the subject of increasing legal scrutiny in the last few decades as Santo Daime has expanded. The decoction has been explicitly legal for religious use in Brazil since 1986, while recent legal battles in Europe have legalized its use in Holland and Spain.