Whilst most of you were EATING at Christmas – we were fasting and preparing for our first Santo Daime (Ayahuasca) Ceremony.
For those of you who don’t know – Santo Daime is a syncretic religion founded in the 1930s in Brazil by Raimundo Irineu Serra. Santo Daime incorporates elements of several religious or spiritual traditions including Folk Catholicism, Kardecist Spiritism, African animism and indigenous South American shamanism, including vegetalismo.
Ayahuasca ceremonies from South America and the Santo Daime tradition, are focussed on personal growth, connection to the Divine, healing, and transformation. There is very little doubt about it. Both practices are interested in integrity: the integrity of the ceremony, the integrity of the leadership, the integrity of the participants, etc. Both practices are devoted to the medicine as the teacher. Both practices, (though the Daime is far younger) are advanced healing technologies with strong, complex, and diverse histories and global reach.
Whereas Ayahuasca Shamanism can err on the side of guru worship, blurry boundaries, the romanticisation of unity in diversity, and the “everyone wants to be the next shaman” complex. The Santo Daime could be considered to be overly rigid, dogmatic, out of touch with nature, gender polarising, and somewhat sterile.
YIN AND YANG
The Yin of the Ayahuasca world, wherever we find it, in whatever tradition, reminds us that we can experience oneness with all life, and there is an emphasis on the deeply personal space that resides in the body of the medicine – for our diversity, for our questions – as much as our answers, and for the magical reconnection to Spirit and to our earthly paradise.
The Yang of the Ayahuasca world, wherever we find it, in whatever tradition, reminds us of the laws and structures of the world we live in. The yang teaches us how to navigate toward our highest potential with single pointed focus and an acute understanding of the group intention and personal structure it takes to be “one people with Spirit,” forging our way upward in consciousness and transcending darkness as we go.
PLANT MEDICINE AS A PATH OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Of course, “wherever we find it,” and “in whatever tradition”, means that these categories cannot ultimately be assigned to Ayahuasca Shamanism or to the Santo Daime Church. At the end of the day, having experienced both worlds, my personal feeling is that we must continue to forge ahead in dialogue with the plant spirits of our planet.
These “yin” and “yangs” of the medicine world may seem diametrically opposed, wherever they appear, and often traditions do vary greatly – from practices and protocol and from one cup of brew to the next.
THE PATHLESS PATH
Yet, in the tension of the opposites there always comes a “third.” Where will the Ayahausca medicine, the Santo Daime traditions, take us next? In fact – where will the extraordinary insights, growth and diversity of the PLANT MEDICINE KINGDOM – with its various traditions and ceremonies of the world take us next?
I believe that ultimately all paths lead us back to the same embodied understanding and discovery of who we truly are – the deep realisation that we are all aspects of the Divine.
Can we go beyond the “yins” and “yangs” of the various medicine communities?
Until we do, or as we do, I know that I will always have deep respect for all plant medicine traditions – for the magic, revelations, teachings (and the shadows) that they all offer!