Medicines of the jungle, consubstantiality and symbolic kinship1

    Received: June 29, 2018

    Acceptance: December 04, 2017


    The subject of this article is the alliance between leaders of the Yawanawá (Pano) indigenous people, of the Río Gregorio Indigenous Land, state of Acre (Brazil), and the family of the leaders of an urban church of Santo Daime, located in Río de Janeiro The problem I pose is the formation of the alliance between these different actors, associated with the consumption of jungle medicines, with ideologies of consubstantiality and kinship production (symbolic and effective). The aim of the article is to present a historical overview of the formation of the alliance and to discuss its sociological and cosmological meanings. The data were collected in field work in an urban Santo Daime church in Rio de Janeiro from July 2015 to March 2017, and in twenty days in the Río Gregorio Indigenous Land, in July 2016.

    Keywords: , , , ,

    Rainforest Medicine, Consubstantiality and Symbolic Kinship

    The subject of the article is the partnership between Yawanawá (aka Pano) indigenous leaders from the Río Gregorio indigenous jurisdiction, in Acre State, Brazil, and the families of leaders of an urban church, Santo Daime, in Rio de Janeiro. I posit the problem of a partnership formed between different stakeholders, associated with the consumption of rainforest-based medicines, to ideologies of (symbolic and effective) consubstantiality and kinship production. The essay's goal is to present an historical panorama on the partnership's constitution as well as foster a discussion of its sociological and cosmological meanings. Data was collected as part of field work at the urban Church of Santo Daime, in Rio de Janeiro, from July 2015 to March 2017, as well as over twenty days in the Rio Gregorio indigenous jurisdiction, in July 2016.

    Keywords: Partnership, consubstantiality, ayahuasca, rainforest medicine, symbolic kinship.


    In this article I present initial data and analysis of my doctoral research, whose theme is the so-called alliance between social actors of the yawanawá (pano) indigenous people of the Río Gregorio Indigenous Land, in Brazil, state of Acre, and leaders and followers of a church urban of the Brazilian religion called Santo Daime,2 located in Rio de Janeiro.

    The church where I did field work is part of “the eclectic line of godfather Sebastião”. It was created in 1982 and participated in the initial moment of expansion of the Santo Daime religion in Brazil. In this article I will use the fictitious name “Céu de Yemanjá” to name the church where I conducted participant observation. The names of some social actors will also be modified.

    As a starting point, the alliance between the Yawanawá and the non-indigenous of the Santo Daime urban church can be described as a system of reciprocal relationships, through exchanges of gifts and visits. The alliance can be analyzed as a total benefits system (Mauss, 2013), under the give-receive-return scheme.

    This set of relationships began in 2009, the year of the first visit of the Yawanawá to the Céu de Yemanjá church. This occurred in the context of a series of trips made by a delegation of Yawanawá leaders to cities in the country: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Brasilia (Oliveira, 2012).

    As can be seen in the ethnographies of Naveira (1999) and Pérez Gil (1999), it is part of the Yawanawá sociability to produce alliances, traditionally matrimonial, as a form of inter-ethnic relationship with the other indigenous peoples of the Pano language. The mariris or festivals were the most suitable times for the negotiation of these marriages.

    Throughout the century xix and early xxThese alliances could even be tricked through shamanic predation and the abduction of women (Naveira, 1999). In his most recent relations with the national society and the nawa (non-indigenous), it can be observed that the Yawanawá have been greatly expanding their alliances and economic associations with non-indigenous people (Ribeiro, 2005; Nahoum, 2013; Oliveira, 2012; Souza, 2015).

    According to the leaders of the village of Mutum, one of the eight villages of the Río Gregorio Indigenous Land, the relations of the Yawanawá with the non-indigenous of the Ayahuasque religions are part of a new time, the time of the rescue of "culture." . It is important to highlight that, currently, indigenous peoples have more legitimacy and political importance in the national and international ayahuasca field.3

    As Labate and Coutinho (2014) have pointed out, since 2000 some indigenous peoples of Brazil began to travel to the southeast of the country to contract alliances with groups of Brazilian Ayahuasque religions and neo-shamanic groups. Coutinho (2011) described the presence of

    kaxinawá (huni kuin) in Rio de Janeiro, in relations with a neo-shamanic group called Guardians Huni Kuin.

    In addition, since 2002 the relations between the Santo Daime Céu do Patriarca church, the Fuego Sagrado church and the Guarani Mbguaçu village, in Florianópolis, generated a network of exchanges of medicines, aesthetics, the production of hybrids, innovations and cultural reinventions called the Alliance of Medicines (Rose, 2010). The author states that this network is an international exchange network, which is not restricted to the southern part of the country.

    Following this process, since 2009 an urban network of alliances between the Yawanawá indigenous people and the nawa ayahuasqueros in Brazil, between churches of Santo Daime and ayahuasqueros groups of the so-called indigenous ayahuasquera line. This Yawa-Nawa network was described in a general way by Oliveira (2012), who deepened the description of the relationships between the Yawanawá and the Ayahuasquero group of the indigenous line called Shaku bena, from Curitiba. The author also describes the hybridisms, innovations and cultural reinventions that have been occurring between the nawa and the Yawanawá as a consequence of these relationships.

    Among the various alliances of the network of urban allies of the Yawanawá, I am currently conducting a case study in my doctorate regarding the alliance between this indigenous people and the Céu de Yemanjá urban church. In this article, the problem I pose is language training4 of said alliance, associated with the common consumption of jungle medicines and discourses about the creation of the same spiritual family, as an adoptive / symbolic relationship. In such relationships, issues of translation and hierarchy are of utmost importance.

    These relationships between the Yawanawá and the nawa they are originally relationships of potential affinity (Viveiros de Castro, 1993; 2013) in shamanic rituals, as part of foreign policy (Enrikson, 1992). These relations began as a political and economic strategy of the chief Biraci Brasil, with a view to expanding his relations and economic projects with the allies. nawa.

    In the first phase of the alliance, from 2009 to 2014, a language of existence of a symbolic kinship prevailed, called by the followers of the Santo Daime church of "spiritual family", with the creation of relationships of compadrazgo and sponsorship: the third included (Viveiros de Castro, 1993), a form of mediation and approximation of social relations between actors who are not part of the same effective kinship structure.

    In the second phase, from 2014 to the present day, the language of the alliance became one of effective affinity relationships (royal kinship), due to the marriage in the same year between Rodrigo (pseudonym), the son of the leaders of the church Céu de Yemanjá,5 with Letícia (pseudonym), the daughter of the chief of the village of Mutum in 2014.6

    The aim of the article is to analyze the language of the alliance in its two phases: from 2009 to 2014, when the main approach was between the Céu de Yemanjá church and the village of Nova Esperança; and the second phase, when the Daimista church in Rio de Janeiro became more directly related to the village of Mutum. Therefore, I seek to analyze social situations (Gluckman, 2010) of the alliance of these two different moments.

    In addition, I question how the common consumption of some medicines from the jungle (mainly ayahuasca / daime /uni and snuff) allowed these relationships to exist. The shared use of medicines - the master plants and their corresponding spirits (Luna, 2004) - is associated with the notion of the yawanawá body, of consubstantiality and the formation of the same “spiritual family”.

    I have the hypothesis that this spiritual family was established through the common consumption of psychoactive substances - medicines da forest- mainly the uni/ daime (ayahuasca) and snuff. In addition, the realization of the diet of the muka (a type of bitter potato) by Rodrigo (Platero, 2018), the son of the leaders of the Daimista church, was fundamental for him to come to be recognized "as a Yawanawá warrior" by the chief Mariazinha, and no longer as a nawa/Foreign.7

    The data was collected in a fieldwork in the Céu de Yemanjá church, from July 2015 to March 2017, a period in which some Yawanawá leaders were present in this church in approximately seven visits, making performances cultural and participating in the so-called works / rituals of Santo Daime. Data were also collected in a twenty-day fieldwork stay at the Río Gregorio Indigenous Land, in the village of Mutum, in July 2016. The methodology was based mainly on participant observation, semi-structured interviews, informal conversations and criticism. of the speeches of the interlocutors.

    As initial conclusions, I can affirm that the Yawanawá sociability leads to the incorporation from the outside to the inside for political and economic purposes, as part of a strategy of expanding allies. In its sociological aspect, I consider that the Yawanawá have a political and economic strategy to increase the number of allies through shamanism. For Yawanawás and followers of Santo Daime, the alliance is a way of seeking support and reciprocal relations with the outside, in a kind of spiritual diplomacy.

    However, due to the marriage between the children of the leaders, the exterior moved to the interior: Rodrigo became the son-in-law of the chief Mariazinha Neñeni and acquired the obligation to help in the financial support of his new family. Godfather Jorge and his son became important political and economic allies, as well as spiritual allies. Meanwhile, this is just one case among the many other allies of the Yawanawá indigenous people.

    In its sociological aspect, this alliance is not part of the Alliance

    of Medicines described by Rose (2010). This is because the leaders of the Daimista church Céu de Yemanjá do not have relationships with the leaders of the Daimista church Céu do Patriarca, of Florianópolis, the daimist part that promotes the Alliance of Medicines.

    In its cosmological aspect, I can affirm that for the family of leaders of the Céu de Yemanjá church and many of its followers, the use of medicines in common made possible the ideology of the existence of the same “spiritual family” between them and the Yawanawá. . The notion of spiritual family is a native category of the Santo Daime. As stated by Chief Biraci, for the Yawanawá this spiritual alliance exists because it was authorized by the spirits of their ancestors. There is the notion of communication between spirits of both groups. In this cosmology of contact, it is possible to affirm that this alliance is part of the Alliance of Medicines, as it is related to the introduction of the medicines "of the Indians", their spirits and their aesthetics in the daily lives of urban daimistas.

    Out of these relationships emerge cultural innovations and reinventions for the Yawanawá and the Daimists. However, although in a contradictory way, some Yawanawá leaders continue with a discursive position contrary to cultural mixtures, in a search for rescue and preservation of what would be the Yawanawá “traditional culture”.

    Brief context of the Céu de Yemanjá church

    The leaders of the Céu de Yemanjá church consider it a Santo Daime church that follows the eclectic “tradition” of godfather Sebastião Mota de Mello and Master Irineu Serra, founder of the religion in the 1930s. xx.8 In the administrative aspect, that church can be considered a division, since it founded its own legal entity and is not part of the iciclu.9 However, the leaders do not recognize that there is a split and follow the ritual calendar of the Céu do Mapiá matrix (iceflu). On the other hand, in this church there is the production of innovations as a consequence of the alliance with the Yawanawá. These innovations are part of the “eclecticism” of the churches associated with the “line of the godfather Sebatião”.

    The godfather leader Jorge married in 1986 one of the godfather Sebastião's daughters, the godmother Janaina (pseudonym). Thus, the family of leaders of this church has effective kinship relationships (consanguinity and affinity) with families from the community of Villa Céu do Mapiá, located in the state of Amazonas in Brazil. For the leaders of the Céu de Yemanjá church, the commander and spiritual leader of the Santo Daime religion from the line of Godfather Sebastião is godmother Rita, widow of godfather Sebastião, mother of Janaína and mother-in-law of leader Jorge.

    Some leaders of other churches of Santo Daime (cefluris / iceflu) began their path in the Santo Daime religion within the Céu de Yemanjá church, from where other Santo Daime churches emerged from the "line of the godfather Sebastião" at the time of the expansion of Santo Daime in the southeast of the country, in the eighty and ninety.

    Brief context about the Yawanawá

    The Yawanawá are an indigenous people of the Pano linguistic stock. They are located on the banks of the Gregorio River and their indigenous land was delimited in 1984. Yawanawá means people of the forest pig, or wild boar.

    Currently, the Río Gregorio Indigenous Land has eight villages. The largest is the village of Nova Esperança, where approximately half of the Yawanawá population is concentrated, which, according to some of its leaders, is between 900 and 1,000 people. The chief of this village is Biraci Brasil Mixuacá, considered among many daimistas nawa/ white like page/shaman.

    Chief Biraci Brasil Mixuacá has become an eminent leader among the Yawanawá since the 1980s, when he participated in demarcation of struggles for the indigenous land of Río Gregório. Because of this, the former Yawanawá chief Raimundo Luís Tui Kuru (his paternal uncle) gave him three of his daughters (Mariazinha Neweni, Júlia and Putani) in marriage. The marriage with the first two is over, and at present the chief Biraci Brasil is officially married only to Putani.

    The second largest village in population is the village of Mutum, with a population of approximately three hundred people. The village is led by the chief Mariazinha Neweni. Since before the death of her father, former chief Raimundo Luís Tui Kuru, in 2009, she had become an eminent leader in the village of Mutum. The cacica leads her town along with other leaders, her brothers and sisters, such as Tashka, Júlia, Matsiní and Sales. Tashka is considered the leader of the seven villages, represented in the Yawanawá Sociocultural Association (ascy).

    In 2008 there was a split between the village of Nova Esperança and the village of Mutum, along with the villages that accompanied it: Matrinchã, Escondido, Tibúrcio, Sete Estrelas (Nahoum, 2013). According to the interlocutor José Martim Yawanawá, the villages of Yawarani and Amparo later joined that group.

    Chief Mariazinha Neñeni stated that the motivation for the conflict was a disagreement on the forms (perhaps tax or individualistic) that chief Biraci Brasil had adopted to negotiate an economic agreement with a partner. nawa. When the chief came to the village for the meeting, she realized that the leaders of the other villages had not been invited. Therefore, he claimed that if the meeting was not canceled, relations with the Mutum village would be severed.

    From then on, the economic projects of the village of Mutum (and other allied villages) and the village of Nova Esperança take place separately, and that includes ethno-tourism. In this sense, these relations of internal conflict ended up having an impact on their relations with the whites interested in yawanawá shamanism, the so-called allies.

    On the one hand, the village of Nova Esperança carries out projects with the Yawanawá Cooperative, on the other hand, the village of Mutum and the other villages carry out their projects through the Yawanawá Sociocultural Association (Camargo-Tavares, 2013).

    At the end of 2016, the relations between the leaders of the village of Nova Esperança and the village of Mutum had already strengthened again, at least in the sense of affection and mutual visits. In October 2016, the cacica Mariazinha Neweni went to the village of Nova Esperança during the yawanawá festival, and danced with her sisters Putani and Hushahu in a ceremony of uni. Interfamily relations were strengthened; Meanwhile, the economic projects and the production of non-indigenous allies continue to occur separately.

    First phase of the alliance: village of Nova Esperança

    Relations between the leaders of the Céu de Yemanjá church and the Yawanawá leaders have existed since 2009 and continue to the present day. It is possible to perceive that there are two phases in these relationships. The first is the phase from 2009 to 2014, when the leader Jorge was in charge of these relationships and the main Yawanawá leaders who were going to visit the church were the chief Biraci Brasil, his wife Putani and the pajé Yawá.

    The second phase began in 2014, with the marriage between Rodrigo, the son of the godfather and godmother of the Céu de Yemanjá church, with the daughter of the chief Mariazinha Neweni and the chief Biraci Brasil. From then on, the role of the young couple began in these relationships, already closer to the village of Mutum.

    The Yawanawá were present at the Céu de Yemanjá daimist church since June 16, 2009, the day of their first cultural and ritual presentation in this church. The members of that group were the chief Biraci Brasil Mixuacá, his wife (and pajé) Putani, a niece of Putani and the spiritual leader Pajé Yawá.10

    On that occasion, in 2009, representatives of the Yawanawá made a trip to the center and southeast of the country, a kind of tour of churches in which cultural presentations are made and the ayahuasca drink is consumed. The Yawanawá visited churches and groups in Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo, as Oliveira (2012) put it.

    Since 2008, the godfather Davi Nunes of the Centro de Regeneração e Fé Flor da Jurema church11 (in the community croa), located in Cruzeiro do Sul, had close contacts with the chief Biraci Brasil. The relationships arose due to their participation in a project with rubber tappers from the region, including Yawanawá people from the village of Esperança.

    The godfather began to participate in ceremonies where he consumed uni (ayahuasca) in the village of Nova Esperança12 and he related that in one of the ceremonies he had a spiritual vision. He says that the godfather Sebastião (patron saint of Santo Daime) told him to speak with the chief Biraci Brasil, so that he and other Yawanawá would make a trip to Rio de Janeiro to see the Céu de Yemanjá church.

    That follower of the Santo Daime religion spoke with Chief Biraci and he was interested in traveling to the southeast. That was precisely in a period in which the chief was seeking to expand his network of contacts, with a view to diversifying his economic projects. In this sense, for Chief Biraci, the trip had a strategic, political and economic sense, although it was also related to diplomacy between spiritual beings associated with master plants (especially ayahuasca). So the chief Biraci Mixuacá accepted the idea and Davi Nunes helped him organize the trip.

    According to Biraci's first-born son, Shaneihu, the young Huni Kuin Leopard, who did work with Nixie Pae (ayahuasca) in Rio de Janeiro, had also informed him that there were people interested in cultural performances and singing rituals with the ayahuasca drink (nixae pae/uni).

    Davi Nunes activated his network of contacts and asked Ricardo (pseudonym) for help, who was a member of the Santo Daime in the Céu de Yemanjá church and at that time had become one of the organizers of the Huni Kuin Guardians group. Due to his insertion in the ayahuasca network and in the daimista church, he called Jorge to organize the first ritual.

    Already in the first contacts there were negotiations of rules so that the work could be carried out. Initially, the yawanawá and the organizers asked for 80 reais per person for the ritual. Godfather Paulo did not agree with the price. According to the official discourse of the daimistas, "you cannot have economic profit with the daime rituals."13 What can be done is to request a collaboration for the costs of travel and the production of the drink. However, the amount suggested by the organizers of the delegation seemed very high, and the event almost did not happen.

    Only after sending a letter from Ricardo, with more explanations about the Yawanawá, and after a delicate negotiation, Jorge and Ricardo managed to reach an agreement. The drink that would be served would be the daime (ayahuasca) produced in the Céu de Yemanjá church itself. And the charge per person would be 20 reais, which was the amount that was requested on those dates as a contribution per person in each ritual.

    This social situation makes explicit a type of conflict mentioned by Goulart and Labate (2017) in the relationships between members of churches of Brazilian Ayahuasca religions and indigenous peoples who have been performing rituals with ayahuasca in the cities.

    The first ritual of the Yawanawá in the Céu de Yemanjá church was carried out on June 16, 2009. On this first visit, the drink that was consumed was the daime produced in the church itself. Jorge and Janaína began by directing the ritual and did a brief period of silence (called the daimista rally). Later, they sang the hymnal (book of ritual songs of the Santo Daime) of Janaína.

    In the second part of the ritual, they rearranged the space and gave the Yawanawá representatives the floor and direction of the ritual. They sat on one side of the church, facing the followers, as if they were in a box, in a cultural presentation.

    This ritual was considered very strong for the pajé Yawá, who had visions of the spirit of a great stone mountain near the church, with an elevation of 844 meters. According to the pajé, the spirit of the mountain had the form of an indigenous hunter, the size of the mountain. And also, according to him, that spirit wanted to cure the godfather Jorge.

    That day the Yawanawá presented some saitis, traditional songs sung in festive circumstances. Chief Biraci told some stories about the origin of the drink uni And he expressed that, despite being in a place so far from his village, he felt gratitude for having been well received and felt part of the family.

    From the first ritual of the Yawanawá in this church, the leader Paulo always initiated the ritual and then opened a period for the Yawanawá. Thus, the ritual with the presence of the Yawanawá continued within a Christian framework, within the eclectic and syncretic constitution of Santo Daime, a religion with elements of shamanism, Catholicism, spiritualism and umbanda (Moreira and Mac Rae, 2011; Labate and Araújo, 2004; Alvez Junior, 2007).

    After a few days, the pajé Yawá performed a specific ritual with the godfather Jorge, with the intention of curing a disease that the leader had on his back. They prepared an environment with several cocares14 and low light. Paulo took the daime and the pajé Yawá spent the whole night singing and praying with a container where there was caiçuma (fermented yucca drink, originally made only by Yawanawá women). Paulo took the daime and related that, while the pajé Yawá was praying, he had visions with animal spirits.

    At the end of the night, according to the leader Paulo, the pajé Yawá began to speak with a voice that seemed to him like that of an old woman. In Paulo's vision, this woman was an ancestor of the pajé Yawá and spoke through him. The old woman began to speak directly to the spirit of the disease, telling her that she should go singing, because other spirits were going to start living in that body (on the notion of the yawanawá body, see Pérez Gil (1999) and Souza (2015)) .

    Afterwards, Paulo took the drink (caiçuma) about which the pajé Yawá had prayed and sung all night. From that day on, Paulo had no more back pain, which was considered a great cure performed by the pajé Yawá.

    From that event, Paulo and the pajé Yawá strengthened their relationship, which became a great friendship of mutual admiration. Thus, Paulo's healing became a kind of founding myth of the alliance between the Yawanawá family and the family of the leaders of the Céu de Yemanjá church. Healing as a founding element of alliances has been mentioned by Oliveira (2012).

    From then on, many gift exchange relationships began between those leaders, relationships of helps mutuals and reciprocity.15 About Jorge's vision, he has interpreted that it was the spirit of godfather Sebastião who spoke to Davi Nunes to bring the Yawanawá to his church in order to heal him.

    Reciprocity and equivocal dialogues: the visit to the village of Nova Esperança

    After the first visit, the Yawanawá leaders of the Nova Esperança village invited Jorge and everyone from the church to a visit to the village to participate in the yawanawá festival. This festival took place in October 2009 in the village of Nova Esperança and was attended by 42 people associated with the Daimista church.

    Paulo said that he was very surprised by the invitation because, according to the stories told by the Yawanawá, they had been living with the Protestant missionaries of the New Tribes Mission for many years (ntm).16 According to the Daimista leader, the chief Biraci Brasil and the other members of the entourage did not associate Santo Daime with Christianity in the same way that they associated Catholics and Protestants with a negative memory. In the Yawanawá political strategy of producing allies, it was concluded that a Christian ally who takes uni/ ayahuasca cannot be as harmful as other Christians.

    Although the Yawanawá affirm that they are in a process of "rescuing culture", some Christian elements can be perceived in their language that allow communication with the daimists. On one occasion, the pajé Yawá told me: “I don't know anything, I hardly know how to speak. But wherever in the world I go, I have friends. Because Christ is for everyone ”. Thus, there are Christian elements in the language used in this dialogue between the Yawanawá and the daimists of that church.

    The yawanawá festival in the village of Nova Esperança has existed since 2002 and is part of a new ethno-tourism circuit in the Acre state region. These festivals are generally held over four or five days, with ceremonies of uni at night, with various cultural presentations during the day. Among the activities, there are games between women and men with strong sexual connotations and the consumption of snuff at various times of the day and night. In addition, in some circumstances medicines are also consumed sananga and kambô (kapû).

    In these encounters there is the presence of Yawanawá people from various villages, non-indigenous people –generally daimists from the line of godfather Sebastián and neo-shamanic lines–, indigenous people from other Pano-speaking peoples of the western Amazon, and foreigners. The daimistas stay in cabins and pay for their participation in the rituals, with the consumption of medicines from the jungle: uni (ayahuasca), snuff, sananga, kapû (or kambô).

    There was a ritual of the Santo Daime religion, in which the followers of this one wore the uniform used in the official rituals of their festival, the white clothes. The delegation of the Daimista church, Yawanawás and several other indigenous actors and nawa who were at the festival. In the ritual, men and women were separated, in the style of the Santo Daime rituals. According to the account of some interlocutors (Yawanawás and Daimistas), some Yawanawá did not like to participate in the ritual, some people because of dividing men and women and others because of Christian prayers.

    According to a daimist who was present, a Yawanawá woman said during the opening prayers: "Are those prayers never going to end?" Some also did not like what they felt initially, as they considered that the drink was stronger than the uni, and they were scared the moment the effect of the drink hit them.

    In this ritual, Jorge said that the Yawanawá and the church he represented were part of the same family on the earthly plane and on the astral plane, the invisible spiritual plane.17 He expressed that whenever they wanted, the Yawanawá would find a house in the Céu de Yemanjá church. Thus, they explicitly spoke of the existence of an alliance between the two groups.

    The interlocutor Shaneihu, son of the chief Biraci, said that, after the procession of the Santo Daime church, the participation of city dwellers in the rituals increased and they gave life to ethno-tourism in the village. Shaneihu considered that, due to that trip with the retinue of the daimists, “the energy field” of the Yawanawá was opened again since, according to his vision, “it was closed due to the Protestant missionary presence”. He said that, for some people, that trip meant a kind of forgiveness for Christianity. The contents of these speeches have to be nuanced, since the leaders' ways of expressing themselves have a diplomatic tone that is generally intended to reduce possible tensions.

    Between 2009 and 2014, the Yawanawá were present in various types of rituals within the Santo Daime calendar. However, Jorge usually invited the Yawanawá groups for his birthday celebration, due to the presence of people from other churches, including people from the United States and Canada. Another special occasion that deepened the alliance due to the strong Yawanawá presence in the church was at the festival in Céu de Yemanjá in 2012.

    In that first phase of the alliance, in which the Yawanawá performed rituals within the church, they began and ended with the daimist format, using the prayers of this ritual, in which three Our Fathers and three Hail Mary are prayed interspersed. .

    Between 2009 and 2014, the daimists of that church went to the village of Nova Esperança during festivals or in small groups, to do more in-depth “studies of the Yawanawá culture”, with fewer outsiders in the village. The groups of travelers from the Daimista church who go to the Río Gregorio Indigenous Land are mostly between 25 and 40 years old.

    The taste for ethno-tourism is not unanimous among the daimistas of this church. Many people from the church (mainly the older ones) have no interest in going to the Río Gregorio Indigenous Land, considering that the trip is very expensive. Some say: "I don't feel like it, because with the same money I go to France or Italy." Other young people say they want to go, but do not have enough money to pay the costs of the trip. In addition, due to the increasing flow of spirituality tourists visiting the villages, the costs of this type of trip have been increasing in recent years.

    In 2011, Jorge had turned to his network of contacts and obtained donations from Google Project to allow six young people to do the diet of the muka, which is an essential rite of passage in the process of formation of young candidates for pajés (students of spirituality). With these resources a botanical garden of medicinal plants was also built in the village of Nova Esperança. On a last occasion, when Jorge went to deliver the resources to the chief Biraci Brasil, he gave a part to the pajé Yawá, who needed to reform his house.

    Biraci believed that all the money from the Google Project should have been given directly to him. After that situation, the relations between the Daimista leader and the Biraci chieftain were no longer the same. Among the Yawanawá, the cacique is the one who has the ability to access and distribute goods; this is part of the power structure (Naveira, 1999). In that sense, reciprocity is never perfect in an equivocal dialogue, and it is possible that one of the parties feels harmed in relationships, which can result in tensions, conflicts and even splits.

    Second phase of the alliance: the village of Mutum and the effective affinity

    In 2014 there was an estrangement between godfather Jorge and chief Biraci Brasil. In Biraci and Putani's last visit to the Céu de Yemanjá church, some daimistas saw the pajé too concerned with paying for a ritual that she was going to do in the context of the birthday of one of the godfather and godmother's daughters. of the church.18

    Simultaneously, Rodrigo, the son of the church leaders, began to participate more actively in yawanawá rituals. He traveled with groups (young daimists from the Céu de Yemanjá church and a group of friends from the United States and Canada) to the village of Nova Esperança and to the Mariri in the village of Mutum, which began in July 2013.19

    At the July 2014 festival, Rodrigo had a very strong experience in the middle of rituals with uni. Throughout the five days of Mariri Yawanawá 2014 had spiritual visions of the face of Letícia, the daughter of the cacica Mariazinha, under the effect of uni. His interpretation was that the spirits of medicine and their spirit guides wanted a marriage to take place between them.

    Then the young man went to speak with the chief of the Mutum village and asked for Letícia's hand. Rodrigo also asked the chief Biraci Brasil Mixuacá for his hand. The two accepted the request, and the chief Biraci Brasil (who was considered by Rodrigo as godfather)20 He explained that he would have obligations to the chief Mariazinha Neweni: he would have to help her financially to support the family. In this sense, there was an asymmetric relationship between the mother-in-law and the son-in-law in which he has reciprocal payment obligations for having her as a wife, a kind of “bride service”.

    Letícia accepted the request of the young daimista. According to the chieftain's daughter, courtships do not exist in traditional Yawanawá culture, that is, when two people are in a relationship, they are considered married. There is a commitment that is generally an agreement between the two families. So, a few days after the end of the festival, they built a wooden house in a big tree called apuí, considered sacred by the yawanawá, next to the house of the chief Mariazinha.

    From the moment in which Letícia, her father and her mother accepted the marriage, the two young men were already considered married by all the Yawanawá relatives. No specific ritual was necessary. Perhaps the construction of the house near the mother's house can be considered a kind of marriage ritual.

    On the other hand, the daimista community of Rio de Janeiro knew nothing about what was happening and, furthermore, could not imagine that such a sudden marriage could occur with a young man raised in the urban center. The young couple began their life by spending some months of the year in Rio de Janeiro and others in the village of Mutum. At the Cielo del Mar church, Letícia was introduced as Rodrigo's girlfriend, because in Rio de Janeiro it could not be understood that he could return from a brief trip with a wife.

    These events led to a strong rapprochement between the Céu de Yemanjá church and the village of Mutum and, mainly, with the chief Mariazinha. The estrangement between the chief Biraci Brasil and the Céu de Yemanjá church was clear. The two have approached each other in other terms, like in-laws. However, they stopped undertaking economic projects together.21 The chief Biraci Mixuacá, from the village of Nova Esperança, did not have as an ally a person who had projects in common with the chief Mariazinha Neweni. However, the Daimista leader continued to have very close ties with the pajé Yawá22

    From the consolidation of the effective affinity between the two families, Rodrigo began to represent his daimista family and the Céu de Yemanjá church among the Yawanawá. It is important to remember that he is the grandson of the late godfather Sebastião and the godmother Rita, considered the leaders of this spiritual lineage, and Letícia is the granddaughter of the late Raimundo Luís Tui Kuru, considered a great chief and pajé of the previous generation, and of María , his first wife (one of the three sisters he married). So this marriage became an alliance between families and between two spiritual lineages. In this sense, Rodrigo became the reference among the daimistas for these relations with the Yawanawá, and the young leader began to carry out some projects in the village of Mutum, for political and economic purposes that will be described in my doctoral thesis.

    What unites is the uni

    Despite the use of other jungle medicines, in this alliance what unites is the uni (expression that was used by Oliveira, 2012). What allows the rapprochement between the Yawanawá leaders and the family of leaders of the Céu de Yemanjá church is the consumption of what was considered the same drink by the leader Jorge. Some interlocutors who are former adherents of the church affirmed that the Yawanawá and the Santo Daime are together because they drink the same drink: that is the reason for being together. Thus, drinking the same drink, in this sense, is the foundation of the alliance.

    Some daimists and yawanawás still differentiate the daime of uni in relation to their way of doing and their concentration: they say that the daime it is more concentrated, which results in a stronger effect more quickly. But that would be the only difference between the drink "of the natives" and that of the daimistas. Despite the differences in the way of making the drink and the differences in the degree of concentration of the uni and daime, both parties to that alliance consider that it is the same drink and it is due to their consumption as a whole that the alliance and the formation of that family is possible.

    On the other hand, in some other situations the daimistas differentiate the daime drink from the ayahuasca, mainly when the media transmit news that damages the public image of Santo Daime.23

    The daime and the uni

    For the Yawanawá, the jungle medicines are spirits that have the capacity for action and can communicate with the people who consume these substances. These spirits come to inhabit the body of the people who ingest them. The uni or ayahuasca is associated for some students of yawanawá shamanism with the jiboia (the great snake of the jungle). For some Yawanawá, the closest translation to the jiboia it could be divinity or great spirit.24

    According to Sales Yawanawá, the spirits of great pajés of the past are associated with great serpents. In some "stories of the Yawanawá tradition" it is said that when the person drinks the uni can see the world of big snakes. And there is also the narrative that the person is swallowed by the spirit of that great serpent when he drinks the uni and goes on to see the world from their perspective.

    For people who are adept at Santo Daime, the daime drink (ayahuasca) is related to certain spirits of the Santo Daime pantheon (such as the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, Saint John, the Master Irineu, godfather Sebastião, among others) who have the capacity for action and they communicate their teachings in the bodies of the people who drink the drink.

    Substances, spirits, consubstantiality and spiritual family

    From the first time the chief Biraci Mixuacá was in the Céu de Yemanjá church, he commented that he had found a family. In this way, I went after that trail to understand what family meanings can be interpreted in these relationships.

    From the description of the previous sessions, it can be deduced that the alliance has, in its sociological aspect, the characteristic of being part of a network of exchange relationships, reciprocity and a network of contacts, as described by Langdon (2012 ), Rose and Langdon (2010) and Oliveira (2012).

    However, as a prerequisite for the existence of the alliance, in the case of the one between the Yawanawá family of leaders and that of the leaders of the Céu de Yemanjá church, there are cosmological aspects that are fundamental, which perhaps can be understood as a cosmology of contact. Diplomacy, communications between the spirits who own the plants and between the spirits of the ancestors play an important role in these relationships.

    The shared use of medicines from the jungle and especially from the uni/daime/ ayahuasca establishes the action of sharing substances in social situations considered sacred. For both the Yawanawá and the Daimists, jungle medicines are associated with spirits, and both claim that these spirits communicate with the people who ingest them.

    The medicines themselves (substances) are considered spirits that open doors of perception and consciousness so that the person can communicate with other spirits. In addition to the spirits considered medicine itself, there is a belief, both among daimists and the yawanawás, that when they consume these substances they have the ability to communicate with a large number of spirits of nature and the universe.25

    According to his belief, these spirits are part of spiritual groups that are close to other spirits, due to their similarities. Here there is the belief that “like attracts like”, which we can confirm as an idea about the magical causality of Mauss and Hubert (2003).

    Consequently, in those social situations of rituals shared between daimistas and yawanawás with the joint consumption of jungle medicines, especially ayahuasca (daime / uni), daimists and yawanawás happen to have the same substances in their bodies,26 and thus to have the ability to communicate with the same spirits.

    This cosmological question, therefore, is a process of consubstantiality. This leads the group of daimists and yawanawás to communicate with spirits associated both with the doctrine of Santo Daime, and with spirits associated with the cosmology of the yawanawá (their ancestors and the spirits of the forest). This communication between daimists and yawanawás with the spirits of both cosmologies allows people to have the language of belonging to the same spiritual family.27

    In this sense, the spiritual family can be defined as a group of people who, due to consubstantiality (the consumption of the same substances and their spirits), go on to communicate with the same group of spirits that inhabit their bodies. If these people put into practice the advice of the spirits, they begin to act jointly in the same sense, forming part of the same spiritual family.

    Thus, there is a belief that daimists and yawanawá act in everyday life and social practice according to the advice and orders of the spirits associated with medicines. In this way, the behavior related to the creation of a network of contacts and exchanges of gifts and visits between daimists and Yawanawás is understood by them as a result of the action of the spirits of the ancestors, of the spirits of medicines and of the spirits of the jungle. In this sense, medicines have agency.

    These relationships are part of the so-called shamanic networks (Langdon, 2012) and the relationships between the Brazilian religion of Santo Daime and the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, who also consume ayahuasca.

    Rose (2010) described the alliance of medicines in her thesis, and addressed the issue of the alliance and the framework agreement signed between the Santo Daime line (from the cefluris / iceflu) and the Sacred Fire line.

    At first, it cannot be said that the alliance between the Yawanawá and the Céu de Yemanjá church is associated with the so-called Alliance of Medicines described by Rose (2010). This is because there is no interaction between the leaders of this Daimista church (the main human social actors) and the main actors of the Medicines Alliance network. However, the agents that are part of that spiritual diplomacy are not only humans, but also ancestral spirits and the spirits of the master plants.28

    Final comments

    In this article I present two phases of the alliance between leaders of the Yawanawá (pano) indigenous people, from the state of Acre (Brazil), with the family of the leaders of an urban Santo Daime church in Rio de Janeiro. In its first phase, the protagonism of the alliance was in the relations between the chief Biraci Mixuacá (from the village of Nueva Esperança), the student of Yawanawá spirituality Putani (called pajé by the daimistas), the pajé Yawá and the family of leaders of the Céu de Yemanjá church, mainly godfather Jorge. In this phase, the process was fundamentally characterized by the formation of the alliance and the spiritual family, constituted by relations of exchange, reciprocity and consubstantiality. An important part in this process is the collective consumption of jungle medicines and, above all, the consumption of ayahuasca (daime/uni).

    I emphasized here the cosmological aspect of the alliance, associated with a conception of substances and spirits typical of the cosmologies of daimists and yawanawás in dialogue. The medicines themselves - their substances - are considered spirits that can communicate with the people who ingest them. Consequently, there is the question of the materiality of the sacred: spirits are directly associated with substances ingested by people. By being collectively consumed in rituals, people ingest the same spirits and substances, are consubstantialized and come to feel part of the same "spiritual family."

    One of the conclusions is that these rituals are generators of relationships between people, and also generators of relationships between people and spirits. The alliance means an expansion of the spirits that come into contact with the people during the rituals, since the daimists will be able to come into contact with the spirits of ancestors and spirits of the forest associated with the yawanawá conceptions, and these, in turn, they can come into contact with the spirits and "guides" of the daimists. In this sense, the alliance is considered a kind of “spiritual reinforcement”: an expansion of the network of reciprocal relationships and support (also political and economic) not only between people, but also between spirits.

    As described in the text, in the second phase of the alliance, the effective affinity between the family of the chief Mariazinha, from the village of Mutum, and the family of the leaders of the Céu de Yemanjá church was consolidated, due to the marriage between the daughter of the chief and the son of the church leaders in July 2014. Thus, new relationships were created and deepened, associated with kinship relationships. In this phase, the alliance became closer between the members of the church and the village of Mutum. Rodrigo's role as son-in-law caused an asymmetric relationship with the chief Mariazinha of the Mutum village, as he assigned him the obligation to support her financially as part of the “bride service”.


    Albert, Bruce (2002). “O ouro canibal e a queda do céu. Uma crítica xamânica da economia política da natureza (Yanomami)”, en Bruce Albert y Alcida Ramos (coord.). Pacificando o branco – cosmologias do contato norte-amazônico. São Paulo: unesp: Imprensa Oficial do Estado.

    Alvez Junior, Antonio Marques (2007). Tambores para a Rainha da Floresta. A inserção da Umbanda no Santo Daime. Mestrado em Ciências da Religião. São Paulo: puc-sp.

    Camargo-Tavares, Lívia (2013). “Fonologia, Morfologia e Sintaxe das Expressões Nominais em Yawanawá (Pano)”. Tesis de maestría en lingüística. Río de Janeiro : Faculdade de Letras, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

    Coutinho, Tiago (2011). “O xamanismo da floresta na cidade: um estudo de caso”. Tesis de doctorado. Río de Janeiro: ufrj.

    Enrikson, Phillipe (1992). “Uma singular pluralidade: a etno-história pano”, en Manuela Carneiro da Cunha (coord.). História dos índios no Brasil. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras: fapesp.

    Evans-Pritchard, Edward Evan (2005). Bruxaria, oráculos e magia entre os Azande. Río de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor.

    Gluckman, Max (2010). “Análise de uma situação social na Zululândia moderna”, en Bela Feldman-Bianco (coord.). Antropologia das sociedades contemporâneas-métodos. São Paulo: unesp.

    Goulart, Sandra (2004). “Contrastes e continuidades em uma tradição amazônica: as religiões da ayahuasca”. Tesis de doctorado en ciencias sociales. Campinas: Universidade Estadual de Campinas (unicamp).

    — (2004). “O contexto de surgimento do culto do Santo Daime. Formação da comunidade e do calendário ritual”, en Labate y Araújo (coord.). O uso ritual da ayahuasca. São Paulo: Fapesp, Campinas, SP: Mercado das Letras.

    — , Labate, Beatriz Caiuby (2017). “Da Amazônia ao norte global e de volta: as várias ayahauscas da ii Conferência Mundial da Ayahuasca”. Texto presentado al v Congreso de la Asociación Latinoamericana de Antropología-xvi Congreso de Antropología en Colombia. Disponible en

    Groisman, Alberto (1999). Eu venho da Floresta. Um estudo sobre o contexto simbólico do uso do Santo Daime. Florianópolis: Editora da ufsc.

    Labate, Beatriz Caiuby (2004). A reinvenção do uso da ayahuasca nos centros urbanos. Campinas, SP: Mercado das Letras. São Paulo: Fapesp.

    — y Tiago Coutinho (2014). “’O meu avô deu a ayahuasca para o mestre Irineu’: reflexões sobre a entrada dos índios no circuito urbano de consumo de ayahuasca no Brasil”, en Revista de Antropologia, vol. 57, núm. 2. São Paulo: USP.

    — , Isabel Santana de Rose y Rafael Guimarães dos Santos (2008). Religiões ayahuasqueiras: um balanço bibliográfico. Campinas, sp: Mercado de Letras.

    Langdon, Esther Jean (2012). “Redes xamânicas, curanderismo e processos interétnicos: uma análise comparativa”, en Revista Mediações, vol. 17, núm 1, pp. 61-84. Londrina.

    Luna, Luiz Eduardo (2004). “Xamanismo amazônico, ayahuasca, antropomorfismo e mundo natural”, en Labate y Araújo (coord.). O uso ritual da ayahuasca. Campinas, sp: Mercado das Letras. São Paulo: Fapesp.

    Mauss, Marcel (2013). Ensaio sobre a Dádiva: forma e razão de troca nas sociedades arcaicas. São Paulo: Cosac Naify.

    — y Henri Hubert (2003). “Esboço de uma teoria geral da magia”, en Marcel Mauss, Sociologia e Antropologia. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify.

    Moreira, Paulo y Edward Mac Rae (2011). Eu venho de longe: Mestre Irineu e Seus companheiros. Salvador: edufba.

    Naveira, Miguel Alfredo Carid (1999). “Yawanawa: da guerra à festa”. Tesis de maestría. Florianópolis: ufsc.

    Nahoum, André Vereta (2013). “Selling ‘Cultures’: the Traffic of Cultural Representations from the Yawanawa”. Tesis de doctorado en sociología. São Paulo: ppgs.

    Oliveira, Aline (2012). “Yawa-nawa. Alianças e pajés nas cidades”. Tesis de maestría en antropología social. Florianópolis: ufsc.

    Pérez Gil, Laura (1999). “Pelos caminhos do Yuve: conhecimento, cura e poder no xamanismo Yawanawa”. Tesis de maestría. Florianópolis.

    Platero, Lígia Duque (2018, mayo). “The Muká Diet of the Yawanawá Indigenous People in Acre, Brazil. Charuna”. Recuperado de:

    Rose, Isabel Santana (2010). “Tata endy rekoy-Fogo sagrado: encontros entre os guarani, a ayahuasca e o caminho vermelho”. Tesis de doctorado en antropología social. Florianópolis: Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (ufsc).

    — y Esther Jean Langdon (2010). “Diálogos (neo) xamânicos: encontros entre os Guarani e a ayahuasca”, en Tellus, núm. 18, pp. 83-113. Campo Grande.

    Ribeiro, May Waddington Telles (2005). “Uma tribo vai ao mercado. Os Yawanawa: sujeitos ou objetos do processo?”. Tesis de maestría. Rio de Janeiro: Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, Instituto de Ciências Humanas e Sociais. Departamento de Desenvolvimento, Agricultura e Sociedade.

    Souza, Renan Reis de (2015). “Arte, corpo e criação: vibrações de um modo de ser Yawanawa”. Tesis de maestría. Rio de Janeiro: ppgsa, ufrj-ifcs.

    Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo (1993). “Alguns aspectos da afinidade no Dravidianato Amazônico”, en E. Viveiros de Castro y M. Carneiro da Cunha (coord.). Amazônia: etnologia e história indígena. São Paulo: Núcleo de História indígena e do indigenismo da usp: fapesp.

    — (2013). “O problema da afinidade na Amazônia”, en A inconstância da Alma selvagem e outros ensaios de antropologia. São Paulo: Cosac y Naify.


    Inline Feedbacks
    Ver todos los comentarios


    ISSN: 2594-2999.

    Unless expressly mentioned, all content on this site is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

    Download legal provisions complete

    EncartesVol. 7, No. 13, March 2024-September 2024, is an open access digital academic journal published biannually by the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Calle Juárez, No. 87, Col. Tlalpan, C. P. 14000, México, D. F., Apdo. Postal 22-048, Tel. 54 87 35 70, Fax 56 55 55 76, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, A. C.., Carretera Escénica Tijuana-Ensenada km 18.5, San Antonio del Mar, No. 22560, Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, Tel. +52 (664) 631 6344, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, A.C., Periférico Sur Manuel Gómez Morin, No. 8585, Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Tel. (33) 3669 3434, and El Colegio de San Luis, A. C., Parque de Macul, No. 155, Fracc. Colinas del Parque, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Tel. (444) 811 01 01. Contact: Director of the journal: Ángela Renée de la Torre Castellanos. Hosted at Responsible for the last update of this issue: Arthur Temporal Ventura. Date last modified: March 25, 2024.