Marcelo S. Mercante. “IMAGES OF HEALING: SPONTANEOUS MENTAL IMAGERY AND HEALING PROCESS IN THE BARQUINHA, A BRAZILIAN AYAHUASCA RELIGIOUS SYSTEM”. Tese de Mestrado. Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, 2006.
The purpose of this dissertation is to study the relationship between spontaneous mental imagery subjectively experienced by people under treatment in the healing rituals of the Centro Espírita Obras de Caridade Príncipe Espadarte (the Center), and the objective components of their healing processes. The Center is part of the Barquinha, a syncretic Brazilian religious system that ritually uses a psychoactive beverage known as Daime or Ayahuasca. Indigenous peoples of the Amazon have consumed Ayahuasca for at least 4000 years throughout numerous traditions, each with their own characteristics. This substance, known as Daime in the Barquinha, contains the N,N-Dimethyl-tryptamine (DMT, a serotonin agonist), and Î²-carbolines alkaloids (inhibitors of monoaminoxidase, an enzyme regulating serotonin level). Daime is obtained from a combination of the vine Banisteriopsis sp. (Malpighiacea; source of Î²-carbolines) and the leaves of Psychotria viridis (Rubiacea; source of DMT), by boiling them in water. The combination of ingestion of Daime and the psychological effects of participation in a congruent ritual encourages in individuals a psychointegration of the nervous system. These factors appear to reliably promote the occurrence of spontaneous mental imageries. These imageries are known as Mirações, and are connected with the process of becoming conscious of normally other than conscious factors. Mirações appear to have the role of facilitating interconnection and reconciliation among perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and physiological and psychological conditions. As such, the mirações can play an important role in processes of healing. Mirações mediate and make conscious as a coherent and workable whole, the ritual, the Daime, the processes of self-transformation/knowledge/ exploration, elements of the individual´s consciousness and physiological condition, and factors in a foundational variable here called the espiritual space. Mirações are believed to take place in this non-physical although very objective spiritual space. The Center´s members believe that participants in their ceremonies share a common spiritual space, which is immaterial and multi-dimensional, and that is precluding, nesting and informing the material world. The spiritual space is perceived as original (not collective or emergent), generating dispositions, intentions, and meanings, and as containing within it the physical and psychological levels of existence. The exploration of that space during a ceremony is considered a process of spiritual development. The ethnographic method, via experiential observation of the religious and symbolic universe of the Center, was used for investigating the Center´s history, the healing techniques implemented during rituals, the concepts of healing and sickness among healers and patients, and the relationship between mirações and the healing process. Narratives about mirações and healing experiences were collected.
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