Date: 04 and 05 November 1997 

Venue: Auditorium of the Institute of Philosophy and Humanities (IFCH) / UNICAMP 

Organization: Beatriz Caiuby Labate (Masters candidate – Anthropology – UNICAMP) 

Promotion: Institute of Philosophy and Humanities (IFCH) / Post-Graduate Program in Social Anthropology (IFCH) / Center for Research in Indigenous Ethnology 

Support: Department of Medical Psychology and Psychiatry – FCM / UNICAMP / PhD in Social Sciences (IFCH) / Paulo Barbosa (Mental Health / UNICAMP) and Ingrid Weber (grad. UNICAMP) 

Technical Support: Secretary of Events – IFCH / Unicamp 

Acknowledgments: Edward MacRae / Clodomir Monteiro da Silva / Wladimyr A. Sena / Robin Wright / Lídia Straus / Valmir Perez / Julia Motta Paula de Souza / Maria Gabriela de Araújo Jahnel / Mariana Franco Pantone / Antonio Augusto Arantes Neto / Daniel S. Simião / Mauro Almeida / Sandra Lucia Goulart / Cibele Cellini 


The use of Ayahuasca – also known as Santo Daime, Vegetable, Cipó, Yagé – psychoactive drink made from from a vine (Banisteriopsis caapi) and a leaf (Psychotria virids) found in the Amazon forest, used  millennially by the peoples of the region. Many indigenous peoples still use ayahuasca as part of  their therapeutic and visionary rituals. 

With the ‘boom’ of borracaha early this century, the use of ayahuasca is now common among the non-indigenous populations of the region, giving birth to the emergence of new syncretic cults.   Among these, the main ones are “Santo Daime” (30s), “Barquinha” (40’s) and “UDV” (60’s).  Recently, there has been a rapid expansion of these cults and growing beyond the borders of the Amazon, conquering faithful members in the main cities of the country and abroad, such as Japan, United States, Holland, Spain and Italy. 

Students of postgraduate studies in Social Anthropology – IFCH / UNICAMP with the support of the Department of Medical Psychology and Psychiatry – FCM / UNICAMP organized a Congress that include the principle researchers of the themes from various regions of the country and abroad, including anthropologists, historians, physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, a representative of CONFEN and representatives of various groups such as Alex Polari, current vice president of the Santo Daime, whose headquarters is in the Amazon rainforest. This will be a unique opportunity where the academic community, practitioners and society in general can reflect on the great controversy that regulation of the ritual use of ayahuasca has caused and is causing.   The psychological, ethical, legal and socio-cultural involving aspects of its use will be discussed. 

Three roundtables are scheduled along with a lecture from a researcher from Israel, Benny Shanon. There will also be a showing of films and videos on the subject as well as an exhibition of paintings and drawings inspired by the visionary effects of drink.

Participation is free and open to the public, and no advance registration is required. 

Meeting Objectives: 

– A series of essays and dissertations have been written by anthropologists, physicians, pharmacologists, theologians, psychiatrists etc. The meeting aims to find out what kind of current production that has been generated and how these various scholars are working. It is a unique opportunity to bring these researchers together to promote dialog; 

– Through ethnographic studies, examine the different cultural forms of using this entheogen, by  indigenous societies, ethnic groups, ayahuasqueiros, vegetalistas or religions that make use of the drink. Reflect on the historic, cosmological, and ritualistic composition of these different groups: 

– Promote a joint reflection, allowing an interdisciplinary approach; 

– This will be a pioneering initiative – especially as this will be held in a university – because few meetings have been held in Brazil on the subject; 

– Consolidate and help to encourage this fertile field of study, allowing the expansion of knowledge of the subject, either for the academic community, is for society in general. Shed light, including for students of UNICAMP, on these new possibilities and instigating the search; 

– Reflect on the process of the rapid expansion in Brazil and the world of  UDV and Santo Daime (the former today has 7 thousand members, with branches in California, England and Peru, the latter has around of 2,700 faithful, and has groups in Europe, South America, USA and Japan); 

– Reflect on the legality of Ayahuasca. In this sense, contribute to the discussion about the rituals and social controls that focus on the use of sacred entheogens in general (such as jurema, cannabis and San Pedro); 

– Promote future meetings addressing other related issues, whether focusing on a few lines of use  or examining other entheogens of millenarian use (such as jurema, San Pedro and cannabis); 

– Encouraging a more active and systematic participation of the University with this complex and controversial issue that has been treated superficially and irresponsibly by the press in recent years; 

– Provide a reflection on partnership between researchers and “natives”, which itself is a new development; 

– Provide a database for UNICAMP. Collect material for our library which is currently very outdated  in respect to the subject of Ayahuasca.