1930 – The Church Later Known as Santo Daime is Founded by Mestre Irineu
Among the most popular ayahuasca movements today is the Santo Daime ayahuasca church which emerged initially in the Brazilian Amazon. Although slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888, laborers in the Amazon rainforest area have often worked for low pay and in harsh conditions.
Mestre Irineu was an African-decent laborer working in the interior of the country tapping rubber during the early 1900s. It is in this context that he meet indigenous ayahuasca specialists and then developed his own approach. This was not entirely unexpected because it appears that ayahuasca recipes and uses spread widely among indigenous groups as a healing “balm” for the notorious rubber tapping industries.
On May 26, 1930, Mestre Irineu led the first “work” of his newly formed church entitled Centro de Iluminação Cristã Luz Universal, or CICLU. He discarded many existing esoteric teachings when constructing his new religious system. This included discarding the hierarchical rankings of the Círculo de Regeneração e Fé, various dogmas of Catholicism, and the spirit possession practices of his own Afro-Brazilian heritage. In contrast, he adopted a simple cosmology of the Eternal Father, the Divine Mother, Jesus Christ the Redeemer, and a Doctrine revealed internally to each person.
Irineu kept the model of military discipline he had learned in the Brazilian army: members wear uniforms and works are highly ritualized. His ceremonial activities, or “works”, were of four types: concentrations, or meditations; dance works, in which members create a group current by moving in synchronized steps for hours, singing hymns in unison; the mass for the dead; and the feitio, or ritualized group preparation of the sacrament, which Mestre Irineu renamed Daime.
In 1971, Irineu died and the Santo Daime movement split into two lineages. Today, Santo Daime ayahuasca church include a variety of lineages and its branches can be found across Brazil, Europe, North America, Australia, and elsewhere. Although illegal in many parts of the world, Santo Daime churches have claimed legal freedom to practice their ceremonies in parts of the USA and The Netherlands. Anthropologists and researchers have written widely on the culture, ceremonies, and histories of the Santo Daime movement in several books.
Borges, Rodrigo (n.d.). Mestre Irineu.