I first became interested in formal spiritual practice that incorporated hallucinogens when I was in college and met a group of persons in Taos, New Mexico who participated in pow-wows with elements of the Native American Church and thus, peyote. It was also around this time that I read Carlos Castenada and Magister Luidi by Hermann Hesse. Years later, I lived (and rehearsed with Swans) in a storefront in New York City that had previously been used as a Santeria church. The place had a spell put on it by its former inhabitants in the form of a bag with parts of a chicken and various herbs and objects attached to the front door. One time, an entire wall was covered floor to ceiling by flies – and several persons had demon sightings inside there. I sincerely believe Swans eventually performed a type of exorcism with its unholy dirge of repeated rehearsals. Recently, a regular contact of mine, Richard John -who lives in Brazil-, introduced me to Santo Daime. I have asked him to write a sort of layman’s introduction to my interview that follows with Aline, a Santo Daime singer with an extraordinary voice.
• AN INTRODUCTION TO SANTO DAIME by Richard John
JARBOE: How did you first become involved with Santo Daime ?
ALINE: A good friend of mine told me a “dream” she had about me and that was really surprising because it mentioned metaphorically a big trouble I was passing through at that moment of my life, and wich she had no idea. Some time ago she confessed me it was not a dream, but a miragco , some kind of vision you may have when you take Santo Daime. So, i went to session and enjoyed it a lot. The hymns just sounded inside my soul, the beverage bitter taste was softened by its sweet effects, I felt secure and harmonious. Last year winter, at St. John’s Eve, my husband, Rafael, and I got initiated at santo daime brotherhood.
J: Could you talk a bit from firsthand experience about what Santo Daime means in the lives of its practitioners?
A: Master Irineu used to say that all the ways are inside the santo Daime way, so it congregates people from all over the world, with very distant realities. Rafael and I are an urban family, living in an apartment in the suburbs, working in companies, studying, taking our daughter to the care center, taking buses, going to the movies… People in Ciu do Mapia community, in Acre live in the Amaztnia Region, so they experience another reality, and very difficult life conditions. But they seek for an autonomous community living in harmony with nature and Human kind. They daily try to render concrete a way of life with more love, justice, equality, comprehension, avoiding the individualist, consumerism way of living. We do plan to join a community soon, there are a lot arising in different places, we’re just working to reach this goal. i believe community provides this necessary convivance to develop true deep relationships.
J: Could you please explain your role in the sessions?
A: I’ve already acted as puxadora, someone responsible for studying the hymns ant theirs tones in order to chant then properly. each person has a role during a Santo Daime session, the puxadora is one of the musical guides in the session, since she or he follow the session leader requests. The leader is responsible for the development of the sessions, she or he – together with each person in the session – must guide the energy keeping connected to everything happening during the trabalhos. (spiritual labor)
J: In what form does a power / energy manifest itself through you?
A: The energy materializes in an hymn through the vocal cords vibrations. I do see/fell my throat chakra vibrations while chanting. I’m a channel, as a piece in the transmission of a power source, it comes, it gets body through my energy. that’s why I consider important to refine my soul in a way my private feelings, problems and desires can’t interfere in this transmission, I’m working to keep the message pure and clear.
J: Are there particular vocal intonations that come from within you which you have no control ; i.e. you emanate ?
A: In a Santo Daime session i can sing for hours, even twelve, and I’m sure i couldn’t do that on my own. i really emanate the sounds, as sometimes I just don’t recognize my voice, other times i just can’t control the hymns coming. I have a a hymn book but at a certain moment I’m not worried about melodies or lyrics because they are just here and i must only let them get materialized.
J: How do you indeed view yourself as a channel?
A: I think I’ve already responded that! But there’s something very important in the hymns: their lyrics, since the melodies are the vehicle trough those words get into our hearst. The human heart has an inner comprehension of music. Word is powerful so we must learn to use it constructively. Word materializes thoughts, desires, purposes so i believe in chanting for a better real world. Jarboe, Please I would like to be salient… I don’t intend to talk for anyone else but myself. Santo Daime is a very eclectic doctrine, since there are no dogmas or books to follow, so being a daimista is quite a singular experience, and i’d like that to be clearly understood. After all, there aren’t two men with the same truth in this earth. Unity is diversity. Daime means give me, the holy verb of give, we must all learn a bit about this art of giving sincerely and not too late, I hope.
F I N