Ayahuasca in Europe
In the end of the 1980s, the Brazilian cults of ayahuasca arrived in Europe. These groups
use ayahuasca in a ritual and religious context, with an influence from Amazonian
culture, shamanism, esoteric Christianity and Afro-Brazilian cults.
The first of these groups was founded in the 1930s, in Acre, an Amazonian state of Brazil.
Nowadays, a branch of this original group, well known as Santo Daime, has more than 20
centres in different European countries.
The arrival and presence of Brazilian ayahuasca cults in Europe is the subject of my Ph.D.
thesis, which is expected to be concluded in 2000.
Since October 1996, I have collected data on different aspects of ritual life, social
context, motivations and personal perceptions of European participants. Since 1997 I have
concentrated my attention on the Dutch Santo Daime groups, as the main study case. When
I conclude the data collection in The Netherlands, I will start to research other
The principal elements on which I am focusing in my research are: (a) meaning and impact
of the arrival and presence on European territory of these Brazilian groups; (b)
cosmological and ritual configuration of the existing centers; (c) influences and changes
provided by the European setting in their ritual and doctrine, and (d) the worldview and
spiritual style of European participants.
With regard to these aspects, I will analyse: (1) cross-cultural dimensions of the process
of organisation of European groups;
(2) contrasts and analogies between Brazilian and European styles; and (3) the way by
which Christianity in a new sacramental guise is returning to Europe.
I would be grateful with comments and/or any other support to my research.
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