Santo Daime in Europe: Ritual Transfer and Cultural Translations

Jan Weinhold, PhD

Abstract: Santo Daime rituals have been conducted in several European countries for the last 20 years, involving an extended cross-cultural exchange of ritual practices between European and Brazilian churches. Despite the similarity between ritual structures in Brazil and Europe, there are several contextual differences: the illegal status of DMT in some European countries and language differences being the most obvious. In this paper, issues around this “ritual transfer” will be discussed: How do ritual participants in Europe adapt the ritual practices and belief-systems of Santo Daime to their own cultural contexts? How do the legal status, language differences, and other cultural contexts influence rituals and meanings of ayahuasca-induced altered states of consciousness? How can empirical research tackle such problems on a conceptual level?

Jan Weinhold, PhD, studied psychology at the Humboldt-University Berlin. Since 2002, he has been working as a research psychologist within the Collaborative Research Centre "Dynamics of Ritual" (SFB 619 "Ritualdynamik") at Heidelberg University, where he completed his PhD in 2011. His research covers the use of psychoactive substances in relation to ritual studies, drug-abuse prevention, cross-cultural psychology, altered states of consciousness, and systemic psychotherapy. He has published articles in the field of ritual studies and drug use and has co-edited the volumes Rituals on the Move [Rituale in Bewegung] (LIT-Verlag, 2006), Therapy With Psychoactive Substances: Approaches to and Critique of Psychotherapy with LSD, Psilocybin, and MDMA [Therapie mit psychoaktiven Substanzen: Praxis und Kritik der Psychotherapie mit LSD, Psilocybin und MDMA] (Huber, 2008), The Problem of Ritual Efficacy (Oxford University Press, 2010), and The Varieties of Ritual Experience (Harrassowitz, 2010).

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