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Forbidden therapies: Santo Daime, ayahuasca, and the prohibition of entheogens in Western society

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Abstract

Santo Daime, a Brazilian religion organized around a potent psychoactive beverage called ayahuasca, is now being practiced across Europe and North America. Deeming ayahuasca a dangerous “hallucinogen,” most Western governments prosecute people who participate in Santo Daime. On the contrary, members of Santo Daime (called “daimistas”) consider ayahuasca a medicinal sacrament (or “entheogen”). Empirical studies corroborate daimistas’ claim that entheogens are benign and can be beneficial when employed in controlled contexts. Following from anthropology’s goal of rendering different cultural logics as mutually explicable, this article intercedes in a misunderstanding between policies of prohibition and an emergent subculture of entheogenic therapy.

Blainey, M. G. (2015). Forbidden therapies: Santo Daime, ayahuasca, and the prohibition of entheogens in western society. Journal of religion and health, 54(1), 287-302. 10.1007/s10943-014-9826-2
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