How the Daime Heals

The sacrament we drink in a Santo Daime work is a powerful plant medicine. It is a twin sister to ayahuasca, made using the same combination of sacred plants which were originally discovered in the jungles of the Amazon. By drinking this sacrament, we open ourselves to spiritual realms and the possibility of powerful spiritual healings. But with this power comes important responsibilities.

By drinking this sacrament, we are entering into a sacred contract with divine beings who come to help us. This means we must be willing to hold up our side of the agreement. So in order for each of us to fulfill our responsibilities regarding our healing in Santo Daime, it’s important we understand how the Daime heals.

For there are three primary ways this happens, and each has some upsides and downsides. The three primary ways of healing are by:

  1. Removing inner obstacles
  2. Offering teachings
  3. Delivering a “peia”

The Daime Clears Away Inner Obstacles

The first way the Daime heals is by removing our inner obstacles. The word “Daime” references several things, including the sacrament we drink as well as the being or beings that help us to heal during a work. It is said in various Santo Daime hymns that when we drink this sacrament, we are bringing a divine being into ourselves. And this being is going to find obstacles in our inner being that it will help clear away.

There is a Santo Daime church in Brazil that was founded by a masterful, much-loved healer and teacher called Baixinha. She passed in 2015, but her church, called Flor da Montanha, continues to thrive. We consider Baixinha to be the Madrinha, or Godmother, for Casa da Calma. Our Padrinho, or Godfather, is St John the Baptist.

In Portuguese, the word for hymn is “hino,” and the word for a collection of hymns is “hinário.” In hymn #98 of her hinário called Guia Mestre, Madrinha Baixinha (Godmother Baixinha in English) speaks to this:

The Daime IsO Daime É
The Daime is
The Daime is light
For those who want to see themselves
O Daime é
O Daime é luz
Para quem quer se enxergar
The Daime is
The Daime is love
For those who know how to love
O Daime é
Daime é amor
Para quem sabe amar
The Daime is
A healing being
For those who want to heal themselves
O Daime é
Um Ser de cura
Para quem quer se curar

Prior to coming to the Daime, both of us (Jill and Scott) had studied and worked deeply with the Pathwork teachings for several decades. So the teachings from the Pathwork Guide often inform our way of understanding ourselves, our lives and the world. These teachings have been very valuable for us in our work within the Santo Daime religion as well.

According to the Pathwork Guide, there are two stages to the healing process. The first stage is about removing the inner obstacles that are blocking our inner light. The Pathwork Guide offers extensive teachings about these obstacles which are, in part, a combination of old unfelt feelings along with the untruthful beliefs attached to them. These get stuck inside us and form barriers to finding and living from our divine center. Our inner obstacles also include our faults, our defenses, and our negative intentions to be destructive and remain stuck.

As Padrinho Valdete says in hymn #14 of O Livrinho do Apocalipse:

In My MemoryEm Minha Memoria
I take DaimeEu tomo Daime
To see my flawsÉ para ver os meus defeitos
I take DaimeEu tomo Daime
To correct myselfPara eu me corrigir

The first line of the first prayer sung in the Oração, or prayers, that are traditionally sung twice a month in Santo Daime works says to “examine your consciousness,” or “examine a consciência.” And indeed, in doing our work of personal healing, there is a lot we each need to unpack in our psyche. It’s important to realize that the psyche has several parts, including parts we are aware of, or conscious of, and parts we are not aware of, our unconscious. The healing work we need to do is largely about transforming what’s in our unconsciousness. For that’s where our inner obstacles lie hidden.

Due to our lack of awareness, we all need help in doing our personal healing work. For it’s very hard to see what we are blind to inside ourselves. Help can come in the form of a trained healer, therapist, or spiritual counselor of some kind. And it can come from divine beings who work with us directly when we drink Daime.

The second part of the healing process, which is the main point of our healing journey, involves letting go of our ego and learning to live from a place deeper inside. The Pathwork Guide calls this deeper place within the Higher Self. Other names include the divine self, divine spark, essence, core, or simply the light within.

The most important part of our self-discovery process is for the ego to surrender—for a firm ego to learn to let go—so we can firm our connection with our divine self. When we do this, we are living in truth. But the Daime cannot help us with the second part. Nothing and no one, in fact, can do this part for us. 

These two steps need to be taken together, accessing whatever connection we have with our Higher Self to do the work of clearing away our inner obstacles, or Lower Self aspects. Lower Self is the term the Pathwork Guide uses to refer to all our various forms of negativity. They are distortions of the truth and obstructions of the light. The Lower Self is the cause of all conflict, disharmony, destructiveness and pain.

Healing ourselves is always an act that comes from the light. Yet at the same time, we can’t let go of our ego and live from our inner light as long as our inner light remains blocked by obstacles. Healing, then, by its very nature is a “both/and” process.

It is only by connecting with our deep inner self that we gain our connection with all that is. This is why when we live from our center, we are able to live in harmony and at peace. For then we are also in truth. And when we are fully aware of the truth, everything makes sense, which allows us to live with calmness and peace. But at the level of ego, we are separate individuals that easily become lost in the “either/or” illusion of duality.

How does the Daime remove obstacles?

The Daime is unique in the way it helps us remove our inner obstacles. There are several ways it can happen, but the most notable is by purging. When the Daime finds something in us that is not serving us, it will remove this obstacle by causing us to purge, or throw up. The actual experience of purging is somewhat different from being sick.

First, people are advised not to eat prior to a work, and it is suggested we eat a clean, healthy diet for several days before a work (more information is available in Practical Guidelines). So what is purged from our stomach is only sacrament and water. We usually feel much better shortly after we purge, and we are able to drink the next serving of sacrament when it is offered. So to be clear, it’s not that the Daime makes us sick—in other words, it is not an emetic—but rather that it helps us get well.

Guardians are people who volunteer to attend to people during a work who are “getting well.” So during a difficult passage, there is someone there to hold space for us, hand us a tissue if we need one, and be near us if we purge. Over time, purging tends to happen less often.

It is also possible that, for certain reasons, someone will purge for another person. This is a service or charity we are sometimes given the opportunity to provide for one of our brothers or sisters. For service and charity are signatures of the Daime.

The Daime heals by offering teachings

When we receive a teaching directly from the Daime, it can come in two ways. One is called a “miração,” or vision. When this happens, we feel somehow transported and enveloped in a teaching experience. While such an experience may feel otherworldly, this is not a hallucination, as the sacrament is not a hallucinogen. It is, however, a psychedelic.

So there may be times when our experience in the Daime involves colorful imagery that we see with our mind’s eye. It is fine to appreciate these experiences and visuals, but the Daime is not here for our entertainment. If we look forward to attending a Daime work because we want a magical experience, we are missing the point of doing our spiritual work and will not advance on our path. In such a case, it is best to go elsewhere.

Note, at times the Daime may test the sincerity of our attitude towards truly healing ourselves by offering visual distractions. With firmness, we can see the experience for what it is and not lose our way in seeking spiritual development. In other words, if we settle for bright, shiny lights, we won’t merit receiving the more valuable gift of spiritual development.

That said, the Daime does offer important teachings, or revelations, by way of miraçãos, or visions, which are often highly enlightening, in many ways.

Hymns carry the doctrine and the healing current

The second way the Daime teaches is through the hymns we sing throughout the entirety of each work. These hymns are created in the Spirit World and then offered to humanity through people in the Santo Daime. A received hymn is often offered to a specific person but all hymns are available to everyone. For it is understood that they have not been created by the person receiving the hymns, but rather channeled by that person.

The basic principles of the Santo Daime doctrine are harmony, love, truth and justice, and the hymns are used to carry this doctrine forward. They hold important truths and reference important aspects of our inner work. But the main work of the hymns is to carry a healing current, and they are marvelous at doing this. In many ways, this healing current is the main doctrine of the Daime. In addition to the form or structure of a Santo Daime work, the hymns are what separate Santo Daime from other spiritual traditions that use the same sacrament.

Difficult experiences in the Daime

It is worth mentioning that the Daime may also test our fortitude and mental firmness by offering an unpleasant experience. This is also an opportunity to strengthen our connection with our inner divine self and to develop courage. For during such a moment, we must use our will in the correct way to fight our own inner darkness.

In her hymn #14 of her hinário, Vera Fróes says:

Crystal LightLuz de Crystal
It is necessary to have courageÉ preciso ter coragem
To journey through the passageNa passagem atravessar

So disturbing visuals may appear and our own fear may come up. If something like this happens, there are several ways we can take care of ourselves. First, we can open our eyes. Because when the force is strong, we can get lost inside the dark mazes of our psyche. It’s important to remain present in the space we are in.

Second, we can pay attention to our breath and pray. As we do this, we can ask for help from the divine beings. In Portugese, “dai-me” means “give me.” To align with spiritual law, we must ask for what we want and need. In the Santo Daime religion, we are asking for strength, firmness, love, light, truth and calmness, among other things. And to receive such precious gifts, we must work for them.

By developing the strength to go through difficult passages, we develop the ability to move more freely in the beautiful garden of life. Such difficult experiences are always caused by the distortions of our own Lower Self. And the Daime works in an efficient way to help us move through these dark areas of our soul so we can walk in the light.

During a work, we can also always ask for help from a guardian. Their presence is often enough to make us feel safe when going through a difficult moment. Know, too, that these truly are moments. We develop our spiritual muscles by learning to work our way through any experience.

There is a good reason that a Daime ceremony is referred to as a “work.” In fact, it is traditional for people to begin each work by saying “Bom trabalho!” to each other. This means “Have a good work!” Keep in mind, it is part of the illusion of duality to see only pleasant experiences as good.

Developing discernment

When we are are fully in touch with our own Higher Self, we are in touch with God. For our Higher Self is an aspect of God. From there, all wisdom, courage and love is available to us. The problem is that between our inner God-self and our ego mind lies a mine field of obstacles. These include our wrong concepts that are based on our home-grown ideas about life and about ourselves.

In hymn #18 of Pele’s Garden, José Sulla says:

The SalvationA Salvação
Examine well and you may findExamine bem e você a encontrará
Many lies within your mindMuitas mentiras dentro de sua mente

So the messages or teachings that we receive from the Daime can help us learn and grow. But this will have varying levels of success depending on two things. First, it depends on how open a person is to receiving messages from the Daime. Second, it depends on our ability to interpret and understand them. Discernment is key.

In an effort to help develop these skills, the Daime will sometimes offer messages that don’t seem quite right. Or at a minimum, after they come through our distorted filters, they are not quite right. This is not a trick, it is a teaching. For unless we are in connection with our Higher Self, we will continue to operate our lives solely from our limited egos, rather than from our deeper spirit. This is why this work is said to be spiritual.

The Pathwork Guide teaches that we shouldn’t believe anything unless it makes sense to us. The Buddha said essentially the same thing. So the invitation is to sit with the messages or teachings we receive from the Daime after the work. We need to discover for ourselves if they resonate with our own Higher Self. For our egos do not have the capacity for this kind of discernment. We must also sit with the proper timing of any action we feel called to take that’s connected with these messages.

Santo Daime is a powerful path. As such, it asks a lot from us. One of the most important things we need to learn to do is align with truth inside ourselves. And it takes time to develop this ability. The Daime is masterful at helping us learn this. But we shouldn’t expect that something so valuable will be handed out like candy.

The Daime heals with a “peia”

The third way the Daime heals is by way of a “peia,” which doesn’t have a direct translation in English. The concept appears in hymns by Mestre and Padrinho Sebastião through the word “punishment,” or “apanhar” in Portuguese. A peia is translated as a “consequence” in hymns by Alex Polari. And Google Translate says it is a “bridle” or a “hobbling.” It is basically a very strong correction.

In hymn #88 of Guia Mestre, Baixinha says very clearly:

The PeiaA Peia
Love I ask to my FatherAmor eu peço a meu Pai
Charity I ask to my MotherA caridade eu peço a minha Mãe
The peia I deliver to MarachimbéA peia entrego pra Maraximbé

A footnote for this hymn explains that a peia is a hard time in the Daime, where the whip comes down. Marachimbé is a spirit of discipline of the forest. In another hymn, Baixinha says that those who channel a mocking spirit will always live in a peia.

We deserve a peia when we continue to align with untruth and illusion—when we don’t clear away our inner obstacles, find the deeper truth within and live from our light—especially after a truthful teaching has been shown to us. When a peia descends, it will feel like a punishment. And in some ways it is.

This is the potential downside of taking this powerful plant medicine. For it is a sacred contract we enter. And if we have chosen this direct path to healing, then we are responsible for carrying through with our work until we reach our inner divine core. If we do not, there are consequences. Which is fair.

The Pathwork Guide teaches that in order to heal the distortions of our Lower Self, we must first become aware of our Lower Self and see how it operates. But awareness alone is not enough. For even if we are aware of our wounds and what created them, our Lower Self will continue to operate from them.

So our work is to completely unwind and heal our wounds. We do this by releasing the unfelt pain associated with them and unraveling the untruths we now hold because of them. This is the only way to go forward in peace and harmony.

In hymn #45 of Pele’s Garden, José Sulla says:

Ancestral MysteryMistério Ancestral
Everyone knowing God inside yourselfTodos conhecendo Deus em si
One more Divine Being here incarnateMais um Ser Divino aqui encarnado
And continue in the meditationE continue na meditação
Unraveling the meaningDestrinchando o significado

Going deeper means going higher

If we do this work, we will continually clear away our inner obstacles and advance on our spiritual path. We will go up. Many hymns talk, in one way or another, about going up. Going up, in fact, is the reason for following any spiritual path. And yet this work is hard to do, and it’s especially hard to see the parts of ourselves we have been looking away from.

Yet it is only by clearing away these mental impediments that we can take steps to go deeper into ourselves. And because there is so much paradox in spiritual work, this is the same as going up.

In Guia Mestre, hymn #81, Baixinha speaks to this:

You Firm YourselfTu Te Firma
The path is very longO caminho é muito longo
It is difficult to followÉ dificil de seguir
The stairs are very highA escada é muito alta
It is difficult to go upÉ difícil de subir

The Pathwork Guide tells us over and over that the process of spiritual development is gradual. The Daime also knows this. When our intention is to heal ourselves, we are each given so much spiritual help. And as long as we keep putting one foot in front of the other, we will receive the help we ask for and merit. It’s only when we fall short and lack the humility to search for our next steps that we need correction.

All told, the sacrament used in Santo Daime ceremonies, along with its twin sacrament called ayahuasca, can offer a remarkable direct experience of the divine. It can open us up inside very effectively and teach us one-on-one. But if we choose to engage with the spiritual beings who come to teach us and help us heal, then we need to understand the full scope of the sacred contract we are taking on. Because if we step through these doors and then choose to stay in blindness, we will be handed to Maraximbé.

Healing through Spiritual Surgery

There is an additional way the Daime heals that is far less common. It is through spiritual surgery. When the spiritual surgeons perform a spiritual surgery, they are working on the level of our spiritual being that supports the physical level. In short, they perform procedures that our human doctors are not able to do.

When this happens, know that considerable planning and preparations were necessary for this to take place. We must also have the merit required to deserve such a healing. Here are a few other things that are important to understand about spiritual surgeries.

Many hymns speak of the need to “stay in your place,” or “ficar em seu lugar.” This is often interpreted to mean “stay in your chair” (or place in line, when dancing). The key thing to understand is that while it may be possible to remain seated in your chair during such a procedure, typically the beings will ask the person to lie down.

Receiving the gift of a spiritual surgery, then, requires us to have the inner listening ability to hear the call to lie down. And to be clear, for this type of healing, the beings call us, we don’t call them. In other words, it does not work for us to lie down and ask them to come and work on us.

During a spiritual surgery, the beings may guide a person to lie down for an extended period of time, possibly during several sequential works. It’s very important to lie down for as long as necessary. If a person is not able to hear this call from within or follow the guidance being given, they will forfeit the healing they have been called to come and receive.

By special invitation

People are called to the Santo Daime, and this call comes from within. It’s a delicate balance for people who have attended works to share about their experience with those who express interest or curiosity. Yet we don’t proselytize or personally invite people to come to works. We trust the ability of the beings who support our works to make the appropriate connections and inspirations. And we trust that those who are ready for this level of work will hear the call.

Santo Daime is a spiritual path with a surprising number of hurdles to entry, which assures this path is only followed by those who are up for it. From the highly structured form of a work, to the strict requirements about what to wear; from the need (for some of us) to sing in a foreign language, to the purging that might happen; and from the length of a work (typically 5-8 hours), to the strangeness and potential challenges of the actual experience; it’s a big bite.

Yet the possible rewards that the Santo Daime can offer are equal with the ask. 

Any healing we receive in the Daime is a gift worthy of our gratitude. The important thing is to retain the essence of any teaching and discover how the truth of it aligns with our Higher Self, our divinity. And then live our lives from there.