Sunday, April 19, 2009

THE MUSICAL DOCTRINE OF SANTO DAIME: "The hymns are currents."

Much has been written and posted on the Internet about the musical doctrine of the Santo Daime religion. The anthropologist Edward McCrae, building on the work of Fernando Couto, has developed the notion of Santo Daime as "collective shamanism", Jose Murilo has offered a penetrating analysis of this in the context of developing urban Santo Daime communities and I've posted previously on spread of the musical doctrine here and here.

A key to understanding the spiritual works of Santo Daime is to focus on how the hymns are employed in a ritual setting. But, try as we might, it remains very difficult to stuff such a profound spiritual process into words and concepts. The realization of and the transformative power of the Doctrine of Santo Daime is located in its full mind-and-body musical performance.

Let's begin with
the making of the sacrament. The objective is to forge hard work into a collective ritual of harmony, strength and joy. Here is how the process works in the forest roots community of Vila Fortaleza in rural Acre, Brazil. The hymns are from the hinario of Germano Guilhereme. The ritual is a batação where the jugube vines are pounded into fibers for cooking with the leaves of rainha.

The mallets and music are governed by Saturnino's maracá and the goal is to align with its high level of discipline in order to integrate the energies of work, celebration and union into a tightly performed ritual. If you listen carefully to the whole thing, you can feel the struggle to get it right -- a true batalha espiritual that rises, falls and amplifies as it channels energy into the sacramental tea.

The next video comes from the 2009 New Horizon celebration where the Daime hymns of Mestre Conselheiro Luiz Mendes were performed in an all-night ritual of welcoming in the New Year.

A few nights later Senhor Tufi Rashid Amin, who maintains one of the Alto Santo centers in Rio Branco and is a great friend of the Luiz Mendes family, arrived with his full family to present his hymns -- called Sou Feliz (I Am Happy) -- with incredible gusto and joy in celebration of the 69th birthday of Padrinho Luiz Mendes.

I really can't add any words to this -- the meaning is inside the energy current of the performance -- but I do recall the words of a Native American spiritual leader I once knew in Oregon. At the start of a ritual he would say,

"No one here is a medicine person but the Creator has given each of us a little piece of His Medicine. If we put those pieces together well in ritual, we get as close to God as human beings can get."

That's what I think the Work is in the Doctrine of the Santo Daime. It's a process of putting our pieces back together and perfecting the individual and collective performance of being all that human beings might be. And, with the Master in front, there is always a New Horizon.


Anonymous said...

so beautiful...
I feel the force!
thanks so much Lou!

Luis Eduardo Pomar said...

You touched the point!

Daniel Mirante said...

"No one here is a medicine person but the Creator has given each of us a little piece of His Medicine."

Thats a beautiful bit of wisdom. Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year from the UK Current :)