From the Lips of Spirits

A Santo Daime ritual, which may last over twelve hours, consists almost entirely of songs, the themes of which range from the personal to the cosmological. This expanding musical corpus contains all the teachings of the tradition, and is central to the daimista ayahuasca experience. But where does this poetry come from?

What do practitioners mean when they describe a song as “received” rather than composed, and report melody, meaning and rhyme all arriving at once?

Are there parallels with automatic writing and painting, and with other “inspired” work, including scientific discoveries made in altered states, whether psychedelic, dream or spontaneous? How does innovation emerge at the interface between normal consciousness and that which is larger than it, and usually hidden from it?

This talk will feature interviews and recordings of Indians from the Arara and Huni Kuin (Kaxinawa) tribes, and of elders, musicians and historians from Daime and other rubber tapper ayahuasca traditions. The speaker will also share some of his own experiences undergoing an ayahuasca cure for an Amazonian parasite, and talk about the place of received hymns in that experience.

We will consider closely how the process of creativity unfolds within the current of living entheogenic traditions. We will also think about why, in the Amazon, in Vedic India or the ancient middle east, spirits tend to speak in verse whenever they are recorded.

Leave a Reply