The Santo Daime Feitio

Feitio is the name of the sacred ritual of preparing the Santo Daime Sacrament. The ritual is conducted, at all stages, with ritual rules, with utmost respect, silent devotion and physical attention. The Feitio, a ceremony rich with spiritual symbolism, dates back to the origins of the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon. Before Mestre Irineu received the instructions from the Divine Feminine to begin the Santo Daime tradition, he had apprenticed with the Indigenous peoples of the Amazon in the ritual of making the sacred brew from the two plants, Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis. The Feitio is a testimony to the cultural continuity and ritual integrity of the tradition of the Santo Daime.

It is considered to be the most important ritual in the tradition, the preparing of the Sacrament for the Works of the Santo Daime. A vital factor for the Feitio is unity among the community members. It is believed that when the pots containing the plants and water are put onto the fire for cooking, that all the questions and concerns of the community are being cooked also, in order to be transformed and resolved. As the pots are cooking, and anything that rises to the surface is skimmed off, it is considered to be a demonstration of the process of that which rises – or needs to come to the surface – within the community.

The Feitio is an initiatory rite for the production of the Sacrament, and it requires that all participants consider it to be a physical, mental and spiritual training. The Feitio is an apprenticeship ritual, as knowledge is learned in a progressive manner, according to the ability of each participant. Skill and perfection in the Feitio is in harmony with the attaining of spiritual development. One aims to develop dexterity, intelligence, memory and technical mastery of each step of the process in the Feitio.

The Feitio, from beginning to closure, is conducted with prayers, hymns, concentration and silence. Since it is a Work unto itself, there is no talking other than what is deemed essential.

There are several phases of the physical work with the plants: locating, cutting or picking, transportation, cleaning, hammering the vine, preparing different concentrations, and the final determination of the Santo Daime. Each of these steps requires experience with specific techniques that will ensure the best results, to produce a Daime that will bring strength, wisdom and Light in the Works. The personal miração and the harmony in the community that is experienced in the Works begins in the Feitio.

It may require days for the leaves and the vine to be collected from the orchards and forest. The knowledge of the plants, where to find them and how to identify them, is wisdom that is passed from elder to apprentice and requires much experience and knowledge. It is said that Nature herself will help, as individuals in harmony with the forest, who have taken Daime will feel guided to the plants.

As the Santo Daime expanded in South America and internationally, the requirement for Sacrament has grown. The two plants are heritage plants, protected by the Brazilian Ministry for the Environment. The Santo Daime community supports and maintains sustainable practices for gathering the plants, by planting orchards of the tree Psychotria viridis and ensuring that the vine, Banisteriopsis caapi is sheltered in forests and only harvested at a specific size.

Many Santo Daime churches only permit members of their centre and those affiliated to their centre, to work in the Feitio. Some churches will receive non-fardados/das in their Feitios as long as they are personally referred, and are respectful and dedicated people with a sincere interest in the Santo Daime and the Feitio.

The collecting of the leaves from the trees is generally the work of the women, as is the cleaning and sorting of the leaves. Once the leaves are picked from the trees they are usually transported to the Church. The leaves are sorted and cleaned, placed in piles and then gathered into bags to be taken to the Feitio house. During the cleaning of the leaves, the Daime is served and there are hymns sung or silence. The women will usually arrive and leave quietly in shifts of a few hours, each doing what they are able to do. The women are not in uniform, they wear modest clothes in colours and styles suitable (not red or black) for the work of the Feitio; shoulders covered, mid-length skirt or dress.

The gathering of the vine is generally the work of the men. Once the vine is collected from the forest, it is transported to the Feitio house. The vine is then washed and scraped clean. After cleaning the “bateção” begins, the hammering of the vine in preparation for the cooking. The area of the Feitio house for the bateção usually has 12 wooden posts in two rows with a seat for each post. The men use specific hammers to beat the vine until the Jagube is macerated into fiber. The work of the men is conducted with hymns or in silence. The men wear modest clothing of style and colour appropriate for the work; long pants, and shoulders covered.

In the centre of the Feitio house are the open fires over which the Daime is cooked. The large pans are prepared with alternate layers of macerated vine with leaves and covered with pure, filtered water. Once the first cooking is complete, the process is repeated to create the different degrees of the Sacrament. Large wooden paddles are used to work with the plants in the pots. When the Sacrament is ready, it is poured down a channel into a container, cooled and packaged.

There is much work to be done in the Feitio house during the cooking, to ensure the space is kept clean, that all is in order, that supplies for the fire are available, some fires are managed by gas, others use wood. The person(s) in charge of overseeing the Feitio are known as Feitio Masters, experienced individuals who are guided by wisdom, knowledge, the astral and the Daime to ensure the sacred making of the Sacrament.

At the close of the Feitio, when the last of the Sacrament has been prepared, the congregation will gather at the Feitio house, both men and women, and sing a Hinario (set of hymns) chosen by the Church leadership for the occasion. At this time, the Sacrament from the final pot of the Feitio is served. The Feitio is closed with prayers of the tradition.

The men rhythmically pulverize sections of vine
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The women ritually clean leaves
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In preparing Daime tea, the macerated sections of vine and the leaves
are layered into large pots and covered with water
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The mixture of vine and leaves is boiled repeatedly
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The Daime extract is periodically poured off to cool and settle
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The production of Daime is a very important task that takes place multiple times throughout the year, as demand necessitates. The methods of preparation follow specific rituals sanctioned directly by the mother community of Céu do Mapiá. Each church typically has a stock of raw materials to produce enough Daime for its needs. However, considering that the two plants used in production are native only to the Amazon, Céu do Mapiá is an important center of production for domestic and global distribution. Although the two plants can successfully be grown in other areas of Brazil and the tropical world (Hawaii, for example), Daime is typically exported out of Céu do Mapiá in a highly concentrated gel form.
The process of production is very laborious and time consuming, involving most of the able bodied members. The labor is divided by gender; women pluck the healthy leaves of the Psychotria Viridis plant locally referred to as Rainha (Queen) which is considered the feminine part of Daime that is responsible for the visions (mirações). The leaves are collected in large sacks and later washed extensively to remove dust, spider webs, decay, or other impurities. The clean leaves are then delivered to the Casa de Feitio where only men are allowed to be present. The work typically takes place in silence, although hinarios are sung during certain parts. In Céu do Mapiá this work involved paid labor due to an increased need for Daime that volunteerism was not able to meet. The men are responsible for locating and cutting the Banisteriopsis caapi vine locally referred to as Jagube, which is considered the male part of Daime responsible for the insights. After bringing the harvest back to the Casa de Feitio, the Jagube is cut in foot long pieces, and then the vine is beaten with a wooden mallet in order to soften the fibers and extract the plant juices. During this phase the men typically sing hymnals , and all phases of production are characterized by the occasional consumption of Daime which itself seems to possess certain properties that enable one to commit to a stronger effort for longer periods of time with less fatigue.
In Céu do Mapiá however, the process of Daime production has been somewhat modernized. Due to an increasing global demand, the men that work at the Casa do Feitio are paid, typically around R$100 per day (equaling about $30 U.S. at the time of writing). The women typically in their teens who work in the kitchen preparing meals for the workers do not get paid. The production of Daime takes place numerous times of the year depending on supply and demand, but typically is regular in the summer months to accommodate the many hundreds of Brazilian and foreign visitors that make the pilgrimage to the village each year in June and July. The work begins at the break of dawn and typically lasts well into the night, consuming the labor of up to 12 men. Besides the collection of the two plants, there is an array of preparatory work that needs to be in order before the actual cooking begins. Enough fire wood has to be located in the forest, cut down, dragged by bulls to where they are split by axe into logs and laid in neat piles next to the two massive ovens that will consume up to 120 square feet of firewood in one week-long Feitio session. Then a fire must be started in each of the two 20-foot long ovens that burns sufficiently hot and long that twelve 60-gallon pots can be left cooking simultaneously for days on end. This step is particularly important, for the success of the entire batch depends on the man responsible for maintaining the fire. Also, a few hundred pounds of earth must be dug out of the ground and mixed with water to be made into workable clay which is then used to fill the space between the pot and the oven so as to prevent heat loss. The pots are drained and replaced on the fire up to 9 times which makes for a more potent Daime, and this is all done manually. To meet the growing demand, Jagube is no longer beaten by hand in Céu do Mapiá; a grinding machine is used instead which grinds the plant matter into soft fluff that is placed between four or five layers of Rainha leaves, immersed in water, and then cooked. The work environment is extremely loud due to the constant screaming of the grinding machine, and accidents are frequent due to the nature of the job. I myself witnessed two serious injuries while volunteering at the Feitio; a severe cut to the hand of one man working with the Jagube vine, and a third degree burn to the hand of the man assigned a supervisory role over the production process.

The work is excruciatingly tiring and often involves men from outside of the community. The end result is liquid Daime ready for consumption, and gel blocks of highly concentrated Daime both of which can be maintained without refrigeration. Flying into Amsterdam where ayahuasca is legal is the main route of Daime into Europe. Other areas with tropical climates
such as much of the Brazilian littoral and Hawaii where the two plants can grow successfully produce their own Daime in similar ways. However, according to an interview I conducted with an American member of the Hawaiian parish, the Feitio process there differs in its attention to safer working conditions and cleanliness, as well as the use of modern mechanisms to run the ovens and to transport the massive pots to and from their oven nests, while still maintaining the main Feitio traditions of singing hymnals and the separation of labor by gender. According to my interviewee, special effort is shown to making the production process safe and clean so as not to attract any unnecessary attention from the State which is aware of the production of ayahuasca but has of yet not interfered in any way.
The labor involved in the feitio process is incredibly strenuous and demanding, as much on the men who collect the firewood and materials, and run the ovens, as for the women who provide the meals and pick the leaves, and the livestock that pulls the harvested lumber from the hilly, thick forest.101 Mechanization of the faitio process is still in its crude stages, with the only machine being utilized to speed up the process is a wood chipper that grinds down the Caapi vine, replacing the traditional manner of beating it with a mallet.
O Feitio ou preparo do Santo Daime

O feitio é o “Grande Trabalho da Doutrina”, onde temos a oportunidade de fazer o Daime que vamos tomar. Fazer o Daime é também uma forma de fazer-se a sí próprio.

O Feitio dão Daime obedece rigorosas regras ritualísticas, com máximo respeito, silêncio devoção e esforço físico. Durante o feitio, as mulheres cuidam das folhas, enquanto os homens preparam o cipó.

Diz Alex Polari: “O dia do Feitio do Santo Daime, se constitui talvez no ritual mais importante e festivo da Irmandade, quando praticamente todos estão mobilizados para a realização da Bebida Sacramental que será consumida ritualmente por ocasião das festas do calendário, das concentrações e das curas.” Para a realização do Feitio é necessário, portanto, uma grande união entre os membros da comunidade. Costuma-se dizer que, quando as enormes panelas vão para o fogo, todas as questões, todos os problemas estarão sendo cozinhados e apurados dentro delas, com vistas a serem transmutados e resolvidos.

O trabalho é praticamente ininterrupto para os homens encarregados da pesquisa e da coleta do material. Muitos dias são gastos andando pelo interior da mata para localizar os “reinados”, jardins naturais onde florescem grandes quantidades do cipó ou da folha empregados na preparação da bebida. às vêzes a pesquisa se baseia em alguma informação concreta, de alguém que conhece os espécimes empregados. Ou a indicação é dada pela própria Natureza, no tipo de vegetação e de solo, ou na intuição dos mateiros. Sob o efeito do Daime e em harmonia com a floresta, acontece com frequência que esses homens sejam “conduzidos” até os cipós milenares e os grandes partidos de folha.

O Feitio é uma cerimônia carregada de grande simbolismo espiritual. É a maior prova e o testemunho mais eloquente da idoneidade cultural e da pureza ritual da Doutrina Santo Daime. É um rito que remonta às origens dos povos indígenas que ainda hoje habitam a Amazõnia Ocidental. É a produção de um Sacramento.

Sendo uma festa e um rito iniciático para a produção de um sacramento, exige-se de todos os participantes um grande adestramento físico, mental e espiritual. O Feitio corresponde inteiramente à categoria de um ritual de iniciação, onde os conhecimentos são ministrados de uma forma progresiva, de acordo com a entrega e a capacidade de assimilação de cada um. Nele, a busca da perfeição material conduz à realização da perfeição espiritual. A destreza, a inteligência, a memória e o domínio técnico sobre cada etapa do processo são capacidades essenciais em cada feitor.

São várias as fases do trabalho: localização, corte, transporte, lavagem, catação, raspação, bateção, cozimentos e apuração final do Santo Daime. Cada uma dessa etapas exige bastante familiaridade com determinadas técnicas que vão ajudando a aperfeiçoar a beleza e o rendimento do trabalho. E que, por sua vez, estão relacionadas com o desenvolvimento de certos dons, qualidades e atributos que precisam ser aprendidos com os mais experientes, para que se produza um Daime que traga muita força e luz, completando em nossa miração a transformação pessoal que iniciamos no Feitio. Cada Etapa do processo se complementa na subsequente, sendo as metas finais a harmonia e a perfeição do trabalho.

O feitio envolve várias etapas. Inicia-se com a expedição para pegar o material. Buscar o Jagube nas matas. Conta-se que as pessoas que localizam o Jagube, conseguem vê-lo pelo brilho. Ao chegar no primeiro Jagube, um despacho de Daime, é rezado um Pai Nosso – Ave Maria – Salve Rainha. Então os sobe-se pelo Jagube, até que, pelo peso, ele vai deslizando pelas árvores, até chegar no chão. Geralmente é cortado em pedaços iguais e ensacado. Às vezes vem em fechos. Alguns irmãos dizem que ele é cortado em pedaços iguais (+ou-120cm), para que as mirações sejam iguais.

As mulheres vão catar as folhas, e em seguida limpá-las na Igreja, com os dedos, tirando todas as impurezas de cada folha de Rainha. As folhas são lavadas e trazidas para a Casa do Feitio. Tudo é feito tomando Daime e cantando hinos.

O cipó é raspado e limpo pelos homens na Casa do Feitio. Depois de limpo inicia-se a bateção.Existe um espaço com 12 tocos de madeira em duas filas de seis cada uma com um banco atrás, destinado à bateção. Os homens sentam-se munidos de marretas. Batem e ao mesmo tempo cantam hinos. O Jagube é batido até ficar macerado em fibras. Do outro lado da bateção está a bancada onde o Daime escorre, e a fornalha. As panelas são preparadas com camadas do cipó macerado intercalado com folhas e coloca-se água pura, filtrada.

Dessa primeira panela é extraido o que chamamos de cozimento (mistura da água, cipó, folha). Esse cozimento depois de tirado vai novamente para o fogo numa panela com mais folha e cipó e dessa panela temos o Daime de primeiro grau e assim por diante.Com gambitos (espécie de tridentes de madeira-vide na ilustração) os feitores remexem as camadas de cipó e folha para evitar que a pressão derrame nosso líquido precioso. Quando está no ponto, o feitor dá sinal para a panela ser retirada, e o Daime é escorrido por uma canaleta, até um recipiente,e em seguida será esfriado e acondicionado.

O feitio envolve ainda preparação do barro para ser colocado quando a panela vai ao fogo para não queimá-la dos lados, cortar lenha, cuidar do fogo, limpeza permanente do local, despacho de Daime, e por aí vai. Parece simples o processo, mas o segredo está na concentração, no conhecimento do feitor e de sua equipe, no ponto, no material,e no que o astral determina, para acontecer a magia alquímica de nosso sacramento.

O encerramento acontece com um trabalho na “Boca da Fornalha”, onde as mulheres sobem na Casa do Feitio e juntamente com os homens trabalhando no feitio, cantam um hinário determinado pelo feitor.