Santo Daime rituals are known as “Works”.
Centres traditionally have a rectangular or star-shaped central altar, on which stands the Cross of Caravaca, with its double horizontal beam, four candles representing the Sun, the Moon, the Stars and all Divine Beings, photographs of Mestre Irineu and other respected elders, and fresh flowers. Centres may also contain statues, images or photos of Spiritual Guides, Teachers, or Beings of Light, as well as sacred objects such as crystals or ceremonial feathers. In general, the Daime is served from a separate altar usually placed directly behind the head of the main altar. Each session begins and ends with prayers, mainly adapted Christian prayers. Santo Daime rituals include Concentrations, White Works, Curas, and the Mass. Participants drink Daime in all ceremonies though the strength and dosage will vary.
Concentrations include the singing of hymns with silent, seated meditations, while hymnals involve dancing and singing hymns accompanied by maracas and other instruments. Some Santo Daime Works can last up to 12 hours, and the effects of the Daime combined with dancing, singing and concentration both requires and engenders stamina or ‘firmeza’ – firmness. During the Works women and men are separated; women sit or dance on one side of the Salão and men on the other side. Participants in the ritual learn to surrender themselves to the process of the Santo Daime through which they may learn things about themselves, the nature of life and of the Universe.
This may include various wonders, in that the Sacrament is known for the visions it generates, as well as fostering a sense of communion with nature and spiritual reality. The Santo Daime offers an opportunity to align with the divine. The Sacrament facilitates the opening of all levels of being -physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, thereby allowing access to and communion with spiritual energies, guides, healers, and teachers. The Daime expands consciousness, giving one the opportunity to experience love and truth at depths previously unimagined. Within this space it is possible to sense and feel many things. Some will be very beautiful and some may be painful. The Daime is capable of revealing aspects of both the higher and lower self, sometimes resulting in difficult ‘passages’ involving the integration of dissociated psychological content. The purpose is to use the higher self in order to transform the lower self, as to a certain extent; each is not complete without the other. One learns to trust that whatever happens is for the highest good, for we cannot transform and heal what we don’t recognize as part of ourselves. It is important to know that, whatever one experiences, one is not alone. There are ‘guardians’ (specially trained church members) available during the Works to assist, and whether or not one is aware of them, there are also spiritual guides and healers present during the rituals.
The Santo Daime tenets affirm the belief that the hymns received by the elders, masters and more experienced members of the Santo Daime are sacred and contain spiritual teachings of perpetual and universal value. In addition it is believed that the principal messages of the hymns include spiritual communion with the Divine and celestial beings, the respect and compassion for all peoples, and the respect and preservation of Nature. All of the essential teachings of the Santo Daime are transmitted through the hymns, which, when sung, it is believed, create a direct link to the astral and the Divine. Master Irineu received 129 hymns within his hymnal, and his hymns record his spiritual journey and evolution from when he began drinking the Daime until his death. Through the singing of his hymns, the participant are able to connect with the teachings of Mestre and, in many ways, begin to walk the same spiritual path which Mestre walked. Since hymns are considered to be direct transmissions from the Astral, it is through the singing of hymns that teachings of Mestre and other elders are passed to the members. Through the force of the sacrament, the hymns become living testimony and bring specific energies of healing, strength, communion, forgiveness, and remembrance. Many Daimistas receive hymns and there are literally thousands of hymns within the Santo Daime. Depending on the type of Work, specific hinarios are sung, such as for a Concentration, Cura or Official Festival Works of the Santo Daime calendar.
The Santo Daime tradition includes dancing Works and the focus of the dance is to create harmony with the singing, the musical instruments, and the movement of the dance in order to facilitate an inner work of spiritual uplifting and an expansion of consciousness. The current is the spiritual force of the Work and it relies on the efforts and energy of all participants to create a sacred union, in which to obtain spiritual results. The firmness of the current rests within the firmness and state of consciousness of all present in the Work.
The Santo Daime tradition provides opportunities for the study of stillness and silence as well as movement and dance. The importance of spontaneous movement and emotional expression during either seated or dancing Works is recognized. Areas of the church designated as healing areas are available for women and men to explore their inner journey more deeply and, when necessary, to give expression to the transformation process.
Prayer can be an expression of worship or gratitude, an appeal, a supplication or an invocation—a call to a specific being. There are two main types of prayer: traditional prayer and personal prayer. The first is the traditional prayers of religious and spiritual practices. Such prayers may be chanted, sung, or repeated silently or aloud by the practitioners. Traditional prayer may have a heritage of hundreds or thousands of years, whether said alone, with others, in ritual settings, or in private devotion. These prayers establish spiritual intimacy, affirm faith, calm the mind, and connect those praying with the Beings that govern that particular spiritual line. The moment a traditional prayer is begun, one joins a spiritual current of intention and devotion being created by many people around the world who are simultaneously praying the same prayer of the particular spiritual line. Traditional prayers are very effective in opening or clearing a mind cluttered with worries or negativity. They are also helpful in easing a burdened heart, or when one is feeling stressed or out of balance. Prayer is an integral aspect of the Santo Daime tradition. There are traditional prayers said at the opening and closing of each Work, as well as optional prayers – at the leader’s discretion – at any time during the Work when it is deemed appropriate. Optional prayers include those from any and all spiritual traditions that are in alignment with the principles of the Santo Daime.
A novice can bring many expectations to meditation and to the spiritual path. Eventually one learns that willpower, discipline, an open heart-open mind attitude, and a willingness to be present with whatever might arise, are the qualities essential for meditation. The practice of meditation is essential in the Santo Daime and is often referred to as Concentracão. The two main monthly Works established by Mestre Irineu are called Concentrations. In the Concentration Works, there are opening prayers & hymns, then one or two hours of silent meditation, followed by a selection of hymns & prayers to close the work.