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.