Ceremonies — trabalhos (Brazilian Portuguese for "works") — are typically several hours long and are undertaken sitting in silent "concentration", or sung collectively, dancing according to simple steps in geometrical formation. Ayahuasca, referred to as Daime within the practice, which contains several psychoactive compounds, is drunk as part of the ceremony. The drinking of Daime can induce a strong emetic effect which is embraced as both emotional and physical purging.
Santo Daime churches promote a wholesome lifestyle in conformity with Irineu's motto of "harmony, love, truth and justice", as well as other key doctrinal values such as strength, humility, fraternity and purity of heart. The practice became a worldwide movement in the 1990s.
Santo Daime, sometimes called simply the 'Doctrine of Mestre Irineu', is the name given to the religious practice begun in the 1920s in the far western Brazilian state (then-territory) of Acre by Raimundo Irineu Serra, a migrant from Maranhão in Brazil's northeast region.
Irineu Serra was born in Brazil in 1892 to African parents and migrated to the Western Amazon region in 1912, attracted to a boom in the rubber tapping industry. He first drank ayahuasca in the border region between Brazil, Bolivia, and Peru. As a result of experiencing a series of visions whilst spending eight days in solitude in the forest, he began to conduct spiritual ceremonies using ayahuasca. Many people came to him sick, seeking healing they could not afford or failed to find in standard medical practice.
Originally, Santo Daime teachings had no basis in written text, as early practitioners were illiterate, learning being experiential, through singing of inspired hymns exploring the perennial values of love, harmony and strength through poetic and metaphorical imagery. The hymn collections of early practitioners have since become the sacred works of the doctrine.