Jurema

History says that the original Brazilian tribes that use to make the ritualistic use of Jurema as a psychoactive brew were extinct. The children of those tribes, a mixture between whites and Negroes slowly lost their right for the indigenous land as they were no longer recognized as Indians (also called caboclos), and a war started for land in that area (interior of Bahia, Pernambuco and Paraiba, the so called Sertão) which has been going on now for about 80 years. The white man took away the Indians from their land, burning their houses, leaving thousands of them homeless. In order to be recognized as Indians, re-establish their identity and be able to claim the right for their land, they had to show a tradition. So the Jurema Cult (O Culto da Jurema) was brought back among the Indian tribes to prove and establish their indigenous identity. Although, with the gap in time, many things got lost as this tradition had never been documented, all the knowledge was passed on from father to son, and the Indians were always very secretive about their rituals and the ritualistic use of their psychoactive brew, because of the tremendous prosecution from the white man.

The part of the plant used in their rituals is the inner bark of the roots. Sertão is a place where nothing grows but Jurema Branca (Mimosa Verrucosa), Jurema Negra (Mimosa Hostilis) and Cannabis, a true "Garden of the Gods" if the wars happening there would not be taking place. At the healing ritual (cura) with the tribe Truká, they drink Jurema with what they call "cura" that is a drink prepared with aquardente (alcohol) and garlic, they seat around a Jurema table on the floor and they get into trance possession. It was clear that there was no altered state of consciousness. With the gap of the time, they had lost the plant (B-Carbolines) to activate the effect of the Jurema (DMT), although, they carried on with the trance possession, drinking the Jurema alone, already with the syncretism of belief systems with a great accent on the African influence (trance possession/rituals).

jurema root bark

There are some very interesting similarities with the Ayahuasca rituals from the Amazon Forest. Their rituals also had all the characteristics of a ritual work under a psychoactive influence with the difference that during their rituals with Jurema, the Indians here drink also alcohol to look for this altered state of consciousness, as alcohol is the only thing available to them to alter their state and to highlight their rituals as to serve the spirits manifested (cultural tradition). Many bottles of cachaça (aquardente from sugar cane, the strongest alcohol one can drink in Brazil), was lying around the altar, empty, and it seems that by the end of the ritual, when the spirits who were drinking through the bodies of the medium participants, leave, the participants are sober. (Phenomena registered in Umbanda, Cadomblé and other African traditions that are part of the Brazilian syncretism of religions).

YATRA

Entering deeper into the Sertão, we were confronted with another war, the war of drugs. The biggest Cannabis plantation in South America lays in this area and because of lack of financial resources, Indians and local white folks deal with Cannabis for their survival as there is no other economy available to them, and their land is extremely poor. We had to arrive in the indigenous areas always with day light, in order not to be taken as drug dealers. There was a lot of turbulence in that area, with gun shots and violence; a cold drug war was going on right there. It was called " a rota da maconha" (the marijuana route)
One Indian from the tribe Atikum, who lived with the Trukás, agreed to travel with us and to take us to his tribe as it was extremely dangerous to go up into the mountain, unless you were brought by a tribe member. The atikums lived on the mountain of Umã. As we arrived at the nearest village, at the foot of the mountain, we contacted some Indians, and at the end of the afternoon, we arrived at the tribe village at the top of the mountain. What a beautiful place! An English friend who was traveling with us, was the second gringo ever to come up there , and they appreciated his courage.

The cacique initiated us in what she calls "Trabalho da Jurema" (Jurema’s work). We were taken for a long walk leading us to an immense rock with a cave. Inside this cave was an altar, the place where the ritual was held. As the ritual began, they started to sing, and a little later, the Jurema brew was served. D. Ana Olindina da Conceição, the cacique at the time, started to sing, and the trance possession started. She incorporated the spirit of the Caboclo called Jurema, the Indian entity from the forest, who stayed throughout the ritual, singing many songs, praying and talking to the people as to give advice.

D. Ana - cacique Atikum

The brew was drunk a few times more until the bottle was empty. Yatra also sang some of the songs she has channeled during Jurema rituals, and they welcomed her "back home".

Atikum- Toré ritual

The Toré, another kind of ritual lead by the Pajé of the tribe, Augusto Gustavo de Oliveira, took place the next day. During this ritual they served wild passiflora juice with the Jurema brew, singing and dancing most of the night under the stars in a circle in the open air. The circle moved anti-clockwise. There was also a big open fire, and the magic of the ancient Indians could be felt, as they had their straw costumes on and feathers on their heads. They got into trance possession during the ritual, and the ones possessed moved into the middle of the circle to dance with the entities or enchanted of light as they are called. No altered state of consciousness was noticed except for trance possession.

The tribe Truxá, in Rodelas, by the San Francisco river, realizes what they call the ancient ritual of Jurema, and they were the ones to pass on this knowledge to the other tribes in the Sertâo, to help them to re-establish their indigenous identity for the last two decades.

  xucuru indian dressed for the ritual   

 

Yatra at a xucuru ritual

The xucurus, hold very interesting rituals at the mountain that they called " Mountain of the Master King of Orubá" (" Montanha do Mestre Rei de Orubá"), where the enchanted of lights that manifests during their trance possession, are spirits of birds.

 

After many interviews, and participating in many different Jurema rituals with the Indians, we also realized that the Jurema they drink in their brew is not Mimosa Hostilis, but the root bark from Mimosa Verrucosa. Different tribes will call Mimosa Hostilis, the Jurema Negra and Mimosa Verrucosa, the Jurema Branca, as well as other tribes call Mimosa Verrucosa, the Jurema Negra. That means that when they say that they drink Jurema Negra, it does not necessarily mean they are drinking Mimosa Hostilis, but Mimosa Verrucosa which is called both: Jurema Branca and Jurema Negra.

JUREMA IN EUROPE

Friends of the Forest promotes rituals with Ayahuasca and analogues open to the public, using among others, since beginning 1996, Peganum Harmala (Haoma) and Mimosa Hostilis (Jurema Negra), where research is done with: different settings, Peak Experience Questionnaires (PEP) and other questionnaires as well as sharing the day after the rituals, etc.…, keeping records for further scientific investigation.
Friends of the Forest makes the ritualistic use of Mimosa Hostilis and Peganum Harmala for the experimental treatment for drug addiction in the Netherlands.
In therapy, the combination of Peganum Harmala and Mimosa Hostilis, covers the many needs in the different stages of the treatment. It has the same cathartic and abreactive properties as the Amazon forest ayahuasca and a vast therapeutical application.

tribe Kaimbé

Friends of the Forest is also engaged in projects inside the Forest, and it is bringing a new economy to the tribes who supply the Jurema for research and clinical use in Europe, giving them jobs to collect, clean and pack the Jurema bark that grows wild in their land, creating a new way of survival for those tribes, exploring their own environment and knowledge.
 

 

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