There were thirty or so people at the Santo Daime service I attended, all of us in pure white. At the beginning, after everyone had consumed the tea, we filed into the circular room and took our places on the floor and settled in for the journey. The church founder, Jonathan Goldman, spoke and said something that I carried with me like a talisman on my voyage.
He said, “You are safe here. This is a well-kept space.”
That promise made me comfortable from the beginning because I knew it was true. For one thing, I liked and trusted the people in the room with me.
What’s more, every Santo Daime service has “guardians,” church members who don’t drink the tea. They’re trained to handle unexpected situations and offer help if someone has a difficult time. There were four guardians at the service I attended—two men and two women.
The bottom line for safety, however, is that we were acting legally. If you try something similar on your own or with friends, you’re risking a visit from the cops. That might not happen, but the possibility would always be there, and that’s not the sort of thing you want floating around in your mind after you take a psychedelic.
With a safe platform, I was able to get down to business. Occasionally, during the periods of silent meditation, I closed my eyes and drifted off into the beckoning fractal vistas. That’s nice, but it’s a sideshow, and there was always a hymn or a prayer to bring me back and remind me that I had work to do.
The tea, the music, and the communion of sincere people form a single experience. A Santo Daime service is a finely tuned engine for propelling you towards a goal. Some people come for healing, others with unresolved life issues, others for spiritual growth. You choose the purpose and set the trajectory, then you drink the tea and set sail.