The Use of Ayahuasca among Rubber Tappers of the Upper Juruá

translated by Robin Wright, revised by Matthew Meyer


  • Mariana Ciavatta Pantoja Federal University of Acre
  • Osmildo Silva da Conceição



Amazon, ayahuasca, Juruá Valley, religion, ritual, rubber tapper, Santo Daime, vegetalismo


The article is the fruit of co-authorship between an anthropologist with long research experience in the area of the Extractivist Reserve of the Alto Juruá, in the far west of the state of Acre in the Brazilian Amazon, and a rubber tapper who was first introduced to ayahuasca in the context of a rubber camp. His initiation has elements of non-indigenous and indigenous culture and results in a quite original synthesis, which is narrated in the first-person at the beginning of the article. The article traces the history of the introduction of ayahuasca, or cipó (vine), among the rubber tappers of the Alto Juruá in their relations with indigenous populations and their pajés (shamans), highlighting those rubber tappers who distinguished themselves as apprentices and became healers renowned among their contemporaries. Beginning in the 1980s the use of cipó occurs in the context of the struggle of rubber tappers against the rubber bosses, and ayahuasca mysticism merges with political conflict. New syntheses take place, now with the introduction of elements of the religious doctrine of Santo Daime.


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Author Biographies

Mariana Ciavatta Pantoja, Federal University of Acre

Mariana Ciavatta Pantoja lectures at the Federal University of Acre. She is a native of Ribeirão Preto (São Paulo) and was raised in Rio de Janeiro. Her UNICAMP doctoral thesis was published in 2004 as Os Milton: Cem anos de história nos seringais—describing a century in the life of a family of rubber tappers. She has published a series of articles on her experiences in the Alto Juruá, worked as a consultant in development projects in Acre and beyond, and was a fellow at the CNPq, pursuing a project on community resource management among extractivist populations.

Osmildo Silva da Conceição

Osmildo Silva da Conceição grew up on the Tejo river, where he learned the rubber tapper’s trade from his father. He was initiated in the science of Ayahuasca in 1989 at the hands of indigenous shamans (Ashaninka and Kaxinawá),and later having contact with the Doctrine of Santo Daime. Osmildo affirms his Kuntanawa indigenous heritage with pride, and is currently leading a tribal appeal for demarcation of its own Indigenous Lands.


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How to Cite

Pantoja, M. C., & Silva da Conceição, O. (2008). The Use of Ayahuasca among Rubber Tappers of the Upper Juruá: translated by Robin Wright, revised by Matthew Meyer. Fieldwork in Religion, 2(3), 235–255.