Healing in the Barquinha Religion


  • Christian Frenopoulo Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh




ayahuasca, Barquinha, healing, Santo Daime, spirit possession


The article focuses on the healing service offered by Barquinha churches. The Barquinha religion is an Amazonian form of Christianity, with syncretic elements. The article surveys three recurrent methodological and theoretical approaches found in anthropological works on healing in the Barquinha religion, to which the author contributes with his own ethnographic research and analysis. On the one hand, analytical emphases are often located on the participants’ subjective and symbolic processes, in association with the ayahuasca experience. Ayahuasca—called Santo Daime by adherents—is the central sacrament of the religion, frequently implied in accounts of healing. Another common focus is on ritual settings and changing bodily dispositions. Thirdly, anthropologists have considered aspects of the social relations involved in the therapeutic process. This paper furthers reflections on social interactions during healing encounters. Such encounters typically involve healer-spirits incorporated in Barquinha spirit-mediums. The author suggests that the healing service may echo symbolic motifs associated with the historical experience of migration and rapidly changing living circumstances shared by many participants.


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Author Biography

Christian Frenopoulo, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh

Christian Frenopoulo has a Master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Regina, Canada. His research was concerned with the use of spirit-possession in the Barquinha religion of Acre, Brazil. He is an Associate Researcher at the Interdisciplinary Group for Psychoactive Studies (NEIP).


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How to Cite

Frenopoulo, C. (2008). Healing in the Barquinha Religion. Fieldwork in Religion, 2(3), 363–392. https://doi.org/10.1558/firn.v2i3.363