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Freaked out on veggies?
(Union of the Vegetable)
Jeffrey Bronfman,the USA president of the Brazilian-based, Union of the Vegetable, a supposed religious group has been appealing to the US Federal Court to allow his group to continue to use their ’sacramental’ tea, a key ingredient of which is the plant hoasca.
In May 1999 the US Drug Enforcement Agency confiscated some 30 gallons of the tea from Bronfman’s office in Santa Fe, New Mexico.However no one was arrested or charged with any crime. Bronfman and other members of the Union of the Vegetable (O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal or UDV) sued the DEA, claiming that the government had violated their constitutional religious rights and freedom.
They claimed a precedent supporting their religion’s right, in the native Americans’ use of peyote. Hoasca is an hallucinogenic containing N.N. dimethyltryptamine also known as DMT, and producing effects similar to LSD.
DEA representatives have stated that, ’it’s a mind-altering drug, so that the user can visualise anything from a beautiful array of colours to horrifying nightmare-type death experiences.’By USA law it is regarded as a ’Schedule 1 controlled substance.’
Bronfman’s lawyer, Nancy Hollander, claimed, ’Within the religious ritual of the UDV, the tea is used as an instrument to increase perception and facilitate mental concentration for the religious work and spiritual studies that occur within the ceremonies. The religious use of the tea with the UDV neither causes hallucinations—as erroneously reported—nor are the desired within the sect.’
The Union of the Vegetable was started in the early 1950s, and now has about 7,000 members around Brazil and a number of US States.It is basically one of the three branches or offshoots of Santo Daime, a mix of Catholicism and native spirituality, founded by impoverished rubber tapper, Raimundo Irineu Serra, who worked in an isolated part of the Amazon jungle before the Second World War.
It seems that the Union of the Vegetable, has attracted mainly non-Brazilian followers who generally engage in some form of group meditation after taking the hallucinogenic tea. The other two branches or break aways ofSanto Daime, Barquinha and CEFLURIS, mainly involve Brazilian adherents who are associated with the Amazon rain forest.
Raimundo Serra apparently began his new religion after drinking an hallucinogenic brew given him by Amazonian Indians in the Accre region of Brazil. Serra then claimed to have had visions of a woman dressed in white, which he referred to both as ’Our Lady of Conception’ and the ’Forest Queen.’
Perhaps this forest woman reminded him of his mother and told him to swallow all his veggies.
(From TACL Vol 23 #2 Feb/March 2002)