comments 2

The Consciousness of the Shaman and the “Miração”

<h3>by Alex Polari </h3>

excerpted from “Might the Gods Be Alkaloids?”

Besides the sensations felt during expanded states of consciousness, the shaman’s experience has particular characteristics.

The classic definition of the “art of ecstasy” takes for granted that the shaman retains a special type of knowledge which enables him to function within this state. This is the shaman’s greatest art. The shaman consciously approaches the maximal threshold of annihilation. This is the flight of the shaman, in which the adept reaches the reality beyond our usual awareness, and keeps the door between different planes of consciousness open.

One could say that shamanism is the most archaic system of the attainment of knowledge known to man. One could also affirm that since its beginnings, its practice has always been related to the use of entheogens.

However, the most important quality of shamanism to be emphasized is the lived experience of the self and its mobility to act during trance. The self is found to be the vehicle, the coach (Merkbath) that ascends on flights in search of celestial palaces. But the shaman does not limit himself to a superficial contemplation of the palace’s yards and shining exterior. He walks through the palace’s labyrinths and secret tunnels, seeking to know what occurs in its chambers.

This is the journey of the “miração”, a shamanic state of mystical consciousness attained through the ritualistic ingestion of the beverage, Santo Daime, which we will now describe.

“Miração” is a term that was introduced by Master Irineu in the Santo Daime tradition to designate the visionary states produced by the beverage. The verb “mirar” means to look at or to contemplate. From this is derived the word “mirante”, which is a high isolated place from where an ample landscape can be seen. But the word “miração” links contemplation with action, – “mira”+”ação” (to look at + action). This clearly expresses that the word was created during shamanic ecstasy by a person was well-aware of the self’s journey within the visionary experience. This journey of the spirit is symbolized by the flight of the eagle towards the sun.

Undoubtedly, there is a great difference between a placid initiation that prepares the neophyte through silence and meditation, and the shamanic initiation which invites him to be the protagonist of the “miração”, a position in which he is fully responsible for his acts in the astral world. There, we are invited to participate in a film in which the unfolding of scenes on a screen depends upon everything that occurs within our consciousness.

But we will only be able to rescue the film’s damsel from the clutches of the villain if our disposition to do so is as genuine as our ability to realize our objectives, harnessing from our interior the courage and wisdom necessary to pass the many trials of the initiation trajectory. On the other hand, if the visionary narrative goes out of control, a negative outcome can result and there can be an interruption in the flight towards ecstasy.

In the “miração”, the state of contemplation and the state of action are two sides of the same coin. Before the beginning of the influx of images, the mind experiences many preparatory states. The mind must distinguish the visionary experience form mere imagination, and from mental games of visualization and projection. The visionary events that involve our self within the “miração” from a psychic-noetic world and are occurrences on a level of reality that is contiguous to the spiritual world. Therefore, we can affirm that the “miração” activates our subtle bodies and frees them to enact the magical and numinous scenes of shamanic reality.

The level of consciousness, which is attained through the “miração”, is often accompanied by an inner voice that guides the process. This is the rarer and more wonderful facet of the Daime “miração”.

During the trajectory of the “miração”, our consciousness participates in the psychic-noetic and spiritual phenomena via our subtle bodies. Through these subtle bodies, our self, at brief and decisive moments, makes decisions concerning our destiny. This occurs in the midst of probabilities in a vast sea of quantic indetermination.

We can thus help to weave the texture of our destiny, a complex tapestry of the events which generate life. This means that in the ecstasy of the “miração”, we engage in a dialogue with God, in which we are working at his side.

We are, in this sense, summoned to fulfill the great responsibility of being co-creators of the universe. Only a destiny so noble justifies the plan of divine creation; the evidence of evolution; the reasons behind Lucifer’s fall; the appearance of evil in the scene of creation; and now the missions to convert and reunite fallen humanity with the truth until the end of time.

This mission is the crux of revelation throughout time. Likewise, the crux of shamanic initiation is to acquire sufficient strength to execute everything revealed in the “miração”.

Previously, we stated that a lack of aptitude and courage during the shamanic flight could destabilize the “miração”, or even worse, that the lack of these virtues could produce a negative outcome. The spiritual kingdoms, through which the shaman travels are ruled not only by a type of dazzling beauty but also by a type of terrible justice.

Man is not programmed for perfection. He must make a psychological, social, moral, and spiritual choice to be perfect. This is done via the 2-edged sword of his free-will. Thanks to this attribute, man can surpass the stature of demi-gods, divas, and cherubins.

But on the other hand, man’s free will also makes him fall prey to the ambivalence of his weak constitution. Tibetan Buddhism refers to this sudden rupture of the ego in the presence of the sublime, as the moment when the mediator inspired by dakini (the feminine aspect of Buddha) confronts the terrifying entities that guard the portal of nirvana. If at that moment, in our ecstatic flight, the lower self takes control, even briefly, of the pilot’s cockpit we can become vulnerable to the projection of chimeras, fears, doubts, and anxieties. This leads to the disruption of concentration, and consequently causes the miração to be disturbed.

In some cases, one can easily resolve this problem. The mind is released from its weakness and momentary distraction, returning to its original state of self-contemplation, which is propitious for the continuation of visions.

But in other cases, the difficulty worsens and one experiences discipline or “peia”, a term used in the Daime tradition to describe the disciplinary discomfort that precedes enlightenment.

In those moments, one’s visions become negative in their nature, and even terrifying. Usually, this feeling is related to the purgative and adaptive effects of the entheogenous beverage which induces the miração. When the ego emerges from the self, one’s true consciousness recognizes the ego as an impostor, and in a sphinx-like manner poses the challenge “Decipher me or I will devour you”.

Here, we are required to present the fulfillment of our spiritual goals, along with our efforts to attain immortality. If at this very moment, we have no truth to present to God, the elemental monster of our own creation, devours us.

The higher powers constantly requires transformation so that man can be kept on the path. This is required because one’s path becomes dangerous when one’s self is not truthful.

Sebastião Mota, one of the main masters of Daime doctrine, affirmed that man must “be” rather than merely seem “to be”. Therefore, the process of being truthful is the science that allows us to safely enter elevated states of consciousness, and to emerge from these states with new acquisitions for the search.

Within the subtle levels of the astral world, the truthful attracts the truthful. The human being as a manifestation of truth is the raw material of creation. The more we live within the truth, the more we can perceive through the “miração” what we must become, and God uses each one of us as pieces of a divine puzzle. He imbues us with love and gives us partnership in His masterpiece.

The truth of the human being is exact. In it, there is nothing neither lacking nor superfluous. There is no room within the truth for mental conditions or vicious habits whose character is hidden or social rules. We are convicted by our hearts because we lack truthfulness within ourselves.

Every time that this lack of truth disrupts the “miração”, thereby shaking its foundation, we should ask a higher power for the key to transformation. The torment and discomfort that we sometimes experience during moments of discipline are later understood to have been beneficial.

This is the authentic shamanic therapy, a therapy which converts its participants to the truth.

The more one wards off these “samsaras” (illusions), the more one becomes conscious of the noble script that God has written for each one of us.

We try to express the extraordinary sensation one feels in working, through our subtle bodies, at the seraphic tasks of divine creation. This occurs, as we have already seen, through the higher self’s action within visionary images, as though the “miração” was an interactive game of “spiritual virtual reality”.

In order that this process can be incorporated in the self, a receptive-passive attitude and a positive mental pattern is necessary. In this way, man’s tiny boat of consciousness can navigate on the waves of the mind’s sacred sea, and its sails can remain full of wind even in the midst of storms of negative thoughts.

To conclude this discussion, I would like to allude to the shamanic consciousness states of the “miração”, namely those that are relevant to karma and mediunship, because these issues are the main aspects of shamanic healing. In one sense, spiritual healing consists of the self’s immersion in elevated states of consciousness, that allows one to perceive the root of the imbalances that lead to illness.

Through these vivid experiences of the “self” in the “miração”, one can also remember facts about past lives. Sometimes, this allows us to determine which are the karmic patterns that we must break in this incarnation.

The phenomenon of mediumship does not merely consist of trance and incorporation. Mediumship also involves the myriad of “selves” that surround our central and true self, and the manner in which these impostors assume the ownership of our beings.

At certain levels within the “miração”, these “selves” can be perceived as real entities. We then begin to realize that each thought that passes through our mind is an entity. Through this knowledge, we can adjust the mediumnistic “dial” in order to tune into beneficial entities. The mediumnistic “dial” provides a remedy for man’s tendency to have distracting thoughts. It allows us to indoctrinate harmful thoughts and to ward off detrimental influences that would otherwise become our future obsessors.

We are trying to express our comprehension of the “miração”, understood as a state of mystical perception that is similar to other known states of cosmic consciousness. We shall consider a specific aspect of the “miração”; the interactive relationship that the self has with its visions, a relationship characteristic of the shamanic tradition. At the same time, the “miração” is a visionary and ecstatic reality.

This process of “samadi” consists of various stages, degrees, and possibilities. The experience presents broad panoramas and at times focuses on merely a few photograms in detail. Its supreme realization is the realization of the higher self in man.

In spite of the invaluable aid that these sacred plants provide for man’s spiritual achievements, the work of the “miração” does not cease when one returns to normal consciousness. Instead, man continues the process of the “miração” in his daily life by retaining the coherence of its instruction. At times, we can obtain a clear perception of a spiritual reality and life beyond the physical body.

We can the penetrate the mystery which our ignorance has termed death but which is no more than a transition to another state of consciousness. Whoever returns form this state with awareness, will be initiated when he is reborn no matter what creed he possessed or what sins he committed in his previous incarnation. For this reason, we consecrate the divine beings present within these plants that are man’s friends and teachers.

Likewise, we consecrate the “miração” provided by these sacred planes. The responsible use of these entheogens is always helpful, but they are most beneficial therapeutically when they are used within a religious ritual because the ritual creates an atmosphere of protection and safety.

There are many modalities of ritual in the religious movement of “Santo Daime”: rituals for the beverage’s preparation, rituals for meditation sessions, healing sessions, and hymnal sessions.

The hymnal session (hinário), takes place within a spacious room that has the shape of a six-pointed star. Here, separated battalions of men an women, young girls and young boys, line up in their appropriate sections. Neophytes, elders, and women with young infants remain seated to the rear of these sections.

The entheogenous sacrament is distributed and everyone lines up to begin the “bailado”, Daime’s ritualistic dance. The “bailado” follows the rhythm of the hymns, sacred songs that the masters and more advanced members of the Doctrine receive through the “miração”. These hymns are believed to be divine instructions and powerful messages not only for the person who receives the hymns, but for all of humanity. Everyone sings and dances in a rectangle that is approximately 80 cm. long. Each “fardado” (Daime adherent) shakes a “maracá” to accompany the rhythm of the “bailado”. The perfection of a work depends on the harmony of the music, the rhythm and the singing. This journey starts at sunset and continues until sunrise the next day.

The framework of the ritual is conducive to a receptive and safe reaction to the sacramental beverage. This reaction usually begins a few minutes after the ingestion of the beverage. One’s consciousness starts to perceive an iridescent aura enveloping the people and objects around them. A bit later, we feel a pressure, the pulsing of energy within and outside of the body, expanding in concentric waves like those created by a stone thrown on the surface of a lake. It is the influx of what we call the “force”, the active property of the Jagube vines which is the masculine element of the beverage. Moreover, the ritualistic dance and the maraca’s rhythms potentize energy, helping to induce a shamanic trance. Hence, the consciousness of the individual and of the group, as a whole, rises to higher levels.

The common reservoir of spiritual and psychic energy is called the “corrente” (current). It is the support of each individual’s flight within the “miração” and it is the beauty and the harmony of the whole.

Through one’s flight within the “miração”, one’s visual perception is altered, and lights, images, sensation, memories, insights, and vision are experienced. The intensity of the interior moment of the journey expresses itself in the “force” of the chain. With each blink of the eye, the flow of images is charged. It is as if a mental diaphragm regulated light and a zoom lens could draw in the most unknown angles of the universe.

This is the moment when enlightenment occurs. Enlightenment, brought about by the leaf, the beverage’s feminine principle, marries the “force” which originates form the vine, the beverage’s male principle. Bright lights appear, and we hear electronic buzzes and rattling sounds.

The “miração” descends gently and brings us its visions. Depending on the unfolding of the ritual, the chain can facilitate or create difficulties for the process of the “miração”. At certain moments, it is possible for all the members of the current to behold the same visions.

This is the summit of the ritual’s work. During this lengthy journey, the self unfolds; it remembers and resolves certain karmic problems; it channels energy to heal itself and others; it obtains revealing and emancipating insights for its conflicts; and experiences all types of ineffable states of mystical perception, of comprehension of the universe, love for humanity, premonitions or future events and synchronicity. As a result of all these stages, we are given the possibility of experiencing total ecstasy and a feeling of blessedness.

It is important to note that everything described is processed in an inner connection with the music, the singing, the dance, and the rhythm of the maracas. The tiny boat of human consciousness sails on the waves of the mind’s sacred sea rocked by the hymns, which guide our crossing.

From “Might the Gods Be Alkaloids” by Alex Polari


  1. In 1998 I completed my book ‘Flight of the Shaman’ – my website gives various links so that it can be read on the web, etc.


    Geoff Widders

Leave a Reply