Beneficent Spiritual Center Uniao do
The Beneficent Spiritual Center Uniao do Vegetel is one of
several religious groups that have arisen in the twentieth century
in Brazil whose practice is built around the consumption of
ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is an hallucinogenic substance created
from the vine known as Banisteriopsis Caapi, which is boiled in
water along with various other plants that also contain psychedelic
properties. It was founded by José Gabriel da Costa,
known by his followers as Maestre Gabriel.
Maestre Gabriel was born on February 10, 1922, in Coracao
de Maria, a small town in the Brazilian state of Bahia. In 1942
he became part of a government program to accelerate the
production of rubber for the war effort and while working in
the area near the BrazilianBolivian border encountered
Bendit, Phoebe Daphne (Payne) Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
ayahuasca (or hoasca). The formation of the Unioa is dated
from that experience though the reconstruction of the religion
would take the next 20 years. Maestre Gabriel died on September
24, 1971.
According to the Uniao de Vegetel, its religion dates to the
time of King Solomon in Israel. Over the years it has disappeared
on several occasions, but as God sees fit, spiritual personages
are called forth to reestablish it. In the past, such an
effort was reinitiated by the Incas. Maestre Gabriel traced his
own introduction to the substance to a people who continued
its use from Incan times though the Incan ritual and doctrine
had been lost.
Rituals of the Uniao de Vegetel have some resemblance to
the Santo Daime, the older ayahuasca group in Brazil. It includes
the consumption of the drug and the singing of the
songs that were received by Maestre Gabriel. The group has
more than 75 centers in Brazil, and may be contacted through
its webpage at
In 1991 and 1995, the Uniao organized international conferences
to promote the study of ayahuasca and assist in the
process of its legalization and legitimization internationally.
Beneficent Spiritual Center Uniao do Vegetel. http June 12, 2000.