Balancing Discretion and Expansion in the União do Vegetal
Keywords:Ayahuasca, UDV, New Age, Secrecy, Legality
The União do Vegetal (UDV) is an ayahuasca-based religion that operates with an unusual amount of discretion. Preliminary research into the group created a desire to develop a better understanding of how the UDV balances its own ideas of acceptance and expansion while remaining discreet and closed to outsiders. This context has been shaped by the group’s history of legal prosecution and hesitant religious acceptance in the cultures it has expanded into, rather than group beliefs or practices. Through literary analysis of research papers on the UDV, general group secrecy, and interviews with members, this project will analyze why these practices are so pervasive. This presentation will discuss findings on the group. This research concludes that the UDV’s usage of discretion is a legitimate response to the legal and social pressures that the group faces, and while secrecy doesn’t appear to be an integral part of the group, discretion does play an important role in member interaction with outsiders. Additionally, this research suggests that the UDV’s expansion indicates an overlap with New Age spiritualties.
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