Balancing Discretion and Expansion in the União do Vegetal

Jake Ference

Authors: Jake Ference

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Robin Wright

College:  College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


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 their own ideas of acceptance and expansion while remaining so discreet and closed to outsiders. This context has been shaped by the group’s history of legal prosecution and lack of religious acceptance in the cultures they’ve 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 my findings on the group. My 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.

Poster Pitch

Click the video below to view the student's poster pitch.


Click the image to enlarge.
2 Responses