UDV: Nature-Based Spirituality

Jose Gabriel da Costa, circa 1965, the founder of Uniao do Vegetal.

New Age spirituality encompasses many different disciplines including Nature-based religions like UDV. Jose Gabriel da Costa founded União do Vegetal in Brazil.  Mestre Gabriel was born on February 10, 1922. He was the eighth of 14 children in the family. In the 1940s, he worked as a rubber tapper in the Amazon. He drank hoasca for the first time on April 1, 1959, in the Amazon forest. After his that experience Mestre Gabriel began distributing the tea to associates and disciples. By 1961 he announced the creation of the União do Vegetal. 

UDV Comes to Santa Fe

The União do Vegetal (UDV) religion was first introduced to Santa Fe in July 1990. It was part of a movement of people from California, New Mexico, and Colorado. Followers sought a connect with God through a communion with Divine Nature. UDV has discreetly and slowly grown its small congregation in Santa Fe. People of many different races, professions, and economic classes belong to the organization. Santa Fe became the first UDV center authorized outside of Brazil. In 1992, UDV members put up a yurt in the neighborhood of Arroyo Hondo to serve as a temple. Members built a permanent temple on the same land in 2016.

Global Reach of UDV

In the past three decades UDV has grown into a religion practiced by more than 17,000 people in six different countries. The UDV headquarters are located in Brasilia, Brazil. Santa Fe was the first of nine centers that have opened in the U.S. The name “União do Vegetal” in Brazilian Portuguese means the “union of the plants.”  The name refers to the union among the people that participate in the religious practice of drinking hoasca tea. UDV also represents the commingling of the two plants used to make the tea, banisteriopsis caapi and psychotria viridis, from the Brazilian Amazon. The tea is used during a revered sacrament that heightens spiritual understanding. It has been documented by its members that the drinking of hoasca brings them closer to God.   

Solace in the City of Holy Faith

Many of the men and women trained by Mestre Gabriel in Brazil have traveled to Santa Fe to instruct the local congregation. União do Vegetal continues to strive for the betterment of humanity. Their ultimate goal is to find peace, goodness, and harmony from within. Mestre Gabriel founded the União do Vegetal with a focus on respect for both secular and spiritual traditions. The founder’s vision continues in Santa Fe, the City of Holy Faith.

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