true history of ayahuascaThe True History of Ayahyuasca: MKULTRA & Military/Medical Commerce


Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz

(; 1-21-20)

THE TRUE HISTORY OF AYAHUASCA is not revealed in the landmark case that permitted this “tea’s” importation from Brazil, as the facts reviewed in this article show.

The facts show the 10th Circuit and United States Supreme Court in O Centro Espirita Beneficiente and Gonzales, respectively, were defrauded by omissions and misrepresentations, according to this true history of ayahuasca, and the commercial context in which the “ayahuasca religion” emerged and evolved.


The true history of ayahuasca begins between 1879 and 1912 when the Brazil economy depended on the extraction and commercialization of rubber. This “Amazon Rubber Boom” increased between 1942 to 1945 during WWII.

After the United States was cut off by Japan from its major supply of rubber in Malaysia “Rubber soldiers (Portuguese: Soldados da borracha)” were compulsorily drafted to harvest rubber in the Amazon rainforest under the Brazil-United States Political-Military Agreement.

During this war effort, about 55,000 persons were enlisted into the Serviço Especial de Mobilização de Trabalhadores para a Amazônia (SEMTA; “Special Service of Mobilization of Workers for the Amazon”), with support of several other governmental organizations.

After being recruited, the volunteers were clothed, fed, and housed under strict military watch, and then sent into the Amazon. During their two to three month trips, “nearly 30,000 rubber workers died abandoned in the Amazon, after having exhausted their energies extracting the ‘white gold.’” (quoting Wikipedia, “Rubber soldiers”.)

The Brazilian government, acting on behalf of the allies in administering this rubber harvesting program, did not fulfill its promise to return the “rubber soldiers” to their homes at the end of the war as heroes, with suitable housing.

This history brought hardship upon the descendants of such rubber slaves known to rubber tapper, Sebastiao Mota de Melo (a.k.a., “Godfather Sebastio”)—who is presumed to have started “The Cult of the Holy Daime” in the 1930s under military, economic, and commercial duress.


In early 1942, Harvard professor Richard Evans Schultes, considered the “father of modern ethnobotany,” entered this military and commercial arena “as a field agent for the governmental Rubber Development Corporation, with an academic interest in Amazonian ethnobotany. “His task was to locate Hevea trees and to instruct local people on extraction and processing methods.” (The Harvard Gazette, Memorial Minute, Sept. 18, 2003.)

Experimenting with various plant extracts and ‘admixtures’ while still serving military and commercial contracts, Schultes hypothesized that the vine of Banisteriopsis caapi might make the DMT in some admixtures orally active due to a mono-amine-oxidase-inhibitor (MAOI) in the vine that Godfather Sebastio instructed his Catholic followers was sacred (spirit-filled) and medicinal.

Shultes co-authored “Plants of the Gods,” with Albert Hofmann, the Swiss scientist who discovered LSD.


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Further advancing the true history of ayahuasca, in 1976, a graduate student of Schultes’s brought the vine (that only grows well in tropical rain forest climates) to a greenhouse at the University of Hawaii where Dennis McKenna was pursuing a master’s degree in ethnobotany and psychopharmacology.

Also in 1976, Dennis McKenna published a book with his brother Terence expounding the purported values of hallucinogenic “journeying” using psilocybin mushrooms that the brothers cultured and distributed.

Thanks to Dennis McKenna, some B. caapi cuttings from the University of Hawaii “escaped captivity,” he told The New Yorker (Sept. 2016) “I took them over to the Big Island, where my brother and his wife had purchased some land. They planted it in the forest, and it happened to like the forest—a lot. So now it’s all over the place.”

During the early 1980s, Schultes’s MAOI hypothesis was experimentally confirmed by Dennis McKenna under the direction of G.H.N. Towers and F.S. Abbott at the University of British Columbia (UBC), with financing from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada and additional support from the Harvard University Botanical Museum.

Tying ayahuasca research and commercial development in the pharmaceutical industry, in 1980, the UBC’s Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences “Professor of Drug Delivery, and Associate VP Research at UBC,” joined the faculty of Sitka Biopharma, “located on the University of British Columbia campus in a state-of-the-art facility within The Centre for Drug Research and Development.” Dr. Helen Burt “developed numerous drug delivery technologies with over 30 applications in 8 patent families (several licensed to pharmaceutical companies) . . . .” (See: and about-us.)


At this same time, Schultes’s most popular work, The Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers (1979), was co-authored with chemist Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD, infamously produced by the Sandoz Company and distributed by the CIA during the MKULTRA program as condemned by the U.S. Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence and Committee on Human Resources in 1977.[1]

The umbrella program code-name MKULTRA was administered by the CIA’s Technical Services Division, headed in the 1950s by Willis Gibbons, a former executive of the US Rubber Company.

Following Shultes’s service to the governmental Rubber Development Corporation secretly mining for “white gold” in Brazil, and preceding Schultes’s Harvard and military services according to public knowledge, the “turn on and drop out” movement of the 1960s was caused by the combined activities of allied Harvard faculty members Aldos Huxley, Timothy Leary, Alan Watts, Richard Alpert; and the CIA “Project Stargate” researcher, Dr. Stanley Krippner, each of whom helped advance the scientific and religious justification for entheogens.

Discerning ‘the market’ by investigating the religious world’s susceptibility to hallucinogenic drug commerce, the “Harvard Psilocybin Project” (“HPP”) brought these academics and covert intelligence agents in alliance with the renowned social engineer David McClelland at Harvard.

In 1962, this Harvard cohort administered the HPP and “Marsh Chapel Experiment” (a.k.a., the “Good Friday Experiment”) at Boston University’s Marsh Chapel. There, psilocybin was tested on ten “religiously predisposed subjects.” The outcome purportedly showed the entire religious world was especially susceptible to hallucinogenic drug commerce.


At that same time Shultes’s and Hofmann’s book royalties were peaking, and LSD’s popularity was receding during the early 1980s, “Godfather Sebastio” is reported to have led hundreds of followers into the Amazonian rain forest to create a “new village.”

This became the main source of the B. caapi supply from Brazil reaching North America, and the beginning of the new religion that worships the “Holy Daime” (a.k.a., Ayahuasca tea) as a sacrament to heal the body and expand the mind, with the vine (not the drug DMT) providing the “spirit in the brew.”

Further evidencing a commercial enterprise, not actually a religion, in the early 1980s, Dennis’s brother Terence McKenna “began to speak publicly on the topic of psychedelic drugs, becoming one of the pioneers of the psychedelic movement,” according to Wilkipedia.

Wikipedia substantively omitted Terence McKenna’s 1994 public admission recorded at the Esalen Institute that following his arrest for trafficking hashish internationally, he served continuously federal agents or agencies by promoting hallucinogenic drugs.

Summarizing the military-commercial interests intertwined with the ‘Daime religion’ and this early true history of ayahuasca research and developments. . . .

Key parties-in-interest included the CIA’s former executive of the US Rubber Company directing MKULTRA, Willis Gibbons.

Richard Evans Schultes was also a key figure, extracting rubber in Brazil and teaching Godfather Sebastio’s militarily-enslaved predecessors what was of interest to the Office of Strategic Services (“OSS”).

The OSS was, at that time, directed by the Dulles brothers—lawyers for the Rockefeller Standard Oil Company that was partnered with IG Farben exchanging German rubber for American fuel prospering the Nazi-American business-elite.

This eclectic group appropriately named the Godfather’s enterprise the “Eclectic Center of the Universal Flowing Light Sebastiao Motta de Melo”.

Media reports and court testimonies only reflected the group’s purported metaphysical interests, neglecting its military and commercial influences.

Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza in the ‘Deep State’ Not ‘Deep Forest’

Word of this new “therapeutic religion” then purportedly spread to Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza, a Brazilian psychologist working in the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (“AFNC”).

The AFNC is a widely-known research facility for Europe’s leading psychoanalytic innovations. The institution generates treatment protocols, products, and services financed by Anglo-American industrialists.

In 1980, Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza, writing under the name “Denizard Souza,” published an article in Revista da Associacao Brasilerira de Psiquiatria Brazilian Association’s Journal of Psychiatry), 2(3), 190-195, used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) detailing “Terapia Espirita em hospitais psiquiatricos” (Spiritist therapy in psychiatric hospitals). (See: CIA-RDP96-00792R000700760003-5, Approved for Release 2000/08/11).

In 1982, the inauguration of the first church of the Santo Daime in the south of Brazil was led by Paulo Roberto Souza e Silva; and shortly thereafter, another opened in Boston, MA.

In 1983, David J. Hess (an anthropologist at Vanderbilt Univ.) visited Brazil to acquire and report on intelligence of interest to the CIA that drew on Souza’s publications in the context of “Parapsychology in Brazil: Collaboration and Exchange in the Context of Brazilian Culture” (Id, CIA doc.).

In this publication, Hess reviewed Western concerns about the political and economic stability in Brazil affecting resources available to the more developed nations intertwined with the “cultural aspects of parapsychology and Spiritism . . . largely defined by rival groups of Catholic and Spiritist (Kardecist) intellectuals.” (Id, CIA doc. p. 108).


CIA informant Hess wrote that in Brazil at that time, Vatican Jesuits associated with Loyola controlled the region politically, argued Spiritism was based on demonic possession, and persecuted parapsychologists.

Padre Oscar Gonzalez Quevedo, a leading Spiritist, was prohibited from freely speaking, and his book was burned for criticizing “the demonic interpretation of possession,” including “spiritual possession,” under the influence ayahuasca.

On February 12, 1983, CIA Public Affairs broadcaster, Jack Anderson, produced a “Confidential” broadcast syndicated from WJLA-TV opening: “Two decades ago, the Central Intelligence Agency carried out secret experiments on thousands of American citizens.

The purpose was to discover ways to control human behavior. The super-secret program used unwitting victims as living test tubes for bizarre mind-altering drugs. The CIA called the project MK/Ultra.” CIA-RDP88-01070R000100570008-5; approved for release 2007/03/14.

Anderson explained that victims of MK/Ultra were suing the CIA having been “given LSD and other drugs as part of the MK/Ultra program. . . . [and] lying to them about the true purposes of the experiments, also for the mental damage they say they suffered from the drug sessions.”(Id. p. 1)

Anderson asked author John Marks to explain “the CIA’s reasons for the MK/Ultra project.”

Marks replied: “There was an age-old dream in the intelligence business about making people do things against their will, to give you information, to perform acts that they didn’t want to perform. And the CIA secretly was looking for a pill or a ray or some technique, a panacea, if you will, which would allow them to manipulate people against their will.”

Two years later, in 1985, Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza (a.k.a., Denizard Souza) (hereafter, “Souza”) organized and led a presumably “scientific commission” that purportedly convinced the Brazilian government to legalize ayahuasca for ‘religious uses,’ according to widespread media reports.

Between 1985 and the time of this Complaint, hundreds of “Ayahuasca churches” opened internationally.

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In 1994, Jeffrey Bronfman, started and presided over what appears to be an American branch of the intertwined cult titled “O Centro Espirita Beneficiente União do Vegetal (“Central Beneficial Spirit United from the Plants”).

On May 21, 1999, federal agents raided Bronfman’s office at his church in New Mexico, and seized about thirty gallons of hoasca tea by reason that it contained the Class I narcotic hallucinogen dimethyltryptamine (“DMT”).

No one was arrested, but the group had to stop using the tea. In response, Bronfman and the U.D.V. sued the federal government, charging that the prohibition on hoasca violated their right to freedom of religion.

The following month, on June 29, 1999, Hawaii attorney Paul J. Sulla, Jr. (hereafter, “Sulla”) registered (with the State of Hawaii, Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs [DCCA]) an offshoot of de Milo’s and Souza’s church titled “The Eclectic Center of Universal Flowing Light-Paulo Robertosilva e Souza (CDFLUPARSS).”

Sulla’s designation combines the names “Roberto” and “Silva”. The act of combining the two names precludes Internet searches from finding and disclosing the association between Sulla’s presumed religious entity and Souza’s group in Brazil, and Bronfman’s later formed church in Montreal.

In 2003, the 10th Circuit in O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao v. Ashcroft, 342 F. 3d 1170 – Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit 2003, ruled in favor of Bronfman and his U.D.V. to enjoin the government’s confiscation of the hoasca tea.


In 2004, Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz and his Judeo-Christian sole corporation, The Royal Bloodline of David (“Royal”), purchased the subject religious property (hereafter, the “Property” that is considered ‘sacred’) from Sulla’s client, Cecil Loran Lee (hereafter, “Lee”)—a convicted marijuana trafficker whose criminal record was not disclosed to Horowitz at the time of the sale.

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In 2005, Lee foreclosed on Royal’s Mortgage on specious grounds and was denied foreclosure by Judge Ronald Ibarra’s directed verdict in 2008, after the jury found Lee had misrepresented the Property during the sale and awarded Royal and Horowitz $200,000 in damages due to Lee’s negligent misrepresentation.

In 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Gonzales, Attorney General, et. al., v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente uniao Do Vegetal, et. al.,. 546 U.S. 418 (2006) declined to reverse the 10th Circuit’s preliminary injunction issued in O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao v. Ashcroft stating:

“We conclude that the Government has not carried the burden expressly placed on it by Congress in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and affirm the grant of the preliminary injunction.” (Gonzales (@424)

The Supreme Court reasoned:

“The Government failed to convince the District Court at the preliminary injunction hearing that health or diversion concerns provide a compelling interest in banning the UDV’s sacramental use of hoasca.

The injunction affirmed in favor of the UDV:

(1) “requires the church to import the tea pursuant to federal permits, to restrict control over the tea to persons of church authority, and to warn particularly susceptible [church] members of the dangers of hoasca.” Id at 427.

(2) “if [the Government] believe[s] that evidence exists that hoasca has negatively affected the health of [church] members,” or “that a shipment of hoasca contain[s] particularly dangerous levels of DMT, [the Government] may apply to the Court for an expedite[d] determination of whether the evidence warrants suspension or revocation of [the [church]’s authority to use hoasca].” Id., at 257a, ¶ 29.

This is where the true history of ayahuasca stands today.




[1] See: PROJECT MKIULTRA, THE CIA’S PROGRAM OF RESEARCH IN BEHAVIORAL MODIFICATION, Joint Hearing Before the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research, Ninety-fifth Congress, First Session, August 3, 1977. The report recalled “The positive intelligence and counterintelligence potential envisioned for compounds like LSD, and suspected Soviet interest in such materials, supported the development of an American military capability and resulted in experiments conducted jointly by the U.S. Army Intelligence Board and the Chemical Warfare Laboratories. . . . [This] same USAINTC study cited ‘A 1952 (several years prior to initial U.S. interest in LSD-25) report that the Soviets purchased a large quantity of LSD-25 from the Sandoz Company in 1951, reputed to be sufficient for 50 million doses.”(Ibid., p. 16.) p. 91.