José Gabriel da Costa, later known as Mestre Gabriel, (1922–1971), is the founder of the União do Vegetal, a Christian religious sect that considers Hoasca (more commonly referred to as "ayahuasca") to be its main sacrament. This beverage is made by boiling two plants, Mariri (Banisteriopsis caapi) and Chacrona (Psychotria viridis), both of which are found in the Amazon rainforest.
Gabriel was born on February 10 in Coração de Maria, in the state of Bahia, Brazil. He received minimal education and moved to Acre, Brazil, later becoming a rubber tapper in the Amazon region. It was through his work as a rubber tapper that Gabriel first encountered Hoasca; receiving what he believed to be revelations, he created the UDV on July 22, 1961, organizing a coherent belief system and gathering followers. By the time of his death, the religion had spread through the Brazilian Amazon and urban areas of Brazil, and continues to grow today, in countries such as the USA, Spain and others.
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