Resources for Spiritual Studies


The following sections outline selected readings on the Santo Daime, Spiritist & Mediumistic Studies, Umbanda (and other Yoruban-based traditions), Shamanism & Plant Medicines, and Spiritual Science, that can further study and spiritual growth. Selections below also include reader reviews and comments from fardados. These selections are not exhaustive and are listed in no particular order, except when highly recommended.

Santo Daime

Forest of Visions: Ayahuasca, Amazonian Spirituality and the Santa Daime Tradition
by Alex Polari de Alverga
Translated by Rosana Workman
Park City Press, VT: 1999.

Part biography, part document of spiritual wisdom, Forest of Visions is a fascinating story that satisfies on many levels. Author Alex Polari de Alverga spent years as a political prisoner during military rule in Brazil. Here he recounts his spiritual transformation after release under the tutelage of Padrinho Sebastião Mota de Mela, one of the founders of the Santo Daime religion. Forest of Visions is also a study of the inner workings of the Santo Daime utopian community of 500 in the heart of the Amazonian rainforest. The Santo Daime is a Christian-indigenous syncretic religion that centers around the drinking of a sacramental psychedelic tea called Ayahuasca as a shortcut to spiritual revelation and growth. After years of study, the Brazilian government decided that Ayahuasca positively benefited society and church members, and declared it legal. Approximately 50 Santo Daime churches now exist around the world, including in the U.S., Japan, and Holland, with various legal statures. The forward by Stephen Larsen, author of The Shaman’s Doorway, and the preface by Jonathan Goldman provide an informative transition from our world to the realm of this mysterious and unique Amazonian cult. –P. Randall Cohan

Viagens Ao Jurua – Journeys to the Jurua
by Alfredo Gregorio de Melo

“The verses of “Journeys to the Jurua” were first written in 1996, when Alfredo Gregorio de Melo rounded up some of his relatives and friends and organized a trip to the Jurua river region where he was born and lived until he was seven. His father, Sebastiao Mota de Melo, better known as Padrinho Sebastiao, was a native of the Jurua vallery, where he had met and married Rita Gregorio de Melo, Madrinha Rita, an immigrant from the northeast of Brazil. They lived in the Seringal Adelia rubber-farm, in the heart
of the Amazon forest.

Excerpt from the Introduction by Nilton Caparelli

“Padrinho Alfredo loves writing. In his conversation and spiritual performance he is never without his notebook or his pen. But it is not a common notebook. His writings describe not only what he hears or what he sees but also what he feels through signs and drawings. This enriches his observations and creates a universe for the experience lived…… it was in this way that the Jurua verses came into being.

After thirty-nine years of absence, returning to his origin of birth, he registered in verse-form the trip, transmitting a knowledge of the forest stored up in fifty years of life in the lush Amazon nature.”

Spiritual Science

Spiritual Science
How to Know Higher Worlds
by Rudolf Steiner

“The capacities by which we can insights into higher worlds lie dormant within each one of us. Mystics, gnostics, and theosophists have always spoken of a world of soul and spirit that is as real to them as the world we can see with our eyes and touch with our hands. Listening to them, we can say to ourselves at every moment: “I know that I, too can experience what they talk about, if only I unfold certain forces within me that today still lie dormant there.” All we need to know is how to begin to develop these faculties for ourselves.”

The Archangel Michael
by Rudolf Steiner

“The Michael age has dawned. Hearts begin to have thoughts. Enthusiasm no longer flows from mystical obscurity, but from the inner clarity thought coveys. To grasp this is to receive Michael into one’s soul. Thoughts that today seek to grasp the spirit must spring from hearts that beat for Michael as the fiery cosmic prince of thought.”

Guardian Angels: Conecting with our Spiritual Guides and Helpers
by Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner Press, London: 2000.

The Work of the Angel in our Astral Body
by Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner Press, London: 1996.

Start Now! A Book of Soul and Spiritual Excercises
by Rudolf Steiner

“Meditation Instructions, Meditations, Exercises, Verses for Living a Spiritual Year, Prayers for the Dead &
Other Practices for Beginning and Experienced Practitioners.

Given Rudolf Steiner’s accomplishments in so many fields, it is easy to forget that perhaps Stenier’s greatest gift was as a spiritual researcher, meditator, and meditation teacher. Meditation was the source of everything he did. Drawing on many Western traditions – Rosicrucian, alchemical, esoteric Christian, Masonic, philosophical, and Theosophical – Steiner practiced and penetrated these to create his anthroposophy or spiritual science.”

An Outline of Esoteric Science
by Rudolf Steiner

“In this basic work of spiritual science, readers learn how the creation and evolution of humanity is embedded at the heart of the vast, invisible web of interacting cosmic beings through whom the alchemical processes of cosmic evolution unfold. There are also descriptions of the different bodies of the human being and their relationship
to sleep and death, as wellas a dtailed practical guide to the methods or exercises, including the “Rose Cross Meditation,” by which such initiation knowledge can be attained.

Most remarkable and revolutionary of all, perhaps, is the central function that Rudolf Steiner allots to the Christ and to the entrance of Christ into earthly evolution through the Mystery of Golgotha.”

Angels, Archangels and the Unseen Forces
by Edgar Cayce

Spiritist & Mediumistic Studies

Visit the Spiritists’ recommended book list here — and find books for sale.

The Spirits’ Book or The Book on Spirits (recommended before The Medium’s Book)
Original title: Le Livre des Esprits (French)
Translated by Anna Blackwell
Published by: FEB – Rua Souza Valente, 17 – 20941 – RJ – Brazil

The Spirits’ Book and The Mediums’ Book are basic texts from the Spiritist Library. They can be difficult to read at first. Some prefer to use them as reference by thumbing the pages and seeing where you land – thus reading a particular lesson each day as prescribed. Local Spiritist centers often have weekly meetings open to the public where you can read along with a group and have discussion and ask questions if you are interested in taking your studies to this level.”

The Book on Mediums: Guide for Mediums and Invocators
by Allan Kardec.
Translated by: Emma A. Wood
Weiser Books, San Francisco: 1970. [First published in 1874]

“One of the most important books of the Spiritism Movement, second only to the book of Spirits, which is considered to be the bible of Spiritism. This is a book that should be read as in a group setting, a study group of mediums, where people can discuss the contexts, and by doing so learning from it better. The Book of Mediums, is just that, a guide for mediums on Spirits, that touches on topics such as Spirit manifestations, Haunting, communicating with Spirits, and invocations. This is one of those important Books that should be in the personal library of ever mediums, psychics, and student of the occult as well.”

The Secret Teachings of Mary Magdalene
by Claire Nahmad & Margaret Bailey

The Gospel According to the Spiritist Doctrine or The Gospel According Spiritism
Original title: L’Evangile selon L’Espiritisme (French)
Translated by: Janet A. Duncan
2nd Edition published y: ALLAN KARDEC Publishing Ltd., c/o 105 Church Hill London – E17 3BD
Electronic version prepared by: Brazilian Spiritist Federation

“I find this to be the most wonderful reference for prayers and the teachings. The book is organized by teaching from the New Testament. Quotes are takes from the Gospels where each lesson is introduced. A synoposis of the teaching, it’s origins and applications is given followed by channeled messages from spirits further illuminating the purpose of each lesson. Prayers for both incarnate and discarnate spirits are given and can be resourced to assist spiritual development as needed. This is the text where the prayers for the Opening and Closing of the Session and Prayer for the Mediums used in the Sao Miguel and Mesa Branca works can be found.” (from a Fardada)

In the Domain of Mediumship
by the Spirit Andre Luiz through Francisco Candido Xavier

“In this book, Andre Luis analyzes the various aspects of mediumship, emphasizing the efforts of medium faithful
to the spiritual mandate received prior to their reincarnation. He also warns of the risks involved in the poor interchange
between the two worlds. It talks about trance, somnambulism, possession, clairvoyance, the out-of body experience, fascination, psychometry and the mediumship of physical effect, among others. It is a technical study of great relevance, which discloses the ways in which Spirits act during the intricate processes of communication with the incarnates. It relays concepts of spirituality, received from enlightened mentors, contained in explanations of philosophical, scientific and evangelical nature, indispensable to those who are dedicated to the study of mediumship.”

The Interior Castle
by St Theresa of Avila
Translated by: Mirabai Starr

“If you want to make progress on the path and ascend to the places you have longed for, the important thing is to not think much but to love much, nd so to do whatever best awakens you to love. If you fall sometimes, do not lose heart. Keep striving to walk you path with integrity. God will draw out the good even from your fall, just as the man who sells antidotes will drink poison the test their effectiveness.”
St Theresa of Avila – 1577

Writings from the Philokalia: On Prayer of the Heart (Paperback)
by E. Kadloubovsky (Translator), G.E.H. Palmer (Translator)

The Essene Gospel of Peace
Translated by: Edmond Bordeaux Szekely
London 1937

“Nearly two thousand years have passed since the Son of Man taught the way, the truth and the life of mankind. He brought health to the sick, wisdom ot he ignorant and happiness to those in misery. He conquered half of humanity and the whole of civilization of the West. This fact proves the eternal itality of the Master’s words, and their supreme and incomparable value.

The content of this book represents only about a third of the complete manuscripts which exist in Aramaic in the Secret Archives of the Vatican and in old lavonic in the the Royal Archives of the Habsburgs.

We owe the existence of these two versions to the Nestorian priests who, under pressure of the advancing hordes of Genghis Khan, were forced to flee from the East towards the West, bearing all their ancient scriptures and ikons with them.

The ancient Aramaic texts date from the 3rd century after Christ, while the old Slavonic version is a literal translation of the former. Exactly how the texts traveled from Palestine to the interior of Asia into the hands of the Nestorian priests, archeologists are not yet able to reconstruct for us.

We have nothing to add to this text. It speaks for itself. The reader who studies the pages that follow with concentration, will feel the eternal vitality and powerful evidence of these profound truths which mankind needs today more urgently that before.”

“And the truth shall bear witness of itself”

The Astral City or Our Home or Nosso Lar
Original title: Nosso Lar (Portuguese)
Published By: Christian Spiritist Center – USA – 1986

“This book is the first in a long series, mostly not translated into English yet. It is a brilliant story channeled from a spirit in the afterlife who was a physician on Earth. His account of the varying densities of planes of existence beyond this world give context to much of the work we do. It is a valuable text both in understanding our own karma, relationships with other beings and how to assist the discarnate who are lost in various conditions of confusion and purgatory.” (from a Fardada)

The Dynamics of Our Sixth Sense
by Divaldo P. Franco

“This book came true as a result of a phenomenal workshop given by the Brazilian medium and speaker Divaldo P. Franco on July 22, 2006 in the auditorium f the Lily Dale Assembly. It crowned the Spiritist weekend in Lily Dale.

This workshop represents an unforeseen study of our sixth sense, our mediumship. Divaldo Franco provides us with the definition of mediumship, it’s types, and its therapeutic features. hrough his personal experiences, he enlightens us with considerations on the role of mediumship and its charitable purpose. The core of his teachings was of love and kindness. The end of the workshop was blessed with an uplifting trance channeled message of Dr. Bezerra de Menezes through Divaldo Franco’s extraordinary mediumistic ability.”

The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You
by Paramahansa Yogananda

In this unprecedented masterwork of inspiration, Paramahansa Yogananda takes the reader on a profoundly enriching journey through the four Gospels. Verse by verse, he illumines the universal path to oneness with God taught by Jesus to his immediate disciples but obscured through centuries of misinterpretation: “how to become like Christ, how to resurrect the Eternal Christ within one’s self.”

Never before available in its entirety, this landmark work by one of the most revered spiritual teachers of our time transcends divisive sectarianism to reveal a unifying harmony underlying all true religions. A groundbreaking synthesis of East and West, it imparts the life-transforming realization that each of us can experience for ourselves the promised Second Coming — awakening of the all-fulfilling Divine Consciousness latent within our souls. Yogananda said, “In titling this work The Second Coming of Christ, I am not referring to a literal return of Jesus to earth. He came two thousand years ago and, after imparting a universal path to God’s kingdom, was crucified and resurrected; his reappearance to the masses now is not necessary for the fulfillment of his teachings. What is necessary is for the cosmic wisdom and divine perception of Jesus to speak again through each one’s own experience and understanding of the infinite Christ Consciousness that was incarnate in Jesus. That will be his true Second Coming.”

Umbanda & other Yoruban-based traditions

Umbanda: Religion and Politics in Urban Brazil
Diana DeG. Brown
Columbia University Press, New York: 1986. [Currently unavailable on]

A wonderful peice of scholarly work! This book researches Umbanda (as practiced in Southern Brazil) and the socio-politics associated with it from the 1930s to 1970s. This book is wonderful for the seasoned and culturally competent person whom has a firm working knowledge of Brazil and Afro-Brazilian religions, but does not offer much for those interested in the various rites and rituals associated with the religion.

Samba in the Night: Spiritism in Brazil
by David J. Hess

Book Description: An absorbing account of an anthropologist’s fieldwork and explorations into alternative religions in Brazil. Samba in the Night invites the reader into the mysterious world of spirit mediums, poltergeists, psychic surgery, exorcism, and spiritual healing.

Sarava! Afro-Brazilian Magick (Paperback)
by Carol Dow

Reader review: “There are sections on the Orixas, and the Orixas discussed are Iansa “Oya”, The Ibeji “the Divine Twins”, Iemanja “Yemaya”, Nana, Ogum, Omolu, Olorun, Oxala, Oxossi, Ossae, Oxum, Oxumare, Xango, Exu, Pomba Gira, and other inor Orixas, Each section gives you a an explanation of the Orixa as well as a Legend that goes behind the Orixa.

There is also a section on Spirit Guides such as the Pretos Veljos, “The Ancient Black Ones”, and the Caboclas, which is a bit interesting. The section of Botanicals is okay, but honestly one can get a better selection in the book “Sacred Leaves of Candomble”. There is a small section of Sigils I like, I have to admit.”

The Osha – Secrets of the Yoruba – Lucumi – Santeria Religion in the United States and the Americas
by Julio Garcia Cortez

The Osha examines a religion (not a cult) practiced by hundreds of thousands of people in different countries principally Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Latin America and most recently the United States. The Osha provides the stories, history, types and manner of divination, the procedures of vestment, names of the deities and everything which is part of the Yoruba/Santeria Religion.
“Let it be then that this work go out into the public light with my best wishes to those who have been vested as priests and priestesses of the Orishas. But also to the neophytes who are seeking a bit more knowledge. So this is my purpose……..this is the reason I have written the Osha.”

Sacred leaves of Candomble: African Magic, Medicine, and Religion in Brazil
by Robert A Voeks

“Candomblé, an African religious and healing tradition that spread to Brazil during the slave trade, relies heavily on the use of plants in its spiritual and medicinal practices. When its African adherents were forcibly transplanted to the New World, they faced the challenge not only of maintaining their culture and beliefs in the face of European domination but also of finding plants with similar properties to the ones they had used in Africa. This book traces the origin, diffusion, medicinal use, and meaning of Candomblé’s healing pharmacopoeia–the sacred leaves. Robert Voeks examines such topics as the biogeography of Africa and Brazil, the transference–and transformation–of Candomblé as its adherents encountered both native South American belief systems and European Christianity, and the African system of medicinal plant classification that allowed Candomblé to survive and even thrive in the New World. This research casts new light on topics ranging from the creation of African American cultures to tropical rain forest healing floras.”

Flash of the Spirit: African & Afro-American Art & Pholosophy
by Robert Farris Thompson

“The Yoruba believe themselves descended from goddesses and gods, from an ancient spiritual capital, Ile -Ile. They show their special concern for the properties of right living through their worship of major goddesses and gods, each essentially a unique manifestation of ashe, the-power-to-make-things-happen, a key to futurity and self-realization in Yoruba terms. There are thousands of deities in Yoruba territory……these dieties include Eshu, spirit of individuality and change; Ifa, god of divination; Ogun, lord of iron; Yemoja, goddess of the seas; Oshun, goddess of sweet water, love and giving; Oshoosi, od of hubnting; Obaluaiye, dread spirit of disease and earth; etc……

Santeria: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America
by Miguel A. De La Torre

“Santeria is a religion with Afro – Cuban roots, rising out of the cultural clash between the Yoruba people of West Africa and the Spanish Catholics who brought them to the America’s as slaves. As a faith marginalized and persecuted, it gave oppressed man and women strength and the wll to survive. With the exile of thousands of Cuban in the wake of Castro’s revolution in 1959, Santeria came to the United States, whee it is gradually coming to be recognized as a legitimate faith tradition.”

“Santeria, from the Spanish word santo (saint), literally means “the way of saints.” It is comprised of an Ibrian Christianity shaped by the Counterreformation and Spanish folk Catholicism, blended together with African Orisha worship as it was practiced by the Yoruba of Nigeria and later modified by nineteenth-century Kardecan spiritualism, which originated in France and became popular in the Caribbean.

Shamanism & Plant Medicines

The Cosmic Serpent
by Jeremy Narby

A personal adventure, a fascinating study of anthropology and ethnopharmacology, and, most important, a revolutionary look at how intelligence and consciousness come into being.

This adventure in science and imagination, which the Medical Tribune said might herald “a Copernican revolution for the life sciences,” leads the reader through unexplored jungles and uncharted aspects of mind to the heart of knowledge.

In a first-person narrative of scientific discovery that opens new perspectives on biology, anthropology, and the limits of rationalism, The Cosmic Serpent reveals how startlingly different the world around us appears when we open our minds to it.

“The Cosmic Serpent is a spellbinding, scholarly tour de force that may presage a major paradigm shift in the Western view of reality.” –Michael Harner, Ph.D., president, Foundation for Shamanic Studies, and author of The Way of the Shaman

Visionary Plant Consciousness: The Shamanic Teachings of the Plant World
by J. P. Harpignies

Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Founder and President, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies : “The uniquely knowledgeable and inspiring voices in this book provide an insightful multidisciplinary context for understanding the once and future history of human relationships with sacred plants. As the beneficial applications of psychedelics continue to re-gain credibility in mainstream science and medicine, these voices offer necessary clues about how the states of mind that sacred plants engender can be conscientiously integrated into our selves and society.”

Jeremy Narby, author of The Cosmic Serpent: “Humans have long considered psychoactive plants as teachers. This book seeks to inform Westerners about these powerful plants and about the shamans who know how to use them. Their words are clear and simple and often based on personal experience. The result is an accessible book packed with knowledge.”

Timothy White, founding editor of Shaman’s Drum, Shaman’s Drum No. 74, 2007 : “I commend this volume as a thought-provoking examination of the thesis that our planet’s well-being could depend upon our respectful, creative use of visionary plants. Based on the evidence that these plants have long served indigenous shamans as effective methods of enhancing intuitive perceptions, engendering healing powers, and stimulating creative thinking, this book also makes a timely case for decriminalizing their responsible use.”

Wizard of the Upper Amazon (Paperback)
by F. Bruce Lamb

“This is one of the three or four best books I have ever encountered.” —Peter Warshall, The CoEvolution Quarterly

“A rare glimpse of the private life of a Peruvian healer.” —Andrew Weil, M.D., author of the The Natural Mind

Rio Tigre and Beyond: The Amazon Jungle Medicine of Manual Cordova-Rios
by F. Bruce Lamb

“The most interesting part of the book is that which deals with the intake of a hallucinogenic compound called ‘ayahuasca’…It is at this point that the narrative becomes a priceless revelation.”
—Carlos Castaneda, Los Angeles Times

“Many experiences and happenings in the story might strain the credulity of all who have not lived themselves amongst Indians in primitive Amazon societies.”
—Richard Evans Schultes, Harvard Museum

Plant Spirit Medicine
by Eliot Cowan

“We can do nothing unless we are asked.” Leave it to a plant to come up with the understatement of the millennium! Look at what plants do when they are asked: all human civilization is a form of excess grain – the generosity of plants. The history of our species shows us that plants furnish us with whatever we ask for.”