Background: The Santo Daime Tradition and the Céu do Mapiá Community
The community Céu do Mapiá is located in the southwestern portion of the state of Amazonas, Brazil. Its name is derived from the Mapiá stream, a tributary of the Purus river, around which the community is situated. Mapia was founded in 1983 as a rubber tapping community whose members are united by the religious tradition known as Santo Daime. In order to describe the system of healing in the community Céu do Mapiá, it is first necessary to provide a brief history of the cultural tradition that inspired this community’s development.
The Santo Daime is a religious doctrine that was founded in the 1930s in the state of Acre, Brazil. Its founder was a Brazilian rubber tapper of African descent named Raimundo Irineu Serra, who later became known to his followers as Mestre (Master) Irineu. Mestre Irineu was born on December 15, 1892 in the Northeastern state of Maranhão. In 1912, he moved to the state of Acre (Neto, 2003, p.93). The two factors inspiring this move were the devastating drought that was afflicting Maranhão and the allure of the opportunities that the rubber trade provided in the Amazon at that time (Froes, 1986, p.31). During this time, Mestre Irineu came to know the caboclo (or mestizo) culture of the region and also had contact with the Caxinawá tribe (McRae, 1991, p. 46). He also learned to speak the indigenous language of the Tupi-Guarani culture (Neto, 2003, p. 94).
Soon after arriving in Acre, Mestre Irineu was introduced to the tea known as ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is one of several names for a tea that has been used by several indigenous and mestizo groups throughout South America for an untold number of years. The word “ayahuasca” comes from the Quechua language and means “vine of the souls or spirits”. It is made with a combination of jungle plants. The first is a woody liana with the botanical name Banisteriopsis caapi. The plant species that is mixed with the ayahuasca liana varies among different traditions. The accompanying plant that is used in the Santo Daime tradition is the Psychotria viridis shrub (Soibleman, 1995, p.15). Shultes and Hofmann (1992) note that ayahuasca is utilized by indigenous Amazon cultures “for prophecy, divination, sorcery, and medical purpose” (p. 120). The authors then affirm that “ayahuasca is, above all a medicine—the Great Medicine” (p. 122). They add that the drink “is so deeply rooted in native mythology and philosophy, that there can be no doubt of its great age as a part of aboriginal life” (p. 120). McRae (1991) has also noted that all groups that utilize ayahuasca identify it as a “plant teacher” (1991, p. 23).
Mestre Irineu was introduced to ayahuasca by two brothers, also rubber tappers of African descent, Antonio and André Costa. Some of his first sessions were also guided by a Peruvian shaman known as Don Crescencio Pizango, who attributed his knowledge to the spirit of an Incan king named Huascar (McRae, 1991, p. 46). Together with the Costa brothers, Irineu formed a group that regularly used ayahuasca. It was known as the Cycle of Regeneration and Faith (CRF). This would be a precursor to the Santo Daime doctrine (McRae, 1992, p. 46). In his experiences with ayahuasca, Mestre Irineu soon began to have visions of a Lady in the Moon. She introduced herself to him as Clara, and Irineu identified her as the Virgin of Conception and the Queen of the Forest. She soon began to give him instructions for a period of preparation and initiation. His initiation consisted of spending eight days alone in the forest drinking ayahuasca every day, eating nothing but plain manioc root, and drinking only unsweetened tea.
Excerpted from MA thesis entitled, The Healing System Used in the Santo Daime Community: Ceu do Mapia, by P. Joseph Sulla III.
Timeline of the Santo Daime Religion
1892 – Raimundo Irineu Serra was born in the town of São Vicente de Férrer in the northeastern Brazilian state of Maranhão.
1912 – Raimundo Irineu Serra followed the “rubber boom” and moved to the state of Acre in the Amazon region.
1920 – Sebastião Mota de Melo was born in a rubber extraction camp on the banks of the Juruá river in the municipality of Eirunepe in Amazonas state.
1931 – Mestre Irineu started his works at Vila Ivonete, Rio Branco, Acre.
1940 – Mestre Irineu moved to the Custódio Freire area of Rio Branco to land donated by Governor Guiomar dos Santos, today known as Alto Santo.
1955 – Mestre Irineu received recognition from the Círculo Esotérico de Comunhão do Pensamento, a group based in São Paulo.
1956 – Mestre Irineu married Peregrina Gomes, grandaughter of Antônio Gomes.
1959 – Padrinho Sebastião moved his family to Rio Branco.
1965 – Padrinho Sebastião first drank Daime with Mestre Irineu at Alto Santo and was cured from illness.
1971 – Mestre Irineu passed away.
1973 – The Brazilian federal police began persecution Santo Daime, and Leôncio Gomes and Padrinho Sebastião ostensibly split over Sebastião trying to modify Mestre Irineu’s original doctrine by raising the Brazilian flag during works.
1979 – Padrinho Sebastião decided to sell part of the land at Colonia 5000 and move his community to Rio do Ouro.
1980 – Padrinho Sebastião founded the community at Rio do Ouro.
1981 – Leôncio Gomes passed away.
1982 – Due to a conflict over ownership of Rio do Ouro, Padrinho Sebastião again moved his community and founded Céu do Mapiá in the Amazon.
1990 – Padrinho Sebastião passed away in Rio de Janeiro.
Testimony of Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza
Paulo Roberto Silva e Souza received a degree in psychology. His training included psychoanalysis, bioenergetics, gestalt, as well as various psycho-spiritual healing modalities. He is the president of the Eclectic Center of Universal Flowing Light Sebastião Mota de Melo.
THE PLANTS OF KNOWLEDGE
The Daime belongs to a large family: a family of divine beings, who have been manifesting themselves in the plant kingdom for millions of years.
The plants of knowledge have always been present during the crucial moments of human evolution, acting like a bridge that human beings cross to arrive at another stage of consciousness, about themselves and about their immediate circumstances.
In the Americas, we find in the religious rituals of all native cultures, a pre-Columbian tradition of the use of the plants of knowledge, from Canada to Patagonia, past Mexico, Central America, Amazonia, and the Andes region. These plants are entheogens – a term used by French scientists to classify what we call the sacred plants or the plants that take us to ecstasy – to a meeting between the creature and his Creator. Human beings use these plants to practice a religious act, in the sense of the Latin word, religare, which means to reconnect with God.
THE SACRED BEVERAGE
In South America, we find the Incas. According to legend, ayahuasca was used by the royal Incan family, by the high priests, and warriors, who had distinguished themselves in battle. The doctrine was so secretive that the Spanish never found any documents referring to it. According to a legend, there were two brothers. One was Atahualpa, who surrendered to the Spanish, kneeled before a Spanish horse and filled a room full of gold for them. The other was Ayahuasca (i.e. Huascar), who became enraged and took part of his people to Macchu-Picchu (which was only discovered 400 years later, empty and deserted.) So, it is believed, that a group of these people from Macchu-Picchu abandoned the city due to the encroachment of Spanish forces, and went down the river Madre de Dios, to settle in the region at the head of the river Purus, (which drains into the tidal basin of the Amazon forest.) It is also believed that when this part of the royal Incan family arrived at the Brazilian forests, they brought with them a treasure of secret knowledge, namely the preparation of this sacred beverage. Henceforth, they shared their knowledge and the use and preparation of this drink was disseminated to various tribes.
This was how the ayahuasca tradition, which was known only by the Indians, started (in Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil). It is at this point in time, that we see the figure of Master Irineu, who received our Doctrine from the Virgin of Conception. This period was very important in the history of Brazil and it is the reason why we are placing so much emphasis on this centennial. For the Master is, for us the pioneer of Brazilian spirituality. In truth, he is the pioneering explorer of the human mind, because at the time that Brazil was expanding the frontiers of its territory, Master Irinieu was also expanding the frontiers of the human mind. He received from the Virgin of Conception, the light to be able to penetrate into the dark side of the mind and to do a work of Christian illumination. This was seventy years ago.
FROM THE MASTER UNTIL PADRINHO
It seems as though the closer we come to the end of the century, the more important the Daime becomes on account that it is one of the rare aids that a soul has for illumination. During these times, it is important to recognize the worth of Master Irineu as the founder, cultivator, and pioneer of the Doctrine – that man, who was unafraid and was the founder of a spiritual dynasty, that was brought down from the Astral. When people speak of Master Irineu, they speak of his courage, his love, his patience, and his simplicity in bringing the Virgin Mary to all of us.
The doctrine practiced by the Incas was pantheistic. They worshipped the sun, the moon and the stars. The Master made the connection of the sun with Christ, and of the moon with the Virgin Mary and the Queen of the Forest. These connections are the reason why hundreds, thousands of young people come to the doctrine. The Doctrine was thus connected to nature because the Virgin Mary ceased to be a statue within a church and returned to being Mother Earth. She is the imperatrice of multiple faces: of the snow, of the wind, of the ice, of all places. Our lady is present. For the Hindus, she is Shakti, the feminine face of God; for the Tibetans, she is the Mother of the Blue Sky. She lives in the Himalayas, but she is the same Lady.
Master Irineu renews this and composes a purely Brazilian, South American version of the Virgin, for previously the Virgin had always been European. Even the Virgin Mary of Jerusalem came down to us filtered by European culture. We find the Italian Virgin Mary, the French Virgin Mary, and the Spanish Virgin Mary. But the Virgin Mary, which comes from the Queen of the Forest, is felt in one’s heart. She appears and we feel Her Light, we feel her comfort. This is the importance of Master Irineu. He Christianized the Doctrine, without completely negating its previous beliefs. This had not been done by anyone instead of denying the worship of the sun, he emphasized it saying, “Jesus Christ is in the sun. The sun is Jesus.” The same way that Christ didn’t deny the Old Testament, but confirmed Moses and David, Master Irineu didn’t deny this pre-Christian part of the doctrine, its Incan tradition.
Our story continues with the appearance of Padrinho Sebastião and the establishment of Colônia Cinco Mil (5000). His arrival takes on a very special character due to the fact that his illumination was almost immediate and his evolution within the Doctrine was exceptional. He started to receive hymns and make the Daime.
Master Irineu came to the earth to be an instrument of the Virgin Mary, of Christ, and Juramidam. In the same way, Padrinho Sebastião came with the force of Saint John the Baptist, the teachings of Saint John the Baptist, the way of being of Saint John the Baptist. All of these qualities incarnated in the being of Padrinho Sebastião and were confirmed in his hymnal. Whoever takes Daime and enters into his hymnal, can easily understand this.
With the establishment of Colônia Cinco Mil, the Doctrine took another step forward. It seems that Master Irineu transmitted a force to Padrinho Sebastião which he carried with him further on, thus forming a Daimista community, with the purpose of sharing the religious life. It was a time of great persecution. If the Master had been persecuted, with Padrinho Sebastião the persecution became cyclical: every time that a new chief of police took over, the delegate of the Federal Police or the Commander of the Battalion of the Frontiers, always wanted to challenge the community. This was the situation that I encountered when I arrived in Rio Branco in January of 1976.
I was the first person who went to the Federal Police to give a deposition about the Daime. I went there to say that, as a psychologist, I had taken Daime and studied the Doctrine; and that I considered it absurd to prohibit the beverage because it had no drug-like characteristics. It wasn’t addictive, it wasn’t trafficked, it wasn’t sold.
I was invited by the Government of Geraldo Mesquita to give a course on leadership to the Secretaries of State lasting one month. “The year before I had gone to Peru, where I had heard of ayahuasca.” I heard of a group – the people of Padrinho Sebastião – that drank the beverage. I went to visit them and they did a small work. They gave me a chalice and I didn’t feel anything. I thought it was a forest tonic, because I felt perfectly fine, very healthy, but I didn’t see anything. When it was over, Padrinho Sebastião asked : “So how was it, did you see anything?”
“I didn’t see anything, no sir,” and I looked at him challenging him in my mind. He perceived my thoughts. (The most amazing thing about Padrinho was his capacity to penetrate our mind.)
“Good. We are going to have dinner now. Do you want to have dinner with us or do you want to take a little more Daime so you can have some visions?”
I felt challenged and I said yes. We went to a house that looked like a small wooden church and Padrinho picked up a glass and asked:
“Do you want half a glass or a full one?”
“I want a full one.” I drank the glass in the greatest innocence, in the greatest ingenuity.
Padrinho came closer and said: “Good. Now you are going to go to the hammock, because the Daime is going to shake you.”
Immediately, I tried to go to the hammock and I wasn’t able. On the way, I started vomiting, I started getting scared, I wanted to die! They picked me up and took me to a hammock (and left me alone). I was feeling very sick, I couldn’t even lift up my head. Later, somebody arrived who illuminated the entire hut. I felt a force, lifted my head and saw Padrinho. There wasn’t any gas lamps nor flash lights. The light emanated from his body. I saw him with clothing from the astral, a cloak with brilliant buttons, that emanated enormous light. They were silver like moon-light. I was very amazed, even though I was moaning. Padrinho said: “Be a man. Don’t moan. Have courage, know that God is our best friend.
He spoke with the voice of Zeus, with the voice of thunder, of Jehovah. That voice reverberated in my mind. My perplexity continued to increase. I was directly entering the supernatural kingdom, seeing the supernatural with my own eyes. Padrinho held my head, raised it, and holding it up in the hammock, he placed his hand on my forehead: “Now, in the name of God, you are going to see what the Daime is.” He passed his hand over my eyes and when he took them away it was as though a river of colored and luminous waters came out of them. The waters ran from below to above. I felt that I was becoming unconscious, seeing colors that I had never seen before. The fact that the waters were running from below to above (flowing against gravity) caused me to get dizzy and I felt something pulling me into that current. I became very scared that I was going to die. “My God! What is that?”
And then I was engulfed by a drop, about 5 meters high, a drop of divine love. I had never felt anything so delightful in my entire life. I had never felt such a sensation of pleasure and of complete love as I experienced in that moment. It was this that won me over definitively to the Daime. Then I surrendered myself. I left my body and went to a place where I had a meeting that completely changed my life. The same love of God, the same power, which came in the form of a divine fire – the burning bush, as Moses had seen on Sinai. Then I slept. The next day I knocked on Padrinho’s door, wanting to take more Daime. He gave it to me. I went to the house of João Baé and laid down. Shortly thereafter, Padrinho appeared and asked: “How are you doing?”
“Padrinho, now explain to me everything I went through. What is this?”
“What is above is the same below. You connected above, you connected below. You connected below, you connected above,” he responded. I remember him speaking and me crying. It was a night and a morning on which I was born again. I became another person. I saw and understood what I was seeing and all of that was recorded on my eternal soul – knowing God.
Then I left, planning to return on some later date. It took six years. There was always something that kept me from going back. I always thought of Padrinho, never again did I forget him or the hymns. One time, during this period, they sent me some Daime; they, too, never forgot me. It was a very strong love.
In July of 1982, on a rainy Wednesday, Alex Polari arrived at my apartment in Leblon, from Acre of the Colônia Cinco Mil and brought me some Daime. Padrinho had moved from Rio Branco to a placed called Rio do Ouro, in Amazonia; the persecution was starting again with great force and Padrinho was sick, with heart problems.
It was a very touching night. We took Daime together, I and Alex, we sang hymns and that night, a phenomenon occurred: Padrinho appeared in the middle of the room for four seconds. I saw him seated in front of me and his look called me even though he wasn’t saying anything. It seemed as though he was saying: “Come! Come, because it is time,” in a subliminal and spiritual way. This again changed my life because the next day, I closed my practice, spent 10 days with my wife, who was worried that I had closed my practice, and went to Rio Branco.
On the night that I arrived, there was a feitio taking place in Colônia Cinco Mil. Alfredo was at the front of the furnace, cooking the Daime. That was when I really got to know him. I took Daime, and fell to the ground. On the ground, I opened my eyes and saw Alfredo seated on a chair playing guitar and Padrinho behind him, on top of a mountain, with his hands open like Christ. He transformed himself and became a great source of light, very beautiful, full of colors and lights. It was an illuminated being. From Padrinho, a thread extended that connected him to Alfredo and from Alfredo to me. I also was turned into a source of light, which came out of me and extended in various directions. Everything was happening within my visions and this may have been the most important vision of my entire life. It was the only time I saw the Virgin of Conception and Saint John the Baptist.
TAKE THIS DAIME
At this moment, I was given an explanation as to what I was doing, why I was there at that time and what I would have to do. There was a battle going on and I had a place in it. The next day I was told to go to the Federal Police and to the Army. I would have to intervene. And I would be given a prize if I overcame that battle. I had a vision of this place here in Rio de Janeiro (where the Church of Céu do Mar is) thousands of years ago when human beings weren’t incarnate yet. Here where we are, in my house, there was a tongue of fire, a blaze that was 300 meters high.
On that night, I spoke with Alfredo and I had resolved to work. And I spent the entire night talking to him. The next day, we went to the Colonel Guarino, Padrinho Mário Rogério da Rocha and I – we spent four hours talking to him, telling him that the Doctrine could not be treated like a police case; it was a scientific matter. He showed me a telex of Abi-Ackel, Minister of Justice of the Governor Figueiredo, asking for solutions for the “problem” we were causing. They were afraid that Padrinho was a new Antônio Conselheiro, who wanted to incite the people of the region to revolt against the Government.
Then I went to Rio do Ouro to talk with Padrinho. I spent his birthday there, October 6, 1982. It was our reunion. We agreed on a strategy and he gave me some Daime: “Take this Daime so that you can drink it there in Rio de Janeiro.”
On November 2, 1982, we opened the church, Céu do Mar. In December, I returned there (Rio Branco.) We formed a small commission comprising a psychologist, an anthropologist, a historian, a sociologist, and a Federal Policeman from the army. We went to Rio do Ouro. There, reconciliation was brought about; the colonel Guarino guaranteed to cease the persecution.
I started taking Daime regularly to Rio de Janeiro. (When we think of this, we should always remember Padrinho Mário Rogério da Rocha. He was the one who supported our church the most when it was beginning.) I thought it was really difficult to maintain a church in Rio, but Padrinho Mário would say:
“This is the Daime. This is God. Knowing this, you should have faith. This is certain there above.” He had in his house a little piece of paper with a picture of the Rock of Gávea. What a coincidence…
AN URBAN CHURCH
We came here and started the church. Many people at that time questioned whether an urban church should exist. We brought the Daime that had been deep in the forest to the city. The Daime started to present to people here in Rio a way of searching that had not been available previously. Many people that had a series of questions about their lives, about God, about themselves; existential matters, philosophical matters, identity crises; people that were seriously seeking true knowledge, and who didn’t find it in books or other religions, began to find this knowledge within themselves.
The matter of freedom on the path of knowledge is very important. A person would arrive here and have a meeting without an intermediate, between the divine and himself, because the divine is within each person. This was a process that opened itself to many people, who had previously never ascribed to any religion nor accepted anything that would come through other people. These people started to learn through an interior voice, through the experience they would acquire in Daime visions. They weren’t taught a catechism nor were they proselytized. No one had to convince anyone of anything. Each person had intimate experiences that would continually transform the systems of their life, their vision of the world, through a process of illumination, that was invisible to our physical eyes.
THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
Even today, all of this continues. This beneficial effect of the Daime, the way it works as illuminator of the souls, is what prompted such great expansion of the Doctrine to a segment of society searching for a spiritual path, but unable to find it in our present day technological world…
Master Irineu came to the earth to fulfill the words of Christ when He said that He would not leave us orphans: “I will send unto you the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, that will reveal to you many more things than what I have already revealed (John 14:18,26; 15:26-27;16:7,12-13).”
For us, Master Irineu brought this spirit with him. The Spirit of Truth. The truth is what is spreading the Daime throughout the world so that people can become familiar with the truth to be able to distinguish what is real from what is not, what is worthwhile from what is not, what is truthful from what is false. It is this perspective that makes the Daime a trump card. A Brazilian trump card, a South-American trump card. Through the Daime, we have direct access to the Divine. The advantage of the Daime is the following: it allows you to internalize the guru. When you take Daime, you invoke the Spirit of Truth and the truth shines within you.
It is precisely for this reason that, here in Rio de Janeiro, there are always more people interested in the Daime than our structure can support. Many have benefited, many have dropped their addictions to drugs and alcohol. Due to these healings, a great interest arose in the Daime and the Daime then spread to other Brazilian states. And soon foreigners interested in the Daime began inviting Daimistas to do works abroad.
1/3/92 Rio de Janeiro – RJ
Testimony of Luiz Mendes do Nascimento
Luiz Mendes is from Brazil. He got married at the age of 22 ,when he was 23, he “entered into the Daime Doctrine” through his wife who had been drinking Daime since she was seven years old.
At the beginning, he would go to works just to accompany his wife: “I didn’t want to take Daime yet. I was plagued by the spiritual illness of alcoholism to an uncontrollable degree. But I desired to find some way of overcoming this, so that I could stop drinking. Whenever I would emerge from one of those drinking binges, I would feel very remorseful, and I would ask God to rescue me. Then, I remembered that I should drink Daime to see if it would work. I would see children and elderly people taking Daime, and authorities too, and I would think to myself: “ It can’t be possible that all these people are being taken by something erroneous and groundless.” Until one day, I said to my wife: “You know, today I am going to take Daime.” She said: “That’s up to you!”
MEETING WITH THE DAIME
On that day, the person serving Daime was the Master himself. I entered into the line; when my turn came, I looked at the Master, and he looked at me. I said: “Master, today I came with my mind made up. I ask you, Sir, to give me a little of that drink of yours, because I want to see things up close to be able to know exactly how they are!”
“All right!” And he filled my glass.
I went through the entire work and didn’t see anything. That’s just how it is. There are people who arrive the first time and are able to reach a certain level; others aren’t able to do this. In the next work, which I awaited anxiously, I wanted to truly see; I took a full glass. Nothing. I was really dense and thick. The third time was the same way. I only had visions the fourth time I took Daime. I took Daime at home and remained anxiously waiting. Just when I thought that nothing was happening, a screen appeared in front of me, a screen of gold. Some very tiny women carrying brooms, flew about like hummingbirds. Whenever they would find a speck of dirt or dust on the screen, they would sweep it up with their brooms. Then I became doubtful, thinking that the Daime people were deluded with this sort of thing, and I decided to stop taking Daime.
But, before the next work I attended, I thought: “If I see something, I’ll stay. Otherwise, I won’t come back.”
Again, like the first time I took Daime, the Master himself was serving the Daime. I asked him to give me a dose of Daime that would enable me to have visions. Then, the Master filled my glass. I picked up a maracá and started to dance. Just like Tetéo’s hymn says; “ Here comes the time, here comes the time.” I realized that I was a little disoriented, so I looked for a chair to sit on. I tried to sit, but that didn’t work. Then, I fell and ended up writhing around on the ground. I had to return to the womb of my Mother and witness how I was conceived. And then I had more visions …I saw my birth. And I continued to be shown more about my life. I beheld the time when I first became conscious of life. And then came my bellowing cries, and I still thought that what I was seeing didn’t belong to me. “No, this is yours.” “No, it’s not mine.” “It’s yours.” The visions would show me the hour, the minute, and the place that things happened. “Oh! That really is how it happened! It really is me. Please forgive me, for the love of God.” And then it passed, then it passed… I saw the day I got married, every little thing, and all those things that were destined to happen. I saw everything that was destined for me. From the time that I was a little boy, those things had been accompanying me. And they continued to stay with me. Then I saw my fights, the places where I had quarreled, the grudges I had harbored. I even saw the beings who defended me from getting wounded and who kept me from wounding others. And, then, I was shown the story of my cachaça [sugar-cane brandy] drinking. And I saw how, from that point on, I started to break everything. I would become a river of cachaça and I would drown in that river. God help me, Our Lady. Then the discipline came down. After I went through all of that, a gentleman appeared in front of me showing me the path, saying: “Look! This is the road you were walking…a road of useless things, of filth, of everything that is peculiar and ugly. Now, the correct and straight line is this one here. This is the path you should follow.” “That’s right. This is the path!”
But this was shown to me with the greatest tact and comfort! And, meanwhile, I had sunk to the ground and was experiencing everything. I was getting squeezed and disciplined, and being shown everything, being shown which way I was to go. Then, the result: I was having so many visions that I was growing weary. I couldn’t take seeing anymore, even though everything being shown to me was beautiful. I wanted to get out of that state, but my efforts were useless. It was then that I saw Padrinho Irineu, seated outside, smoking his cigarette. I got up – I don’t know how – and went over to where he, the old one, was sitting. I put my hand on his shoulder and said: “Master, please make it stop, for the love of God. I can’t take anymore!”
“But didn’t you ask to be served a dose that would let you see?”
“I did. But this is way too much. Have compassion on me. I can’t stand it.”
“This passes. Lie down over there.”
And, then, I laid down on the bench. He placed his arm down, and I rested my head there. Oh! That’s when things became well… that comfort! It seemed as though I was on top of a mattress; you can’t even compare this feeling; that comfort had no equal. But, with all of that, I still thought that things weren’t all right. “Master, I want to get out of this; I don’t want to stay in this state.”
“Stay calm, Luiz. Stay calm.”
Then, I sat again. When he would say, “stay calm,” the squeezing would pass, and I would become well. And, then, I would say: “Wow, Master. Now, I really am fine.” Then a short while after, I would start feeling the same discomfort: “Master! Here it comes again! Here it comes again, Master!”
“Stay calm, my friend.” Until I finally became well, thank God! Everything had passed. I might have forgotten other works, but I’d never forget that work; all of its details are engraved on my heart. The Master asked: “So, Luiz, was today different? Tell me something: Could this be a truth?”
“Master, if truth exists, this work is truth. It is something very serious and very sublime.”
“Do you still want to take Daime?”
“I’d even take some now, Sir, if you were to serve it to me.”
“Not today. Let’s rest. Another day!”
From that time until today – this was thirty years ago – I stopped drinking [alcohol], and later on, I even quit smoking. That’s it. I followed with the Master. He became a Padrinho to me, for everything emanated from him, everything passed through his hands, everything, everything, everything. Our spiritual Father. And, in that work, I thought: “When I return to earth after this session, my first physical contact with him will be to ask for his blessing, kneeling and to call him Father.” The next day, very early, I went to knock on his door. The Master was alone, in the living room seated in his regular place, on his little stool. “Good Morning, Master!”
“Good Morning, Luiz! Come in.”
I started approaching him and was already kneeling, asking for His blessing and kissing his hand. I asked for His blessing as if he really was my Father. He said: “You can continue asking for my blessing, that’s fine! But not kneeling! You can kiss my hand, that’s fine – my people do this – but, don’t call me father. Engrave that feeling on your heart, in your mind; regard me as a father. But when you address me, call me Padrinho (i.e. Godfather).”
That’s when he explained the relationship between Padrinho and father. Padrinho is a disguised word, which means father at the same time. From that point on, he has been my Padrinho. I call him Dad silently. In my heart……
From that point on, I became very lively in the works. I no longer had difficulty dancing. I started to learn the hymns. When I started to drink Daime, the Master was on hymn #114: “Next to my Mother and Father in the astral.” That’s just how it happened! I began to believe everything in the Doctrine. I am not embarrassed; on the contrary, I feel great honor in saying to any authority, in the presence of any civil servant, what I owe to Master Irineu, to his teachings, to this house, everything, even my very existence. I owe the fact that I am still alive to him. I am completely certain that if He had not had compassion for me, and, if he had not put me on the path to discover this doctrine, I would have already died a long time ago.
THE EARLY DAYS
The Master spoke a lot about his mother. She was very devoted to God. And she was very Catholic; she prayed the rosary every night with her children. She had four daughters and four son, including the Master. His childhood was of little significance. There was no leisure time. There was only work.
The Master, when he arrived in the Amazon, didn’t know how to read or write. Apparently, he learned by himself. I, myself, read many books that he read. He was a lover of reading. He recommended that we read a lot. The good books, of course!
His first activity in the Amazon was the rubber trade; he worked on various rubber tapping plantations. Around this time, a group that was going to trace the borders between Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia arrived. The Master told me a lot about this crew, a group of serious and dedicated people. He began to work with this crew and gained their confidence to the extent that he became their treasurer. Afterwards, he returned to rubber tapping.
It was during this time that he first tried Ayahuasca with a friend of his on a rubber tapping plantation near Peru. His name was Antonio Costa. They lived together. Antonio Costa wasn’t a rubber tapper. He was a traveling trader of miscellaneous goods along the Amazon River; he bought and sold rubber. He told the Master about some caboclos in Peru that drank Ayahuasca. But there the people that drank this beverage formed a satanic pact for bringing fortune and improving one’s material life. The Master, until then, had always sought God, but God had given him very little, and he found himself in an incredible struggle for survival. He decided to try the beverage and he went there…
He drank the drink, and when the others started to work, they began to holler, calling upon the demon. He also began to call. But the more he called the demon, the more crosses appeared to him. He felt suffocated by the number of crosses that appeared to him. The Master began to analyze: “ The devil is afraid of the cross and the more I call upon him, the more these crosses appear. There’s something to this…”
He asked to see a series of things and was shown everything that he had asked to see. That made a great impression upon him. This was his first time taking Ayahuasca… he told the story to Antonio Costa, and Antonio said that he knew the ingredients with which they made the beverage. “The plants grow right around here!” Antonio Costa showed him the leaf and the vine. “How do you make it?” asked the Master. “We break the vine into pieces, combine it with the leaf, cook it, and then drink it.”
Then Antonio Costa went on a trip. The Master stayed. In his eagerness to take Daime, he decided to make it. He made it, just like Antonio Costa told him. He took the vine, prepared it, combined it with the leaf, and cooked it. When he was about to take it, he hesitated. He decided not to take it alone. “ It would be better if I waited for Antonio Costa,” he thought.
When Antonio arrived, the Master offered him the drink. The two of them drank it and Antonio Costa remained in the living room and the Master went inside to his room. When they began having visions, Antonio Costa said to him: “There is a lady talking with me and she told me that she has been your companion since you left the state of Maranhão. She has been accompanying you all this time.”
The Master didn’t understand because he had traveled by himself. “Did you ask what her name was?” “She is saying that her name is Clara. You should prepare yourself because she herself is going to talk to you.”
Ending the work, he became anxious to take the drink another time in order to meet with her. The next time, after taking the Daime, he hung up a hammock so he could look at the moon. It looked like it was full, or almost full. It was a clear night, very beautiful. And when he started having visions, he had a great desire to look at the moon. When he looked, the moon kept getting closer, until it was right near him, at the height of the his house’s roof-top; there it stopped. Inside the moon a lovely and beautiful lady was seated in an armchair. It was so visible that everything was clearly defined, even her eyebrows, in the smallest details. She spoke to him: “Do you have the courage to call me Satan?”
“Good God, heaven forbid, by no means, my lady!”
“Do you think that anybody has seen what you are now seeing?”
But then he was doubtful, thinking that he was seeing what others had already seen. She said to him: “You are mistaken. What you are seeing no one has yet seen. Only you. Now tell me: who do you think I am?” In front of that light, he said: “You are the Universal Goddess!”
“Very good! Now you are going to submit yourself to a diet so that you to receive what I have to give you.”
The diet involved going eight days eating only unsalted yucca root and water. The Master submitted to this diet and spent eight days cooking and eating unsalted yucca root.
He continued working as a rubber tapper. The story of the Master, at the beginning of his works with the Daime, revolves around Antonio Costa. They were such good friends that the Queen, upon bestowing authority to the Master, bestowed it upon Antonio Costa to the same extent. It was as though the master was to govern one half of the world and he the other half. But Antonio Costa felt that this wouldn’t be possible for him. He was a traveling salesman, and for that reason it would be impossible for him to realize this mission. Therefore, he asked the Queen (he also communicated with her) to bestow upon the Master what would have been his.
The Master drank Daime only on the first day of the diet. After three days had passed, he was still having visions continuously. So many things came to him that he started feeling afraid. With his rifle, he fired shots into the air, in the midst of the forest. (Some say that this was the origin of the setting off of fireworks during works). The cracking of the shots comforted him…There were many trials. The logs would come to life. The apparitions perturbed him. He ended up seeing the skirt of a woman, even though there were no women on the plantation. He had direct contact with the animals. The animals would approach him closely. His experience was similar to that of Christ’s forty days of tribulation in the desert. Of course, it was easier for the Master; he had his yucca root!
THE POWER OF HEALING
After fulfilling the diet, she came to him as clearly as the light of day. She said that she was ready to help him with whatever he asked of her. He asked her to make him one of the greatest healers of the world. She answered that he wouldn’t be able to make money with that. “My mother, I don’t want to make money.”
“Very good! But you will have a lot of work. Lots of work!” He asked her to imbue this drink with everything related to healing.
“Is this what you are asking? Well it’s already done. And everything is in your hands.”
And she entrusted it to him. But the Master knew that he was not yet perfected enough for this mission. No! He received this mission, and then began to work on himself. He began working to be able to obtain. Perfecting himself, every day receiving the necessary powers. He told me that he remained in this phase for about five years. And he often had doubts. The Queen kept appearing to him, and in her presence everything would be fine. But after she left, the doubts would return. There is a certain stage in spiritual training during which truth comes mixed with lies. They become intertwined. When one is able to surpass that wall, there is only truth. It was only after the Master had experienced all these doubts that he truly began his mission.
During these five years he began to gather a group. Antonio Costa took Daime with the Master during a certain time. Eventually, they established a Center: The Center of Regeneration and Faith (Centro de Regeneração e Fé- C.R.F.) in Brasiléia.
There were few people but they created an association. Shortly thereafter, it seems that they began criticizing Master Irineu and even Antonio Costa regarding contributions [donations]. The Master perceived that they were distrustful of him. This was unpleasant, so he abandoned the center, going to Sena Madureira and later on to Rio Branco. In Rio Branco, he enlisted in the military police. It was there that he met Germano Guilherme, who was also a soldier. During a certain period, he was a soldier of high distinction. But shortly after he was promoted in rank, and he asked to be demoted.
Later on, by virtue of his connections, he obtained a colony in the Vila Ivonete. It seems that the Master was one of the first residents. And it was there that he began his story. He established the first headquarters in his own house, where a small group formed; Zé das Neves, who was practically the pioneer, Germano, Maria Damião, João Pereira, and Daniel Pereira (who established his own center later on). These are the main roots.
But because the city began to expand, he felt the need to go further into the forest. In the Vila Ivonete he was very persecuted. He was even arrested, but he didn’t remain behind bars thanks to Colonel Fontenele. He experienced everything that he needed to experience. It was the ex-governor, Guiomard Santos, that gave him the plantation, called Espalhado [An adjective meaning “spread out”] that is known today as Alto Santo.
7/13/92 Rio Branco, Acre
Testimony of Alex Polari de Alverga
Alex Polari was born in Brazil. He is the President of the Eclectic Center of Universal Flowing Light Rita Gregório – Céu da Montanha, in Visconde de Mauá, Rio de Janeiro, and a member of the National Board of Directors of CEFLURIS.
A ROSE BUSH
Many people that lived directly with the Master give valuable testimonies about the grace they had in knowing the figure of our incarnate Master on the material level. What I can do, in this moment, is to reflect about our knowledge of him, a man of great spiritual stature, with whom we have lived through his hymns and stories told by his older followers.
The stories about the prophets, saints, and avatars come to us in both a legendary and mythic way as they are preserved in the scriptures. To have direct contact in our daily life with a great prophet is very different from reading about one; to visit his house, the path on which he walked, the garden in which he planted a rose bush…This is what is happening today at the end of the millennium through the illuminated figures of Raimundo Irineu Serra and Padrinho Sebastião Mota de Melo. We are coming into contact with the saga of a spiritual people, the same people that walked with Christ at another point in history. We are those disciples of the first and second hour (at the time of Christ) that according to scripture were the blessed ones that saw and believed. This is similar to the case of Saint Paul, who is considered to be an apostle though he only had spiritual contact with Christ after his ascension.
Today, thousands of people have the opportunity to discover and experience this doctrine, which came from Master Irineu. Many want to know who this man was, who this Maranhese black man was – 2 meters tall, so humble and at the same time so knowledgeable, that he developed a work of this stature.
Even without having direct contact with him, we are following, growing, and multiplying in the same way that a vine of jagube grows and expands.
LITTLE GREEN BRANCHES
Even when he was alive, the Master would say that these announced times would be very difficult, a time of transition. He said that these times would be so trying that only those who could “…hold fast to the little green branches…” of the forest would have a chance. These words are helping us today more than ever to the extent that we have the objective of being in the forest, living in harmony with the forest, and preserving the forest.
Much has already been said in the testimonies about the centennial of the Master: the man he was, the foundation of his teachings, his story, his arrival in Acre, his work with ayahuasca with the Costa brothers, the spiritual development that he attained when he established the doctrine and started to gather the first disciples. My contact with Master Irineu is spiritual through the veneration that Padrinho Sebastião had for him and transmitted to us. Padrinho always instilled in all of his disciples and godchildren this respect and recognition of the role of Master Irineu, founder of the doctrine. I would like to reflect about this matter, which goes back from Christ up to Master Irineu and the Doctrine’s following. In the development of spiritual work, two factors come together: the first is tradition itself which has to be maintained as far as the essential purity of the Doctrine and its teachings are concerned; the other is the movement, the expansion that normally occurs through the unfolding of great religious systems, which allows for the changes of times, people, races, and mentalities.
THE CHILDREN OF THE MASTER
I think this is an important subject; today we are the godchildren of Master Irineu and in order for us to be his godchildren, we must get increasingly clear about what the doctrine is telling us. What the hymnal of the Cruzeiro teaches us, through the force of the Daime, our visions, our introspection, our practical life, our daily trials, about the fufillment of what the hymns teach us. “To say that you are with God is very easy to say,” but serious effort is required on our part to be able to prove, live and manifest the state of a follower, in a way that we can really consider ourselves children of Master Irineu. This holds true for those who, despite the variable nature of the ritual, always maintain Master Raimundo Irineu Serra as their spiritual model. Before him we must constantly renew our surrender, with each new challenge, each new situation, each new trial, feeling and acting with consciousness in the light of the doctrine, which is the light of the truth of spiritual life. To be a godchild of the Master isn’t a title that can be preserved without proving yourself worthy at every moment.
THE MASTER OF THE NEW ERA
For me, the timeliness of the Doctrine of Master Irineu is evident in its very expansion; namely, the work of Padrinho Sebastião in the forest, in Céu do Mapiá, a phenomenon of great magnitude.
All of this is of great relevance to the planetary crisis, which we are crossing at the end of this millennium. I feel that Master Irineu was the precursor of the phenomenon awakening great interest about the environment and which has become the focus of research by many people around the world.
It has been a hundred years since he was born. Sixty years ago, he started this spiritual work, which in a certain way the forerunner of a new religiosity, a new religion, a new time fusing the very marvelous and magical elements of pre-Columbian belief systems, the spiritual traditions of the hymns, the terrestrial force of the forest, of African religions, of the caboclos, of nature, with the sacrament of the Daime. He combined all of this with the most authentic form of Christianity, the Doctrine of the Virgin Mary. His doctrine has an inherently innovative and rousing nature, a new religion, which was able to reach a more esoteric and profound dimension, in contrast to other religious forms, which would tend to become fossilized and whose rituals would end up taking the place of religious experience. Today this new religion is fundamental for us to be able to solve the enigmas of the times in which we are living. This doctrine requires that our own experience and self-knowledge be at the heart of our devotion in spiritual work. Thus, the use of the plants of power, the sacred plants, an age-old and ancestral religious practice, which is the most ancient revelation we have from our ancestors.
Master Irineu was a precursor in that he gave us the grace of this revelation, combining the true teachings of Christ, devotion to the Virgin Mary, religious tradition, the most profound and at the same time the simplest devotion, with the use of sacred plants, the altered and expanded states of consciousness – ecstasy, samadhi, the dimensions of consciousness and superconsciousness that are the focus of great interest in transpersonal psychology. The most advanced and revolutionary spiritual studies of our day involve the search for this new consciousness.
Even before passing over, the Master said that Padrinho [Sebastião] had a mission in this story, to gather a great number of people, which was a mission that would be fulfilled not in Acre, but in the Amazon and which meant that a spiritual reunion was to be realized in the forest. Padrinho Sebastião dedicated all his life to the realization of this mission and today that dedication continues in the hands of his sons, Alfredo and Valdete, and of all of us who believe and have faith in correctness, in beauty, and the necessity of affirming the story of Juramidam here on earth.
I can also relate a story about Master Irineu even though I didn’t know him, because I believe that all of those who surrender to the Daime and who have the opportunity to sing and dance his hymnal the “Cruzeiro”, have something to tell about him. In his hymnal he is alive, in our presence, within our visions. His hymnal is a completely renewable source of spiritual contact with his presence. All of us are subject to experiencing a very strong and trying vision… Therefore I can tell about a passage that was very significant for me: “When my visions were getting very strong, I decided to go out of the church into the midst of the forest, the little forest adjacent to the church of Mauá. I went on my way walking in the dark so that my visions could become more tranquil and I could calm down before returning to the church. Suddenly, the thing started squeezing me; to keep from falling due to the force of my visions, I grabbed onto a branch. I was needing some strength, some comfort. It seemed as though a hand was extended to me, then Master Irineu appeared, enormous as he was, but even bigger. His presence was very clear and defined as he is in those pictures holding a staff. As I was holding on to the branch, I felt his hand and I felt like a child, like a little boy grabbing on to a giant with his hand.
When the vision became clearer – everything was very beautiful, it was a great emotion to be in such a strong, irrefutable presence – that I opened my eyes and saw that I was holding on to a vine of jagube. I was in the midst of a group of jagube plants, without even realizing it. The jagube was the hand of the Master.
Rio de Janeiro
Testimony of Percília Matods da Silva
Percília, who was born around 1925, tells the story of how her family was taken in by Master Irineu when her father died. She also gives us a detailed account of how life was for Master Irineu and his earliest followers.
I lived alongside the Master throughout much of his life and I witnessed the unfolding of his hinário. The job that was given to me personally by the Master, was that of General Commander of the female current and general manger of the hinários. I supervised all the hinários. When the male current was out of line, I would tell a guardian. All of that was up to me. Even now, the job of General Commander is still in my hands. He never took that position away from me.
Anything that entered our community had to go by me first. The Master had high regard for me, and he reviewed all his hymns with me when he received them. He would say: “If anything is wrong, you can cut it out.” But I never had to do that. He would take Daime and correct it himself.
THE EARLY TIMES
I began to take Daime when my father met the Master in 1934. I was 8 or 9 years old. There were a mere dozen people around the Master at this time: José das Neves, Zé Afrânio, João Pereira, the fellow called Zé Capanga, Maria Damião and Germano Guilherme. Only later did Antônio Gomes arrive. My father, Ribeiro, died three years later in 1937. I was the eldest of my siblings. Two weeks after my father’s death, the Master said that my father had appeared to him five times in a miração. My father told the Master: “Master, I walk, I walk in this world of my God, I see so many wonders, so many beautiful things that I never imagined existed, but when I remember you, I try to visit you”. Thus he appeared five times. Until the Master asked: “Ribeiro, what is it that you want of me? Speak your mind”. “Sir, I ask that you might be more patient with my family than you were with me. The Master then said: “It is done! Don’t worry, proceed with your journey”. And the Master prayed for his spirit to be guided and protected.
We lived at that time in the Vila Ivonete – very close to the Master. There wasn’t a church yet. The works were carried out in the Master’s house with the small group I mentioned. So, he took care of me and my family. My mother, poor thing, had no idea what to do, she was illiterate, and didn’t know how to deal with money. I was actually the one who had a little more knowledge about those matters and I would do the shopping for the household. At that time, I was eleven and had already begun to sew. First, I began to sew for women and then for everybody.
THE SIX-POINTED STAR
When we met the Master in 1934, he only had three hymns: White Moon, Tuperci, and Ripi. From there, things started. At that time, there wasn’t a uniform yet. Afterwards, a type of uniform was introduced, one different from the one we use now. On the women’s blue uniform, there were already the initials C.R.F.- Centro da Rainha da Floresta (Center of the Queen of the Forest). That was created by the Master.
In 1957, the Master traveled to Maranhão, where he spent two days and two nights at sea having many visions. It was on this trip that he received instructions for the type of uniform that is still used today. At that time, the men still used the colored ribbons that the women now use and a large rose. The emblem was that rose. It was only afterwards, that he changed the star to a six-pointed one.
Until 1945, the Master remained in the Vila Ivonete area; subsequently, he moved and established Alto Santo, where he opened a community. Master Irineu and his first group did everything, from farm work to spiritual work, together.
The Master was the first true leader to exist here in Rio Branco or in the whole state of Acre. In the community, he was a judge, a lawyer, an advisor, everything.
The Master lived with a woman, Ms. Raimunda for 20 years. Then, he married her because as the leader of a community he knew he should set an example. Her mother, (Maria Franco), was a difficult person to live with. In March 1955, Ms. Raimunda took her mother to São Paulo where Raimunda later died, run over by a car.
Before living with Ms. Raimunda, the Master lived with another woman Ms. Emíla Rosa, at the time that he worked as a rubber-tapper. They had a son, Walcírio, who lives here in Rio Branco. He also drinks Daime.
Ms. Peregrina arrived later on. She is Antônio Gomes’ granddaughter. At that time she was still a child. She married Mestre in September, 1955. This occurred before the Master took his trip to Maranhão.
THE CIRCULATING HINÁRIO
The Master warned us against drinking just anybody’s Daime. He said that we should only drink Daime made by people whom he had taught personally and whom he knew made the Daime correctly. Loredo, Cipriano, Granjeiro, and later Sebastião Mota, learned how to make Daime with the Master.
At the time of the Master, an hinário was sung every Sunday in the house of one of the members of the community. The hinário would begin in the house closest to the community’s headquarters and would keep going from house to house, on subsequent Sundays, until it returned again to the headquarters. It was called the Circulating Hinário and lasted from two to four in the afternoon. If we couldn’t finish the hinário one Sunday, we would finish it the next Sunday.
In the second to last hymn of the Cruzeiro, the Master states: “The requests were so many/ They ordered me to return.” This was shortly before his death. At this time, there was a request from the brotherhood for the Master to stay on the earth. We asked him this and he ended up telling us:
“I don’t feel pain. I don’t feel hunger. I don’t feel anything. My concern is that I don’t have anyone to whom I can entrust my work. And I miss all of you deeply. I miss you so deeply that this feeling is making me weary”.
Surely, he knew that his death was imminent and he knew that most people weren’t prepared for it. And this wasn’t because they were lacking instruction. Everyone knew that whenever we needed anything, all that we had to do was to go ask the Master. We all thought that we would never have to be without him.
He kept on getting frailer, frailer. He could no longer eat meat. He said that his body couldn’t tolerate those types of foods anymore. And we were watching him getting increasingly frail. Around June 30, 1971, I asked him: “Would you like it if we could do a Concentration for you?”
“That sounds good! Let’s do that,” he replied.
I called together his closest people.
But, days before that very concentration, he called Leôncio Gomes and turned the works over to him: “Leôncio, you are going to be directing the works. You aren’t going to be the principal leader. That principal leadership is mine. But remain in your place to receive people, to teach the Doctrine and all is well. Listen to what I am telling you, don’t do anything more than what I am instructing you to do. Because, if you try to change anything, you won’t hold out.”
THE DAY OF THE MASTER’S PASSAGE
Everyday when I left my house, I would go to visit him. And, if I didn’t go, he would complain. On that day, I went to his house. He was joyful, so joyful. It seemed that he wasn’t feeling any pain. He would talk and tell stories. I stayed with him a while and I said that I was going to go home to make lunch. He said:
“You’re not going home. Are you hungry?” And he called his cook to put lunch on the table. “You’re not going home yet. I want to talk to you.” He was in the highest spirits, telling me everything! I thought : “Thank God! He is well!”, and I said to him: “Tomorrow, I am going into town to get my paycheck”.
“Go. You can go.” When it was around three o’clock in the afternoon, he said: “If you want to go home now, go ahead.”
Then I asked for his blessing and he spoke to me in a way that he had never spoken before. I had no clue as to what was happening. I saw him in such a joyful mood that I didn’t suspect anything. He told me to be very happy. I left calm…and pleased.
He was like my father, for he was the one who had raised me. Later on that day, I went out with Pedro. We went to the Department of Finances and there, a friend of ours, Mr. João Lopes, asked about the Master. He was the advisor of the Governor Wanderley Dantas and he liked us very much. He also drank Daime. I told him that the Master was well. He said that the governor had been wanting to visit the Master, but that he had no time. We left the Department, and when we arrived in front of the palace, we met up with Mr. Doca’s wife. Her face was yellow, and her hair was in disarray. She soon began saying: “The Master, my God! The Master died!”
“Woman, what kind of talk is that?” But God comforted me at that time and I didn’t believe her. I thought that maybe he had had some moment of agony, some indisposition… But! I left the community and he was fine. He couldn’t have died!” “But it’s true. Mr. Wilson’s son just came from there.”
Nevertheless, I didn’t want to believe it. We gave up going shopping and we passed in front of the store. There, we heard a great tumult, and everyone was shuffling about, trying to find a car so that they could go to the community. We also got a ride. It looked like a procession. The news had spread. But I didn’t believe it. “Could it be true?” I went home quickly and then we went to his house. I only believed it when I arrived there. He was still in his bed. Sweat was dripping off of him as though he had been working intensely when he died.