I joined the Daime when I was 23 years old, through my wife, Rizelda, whom I married a year before.
She drank it since the age of seven, and at the beginning I only went to accompany her. I didn’t want to drink the Daime yet. I was the bearer of a spiritual disease, which was alcoholism, in an out-of-control way. But I had the wish of finding something to overcome it and to get rid of that vice.
I would get wasted and later I would be regretful and ask for some help from God. Then I remembered that what I needed was to drink Daime instead; to try it out. I would see children and elders drinking Daime, authorities also, and I would think,
“These people can’t be led by something without any foundation”
Then there came a day when I said,
“You know dear, today I am going to drink the Daime”
And she said,
“It is up to you!”
Mestre was the one serving the Daime on this day. I got in line and when my turn came I looked at Mestre and he looked at me. I said,
“Mestre, today I came resolved. You give me a little of this drink of yours because I want to take a good look at it to be able to be certain later!”
“Very well then!” And he filled a glass.
But the work came to its closing and I didn’t see anything. It happens. There are people who arrive for the first time and they achieve, but some others not. In the next work, which I waited for with anxiety, I really wanted to see. I took a full glass… and nothing. I was too thick. The third time came and it was the same.
I only got to have visions during the fourth time. I drank it at home and waited with anxiety. When I thought it was not going to happen a screen was mounted in front of me, a screen made of gold, with some little women, very small, with their brooms and flying like hummingbirds. When they would find some little dust on that golden screen they would dust it with their brooms. Then I lost my faith, thinking that people were being deceived by that little thing and I decided to not take the drink anymore. But in the next ceremony I thought:
“If I see something I’ll stay and if I don’t see anything I will stop with the Daime.”
There was Mestre serving again. I asked of him to give me a Daime to mirar*, and then Mestre filled the glass. I grabbed a maraca and started to dance. It is as is told in Tetéu’s hymn: “there comes time and there comes time.” I realized that I wasn’t handling it and I sought a chair to sit down. I tried to sit down but I couldn’t, falling down and curling myself on the floor.
*mirar – to have visions, in the doctrine’s jargon.
I had to come back to the mother’s womb, to the time where I was brought forth. And there it comes, and there it comes… and I saw when I was born. And it comes, and it comes… and I saw when I started to have awareness of life. And there comes the screams, here and there, and I still wanted to think that it wasn’t from me. “No, it is yours.” “No, it isn’t mine.” “It is yours!” It would tell me even the hour, the minute and the place. “Oh! That’s right! It was really me… it is really me. Forgive me for the love of God.” And there it goes, and there it goes… and I saw when I got married, I saw everything, those things that are destined. I saw everything that was destined for me and that this whole thing was accompanying me since the time when I was a boy. And it goes, and it goes, and it goes… Then I saw my fights, the places where I had been creating problems, “walking on the edge of a knife,” and I even got to see who was protecting me in order for me to not suffer or do any harm to others. It was then that the story with the cachaça* came. And there comes the cachaça! And I, going from here to there, breaking everything. And it turned into a river of cachaça, with me drowning in the middle of it. For the Virgin’s sake! Then the whip cracked.
*cachaça – sugar cane alcohol.
A person was in front of me guiding my way while I was going through it all, saying: “Look! The path from where you came is this one… bagaceira*, dirt, everything out of place, ugly… Now, the straight line is this one over here, for where you must follow. “Oh! That’s right! This is the way!”
*bagaceira – another cane alcohol; similar to cachaça.
But everything was done with diplomacy and within the utmost comfort, while I was laid on the floor, with everything passing through me, the whip cracking and showing me everything for where I had to follow. Then the result – I tired from having visions. I didn’t want to see things anymore and everything was beautiful! I wanted to get away from that but I couldn’t find my way out. It was when I saw Padrinho* Irineu, sitting outside and smoking his cigarette.
*Padrinho – godfather.
I got up, I don’t know how, and ended up where the old man was. I placed my hand on his shoulder and I said,
“Mestre, take it away from me, for God’s sake. I can’t stand it anymore!”
“But didn’t you ask for a Daime to mirar?”
“Yes, but it is too much this way. Have mercy, because I can’t stand it anymore.”
“It will pass. Lay down.”
Then I laid myself on the bench, he gave his arm and I laid my head on it. Oh! Then it became good… that comfort! It felt to me like I was laid on a mattress, and there is no way to compare, nor to equal that comfort. It wasn’t lacking anything, even though I still thought that it wasn’t good enough,
“Mestre, I want to get away from that, I don’t want to stay in this anymore.”
“Calm down Luiz, calm down.”
Then I felt myself again. Whenever he said “be calm,” the feeling would pass and I would be all right. And I would say,
“Oh! Mestre! Yes, now I am ok.”
Little time after and that thing comes again,
“Mestre! There it comes again! There it comes again, Mestre!”
“Calm down boy.”
Until the moment when I was ok, thanks to God! But I was aware and sure of everything that had happened. I could have forgotten things from other works but from this one I never forgot the details and they are all recorded in the memory. Then Mestre asked me,
“So Luiz, was today different? Tell me something – can that be a truth?”
“Mestre, if there is a truth, it is much as is this work. It is very serious, very sublime.”
“Do you still want to drink Daime?”
“Even now, if you give it to me.”
“Not today. Let’s have some rest. Some other day!”
Then… until today. This happened 30 years ago. I stopped drinking alcohol and I even quit smoking afterwards. That was it, I followed with Mestre. I took him as a godfather because everything emanated from him, everything passed through his hands, everything, everything, everything. Our spiritual father! And in this work my thought was: “When I go back to the earth my first material contact with him will be to ask for his blessings, on my knees, and to call him father.” In the next day I went to his house, very early in the morning. Mestre was alone in the living room, seated on his little stool as it was his custom.
“Good morning Mestre!”
“Good morning Luiz! Come up here.”
I came already kneeling, asking for his blessing and kissing his hand. I took his blessing like a son, and he said,
“Stand up! You can be standing.”
Then I told him about the whole work, everything. And he said:
“You can remain asking for my blessing, that’s OK! But not on your knees! Kiss my hand is all right, as my people do it this way, but don’t call me daddy. Keep that in your heart, in your thoughts, have for me this consideration, but you can really call me Padrinho.”
It was then that he explained to me the story [of the difference] between godfather and father. Godfather is a disguised word but it means at the same time father. From then on he is my godfather, until today. Daddy I call without others’ acknowledgment, deep in my intimacy…
From there on I became very exited. I didn’t have any more difficulty to bailar* and I started to learn the hymns. Mestre was at hymn 114 at the time I joined in: “Next to my mother / And my Father there in the astral.” Well, I started to believe everything.
*bailar – to dance; from baile (in the doctrine’s jargon), a line dance with steps to the right and left in the rhythms of march, waltz and mazurka.
I don’t feel embarrassment. On the contrary, I am honored to say it here – in the presence of any authority, in the presence of any audience – that I owe everything to Mestre Irineu, to his teachings, to this [spiritual] house, even my own existence. The cause of me being alive today I owe to him. I am absolutely sure that if he hadn’t had compassion and hadn’t led me to find a thing like this, I would have already died a long time ago.
Mestre never told a thing only once as he had the ability to foresee coming events. To know what had happened as well as what is happening isn’t very difficult, but to know what is going to happen, what will be tomorrow, is a little hard to tell. But he had powers and he would pass it to us. He knew the day and the hour of his death. He knew that he was going to depart and we were the ones who didn’t know – unbelievers that we were, or still are. And he said it very clearly and we spent time doubting, thinking that it wasn’t going to happen, and, if it was going to happen, that he would deliver us first and then go as the last. He used to say,
“I am going to leave, I am tired, I am looking for a rest. I look to the fraternity, my people, but I don’t see a person to hand over this work.”
Then he mentioned two names,
“There is José das Neves, but this one won’t work. There is Leôncio… he is so thin!”
But he didn’t say that he wouldn’t do it. Actually, the first person to become responsible, as a leader, was Leôncio, and it was handed over to him when Mestre was still alive. But Mestre went even further, telling of it this way:
“I am certain in the Divine Eternal Father that I, doing a short journey, will remain attending to all of you in the same way or even better. At any instance you get together – get united, drink the Daime and call me – I will be there.”
I today believe that he is attending us even better, however we lament for having lost that materialized contact, that handshake, that hug, that word. But, on the other hand, there isn’t any more that liberty to abuse, because it was easy; he was there. One could go there whenever they wanted and the way they wanted, even to be unpleasant. Well then, I want to see an unpleasant person arrive where he is now… you must fix yourself to arrive where Mestre is, because the difficult ones don’t get there, no!
What exists between us and Mestre, today, are the best of the impressions. He never lacks. Being a little bit in the line – I am not going to say perfectly in the line because we are still seeking this perfection. I affirm that all that is needed and all that is necessary is never going to be lacking. Just as Jesus said: “Come to me all of the sons that are afflicted and hopeless so that I will alleviate you.” This is how Mestre Irineu is for us. He is my God and my thing is with Mestre. It is in the happiness, it is in the sadness, in the pain, in the affliction. May you protect me my Mestre, my father.
Jesus said that he was the path, the truth and life; indeed, it is thus to be with him. I don’t think that I am wrong to be attached to him. I don’t forget his person in any moment. I say that, even sleeping, I remember him because when I wake up I am already remembering him.
This center here* came into being after Mestre’s passage, as well as other points, other churches, like Padrinho Sebastião Mota, seu Virgílio, Loredo… it happens that I end up agreeing and thinking that all of these events were quite natural, because in the very Bible we find a passage where Jesus says that God writes the right by crooked lines. This is just the truth. When Padrinho Irineu died he left us gathered in a single group only, but it couldn’t stay contained inside four walls, without having any expansion.
After the death of Mestre, in the administration period of Leôncio, Padrinho Sebastião Mota decided to break apart. Padrinho Sebastião started to excel and they didn’t want to recognize it. Then they started to impose conditions and Padrinho Sebastião didn’t adhere. It had to happen this way. There was already a group in the Colônia 5 Mil* and at that time it was a day-long trip to here. There weren’t any ways of transportation and he would arrive with that loyal group, the people who are with him until today. Seu Bernardo, seu Paulinho, seu Manoel Paulo, seu Wilson Carneiro, the Correntes (the family of padrinho Manoel Corrente)… they are the pioneers. Then he decided to break apart and we stayed here.
*Here – the Alto Santo district of Rio Branco. Luiz Mendes now lives in Vila Fortaleza, the community he founded, roughly 100km away in Capixaba, Acre.
*Colônia 5 Mil – (Colony Five Thousand ) the headquarters of Padrinho Sebastião Mota, approximately a six hour walk from Alto Santo.
After some time passed something displeased me and I also went there, spending two years, around 1975. I took a lot of people with me, but I came back…
In 1980, with Leôncio’s death, Francisco Fernando Filho, Tetéu, took over. It couldn’t have been another person, due to the existing friendship between them. A very pretty thing – so pretty that I classify it as the prettiest thing that I ever witnessed here, during all this time. They became loyal friends, like flesh and bones. Tetéu’s hinário* was considered like his. They go along having contact all the time, inside the hinário, as the president and the adviser.
*hinário – a book of hymns; a set of hymns that can belong to one person or in some cases be a diverse collection.
Tetéu spent five months in the leadership. He imposed many things, with the best of the intentions. He wanted everything to work correctly and they started, mostly the men, to refute, here and there, until the day that they finished by refuting Tetéu himself, taking him out of the leadership (this is the same group who is there until today). Tetéu lost his ground, and as he had this piece of land here [in Alto Santo] where we are settled today – he left. It started under a mango three, in a hut made of straw. That was in 1981. It was when we also came here. There were few people but they were in such works that would tremble the earth. Since then many things have been happening here, but everything is the way it should be. It could have been otherwise, but it didn’t work that way… it is God writing through the crooked lines. There was the need for Padrinho Sebastião Mota to stand out, to become independent, to develop exactly as much as developed and is still developing. But the old Mestre’s house remains the same. Everyone respects the roots, the path where Mestre walked. This is the land where he set his foot, where his mortal remains are. There is an immortal memory here.
Mestre used to talk a lot about his mother. She was very devoted to God and was very Catholic: She prayed every night a terço* with her children. She had four girls and four boys, including Mestre. His childhood had little meaning. There wasn’t leisure. It was all about labor.
*terço – one third of the full Catholic rosary.
Mestre was illiterate when he arrived to the Amazon state and he apparently learned by himself. I myself acknowledge that many books were read by him. He loved to read and he recommended that we should read a lot of the good writings.
His first activity in the Amazon was in the rubber market and he worked on several rubber plantations. During this period a commission arrived to define the borders between Brazil, Peru and Bolivia and Mestre told me a lot about this commission, a group of serious, dedicated people. He started to work with this commission, ending up gaining a confidence so big that he become its treasurer. He went back to the rubber plantations after that. It was in this period that he met the ayahuasca, together with a companion, in a rubber plantation near Peru. His companion’s name was Antônio Costa and they remained living together. Antônio Costa wasn’t a rubber tapper. He worked in the regatão* business, buying and selling rubber. He was the one to give the news about some caboclos* in Peru who drank ayahuasca, but that the people who took this drink had a satanic pact, to bring fortune and to aggrandize the life of each one. Until then Mestre had always sought for God, but God had given him so little, in that great struggle to survive, that he decided to try the drink. And he went there…
*regatão – a trader boat that does commerce with the river communities.
*caboclos – in the old usage, caboclo is name once given to indigenous people who had constant or long-term contact with the dominant civilization as in “tame Indian.” Understandably, today indigenous peoples prefer the term Indian which places value on their pure ethnic identity. The term caboclo has also come to refer to a person of mixed Brazilian Indian and African or European ancestry, which is the dominant racial mix of most of the contemporary mestizo populations living along the waterways in the Brazilian Amazon basin. And, additionally, in some religious traditions caboclos refer to spiritual entities from the forest.
He drank it and as the work began they started to shout, calling the demon. He also started to call, only as much as he called the demon, crosses would appear instead. He felt suffocated with so many crosses and then Mestre started to analyze, “The devil has a fear of crosses and as I call for him the crosses appear. There is something wrong with it….” He asked to see a series of things and he could see everything that he wanted, and that impressed him a lot. And the first time it happened this way…. He told the story to Antônio Costa who said that he knew the material that they used to prepare the drink,
“We have it nearby!”
Antônio Costa showed the leaf and the vine to him.
“How do you make it?” Mestre asked.
“We mash the vine, combine it with the leaf, cook it and drink it later.”
Then Antônio Costa went out on a trip and Mestre remained. He was anxious to drink the Daime again and he decided to make it. He did like Antônio Costa had told him to. He gathered the vine, prepared and combined it with the leaf and cooked it. When he was about to drink it he had a concern, deciding not to drink it alone. “Better to wait for Antônio Costa,” he thought. When Antônio Costa arrived, Mestre offered the drink. They both drank it and Antônio Costa stayed in the living room and Mestre in the bedroom. When they started to mirar Antônio Costa said to him,
“There is this Lady talking with me and She told me that She has been your companion since you left the state of Maranhão. She followed you here.”
Mestre didn’t understand, because he had traveled alone, and asked,
“What is her name?”
“She is saying that Her name is Clara. Prepare yourself because She is coming to talk to you.”
After the work he was anxious to drink it again and to meet with Her. The next time, after drinking the Daime, he set the hammock in a way that he could see the moon. It seems that it was a full moon, or almost full. It was a clear night, very beautiful, and when he started to have strong visions he felt like looking at the moon. When he did look at the moon it came approaching until it was very close to him, at the level of the house roof. And it stood still, having within it a lady sitting in an armchair, very gracious and beautiful. It was so visible that everything was crystal clear, even the eyebrows, in the smallest details. She said to him:
“Do you dare to call me Satan?”
And Irineu Serra replied,
“Holy Mary, my Lady, of course not!”
“Do you think that anyone else has ever seen what you are seeing now?”
At that point he lost some heart, thinking that he was seeing what others had already seen. And the Virgin continued to speak,
“You are wrong. What you are seeing no one ever saw, only you. Now you tell me, who do you think I am?”
And he answered,
“You are a Universal Goddess.”
“Then it is well. Now you are going to undertake a diet in order for you to receive what I have to give you.”
The diet was to spend eight days eating manioc without salt and water. Mestre followed the diet and spent eight days cooking and eating manioc without salt. He continued to work on the rubber plantations. Mestre’s history, at the beginning of his works with the Daime, is together with Antônio Costa. They were such friends that the Queen, when transmitting the powers to Mestre, also transmitted them in the same measure to Antônio Costa. It was as if Mestre would govern half the world and Antônio Costa the other half. But Antônio Costa realized that it was too much for him. He was a dealer, and it made it impossible for him to consummate the deal. That’s why he asked the Queen (he also communicated with her) to deliver to Mestre Irineu what was supposed to be his.
Mestre only drank Daime in the first day of the diet. Three days after and he was already continuously mirando*. It was so much that he even became concerned. He would fire his shotgun skywards, in the middle of the forest. Some say that this is the origin of the fireworks during the works. The burst of the shots comforted him… the challenges were many. The woods came alive and the appearances perturbed him. He ended up seeing a woman, even though there wasn’t a woman in the rubber plantation. He came to have direct contact with the animals. They would get very near him. It was like Christ in the desert and his forty days of probation. For Mestre it was easier, because he had his boiled manioc.
*mirando – visioning or having visions (from mirar).
One day he was returning on a rubber plantation trail when Antônio Costa, at home, said:
“I will test Irineu to see if he is learning. I am going to add salt to his manioc.”
He grabbed the salt and brought it to the pan, but he didn’t throw it.
There in the woods Mestre saw it… no, he was told,
“Look, Antônio Costa caught a salt pinch to throw in the manioc pan.
He didn’t throw it, but only to see if you know.”
Then, when he was arriving at home, he poked fun at Antônio Costa saying,
“So, you were about to put salt in the manioc… you didn’t do it but you did think of it, isn’t it so, Antônio?”
“But. oh boy, how did you know that? Then I see that you are learning already.”
After the diet was accomplished She came to him, clear as the day light. She said that She was ready to support him in any wish. He asked Her to make him one of the best healers in the world and She answered that he couldn’t earn money with that.
“My Mother, I don’t want to earn money.”
“Very good! But you are going to have a lot of work. A lot of work!”
He asked of her to associate everything that had a relation to healing into the drink.
“Isn’t it what you are asking for? Well then, it is done, and everything is in your hands.”
And She delivered it to him, but Mestre knew that it wasn’t enough for him to be [realized]. No! He received it and then went to form himself — working to start acquiring knowledge, perfecting himself, receiving every day the powers that one needs. In this phase he said that he spent about five years, having doubts on many occasions. The Queen started to appear to him and being next to Her everything was right, but when She would disappear the doubts would come. There is a spiritual stage that, from here [he gesticulates] on to that point, truth goes mixed with lies, they go on interlacing themselves. When it develops beyond that wall, then there is only truth, and actually Mestre only started the mission after passing through all these doubts.
During these five years he started to gather a group. Antônio Costa drank the Daime with Mestre for some time and they came to found a center: Centro de Regeneração e Fé — Center of Regeneration and Faith (CRF) — in Brasiléia. There were only a few people, but they created an association. It seems that little after they started to criticize Mestre Irineu, and even Antônio Costa, regarding the contributions. Mestre noticed that they were distrusting him. He got displeased and, abandoning the center, he went to Sena Madureira and later on to Rio Branco. In Rio Branco he joined the police force. It was in Rio Branco that he met Germano Guilherme, who was also a policeman. Across some time he fulfilled his duty with much merit and he was promoted to corporal. Soon after he left his post.
Later on, by the grace of his knowledge, they got an allotment for him in Vila Ivonete. It seems to be that Mestre was one of the first tenants and it was there that he began the story [of the Santo Daime]. He founded the first headquarters in his own house, where a small group was formed: Zé das Neves – who was practically the pioneer; Germano; Maria Damião; João Pereira and Daniel Pereira (who later on founded his own center – the Barquinha) are the main roots. But as the city started to swell he felt the need to get deeper into the forest. In Vila Ivonete he was strongly persecuted. He was even arrested, but not staying behind bars, thanks to Colonel Fontenele. He went through everything one can experience. It was the former-governor Guiomard Santos who got him this settlement that was called at that time Espalhado (dispersed) and today is called Alto Santo.
Mestre would refer to himself, sometimes, as being a “shade tree.”
Right at the beginning of his work with the ayahuasca the Queen appeared to Mestre Irineu. He, at this time, only knew some calls, whistled and solfeged. She said,
“Look, I am going to give you some hymns. You are going to leave behind this thing of whistling and solfeging in order to learn how to sing.”
“Oh! Don’t do that my Lady because I don’t know how to sing.”
“But I’ll teach you!” She asserted.
One day he was looking at the moon and She said to him,
“Now you are going to sing.”
“But how am I going to sing? It is too difficult….”
“You are going to learn, I’ll teach you, open your mouth.”
“Open your mouth, am I not giving you an order?”
He opened his mouth and started to sing Lua Branca (White Moon), the first hymn, which was received in the jungle of Peru. Then he started to receive more. The three first hymns were already enough, repeating them, to sing the whole night.
When I joined the Doctrine the practice of having ranks for the participants had already ended. In the past we knew the degree in which the person spiritually developed by the number of stars worn. It went from the humblest to the most evolved. Everyone was differentiated. It does not happen today because Mestre Irineu left everything even, everything equal.
He would feel happy to be able to treat a person who would come disillusioned by the doctors. People arrived, even from the entire country, to be treated by Mestre, who would promptly say, “Yes, you were disillusioned by the doctors, but God deceives no one.” And he would give care to heal the patient. Sometimes he would do a special service and would receive the prescription for the person. When receiving such prescriptions the result was a matter of time.
Our capacity, no matter how much we desire, doesn’t hold together, mostly at this moment, all of Mestre’s history, but at least it gathers a little of what we have knowledge — that which we lived and experienced as live witnesses, due to having cohabited for nine years with our Mestre Raimundo Irineu Serra. And within that acquaintanceship, until today, I only have one thing to say: it is just that actually Raimundo Irineu Serra, mostly known as Mestre Irineu, or Saint Irineu – it makes no difference who think that he is in this way of names (the received and registered name in the baptismal font is Raimundo Irineu Serra) – I say that he brought his value since his birth. And then my brothers and sisters, let’s reveal it, especially because it is a thing that we like to talk about, something concerning our Mestre.
We know that he came to this world, lived in this life that we live and also had his trajectory on earth, here through this world, reaching almost seventy-nine* years of age. Seventy eight complete years of age, because the seventy-ninth was not completed. And, we can relate the time of Mestre Irineu and what came to happen to him to the time of Jesus, when there had to be some place so that the Virgin Mary could give birth to the Lord Jesus. The conditions found were in order for Her to give birth to our Savior, the Lord Jesus, in a stable watched by the irrational animals. People call it a stable or a manger, which after the event, after the discovery of that majestic thing that happened, that place was baptized as the little cave, the manger, the stable, etc. And that was the place where that big mystery really happened, but deeply within that humility, born among the poor, among pilgrims, among the needy, because later on he ended up saying that He didn’t come for the well but for the sick and this is how Jesus Christ came to the world, for the oppressed ones.
*it is now known that Mestre Irineu died at the age of eighty one, according to his baptism certificate found in the city where he was born.
It didn’t happen otherwise with Mestre Irineu, in other details yes, but he also came from the depths of humility, born into a poor family, in a poor land, in a teeny municipal district of Maranhão state. São Luís de Férrer was at that time very primitive. It was in a very primitive rural area. It is said that he was a descendant of slaves; that his parents were slaves, Sancho the father and Joana the mother. And it is exactly when a woman is going to deliver a baby that we use the expression “gave light” (Brazilian expression for giving birth), because in fact it is a light, because Joana gave a light to the world since his birth, in the person of Mestre Irineu. Then he revealed a little of his existence as a child, as a teenager, reaching his maturity. He also revealed a little of what he lived in that very poor little place, where everybody was poor. The source of income didn’t give much stability because he lived off of babassu* coconut. Collecting babassu coconut to sell, that trifle, that little change… And this is the way those people lived.
*babassu – Palm tree found in the southeastern Amazon region of Brazil. For centuries, native people have been “breaking the Abbess” to harvest the oil from the palm coconut (wikipedia).
But he used to tell us that his mother was a devotee; a woman who prayed every day. The day’s routine could lack anything but the terço at six o’clock in the evening. And she also demanded that her own her family join the prayer. And Mestre Irineu said that many would go dragged by the ear, on their knees, as they had to kneel down and conform. The whole family praying on their knees and Mestre Irineu would also comply. She was then a very religious woman. She prayed a lot. And he, in his childhood, was living in common, even with other children, doing his pranks, playing his mischief. He also did it, he also did. He even told that in certain mischief there was already some one bringing him back to responsibility. At night he would endure it, already sleeping, dreaming, when a Lady would arrive and take him to a field where there was a rice pile, how do we call it? Arroz agulha (needle-rice), with that pointed little tip, and there he would be rolled back and forward, back and forward. It would be very uncomfortable wouldn’t it? Be rolling back and forward over the needle-rice… he was already receiving punishments of this nature.
And he was raised in this environment, he had his childhood and also came to his adolescence. In the adolescence he also lived in common, especially because that place was so remote that nobody would think about leisure time, nothing, anything, and there he spent his youth, physically developing himself. Mestre Irineu had a very beautiful body in a way that sometimes we would even say, an “exuberant” physical appearance. He was a big, grand man, in every aspect, beginning with his physical bearing. He was certainly a big man at seventeen, eighteen years old, and because of this, because of being a big man, the youths wanted to provoke him, you know? He was big. Thus, sometimes he wouldn’t put up with that and there wasn’t a person who stood for his fist: they would go back home running.
He had an adolescence of this nature: living a simple life, being a very good friend, having comradeship, having a lot of colleagues and living in that condition. It was then that he started to wish for a better life, to have a better source of income, because what he earned was a trifle, not being enough for anything. But before this eagerness came, this eagerness to own, to have a little more money, he even set a marriage, being in love with a girl to the point of being very close, even engaged. But before consummating the marriage he sought his uncle’s advice, who was, by the way, a person who he was very dedicated to; the person that he would seek for counseling. And then he got together with his uncle and said:
“Look uncle, I got engaged. I would like to get married and I wanted to let you know. I came more or less to see what you think.”
And he said,
“Son, to get married is a good thing. You are so young… why don’t you first give the world a turn? I don’t know, see some things out there… there are so many things yet to happen, and then, when these things start to happen you can come back and get married.”
“You are right uncle.”
This is exactly the time of the reverberation of the rubber boom in Amazonas State, which was a great source of wealth, and there they gathered money as you gather leaves and sticks.
And he said,
“Well, it came in handy. Count me in, to know things better and to obey my uncle’s advice, and at the same time earn this wad of money.”
Then he said farewell and headed towards the Amazon region. It is known that in this trip he spent little time in Belém and then Manaus, where he found a list of the rubber barons that marketed the rubber; who sold the merchandise and bought the rubber tapper’s production. There he enlisted and there – it wasn’t a sponsorship – he followed in the journey without many complications, but knowing that he would have to pay his employer for the trip, with his own labor, upon the arrival, as every rubber tapper did at the time. As a result of this the rubber tapper would arrive already in debt. It started from the expenses of the travel, because they would arrive in the rubber plantation already in debt. Then my brothers and sisters, rubber tappers were eternal slaves and Mestre Irineu also tasted of this slavery. And the rubber barons would do everything in their power so that the rubber tapper would never have a surplus, always owing something, enslaving these people in order for them to keep their status, because a lot of seringalistas (rubber barons), as we called them, got rich, and the rubber tappers, who were poor, would become even poorer.
Mestre Irineu faced exactly this same problem. Soon he was disappointed and he realized that the whole story that was making the headlines across the whole country, easy like that, was very different from what he found. Then, those people, besides facing the debt, always owing to the patron, were also exposed to the beasts, to the malaria, which they called impaludismo, “cezão”, at that time. A lot of north easterners died, attacked by the malaria in that region, and Mestre Irineu faced it all.
Then he would tell an interesting story, that when he arrived at his destination, at the patron’s shed, getting ready to head towards the rubber placement that was destined for him, three days trip away, as it seems to me, very, very far away, already mounted on his horse to depart, his patron came over, looked at him and said,
“Hi there boy, are you from the state of Maranhão?”
And he said,
Yes, I am, I am from Maranhão.”
“Boy, they tell me that everyone from Maranhão is intelligent. Do you know how to read and write?”
Mestre Irineu, before that real compliment, was embarrassed to say that he was illiterate, because until that point he really was, and then the patron said,
“Didn’t I tell you that there is no dumb maranhense*?”
*maranhense – a native of the state of Maranhão.
Well, he said good-by and left, reflecting later on the trail about the given answer. “Help me God, I assured to the man that I knew how to read and write. What if later on I get caught in a lie, won’t I be a liar? Now I am going to have to learn to read and to write, which is practically the same as turning this lie into a truth.” Then he arrived in the placement destined for him.
The only teacher on earth that he had was a boy that showed up there, even saying that he was lost, while hunting. He then asked if the boy knew how to read and write, and he said,
“A little bit, a little bit.”
And Mestre asked,
“But are you able to write my name on a paper?”
“Of course,” the boy said, writing his name on a paper and handing it over to him.
Then he started, getting to the point of learning how to be a very good reader – and I witnessed it – and learning how to be a very good writer – and I witnessed it – and learning how to be a very good speaker – and we witnessed it. And he would align with the language spoken. For example, if he had been talking to a caboclo, as it is characteristic in our region, the caboclos, who are more connected to the woods, in the rural zone (we are caboclos), he talked the caboclo’s dialect; but if a professor had arrived, a soldier, whoever, he aligned perfectly with the language up to the level required at the moment. He was a very good speaker. We came to listen to some lectures given by him, in works, and he learned how to speak without having attended any school. We even came to attest, within his own affirmations, that he talked all languages, according to the situation, because we have an episode, a passage where he challenged us,
“You can talk any language and I’ll correspond with it”
Until this moment he wasn’t aware of what was destined for him, what was traced in his destiny, what he was really going to be responsible for, as a master. Then he went about his business, to cut the rubber trees, manufacture the rubber, always as a hard worker and a responsible person. It is not known, in the whole of his history, that he ever fooled someone. We are going to even suppose that he had, for the circumstances, bought on credit, but he was always a man who respected his deals, holy business, good business. Mestre Irineu was forged within this character.
Well then, Mestre Irineu, traveling through that area, ended up meeting two companions also from Maranhão. They met each other inside those woods: Antônio Costa and André Costa, two great companions of Mestre, especially Antônio Costa. Of André Costa we don’t know much, but we know that he had some influence connected to Mestre, but Antônio Costa became much more attached. They praised one another in such a way that a very beautiful companionship grew between them. They even got to share a tent, both being single. Antônio Costa was a dealer in the so called regatão business and Mestre Irineu was a rubber tapper, going around with his business.
Antônio Costa, already having spent more time in those rubber plantations, doing commerce along the river, had some notion, some knowledge that could inform Mestre about this holy drink, known today as the Daime. He already knew a certain center, a certain Peruvian community that was exploring this drink under the name ayahuasca. He informed Mestre about it and he got interested,
“Well Antônio, do you think that I’ll get it right over there? I am going to know this thing.”
Antônio Costa told him a little of the ritual and how it worked.
“That’s how I really want it.”
Because, in fact, the objective of those people was distorted, of that grouping, with this drink; it was the opposite, it was to be part of the Satanism, in order to, so they tell, acquire money more easily, to acquire things more easily.
Then Mestre said,
“Look, until now I have been fighting next to God and he never gave me anything that was enough. I am going to try this thing over there, and who knows, maybe I am going to even get many things with it”
But his conscience was already talking louder, affirming that he would go, yes, but if it was something good he would bring it back to Brazil and if it was something worthless he was going to leave it there.
And this way, guided by Antônio Costa, he arrived in this community. They were already all gathered. Later at night they started the work and a Daime was served, as it seems to me a big volume of it, in a cup made out of a coconut shell and he drank it, as well as everyone. Then it got started and they all lied down. They even turned off the lights, everything in the darkness, and they accommodated themselves, each one the way they pleased. And soon the work began, and the liturgy, opening their mouths to the world and calling aloud in order for the satanic to arrive. Mestre Irineu had a proverb that said: “In toad’s land, squat with it.” “I am going to do the same.” Only that for the others it could be even happening, suddenly the satanic could even be attending, but for him it wasn’t like that, because every time that he shouted, calling this being, a cross would come to him instead. He would scream from the top of his lungs and… cross. He would call and… cross, and cross, and finally he was suffocated in the middle of so many crosses because only crosses would arrive. It was when he started to realize, saying,
“You know what? People say that the satanic is afraid of crosses, and why is it that every time that I call for him it is a cross that appears? No, they are getting this wrong; this is supposed to be done otherwise.”
Then, in fact, it happened differently for him. He would tell of the visions that he had, suddenly being transformed and seeing whatever came to his imagination. “I want to see the Maranhão state: And there it is, Maranhão. I want to see my family: Here is your family.” Communicating like we are communicating here, face to face, so clear was that work. “I want see the city of Manaus: There it is. And I want to see everything that is to see: Here is everything, everything and everything.” At the end people came asking if he was ok and all. He said goodbye and thanked them, but he left already well impressed, because it was the inverse of all that they thought it could be. He arrived at home and said to Antônio Costa,
“Look my friend, don’t you know that I did this work and I liked it? But I am going to tell you something: for me it was the opposite [of the others].”
And Antônio Costa said,
“The same with me. A Lady named Clara came but She said that She is coming to talk to you.”
Then he got anxious for that day to arrive. And the apparition happened for him. She manifested herself and he even told the vision that he had of her, that She came seated in the moon, the moon as a throne and entering the moon was a very pretty armchair, and that lady sat in that armchair. She looked at him and asked,
“Do you think that I can be a sorceress?”
“No my lady – he said before that marvel – no my lady, no my lady.”
“Do you think that I can be a witch? – or such.”
“No my lady, no my lady, no my lady.”
“Do you think that I can be the devil, for example?” She used the exact term.
“Hail Mary Our Lady, no my lady, no my lady.”
“Then you tell me, you tell me in your own words what can I be.”
Then he only manages to say,
“You are a universal goddess.”
“Well then, I come here exactly to prescribe a diet for you. I have something of great value to deliver to you, but then you are to undergo a fast for eight days feeding on boiled manioc without salt and water.”
And I defend the fact that it was with water, because I heard him telling that it was with water. On the other hand some other sources defend that it was with tea and I don’t have this knowledge. With water and without smoking, because he was a smoker, he smoked his cigarettes. It was manioc without salt, water and also renouncing cigarettes. Eight days living off of manioc and water, and this while he kept his routine, cutting the rubber trees and collecting the rubber. Only he didn’t smoke. When he would arrive at the tent, Antônio Costa was already waiting for him. He took care of the milk, of the latex, the rubber tree milk that he would smoke and turn into a rubber skin. And he also specifically cooked his manioc so that when he would arrive – Mestre didn’t carry cooked manioc with him – he had it at least hot, tasting better that way.
First day, second day, third day and he was going through it with much tranquility, even without Daime, inside that jungle, already seeing everything transformed. There were also paths where he got frightened, where he was also concerned. He told us that he would draw a shotgun – it is appropriate for a rubber tapper to walk with his firearm – and fire a shot upwards: Pow! And with that shot burst he would get recomposed to go on with the journey. Then during the fourth day he was on the return way of the trail, which is very distant – rubber plantation trails, for one who knows, it is a lot of ground to cover, a lot of land – he was on the return way of a trail like these when they told him,
“Antônio Costa tried to add salt to your manioc. He came with a salt pinch to the pan but he didn’t throw it, even though he intended it.”
Then he laughed to himself,
“Qua, qua, qua, qua, qua, oh! Boy, this thing is being of some use, isn’t it? Am I just guessing it?”
But then, after he walked some steps, he reflected,
“No, I am not guessing, because if they are telling me, how is it to guess?”
Then, according to him, this thing of guessing is nonsense. To prove it right, when he arrived to the tent, he saw Antônio Costa sat there and he shouted:
“Dear Antônio, you intended to add salt in my manioc, didn’t you? You didn’t add, but you intended.”
Then Antônio Costa had his share of laughing,
“But how did you…?”
“They told me along the trail.”
“Boy, one can see that you are really learning, because that’s exactly what I did.”
And he said,
“But don’t do that anymore, because this is not appropriate. Neither for fun or trickery, you don’t do that anymore.”
Then Antônio Costa promised and, in fact, he didn’t do it anymore.
Mestre went through the fast for exactly eight days in order for Her to come and to deliver him the domain of this world, and it is better not to doubt because this is the truth, and a truth everywhere. He is a great ruler. It was when She brought all of this in the form of an orange and delivered it to him. He chatted and conferred and She, favorably disposed, asked what he wanted most in this world to have, that She would be there to present him with the possibilities, the conditions to make of him what he desired. He then asked of Her to make him one of the best healers of the world.
“You choose well, but it is also necessary to know that you are not going to earn any money with it.”
“It is not to make money,” he said, “this is exactly the reason why I am accepting my Mother, because I don’t want to earn money with it.”
“Then, under these terms, it is in your hands. But I am still going to warn you: You are going to have a lot of work. The diseases are many and each one has a different diagnosis, consequently with a different medicine, a different content of a bottle, and you are going to work with many diversified bottles. You are going to have a lot of work. ‘It is a so-and-so bark, it is a so-and-so kind of leaf…’ you are going to work a lot.”
Then, with all the wisdom that was concentrated in him at that moment he said,
“My mother, can’t you concentrate of all the things that it ought to have so that this drink can have it all? In the Ayahuasca (the baptism of the Daime came later in time).”
And She said,
“Is this what you are asking of me? Then it is done.”
Before the things that have been told, this is where our turn comes: the Daime is everything. In the Daime is concentrated the cure of all that is necessary to be cured. It is even a purgative. Many times we are thinking that our intestine is working properly but it is going to show us that it isn’t working so well, no, the Daime is the one to make it work properly. Suddenly it becomes a purgative and at that moment you rush to the bathroom. It is a washing, a cleaning that it does in your stomach. Then the Daime is everything. We are the ones that, by some imperfection, by some weaknesses, by incredulity, sometimes don’t want to give so much belief to the Daime, but it is proved that the Daime, above it all, does not harm anybody. And this is what impressed me the most when I sought and found this house, to really see this Daime, this holy drink, (served to all) from a newborn to an adult. That impresses us and makes our belief be even stronger, because we believe that the Daime has everything that is necessary. Here is the demonstration, the reality and the manifestation of Mestre’s wish, to whom our Queen, the Queen of the Forest, obliged. “My Mother, could You associate everything that is necessary to have in this drink, the ayahuasca?” “Is it what you are asking of me? Then it is done.” And this is really the Santo Daime today.
Well then, after that he started to receive Her direct communications and there is something within this story; there is something poorly disclosed and many times people even get perplexed: “But that’s how it happened?” It was. This mission was given in partnership. It seems that as the result of that companionship, of that friendship between Mestre and Antônio Costa, She came and delivered part of it to Mestre Irineu and part to Antônio Costa, which few people know. But I heard our Master telling of it this way and informing that it happened in this way. Then, if Mestre ruled half the world, Antônio Costa also ruled the other half. And thus they started to work together. But Antônio Costa himself started to see the reality of it, especially due to the profession that he exercised, which was business. He came to realize that for him it was harder, due to this circumstance, due to his field, which was dealership, to buy and sell, which is the essence of the dealer. Then he thought that it was difficult, like in fact it is, if we consider it. There is some difficulty with it because it is already a dealer’s trait to always want to be the smart one, and this behavior inside the doctrine sometimes doesn’t work very well. And just as well as Mestre had the freedom to communicate directly with the Queen, Antônio Costa also communicated with Her. Motivated by these difficulties he asked the Queen to hand over to Mestre what belonged to him. And she conceded. Then Mestre absorbed the whole power. Today we need to become aware and even with much gratitude say that we are talking about a man who is the reason for this work to exist, the reason for this doctrine to exist. And it is better not to doubt, because there is no reason to doubt: It is the reason of our own existence, the reason why we still exist here. I at least, personally speaking, if God hadn’t had the compassion to call me and to place me inside this Daime’s doctrine… it is like the caboclo says: “The bones would already be white and I already dead.” However, I am still around, very much alive indeed.
Well then, this is where he, in the act of absorbing everything, caring to give it some structure and to form the first center in Brasiléia. This happened, already gathering a good number of companions, including Antônio Costa, who was his strong arm, and then they founded the first center with the name – Centro de Regeneração e Fé. Then they developed it for some time but Mestre told us that he ended up loosing some heart, a thing that sometimes happens in certain communities, and he was the president. They had some contributions over there and in a certain funds balance he felt that he was criticized. They thought that he had taken something that he was not supposed to, when this wasn’t the truth. He resented that. What did he do? He asked the directorship for an undetermined leave and came to Rio Branco, actually to settle – we can say that – where he was supposed to. It was when coming to Rio Branco that he joined the police force. He was a policeman of the former-territory of the Acre and it was there that he met Germano Guilherme, with whom he started a friendship and had a very pretty companionship. He was even considered as one of the first to gather with Mestre, also as a soldier of the same police force. There they met and, also being from the same state, soon a friendship was born.
Mestre Irineu settled himself in a place called Vila Ivonete, which today still exists with the same name, and started his work in Rio Branco. It was when these people, like I like to say, “of the first crop,” started to arrive – they who were really the ones that created and that are the foundation of this very doctrine, columns that also act like supports of this order, the supports of this work, the supports of this church.
Germano Guilherme was one of the first, followed by Antônio Gomes; João Pereira; Maria Damião and by so many others that I don’t even know how to name them all. But there were others: José das Neves… and from this point on there began the first works in Rio Branco. He already had with him some hymns, very few hymns brought from this trajectory. But he would count with some calls at this time. He received a lot of calls, but whistled and solfeged calls, not sung. But there were already some hymns. Lua Branca was the first one. He would even tell how he received it and how it was in a contact, exactly, with the moon. But they already sang these hymns at that time; two or three. “No problem, we close and open, we close and open, close and open, close and open.” And this way they would sing the whole night. Then he asked the Queen to also grant to his companions this space to receive hymns. It was then that Germano received his first and then Antônio Gomes his first. And it changed then, with Germano having three, Antônio Gomes with three, Maria Damião with three and we are going to suppose this way: João Pereira with three and Mestre with three or four. Then it made a much bigger set of hymns; they were already being sung the whole night.
And he was living in a very troubled time and, besides the characteristic difficulties of the region, there were many persecutions from the police, from people with influence. Each one wanted to take a bigger piece of it. It is not known if he was put behind bars but it is known that he was detained. But he always relied on someone’s help, on the influence of men, on the territorial authorities, and there are even some people that are considered to have been Mestre’s protectors here on earth. At the time of the government of Guiomar dos Santos, considered in our state really as the father of Acre, he only endured hardship while Guiomar dos Santos himself, or Fontenelle de Castro, or Valério de Caldas Magalhães weren’t aware, because when they knew [of a problem], either they sent or they went personally to say, “Let Irineu be. Irineu is mine.” This is the expression that they used when they arrived to take him out of the precinct.
Well, Rio Branco grew and today it figures also as one of the Federal states (in that time it was a territory). But still as a territory it was having some urban growth. We even say: the city only swells, only swells, only swells, and sometimes even without any planning. It started to swell and the commerce was becoming very centralized. We felt difficulty in the works especially because we were intensely persecuted, and he felt the need to go deeper into the woods. It was then that the governor Guiomar dos Santos himself sponsored, or at least, facilitated his settlement in the region that today is the Alto Santo. It was a rubber plantation.
Only the ones with business dealings would go there and the difficulties were tremendous. Regarding the transportation I came to witness, they were made by animals. Later on there were introduced some ox carts. Nowadays it is cars and asphalt. This even makes us believe more in him, because for him to know about the past – and sometimes it is easy to know about the past, or even about the present – is one thing, but to foresee what is going to happen is very serious, to foresee the events, and Mestre Irineu foresaw, telling to all of us that were fighting with that difficulty: “Look people, this is not going to stay like this, no, this is going to be a town, with electricity and it is even going to have telephone.” And I confess a thing to you, that facing the scene that I was witnessing I thought it very unlikely to happen… today it is the town immortalizing his name: Vila Raimundo Irineu Serra (Raimundo Irineu Serra’s town). There is the electricity, there is the phone and there is even the asphalt.
The name of the place was a name that he disliked. It was called “Espalhado” (Dispersed). “Espalhado”… is Alto Santo now. And it still is today and it will be, as long as the world exists, the Alto Santo will be there.
Well then, it was the place where he actually established himself, with the works (ceremonies) happening first in his residence, in the residence of each one, until having conditions to make the headquarters of the first works. Nowadays we are on the third, because he demolished the first and made one bigger, and the third is the present one, built and now under his widow’s administration, which is a very pretty construction. There he settled himself and remains still today, because he departed but left behind; he left but he stayed. Thus my brothers and sisters it is necessary, even for us to learn how to be more aligned, to bring into focus the difficulties that also went through our Mestre to open that place. The same is so about his companions, all humble, all of them living with the same difficulties.
Mestre Irineu even starved for a period of time. He would tell us that while plowing alone his piece of land, lonely, he would carry a handful of manioc flour and a little pinch of salt. And this is only what he carried because this is only what he had, and still a happiness, to have that little manioc flour and salt. When it was time to work, let’s work, and when the lunchtime arrived – he calculated it by the passing of time – he would go to the banks of an igarapé (stream) and there he would eat that little flour with that pinch of salt. When he was done he would drink water. Then he would set his knees on the ground to ask of God to have compassion on him, to change that situation, and he would receive as an answer: “Embrace yourself with the earth.” And he would gain new heart, saying that it seemed that he had already lunched in the best restaurant in the world, that he wasn’t lacking anything, and he would get the hoe with all determination to finish the job.
Then he went through these difficulties until overcoming them, because, with all the simplicity that was peculiar to him, it got exactly to a point where there was much abundance in his house. And it seemed that he enjoyed it, because he had pleasure in having a lot, to even give to those who arrived, who had needs as he had and without discriminating. It is not known, never in the history, that someone has sought Mestre with some problem of any nature and had left his presence with empty hands. Sometimes only with a simple word, sometimes only with a simple sentence he would allow you to go back reformed, feeling that you were being a different person.
He lived a common life, our Mestre. There are those who think, or even judge: “Mestre should have had his special things!” And we defend some of these special things even because it is mastery, even because we are talking about Mestre. He also has to have something rare for the time where he needs to say that he is more than anyone of us. But our Mestre is founded exactly like us on this ground – most of his existence was ordinary, living as we live, struggling here in life.
He was a fighter for survival. Everything that Mestre got from this world and that had come to provide him some comfort was watered with the sweat of his face. He also had his savings. He also struggled to have his money and for that reason he would do his deals. He would sell animals. He would sell an ox, a pig etc., etc. He would sell his animals and he had his savings. He also had it to even attend, sometimes, someone who was in need and had no other option other than “I am going to see Mestre.” And he would have a little money to lend and sometimes even to give, and he would tell more: It is the world’s “spring”, the history of money. And it is and there has to be awareness that we need it, unfortunately; being it is what it is but we need it, because it is the “spring.” If you don’t have some money to catch a bus from here to there you go walking, and you have no option, because you have to pay the ticket. And Mestre lived as usual, also struggling, in this way, to have his savings.
He was a zealous person and everything he did was with care. As a countryman he was like a farmer and there is one aspect that few people know regarding his professional skills: He was an excellent carpenter. He worked also with carpentry, not thus to make money as a professional, but he would do his things with wood and very well-done. His tools were impeccable and he was also jealous about those pieces. Boy, for him to lend some of those pieces it had to be under recommendation, because he was very careful with those tools of his. Everything that he had was impeccable; everything that he had was cared for; everything that he had was organized. He would even relate, in the case of one doing a service and having a poor result – which we call a greasy service, or a piggy service – that a man who does a greasy service is already telling who he (she) is: a pig. This is the only outcome of it, isn’t it? Then he was of this kind of character formation.
He established a family and in his life he felt the need to find a companion, a woman to live with him, even to help in the everyday life. And he frankly defended it saying that a man would only be completed with a woman at his side. The man with a companion at his side can even say, and he concurs, that he is a completed man. But not having this companion makes of him an incomplete man. For that reason he sought to get used to it and didn’t know anymore to live without a companion.
It is known that he had four women, serially, one after another. It wasn’t the four at once, no. It was one after another. It didn’t work out with the first and they separated, but even so he had a son. He generated a son, our Mestre, two children as a matter of fact, but the girl didn’t manage to survive and the boy was raised of this first marriage, which ended up not working. He even told us the reason why it didn’t work, that relationship, but she became pregnant. He moved to Rio Branco and never went back there again, and he didn’t see this son anymore, nor his birth. When they finally met, his son was already fifty years old, saying that he came from Brasiléia in the search of his father and his house. And he received him like his son. Mr. Valcírio… passed away, not long ago… it was two or three years ago that he passed away. But through this only son we can thus characterize that Mestre has an enormous number of offspring, because Mr. Valcírio had a lot of sons; many daughters. Nowadays we have a son, grandchildren, great-grandchildren… it is an enormous family, meaning, consequently, that he also has his descendants here on earth, through his son.
Well then, it was at this point that they separated, but then he remained with that same initial need of having a companion. That one didn’t work out… until the day when he found another. Of this one he became a widower. They lived together for some years and, by the way, he held a high esteem about this second companion, who was really a special woman, for whatever would come, for whatever he needed, but she died and he became a widower, and was alone again. After some time he was already struggling for the third to arrive – because in fact this is a good thing and it is good for us to get used to because a woman is something so good; a companion is something priceless.
It was when his third marriage came, bringing many years of union with Mrs. Raimunda. There were no children, neither with the second nor with the third, and finally neither with the fourth. He only generated a child with the first. It was when they had a life together for more than twenty years but it also didn’t work out, lamentably. Furthermore, the hinário that we are going to sing tomorrow, of Maria Damião, reflects very well this story. It has much closeness with the events of that time and refers to the separation between Mestre and Mrs. Raimunda.
Some time passed during this period but he was already struggling to find another companion, until it came the turn of Madrinha* Peregrina, today the widow and who is installed in the original center – the center that was the beginning, that is actually, among the churches of Rio Branco, the one that gathers the most followers, this community of Madrinha Peregrina. She was actually the last one, because it was during this life together with comadre* Peregrina that he disincarnated. And she is there, firm and sane, the widow comadre Peregrina, and it is a reason for us to be impressed, even at her age, to still look like a girl, well preserved, my comadre: but within a solid reputation of still being Mestre’s widow. It has a lot of worth, a lot of worth.
*Madrinha – godmother.
*comadre – colloquial way of saying godmother.
Well then, it wasn’t in vain, it isn’t by accident. The hymn actually has all its veracity when it says of it this way, Antônio Gomes saying, “Since his birth that he brought his worth.” Really a great value and we have to add that his value was given only because he earned it. Nobody is born ready. We do get born with that value that is already dedicated to us, with that value by merit, as it was the one of Mestre, of the indoctrinator. But we can say that even this is relative, that he brought his value since his birth, yes, but relatively speaking because he fought to actually have his worth and to arrive to the point where he did. He overcame everything in life, all those difficulties.
Speaking of abundance, going back to the subject, there is the matter of him being a person of abundance in his house. I for example witnessed three, four courses during lunch and when that meal was finished the table was still full. Then someone says, “But… they helped him a lot. He got a lot of help, didn’t he?” It would be frankly ungrateful to say that nobody helped, but it was a few little things, especially because people weren’t wealthy. And it still happened with him that when it was a time to say – let’s do something – you would only see people slipping away, taking their responsibility away; but when it was said – the lunch is ready – then people would jump out of the bushes.
Well, actually he brought much more than anyone of us, starting with the fact of being big; by his physical bearing. He was a big beautiful man. He was almost two meters tall (6.56 feet), lacking just two centimeters (0.8 inches). His weight oscillated between 110 and 120 kilograms (240 and 265 pounds approximately), but he wasn’t so tall, I mean, everything was proportional; he was tall but he had physical bearing. Everything was accentuated by his physical bearing. Sometimes the person is tall but thin like a stick, and he wasn’t, he was proportional, a strong man, a muscular man, a healthy man, finally, black as he could be. Then he would stand out way taller than anyone of us. For example, he wore the size 48 (UK) /14 (US), and his shoes were made by special order, because the size wasn’t easy to find and it was always of worse quality. Then he was really an interesting man. There was even some who had disdain, calling him the big foot man, but they forgot to say that only a big foot of that size had physical condition to hold that whole body. And he had a very dark skin, he was a beautiful man, he was a gracious man, happy, look… he was a joy; transparent.
He would only be satisfied if happiness could reign in the place where he was. And he provided the happiness itself. He liked to chat and recommended that kind of thing, but with the observation: good conversations instead of the futile ones. But it is so good to chat! Then he would say why we must only talk about what is good, because, nobody makes a mistake, we are not alone, doesn’t matter the place we are. We think that we are alone because our vision is not being able to see other light beings around us, but in a pleasing, healthy and good conversation these entities even end up taking part, even inspiring us in order to talk more, inspiring us in order to have more subjects to talk about, because it is a good talk. Now, if it is a random chat, as he used to say, without foundation, the opposite happens: if they [the entities] are on the edges they step far away and you remain speaking your nonsense alone because this is what you deserved. Then he liked to chat about good things. Happy, he would rejoice with everybody’s happiness.
He provided dance parties. Mestre danced a lot and his favorite dance was precisely the forró*. He liked the forró. He was a good and beautiful dancer and was fun in a party. I happened to be in a party that lasted the whole night, but there was a time in the past where they danced for three consecutive nights. For example, in the marriage with comadre Peregrina there were three nights of dance. There were also three days of dance upon his return from the trip to Maranhão. Nowadays it doesn’t get to this point but for one day I danced a lot in rooms where Mestre also danced. He was a lot of fun.
*Forró – is a type of dance popular in Northeastern Brazil, as well as a type of music which accompanies the dance. Both are much in evidence during the annual Festa Junina (June Festival). Forró is the most popular genre in Brazil’s Northeast, played with only three instruments (accordion, zabumba and metal triangle). In later years, forró achieved popularity throughout Brazil, in the form of a slower genre known as xote. One theory popularly held in the region is that the word forró is derivative of the English expression “for all” and that it originated in the early 1900s. English engineers on the Great Western Railroad would throw balls on weekends and classify them as either only for railroad personnel or for the general populace (“for all”).
He even used alcoholic beverage for awhile, only that didn’t turn out right. For him it worked because he drank and knew how to drink. But his people drank and didn’t know how to drink, because as is characteristic of alcohol – there are very few or none that know how to drink. Mestre knew, but his people didn’t know and they started to create problems and, as a consequence of this, there came an order from the Queen, which Mestre announced in a work,
“From now on neither I nor any of my people are to ingest alcohol. By the Queen’s order that kind of thing is prohibited in here, and those who insist, who want to take it the way they want, I will call them shameful.”
It was hard, wasn’t it? The Daime is what the Daime is. It is with Daime. But you can choose. If you want the Daime there is the Daime. It is really with the Daime, but if you want the cachaça it is with the cachaça, and you don’t come here with nonsense. They don’t unite, they don’t get along, they can’t follow this way at the same time. He even took this liberty, but why is that? Because to the extent that he cheered up, that he tried to cheer up, he cheered up even more when he also witnessed his people happy.
Then, this prohibition being made, the dance was already happening with Daime.
Drinking Daime at a forró… boy, it made a party of it… it is a work. It is a work that gives joy to witness, to dance with your mother, drinking Daime, mirando, the most beautiful thing that one can appreciate. “Oh! But I don’t know how to dance!” The orchestra teaches, the Daime teaches, placing everything in the right way as it should: dancing and mirando. It is very pleasant, it is very good to dance with your woman, to dance with your sister and to dance, finally, with all the ladies, mostly the ones that also took the Daime, because in order for it to work is recommended that the gentleman drinks Daime and the lady also drinks Daime. But it is good, it is very good, it is like a dream that we are just remembering.
There is an expression he used when he was going to ask a lady for a dance. It is a thing so rich, so rich, the force of this expression upon asking a lady for a dance, because who knows a dance party knows that it is the gentleman’s obligation to ask the lady and never the opposite, unless in a case of great intimacy, but the convention is that the gentleman is the one who invites the lady. Then, in the moment of asking a lady, he would stand up, if seated, and say: “A lady made of silver to dance with a gentleman made of gold.” Then that lady would follow him – and this was even disputed over among the ladies because who didn’t want to dance with Mestre? And let’s dance, and let’s cheer up.
He was also a person with an great ease with communication, to make friends, because our Mestre was very polite. With the same attention that he gave to the high authority he would also treat the humblest. Mestre was formed of this nature. And he chatted a lot. Sometimes he was even somewhat withdrawn but he only wanted someone around to start a subject for him to take over and chat entire afternoons. Sometimes we even forgot that we had a house, and upon remembering it,
“Help me God, I have to go home – already late at night, listening to Mestre’s conversation. He chatted a lot.”
Regarding the actual refinement of this doctrine, this fact is due only and exclusively because of him. He took this drink, like we told before, there in the beginning and saw it as a rough thing, random, God knows how, and we can even imagine the way in which they used it. It was when he promised that if it was a good thing he would bring to Brazil. He brought and he sought to improve it until when he gave it this name: Santo Daime, or simply Daime. It was our Mestre who baptized it. The vine, that had several names, he baptized as Jagube, and the leaf, that also is given other names, he baptized as Rainha [Queen] – what a beautiful thing!
And finally, he was the responsible person, directly, in order for this to improve to the point where we are – achieving, ever full of gratitude for a work having been left in our hands, a drink that has support in the laws of men since the time it was legitimated. Although we still suffer much discrimination – and perhaps it is never going to cease, this discrimination, even by the world’s profane disbelief – we don’t have anymore so much hiding. I don’t know if there are more people trying to hide. I don’t have anything to hide. “Do you drink Daime?” I do. “But finally, what is the meaning?” Boy, it is so hard to explain… it is so hard that no matter how much I want to explain, in the end, you are not going to believe anyway…. Thus you have to drink it. This is the way and there is no way other than that. “No matter how much I try to give an explanation, not even having this explanation, before so much mystery, no matter how much I try, you are not going to believe, perhaps the opposite, you can even disdain. Then you go boy, it is there.
Nobody invites. Don’t expect to be invited, but if you seek you will have it. Go there boy, go there. This is how we manage the situation, isn’t it? Because Mestre is the one who behaved likewise. Someone could live for a hundred, two hundred years with another person, sharing the same bed, eating on the same dish, even with the same spoon but would become an elder, turn old but would not get to the point of inviting. Invite yes, friends for a certain festivity, relatives and such, but just to take part in the festivities – at the moment of ingesting the Daime, it is free and spontaneous.
Well then my brothers and sisters, our Mestre, look, he is all this and so much, and so much, and so much more, but even then, I am simplifying a little. He, as the master he is, there is no one in his place. He was, he is and shall ever be.
He also had things that to us were seen as uncommon. Even to show: look people, I am the Mestre. One day he was cooking the Daime and in the cooking process there is a tool that we call gambito (wooden three-pronged staff to work in the pans), to be pressing the material there in the pan, to not spill it, etc. And there is a time in the Daime’s boiling up that it concentrates in such a way that some capuchos [globules] rise in the pan’s edge. It happened that in a certain point he gave up on the gambito and started to do that process with his hands, using his hands sometimes as a gambito. The man that was doing a partnership with him in that Daime’s feitio* was witnessing the fact. Mestre pulled his hands out of the pan and, the most, getting a little cloth to dry them. The man, I think touched by his vanity, or a curiosity that isn’t recommended, mostly when one is going to insist with Mestre, said:
*feitio – The ritual where the Santo Daime is made: A ceremony loaded of a great spiritual symbolism.
“Mestre, I also do that.”
“No, don’t do that.”
“Yes, I do, aren’t you doing it?”
“Well, I am doing it, but you don’t do that because you will get burned.”
“But the fact is that I do.”
“Boy, you don’t do it because you will get burned.”
He stuck his hand in the pan and when he pulled it out the skin came falling. True. Then Mestre said,
“Didn’t I tell you: don’t do it? Now you go heal these burns, perhaps even of first degree.
It is mysterious, isn’t it? Then he would tell us:
“He doesn’t know how I was doing it. I was doing it because I had someone telling me to do it so.”
Someone perhaps superior to him, isn’t that right?
He would also say:
“Look people, you hold me in high regard but I have my superiors, I also have my superior. Then I was there obeying Her orders, and he wasn’t under any such order, he was with obstinacy. Then it burns you – fool, I warned you.”
Again – well, it was very rudimentary the things that we had there, mostly in those times. Today it isn’t like that anymore. We have more possibilities, some other kinds of hardware. In those times there weren’t such things, no, it was by manpower alone. Then this thing of chainsaw happened way after. In that time the wood was sawed by the effort of one’s arm, that big two-man saw: one on top and the other below. But they had to build a shipyard to take it up river, those enormous felled logs that would be processed in order to make the boards. In one occasion he got to a certain place where there was a group struggling with one of those big boards, one of those logs to carry to the shipyard. They were ten men and they weren’t producing any result. He arrived there and said: “Everybody step aside.” Ten men did step aside, he grabbed a tip and… giuuuuu… he went to the other tip… giuuuuu… and he rested it where it was supposed to rest.
He had the force of ten men. It is uncommon … it is uncommon. But he wasn’t a person, for any reason, to volunteer to give a demonstration. No, he waited for the propitious occasions where he could then do that kind of presentation.
One day a comrade with a firearm, a shotgun, came to him and they knew each other very well. They even played together, chatted, because Mestre was playful and he also liked to chat. On certain occasions he was even humorous in his jokes, in his sayings, in his creation of proverbs. He used a lot of [existing] proverbs, not all, but he used some of them and he also created his own. He had his sayings, sometimes even joking he used those proverbs, but, of course, knowing how to play and knowing also with whom he was playing. For example, with me he played a lot and initiated some wonderful conversations… as well as with others, right? Then one friend was exactly one of those that Mestre played with, knowing with who he was playing. And this friend arrived showing a new firearm that he had bought in the trade, showing it with all that arrogance, and Mestre said:
“All right boy, indeed this is a good shotgun that you bought, but we say that it is good really in the man’s hand. Fire a shot for me to hear.
Then the guy cocked the gun and,
“click, click.” And it failed. He then pulled again the trigger,
“click, click.” Same thing. He cocked again, third time,
“Didn’t I say that if the gun is good it is in the man’s hand? Give it to me, with the same cartridge.” Then he cocked and:
“Pommmm!” The shot was fired.
This is how he would give these demonstrations, rare… rare…
Our Mestre is for real because he already used to say to us, foreseeing his disincarnation, that he would have his day, that he would also disincarnate. He would also have this necessity, as the common person that he was, like we know, who had a common birth, as each one of us, grew up, lived. Of course, it is that he would also have to be submitted to another process that is private for each one of us and that anybody can run from, which is the disincarnation process. By the way, in the sanctification history, rare were the ones that didn’t end up passing through this process. Jesus, as the biggest example, was one of them. Elijah, the Virgin Mary, these ascended. But regardless of all these people we have to become aware, and to have certainty, that if it happened this way for the others why is it going to be different for each one of us? We are also going to have our day, as well as Mestre Irineu had his. But he already used to say that even doing this journey he had certainty in the Divine Eternal Father – pay attention to the expression – certainty. He didn’t say it as an hypothesis, in no way – he said:
“I have certainty in the Divine Eternal Father that I will remain attending all of you in the same way or even better.”
How great is our Mestre because this is exactly what we are verifying, that today he still attends us, even in a much better way, more than thirty years after he disincarnated. Do you know why? The reason is because we took a lot of advantage from his kindness. Today is different. In those times it was easier for us to meet each other, for people to arrive where our Mestre was. It was so easy, so easy that we abused it. There were those who had gone to Mestre’s house even to be unpleasant to him, due to the easiness in which he exposed himself, with open arms to everybody. There were those who had been there only and exclusively to say bad things to him, point a finger to his face as if meaning to invite correction.
Our Mestre went through this. Today is difficult for the bad-mannered ones to arrive where Mestre is. The bad-mannered one stays distant from the good things of our God, doesn’t get there, he doesn’t have conditions to arrive. Over there is love, is obedience, is education, is diplomacy, is harmony. This is what really helps and make it easier for us to arrive before Mestre’s presence. That bad-mannered one, with that wickedness, would arrive in those times, but today doesn’t arrive anymore. Better for him to behave and to know how to respect. We have to have respect towards our Mestre in order to exactly prove that he is still attending us and that we already have this certainty, which for instance we even mention, be it here, be it there or elsewhere. We aren’t ashamed, just the opposite. It honors us to talk openly regarding the value of our Mestre, until the day when it happened [his passage], regardless of our wishes. Our anxiety was that he could still be here in the flesh and for that reason we doubted that this could happen to him, that for an act like this, considered as natural, he had to disincarnate. We even say, finishing our lecture, that it was exactly in the year of 1971 that our Mestre said farewell, said good-bye to everybody, his spirit ascended. The passage was painful and everybody felt it, because it was actually disconcerting, however it came to strengthen us better.
But my brothers and sisters, regarding companionship, or even better, regarding those with whom Mestre could count in his materialized existence, and even of those with whom he couldn’t count, he had actually a lot of valuable companions integrated in the formation, in the zeal, in order for this to still be the way it is now — so good, so pleasing is this work. However, we mentioned the first “crop,” and we suppose that we are talking about the first followers with whom he related: Germano; Antônio Gomes; João Pereira; Maria Damião; José das Neves; etc., there were other waves of followers later on. For example, already in second instance, we still have live witnesses from Alto Santo. Very few: The last wife of Antônio Gomes, in the person of comadre Maria Gomes; Mrs. Preta; Percília Matos* and few of the third generation. And the fourth wave also flowed with the arrival of many valuable companions. Padrinho Sebastião Mota de Melo – by the way, we arrived almost at the same time. I was already in the doctrine for a few months when Padrinho Sebastião Mota joined in, the one that without a doubt also had and still has – we say had because he has already disincarnated – a great and valorous mission to be accomplished here on earth, as the indoctrinator that he also was. I even have some knowledge, from up close, of the friendship, of the respect and of the dedication that Mestre Irineu had for Padrinho Sebastião Mota.
*Percília Matos died in 2004.
Speech given on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of Mestre’s passage
My esteemed brothers and very dear sisters. Seventeen years have gone by since the passage of our Mestre Raimundo Irineu Serra. Until this moment it seems to have been much time – seventeen years – but it seems also to have been yesterday, a proof that he still remains alive in our memory.
Esteemed brothers and sisters. Before the significance and of the nobility of our Mestre, no matter how much attuned our thoughts are, we fear to fail. And if it [the apparatus] fails – it is evident that our vocabulary can fail – but, taking Mestre’s greatness as a foundation, I am sure that it is really him. I just offer you this fragile vessel so that he can be manifested and that my words be his own words. Therefore I recompose myself and I can’t hide the fact that I am full of wisdom because he is the knowledge, and that being the case I encourage myself to talk a little about the greatness of our Mestre.
Mestre Irineu was born already big, even though he came from a humble family – because it is within the humility that we find the essence! Therefore, esteemed brothers and dear sisters, the greatness of our Mestre already started to show, naturally, through his great physical bearing. He had a beautiful physical bearing, graceful. Everything was apportioned in Mestre! He worn shoes of the size 48 (UK). He was a man endowed with a foot much bigger than ours, but it had to be that way in order to support his physical bearing. He was a man with 1.98m (6.56 feet) of height, but he was composed not only in the height, because in his body everything was apportioned! Everything was conveniently formed within his bodily construction, within his muscular construction, within the construction, everything in harmony. Therefore he was a beautiful man! A graceful man! Endowed with force in all angles, physically speaking, and he didn’t brag about it, but demonstrated to have way more force than anyone of us.
He behaved throughout his terrestrial journey as a common man. He ate and drank appropriately, not excessively. He always strove for his survival and inside that arduous struggle he always achieved the goal, moistened with the sweat of his brow, the sweat of his work. Thence, esteemed brothers and dear sisters, Mestre always stood out as a common man but, at the same time, demonstrating the highest as a householder, as a man up to date with his businesses and as a zealous man. Thence, Mestre, our good Mestre, was possessed with the great feeling called love! And could we, within our conduct as his disciples, do differently? No Lord! We have to live with love! It was attributed to him by great faith, much faith. So much faith that he distributed and still distributes to each one of us, and inside this distribution he still recommends to us to have faith, at least of the size of a mustard’s seed. Thus, in our conduct, we can’t do differently; we do have to have faith!
Mestre was a polite man and within our conduction, as we consider ourselves his disciples, we can’t do differently! We also have to be polite! Our Mestre, within the power of the authority that he had, didn’t seize the moment to massacre any one. The attention and the respect that he gave to the higher authority was the same that he gave to the humblest one, and can we, within our conduction, be different? Ignorance, esteemed brothers and sisters, and this I tell without fearing to be wrong, never gave shelter to anybody. It is an evil feeling that doesn’t take us towards anything worthy. We need to educate ourselves. Our Mestre is education. He was born big. We know that he was big, but he wasn’t born ready, no. Nobody is born ready. He made himself here and within this conquest he achieved a mastery of such greatness that even departing from this carnal vessel he carried it with him, forever amen. The master of all of the masters!
Therefore, esteemed brothers and sisters, our Mestre is master for real, because he had the gift of forgiving and he recommends to all of his followers to be also endowed with this gift, which is knowing how to forgive. You have to forgive in order to deserve your pardon.
Our Mestre is still with us; in each one of us. As we ask to him, he is with us. I tell this because I heard and many of the ones who are here also heard, and other people from that time also happened to hear our Mestre announce that one day he would have his final day; one day he would have to be absent from this world, and upon departing from this world he was sure that the Divine Eternal Father would give him the permission to remain attending us in the same way, or even better. He didn’t say it hypothetically. He said: “I am sure.”
The Centennial Master
Raimundo Irineu Serra
Was born under the sign of Sagittarius
These honors belong to him
We and the plenary affirm
Salve, Salve our great God
Salve the Centennial Mestre
Salve the Centennial Mestre
The one that we owe everything
In our defensive weapons
He is included as a saint
A portentous shield
Onwards! Onwards! Comrade
Towards the complement of this study
In the complement of this study
Everybody is praising
Hosanna to God in the heights!
In the fullness where He is
And our Centennial Mestre recommending:
Be zealous, be really zealous!
And come to present yourselves.
Comments about some hymns of the CRUZEIRO
Estrela D’alva (Morning Star)
I remember of a very relevant story, and by the way, I am very fond of the Morning Star, especially because since the first time that I heard him telling this story I was impressed and desirous of also reaching something like it, specifically the Morning Star.
It happened, he told us, between him and Germano Guilherme. It happened first with him. He was seated in his place in the work and at some point, around 8:00pm, he spotted the Morning Star. Then he looked at it and thought: “Someday I am going to drink the Daime and go to that star.” And this way it stood until a specific day when he drank the Daime. Well, he didn’t sweat… he went there. He arrived and it was all made of glass pane, the most beautiful thing in the world, but he could only see what was in the inside. Everything ornamented, carpeted, the most beautiful thing: a very pretty abode inside the Morning Star.
He said that it was truly made of panes of glass because he touched with his hand feeling that it was glass. Then we question: can the invisible be held? The invisible can be held because he held; he felt. Then he asked his mother:
“My mother, tell me something: why is that such an excellent thing like this, a pretty abode like this, and I search for an inhabitant, someone who is inhabiting, and I don’t see?”
“My son, there are many and many others like this one waiting a child with a capacity to really deserve and come to inhabit it.”
“Yes ma’m, very well then…”
Then he verified the fact and returned afterwards. Well, Germano was, as a caboclo would say, “buraco” (meaning courageous, fearless). The first person that Mestre talked to, that he told this story was to Germano, but he told it vaguely, and very vaguely, and said, seemingly looking at the Morning Star again:
“Look maninho* (maninho – they referred to each other as maninho – It was really beautiful and I witnessed it), do you believe me in something?”
“yes maninho, aren’t you the one to tell?”
“do you believe that I went to that star?”
“Yes I do; aren’t you telling?”
And that was it. He announced that he went to the star and period. Germano also desired at this time, and affirmed to himself:
“I am also going to drink Daime and go there!”
Well, it didn’t happen otherwise; at a certain day he drank Daime and ended up there! He verified everything very carefully. When he was done he came back to take the news to Mestre:
“Maninho, you said to me that you went to that star, wasn’t it?”
“You are right Germano!”
“You know, I went there too!”
“Then you tell me how it is over there.”
And Germano gave the whole description, the same way that Mestre saw. Mestre said:
“You really went there, that’s true!”
Mestre would always tell that. The Morning Star… then, up to that point, it was still that way; empty.
*maninho – little brother / “bro”.
Rogativo dos Mortos
Mestre Irineu foretold the hour of his passage. Nine o’clock in the morning. You can verify that the hymn only goes until nine o’clock in the morning, because exactly at nine o’clock, in the morning of the 6th of July of 1971, our Mestre left this world.
A Minha Mãe é a Santa Virgem (My Mother is the Holy Virgin)
Well, we promptly start to interpret because we are talking about Mestre, and if he is really a master, he knows everything. Mestre knew everything, even to play, because once, while mirando, he saw a lady arriving with an accordion, very pretty, laying the accordion on his legs and ordering him to play. He said to her that it seemed impossible because he didn’t know how to play, but she insisted so much, saying that he knew that he managed to move the accordion – because she said to him that it was enough to pull it. When he opened the accordion he promptly started to play and sing: My mother is the Holy Virgin / She is who comes to teach me / I can’t live without her / I can only be where She is.
Who came to earth to teach the truth other than Mestre himself? I think that it ends up being him indeed, B.G., the same being.
Seis Horas da Manhã (Six o’clock in the Morning)
Mestre was an assiduous practicer, just like I have been telling. I doubt that if someone arrived at Mestre’s house, at six o’clock in the morning, and he wouldn’t be already in his habitual place. It didn’t happen differently, no, he was already greeting the sun.
Sol, Lua, Estrela and Devo Amar Aquela Luz
(Sun, Moon, Star / I Must Love that Light)
As soon as Mestre received “Sun, Moon, Star,” he started to open his hinario singing first this hymn. When next he received “Devo Amar Aquela Luz” he also attached this Hymn in the opening of the CRUZEIRO.
A Febre do Amor (The Fever of Love)
I completed my cross with one hundred and thirty two flowers. Then many understand that he was already predicting the quantity of hymns that would be part of the CRUZEIRO. No! He didn’t foresee this. It was in the succession of hymns that it reached 132. When he received this hymn he sang of this way: “I completed my cross / With fifty two flowers / If there is some one in excess / You add my love.” When he received the next, Virgem Mãe Divina (Divine Virgin Mother), he sang: “I completed my cross / With fifty three flowers / If there is some one in excess / You add my love.” And so on and so forth, until reaching one hundred and thirty two flowers.
As Estrelas (The Stars)
Many questions were made to Mestre and they weren’t forgotten because he always answered. Then the question concerning the hymn As Estrelas belonged to compadre* Chico Grangeiro. And Grangeiro asked:
“Padrinho, what about these thorns and sharp tips?”
“Chico, they are the tongues!”
He pointed to his own and said:
“this is it, it is the tongue, they are the tongues!”
We then understand that each word of the gossiper is a thorn; and it is a point… a thorn-point. Tip of the tongue, babble. It is characterized as thorns of sharp tips, and this is the reason for the interpretation. It was compadre Chico Grangeiro’s question and Mestre’s answer.
*compadre – colloquial way of saying Godfather.
Eu Vim da Minha Armada (I Came from My Armada)
Grangeiro would explain to us that while chatting Mestre said to him that he also had his up and downs. Even in the aspect of wanting to renounce this work, step away, here and there, due to the incomprehensions. Then he was in a passage of dissatisfaction when “Eu Vim da Minha Armada” was received, with this wish, thus, of closing the session. And the hymn came: “I came from my armada / To bring faith and love.” Because in the contemplation of this verse, the Queen is already telling him. And he says: “I came from my armada / to bring faith and love.” And there she says next, “Don’t scorn your brothers and sisters / Show your light of love.”
Sexta Feira (Friday)
When I arrived in this session the feitio was already under the direction of Chico Grangeiro, and he implemented some real diets. This attitude ended up, later on, in trouble. We followed it to a certain point, and at least I followed in part, but I even came to do sexual abstinence… up to three months. It would go from thirty days and it could reach three months. It was when the questionings came in and it ended up in trouble, I mean, after a season of obedience, because for some times I did a month, and others would assure that they did. Did they? I don’t know. But it came to a vulgar point. They started to fight, even couples fight, gossip and judging: Who did the diet, who didn’t, and it turned thus into a mess. Then it came before Mestre’s feet and he pronounced: No people! That’s not how it is. Now it is going to change. Now it is three days before and three days after.
At the time when the election system started, before the military coup in Brazil, there were two political parties that had influence. They were the PSD – Partido Socialista Democrata (Socialist Democrat Party) and the PTB – Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro (Brazilian Labor Party). The PSD was the party of Mestre. He had a party, the PSD. Then Mestre’s party lost the elections (1962) and he sang Batalha, already comforting. Boy, if you had seen this, Mestre’s contentment so evident when he sang this hymn, at least the first time that I heard and I saw… he was dancing! This is a xote (a type of forró rhythm in Brazil). He called comadre Peregrina because she was a good dancer. Then he asked the group to sing and to dance in the room by the sound of “Batalha”. This hymn can turns into a hell of a xote!
Todos Querem Ser Irmãos
(Everybody wants to be a Brother / Sister)
Really, Padrinho Irineu received these hymns and had total satisfaction to present them to us. The ones that lived with him were the first [to hear them], but he would also introduce them to the ones that would arrive at his house, like me. It was a pleasure to him. In one occasion I got there and he said:
“Yes Luiz, there is a new hymn! Do you want to listen?”
“it will be a pleasure.”
He called Madrinha Peregrina, Maria Zacarias and ordered:
“Sing this hymn for Luiz to listen.”
But then, in this interim, our brother Júlio Carioca was arriving, who also took part in the event. He came up asking Padrinho for his blessing and Padrinho said to him:
“Júlio, I requested the girls to sing a new hymn to Luiz, but then you arrived… then it is also for you. Do you want to listen?”
He said yes and they started to sing the hymn. They sang one, two, three times. When they finished he asked to us:
“how was the hymn?”
Then Júlio Carioca stepped ahead:
“Oh! Padrinho, but the hymn is beautiful! But the hymn is wonderful!”
Then Padrinho said:
“Hold your tongue. The hymn is not as beautiful as you are saying, no, it is not this wonderfyul, as you say, no; do you know what is beautiful in the hymn? It is to do what the hymn tells. This is what is really beautiful.”
Then, boy, I was… oh God, it saved me! Because I was going to answer the same thing that Júlio answered. I wasn’t going to say it differently, but I was spared, really, it went to Julio (laughter).
He received this hymn and this hymn had words. It had words, only that he kept it for himself and introduced only the musical part. One day I arrived there and he asked if I wanted to hear a piece of music. Whenever he received a hymn and I arrived there, he would tell me and ask if I wanted to listen. Well, who didn’t? This was one of them. The girls solfeged, solfeged, solfeged, solfeged… When they finished he said: “This is it!” The people who were there started to leave, to disperse, and at certain point it was just him and me. He turned to me and said: Luiz, there are the words, there are the words, only that I don’t have condition to disclose, because people aren’t ready, therefore I am going to keep them and let it be only music.
First, they settled some years of existence for him. Later on it was undone, because the Queen prolonged it until 75 years old. It was an extension that the Queen gave to him. He even told us how he understood it. A horseman would pass by him and shout: Seventy five! Then the horseman would go away and after a while he would come back: Seventy-five! Then the horseman would go away again, and thus this horseman passed by him several times, shouting “seventy-five.” Mestre was intrigued by that, trying to understand the meaning. The horseman came again and when he passed by he said: “Seventy-five,” and then Mestre understood the meaning and completed: Seventy-five years of life. This was in miração, or perhaps a dream, because he would link one thing to another. He used to say: For one who drinks Daime, dream is the same of miração. By the way, there are crossings that we go through in dream that in miração we wouldn’t bear. Then comes the dream and gives it more stability.
Well, going back to the previous subject, at the age of seventy-five, in 1967, he disincarnated. He went away without anybody realizing it. He really disincarnated, went away. Then the Queen said to him there in the eternal habitation: Son, you will go back still, because you have been so resistant… I am going to make a deal with you: from now on your existence on earth is to be set by you! Whenever you want you do ask of me and that will be the hour, but it is in your hands. When I heard him telling this for the first time the room was crowded with people, and I made a question:
“but Padrinho, it is going to take a lot of time for you to make this request, isn’t it?”
He looked to me and said:
“Luiz, here I have to face so many unpleasant things, so many things that I don’t like that it makes me wish to go soon.”
And he had already gone through another passage before the one when he was 75 years old. This was the second. I don’t know how old he was at the first passage but then it was extended until 75 years old. The third time was exactly before the penultimate hymn, when he was going and thinking about not coming back. Isn’t it what tells the hymn? But then he came back once again to give thanks. “I come to give thanks to (those) who prayed for my return” – and at the same time to teaches us an immense, very valuable lesson, which is to ask and to know how to ask, because they are valid, our requests, if they are within the regulation. To ask; to know to whom do you ask and to know also what to ask. Well, the truth is that the requests were so many that they sent him back. And he came back, came back thanking and giving testimony to the requests: I was ordered to return / I am firm am going to work / To teach my brothers and sisters / The ones who listen to me.
Then, after, we thought about a better stability, only that from there on he lived… let me see… if it was more than a year it was just a bit. I don’t remember, but it was little time. Then it comes “Pisei na Terra Fria” (I Stepped on the Cold Earth) to exactly formalize. Not even the requests worked this time. He exposed himself according with the content of the hymn. I am going to say something: He was right at the table’s center and at the level of our comprehension… it really shook. I remember that even tears were shed. There were people that cried, alarmed, mostly the women’s side, only that when he would feel that the climate was shaky, he would control it in this way:
“stop with the nonsense, this is going to take a while. You worry so much about me. The ideal is that each one worries about himself (herself). This is the way for all”.
Then he would soothe things, but until a time where it couldn’t be soothed anymore. We feel thus… it is a case to study. From one side we tend to believe that, really, his days were numbered. But thus, whereby I think, whereby I see, that there are revocations. It can be revoked. God is great. Your day can even come but who knows, by utility, by a need, by the reason of being so useful, doesn’t God revoke? Because it was revoked for Mestre on two occasions and the third was the one that stayed on his hands, and then we think: would his last message be revoked if we had cared more? Because we lament about this, we really lament. Look, people had their opportunity, but they could have seized it better.
He was telling a story that in a miração, arriving to a certain place, he saw in front of him some wooden stubs, but everything thus… like zig-zag (criss-crossed). Then he perceived it as a little pestle and a pestle’s little handle, not being allowed to miss the steps. He couldn’t miss the steps. Then they sang the hymn to him and he, according with the hymn, would go making his way. Pá Pilar was him steering. If it is pá pilar I go jumping; Jumping and pilando [pounding like a pestle].
Even to remove a little of the myths that go on being created, from both sides, I would like to clarify that about this plant, “Santa Maria,” or cannabis, I heard Mestre refer to it three times:
The first time when he said that in his adolescence, in Maranhão, would come Sunday and that youth of the countryside didn’t have anything to do, neither a fun, not even a football to play, everybody very poor. Then they would gather in some barn to smoke the “diamba,” as they called it, and soon after was that happiness, that chat, that animation. Therefore it was a specific and recreative use. Later on compadre Eduardo Gabrich clarified for me that in Maranhão this plant was widely used for centuries, including in the rural areas, by the influence of the Africans who arrived already carrying the seeds.
The second time was when a fardado brother, who was from the police, came to Mestre’s feet to confess and to ask for pardon, for having subtracted some amount of herb in a police apprehension, to try out, even out of curiosity because he never had used, which he ended up indeed doing and repenting himself after. This brother was making a big fuss and mea-culpa for having done “a frightful thing”, “a sin”, etc., when our Master said: “Hold on, so-and-so, this isn’t what you are saying, no, knowing how to use this plant, takes you to the beyond.” Therefore it would be an example of his mention toward a spiritual use.
The third time that I heard him refer about the subject was when he said to a mother, that was with a son suffering from lack of appetite, that the tea of the plant was a holy medicine for the problem. It was just to give the tea that the boy would soon be eating even the “table’s feet.” He thus finally points out the medicinal use.
Mestre was a man of great knowledge. He didn’t have prejudices, knew all the plants and their secrets, but one thing is very important to mention: never, in no occasion in Acre state, nobody saw or acknowledged that Mestre used or planted, and I tell that with total conviction. I cohabited with him many years and also with his old friends, contrary to what people say, even books that go around, with other versions that aren’t supported in the truthful history.
Translation: Rodrigo Conti Tavares
English review: Lou Gold