Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Flor do Ceu
Santa Luzia, MG
February 2008

Luíz Mendes do Nascimento
Mestre Conselheiro Luíz Mendes do Nascimento

I've been thinking about how to name my experiences on the path of Santo Daime -- with the Luíz Mendes family and friends at Vila Fortaleza in Acre, during my journeys across Brazil, and even nowadays, in my mind, as I sit in front of a computer composing these blog posts far from the forest in the middle the giant metropolis of São Paulo.

For me it's been both a journey into the heart and a discipline of learning how to hold that space.

Despite the fact that I like to portray the festive and joyous aspects of the spiritual work of Santo Daime, I want to emphasize that these results occur only because of ritual and a strong "current" of experienced participants. There is a lot of self-discipline that must be learned and sometimes difficult "passages" to move through. As Padrinho Luiz Mendes likes to say, "the gift is earned."

Perhaps some video clips from the Carnival time gathering at Flor do Ceu can give a little sense of this disciplined journey into an open and loving heart. On the first night of ceremony at Flor do Ceu we sang the hymns of the New Horizon of Padrinho Luiz Mendes.

Three of the hymns follow.

The first, Enterei Numa Batalha (Enter into the Battle), sings of the struggle to master one's self -- to not lose heart and of receiving a vision of God's mercy and the miracle of Saint Francis.

These "battle hymns" -- directed at self-mastery and firmness -- often have the flavor of a military march and are accompanied by fireworks. There is not a definitive explanation for the fireworks that I am aware of but one story that is told is that they reference the lonely times of the serringeiros (rubber tappers) on their solo journeys through the great forest. They all carried shotguns which they would occasionally fire off to "scare away the demons."

As is said on all spiritual paths, "the first enemy of a person seeking knowledge is fear." I can imagine Mestre Irineu in his early studies with ayahuasca striving to receive messages from the Queen while having to watch out for the dangers of the Amazon forest and having to conquer the fears that emerge from the "jungle of the mind." Perhaps that's why he called for fireworks during certain hymns, and why the tradition has continued.

The next hymn, Ouvi o Som das Águas, sings of seeing and praising the crowning work of receiving the highest messages and guidance in the "shaking" or "quaking" (balançando) of a strong spiritual ritual and hoping to be able to "get it."

The struggle is not only to reach up into the astral heights but also to deal with the challenges of life on earth, such as the destruction of the forest. The next video shows Padrinho Luíz Mendes presenting a dramatization of the spirit of Casmerim, a female entity who protects the forest and with whom the Mendes family has a special connection.

The video (below) begins with the last part of the hymn that sings of the longing for this spirit, of how she comes and goes returning to the Father's house, and how she will always be remembered. After the hymn is sung, Seu Luíz offers a "dramatization" bringing the energies of Casmerim into the ceremony.

The poetry of the dramatization says:
(translated by Rodrigo Conti)

In the forest there is everything
It has everything and we appreciate
In the light of the sunshine
It is a verdant rose

The forest was created
And delivered into our hands
But many only destroy it
By pure and bloody ambition

The forest is beneficial
It helps to purify the air
So punished by mankind
It is ignorant to neglect it

The forest is a colossus
With all of its springs
So punished by mankind
My brothers and sisters you don't do that

The forest is a wealth
We can't say that it isn't
I offer to all of you
This slight and simple dramatization

Salve the green of the forest
Salve the great green of the sea
Hahaqua haquaquaca
My brothers and sisters let's stop with the babble

But now I bid farewell
Manifesting my greeting
Until whenever my day comes
Good-bye, good-bye, I'm going, my dear brothers and sisters

As a long-time forest defender myself, I must say that Casmerim reaches deeply into my heart.

Let us shift now to the final night of the retreat.

The Santo Daime philosophy holds that the Doctrine is collective, received by and belonging to the spiritual current, and so there are many streams of offerings from the past and from the present. The final night is a time of sharing when the brotherhood-sisterhood offers and shares these gifts. Perhaps these small fragments will be able to convey bits of the experience of making a journey with everyone into the Heart of All.

Joaquim's hymn sings of the great warrior of the heart, Mestre Irineu and his legacy to us from Amazônia. There is a moment at the table revealing a beautiful mother-daughter relationship between Débora and Carol which for me had a special poignancy.

This was Jacqueline's last spiritual work during her recent travels with the Luíz Mendes comitiva. Here is her offering.

The Carnival Retreat of 2008 at Flor do Ceu ended with the singing of the Prayer of St Francis.

Viva São Francisco! Viva Harmonia! Viva Alegria! Viva Amizade!

Finally, I would like to thank Débora and Eduardo Gabrish for maintaining the wonderful Flor do Ceu center, for their many contributions to the Santo Daime movement, for extending friendship and encouragement to many and for making me feel very much at home.


Viva Eduardo e Débora!

Viva Mestre Conselheiro Luíz Mendes!

Viva Mestre Irineu!

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