Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009 Encounter for a New Horizon
-- the PHOTOS

Each year's Festival at Fortaleza fills my camera with a huge number of photos. It's a good thing because trying to describe a spiritual journey of 10 days at Fortaleza is a daunting task. So here are a series of slide shows.

NOTE: You can skip the slide shows any go directly to the full collection here.

Opening Works and New Year

A few pics from the first concentration work and the New Year work that opened this years gathering.

Lucio's Haircut

Every year the Encounter for a New Horizon is full of special moments. This year one such moment was Lucio's haircut. It was on New Year's Day. Saturnino had been kidding him for weeks about his long hair. Lucio evidently made a firm New Year resolution to take action. What fun it was!

Lojinha - The Little Store

There was a fine New Year's day inauguration of the little store and visitor center at Fortaleza. It began outside with Cicero telling stories for Padrinho Luiz Mendes and then everyone carried the party inside, ending with a grand entertainment for the children.

Spiritual Works in the Forest

The day of spiritual works in the forest begins with a festive gathering at the church and then drinking Daime and strolling through the forest to sing hymns at three locations. One of the high points it when Padrinho Luiz offers his dramatization of the forest spirit Casmerim delivering a message that the forest provides everything and must not be damaged.

It is also recognized that in nature nothing is permanent -- the great Copaiba tree now lies on the ground as a result of a big wind storm last year. But nothing in nature is wasted. The ecologists say that a fallen log is the most important structural component of a forest. It stores water, provides a habitat for many plants and creatures, and decays to create new soil. The ways of nature are infinite and the cycles life and death create a world without end.

This year a fourth spiritual work in the forest was added to the official calendar. The new Salão de Apui is especially dedicated for the singing of Padrinho Alfredo's hinario, Nova Era.


During festival times many visitors camp, creating mini-tent cities of folks from the same region. So there's bound to be a Sao Paulo "Barraca", one for Campo Grande, Minas Gerais, etc. Tents and laundry dominate and so does intimacy and friendship.

Xipamano River Trip

The land of Fortaleza is bordered by the Xipamano River which separates Brazil and Bolivia. This year the community has inaugurated a series of boat trips, up the river, to visit and "old-style" settlement of "colonistas" who inhabit, farm and raise livestock on one of the cleared areas on the Bolivian side.

Solon and Berg led a presentation of stories and songs -- telling of the past and of their love for nature.


The birthday of Padrinho Luiz Mendes -- and Junaida and Janaina -- is like a non-stop festival of joy. It begins at night with a spiritual session singing the hinario's of two of Padrinho's dear friends -- Seu Tufi Amin and Eduardo Gabrish. One of the most moving times comes near the end when people offer their heartfelt words expressing their deep love for Padrinho. It continues with a morning breakfast and cake party and later an afternoon barbecue.

Day of the Holy Kings

The day of the Holy Kings is one of the most important festivals of the official Santo Daime calendar. It signifies the completion of a year of spiritual activity to begin anew the day-to-day work of living in the Holy Peace of God.

It is also a time for personal milestones such as baptisms and receiving a star. This year Flora and Gustavo were baptized by Padrinho Luiz and Christina (from France) received her star.

Theater and Culture

One of the events that everyone looks forward to is the night of theater and culture presenting the folklore of Amazônia. This year's "choreographers" were Joaquim and Cicero who held many rehearsals and guided family and friends and audience to a fine time for all.


Forró is the popular dance form from Northeastern Brazil where Mestre Irineu was born. In its modern form it is a vigorous dance like a polka but more rhythmic and hip twisting and it has been remixed into forms that are currently popular in the Brazilian dance club scene.

In Fortaleza it is danced mostly in the old-fashioned waltz style. This year's innovation was that the music was led by a saxophone player who used to play at some of the Concentration Works of Mestre Irineu.

Closing and Farewells

The closing spiritual session of each year's encounter involves singing the hiarios Novo Horizonte (Luiz Mendes) and Nova Jerusalem (Pad Sebastiao).

At the closing there is a very special time for people to share their thoughts and feelings. The words are like prayers -- true words from the heart. There is a second kind of prayer as well. It's what the Native Americans call the "listening prayer" Yes, indeed, speaking and listening from the heart is surely a way that one might sum up what it's like to experience an Encounter for a New Horizon.


At Fortaleza the work never ends. Immediately following the farewells and departures yet another cycle of work started -- the making of the Daime beginning with the night of the full moon.

We hope to see you next year which should be pretty special -- it marks the 70th birthday of
Mestre Conselheiro Luiz Mendes.


Anonymous said...

Very beautiful series of photos Lou. Thank you for sharing, it takes me there. Best wishes,
AndrewB. Toronto, Canada.

Anonymous said...

hay papa lou great shots ,o man i miss thad culture ,y tehno saudadi do daime ,look thad u r having a great time , love to u thanks for sharing, cesar

Lou Gold said...

hy cesar and andrew,

you need to visit.
my veranda likes guests -- a lot.