It is January, 2000, in the small, lively city of Rio Branco in Brazil’s north-central Amazon. I am in the back room of a cinderblock church on a narrow dirt street far from the city center. Sitting on a crude wooden chair, I face a man wearing all white, puffing on an old tobacco pipe, singing to himself in a rusty voice as he kindly takes my hand and gives me his blessing. Half an hour ago both of us drank a tiny, concentrated cup of ayahuasca, the sacred “vine of the soul,” which is the sacrament of this syncretic Christian church. The holy presence of the drink is beginning to arrive.
The man I am facing is in the force of a Preto Velho, an “old black man.” This church specializes in the mediumistic bringing forth of these revered beings—old African men and women who were brought to Brazil as slaves in former times and suffered unspeakable cruelty and deprivation. Through their own inner faith coupled with divine grace, some of them, it is believed, were able to transcend the horrors of their physical existence and become elevated spiritual beings of love and forgiveness. These beings now return, through their mediums, to offer compassion and wisdom to those who seek it. [Read more…] about Meeting the Light Within the Earth