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.
His normally youthful features transformed into the wrinkles and seams of old age, the man gently smiles at me as he rocks slowly back and forth on his wooden seat. Sitting in front of this divine being, this deep well of simple, earthy love and understanding, I feel blessed beyond measure. The world seems to stop, to penetrate all of time and space, and then to expand.
I find myself going down, down into the earth, down into soil and rock—down into matter. All is charged with light. The further in and down I go, the more light I see. I am shown the body of earth, all the way down to its molecules, shining and gleaming with light. And I go yet further down, past the atomic and even the sub-atomic realms, everything becoming smaller and smaller—infinitely small. And the light increases. In this vast yet ever-tinier universe, the light grows, charging spaces and particles way beyond anything science has ever conceived of. I see clouds of light, nebulae of light, telescoping down to a smallness that never ends, finally merging into the infinite heart of light at the center of creation. And I feel a pulse of bliss and revelation that permeates my entire self.
Still sitting on my rickety chair, I return to the present; my experience has lasted just a few moments. The preto velho receives me with the utmost tenderness, brushing me with his hands, lightly touching my heart, and wisely reminding me how to connect with spiritual forces that can heal and help me. I let myself be enfolded in this being’s kindness and compassion. After a time, I can feel that our meeting is over. I respectfully offer him my hand once more, and get up to make way for the next person waiting for a consultation.
In that remote corner of Brazil’s Amazon region 20 years ago, I was shown a fundamental truth about the nature of the earth and matter—a truth that most people have no conception of. Certainly mainstream, western religious thought rarely if ever addresses this. In contrast, it is solely focused on the importance of the infinitely enlarging, expansive sky as the source of all spiritual wisdom and beneficence. Sitting with the preto velho, I deeply understood that this magnificent sky realm is exactly, complementarily balanced by equally infinite and sacred realms of light within the land, within matter.
The Green Christ is of the land, the body of the planet. His realm of universal light includes the light within the earth. This simple yet radical truth opens the door to a vast new understanding of reality, which in turn is the foundation of the Green Redemption that humanity needs.
© Copyright Mary Janet Fowler, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. Reproduction of this material in whole or in part is strictly prohibited without written permission.