Mestre Gabriel’s Compadre
By Edson Lodi
“Love is the greatest force that exists in the Universe. The Force of Love”.
Raimundo Pereira da Paixão
In 1975, when I went to Porto Velho to drink the Vegetal for the first time, my appearance was very different. I had been traveling for over three months through the rivers of the Amazon, I had long hair, a beard that needed shaving, bare feet – I had lost my sandals on the boat – and a filthy backpack on by back. To complicate the impression that I gave off even further, the smell of alcohol and my wide eyes betrayed me of my habits.
It was lunch time when I arrived at the home of mestre Paixão. He just opened his arms to me and said:
– Come in, the house is yours. Let’s eat lunch.
It was the first caboclo (caboclo is name used for people people of mixed American indian ancestry who live in the north of brazil) home that I found in the União do Vegetal. That simple gesture from a friend that I didn’t even know was essential for me to firm my decision to get to know the Vegetal.
In the hospital bed, upon seeing his skinny face framed by an aura of peace and clarity, these were the first memories that came to my heart. And I know that many others brothers and sisters have also benefited from the hospitality and kindness of this good man.
Next to me is Dr. Otavio, doctor and counselor in the UDV; I extend my gratitude to him and the entire medical staff of the União do Vegetal that worked extremely hard for the recuperation of mestre Paixão’s health. The medical care and the support of the brotherhood provided him more years of life, as well as a serene disincarnation.
In his final years of life, during which he was admitted to the hospital many times in serious condition, the doctors were amazed to see a person with so many problems still alive. A respected doctor with a large knowledge within the Kardecist tradition once said:
– What keeps him alive is certainly his want to continue in the fulfillment of his spiritual mission.
One example demonstrates the truth of these words. Even with respiratory difficulty, which was increasingly pronounced, he accepted the position of Representative Mestre of Nucleo Templo de Salomão (Temple of Solomon), in Porto Velho, Rondônia, from 2004 to 2009, serving two full terms. And he did it with the same sentiment of loyalty and passabilidade (a word brought by Mestre Gabriel here translated as passabillity). But what is passability?
What was only found in Mestre Paixão
Raimundo Pereira da Paixão was born on April 8th, 1933, in the city of Salva Terra, Pará. He came to Porto Velho at the age of 14 and began to participate in the batuque of São Benedito (St. Benedict), which belonged to a woman known as Chica Macaxeira. At that place, he met another person that attended frequently, with whom he would become great friends: José Gabriel da Costa, “Mr. Gabriel”. From him he heard a revelation when he [M. Gabriel] cast cowrie shells, regarding his [m. Paixão’s] life with D. Severina. He tells:
– Mestre Gabriel said that yes, we were going to get married, but that we would pass through a very difficult phase. And, that if we managed to pass through that phase, we would then live together until death. That is what happened.
He got married to Severina Barbosa in 1964. During their 27 years of living together, they raised five children: Ivete, Ivo, Silas, Janaína and Luciano, all with the last name Barbosa da Paixão. She passed away on September 21st, 1990.
José Gabriel traveled to the rubber tapping region of the forest. After three years, when he returned Porto Velho permanently, he brought the Vegetal and invited “Raimundinho” – as he was affectionately called by Mestre Gabriel – to get to know the União do Vegetal. And he warned him to not ingest alcoholic beverages on that day. “Mr. Raimundinho” took one year to accept the invitation because each time he remembered the invitation, he had already drunk alcoholic beverages.
On the 18th of November of 1966, he went to the home of Mestre Gabriel with his wife Severina. He received the Vegetal from the hands of Waldemar Santos, mestre Santos.
Due to having attended temples of batuque for over 30 years – where he said that he would receive an entity known as Cabocla Mariana –, he had difficulty in accepting “Mr. Gabriel” as a mestre – due to the friendship that they had prior to the União do Vegetal.
Mestre Gabriel, in order to herd his disciple, took him, within the burracheira, to the ocean where, through the enchantments of nature, he felt the peace and beauties of Princess Mariana. And he became enchanted:
– I saw myself on the sea shore, with sand that appeared to be rubber. And I saw this wave, and on top of it I saw Janaína present herself, dressed in all blue with her hand full of pearls, throwing them to me. She had a sparkling crown on her head. She would move her head and I would see these foci of resplendent light.
Less than one year after drinking the Vegetal for the first time, he received the star of the mestre from the União do Vegetal, on September 14th, 1967. Mestre Gabriel:
– I searched through all the world, I didn’t search for the capacity of anyone, and I know the capacity of everyone. For what I searched was passability. And I only found it in him [mestre Paixão]. Therefore, I gave it to him. I didn’t give it to him for a certain time and said: he continues until I don’t know when.
Raimundo Pereira da Paixão remained in the Representation for more than two years. In 1969, mestre Raimundo Carneiro Braga returned to the Representation. On October 31st, mestre Raimundo Monteiro de Souza received the Representation and remained in the position until May of 1971.
During that entire period, mestre Paixão continued in the place of the Representative– at that time, a different place then the Representation –, directly helping the mestres that were at the front of the works, in the Representation, in each period. This process gave a beginning to the functions of the assistant mestre, like we currently have. On July 22nd, 1971, after mestre Paixão had handed over the position of Representative, Mestre Gabriel instituted the rotation of the sash of the assistant so that everyone could feel the weight of the Representation.
The passability that Mestre Gabriel found in his friend
Literally, passibility means “quality of that which is passable.” What significance did Mestre Gabriel give this word in order to use it in that context? Examining its etymological roots more closely, we arrive at “passive,” that which is “susceptible to passion (pain)” and, even further, the quality of “suffering”, of “being patient.” In other words, in a greater sense, passability can be comprehended as the quality to withstand pain with patience.
Applying it to the world of the União do Vegetal, we arrive at the ability to exercise peace because it is during a storm that one gets to know the good sailor, it is in the most difficult moments that peace becomes most necessary – when the virtue of knowing how to cultivate peace becomes rare and precious. There will certainly be other comprehensions, but there is a word, a feeling common to all comprehensions that the word passability can offer, which is derived from it: Peace.
I make use of the examples that mestre Paixão gave in nucleo Samaúma, when he arrived with conselheira Severina and their children in order to help his brothers and sisters of light. And for that, I reference an interview with conselheira Else, who lived and saw that beautiful story:
– On July 29th, 1978, mestre Paixão and his family arrived to São Paulo, bringing 40 liters of vegetal, two sacks of mariri, a good quantity of chacrona, and the mission to reorganize nucleo Samaúma. He arrived very calm, with an observing way about him, without criticizing much. He captivated everyone with his friendly heart and made the paulistas (people from São Paulo) understand a little more of the Northener way. In this way we came in contact with the UDV left by Mestre Gabriel. Gradually, he made the people identify with the religion created by José Gabriel da Costa and his disciples. After some time, people began to view the UDV in a new light. And he began to think about building a temple.
In September of 1979, mestre Mário Arnaldo Piacentini and his daughter, Else Angélica Piacentini Medeiros, donated a 2.5 acre piece of land in Araçariguama, São Paulo, and offered another location to drink the tea, nearby to the land. Up until that point, the Vegetal had been drunk in the city of Cotia, in the same state.
In a few months, mestre Paixão had made people feel the duty to construct their own place to drink the vegetal. He said that if it were necessary, he would suspend the sessions until there was a place for them to happen. Therefore, a large effort got underway focused on raising funds to build a temple.
With his move to São Paulo, in 1978, Raimundo Pereira da Paixão carried out another function: that of the central mestre of the region, which he acquired along with that of representative mestre. His stay in that city contributed a lot to the formation of disciples, which many today occupy places in the direction of the Center. He also encouraged the creation of new nucleos in that region. They are: Lupunamanta (Campinas/SP), Senhora Santana (Campo Grande/MS), São Cosmo e São Damião (Curitiba/PR), Rainha das Águas (Caldas/MG) and São João Batista (São Paulo/SP).
The work of mestre Paixão is equally rooted in nucleo João Lango Moura, in Rio Branco, Acre, since its foundation. He made countless trips to that city to help mestre Luís Máximo form future directors of that nucelo.
More recently, because of this same feeling of passability, he was the mestre designated to receive the representation of pre-nucleo Templo de Salomão, in Porto Velho, which took place after the integration of OTUS into the União do Vegetal. He fulfilled the mission with the love that was so natural for him.
He was a member of the Council of the Recordation of the Teachings of Mestre Gabriel, where he always participated peacefully, with respect for his peers.
Another important work that is worthy of mention is his Journal of Notes. Because of that simple and heartfelt notebook, we have a record of the important occurrences from the beginnings of the União do Vegetal. And from this notebook, also came the initiative for the creation of the UDV’s Department of Memory and Documentation (DMD).
A very blessed man
Mestre Paixão crossed deserts and faced severe storms. At times, his broken body seemed to not withstand all the hardships. However, he never lost his compass, which pointed north, where a star shines in the constellation of the Caianinho nation. And he became a traveler in search of himself.
He found a friend in Mestre Gabriel that understood him and gave him strength to maintain himself on the path of goodness. From his sincere relationship with Mestre Gabriel, was left an example to be followed: tolerance. He also received, from the many friends he made in the União do Vegetal, the necessary help to improve his quality of life.
He still found in his children and his wife, conselheira Eva, who accompanied him – patiently, dedicated, and lovingly – from 1995, a tranquil and constant love. From this love, the flowers and the fruits will be spread.
In this moment, we elevate our thoughts and look to the words of Jesus for the spiritual comfort that we very much need – “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth.”
He left this Earth as a good man, with a gentle heart and a compassionate gaze, with steady hands in service. Yes, he possessed the best of what this Earth has: love and forgiveness; patience and harmony; and he distributed these stars silently, as it befits one who expects nothing, except to bow his head before the Celestial Father.
Yes, a meek and gentle man possesses renewed, crystal clear love and forgiveness while on Earth, and distributes them generously and humbly, just as a flower or a fountain springs forth in the desert.
Mestre Paixão, continue your journey towards the beatitudes of Jesus and to encounter your friend, compadre, and Mestre, José Gabriel da Costa. We remain with his legacy of Light, Peace, and Love. This is our comfort, the soft aroma of the roses that he planted.
Brasília/DF, Full Moon, Sept. 2011
Below, the interview of Mestre Paixão recorded during the 2nd Hoasca Congress realized in 2008, Brasília-DF: