Padrinho Alex Polari de Alverga
Born in João Pessoa, Brazil, in 1950, as a young man, Alex participated with the VPR (the Popular Revolutionary Vanguard) in the armed struggle against the military dictatorship in Brazil, for which activities he was imprisoned from 1971 to 1980 and was subject to torture and abuse. It was also during these years in political prison that Alex and Sônia first met and married. Sônia, born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1949, and a graduate and then professor of Brazilian literature, went to visit Alex to interview him about his literary work. Alex is the author of several works of poetry and nonfiction, including his influential account of Padrinho Sebastião and the Santo Daime, Forest of Visions (reissued as The Religion of Ayahuasca).
It was in 1982, after Alex’s miraculous release from political prison, that he and Sônia first traveled to the Amazon and encountered the Santo Daime, Alex having been sent there as part of the first contingency of individuals to study the Santo Daime. In the end, they both became members of this sacred tradition and close associates with Padrinho Sebastião. In 1984, Alex and Sônia opened Céu da Montanha, one of the first Santo Daime centers outside of the Amazon, located in the mountains of Visconde de Mauá. Today, Alex and Sônia are two of the most loved and respected spiritual fathers (padrinhos) and spiritual mothers (madrinhas) of the Santo Daime.