Wilson Carneiro de Souza, the "Padrinho Wilson"
Edited text from the cybermagazine Arca da União, by Eduardo Bayer*
Padrinho Wilson CarneiroWilson Carneiro de Souza was born in the countryside of the old Federal Territory of Acre [which nowadays is a state], in the proximities of the Tarauacá River, in July 18th of 1920. His parents -- Antônio and Antônia -- were from Riacho do Sangue, in Ceará, and they died when Wilson and his only brother, Nelson, were just two kids, reason why the two boys had to work for their own survival since very early in life, in the lack of any relatives to assist them.
It was as juvenile workers that they became rubber tappers, and of this period of difficulties they account that, in the region of Gregório River, they went to cut rubber trees near an Indian tribe that was soon victimized by measles and whose remainders fled away from contact with the white man and had the peculiarity of the oldest ever leave their faces to show and only the youth, less recluse, would reveal to have blond hair and blue eyes; one of the many mysteries of the Amazon.
Of his youth, Wilson Carneiro always remembered his care and the caprice that he had with his things, saying that in spite of the hard life of a rubber tapper he always liked to present himself impeccable for celebration occasions -- well dressed and sporting a good perfume. His teenager's passion would have been a woman named Violeta, but who he really ended up marrying was a beautiful cabocla named Zilda Teixeira, not before showing his worth working hard for her father, putting down trees for the opening of clearings in the forest, a common tradition in the hinterland engagements. The marriage was the base for Wilson to develop in life, leaving the existance of a rubber tapper to work as a "magarefe”, in other words, buying cattle (ox and pigs) in the settlements to sell the meat in the city of Tarauacá and then in the capital, Rio Branco, to where they moved in the 50s.
The couple raised five children: José Ribamar, Terezinha, Francisco das Chagas, Raimundo Nonato and Gecila. In Rio Branco, thanks to his extraordinary practical sense and the skill of a dealer, Wilson Carneiro used his savings from the working years' to establish himself as a prosperous dealer in the Aviário’s district, where his establishment was called "Ponto Chic". However, in 1961, his eldest son became very sick, bringing despair to his family because neither the traditional medicine nor alleged spiritual healers managed to cure him. It was then, after many fruitless attempts, that Wilson heard from Colonel Holderness Maia -- a military that knew Mestre Raimundo Irineu Serra since the times of the Acre’s Territorial Guard -- the advice to seek help in the Daime spiritual work.
Wilson Carneiro had often crossed by the road of the Custódio Freire colony, where stood the Alto Santo and the house of Mestre Irineu, driving herds of pigs that he traded there, even having negotiated pigs from Irineu Serra himself. However, he never acknowledged the doctrine founded and cultivated by him, and it was only in 1962 that he came to the Divine Light Center of Mental Irradiation, bringing with him his son, José, to be healed. What seemed impossible took place then -- the child got the cure and Wilson and Zilda, in gratitude, slowly ingressed in the ranks of fardados of the Queen of the Forest, bringing along their children.
In 1965, Wilson Carneiro was present when the Amazonian Sebastião Mota de Melo, also seeking a cure, arrived in the Doctrine. Both were around forty-five years old at the time, and soon they became good friends -- a friendship that was extended to their families. Sebastião Mota was charismatic, vibrant, and Wilson Carneiro was very fond of talking with him about religion and about life in general, and he relied on his spiritual vision.
Mestre, now a septuagenarian, guided them in the meantime. Sebastião, enabling him to be a Daime maker in the Colônia Cinco Mil, where he lived, and, since the beginning, many of his neighbors and friends of labor followed him to the works at the Centre in Alto Santo. And Wilson, handing him the task of dispatching the Daime that was sent by the Centre for the spiritual works of Mr. Regino, manager of a hotel in downtown Porto Velho, in Rondônia, through the National Air Mail, a function that was followed by the task of having Daime in his residence in order to attend any member of the fraternity in need of an emergency in the city of Rio Branco, since the access to the Alto Santo was difficult and often impractical at that time.
For the healing works, Wilson Carneiro called Mrs. Clícia Cavalcante -- wife of a prominent city attorney and fardada of the Doctrine for longer than him -- to provide care to patients by singing the hinário that he preferred, which was the one of Maria Damião. Hearing this, Mrs. Percília, head of the ritual at the Centre, corrected him saying it was necessary that he always begin by the hymns of Mestre Irineu, as he was the trunk of the Doctrine, and that one must begin the “ascension” by the trunk and not by the branches. Thus, Wilson Carneiro began to form a book of hymns for his healing works, a book that today we know as being of the “Lineage of Arrochim”, pointing that at his birthdays the hinário that was sung at his residence was the one of Raimundo Gomes, whom showed up there every year with his family for this spiritual service and when Arrochim was cited more than once as a healer spirit “who comes as a hummingbird”. Sebastião Mota, always invited to this celebration, would recall later in his own hinário the strength of this healing hummingbird.
In July 1971, Mestre Irineu Serra passed away, leaving in his followers a sense of a mission to fulfill through the continuity of his spiritual work. However, there was no understanding among the followers, who saw in the obedience to the late created statute of the Center as a serious constraint to the functioning and administration of other places that were holding ritual works, since even the group of followers in Porto Velho gained their own statute, because Mestre recommended that his center did not maintain any branches.
In 1974, the board of the Centre sought to compel Sebastião Mota to deliver all the Daime produced at Colônia Cinco Mil to the headquarters in Alto Santo, suspending with this his own possibility to hold spiritual services with the brew. Wilson Carneiro stood alongside his best friend and they stepped away with their families from the ranks of the Centre. Many other fardados, including relatives of Mestre, disagreed with the board position, represented in its majority by the Gomes family, and helped to create a new church at Colônia Cinco Mil, which was baptized as Eclectic Center of the Universal Flowing Light Raimundo Irineu Serra, and whose date of foundation was then declared as the October 6, 1969, when of a hinário honoring the birthday of Sebastião Mota (the first danced service authorized by Mestre Irineu to be held in his residence).
“Within it exists a church of which the Master spoke” was what versed one of the first hymns of Sebastião Mota, and the church was built in the Colônia Cinco Mil to be inaugurated in the celebration of St. John the Baptist, in 1975. One of the hymns of Maria Damião already declared many decades earlier: “Look at house, at the house of St. John”, and the doctrinal interpretation that guided the formation of the new Center was just that Sebastião Mota was the successor to the leadership of Mestre Irineu, for being in this life for him the same that once John the Baptist was to his cousin, Jesus Christ, only that instead of being his precursor, now he would succeed him.
This mythological interpretation had undoubtedly in its origin the messianic religious culture of the Northeastern tradition, which formed these families of followers of Irineu Serra and that pre-existed the arrival of Wilson Carneiro and Sebastião Mota to the Doctrine. As Mestre Irineu never ratified but neither had publicly condemned those mentioned interpretations of the doctrine contained in the hinários, there was at that time a group of followers who understood Raimundo Gomes (whose birthday was June 24, the celebration of St. John) as the reincarnation of John the Baptist, and others who considered Sebastião Mota better as the holy pastor and prophet, supported by the power of his spiritual works. Wilson Carneiro accounted about how they argued on the subject back then, concluding a debate with a fardado from the old headquarters when saying,
“So, you stay with your St. John that I’ll stay with mine”
The differences in the ritual services, arisen between both currents of followers of Irineu Serra, were gradually deepening thereafter. Mestre Irineu, affectionately called “Padrinho” by his disciples, worked more than half a century with the Daime asking for the ritual unity and recommending the union to the fraternity. After the separation of Sebastião Mota's group from the old center, he started to be called Padrinho Sebastião, and the leadership under his command wore slowly receiving the same nomination, so Wilson Carneiro, head of the healing works, also became “Padrinho Wilson”.
It was the time of arrival of new people in Acre, people of distinct culture to that of the first followers, but they sought to value the Daime as a cultural tradition of the Amazon. With their presence was strengthened the understanding that it was for the new Centre to take on the expansion of the Doctrine for the rest of the country, particularly in large urban centers, and that the term “Esplandir” -- another neologism from Raimundo Gomes’ hinário and that was present in Sebastião Mota’s -- was an instruction to expand the charitable work that was based on the religious ritual of the Daime. “Indoctrinate the whole world without me having anything to fear”, an instruction from Mestre Irineu’s hinário, became a slogan put in practice by the commanders of the new Centre, which from then on would face all challenges.
Then, Padrinho Sebastião asked for him to quit being a merchant and to come for once to the communitarian life by moving from the city to the Colônia Cinco Mil, an occasion in which he received a good piece of land so that he could provide for his children and grandchildren. On that occasion Padrinho Wilson and his wife, Madrinha Zilda -- who had an adopted daughter, Tânia Maria --, brought from a trip to the Santuário do Canindé, in Ceará, a grandson to raise, George Washington, son of “Chaga”, who for some time had moved from Acre to Pará, where he had his family. Together with Tânia and Washington, the almost sexagenarian couple started to live from livestock close to the Colônia Cinco Mil, and was at his residence that Padrinho Sebastião presented for the first time his hymn “Symbol of Truth”, dedicating it to marriage.
Padrinho Sebastião began to formalize the desire to lead their followers away from the city in order to build a new era of communal living, having the forest as provider. Thus began the transfer of the families, primarily for the Seringal Rio do Ouro and then into the Purus River, where would be created the Village Céu do Mapiá, in 1983, while the church of the Colônia Cinco Mil was handed over to Padrinho Wilson, who was to perform the role of commander. Of this way he explained how this transition took place.
I arrived [to live] in the Colônia Cinco Mil in February 15 of 1981. I stood in a farmer's house, at my son in law. Yes, and when in late June he called me to take care of the church, I said,
“Padrinho, I do not want to direct the church, I do not have this capability”
“But the chosen one is you. You have nowhere to hide”
“Padrinho, but I admit to myself that I have no ability to run a spiritual center”
“Learn how I learned, but there is nowhere to hide; the chosen one is you”
So I went with Alfredo, who is the commanding general of the Doctrine, and I said,
“Alfredo, Padrinho wants me to stay as the head of the church. I know myself that I have no ability to run a spiritual center”
“But you were chosen, Padrinho. There is no point in hiding, because the chosen one is you. Look, dad held the helm; I got it, now it is you”
(...) then, when they handed me the key of the church, Alfredo gave me a hymn that says “Now you receive this golden key”. That was the hymn they gave me when I received the key of the church. But my real mission is to take care of the sick; this was the mission that Mestre left me. I live as the commander of the church, but my real mission is to take care of the sick...
The CEFLURIS, Eclectic Center of the Universal Flowing Light Raimundo Irineu Serra, was re-founded in the Amazonas state having as the national headquarters the Céu do Mapiá’s church. In 1988, given the need for registration of the religious institution, was created in the Colônia Cinco Mil the CEFLUWCS, Eclectic Center of the Universal Flowing Light Wilson Carneiro de Souza. Padrinho Wilson had been widowed two years prior and was starting to feel the weight of age, because he had a chronic lung disease in addition to diabetes. He chose to remain as honorary president, and begin to prepare as his successor his youngest son, Raimundo Nonato, who had become a Daime maker and who had his own hinário to cultivate in the command of the Centre. Padrinho Wilson went many times on tour by the subsidiaries of CEFLURIS in the southeast and south, always accompanied by his grandson, Washington, excelling guitarist and singer, this way continuing to preserve the legacy of Padrinho Sebastião after his death in the end of that decade. Besides friends, both Padrinhos were united in posterity, as Gecila, the youngest daughter of Wilson Carneiro, eventually married José, son of Sebastião Mota, having three children that well represent the amalgam of these lineages of followers of Mestre Irineu for the generations to come.
Wilson Carneiro*, who liked to consider himself “a little lamb of Mestre” -- playing with words to refer to both his loyalty to the pastors that he chose as well as the term “carneiro”, traditionally used to name the five liters bottles of wine that were reused to keep the Daime --, said farewell to this world in Rio Branco, in June 26, 1998, at seventy-seven years old. Through his example of faith, he sought to present to the ones who knew him both the value of reconciliation and understanding as the observance of ritual traditions handed over by Irineu Serra, thus avoiding both the attitudes of disagreements in the religious services as the mischaracterization of the work due to lack of interest to learn.
*Carneiro - "ram" in English.
He always asked with much zeal -- as he knew how Mestre wanted -- that all his followers made an effort to present well their work, and he always showed in his stories that were the contingencies of life that taught him to be “meek and obedient”. From a Daime that he had received from the hands of Mestre, to take with his family, he kept as a relic a small bottle that we see in the picture that illustrates this article, and that its content he intended to drink on his deathbed, because he argued that the Daime was his life. Having died in a hospital, under allopathic treatment, he could not drink his relic, but at that time he certainly received the same spiritual relief that he so often gave to others in the healing works that he directed, and there are many cases of healing that could be reported here and that were provided by the Daime in these sessions.
Also, we could tell many happy memories of this Padrinho, and those who knew him certainly will account them to others. However, we are going to conclude this homage with a story that Padrinho told, with a taste of eternity, of a starry night in Colônia Cinco Mil, when just him and Padrinho Sebastião were contemplating and admiring the church that was newly built by them, standing white as a small boat on the high seas of the galaxy, and the friend exclaimed to him,
“Just like still today they tell the story of the Bible -- of that ancient people, Noah and his ark, the prophets --, one day they will also tell the story of this church, of this people from Mestre and of this holy drink”
Certainly it refer us of that esoteric motto, embodied in the painted plate that was then placed on the entrance gate of the Colônia Cinco Mil, “I SHALL WIN”, which continued and will continue echoing in the house of Wilson Carneiro and everywhere. Long live the Holy Cross! ...
It is the humming, humming bird
That my Mother gave me
To ward off illnesses
From those who are deserving
My Master is with me
For he is my love
It’s in heaven and on earth
Jesus Christ the Savior
Oh! My Juramidam
It was He who ordered me
To remember memories
Of the salvation of love
My Master is with me
Right here where I am
It’s the glory of my Father
Jesus Christ the Redeemer
I say yes, I say yes
I say yes and here I am
I don’t forget and only remember
My Master teacher
63 – Beija-flor (hummingbird), Padrinho Sebastião
*Eduardo Bayer Neto is a writer, video-documentary producer and forest engineer. He is also employee of the Elias Mansour Foundation of the Acre state and idealizer of the Ayahuasca's Virtual Museum project -- of which the online Arca da União is an integrant part.