About erin moore

Erin Moore is an Associate Professor of Teaching in the USC Dornsife Department of Anthropology and a lawyer. She conducts research in Rajasthan, India on rural women and the law. For the last five years she has conducted an ethnographic field school on Spiritist healing in Brazil.

Healing Love in Current

By Grace Huang

I once again apprehensively got in the 2nd Vez (2nd time) line to see John of God with my request for help. Having gotten to the Casa late this particular afternoon, I was unable to translate the intention I had initially wanted into Portuguese. Instead, I tightly wrapped my hand around the folded piece of paper containing one word—AMOR. Scribbled briefly in between the crease, it was the only word of three I knew that I felt was applicable to my life. The other two, (faith) and caridad (charity), together with love formed the symbolic triangle representing the Casa and the Trinity.

Prayers are placed in the triangle for the Entities.  The triangle sides stand for faith, love and charity.

Prayers are placed in the triangle for the Entities.
The triangle sides stand for faith, love and charity.

As the line moved into the 1st room, known as the medium’s current room, I prayed to the Entities that they heard my request. Over and over I repeated it in my head until I was near the front of the line where the translator stood ready to deliver my request in Portuguese to Medium Joáo.

John of God greets visitors while seated in a chair at the front of his meditation hall.

John of God greets visitors while seated in a chair at the front of his meditation hall.

There, a petite young Brazilian woman, read my paper, turned to me, smiling, verifying that amor was what I was truly asking for.

When I replied yes, she asked, “Give or Receive?” for clarification.

“Both, of course.” Not realizing that it was an extremely vague request.

Her smile grew even wider as she then presented my question to Medium Joáo. Though apparently he had a couple of questions of his own.

“Where are you from?” he first asked.

“California.” I replied for the second time. For he had already asked the same thing last time I went through the second time line.

“How are old are you?” he inquired almost gleaming.

“19. No wait, 20!” I almost screamed, realizing a moment later that I had just had my birthday earlier in the week.

“Ah. Well, what do you do?” He wanted to know.

“I’m a student.”

Almost in a mocking voice, he responded with, “Well, why didn’t you ask for help with your studies?!” Shocked with his willingness to joke around while maintaining a serious expression, I hastily replied the first thing that came to mind.

“Uhhh, well, uhhh, I am already good at that!”

The translator chose this exact moment to cheerfully laugh at our exchange, giving me the treatment John of God had prescribed to me—”current.”

The Current,  meditation room.

The Current, meditation room.

She then led me to a chair where I would sit and meditate with my eyes closed for the next couple of hours. Interestingly, she pointed to a particular type of seating described to me earlier as exclusively for the Mediums. Confused yet unwilling to question it, I stood in front of this well-crafted wooden chair covered with a white lace cushion vertically aligned from head to toe. Then, I slowly turned around and sank into a surprisingly soft cushion. I immediately and rather gratefully realized that this was about to be a much more pleasant current than my first time around. Instead of trying to find a comfortable position on a hard wooden church bench,  I found my mind wandering to what I had actually asked for.

It first brought me back to a week earlier when we had undergone orientation with Diego, a guide. He explained that the types of requests for John of God should not be causes but treatments and solutions. Rather then dwell on petty matters, we should focus on what one thing we truly want and ask for that. But what did I truly want?

The only thing I could come up with came from a fellow participant I had met at orientation, Bob. He told us about a book titled How to Get What You Really, Really, Really, Really Want Out of Life that described four key components necessary to achieving your goal. Love seemed to summarize for me what each of these people had advised. I wanted help with finding ways to equally give and receive love from both family and friends so that I could live a happy and fulfilling life. Now, how exactly I was going to do that was not apparent but at least I knew what direction I was heading in and what goal I was trying to achieve. I then proceeded to sleep for the next several hours and woke up later to the ending prayer and a brief testimonial. Afterwards, everyone proceeded to get up and drink a blessed cup of water before heading out to continue the day.

I had done this current treatment three times out of my two week stay at the Casa. Some people stay in current for a year or two trying to receive healing from the Entities through mediation and prayer. Although I do not believe physical healing is happening, there is something to be said of taking some silent time to spend with your own thoughts.

Gender Dynamics in the Casa

By Sarah Newell

The gender dynamic in the Casa is interesting to analyze. In a place that’s supposed to be fairly equalizing in front of the Entities, there is a lot of reinforcing of typical patriarchal ideas to be observed.

Upon first observation, the translators fall into two categories hypermasculine men, and beautiful women. The male translators all appear to be extremely masculine men, as well as devout followers of John of God. We’ve interacted with three or four so far, and the “type” appears to be overweight middle-aged married men. The female translators/speakers are almost universally thin and attractive.

Men on the stage with Medium Joao

Men on the stage with Medium Joao

All of the Entities are male figures from past years; John of God, although he was first awakened by a female saint in the form of Saint Rita, does not channel any female Entities. This is always confusing to me, because in the Catholic tradition, so much reverence is paid to the Virgin Mary, and the Ave Maria is said in every Current and Great Hall session. After a few days, I figure that she’s the only woman worth worshipping, as no others ever appear and Saint Rita never expanded beyond her anecdote. Even tough male doctors can learn advanced technological medical advances while in Heaven (ghosts of 1800’s doctors are said to be carrying IV bags and other advanced medicine), no females manage to learn even basic doctor-ing techniques to be welcomed into the phalange.

At the same time, the prescription of crystals follows traditional gender stereotypes. If you are prescribed to hold crystals, you are intended to buy to, a male and a female crystal. The male is larger, and belongs in the right hand. The other is female and smaller, and belongs in the left hand. Neither crystal is allowed to be seen by others, and must be covered by a blue, specially purchased bag from John of God.

Men and women are also separated during trips to the waterfall. Men and women, past the gate at the mouth of the waterfall, are supposed to travel on in separate groups unless they are married. This distinction is fascinating, as is it the first official distinction based on (legal) marriage. As a waterfall attendant, it gives me pause – would the water know if we were not legally married? If I were emotionally married, but not legally allowed to be committed because of a same-sex relationship, would the waterfall know? Would it care?

Author in the kitchen with the all-female work crew.

Author in the kitchen with the all-female work crew.

Creating a Model

By Oliver Hayward

The Casa de Dom Inacio de Loyola stands as a structural refuge for the sick and the spiritually invested. Even though the Entities supposedly decide on all aspects of the compound’s organization, from the blue and white exterior paint to the daily schedule of the current meditations, the environment still faces imperfections as a result of its physical constraints on this earthly plane. Skeptics from around the world march into this house, wielding words as weapons in hopes of invalidating the Medium Joao with issues ranging from the commercialization of this “sacred” spot to the stigma of gender roles. These questions are valid, but are ultimately irrelevant when compared to Casa’s grand goal: to best create a place where people can find personal healing.
Meditating with hidden crystals in the hands.

Meditating with hidden crystals in the hands.

In truth, the Casa can be seen more as a physical placebo than a spiritual anomaly, where strict rules and a universal vibe allow an extensive population of people to combine their faiths and truly believe in this system. Whether or not this land is truly a place of intense and inherent positive energy, the crowd of believers create a space conducive for personal healing and reflection. The system in place in Abadiana allows individuals to resolve their karma and change the negative mindset towards their pain and suffering. By developing intention, patients are able to reconcile their negative histories, let go of their struggles and ask for genuine forgiveness. The energy, vibrations, and visions experienced are simply a representation of the mind making peace with itself, and trying to break away from the pains of reality. Even though the current rooms resemble unorthodox spaces where hundreds of men and women sit in silence, its represents a community dedicated toward shared compassion and healing.The prescription pills may be purely placebo, but the price gives individuals a reason to take the medication until they relate their healing with the daily doses. From this, physical issues can be alleviated or reduced. I cannot count how many people dedicate their lives to this house, or at least leave the village bright eyed and beaming.
Technicalities and unnecessary questions detract from the treatment process that many people choose as their last resort. People have been successfully treated by this center, and it is obvious that the Casa administration would rather face legal disputes than shut down such a spiritual hospital.The human mind has considerable power over the physical body, and the learning process in place gives people the faith that their unseen physical ailments can be treated when medical doctors turn them away. Ultimately, written descriptions and analysis of the Casa are not needed. With such a powerful spiritual aspect of the Casa, physical methods will not be able to explain such occurrences. In the words of Dom Inacio de Loyola, “for those who believe, no words are necessary. For those who do not believe, no words are sufficient.” When one comes close to understanding their own consciousness and its control over the physical body, words cannot do it justice and will never be able to express the pure human emotions felt inside the compound. The rules give individuals a guidebook toward owning their treatment process, with feelings of idiocy as the punishment.

I believe in this process as a way to alleivate the mental causes of physical issues. People need to believe in this center, and should not be wrongly swayed by people who cannot bring themselves to forgive others and ultimately themselves. The treatment process simply does not work for those who are in doubt, and their opinions should not be extended to those who have no other choice but to surrender to the ideas of the Entities channeled through Joao. I really should not be writing about this and understand that no matter what I write, nothing will be sufficient enough to explain the personal healing I felt through these two weeks.

Heather Cumming feeding her donkey

Heather Cumming feeding her donkey

The Sacred Waterfall

By Rafael Vergnaud

It is almost ceremonious–the walk from the entrance-gate to the waterfall. I was surrounded by nature to an extent unfamiliar to most westerners. Large ants with pinchers,  spiders and their artistically-complex webs, flying green grasshoppers, colorful butterflies of all sizes, and mosquitoes live untouched by man’s greedy habits. And, though vulnerable to whims of nature–the harmful insects—I could not help but feel an aura of tranquility fall from my eyes to the remainder of my body.

Path to the Sacred Waterfall.  No photos allowed inside.

Path to the Sacred Waterfall. No photos allowed inside.

After waiting on large steps of white stone, I entered a wooden gate and began my walk towards the waterfall. I found a white bench, which, aside from the wooden fence guarding the path and the wooden bridges, is the only indicator of man’s affect. It is ugly, no doubt: it sticks out like a lion in an indoor urban mall. But, it is where I lay my towel.
Three wooden bridges connect large gaps in the path to the waterfall. Each bridge retains a significance. The first is a release from all past decisions and experiences that do not support the crosser’s highest good. The second is a release of all present decisions and experiences. The third is a prayer for the crosser’s future to be one of the greatest possible beauty and goodness (from Ron Perris’ meditation).
While crossing the third bridge, the waterfall is in sight. At first it felt disappointing. It is not a large waterfall–a few feet wide. But, in entering the natural enclave that surrounds the waterfall, I was taken aback by a god-like beauty. The waterfall is at the very end of the path. I had to step on the stream flowing from the fall to reach it. I looked up, and I saw a clearing. The trees form a circle around the enclave, and sunlight pours through the opening, as well as through the entanglements of leaves. I was reluctant to submerse my body under the waterfall the first time, as I felt how cold the water was as it passed over my feet.  And, although somewhat uncomfortable—and even at one point painful—I quickly adapted to the temperature. When I immersed myself, I felt so invigorated that I chose to go again.
I have yet to make up my mind towards Spiritism and though I am not entirely convinced spirits inhabit the waterfall enclave, the experience was a spiritual one. It allowed me a meditative freedom, the time and space for deep introspection.
Leaf-cutter ants hauling their   loads on the path to the falls.

Leaf-cutter ants hauling their loads on the path to the falls.

Culture Clash

By Caitlin Sims

As an extreme type A personality with a proclivity for order and control, my impetus for traveling abroad – this summer to Brazil, previous summers to Costa Rica and Europe, and hopefully for future trips to come – is the opportunity to leave my comfort zone and literally and figuratively expand my horizons. I have found that only after exposure to cultures different from our own do we become acutely aware of the social mores and expectations of the milieu we are accustomed to. While the Brazilian culture we experienced in Abadiânia (and our travel “bookends”, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro) does not differ radically from that of the states, a few incongruities were particularly evident at the Casa. Brazilians tend to operate with a different regard for personal boundaries (physical and otherwise) and adopt an easygoing attitude whereas Americans are prone to erecting and maintaining boundaries with others while exacting a desire to control the present situation and therefore master their fate.

The lack of personal boundaries common in Brazil was the cultural norm I noticed first, unsurprising considering my claustrophobic tendencies. A spiritist healer named Valentim whom we visited on the outskirts of Brasilia was known for unceremoniously poking and prodding everything from patients’ backs to breasts, a practice we observed firsthand. Our first morning at the Casa was spent waiting for hours in the Great Hall packed together quite literally shoulder to shoulder with other pilgrims in the intense heat and humidity.

Valentim's Grand Hall with the author second to left listening to testimonials

Valentim’s Grand Hall with the author second to left listening to testimonials

On occasion, in Abadiania Casa staff members physically uncrossed my arms for me (because it is believed to impede the healing process) or brusquely grabbed me by the shoulders to move me to the correct portion of a line, all while muttering in Portuguese. Thus, I realized how significant personal space and boundaries are in the United States, and the initial shock and distress experienced when this expectation is violated abroad.

The United States is characterized by free will and opportunity, and is famously known for its “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” attitude. Brazil on the other hand, assumes a more laid-back air and “go with the flow” expectation that concedes the fact that sometimes situations are simply out of one’s control. This shift in thinking emerged as a common motif in multiple conversations with Casa pilgrims: Ed spoke about his realization that true spiritual enlightenment is only possible through assistance from a higher power, Sam and Iris did not begin their healing process until they stopped listening to their doubts and fully surrendered, and Heather Cumming (author of a well-known book on John of God) asserted that we must let go of fear if we are to truly forgive ourselves and others.

These clashes between American and Brazilian culture ultimately construct them as fundamentally individualistic vs. collectivistic (or community-oriented) environments, respectively. While I have been shaped and molded by Western values of personal agency and ambition and remain thankful for it, individualism can be, by definition, lonely at times. I hope to infuse my day-to-day life with a greater appreciation for the communities I belong to and a stronger commitment to cultivating the many relationships that inspire me to become the best version of myself.

Students looking over Rio's crowded Rocinho favela.

Students looking over Rio’s crowded Rocinho favela.

A Second Look at Fieldwork: volunteerism

By Matthew Shoemaker

At the end of our second week in Brazil, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of prolonged participation in anthropological research. Spending more time at the Casa, I’m forced to get past surface-level observations – like “Wowee, there sure are a lot of people dressed in white!” – and explore not only individual reasoning in making a pilgrimage here, but the decisions key to making the Casa’s organizational structure both sustainable and prosperous. Who answers to whom in the Casa, and where does this hierarchy start?

The Great Hall sea of white.

The Great Hall sea of white.

The obvious answer (A.K.A. the only one we consistently heard) was that the entire Casa answers only to the entities, channeled through John of God. Even the medium himself (John of God) is powerless to contest the words flowing from his mouth while in full trance. This ensures that the will of the entities is being carried out. Still, it’s clear that the entities don’t have the time to make every decision that happens in the Casa. How do the volunteers and staff – the people doing the work – find themselves at the Casa, and how do they settle into their specific roles?

Although occasionally, John of God will choose a person to work at the Casa – Grainne, an Irish stand-up comedian, was told by the entities to stay at the Casa after accompanying her sister who was ill with Multiple Sclerosis to Brazil.  Usually, people feel a personal conviction to permanently relocate to Abadiania for their own healing journey.  After spending an immense amount of time at the Casa, praying, meditating, and staying in current, people become moved to start in low-level, unofficial volunteer positions, like the weekly soup kitchen preparations and (unofficially) guiding people around the Casa.

PWP student Sarah Newell works in the soup kitchen.

PWP student Sarah Newell works in the soup kitchen.

From this point, it’s unclear exactly how an individual can rise through the ranks. Talking to Diego, it appears happenstance – when John of God’s old assistant left, Diego picked up the slack and John of God began giving him more responsibility.  Gradually a natural hierarchy emerges; people know their roles and will follow them without much problem, quit or be forced out.  It is this internal pressure that holds the Casa volunteers and employees together as a cohesive unit.  Who is the “in” crowd at the Casa – perhaps psychological mechanisms of wanting to be in the “in” group propel individuals to ask for official volunteer-ship.  Do those close to John of God benefit more economically from this international healing business?

I want to emphasize that I’m not trying to be cynical here; this is a realistic and effective structure that compels permanent visitors to begin doing more work at the Casa while maintaining the absolute power of the entities in the decision-making process. Especially with an influx of foreigners in the last decade, maintaining the Casa’s organizational structure is necessary if the Casa wishes to continue and expand its healing mission. And even if you don’t agree with the group’s philosophy, it’s difficult to argue with the fact that the Casa does a decent amount of good throughout the world.

"Thanks Joao (John of God)" written on one of the Casa garden benches.

“Thanks Joao (John of God)” written on one of the Casa garden benches.

Commercialization of Healing: Navigating the Spiritist Theme Park

By Christina Gago

Approaching the Casa for morning services, I see a double-decker bus parked by the Casa’s line of taxis, and I witness hundreds of travellers pouring out of the vehicles, exhausted from their lengthy journeys throughout Brazil and beyond.  Turning my gaze to the highly concentrated sea of white, I wonder whether adult on-set claustrophobia is possible.  Trying to find a clearing through the crowd, I zigzag through the people to find my way to the bookstore: the official start of my spiritual journey.  Approaching the counter, I pick up my free ticket to stand before John of God.  This pass, however, is not the only item that catches my eye as my inner consumerist tendencies force me to sift through the shelves of John of God merchandise surrounding me.   Gazing at all of the glittering crystals and their hefty price tags, perusing the paintings honoring John of God, sifting through the mounds of jewelry hanging limply on the racks, I am reminded of museum bookstores where guides usher tourists after viewing an exhibit.  Eventually walking outside, I turn to my left and see a snack shack (selling everything from travel-sized toothpaste to baked cheese bread) calling my name.

The snack shack at the Casa

The snack shack at the Casa

     Forcing myself back into focus, I continue walking, trying to return to my healing journey.  No time for snacks— there is healing to be done!  Seeing a variety of lines before me, I finally reach the translation line (where I will write my message for the spirits).  Planting myself in the line, I am startled by the blasting prayer emanating from the speakers above me.  I feel like I am at a concert as everyone around me chants along with the performer on the Great Hall’s stage.

     Noticing the translation booth to my right, I ask a volunteer to write my prayers for the spirits in Portuguese in preparation for meeting John of God.  I then sift my way through the sea of white once again, trying to be polite, yet aggressive (not my strong suit).  Finally, digging my way through the crowds I make it to the Great Hall, where, looking around, I recognize bookstore triangle necklaces dangling from the necks of dozens of followers.  Don’t worry, I bought one later.  Sitting on the floor, patiently waiting for my line to be called, I finally heard “Segunda Vez Fila”—that was me.

     Moving quickly through the line, I soon handed my prayer to Diego (a volunteer of the Casa).  Without a glance, a smile, or the slightest acknowledgement, John of God handed me a R$60 ($30. U.S.) scribbled prescription card. After noting the enormous line at the pharmacy, I decided to return later, and instead, I began walking back to the Casa.  On my trek back to the hotel, I noticed John of God’s crystal shop across the street and decided to take a quick look as my consumerist instincts took over yet again.  Looking into the shop I saw everything from R$1200 personal crystal beds, to bedazzled t-shirts (a fan favorite), to blessed water cases, to thousands of unique crystals.  Walking out, slightly shell-shocked from the number of hungry customers and the pricey tags, I continued my journey to the hotel for lunch.

Crystal Shop in Abadiania belonging to the Casa

Crystal Shop in Abadiania belonging to the Casa

Upon returning to the Casa after my break, I snatched a seat near the stage of the Great Hall; this was no easy feat as everyone sought the coveted front row seats.  After I claimed my seat, official Casa mediums brought several individuals to the stage and John of God soon arrived in their wake.  Pulling utensils from metal trays held in front of him, John of God began scraping the eyes of some individuals and cutting the flesh of others.  People in the audience became restless, moving as close to the stage as possible, eager to see in person what they had seen on YouTube.  I was no better.  As a looked around, comparing the scene to a zoo exhibit, I questioned the commercialization of the Casa experience.

Considering the fast-growing quantities of visitors from all over the world, I understand why John of God must charge for some aspects of his services, as he must pay for janitorial staff, Casa renovation projects, ingredients for the thousands of bowls of soup prepared daily, and so much more to keep the Casa running.  I find it hypocritical, however, that John of God charges for his prescriptions and his crystal bed treatments (which shine a rainbow of light on your chakras). He claims that he will never charge for his services, yet he undeniably asks people to pay for their treatments that follow after his initial evaluation, sometimes prescribing costly herbs on a daily basis after every new evaluation.  While I understand that some sales and revenue (such as those made through the bookstore and snack shack) are necessary based on the huge scale of people he serves, the inescapable commercialism of the Casa gives it a similar atmosphere to a tourist attraction or spiritual theme park and, in doing so, detracts from the valuable healing services.

Piles of T-shirts with John of God's image on them.

Piles of T-shirts with John of God’s image on them.






Alone Together: Creating Community at the Casa

by Maggie Deagon

Imagine that you are driving a bus.

On this bus, you will welcome—not invite—all the people in your life. Invitations are selective, but this welcome is to everyone. First, your family members will board. Next, everyone else who has touched your life will walk on. Finally, those who have offended you or whom you have offended will join. You will embrace each of them. You will place them as you see fit in the bus. You are in control.

Ron Perris in front of his posada

Ron Perris in front of his posada

Ron Peris has been a participant at the Casa of John of God for years. The image of a bus I have described is his life’s philosophy, one of creating community through love, forgiveness, and self-understanding. His illustration of a bus serves to focus one’s intentions in healing, especially during meditation. The Casa emphasizes personal healing through community building, and while the cooperation of these two goals may seem initially contradictory, the process flows smoothly inside John of God’s Casa.

What most clearly illustrates the relationship between individual and personal healing is the current. The current rooms are the locations of energy flow in the Casa—two indoor rooms, one of which seats John of God and the entity that has incorporated within him. In these rooms, those seated are prohibited from crossing their arms or legs in order to maximize energy flow without obstruction. This energy works to cleanse those who walk through the rooms in a form of healing. However, those meditating experience healing themselves. By focusing their intentions on their specific goals for healing, they create an energy that they then share with those joining them in the current rooms. John of God and the entities additionally create and sustain this current. Sitting in current is a common prescription from John of God, and often those who meditate there credit it with their healing—spiritual or otherwise.

Sitting in meditation in the "current room"

Sitting in meditation in the “current room”

Current is referred to as “doing the work,” and while this suggests a serious tone for the community built at the Casa, it does not characterize all activities therein.

Maggie peeling vegetables with Cristina

Maggie peeling vegetables with Cristina


On Tuesday mornings, anyone can volunteer outside of the soup kitchen on the Casa grounds to prepare that week’s “sacred soup” for all those who come to be healed. It is an opportunity to make friends with other Casa-goers and offer one’s time and effort for the sake of the greater community. Perhaps more fun than peeling squash are the weekly song sessions in the main hall of the Casa. Anyone who is interested may join with the freedom to choose non-white clothing and break the silence typically maintained inside the Casa. The song and prayer books provided at these sing-a-longs—referred to by some as hootenannies—come in English and Portuguese in order to accommodate foreigners. Those seated call out song requests to perform altogether. Others recite poetry they have written or take to the stage to sing a solo. In this way, the sessions’ space allows participants to exert their individuality while also engaging in the community of the Casa.

During orientation, one of the Casa workers told newcomers to “blend in” at the Casa. Due to the large number of visitors, the rules regarding uniformity of behavior and dress serve to make the process easier for both John of God and those looking to be healed. Still, visitors are repeatedly reminded to explore what healing specifically means for them and to strengthen their intentions through personal prayer.  Although the intentions vary, the journey to healing is shared in the space of the Casa, and it is undergone through lighthearted activities in addition to serious introspection. This balance of collectivism and individualism is summarized in the bus analogy. Each of us is in the driver’s seat of our life, but we do not travel alone.

Pain without Gain

by Grace Huang

A sense of serene calmness is what you are supposed to feel under the Entities (spirits) of the Casa. That was the exact opposite of what I was feeling when I realized I was the only student left in the front of the Great Hall when John of God reappeared on the main stage.

John of God on stage at the Casa.  Behind assistants prepare for a physical surgery.

John of God on stage at the Casa. Behind assistants prepare for a physical surgery.

What was he doing out here again? He had already led morning prayer and was supposed to be greeting visitors in the revision line. Without a great understanding of Portuguese, my clue came from four volunteers carrying trays with contents varying from towels to medical instruments. He was about to perform a physical surgery. Needless to say that peaked my attention. As I moved to find a better view, he was already in the process of cutting behind the ear of this Brazilian native, a middle-aged woman who leaned against the wall.

Physical surgery on the stage with John of God

Physical surgery on the stage with John of God

There had been no anesthesia nor sterile drape. When John of God moved away I could see an open slit, still full of dripping blood. I mean, I had seen surgeries before, but this was shocking! When I looked around people either seemed disinterested or unamused, neither emotion I particularly expected. I don’t know if they were just shocked, trying to hide their reactions, or jaded from seeing too many John of God videos but I was definitely struck by it. I then turned back to the patient. These surgeries are supposed to be done with spiritual anesthesia resulting in no pain.  Was there any evidence contrary to that notion? Yes, I definitely saw her squeezing her eyes shut. I also vaguely remember her not looking too happy as she was wheeled away in a makeshift wheelchair (that more closely resembled a shopping cart). So I would not be surprised if she not only felt it, but found it to be painful as well.

Now highly invested in the act, I watched John of God turn towards his second patient. I saw a much younger white male with his eyes closed and palms facing forward; his was a display of the fiercest concentration known to man. My guess, his nerves probably caused him to manifest a physical display of angst. Whatever doubts he might have been feeling, he still obligingly turned around so his back was facing the audience where the medium could make a two inch vertical incision right below the scapula. Then he used scissors to prevent more blood from dripping and stitched it up with another pair of scissors and string. All the while an older audience member, Dr. Clive, witnessed and then reported his findings over a microphone. Apparently, he was an Australian doctor used to verify that the surgery was done correctly according to his professional expertise.

Dr. Clive and the act as a whole failed to convince me of the use of physical surgery as a real and effective method for Spiritual intervention. First, his monotone voice was unable to coherently form words into sentences. Some might reason it was due to shock but I think it rose from an internal battle between portraying something that may seem real (ie. actually cutting) and a disbelief about the true effectiveness of the incision for either spiritual or physical healing based on his professional knowledge. Furthermore, his rehearsed manner of speech combined with his uncontrollable and rapidly blinking eyes showcased physical manifestations of a forced testimonial rather than an honest one. While neither patient outright screamed in pain, it was apparent to me that both were at least mildly reactive based on their change in facial expressions throughout the surgery. Sure, it might have been a powerful and abrupt means of for John of God to gain credibility, especially when considering the claim for a lack of need for anesthesia. However, upon closer inspection the patient and witness both showed subtle physical indications stating otherwise. So whether or not it swayed the majority cannot be known, but using this method of getting a skeptic like myself to believe seems over dramatic and way overdone, especially considering that a person in the audience fainted because of it.


Meditating in “Current”

by Erin Moore

Medium Joao’s current room is a long blue and white cement meditation room with a large padded chair for the Medium up front surrounded by crystals that stand two and three feet tall.  I am directed to one of the wooden church benches that line the two sides of the hall.  I choose a place toward the back.  I sit behind a tall woman in white.  We are all in white so that the Entities, disincarnate spirits (we are all spirits), can read our auras better.  I like this post directly behind the tall head of hair so that I can periodically glance surreptitiously at the room the Medium and his white-suited phalange.  I position my notebook and pen by my side for random thoughts, take off my glasses, close my eyes and embark on our new meditation “The Magic School Bus,” channeled to Ron Perris from the Entities.  This session might be 4-5 hours of silent meditation (except for the rather loud music that the Entities chose for this morning – cowboy spirituals in Portuguese with guitar and maracas).  I hone down to begin inviting family, friends and not yet friends on to my bus.  I am to invite and embrace them into my space. Suddenly my lady protector in front of me lets out a large rumbling belch that appeared to start in her bowels.  After the second one in a row I opened my eyes with a jerk and the 2nd time line was all staring in our direction.  The woman to her right had been fussing all morning (all half hour so far).  She wore a white windbreaker worn backwards over her shirt, sweater, long pants, etc.  As she squirmed she sounded like the ship’s sails were being hoisted.  I go to make a note in my notebook when I notice that my pen won’t write – it is the Entities, I am sure, not liking my meditative “automatic writing.”

I settle back to my bus meditation, my yoga meditation, back to the bus, I peak out my eyes, I try to write again… and then I remember that Grainne told us that sometimes we just need a change and it is alright to go to the bathroom.  I wait some more, “go inside,” I prod myself.  The man behind me with his bald shiny head and painted eyebrows sits like a Buddha in silence.  He must be following the rules and keeping his eyes closed; I hope he is not witnessing my transgressions.  Back to the bus when suddenly the lady in front of me erupts again – two more volcanic belches.  (I have since learned that these are sacred belches as the medium takes up negative energy from the room and has to then get rid of it).  That does it for me.  Keeping my eyes to the floor in perfect piety I tiptoe out, whisper to Diego I have to go to the bathroom and escape. Thank you Grainne.