BRAZILIAN SPIRITIST HEALERS

by Matthew Bronson

Shaman's Drum 3, Winter 1983, pp 23-27

The human spirit speaks with many voices: a mother whispers comfort to her child, shouts in anger, sings a calm melody of words to her friends in conversation. Every tone of voice, each subtle rise and fall of intonation, reveals a special way of being. No wonder that shamans, mediums and those with multiple personalities show their shifts in consciousness through changes in voice as much as any other outward sign. During a recent trip to Brazil, I had a unique opportunity to observe three spiritist healers and to hear voices born of such non-ordinary consciousness.

Dr. Querioz (Dr. Fritz)

The most dramatic voice changes are heard in the case of Dr. Edson Queiroz, alias Dr. Fritz, a famed psychic surgeon of Recife. While in a trance state Dr. Queiroz is said to become a channel for the spirit of Dr. Fritz, a renowned surgeon of World War I Germany.

Fritz flouts the rules of conventional surgery and facetiously challenges science to explain or duplicate his feats. For example, he removed a large tumor with his bare hands from the incision he had made with an unsterilized scalpel in- a man's chest. He threw it to me, shouting "catch it!", perhaps for the benefit of the video cameras which were recording the session for Brazilian t.v. He invited bystanders to spit in the open wounds of his patients and to touch their exposed tissues. When asked how he can perform operations without any of the standard asepsis and anesthesia, he replies that it is to his credit that there has never been a case of infection or complications resulting from his remarkable exploits.

Science has still not responded to the challenge although he is scheduled to spend some time in the medical research laboratories of Johns Hopkins University some time this year, The results should prove interesting. During the session I attended, he answered questions about his unorthodox procedures in long sentences of precise phrases seemingly lifted from some unseen medical textbook. He spoke of organs hidden by the skin as though they were plainly visible. This "x-ray vision" ability is recorded as typical of shamanic healing states.

Never "uhming" or "ahing", he described a block in the vital fluids in the spine of a man lame since birth. With equal aplomb he wielded a scalpel and some needles to remove the block; the man walked away from the table without the aid of his cane, tears of joy streaming from his eyes.

The Channel and the Voice

Dr. Queiroz speaks a friendly, sing-song Portuguese typical of the Northeast in his "normal" identity as a practicing gynecologist. As he goes into a trance state and allegedly begins to channel for the spirit of Dr. Fritz, his whole demeanor changes; his face becomes set in a dispassionate gaze, eyes half-closed, bloodshot and glassy. His voice becomes flat and staccato; his Portuguese takes on a flavor reminiscent of German-accented Italian; the feminine definite article ('the') changes from "a" to "la", the "z" sound becomes Italian "ts", vowels lose their nasalization. Especially notable is the shift to a clipped, fixed intonation pattern in contrast to the usual easy glide.

The traits of Fritz's speech are highly suggestive of a non-native speaker who projects the patterns of his native language into another. This is not a case of xenoglossy where someone speaks in a language that they ostensibly have no way of knowing in the usual way. Rather it is a case of "xenoglossic effects", i.e. where the speech of the channel is skewed toward a form somehow associated with the originating spirit. Perhaps in the range of such effects we can discern something of the relationship between channels and spirits. How much of the actual form of trance- talk is based on the make-up of the channel and how much on the nature of the channeled spirit? We might ponder the fact that a preferred "xenoglossic effect" for American channels is an accent born of the British isles. Topics for research, anyone?

Dr. Queiroz's trance talk is special in more ways than just sound. Also striking was a grammatical shift, in my experience, consistently associated with purported channeling of beings from other planes or densities. Reference to the first person singular, the "I, me, my" so precious to the normal state of ego-consciousness, is replaced by the plural "we, our, us". Note that this shift jives with Fritz's assertion that he is acting during his diagnoses and surgeries only as an agent for a whole surgical team, a group of non -physical entities accomplished in the healing arts.

Dr. Fritz was not the only "voice" that came through during the surgery. At least twice, Queiroz's eyes closed even more, became even redder as he drooled and began to give a highly technical discourse in scholarly French. This personality lacked the flamboyant humor of Fritz and showed much more subdued body movements. With a closing prayer to the heating power of Jesus, the other personalities departed and the personable, bright-eyed Queiroz emerged, tired and ignorant of the miracles just witnessed.

When we asked him in his normal state about the marked shifts he had manifested during the session, he said that this changeover was common. In fact, accordinrto his own experience and that of various witnesses, 26 distinct entities have "come through" him at various times!

However you wish to understand the events related here, the details beg to be considered. A traditional Spiritist interpretation has it that Queiroz is acting as a channel for entities from a different plane or density of reality, one "outside" our rational grasp of things. Psychoanalysts may diagnose a classic case of multiple personality disorder and look for a crucial childhood trauma in his past. Indeed Dr. Queiroz's center is continually threatened with shut-down by a group committed to the latter view: the Brazilian Medical Association. Surgeries performed in seconds or minutes without complicated equipment and teams of qualified, highly-paid physicians in attendance strike at the core values of powerful vested interests. Such is the plight of nontraditional healers in many parts of the world.

Brother Macedo

Brother Macedo, also of Recife, speaks not at all as he enters the healing state. This incredibly warm and loquacious fellow furrows his brow and grows silent as he applies the "telergy" force. He says that the force that has healed thousands of people comes directly "do Cristo", from Christ, and that it is not for him to tell people what it means. Unlike Queiroz, Macedo makes no diagnosis and rarely touches his subject. Yet, extensive archives and scientists from all over the world attest to the power of his gift.

I personally had the chance to experience the telergy on two occasions and the effect was quite dramatic. I felt waves of light and heat pulsating through me, my body shook involuntarily yet I remained deeply serene throughout. During my second telergy experience, I laughed for several minutes without pause. All the sorrows and pains of my life seemed to pass through me like a movie of split-second frames. I laughed a little of the humor and joy of everything into each frame and felt lighter for it.

Next I passed into a profound visionary experience full of what appeared to be Greek and Egyptian symbolism. I was the corpse in a mock-funeral conducted by some high-priests. From my funeral bed, I intoned apparently very significant syllables while at the same time making a corresponding hand and head gesture. I felt very near to the very birth of language in this mantric exercise, which was a particularly meaningful experience to me as a linguist. When Brother Macedo brought me back, I was lying on the floor spread- eagle, fully alert and tingling. However you want to look at it, Brother Macedo's energy "made something happen" for me.

Others broke down crying. One man found himself bending in a strange yogic posture only to find that he had been largely cured of a chronic back problem. A woman testified that she was at last free of a severe migraine syndrome. Everyone present reported some beneficial or at least pleasurable effect.

In Macedo's story we discern elements common to shamans and healers of many places and times. He was a mfld-mannered businessman in Recife when a freak accident changed his life. A girl was hit by a car one day while he was on his way home from work. She was badly injured and was pronounced clinically dead by the attending paramedics. He felt compelled to lay hands upon her and she was miraculously resuscitated to the amazement of all present by his healing touch. When he got home he prayed to Jesus to reveal to him if he was in fact being called to be a healer. That night, an intense earthquake rocked his house, throwing dishes from their shelves and cracking his ceiling. He still wasn't sure about the sign, as he tells it, until he went out onto the street and found out that the earthquake affected only his house! At this point he abandoned all of his worldly belongings, founded his Temple of Meditation and the rest is history. The "call", the "sign" and the "resignation" may well be universals characteristics of the life stories of healers and shamans in general.

Healing, Energy and Information

If, as a certain saying goes, "all healing is self-healing", Macedo's special gift lies in tapping the healing power in each of us. This would seem to contrast with the dramatic interventions of Dr. Fritz. Yet perhaps similar principles are at work. if we imagine that the source of their healing power has at least two aspects, energy and information, an intriguing contrast emerges. When the energy and information channels are in relative balance, we have a Dr. Fritz type situation, i.e. a distinct "personality" is the agent of healing. This personality has a special tone and quality of voice, a posture, opinions, perceptions, and special skills. Dr, Fritz and his council claim that a "direct manipulation of molecular energy" makes anesthesia and asepsia unnecessary during surgery. Thus, they claim to be acting in the world while they tell us about it.

There is evidence that the Fritz case represents an energy-information construct, a personality, with an autonomous reality. The Fritz personality was channeled on a regular basis during the 60's by another medium in Minas Gerais, Arigo. Exactly parallel medical miracles are associated with these channelings. Queiroz's channeling of Fritz began soon after Arigo's death. Brother Macedo's talent involves a transfer of pure energy, an energy elusive to modern science. In this connection, he tells a story about a session he did at a radio station. When he began to transmit the telergy to the listening audience the meters and oscilloscopes in the studio started to fluctuate wildly and the broadcast was temporarily interrupted for no apparent reason.

The good brother never makes a diagnosis or suggests how his energy will effect an individual. He claims only to be an a agent of the "love of Christ" that flows through him. My suggestion is that Macedo's body and psyche select an energy aspect in contrast to the energy-information ("personality", "entity") channeling of Dr. Queiroz.

Senhor Castro

The case of Senhor Castro, the vice-president of the Federacao Expirita de Sao Paolo, supplements this picture. This sparkling, jovial and articulate gentleman received our group in his office adorned with huge paintings of Spiritist leaders of the past. He described with precise scholarly style the Spiritist view of life and then gradually turned to the interests of the individuals of the group. One woman asked a general question about the nature of the soul. He turned to her and began his reply, "You being a psychologist wfll appreciate . . . " The woman was in fact a psychologist, but Senhor Castro had no way of knowing this in the usual way. He had met us spontaneously and knew none of us. He proceeded to describe in some detail a Spiritist orientation to a problem client tills woman had been working with for some time. He mentioned suicidal tendencies and specifics of family history without any cue from the psychologist.

Throughout the afternoon, this charming fellow nonchalantly mixed information that was intuitively derived with common sense advice and clever aphorisms. He delivered everything in the same even, calm and soothing tone. To an uninvolved observer this might seem to be a simple, friendly conversation.

Senhor Castro's abilities are typical of many intuitives who directly channel information about people, objects and events that defy explanation by ordinary means. He does not enter a special trance state or speak the language of an invisible spirit. He says he never has.

In terms of the present model I would suggest that Sr. Castro selects the information aspect as a channel. This information is filtered through Ws usual personality and is naturally integrated with information derived through normal sensory modes.

The energy aspect apparent in the other two is in the background here. If we use a radio as a metaphor, we might say that Sr. Castro does not receive and broadcast his message on a channel different from his ordinary one when he is being intuitive. Dr. Queiroz, in contrast, is taken over by a strong signal, the charge of which overrides his normal channel and introduces novel style and content. Macedo's channel is changed to a transmission devoid of content, analogous to white noise or a pure tone.

Every ideology argues from specific presuppositions toward conclusions largely determined by its values; the facts of the matter remain sharply true. If we argue about whether the fikes of Dr. Fritz come from the inside or the outside we waste precious time. We must look to the events themselves for their meaning. Experience often leads where the mind fears to tread.

Looked at this way, the apparently unrelated gifts of these special men highlight different facets of the same "miracle". As we experience and describe the details of this miracle, in whatever form it shows itself, our appreciation for the vastness of human possibilities is enhanced. We learn from the voices as well as the silences of spirit.



Matthew Bronson teaches a course at California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco, California about the power of language in affecting consciousness and healing. He also writes for the Applied PSI newsletter and is involved in a video project, Reality, Mind and Language, to be shown soon on cable television in San Francisco. Matthew is organizing a speaker series commencing in January of 1986 at CIIS focusing on powerful experiences in communication called Warriors of the Word.