John of God and the Entities
This article is excerpted from Cosmic Healing: A Spiritual Journey with Aaron and John of God, recently released by North Atlantic Books. In this section, the author recounts some of her experiences with the healer known as John of God at his teaching center, Casa de Dom Inacio, in Brazil. She also makes reference to Aaron, a spirit she began channeling in 1989.
I was eager to know more about the workings of the Casa and about Medium João and the Entities. What I have learned has supported my own healing process; therefore I gladly share it with you, the reader. Since I had no direct access to João to ask questions about his life, most of what I learned about it is anecdotal, drawn from various books and websites. However, I was fortunate that my guide to the Casa, Heather Cumming, knows João personally; therefore, she was able to give me a more specific picture than that contained in the general stories. Heather and Karen Leffler have written a fascinating biography of João, accompanied by photographs taken by Karen. For more detailed information, I recommend their book, John of God.1 There is also much detailed information about João and the Entities, and Spiritism, on my website, including some dialogue with Aaron.
Many of the stories about João are common knowledge that has been passed on by word of mouth, although I cannot verify that they are factual. João Teixeira de Faria, or John of God as he is affectionately called, was born in a small village in central Brazil in the early 1940s, the youngest of six children. He was raised in a town about 105 miles from Abadiânia. His father was a tailor and ran a laundry service; his mother ran a small hotel. The family income was meager, so João as a boy of six started learning his father's trade. At the age of eight, after two years of primary school, he was forced by his family's poverty to begin working, a common happening in Brazil before the social reforms of the 1960s.
At the age of nine, while on a trip to visit family, João predicted with some urgency that a storm would come through the region. He pointed to specific houses that would be flattened. His mother had faith in young João's prediction and they sought shelter. The storm came as foretold, and 40 out of about 150 homes were badly damaged or destroyed. This incident was the first demonstration of João's unusual gifts. João was forced by poverty to move from town to town, searching for work as a manual laborer and a tailor. At sixteen he had the experience that would start his healing mission. He was looking for work and decided to pause under a bridge at a stream to bathe. There he met what appeared to be a beautiful woman who engaged him in spiritual conversation. She suggested that he go to the Redemptor Spiritual Center in Campo Grande where people would be waiting for him. When he arrived at the door, the director of the center asked if he was João Teixeira de Faria. He was surprised to be recognized, but entered the building as invited.
Almost immediately upon entry, João lost conscious awareness. When he awoke he felt ashamed, believing that his hunger had caused him to faint. He was told by the group that the spirit of King Solomon had entered into him and that he had healed many people. He protested, saying that his fainting was surely due to his hunger and exhaustion. Finally the many witnesses persuaded João that he really had incorporated King Solomon, and had healed the people. The director of the center took João to his home, fed him and gave him a comfortable bed for the night. The next day they returned to the center where King Solomon again incorporated, and did more healing work. This is how João began his mission as a healing medium in service to God and humanity. He often says, "I never healed any one; it is God who heals." Over the next few months, the Entities themselves instructed João in mediumship. Word of his abilities got around, and until about the age of twenty-two, he traveled all over Brazil, and was known as João Curador, or John the Healer. Repeatedly arrested and jailed for practicing medicine illegally, João Curador was also persecuted by the religious clergy who felt threatened by his work.
In 1964, he became a full time military tailor, making army uniforms. His healing work continued, and he gained the friendship and protection of the military people with whom he worked. For the next nine years, he was able to continue his mission without persecution.
In 1973, João was directed to Abadiânia by a loving Entity. There he did his healing work, in a one-room hut without electricity. Since that time, the Casa has steadily grown into a much larger operation. João now has over thirty employees at the Casa and many volunteers, serving hundreds, sometimes thousands of seekers per week. The Casa gladly accepts donations, but the donations do not begin to cover the costs of running the Casa. João funds the difference. In addition, he runs a soup kitchen at the south end of the town; and provides many people with the funds for an education. He has improved the lives of the residents of Abadiânia, even as its population has grown and new businesses have sprouted to support visitors to the Casa.
His early life of poverty taught João the importance of money and honed his business and entrepreneurial skills. He owns or has owned two cattle ranches, and several mines. João uses the proceeds from his business ventures to run the Casa and other service projects all over Brazil. Medium João also travels to different centers in Brazil, which have been specifically set up to serve the local Brazilian populations, because many Brazilians cannot afford to travel. Apart from travels within Brazil, Medium João has also traveled to Bolivia, the United States, Argentina, Portugal, Germany, New Zealand, and Peru. In Peru, it was necessary to rent a sports stadium to accommodate the large crowds. During fifteen days there, over twenty thousand people were helped, including the President of Peru, Alberto Fujimori, and his son. Medium João was awarded a Medal of Honor for his work.2
João suffered a stroke in 1987, which left him quite weak and atrophied on one side of his body. When the Entities incorporated, however, his body seemed healthy and vibrant. Eventually, one of the Entities performed visible surgery on João while incorporated, making an incision on João's left front torso. In other words, the Entity incorporated in João did surgery on the body in which he was incorporated. A photograph of this surgery is available for viewing. João made a complete recovery, and remains in good health.
João is married and lives modestly in Anápolis, about twenty miles away from the Casa. Heather Cumming's excellent book3 gives far more detail about these stages of João's life, his early wanderings and persecution, and the founding of the Casa.
This is the bare-bones version of the biographical details for John of God. But in his words, he is finally only an Earthly container for the Entities that incorporate into him and heal through him. João repeatedly says that "only God heals," and this is a profound truth. The Entities at the Casa form a smoothly functioning and enormously complex web that ultimately includes thousands of discarnate beings in addition to the thirty-plus Entities that incorporate into João. The interactions of these Entities with visitors to the Casa, before, during, and after their visits, weave a vast tapestry of healing that can only be partially explained or understood.
One significant modern attempt to understand these sorts of interactions between spirit and the material human world was Spiritualism, a movement prominent in the nineteenth century, and generally linked to the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Spiritism, based on the writings of the French author Allan Kardec in the mid to late 1800s, is an offshoot of Spiritualism. Spiritism has an essentially Christian moral and philosophical edifice, and assumes that reincarnation is for the purposes of spiritual evolution. The dead, who reside in a spiritual world that overlaps our own, can communicate with the living through mediums. These spirits, like humans, are evolving toward greater union with God, and in appropriate circumstances, can offer help and guidance on various matters. Spiritism is not separate from other religions, although it does look to Jesus as a great master. It is based on the premise that spirits exist and are a part of our reality, and it has a willingness to work with spirit. The reader who wishes to know more can find helpful information on a Kardec website.4
This philosophy found fertile soil in Brazil, which is about 80 percent Catholic, but also has a strong indigenous tradition of contacting spirits for help and guidance. Medium João was raised as both a Catholic and a Spiritist. Today, many Brazilians will use the services of Spiritist centers at some point in their lifetime.5 Yet Spiritism is not a separate religion. Spiritists often are more focused on providing services like spiritual healing to the community. Bragdon cites a center in San Paulo that provides "healing, child care, kindergarten, free soup, a library, lectures, artistic and musical productions, parenting classes, sewing and knitting, and consultations with doctors, homeopaths, dentists, or financial planners."6
Yet the more traditional religious, medical, and political authorities do not look favorably upon this movement, and often harass its practitioners, as they harassed João in his early career. The Catholic Church no longer accepts the Doctrine of Reincarnation, and looks dimly upon exorcism or communicating with the Holy Spirit without the services of a priest. The medical community does not accept spiritual healing, and considers it to be a form of superstition practiced by the uneducated. The political authorities argue that Spiritist healers practice medicine and perform surgery without a license. Still, many medical doctors now come to the Casa to observe the work and learn from João and the Entities.
João and his work at the Casa fit firmly within the Spiritist tradition, and João has had lasting friendships with several prominent Spiritist mediums, including Chico Xavier. In like manner, many of the most prominent Casa Entities had former lifetimes as Catholic saints. Despite these close ties, however, the Casa intentionally eschews formal affiliation with Spiritism, Catholicism, or any other particular institution or religion. All paths to the divine are instead venerated, and all who come for treatment are attended to without regard to their beliefs. This broad ecumenism and inclusiveness is evident-objects of worship and pictures of saints from Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, and other major religions are amply displayed in the Casa Current Rooms. It was comforting to me on my first trip to find a photograph of Neem Karoli Baba in the Great Hall. That reassured me that I was where I needed to be.
The Entities are discarnate spirits who choose to serve God and humanity through their work at the Casa. The spiritual hierarchy that governs the Casa begins and ends with God. All workers at the Casa, human and discarnate, have their places and roles, but all act in harmony with divine will. In this context, the clearest answer to the question of the Entities' identities is similar to the explanation that Aaron gives me now as I ask him the question of his own identity: "I am a being of love and light who has finished my development as a human and has no need to incarnate further. As such, I have no separate identity from the divine source, except that which I choose to assume for the comfort and ease of the humans I assist. I am here as an agent of divinity and my sole purpose is to lovingly help other beings in their spiritual development." That said, there are over thirty Entities who incorporate, one at a time, into João's body. Thousands of other Entities are present without incorporation. Many of the Entities have personalities that they choose to display as they work; often based in part on one of their well-known previous human lifetimes.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola is one of the Casa's most prominent Entities, the one from whom the Casa takes its name, Casa de Dom Inácio. He was born in 1491 as Iñago de Oñaz y Loyola, the thirteenth son of a Basque nobleman. He was stubborn and easily angered as a young man. While in the Spanish army, in 1521, his leg was badly broken in a fierce battle, which left him with a permanent limp. During a long and painful recovery, he read the lives of Christ and the Saints. This led to a spiritual awakening, an austere new lifestyle, and a period of intense education. In 1540, he founded the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. Until his death in 1556, he educated others and ministered to the spiritual and material needs of the poor. The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius remains a classic Catholic manual for spiritual growth through meditation, prayer, and confession. According to Dr. Augusto, another of the Entities, Dom Inácio is the light that oversees and protects everything at the Casa. Other Entities with previous lifetimes as well-known religious figures include St. Francis Xavier and King Solomon.
St. Rita is the lovely woman under the bridge, who first directed the young man João to his calling. He later understood her to be the spirit of Saint Rita of Cascia7 who was born in the village of Roccaporena in central Italy in 1381 and died May 22, 1457. She is known as the Saint of the Impossible. Those who bear heavy burdens, especially women, worship her as the patron saint of desperate cases.
The symbol most often associated with St. Rita is the rose. One source8 tells how she would regularly bring food to the poor, which her husband prohibited her from doing. One day, her husband confronted her as she was leaving to bring bread to the poor. The bread was concealed in Rita's robes; when she uncovered the bread as her husband demanded, the bread became roses and Rita was spared her husband's wrath.
At the end of her life, when Rita was bedridden in a convent, a visiting friend asked if there was anything Rita wanted. Rita replied that she would like a rose from the garden of her parents' home. It was January, and this seemed like an impossible request but the friend went to look, and discovered a single brightly colored blossom on the bush just as Rita had described. She brought the rose back to Rita at the convent. The rose is thought to represent God's love for St. Rita and her ability to intercede on behalf of lost causes or impossible cases. St. Rita is often depicted holding roses or with roses nearby. On her feast day, churches and shrines of St. Rita provide their congregations with roses that are blessed by priests during the mass.
Interestingly, during my first visit to the Casa, I often smelled roses as I sat in meditation with my eyes closed. Many people have reported this phenomenon. I had not heard this story or anything of St. Rita at the time I first smelled the roses, and wondered where the scent was coming from. There were many other flowers in the room, but no roses. Now, whenever I experience St. Rita's energy, there is a mix of strength and gentleness, and the smell of roses. I often feel moved to address her as Mother. Since Medium João does not incorporate female Entities, St. Rita works in the background.
The first time she clearly appeared and spoke to me in meditation, Dr. Augusto was doing very deep work on my eyes and energy field. Within that session, I was aware of very painful past life karma related to the eyes. I was crying and didn't know if I could do what was asked-to look deeply into the situation and forgive. Suddenly there was a loving, supportive energy in my meditation, holding my head, and carrying with her the intense smell of roses and quiet reassurances that she would help me. Her love allowed me to go on.
Now she comes to me often, just lending her loving presence when I'm doing challenging spiritual work. She rarely speaks to me; her greatest power for me is just the love she brings. When she does speak, I experience her thoughts more as images than words. The image usually invites me to see the larger picture that I have resisted, and supports my opening to that picture and its implications.
Some of the Entities who do incorporate have a past history as medical doctors in a recent past life. An example is Dr. Oswaldo Cruz, who lived from 1872-1917. Graduating at nineteen from medical school, he quickly went on to become a brilliant bacteriologist at the Pasteur Institute, producing vaccines for smallpox, the bubonic plague, and other diseases. At the Casa, Dr. Cruz rarely announces himself, but his identity can be deduced from his mannerisms, an interest in communicable diseases, and a concern about wristwatches, which disturb his current. He can be quite direct in his communications. He powerfully radiates love and compassion, and kindly cares for all Casa visitors. Dr. Cruz is also the Entity who later directed me to the specific tones of tuning forks that would support my relearning to hear, and is the one who has coached me in their use. I have been deeply moved by his patience.
Another familiar medical figure is Dr. Augusto de Almeida, one of the most frequently incorporated Entities at the Casa. Dr. Augusto worked in the military in one previous lifetime and as a rubber tapper in another. In his last incarnation, he worked as a gold miner. In addition, he was a physician and surgeon before the development of anesthesia and, therefore, saw much suffering. Although he appears to have a serious and authoritarian manner, which both gives and elicits respect, people at the Casa respond to his kind and deeply loving energy with their own love and affection. I am told that he has mellowed through the years into a less stern personality.
Many Entities who incorporate choose not to divulge their names or details of their personalities at all, and others give little beyond their names. Dr. Jose Valdivino is one of the Entities about whom little is known. He is very gentle and loving, with an energy that is especially suited for healing paraplegics. Perhaps a judge in a former life, Dr. Valdivino only says when asked, that he was a "protector of families." Dr. Augusto has been the Entity who has directed the healing of my ears and eyes. I've come to think of him as the specialist. Dr. Valdivino, on the other hand, has been what I think of as my primary care physician. When I meditate at home, away from the Casa, Dr. Valdivino will work with me to help to open the energy field. This opening is vital before bringing very high energy into a specific part of the body. Once the field is open, Dr. Augusto will come in and work with intense energy to the eyes and ears. My entire body shakes with the force of this energy.
For several years, up to the writing of this book, I have felt Dr. Valdivino's energy with me almost daily in meditation. He comes to support and direct the energy work that is needed in the body. His support has also been very present as I have worked with karma. His help has been profound. Much of it has been related to helping me to feel which chakras are closed, and then to open to and heal the issues involved therein.
Dr. Valdivino is not there constantly, as Aaron is. But when I request his help, either he comes immediately or another of the Entities comes to tell me that Dr. Valdivino has been detained, but he or she has come in his place. Once just a few days after I had left the Casa to return to the U.S., Dr. Valdivino was incorporated and said to Heather, "I am helping your deaf friend. Tell her I am helping her."
Most of these Entities have worked through João for many years. Occasionally new Entities do incorporate. One newer Entity whom I have found very loving is Jose Penteado. I am told that Jose Penteado is especially willing to explain what is being done, which many people find very helpful.
In addition to the Entities who incorporate into Medium João, there are literally thousands of mostly anonymous spirits that assist with the various material and non-physical services at the Casa. These Entities do not incorporate in João's body, but are present nonetheless. People tell of experiencing an Entity in their pousada rooms, where deep energy awakens them at night. An incomplete list of the services performed by these helping spirits would include energizing the holy water, soup, and herbs; removing stitches after surgery, which happens wherever in the world we happen to be; and assisting with various tasks in the Current Rooms, infirmary, and crystal beds. These beings move outward over the entire Earth to support the care and healing of the Casa visitors, both before and after their Casa visits. Most people who decide to visit the Casa begin to experience their energy weeks and even months before the visit. This should not be surprising. We all have spirit plane guides who are present with us all the time, though most of us are unaware of that presence. The Casa Entities and our personal guides work together to provide for our needs in very loving ways.
1. Heather Cumming and Karen Leffler, John of God: The Brazilian Healer Who's Touched the Lives of Millions (New York: Atria Books, May, 2007).
3. Cumming and Leffler, John of God.
4. Spiritism site based on the teachings of Allan Kardec,
5. Emma Bragdon, Spiritual Alliances: Discovering the Roots of Health at
the Casa de Dom Inácio (Woodstock, VT: Lightening Up Press, February
6. Ibid., 18.
7. Some information on this and other saints was drawn from Richard P.
McBrien, Lives of the Saints: From Mary and St. Francis of Assisi to John
XXIII and Mother Teresa (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2001).
8. Rev. Joseph Sicardo, St. Rita of Cascia: Saint of the Impossible (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, Inc.).
From Cosmic Healing: A Spiritual Journey with Aaron and John of God by Barbara Brodsky, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2011 by Barbara Brodsky. Reprinted by permission of publisher.
Image by Marufish, courtesy of a Creative Commons license.