The Dennis Wheatley Library of the Occult
Pedro McGregor
Sphere, 1976

The original title of this book by Pedro McGregor was The Moon and Two Mountains, but that gives no idea what it is about and I found it so interesting that I should like a lot of people to read it.

The inhabitants of Brazil are like those of no other country. There are, of course, the very rich and the very poor, but blacks, browns and whites meet on terms of complete equality.

The reason for this goes far back into history. For many centuries the Moors ruled Portugal. They were the rich who built the splendid palaces; so the Portuguese ideal of beauty was not, as in northern Europe, the golden-haired Princess, but the dark-browed, sloe-eyed Sultana. It followed that, when they first arrived in Brazil, they found the black-haired Indian girls attractive and, later, the pick of the young arabs and negresses imported in the slave ships were even more to their taste. The result of this was that, indulging in widespread promiscuity, they elevated their favourite concubine to the position of wife in all but name and allowed her to rule their household.

The attitude of the Castilian Spaniards, who went to Mexico and Peru, and that of the French and English, who colonised the West Indies, was quite different. They took coloured mistresses but continued to regard them as slaves.

In all the territories to which negroes were imported from Africa they brought their own gods with them, while the Europeans brought their Christian priests. Where Spaniards, French and English ruled a sharp division became general. The blacks were arbitrarily baptised but continued to practise Voodoo; the whites continued as devotees of their own Church.

But this was not so in Brazil. There, having elevated blacks to a much higher status, the Portuguese, while nominally remaining Christians, were far more vulnerable to the African beliefs of their mistress-wives and nurses.

The innumerable unions between whites, blacks and native Indians led to a population of every shade from bronzed-white to coal-black and the vast majority, irrespective of class, accepted a religion with elements of the Christian, the Mohammedan and the Amazonian, but dominated by the Yorubas who came from Southern Nigeria.

It was known generally as Marcumba, but in its earlier days, was divided into three sects owing to the different parts of Africa from which the negroes came: Candomblé, Umbanola and Quimbanda. Only the last of these resembled Voodoo and practised Black Magic. The others devoted themselves to healing by calling down occult forces.

During the middle of the last century a new development occurred. In 1857 a Frenchman, who took the name of Kardec published The Book of Spirits. It consisted of one thousand and eighty-six questions and answers and exerted a great influence on the whole nation.

In Kardec’s early days of prominence he was convinced that only individuals with a high level of culture were capable of acting as true mediums; but he was persuaded to attend a séance held by illiterate jungle dwellers. There the spirit control, through the sorcerer, advised him to have certain legal documents amended, otherwise he might lose a property he owned. To his amazement at his next séance with cultured people the same spirit came through and repeated that advice.

This led to a fusion of the different sects and the whole is now termed Spiritism to distinguish it from Spiritualism. In his book Pedro McGregor alleges that at the present day less than ten per cent of the population of Brazil are true Roman Catholics; the other ninety per cent follow the New Religion. But their meetings are held with the greatest secrecy.

I have often stated that I have never attended an occult ceremony. This is true; but I came very near to doing so on my last visit to Brazil. An old friend of mine in the British Embassy had laid on a special party for the night of my arrival in Rio. With our wives, in two cars, we drove some twenty miles into the jungle. We were accompanied by the Chief of Police, two policemen and two policewomen, in case the presence of foreigners was resented and there was trouble.

We pulled up behind a long line of cars amongst which were several Rolls Royces. Then by a steep path we entered the jungle and arrived at an open space about the size of a tennis court, surrounded by stands on which were seated hundreds of people, men only on one side, women only on the other. At one end of the tennis court there was a long altar covered with offerings of all descriptions. An old negro in a battered hat, a shoddy white suit and smoking a clay pipe, did a little shuffling dance to the centre of the court; some fifty young girls of all colours, clothed from the neck to the ground in voluminous white dresses, formed a line and began to sway backwards and forwards while the old priest pattered slowly in front of them.

Thunder rolled then the rain started. Within minutes it became a tropical deluge. Warmish water streaked down so thickly that one could not see more than ten feet ahead. The whole scene was blotted out. There was no alternative than to abandon the ceremony. With great difficulty, drenched to the skin, we found our women and our cars, then drove slowly back to that other world of normal Europeans.

I used this experience, with a much more detailed description of it, in the opening chapters of my book The White Witch of the South Seas.

The question remains, is it a good or a bad thing to make contact with spirits? I have always been opposed to it on two grounds. One, that when talking to a spirit through a medium there can be no proof that the spirit really is that of the dead relative or friend one wishes to contact. It may, in some cases, be an evil entity that is impersonating them. The other is that it cannot be right for anyone to expel their own spirit from their body and allow another spirit to take possession of it; which is what the majority of mediums have to do.

Nevertheless, as what Pedro McGregor tells us about Brazil is based on fact, my own beliefs may well be wrong. Although Christianity is the official religion supported and financed by the Government, the Group Confucius, founded by Kardec in 1873, and now having no less than three thousand two hundred and fourteen branches, provides an infinitely greater sum to support one thousand, six hundred and ninety-five social assistance establishments.

As with every other country in the world, a small minority of the people in Brazil practise Black Magic. But the vast majority are Spiritists whose rituals are devoted to healing and the development of right thinking.

Some thirty years ago Jerônimo Candido Gomide and his wife founded a settlement solely for Spiritists. It is now the city of Palmelo. In it there is no prison, no police; because no crimes are ever committed in it.