Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida - Memórias e Reflexões
onward to the city of stars

A Dive Into Memories


In one of the interview sessions, we were accompanied by Keron-E, who had helped to organize the meeting. He had come to Rio de Janeiro especially for the occasion, attending an invitation from Euclydes, who had agreed to speak more in depth about Paulo Coelho.

Euclydes started telling us that, when they first met the writer, Coelho was living in Voluntários da Pátria Street, in Botafogo – a neighborhood in the South side of Rio – and didn’t seem to be going through any financial difficulties. “Supported by his parents, he lived in a beautiful apartment”. Euclydes interrupted the conversation to go to a bedroom that was attached to the living room: “I’ll show you a rarity”. He asked me to stop the tape recorder. From inside the wardrobe in the other room, he took a plastic black folder with letters from Paulo Coelho and a shoe box with tapes recorded by Marcelo Motta. We talked about the material for some time in off, before getting back to the interview.

With the book in hands, I showed Euclydes his name in the name index section. There were nine references to him all together. I tried to go over all of them, but didn’t succeed in the attempt.
I started by the fragment which said that Paulo Coelho “felt as if he was a disciple of the Demon Beast Phalanx. Determined to integrate the devil’s forces that had own over from Lennon to Charles Manson, he began his procedure to be accepted into the O.T.O as a Probationer, the first level in the sect hierarchy”. Euclydes made a technical correction: “O.T.O does not have a Probationer. It never did”. As for the rest of the piece, it reminded me of what we had already discussed on Thelema’s supposed satanic connections.     

At the occasion of his first meeting with Motta, Euclydes was working at Petrobras. He said that after graduating in Economics from Faculty of Valença, he spent some time working as a bank clerk in Rio, before being selected for a position at the Oil Company. He interrupted me laughing when I read about him being, at the time when he met the writer, the company’s “graduated employee”. “This is wrong! I simply was a terminal operator, who pulled ship's cables”. Comment to which I added: “Resident of the fluminense city of Paraíba do Sul, located 150Km far from Rio”. “Oh, yes, back then I was the manager of the department”, he corrected himself.

The next fragment was about the message in which Paulo Coelho spoke of the letter he had received from Motta, who, through the correspondence, forbade the writer to contact him directly. Having frater Zaratrusta as instructor, Euclydes said: "As usual, Marcelo had sent him a rude letter. When Coelho received the news, he wrote to frater Z: ‘I’m forbidden to contact him, unless I do it through you". It was really comforting to have a well-mannered man such as Euclydes as instructor, instead of the obnoxious Marcelo Motta, who used to kick his subordinates around".

"Thank God he kicked people around, because if he did otherwise…", Euclydes said, amused. He compared the copy of the letter with its original version and showed us some other originals, including a note that had been hand-written by Coelho, who had the habit of typing all his letterers, while travelling in the United States, in 1974. "I asked him to buy me a book there, but it seems that he did not have the spirit to shop", he mocked. Euclydes then confessed not to remember how exactly Marcelo informed him of the disciples’ transference. Besides Coelho, Euclydes would have also "inherited" the task of instructing Motta’s own partner, Claudia Canuto. According to Euclydes, this symbolised the respect the group's leader had for his main disciple.

"Marcelo must have talked to me on the phone, he must have called me. At that time, I was in Paraíba do Sul. So, we used to spend a long time on the phone, every time I had questions. Even so, he would always send me letters as well. I still have most letters Marcelo sent me. But I don’t have them with me now, they are elsewhere", he explained, when I asked him to also show us that correspondence.

He said not to recollect the attempt, recounted by Paulo Coelho in the book, to set up a course based on the techniques recommended by the order in Mato Grosso do Sul. In this case, the alleged lessons would be about teachings of Hermes Trismegisto, a Greek-Egyptian mythical figure who would represent the great and wise God of magic, described by Fernando as having "13 commandments as megalomaniac as Crowley’s".

After that, he spoke of how Paulo Coelho would use his work as a journalist in the order’s favour. "If he got a position there (at Globo) he would dispose of real means to propagate O.T.O’s ideology. Many times, in his letters to frater Zaratrusta, he made it clear that his weekly page at the Tribuna was at the sect’s disposal. Nobody at the order had ever asked him to do such a thing.”

Euclydes showed us the letters, whose contents I find myself unable to publish. He gave me verbal authorization to use them, but not a written one. His wife, who called me after the second part of the interview was published, also denied my authorization request. Resigned, he said that Paulo Coelho had failed to understand one of the main lessons of The Book of the Law. “...argue not; convert not; talk not overmuch”. To be a thelemite is not to go out and about trying to evangelize everybody”, he said. “Most of the time he suggested those things we either didn’t even reply or simply said that we would think about it later.” He picked on the utilization of the word "sect" and ended up digressing into a polemic topic of the occult practices: patents, documents that attest to an individual the ownership of a specific thought lineage.

O.T.O is not a sect, it is a Masonic Order. It might not be recognized by the so-called ‘regular’ Masonic Orders, though. I don’t know who labels who. The Grand Lodge calls itself regular. One or the other is wrong. I’ve always heard of the Great Eastern of Brazil. My initiation was in the Great Eastern of Brazil, which would be the only true Masonic Order in Brazil! However, if you ask in the lodges of the Grand Lodge, people will tell you that these regulars are the only real lodges of the Grand Lodge. It was exactly this dilemma and these doubts that made me get away from the Freemasonry. All this was, let’s put it this way, a political dispute. ‘Ah, I’m the one who is right’. Who gave Moses a diploma? Was it Jehovah? Oh for God’s sake! Do you know what I mean? No one can say with certainty: ‘I’m the only true one’. If you go back in History, you will realize that at some point the thing just emerged, appeared".

He smirked, what seemed to be his common behaviour when discussing certain topics, then said he had more than twenty patents, from different orders. Despite the fact that he hadn’t even gotten in touch with some of them, they simply sent him the document. I moved on to a fragment which mentioned that the writer to be, as he was at the time, seemed to be more dazzled with the powerfulness of magic than with drugs. Euclydes shrugged and replied angry. “When I met Paulo Coelho and Raul Seixas, they already did drugs. It wasn’t O.T.O, nor A.’.A’ that made them do drugs!” After that input, he agreed that Paulo Coelho seemed to be interested in the order, but also a little dazzled. “He was fine... how can I say it? He saw magic in the same way a child sees a magician on a stage: producing rabbits from his hat... Magic has nothing to do with what these people say about it. It is something totally different from what they say”.

I interrupted his comment to remind him of our discussion on “psychology” and that made him calm down. From then on, we got into another digression, this time into the definition of magic. He recovered Crowley’s classic definition, “Magick is the Science and Art of causing Change to occur in conformity with Will", and tried to separate its meaning from any kind of mysticism. At certain point, I made an attempt to bring him back to the conversation about the book:

The plan was to create a community inspired in the experience Aleister Crowley had at the beginning of the twentieth century, in Sicily. The place chosen to host the City of the Stars, as Raul named it, was Paraíba do Sul, place where the initiated Euclydes Lacerda, a.k.a Frater Zaratustra, lived. The baiano rock musician succumbed so rapidly to drugs and magic, that a year after the first experimentations, he bore little resemblance to the executive who showed up in the news room of the magazine The Dove to speak to Paulo Coelho about flying saucers.”  

Euclydes requested me to reread the piece, as he had missed the quote. I repeated, emphasising the main names, and asked him if it was stipulated that he would participate in the management of the community. “The piece of land in which it would be built was mine. I thought of giving it for the community, but didn’t do it. There wasn’t a chance to participate in the City of the Stars project. Instead of ceding the land, I built a house there – which I sold some time later. I had pneumonia, a heart attack and had to leave the place. At the time, I was involved in the New Æon Society (or Age of Aquarius).

I told him that besides the Alternative Society or The City of the Stars, the two men also mentioned the New Æon Society in the song New Æon, in the homonymous record. In an excerpt, sang in the last verses, Raul Seixas says: “Alternative Society, New Æon Society, is a shoe in each foot/ is the right to be atheist or to have faith in God. It is to have your plate full of food you like the most/ to be carried by or carry people you like/ It is to have the right to take risks, have pleasure/ even the right to let... Jesus suffer”.

There was the New Æon Society and these other ones they wanted to create, but as far as I knew they didn’t do anything to make it happen. Did they do something about it? I don’t really know. The New Æon Society was created, it is registered, and it worked out for some time in Paraíba do Sul. But at this point, Raul Seixas and Paulo Coelho were not in game anymore. Neither was Marcelo Motta, by the way. Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida was the one who was there. The New Æon Society was registered under my and my wife’s names. At the time I wasn’t close to Marcelo anymore”, he said, showing us the yellowish document that attested the group subscription with the Register of Legal Entities (CNPJ). 

Raise Thy Thirsty Hand

The following section is about the “bleak week” of Paulo Coelho and Adalgisa Rios, his girlfriend at the time – in other words, it covers their encounter with the devil in his apartment and the couple’s arrest by the military dictatorship's repressive police force, who tortured them both. According to Morais’ narration, when in trouble, Paulo called Euclydes, who’d have agreed to meet with the disciple, but sent Marcelo Ramos Motta instead. Unlike the episode when I mentioned Paulo’s trip to Mato Grosso, this time, Euclydes’s reaction was emphatic:
Wait a minute: This never happened! He did not call me, he did not tried to reach me, did not arrange a meeting, either for the daytime, or for the night-time. This thing you are talking about never happened!”   

According to Morais, Motta’s words to Paulo Coelho were: “You always knew that the survival of the fittest was the rule among us. Do you remember that I taught you this? In this rule, who can take it is in the game, who is can’t is out. You were weak and you are out no”.
Euclydes pondered for a while. Then he said, almost to himself only, that it is difficult for a layman such as Morais to deal with a member’s initiation process. He spoke for almost two minutes, time during which we did not interrupt him.

“If you don’t study for a college entrance exam, you are left out of college. If you study, you are in. The same thing happens in an initiation. If you follow the lessons seriously, respectfully and with love, you will achieve a point in which certain things will happen to you. If you are a freshman and have to get through a couple of pranks as well! Don’t you? You have to be tested. Nobody gets to pilot an airplane or a jet without passing an evaluation. The person has to be tested first, so he can prove that he is able pilot a plane! The initiation follows the same principle! There a couple of critical points that we call ordeals. You must succeed these challenges. If you fail them, you are out. Then you have to try again! Marcelo Motta used to say: If you fall, do as the song say, ‘get up, shake off the dust and bounce back!’ Will I get desperate if something happens to me? As it already did and as it is happening right now! I’m going through a rough patch at the moment! I’m being tested from all sides. Does that mean that the devil is doing all this to me? No, it doesn’t! I’m the one who is doing all this to me. Things that were kept deep inside my own self, my own inner self, since my infancy and through all my youth are surfacing now. Who believes in reincarnation could even say that I carried these things over from other lives. Paulo Coelho had a test which he couldn’t bear. As I told you, he had an encounter with his own shadow. We have both, a good and a bad side in ourselves. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be light. There is no light without the combination of negative and positive poles. Then again, to be afraid of your own self is another problem. That doesn’t mean, though, that I’ll run to Edir Macedo asking for forgiveness because I’ve sinned”. 

According to him, after that event Paulo Coelho didn’t get in touch with him anymore. Euclydes said that once they had a chance encounter in a mechanic's garage in Botafogo. He didn’t remember when or where exactly it happened, but recounted the dialogue in which neither of them brought up initiation issues.

We had a coffee and chatted for a while. He asked me how I was doing and I replied: ‘I’m acquiring a lot of experience at Petrobras because I’m in touch with crewmen from ships of other countries. I’m learning things about these places when I talk to them’. There were Russian ships... at the time of the Revolution, if you know what I mean. I released two Russian ships, Siberian ships, American ships. I helped to fuel up an American ship that was maneuvering on our shore. I got in touch with the Americans and one of the ship’s officials happened to be a Freemason, so he talked to me and all. My conversation with Paulo was along these lines, very nonreligious so to speak (laughs). We talked about cars and some other things”, he said.  

I then mentioned the letter written by Motta’s former disciple, who asked to leave the order. One of the peculiarities of A.’.A.’. was the lack of group assignments. Each pupil would only communicate with his instructor and, hardly ever, with other disciples. By the order’s rules, Motta didn’t have any authority over Euclydes’ disciples. “Paulo Coelho took an oath. So, ethically.....”, Euclydes started. Seeing where he wanted to get at, I tried to complete his line. “The right thing for him to do was to ask you to leave...” he interrupted me: “Ask me! So to me, even after all that happened, he is still on trial in the A.’.A.’., and, in such case, he is unfortunately under my jurisdiction! UN-FOR-TU-NATE-LY!"

After making some effort, Euclydes remembered having another encounter with Paulo Coelho “when the writer lived in Copacabana, in underground apartment, or something like that. By the way, it was a big apartment. He was setting up a book-publishing business. We talked about the possible publication of a book I was writing”, he said with a sigh that conveyed an old resentment. “This book was... that is a long and sad story”, he continued with a wistful smile. “Let’s move on to it”, I insisted. He refused at first, but then accepted to summarize the episode.

This book was sent to a publisher, it also was reviewed there; I don’t really know the terms. I even went to São Paulo to close the deal, but this publishing house got a warning from its main office in the United States saying: ‘If you guys publish Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida’s book you will never publish any of our books again’. I will not name the publisher...but you know where the prohibition came from, don’t you? It came from the North American O.T.O” he explained referring to the group known as Caliphate, which won a legal battle against Motta for the copyright of some of Crowley’s works.

In one of the rare occasions he resorted to theatrical subterfuges, Euclydes pointed his finger to Keron-E, who had organized the interview. “He knows who I am and I have great respect for him. The guys from the United States are very afraid of me”, he added as if asking for the brotherhood colleague’s corroboration. He then vented:

The problem is that: after Marcelo and I got apart, I went on divulging Thelema, through the Order Knights of the Round Table. This order doesn’t exist anymore, but, back then, it operated in Paraiba do Sul as a subsidiary to the New Æon Society. They disseminated the thelêmica philosophy and literature. Later, I founded the Order of the Knights of Thelema. Initially, it only operated in Paraíba do Sul, but after some time it also covered Juiz de Fora. At the time, the leader in Juiz de Fora was Tarcísio (Oliveira). When he passed away the order was over, it died with him. I didn’t go on with it because I came to the conclusion that this group thing doesn’t work at all! A.’.A.’.’s style works better. Who is in the A.’.A.’. belongs there and that is it. Even though I’m in the A.’.A.’., I don’t interfere in the life of anyone else who belongs there and vice-versa. We maintain our friendship, our brotherhood and keep in touch even with those who have quarrels with us! And they stay in the A.’.A.’. as well ".In A.’.A.’., he explained, there are no group rituals, as the ones practiced in freemasonry and other orders. “There are no group ritual! Any order or organization that calls itself A.’.A.’. and says the opposite is lying, or is mistaken, as Marcelo Motta used to say”, he emphasized, mentioning one of Motta’s famous sentences. He took the chance to stress that in spite of some fall outs, he had a profound admiration for his former instructor. 

Recipe for Chaos


As the Italian saying goes: “translator, traitor”. It is likely that Marcelo Motta knew the phrase. If that was the case, he didn’t pay attention to it. As he was an English teacher, he took over the task to translate Crowley’s complicated writings, with the challenge to preserve occultist messages that were between the lines. Expert in English language, the sorcerer master used to play with many kinds of codes, abusing of word games and dual meaning sentences. He also applied Qabalah techniques (Gematria, Notariqon e Temurah) to his work. He used to form words with the first letter of each word of a given sentence, create abbreviations, find equivalent words through numerology... there was no limits to his imagination.

Trying to become the spokesperson for the Law of the Thelema, Paulo Coelho showed, in his letters, concern with the transmission of the “right” message; reason why he requested Euclydes to give him detailed explanations on the topic. That was a mistake, said the wizard’s former instructor. The foundation of thelemic philosophy was experience, the search for one’s own way. If one was thought how to find his way, there would be no free will. That would just be some other kind of slavery.

After Paulo Coelho and Raul Seixas did that divulgation work, anything else was transmitted to the public in such a way. Taking into account the effects of channels like internet and other new technologies, how do you see the way how information on the Thelema is disseminated nowadays?” How do I see it? In my opinion this is a real chaos. A real chaos!”, he said bursting out into laughter with Keron-E. “However, I must make a point, and he (Keron-E) can tell you whether I’m right or wrong: One can read every single book in Thelema – each and every one of them – and still miss the secrets they contain. The Book of the Law, for example, was published and read and commented upon by everyone. However, how many people really grasped its secrets up to this day? Only few are chosen.”

Answering another of my questions, he affirmed that no one can call themselves “the holders of the true Thelema”. In this system, acquiring knowledge depends on having concrete experiences, that are personal and untransferable – it is also essential to respect the basic principle according to which “every man and every woman is a star”, he used the prosaic example.

That does not exist. I find it funny... who is genuine and who is not... Truth is what is inside you! If you know the truth you can judge something based on your intuition. You might not believe the truth because to believing is different than knowing! Marcelo used to tell me to perform an asana (a Yoga posture) and hold the pose for five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes or until I could stand it. And only when I managed to hold the posture for an hour, I understood why he had asked me to do that. Then I figure out the secret, which I can’t reveal to no one. How will I reveal it? How could you tell me whether I have a toothache? Are you able to tell someone this kind of thing? Are able to convey what a toothache feels like, if you never had one? I know how a toothache feels like because I’ve already had one. But who have never had one doesn’t know how it feels like!

It’s impossible to teach certain kinds of knowledge as they can only be attained with practice. In such case you can only indicate the means through which someone can achieve something”, the interviewee’s guest summed up.

“Do you still have any direct disciple?” I asked Euclydes. 

No, I don’t have any. Neither I want to. It’s over. I’m retired now.”

But you left a few in the field...”

Yes, I did!”, he replied with certain pride. “One of them is in front of you. There are others as well. Some of whom don’t like him! But all of them are our brothers”, he added. Responsible of A.'. A.'.’s website, that is accessed by internet users about two thousand times a month; Keron-E explained that he was taught by one of Euclydes’s pupils, whose biography is available on the webpage. The link to the text is accessed around 130 times a month, mainly by foreigners from the United States. “Nowadays we talk about websites, links; I’m not familiar with this jargon”, he grumbled. “Would there be some way to filter the information?”, I asked him. “No, there is nothing to do about it; we must let the information flow. Thelema is about complete freedom”, he said.

I mentioned Paulo Coelho again saying that, in my opinion, his concept of “personal legend” (personal myth) traces back to Crowley’s search for the “true will”. Euclydes confirmed. “His first book was heavily based on this! ThePilgrimage. (In the Portuguese title which is Diário de um Mago) he even uses the word diary which is utilized by the A.’.A.’., isn’t it? (Referring to the title in Portuguese, he goes on) Why was that? Didn’t he want to detach himself from all that? What was that thing of receiving a sword on the top of a hill all about? And why did he present a samurai sword? These are details that a layman doesn’t grasp. The wizard’s sword is double-edged, it deals with the idea of duality”, he said.

I moved on to the controversial fragment in which Fernando Morais describes how The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, one the core rites of the A.’A.’., is performed. It was outlined in the Liber O vel Manus et Sagitæ, one more book written by Crowley – miscellanea meant to “a widening of the horizon of the mind and an improvement of the control of the mind” of the students –, in which he adapts practices used by preceding groups, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

The description of the Ritual of the Pentagram in Liber O presented by him is concise. The practitioner starts by making the sign of the cross in an inverted way (touching first the right shoulder as opposed the left), while reciting a little prayer in Hebrew. “For thine is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, for ever, amen”. This is followed by the invocation of other Hebrew names, beginning with the letters that form Yahweh, one of the names God was called by in the Old Testament – yod, he, vau, He –, and including Adonai, the Lord, another name ascribed to Him. At last, he invokes the names of the four archangels (Raphael, Gabriel, Michael and Uriel) and visualizes flaming pentagrams and hexagrams. This ritual is used to conjure up or avoid basic kinds of energy, like water, air, earth and fire.

The ritual was described in the book The Mage: “Another ceremony that was frequently repeated was the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram, witchcraft that consisted of laying a white sheet on the floor and drawing, with green paint, a five pointed star on it. The design was surrounded by a string soaked in sulphur, with which Paulo would draw the symbol of Mars. When the lights were switched off, a single lamp was hung from the ceiling facing the centre of the pentagram and projecting a beam. With a sword in hand, entirely naked and facing South, he would step into the centre of the sheet, perform de dragon asana – Yoga position in which the person squats on the floor – and jump, like a frog, while invoking the devil out loud repeatedly.

At first Euclydes laughed, but when I finished reading the piece he got exasperated:

For God’s sake... I don’t even want to... Honestly, it’s impossible to comment upon this. I taught Paulo Coelho how to perform The Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. And that is not what I taught him!

It seems that he is describing a medieval ritual”, Keron-E remarked, also annoyed.

Well, he performed this because he wanted to. No one told him to do it! I’m sorry, but I will not make any comments on this fragment. I really find it ridiculous, so ridiculous... I see nothing to comment upon!”, he roared.

We concluded the interview shortly after that.


Soon: Post Scriptum - What happened after his death?