Have you ever heard of a religion that worships aliens? Have you ever been to a town that is built merely on the belief that humans are the descendants of extraterrestrial beings? Have you ever met people who believe in intergalactic travels? No? Then let me introduce you to Vale do Amanhecer, which unambiguously translates to Valley of the Dawn or Sunrise Valley. Situated an hour outside Brazil’s capital, Brasilia, Vale do Amanhecer is a spiritual haven for a rapidly growing religious community known as the Jaguars.
A community of once 300 now expanding to more than 40000 inhabitants, Vale do Amanhecer may look like a theme park at first, but it is precisely designed to reflect the religion’s complex, all-comprising doctrines and beliefs that combine a diversity of religions and civilizations, including Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, the Incas and Mayans, as well as ancient Egypt. On the outskirts of Planaltina, lies this intriguing community’s main temple featuring a pyramid, a spaceship-like temple, a six-pointed praying center, and many ellipse-shaped sculptures.
Jaguars or the mediums of Vale do Amenhecer are worshippers who believe in alien reincarnation and that extraterrestrial beings have visited earth time and over throughout history to help human civilization grow. They consider themselves to be aliens in the human form of their latest incarnation from the various earthly roles they had previously taken across many cultures and religions throughout the era. These roles include Spartan warrior, Mayan princes, Egyptian pharaohs, and more.
History of Vale do Amanhecer
Valley of the Dawn has an origin story that is even more fascinating than its inhabitant strange yet interesting beliefs. In 1959, a widow with four children, Neiva Chaves Zelaya, better known as Aunt Neiva, was working as a truck driver in Brasilia, when she began to experience psychic episodes, which she later believed to be visits by spirits from outer space.
When the mediumistic phenomena began to manifest spontaneously, Neiva sought help in Catholicism, psychiatry, and eventually, found her explanation in Spiritism. Neiva claimed to have astral visits to Tibet where had undertaken apprenticeship from a monk named Master Umahã and was primarily taught by Pai Seta Branca or “Father White Arrow”, who was a spirit guide that helped her establish the core foundation of Amanhecer. Father White Arrow is depicted in statues and drawings today as a native South American leader.
Tia Neiva along with her partner, Mario Sassi, founded what has now become Brazil’s fastest-growing religious movement. The primary society members were mostly abandoned children and poor farmers from Brasilia taken in by the couple. Not long after, many visitors and patients who came seeking spiritual guidance from Tia Neiva, also became mediums themselves.
In the earliest stage of development, the society had to face a number of hurdles, moving from various locations and changing many names until they found their calling at a farm 50km northeast from Brasilia. In 1969, Temple Mãe or Mother Temple was established and the name ‘Vale do Amanhecer’ was adopted.
Since then, Jaguars have expanded massively; with around 600 temples throughout Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Japan, Bolivia, Uruguay, United Kingdom and the US, the religious movement claims to have 800,000 members worldwide.
Neiva Chaves Zalaya died of a respiratory disease in 1985 but her legacy still goes on. Her children now continue her work and are part of the sect.
Rituals of the Valley
As the 70% of the inhabitants are either mediums or have close tie to Vale do Amanhecer, main activities are based on religious rituals around Mother Temple. This diverse society holds its most important ritual of the year on Labor Day. They believe the mediums have power to communicate with good and bad spirits. The mediums work in pairs during the rituals, helping troubled spirits find peace. Followers also believe the rituals help these mediums make amends from their past lives.
Even after having thousands of followers globally, mainstream society and religious groups in Brazil often disregard this vibrant community. They are commonly categorized as cults. The Evangelicals who have built churches near the community, often target members of the Valley, believing the worshipers are possessed by the devil.
Disregarding all the shuns, the Valley continues devotedly, offering spiritual healing as a form of therapy for some of the many discontent souls. The followers have a strong believe in second chances and help guide those who have lost all hope in living.
Believer or not, Vale do Amanhecer offers peace, tranquility, and the sense of divinity to everyone who comes knocking at their door.