The Valley of the Dawn (Vale do Amanhecer) is one of the largest alternative religions in Brazil. It was founded in the 1960s by a charismatic medium known as Aunt Neiva, and today claims affiliated temples throughout Brazil, the United States, and Europe. Its doctrine blends elements of diverse origins with an esoteric metaphysics that emphasizes the hidden connections behind the world of appearances, promising adherents a path to spiritual evolution.
Aunt Neiva claimed to have been initiated into esoteric wisdom by a Tibetan Master of Wisdom, earning her mestrado or master’s degree. She brought this knowledge to her followers by institutionalizing it in a multi-level system of initiation known as the hierarchy of the mestrado. At each level, the initiate is said to develop self-knowledge and spiritual powers. These transformations, otherwise invisible to ordinary senses, are manifested through an astonishing array of titles, insignia, symbols, and ritual vestments. My research examines how ostensibly hidden capacities are made visible, materializing what is otherwise an interior process linked with the acquisition of esoteric knowledge and powers believed to transform the self.