Chico Xavier was a famous Brazilian spiritual leader and philanthropist who claimed to channel spirits.
Xavier is widely seen as the continuation of the Spiritist movement started by the Frenchman Allan Kardec in 1850s France.
With a message intended for all humanity that fused into various mainstream religions including Christianity, Xavier claimed to be bringing messages that would improve people’s ability to love, serve and care for one another as God intended.
The top 10 teachings of Brazilian spiritual leader Chico Xavier
1) Reincarnation is real
Xavier is widely seen as the continuation of the Spiritist movement started by the Frenchman Allan Kardec in 1850s France.
In fact, Xavier is believed by followers to be the reincarnation of Kardec as well as Plato, a Roman Senator and an influential Jesuit priest, among others.
Other experts claim that Xavier wasn’t the reincarnation of Kardec and that he himself denied it, although posters around the Xavier House of Memories Museum in Uberaba when I visited proclaim it.
Regardless, Xavier strongly believed that reincarnation was real and that we pass through multiple identities and lifetimes to learn lessons about how to serve others and reach our full potential.
He said that we go through many lifetimes to become better people, including physical lifetimes and periods of time in different spiritual realms.
Supporters of Xavier say he brought back vital knowledge about reincarnation and life after death that organized religion wanted erased.
“He revived the pursuit of the Spiritist doctrine by the world, after organized religion did their best to squash it.
“Through Chico, the Spirit Realm has fully revealed what life is actually like after death and precisely how the process of multiple lives functions.”
2) Loved ones can speak to us from beyond the grave
Another key teaching of Xavier is that spirits can communicate to us from beyond the grave.
He did this through a process he called “psychography” which claimed to translate messages from dead relatives to their descendants.
The museum in Uberaba was full of psychographical messages that Xavier had done for people, often with wishes of encouragement, advice and explanation from departed loved ones, especially children who had died tragically.
Skeptics were often convinced because the letters were in languages they didn’t understand and included details that only the children would have known which the parents hadn’t shared with Xavier.
As a follower told me at the museum, this practice is very important for followers and sustains their faith.
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“Spiritism is relatively recent, it arrived in Brazil over 120 years ago with the teachings of eternal life and the existence of God, but very importantly the communication with the departed…
“For the followers of spiritism, human beings are immortal spirits and the world we all see is just a passage. They believe in God as the Supreme Intelligence and First Cause of all things.
“And that, as they are part of nature, people who have passed away can communicate with the living and interact in their lives.”
Xavier’s channeling has even been used in legal courts, and he helped “solve” a 1979 murder case in which a teen shot his friend.
Channeling the victim, Xavier found that it had all been an accident, and assured the boy’s grieving parents that he was alive and happy in the spirit world.
3) We must beware of the ‘small evils’
Xavier’s work reflects a major focus on loving one another and trusting the Creator to provide for us and care for us.
He cautions against holding on to hate and resentment, with much of his work channeling spirits who warn that outwardly small ills can eventually destroy everything.
What starts as only a small jealousy or resentment can eventually become the seed of a community’s destruction.
As the spirit of Albino Teixeira allegedly says in Xavier’s 1972 book Courage:
“It’s not the snake’s bite that ends the existence of a man. It’s the tiny dose of venom he injects.
“So, too, in the life of humanity in the majority of circumstances it is not the great trials that destroy people but the small evils that many times express themselves as hate, anguish, fear and illness which take up residence inside the heart.”
4) We get what we give
Xavier spread a message that what we give out into the universe is what we eventually get back.
Whether it’s in this life or a future life, our decisions of how to treat fellow people will eventually reflect back on us in how we’re treated.
This belief in karma more or less aligns with the Christian Golden Rule to treat others the way you want to be treated.
Many of Xavier’s 400 books, which have sold over 25 million copies, are claimed to be written by “various spirits” who he said he channeled. A consistent message running through many of these books is that humanity has to start respecting itself.
As a spirit says in the 2019 collection Good Vibrations:
“Let us reflect on the influences and action that we impose on life toward our fellow beings, because of everything we give to life, life will also bring us.”
5) The best of us must try to help the worst
According to the spirits Xavier claimed to be in contact with, all of us must learn to have more compassion and less judgment.
Spreading the essential Christian message with the New Age Spiritist twist, Xavier’s allies told humanity to care more for each other and reject their impulse to only look after themselves.
We must do what we can to help each other, rather than waiting for a future day in which God will fix things for us.
Channeling the spirit Emmanuel:
“If the best don’t help the worst, we will wait in vain for the improvement of life.
“If the good forsake the evil, the brotherhood of humanity will pass by as a mere illusion.”
6) Jesus Christ is real and he came to save all of humanity
Xavier’s spirits also tended to spread a Christ-centric message, teaching that Jesus Christ of the Bible is a real being who came to save everyone.
Although Spiritism doesn’t demand a specific religious doctrine, it clearly believes in a certain esoteric version of Christianity that includes reincarnation but also still believes that Christ is the Savior.
According to the spirit Emmanuel, we can always have hope because “if Jesus didn’t have confidence in the resurrection of people and improvement of the world, he would not have come down to humanity or journeyed through the darkest paths of the Earth…
“Therefore we cannot lose hope and become downcast through the small struggles we have, which are blessings that Heaven brings to us in the various shades of human experience.”
7) Xavier believed in worldly action
Xavier and the spirits he channeled believed in helping people on earth, not just in Heaven.
Followers of the Spiritist movement including in religions such as Brazil’s Umbanda faith, are involved in a variety of charitable causes.
They strive to make life better for everyone, in accord with Xavier’s message that we’re all in this together and that God needs for us to help each other.
“Followers of spiritism in Brazil have opened hospitals, dispensaries and schools to work voluntarily with the intention to help and cure those who are in need,” notes RioAndLearn.
“He donated all of the proceeds from his books to charity and charged nothing for the letters. More than two million people signed a petition nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1981.”
8) Death isn’t real
Although Xavier himself died in 2002, his teachings indicate that death as the end of your being is not real.
While your physical body passes away, your spirit lives on in future incarnations and in otherworldly experiences where it basically continues to pursue its destiny.
Similar to the Italian poet Dante’s Inferno, each soul reaps the reward of obtaining its deepest desire that it was engaged in life.
If this was lust, it will obtain endless opportunities of lust: if it was service and love it will grow in service and love, for example.
In Good Vibrations, a spirit tells Xavier:
“Death as the annihilation of being does not exist.
“Our life today, for each creature, will be the continuation tomorrow of that same life for each creature of what they make of it.”
In his 1944 book Nosso Lar (Our Home), Xavier expands on this belief, saying that physical death is just a “breath” we take to renew ourselves for the next life.
9) Nature and humanity are interconnected
Another one of the top teachings of Chico Xavier is that all of nature is interconnected.
He teaches that animals, humans and nature itself can all share in God’s creation and help each other in big and small ways.
Talking about the story of the baby blackbird he found as a child, Xavier explains how a baby bird he looked after as a child.
He started playing guitar and made a song for the bird, who would sing along next to him, chirping away.
When the bird later died, young Xavier was heartbroken.
Years later he picked up a guitar in the new place where he lived and thought of the song again, strumming along.
A blackbird again flew down and sang along with him, reassuring him that everything was going to be OK.
10) We spend too much time inside our own head
In Nosso Lar, Xavier tells the story of a doctor called André Luíz who dies of cancer and goes to a kind of hell for eight years. He is there because he was selfish in life and only lived for enjoying the moment and physical things.
Surrounded by suffering and alienation, he cries out in horror to God to have mercy.
Luíz is brought up to a spiritual colony above Rio de Janeiro in the spiritual realms called Nosso Lar, where everyone helps each other and the system functions smoothly for everyone’s benefit.
Here, Luíz begins to get out of his head and analysis and stop living as much for himself. He begins to really care about others.
“He is advised to restrain his natural intellectual curiosity so that his newfound empathy can flourish.
“In other words, he is taught to think less and feel more.
“By the end of the book, weeping tears of joy, he has become a full-fledged citizen of Nosso Lar.”
What is the future of Chico Xavier’s spiritual movement?
Although Brazil does have the Federação Espírita Brasileira (Brazilian Spiritist Federation), Spiritism is not a formal religion that worships or meets in a particular way.
You can go to a gathering, event or lecture and participate as you wish, or ask for help from mediums who continue the psychography that Xavier practiced.
Speaking to Xavier’s son Eurípedes, who helps run the museum in Uberaba, it’s clear that many people love Xavier and remember him fondly. He says that before the pandemic the small museum and site of decades of Xavier’s life got about 2,800 visitors per month, and now receives around 1,300 per month.
Brazil has around four million people who follow various forms of Spiritism and it is one of the most important faiths in the country. The true number is thought to be much larger, since most Brasilians say they are Catholic whether or not they are practising Catholics.
Many people turn to Spiritism for miracle healings and alternative medicine, as well as expelling evil or troubling spirits from the body.
The unique spiritual practices that Xavier helped encourage, along with successors like Divaldo Franco, continue to flourish, even among Christian Brazilians.
“Just as Brazil’s enslaved Africans and Afro-Brazilians found covert ways to synthesize faith in West African deities and Catholic saints, so today Brazilians of all kinds practice the art of spiritual bricolage,” explains Bragdon.
“It is entirely unsurprising to meet a Brazilian who calls herself Catholic, belonged to an evangelical youth group as a teenager, was married by a priest, attends a local Methodist church, reads Spiritist books, draws mandalas to relax, and consults an Umbanda priest for advice.
“In Brazil, as in much of the non-Western world, the most common approach to religion is not doctrinal but pragmatic.
“People believe in whatever works.”
The truth is that Xavier’s thoughts and works are more important today than ever.
“Xavier was not some fringe kook. He was and remains a central and beloved figure, one of the most important in Brazilian cultural history. That such a man could be taken seriously—revered, even—reflects fundamental conditions of Brazilian spirituality.
“Not just anywhere could Spiritism, Xavier’s practice, find a home in the mainstream.
“The popularity of Spiritism in Brazil, where it is far more than an idle fascination, forces us to reconsider what religion can be.”