“If I was the head of a powerful sect of devil worshippers, would i live in such a lame tiny apartment like this?”
With those words and a sarcastic smile on his face, Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida greeted me on a saturday morning.
The "tiny apartment" was in the Northern Region of Rio de Janeiro, in a calm, quiet, and ecumenic street. Nearby, a yoga academy, a spiritism center and a fortuneteller coexist in an apparently harmonious manner.
More than modest, the decoration was minimal. The great amount of books in the cupboard on the living room and on the shelves of a small corridor drew the attention, not only for the various titles dealing with the misteries of Masonry, Theosophy and Rosicrucianism, among other, but because of the ostensive presence of a Holy Bible ("Which i always read!", he emphasized) and of works about the Vatican and Catholicism.
The man, on the other hand, drew the attention due to his fragile appearance, very thin, with an old pair of glasses with slightly dark lenses covering his eyes. He had always a cigarette between his fingers, but although he knew well it was not a harmless habit. "I've survived four cardiac arrests and a prostate cancer", he said, showing no pride in it.
In the 1970s, the initiates in Thelema, magical-philosophical system created by the englishman Edward Alexander “Aleister” Crowley in 1904, would call him frater ("brother", in Latin) Zaratustra, name taken from the classic book by Friedrich Nietzsche. It was the motto (also known among thelemites as "magical name") under which Euclydes Lacerda de Almeida would act.
It took three years until Euclydes agreed to talk. In 2005, the first time I tried to obtain an interview, through a friend in common, he refused without even blinking. He thought he had nothing to say that could interest anyone, more so about "these matters" about which had written a lot about. I approached him again, through another friend in commmon, in the next year, also without success.
The intention, at first, was that his statements would be part of a book that approached in an objective way and as thoroughly documented as possible, the connections of Raul Seixas and Paulo Coelho with Aleister Crowley's principles - which, today, Coelho rejects. The idea came from my own short experience in a thelemic organization, about ten years ago, when I was even presented to Euclydes through my instructors at the time. I needed to remind him of this detail, when we met again.
In 2008, with the release of two books by well-known brazilian journalists about Paulo Coelho, the biography by Fernando Morais (The Mage) and the analysis of the musical works of the writer by Herica Marmo (The Song of the Mage), the name of Euclydes, restricted, before, to the thelemic circles, was finally brought to the attention of the general public besides those of Raul Seixas and Paulo Coelho - whom he instructed directly, as Motta determined.
Althought the way Marmo presented him was balanced, the same cannot be said about Morais, who sums Thelema up as simple "devil worshipping" and its followers, as "devil worshippers", ou even simpler, satanists. I imagined he would reject the classification, and thought of trying to get his statements for rebutting the descriptions made by Morais of the order's practices under the of magical training. I thought of trying to sell the work, as a freelance job, for a magazine.
In the beginning of June, right after the release of Morais' book, I got in touch with another friend in common, Keron-E (motto), member, as Euclydes, of the thelemic order known as Astrum Argentum (A.'.A.'.). Three months of negotiations followed, intermediated by this friend. I felt that, this time, he was about to agree, or else he would have dismissed the idea from the beginning, as he did the other times. The answer, however, wouldn't come. Tired of his evasives and impatient, I sent him (Keron-E) an email on September, 25th, short and coarse, attaching a news story about a movie on Raul Seixas that was in production:
"I ask that you forward the text below for Euclydes, for him to analyse it, with the following adendum: I'm tired. If he doesn't have an answer until the end of the month, my proposal is withdrawn. I understand he has all his considerations to make, but I can't stand still, just watching the time go by. As you know, I have many projects in motion, many things to do... and, no matter how much this was something I really wanted to do, I can't be pushing around to convince him of the importance. I thought he would recognize the opportunity and would be interested in taking it. If it 's not the case, no hard feelings".
On November, 10th, I received the simple and direct message from Keron-E: "Euclydes is willing to talk to you. Get in touch in me". I talked to him the same day and started the direct contact with my future interviewee. In the first couple of emails, we treated each other very formally, "mr". Right away, he tried to dodge a personal interview: "It can be made through email. Send the questions and I'll answer".
I explained to him, patiently, that i only do interviews through email when there are no other means available. Given the complexity of the subject, which would demand many 'comings and goings', questions and replies, that would make the whole proccess a lot more extended and tiresome. Besides, I made clear I was concerned about having the audio recording of our meetings, to avoid any discrepancies. He then lowered his guard and began treating me as Marcio. The first session was on November, 22nd, a saturday. They were five at all, each one of about three hours, that went on through december and the beginning of january.
Throughout 2009, my attemps to sell the story as a freelance were not successful. We continued meeting to talk and began discussing the production of a website in which he could present his reflexions and offer material from his vast archives. Until i received, June, 28th, 2010, the news of his death four days before. I decided, then, to go on with the ideia of the website about Euclydes, now in memoriam.
Since our dialogs were not fully recorded, the three texts presented in this website were based on the material effectively recorded in digital audio and transcribed with the help of a assistant especially hired for the job, without connections to the theme. The present work does not intend to be a precise record of the history of the thelemic system. Its informations were extracted, essentially, from the interviews and consultation to a few basic sources such as the websites for A.'.A.'. and that of Peter Koenig, resercher on what he calls the "O.T.O. Phenomenon"