Dachau and RAM Practices
For Coelho, 1982 was the year of the “birth of the writer”. When Coelho visited the concentration camp, Dachau, he felt he needed to become a writer while hearing the bells of a church tolling (Arias, 2001, p. 141). Coelho saw “someone”, whom he later described as an apparition, and heard a voice that soon disappeared (Arias, 2001, p. 141). This key situation occurred shortly after he made promises to the infant Jesus of Prague, in Prague, to return to him, in case he even became a writer. However, Coelho was repeatedly tortured by his feelings of fear, solitude and torture.
Shortly after the visit to Dachau, Coelho and Cristina visited Amsterdam where he met a man in a cafe. He felt that this man was following him and that he had seen him before in the concentration camp in Dachau.
Coelho talked to the man in the cafe and found that he had not visited Dachau. The man’s explanation was, however, that his appearance to Coelho in Dachau might have been an “astral projection” (Morais, 2009, p. 320). During the talk in the cafe the man, who was called Jean, offered Coelho the possibility of becoming his master on a spiritual journey. This man is repeatedly referred to in many of the books Coelho wrote later in his life as “the Master”, “M”, “J” or “Jean”. From the day in the cafe onwards, Jean became a very important part of Coelho’s life and his personal and spiritual development. He was an active member of the old and mysterious Catholic religious order called RAM (Morais, 2009). In his earthly life, Jean was French and of Jewish origin, working as an executive for the Dutch multinational Philips in Paris.
RAM stands for Regnus Agnus Mundi, which is translated as “Lamb of the Kingdom of the World - or Rigour, Adoration and Mercy” (Morais, 2009, p. 321). RAM is a practice of the sacred; it is a small Catholic order and in 2001 had only four disciples (Arias, 2001, p. 145). RAM is a spiritual tradition that is about 500 years old and was born in the heart of the Catholic Church. It is known as the “feminine way” and aims at revealing the feminine side of the personality of a person (Arias, 2001, p. 93). The RAM tradition is about developing one’s “strength of will, based on discipline and personal effort - on the feminine way you especially develop compassion, meditation, approaching the roots of life and the earth” (Arias, 2001, p. 95). In this order, tradition and symbolic language are passed down through oral traditions (Arias, 2001, p. 145).
Through RAM, Coelho embarked on a spiritual and magical journey - being still highly fascinated by the magical world - within the RAM tradition, accepting Jean as his master. With this agreement, Coelho committed himself to Jean’s instructions without argument.
Coelho’s first task was to drive to Oslo in Norway and visit a certain museum, where he met a blond woman in a museum who gave him a ring with a snake devouring its own tail. She then performed a certain ritual with him. Coelho felt reenergised and flooded by new spiritual energy, as if the blockages of his energy had been dissolved (Morais, 2009, p. 323).
After another 3 months in Amsterdam, Coelho and Christina travelled to Portugal and then back to Brazil. Only back in Brazil, Coelho started his initiation tasks with Jean. He received so-called “ordeals” that were to be admitted to RAM by call or by letter. His first task was to fill a glass that had never been used for water before with water, place it on a table, read a randomly selected piece from the New Testament and sign it with the date. The reading was followed by the drinking of the water. This ritual continued for 6 months and was followed by many more rituals during subsequent years (Arias, 2001; Morais, 2009).