Photos: The Worshippers of the Valley of the Dawn

Every year on May 1, members of the Vale do Amanhecer spiritual community in Brazil gather for their biggest ceremony of the year, the Day of the Spiritual Indoctrinator. The religion known as Vale do Amanhecer (or Valley of the Dawn, or, officially, Social Works of the Christian Spiritualist Order) was founded in 1959 by a charismatic woman known as Tia Neiva. Neiva had been working as a truck driver in Brasilia when she began to experience visions of spirits and extraterrestrial beings that she said imparted lessons to her. The spiritual group she began with her partner, Mario Sassi, grew into a community of thousands of mediums who claim to communicate with spirits, and it combines doctrines and symbolism from Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Incan and Afro-Brazilian religions; ancient-Egyptian concepts; and a belief in extraterrestrial life, intergalactic travel, and reincarnation. Members of the movement claim to have hundreds of thousands of adherents worldwide who attend temples located in Brazil, Portugal, Germany, Japan, and the United States.

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