By Brian Foster
Camilo Branco was a famous Portuguese author who lived in Portugal in the 19th century, he committed suicide in 1890. Communicating with the medium Yvonne Pereira, Camilo told his story. Part of his narrative is the history of his past lives. Camilo was one of the hecklers as Jesus struggled by, carrying the cross, on the way to be crucified.
Camilo Castelo Branco wasn’t just an ordinary suicide. He was a commanding figure in Portugal’s literary scene in the late 1800’s. He was known as the Portuguese Balzac and was awarded the title of Viscount of Correia Botelho. In despair over his son’s insanity and his ailments, which would certainly lead to blindness, he ended his life in 1890.
According to his Wikipedia page, “Camilo produced over 260 works, ranging from essays, plays, romantic fiction to non-fiction. His writing is considered original in that it combines the dramatic and sentimental spirit of Romanticism with a highly personal combination of sarcasm, bitterness and dark humor. He is also celebrated for his peculiar wit and anecdotal character, as well as for his turbulent (and ultimately tragic) life.”
Ordinarily, this is where his story would end. He would live in our memories only for as long as his books didn’t naturally deteriorate, or if the internet failed to archive his life in some remote corner, where only the most persistent observer could discover any mention of Camilo.
However, Camilo inspired the medium Yvonne A. Pereira to write his life after physical death biography. In the book, Memoirs of a Suicide, we are taken from the moment Camilo kills himself to years later to when he is preparing to re-enter our physical world to subject himself to the required trials to pay for his wrongs and to learn the lessons so he may improve his immortal spirit.
The first paragraph of the book takes you to the place reserved for suicides;
“It was the month of January, 1891, when I found myself being held in an area of the Invisible World. Its desolate landscape was comprised of deep valleys that were continuously enveloped in shadowy darkness. Within its winding gorges and sinister caves, spirits that used to be men and women on the earth howled like hordes of infuriated demons, demented by the absolutely unconceivable intensity and strangeness of the sufferings that tormented them.”
From that horrid landscape, Camilo is taken, only when his natural years of living would have ended, up to the “Mary of Nazareth” Hospital. A spirit colony reserved for suicides, men and women, to recuperate after their ordeal and to learn about their sacred mission to fully live out the life they had chosen beforehand. Running in cowardice from your assigned tribulations in your physical life, results in severe penalties. As part of his rehabilitation, Camilo must learn what brought him to his decision to escape his ailments and why he was given the sufferings that he should have endured with dignity.
Past Life – 33 A.D.
For Camilo to understand why he was destined to be blind in old age, he needed to have his past wrongs exposed. For there is a reason for everything that happens to us, our lives are finely orchestrated to test and uplift us, as well as hammer out, with our head upon an anvil, the bad habits and intentions that we have carried for too long.
As part of his preparation for a fruitful return to a physical body, he is taken to a classroom amphitheater where he is strapped into a device, which will take him back to his past. Not just a picture on a screen, but a complete four dimensional experience, where he and his fellow classmates are inside his preceding lives. He is nervous, for all of the previous students have revealed crimes and failures to be ashamed of for several lifetimes. The narrative begins;
“I went back to the year 33 A.D! However, I was not only remembering it: I was actually living in that time period, exactly as before!
The old holy city of the Jews – Jerusalem – was experiencing feverish events on that hot, sunny morning. I felt possessed by a diabolical happiness as I walked through the streets packed with foreigners, inciting riots, encouraging fights, spreading disquieting gossip, promoting disorder. It was the feast day of Calvary, and it was known that a certain revolutionary named Jesus of Nazareth had been condemned by the authorities of Rome to die on the cross, along with two other criminals.”
Camilo knew he was “a wretched person, poor and evil.” He lived off of the discarded clothes and food of others. His greatest pleasure was to witness misfortune, of any kind, drunks, fights and torture. He finds himself following Jesus, so he can witness pain and suffering;
“Fierce in my obstinacy, I follow him on his dolorous climb, yelling offenses and vile scorn; and I must confess that the only reason I do not strike him with stones of with the violence of my murderous arm is because he is so closely guarded by the Roman soldiers. The truth is that I have always felt myself to be inferior and belittled everywhere I go. I feel envy and hatred towards everything that actually is, or that I believe to be, superior to me! Ugly, disheveled, ignoble, deformed – I had only one arm – degraded, ambitious, the stuff of pure evil dripped from my heart.”
Wait, it gets worse. He notices the mother of Jesus and yells out insults and sarcastic remarks at her. Anything to hurt all around him. A man with one arm, for what offense he lost an arm, we will never know, on a mission to equally harm the world. A man who was rescued from the valley of the suicides by the very woman he abused more than 1800 years earlier.
I can’t imagine the nightmare of discovering his deeds. I can only contemplate in fear what horrible crimes I must have committed in some previous wretched life. For all of us are on the path to become better, which means that in the past we have been that which we scorn and disapprove of today.
After witnessing the death of Christ, he goes on to take part in the stoning of Stephen. He readily assists the Sanhedrin to ferret out Christians. Then he discovers;
“In fact, I was not even a son of Israel! I had come from far away, an adventurer and disbeliever, from distant Gaul. I had fled my own tribe, where I had been condemned to death for the double crime of murder and treason to my homeland, having arrived in Judea by chance in the last months of the Lord’s ministry.”
His life during the time of Christ was one of constant strife, caused by his own defective character. He did not experience any redeeming act while reliving his nightmare of impiety.
Past Life – 17th Century – Spain
Camilo next experienced life after life, centuries of trials, always as a base person, without moral guidance; His only wish was to gain wealth and pleasure. Sometimes, he would climb high on the social ladder, but the expected improvement in his spiritual state never held. Hence, whenever he climbed high, he fell further when his wrongs were discovered. His lives always were located in the regions of France or Spain.
In between lives, he would learn about the Doctrine of Spiritism and the expected progression of the state of his soul. He knew that he should learn how to be charitable, loving, unselfish and fraternal. But his motivations for adapting these attributes were in the expectation that he could use them to appear good, while accumulating more riches and other advantages for his use.
Finally, in the early seventeenth century, he found himself in a confused state in a dark dungeon. Slowly the fog lifted and his life became apparent;
“I was born into an old family of bankrupt nobles, who, at the time, were besieged by insurmountable adversities, such as political and religious rivalries, as well as disagreements with the Crown.
In my early youth I was literate, fraught by hard toil in the fields. I tended sheep and tilled the soil like a wretched serf, dividing myself amongst multiple tasks under the severe eye of my father, a cruel, provincial nobleman, whose unrestrained religious pride, inspired by the ideas of the Reformation, has disgraced him before the king.”
Born in Toledo, Spain in adverse conditions, but still with prospects because of his noble birth, Camilo was once again provided a chance to rise above his past. Ambitious, even at his young age, Camilo was able to enlist the aid of the parish priest to educate him. As he grew older he became fixated on the idea of marriage and surveyed the women in his circle of acquaintances. He focused on his mother’s niece;
“Her name with Maria Magda. She was slender and beautiful, and had black, fragrant, waist-length, braided hair, along with languid and seductive eyes. Like me, she was the daughter of bankrupt nobles, but thanks to her parents’ thoughtfulness, she had the advantage of having acquired a good domestic and social education.”
When a more prosperous rival appeared, Camilo was left alone and bitter. As his past character would react, so would his present, in the deepest part of his mind, he thirsted for revenge. No hint of understanding that Maria may have loved another or the wishes of her parents influenced her decision; just a primitive urge to strike back at the cause of his pain. Hence, he swore eternal revenge against his love, Maria, and her new husband, Jacinto de Ornelas.
From then on, he eliminated the thought of marriage from his mind, and concentrated his immense energy on the means to better his station. A social plateau where he could enjoy power over the objects of his scorn; supremacy enough to humiliate and destroy the unsuspecting couple.
The spirit world attempted to guide Camilo back onto his path for self-improvement;
“I dreamed night after night that my old father, as well as other deceased friends, had returned from the grave to advise me to give up on my plans for the future; instead, I should marry one of my childhood friends, a decision that would be the surest path to peace-of-mind and true happiness.”
The spirit world does not want us to fail. We are watched with the loving kindness of a true mother and father. Their affection rains down upon us. This is why we have a conscience. Whereas, we don’t retain our memories from past lives when we are reborn, we do have two vital signal posts. The first is our conscience; our accumulated moral learning from all of our past lives serves to govern us in our daily decisions. When we reflect on an action, our conscience provides us feedback; we must listen to that advice and heed it. For within us we have centuries of stored wisdom.
Our instincts are the second guide rail that has been betrothed to us in our current life. Multiple lives experiences in countless sets of circumstances have toned our instincts, whereby we are given the gift to recognize the possible adverse or positive significance of any situation. A detailed explanation of the process of reincarnation, where you will be able to better understand your past lives, is in my book, The Case for Reincarnation – Your Path to Perfection.
The death of his father allowed Camilo to discover his road to revenge. He joined the Society of Jesus, where he received a sterling education. Ignoring the company of truly dedicated servants of Jesus within the ranks, he sought out those who favor could raise him up in the organization. For the Jesuits, the spearhead of the infamous Spanish Inquisition, could well use young lieutenants who did not hesitate to arrest innocents, partake in slander and torture victims when ordered. He describes his fanaticism;
“I would have turned in my own father; such was the madness that took hold of me. I would have dragged him before the tribunal as an agent of the Reformation if he had not surrendered his soul to the Creator, thanks to the mercy of Heaven! However, I did not do all of that to give vent to my own evilness: my intent was only to serve my superiors, to exalt the Jesuit cause, to prove the unending dedication and unconditional gratitude my passionate soul could muster for all the support they had given me! I myself became a victim of that very institution, because in recognizing my submission for the favors I had received, my superiors took advantage of my sentiments and induced me to commit abominable crimes, certain as they were that I would be incapable of betrayal.”
Camilo worked his way up for fifteen years, until, one day, he discovered the husband of his love, Maria had returned from duty in Holland. Jacinto had arrived back in Spain with great honors. Camilo sent his spies to watch every movement of the couple. Maria and Jacinto had a good marriage with children. They were very much in love and Maria was known for her impeccable virtues.
Trying to worm his way into a renewal of passion with Maria, he met her at the church she visited every week. Then he started to frequent her house. He praised, flattered and implored her for affection. She resisted at every turn. Even her husband noticed his intentions, but against a member of the dreaded Spanish Inquisition, he was powerless to stop Camilo’s advances. Besides, Jacinto knew his leanings toward the Reformation he witnessed in Holland could be a lever to destroy his life and forever affect the lives of his children.
Jacinto prepared to leave Madrid for safety, but Camilo found out and he turned Jacinto over to the authorities, on suspicion of being a Huguenot (a French protestant reformed church). Camilo successfully fabricated evidence to convict Jacinto and requested that Jacinto be handed over to him. Jacinto’s tortures by Camilo are recorded thusly;
“I had his fingernails and teeth yanked out; his fingers and wrists disjointed; the soles of his feet slowly, patiently burned with red-hot blades. I had him flogged until his flesh shredded, and all of it under the pretext of saving him from hell, for having apostatized, forcing him to make confessions of supposed conspiracies against the Church, under whose name I took shelter for such vile acts.”
Maria knowing the cause of her husband’s incarceration came to plead with Camilo to release her husband. Camilo forced Maria to give in to all of his wishes. While Maria did all that Camilo demanded, he could see the disdain in her eyes. Therefore, tiring of his malicious game, he decided to return her husband to her. Except, that Camilo had one more horrible deed to accomplish;
“Maria had pleaded for the life and freedom of her husband and I had promised to concede them. But she had forgotten to ask me to return him intact, without mutilations! Therefore, I had his eyes gouged out with a red-hot iron, thus barbarically disfiguring him, forever plunging him into the darkness of indescribable torment. I never even dreamed that there was an Almighty God following from the height of his Justice my abominable act, which I archived in the folds of my conscience as if reflected in a mirror in order to accuse me and demand unappealable atonement throughout the centuries!” 
Two months after being release Jacinto, using a knife he asked his five-year-old son to fetch him, committed suicide. Finally realizing the extent of his crimes, Camilo, could not sleep, due to incessant nightmares, and could no longer carry out the orders of his superiors. Finally, falling out of favor, he was imprisoned for life by the same institution that he had been so dedicated in carrying out their diabolical commands.
At this point in his spiritual interrogation, Camilo finally realized why he was destined for blindness in his last life. He knew that he was meant to face the same dread and hopelessness as his innocent victim felt three hundred years earlier. Worse, he didn’t have the courage to face it, instead he weakened and sought to immediately escape his intended misfortune.
Camilo now understood that it wasn’t divine providence that determined that he was to be blind in his old age, but himself. His actions had consequences and between physical lives, he determined the price and the lessons he should live through. He leaves us with this thought;
“The truth is that it was a situation of my own creation, caused by my own wrongs and defects down through the ages!”
Past lives are important for us. Even so we may not know what they were, we can, by analyzing the trials, obstacles, and events in our life, what we must repair and learn in this life. We must never be deterred in finishing our assigned task. The worse it is, the more we learn, and we should be grateful for the chance to pay the price and resume stepping up the ladder of purification of our souls.
Understand the trials you need to travel through in your own life and how you can surmount your lessons. Read my book, The Problem is the Solution – 7 Life Complications Sent to Test and Teach You. Just as Camilo had to survive and even thrive in the episodes assigned to him, you can too, with the knowledge of analyzing your possible past actions and an understanding of the arc of your lives.
Brian Foster has a BSCS degree and a MBA. He has worked in R&D for medical device corporations and in IT for large financial institutions. Brian Foster has a blog at http://www.nwspiritism.com.
Pereira, Y. A. (2010). Memoirs of a Suicide. Brasilia (DF), Brasil: International Spiritist Council.
Wikipedia. (2014, August 21). Camilo Castelo Branco. Retrieved from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camilo_Castelo_Branco
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 9
 Wikipedia, “Camilo Castelo Branco”, n.d., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camilo_Castelo_Branco, (accessed August 21, 2014)
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 19
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 528
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 528
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 529
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 530
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 536
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 540
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 542
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 544
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 548
 Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, pp. 550-551
Pereira, Y. A., Memoirs of a Suicide, Brasilia (DF), Brazil, International Spiritist Council, p. 554