OK. Seldom do I need to finish reading a book, write a review, and return it to the library before midnight. This is going to be an interesting experience. Usually after I arrive at the last page of a book, I would revisit all the pages I noted that are pivoting to the development of the story for completeness’s sake. Speed blogging at its best without compromise!
It is interesting that only in year 2008 the English translation of “Brida” is published. The original version (written in Portuguese I presume) was published in 1990 sandwiched between Paulo Coelho’s two classics “The Alchemist” (1988) and “The Valkyries” (1991). “Brida” lacks the inspirational impact these two classics have and it also lacks an engaging storyline as compares to some of his recent works, in my opinion.
His recent work “The Witch Of Portobello” (2006) paints the journey of the witch Athena loosely based upon Jung’s four stages of individual progression: Persona, Shadow, Soul, and Wise Old Man or Great Mother. As for “Brida”, the author takes a deeper look into witchcraft – the four ways a woman can communicate with the Universe through reincarnation: the virgin, the saint, the martyr, and the witch.
To bridge the visible and the invisible is magic. And how do some manage to get there? According to the book, there are two traditions: the Sun (for wizards) and the Moon (for witches). Strange concept, isn’t it? There are more to it. Paulo Coelho links the nine gifts that these two traditions took care with St. Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians. For those who are familiar with the Bible, these nine gifts should not be foreign to you: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, healing, the working of miracles, prophecy, the discerning of the spirits, speaking in tongues, and the interpretation of tongues.
The book has some strange linkages to the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and the Catholics. You may know that at one point in time, witches were burned by the Christians. In fact, the rituals – described by the author in a separate warning note as the practices of the Tradition of the Moon for centuries – are somewhat related to the hardship that the witchcraft has lived through. From within the story, Catharism (a Christian religious sect with dualistic and gnostic elements) is mentioned and because there is a linkage to historical events, it makes me wonder how much is factual. Perhaps, some people do able to alter their state of consciousness and observe auras. Looking at today’s world, there are people who claim to be able to do that. There are even machines that can take pictures of our auras.
Bizarre surreal tradition of witchcraft and to some extend wizardry aside, “Brida” is loaded with fragmented inspirational messages. Check this out. How many of are you (like me) constantly trying to find a right path in life – be it as love, career, or anything in general? Sometimes we set off down a path because we don’t believe in it. And it is so easy to prove that it isn’t the right one. But when things start to happen and the path does reveal itself to us, what do we do? We become afraid of carrying on. So true. And why do we experience disappointment, defeat, and despair at times? Well, according to the author, they are the tools God uses to show us the way and to encourage us to have the courage to make mistakes, to risk failure and disillusion, and basically prompting us to keep searching, keep looking.
Some of the concepts – though are not new to me – do make me stop and think. If I want to find out about something, what shall I do? Plunge straight in! I know it is so obvious but more often than not, I avoid taking the plunge and instead, procrastinate just for another day, and another. How about doubts that I have, doubts that get constantly generated off my head? Maybe I doubt if I am good enough to do this or that. Maybe I doubt if this or that will happen. According to the author, the moment we stop doubting is the moment we stop moving forward. And I often think that – in contrary to the book – changing on the outside is easier than changing on the inside. Come to think of it, I don’t think the way I am perceived externally have changed much over the years (still the shirt and tie at work and blue jeans after all). But I have changed the way I perceive the world and the people around me from within much over the same period. My favorite message? Finding one important thing in life doesn’t mean that I have to give up all the other important things.
Go back to “Brida”, the book has devoted much of its content in the sexual union between a man and a woman. In its own words, “when male knowledge joins with female transformation, then the real magical union is created, and its name is Wisdom”. For the conservative minds, the idea of experiencing communion with God by opening all the five senses during sexual union could be hard to accept. To that end, instead of hearing my interpretation, here is an excerpt.
“Because anyone who comes into contact with sex knows that they’re dealing with something which only happens in all its intensity when they lose control. When we’re in bed with someone, we’re giving permission to that person not only to commune with our body, but with our whole being. The pure forces of life are in communication with each other, independently of us, and then we cannot hide who we are.” – Paulo Coelho, Brida, 128.
So, is “Brida” a must-read? I think if you are new to Paulo Coelho, you may wish to start with some of his other classics. For the fans, I guess we just have to read it right? I am not sure why Cynthia loves “Brida” better than “The Witch Of Portobello” …
Wait, “Brida” is also a book about a love so strong but yet cannot be possessed. Could it be …
To end this entry, let me share with you two memorable quotes from the book.
Nothing in the world is ever completely wrong … even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
And by an English poet William Blake.
What is now proved was once only imagin’d.
PS. I made it before midnight! Time now is 11.20pm and I am heading to the library to return the book.