Paulo Coelho – Brida – Witchcraft, Bridging the Visible and the Invisible

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.

So true.

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.

52 thoughts on “Paulo Coelho – Brida – Witchcraft, Bridging the Visible and the Invisible”

  1. Do you sleep??? =)
    You blog to well, Wilfrid. You should be a full time books/ films/ music critic!
    This is a superb review. I have always felt curious about Coelho’s works. Being ever so pragmatic, my reads centre around periodicals, journals, biz/finance and management bks. Boring and uninspiring (in terms of literary inspiration).
    Thank you for this one. I am going to print it out to re-read some parts.

  2. Ivy – Thanks for your words of encouragement! At times I have no idea how readers react for the stuffs that I write.

    If you are curious about Coelho’s works, you may wish to refer to the one review I wrote on “The Witch Of Portobello”. I made a detail listing of what are worth checking out.

    Oh … I do sleep. Just that it is not enough these days! So much to do …

  3. I like “Brida” because it has more wisdom, as compared to “Witch of Portobello”. I don’t read Paulo Coelho for the storyline, but more for the wisdom I can get. That being said, The Alchemist, The Valkyries, and By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept touched me more than Brida did.

    For me personally, the most memorable quote from Brida is “God is in the words” and words are the bridge between the visible and the invisible. So watch the words coming out from you, because your words can and will become a reality. Don’t say things that are untrue or negative.

    I hope the phrase can stick on me and change my behaviour, just like another phrase from his earlier works. “If you want something bad enough, the universe will conspire to help you get it.” And that one is true.

  4. Cynthia – The ones you mentioned are certainly my favorites too. You are right in saying that “Brida” does have loaded amount of wisdom. Probably because it’s an earlier piece of work.

    I also like the memorable quote you mentioned. I have missed that out.

  5. Darkspore – Cool! If you are into inspirational wisdom, read “The Alchemist” first. If you are into stories, try “By the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept”. And if you like Bible stories, you should read “The Fifth Mountain”.

    Pick it up from the library. We have tons of Paulo Coelho books there. I think the last I visited the library at AMK, there were like 20 copies of “The Alchemist” (or something like that).

  6. Mashqura – Thanks for the compliment. And I have almost totally forgotten this review that I have written not too long ago. Gosh, so much effort, so many words! Maybe I shouldn’t limit my word count after all …

  7. Hey all . . .today I was talking to my friends on the street about my “almost 30 year old” crisis . . . full of anxiety . . . and an older man probably in his mid 50’s overheard me and said ” crises like these only bring you to sanity” . . . of course this intrigued me . . . and he continued ” don’t worry this is a good thing . . . read “Brida” by Coelho . . .so here it goes, I just ordered the book. After reading these comments I can’t wait to get started!! Thanks.

  8. Yaelita – I am glad that you are going to read “Brida”. Yes, it is a good book. Enjoy reading it! If you like Coelho’s style, don’t miss his other books. Do drop by again and let me know your view on my review. Have a good weekend!

  9. hey i’ve got some news!

    have you read coelho’s “veronika decides to die”? well, i was looking for my asian horror film(xD) and just by chance, i learned that they were going to make a film of it (coelho’s book) :o. i think it may be interesting, i read the book some time ago and(at least) i liked it.

  10. Rodrigo – Yes, I have read that book! One of my favorite ones. Wow … thanks for the link. Sarah Michelle Gellar will be playing? Perfect!

    It is rather strange that the filmmaker has chosen the middle episode of a trilogy to start the show. “By the River Piedra I sat Down and Wept” should be the episode one.

    Nevertheless, I am excited by the news! Something to look forward to 🙂

  11. This was a very, very good anaylsis of the book. I am rapping up finishing the Witch of Portobello. I know now what book to pick up next. You have a gift.

  12. Elvira – Thank you for your comment. It is comments like yours that keep me going in writing 🙂

    Do check out other older works of Paulo Coelho if you have time, Elvira.

  13. brida is indeed one good book to read.. coelho is one of the best living writers in the world. you get to learn a lot of things from him. you get to become a visionary. 🙂

  14. Bem – I agree with you. That’s why I enjoy reading every one of his books. Some of his ideas are very visionary and life changing, at least to me. From his blog site, he has been life changing to many people as well. It is rare to come across authors like him.

  15. i like this book so much. The tradition of sun and the moon is very unique.
    This is very inspirational.
    I think we all go through both traditions.
    the moon tradition i guess is our collective knowledge deep inside our subconscious mind and the sun tradition be the knowledge that can be acheived by relative, comparative observation through the artistic expression.

  16. I finished reading Brida – bought it at Sunny Bookstore. All Coelho’s books are worth keeping :).

    I think part of the reason why the story line doesn’t seem so exciting is because Brida is a biography. At the start, before Coelho began the story, he asked permission from Brida (not her real name), if he could write it.

    The other noteworthy thing is – when describing the traditions, he kept it real to show how they rituals and traditions are truly practised. Like the Pilgrimmage and The Valkyries, they are a documentation of Paulo’s actual experiences on his spiritual quest.

    The Eleventh Minute is also another book that is written on behalf of a prosititute.

  17. Trea – Oh, I enjoy reading “Ethe Eleventh Minute”. I think I must have read all his novels to date. And I am looking forward to read his latest work.

    Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  18. I read Brida and I didnt understand at the end, she told him she wanted to stay with him (the Magus) but he told her to go…wasnt he waiting to be with her, why did he deny her?

    1. Cdefranc – Hi, let me drop by the library and try to refresh my memory on what the ending is like? The problem with writing a book summary or review is that I try not write too much spoiler. And hence, writing on the ending is out. And I don’t really have a great memory … ha ha ha.

    2. I always read his books during exam period, for they are eye opening, stimulating and motivational.
      I believe this is not the first time the author talked about love and possesion. He meant to teach about freedom granted to self and the other party. Personally, I think the way it ends is comforting, because love for each other does not necessary lead to being together. It is best to leave the flower while it blosomes, beautiful.

      1. Rain Lim – Well said. I think we often have a perception on how the ending should be. And perhaps it is best to accept it as it is. Indeed, Paulo Coelho is an inspirational and motivational writer. I often read his books when I am lost and confused in life 🙂

  19. I know i leave a comment a bit late but i became a fun of Paulo Coehlo in 2009 even though i read the alchemist when i was 12!!I thought Brida was amazing and maybe better from the witch of Portobello cause i read Brida first,I thought it was a lovely way of an introduction to the moon and sun tradition!I liked the fact that while reading it i could feel the separate woman from the writer…And most of all my heart was filled with hope for the other half and a life full of extraordinary days!
    Your preview was really great!!

    p.s.I thing the tradition of the moon is for men too as the magus had followed this one!!

    1. Roxanthi – Hi, there is no late comments at all 🙂 Any comment is good, especially for a book entries that tend to be timeless.

      By the way, The Alchemist was the 2nd book I read and that was … let me see … more than 10 years ago! Wow, how time flies.

      Which one is your favorite? My favorite is “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept”.

  20. I’ve been going through a difficult time in my life and one of my professors gave me this book as a present. He wrote inside it, “have faith, you’ll find your way”. Definately was the nicest thing anyone has done for me.
    The book itself, I found was a very easy read and had a lot to say subliminally – find found me thinking about my life and my situation. It made me rethink my life in a different light and has given me strength to go on.
    Your review was very insightful that one would suspect that you do this for living. If not, i’d consider it because you have a talent that is hard to come by.
    Thank you for sharing :).

    1. Anna – Thank you for your complement. I write different kinds of review as a hobby and am glad that some can find a common voice within.

      Paulo Coelho’s books are always easy to read and the key messages are always memorable. And because of those qualities, many people worldwide – as his books are translated in numerous International languages – find reading Paulo Coelho life changing, myself included.

      As for your difficult time in your life, I too hope that you will find your way. One inspiring message from Paulo Coelho’s earlier work is “if you want something bad enough, the entire Universe will conspire to make it happens”. So have faith. I am sure you will find your way to whatever it is.

  21. Hi. I am a french student and I have started reading Paulo Coelho’s book with “Brida”, actually for my English cours. I have really enjoyed it and thanks your critic, I have understood it even better !
    I know I am now going to read a lot of books of this author. I think the next one will be “Veronika decides to die” … His way of thinking, of writing is so amazing, he makes me travelling through it …
    Anyway, thank you for spending time decoding his books and I wish you lots of good things !

    PS : Sorry for the mistakes …

    1. Noémie – Thanks for dropping by, and your message. I would strongly recommend reading “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” before “Veronika Decides to Die. And read “The Devil and Miss Prym” last. These three books loosely form the trilogy. I have read all three (in fact all his novels!) and I love them 🙂

  22. that was great review! i will agree with the readers, you can learn much from the words and quotes in this book, lots of wisdom and teachings of life….we shouldnt just bring the facts and talk about them, but instead feel what he wanna say between those words.I loved the book, its an work of a real wise man:)

    best regards

  23. I just finished the valkyries, have read alchemist too. Coelho is interesting, but not all that enlightening. I am open to ideas and what he says, but for me, he falls a little short of the mark. Good luck in your spiritual journey.

    1. Dimi – Granted that although the author’s works have been widely translated and many have benefited from them by finding a common voice within, it does not mean universal. For me it is less a spiritual journey. His works are more an inspiration for me.

  24. Well, I have to say I am not very keen in blogging, actually I hate it, but after reading this review, I feel the obligation to reply.
    Certainly Cohelo’s work is good, when I came across with the Alchemist, it was a kind of present gift. It became my “bible” and yet from time to time keep on re-reading especially those parts in a book we highlight and then we forget how wonderful made us feel.
    After the Alchemist, I thought that was just amazing, so each of his books I read. Unfotunately they all let me dow, they were only ‘clones’ of the Alchemist. I thought that was an abuse to the readers and fans. Last year someone I do not know sent me that book, I was quite uneasy as thought was another one… After six months having it on my bed side table I decided to read it. I just loved it! It was just such nice surprise to discover again Cohelo’s finest way of writing. I was just amazed! So, I do highly recomend this book!
    Thank you for your beautiful review.

  25. Paulo Coelho’s “Brida” is a novel of journey.Brida is suffering from existential crisis,which is a very post modern problem.

  26. Gosh. I know this blog was from 2008, but this review is timeless. LOL.
    I love these words of critics and I love the way you made the book not as a subject, but more of a personal experience.

    I’ve done The Alchemist and now going into Brida, and I’ve been praying to have the critic talents of yours. Thank you. LOL.

    1. Cherie – Thank you for the kind comment. Looking back, besides The Alchemist, my favorite books of his would be “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept” and “The Fifth Mountain”. You may wish to give it a try perhaps when you have the opportunity?

  27. I have a couple questions on “Brida”

    Is it true that people with small, attached earlobes have a gift ?

    and where can i get a tarot cards?

    1. Msdy – Interesting questions.

      I think everyone is gifted, whether or not one has small attached earlobes or not.

      And you may be able to find tarot cards at

  28. The first question as ivy has asked DO U SLEEP:
    anyways i found your book review really interesting especially the two quotes you have marked at the end.
    I actually had to write a book review in my school and was really in need of a blogger like you.
    Once again thank you very much!!!

  29. beautifully written.
    Brida is a sort of biography as far as i know
    a lot of knowledge and understanding of human psychology
    your blog is so smooth and fluid in its elaboration that i felt like being on a ride through the memories of the time i read the book.

    1. Suman Pani – Thanks for your kind comment. For books that are inspiring, I tend to put in more effort in writing the book summary. So that I can read the summary again in the future and be reminded how great the book is 🙂

  30. first timer to commenting people’s words ..
    so “God is in the worlds” hm ..

    hey there Wilfrid …. salam from 2014

  31. Hey, Very nicely written piece. One correction though, tradtion of sun is not specifically for wizards and tradition of moon for witches only. Its upto an individual to decide, as has been stated many times in the novel (Brida confesses she might take up tradition of Sun later perhaps) .
    But really nice post 🙂

  32. I am an aspiring blogger myself, and I can really appreciate the choice of words you have used to describe this piece! I already read the book few years back, and I must say its a great read…I just love the author’s take on such subjects, its difficult to find novels so spiritual, yet rich in wisdom and you learn so many thing, of which you never thought before. Paulo Coelho is definitely my favourite author.

  33. I read Paulo Coelho books too and starting to collect his books 🙂 I just finished BRIDA and started WITCH OF PORTOBELLO. i love his books they make me dream 🙂

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