By Paulo Coelho
So many books out there talk about journeys of spiritual discovery. But not many will take you on quite the same path as Brida by Paulo Coelho.
Of the books I’ve read that are in this style of writing, I don’t think I could say this was my favorite. With an odd storyline and strained conclusions, Coelho takes the reader on a journey with the main character, Brida, who wants to find her true path. Along the way, she meets a wizard, an older man who lives in “the tradition of the sun”. She also meets a witch, who teaches “the traditions of the moon.”
Until Brida starts delving into the magic of these "traditions", she has lived a normal life as a student, an employee, and a girlfriend. But nothing she does from the moment she meets Magus, the wizard, is what I would call normal.
Learning, eventually, that she has a “Gift,” takes Brida even deeper into her desire for the knowledge of these “traditions” and Brida decides she wants to become a witch.
Following the guidance of Wicca the witch, Brida hallucinates, dreams of herself in a previous life, and questions her relationship with her boyfriend.
Realizing her Gift leads Brida to ask big questions, such as “what is the purpose of life?” Wicca responds to Brida by explaining about Soul Mates, “Our souls divide as do crystals and stars, cells and plants. Our soul divides in two, and those new souls are in turn transformed into two and so, within a few generations, we are scattered over a large part of earth.” According to Wicca, the process of finding those scattered parts is Love. She explains to Brida how important it is to reencounter those Soul Mates, “…Even if it is only for a matter of moments, because those moments bring with them a Love so intense that it justifies the rest of our days.”
In her quest for understanding, Brida finally begins to realize what it really is that she is seeking, and she feels an obligation to discover her Soul Mate(s). She still has a boyfriend at this point, and creates an experience that leads her to believe he is actually one of her Soul Mates. This seemed a bit of a stretch for me, since the boyfriend had played such a minor role in the book up to this point.
Even though she feels a sense of relief at discovering a Soul Mate, the author has disclosed earlier in the book that Magus, the wizard, feels Brida is also his Soul Mate, which Brida eventually discovers for herself. As I was reading this, it seemed to me this would lead to some kind of climactic love triangle, but I was wrong.
Not until near the end of the book, when Magus explains to Brida why she will never belong to him, did I realize they weren’t going to have some kind of competing lovers duel or something like that.
Despite that, I did appreciate some of the symbolic explanations of the Soul Mate issue within this book, especially about being able to recognize your Soul Mate “by the light in their eyes.” The book wasn’t terribly interesting or exciting, though. And, frankly, the magical elements were a little uncomfortable for me (I live a simple, non-magical, existence after all). But it was a quick read and made me think about love a little differently than before.