Often we chance upon books that can change our perspectives, and that come at the right time in our lives. Brida, by Paulo Coelho is one of those books, which was written shortly after The Alchemist, which is considered to be his greatest (and most well-known) work so far. I too stumbled across The Alchemist over a decade ago when a friend at work told me about it and lent me their copy. I read it in a couple of days, and made me challenge my perspective on faith and the meaning of life. At that time I was freelancing, and like most people in my situation were searching for that perfect job, or something that could sustain you financially and creatively. My friend told me that the book finds its way to those who need to read it at the right time (like The Celestine Prophecy), and although I smirked at the time, they were indeed correct. I found Brida in my local Poundland the other day while I was killing time. A single copy was mixed in with some romance novels, and somehow I picked it out as I walked past.
I didn’t know what to expect (it looked as if it was a young adult novel); I had not read any reviews or considered buying it. I’m glad I did, as it turns out, it is quite apt for how my own path has been developing recently. The book is a novel, but based on possible real life events (as many novels are), and is simply written, but within it there are deeper spiritual messages for those who are on a particular path.
There are only a few characters: Brida, Wicca, the Magus, Lorens, and the bookshop owner. It follows the path of Brida, a young Irish girl who has a Gift that she wishes to understand and to learn how to use it. It’s rather simplistic, set in Dublin and as a Catholic girl it would technically be frowned upon for someone of her faith to dabble in witchcraft, the supernatural, or even entertain the concept of reincarnation.
The main themes are love, learning to accept the consequences of mistakes, questioning existence, and one of my favorite topics of Soulmates. Like many, Brida searches for her soulmate, and although many of us think we have found them, discover it’s not always a bed of roses. The novel details a few rituals, outlining the Tradition of the Sun and the Moon, with naked dancing in the forest around a fire, and lots of walks in nature at all hours (not always recommended for safety). That makes for entertaining and light reading, thrown in with some card readings and rituals. Some may feel the ending is a little ambiguous and find it disappointing, but in fact it is the most honest thing in the whole book.
One of the lessons the book highlights for those who aren’t sure (and for each of us, we will see thing differently) is that love can bring pain and pleasure, but if we truly love someone, we must let them find their own path and let them go. Can you love more than one person at the same time, and is love the ultimate power? That is what Brida sets out to discover through magic, and her destined path. It’s a powerful and simple tale, and one that reminds us that mistakes are a part of life, and we shouldn’t be afraid of them, but to learn from them, and that is the point of existence. For me, it was a timely reminder in what appears to be a troubled time in humanity.