For many of us, life often tends to revolve around two things–finding true love and finding life’s purpose. However, neither of these comes easy. The path to true love, for instance, involves heartbreaks, disappointments and betrayals. In the end, some of us find our ‘soulmates’, while some of us don’t.
Similarly, the road to find our life’s purpose too isn’t easy. It is a convoluted path that tests our perseverance and willpower. Along the way, many of us get sidetracked and lose direction. And the ones who succeed in discovering their life’s purpose are then left with the ultimate choice of whether to tread on the chosen path or not. For, to walk alone to fulfil that purpose with only our vision to accompany us, is perhaps the hardest thing to do.
Paulo Coelho’s Brida employs elements of magical realism and weaves together these seemingly disconnected aspects into a powerful tale. The titular protagonist Brida is a young Irish girl who finds herself drawn towards magic. She believes that magic could help her find her soulmate. So, she approaches a lone magus residing in a forest. He agrees to teach her magic on the condition that she answer his question truthfully. The magus asks her–Given a choice between love and magic, which would you choose? Brida answers truthfully and the magus teaches her the Tradition of the Sun.
In her first lesson–the Dark Night–Brida is left to fend for herself in a dark forest. Initially, she is tormented by her unfounded fears. Brida eventually learns to overcome her fears through faith. It doesn’t take her long to understand that the exercise is an experiential way of learning. Lessons here are self-taught. The next morning, she finds the magus gone.
Left with no choice, Brida begins to explore the Tradition of the Moon, which the magus had briefly spoken about. Here, the knowledge is imparted through books and treatises written ages ago. At this juncture in her life, she meets Wicca, a witch who becomes her tutor.
She teaches Brida magic. Casting a hypnotic spell, Wicca also helps Brida look into her past life. Brida finds her gift in this phase of her life. She finds that she has always been a witch and she ought to continue her destiny in her present life as well. But to be initiated into witchcraft, Brida should find a way to transcend her five senses. And one way would be through consummation.
Through her magical powers, Brida realises that the magus is her soulmate and that he too is in love with her. For Brida, this presents an interesting opportunity–he could help her discover all of life’s secrets. The magus could teach her advanced magic. But Brida is already in a relationship with a physicist. He knows nothing about magic and sees the world through the eyes of science. This puts Brida in a fix. The rest of the story follows Brida as she attempts to choose a path–love or magic.
Though the story is simple, the way it is weaved makes it a compelling read. And the message is equally powerful: It doesn’t matter which path we choose in life–love or life’s purpose–for ultimately, both the roads are bound to meet.
Philosophical as much as it is spiritual, Brida is bound to appeal to those who view life as a journey to be experienced. A treasure trove of quotable quotes, Brida inspires us in our own journey.
For this and many other reasons, Brida is much more than just a novel.