20 Lessons from The Witch of Portobello

The Witch of Portobello
Author: Paulo Coelho
  1. I’m going back, or, rather, part of me is going back to that world where only what we can see, touch, and explain makes sense. This is the universe I’ll have to live with for the rest of my days. I also know that, at night, another part of me will remain wandering in space, I’ll place an open pair of scissors on my bedside table to snip off the end of the dream. The next day, I’ll look at the scissors with a touch of regret, but I must adapt to living in the world again or risk going mad.
  2. “No one can manipulate anyone else. In any relationship, both parties know what they’re doing, even if one of them complains later on that they were used.”
  3. Everyone’s looking for the perfect teacher, but although their teachings might be divine, teachers are all too human, and that’s something people find hard to accept. Don’t confuse the teacher with the lesson, the ritual with the ecstasy, the transmitter of the symbol with the symbol itself. But we are weak: we ask the Mother to send us guides, and all she sends are signs to the road we need to follow.
  4. Athena brought to the surface the immensely rich world we all carry in our souls, without realizing that people aren’t yet ready to accept their own powers. We women, when we’re searching for a meaning to our lives or for the path of knowledge, always identify with one of four classic archetypes. The Virgin is the one whose search springs from her complete independence, and everything she learns is the fruit of her ability to face challenges alone. The Martyr finds her way to self-knowledge through pain, surrender and suffering. The Saints finds her true reason for living in unconditional love and in her ability to give without asking anything in return. Finally, the Witch justifies her existence by going in search of complete and limitless pleasure. Normally, a woman has to choose from one of these.
  5. Life, however, had other plans — when fate is very generous with us, there is always a well into which all our dreams can tumble.
  6. A life I had chosen in the belief that love conquers all. And it isn’t true. Sometimes love carries us into the abyss, taking with us — to make matters worse — the people we love.
  7. When the pain abated — time is the only cure for that — I saw that life had allowed me to meet the one woman I would ever be capable of loving. Each second spent by her side had been worthwhile, and given the chance, despite all that had happened, I would do the same thing over again.
  8. “Because all my life I’ve learned to suffer in silence,” she replies. And only then did she put her arms around me and cry out all the tears she would like to have shed on that day.
  9. “The brush with which you are making these lines is just an instrument. It has no consciousness, it follows the desires of the person holding it. And in that it is very like what we call ‘life’. Many people in this world are merely playing a role, unaware that there is an Invisible Hand guiding them. At this moment, in your hands, in the brush tracing each letter, lie all the intentions of your soul. Try to understand the importance of this.”
  10. You see, you’re curious to know what’s going on in the country where you were born. You’re settled in England, you have friends, Dad earns plenty of money, you’ve got security, and yet you still buy Lebanese newspapers. What I mean is that if you’re not in touch with your roots, you feel as if you’ve lost touch with the world. Is it so very hard then for you to understand what I’m feeling?”
  11. Like all storms, it brings destruction, but at the same time, it soaks the fields, and the wisdom of the heavens falls with the rain. Like all storms, it will pass. The more violent it is, the more quickly it will pass.
  12. What would tomorrow bring me, along with the departure of the being I’ve always both loved and feared from a distance? I was everyone, and everyone was me and my solitude.
  13. Learn, but always learn with other people by your side. Don’t be alone in the search, because if you take a wrong step, you’ll have no one there to help put you right.”
  14. “Faith is not Desire. Faith is Will. Desires are things that need to be satisfied, whereas Will is a force. Will changes the space around us, as you did with your work at the bank.”
  15. They’ll get lost, and that’s the best way to discover interesting places. Forget everything you’ve ever learned about the stars and they’ll once more be transformed into angels, or into children, or into whatever you want to believe at that moment.
  16. Try to feel good about yourself even when you feel like the least worthy of creatures. Reject all those negative thoughts and let the Mother take possession of your body and soul. Everything is worship if your mind is focused on the present moment.
  17. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything. When you don’t know something, ask or go away and find out.
  18. Simply believe that you can. At first, you’ll be confused and insecure. You have the knowledge, it’s simply a matter of being aware. Be clear. Reprogram yourself every minute of each day with thoughts that make you grow. When you’re feeling irritated or confused, try to laugh at yourself. Laugh out loud. Concentrate. If you can find nothing on which to focus your mind, concentrate on your breathing. Listen to your heart beating, follow the thoughts you can’t control, control your desire to get up at once and to do something “useful”. Sit for a few minutes each day doing nothing, getting as much as you can out of that time.
  19. When you’re washing up, pray. Be thankful that there are plates to be washed; that means there was food, that you fed someone.
  20. You are what  you believe yourself to be. Don’t be like those people who believe in “positive thinking” and tell themselves that they’re loved and strong and capable. You don’t need to do that, because you know it already. And when you doubt it — which happens, do as I suggested. Instead of trying to prove that you’re better than you think, just laugh. Laugh at your worries and insecurities. View your anxieties with humor. It will be difficult at first, but you’ll gradually get used to it.
NB! Every word from this post came from Paulo Coelho’s book.

Thoughts on Brida

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Barstow, Ca 8/7/2015 | Photo: queenie

Among the books of Paulo Coelho, I find Brida to be the closest to my heart although I love all the others. It relates to me as if I am Brida and my husband is the Magus.

In the book, Brida came to the Magus in search of a teacher to learn about the Tradition of the Sun and turned out found her soul mate. The Magus, on the other hand, is a fully knowledgeable teacher who at the first sight of Brida knew instantly that she is his soul mate, his true love.

I love how the author described in detail the process of meeting your soulmate. Just like in the book, I met my husband not knowing that all along, upon seeing me the first time, he knew from his heart I will be his wife. For me, it was definitely not love at first sight. As I feel that I still have a lot to do with my life (and for a young person on her twenties), there are definitely a lot of opportunities ahead of me that if I miss out, I might regret. In choosing our path, it is normal to miss out on the other.

I was thinking of my husband when he affirmed to it. He said to me one day that he understand that I still have a lot to do, like figuring out what I want to do in life and that I am the only one to realize my path. Come to think of it now, his words are indeed so helpful to me. Well, knowing that he is not physically around me anymore, his words echoes through my life, these are the words that somehow help me get through my darkest days.

It is quite amusing that all along, as he let me realize my life, I am quite confused of the feeling every time he is around. In the book, the author describes, this is how we know who our soulmate is — “the light in their eyes”. And how would we know? By taking risks. And I did. And the rest was history.

The Magus realized in the end the most important lesson, that love is liberty. During our short-lived marriage, I can say that I have experienced the love of a lifetime that even after his death, I still survive. At first I was not sure how one survive a death of your partner, but then the answer came saying that as long as his love for me is alive, it will be my oxygen to help me breathe for the rest of my life.

And as for the topic about the possibility of meeting more than one soulmate in our life, the answer is I’m not really sure as I haven’t experienced meeting another one. But maybe, just maybe, when there is one (one day) the love that is keeping me alive will be renewed as I fill my soul again with more love and faith.

20 Lessons from Brida

Brida

Author: Paulo Coelho

Excerpt from the book: That’s a risk we’re going to take together, Brida. An anonymous text from the Tradition says that, in life, each person can take one of two attitudes: to build or to plant. The builders might take years over their tasks, but one day, they finish what they’re doing. Then they find they’re hemmed in by their own walls. Life loses its meaning when the building stops.

  1. “Would you give up everything for that man?” It wasn’t so much a question, it was a choice, the most difficult choice anyone would have to make in life.
  2. “So what is magic?” she asked. “Magic is a bridge,” he said at last, “a bridge that allows you to walk from the visible world over into the invisible world, and to learn the lessons of both those worlds.”
  3. He looked at the girl’s eager, trusting face. In his heart, he prayed she would understand what he had to teach her. She was, after all, his soul mate, even if she didn’t yet know it, even if she was still very young and fascinated by the things and the people of this world.
  4. She had met people who had lost the glow of being alive because they could no longer fight against loneliness and had ended up becoming addicted to it.
  5. “I have faith in God, faith in my Guardian Angel, who brought me here, and who remains here with me. I can’t explain what he’s like, but I know he is near. I will not dash my foot against a stone.”
  6. “But how will I know who my Soul Mate is?” You could tell your Soul Mate by the light in their eyes, and since time began, that has been how people have recognized their TRUE LOVE. By taking risks. By risking failure, disappointment, disillusion, but never ceasing in your search for Love. As long as you keep looking, you will triumph in the end.
  7. “Is it possible to meet more than one Soul Mate in each life?” Yes, and when that happens, the heart is divided and the result is pain and suffering. The essence of Creation is one and one alone. And that essence is called Love.
  8. Love is the force that brings us back together, in order to condense the experience dispersed in many lives and many parts of the world.
  9. “We are responsible for the whole Earth because we do not know where they might be. Those Soul Mates we were from the beginning of time. If they are well, then we, too, will be happy. If they are not well, we will suffer, however unconsciously, a portion of their pain. Above all, we are responsible for re-encountering, at least once in every incarnation, the Soul Mate who is sure to cross our path. 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.”
  10. “We can also allow our Soul Mate to pass us by, without accepting him or her, or even noticing. Then we will need another incarnation in order to find that Soul Mate. And because of our selfishness, we will be condemned to the worst torture humankind ever invented for itself: loneliness.”
  11. Choosing a path meant having to miss out on others. She had a whole life to live, and she was always thinking that, in the future, she might regret the choices she made now.
  12. “You concern yourself too much with other people. They’re a mirror of yourself.”
  13. That was the wisdom of Soul Mates: they always recognized each other. True love allowed each person to follow their own path, knowing that they would never lose touch with their Soul Mate.
  14. Love do not grow old along with the body. Feelings form part of a world I don’t know, but it’s a world where there’s no time, no space, no frontiers.
  15. “For many days, I wondered if that man really existed. In the end, I decided that he had been a real man, a man who had loved me, even if only for an afternoon, and during that afternoon, he’d given me everything he had kept to himself throughout his life: his struggles, his joys, his difficulties and his dreams. That afternoon I gave myself wholly as well — I was his companion, his wife, his audience, his lover. In a matter of only few hours, I experienced the LOVE OF A LIFETIME.
  16. Love was about everything else and there was no hatred in love, only the occasional mistake.
  17. “Never be ashamed. Accept what life offers you and try to drink from every cup. All wines should be tasted; some should only be sipped, but with others, drink the whole bottle.”
  18. “That is what the forest taught me. That you will never be mine, and that is why I will never lose you. You were my hope during my days of loneliness, my anxiety during moments of doubt, my certainty during moments of faith.
  19. “Knowing that my Soul Mate would come one day, I devoted myself to learning the Tradition of the Sun. Knowing that you existed was my one reason for continuing to live.”
  20. “You came to me from the slavery I myself had created, to tell me that I was free to return to the world and to the things of the world. I understood everything I needed to know, and I love you more than all the women I have ever known, more than I loved the woman who, quite unwittingly, exiled me to the forest. I will always remember now that LOVE IS LIBERTY. That was the lesson it took me so many years to learn.

NB! Every word from this post came from the book by Paulo Coelho.