The Witch Of Portobello: A Novel, by Paulo Coelho, is the story of a woman unlike any other but in whom we still manage to see ourselves (maybe me more than most). She is every woman and completely one of a kind. Her greatest wish in life is to be a mother and to know God and she dares anyone to get in her way. She’s a take-no-prisoners, I-do-what-I-want-but-still-manage-to-offer-my-whole-heart kind of gal. She is both loved and hated and this is the story of her journey.
At that moment, I was behaving like a little girl who has just found out the world isn’t full of ghosts and curses, as grown-ups have taught us. It’s full on love, regardless of how that love is manifested, a love that forgives our mistakes and redeems our sins.
First off, I’ll say that people tend to either love or hate Paulo Coelho. He is often accused of being condescending and arrogant in his writing. I can see this. I don’t LOVE all of his work BUT I do LOVE this particular piece. There are annoying undertones in how he so obviously lays things out but in this case, it isn’t a deterrent, not for me anyway.
The story begins quite sadly. Athena is a devoted Catholic. She goes to the church each morning and sings to the Mother Mary. Because she so badly wants to be a mother, she marries young and becomes one. Too young to be married, and overwhelmed by how his life has changed, her husband asks for a divorce. After which she is publicly humiliated and denied communion. She doesn’t understand why God should be with held from her. No longer having a place in the church, she leaves and never comes back.
And looking at Athena, Jesus might have replied: “My child, I’ve been excluded too. It’s been a very long time since they’ve allowed me in there.”
And here starts her whirlwind! She finds teachers and dances at every opportunity. She expresses herself in speech and movement and before she knows it, and completely unintentionally, she had a herd of people who want to learn from her.
Dance to the point of exhaustion, as if you were a mountaineer climbing a hill, a sacred mountain. Dance until you are so out of breath that your organism is forced to obtain oxygen some other way, and it is that, in the end, that will cause you to lose your identity and your relationship with space and time.
A world traveller, she and her son live in a number of places absorbing and learning. She captivates everyone who meets her (even the ones who loath her) and she is completely her own person. Exceptional at everything she does, she makes you feel like you can do anything and be exceptional too.
…the search for beauty isn’t always associated with anything practical and yet we still search for it as if it were the most important thing in the world.
This story is an exploration of spirit. If your spiritual connection seeks exploration and openness, The Witch Of Portobello: A Novel, is the perfect offering. If you’re faith is more structured and you adhere to dogma, I still recommend you read it, but you probably won’t like it 😉
Everything is worship if your mind is focused on the present moment.