Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho

I finished The Witch of Portobello last week. It was a good book. I thought that it was amazing how an author who is a Roman Catholic could focus in on some of the "feelings" of a pagan. I see no reason why Christian religion can't blend with some of the pagan beliefs and not harm either religion. As a matter of fact, Christianity did blend many pagan beliefs with their own in order to win over those of pagan religion. I think specifically of Christian holidays and their relationship to Pagan holidays. The Christian holidays were set up to coincide with pagan celebrations of the seasons. Even traditions, such as Easter eggs came from the pagan religion.

This book made me think of the condescending way that Christian religion portrays women. Of course, they would never admit this and say that man is to treat his wife with respect, love her as he loves himself. By the same token, the blame for sin is placed on the woman's shoulders. The woman was "made of man's rib" indicating that she is a part of man, not wholly of herself. Even the Christian cross shows the submission of woman to man. The horizontal line represents the female while the vertical line represents the male, and which line is the longest indicating more importance or power? I realize that Jesus was crucified on a Christian cross and that explains why that cross is used, but I can't help but see the symbolism that is there, too. Churches for years did not, and many still do not, accept women in a mininstering role. Some churches even place the women at the back of the church with the men taking the places of importance. I think it is very important for us to see the male and female side of God understanding that one is no more important than the other, and that both sexes can function in the roles of religion and spirituality.

The book.....I seem to be off track, and yet these are things that I thought of while reading. I thought some interesting questions developed in my mind from what I read:

Was Athena the way she was because she was born to a pagan mother, even though she was raised in a Catholic family? Were the "gifts" that she had inborn or learned? Seems that it is both as she had the tendency but then met her teacher. And yet the teacher chose her because she was different.

Did the rejection she felt in the Catholic Church push her more to the pagan religion? Is that happening now among dissatisfied Christians?

Does a teacher learn by teaching? I believe, yes. I think I learned more when teaching than I did going to school.

Why did Athena never return to see her birth mother? It seems she learned from this woman, too, probably more from her than from her adoptive mother.

Do we all have those "blank " spaces, and if so, are they ever completely filled? Was Athena's filled when she decided it was more important to leave the public eye to protect herself and her son?

Did her son have some of the same gifts that Athena had? It was when he sat down that she would go into a trance. He also loved to dance, yet he was afraid the first time Athena became Hagia Sophia. Aren't we all afraid when something unexplainable happens to us, not knowing what to expect?

Was Athena's journey a success? Did she accomplish anything, or were things just going back to what they were? It was interesting when she stated that Andrea would be a better teacher because she had more patience and was prudent. Athena thought that she had failed because she pushed harder than she should have, causing more conflict than was necessary, and yet did she not touch many lives by who and what she was?

Love is a strong theme in the story. It covers love between a man and woman, love between a child and mother, love of parents to their children, whether adopted or biological, love between friends, and interestingly love between those who hate each other, yet love because they learn from each other.

I really enjoyed reading this book.


Julie said...

It is a very good book I enjoyed it too. You should read Ishmael or My Ishmael next (I think Missy has My Ishmael) they are both really good books.

Aunt Dinah said...

I'll let my friend Marita know you enjoyed the book and have written about it on your blog. I know she'll be happy to know the book is being enjoyed and shared.