Friday, 12 September 2014

Watching omens and following signs ~ Revisiting The Alchemist

I've always loved Paulo Coelho's 'The Alchemist, from the very first moment I caught sight of the artwork on the cover, the violet, gold and lilac, the deeply intriguing symbology, and then when I read the synopsis on the back cover... naturally I had to buy a copy.

It's one of those books that reminds me of my purpose, my own personal legend… it's a map that helps me hold my course during times when I've got to hold tight to the mast, waiting for the storm to pass.

Anyway, today I find myself feeling very inspired and re-focused after listening to this little interview… Oprah's 'Super Soul Sunday', speaking here with Paulo Coelho about his most beloved fable 'The Alchemist', discussing omens and signs, following our dreams and becoming fluent in the language of the World.

I met Paulo in 1998 back in Auckland City and he asked me a rather remarkable question... (several in fact)

It felt like one of the 'omens' straight out of the story when I was invited to attend a book signing for his latest book 'The Fifth Mountain' being held at Pathfinder Bookshop, New Gallery Building on Lorne Street in the city.

I arrived early and was outside rummaging in my bag when I heard a voice behind me ask "Are you here to interview me?" in Portuguese-toned English.  
I turned and found myself face-to-face with the celebrated author himself, taken completely by surprise.

"No," I said, "but it's wonderful to meet you…"
He signed my First Edition paperback of 'The Alchemist' there and then - the first signing before the event had even begun.
I remembered to ask him a 'million pound' question I had been musing on since reading another of his works - and so here was my chance. I asked about one of the characters he mentioned in his book 'The Valkyries' and named who I thought that person had been in his life. It clearly piqued his interest, and he turned to his assistant, smiled widely and said "This girl knows who the character is in the Valkyries!"

I stayed to hear him talk about his new book (front row, right at his feet) and then afterwards, as the signing of newly purchased copies began in earnest up at the head of a huge line of people, I went to pick up my motorcycle helmet to head home, I heard that accent again, calling to me across the room, "You need to go so soon?"

He said he'd like to talk to me afterwards, and could I wait for him?   I stayed on and after the final person left, we disappeared up the escalator into the closed Art Gallery part of the building above the bookshop.

Imagine my surprise when the first question of this strange synchronistic meeting was Paulo asking me, "Do you believe you have the Soul of a Witch?"  There was a long pause as I considered my answer carefully.

"Yes," I replied, "I would have to say that I do."  "Because for me, that term is an ancient one that comes from a word that speaks of women and men who understood plants and animal spirits and healing with Earth's energies…" *  Oh course I use vastly different terms to describe myself these days.

We spoke of others things to… like the Souls journey through time, important stuff like that.   He gave me his business card and asked me to write to him.

The whole evening felt like such a wonderful celebration, an very unexpected meeting and connection, making memories that enrich the journey and last a lifetime. 

Blessings of beauty and the golden Autumn light,
Catherine Athena  xo   

Ps. If you enjoyed this blog post and would like to read more...Part 2 continues over here >                                 

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* From interviews given in 2006 / 2007 on the release of "The Witch of Portobello",  Paulo says "Unfortunately the word 'witch' still has many prejudices.  To me, a witch is a woman that is capable of letting her intuition take hold of her actions, that communes with her environment, that isn't afraid of facing challenges. In my latest novel, I precisely talk about the prejudice that modern witches face in modern society."

"A witch was a person who never complied with the established rules, and always tried to dare and go beyond and to celebrate life, and to love and to have joy and pleasure while doing this."


  1. oh this is so amazing !!
    I have never seen this edition of The Alchemist before, the cover is simply stunning.

    1. :-) Yes indeed, that's what it looked like when it was first on the scene. It's pretty magical hey…compelling imagery. C xo

  2. Thats an amazing story! Its truely interesting what the universe throws at us and usually whne we least expect it. Did you ever write to him? Now i have something new to put on my reading list.


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