Brida is the tale of a young Irish woman who is on a quest to understand the deeper mysteries of life. Her quest leads her into strange places and encounter with many interesting characters who ...(more)
"I want to learn about magic," said the girl.
The Magus looked at her. Faded jeans, T-shirt, the challenging look adopted by all shy people precisely when it's least needed. "I must be twice her age," he thought. And despite this, he knew that he had met his Soul Mate.
"My name's Brida," she went on. "Forgive me for not introducing myself. I've waited a long time for this moment and I'm more nervous than I thought I would be."
"Why do you want to learn about magic?" he asked.
"So that I can find answers to some of the questions I have regarding life, so that I can learn about the occult powers, and, possibly, how to travel back into the past and forward into the future."
It wasn't the first time someone had come to the forest to ask him this. There was a time when he'd been a Teacher who was known and respected by the Tradition. He'd taken on several pupils and believed that the world would change if he could change those around him. But he had made a mistake. And Teachers of the Tradition cannot make mistakes.
"Don't you think you're rather young?"
"I'm twenty-one," said Brida. "If I wanted to start learning ballet, I'd be considered too old."
The Magus made a sign for her to follow him. They set off together through the forest, in silence. "She's pretty," he was thinking as the shadows cast by the trees rapidly lengthened and shifted as the sun sank lower on the horizon. "But I'm twice her age." This, he knew, meant that he might well suffer.
Brida felt irritated by the silence of the man walking beside her; he hadn't even deigned to respond to her last remark. The forest floor was wet and covered in fallen leaves; she, too, noticed the shadows changing and the rapid approach of night. It would be dark soon and they didn't have a flashlight with them.
"I have to trust him," she told herself. "If I believe that he can teach me magic, then I also have to believe that he can guide me through the forest."
They continued walking. He appeared to be wandering aimlessly, from one side to the other, changing direction even when there was no obstacle in his path. More than once they walked in a circle, passing the same place three or four times.
"Perhaps he's testing me." She was determined to see this experience through to the end and tried telling herself that everything that was happening--including those circular walks--was perfectly normal.
She had come a very long way and had hoped for more from this encounter. Dublin was over ninety miles away, and the buses to the village were uncomfortable and left at absurd times. She'd had to get up early, travel for three hours, ask the people in the village where she might find him, and explain what she wanted with such a strange man. Finally, someone had told her in which part of the forest he could usually be found during the day, but not without first warning her that he'd already tried to seduce one of the village girls.
"He's an interesting man," she thought to herself. They were climbing now, and she found herself hoping that the sun would linger a little longer in the sky. She was afraid she might slip on the damp leaves.
"Why do you really want to learn about magic?"
Brida was pleased that the silence had been broken. She gave him the same answer she had given before.
But he wasn't satisfied.
"Perhaps you want to learn about magic because it's mysterious and secret, because it provides answers that few human beings ever manage to find in a whole lifetime, or perhaps because it evokes a romantic past."
Brida said nothing. She didn't know what to say. Afraid to give an answer the Magus might not like, she rather wished he would lapse back into his earlier silence.
At last they came to the top of a hill, having crossed the entire forest. The ground there was rocky and bare of vegetation, but at least it was less slippery, and Brida could follow the Magus without difficulty.
He sat down on the highest point and asked Brida to do the same.
"Other people have been here before," said the Magus. "They, too, came to ask me to teach them about magic, but I've taught everything I needed to teach. I've given back to humanity what it gave to me. Now I want to be alone, to climb mountains, tend plants, and commune with God."
"That's not true," replied the girl.
"What isn't true?" he asked, surprised.
"You might want to commune with God, but it isn't true that you want to be alone."
Brida regretted having spoken. She had spoken on an impulse, and now it was too late to correct her mistake. Perhaps there were people who wanted to be alone. Perhaps women needed men more than men needed women.
The Magus, however, showed no sign of irritation when he spoke again.
"I'm going to ask you a question," he said, "and you must be absolutely honest in your answer. If you tell me the truth, I'll teach you what you ask. If you lie, you must never again return to this forest."
Brida gave a sigh of relief. He was going to ask her a question. She simply had to tell the truth, that was all. She had always assumed that a Teacher would demand really difficult things of someone before taking them on as a pupil.
"Let's suppose that I do start teaching you what I've learned," he said, his eyes fixed on hers. "Let's suppose that I start to show you the parallel universes that surround us, the angels, the wisdom of nature, the mysteries of the Tradition of the Sun and the Tradition of the Moon. Then one day, you go into town to buy some food, and in the middle of the street, you meet the love of your life."
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