The Pilgrimage, by Paulo Coelho, was one of the audio-books I downloaded for my road trip last summer, but I didn’t make it to it. I listened to it recently during my commute.
Coelho did a pilgrimage in 1986 of the Santiago de Compostela road, a major Catholic pilgrimage route, following the Way of St. James. It has been a pilgrimage route since the 9th century A.D.; St. James followed the same route from the Iberian Peninsula to Santiago de Compostela.
The Pilgrimage is a novel; Coelho had a spiritual awakening during his pilgrimage and writes of that experience, however the book has an element of magic and mysticism that makes one wonder how many liberties Coelho took with drafting a tale of his experience.
I had some challenges with this book; as I wanted it to read as a truthful account of the spiritual process of awakening that one goes through while walking the Way of St. James. I felt like Coelho incorporated too much adventure story into the book; it reminded me a lot of The Da Vinci Code. The fantastical elements, including a quest for a sword, a possessed, demonic dog, and other magic, seemed to take away from the lessons of the story.
His style of writing is very simple; there isn’t a lot of flourish in his description of his characters or the settings. That was a bit incongruous given the magical subject matter.
Although it wasn’t my favorite book, it was a quick read and the elements of practice that he describes to awaken your spirituality were interesting. Unfortunately, he didn’t provide enough information to determine if this is an actual studied tradition that one could explore, or simply something he made up for the book. I even googled it and found nothing. Perhaps its a secret society, like in the DaVinci Code. Sigh…