Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Weekly Free Association : The Island

Author: Paulo Coelho

This week, we will leave the tower behind us and venture in the Island.

Islands that are reached either by sailing or by the air are symbolically the harbor of a spiritual center, more precisely the primordial spiritual center.

The primitive Syria mentioned by Homer is for instance a central island in the world. The Greek counterpart of this island is Tula – the white island – where the good fortuned reside.

According to the Muslim tradition heaven on earth is also situated in an island whilst in Greek Mythology, Zeus comes from the sacred island of Minos, the motherland of mysteries.

We see then that the island in this tradition – as well as on Celtic tradition – is very close to the notion of the temple and sanctuary.

Yet, sometimes this refuge also turns out to become a prison – the island of the dead, which souls reach after crossing the eternal waters, is a place where none can escape. We can see then that this island may also symbolize alienation and seclusion. John Donne’s famous line comes to mind: “no man is an island”.

Now you take the floor, what do you associate with the island?

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