The Twenties (1967-1976)

In 1970, Coelho was drawn into the topics of the occult, witchcraft and satanism and he became convinced that no coincidences occur in life. He felt that he was “a magician preparing for his dawn” (Morais, 2009, p. 181). In terms of the description of God (a), Satan became his God and he got involved in black magic (Arias, 2001).

Coelho became obsessed with a satanistic sect and his (b) practice of religion was based on the occult, satanic rituals and black magic. He introduced Gisa and Raul to his practices, started writing occult texts for Raul’s songs and turned the theatre course at university into a black magic workshop in 1973 (Morais, 2009, p. 214). Coelho joined the sect in 1974, recognised the presence of evil in his life, decided to make a pact with the devil (Morais, 2009, p. 221) and promised the devil

Table 7.4 Life task spirituality in Coelho’s twenties

Life span

Life task spirituality with sub-categories

Periods in Paulo Coelho’s development

(a) Description and

communication with God

(b) Practice of religion


Conceptualisation of humankind’s place

(d) Nature of



Contemplation of nature of meaning of life

4. The







Source: Researcher’s own construction

his soul - considering the nature of immortality (d) - if the devil would support him in realising his dream. Not even an hour later, Coelho cancelled his pact with the devil to overcome the dark temptations (Morais, 2009, p. 222). He left the occult sect after 2 years when he experienced a “black cloud” phenomenon in his apartment (Arias, 2001, p. 118). He panicked and finally returned to his childhood religious belief (Arias, 2001, p. 119). After his split from the sect, in May 1975, he paid for a mass of thanksgiving to be celebrated at the church of St Joseph (Morais, 2009, p. 276) and thereby turned from satanism to his Christian belief by (b) practising his religion.

During his twenties, Coelho experienced his e) meaning in his life only while dreaming of becoming a famous writer, while developing the idea of preparing to become a magician (Morais, 2009) (Table 7.4).

Except for the c.) conceptualisation of humankind’s place, the literature addresses all five components of spirituality in the life of Paulo Coelho in his twenties.

Impacting life forces:

Family His parents took Coelho to the mental hospital one last time. His family still had a strong influence on his life, but his spiritual development seemed to be fairly independent of their religious beliefs. After Coelho had been on a trip to the US, his grandfather died (1971). He travelled to Europe with his grandmother in 1973 and escaped his parents’ influence in his life. Coelho got into two relatively short marriages with Gisa, who joined him in occult practices, and Cissa, who was less involved in religious practices.

Religion During his twenties, Coelho was drawn into the occult, witchcraft and satanism with the aim to influence his success as a writer through occult practices (Morais, 2009, p. 197). He conducted witchcraft rituals (Morais, 2009, p. 214). In 1975, he returned to God and organised a huge celebration for St Joseph (Morais, 2009, p. 276). Coelho’s religious behaviour was strongly influenced by ritualistic practices and a turn from Satan to God.

Education In response to his parents’ wish, Coelho started studying law at the university, but soon left. He started to write his first own play for the stage (Peter Pan) and became a member of the Brazilian Society of Theatre and Writers in 1968. He took theatre courses (Morais, 2009, p. 197), became a self-made lyricist for music productions and later an executive at Philips. The world of the theatre, lyrics, writing and working at Philips was developed as an alternative draft to his religious upbringing, providing him with new world views and a freedom that he had not experienced in his religious practices and with meaning in life.

Community Coelho became part of the Brazilian Society of Theatre Writers in 1968, had “strange friends”, many girlfriends and married twice during his twenties. Gisa, his first wife, and his friend and partner Raul (Morais, 2009) shared Coelho’s interest in the occult.

Media Coelho continued reading books and his theatre productions brought him more recognition than his writing (Morais, 2009, p. 173). He produced his first play, wrote texts for Rauls’ songs and published his first book in 1973.

Government Coelho ran away from the oppressing dictatorship in Brazil by travelling with his grandparents to the US for 6 weeks - a gift from his mother. In 1974 he and his wife, Gisa, were kidnapped by a paramilitary group, tortured and jailed for several days (Coelho, 2006, p. 103). No information was found on how these experiences influenced his belief and faith.

Business/Industry Besides his theatre play productions and his unsuccessful writing, Coelho met Raul Seixas and they start cooperating in music production, Coelho writing as lyricist and Raul acting as song producer (Morais, 2009). In 1972 Coelho worked for a magazine and went on a trip to Europe together with his grandmother. He published his first book in 1973, became rich in 1974 through his lyrics for Rauls’ songs and became a Philips executive.

No explicit information about the influence of global impacts on Coelho during this life period is available. However, his life was influenced by the dictatorship in Brazil and by paramilitary groups kidnapping and torturing him and his wife. No contextual information has been provided about the direct influence of the Brazilian dictatorship in Brazil. However, Coelho was influenced by his global travels to the US and Europe with his family members and with Raul. These were not collective global events that had an influence on him, but rather his individualised experiences in the global context.

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