The storied days

There is something about the all-too-fleeting days between Samhain and Winter Solstice. Something about the sudden sharp shock of early-morning air, about the mists rising from the surface of a thousand scattered Connemara lochs. The bog grasses have transformed themselves from a tired green to a rich russet red, and the great black clouds pile in from the mountains to the north, smothering skies that are all shot through with rainbows.

 

 

Our village hedgerows are on fire with holly berries, and that Old Crane Woman shrieks her sorrows and joys each evening to the wise old fish lurking at the edges of the fast-flowing, rock-tumbling stream which borders our garden.

 

 

These are the most magical days of the year: they’re pregnant with possibility. The dark is still growing – a living, flourishing, palpable presence – seeking out fledgling seeds to nurture in its lush, loamy depths.  The dark makes anything possible, feeds the creative imagination, dissolves the veils which seem to separate us from the world or worlds we are in and of. The dark days teach us all that we ever need to know about enchantment – about that deep, embodied belongingness to a world in whose ebbs and flows of becoming we are helplessly, passionately entangled.

 

 

These are the days when I can find my own centre again, remind myself what matters. It’s been a crazy year. It wasn’t helped by a big house move and major renovation, right in the thick of completing another big book to a contracted deadline. But The Enchanted Life is done now, off to its two fine publishers, the physical book forming and gestating in these dark days, all ready for a February birth. And I have recovered from the exhaustion which always sets in on completion of a nonfiction manuscript – and The Enchanted Life has required a great deal of research, of thought, of finding the ways to shut the builders out and create the intellectual and creative space to bring its complex ideas coherently and imaginatively onto the page. So I find myself, after a longer than usual haitus, ready to inhabit this blog again, and to offer up more regular fragments of enchantment, as well as the longer and more thoughtful articles which form its backbone.

 

 

These are the days when I remember what nurtures me. Nonfiction is a wonderful thing, but what nurtures me most is fiction. Fiction with more than a hint of magic and mystery; fiction with unique characters and surprising, subversive plot lines. What will nurture me above all in this thin season is opening myself to the many vivid voices that are gathering now in my head, crying out to have their own stories told. And so I find myself, after two major nonfiction assignments, turning back to what has always sustained me. The first of several projects will be a collection of original stories about shapeshifting bird-women, featuring – yes, you’ve guessed it – Old Crane Woman as the framing character who brings the stories together, to gather and cohere. The voices are there already: swan-maidens, owl-women, raven queens and so many more, slipping softly through the thin veil of this thinnest of all seasons. These are the days when our ancestors told their tales: the autumn and winter days, the mythic half of the year, when they’d gather together in their houses and the stories would gather there with them, pushing their way out into a cold and hard world, easing the way, showing the path, telling the true wisdom. These are the days when the stories gather: gather them in, and use them well.

 

 

These are the days when I can sit, still and open by a winter-bare stream, where the hawthorn berries slowly shrivel on the oldest of trees, where the too-bright rays of winter sunshine might blind your outer eyes but will shoot their cold-fired inspiration into the heart of your creative imagination. Badger passes along this stream, and fox, and otter; heron haunts its edges and shiny silver trout swim in it. These are the thin days, the storied days, the long, slow, gestating days. I plan to use them well.

 

17 thoughts on “The storied days

  1. Yes, the winter is the best for writing and other creative projects. Loved your line about the sun striking into the heart with inspiration. Winter is a Fire element for me, for sure. Beautiful!

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  2. So beautifully expressed…every year, I feel myself coming to life during this time, dormant creativity stirring to life as the dark gathers. Thank you for the gorgeous photos and mesmerizing words.

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  3. Reblogged this on Ananda Grove and commented:
    A perfect expression of how I am also feeling these days. Fall always stirs me to more passionate, creative life, and this year is no different. In fact, I believe that stirring may be stronger than any I have felt in many years. Thank you to the lyrical Dr Sharon Blackie for this stunningly beautiful post ❤

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  4. It’s sounds so beautiful and reminds me how much I miss a long fall . Here this year ended with Samhain when the snow started falling as has settled in … I try not to dwell on the things left unfinished in the yard , now put to rest for until the snow melts and the ground becomes soft . Some beets were left unharvested . Everything covered with a blanket of white . But the white holds its own magic . There is sparkle in the sunshine . There is a silence when it falls . A possibility of fun getting out and having snowball fights and making snow sculptures on the mild days and a warm fire blazing in the wood stove to keep the chilly air at bay . The ground is cold and I find it hard to feel grounded . Separated from the earth by a thick barrier of snow and frozen ground . So inward we must turn and wait and tell our own stories . Thank you for your thoughts . Good luck with your book and the stories you are writing , I agree that fiction is more nourishing than non fiction . From a reader / listeners perspective the non fiction we can gain from personally a knowledge we have been seeking perhaps … but the fiction gives us what life cannot , certainty , the big picture , solution , understanding . The murder mystery is solved … we can see things in a safe and detached manner and we can relate it to our life perhaps gain some insights into our own being . Whether I am doing everyday tasks or painting or sculpting I often choose some audio version of a fictional story to keep me company , to be my muse and create the space I need to focus on my task . I always enjoy your writing . Keep our connection to enchantment going . Much Joy 😊

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  5. Natalie Merchant – These Are The Days

    These are the days
    These are days you’ll remember.
    Never before and never since,
    I promise, will the whole world be warm as this.
    And as you feel it, you’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky.
    It’s true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

    These are days you’ll remember.
    When May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see in every hour. You’ll know it’s true that you are blessed and lucky.
    It’s true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.

    These are days.
    These are the days you might fill with laughter until you break.
    These days you might feel a shaft of light make its way across your face.
    And when you do you’ll know how it was meant to be.
    See the signs and know their meaning.
    It’s true, you’ll know how it was meant to be.
    Hear the signs and know they’re speaking to you, to you.

    Beautiful post, thank you!

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  6. Your description of these days is so heartwarming. Sometimes I find myself with words inside that I just can’t to seem let outside of me. But this year, for some reason, maybe more time because of the loss of my job, many of my words are making a true effort to come out.

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  7. This is a post full of wisdom, insight and strength. I love this time of year. It is when I am at my most creative. living as I do on Bear Time, curling up to give birth to projects and writing after gorging on the wonders of Autumn, wandering/wondering through the Summer and re-emerging in the Spring hungry once more after pouring out what has been coming to form in my head and heart. My your bird-women fly free and feisty these long Winter nights.

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  8. Thank you for these words. Getting ready for the deep days of winter…and looking forward to your works of fiction owl women and swan maidens!

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