Enchantment. By my definition, a vivid sense of belongingness to a rich and many-layered world, a profound and whole-hearted participation in the adventure of life. Enchantment is a natural, spontaneous human tendency – one we possess as children, but lose, through social and cultural pressures, as we grow older. I believe that it is an attitude of mind which can be cultivated: the enchanted life is possible for anyone. The enchanted life is intuitive, embraces wonder, and fully engages the mythic imagination – but it is also deeply embodied, ecological, grounded in place and community. To live an enchanted life is to be challenged, to be awakened, to be gripped and shaken to the core by the extraordinary which lies at the heart of the ordinary.
My blog has seen a lot of changes over the years. ‘The Art of Enchantment’ is the latest incarnation of what was most recently ‘Myths and Metamorphoses’, formerly ‘Singing Over the Bones’, and before that, ‘Re-enchanting the Earth’. Whatever its name, I’ve previously used this blog mostly to write very occasional longer articles about my work in the field of psychology and mythology. Those articles will continue (you’ll find them in the ‘Articles’ category) but now, as part of my own practice of the art of enchantment, I aim also to offer a small note, quote, or reflection here most days that I’m online. Those notes can be found in the ‘Diary’ category.
Dr Sharon Blackie is an award-winning writer of fiction and nonfiction, a mythologist with a specialisation in Celtic Studies, and a psychologist who has specialised both in neuroscience and narrative. Her unique approach to working with myth, fairy tales and folklore highlights the insights these traditions can offer us into authentic and meaningful ways of being which are founded on a deep sense of belonging to place, a rootedness in the land we inhabit. In early 2017 she founded The Hedge School: both an online space and a physical location in Connemara, Ireland, for teachings in myth, wild mind and enchantment. She is a sought-after international teacher and lecturer.
Sharon is the author of The Long Delirious Burning Blue, a novel which the Independent on Sunday called ‘hugely potent. A tribute to the art of storytelling that is itself an affecting and inspiring story’, and which The Scotsman called ‘powerful (reminiscent of The English Patient), filmic, and achieving the kind of symmetry that novels often aspire to, but rarely reach.’ Her word-of-mouth bestselling nonfiction book If Women Rose Rooted offers up a new Heroine’s Journey for this challenging age of social and ecological crisis, and was described by novelist Manda Scott as ‘mind-blowing in the most profound and exhilarating sense … an anthem for all we could be … an essential book for this, the most critical of recent times.’ If Women Rose Rooted was a 2016 Nautilus Book Award winner. Her latest nonfiction book, The Enchanted Life, was published in February 2018. She is now completing a collection of original fairy tales about shapeshifting women, Foxfire, Wolfskin, which will be published in autumn 2019, and is contracted for another nonfiction book in spring 2021. Sharon’s articles have been published in a wide range of popular magazines and academic journals, and in 2009, she was the recipient of a yearlong ‘Creative Scotland’ writing award.
As well as leading retreats and workshops at venues in Europe and North America, and lecturing at academic institutions as diverse as Trinity College Dublin and Pacifica Graduate Institute, California, Sharon has performed at a number of cultural events and festivals, from the Edinburgh International Book Festival to the Dark Mountain Project’s ‘Uncivilisation’ Festival. From 2013 to 2017 she was the founder and editor of EarthLines Magazine, described by Jay Griffiths as ‘a deeply intelligent publication’, by George Monbiot as ‘a rare combination and much needed’, and by Robert Macfarlane as ‘a real point of convergence for many thought-tributaries and philosophical paths’.
After several years as a crofter in the north-west of Scotland and the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, Sharon returned to Ireland in 2014 and lives among the mountains, lakes and seaweed-strewn tidal inlets of the Connemara Gaeltacht. Here, she looks after hens and bees and grows her own vegetables and herbs. Her experiences on the westernmost edges of the Celtic fringe give her a unique perspective on the psychology of belonging, and our relationship with place and the wild.
Sharon is represented by Kirsty McLachlan, at David Godwin Associates.
BA (1st Class Hons) Psychology, University of Liverpool, 1982
PhD in behavioural neuroscience, Faculty of Medicine, University of London, 1985. My thesis was on the behavioural and brain mechanisms underlying anxiety and panic.
Diploma Clinical Hypnotherapy, London College of Clinical Hypnosis, 2003
MA (Distinction) Creative Writing, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2007. This MA concentrated on the novel; my focuses were on developing a sense of place in fiction, and the use of myth and fairy tale to express personal transformation.
MA Celtic Studies, University of Wales Trinity St David (completion 2019). My specialisations during this MA have been (1) the functions and transmission of folk tales and other oral narratives; (2) the nature of the Otherworld in early Irish and Welsh literature (I am particularly interested in the relationship between Henri Corbin’s concept of the mundus imaginalis and the Celtic Otherworld); (3) the origins of the Grail and Arthurian legends (with a special interest in Myrddin/Merlin and other legendary ‘wild man / wild woman’ archetypes), and (4) women’s lives during the Medieval period (with a focus on Otherworldly women in early Irish and Welsh mythology). Related research has focused on the roots of contemporary ‘Celtic spirituality’.