A month ago, I embarked on my first trip to America in eleven years, for a series of teaching and lecturing engagements. Those of you who are readers of my books will know that I lived in the USA for over five years, leaving at the end of 2001. And it was a strange thing, to think of being back after so long in a country which I once thought of as home – but which, over the years since I’d left, had become utterly incomprehensible to me. Read More
It’s been an interesting time to spend two and a half weeks in the USA – though of course it’s hard to find a time that isn’t interesting in one way or another these days. On this occasion, as I was travelling the country telling the old Celtic story of the Rape of the Well-Maidens, yet another smug, privileged politician was being accused of sexual abuse, whilst his (male-dominated) establishment protected him, and the only recourse women had was to fall back on rage again.
For the past fifteen years I’ve lived in locations haunted by herons. My character Old Crane Woman (who I wrote about in The Enchanted Life, and whose stories you can find under this blog in the posts labelled ‘Grey Heron Nights’) sprang from one of those haunted places: a river in Donegal which was home to a particularly fine heronry, on the banks of which I lived for three years. Read More
This article was originally published at Caught by the River, in 2016, when I lived in Donegal.
I am a lover of bogs. There: I’ve said it. I’m a bog-woman through and through. I can lose myself on the long, pale edges of a sandy island shore; I can enchant myself in the shadows and twists of an old-growth forest – but in a bog I come back to the centre of myself again and again. ‘The wet centre is bottomless’, Seamus Heaney wrote in ‘Bogland’, and in a bog it seems to me that my centre is bottomless too, that there are no limits on my fecund, dark heart.
In the 1920s, Carl Jung was told a story by Richard Wilhelm, a Chinese scholar and theologian, which influenced him greatly, and which he repeated often through his life. It’s the story of the Rainmaker.
There is always a place in any garden of mine for roses, because roses make my heart glad. But the truth is that there is little that makes my heart gladder than to eat something I’ve grown myself in my garden. To me, the perfect, most enchanted garden is a rather messier version of the classic French potager: flowers, fruit, herbs and vegetables all mixed in together – together with a few hens (we have five) and a bee hive or two. (Or three, in our case.) Read More