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
In a chapter of The Enchanted Life entitled ‘Coming Home to Ourselves’, I wrote about the ways in which we can deepen our relationship and sense of belonging to the place we live: specifically, to our houses – and to our gardens, if we’re lucky enough to have one. And I am. Regular readers of this blog will know that I moved back to Connemara around a year ago, after three years in Donegal. The rather strange house we now live in sits in the middle of what, once upon a time, might have been thought of as a garden. Here’s how I described it in The Enchanted Life: Read More
Winter Solstice. Today, at 16.28 GMT. The still point of the turning world. Where the dance is. Will you dance, at 16.28 GMT? I will. I’ve been practicing my still dance, my contradictory dance, my paradoxical dance: my dance that is a dance and yet is a still point at the same time. That’s what I’ve been working on for the past few days. To repeat my Eliot quote from the beginning of all this:
Everything, is the simple answer. Rock knows everything. It’s the foundation on which we live: our bedrock. And in these winter days, when everything is stripped bare and the rocky bones of the land are laid open, rock and stone are on my mind.
(Image by Catherine Hyde.)
In my last post, I wrote about building a new folk culture based on our native traditions. This seems especially urgent to me now, surrounded as we all are at this time of year by the consumption-driven madness that calls itself Christmas. Even here in the wilds of Connemara, it isn’t possible to escape it. Turn on the radio or the TV, and we’re deluged by ads urging us to buy, buy, buy. Burn the planet, so that for one lunatic day of the year we can wear red hats and snowflake-embroidered sweaters and drink and eat more than is moral, frankly, and imagine everything is perfect and there’s nothing wrong with us – we’re all quite sane, honestly, and we’re sure the planet will be just fine. But we don’t need to ask for whom the jingle bells toll: they’re tolling for us – have been for decades – and still we can’t seem to help ourselves. Buy, buy, buy.
Last week I was the guest speaker at a joint meeting of the Trinity College Dublin Literary and Environmental Societies. I was speaking at their request about the intersection of myth, feminism and ecology in my writing, and as I always do, I was stressing the value of our native mythology and folk traditions, and the way that they emphasise the need to live in balance and harmony with the land. Afterwards, a couple of students asked questions which stayed with me for a good while afterwards, because they’ve been right at the heart of my work in the world for a good fifteen years. Read More