Love Letter to a Bog

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.

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The Enchanted Garden 3: the fine art of fruitfulness

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

Myth-making is soul-making

Myth is the language of psyche – of soul. And the psychology I’ve actually practiced down all the years (as opposed to the disenchanted, scientistic, experimental methodology I was taught early on) has always been about soul – and has always been founded on a deep immersion in myth. Above all, it’s been about working with the mythic imagination in order to understand, express, create soul. Read More

The Mythic Imagination: a TEDx talk

‘Post-heroic stories aren’t focused on individual glory; they’re focused on community. On diversity. It’s not about slaying the dragon, but about harnessing his special skills – making him part of the team. It’s about understanding, and valuing, the black, feathery, croaking wisdom of a crow. It’s about living with a half-empty stomach so you can feed some of your porridge to the hungry mice – who, if you are lucky, will help you to sort the wheat from the chaff. Post-heroic stories aren’t about winning the hand of the simpering, golden-haired princess: they’re about kissing the boar-toothed, blue-faced hag.’

Sharon Blackie, ‘The Mythic Imagination’

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The storytelling animal: an extract from ‘The Enchanted Life’

It’s just two weeks now until The Enchanted Life is officially published. In some ways, it seems like an age has passed since I handed the final manuscript over to my editor at the beginning of October; in other ways it seems all too recent, as I find myself some days still in the throes of what my husband calls ‘post-book traumatic stress disorder’.

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Building a new folk culture

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