A Dreamscape

I awaken to find myself leaning against a trilithon in Stonehenge. I know instinctively exactly where I am though I can see nothing. The air is cool but not uncomfortable, and everything is silent.  It is pitch black though there are flickering stars above and I find to my total lack of surprise I am wearing a head torch! I turn it on and look to my right. I see a small brown bird with white flecks on its wings, a bit like a sparrow or starling but neither. It has huge soulful eyes that are looking deeply into me and I know somehow it is a little afraid of me. I move  my hand carefully towards the bird as a gesture of love and friendship, asking it not to be afraid, that I mean it no harm at all; but it backs away, and I see Lisa curled up asleep against the adjacent stone, robed all in black. The bird hops over Lisa’s knee and peers back at me with those soulful eyes. Lisa remains motionless, deeply asleep, curled up in the foetus position, inert yet quietly and visibly breathing.

Somehow I feel deeply hurt by the birds rejection and turn away, looking straight ahead into the enveloping darkness, darkness so deep I can almost touch it’s velvet texture; and as I turn back, in the light from my torch, an otter appears. Sleek and silky, showing no fear or concern whatsoever, it jumps into my lap and curls up there contentedly, mewing quietly as I stroke its beautiful sheen soft fur.

Suddenly it’s just before dawn – the sky the colour of deep lapis lazuli becoming a lighter blue with a pink glow to the thin cloud that streaks the north eastern horizon . I’m at some sort of gathering area with loads of folk waiting for me. I can’t see Harrier or Lisa and I know there are others waiting in a different place, but can’t find them.  I feel slightly breathless, out of my depth, though I don’t know why.

I try to get everyone together because I know we are late, and as I set off leading this procession I know others without tickets are joining from everywhere. I tell everyone they must have their ticket or they won’t get in. I’m met with blank stares, sad faces or the occasional incredulous looks. Some folk are in bright coloured clothes, others in deerskin robes with metal symbols I don’t recognise sewn into them; yet others are in heavy cloth cloaks. Some are wearing bizarre hats I can’t even begin to describe while some have the most outlandishly wonderful hairstyles. I find myself a little intimidated by so many individuals all watching me, following me, waiting in my every word.

We reach a heavy medieval looking door/gate in a massive old stone and flint wall. The thick oak door is studded with huge iron hinges, though the young attendant opens it without a word with a big smile on her face, as if expecting such a strange looking procession. I thank her and we walk through the entry.

Just beyond the wall I can see the last few figures of another procession being led into the stones and I know that it is being led by Harrier and Lisa. I try to catch up with them as they disappear into the ancient Temple, but the path seems to keep diverting me further and further away.  No matter how hard I try to follow them and make my way to the Stones I am unable to do so. The pathway seems alive, to have a mind of its own,  and I soon realise that have to see someone else before going to the stones. The sun is coming up, just beginning to break the horizon and I know the ceremony is beginning but I have to get some sort of permission from us unseen, unknown presence; and all the time more and more folk are arriving, joining the throng that is merrily following me.

Eventually I know I have been accepted, Continue reading

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Book review: If Women Rose Rooted

I read blogs; I read lots of blogs. The ones I follow are those where the writers have something meaningful to share, something worthwhile to explore. Otherwise, why bother! Some of the authors I know personally, some I’ve never met; they are a diverse group of folk. Many of the blogs I come across are discovered by following random links from blog to blog, website to website, picking up nuggets of wisdom and deep insights that I would probably never have found otherwise.

That’s how I first came across the work of Sharon Blackie, through her blog, singingoverthebones.org – though the tangled path that led me to her I couldn’t possibly relate now, lost as it is in the mists and mysteries of serendipity. I don’t know Sharon personally, though I’d like to! And after reading her blog for some time, working through the archive of her writings, I have a good idea of who she is. And now having read If Women Rose Rooted I think I have an even clearer idea of her.

If Women Rose Rooted is a brave, wonderful, insightful and highly important work. It defies simple definitions – it is part biography, part storytelling, part poetry, part myth, part metaphor , part commentary on the ecological, environmental and social state of the world we live in. But more than all of that it is a desperately needed call for women to stand in their own strength to reimagine their relationship with the land and to act, to take up the path of the Heroine’s Journey.

Taking us on a journey through her life experiences of working in modern big business – which she describes as our modern Wasteland – with soul deep honesty, relating her story to both Celtic myth and landscape, recognising always that one is inseparable from the other, I found myself recognising so much of her story, and was particularly moved by that fact that she doesn’t gloss over her mistakes. Too often in books we can read about how to resolve our problems and work through our existential difficulties in some sort of formulaic way. Not so here. Mistakes are acknowledged and recognised for the life lessons they can teach us. Life isn’t linear, it’s a spiral, and sometimes that spiral leads us back to exactly where we started with lessons not yet learned. I recognised this deeply within my own experiences, just as I recognised that point where, just as Blackie does, I became sick and tired of being sick and tired – tired of the need to earn a big salary, competitive and to be part of the machine of modern life, of the Wasteland. 

Reading this book reminded me of my own deep roots in the Celtic world, of Ireland and long forgotten ancestors and their stories, and of how far I’ve come on my own journey and far I’ve how yet to go. It reminded me that our lives can and should be about reclaiming the wild spirit of nature within us, that we must nurture and care for the landscape wherever we may live, and that it is through relationship and community, one small step at a time, we can make a difference. Our stories, the stories of our ancestors and our land, are deeply relevant, and can still shape and inspire us. 

If Women Rose Rooted isn’t an easy read in places, and profoundly beautiful in others. There were moments when I gasped in recognition and found myself moved to tears by the beauty of her words; it is a book that I found deeply moving; reading it has taught me that we don’t need to follow the Heroes path, wielding a sword and shield while clad in shining steel; it showed me there is another path and reminded me that there is no time to lose in living full and authentic lives. 

If Women Rose Rooted by Sharon Blackie.