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.

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