If Women Rose Rooted

I’ve spent rather a lot of the last week slowly reading and thinking about Sharon Blackie’s book, If Women Rose Rooted. It’s a fascinating mix of autobiography, Celtic mythology, the stories of modern women, and the idea of the heroine’s journey.

I’ve read some Joseph Campbell, and he’s certainly very interesting, but the reduction of all story down to this idea of a hero’s journey has never agreed with me. Story should mean more than this, surely? I’ve never been able to see myself in the hero’s journey, not even when Martin Shaw reworked it so beautifully in his book ‘Snowy Tower’.

Before this starts to sound like a gender issue, I should flag up that the point at which I really started thinking about multiple narratives, was when, in 2013, I interviewed Ronald Hutton for the Moon Books blog (http://moon-books.net/blogs/ronald-hutton/) Hearing him talk about story and interpretation at the PF Wessex conference recently means this has been on my mind.

Stories shape who we are, and where we are going. What we say and how we say it can define a culture. The stories of the hero’s journey – as Sharon Blackie illustrates – are stories of adventure and conquest, triumph and dominance. These are the stories that celebrate ‘power over’, competition and winning. These stories underpin capitalism and the destructive exploitation of the planet.

I found Sharon Blackie’s book to be a fascinating and rewarding read, full of ideas that resonated with me and lessons I needed to learn. Even so, I’m not going to rush out and restyle my life along the lines of the heroine’s journey either. It’s just too gendered for me. Too defined.

What I am going to do is keep thinking about those other story shapes. There have to be other ways of writing and other kinds of stories to tell. We’ve got used to certain forms and habits in stories, certain shapes and underlying ideas about what a story should be. Not least, we favour stories that are tidy, with clear endings, clear meanings, with winners and losers. I guess people have been telling these kinds of stories for a long time, but perhaps not forever.

More about the book here – https://ifwomenroserooted.com/

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

6 responses to “If Women Rose Rooted

  • Ella Wherry

    I LOVE that you have read this, and that you are going down the rabbit hole of adventure into story! I also have this book and am enjoying reading it as it is so full of enchantment and maybe not the heroine’s journey as much as each of us has our own story and our own majik. Don’t forget to share the gold you mine here….! Blessings on the journey.

  • Christopher Blackwell

    One thing that I bring up about what passes of history, is that it is the story of the people. Which people? Why the one who is telling the story. Let others tell history and you get a completely different story, just as true, and just as untrue, because it is from their point of view, showing only what they want to show, but hiding what they don’t want seen.

    I think that is true of all stories though. Remember all of us see life and reality with us in the very center of it all. Our view, and our interpretation, may not be the reality at all, but just our own personal myth.

    I learned this from the experience of having people mention that I had a major affect on their life. This is strange in that we had only a passing experience with each other. Then it dawned on me, it had nothing to do with anything I said intentionally. Instead it had to do only with them hearing whatever they needed to hear at that point of their life. They may not have heard or even recorded my actual words, they just got what they needed regardless of what I said, or did.

    Now that is magic,whether it had anything to do with me or not. [Grin]

  • karenenneagram

    Christopher, I’ve had the same experience so many times – and also the one where they say to me: “you said…..” both negative and positive and definitely not what I said. They are hearing with the ears of the person they are in the story they tell. We all are! Grin! indeed, and magic.

    As for me, I’ve never really considered the heroine’s journey… even Parvati seems to me to simply be a bolster for the hero (she’s echoed in Chaucer and Shakespeare, the wronged outcast wife who has to suffer to prove her innocence – what’s that about, eh?). Give me Kali or the Morrigan any day.

    So I’m looking forward to this.

  • lornasmithers

    I thought it was a powerful book with some really great stories and storytelling in it, although I could see the heroine’s journey isn’t for everyone. We’re not all cut out to be heroines or leaders. It would interesting to see an anthology of ‘other story shapes’…

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