IF WOMEN ROSE ROOTED
Nautilus Book Award Winner 2016
A life-changing journey from the wasteland of modern society to a place of nourishment and connection.
The word-of-mouth bestselling If Women Rose Rooted has been described as both transformative and essential. Sharon Blackie leads women on a quest to find their necessary and unique place in the world, drawing inspiration from the wise and powerful females in her native mythology, and guidance from contemporary women who have re-rooted themselves in land and community and taken responsibility for shaping the future.
Beautifully written, honest and moving, If Women Rose Rooted is a passionate song to a different kind of femininity; a rallying cry for women to reawaken their natural power – not just for the sake of their own wellbeing, but for love of this threatened earth.
If Women Rose Rooted is published in English by September Publishing, and is available in French from Guy Trédaniel. The audiobook, narrated by Sharon, is available from Tantor Media.
‘She dreams of a night sky from which the stars have not fled in horror, and of wild-pawed, stinking foxes yapping in a moonlit wood. She can see it; she can almost taste it.‘
Extract from “If Women Rose Rooted”
‘If women remember that once upon a time we sang with the tongues of seals and flew with the wings of swans, that we forged our own paths through the dark forest while creating a community of its many inhabitants, then we will rise up rooted, like trees.
And if we rise up rooted, like trees … well then, women might indeed save not only ourselves, but the world.’
Extract from “If Women Rose Rooted”
My first event in The Bone Cave, in December 2020, was a free live webinar based on If Women Rose Rooted. I spoke about the process of writing it, how the inspiration came about, and how my ideas on reclaiming the mythic feminine have progressed in the intervening four or more years. There was also a chance for participants to ‘ask me anything’ about any issue related to the book.
‘I love this book. It’s mind-blowing in the most profound and exhilarating sense. This is an anthem for all we could be. It’s an essential book for this, the most critical of recent times. I sincerely hope every woman who can read is given one, and has the time and the space to read it.’
Manda Scott, author of the best-selling ‘Boudica’ series and ‘Into the Fire’
‘Women have long been told to “know our place”. This powerful and inspiring exploration of the female relationship with landscape turns the diktat around, showing us what may be gained from doing just that.’
Melissa Harrison, author of the Costa-shortlisted ‘At Hawthorn Time’
‘A beautiful, intelligent and unusual book … I’m hoping this book will become the anthem of our generation, encouraging all women to surrender to the earth’s intelligence and rise up, rooted, like trees.’
Kate Forsyth, author of ‘Bitter Greens’, T’he Wild Girl’, and ‘The Beast’s Garden’
‘Occasionally a book comes along which friends share passionately among themselves, sending highlighted excerpts or pages photographed, battered copies passed from one hand to the next. If Women Rose Rooted, Sharon Blackie’s 2017 cry for living an authentic, whole, enchanted life, is one of these.’
Positive News magazine
‘For women who feel separated from their true feminine self, this is a rallying cry to rediscover those ancient roots and be part of the life force again.’
‘Destined to become a classic … Blackie does an admirable job of describing a beautiful, rich, intoxicating, messy, terrifying and ultimately illuminating pathway into the heart of the land and of our own souls.’
SageWoman Magazine (USA)
‘It is heartening to read a progressive view of the women’s movement and one that links with care for the Earth and all living beings. This book is very well recommended.’
‘Drawing on ancient mythology and ways of life, especially those of the Celtic tradition, [Blackie] interweaves ancient wisdom with contemporary contexts to create a richly interesting perspective on other ways of living.’
Interview with Sharon
Was there a particular idea or event that inspired you to write 'If Women Rose Rooted'?
The main inspiration came from studying my native British and Irish mythology, and realising how absolutely fundamental women were to our ancestral cosmological worldview. And how women were presented as guardians and protectors of the land, and the waters. It seemed, and still seems, so important in these challenging times that we women should reclaim those stories, that ancient role. And nothing inspires and captures the imagination quite like a story!
What was the biggest challenge when writing the book?
Well, it was my first full-length piece of nonfiction; I’d always considered myself a novelist. So there was a steep learning curve as I figured out how to pull the structure together. In a way, it was helped by having distinct threads in every chapter – the stories, the interviews, the personal narrative – but weaving them all together into a coherent whole could be challenging at times!
Where did you draw inspiration for the steps of the eco-heroine’s journey?
As a mythologist, I’d studied Joseph Campbells’ work, of course, on the Hero’s Journey, and as a woman, I found it most unsatisfying. Maureen Murdock, Campbell’s student, had written a book about the Heroine’s Journey, but it didn’t deal with many of the issues I thought were important, particularly in an age of environmental and social crisis. A key turning point in my own personal journey had been the onset of grief and helplessness once I’d figured just how messed up the world we’d made was. And I think that is a key stage of many people’s journeys today. So I wanted to add that aspect in. The whole journey is not so much about what goes on inside our heads – the usual over-psychologised ‘me-me-me’ approach – but about how we learn to situate ourselves on this beautiful, animate Earth, and among the non-human others who share it with us.
The book covers a period in your life from your 30s into menopause. Do you see that period in women’s lives as a fertile time for the kinds of questions and conversations covered in the book?
Yes. All of us – both men and women – go through an intense period of re-evaluation, questioning, challenging, during this time in our lives. It’s not the end of it; there’s another major period of transformation which happens when we’re on the threshold of elderhood, and I’m writing about that in my next book, Hagitude. But these middle years are the inspiration behind the idea of the classic ‘midlife crisis’. It’s a time of looking for meaning, and of challenging the structures which have held us, and the roles we’ve adopted, up until now.
There are a lot of inspiring women, both from myth and real life, in the book. Is there one that particularly stays with you?
All of them stay with me in their ways, but the story of Mis is one that stands out, I would say. That’s why I ‘reimagined’ her story in my collection Foxfire, Wolfskin, too. I wanted to give voice to her. I think the fact that our native literature contains such a perfect example of the archetypal madwoman, made mad from grief at the unbearable world, is just perfect. She’s the perfect example of what all women, I think, go through at some point in their lives. When we just can’t bear it any more, and want to grow wings and sprout feathers and fly off into the wilderness. And I love that in the end, healing comes from joining with a kind and gentle man.
Was there anything about how the book was received that surprised you?
I’ve been astonished by its ongoing success, five years on. It’s become a word-of-mouth bestseller, as women read it, and then buy copies for their sisters or daughters or friends. It crops up in the most unlikely places, and the #ifwomenroserooted hashtag on Instagram seems also to have a life of its own. Every week I still receive heartfelt emails from women who tell me how it changed their lives. There’s so much joy in that, for me as a writer, and so much gratitude.
Each of the images is a portal to more information. In A Sense of Place you’ll find a gallery of colour images of the various places and landscapes visited and referred to in the book. In Celtic Women Today you’ll find photographs and biographies for each of the contemporary women interviewed in the book.
‘You cannot read this book and be unchanged by it. Even if you think you are there, there will be something new – a new seed will begin to stir. I loved this book. It is so beautifully written and woven together perfectly. Evocative, honest and raw. Do read it.’
‘I couldn’t put this book down – Sharon Blackie puts into words things that I have felt for a long time but which I lacked the words to articulate.’
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