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Blog Home2018-11-16T18:48:58+01:00

Imaginarium: a place dedicated to cultivating the imagination. And the practice of mythic imagination which I teach is premised on the fact that we all carry within us our own unique inner imaginarium, which in turn forms part of our own unique mythopoetic identity. We are each haunted by different images; we each resonate with different myths or fairy tales, and with different archetypal characters within them. And each of us identifies with different archetypal characters and images at different times in our own lives. How do we uncover those patterns; how do we bring those images to life, and let them work their magic on us? I’d like to share with you an example of one of those guiding images which once worked its deep magic on me, and which has then continued to do so in an evolving way, for the best part of two decades. 3331

Reclaiming our indigenous Western roots. Some days, that seems like a big ask. But it’s been the focus of my work for a very long time now. It’s the reason why I wrote If Women Rose Rooted, where I had this to say:

‘In our own Western societies we are seeing more calls for a return to native wisdom, but we cannot live by the worldviews of other cultures, which are rooted in lands and histories that have little relationship to our own. And yet, so often we try to: we look for our spiritual practices to the East – to Taoism, for example, and to Buddhism; we look to the West for guidance on how to live in harmony with the land – to indigenous stories and traditions from the Americas. But fine as all of those traditions are, we don’t need to look to the myths of other cultures for role models, or for guidance on how to live more authentically, in balance and harmony with the planet on which we depend. We have our own guiding stories, and they are deeply rooted in the heart of our own native landscapes. We draw them out of the wells and the waters; beachcombing, we lift them out of the sand. We dive for them to the bottom of deep lakes, we disinter them from the bogs, we follow their tracks through the shadowy glades of the enchanted forest. Those stories not only ground us: they show us what we might once have been, we women, and what we might become again if we choose. … 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.’

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A couple of decades ago, when I was once again delving deeply into my roots in psychology and mythology, I discovered the writings of Kathleen Raine. I’d long admired her as a poet, but hadn’t really grasped the extent of her scholarship in the realms of the imaginal and the imagination – something I was working with and retraining in at the time, and in which I’ve continued to specialise (in one way or another) to this day. One of my favourite books of hers (and I’ve a fair collection) is an old copy of her 1967 essay collection, Defending Ancient Springs. And in that collection is an essay, ‘On the Mythological’, which all those years ago set me off thinking about the role that place plays in our mythology – or at least, the ways in which place used to play a role in our mythology, but has been sidelined for the many wonderful, but rather limited and human-centred, things that go on inside our own bodies. As those of you who’ve read If Women Rose Rooted will know, I’ve been banging on for a long time about the ways in which contemporary culture has confined us inside our own heads, about the ways in which modern psychology (the ‘official’ branches that have sidelined depth psychologists like Jung and Hillman) has encouraged us to think about the human experience as the only one worth studying or valuing. And which has encouraged us to see ourselves as separate from this beautiful, mysterious world in which we are so very clearly, and profoundly, entangled. 3306

I’m 57 years old going on 58, and I keep waiting for my hair to turn grey. It refuses. Instead, the red in it which I always loved has simply faded to duller and darker. The same thing has happened to everyone on my father’s side of the family with my colouring – but I’d rather have grey. It adds gravitas. Makes a little more real those conversations I’ve been having with myself about elderhood. Because that’s the subject of my next (nonfiction) book – you know, the one I wasn’t going to write, because I was never going to write nonfiction again, because it takes so much out of you, and besides, I didn’t think I had anything left to say. 3298