“There are a number of different stories our culture tells itself—a number of myths we live by that tell us how we should be in the world, how to act, what things are important, what our values should be. And for the past millennium, at least—especially for the past 200-300 years—those myths have very much been about progress, about more. That every generation has to be better in some way than the last, has to have more money, has to have a better standard of living, has to have more stuff. Other myths, in the West anyway, are very heroic. We have this concept of the hero, the Hero’s Journey, which is very individualistic, and is all about our own personal progress and individuation. These myths that our culture tells us have led us, effectively, to the mess we’re in today, which I describe as “the Wasteland.” The Wasteland is a defiled and polluted environment, which describes both our external and internal grounds of being. We’ve lost our connection to soul and to place. We’ve been “displaced.”
“Displaced Westerners are very hungry for that sense of connection. So at the heart of my work is precisely that desire to reconnect people with our ancient traditions here in the West—which significantly pre-date the Christian tradition that came to us later, from the Middle East. Those pre-Christian mythologies and philosophies—whether we’re talking about the magical stories of Celtic Ireland, or the beautiful poetic sagas of Finland, or the soul-centered mythtellings of Plato in ancient Greece—are rich and complex and beautiful. They offer up a world in which everything is not only alive, but has a purpose of its own. Where each incarnated soul chooses to come, for a reason—to fulfill its own unique calling or soul purpose, and to offer up its own unique gift. That’s all very clear in the old traditions, and we badly need to reclaim that rich, meaningful worldview, which is our inheritance, our lineage.
“I think one of the problems that we face, though—and to me it’s a very important point, having gone to the trouble to study the original sources—old texts, archaeological evidence, and folklore from the Celtic countries where my lineage is, as well as the wider Western mystery traditions—is that if you’re going to talk about all of this from an authentic, rooted place, you need to put in the work. There is so much nonsense written about these old worldviews from people who haven’t actually studied them properly. I don’t mean that for contemporary practice we need to straight-jacket ourselves in the past, but it helps to understand the lineage that we’re building from. And then, of course, we have to work with the stories so they make sense in a contemporary world, which is not the same world our ancestors inhabited 2,000 years ago.
“One of the concepts I suppose I’m always barking about is the concept of apprenticeship. Many of the old fairy tales have this idea of apprenticeship: a young girl has to apprentice herself to a blacksmith for seven years before he will make her the studded shoes that will enable her to scale a glass mountain to recover her lost husband, for example. You always need to have an apprenticeship before you can truly be transformed; but few people want to do that anymore—to put in the time to learn; to work at it; to understand deeply, rather than just superficially. I think that’s also a problematic story told by our culture: we believe we have to have it all, and to have it right now. But we don’t have to live by that story.
“I think we need to go back and explore what the stories mean a little more deeply than we tend to do now. Again, you need to do the work, the apprenticeship. You need to trace the stories from their actual roots and see them in their original context before you can understand them. And if you do that, you’ll see they are telling us how to live in balance and harmony with the land and with the soul of the world.
“Everyone will have their own way of contributing to this effort; everyone has their own unique gift. There’s no “one way” of being in service to the Earth. The important point is not to be just in service to ourselves, which is what the current culture’s prevailing mythology would have us do.”
Dr. Sharon Blackie is an international teacher and renowned writer whose work weaves together psychology, mythology, and ecology to reveal how our cultural myths have led us to the individual and collective social and environmental problems we face today and how reconnection with our more ancient mythology would better serve our relationship with the Earth, our souls, and the cosmos.
Read the full interview….