Reimagining the Second Half of Life
Written by Sharon Black
Illustrated by Natalie Eslick
Publisher: New World Library
Release Date: November 29, 2022
In our society, old is more likely equated to deterioration and illness than to gifted and wise. By design, elderhood ends in death, making both unpleasant topics for many people. Thankfully, Sharon Blackie is not one of them.
Sharing her own life journey in “Hagitude: Reimagining the Second Half of Life,” www.hagitude.org, she explores women’s transformation beginning with perimenopause, through the “hot-flashed fury” of menopause, and crossing the threshold to crone.
“Our old women are the dark heart of the forest, the stone womb of the mountain, immanent in the living land itself. They’re elemental beings: storm hags, fire keepers, grandmothers of the sea. They show us how to live when everything we thought mattered to us has been stripped away; they teach us how to stay rooted in the face of inevitable death. They teach us how to stand firm in the face of all the culture’s bullshit, and laugh,” she wrote.
Using examples of women from fairy tales and myths as well as from history, Blackie presents archetypes from times when matriarchs were respected and had meaningful roles in their cultures. These European “hags with attitude” are feisty and wise: the Cailleach, fairy godmothers, the creatrix, the witch. The stories present lessons and role models illustrating the gifts of aging.
“[S]tories are spells; they change things,” Blackie states.
I formally claimed the title of crone five years ago, and I found myself agreeing with much of what Blackie writes about this phase of life.
Menopause profoundly changed me from the inside out. Hot flashes burned away that which was not authentic. Freedom came with no longer being self-conscious about lost youth. My eyes opened to the ways older women were marginalized. Like others, I found life had new meaning, and my focus turned to giving back.
I nodded when reading her statement, “There can be a certain perverse pleasure, as well as a sense of rightness and beauty, in insisting on flowering just when the world expects you to become quiet and diminish.”
I was not fond of the many long passages from Blackie’s previous books and books she’s read, as well as detailed descriptions of her dreams and of some of her life experiences. However, those who read this book will find inspiration, new perspectives, challenges to negative cultural stereotypes, and healing.
About the Author
Sharon Blackie is an award-winning writer, and an internationally recognized teacher whose work sits at the interface of psychology, mythology, and ecology. Her books, courses, lectures, and workshops are focused on the relevance of myth, fairy tales, and folk traditions to current personal, social, and environmental problems. Among her five books, both fiction and nonfiction, is the ecofeminist bestseller “If Women Rose Rooted.” Blackie lives on a small farm in the mountains of Wales with her husband and dogs. Learn more at www.sharonblackie.net
About the Illustrator
Natalie Eslick is an Australian fine artist and creativity guide. Her beautiful, detailed illustrations can be found throughout Hagitude.
About the Author:
All my life I have known magic was real. As a child, I played with the fae, established relationships with trees and “just knew things.” In my maiden years I discovered witchcraft and dabbled in the black-candles-and-cemeteries-at-midnight-on-a-fullmoon magick just enough to realize I did not understand its power. I went on to explore many practices including Zen, astrology, color therapy, native traditions, tarot, herbs, candle magic, gems, and, as I moved into my mother years, Buddhism, the Kabbalah and Reiki. The first man I dated after my divorce was a witch who reintroduced me to the Craft, this time by way of the Goddess. For 11 years I was in a coven, but with retirement, I have returned to an eclectic solitary practice.
When accepting the mantle of crone, I pledged to serve and teach. This is what I do from my skoolie – a 30-year-old school bus converted into a tiny house on wheels that I am driving around the country, following 72-degree weather, emerging myself into nature, and sharing magic with those I meet. Find me at thewitchonwheels.com, Facebook and Instagram.