The Hedge School is creating a new folk culture, based on myth, wild mind and enchantment
111

patrons

$564
per month


Who I am

My name is Dr Sharon Blackie, and I'm an award-winning writer (of fiction: The Long Delirious Burning Blue, and nonfiction: If Women Rose Rooted, and The Enchanted Life), a psychologist, and a mythologist with a specialisation in Celtic Studies. This rather unusual combination of skills and academic qualifications gives me what I hope is a unique approach to working with myth, fairy tales and folklore: my passion is for the insights these traditions can offer us into authentic and meaningful ways of being which are founded on a deep sense of belonging to place, a rootedness in the land we inhabit.

I've spent many years living on the wildest Celtic fringes of Britain and Ireland. After several years as a crofter on the remotest shore of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, I've now returned to the hills and lochs of the Connemara Gaeltacht (an Irish-speaking area) on the far west coast of Ireland. This is the magical place where, in early 2017, I decided to found The Hedge School, to offer academically sound, up-to-date, and personally transformative teachings in the native culture, folklore and traditions of the Celtic lands. It's the culmination of a life's work; the vehicle for bringing the teachings in my books in a practical and focused way to as wide an audience as possible.



About The Hedge School, and growing a new folk culture

At its heart, my work at The Hedge School is about growing a new folk culture – about finding ways to make ancient wisdom, native stories, and traditional knowledge and skills relevant for our lives in today's challenging world. It's about living folklorically, about living in ways that are deeply informed by and rooted in the lands we inhabit. It's not about harking back, but about taking our ancestral traditions and discovering what we might learn from them today.

The term ‘hedge school’ has its roots in Ireland; it dates back to the 17th century and attempts to force Irish children to attend schools designed to train them in English language and customs, and the ‘true religion’. Rather than submit to such indoctrination, the Irish went back to the hedge, and created their own schools. No institutions, just a healthy respect for the old ways. In 1655 Oliver Cromwell called them trainings in ‘superstition, idolatory and the evill customs of this Nacion.’ I’ll go for that.

The Hedge School – a physical location as well as a virtual space – has a similarly subversive intent. No institutions, no dogma, no prophets or preachers: just the wisdom of the hedge, and of the land. The wisdom which the wind blows down from the jagged peaks of the Connemara mountains, which the sea salts away in the vast network of rocky tidal inlets which characterise our coastline. The wisdom of the old stories.

I believe that what I offer at The Hedge School is deeply needed in these challenging times. In Western societies we are seeing more calls for a return to native wisdom, but we can't live by the worldviews of other cultures which are rooted in lands and histories that have little relationship to our own. Fine as all of those other traditions are, we don't need to look to the myths and traditions of others 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.

It's time to reclaim our stories and folk traditions. They ground us, and teach us; they teach us how to find the trail of breadcrumbs which will lead us to our own unique calling. And that's what The Hedge School is about. I call it 'applied mythology': the reclaiming of our native wisdom, so helping us to live more lightly and more meaningfully. It's about practical guidance for living well, living authentically, connecting with our places, finding a deep, embodied sense of belongingness to this wide, beautiful Earth. And ultimately, it's about growing a new folk culture.

If you'd like to know more about The Hedge School, its location, and current programme, please visit our website. And you can find out more about building a new folk culture at this link.



Why Patreon?

I'm a writer, and like most writers, I can't make a living from writing alone; the courses I offer at The Hedge School help to pay the bills. But all of that doesn't leave much room for anything else. And I'd like to be able to cut down on some of the currently necessary but time-consuming things I do to pay those bills, and offer more resources which are freely accessible to everyone. I'd like to make The Hedge School website an authoritative source for people looking for accurate information (in the face of so much misinformation on the web!) about the myth and folklore of Britain and Ireland, and the native traditions of these islands. I'd like to be able to offer more free writing on my blog, The Art of Enchantment. I'd like to offer interviews with people who are choosing to live well in these troubled times, and to make videos, and podcasts. A database of useful articles on a per-topic basis, reading lists, and lists of useful links. 

I'd like also to think about the possibility of producing relevant books and other occasional publications. I founded, and for many years worked unpaid to champion the work of others at, independent literary publisher Two Ravens Press (which The Herald newspaper in Scotland called 'a quiet publishing revolution') before we passed the company on in 2013. In 2012, I founded EarthLines Magazine, a unique full-colour publication for writing about nature, place and the environment described by Jay Griffiths as ‘a deeply intelligent publication’, by George Monbiot as ‘a rare combination and much needed’, and by Robert Macfarlane as ‘a real point of convergence for many thought-tributaries and philosophical paths’. I'd like to bring those skills and that passion  to this new initiative.

But, as a writer, I don't have the necessary skills to do everything myself. If The Hedge School is going to achieve any of the things I've outlined above, then I'm going to need help. So that's where, I hope, Patreon comes in. To help provide the funds to pay others to create content, maintain the website, and expand our outreach.





What Patreon funding will be used for

  • To help cover the costs of website hosting, design, and administration.
  • To pay for the editing, production and dissemination of The Hedge School Podcast.
  • To cover the costs of creating relevant educational videos.
  • And ultimately, to allow me more time not just to develop the programme at The Hedge School, but to focus on my writing and teaching in the field of myth, wild mind and enchantment.



My commitment to you ...

... is that all of the funding received through Patreon will go towards making The Hedge School accessible to more people, and to producing content – original writing, videos and podcasts – which is free to everyone, and which brings an understanding of the value of our native myths and traditions to as many people as I can.


Tiers
A leaf from the tree
$1 or more per month 43 patrons
The Hedge School: an insider's view. You'll have access to (mostly weekly) posts and updates specially created for all of our Patreon supporters. This will include an insight into our daily lives here at The Hedge School, with photographs and anecdotes that are more personal than those we share more publicly. It will also include access to posts with snippets of information/ stories from the Celtic tradition.


Thank you for your support!

A twiglet, brave and budding
$3 or more per month 22 patrons
All of the above – and we'll also place your name on the supporter's page of our website – thank you!
A twig, tried and true
$5 or more per month 28 patrons
All of the above, and an invitation to contribute your comments to us about what you'd like to see The Hedge School achieve and offer. And, of course, our deep gratitude.
A special branch
$10 or more per month 14 patrons
All of the above, and a handwritten card with an expression of our thanks sent to your home address.
A structural limb
$25 or more per month 5 patrons
All of the above, and a copy of our first 'Hedge School' calendar at the end of 2018. We're most grateful for your support.
A rising root
$50 or more per month 0 patrons
All of the above, and a copy of any other publications that we produce during the time you support us. Thank you!
An anchoring tree in the hedge
$100 or more per month 1 patron
Well, at this level it's hard to know what else we can offer except our deepest gratitude for your faith in what we're doing. But all of the above, for sure. And we'd be glad to have a private email conversation with you about what you would like to see The Hedge School achieve.


Who I am

My name is Dr Sharon Blackie, and I'm an award-winning writer (of fiction: The Long Delirious Burning Blue, and nonfiction: If Women Rose Rooted, and The Enchanted Life), a psychologist, and a mythologist with a specialisation in Celtic Studies. This rather unusual combination of skills and academic qualifications gives me what I hope is a unique approach to working with myth, fairy tales and folklore: my passion is for the insights these traditions can offer us into authentic and meaningful ways of being which are founded on a deep sense of belonging to place, a rootedness in the land we inhabit.

I've spent many years living on the wildest Celtic fringes of Britain and Ireland. After several years as a crofter on the remotest shore of the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, I've now returned to the hills and lochs of the Connemara Gaeltacht (an Irish-speaking area) on the far west coast of Ireland. This is the magical place where, in early 2017, I decided to found The Hedge School, to offer academically sound, up-to-date, and personally transformative teachings in the native culture, folklore and traditions of the Celtic lands. It's the culmination of a life's work; the vehicle for bringing the teachings in my books in a practical and focused way to as wide an audience as possible.



About The Hedge School, and growing a new folk culture

At its heart, my work at The Hedge School is about growing a new folk culture – about finding ways to make ancient wisdom, native stories, and traditional knowledge and skills relevant for our lives in today's challenging world. It's about living folklorically, about living in ways that are deeply informed by and rooted in the lands we inhabit. It's not about harking back, but about taking our ancestral traditions and discovering what we might learn from them today.

The term ‘hedge school’ has its roots in Ireland; it dates back to the 17th century and attempts to force Irish children to attend schools designed to train them in English language and customs, and the ‘true religion’. Rather than submit to such indoctrination, the Irish went back to the hedge, and created their own schools. No institutions, just a healthy respect for the old ways. In 1655 Oliver Cromwell called them trainings in ‘superstition, idolatory and the evill customs of this Nacion.’ I’ll go for that.

The Hedge School – a physical location as well as a virtual space – has a similarly subversive intent. No institutions, no dogma, no prophets or preachers: just the wisdom of the hedge, and of the land. The wisdom which the wind blows down from the jagged peaks of the Connemara mountains, which the sea salts away in the vast network of rocky tidal inlets which characterise our coastline. The wisdom of the old stories.

I believe that what I offer at The Hedge School is deeply needed in these challenging times. In Western societies we are seeing more calls for a return to native wisdom, but we can't live by the worldviews of other cultures which are rooted in lands and histories that have little relationship to our own. Fine as all of those other traditions are, we don't need to look to the myths and traditions of others 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.

It's time to reclaim our stories and folk traditions. They ground us, and teach us; they teach us how to find the trail of breadcrumbs which will lead us to our own unique calling. And that's what The Hedge School is about. I call it 'applied mythology': the reclaiming of our native wisdom, so helping us to live more lightly and more meaningfully. It's about practical guidance for living well, living authentically, connecting with our places, finding a deep, embodied sense of belongingness to this wide, beautiful Earth. And ultimately, it's about growing a new folk culture.

If you'd like to know more about The Hedge School, its location, and current programme, please visit our website. And you can find out more about building a new folk culture at this link.



Why Patreon?

I'm a writer, and like most writers, I can't make a living from writing alone; the courses I offer at The Hedge School help to pay the bills. But all of that doesn't leave much room for anything else. And I'd like to be able to cut down on some of the currently necessary but time-consuming things I do to pay those bills, and offer more resources which are freely accessible to everyone. I'd like to make The Hedge School website an authoritative source for people looking for accurate information (in the face of so much misinformation on the web!) about the myth and folklore of Britain and Ireland, and the native traditions of these islands. I'd like to be able to offer more free writing on my blog, The Art of Enchantment. I'd like to offer interviews with people who are choosing to live well in these troubled times, and to make videos, and podcasts. A database of useful articles on a per-topic basis, reading lists, and lists of useful links. 

I'd like also to think about the possibility of producing relevant books and other occasional publications. I founded, and for many years worked unpaid to champion the work of others at, independent literary publisher Two Ravens Press (which The Herald newspaper in Scotland called 'a quiet publishing revolution') before we passed the company on in 2013. In 2012, I founded EarthLines Magazine, a unique full-colour publication for writing about nature, place and the environment described by Jay Griffiths as ‘a deeply intelligent publication’, by George Monbiot as ‘a rare combination and much needed’, and by Robert Macfarlane as ‘a real point of convergence for many thought-tributaries and philosophical paths’. I'd like to bring those skills and that passion  to this new initiative.

But, as a writer, I don't have the necessary skills to do everything myself. If The Hedge School is going to achieve any of the things I've outlined above, then I'm going to need help. So that's where, I hope, Patreon comes in. To help provide the funds to pay others to create content, maintain the website, and expand our outreach.





What Patreon funding will be used for

  • To help cover the costs of website hosting, design, and administration.
  • To pay for the editing, production and dissemination of The Hedge School Podcast.
  • To cover the costs of creating relevant educational videos.
  • And ultimately, to allow me more time not just to develop the programme at The Hedge School, but to focus on my writing and teaching in the field of myth, wild mind and enchantment.



My commitment to you ...

... is that all of the funding received through Patreon will go towards making The Hedge School accessible to more people, and to producing content – original writing, videos and podcasts – which is free to everyone, and which brings an understanding of the value of our native myths and traditions to as many people as I can.


Recent posts by The Hedge School

Tiers
A leaf from the tree
$1 or more per month 43 patrons
The Hedge School: an insider's view. You'll have access to (mostly weekly) posts and updates specially created for all of our Patreon supporters. This will include an insight into our daily lives here at The Hedge School, with photographs and anecdotes that are more personal than those we share more publicly. It will also include access to posts with snippets of information/ stories from the Celtic tradition.


Thank you for your support!

A twiglet, brave and budding
$3 or more per month 22 patrons
All of the above – and we'll also place your name on the supporter's page of our website – thank you!
A twig, tried and true
$5 or more per month 28 patrons
All of the above, and an invitation to contribute your comments to us about what you'd like to see The Hedge School achieve and offer. And, of course, our deep gratitude.
A special branch
$10 or more per month 14 patrons
All of the above, and a handwritten card with an expression of our thanks sent to your home address.
A structural limb
$25 or more per month 5 patrons
All of the above, and a copy of our first 'Hedge School' calendar at the end of 2018. We're most grateful for your support.
A rising root
$50 or more per month 0 patrons
All of the above, and a copy of any other publications that we produce during the time you support us. Thank you!
An anchoring tree in the hedge
$100 or more per month 1 patron
Well, at this level it's hard to know what else we can offer except our deepest gratitude for your faith in what we're doing. But all of the above, for sure. And we'd be glad to have a private email conversation with you about what you would like to see The Hedge School achieve.