On Enchantment

Yesterday, I watched the first episode of Once Upon a Time. And you know what? I liked it. Here is the trailer:

It was cheesy, in the way television fantasy usually is, but what I particularly liked about it were the fairy tale aesthetics. I think my aesthetic sense was formed by reading illustrated fairy tales. My idea of the perfect house is a castle (just a small one). My perfect dress swishes around the ankles. My perfect garden has a yew maze and a fountain. I always wanted enchantment.

I think we need more enchantment in our lives. It’s not unrealistic. Terri Windling and Rima Staines have Dartmoor and its environs to help them, but I think all of us can live in ways that are more magical. It just takes choosing the beautiful and the real. Surrounding ourselves with things we genuinely love.

If you do that, bread and cheese can be enchanted. (Right now I’m eating a harvest bread, filled with nuts and fruit, and blue cheese.) A pottery bowl filled with pinecones can be enchanted. A scarf that you knit from the purest, softest wool can be enchanted. If you can enchant the small things, you can enchant your whole life.

(Of course, writing is a kind of enchantment. With black squiggles on a white sheet of paper, I create worlds. I like the idea of being an enchantress.)

I found some pictures of enchanted places. I thought I would post them here. I’m not sure who took these pictures, so I can’t give proper credit where it’s due. But here they are:

What do you think of my enchanted places? Once, when I mentioned that I’d like to live in a castle, a friend of mine said that he thought it would be uncomfortable. But I would rather have enchantment than comfort. (If I had to choose one of these houses, I would choose the first one, although I would want the roof thatched in the ordinary way. The house is a bit too cute for me, as is – too self-consciously cottagey. It needs some mussing up. I think I would be afraid to live in the stone house  at the bottom. Afraid of giants.)

I’ve been thinking about what my goal should be, now that my dissertation is done. And I think that’s it: make my life enchanted.

To start, I’m going to write more poetry, dance more. And create magical spaces around me. We don’t live in fairy tales: we live in a reality that often seems dull and ordinary, like the small town in which the fairy tale characters are imprisoned in Once Upon a Time. But even in that small town, they are dramatic, romantic. They look as though they should be in fairy tales. (Have you ever seen people like that? People who, in a cardigan, jeans, and Wellingtons, nevertheless look as though they had escaped from fairyland? I have.) Even in our ordinary reality, we can be more than ordinary. We can be, and make, magic.

I’m going to put that on my to-do list . . .

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7 Responses to On Enchantment

  1. Are you familiar with the book The Renenchantment of Everyday Life by Thomas Moore? It’s got some interesting thinking in it. I found that Moore’s previous book, Care of the Soul spoke to me more, but that was probably an artifact of the precise moment in my life when I happened to read it.

  2. From one enchantress to another, YES. My goal is to live a magical life by doing exactly this: finding joy in small things, infusing the seemingly mundane with enchantment, reveling in beauty and color, and creating art (in my case, mostly writing).

    I’m so glad you’re doing your own version of this!

  3. Phil, I’m not, but they sound like books I would be interested in. I’ll look them up!

  4. Margaret Fisher Squires says:

    I love your enchanted places. I applaud your goal–I look forward to your sharing with us the enchantments you discover and create.
    Yes, writing is a chance to make magic. I love haiku because through it one can sense the magic of a single moment.
    May I share an enchanted place? When my family was traveling someplace in Turkey years ago, we came to a spot where a stream divided as it flowed through a meadow. The streamlets carved a dozen or a score of small islands, one or two as large as a dining table, several as small as footstools. It seemed as if each island had its own frog, and each frog was a different, jewel-bright color.
    I saw it, I’ll never forget, and I’m still not quite sure how to believe it.

  5. Alice says:

    I think I would choose one of the houses in the second photo from the top.

  6. I grew up with enchantment in Central Oregon, secret caves, forests of mystery, abandoned cottages in the woods, coyotes singing to us at night, wise looking animals, and I base my ethics on fairy tales; be kind to old witchy women and large and small animals for they may help you some day. Or not. If not, it is good to be kind anyway. And I choose the gate because it may lead to more enchantment.

  7. brittanywarman says:

    Yes yes yes. Beautiful goal :).

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