Winds, Rain, Blue Moon, and Buds: Finding Nature within Us

We have reached the time of Imbolc, the Celtic-rooted cross-quarter festival that marks the transition of winter into spring, falling as it does between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Earlier this week I felt that winter was never ending, yet my calendar and the approach of the Imbolc Full Moon told me otherwise. Sure enough, a wander through the fields led me to furry silver Pussy Willow, Snowdrops opening, Cleavers extending their star-whorl leaves, even Dandelion sprouting new leaves and a tightly closed flower or two. I pick Indian Plum leaves and my mouth puckers with its acrid sharply cucumber flavor, all familiar to me, all tasting of this transition time.

But even without the buds and the flavors, and even with the relentless rain, and the winds, I think I would have realized on my own that Imbolc had arrived. It’s a quality of lightness in the air, or perhaps a field of grace that somehow touches me and that I in turn can touch, that awakened only a day or two ago. Or perhaps it was I who awakened to it.

Imbolc is associated with Brighid — the Goddess, the Irish saint, She who has been many through countless generations. Rightly so, we may attune to poetic word, the craft and artistry of metalwork and the forge of the smith, healing wells, and spiritual fire, the quickening of life in the seed deep in the earth or in the womb, the power of women returning to the world. And we can continue our wander through space and otherworld time: Music and mystery, Bear medicine, the cauldron of life, rebirth, and renewal, the midwife and the healer, beauty and blessing, the hearth and sanctuary, sovereignty — all of these threads and more are patterned in the ancestral weave that is Brighid, the sun and earth goddess, and this time of year, Imbolc.

Brighid’s Mantle, Brighid’s Well

What follows is  a fabric of words, or words upwelling like water. Allow yourself to move through the language as if it were a weave or waterflow. No need to dwell on specifics, unless specifics pull you inward. The words are merely Brighid-inspired language, inspired by the photo below.

Quote from Michael Meade, Mosaicvoices.org

I know the statement in this image to be true. In this time of quickening, of attuning to one’s creative fire, to illumination, to the forged beauty and direction that powers, activates, and moves your life, what does your Soul speak to you of your life’s mission, the terrain that is your hearth, your sacred earth? How does the Earth herself remind and nourish your essential nature? How does Sacred Mystery hold and guide you within its architecture, and shine through every cell and space of your bodymindheartbeing? Each of us is an absolutely unique expression within the beautiful and sometimes frightening universe, and we are universes within ourselves.

Where in your daily life, the arc of your earthwalk, does rhythm, melody, and harmony enter into strength and a rich-overtoned simplicity? Where is the “of course” in your ecological landscape, the spaciousness wherein the truth and heart of Nature is not separate from your own? When do you find that you listen most deeply, when your heart is most curious, when your mind drops brilliance in service to Unity?

Separation is an illusion. Our roots lie deep in the earth and our branches interlace the heavens and one another, with all things. We are interwoven with more than that which our five senses detect, and we are gifted with a guidance system and compass that lets us know from within which step is ours to make. We are infused with viriditas, the life force, the very physical stream within all of nature that nourishes growth, balance, connection, expression, vitality, our medicine nature in all its seasons and cycles.

The human family speaks 7,500 languages on the earth right now, yet, countless languages have existed, and countless continue to exist in other forms — in the slow walk of stones, the flight of the birds, the greening of the plants, the transmutive agent that is fire, the breath within water, the one story in each star, the secret word in your very origin, in the most minute and expansive place in your Soul. At the very heart of all these modes, these expressions, is a sound, an energetic seed that speaks Mystery, Beyond-and-Within, Divine — the word that holds Sacred nature in its center for us and pulls us deeper into the past and possibility and unnameable and future beauty that belongs to all of us.

When do you find yourself listening most intently? And when are you filled with wonder, child’s delight, deep peace, forgiveness, gratitude, love of all. Where is your place of origin in the deepest sense? Where is the right place, the most resonant tone for allowing your life to unfold into its right timing and motion? Where are you elegant?

Blessings to you at this time of fire and water, beauty, crafting, inner resolve, new beginnings, threshold, and wherever you are in the truth and laughter of your heart.

Deer Medicine from the Beginning + Exciting News

Hello, dear Reader,

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted here. The deer have been strong in my life — with sweet and sad encounters with these creatures. One such encounter involved a fawn who had been hit by a car, and its cries of pain and fright as it was carried out of a ditch by two kind women. When nothing was left to be done, I sang to it, the softest of wordless sounds for a time, and then opening to words with such Threshold Choir songs as “Let Me Lie Down,” “May Peace be With You,” and “River, Going Home” — a beautiful song by Barb Adams, co-director with me of the Vashon Threshold Choir — and other chants.  All these songs as the fawn passed away. I never guessed that my second attendance with song at death would be for a spotted fawn who had barely known life.

These days, I’ve been in deep discovery with plants, and they have had much to teach me, much to share — especially as I apply Body-Mind Centering® practices to my explorations.  Invariably the deer are present as well, moving through the meadow, or lying in the grasses. I had something of an epiphany today with Hawthorn in a place where the deer had bedded only hours before, and I realized that it is time to resume my Deer Medicine Healing practice — and, dear Reader — to share that practice with you.

(post continues below this photo)

Deer Song - photo art by Jane Valencia (c) 2014

Deer Song – photo art by Jane Valencia (c) 2014

So let’s start at the beginning.

Deer Medicine, plain and simple, is about deep listening. It’s about being as present as you possibly can in a moment, and using all the senses you can (even senses you can’t really identify with your thinking mind) to discern what is needed in that moment. If you are with someone in pain (of mind, of body) or even someone who is dying, you are listening and opening, being with them with the whole of your heart, the whole of yourself. Often you are doing what seems like “nothing” — as you hold them with your heart, hold them in a sheltering and witnessing space, hold them with an attunement to the Sacred that is the true nature of the world around and within each one of us, and which threads us altogether.

You are listening, listening. Waiting for something to emerge that feels undeniably like the right small gesture to offer. For me, sometimes it’s a gentle song in the softest of voices, or a melody that emerges that is the breath of the moment, the medicine that softens a resistance, that soothes like a fresh rain. Other times, I invoke Reiki, or speak silently with the plants, and that healing grace infuses the space and offers its own harmonizing and strengthening qualities, working in a mysterious but very real way. I can’t always tell at the time what good has resulted, but something is surely present, and I have come to trust its own timing, its own movement.

You have your own medicine ways. It may not be with song, or with plants, or with energy — but if you are reading this post, I’m certain you have your own creative healing magic. Tell me, dear Reader — when do you find yourself listening, listening, deeply with every cell in your body? What do you find yourself doing or offering or holding in response? If you wish, please share your reflections in the comment box below (you’ll need to scroll down to find it).

Before I go, I have some exciting news to share with you.

Women’s Nature Ways Year-Long Transformational Journey

My dear friend and colleague Stacey Hinden and I have created a brand new offering for women! It’s called Women’s Nature Ways, and it weaves our 50+ years combined experience exploring the realm of deep inner and outer ecological wisdom.

We’re inviting an intimate group of 10 women to retreat with us four weekends a year here on our beautiful Vashon Island home to explore somatic, energetic, and wildcrafting practices to awaken our connection with bodymind intelligence and plant spirit. We’ll slow down and explore both in the studio and out on the land – moving, communing, wild-harvesting, creating, cooking, visioning, and tapping the wellspring of our most grounded, loving, powerfully-attuned selves.

I’d be so grateful if you could help spread the word about Women’s Nature Ways, and even more delighted if you chose to journey with us this year. Registration is open; we begin this November. For more information, please visit our website  WomensNatureWays.com

Gracias, dear One!

WNW-Flyer-8-6-15

Wow! Check out this emerging science on Plant Intelligence

So cool:

This on pri.org – Science Friday.

New research on plant intelligence may forever change how you think about plants

The mp3 interview with Michael Pollan (who wrote The Botany Of Desire, and who wrote an article published in The New Yorker called “How Smart Are Plants”) is pretty cool.

There’s an astounding video about 3/4 down the web page. It’s only a few minutes long. WOW!

Watch it: I can almost guarantee that you’ll never experience plants the same way again.

Check out the video (at a minimum!) and please post your thoughts. I’ll blog my own thoughts about this topic in my next post.