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.

A Tale and A Storytelling Festival

Deep nature connection, nourishing our true selves and our communities by way of nature, and adventuring in nature with our imaginations, curiosity, and creativity has long been my passion, and has mingled in numerous ways in my harp playing, writing, illustration, healing artistry, and workshops. This Sunday I’ll be offering harp and story at an event that mixes much of the above for me!

Please join me on a little journey ….

In 2007 a group of parents banded together to establish program of deep nature connection for kids. They created a vision and mission for the program — “to ignite relationships between the natural world, self, and community”, hiring some amazing instructors, and aimed to never turn anyone away from any of its offerings due to lack of funds. I was one of these founding parents, and helped craft the vision of what was to become the Vashon Wilderness Program. You can read our full history and legacy here. I resumed membership of the VWP Board last year.

In our program, kids spend their day learning just like our ancestors did – engaging all of their senses to co-create a living ecology for them to love and sustain. With Nature as the living teacher, mentors subtly stretch student’s awareness making learning invisible, effective, fun, healing and empowering.

I’m amazed and delighted that VWP has held to its commitment to support any family who needed assistance in meeting tuition, by awarding almost $50,000 in scholarships to date! This year we saw a dramatic increase in requests for support. As VWP grows, we are holding true to our mission – to give the gift of nature to as many kids as we can.

We are poised to mentor more than 185 youth this year. Will you help us make sure that everyone who wants to participate is given a chance to do so?

Please join us for tales and free delicious treats to delight your senses at our 5th Annual Storytelling Festival. Hear some great local storytellers: Steffon Moody, Mik Kuhlman, Lauretta Hyde, Steve Jones, Jane Valencia, Cyndi O’Brien & more
I’m honored to be offering story and harp at this event!

Here are the details:
February 5th from 4-6pm at the Vashon United Methodist Church. $7 individuals, $20 families. Tickets available at Vashon Bookshop.

If you can’t make the Festival (obviously, many of you reading this can’t possibly get over here!), please consider making a donation to the Vashon Wilderness scholarship fund by way of its website, or by mailing a check to:

Vashon Wilderness Program
PO Box 712
Vashon, Washington 98070

The Vashon Wilderness Program is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Any amount, small or large, is greatly appreciated!

Help us in our mission to leave no child left inside!

~ thank you!
Jane

Vashon Wilderness Program Annual Storytelling Festival

Labyrinth Storytelling, Workshop & Walk ~ Seattle area

I’ll be telling a story, leading a workshop, and providing harp music for the Western Washington Labyrinth Network Spring Gathering, taking place on Saturday, April 30.

Here are the details regarding my storytelling and workshop. My workshop is taking place alongside two others. If you are anywhere near the Seattle area, I hope you can join us!

“Transformation: Stories from the Labyrinth”
Saturday April 30th, from 12:30-4:30pm
Emmanuel Episcopal Church ~ Mercer Island, WA


Click here for more information/registration form

$20 per person if paid in advance with registration by April 25th, or $25 thereafter. Includes the afternoon’s activities and coffee/tea and snacks.

GRACE AND CORACLE: A Celtic Legend And Song For The Labyrinth

The Voyage Of St. Brendan chronicles the wondrous journey of a Celtic saint and his companions “through the labyrinth” to the Isle Of Promise and back home again. In this retelling of an ancient Celtic legend, bardic harper and healer Jane Valencia guides listeners into a spiritual landscape that mirrors the labyrinth walk in which we all are upon — a pathway filled with darkness and light, confusions and marvels, encounters with “the beast” and the company of angels. Enjoy the tale, learn a Celtic chant, and experience how we are all in the little boat of ourselves — navigating a labyrinth path
encompassed, sheltered, and brightened by Grace.


NATURE’S GRACE: Create A Labyrinth Poem of Blessing

A wander through a garden or even a glimpse through a window can be a labyrinth walk into wonder and blessing. In this workshop we will connect with the magic of the natural world, and uncover a specific blessing it has for us in this moment. We will each create a simple and fun three line poem to evoke this gift for ourselves.

A long-time lover of labyrinths, Celtic harper and bardic healer Jane Valencia nourishes a Spirit-centered, nature-woven life and an illuminated sense of oneself with her music, tales, teachings, and artistry.