Cosmos in the Earth, Cosmos in our Bodies: Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine

Hildegard's Vision of the Cosmos - Illumination

An illumination of Hildegard of Bingen’s visions — the Cosmos. From her book of visions, Scivias. The third vision of part 1 of this manuscript.

What does 12th century German magistra, mystic, composer, counselor, and physician, Hildegard of Bingen’s perception of the Cosmos (as presented here in her illustration) have to do with nitty-gritty daily practice of healing ways and herbal medicine in her monasteries? What is the connection of the abstract as depicted in the illustration with the qualities and uses of the plants? How do the elements of the cosmos as she understood and spoke of them “show up” in the garden that her nuns tended, the bodies of the people who came for healing, the plants and healing ways for helping restore good health and balance?

Hildegard of Bingen’s medicine was an expression of an amazing woman in a particular place and time, drawing on understandings of the ancients yet also expressing her own personal — spiritual and physical — experience of her world. Hers is a framework that links to creation in a poetic and spiritual way and yet is fundamentally practical, grounded on embodied experience of the literal earth beneath her feet and the turning seasons, and how that is mirrored in the body.

Come join me at my upcoming workshop, Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine, where we will begin to experience her world — her past and her sensibilities, nature, and viriditas — Hildegard’s term for the greening power of God, the force of life. We’ll apply these experiences to getting to know some of her plants and healing ways, bringing them home to our own 21st century lives.

Saturday, March 2, 2019. 9 am to 3 pm. St. Placid Priory, Lacey, WA. Cost is only $65!
For more information and to register.

You may be interested in reading: Gratitude, Sip by Sip – a blog post by me about viriditis, gratitude, and engaging with plants and their viriditas.

The Antlered Deer Goddess

I love how with each turning of the year, I discover more and more of the deep mythic heart of the world. In so much that on surface seems mundane and superficial in what I perceive as the post-modern world, are truths that are powerfully present — as if in sleep or hibernation, or awaiting the time, like King Arthur and the knights in a cave, when the people and the land have most need of them.

That time is now.

And so, in various areas of my life — and perhaps you are finding it in yours — I discover power, beauty, mischievous and awe-inspiring magic.

Here as our wheel round the sun tilts furthest toward the longest night, I am finding our world rediscovering who Santa’s flying reindeer really are.

Gift of the Antlered Deer Mother - art by Jane Valencia

Gift of the Antlered Deer Mother – art by Jane Valencia

For one thing, the antlered reindeer in winter are female. And Santa himself, in shamanic garb, may — in this lore — represent a sacred power quite different from what is portrayed today. For the mythic and ancestral truth at the heart of Santa’s flying reindeer please read this beautiful and world-opening blog post: “Doe, a Deer, A Female Reindeer: The Spirit of Mother Christmas.”

As a child, crazy about deer (still am), my favorite Christmas story was that of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer. As a young adult I strode away from anything reeking to me of commercialism around the holidays. Eventually I became aware of so much majesty that moves through our dreaming at this time of year, in our participation in the circling of the year, and embodiment of earth’s energies as we tilt away and toward the sun again. As ancestral myths and sacred knowings resurface, I feel myself turning the Sun, and the Soul of the World with eyes and heart that once again know wonder and awe, and the child nature that is ready to fly with the deer in the starlit longest night sky.

As we approach the Solstice, what magic are you discovering or rediscovering from an ever-deepening heart-space?

For more Deer Magic, please visit:
An Antlered Advent – Art Contributions
Seven women present art, musings, and more about their relationships with the ancient Deer Goddess and the Deer. I am honored to be included. You’ll find photos by me there, plus a link to “The Abbots Horn Dance” — Celtic harp music by Spookytree, my duo with Deb Knodel. At that link you can listen to and, through the end of this month, download the track for free!

Finally, I finish here with an illustration. Wild Sweet Blessings to you in this Season of Light!

The Year She Grew Her Antlers - art by Jane Valencia

The Year She Grew Her Antlers – illustration by Jane Valencia

 

 

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.

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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