A Forest Mass

So it’s Christmas Eve, and I have a yearning to attend a midnight mass … but in thinking this urge through I realize that I have no desire to attend a Catholic mass or any other church service. I grew up Catholic, and my medieval mind has a yearning for something like Gregorian chant … but my wild heart yearns for the forest.

Yes, I may head out into the woods at Midnight, light a candle, sing and improvise a few songs under this dark night (it being the New Moon, there will be no moon in the sky; it being cloudy today, stars are not likely to be here either). But what sparked into my heart was an old idea of mine, newly remembered: to create a “Forest Mass” — ignited by Celtic soul and sprinklings of song and poetic word, and the wisdom of the trees, stars, earth, the Light that returns (harp too!).

So this is my quest for the next year (in addition to completing my novel “Because Of The Red Fox”) — to discover and create this Forest Mass, a quiet song and celebration woven of the trees and earth, the stars and true things. Breathed in by dreams.

I’ll share my journey with you here. Please join me.

And merry everything to you, in this Season of Miracles. May you know blessings and beauty, and the holy light that burns in your heart!

Snow Forest - photo by Jane Valencia

Deepening Into Deer Medicine

If you’ve followed my blogs, you know that from time to time I write vigorously, then back off, then come back, then grow silent again … In the past it’s been a path of definition and redefinition–deciding what I’m all about right now, what is it that I really want to share? — then backing off because something just isn’t quite in place.   It’s been no different here on this blog.

But now in the darkening season, the time of dreaming, and settling into the roots and stones of nature and our collective nature as humans responding to the turning of the year, I’m just filled with the certainty and surrender that I may as well give into my own nature!

Since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by deer.   I read every piece of fiction I could get my hands on about deer, and every bit of fact too.  I read Bambi by Felix Salten (the book that inspired the Disney movie) literally 50 times.  This book was no cartoon depiction of deer–it was a rich tale by a man who clearly spent a great deal of time in nature, observing wildlife and the ways of animals.  The book Bambi became my bible, my threshold into the Ways of Deer.  But it might as well have been about the Ways of We Humans as creatures of nature, a journey into our own original ways  of being.

These ways  include moving silently through the forest, paying attention to the birds and other animals who are letting you know all the time what is actually happening in the landscape. These ways include knowing about herbs and trees and how they might be food or medicine.  These ways are about listening to your intuition, your gut instinct, and the perils of ignoring the information that is available to you in many forms at any time.

This blog is about deepening into your true nature, about following your “original instructions” — the soul design woven within you, guiding your every step. It’s about deepening your perceptions, your awareness of yourself as interwoven with nature’s magic.  It is about learning and relearning life ways that are close to the earth, that restore our spirits and bodies and fuel our hearts, and help us to connect with one another.  It’s about perceiving the wise village, the ancient teachings, the animal ways, and deep song that moves through our lives, even in our confusing and chaotic modern day world.  It is about helping you discover your unique creative healing magic and offering it in practical down-to-earth ways in your daily life, in your homes, and in your communities.

I invite you to join me in the forest.  And if any of what I write resonates with you, or inspires you in your thinking and path or in anything else, please comment or ask questions.   I’ll point out trails and meanders that are interesting to me, but I’m far more likely to head further into the foliage if I know someone else is interested in adventuring there too.

As always, I encourage you to share your story, your medicine ways. Does a particular animal call to you?  How has it whispered or shouted or dreamed through your life?

Deer Watch - photo by Jane Valencia

Enter The Wild And Woolly, Breathtakingly Beautiful World Of Herbs!

If you are at all interested in herbal medicine making, and the traditions of Western Herbalism, and what is alive and hopping in the realm of herbalism, you absolutely must check out this stunning journal Plant Healer Magazine.  The full-color quarterly publication is available in pdfs, and for viewing online.  Also, available to subscribers, is the Plant Healer Annual–over 700 pages in black-and-white of the first four issues of this journal.  I’m honored to have my kids herbal comic, Paloma And Wings, plus accompanying essays  included in both the journal and the Annual!

The following is information about Plant Healer Annual.

Do check it out!

~ yours from greenwood and garden,


“Plant Healer is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, bar none. It’s right up there with National Geographic in its use of color and natural landscapes and plants. A true feast for the eyes!” -Phyllis Light


“The first publication I’ve seen in my 38-year career that captures the wild diversity of herbalism in North America while still reflecting excellence and high-level practice… for the practicing herbalist from entry level to advanced, inclusively.” -Paul Bergner

After its introduction at the Traditions In Western Herbalism Conference, the new 700 page long Plant Healer Annual is now available for general distribution… an 8.5×11” softcover book in affordable Black & White, featuring a complete year’s worth of articles from the tree-free, color digital Plant Healer Magazine for herbal students, practitioners and plant lovers.

Plant Healer Annual features in-depth and highly personal columns and articles on subjects of interest to folks at all stages of learning, students and practitioners alike, including plant profiles, therapeutics, foraging, medicine making, botany, herbs in midwifery, articles for and by kids, marketing, whole foods cooking, herbalist art and culture, philosophies of practice and pertinent issues, exclusive book excerpts and interviews.

“I had a chance to skim through a hard copy Plant Healer Annual recently, and I LOVE IT !” I can honestly say if you’re not a subscriber, you are missing out on MAJORLY delicious, practical, inspiring, and downright historical work of art. I am truly honored to be a part.”
– Ananda Wilson

Contributors to Plant Healer Annual include many of the leading voices in folk herbalism and wildcrafting, such as Paul Bergner, Matthew Wood, Aviva Romm, Kiva Rose, Phyllis Light, Samuel Thayer, 7Song, Rosemary Gladstar, Susun Weed, Jim McDonald, Kristine Brown, Virginia Adi, Todd Caldecott, Sean Donahue, John Gallagher, Rosalee de la Forêt, Robin Rose Bennett, Ananda Wilson, Christa Sinadinos, Margi Flint, Katja Swift, Dale Bellisfield, Susan Belsinger, Jane Valencia and Henriette Kress.

$39 ea. (plus $15 Shipping) to Plant Healer Subscribers
.  If you’re not already a Subscriber, you can pre-order both the Annual ($39) and a 1 year’s Subscription with bonuses ($57) at the combined discount price of only $77 (plus $15 Shipping) To Order, Go To: www.PlantHealerMagazine.com

“It is a huge honor to be a part of the Plant Healer Magazine, and I absolutely treasure the book. The magazine is an absolute treasure for the herbalist world. The breadth of articles is so diverse and the contemporary nature of the publication creates a unique snapshot in time.” -Rosalee de la Forêt