Episode 40 – Radio Show – Midwinter Magic – December 22 and 29, 2019

Celebrate the season with Celtic and Celtic-inspired music, folklore, poetry, and a tale in which we help the sun take wing. We’ll enjoy a sparkling landscape of beautiful and lively tunes to honor the illuminated Dark, and to beckon the Sun to return. Pure enchantment!

Harp music  is sprinkled through the show. Enjoy the song and harp of Beth Gadbaw and Margot Krimmel (respectively),  and harp by Debra Knodel,  Órla Fallon in Celtic Woman, Kim Robertson, and a mystery harper or two (if you can identify them, please let me know!).

The second hour of the show is the rebroadcast of Episode 19 – Midwinter Day.

Listen here.

You’ll be able to hear this show on demand for two weeks.  Links to the artists forthcoming!

12:00: Spookytree – Lochaber No More
12:01: Margot Krimmel & Beth Leachman-Gadbaw – Icy December
12:03: Phil Cunningham and Manus Lunny – When the Snow Melts
12:09: Debra Knodel – Abbots Bromley Horn Dance
12:12: The McCallans – Highland Christmas
12:15: Altan – Soillse Na Nollag
12:21: Susan Cooper – Poem
12:22: Eimear Quinn – Winter Apples
12:26: Celtic Woman – Don Oiche Ud I Mbeithil (That Night in Bethlehem)
12:28: Kim Robertson – Gabhaim Molta Bride / Gabriel’s Message
12:36: Johnny Cunningham – King Holly, King Oak
12:40: Jane Valencia – Shell and Govan and the Little Sun
12:48: Scott Cossu – Last Snow
12:53: Alison Kraus and Natalie MacMaster – Get Me Through December

When Your Art Has Something to Say

Our projects and art have minds of their own. I’m sure you’ve had that experience. Right now I’m preparing for our island’s biggest festival of the year, creating art and finishing a book (the long awaited Paloma and Wings in soft- and hardcover!).

Anyway, I’m definitely feeling like my art projects are clamoring for time, love, attention. And I want to give it to them! I feel like I’m being hustled and bustled by a flock of hungry hens ….

Hungry Hens photo
Hungry Hens – photo by Jane Valencia

In any case, enjoy the latest FoxTales. And please share a story or two about how your projects have come to life!

FoxTales comic

Magical Naturalist Skills: What Kids and the Kid In You Know

FoxTales No. 1 - written and illustrated by Jane Valencia
FoxTales No. 1 – written and illustrated by Jane Valencia. Shell and Leaves step out of the book Because Of The Red Fox into their own comic!

If you’re out with a child — especially with a young child — and you remove the shackle of clock time (so you’re wandering, no agenda, no pressing time commitment), the world around you reveals its true extraordinary state. Children will be drawn to all manner of things in the landscape, and will overlay their own bundle of stories and lore — whether it’s characters and lore drawn from books, movies, or anything else they like, or situations they’re puzzling to understand deep within. It’s like that for us grownups too, but we sometimes have to work hard to extract ourselves from our mental chatter to notice the wondrous around us.

In any case, a wander — especially outdoors (but it can be anywhere really), where you disengage from the press of time and commitment is an occasion for discovering that magic is everywhere, and that this magic is a mirror of our deepest natures. We are given enticing glimpses of our soul landscape, as well as the soul landscapes of the kids or other folk we are with.

The kid in you might point out that the magic you glimpse in what you notice in your surroundings is actually a clue to one of your “super-powers”. You could also say that the magic you notice reflects a glimpse of your gifts, your unique way of perceiving the world,  a facet of your soul’s purpose revealed, or the jewel of your heart. Choose your language.

Tiny World - photo by Jane Valencia
Tiny World – photo by Jane Valencia

Okay, so you have a “soul’s journey” aspect to your wanders. The other aspect is that in a true wander where you open your senses,and let go into the weave of the world, you enter an amazing conversation. You’re not just noticing things (rocks, plants, human-made things) that reflect an aspect of a nature, these things actually speak to your nature.

Suspend your disbelief if disbelief is starting to shout out to you right now. I invite you to engage in this possibility: that the world is alive with its own myriad intelligence (which can be very different from our human style). What if, when you notice something with curiosity, openness, appreciation, and wonder that it notices you?

Lupine Lens - photo by Jane Valencia
Lupine Lens – photo by Jane Valencia

Even before that moment of noticing: what if you set forth in a state of wonder, curiosity and open senses. Could it be that if you do so, the beings of the world wake up to you? “Alert! Alert! Here’s an awake, open-hearted, curious human!

What if, when something in your nature resonates particularly with the unique nature of another being, that that other being calls out specifically to you? “Hey! We have something in common! We’re in tune in a certain way.

What if this being is calling out, inviting you to notice, inviting you into a conversation with it? “You’re pretty interesting. I like what I see you in how you see me. Do you want to play?”

Dragon Tree
Dragon Tree – photo by Jane Valencia

That’s how plants work in offering their best medicine, in my opinion. And I think if you are reading this post this far, you probably recall times when a mountain has called to you, or a cloud, a lake or sea, a mischievous breeze — or particular human-crafted things: a book, a doll or toy, a harp, a home, a _______ [you fill in the blank].

The thing to keep in mind if you are new to this thought, or don’t play in this sandbox very often, is — if you bring the shell, plant, rock, doll, toy home — to continue the conversation. And listen to when its time to let the thing go. When you’re conversation is done, return the being to the earth, or pass it on to another human who will take time to  get to know it.

I’ll stop here today, but I want to emphatically state: The world is alive.

Here’s part of a poem I love by a 19th century Welsh bard, that underscores this idea for me:

In lovely harmony the wood has put on its green mantle,
and summer is on its throne, playing its string-music; the willow, whose harp hung silent when it was withered in winter, now gives forth its melody — Hush! Listen! The world is alive.
Thomas Telynog Evans (1840-1865)

This is what being a magical naturalist is: to open your heart, to walk in wonder, and to view the world with what Annie in Because Of The Red Fox calls “Magic Eyes”.

Go out on a wander! What do you experience when you step into the world with “magic eyes” and an open, wondering heart? Please share your flights of fancy or other thoughts about wanders, the aliveness of the world for you, and more in the comment box below!

Dragon Fire - photo by Jane Valencia
Dragon Fire – photo by Jane Valencia