Welcome to my Library and Hello to your Dragon Nature

I’ve started a personal library! It’s called the Greenwood Library in Forest Halls. The first book I scanned into the collection was the children’s herbal fantasy, Wise Child, (wise woman Juniper also plays the harp!) and the first book loaned is Flowers and Fables: a Welsh Herbal (both pictured here). You’re invited to browse the library. I’ll be adding many more items over the coming weeks — so easy to do with the app on my phone! Loans are available to on-islanders and other local folk. If you live out of the area (as many of you do), I hope this library will point you to some of the great resources that are available out in the world.

Greenwood Library "Firsts"
First book  entered into the system, first book loaned. Bookmarks are serve as reminders that these are library loans.

My 11-year-old self is in heaven. As a sixth-grader abandoned at the start of the school year by my until-then best friends (who, during the previous summer, had embarked on a mission to become popular), I deepened my friendship with the girl across the street. We spent  many recesses, lunch hours, and after school hours reading and imagining together, and much of that time was in our school library. My best friend Jenny had been helping the librarian with the circulation cards. When Jenny shared this part of her world with me and I started helping too, well, that opened the door to a new kind of awesomeness!

With my library, with its online catalog linked to the global world of books, my twenties self is in heaven too. The jobs I loved most as a young adult were the years I worked as a Library Specialist in Interlibrary Services at the Stanford University’s Green Library. My work involved tracking down and retrieving books and making photocopies of articles from the myriad campus libraries and from Green Library’s mysterious stacks and labyrinthine regions (some so little used and remote that you had to snap on the lights when you entered some  areas, and snap them off when you left).

And quite happy too, thank you very much, is my inner dragon and voracious lifelong learner self who has always loved books, gathering information, and prowling the long shadowed corridors of the anima mundi, nudging open the compact shelving of the heart with secret words, and discovering the hidden treasures that nestle within each one of us and which glimmer and ring with the true nature that is the world.

It seems that with the opening of this library, I’m saying yes to my imagination. So here is fair warning to you, and an invitation. With the opening of this library, I dedicate this blog to fully expressing my magical life and peculiar take on this world, and to welcoming you into a story of myth and medicine, true nature and kindness. This walk through the woods and words, however, isn’t a one-directional path. It, I hope, is a conversation, a polyphonic and polyrhythmic musical improvisation, a reciprocal sharing of resources in terms of tales and imaginings and illuminations, such as is enjoyed in book and article form by the research libraries for whom I once served.  I look forward to hearing your stories, your ways of perception, the heart of the world as it expresses within your singular and beautiful dragon nature.

Water Snake Wonderings - art
Wonders at the Heart of our Nature – art by Jane Valencia

How is magic and sweet surprise alive and well in your world? How do you live it out in your daily life with family, friends, community, and with nature? How does your unique take on life and your way of being nourish the children, help heal culture, and better our world? How do you experience yourself as Nature, as a child of the earth, imagination, and the Sacred? How can you and I grow our magical nature — our medicine selves — in service to living out our responses to questions such as these? What are your dragon nature questions?

These wonderings are the waters from which this blog springs.

I invite you to record your musings in the comments box below.

Visit the Greenwood Library in Forest Halls here.

Books Are Magical Doors

Herba Magica: Ripe Salmonberry

Plants offer us a doorway into a very different sense of time and into the wonder that interweaves our world and is right outside. This plant, Salmonberry, is a particular friend and ally to those of us in the Pacific Northwest, coaxing us to head off-trail to taste wildness. What invariably happens is that one taste leads to the next and to the next, and soon we are in the greenwood, ignoring tangles, getting leaves in our hair, little jabs in our hands and arms, and delighting in sour-sweet abundance, even gorging on it, our child nature shouting, “Yeah!!!!!”

Which plants coax you to taste? Which ones lead you off-trail and into playful nature? Which awaken the green and giving wild within you? How does that quality of wild express itself in your life? Please share in the comment box below!

Herba Magica - Ripe Salmonberry Photo and Info
Herba Magica: Ripe Salmonberry by Jane Valencia

Radio Show 4/17/16 Program Notes

Spring is dazzling right now. We continue our celebration of this bright, blossoming season with a green field of music that ranges from fun, lovely, to bold, and ancient in an exotic way.

I always have more than I can say about each piece than can fit into a one-hour show! The program notes are where you can find out a little bit more about the musicians and music. Also, this is a good place to look if you want to find contact info for any of the artists or events I mention.

The show is available on demand. Enjoy!

Forest Halls Celtic – live radio show – Episode 2: 4/17/16

Format: Artist – “Track Title” – (Album/source)
Gadbaw & Krimmel – “Across the Western Ocean” – (Live at the Black Rose Acoustic Society)
Colorado-based Celtic duo Beth Gadbaw and Margot Krimmel play music inspired by Celtic and American traditions, and is enhanced by the artists’ originality and creativity. I love Margot’s harp playing on this track: rhythmic and innovative!

Next weekend this duo will be performing in Tacoma and on Fox Island with the excellent Tacoma choir, Cora Voce. Cora Voce is a Tacoma-based ensemble of about 40 singers dedicated to sharing and performing high-quality choral music.

Gadbaw and Krimmel will perform with Cora Voce a W. B. Yeats poem, “The Second Coming” set to music they’ve written expressly for the choir. This will be the premiere of the piece. They’ll also play their original, ‘Innisfree’ (another Yeats poem set to music), with the choir, plus a duo set. They’ll play two concerts, one on Saturday evening in Tacoma and a Sunday Matinee on Fox Island.  Visit: http://coravoce.org/performance.htm for more details.

Huizinga & Coulter (Liquid Gold) – “The Quarter Inch Wick(Kathleen Keane)/One Night In Bethlehem (trad. Ireland)” – (From a Concert Tour)
Edwin and William have been touring together for three years. This season they are performing together all over the United States as Liquid Gold, and as part of Tom Foley’s A Celtic Christmas. Canadian-born violinist Edwin Huizinga has established himself as one of North America’s most versatile violinists. Grammy award winning guitarist William Coulter has been performing and recording traditional and classical music for over 25 years. We heard him last show on the track by Orison.

They are performing on the island.

Liquid Gold – Edwin Huizing & William Coulter
April 22 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
The Havurah Opening act is our very own Kat Eggleston. Tickets at Vashon Bookstore

Niamh Parsons – “The Water is Wide” – (Blackbirds and Thrushes)
Niamh Parsons is a singer of contemporary and traditional Irish music, and is herself Irish. This is a favorite traditional folk song of Scottish origin, based on lyrics that partly date to the 1600s.

Gadbaw & Krimmel – “The White Bird (W. B. Yeats poem)” – (Live at the Black Rose Acoustic Society)
“The White Birds” is a Yeats poem that Gadbaw and Krimmel have set to music. This poem is one of several by Yeats ignited by his turbulant relationship of unrequited love with Maud Gonne, an English-born Irish revolutionary and suffragette. Walking along a cliffside near a seaside village, Yeats proposed to Maud for the first time (he proposed to her four times over several years). She during that walk expressed a wish to become a seagull. This poem is Yeats’ take on what she meant by that wish, and his own yearning that they could escape the landscape that interferes with them apart by heading out as white birds to the “Danaan Shore,” a land of myth and blessing.
Silly Wizard – “If I Was a Blackbird” – (Wild and Beautiful)
This song features the warm and gorgeous vocals of Andy M. Stewart. As eloquently expressed in his obituary, “Andy M Stewart was a Scots singer and songwriter who was at the forefront of a resurgent contemporary Scottish folk scene in the 1970s as the voice of the Edinburgh-formed group Silly Wizard. A well-spoken raconteur on the live stage, whose ability to introduce his songs informatively and with genuine humour enhanced the experience of hearing them, Stewart wrote music and lyrics which are – particularly in the case of his ballads – rich and still freshly emotive.”

The obituary also pointed out that Andy M. Stewart was “A skilled banjo player who used his middle initial to distinguish himself from the elder Scots singer who shared his name.”

What a loss to our Celtic music community! But his lively and passionate spirit as expressed in his gorgeous and rollicking songs muisc certainly does live on.

Alasdair Fraser & Paul Machlis – Traditional Gaelic Melody/Tommy’s Tarbukas – (The Road North)
Alasdair Fraser is a Scottish fiddler living in California. Leads three notable Scottish fiddle camps and directs the San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers. Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas are performing in Port Townsend tonight! Visit his website for details.

The San Francisco Scottish Fiddlers have concerts with our Director, Alasdair Fraser, coming up on the weekend of April 22. Perhaps some of your listeners would be interested, if they live anywhere near one of the venues. Here’s a graphic of our poster for the concerts, with information on it. There’s also information about the concerts on their web site sfscottishfiddlers.org. Yountville, Sacramento, Livermore.

Airmid’s Herbal Cloak: Dandelion Lore / Music: Jane Valencia – “St. Brigit’s Hymn” (RoseGarden)
Music is Derived from the third “Bridget Cruise” air by Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738)
Last show Airmid’s herbal cloak was scattered to the four winds. This show we begin reassembling the healing wisdom by plucking a Dandelion … More information about Dandelion’s healing magic will be included in a separate post.

Here’s a snippet of lore to welcome you into Dandelion.

Some names for Dandelion (Taraxacum offinale):

In Gaelic: am bearnan Bridhe (“Notched plant of Bride/Bridget”), or Bearnan bride (bearn = notch-in leaf and brigh = sap: thus, “sappy leaf”)
Welsh: Dant-y-Llew (“Tooth of the Lion”)
Scots names/Local Names: pissa bed, milk gowan, devil’s milk plant, and more

In Glencoe, it was recorded that those with ulcers ate Dandelion leaf sandwiches to help cure their plight.

Young leaves are tasty in salad. Use them like spinach! You can make Dandelion wine with the flowers, as well as Dandelion fritters – a favorite recipe with my family each spring.

Tips for correctly identifying Dandelion, plus a slightly different recipe for Dandelion fritters (+variations) can be found here.

A great plunge into the nutrition and medicine of Dandelion can be found here.  Dandelion is  surely one of the herbs that Airmid had collected in her cloak!.

Valerie Rose – “The Gardener” – (Petals of Stone)
An Irish fiddler & singer in the San Francisco Bay Area, Valerie plays in several Irish/Celtic bands Valerie’s solo CD, Petals of Stone,  exploredsedgier territory, successfully mixing Irish and English traditional ballads with hard-rock instrumentation. This song is an example! One of her reviewers said:

“Rose’s pure, sweet voice should please fans of Annie Haslam, Maddy Prior, or Sandy Denny [of Fairport Convention].”

I would also include that her style is reminiscent too of Jacqui McShee of Pentangle. What do you think? Enjoy!

Violaine Mayor – “Tud Kembre” – (Gens Cambrina)
Violaine Mayor  is a Breton wire-harp player, adapting historical techniques to traditional Breton music. This tune has very much of a Breton dance feel, then segues into vocals in a plainchant style.

Patsy Seddon & Barnaby Brown – Deus Auribus (from BBC’s History of Scotland)
Patsy Seddon and Barnaby Brown performing Psalm 44 in Iona forBBC’s History of Scotland.

Patsy Seddon is a harper, vocalist, and fiddler who is known for her playing in the Scottish harp duo Sileas and the all-woman folk band, The Poozies. Barnaby Brown leads the revival of the northern triplepipe, the precursor of the bagpipe in Britain and Ireland.  The triplepipe is basically a bagpipe without a bag, and is played with the two chanters and a drone in the mouth, so you need to use circular breathing. and is basically a bagpipe without the bag. The bag part of the pipes came arrived in Britain in the 13th century.

The northern triplepipe tradition of Britain and Ireland died out in the late Middle Ages.