Dear Vashon: Island Magic!

An illustration celebrating Vashon from a long time ago: “Sanctuary Origami” – art by Jane Valencia
The Wild in Witness – photo by Jane Valencia

During these past months, I’ve had times where I wondered if what I loved about my island home was gone forever; this has been deeply painful to my heart. Lately things have been shifting in that regard, and I’ve been feeling like I’ve woken from a disturbed sleep or from a spell. I began to meet pockets of what I love in unexpected places, sprinkled through the island. Then today, I had a series of experiences that let me know that island magic is alive and well. In fact, I had one of those alchemical wild encounters absolutely meaningful and personal to me, that had me floored and delighted that it could happen.

Through my years on this island, I’ve enjoyed unique constellations of these experiences, and now I know for sure: the island speaks to me. The lovely thing about it, is that my fellow islanders are expressions of the island — the island flowing through and mingling with who they are as unique people. This is part of the miracle.

If you are an islander, you know that the island speaks to you too, directly, and in your particular language and mythos. My friends, the world is an astonishing, beautiful, holy and mischievous place. You will find the wild and the wondrous right outside your door, on forest trails and in post office lines. My friends, neighbors, colleagues — you who have chosen to live here, you know that the island called you. We are here at this time for a reason. Let’s remember who we are as a community, what we love about living here. Let’s call it back if it seems to have blown away. I assure you that what you love is still circling above the trees, is speaking companionably in the waters, is reaching up to meet you from the forest floor and waving hello along the sidewalks.

If you need to reground in the magic of Vashon Island, take some time to watch the 2016 performance: “Heart of Vashon – Telling Our Story.” Over 150 Islanders submitted their stories and poems. From what was submitted, a script was created to celebrate the spirit and character of this island known as Vashon. I’m honored to have been in this show.

Heart of Vashon – Telling Our Story

Enjoy, and let it remind us of who we really are: A community+nature that is vibrant, creative, celebrates differences, down-home, curious, problem-solving, playful, caring of one another, resourceful, loving of the earth and Sacred Mystery in any form, quirky, healing, and possessing grit, grace, and gratitude. Such a community is absolutely powerful medicine, and with it, we truly do not need to fear. With it, we have each other’s back, no matter who we are and how we choose to live our lives.

What brought you to Vashon? How is what you love still alive and well? How might we bring back what may feel lost?

Clouds are Angels – photo by Jane Valencia

Monday at the (Green) Office

Each time I go to Forest Halls, I choose a new route in. Today I climb a steep slope. I have to take my backpack off and shove it and the ground cloth ahead of myself so I can climb through the tangle of branches.

Looking down the slope.

I settle in at the fire circle …

… and light a fairy fire of Mugwort and Lichen.

Back to work on Paloma and Wings: An Herbal Comic. I’ve rewritten and reorganized the beginning material.  Now for more copy edits. It looks like I need to digitally edit some of the images.  Feels like I’ll never finish this part of putting the book together!

Luckily, I’m in Forest Halls. And while the book production part of this project is (for me) tedious, I can hear the babble of the creek below, and I’m companioned by trees. The beauty and quiet of the place soothes me when the tech-work gets to be too much.

Nature News: The other day, here in the office, I heard shrieks and squeaks. Moments later, Hawk flew by, bearing a large rodent in their talons: life and death in the forest. Later that morning, small birds stirred into a chatter. A minute later, Barred Owl made an appearance. Bird language!

Banana Slug has been a regular roamer on this land.


Badger Shares Story Medicine

How many of you have read the book, CROW and WEASEL by Barry Lopez? Such a wise, wonderful book, beautifully illustrated, and so worth reading. When mainstream narrative would have us believe that we are powerless and pointless, needing to be dictated, stories like this one show the way back to what is true about each one of us: that we each carry and are a unique and much needed medicine for our community and our times. The mythic and imaginative, and the expansive, complex beauty that is the vital force and the natural world is absolutely woven into each one of us.

What stories do you carry? Which stories inspire you most, or inspire you particularly right now? There is medicine in a good tale. Stories nourish our spirit and soul, and we can share this good medicine with others, so that we all grow in courage, strength, wisdom, and imagination.

As Badger says in CROW and WEASEL (and I relate in the video): “Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.”

We are so much more than the barrage of fear would have us believe.

This short video that I made (just over a minute long) features a quote from Badger about the nature of story, and a little musing from me.