Newsflash! Garden Sneaking up on Unsuspecting Harp!

Many year ago, Dian Cecht — physician, god of healing, and member of the Tuatha De Danaan (an ancient tribe of divine folk in Ireland) — scattered his daughter Airmid’s cloak of herbs. With this action, he cast a possible comprehensive herbal tradition to the winds. As you might guess of an action initiated by rage and jealousy, unintended consequences have resulted.

(Hear the tale in Forest Halls Celtic – Episode 1. It takes place about halfway through the show. You can also read the tale in the Forest Halls Celtic – 4/3/16 Show Notes)

Rumors that herbal tradition had gone underground, and has recently erupted into renewed vigor and mischief appear to be well-founded, as represented in the photo below. It appears that a harp is about to be set upon by herbs

Garden Sneaking up on harp - photo
Garden Sneaking up on Harp – photo by field reporter Jane Valencia

Alert!

Herbal magic may pounce upon us at any time! It is imperative that we reassemble Airmid’s herbal cloak to prevent absolute pandemonium. PLEASE NOTE: Disagreement exists as to whether the chaos will result from feral herbs having wild garden parties in our hallowed concrete jungles, or from unconscious followers of Dian Cecht’s emotional state responding with fear and outrage to the fun and powerful healing mystery of the green beings that have been living beside us all this time.  Agreement does exist that reassembling Airmid’s herbal cloak will help bring the healing ways of the herbs to one and all. This was Airmid’s original intentio, and, we presume, that of her brother the astounding healer, Miach.

Help us reassemble Airmid’s herbal cloak! Here’s how:

In the comment box below:

  • Identify one or more herbs in this photo
  • Describe a healing property of each one you I.D.
  • Describe where one might find that herb laid out on Airmid’s cloak

Furthermore:

  • If you are an herbalist or lover of the plants, please let us know how you are contributing to the restoration of Airmid’s herbal cloak!

Important PS.!

Rumor has it that harp tradition – also resurfacing after centuries underground –  is in cahoots with the herbs. If that’s so, then the above photo may not actually represent the herbs sneaking up on the harp, but the harp leading the charge!!!! If you have reason to believe that the harp is enmeshed in restoring lost tradition please report the following:

  • How has a harp you’ve witnessed contributed to restoring lost wisdom to your neighborhood or community at large. 

PLEASE NOTE: If you are a harper, you yourself may have inadverently — or deliberately — contributed in this way!!!

  • If so, please share your subversive action(s). (In the harp underground, this is often referred to as a “random act of harping”)
Harp and Herbs photo
Harp and Herbs Clearly in Subversive Conversation – photo by field reporter Jane Valencia

Important PPS:

If you play an instrument, engage in a folk craft, art, or tradition, or creative expression of any kind you likely are contributing to a revitalized, intelligent, nature-allied, wise world. This is absolutely noteworthy, and we here at Forest Halls commend you for your dedication and passion.

  • Please share with us your creative expression, and your thoughts on how it helps reweave a cloak of joyful and wise healing ways in the world.

Please submit reports in the comment box below!

Your comments will be compiled into a Forest Halls report (blog post) that will be issued in conjunction with the next episode of Forest Halls Celtic, and given special mention there.

Thank you for your important contributions to healing, peace, harmony, authenitic expression, creative imagination, and radical fun in the world!

Infused Imagination: A Story The Plants Can Tell You

An Infusion for you - photo by Jane Valencia
An Infusion for you – photo by Jane Valencia

In the above photo, my plant friends and I have created a “brew that is true” (if I may randomly quote from the Danny Kaye classic movie, The Court Jester) — an infusion of real magic just for you. Be warned! You’ll need to drink with your imagination. But that is no large task when you allow yourself to ease into the enchantment that is the timeless and time-honored relationship that plants and us human folk share. If you are ready to taste this manner of story and song, read on!

A quick note about infusions

A nourishing infusion is a brew of herbs that has steeped for 1-4 or more hours (depending on plant parts used) to extract plant constituents to make a restorative, extremely healthful, almost food-like beverage.  The infusion I’ve started above is a mix of flowers (which I would normally only infuse for up to an hour), leaves and ripening seeds (which I would infuse for at least 4 hours). Usually you use dried herbs (though I use fresh Lemon Balm leaves above).

Typically, one puts an oz. of dried herbs in a quart jar, and pours just-boiled water on top. Then you let it sit for 4-8 hours, strain out (pressing the “marc” — the plant material —  to get the full nutritional benefits), and drink throughout the day.

A lot of info exists about making infusions. Here’s a great article by herbalist Rosalee de la Foret to really get you going. The point about infusions that I want to make right now is that infusions nourish you on all levels of your being. The plants offer nutrition and help balance your whole body — that includes our mind and spirit too!

In our “imaginative infusion” we’ll dip into a spirit way of experiencing the plants.

Wandering With The Plants

In a nourishing infusion, tea, extract, food, or other creation ,the plants talk with our bodies and wander with our spirits. In an imaginative infusion, we don’t have that physical communication, alas! Still, I hope to give you a taste of some lovely plants with whom we human folk have had a long-standing relationship. Here are the ones included in the brew above.

Lemon Balm - photo by Jane Valencia
Lemon Balm – photo by Jane Valencia

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – a lemony aromatic herb that gently guides you into “Quiet Mind”. Quiet Mind is the restful and receptive state of being in which our senses and hearts are open and softly curious. Included in our plant magic infusion we have her glossy green leaves.

Leaves in any plant are about communication and about intermingling — as they take in sunlight and transform it into the body of the plant. I invite you to entertain the notion that leaves have the active ability to interweave heaven and earth. They do this physically in our outer world, and, when ingested, smelled, or welcomed in any way, in our internal world.

When you taste a leaf, you ingest transformed sunlight (and minerals from the soil, and so on) by way of the unique nature of the plant you’re enjoying. So, a communication is taking place. When you work with the leaves of a plant, you can invite that solar — even stellar — aspect of reality into your being. Tend this idea with your imagination. That intermingling is happening within you as you read and ponder!

Dandelion - photo by Jane Valencia
Dandelion – photo by Jane Valencia

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) – that boisterous, cheerful herb that will keep you company wherever you are. The sunbright flowers offer you a dash of courage and fun. Flowers on a plant represent their highest spiritual expression, and Dandelion’s expression is that of the sun and a bold sense of self.

So, enjoy those Dandy flowers! Cook with them (they are edible), throw them on salads, toss them into stir fries, make Dandelion flower fritters. Take courage with Dandelion, and take good cheer. Be creative with Dandy, and be your kid self. Allow Dandelion to help you bust through whatever seems like impermeable pavement in your life. As you (no doubt) well know, Dandelion is at home and herself wherever she is.

Red Roses - photo by Jane Valencia
Red Roses – photo by Jane Valencia

The red-pink petals are Red Rose (Rosa gallica). Who doesn’t love Rose? Rose offers deep love, a wicked protective grace (think of her thorns), and helps to ease trauma and grief. I feel I really don’t have to introduce you to Rose! Just go find a Rose plant and sit beside it. Soak in the beauty of Rose, and drink up the intoxicating heart-sweet scent. Be brave: touch a thorn!

All of Rose is good medicine. When we touch the thorns (or when they grab hold of us) we are reminded that even our “thorns” are medicine too. Rose helps us embrace the gifts of our whole nature, sourced from both wounds and blessings.

Milky Oat Tops (Avena sativa). Oats as a whole plant are a true Mother Earth food and medicine. Oat Straw and Oat Tops nourishing infusions are mineral rich, a source of magnesium and easily absorbed calcium and more. Milky Oat Tops — the ripening seed full of “milky” fluid — are particularly beneficial to those who are exhausted and feel absolutely depleted in just about all ways. Here’s a link to an article by herbalist Kiva Rose about Milky Oat Tops. For a Milky Oat medicine song and more musing on Milky Oats head over to my video and post here.

For our imaginative infusion, let’s focus now on experiencing the deep rest of the earth, the comfort of the mother, the possibility that replenishment of our deepest nature is here for us, rebuilding and restoring us from the inside out. If it’s possible for you, go outside right now and lie down on the ground (feel free to lay a blanket down first). Allow yourself to enter the timeless realm — the eternal moment — and feel the length of your body supported by this expansive ground that is the whole world.

Can’t do this physically? Then drink of this experience with your imagination! See if you can smell the earth, feel the terrain, hear the bird song or breeze. What, if anything, changes for you when you rest into the earth and ocean of your being?

The above is just a short inspirational wander with the plants, but hopefully this brief infusion stirs your senses and awakens you to the possible in your own relationship to the plant world. These green folk engage in so many ways with our lives, nourishing our breath and body via landscapes that include the terrain of myth and soul as well as our emotional and physical spaces. How do you taste and experience the gifts plants have for you in your many-layered reality? Please share your stories in the comment box below!

 

Art Show! Magical Nature + Kid-Inspired

Paloma and her dragon friend Wings celebrate Hawthorn - Art by Jane Valencia (c) 2012
Paloma and her dragon friend Wings celebrate Hawthorn – Art by Jane Valencia (c) 2012

Art Showing by Jane Valencia

Into Forest Halls: Kid-Inspired Art From The Heart Of Our Nature

At the HUB 070 Gallery – November through Year End (Located in the Spinnaker Building in downtown Vashon just north of Chase Bank and across from Vashon Market)
17710 100th Ave SW,Vashon, WA

First Friday Gallery Tour Opening: Friday, Nov. 7, 2014, 6-9PM

Come enjoy harp music and micro-magical tales from artist Jane Valencia, good island company, yummy forest-and-garden inspired snacks, and nourishing and delicious herbal beverages as you browse an enchanted forest of nature-rooted, kid-inspired art that speaks to the heart of our true nature.

About the show:

Step into forest magic in this showing of whimsical nature-rooted and kid-inspired art that speaks to the heart of our true nature.

Featured in this showing of watercolor and colored-pencil drawings and fanciful photography are several pages from Paloma And Wings, an herbal comic for kids, which was published for two years in the internationally acclaimed herbal journal, Plant Healer Magazine.

As a harper and storyteller, an instructor with the Vashon Wilderness Program, and a children’s fantasy book author, Jane Valencia draws upon her love of imagination, music, magical lore, the natural world and her joy in adventuring with kids in the outdoors to create her art.