Into the Heart of the Dreaming

For it was said in that timeless moment that still echoes within me there are those among us who remember deep in some part of themselves–a part that will not let them rest–the forest and the living-ness of green things. It was said that it’s time for them to come home. Time for them to journey deep into the forest that birthed them. Time for them to take up their work–the work that resides in the deepest parts of themselves. Time for them to speak for the green things, to teach their children the way of Earth. Time for humans to think in new ways.

–Stephen Harrod Buhner, Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm: Beyond the Doors of Perception into the Dreaming of Earth

Are you one whose Dream takes hold of you? Are you one who time and again has let that Dream go — the one Dream that holds all the smaller dreams. Perhaps it is not so much a letting go, as a turning away: to tend to the literal nature of daily life.

You are not making up your Dream. The Dream is speaking through you. It dwells in the deep and ancient forest within your heart.

Time and again I find reasons to turn away from the Dream and Soul that shines bright with images and feeling and initiative and a wise intelligence. Time and again, I find a deer trail that, when I take the breath to follow it, leads through gleeful and scratchy bramble back to the dragon clearing where the trees welcome me as a very young grandchild and the stones offer me their own sweet music. The plants set about educating me, and the birds remind me that the universe is threaded in song. And the land: the earth supports and voices the Dream.

Sword Ferns in Forest Halls - photo by Jane Valencia
Sword Ferns in Forest Halls – photo by Jane Valencia

I am always finding my way back to Forest Halls, even when I have thought I never left it (until I return: then I know I’ve only been groping through the salal at the very edges, with an occasional jab in the “I” by a twig).

The harp is one gate-opener for me, my foremost musical partner on the journey. The trees are my generous teachers, the plants my inquisitive co-creators, and the medicine ways of all are the ropes into the wise beauty and blessing that surrounds us and lies just below where I perhaps most typically reside.

There is beauty and blessing here indeed — as well as the sometimes terrifying dark that insists we choose, insists we follow the true nature of heart with eyes closed and hands and senses wide open. It insists that we decide to listen to the veriditas and learn its nature and wild poetic tongue … Decide: to listen …. or to turn away to head straight back to what we think is a place of safety. But what was once the cozy hut on the trail is in reality now a diminished and stunted expression of who we are. What suited and sheltered us at one point on the journey is not where we are meant to remain.

The world is alive, and all things within it are speaking. The trail we follow through the thickets and across open meadows, over waters and into the ancient mind of the mountains is speaking to us too. Take a moment and breathe into the pattern, the weave of all that is and the grace that lies beneath nourishing all. Where do you feel the language? Where do feel the song? Where are you in the forest, the deep, mysterious terrain of your soul? Where are you in the salt waters of your Dreaming?

Stories are welcome here. The forest is listening.

Hawthorn in Flower photo
Hawthorn in Flower: Do you see the faces in the leaves? – photo by Jane Valencia

Earth Song: Emerging Spring

Western Skunk Cabbage - photo
Western Skunk Cabbage – photo by Jane Valencia

Spring is awakening … in the tiny reddish buds on the Silver Birch, the bright faces of Daffodil and Dandelion, in the return of the Rufous Hummingbird with the first pink blossoms of Salmonberry, in the mysterious and murky spathes of the Skunk Cabbage in the wetlands.

Spring suffuses the air — lengthening  the days, and invoking the renewal of exuberant and anguished egg-laying by our hens. It infuses our vital force, and we too may feel a budding and greening, the surge of sap rising — pulled upward  by way, as with the trees, of the crown of ourselves. — drawing forth the minerals and waters from our saturated winter-fed subconscious, and nourishing our fancies and wishes, plans and motions with the sweet and potent brew of life.

Here in the Pacific Northwest the persistent rains, and soaked fields, forest, and pathways remind me that we humans are of the waters and the earth. Fluids move through us, a constant interchange of absorption and release of various aspects of earth and air. We are sparked and fueled by the fire of life, and awash with the streams, rivers, tides, and tranquil ponds that communicate within us our ocean nature. We possess greening, leafing selves, pulled upward even as we root downward and and outward in our daily quest for essential nourishment to sustain our spirit and selves.

Bright stars of thought and imagination, the deep inner mystery of our own genetic coding, and the unending, surrounding, and inner flowering breath of the Divine urge us to reach in ways that enliven the deepest threads of our being. The successive layers of our own wood nature — our progression and story through the years — sculpt our resilience and strengthen our resolve as we respond to the changes, stresses, and wonders that is life on our blue-green world and with one another.

If you are alive, you are always listening and responding. Your trillion cells listen and respond, as does your very soul. The earth song that shapes and shifts the world around and within us is a music that every aspect of us knows, and an improvisation and composition within which each of us has a voice.

Who are you when nature and you know no boundaries, when one flows into the other and you recognize yourself in the garden, and the forest within your heart? When the Divine is soil and the soil is music? What is the earth song you express into being just by being yourself rooting and growing, leafing and flowering nourished by the very soul of your nature?

I invite you to share your musings below.

Welcome to Spring!

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!