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

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!