Magical Naturalist Skills: What Kids and the Kid In You Know

FoxTales No. 1 - written and illustrated by Jane Valencia
FoxTales No. 1 – written and illustrated by Jane Valencia. Shell and Leaves step out of the book Because Of The Red Fox into their own comic!

If you’re out with a child — especially with a young child — and you remove the shackle of clock time (so you’re wandering, no agenda, no pressing time commitment), the world around you reveals its true extraordinary state. Children will be drawn to all manner of things in the landscape, and will overlay their own bundle of stories and lore — whether it’s characters and lore drawn from books, movies, or anything else they like, or situations they’re puzzling to understand deep within. It’s like that for us grownups too, but we sometimes have to work hard to extract ourselves from our mental chatter to notice the wondrous around us.

In any case, a wander — especially outdoors (but it can be anywhere really), where you disengage from the press of time and commitment is an occasion for discovering that magic is everywhere, and that this magic is a mirror of our deepest natures. We are given enticing glimpses of our soul landscape, as well as the soul landscapes of the kids or other folk we are with.

The kid in you might point out that the magic you glimpse in what you notice in your surroundings is actually a clue to one of your “super-powers”. You could also say that the magic you notice reflects a glimpse of your gifts, your unique way of perceiving the world,  a facet of your soul’s purpose revealed, or the jewel of your heart. Choose your language.

Tiny World - photo by Jane Valencia
Tiny World – photo by Jane Valencia

Okay, so you have a “soul’s journey” aspect to your wanders. The other aspect is that in a true wander where you open your senses,and let go into the weave of the world, you enter an amazing conversation. You’re not just noticing things (rocks, plants, human-made things) that reflect an aspect of a nature, these things actually speak to your nature.

Suspend your disbelief if disbelief is starting to shout out to you right now. I invite you to engage in this possibility: that the world is alive with its own myriad intelligence (which can be very different from our human style). What if, when you notice something with curiosity, openness, appreciation, and wonder that it notices you?

Lupine Lens - photo by Jane Valencia
Lupine Lens – photo by Jane Valencia

Even before that moment of noticing: what if you set forth in a state of wonder, curiosity and open senses. Could it be that if you do so, the beings of the world wake up to you? “Alert! Alert! Here’s an awake, open-hearted, curious human!

What if, when something in your nature resonates particularly with the unique nature of another being, that that other being calls out specifically to you? “Hey! We have something in common! We’re in tune in a certain way.

What if this being is calling out, inviting you to notice, inviting you into a conversation with it? “You’re pretty interesting. I like what I see you in how you see me. Do you want to play?”

Dragon Tree
Dragon Tree – photo by Jane Valencia

That’s how plants work in offering their best medicine, in my opinion. And I think if you are reading this post this far, you probably recall times when a mountain has called to you, or a cloud, a lake or sea, a mischievous breeze — or particular human-crafted things: a book, a doll or toy, a harp, a home, a _______ [you fill in the blank].

The thing to keep in mind if you are new to this thought, or don’t play in this sandbox very often, is — if you bring the shell, plant, rock, doll, toy home — to continue the conversation. And listen to when its time to let the thing go. When you’re conversation is done, return the being to the earth, or pass it on to another human who will take time to  get to know it.

I’ll stop here today, but I want to emphatically state: The world is alive.

Here’s part of a poem I love by a 19th century Welsh bard, that underscores this idea for me:

In lovely harmony the wood has put on its green mantle,
and summer is on its throne, playing its string-music; the willow, whose harp hung silent when it was withered in winter, now gives forth its melody — Hush! Listen! The world is alive.
Thomas Telynog Evans (1840-1865)

This is what being a magical naturalist is: to open your heart, to walk in wonder, and to view the world with what Annie in Because Of The Red Fox calls “Magic Eyes”.

Go out on a wander! What do you experience when you step into the world with “magic eyes” and an open, wondering heart? Please share your flights of fancy or other thoughts about wanders, the aliveness of the world for you, and more in the comment box below!

Dragon Fire - photo by Jane Valencia
Dragon Fire – photo by Jane Valencia

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.

Why Not Write? Camp NaNoWriMo Begins!

Join a Writers Camp like no other!

Hello, folks!

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, and takes place each year in November. Folks from all over the world spend one month furiously writing novels — whoo hoo!

Camp NaNoWriMo is the summer fun version of this annual undertaking. Each one of us is invited to work on a writing project of our choice for one month, in the spirit of campfires and cook outs.

This month, my daughters and I have embarked on writing projects. And it looks like my sister-in-law and niece will be joining us too.

Here’s a peek of what I started:

Dragon Tale

by Jane Valencia

Santa here, reporting on a typical late winter predawn morning on Yonder Island. The birds are whimpering. The trees are drooping in the drizzle. Who wants to be out here in the damp? The birds don’t, and I bet the trees don’t. And I sure as heck don’t.

My sister Annie is snuggled in bed. My mom has forced me to bundle into layers of thermal underwear, wool socks, my insulated waterproof boots, and, ugh, rain pants. I’m pained as I put all this stuff on, but, see—I’ve been coming out every morning for quite some time. And though I despise all this stuff and nonsense, my scientific mind has to admit that, although I’m miserable out here in the damp, I’m far more miserable when I forego all these absurdities. So, layers and waterproofs it is. I’m bundled as much as I can deal with and still hike up from the house, and up into the Upper Woods. I bypass all my favorite places, our longtime haunts: the Mental Village and DragonAir, the Octopus tree, and all the other fun of the Hundred Acre Woods.

You could say that reason has overcome madness in this regard—or is the other way around?

Santa is not here to play. I’m here for a high purpose. The highest anyone is likely to find.

I’ve an egg hidden in the Upper Woods, an egg of the most incredible kind. And I intend to hatch it. …

[to be continued]

Do you want to be a writer? Then please join me at Camp NaNoWriMo, and let’s all write!

Share what your writing project is in the comment box below!