Join Me at the Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference

Dear Friends,

The Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference is a magical gathering of women and girls of all ages. For a whole weekend (and longer, if you wish to attend the amazing pre-conference workshops) you can explore the wonderful, welcoming world of the plants and their medicine, and receive the medicine of one another with laughter, dancing, delicious food and nourishing infusions, heart-connecting song, and women’s wisdom —  all in a beautiful forest and shore location on Vashon Island. The Conference takes place on Sept. 20~22, 2019.

As a nature instructor, I happen to work at this location every week, and let me assure you, this 400 acre location (Camp Sealth) is a place where magic happens. Perhaps Eagle sings overhead, or Otter lets you glimpse him heading to the beach, or Deer bask in the moonlight. Perhaps the trees lean in to whisper a message especially for you. Perhaps you find a wishing stone, a listening stone, or feel the mist rising off the Salish Sea to welcome you into your ocean nature.  This enchantment and more opens to those who come together with intention, loving hearts, curiosity, playfulness, generosity, and gratitude. And that is what the Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference brings together from start to finish.

Here are the workshops I’m teaching:

Jane Valencia with the small dragon, Wings

Hildegard of Bingen’s Herbal Energetics for the Family Herbalist

The medicine of Hildegard of Bingen,12th century German physician, visionary, abbess, author, and saint, relied on an understanding of our bodies as gardens, and the work of healing as tending a garden In this introduction to a practical, compassionate, nature-based healing practice, we’ll adventure in the basics of herbal energetics to better support our family members and ourselves.

Tree Secrets: A Walk into a Pacific Northwest Ogham

In the early medieval Irish Ogham, or “tree alphabet,” each letter embodies a particular tree or plant  spirit. In this Celtic-infused workshop we’ll pass time in the company of trees, both those named in the Ogham and our native trees. We’ll explore firsthand their energy, teachings, folklore, and medicine uses by way of our senses and connection, and begin creating our own Pacific Northwest ogham. If the trees are willing, we’ll even craft ogham sticks. Expect sweet enchantment and deep wild wisdom!

As an herbalist and practitioner of what she calls “Deer Medicine Ways,” Jane Valencia loves welcoming women and girls into the magic of the green world that surrounds us. Through forest and garden learning adventures, writings, and illustration, she helps the herbal curious to get down and dirty getting to know the plants and their healing ways and to discover what the plants reveal about our truest nature. An instructor with the Vashon Wilderness Program, Jane is the creator/ mentor of VWP’s herbal girls camps. Sacred plant medicine and traditional Western herbalism are her well-spring. Jane is author-illustrator of Paloma and Wings: a Kids Herbal Comic.

Find out more about about Jane’s herbal and healing ways offerings, including writings on her blog, please visit:

Go here to find out more about the Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference.


I hope to see you there!

cross-posted on

Radio Show – Episode 5 – May 29, 2016 Play List and Program Notes – Foxglove Music and Magic

FHC-GoblinGloves-180dpiIn this episode we discovered the faery lore of the plant, Foxglove, through story and music, enjoyed some contemporary treatments of very old tunes and songs, and more.

Catch the latest Forest Halls Celtic episode on demand here.

12:00: Spookytree (Deb Knodel & Jane Valencia) – Lochaber No More
12:01: Alan Stivell – Brian Boru
12:07: Owain Phyfe – Ja Nus Hons Pris
12:11: The Chieftains – I Know My Love (with The Corrs)
12:19: The Standing Stones and Debra Knodel – Oran Sniomh (Spinning Song)
12:22: Cynthia Cathcart – Mist Covered Mountains
12:25: Laura Risk, Fiddle – Lord Moira
12:33: Seumus Byrne – Track 2
12:37: Jeff Victor – The Widow of Loch Lemond
12:43: Jeff Victor – 7th Child of the 7th Child
12:50: Distant Oaks – Tobar Gach Gr�is _ An Drochaid Chli�iteach
12:55: Altan – Jimmy Lyon’s + The Teelin + The Red Crow + The Broken Bridge

Format: Track Title – artist (CD Title)

“Brian Boru” – Alan Stivell (Celtic Circle 2 – Various Artists) 

Brian Boru (full name Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig) was an Irish king who ended the domination of the High Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Néill dynasty, becoming the High King of Ireland himself. Alan Stivell is a Celtic musician from Britanny, best known in the folk harp world for his wire-strung harp playing on his classic album, Renaissance of the Celtic Harp. On this piece he plays electro-harp. He composed the words to the “Brian Boru” melody, and sings here in (I believe) Irish Gaelic and Breton.

“Ja Nus Hon Pris” – Owain Phyfe (Poets, Bards, and Singers of Songs)
A beautiful song written and sung in Langue d’oil – one of the two principal groups of dialects spoken in medieval France. It was composed by the English King, Richard Coeur de Lion, and with a lovely treatment here by the late Owain Phyfe.

Extreme trivia: Back in the early 90’s I played this song as a harp solo in the Portland, OR-based early music ensemble Musique Ancienne, and also recorded it on Deb’s & my privately-released first album, Spooky Tree.

“I Know My Love” – The Chieftains with The Corrs (Tears of Stone)
The Chieftains are a traditional Irish band formed in Dublin in November 1962. Some music experts have credited The Chieftains with bringing traditional Irish music to a worldwide audience, so much so that the Irish government awarded them the honorary title of ‘Ireland’s Musical Ambassadors’ in 1989. In 2012, they celebrated their 50th anniversary with the release of their most recent record Voice of Ages. If you’re tracking harps, yes – Derek Bell is playing harp here!

This was one of the Chieftains’ collaborative albums.

The Corrs are an Irish band that combine pop rock with traditional Irish themes within their music. The group consists of the Corr siblings, Andrea (lead vocals, tin whistle); Sharon (violin, vocals); Caroline (drums, percussion, piano, bodhrán,vocals) and Jim (guitar, piano, keyboards, vocals).

“Oran Sniomh (Spinning Song)” – The Standing Stones and Debra Knodel (Give Fleece a Chance)
The Standing Stones are Michael Robinson and Vicki Parrish. This San Francisco Bay Area based duo performs traditional music and song from Scotland and Ireland, and Canada and Australia where Scottish and Irish music took root during the Gaelic diaspora of the 19th century, as well as a certain amount of early music, and music from the other Celtic lands.

They write:

“While others may try to take traditional music into the future, our goal is to take it into the past. We try to join our research on historical performance styles to the living tradition, so that our music can be both exciting and true to its roots. But the most important thing is to enjoy ourselves and to share this beautiful musical heritage with others.”

Debra Knodel is a northern California harper who is doing some pretty cool things on harp. If you are listening in the Bay Area, contact me for information on a solo concert she’ll be performing in Fall. I wish I could travel down for that!

More trivia: Deb, Vicki, and I performed as a harp trio called Trillium way back in my first year or so of harp playing. We played at the Northern California Renaissance Faire.

“Mist Covered Mountains” – Cynthia Cathcart (Alchemy of a Rose)
Cynthia writes a regular column for the Folk Harp Journal, “Ringing Strings” which is devoted to the wire-strung harp. And is internationally known as a proponent of this instrument. I must have been thinking about my Portland, Oregon days when I put this play list together, because I really got to know this Scottish tune “Mist-Covered Mountains” back then, by way of harp lessons with wire-strung harper Janet Naylor in Eugene.

“Lord Moira – The Merry Making” – Laura Risk (The Merry Making)
“Laura Risk is an California-born violinist. She specializes in performing and teaching the diverse fiddle repertoire of Scotland and Quebec.
[Laura Risk] has that absolutely uncanny knack, not of knowing how much to put into a tune, but rather how little. She wrings every drop of passion, heartache or melancholy from most every note she plays… Just magic.”
Green Man Review

A protege of Alasdair Fraser, Laura Risk along with Athena Turgis played on Deb’s and my first (publically released) album, Masque. They played on “Waltz of the Little Girls” and “The Shetland Reels.” At the time Laura and Athena were teenagers, and musical forces to be reckoned with. Even then, I was impressed by Laura’s elegant playing, the crisp, beautiful ornamentation and her rich arrangements.


Celtic Twiddle art by Jane Valencia (c) 2010

I was inspired by all the beautiful Foxglove blooming these past weeks to put together this segment of lore and story regarding this mesmerizing plant.

Lore: The Faery Lore of Foxgloves by Mara Freeman/Background: 
Mara Freeman is an author and teacher of Western esoteric tradition, specifically the Celtic and British branches, and a storyteller.

By Mara:
Faery gloves
Faery caps and bells –
Foxgloves are the Folks’ Gloves,
the Good Folk, that is,
and you’d better not forget it if you think to cut them down. ….”

Read the full past about foxglove lore here.

“Goblin Gloves” by Allison Cox/Background music: “The Widow of Loch Lemond” – Jeff Victor (Lifescapes: Scottish Moors) /“7th Child of the 7th Child” – Jeff Victor (Lifescapes: Scottish Moors) 
Allison Cox is a storyteller on Vashon Island. She gave me permission to read her story, “Goblin Gloves” today. Allison is so fun to listen to, and so generous of spirit. She is very involved in the Seattle Storyteller’s Guild, and recently spear-headed an event in which an epic Irish myth retold by 17 tellers and with a musicians as well. It was fun to be part of that.

As accompaniment to “Goblin Gloves,” we have two pieces of Celtic Ambient music by Jeff Victors.

“Tobar Gach Gràis / An Drochaid Chliùiteach” – Distant Oaks (Gach Là Agus Oidhche : Music of Carmina Gadelica’)

“Distant Oaks  was a California ensemble specializing in dynamic, historically informed performances of traditional Gaelic and early European music. … In addition to their strong dedication to Gaelic music, language, and culture, as well as authentic traditional and Early Music performance practices, Distant Oaks was also actively engaged in composing new music in older styles. Much historical evidence suggests that the distinctions between indigenous music and courtly music were minimal in earlier times. In the spirit of fine music-making and respect for tradition, Distant Oaks continues to bring a brilliant panoply of music to their audiences.”

Distant Oaks is no longer together as a band, its founder, Deborah White, having passed away a number of years ago.

“Jimmy Lyon’s/The Teelin/The Red Crow/The Broken Bridge” – Altan (The Red Crow)
A set of tunes from the much-loved traditional Irish band, Altan.

Catch the latest Forest Halls Celtic episode on demand here.

Thank you for joining me in Forest Halls!

Medicine Song: An Honoring to the Milky Oats

Okay – I sing to just about everything, and songs come to me just about any time. In this short video, recorded five years ago, I sing an honoring song to the Oats (Avena sativa) in my garden as I harvest the milky oat tops for a tincture. Songs and melodies like these just come to me, especially when I’m with a plant or out on the land.

Since the song in the video is a response to the Oats when their seeds are ripening (i.e., “milky” tops), I have to wonder if it carries some of Avena sativa’s nutritive, restorative, nerve-soothing, and gently grounding medicine. Listen to the song, and learn it if you wish. Don’t worry about getting the melody exact, or about learning the vocables the way I’ve sung them. You can let the song transform and attune to you.

[Note: in some traditions it’s important to learn a plant’s song exactly. In the way I work with plants, it feels right to allow — at least in this song — for shift and change].

Absorb the song, sing it if you wish. How does your body, mind, spirit feel as the song moves through you? Relax into the song, and into the healing magic of Milky Oats.

Does this song carry Milky Oat Top medicine? You tell me! Please do so in the comment box below.

Read more about Milky Oat Tops here.