Radio Show – Episode 42 – The Bear – January 19 and 26, 2020

In Episode 42 we venture into the winter landscape with music, a tale, and more inspired by the mystery and magic of the Bear in Celtic folklore. Enjoy Celtic tunes, songs, and poetry plus some music from other genres, and plenty of enchantment.  I’m pleased to tell a story inspired by Debra Knodel’s song, “Binwag’s Lullaby” – a favorite among our fans — and will air that music too. The story also includes a snippet in the story of Deb’s newest bear magic piece, “Tundra Lullaby.”

Enjoy harp in the music of the Casey Sisters,  OMNIA,  as well as in the story and song following, and a bardic poem composed and spoken by Kevan Manwaring.

Our second hour is a re-airing of Episode 21, “New.”

Listen to both shows here.

Hear this show on demand for two weeks.

12:02: Paul Machlis – Early Morn
12:06: Kevin Burke – The Cottage Groves / Maudabawn Chapel / The Beare Island Reel
12:11: Laura Risk – Sunday River
12:16: Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas – Miss Laura Risk
12:20: Courteous Thief – Mountains and Sea
12:26: Kevan Manwaring – Tallyesin – The Song of Taliesin
12:29: The Casey Sisters – The Bandonbridge Suite: b
12:32: Jane Valencia – Bear Lore
12:34: Beginish – Beginish
12:38: OMNIA – Grone Lunden
12:43: Jane Valencia – The Bear King’s Lullaby
12:51: Spookytree – Debra Knodel and Jane Valencia – Binwag’s Lullaby
12:57: Eve Goodman and Sera – Gaeafgwsg

Salmon Returning Home – a Song for You to Sing

Salmon Leap – Illustration by Jane Valencia

As we’re swimming with the Salmon, thematically speaking here in Forest Halls, by way of blog posts and my radio show,  I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite Salmon songs.

Salmon Returning Home was composed by my dear friend Kristina Turner, and is a wonderful song to sing with kids, families, and in community.  Kristina has generously agreed to share her song here so that you can sing it too.

Here’s what Kristina writes about the birth of the song:

The song has a story – it arrived on Summer Solstice during 24 hour prayer-vigil drumming at Burton Hill on Vashon. It is a healing song, dedicated to salmon fisherman and friend, John Schindler.

Listen to the song here

And here are the lyrics!

Salmon Returning Home – Lyrics and Music by Kristina Turner

Swimmin’ upstream
With my belly in the river
I’m salmon returning home

repeat verse –  you can sing it call and response.

Makin’ my way
From the sea to me
I’m openin’ up to the powers that be
I’m swimmin’ upstream
With my belly in the river
I’m salmon returning home

Verse 2:
Wrigglin’ over rocks
With my belly in the water
I’m salmon returnin’ home

repeat verse


Verse 3
Swimmin’ upstream
To the place I began
I’m salmon returning home

repeat verse


finish by repeating the last line 2 more times
Salmon returning home
Salmon returning home

Song etiquette:

Please remember to credit Kristina when singing this song. Please do not record/distribute it for personal use or profit, or change it without contacting Kristina and discussing your idea and intention with her. You can reach her here.

And I invite you to take a moment to get to know Kristina! She is a wonderful creative, wise woman who knows how to play! Her questions and insights help me pause and wonder, and to dig into my internal landscape with curiosity and delight. Kristina knows how to follow the Salmon — of one’s passions, creative vision …  — and help others to follow them too. I’ve harvested many a hazel nut of illumination by way of her, and found my way to new streams of possibilities.

Thank you for sharing this song, Kristina!

Kristina Turner
Kristina Turner, composer of “Salmon Returning Home.” Visit her at

PS. Watch a performance of Salmon Returning Home in the video Heart of Vashon  – Telling Our Story. Find it at 1:19:50. (yes, that’s me leading the singing).

A Final Salmon Note: I hope you’ve had the chance to listen to the latest Forest Halls Celtic streaming radio show, Show 38 – Salmon Return, which is a river of music, musing, poetry, and a tale with this amazing creature. If not, I encourage you to listen sometime this week, as this episode will cease being available for listening as of Dec. 8.



Following the Salmon: the Mysterious Journey with your Passions

What do you find yourself doing when you time and space open for you, after you’ve rested and when you feel you have choice?

For a number of years I immersed myself in herbal study, thinking, dreaming, experiencing the plants. I still do that, but in a more relaxed fashion — not “by the book,” but following where my sensibilities swim, flowing with questions I ask of myself and directly of the plants.

The fierce studying and grasping for understanding that used to be part and parcel of my herbal learning has ignited in working with languages.  For the past two years I’ve been learning Lushootseed, the language of the indigenous peoples of the Salish Sea (Puget Sound, WA), and the language of the island on which I live. I’m still very much a beginner, but certain elements are feeling much more familiar, the sounds, much more natural. I find myself excited when I hear the sounds of the language mirroring the sounds of the landscape: the  glottal voices  of Raven, and the swish and swirl of the saltwater and rivers. I glimpse at times how this rich language is an expression, flow, and outbreath of a people in a place, this place.

Is Bradán mé. – Jane Valencia

And now I’m studying Irish, and finding it similar and different from my other immersions in languages. The water is chaotic as I struggle to grasp enough of the sound of the language, the grammar, and some basic words to feel I have some clarity and calm to surge forward. I wonder why I’m leaping into these waters when I am simultaneously learning Lushootseed, when I could be creating art, or when I could be pulling more stories together. But here I am, on my holiday break, attempting to hurl myself up the  rapids. My drive is fueled by several things — a desire to pronounce Irish more accurately on my radio show, and to sing and say names more accurately,  but mostly because Irish is one of my “mother tongues.” It is one language stream that my ancestors spoke. As someone who has been immersed in Celtic lore and music since I was a teen, it seems more than time to “return home” in this way.

As I struggle with Irish, I find more peace with Lushootseed.  I find myself in some calm eddy with this language, sensing a mystery and magic with the sounds and their meaning. With each phrase or syllable I learn by heart, I feel as if the plants, and animals, the people, and this land, and the activity and movement around me are revealing something more of themselves, and my salmon-self is richer for it.

River – photo by Jane Valencia

And so I follow my salmon, feasting on the nutrients in the waters and in the small beings — sounds, thoughts, new ways of mind — that I absorb. The journey at times feels foolish and cycling nowhere.  Other times it feels heroic: that by catching words that have been suppressed, forgotten, or deemed irrelevant (I include many dialectic and ancestral forms of English in my play with languages) I can help restore other ways of perceiving the nature of our world, ways that make a difference for a better one, and our feeling at home in it.

For a sense of what this may mean, take a look at this article in The Irish Times:
A magical vision is hidden in the Irish language – we need to rediscover it.  A single word can unlock the richness in our lives, landscapes and ways of seeing

And also, take note of Richard MacFarlane and Jackie Morris’ The Lost Words: a Spell Book, written and illustrated in response to noted dictionary eliminating many nature words, such as acorn and wren, from their dictionary for children, deeming these words irrelevant to modern times.  MacFarlane and Morris also have a CD of songs inspired by some of these words/beings, called The Lost Words: Spell Songs. I regularly play these songs on my radio show, Forest Halls Celtic.

In following my salmon, I find new ways to venture into the enormous ocean and currents of meaning that shine forth for me, and to make the vigorous journey upstream, attempting to bring these wonders home in some small way.

What “salmon” are alive in your curious and questing nature? Have languages ever called you into strange and exciting waters? What passions are you now following? What is the journey like for you? What is calling you home?

Jane, bray harp, and birches.

To experience Salmon wisdom in story, song, harp music, folklore and more, you can  listen to Forest Halls Celtic  Show 38: Salmon Return on demand for the next two weeks. You’ll find some lovely and lively waters in which to swim, including a beautiful poem-song, spoken in Irish by Irish singer-songwriter Lasairfhíona Ní Chonaola 11:38 minutes into the show.