Swan Blessing Past Life Story – Vow to Not Use Her Medicine

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Very often the vow that comes up to be released in Swan Blessing past life sessions is the vow to close down or reject our personal ancestral medicine. This can be very confusing in our present incarnation as we will still be drawn, and deeply passionate about our medicine but will find it very hard to embrace and share with others – especially if we try and embrace it as our vocation again. It creates pain, confusion and fear of something that should be treasured and celebrated – our natural gifts and power.

Many moons ago I used to teach tarot circles to help others to trust their intuition and to develop their own individual way of reading and sensing messages from the cards. I was always blown away by the beautiful readers who came to develop their gifts with us and I remember these years of sitting in tarot circles very fondly. Recently I was contacted by Candice, a student I remembered well, requesting a Swan Blessing past life session. I remembered Candice so well because she was one of the most naturally gifted readers Tony and I had ever spent time with – a very gifted seer. But there was an internal battle going on within Candice and I could see this too – she was afraid of her gifts.

Candice told me that she had recently begun to offer her service of tarot reading to the public. I was thrilled for her because this has been such a long time coming and she is so good! But she then told me how much anxiety she felt when having to give difficult news to her clients. I explained to her that a reader is merely an interpreter for the cards and that often in our life the difficult times are our biggest teachers and assist huge shifts towards growth. That I am always grateful when my cards inform me that it’s time to release an old dream that doesn’t serve or that I am about to go through a period of understanding my fears. The reader’s role is not to give a sugar-coated sweet reading every time as that would be false and is not a true reflection of life and the sacred circle of birth, death and rebirth that we go through each day just like every cell of our body.

While Candice understood this on a mental level she said she could still feel something very deep and fearful about one day having to be the ‘bearer of bad news’.

This is Candice’s Swan Blessing story of the past life events that created these old beliefs and fears:

“I decided to have a Swan Blessing to discovering the blocks I have in becoming a tarot reader. For such a long time I had wanted to start my tarot business but could not find the courage to. I had so many fears going into it. I have tried to give tarot up so many times before with many times throwing out my decks, my notes and any books I had on the tarot. But for some reason I keep feeling drawn to it. It’s like a bad habit that I keep being pulled into despite my efforts to stop.

This journey into my Swan blessing was truly a blessing. As I closed my eyes and relaxed I felt the presence of my family, ancestors and spirit guides with me in the room as I went completely within myself. I could feel myself travel back in time.

I was directed to a lake and in this lake I saw a Native American with long black hair, at first I couldn’t tell if it was a male or female then I realised it was a young male. He was 24 years old. He was me and I was him. I asked him what is it that is blocking me in reaching my full potential. With a hardness in his eyes he could not tell me like he had shut it off from his heart, instead he took me on a little canoe across the water. He was pointing to the other side of the mountain. He left me on the other side of the river and I walked to the other side of the mountain by myself as he did not want to come.

As I went there and walked on the land it was so hard for me to see what was there. There was so much smoke lingering around. It was all grey and white before me and the tents that remained were just ashy. As I realised who’s village this was my eyes filled with tears as I realised that this was my own village. My village was attacked and destroyed.

I was then shown what I did in this life time. I was the seer of the tribe. Elders who held leadership within the tribe came to me for guidance for the tribe. I could not believe that those who were so much older than I held me in such high regard. I used a crystal of some sort to foresee future events. I was guided to see what I saw in that lifetime. I foresaw the tragic event of the destruction of my village long before it happened and I did not tell anyone as I wanted to be wrong and I wanted the best for my people.

When I saw that I actually foresaw the event happening my eyes welled up again and I had such a heaviness in my chest. I felt heartbroken. I felt helpless with so much guilt for what happened. Something that I could have prevented but I didn’t.

As a punishment for myself in that life time I isolated myself from everyone and everything. I lived alone in a cave until I was a very old man and died alone in my cave and I never spoke to anyone again. I never practised any more magic or seer again in that life time as it was too hard for me. I punished myself for what had happened.

My blessing allowed me to be with the man that I was, I told him that this was not his fault and he only wanted the best. I also told him that I will make this right in this life time. I got it. I understood all his fear, pain and sadness because I feel it in my current life time. All the times I read for others all the readings I have sent out the process of when I do readings all of the pain and anxiety was so familiar because it was all mine. The pain I have held onto that long has allowed me to suppress my gifts because I was still too scared to hurt another person.

For such a long time I had all these anxieties when doing readings and everything finally made sense. I had a fear for reading people older than me, I also had a fear when turning over the cards I saw just in case I saw something that was not favourable. I would actually stress for who I am reading for.

Now I have learnt with Julia and this Swan blessing that the not great things I see in a reading can actually be of benefit. Now when I read I have such an inner confidence within me. I feel confident that I am doing exactly what I should be doing and I don’t fear the reading like I used to. This doesn’t mean I still don’t have normal anxiety but I have an inner knowing that I came here to earth with this ability and to share it. I love my tarot readings and love helping people and now know that I have the ability to do so. And now I will with the confidence that I was actually born to do this!

Thank you Julia for allowing me to go on this journey back to myself. You have given me a gift that I will forever be grateful for. You have given me the confidence to truly believe in my inner strengths and abilities from lifetimes before. A confidence of knowing my true abilities and purpose and why I am here. Forever grateful to you and your gifts. Thank you.”

Candice 2016, The Blessed Path Within

I am thrilled to hear Candice speak and write these words. Her gifts are beautiful and she brings such insight and clarity to her readings and now she can share them with a strong and open heart.

It is a terrible feeling to be withholding our natural gifts – to be afraid of our personal medicine. I’m very happy to see that there is a new respect and opening at this present time for the holding of circle together, ceremony and the intuitive arts. We are learning to break through our fears and release old beliefs that do not fit or belong to us in this time and often our biggest fear is our own power. I thank the great grandmothers who come to assist us in Swan Blessing, they remind us all that not too long ago our ancestors used and shared their medicine with love.

Bookings for Swan Blessing sessions with Julia 

Image: Medicine drum from ‘Shapeshifting : Transformations in Native American Art’ – Peabody Essex Museum

The Witch’s Daughter – Past Life Vow to Remain Alone

Witches' Wood by Bertrand H. Wentworth

Not all of our behaviours and patterns are created through conscious choices. Many behaviours begin early in our lives as re-actions to intense events and to understand the seed of these patterns and beliefs we may need to journey back to the time of the event to unlock and release their power over us. And sometimes that event did not happen in this lifetime but in a past lifetime or that of an ancestor. There is much research being done right now on DNA and the passing on of ancestral trauma and wounds to future generations. Swan Blessing is a journeying and dreaming session I use a journeying and dreaming session to assist others to access these lifetimes and to open the gift of sight so that they can see with their own eyes these events again and consciously release the energetic binding that can make us feel like this event just happened yesterday – it is still living inside us. When a vow or promise is made around these highly charged events and experiences it creates an even stronger hold over us and we can find that we are acting in ways that rationally make no sense and yet the feeling of the behaviour is familiar, entrenched and very hard to let go.

This year I am re-dedicating myself to offering Swan Blessing work again and we will open sessions here in Sherbrooke Forest as well as by Skype. Today I share Alex’ Swan Blessing story of the witch’s daughter and her vow to remain alone. When I read this story in full it had a profound effect on me because she was speaking from the heart about issues that were so personal and painful for her. I loved her retelling and the honesty, the raw guts and all approach to her life! Thank you Alex for reminding me that this journey with the collective is also personal and individual – we cannot compare it to anyone else’s experience and the worst thing we can do is try to ‘fit in’. Alex is also speaking honestly about the healing process and how it is often like peeling layers away – good and deep healing takes time. Most importantly I am so happy to see that now Alex is alone when SHE CHOOSES to be alone and that she is MAGNIFICENT! (I wish that I had known that in my 20s).

With her story also came gifts of healing water gathered at the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in Scotland where she was the only one crazy enough that day to swim in those freezing waters and from the Chalice Well in Glastonbury. When Alex arrived for her session I didn’t know that she was about to embark on this journey, but as soon as she chose tarot cards from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert (an amazing deck that I find perfect for past life work) her destination was right there in front of her in vivid colour. The cards asked Alex ‘are you going to always sit on the edge of the mystery daughter? How long can you keep yourself apart, a step away from joy?’ Here is her answer.

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“This has taken me a while to write. Soon after my Swan Blessing with Julia, I wrote some notes to remember my encounter. But to write it out fully, is to release it. And I haven’t been ready to do that. Until now. I very much enjoy wallowing in my pain and misery, observing it, letting it twist my insides until my anxiety levels peak. It’s quite sadistic, I know. But I learn from it, as long as I acknowledge it. Which takes a while. After I wallow, I ignore all the self-inflicted pain and become destructive until I am ready to face the truth. I am a big advocate of ‘ignorance is bliss’. Yet the problem is, this no longer works for me. I know too much, have felt too much to be ignorant to my desires, passions and ultimately the light and dark of my being. Which was why I went to see Julia.

I arrived at Julia’s home on the second day of spring, full of promise, hope, doubt and a little worried. Throughout the year, I have been doing a lot of soul searching, trying to understand my nature, patterns I repeat and my shadow aspect which I have a tendency to either deny or let consume me. I was going to Julia to seek answers. When she explained to me that sometimes vows or promises made in past lifetimes have the ability to affect us in this lifetime, my immediate reaction was “shit… I reckon I did some pretty crazy shit in my previous lives”. But Julia’s calming voice let me break away from my fears and feel the love and energy of my spirit guides and ancestors.

After I selected cards from a tarot deck, Julia was able to explain to me the vow I had made was having a major impact on my relationships in this lifetime. This was very accurate, as I do struggle to connect to others on a higher level as well as letting certain patterns destroy my relationships. However, the next card was the one that really hit me. It was a young girl sitting on the edge of the Chalice Well, a famous spiritual site in Glastonbury, England. Like the girl, spiritually, I had always found myself on the edge. Never delving in, never committing, yet interested and informed. Not being able to let go and experience spirituality had there caused me much sadness throughout my life, contributing to feeling like an outsider. What made this card particularly interesting, was that in approximately a month, I was travelling to the UK, so making the journey to the Chalice Well was at the top of my must see list. The final card was the Sun which showed a girl surrounded by sunflowers, dancing, with a beautiful, happy and knowing smile. I saw myself in that girl and instantly I wanted that version of me. I didn’t want to wallow and pity myself anymore. Nor self-destruct,hurt myself and others or waste my life away in ignorance. I wanted to release the vow I made, one so strong, it hid, forcing me to go deep within. One that I have carried through lifetimes, letting it affect me and even feeding it at times. But not anymore. This time I am going to let it go.

The first thing I see are green eyes. Green eyes peering at me in a pool of clear water. I try to reach to the creature with the engaging green eyes. But they disappear. I call to them again and this time they appear with a nose. But they still will not leave the pool, the safety. They are willing to let me in, but they will not come out. I must go deeper for this journey. As I break through the veil of the pool onto the other side, I find myself in a partially dried river bed, in a beautiful valley surrounded by trees, standing next to a girl of about 8 years old. She has straw coloured hair and is dressed in a filthy white woollen shift. As she turnsto look up at me, somewhat defiant yet also grateful, I see that the eyes match the green eyes I saw in the pool. She still will not let me approach her, but she allows me to follow her so she can show me. I follow her along the river bank, watching her as she stops sporadically to pick something up, throwing stones into the river here and there and occasionally checking that I do not get too close to her. I ask her where her family are.

She speaks to me without opening her mouth, in what I can only describe as telepathically. She tells me that she is alone. She is upset but she looks into my third eye and shows me what happened to her family. I am not myself, I am her. I feel all her fear and horror as people surround her house, yelling and shouting, calling out to her mother. I can see my (her) mother standing in the corner shielding my brother, a toddler who is crying. The people around the house are yelling a number of things, directed at my mother such as“Heretic”, “Witch”, “Whore” and“Slut”. The mob burnt the house to the ground. Yet I was not in it. I am not sure how or why, but I was somehow watching the house burn from above. I feel all her loss, pain and anger at losing her family. As the girl pulled me back to myself, she explained that she had been living in the valley on her own, taking care of herself. I ask her to show me happier times with her family and what it was like before they took them away. Again, I am forced into her consciousness. I see my mother, who radiated love and cared for me so much. The love I felt towards my mother, emanating from my small form was some of the purest, most joyful love I have ever felt. My mother was a medicine woman or hedge witch, who showed me how to make healing poultices, use healing plants and hunt and trap animals for food. I had no father. I played with my little brother and took him to the garden when people would come to see my mother. The same people who would kill her. Young women would come for love or fertility, and men for healing and virulence. To the child and to me she was the absolute embodiment of the divine feminine. The perfect balance of feminine and masculine. She was womanly and gentle with unbleached skin and light auburn hair with big blue eyes like sapphires.While these people used her for her services, they were always wary and scared of her. I could feel my child’s mind unable to understand, because the way I saw her as beautiful, loving and caring. She was pure. The people who used her were troubled and scared of everything including themselves.

illustration John D Batten

I was thrown forward in time and I was still the girl but a little older, around 14 years old. I slept in a large tree at night to keep warm. I was able to hunt for myself and find any herbs, vegetables or plants that I needed. I was ultimately a recluse, withdrawing form human contact as much as I possibly could. She wanted me to see that we could take care of ourselves. That we didn’t need to rely on others. As I acknowledged this fact, I was thrown forward again to a time where I was approximately 20 years old. I was walking through the middle of a small town or village. The people that I walked past, mostly in a market place, stopped what they were doing to gawk at me. Some were whispering, few knew who I was. Others could feel or sense the power that was emanating from me, swirling around me, threatening to consume them if they dare approach. My destination was a hall which sat on a hill just above the village. The only way I can describe my thoughts while I was walking through the village was “NO FUCKS GIVEN.” I did not care what these people thought of me, what they said to me or about me. I was fucking magnificent, powerful and most of all, I knew it. I was there for a purpose.

As I approached the hall and opened the doors to enter, my eyes locked with a man in a large chair, someone who was clearly in charge. He knew who I was and I knew who he was. He was my father. And he had had my mother and brother killed. Whatever his reasons or intentions, I did not care. I stared at him until his gaze fell, possibly in recognition of who I was or in acceptance of what was about to happen. And then I cursed him. I cannot remember the exact words (probably a good thing) but they were similar to “I curse you and all your seed. Your line will begin and end with me. All you love, have ever loved and all you touch will turn to dust and fade. You will be nothing. You are nothing.” The pure anger, hatred and vengeance was like nothing I had ever felt. At times I can be a vindictive person who will hurt others because they have hurt me, but this was next level. In this lifetime I was willing to sacrifice myself to hurt another person. To take away everything that mattered to him, because he had taken away the only thing that I cared about. My vow and the sacrifice I made for the curse was to be alone forever. I had lost the only thing that mattered and rather than try to find solace and acceptance, other people to care for, I chose hateful vengeance and a solitary life. I was shown a brief glimpse of the rest of my life, which was not overly long. I had a number of lovers and seduced anyone I could, with no acknowledgement of the pain I caused to people that had never hurt me. I bore children and in a way discarded them, found no joy in them, regarded them as a hindrance. And so I was always alone. I didn’t care for anyone.

Many years later, I went back to the village of my father. They eventually bound me in chains and placed me in a jail of some sort. In some way, I knew that my father was dying or very ill. I was at the end of my journey, the hate and rage had become exhausting and it was nearly over. I knew that to capture and kill me, despite the curse would give my father a measure of peace in his after life. So in my last act of defiance I pulled a vial of poison out from between my breasts, took the dram in one long swig and died with a smile on my lips because I had won. I had sacrificed my own peace to take away someone else’s.

Once again, I was standing in the valley beside the river bed, with the young woman who had placed the curse in front of me. As I looked at her, my eyes filled with tears and my whole body became tense, making me feel like I had been winded. I begged her to embrace me, to release the anger, hatred and the vow that held us both. She refused me. Who was I to tell her what to do? How could I make her release when no one else could? What happened next, was like some telepathic exchange where I explained that I knew how she felt, I had just seen it, I was also bound by her hatred. I pleaded with her once more and hesitantly she embraced me and then collapsed in to my arms. All the sadness, sorrow, hatred and pain left her, filtered into me and she became light as a feather. Before she was beautiful because she was fearsome. Now she beautiful because she was happy. She could be finally be with her mother and brother. They were standing there waiting for her, like they always had been. As she hugged me goodbye, thanked me and went to her family, all her emotions consumed me and bound me in vines from my feet to my neck. As they constricted and suffocated, this was the time I knew I could not wallow in my self-hatred and pity. I searched for anything to break me free from these constricting vines and found a dagger made of bone. As I began to hack away at the vines piece by piece, I could feel the tension in my body begin to ease, the anxiety slip away. I felt the hatred, vengeance and pain fall away with every vine. I cut through the curse and the vow and felt my body release generations of pain. I was free.

A month after I had my Swan Blessing, I journeyed to the UK. I went with a heart and head full of the excitement, knowledge and hope I had gained. And you know what? I was disappointed. I arrived in London expecting to be this amazing, free person, yet I still wasn’t. To be honest, after seeing Julia I did a little bit of work on myself but other than immediately after the blessing I didn’t feel significantly different. I thought it would all make sense when I left, when I escaped from everything I knew. I expected an instant fix. I saw friends in London and Liverpool and travelled to Glasgow on my own, waiting every moment for this ‘epiphany’ to happen. To let go of all my bullshit, to release my vow, to be as free as that girl in the sun, the one who had cut all the vines. Instead I was homesick. I was in a country I had wanted to travel to virtually my entire life and I was fucking homesick!? What the hell was wrong with me? Where was this magical realisation and cure all for me being a fucked up mess? Feeling quite dejected I continued on. I hired a car and drove through the Scottish Highlands, to the Isle of Skye, Inverness and back down to Edinburgh. I marvelled at the enormity of the highlands, the vast meandering emptiness that also felt so full of life with a sparkle in my eyes and a grin on my face. I forced myself out of my shell, talking to the travellers, asking their advice and picked up a hitchhiker who I travelled to Skye and Inverness with. I climbed mountains, stood on cliffs and swam in the Fairy Pools. I went searching for the Northern Lights of Inverness, driving along winding roads that felt so tiny and foreign. I stood on the banks of Loch Ness, with a song in my heart and picked a thistle for my one true love.

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During this time, I forgot that I was waiting for this ‘epiphany’. I forgot that I needed a cure for being a mess, for being sensitive and cruel at the same time. It wasn’t until I was back in London and had a little down time that I remembered how important the Chalice Well had been to me. So I hired a car and drove out to Glastonbury, stopping at Stonehenge on the way. After arriving in Glastonbury late, I left early the next morning to drive towards Tintagel Castle and Cornwall. Due to lack of planning, I missed the opportunity to explore Merlins Cave. Pissed off, I hiked up a ridiculous amount of stairs against the tearing wind to look at some bloody rocks that form what was once a castle. I kept going, marvelling at the wildness of the country, avoiding massive slugs and goats that are apt to chase people. When I had reached a peak, I sat down partially from exhaustion, part memory and part sadness. I stood up and looking down at the ferocious sea, I screamed into the wind, yelling at the goddess, at god, at myself, daring the wind to become powerful enough to knock me into the sea and let it consume me. With a raw throat, salt stained face and teary eyes, I walked back to the car.

I had one more stop before I could finally go to the Chalice Well, and that was St. Nectan’s Glen which I thought looked like a cool waterfall. Once I arrived, I started to walk along the path hurriedly as I just wanted to get a photo and get back in the car so I could make it to see the Chalice Well before it closed. Yet I kept walking. And walking. And bloody walking! Rather than taking in the beauty around me, I was hurrying. When I finally reached the entrance I walked down to the waterfall and I was on my own in this haunting glen. It felt like there was no one around for miles. Like I was the only soul left alive. I admired the ribbons hanging from trees, small piles of flat stones and the rushing water from the beautiful keyhole waterfall. I sat for a moment and contemplated whatever people contemplate in places such as this and then I stood up, took my clothes off and waded into the water and stuck my head under the freezing waterfall. Because why not?

I finally made it to the Chalice Well gardens that afternoon (after taking forever to find a park in tiny English streets, being yelled at for smoking too close to the gardens and scolded for coming towards closing time). I walked the gardens, took photos and drank the water which apparently has healing properties. By the time I came to the actual Well, I sat and cried. Not from sadness or happinessbut from acknowledgement. Sitting by it, I can’t honestly say if it was ‘welling’ with the spirits and powers of ancient magicks. I was too consumed in myself and my ‘epiphany’ moment. The Chalice Well was a reminder of how far I had come since sitting in the room in the forest with Julia and discovering my vow, my strength and my darkness.

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Despite making the vow to be alone and being afraid of it all my life, I learned it is okay to be a recluse at times in order to recharge and to do things on your like driving through Scotland. That like the little girl from my Swan Blessing, I can take care of myself, without reliance on others, what they think of me and their opinions on how I conduct my life. I realised that I am FUCKING MAGNIFICENT, even if I don’t feel that way all the time and that while being born a woman, a cause of pain and frustration in many ways, is such a blessing that I need to own it and be proud of being this fucking divine. I don’t need to constantly test people nor do I have to win all the time, as it is okay to let go sometimes. I acknowledge that I don’t need to rush all the time, sometimes the universe is just screaming for you to take your time. Most importantly I realised that I am deserving of love and so much more.

While these might not sound like things worthy of a major realisation, these are issues that I have faced throughout my life. While I visualised cutting away the vines that day in the forest, they were never completely gone. Cutting the vines did not release my vow, but gave me the power to release it. However it doesn’t come quickly. You release parts and pieces, acknowledging and bidding farewell. They will try to come back repeatedly (a bit like John Farnham) but you know better now. They’re transparent and you are no longer ignorant. You won’t let the vines creep up on you again. Whilst I understand not everyone can go on a journey like I did so soon after having their blessing, you don’t need to. You have been awoken. You have seen your lightness and possibly your darkness. It won’t come as easy as you think or will it come quickly and you will spend a long time keeping those vines at bay. But it’s worth it. Because you’re no longer happy to sit by in ignorance and bliss. Take the pain and harsh realisations because it is all worth it in the end.

I would like to thank Julia for not only the Swan Blessing but also the help and advice she has given me in the past. I have learnt that I don’t need to hold on to things to make them true. I need to release them so that I am able to live.”

Alex Walker, 2016

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Read more Swan Blessing Stories

Swan Blessing personal past life medicine sessions

Swan Blessing Ancestral Dreaming Circle – Thursday, 4th February, Melbourne

 

Images: Witches’ Wood by Bertrand H Wentworth

Illustration John D Batten

Photos by Alex Walker

The Butterfly, the Black Swan and the Dreamers

Sacred Familiar

MoonMedicine for this month is Butterfly Medicine.

As I dreamt with the butterfly medicine I became aware of how much we are living from our minds instead of letting the mind be guided by our soul or psyche (Butterfly). And let me say, I really love the MIND! I really do. I just think we use it for everything, including our dreaming and that changes the dreaming to planning or wanting or worrying. To dream and really dream we must feel free and open and expansive. This is why our sleep is so important – very often it’s the only time the mind is resting. I believe the mind is best used as a powerful tool to research and plan with once the dream is known.

Is your dream known to you? My guess would be that at this point in time, especially after the very big shakeup we have been given astrologically over the last 3 years, you will have a sense of what you wish for yourself, your community and Mother Earth. Sometimes trying to hold a dream for the earth can feel really hard and so I always come back to the ‘little’ because the medicine dolls have taught me: ‘the little is the big’. When we hold a new dream for ourselves of becoming whole, this ripples out and affects everything and everyone around us and that ripples out and ripples out… Even if the insight into the new dream has been gained by seeing events we don’t want to create playing out in our present, this too is a gift. Sometimes it’s very helpful to know what we don’t want, to create the new dream. The key is to let go of the fears once we understand what the new dream is and wants from us. Hmmmm and this is where it gets tricky doesn’t it?

I want to share two powerful examples of butterfly medicine here that have helped me so much over the last couple of weeks. The first is channeled wisdom from Lena Stevens shared on the Mystic Mamma website about the energy of this time creating stress and pressure that cracks the butterfly’s chrysalis and most importantly why this is happening – because your dreams are working! And the second jewel was passed along to me by our dear friends in Ireland, Karen and John from Sli An Chroi . It is one of the most amazing performances I’ve witnessed in a long time. I felt it in every cell. I love it so much! Irish poet, Venus CuMara has dedicated her life to She, to the Mother of all Mothers and in this earth shattering piece delivers a loving and unstoppable message from Kali to the Butterfly. Whoah! It’s all coming through the poets at the moment isn’t it? I feel like we are finally listening to the poets again and I’m so happy and to have Venus CuMara’s golden voice in my medicine bag as I step out of the cracked cocoon.

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I feel like so much of what we are experiencing right now is already preparing us for next year and beyond. I get a sense that Butterfly will be with us for much longer than this month, perhaps it will be a totem for the whole of next year, an embodiment of the spirit of New Dreams and New Wings. But how do the new wings form? What dreams are building your new wings? What do you have to leave before you can try them out?

On the morning of the Full Moon last week I walked to the post office to pick up a parcel from my Dad. Inside was the enormous smokey quartz crystal you see above found on his friend’s farm in Tasmania. They were digging a new track when this dark beauty was brought to light. Smokey quartz found in Tasmania is often very very dark but like all dark things when it’s held to the light, you can see it is filled with chambers of brightness and caverns of colour. At the top corner of the stone you can see a yellow cavern – it is holding pieces of gold. Down the centre is a large cut where the stone was first hit – the cracking of the cocoon.

My cocoon is cracking too. I am awake and now cannot stay as I have been for the last 3 years in the forest. I had begun to presume that this was now my life – I would be a dollmaker living in the forest. I loved the simplicity and the unhurried feel to that dream. I liked the idea of being left alone to create for hours and hours and hours…and hours and hours and hours. This cocoon of creativity and very little contact with people in the outside world was beautiful and needed – for a time.

What I’m being shown in the new dream is that it’s time to integrate the work of dollmaking with the Swan. There is a calling to travel and create medicine dolls with different plants in different lands and to experience the ancestral spirit there. I am very excited about this already dreaming dolls to be created in the Redwoods again next year, Scotland and Cornwall…and the ceremonies that will be held for the ancestral tracks and migration lines between Britain and Europe and Australia. I have been shown how these tracks are in need of love and tending and that by doing this work we will be bringing more peace to our ancestors and indigenous tribes of the land. My ancestry like many Australians is made up of Aboriginal, Irish, Scottish and English grandmothers and grandfathers. I would personally like to bring peace to this ancestral weaving and I am passionate about providing circle and ceremony for others to do this work in their own family constellations.

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Black Swan
Fairy GodMother

In fairytales there is often a point when a magical person like the fairy godmother arrives and everything begins to shift and change – to dream. When I was young I loved to listen to recorded fairytales on little vinyl records that I would play over and over. I remember this moment of arrival of the fairy godmother or the witch or the wise sage was heralded by the sound of a bell or a harp. Just that sound told me that change and transformation was near. I believe that this repetitive and yes obsessive listening and engagement with oral storytelling was my wise child self practicing the art of active dreaming, vision-making and journeying. I have no doubt that the power of storytelling and significantly oral storytelling developed my mind’s eye – I was tending to the ancestral track of the ancient dreamers and they in return shared their gifts.

Very soon I could dream awake – look into trees, rock pools, oceans and begin to ‘see’. It is how I see a medicine doll before she is made.  I thought everyone saw like this but soon found I was wrong. I realised that many of the people around me had no access to vision, were either afraid to open their third eye or chose not to believe in it at all. The Swan, particularly the Black Swan, the bird of the land of my birth, is like a fairy godmother. She heralds the dreaming, the magical threshold, she acts as a trusted guide or psychopomp to the realms of the ancestors.

This is not my medicine but our medicine. We are dreamers. We all have our own individual way of dreaming and also our own totems that assist us in our journeys but we are dreamers in a huge weaving – we are dreaming as a collective. And so even though I resisted leaving my forest hermitage at first! I now understand how important it is to be gathering together to dream in community and to share those dreams. When I sit in a dream circle I am aware that each dream is all our dream. That the lessons and teachings are a gift for us all. And the Black Swan wants to bring more of the dreaming of our faraway brothers and sisters together. We will be opening the first of the Swan Blessing ceremonies in Melbourne in February, and travelling with the swan to return to Spirit Weavers Gathering in the Redwoods in California in June 2016 and also returning to Scotland, Ireland and to England in October 2016.

Hiraeth

Three years ago at Seven Sisters Festival I shared Swan Blessing and spoke to the women before we journeyed about the Welsh word ‘Hiraeth’. This ancient word has no exact English match but when I explained it as a sadness, a homesickness for ancestors and ancestral lands and even times that no longer exist there was a huge surge of energy in the crowd. This Welsh word was describing what so many of us were carrying in our hearts – a longing for a time of connectedness through ritual and ceremony and communication with our ancestors.

I believe that dreaming is the key to unlocking our own sense of hiraeth. By actively dreaming and developing practice of dreaming at night whilst sleeping as well as active dreaming in journeying circles with community we are rebuilding and tending to the ancestral trackways. The more we engage, believe in and then act on the messages and visions we receive in our dreaming the more these trackways will become whole and strong again. There is no need for us to feel so lonely and adrift from our ancestral medicine – it is right there waiting for us to return, retrieve and use in our world now. Dreaming is our birthright.

Knowing that the Swan was waiting for me to journey with her again I travelled back to our old home in Williamstown and the swan sanctuary at Shelley Beach where the medicine of Swan Blessing was first passed to me. The black swans were there in a shallow lagoon and my hope was that I would find just 2 swan feathers – even that can be very difficult to achieve. That day the tide was right out and Tony and I stepped onto a beach covered in swan feathers. Last week on the full moon I returned to the swans again and this time was greeted by 3 swans who made a beeline for me. One swan came right up out of the water to display all of his feathers, including the white feathers underneath his wings (you can see him in the image below).

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How many times do we live and die and live again in this life? I think it is a constant cycle of living, resting in the cocoon until the new dream forms and leaving the cracked cocoon when it is time to live again. And so I encourage you to have faith in your dream and and your new wings and if you need an extra push just listen to Venus CuMara and her enchanting call to the wild and the free. I am so excited to sit with my sisters and brothers and hear the stories of their own dreaming.

I would offer one piece of advice – commit to your dreaming. As soon as I committed to the new dream to travel with the Swan I began to hear from other Swan Sisters from all around the world. I was surprised to discover we share so much similar medicine and dreaming after feeling like I was holding my own dream in the forest. We are many! If I had known this could happen in such a short time I would not have believed it, but that is the magic that awaits when we commit to opening the wings that we have been so lovingly growing. We are awake.

Mugwort Faerie Queen

Medicine Doll Story – RavenKeeper of Secrets

Crow SecretKeeper

A handblown glass vessel to catch tears. RavenKeeper of Secrets travels with her mama, a healer working with women & children in shelters and halfway houses. She is doll for them to tell their stories to when they are not ready or able to speak to anyone else.

In May this year I travelled to the Redwoods in California to share medicine dollmaking at Spirit Weavers Gathering. It was a beautiful experience to sit with sisters so far from my home in Australia and humbling too when I heard their stories about the deep and passionate work they are committed to doing. I especially loved catching up with sisters that previously I’d only spoken to online. Once of these women was Heidi Lafinier who I knew as Pura Vida Living and I was so happy when she sat beside me in one of our medicine doll circles. As we began Heidi mentioned that she had noticed how many of my dolls had braided hair and I told her it wasn’t conscious it just felt right. She told me that in her Native American Cree tradition, braiding your hair was a way to preserve energy for yourself. To keep it strong and pure. She said just putting a small braid in your hair can help you from being affected by the energy of others – keeping your spirit close so you can work with other people who may be in pain and trauma and not have their energy affect you so much. I was very grateful to learn this and it really seemed to speak to the similar medicine of wool as an insulator, incubator, a holder of energy. Wool also is one of the few fibres that does not easily take in water –  just like our hair.

Fire Elemental Sacred Familiar

After I returned to Australia I made the Fire elemental medicine doll you see above and Heidi felt called to be her keeper. This doll told Heidi her name was Bold and she began to go everywhere with Heidi in her work with women and children in shelters and halfway houses. As a healer and grandmother herself, Heidi’s passion is working with the Crone. Soon I received another request from Heidi for a new doll, a special doll and when I asked why, this is the story that Heidi shared with us to call in the spirit of RavenKeeper of Secrets:

“I have volunteered at the battered women’s shelter and a halfway house for women just released from prison to perform Reiki.  I always take Bold and keep her with me, but on one occasion at the women’s shelter a red haired little girl asked if she could hold Bold while I gave her mom Reiki, I saw no harm in this.  As her mom and I walked back into the room we overheard this: “And that’s really how my arm was broken, thanks Bold I will tell the Police the truth now.  I love you too!”   She gave me Bold and we went home.
Bold didn’t talk to me on the way home or at work the next day but I was busy and let it go, but after work we were off to the halfway house. These women are very hard or hardened.  I offered Reiki to one woman and another asked about the doll I kind of explained her and tried to hurry on, every red flag in my body said keep moving, she was someone I’d been warned about (hard, mean, hateful, violent etc.). But she said “I would like to talk to that doll while you do hanky panky to her” and she pointed to the other women.  I really did not want to give Bold to her, but Bold still wasn’t really talking to me, so I handed Bold to her and I finished Reiki and rushed out to get Bold and it was like a different lady handed me back my doll.  And these are her exact words: “That is some doll, first person who ever believed me, and I have been telling the truth for 35 years”  and she turned around and walked away.  I stood there like an idiot.  On the way home Bold still didn’t talk but that night I decided I should sage and cleanse her, but she spoke loudly then and said maybe you should meditate with me first!  Then she didn’t betray any confidences but she let me see that she was not made to be a ‘Keeper of Secrets’  she was there for me and she would always help me, but it was hard on her to take the pain of those she did not know, pain that was so indescribable she could not share with me.  Because she was my keeper.  So I helped cleanse her and we are whole again.
So I now Know, I need a medicine doll whose sole purpose is to be strong as steel, who can be the ‘KEEPER OF SECRETS’.  This is something I believe I will come in contact with many times as I begin working with the Crones.  There are two very wise spirit animals that are considered Keepers of the Secrets.  One is the Lynx and one is the Raven.  The Owl is also related to secrets or the darkness of things.  None of these are bad as Creator only created good things for us.”

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I felt such strong emotions reading Heidi’s story and request. It’s stories like these that remind me of the power of the doll. How many times have we seen children talking with focus and emotion with their dolls? It is no wonder that many therapists and counsellors work with dolls when healing trauma. I felt a big responsibility to make her such a powerful vessel to hold all of these shadow stories but more than anything else I felt excited and very focussed.

The first question I asked the doll was who walked with her and it was clear – it was Raven. I began to lay out the silky black feathers. I thought about the doll’s body and how strong she had to be – an anchor. I prepared a medicine bundle filled it with mugwort, fern roots, hawthorn flowers and peridot crystals from the Australian desert. I placed a drop of water gathered from the natural spring at the Equinox in the centre of the bundle. Everything about RavenKeeper of Secrets asked for the best. A medicine doll that was being requested so selflessly and who would be in service to so many received the finest fibres of angora, cashmere, merino and silk. Her hair is woven with Camel fibres and dyed with walnuts.

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And then I remembered a beautiful glass bottle from my own personal medicine bag that held the sacred waters from the Chalice Well at Glastonbury. To these waters I added an oil blend gifted to me by a Crone medicine woman here in Australia for protection and healing  and saw that this was a vessel to catch the tears as the stories were shared with the doll. And that she would hold the story for them until they felt strong enough to share it with someone who could be trusted.

And finally I decorated RavenKeeper’s heart with silk rays of blue light around a labradorite that I only realised much later was in the shape of a tear that looked like it was falling into the glass bottle. This stone was also one of the finest in my possession and had been gifted to me.

In 6 months time I will journey again across the ocean to gather with my sisters under the redwood trees at Spirit Weavers Gathering. I look forward to hugging Heidi again and thanking her for honouring me with the opportunity to weave such a sacred doll. I look forward to holding RavenKeeper of Secrets again too and feeling how huge her heart has grown holding all those stories.

Medicine dolls at Spirit Weavers Gathering 2016: I will be holding medicine dollmaking circles at the Moon Session.

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Irina the Wolf Queen re-wilding in Sherbrooke Forest

Irina the Wolf Queen

 

There are parts of Sherbrooke Forest that have been wild and then owned and settled and then wild again.  In one part of the forest, an old residence is like a ghost in the garden, all that’s left of any kind of human dwelling are pathways, drystone walls and mysterious manmade pools or ponds. It is a strange place because you feel the land’s history and the present all at once and even though we are allowed to enter, I still often whisper and walk very quietly in this land. All I know is that many, many years ago this garden ceased being private land and was given back to Sherbrooke Forest and the trees, the vines and the ferns have made quick work of welcoming it back to the wild.

Melbourne author, Leah Swann is not only a writer I respect and admire, she is one of my dearest and oldest friends. We met over 20 years ago when we shared a house in Scotland with, let’s say, a very curious collection of people. At that time it was rare to meet another Australian living in Glasgow. A  huge amount of our early conversations involved our fascination with sacred sites and ancestral mythology and nothing has really changed! As a writer, Leah is interested in creating ways to re-wild the spirit of women and men and at the heart of her trilogy for children and young adults, Irina the Wolf Queen, is a young female heroine who lives in a wild, intuitive and magical world inspired by the archetypal wisdom of fairytales.

As soon as I read Irina the Wolf Queen I saw it instantly as a film. Recently Leah had the opportunity to create a trailer, a visual welcoming into the imagined world of Ragnor where Irina and her wolves reside and she could think of no better place than Sherbrooke Forest. The young woman you see as Irina in the trailer and doing the amazing voice over is Leah’s own daughter, Brigita – the inspiration for the character of Irina. I love this! I see this as active dreaming – to be literally creating the dream world of Irina in our present time. How amazing would it have been for our own mothers to have written a tale of magic and courage and then to have placed us as young women in the main role? And so Brigita is now walking and speaking in the dream of her mother and so this dreaming now belongs to both mother and daughter and the energy created is huge because underlying it all is a such a clear intention and collective dream for the sisterhood – to become the magical heroines of our own lives and to create our own mythology.

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It was a such a magical experience to watch the filming of this dream in Sherbrooke Forest. As usual, I am always tuning into the animals to learn more about what’s going on and I spent a lot of time watching the beautiful Apollo, Irina’s ‘white wolf’. To say that his owner was worried about Apollo would be an understatement. Apollo is very powerful and strong, loves to chase birds and is extremely hard to catch. But like most intelligent beings, he is highly intuitive and sensitive to his environment and when he stepped into the filming and felt the focus and intention of everyone involved, he became at ease and serene. Apollo was so calmed by the conscious focus of the dreamers that he actually fell asleep in the middle of that busy forest at Brigita’s feet.  I’ve seen this happen with our own dogs when they work with us. Even in stressful environments, the energy of creating with intention is powerfully calming. Perhaps this is a message for those of us who also feel sensitive in chaotic environments – keep your focus on the dream and what you are creating.

I believe there is a great need for stories like Irina for young women and men, if not only to create a balance with the strange message being broadcast through mainstream media to children but perhaps to even burst that bubble of pressure and illusion completely. Here’s to the spirit of the wild wolf, to Irina the Wolf Queen and to the writers like Leah Swann who are creating dreams for us all to feel closer to magic and nature.

Sherbrooke Forest is a beautiful between place – between the tame and the wild. The last time Tony and I visited the garden where the filming took place we found deer tracks on the path. As we turned down a different pathway we heard the stag just ahead of us, we heard him snort and turn and disappear back into the trees.

www.leahswann.com

Purchase the Irina trilogy

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She Wears the Crown – Deer Medicine and Antlered Women

StagWoman by Alice Savage StagWoman by Alice Savage

The Wood Witch by Nadia Turner

The Wood Witch by Nadia Turner

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I recently wrote about the healing medicine of Deer in our monthly MoonMedicine letter to subscribers. I’ve had lots of beautiful feedback many others who have also experienced encounters with this queen of the forest and thought I would share these writings here. You can subscribe to receive medicine offerings at each full moon.

“Originally Artemis herself was a deer, and she is the goddess who kills deer; the two are dual aspects of the same being. Life is killing life all the time, and so the goddess kills herself in the sacrifice of her own animal.” 

Joseph Campbell

Sometimes we consciously track the sightings of our animal totems and sometimes they track us. I believe we have a family of animal guardians that make their presence known to us in many different ways. For myself, it is often in dreams but today as I prepared to write this letter as dedication to the medicine of Deer, I was amazed to realise just how much help and assistance Deer has been giving me all these years. I believe there is no right or wrong perception of an animal’s medicine or message – it is very personal for each of us and so I can only share how the Deer shows up in my life and perhaps this will resonate for you too. I also want to share the medicine workings of 2 beautiful weavers who are working constantly with the spirit of Deer: Helena Ambrosia and Lindsy Richards. I feel that together we can find a common thread.

The first words that come to me when I think of Deer medicine are strength, grounding, intuition and sensitivity. Deer has taught me more than another animal that I need to be grounded to do intuitive work. It assisted me in creating my work and supporting myself financially through my art but only after I learnt the toughest lesson of just how dangerous it is for me to be in work environments that are damaging to my spirit. For me to talk honestly about this medicine and I understand now that Deer requires me to be truthful is to acknowledge the shadow. Recently someone commented that they hoped I was alright after reading one of our MoonMedicine letters. I kind of had a little chuckle to myself – I am ok but if I just projected one side of my life where everything was light and easy that wouldn’t be the truth and it wouldn’t be natural. If I inspire or encourage anyone to embrace a creative life, I need to do it honestly and talk about the pitfalls as well as the heights. I think our society and media especially are interested in only presenting the light. But is it light if it is false? The cycle of nature that we get to observe so closely in the forest is always a balance between life and death. The Deer is one of the only animals where the females also grow antlers but these antlers are grown and then shed every year.

The biggest lessons I have learnt from Deer is the balance between freedom and discipline (limitation) and  independence and responsibility – when in balance beauty is created. So this medicine more than any other for me is about maturity and being healthy as I stand with one foot in the mundane world and one in the spirit world. When I do this it’s as if my spirit grows antlers and I can then use them like antennae to receive messages and dreaming.

When I spoke to Helena and Lindsy there were many threads connecting us in our work but I was surprised to learn that the deepest thread was that the Deer and antlered women had come to us all after a period of illness and breakdown – a kind of psychic and emotional rupture that made it impossible for us to keep trying to live in a way that wasn’t truthful and authentic.

Artemis brooch Sacred Familiar

In my mid thirties I was burnt out. I had spent most of my life in fight or flight mode and working in environments that were way too harsh for me and making me very unhappy. But I thought this is just what you did – you had to survive and support yourself right? Well my body soon told me who was really in charge. I got very sick and everything I was trying to hold onto and keep together fell apart – much like the Tower card in the Tarot. But something interesting happens when you hit rock bottom – you lose your ego and realise there’s nothing left to lose so why not do what you love? I had to find my joy again and when I thought of where it lay it was always with reading the Tarot.

I began to dream up Sacred Familiar – a name in dedication to our beloved animal companions and so it is not really surprising that it was Artemis who began to show herself to me – the guardian of animals, women and children. I began to surround myself with imagery of Artemis and the Deer and for the first time in m life began to create my own work doing what I loved. At the same time as working purely in an intuitive field, I was managing a business, doing my own accounts and administration for courses. I have no doubt that it was the medicine of Deer that was helping me to navigate and create balance between these feminine and masculine traits. And I began to thrive.

My first ever physical encounter with a deer was when I leading a morning meditation walk at my first retreat in Warburton, Victoria back in 2009. I had chosen this area seemingly at random – little did I know I would be returning every month in the future to draw water from the natural spring. This was the first retreat I had ever held and a week before it was to begin, my father had a life threatening stroke and almost died. I had to fly to Tasmania to now be his voice as he had lost his power of speech and mobility. Suddenly I was the adult and was filling out and signing forms I could barely understand. I flew back to Melbourne and the next day I began the retreat. I was in a daze but felt strangely calm.

On the second day we woke early and went for a walk in the mist along the Yarra River. We heard an unfamiliar sound and looked up to see a stag and doe running through the front yards of houses along the street. It was a surreal moment to say the least especially as we had been talking about the Empress and the Emperor in the Tarot and now here they were presenting themselves. Just as quickly they disappeared from sight. To see these mythical creatures, not native to Australia, in the daylight, jumping the fences of suburban homes had a strange effect – it was at once magical and at the same time very, very familiar. That whole retreat was a graceful and easy experience and one I will never forget.

My next encounter with deer was soon after we moved to Sherbrooke Forest 3 years ago. The forest called and we answered but living here was another matter entirely. We soon began to hear stories from the locals of the wild deer and stag being sighted in the winter evenings. I felt that strange tug again in my tummy – a memory that I couldn’t quite catch… At night I was beginning what would become my medicine doll apprenticeship and one of the very first dolls I made was a doll I called StagWoman. You can see her in the photo below and at the top of this post you will see the incredible drawing of StagWoman by Alice Savage who is now the doll’s keeper.

StagWoman by Sacred Familiar

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I made the first StagWoman (who actually lives inside Alice’s StagWoman – a doll within a doll!) for myself to help me get used to living in the forest after living in cities for more than half my life. At night I would feel the heavy darkness and the movement of the animals and I felt the forest like a wild creature – Stag at my window. I was feeling old fears that I couldn’t even believe I had – they felt somewhat medieval. My fear was of leaving the city or town and the ‘tribe’ – I worried about how to fend for myself, how to work for myself and how to survive when all of my clients lived in the city. As I was making this doll, a huge mountain ash tree fell a few metres from our home with a ground shaking explosion, sounding exactly like a car crash in the middle of the night. The next day I went and stood near the upturned roots of this fallen giant trying to come to terms with all this uncontrollable wildness – it all felt so dangerous.

As the doll grew I kept seeing antlers like the Stag growing through her hair. I was confused at first, was she male or female? She told me she was female but wore antlers. She was embodying both male and female and I let her be just that. She became an important talisman to help me find my own balance and to trust the wild that was not only all around us but also waking up inside me. Little by little I lost my fear of the forest and realised it wasn’t actually even my fear but something like a bad spell or brainwashing put upon us to convince us that we need the city to survive or others to provide for us. I had to develop totally new habits and ways of working and as I did, the requests for medicine dolls grew. I now felt the spirit of the forest as a soft and caring presence who nurtured me but also confronted me when I was not being aware of nature and she would remind me to always live with nature instead of beside it or hidden inside my so called ‘safe’ home. I learnt that the forest is safety. The medicine dolls soon become my main source of work – work that I love and adore. And StagWoman keeps making herself known to me constantly through various different medicine doll incarnations. You can see some of them here.

Deer medicine is teaching me. And it keeps returning when I need reminding – like it’s time to grow a new set of antlers. The lessons are about independence, freedom, living closer to nature and supporting myself to be here. The significance of the StagWoman is to clear and remove old beliefs around gender and what it means to be a woman living in this time now – how to be remain wild and at the same time take proper care of ourselves – to be free and responsible for ourselves at the same time.

staghorn Sacred Familiar

Helena Ambrosia Deer Medicine

Deer Medicine Woman: Helena Ambrosia

What you see above is a ‘healed antler’ made by artist and medicine woman, Helena Ambrosia to heal the ancestral line of her mother’s family in the Ukraine. Recently I was the blessed recipient of one of Helena’s deer medicine talismans (the one you see on the tapestry). She told me that this was one of the oldest antlers she has found in the forest near her home in Tasmania but it is also the very first antler that forms when the deer is growing their first horns. It is worn by the forest and moss and I love that it looks like a very ancient bird when I hold it in a certain way. I know that Helena has been on a huge journey with the ancestral medicine of Deer for years and I wanted to ask her about her understanding of it and the significance of antlered women.

Helena stag Headpiece helena Ambrosia

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Helena: “The deer medicine had come to me several times over the years but I never really resonated with it or even had the sensitivity to engage it.  It wasn’t until I had the deer appear very strongly in a Swan Blessing medicine session that I really took notice of what it was trying to say to me.  After that the antlers started coming into my life.  Mostly broken and damaged ones that I felt compelled to “heal” or restore by attaching crystals to the missing tips and bringing them back to a healed state. I also started making antler jewellery and found myself diving more and more deeply into the energy of the deer.  She started appearing in visions and meditation consistently guiding and teaching me.

Up until now this has been a very private journey for me as my experience of deer medicine was quite different to what I was reading in books.  It wasn’t until I read about the medicine of deer being aligned to those who have chosen to heal and awaken through sacrifice that things started making sense to me. The deer I realized is one of the most widely hunted creatures on this planet. It has therefore developed and evolved a highly sensitive nervous system that operates constantly in flight fight mode.  Here was the healing medicine I needed to receive.  At the time I was in recovery from severe anxiety, stress burn out and a hyper vigilant nervous system that was exhausting me and making life very hard to be in. The deer started teaching me about my nervous system and how to use my hyper vigilance as a blessing rather than living in despair. Gradually I got a grip on the debilitating aspect of it and am owning my sensitivity and perceptiveness as a gift.  The deer shows me immediately when something is “off” I feel it coursing through my being and in an instance I know when it’s time to either camouflage myself or to leave a situation entirely. Through the deer I have honed my instinctual self and harnessed its ability to see. I am aware of the gentle beautiful aspects of this medicine but also the wild fierce aspects also.  Right now I am delving deeply into the stag energy, the energy of the king of the forest.  These are not at all passive, non-aggressive beings.  They are powerful and courageous beings with immense spirit and medicine that man has worked with for ever.  The deer has always been here with us.

Deer woman came in as part of my exploration of my ancestry.  I am of Ukrainian heritage first generation born in Australia.  I wanted to understand my heritage more deeply and begun an exploration of the female blood line I wanted to understand the medicine of these women.  I knew that I had a journey to restore the feminine medicine in my blood line, that there was some energetic archaeology to be done.  The deer was guiding me and I knew it was related.  Further and further and further back I journeyed in my visions and experiences, answering a call from this shamanic woman from a time and place I cannot even name, the time of the tribes, way back to when the world was a very different place and humans knew their place in the web of nature. Finally she revealed herself as an antler wearing woman of medicine.  She started guiding me to make a headdress with antlers, she has guided me in the creation of energetic healing tools and has now started guiding me through ceremonies to restore the balance in the world soul and the web of life and so I have made myself available to this journey and am working to bring it back. It appears her energy from then needs to come back now. I am now making her complete ceremonial outfit and am really looking forward to “meeting her in all her” when finally I can see her in myself and do ceremony in her form. All of this has been quite strange and largely a journey in solitude. I’m not really even sure how to name what I am experiencing. The closest thing I can come up with is that I am doing some kind of ancient soul retrieval and integration with her.

Having this connection and experience in my life has opened up my inner world and my spiritual journey in ways I cannot describe, It brings healing to me in the deepest most profound ways, it has restored my sense of purpose and authenticity. I am no longer trying to be anyone else I am really happy to just be me and to do this work….whether it makes sense or not.”

So I see the antlered woman in two ways.

She was of the time when women were honoured as the bringers and healers of life. When women were highly respected for their medicine and their connection to the living web of life. When they were completely in touch with their instinctual selves and were the true essence of feminine power.  She represents the shamanic woman who was held in power and esteem within the social and tribal context.  The antler wearing woman is the woman who was free in her medicine before the shift of medicinal power into the masculine realm.

Secondly in a more modern context I see the antlered women as the balancer between the archetypal symbols of goddess and stag.  In Celtic myth the stag has been for a long time held as symbol for masculine so I see the woman wearing stag antlers as the woman who dares to restore the balance between the energy of genders.  I see her as the one who owns the strength of the masculine within herself and has the courage to face the destructive masculine within herself to restore the healing and balance in the world.  She is the woman who through healing the damaged power seeking masculine and the disempowered feminine within herself restores the true essence of the instinctual, medicinal feminine within herself and thusly in the entire web of life.  She frees men and women from the destructive aspects of power and brings them back to their natural and beautiful and free state.”

This is the first time that Helena has spoken about this long healing journey with the medicine of Deer and we are honoured to share it here. I look forward to seeing where the Deer is leading Helena in her creation of Deer Medicine Woman ceremonial dress and antlers. I feel a beautiful ceremony helping other women embrace this medicine and ancestral healing is coming. You can see more of Helena’s artwork and get in touch with her here.

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Deer Medicine Woman: Lindsy Richards

I met Lindsy when she attended one of my medicine doll circles at Spirit Weavers in the Redwoods this year. I remember her so well because she made the most amazing Marie Antoinette medicine doll complete with gown and white cotton candy wig. When I returned home to Australia Lindsy and I connected through instagram and when I saw the images of what she creates I was blown away. Through her work with Illuminating Archetypes, Lindsy is the creator of the most captivating and fascinating headdresses – many of them antlered. She told me how it was seeing one of my antlered medicine dolls that made her want to make her own medicine doll. We have since had a couple of discussions weaving the threads that connect our work and our own healing, discovering that it was the antlered women and Artemis that helped us to heal and grow forward.

I felt I truly understood Lindsy best when I read her story The Artist Mother – A Tale of a ‘Wild Woman Archetype’ on her website. It’s such a strong Deer medicine and Artemis tale!

Lindsy RIchards

Lindsy: “Artemis is the resistance to domestication. Her twin brother Apollo (her opposite) represents the intellect and the culture, while she stands for the power of Nature and the Wild Self. She is the Goddess of the hunt, wild animals, the moon, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls. This Virgin Goddess symbolizes autonomy, the ability to belong to herself. She is an archetype of the self empowered woman. “Artemis comes to sanctify solitude, natural, and primitive living to which we may all return whenever we find it necessary to belong only to ourselves.” ~Ginette Paris

All the animals of the forest are under Artemis’s protection.  She is in such intimate relationship with them, she knows their rhythms, cycles, and habits. Yet as the huntress she must engage the primordial dance of kill and be killed. Artemis imagery is most often depicted with the deer/stag. She is a death/rebirth goddess. One who holds the mysteries of regeneration and cycles.

Artemis and Deer Wisdom: Be still and silent in developing your intuition. Trust your instincts and move swiftly. Approach your challenges with grace and determination.”

I urge you to have a deeper look at Lindsy’s work at Illuminating Archetypes to be taken to the realm of Deer medicine and I look forward to weaving more with Lindsy in the future!

Lindsy Deer Medicine

Subscribe to our monthly MoonMedicine letter for more medicine stories and forest offerings.

Medicine dolls awaiting keepers.

Elementals Online Medicine DollMarket

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Hello, we have been very quiet here of late due to large number of custom orders over winter but we have also been creating a tribe of medicine dolls inspired by the elements, sacred geometry and plant friends of the Forest and they will be available very soon at our next online DollMarket.

This little doll community will be available to carry on their magical workings with their new keepers on Sunday, 2nd August (Australian time zone). The market will take place as a Facebook event  beginning at 1pm (Melbourne time) and finishing 2 hours later. Here is a link to the event page.
The Elemental Medicine Dolls have all been handcrafted by the fire here in deep winter in Sherbrooke Forest. We will also be sharing dolls wearing the medicine of Huichol beading blessed and gifted from an ancestral family from Mexico. All medicine dolls are made by hand with love and intention with hand dyed artisan wool and fibres and fossicked plant and mineral medicines.

The dollmarkets are a great place to have a chat with us about our dollmaking process and ask any questions you may have. You’ll also get to meet a lot of lovely people and have a chance to win a custom medicine doll.

Below are some of the Elemental sisters who will be available, we can’t wait to share them all with you very soon!

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Winter Solstice – the Dreaming Egg

emu egg Sacred Familiar

Last night was the Solstice. Here in Australia it is Winter and we experienced the darkest night of the year. I recently wrote about this in our latest MoonMedicine Letter and thought I would share some of this here today. Emu is the largest bird in Australia and I had the honour of holding an Emu egg  last week when I was told it was the first of the season. As the egg is incubated and cared for, it turns from green to blue to deepest purple. I had only ever held an empty emu egg before this and I was fascinated with the heavy weight of this egg. When I held it in my hand I also felt a comfort in my heart. I felt the strength of the shell holding and incubating the softness inside. Everything about this emu egg reminded me of wholeness. And magic too! Could there be a dragon inside?

Emu’s breed in early June and the egg is incubated for around 8 weeks and so they are truly winter babies. They have lived all of their dreaming and incubation in the winter months and are born in early spring. I love that it is actually the males that incubate the eggs and also take care of the very young babies too. It’s definitely a combined effort. When I feel called to add emu feathers to a medicine doll it’s usually a medicine of strength and protection. Emu’s can be very territorial and strong in protecting their families. The day after I wrote this a package arrived with Emu feathers inside – such a huge bird and yet such delicate and elegant feathers.. I had a doll that was half-made, she had camel fibres woven into her hair and shawl and it felt perfect that she would be wearing Emu feathers in her hair too. I called her She Dreams of the Desert.

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Sitting here on the darkest night of the year I am looking at the Emu egg and I am reminded of what Winter is meant to be – a time of slowing down, feeling warm and nourished and incubating new dreams. Dreaming is very important to me and I have always had very clear and magical dreams that I have written down in notebooks ever since I was a child. Many of them contain messages and hints of what was to come – even years down the track. That’s the tricky part about dreams, they are not bound to linear time and so we are often baffled at first and find it hard to reach the meaning. Writing down our dreams and then returning to them later on can be a really affirming experience of your intuition and knowing.

It can help when we can allow ourselves to flow naturally with the seasons and perhaps instead of seeing the long dark months of Winter as a time of being cut off from the world, we can see it as Mother Earth’s dreaming gift. She has given us a great gift, this beautiful big egg full of promise and wish. But to see it grow into it’s promise, we must be gentle with it, warm it and incubate it. Let the curtain come down softly on the world. We have been invited to journey deeper into the dreamtime.

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Today I am also remembering Vali Myers and how she loved the cold months and for much of her life she loved to live between two countries always. One to dream in and one to be out in the world in. For a time, Vali’s personal notebooks and journals lived in my home and they were so full of energy, magic and wisdom that I found it very hard to sleep with them so close. Today I remembered finding this dedication that Vali wrote to herself in her earliest surviving journal from Paris in 1957. It is a dedication honouring the dreamworld – a land that the artist must visit regularly to create. And so today I am imagining Winter to be a different country that I have moved to and I’m looking at changes I can make to live more comfortably in this slower, dreaming land.

The first change is that I have received a dream telling me it is time to open up Swan Blessing ancestral medicine sessions again. These sessions will be available from July by phone and Skype and you read Swan Stories from people speaking in their own words about their medicine and the journey taken to claim it back. It has been 4 years since the blessing was passed to me by my Grandmother and it has deepened and changed. I’m excited about sharing this again.

Winter is the time of the Grandmother and when I wanted to ask her for some good, solid guidance for this season. I thought of the Emu egg and how it is a perfect vessel to hold the Cosmic (inner) Child.  I created the tarot spread below 8 months ago to help me to listen to the Grandmother and the Child. I am using it today to prepare for this dreaming time and I’m sharing it here for anyone who wishes to do the same. For all our Northern family who are dancing in the Sun today the only difference in using this spread is that it is not advice for incubation (feminine) but a way to access advice for what needs to be done and put out into the world (masculine) right now. I ‘d love to hear how you go with it x

 

GrandMother’s Gift to the Cosmic Child (with The Wild Unknown Tarot)

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Tarot Spread Positions :

1. What Is

2. What the Cosmic Child Wants

3. What the Cosmic Child Needs

4. How you are currently mothering the Cosmic Child – is this connected to your own childhood

5. Behaviours & Beliefs to be Released

6. Behaviours & Beliefs to Embrace

7. GrandMother’s Gift (Dreaming Egg) for the Cosmic Child

8. Your new journey (after Winter) with the Cosmic Child

 

You can read the latest MoonMedicine letter here in full and you can subscribe to receive it each New Moon. 

Book in a Swan Blessing ancestral session with Julia 

Little Bird in your Ear – Baba Yaga, Vasalisa and the doll archetype

Grandmother doll by Sacred Familiar

A few nights ago there was a strange tapping and scratching at our window. It was hard to work out where it was coming from but when Tony went outside he found a little finch trying with all it’s might to come into the house. I went up to the window from inside and could see it’s little outline just sitting there looking at me. I quickly went outside but heard him take flight in the dark night and he was gone. Later on I fell asleep and dreamt of a colourful bird trying to fly with a big heavy feather in it’s mouth. I said hello to the bird and it said hello back to me before flying off.

Whenever an animal comes out of the forest to communicate with us I pay careful attention – such a tiny, shy bird knocking at my window in the forest night – what did I need to be more aware of? I felt the message of a need for discernment.

Soon after, I began making a series of grandmother dolls like the doll above. They all have a piece of fossilised wood, an ancient tree over their hearts. When I received these beautiful stones I was drawn to their subtle colours – this subtlety flowed into the colours the dolls chose to dress themselves in and the fact that each had eyes that looked both open and closed at the same time. The all-seeing and dreaming spirit of the grandmother. I thought about the crone and spirit of the witch and how they teach us about discernment and the wild feminine.

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Baba Yaga by Sacred Familiar

One of the stories and archetypes that kept being brought to me just before I left for Spirit Weavers Gathering and all through the gathering was that of Vasalisa the Beautiful, her magical doll and Baba Yaga (the witch, the crone, the mother of us all). Here is a link to a beautiful retelling of the story and I made the doll above last year after reading it – I felt she held the energy of Vasalisa after her training with Baba Yaga and the helpful little doll. Perhaps this doll is carrying the 3 archetypes of doll, growing maiden and wisdom of the grandmother all at once.

With this story so alive and being brought up in many conversations, it led me to re-read Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD the renowned scholar, poet and cantadora (keeper of the old stories in the Latina tradition) rendition of this old, Russian story of the wise crone, and the young girl and her doll who come in search of fire. I am also very inspired by her writings on the magic of the doll:

“For centuries humans have felt that dolls emanate both a holiness and mana – an awesome and compelling presence which acts upon persons, changing them spiritually. Dolls are believed to be infused with life by their makers.

The Doll is the symbolic homunculi, little life. It is the symbol of what lies buried in humans that is numinous. It is a small and glowing facsimile of the original Self. Superficially, it is just a doll. But inversely, there is a little piece of soul that carries all the knowledge of the larger soul-Self.

The Doll is related to the symbols of leprechaun, elf, pixie, fairy, and dwarf. In fairy tales these represent a deep throb of wisdom within the culture of the psyche. They are those creatures which go on with the canny and interior work, who are tireless. In this way the doll represents the inner spirit of women; the voice of inner reason, inner knowing, and inner consciousness.

The doll is like the little bird in fairy tales who comes and whispers in the heroine’s ear, the one who reveals the hidden enemy and what to do about it all. This is the wisdom of homunculus, the small being within. It is our helper which is not seeable, but which is always accessible.

The dolls serve as talismans. Talismans are reminders of what is felt but not seen, what is so, but is not immediately obvious. The talismanic numen of the doll is that it reminds us, tells us, sees ahead for us. This intuitive function belongs to all women. It is a massive and fundamental receptivity. Not receptivity as once touted in classical psychology, that is as a passive vessel. But receptivity as in possessing immediate access to a profound wisdom that reaches to women’s very bones.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, ‘Women Who Run with the Wolves’

I love that this ancient story keeps circling and returning when it is needed. I feel ready now to create a Baba Yaga for myself to learn more about discernment and the message from the little bird at my window too – what if it was not trying to come in but beckoning me into the dark forest? I think I have been working at my desk too much and like Vasalisa I need to cross the threshold into ‘the green world’ to feed the wild.

I’ll be writing more about this in our monthly MoonMedicine letter next week – if you would like to receive it, you can subscribe here it will be lovely to share more with you in the moon circle.

 

New Inspiration – Forest Rogers

The doll and Baba Yaga rabbit-hole led me to the incredible work of Forest Rogers. Here is her interpretation of the Vasalisa and Baba Yaga story.

You can see more of her amazing dolls and sculptures here.

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Redwood Weavers – medicine dolls inspired by Spirit Weavers Gathering

REdwood medicine doll by Sacred Familiar

After returning from Spirit Weavers Gathering I thought I would be having a rest but the medicine dolls have other ideas! After meeting sisters from different lands and cultures my hands and heart have been buzzing with energy that wanted to be made into dolls.

Here are the first of the Redwood Weavers, inspired by the sisters I met – the singers, herbalists, weavers, beaders…and also the plants of the redwood forest. Each dolls holds plant medicine from the forest and are woven with wool that was shared and touched by each sister in our medicine doll circles at the gathering. These three dolls have already been spoken for but I feel there is more of this community to come! I will post them on our medicine doll page as they birth.

trillium by Sacred Familiar

I fell in love with this plant called Trillium. I could feel how ancient and gentle it was and I was drawn to the incredible perfection of it’s design. I later heard from women who live in the redwoods how it is one of the oldest indigenous plants and also endangered and it inspired me to create the Trillium Plant Protector medicine doll.

Trillium Silent Watcher medicine doll

I was gifted and traded so much beautiful local medicine including abalone shells found on the coast of Mendocino, pine resin, quartz crystals and selenite charged with love in the mountains. All of these will be going into the Redwood Weavers. Here is the latest, birthed just yesterday as I was listening to the Mariee Sioux singing Wild Eyes. We were serenaded by Mariee at the Spirit Weavers Gathering beside a wild fire and under the redwood giants. I have called her Thousand Pronged Antlers after this song and experience.

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