Golden Antlers – Swan Blessing Ancestral Folklore and New Sessions

Artwork: The Wood Witch by Nadia Turner

Today at the full moon eclipse in Leo I share with you the Swan Blessing story of the vow to close down a Grandmother’s teachings. This is the swan story received by artist and tattooist, Victoria Rose on Mt Tamborine in Queensland. It was also the very first Swan Blessing session that I held in Australia after journeying through the lands of England, Ireland and Scotland leaving dolls for the forgotten and interviewing the guardians and keepers of sacred sites dedicated to the women’s mysteries and healing.

After returning from this journey, I felt even more dedication to working with the Swan to clear the blocks and pain from our own ancestral folklore of the plant healers, seers and storytellers. I was also gifted new experiences and understanding after spending time in Scotland, the land of my own Grandmothers that has led to a deepening of the Swan Blessing work with 3 new journeying sessions:

New Swan Blessing Sessions

The Animal Wife: Dreaming back the animal skin and gifts that have been forfeited to live in the mundane world.

Hag Stone: Tracking and healing the Witch lineage, opening the eye of the Seer.

Family Folklore: Reclaiming the lore of your ancestors & releasing unhealthy family beliefs.

If you would like more information on this next level of Swan Blessing work, you can contact me to discuss what you feel you need.

The Storyteller by Nadia Turner

Victoria Rose and I had had interactions with each other for just over a year and I could feel that she wanted to journey to clear and unblock her own healer’s story but that there was also a lot of resistance. This is completely understandable when we think about the centuries of persecution of women’s medicine and wise ways. I understood the trepidation but let Victoria Rose know that the journey we make with the Swan is always a gentle and loving one. This is her gift to the women – to hold them with great strength and softness as they journey back to heal the fragmented story. We have been through enough trauma, we do not need to experience it again to heal it. We already know the pain, we have been journeying for lifetimes with memories in our DNA from our lineages and grandmothers, we may have memory of past lives and we are also sometimes carrying the collective memory or story of what has happened to the healers, herbalists and witches of the past.

This can lead us to believe that it’s still not safe to share all of our gifts with an open heart and freedom again but I believe the planet needs the people of the earth who are connected to nature and her healing ways more than ever. And the important thing to remember is that we are living in different times and we have so much more support and wisdom opening up again to be shared with love.

We share these stories because they are all our stories. These are part of the ancestral folklore of women’s medicine and wise ways and I hope they bring understanding to anyone who needs them. By releasing the stories of how the wise ways were closed down we create space to write and create new ancestral folklore stories for ourselves, our ancestors and the daughters to come.

Victoria Rose told me after her journey that this was a lifetime and story that she had journeyed to previously but had not been able to heal and complete the teachings. And so instead of empowering her it still frightened her. I believe it’s so very important to come to resolution and healing with our journeys and I was honoured to hold space for this beautiful young artist to reach this resolution with the Swan.

I am healed, I am safe and I will serve as my Grandmother taught me

“I’m in a cave with a deep pool of water. As I look into the reflection, I see a woman. Her hair is dark and her eyes are wild with fear and confusion. This woman is me. I have heavy gold collars hanging from my neck down my chest with a long robe underneath. In a large stone temple, I’m there as a servant to the elites. I’m alone.

How did I get there?

In a beautiful valley. Mountains in the distance, woodlands open out to grass plains. It was here that I learnt the healing arts from my grandmother. This is my home. We provided a service to the community. I was at peace an very happy being connected to the land and my people. I do not want for anything.

One day the authorities turn up at our doorsteps and ask if I would go work in the temple. I refuse. They return and remove me by force. It was in the days after this that I promised I would not use my abilities ever again. This vow did not change what was to come. 

I am back in the cave now. The lady of the sacred well is with me. I can feel a heavy helmet over my head sitting on my shoulders. The lady uses a tool and breaks it open. I am free from this bond and she takes me into the pool. In the healing waters I am scrubbed clean by the Spirit Grandmothers. 

Out of the pool now the Swan has come to take me high in the sky. We are journeying to the Sun. I have gold antlers. Inside the Sun, I’m filled with light and all trauma is burnt away.

The Swan takes me back down to earth. It is time now for me to release the vows I had once spoken. I must say three things.

I am Healed.

I am Safe.

As I try to make my last statement, tears start choking, electricity shoots through me and I am convulsing. 

Finally I say, “I will serve as my Grandmother taught me”.

As I drive home I take a different route down the mountain. I pass black swans beside a pond. 

Thank you Julia for this journey. Throughout I felt held in Truth and honoured. I felt like I was understood and respected. I’m forever changed and have started to integrate parts of myself I had lost. It is an amazing gift you have given me. 

Forever grateful to you and the Swan.”

Victoria Rose, 2016

Artemis by Victoria Rose Tattoo

I am grateful to Victoria Rose for facing her fears and healing this story. She has also courageously shared her story to help anyone who may have similar memories. If you would like to see Victoria Rose’s beautiful artistry and tattooing this is a link to her Instagram page. I think it’s important for us to have artists working on our body that carry magic and healing. I know that many feel that tattooing is also a new way to re-write our ancestral folklore and to break through old laws stopping free expression. Many of us have memory of sacred markings and sigils on our bodies and the bodies of our grandmothers. Embracing tattooing again is like stepping over another threshold into freedom to adorn our bodies as we please and in a ceremonial way again.

Thank you to Nadia Turner who has allowed us to share her beautiful artwork The Wood Witch and The Storyteller as reflections of the new work with the Swan: The Animal Wife and Hag Stone. Please have a look at the rest of her enchanted creations at www.waywardharper.com

Book a Swan Blessing session with Julia

Filling the Well at Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden

Enchantment. That is a word and feeling that has fascinated me since I began making dolls. How do we breathe life into an inanimate object? How do we create feeling and emotion? Today I felt the need for some extra inspiration for doll making – it was time to fill the creative well. I had heard about Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden for many years and this morning we drove up to the town of Marysville in the Victorian Alpine region (stopping to drink water from St Ronan’s Well along the way) and oh were we rewarded. I have so many new ideas and dreams for dolls percolating after spending time talking with the sculptor Bruno Torfs and meeting his incredible creations. I hope these photos help to inspire your own creativity in some way and perhaps encourage you to make the visit to see them for yourself. Thanks for a great day Bruno!

You can see lots more photos from our visit to Bruno’s Art and Sculpture Garden on our Facebook page.

Druids, Vikings and Seafaring Menfolk

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This month I have been exploring the ancestral and rare breed wool and fleece of many of the Celtic and Viking lands such as the Shetland Islands, Soay, a tiny island off the Isle of Skye in Scotland, Leader Sheep from Iceland. What a great adventure to take with the masculine medicine doll and his seafaring ways. Interestingly as I began to work with these figures I was drawn back to working with raw fleece and found a bag of fleece from a friend of my father’s in Tasmania that was perfect for hair and beards and rugged woollen shawls.

These masculine medicine dolls have also been very popular with our clients, some going to families to represent grandfathers and fathers – I love the idea too of dolls that can assist young boys to feel strong and grounded in their lives. These dolls gave me such a gift of stability and energy as I was creating them. They have all found homes now and I look forward to hearing about the adventures they inspire.

I feel like this is an adventure that may keep calling to me for a long time.

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Swan Blessing: Vow of the Priestess to Separate Body from Spirit

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“I am naked under the gaze and protection of the stars. I am stargazing, star bathing, star being. Filled with the light, and energy and knowing of the stars. They move into me, touching me, illuminating me and the map, the mystery, the way, connecting me to my story, my songs, my dance, my medicine. As my blood returns to source, source fills me in return, with the dreaming and visions that will hold me during my growth, my woman years. I am star clan, star dreamer and star weaver.”

I’m always honoured to sit with people in their ancestral journeys in Swan Blessing sessions. I am not only holding space, I am listening intently, learning, travelling with and being taught about the ancient ways of each ancestral lineage. Because not only is ancestral clearing about releasing vows and beliefs the biggest gift and point to the work is to see and remember times when our ancestors lived in great connection to the earth and where respect for her cycles was woven into everything they did. Living life as a ceremony. I had the pleasure of sharing such a journey with Sarah who came to clear a vow, a memory in her lineage of a lifetime as a a priestess living in this beautiful way and then witnessing the destruction of this time of sacred living. A vow so strong that it created a separation between body and spirit. Her journey took her back to her most ancient of ancestors, the star clans, the star grandmothers and she was reminded of that she will always be a child of the stars, she will always have ways of finding her way home. When Sarah came out of her journey she looked up at the painting you see above, an original artwork by artist and fellow forest-dweller, Nadia Turner that hangs in our healing space as quiet guardian and was amazed to recognise her from her own journey and ancestral lineage.

“In the clearing we gather. In the clearing we work, laugh, play and connect to source, to her. The earth underneath our bare feet is soft, cushioned by leaf fall from the tall trees that guard our homes, which lie on the flat stone plateau. The trees are known to us. We listen to them, talk to them, understand their wisdom and offerings. We are in constant exchange with them, air, shelter, shade, fruit, and our own prayers and tending in return. 

I move through time, through the ages watching myself in this place of sacred connection. As a child I walk with my father through the forest, listening to his songs and chants. He takes me to the place where the grandmothers dwell so that I may learn from them. Learn about the plants, the herbs, their gifts, protections and poisons. Life and death are close allies too.

At my first blood I am taken by the women to the bleeding place, and then left. They leave me to journey here alone with the trees and the stars. I am naked under the gaze and protection of the stars. I am stargazing, star bathing, star being. Filled with the light, and energy and knowing of the stars. They move into me, touching me, illuminating me and the map, the mystery, the way, connecting me to my story, my songs, my dance, my medicine. As my blood returns to source, source fills me in return, with the dreaming and visions that will hold me during my growth, my woman years. I am star clan, star dreamer and star weaver.

Older, much older now. I am sitting in the cave of the Grandmothers, feeling the warmth of their wisdom and knowing. They are deep in the belly of the cave, while I sit at the entrance, with my fire and a pot filled with leaves. Smoke from the fire merges with the potent steam from the pot, the small clay pot that was once my mothers, and hers before her. Another woman is with me, inhaling the scent, and the healing of the steam. The spirits speak to her through smoke, cleansing and healing. I hold her hands .

We are not such a large group, 50 or so people living here with the trees, the plants, the forest animals, and with earth, water, fire, and air. We are strong in our bonds to each other, and other local clans. We are strong in our connection to source. We have lived like this for a long time, a long time. We know how to listen.

But my listening troubles me now. I hear a noise in the forest that I do not know, I sense fear in the animals, and even the trees. I ask the grandmothers. The Grandmothers see a time of pain, a time of estrangement and loss. A loss greater than we have ever known, but they seem to wait for it. I am upset and angry, even though they reassure me that we will remember, that the stars will call us home again. But when and how and what is coming?

I know soon enough. Soon enough I see them coming on horseback, coming with a ferocity we have not experienced. Hooves pounding, earth and dust flying, shouts and screams from them and us mingle into a horrifying scream. They come only to destroy, There is no regard for our rules, our ways, they come to trample and burn. Fire our ally, is turned against us, and they on horseback ride through our homes, alighting everything that will burn. Trees, ancient trees burn with my people, burn with the animals and the bodies of the young, the old, the all. Death is everywhere. Death is.

I am alone now, howling and grieving, and raging, and lost. I am a survivor only by there doing, one to witness the destruction, and to tell of their victory, their ways, their story. I will not tell their story, I will not tell their story and I will not priestess again. I will not. Not now, not ever. The temple of our lives is gone, the wisdom and knowing is gone and although my body lives on, my spirit is gone too. 

How long did I wander in the wilderness, scraping an existence, scraping something called life together? I wanted death, I wanted destruction but I was alive . Seven years passed before I saw daughters again, before I saw daughters of another clan, sowing seeds, preparing what they knew. I should have been overjoyed, I should have helped them, But I was not and I did not. I was not going to help create that which could so easily be destroyed again. I had made my vow, and I would keep it. I cut myself off from the wisdom that remained in the trees, the earth, the water, the fire and the stars. I even turned my back on the stars. And this turning away from, this cutting off from has been so very painful. In this life I have sought to reconnect with the source of all, to be held in the deep embrace of the earth mother, to refind myself as an earthling, a wild one, she who knows…and yet I have stumbled through the pain and separation of activism to the joy of my embodied dance work, but still I have been caught in the illusion of separation, still disembodied.  My work with the school of Shamanic Womancraft was a deep resurgence of all that I knew, and all that I had to trust. It was a huge part of my healing, and still I stumbled to trust my medicine, to trust my gifts. 

So this is my story. And through the swan blessing I realised that the vow I had made meant that I had cut myself off from my people, my ancestry, my knowing. I had separated body and spirit. I had in fact chosen to live the story of the oppressor, separating myself from source, just as they said was true. This story of separation is with us now, embedded in the culture in which we live today , and for many years I have been trying to reclaim a way home, to my body, and the body of earth, to integration with and to source. 

And although I went looking for my medicine instread and for me more profoundly I found a way home, a way back to my clan, my heritage, to source. After releasing my bindings and my vow, the grandmothers welcomed me home. They sang me and carried me home. They had never left, it was I who had left them. But now I am home, singing myself, dancing myself, trusting myself that my medicine is a home coming, a return to earth/star/body/spirit. And the messages keep coming, the grandmothers, the animals, the spirits are guiding me.

Towards the end of the swan blessing, I saw a star clan sister on the wall, and in front of me. I was staggered to see a woman from my vision there in a painting. Deep bow to the mystery. My work now is to continue to remember, to reclaim my heritage and to listen again to the wisdom of the heavens and the earth. I have had many beautiful conversations with the earth since then. A spontaneous swim with dolphins in the sea, visits by birds, feathers and of course the stars. My work now is to listen again to the songs of the trees, the earth and my people, to deepen my connection to my clan and this blessed earth. 

I am home.”  Sarah 2016 

Thank you Sarah for sharing your Swan story here with us, your words are a poem to remind us all of how we used to live and how to recreate this sacred life again. You can explore Sarah’s beautiful offerings of circles embodying the women’s mysteries and earth wisdom through dance and movement at Embodiments Dance – Sarah Miller

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StoryKeepers – Medicine Dolls for Our Ancestors and Lost Ones

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It is a curious thing that the more medicine dolls I create, the more I learn about myself and the more I want to learn about the stories of my ancestors.  These stories of our lineage are important – every life matters. I am especially drawn to the lives of those who were treated as if they didn’t matter – what if a small woollen doll can help to change that somehow? Perhaps just in acknowledgement or speaking their name we can begin to uncover and connect, see them as they truly are again. We can become the Storykeepers, the TruthTellers of our own history and the histories of others. Most importantly we can give these forgotten and ghosted people a small gift – a doll to comfort them or to sit with them. This, somehow gives me comfort too.

There is a growing interest and passion for ancestral medicine and uncovering ancestry. I see that this is the work of StoryKeepers in the family. My sister Belinda is one too and she has been doing a huge amount of research into our family tree. I think it’s important to tend carefully to the bones of our ancestors and to give them privacy when they ask too – not every book wants to be opened. In these times I just send love. I don’t need to know the whole story. But even the saddest stories in our families can be a source of strength when we acknowledge the level of hardship they lived through and the resilience and humour with which they faced it! That spirit is very needed by us right now.

In difficult times it’s important to engage in something practical and real that can give you a sense of purpose amid the chaos of life. For me, it has been making medicine dolls for the lost, the ghosted, the persecuted. At the moment I am weaving dolls that will be left at sites in England, Scotland and Ireland when I visit to pay my respects and in a small way provide some love and acknowledgement of injustice.

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The doll above was created as an offering to the women persecuted as witches in Scotland. She will be left in a small fishing town Pittenweem, another doll will be left at the Witches Well at Edinburgh Castle and I will also leave a doll for my own ancestor, Janet Inglis, a spinner and weaver in Ayreshire. I will also be leaving dolls in Ireland to honour my ancestors and to acknowledge the medicine women there – many who had to go underground to survive. I see all of these dolls as weaving connection and memory and in a way singing a song across the lands and across oceans. Some dolls for the lost and some dolls for family who were never able to afford to return back to their homelands. I see this as a way of rebuilding ancestral trackways, starways, horse tracks…ways to find myself when I am lost and ways for my ancestors to communicate with me when it is needed.

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This medicine doll, She Who Wears Antlers will be gifted to the women of Dublin to honour the girls that were shamed and blamed and incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries. She will be given to them in a combined Swan Weaver Ceremony – a meeting of the Black and White Swan medicines to be held with Karen Ward of Sli An Chroi, in Dublin on 15th October. I urge you to check out Karen’s amazing work teaching and sharing the mysteries of the indigenous shamanic tradition of Ireland. As I also have ancestors from the city of Dublin this will be such a personal and joyful return. It shows me that we can bring beauty to areas of pain and difficulty and injustice with small, simple acts that hold love and intention. It also helps me to keep connected to stories that are happening everywhere and to remember that we are all in this together.

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You might remember the Bird Girl doll that I made for the women and children of the Crossbones Graveyard in London. This is the site of a recently discovered medieval pauper’s graveyard for the women and children, many of them prostitutes known as the Winchester Geese deemed not worthy of a consecrated burial. Amazing and resilient local people fought to save and honour the site as a place to come and pay respects to the outcast dead and alive. A place for the different, the difficult, and yes the wild.

Last week our dear friend and singer, Lisa Mitchell delivered Bird Girl personally to Crossbones and sang the medicine doll into the site – you can just see Bird Girl tucked in on the left side of the statue of the Mother looking after the graveyard. Lisa also sang for us when we held our ceremony for the Magdalene Laundry girls here in Melbourne and recently I found out that the Crossbones we also known as a Magdalene grave. I was so happy to see and hear Lisa sing the doll into her new land and new family of Geese girls with an old bush ballad from Australia written in the 1800s called The Colonial Widow to honour the courageous women who traveled so far to create new lives here. I love that this song is both sad and cheeky! You can hear Kate and Ruth’s version of The Colonial Widow here.

Thank you Lisa! What a gift you are and what a voice to be sung home on. Here is one of my favourite of Lisa’s songs, The Land Beyond the Front Door, sun at the Abbotsford Convent, site of the Magdalene Laundry here in Melbourne.

If you would like to make a medicine doll for your ancestors, yourself or to an area in need of healing our next doll workshop will be : Winter Solstice: The Sleeping Trees, Medicine Dolls made of 9 Sacred Trees to be held at Tree of Life in Kew, Melbourne on Saturday 25th June. Book with Julia.

Swan Blessing Ancestral Medicine Story – the Wisdom of Listening

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Today at this full moon lunar eclipse, I share Sharon’s Swan Blessing ancestral medicine story of being the ‘listener’ in her tribe. In our circles and communities so many different skills are needed and the gentle and compassionate ones, the listeners, can teach so much about hearing each other and listening to the earth. Sharon also told me how she was planning to move away, to begin a whole new time in her life but found it very hard to leave her son to follow her heart even though he was an adult and happy in his life – something held her back.

“I never saw myself as a healer.  I felt I had no special gifts. My Swan Blessing past life session showed me that it does not need to be complicated and I do not need to judge my gifts.  That sometimes the most simple things like listening, understanding and compassion, can be the most powerful healing of all.”

“I knew today would be a very special day for me.  I did not know how … I just knew. Though I was still unsure if I was capable of receiving the gifts of balance and connection I wished for.  I mean, I had only journeyed once before and visualisation is not one of my strengths.  I had nothing to fear or doubt, as Julia guided me every step of the way with her beautiful, calming voice … all the while wrapped in the beautiful wings of Swan.

Still unsure if I would be able to journey to find answers or vows from my past, I closed my eyes as Julia guided me into a beautiful forest … the forest of my heart.  I felt so safe and loved.  I was guided to a beautiful waterfall, behind of which was a large calm pool.  There was a face slowly coming to the surface.  She was a beautiful elder in her late 60’s with flowing grey hair and ice blue eyes, which looked straight into mine and through to my heart.  This was me!

I saw her in her homeland.  The land was flat for miles around, with many mountains in the distance, and she was sitting near a river.  She was talking to the river, asking it to take away that which she no longer needed.  She sat there for a long while … they understood each other, the river and her.  She was well loved by her tribe and others came to her often for guidance and healing.  She would hold both their hands and listen to their fears, problems and concerns.  She took their fears and replaced them with her gentle, loving energy.  She then went down to the river, to let everything go, so that they and she would be at peace once more.  This was healing at its most simple … but also most powerful.

Julia took me back further, to where this beautiful woman (me) was a child and walked me through different stages of her life until she went back to spirit.  She was a happy little girl, who spent many hours with her loving grandmother, who passed on her unconditional love and wisdom.  Her grandmother made her a little doll, which she took everywhere with her.  As she grew, her girlfriends used to make fun of her for still taking her doll with her everywhere.  It didn’t matter though, because her doll held her medicine and they would never be apart.  She became the mother of a beautiful baby boy.  Their bond was so strong and she felt like her heart would burst with love for him.  He grew into a wonderful young man and she was asked by the Chief of the tribe to make a vow/decision.  A decision to let her son go.  To let him go and fight for their tribe.  Her faith was strong and she agreed.  Her beloved son was killed, defending one of his friends during the fighting.  She never saw him alive again.  She became withdrawn and went to live in a cave, away from the tribe and the many memories there.  Her heart was broken.  She still had her doll, but it was in the corner of the cave … it no longer was by her side.  One day she took her doll to the river and let it go.  As she watched the river take it away, she felt totally lost.  Her life had no purpose and she returned to the cave for many years.  She did move back to the tribe, using the wisdom from her pain and grief to assist others.  Once again she held both their hands and spoke gently to their heart, while looking into their eyes.  While surrounded by her tribe, she passed to the spirit world … still with a broken heart and the guilt that caused it.

Julia took me back to the pool, where I held this beautiful grey haired woman with the broken heart.  The one who looked at me with such love and such sadness.  I held her so tight and felt the grief that consumed her.  I told her that she could not have prevented her son’s death, that it was his journey and his alone.  That her faith and her medicine was not the cause of his death.  That I would take away her sadness, her guilt and her grief … that she was free.  Her sadness, guilt and grief wrapped itself around my chest in the shape of barbed wire.  But I was strong … I knew that I could release myself from this, which in turn would release the beautiful grey haired woman … the woman that was me.  The Water Witch from the pond reached up and gave me a pair of cutters.  I could do this … I could release this once and for all.  I cut the wire that surrounded my chest, that wire which held me back from healing and loving once more.  It quickly unspun … disintergrating, along with all the grief, guilt and pain.  She was free … we were free … I was free!  She saw her grandmother and her son walking towards her.  Last I saw her, she was walking hand in hand with them.  Spirit never dies.

As I spoke with Julia, after an amazing healing from my grandmothers, my Goddess, my grandfathers, my animal totems and guides, my angels, ancestors and elders … I saw areas of my life where this vow/decision had showed up.  I have the most amazing son, whom I adore and who lives in Tasmania.  I also have a wonderful partner, who lives in SW Queensland.  I have struggled over the last 6 to 12 months, to decide if I move to be with my son or follow my heart to be with my partner.  It was this fear of letting my son go and trusting that no harm would come to him that was holding me back.  Was I going to make the wrong decision?  Trying to make that decision continued to cause me heartache, grief and guilt.  I love my son more than life itself and have always bought him up to live his own life … to do what is right for him.  However, I was unable to apply this to myself.  After my session with Julia I knew that it was time for me to love myself and trust that the move to be with the man I love is right.  And to trust that my son is living his own unique journey.

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Last night, I was drawn to become the keeper of Julia’s Butterfly Sister Witch Medicine Doll.  Despite her being the most beautiful doll, there was something about her that embodied so many of my loves and my fears.  Butterfly Sister is my connection … she is my little doll who I let go down the river … she has come back to me.  No longer am I lost … I am home.

I never saw myself as a healer.  I felt I had no special gifts.  My Swan Blessing past life session showed me that it does not need to be complicated and I do not need to judge my gifts.  That sometimes the most simple things like listening, understanding and compassion, can be the most powerful healing of all.

Thankyou just does not seem enough.  I knew today would be special.  What I didn’t know, was just how special or life changing it would be.  Still wrapped in the beautiful, loving arms of Swan.”  Sharon, 2016

It was a pleasure and honour to journey with Sharon and I remembered as we journeyed that Sharon had also attended a medicine doll circle the year before. How beautiful to discover that the medicine of doll making had been with her all along. Here is a photograph of the doll Sharon made in the circle –  and a confirmation of the ancestral story that was yet to be remembered. I’m sure there will be many more medicine dolls to pass through the hands of ‘the listener’ in the future.

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Swan Blessing Ancestral Ceremony and Doll Making Circle – 9th April, Melbourne (details)

Book a personal Swan Blessing session with Julia

Medicine Doll Tales from their Finders and Keepers

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I have been receiving so many beautiful stories from medicine doll keepers and I thought I would share some today. Often the real magic and mystery of a particular medicine doll isn’t known to me until I hear back from their new mama’s and keepers. Sometimes the doll only really wakes up and makes sense when she is finally in their home and their hands.

Above is a photo taken by the mother of these two faerie sisters who made a decision to take a wild adventure up to the natural spring at the top of Mt Donna Buang at dusk! on a school night! after their bath! and making them late for their dinner! Good adventures always take at least a little courage and rule-breaking don’t they? I love the image of the little girls in the twilight at the spring and seeing the Grandmother doll peeking out through the ferns.

“I was truly blessed a few weeks ago. After viewing a post on Instagram by @sacredfamiliar saying she had collected water that day from the pure natural springs up at Mt Donna Buang and in gratitude had left a Grandmother medicine doll as a gift to whom ever found her. Before reading those words on her post, I was first struck by the photo of the Grandmother doll…my heart opened with flooding warmth and a very strong instant connection developed with the medicine doll. As I continued on with my duties of preparing dinner that early evening, I just couldn’t get this beautiful connection off my mind,my strong intuition kept telling me to drive the 35kms up to Mt Donna Buang to see if the Grandmother medicine doll was waiting..So that’s what I did,after telling my girls what Julia had done and how I was feeling, we set off for a evening faerie adventure with no expectation.
The pure magical excitement on our arrival to the Springs was heart overflowing when we walked over and the Grandmother doll was waiting…waiting for us✨

Since speaking with Julia after receiving Grandmother Forest, she has told me of the story of her making and how she needed to be gifted and now I understand why my strong instinct to go and seek was so powerful and she has brought myself and my girls so much magical happiness.” Tania

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“We received a glorious package in the mail today. Just over 17 years ago, we suffered a miscarriage, during my first pregnancy. Our Baby M. We did not allow ourselves to mourn, we shut away the feelings, emotions, pain. We did not know how to mourn him. In our society, the loss of unborn babies, stillborn babies, & infants who pass are topics we tend to shun. We don’t discuss, we don’t say their names, all too often our babies & their memories are swept under the carpet. For us, it became all too clear to us that we needed to honor Baby M. A dear friend Julia happens to create these mystical, magical, love, medicine, & intention filled needle felted medicine dolls. This beautiful doll is named Star Grandmother. She represents the loving universal Grandmother holding our much loved Baby M in her arms, protecting & caring for him in the stars until we will be together again.” Dawn

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“Wild Child Companion… This beauty-full Grandmother Medicine Doll came to me unexpectedly from the hands of @sacredfamiliar two years ago upon the birth of a new moon… She found me swimming in a crocodile river in East Arnhem Land where I was practicing Indigenous Ecology with Ramingining Elders. I remember the moment so vividly… the delicious enveloping cool of the water after unrelenting body-softening heat, filtered sunlight dancing upon the ripples as I moved, the laughter of the children from the outstation, hand-lit fire running happily along the banks as we swam (to keep the crocs at bay!). She carries the wisdom of integrating Indigenous and Western knowings. A perfect synchronicity. She delights, enchants, and comforts the Wild Child in me, and has kindly agreed to be my companion on many rough bush adventures. My heart full of gratitude.

My dear Grandma was a true soul companion for my Wild Child self when I was little…I was not surprised when She decided to be the same…Such a wise playfulness present in Her (in the calm Old Wild way). She is a blessing.” Nymh

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And sometimes I receive a request for a medicine doll that feels so big and unknown to me personally but my heart wants to try and help and so I ask the Grandmothers to guide my hands and show me what to do. Last month I created a doll for a young man who has been self-harming, cutting himself. While I don’t understand all of the feelings that create this illness I do remember very well the confusion and pain of being a teenager and how hard it was to express myself. I have also experienced this same illness in a family member close to me – while I have no words or advice for something I don’t understand personally, this is where I feel a doll can come in and be a bridge between the adults and the child – a comfort and strength when words don’t really help anyway.

The medicine bundle included snakeskin, ancient fossils of sea flowers, sacred mapacho tobacco from ceremony and mountain ash resin – blood red resin from the tallest and strongest trees in Sherbrooke Forest. And finally the bundle called for moss and I thought about how moss was used not too long ago in many medicine practices to stem the flow of blood, to soothe, to soften… I also heard lots of music as I worked on the Grandfather doll. Guitars – loud! I knew that I had to include a guitar pick somewhere on the doll. When I asked the boy’s mother if he had a guitar and pick she could send she was surprised – she said that he used to love the guitar but had packed everything away when another boy had told me he couldn’t play well. I went to a guitar shop and bought a new pick for him but when I got home I couldn’t find it anywhere and Tony gifted one of his old picks – it had a red back spider on the front of it – the red worn off the spider from so much enjoyment in playing so many songs. I placed the spider pick on the back of the doll under his long hair.

When I sent the doll to the young boy’s mother she wrote to say how amazed she was – all these things were so significant and personal to him: the beloved guitar given away and being called back, moss that he had been excited to grow as a child and a piece of moss from they have kept from a trip to the mountains a few years ago before this time of difficulty and that one of his fears was of spiders and that having the spider with him would make him even stronger to face the rest of his fears.

Perhaps the spider is his shadow totem – an animal that we fear the most often has the biggest teachings for us in facing our fears and reconnecting to courage. When we embrace the shadow totem we actually call back elements and parts of spirit that are needed and this totem becomes a source of power.

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Each doll I make brings me so much joy. Even when the story is heavy, the doll is not and I love that we are beginning to talk about and share our stories – this is how we heal and remember that we are not alone. Each story is our story as a community and I’m grateful to Tania, Dawn, Nymh and this young man’s mother for sharing their stories and their hearts.

 

Medicine Doll Circle: April 9th – Singing Home the Ghosted Sisters

Adelina’s Mariposa – Dia de los Muertos

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Late last year I received a request from a beautiful Mexican family to create a medicine to hold the ashes of their beloved mother and grandmother, Adelina. I was very happy to create this doll for Daisy, Adelina’s daughter who I had come to know through her sister-in-law, Dawn, another beautiful soul who has gifted us with many beaded Huichol treasures for our dolls over the last year. And so I knew that Daisy’s dear mother was dying and how much this was a sacred time for her, how she took on the role as carer and wise guardian to walk her mother through the threshold of death and rebirth of her spirit. I was also honoured to be invited into this family and their beautiful Mexican ancestry and wisdom in honouring of the dead.

Yesterday it was my birthday and today in America where Daisy lives and Mexico where Adelina was born it is still February 15th. The link between birth and death is so strong, if felt like the right time to write this story.

I knew that one day, I would be asked to make a doll to such as this. But when it finally arrived I began to get nervous – what if this was too big a job for my skills? Could I really do this? I took this request on with love but also a lot of deep breathing. I don’t have anyone around me to teach me to do this, I thought but then I’ve always felt the presence of my own grandmother and ancient grandmother spirits when I work and so I just had to trust that they would show me the way.

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I wrapped the small parcel of ashes in softest merino wool and created a little altar with special blessed treasure that Daisy had sent to me. And still I waited to begin. I was waiting to feel really ready and strong to do this work that was so important to Adelina’s family. The realisation of this importance made it even harder for me to begin. I kept making excuses and I had to admit that I was becoming less confident in my ability to do this well enough for her family. I was also finding it confronting to have someone’s ashes, the remnants of their physical body sitting on my doll table. And I waited and waited…

One night I had a dream of running a little store selling all kinds of medicine tools and talismans. At the end of the day it was time to close up and as I was busy rushing around a small group of men dressed in white with embroidery on their shirts began to come and sit in a small circle in the middle of my shop. But I was busy, I had so many things to remember to do to make the shop run well and to close up properly. The men began to chant in a language that I didn’t recognise. They began to sing medicine songs. Under a table I noticed a small package of bones. I was so drawn to what the medicine singers were doing and singing but I kept thinking that I didn’t have time to stop, I had to lock up the shop.

When I woke up the next morning I knew that these men where either Adelina’s ancestors or spirit singers guarding and watching over her and that they were getting frustrated with me for making myself busy with all of my other jobs and avoiding the deep medicine work of creating this doll for Adelina’s family. I felt ashamed because they were right! I should have sat with them and listened to their songs, I realised the bones in the dream were a symbol of the sacred ashes I held on my table. I realised I could wait any longer to be ready or know more to begin – I just had to stop running around and start!

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I began by making a medicine shawl from a piece of felt gifted to me that was hand dyed with seaweed. I started to see stars and cosmic spirals. I used fibres that were dyed with flowers and I started to feel more and more confident about my own role in being the hands for the grandmothers to do their work. Each night I kept seeing the vastness of the cosmos and I remembered a boulder opal that reminded me of this feeling that I had been keeping for a special doll. At the same time I received hand blown glass bones adorned with flowers and the doll began to form very quickly.

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As she was forming in front of my eyes I began to feel such affection and love for Adelina and for her daughter Daisy for all of her trust. One night I worked very late until it was almost dawn. As I worked I felt the air become thick around me and I felt airy movements near my shoulders and arms and it felt like butterflies flying all around the room, all around me. I also heard a strong and clear message to ‘look at the date’. I felt it was a message to look at the date of when Adelina had passed from this world and I looked and found a remembrance photo posted by Daisy. When I looked at this photo I couldn’t believe it – Adelina and I shared the same birthday. She too had been born on February 15th. It was not the date of death that she wanted remembered by the date of birth. Rebirth! It felt like a big hug, like we were connected in this small way.

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Each day I felt Adelina’s urgency now to have this doll completed to be a source of comfort to her daughter. The last element was a Monarch butterfly placed on the doll’s hand to honour the late night visitors to my doll workshop and perhaps one of Adelina’s spirit animals. When I mentioned this to Dawn she said this was significant and that in Spanish the word for butterfly is Mariposa. I knew the medicine had her name now: Adelina’s Mariposa – a light spirit to hold the ashes of this beloved mother and grandmother and guardian to watch over and guide her family through their grief and eventually to a place of peace.

After I had sent the doll carrying the sacred ashes across the oceans to be with Daisy where she belonged, I found a photo of Daisy taken beside the altars in Mexico celebrating ancestors on Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I was stunned and happy to see that Daisy was wearing a Monarch Mariposa in her crown of flowers.

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There really are no accidents. So many more weavings and synchronicities occurred during the making of this most sacred of medicine dolls, Adelina’s Mariposa. I was changed after making this doll. I realised that this work is very precious to me and that I could do this work more. I also found that I was dedicating myself in a deeper way now to the practice of medicine doll making and to never forget that the ancestors are always watching, helping and if needed singing in our dreams.

Death is one of our biggest teachers. We cannot turn away or hide from this great mystery and yes it is confronting but also incredibly beautiful. I believe that death teaches us about what is truly important and how to love even more deeply. I send the deepest love and respect to Daisy and Dawn and their combined families. May this precious doll be an anchor to hold you through your grief and give you wings to lift your heart to love again. I thank Daisy for this honour and permission to share her story and for sharing the gentle and beautiful spirit of your mother, Adelina with us all. Happy birthday Adelina.

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Swan Blessing Story – Healer’s Vow to go Unseen

Imogen Cunningham

“No longer tarry in the in-between. In order to heal, you must be seen.” 

Today I share Lori’s Swan story of the healer who vowed to go unseen. It’s a story that I feel is a tale of remembering how innocent we all really are and how we were born this way. We have an ancient memory of women being punished for using ancestral medicine and healing. A memory and vow such as this can create a fear of our work being misunderstood and so we will find ways to only share our work between friends, only trusting those near and dear to us. We may find it very difficult to advertise our work or put it out in a public way. I find this very sad as it means many artists and healers don’t share their gifts with the world. Under the name Swurlygirl, Lori shares the ancient medicine of the wool worker. I have had the pleasure of receiving some of Lori’s hand-crafted woollen creations and these talismans are filled with such loving intention. Here is Lori’s story of the how she opened the door to share her spirit-filled creations with others again.

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Swan Blessing Story

“In 2007 I had been reunited, in a way, with the shamanic path. In all my studies and work, however, I’d always felt a deep fear that kept me closer to the edges of the path rather than walking confidently down the middle. This fear usually made itself known whenever I got closer or deeper into knowing myself – whenever there was talk of “knowing your medicine.”  I pushed onwards and tried to work through the fear. I became the assistant to a shamanic practitioner & teacher ~  however this fear was particularly strong and kept me from stepping any further in. In September 2012, during a shamanic journey to seek healing, I heard these words spoken to me:

“No longer tarry in the in-between. In order to heal, you must be seen.”

This gave me comfort and also terrified me at the same time.  I didn’t really know what to do next, so I kept the words inside, to unpack their medicine another day. That day came in July 2015, with the support of Julia & her Swan Blessing work.

As I listened to Julia’s voice gently directing me,  I came to a forest.  I recognized the land I was walking on ~ every tree and every blade of grass here. I had long golden hair and a long white dress on.  As I moved deeper into the forest, a deeper familiarity came to me as I saw the well and the waterfall.  I knew this place.

When I looked into the well, I saw Baba Yaga – An Cailleach, the wise crone looking back at me. As I looked into her eyes I could see all the faces of her – Her eyes were filled with warmth, looking into mine and I felt sadness and shame.  She took my hand in hers and told me she loved me and that she has always loved me.  Then she took me to where she lived – it was in a craggy paddock that I recognized from a shamanic journey I had done some years ago ~ hilly with bare stone showing through the grass in some parts.  There was a grove of trees beside us.  It was a warm, sunny day and a soft breeze was blowing.

She led me to a big black cauldron with a fire burning beneath it.  She was slowly stirring the cauldron and as she did so, she looked so powerful ~ like the embodiment of wisdom.  I looked into the cauldron and saw she was stirring a thick, dark liquid – like a resin of some kind – an amber coloured resin.  When I asked what the resin did, I felt a heaviness in my belly.  I then saw a woman coming up the hill to see the old crone ~ as she came closer into view, I saw that she was heavily pregnant and was wearing no clothing.  The woman came closer to the cauldron. She was afraid and kept looking over her shoulder that no one should see her there.  The crone took a cup, ladled some of the amber liquid into it and gave it to the woman to drink.  I then saw the woman was no longer pregnant and was a different person living an entirely different life.  Another woman came up the hill – an older woman this time and the amber liquid made her young again. I was shown where the crone slept and lived –  in a small room in a cottage in that forest.  Her bedroom was sparse with a cot, a small dresser and a window that looked out to the forest.  She lived there completely alone ~ no animals, no people, completely quiet.

I then saw the crone as a little girl of 5, with white-blond hair— in a similar woods ~ chasing after butterflies, laughing as she ran.  The animals in the forest – birds, deer ~ all playing with her.  She felt connected to everything and felt known to everything around her. There was no fear.  She understood the language of the world around her and the world understood her.  She  was so deeply happy and innocent.  She lived in a  little house made of stone & timber – she lived there with her grandparents.  When she ran into the house, both her grandfather & grandmother greeted her warmly.  The grandfather was standing at the big wooden table in the kitchen and was preparing vegetables and plants.  The grandmother was sitting across from the table in a big wooden armchair.  She was working some fine handwork embroidery into linen.  They both felt familiar to me – when I looked into their faces I recognized them as the people who had been my Baba & Geja (grandmother & grandfather) in my present lifetime.  My grandmother taught me the handwork and my grandfather taught me the plant work – together they made a talisman from the plants and the embroidered cloth.

The girl’s parents were not here.   I was then shown who they were.  I didn’t recognize the man who was the father, but when I looked into the eyes of the woman who was the mother,  I recognized them to be the eyes of someone I had known in my present lifetime, but am no longer in contact with.  The girl was being raised by her grandparents and taught their ways.

I was then shown the girl at 16.   It was night time in the forest and she was all alone.  She was dressed in black  and standing in the middle of the forest.  She was scared and alert. I could feel her heart beating so strong & fast.  It was dark, but she could see her way in the dark – I couldn’t hear anyone coming, but she knew they would be.  It was the townspeople that would be coming for her.

She showed me that, earlier that day, a very pregnant woman had come to her  seeking some kind of help – and that the girl did what she has been instructed to do to help the woman, however somehow, something appeared to go wrong and the woman, instead, became violently ill.  The girl tried to do what she could, but knew, if the woman’s people came for her, the girl could never explain what happened and that they would not understand if she did try to explain.  She consoled the woman the best she could, kept stroking her face and hair and telling her she was so sorry ~ she kissed the woman on the forehead and then ran into the forest. She could hear them coming and she began to run into the darkness and shape-shifted into a crow.  All I could see then, was a dark void.

I was then shown what had happened to the girl before this night.  She had been cast out of her family, by her people, specifically her mother, for being different from the rest of them.  Her mother, who was very pious in her outlook, did not approve of her daughter &  was afraid of her.  The girl was 15 years old.

I was then shown the young girl, maybe a few years later.  She was in a dirty night dress that looked like it had once been white.  She was inside a stone turret – a prison – alone, with irons on her wrists and her feet.  Her hair had been hacked off and I could hear people outside this place calling her a witch and a killer.  In this place I heard her say “ I will never show myself ever again.  I will never allow myself to seen ever again. “  I felt her cries inside and the deepest sadness.  I was then beside her as she was inside the fire being burned as a witch.  I saw the flames engulf her and she was completely silent.  She then turned into the brightest light and shot upwards to the stars.  She was free.

When I returned to the well, I held the Crone in front of me and breathed the deepest, strongest love into her – I felt all her sorrow melt away and she became bright and beautiful and free.

As she became free, I became bound – bound up so tightly with reams and reams of barbed wire from my ankles to my neck.  The binding was the tightest from my torso to my throat – binding my arms so tightly that I couldn’t move them.  I was given a tool by a Daughter of the Well that would cut the binding.  I managed to cut the first bit of binding, then more and more became loosened until my whole body was freed and the bindings disintegrated.

When I received the blessings of the Grandmothers –  I felt all the love of all of my ancestors ~ of all the medicine-keepers of my lineages ~ I felt light and free and full of love, truth and wisdom.  And I felt the peace of my ancestral name, Peace Carrier, so deeply, almost for the very first time.  I felt the words push through my heart:  I am truth.  I am love.  I am wisdom.

That feeling of peace and freedom stayed with me for days after the blessing. There were so many parts of my swan blessing story that I could connect to my present life – situations, things that I have lived through in this life that echo back to the past.  I was amazed at how many things connected to my present day. I was remembering, more clearly, all the time I spent with my maternal grandparents, the ones that I’d recognized in the Swan Blessing.  In this lifetime, my Baba taught me to work with wool and  how to craft with words.  My Geja worked with the earth, among many other things, he was a gardener and a man of plants.  We spent many mornings and afternoons exploring the land and forests around our summer cottage when I was younger.  He taught me about the earth and how to tend a garden.

In this lifetime, my grandparents taught me about the magic that is inherent in life.

The strongest affirmation and most magical thing, however, came shortly after the blessing.  Where I live now is a bit like where the young girl and the crone lived in my swan blessing.  I live on the ground floor of a house on the edge of a forest with many, many ferns, moss, towering cedars, pines and a roaring creek behind me, in the mountains on the west coast of Canada. Above me, lives a family with 2 young boys, aged 4 & 6.  The boys are friendly and whenever we happen to see each other, they like to tell me about their their toys or their mountain-biking adventures.  Usually, in the summertime, they are mostly running around with water guns, dropping water balloons or playing on their trampoline.  As I was writing to Julia a day or two after the blessing, there was a knock on my door.  It was the 6-yr old boy and he asked if he could show me a spell / potion that he was working on and if I could help him. I paused for a long moment because he had NEVER asked me this before, nor had I ever seen him engaged with the plants and the earth like this.  He was very insistent that I knew how to help him.  I broke into a big smile, remembering the Swan Blessing, and nodded my head that I could help him.  He said that it was an exploding spell.  And then he made another one to show me, which was a healing potion and then one potion that would do whatever was needed by what it touched.  That one, he put on the ferns and said that it would now affect ALL the ferns in the whole world AND that we had to program it  – he wanted to program some quite violent things, being a 6-year-old boy – but I convinced him towards a gentler approach ~ much to the relief of the dear ferns.  A few moments later, his mum was calling him in for dinner that was waiting for him, and he ran into the house.  I remained outside for a while ~ staring at the ferns and the forest, that seemed, now,  to be glowing with the most vibrant green life.  This was the work of the Swan Blessing.  I took a moment to say thank you again, to the Swan and the grandmothers, who, through Julia, brought me back to the love, truth and wisdom that I had been parted from so long ago.  And a word of gratitude to the spirit helper who whispered to me years before, “No longer tarry in the in-between. In order to heal, you must be seen.”

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I learned, many years ago, that it’s important for our healing, to be able to find something or some way to bring this “otherworldly” medicine into our mundane world.  So a few days after the blessing, I crafted a talisman to honour the work, my story and to help the blessing settle into my bones and ground into my everyday world, a guidepost to hold it all.  Whenever I may feel in doubt or filled with grief,  I sit with this talisman, the tangible reminder of the Swan and her blessing.

This blessing work truly shone a light on the seed of the fear that I have felt for most of my life.   It has been a sometimes slow, but steady process to sweep away so many cobwebs, however, since the Swan Blessing, I have felt a space open up inside of me that continues to grow.  I feel a far greater freedom  and confidence in my wool work – to incorporate word & plant medicine more openly into the creatures I weave, felt, knit, crochet, and stitch. I have also felt less fear in sharing this wool work with others.
Some days, the fire that was rekindled within me with the Swan Blessing burns bold and bright and on other days, it’s a little glimmer of a flame in the dark and an inner knowing that I am part of a great, deep flowing magic that I will never be parted from.

Infinities of love & gratitude, Swurlygirl 2016

I’m thrilled that Lori is sharing her gifts as wool worker more and more and setting up a space for herself online where people will be able to see what she does and request their own pieces of Swurlygirl magic. And I’m so happy that Lori knows that every time she creates she is honouring and even visiting with her grandparents again to thank them for all the ancestral medicine they shared with her as a child. Look at these new creations – the child and healer are now one – playing and showing herself again.

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Book a personal Swan Blessing ancestral medicine session with Julia.

Singing Home the Ghosted Sister – Swan Blessing ceremony and medicine doll workshop.

Image credit: Imogen Cunningham

Singing for the Ghosts – Medicine Dolls for the Outcast Dead

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How many of our own ancestors have been labelled as outcast? How many of us feel this label even now? Not too long ago, it was very easy for a woman to be made outcast and the energy and fear of being outcast for women even now, is huge. Very often all you have to do is rebel against the conventions of society to be labelled as a threat. It is especially strong when we break society’s rules around sexuality – the ultimate ‘original sin’ for women.

All of this is presented to me daily in my work with swan blessing as I work with clients to bring healing and acknowledgement to their lineage and at the same time become aware of and clear old beliefs of the pas. But then all I have to do is turn on the television to see all of these old beliefs and shaming ways are still presented to us as normal by our media and governments. I won’t lie, it troubles me. Sometimes it depresses me. But over the years I have found a way that helps me to make peace with the present and the past – to make offerings to the outcast dead. I often leave medicine dolls at natural places of great beauty – mountains and springs. But I have also begun leaving and sending dolls to places where ugly things have happened in the past. I believe that by sending our love and healing to these dark places we can re-enchant the earth and the bones of our ancestors.

In Melbourne, Australia I focussed much of this work on trying to heal and acknowledge the spirits of the women and children who were incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries for being wild and ‘fallen women’ (usually meaning pregnant). A girl could find herself in this institution just for being too free-thinking, running away from home or even because she was simply already an orphan – can you imagine being punished again for being without family?  Those girls were locked up until until they were women and made to work in the laundries without pay. This was done to women over a century ago and was continued right up until the 1970’s.

And so I am writing not only about the dead but about the many, many women who are still living with the memories of these institutions RIGHT NOW. I for one could have very easily have found myself in a similar place. I was just lucky enough to be born a little later, not much later but enough to have left home as a teenager and been left alone to make my own way. I believe the story of these incarcerations for being ‘fallen women’ are all our stories. We are all touched by them in some way or another – they live in us too.

I have been very moved and educated about the truth behind these practices by a talented and incredibly brave Australian artist, Rachael Romero  who was incarcerated in the Magdalene Laundries at the Covent of the Good Shepherd in South Australia in the 1970s. Her work rips at my heart and makes me cry but inevitable tells me the truth and this helps me to be stronger. To stand up and want to do something about it.

I have worked with living survivors but most of all I work with the spirits of these women and children. I am very passionate about letting those spirits know that they are not worthless or unloved or unwelcome as they had been told. I wanted them to know that we remember them, that we love them and that they have ancestors waiting for them too. I shared this work in a public way finally in 2013. It took all my courage to stop doing this work silently and I’m so glad I did because many of my sisters with such beautiful big medicine came to assist me. You can read more about this work I called Femmina Unbound at the Magdalene Laundries here in Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne.

I have always had a desire to help find and bring home the lost. Lost spirits and lost parts of our own spirits. The doll you see below is called BirdGirl of the Shetland Islands and she has the spirit of an owl – a night-time creature known for her wisdom and insight, and she is dressed in fibres from the Shetland Islands that beautiful wild Scottish land and pure Australian merino wool. She has a hand blown glass bone that sits over her heart and a quartz crystal with blood red inclusions over her womb. And so now I come full circle back to work with the spirits of the Outcast Dead. She was created for the women and children, the wild ‘Geese’ of the Crossbones Graveyard in London. I became aware of this graveyard 3 years ago as I was preparing to hold the ceremony for the girls of the Magdalene Laundries. The spirits of the Geese were speaking to me within the same group of the Magdalenes.

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And recently I was contacted by one of the amazing founders of the Cross Bones Graveyard, writer, poet and all round magical woman, Jacqueline Woodward-Smith. She found me through my writing on Deer medicine and the Antlered Women (I love the weaving!). Three years ago I wrote this piece below for our blog when I discovered the Cross Bones graveyard:

RIP the Outcast Dead
Re-Enchanting The Crossbones Graveyard

Sometimes, when Tony is asked to come out to do a clearing on someone or to clear spirit attachment from their home, it is not the person or building that is ‘haunted’ or unhappy, it is the land itself. The land carries histories of human life beyond what we can see with our eyes and much further back in time than the current residents can remember. This is when Tony is called to speak with the spirits of the earth and to clear and honour the traumatic events that have happened there so that the current tenants can live in harmony and peace. In our current culture we have not been taught to understand that we are residing on a living organism – the body of the Earth. Just as we carry emotional and physical scars long after a traumatic event, the spirit of the land also carries energetic wounds. We have found that very often what is required is an honouring of the event and the souls that were involved, quite simply, what is needed is for us to acknowledge and remember.
An example of this honouring can be found at what is known as The Cross Bones Graveyard in London. In operation at around 1598, it was a graveyard that the church would not consecrate because it was for the hundreds of young prostitutes known as the Winchester Geese. Ironically and terribly they were known as the Winchester Geese because they were actually licensed by the Bishop of Winchester as the church held so much power in London at the time. So they were in effect, licensed and managed by a church that would not bless the ground that they were buried in – damned in life and damned in death. In the victorian era it was known as a pauper’s graveyard and at the time of closing in 1853 it was ‘completely overcharged with the dead’. Long since forgotten and neglected, it was only during excavations in 1991 that it was rediscovered.What you see in the image below are the honourings and blessings for the forgotten Winchester Geese. And this was all made possible by the work of playwright, John Constable who together with a small informal local group, Friends of Cross Bones, fought to save it from redevelopment and to honour it for the very first time as a sacred space. In the image below you see many names on ribbons, naming the women and children buried here. John Constable has also written The Southwark Mysteries, a cycle of poems and mystery plays inspired directly by the spirit of a ‘Winchester Goose’.Now this site is open for visitors to pay their respects and to finally remember the Outcast Dead and because of it, this sacred site has been re-enchanted and become a place of positivity and healing. Just as your own spirit yearns for re-enchantment, for the honouring of it’s sacred essence, so does the land that we live on. She needs your love too.Here is a link to the full post with photos and videos
I am over the moon to find a sister like Jacqueline – in the first photo I ever saw of her she was holding a Swan smudging fan outside the gates of the Cross Bones Graveyard – I really couldn’t believe it – so many synchronicities between us.  Sometimes we can feel so alone in our work, like we are scrambling around in the dark and then you find a sister on the other side of the world doing very similar work. I’d love to see a similar permanent place of honouring and love at the gates of the Magdalene Laundries where we can come and leave tributes and remember and sing for them too.I am sending the BirdGirl to a dear friend who will meet with Jacqueline to sing as she gifts the doll to the spirits of the wild Geese and sing over the bones of the graveyard. In a way she will be a part of me there until I can make it in person later this year. I am excited to be doing this work and planning a new ancestral trip with Tony to visit Scotland and England. We hope to share Swan Blessing work with our sisters and brothers across the ocean and also hold medicine doll workshops too.  A singing over the bones journey to our ancestors or the ‘caves and graves tour’ as I keep telling Tony.Here is a link to the Cross Bones Facebook page where you can join in vigils and events and if you are in London you should pop in.

I share this today to hopefully inspire you to make small acts of your own, offerings of love and acknowledgement to our ancestors especially those who were told they were outcast. In our small ways we can call them back into the circle of our lineage. The healing is for us all.

Sacred Familiar new moon offering