Swan Blessing Story – Leaving the Grey Life Behind

“The swans beak presses against the back of my heart, and her wings wrap around me. The child and the grandmother. My inner child and my wise woman. Fled in fear, destroyed and separated. Yet leaving messages to be understood down the path of time, to return home to this place of light. To shine. And work the magic of our lineage that can not be destroyed.”

There is memory in our own DNA and spirit of the experiences and stories lived by our ancestors. Sometimes these memories are full of fear and guilt and at first they feel like they are part of our present experience but the more we journey with them we see how they are strange and irrational. We somehow know that they are part of us but do not belong to us.  Today I share Rachel’s story of journeying with the Swan along her own ancestral line to uncover and release a chain of guilt and shame that has been buried deep in her ancestry. I’m so happy that the child and the grandmother – the inner child and wise woman can now play freely again. The knowledge of the plants and nature is part of Rachel’s ancestral folklore and it can be shared and received as it was intended – as a wise and beautiful inheritance.

Swan Blessing Story:

“I enter a restful peaceful forested glade. I approach a waterfall, which cascades into a deep glade. The water falls across my head and down my face. I am on my knees, gazing into the deep pool of water. I see the faces of two women. Both with stories to tell. Fading in and out of view. One as old as this place. With long white hair, and eyes full of wisdom. The other, a younger woman – I feel her fragility. Some nervousness. She wears a finely tailored dress of a servant, and is in her mid twenties. It is her that I receive.
I am in the basement of a Georgian/Victorian terrace home. It is the servant quarters. There is the smallest sliver of light coming through from a window to the city street above. It is here that I sleep and mend. Above is a family who I work for. I feel very alone and feel judged and avoided by other servants and domestics that I come into contact with. I am full of a sense of otherness, of escapism. I go to the very back of the room. I lift a rug to show a ‘grate’ that covers a deep hole in the ground. I feel I must confess it is a very dark energy that comes from this ‘pit’. This vortex. I feel I must appear to not invite this energy. Yet it is here that I lay and dream. The rug back once again, overlaying this deep ‘vortex’.
I cannot tell you what it is that I dream here, only that I am full of dreams. Perhaps it is to sew. Yet, with the ink stain on my finger, I know that I dream to write. Immediately, a vision. I, she, am sitting naked and cross legged, a pure energy being, over that vortex of energy that is rising up from the ground. I/she is connected to Source. I am beyond time and place. This is in answer to your question. We travel to a forest. A long way away from this city. I am a child. I am with my Grandmother being led on a gentle path through a tall forest filled with light. I feel safe, warm, and led by this woman who shows me herbs with her beautiful old and perfect hands. I live here with my Grandmother. We live in a wooden house surrounded by trees. Imediately time and memory becomes fragmented.
I am both hovering above a scene with uniformed soldiers who are attacking my Grandmother who lies on the floor, imploring me in her mind, with the last of her vital energy to escape this place. They wear dark clothes, angular. There is fire in the forest surrounding our home. I am running and running as fast as I can in the direction my Grandmother pointed. It is as if the great white light that surrounded my Grandmother and our home was the reason the soldiers came. I understand that the gifts of our lineage that were manifest in the material realm will emerge in perfect time. It is that light that still protects me and leads me home. I ran and ran as our home was surely ground to ash. In the years that followed I was taken in by a family, with whom I did a lot of farm chores. When I became a young woman I was sent away to work as a domestic in this city. Perhaps over the ocean.
I come to the glade. To the waterfall. I and she stand face to face. I take her hands in mine. I gaze into her brown eyes, her innocent face. What is there to say to this woman, my mother of my mothers. ‘It was not your fault. It is time to release the guilt at your Grandmothers death’. I feel a release and know that the heaviness that infused her life, is the heaviness that infuses mine, and the hiding, the fear of being safe, and the burden of carrying a gift that can not be expressed. We are back in the forest, behind the veil, of the veil. The Grandmother is there, and the child runs to her and is taken in her arms. It is as it was, once again. As it should be. The rightful place. Hand in hand, learning the lore of the land, protected and safe to grow into a woman who channels this light. The swans beak presses against the back of my heart, and her wings wrap around me. The child and the grandmother. My inner child and my wise woman. Fled in fear, destroyed and separated. Yet leaving messages to be understood down the path of time, to return home to this place of light. To shine. And work the magic of our lineage that can not be destroyed.
As stood with binding around me. White cotton first, that fell, and I felt a weight lifting. I didn’t need to be silent anymore. Underneath were chains, and I had a brief moment of fear, and felt the pull into darkening visions. Julia was intuitive, strong and didn’t falter with her direction for me to make the choice. It was a clear choice. I let the chains fall. This was the moment of reckoning. I had carried those chains for lifetimes along bloodlines, and there was nothing left for me to gain from them. Metal chains of guilt, taken on by the innocent, and which held me trapped in fear – Fears that my light made me unsafe, and would bring violence and trauma upon me and those I love. I was carrying a story that my truest soul expression, this expression of the Earth song had no place in this world. That this expression and its power to heal was of a time past, destroyed. I needed to grow up, and face the reality of a grey life – Grow up before my time, into a world without the wisdom of the Elders who held the interconnected web of life in their being. It didn’t feel like the end of a journey. I felt clear, curious and gently driven to experience the world, and myself without the weight of a thousand lifetimes!!!
I had been witnessed, and I had heard my voice after what felt like such a long time. I had new affirmations to practice morning and night – affirmations of the energetic vibration that I put out to the world. I immediately felt the power of these affirmations, extending outwards from me with love, expression of Source . For me, this is the work, to take one step after the next, embodying this wisdom, these choices, this deep soul work – this work that would not have happened without Julia. I feel so grateful to her and her work in the world. Also that she introduced me to the Swan, whose gentle love never falters, is patient, clear and true, and supports me when I call.”
Rachel 2017
I was so happy to read about Rachel’s current work leading children into the Living Classroom – leading them into the Australian bush to find bush tucker, to know what plants are and do, what is edible and full of healing. Thank you Rachel for sharing your beautiful story and opening your arms to your grandmothers again. I hope it has helps anyone who is reading and feeling relating to this story. These stories are all of our stories. They are an opening again for us all to our ancestral folklore and natural inheritance.

Swan Blessing for the Seer of Cornwall

At this Equinox morning I am excited to share with you the Swan Blessing story of the reclaiming of ancestral medicine by Cornish healer and teacher of the Blood Mysteries, Mandy Adams. Just over a year ago I awoke from a dream of watching light on the ocean and heard the name ‘Cornwall’ spoken very clearly to me. I had already been planning to visit my own ancestral lands of Scotland but this call to visit Cornwall came directly from the spirit of the Swan. When I mentioned that I was travelling to Cornwall to Jane Hardwicke Collings the creator and Womens Mysteries teacher of the School of Shamanic Womancraft she told me about the work of Mandy Adams.

When I got in touch with Mandy I was thrilled to see the work she was doing. I could see we had much in common as talked about lineage and healer herbalists of the past and the need to heal fear of walking these ancestral paths again. Mandy spoke with such a deep love and connection to her homeland of Cornwall and her long line of grandmothers who were midwives and all born and bred in that ancient land. But the more we talked, the more Mandy became aware of a feeling of holding back from offering her work teaching women, young and old about the spiritual practice of menstruality. How even though this was her deepest most beloved work, there was a fear of something old…a memory of being persecuted for sharing ancient mysteries. And so we made a time to journey together with Swan Blessing to see where this was coming from and how to prevent the niggling feeling to work undercover.

Last October I got to meet Mandy in person and even better, we met at a place most sacred to her in Cornwall, Cary Euny which is where I took the photos above. In this ancient Iron Age stone village I could feel just how connected Mandy was to her land and that she belonged to it. There was such a serenity emanating from Mandy as she stood in this place, her connection was long and deep. She guided us into the stone temple space underground that had been reserved for women’s ceremonies and we chanted into the illuminated green stones. Phosphorescent moss!! It covered the stones inside the dark temple space so that when it was hit by the light the whole round space glowed bright green! I have never seen anything like it and will always connect this magical site to Mandy and her lineage of healers. Here is a little video that I shot inside the glowing temple with Mandy at Carn Euny.

 

Yesterday Mandy launched her new website !! proudly sharing the mysteries and spiritual magic of menarche, motherhood and menopause. I am so happy to see her sharing her wisdom with freedom and grace and I now share the story of the vow that needed to be released to help her to do it.

Swan Blessing Story:

‘I Mandy am Seer and Healer. I now choose to allow my medicine to flow through me again. I find courage when I am afraid. I nourish those around me with my words. It is safe to stay connected, and my gift in doing so allows others to come back into connection also’.

“Julia leads me on a shamanic journey. I am made aware of my body and any feelings of pain or tightness. I am asked to send love to these areas and through the water in every cell of my body – to flood my whole body with love. Julia asks me to call upon the Grandmother of my land, the ancient ancient grandmother of Cornwall. Place of my home, place of my birth and place of my long long line of ancestors who stand behind me. I feel this ancient ancient Grandmother holding my feet with her warm warm hands and I feel my body melt into being held by Her. I am surrounded by green and the trees that encircle me are the trees that have bared witness to my entire soul journey. They recognise me and I welcome in this ancient woodland. I call upon all my spirit guides, spirit animals and plants. I am surrounded by them. They encircle me and send encouragement towards me. The circle that I am held in reminds me that I am never alone and the love that enfolds me is tangible. I move my arms and it feels like a thick jelly-like sphere that moves with me as my spirit tribe holds me.

I am led to a waterfall and as I enter I feel my body. I am renewed and connected. Connected to the long thread of lives that I have lived. Moving all the way back and all the way forward, with me now as observer. I peer into the deep deep pool of water beside the waterfall. I see the face of an old woman. She has grey wavy hair. It is wild like mine. She has brown weathered skin and deep brown eyes. She belongs to the land. She takes me inside her roundhouse. It is full of drying herbs, foods and many many things are stored and being preserved by the fire. We sit and I watch her offering food to all the people who regularly come to visit her. They sit with her and she gives them what they need. It is nothing fancy or unusual it is simple. She is listening. She listens to their stories and offers nourishment. Each visitor is delighted to receive her knowing and the connections she can make between their dreams, their daily living and their longing. She is known for her ability to ‘reconnect’ the individuals who visit. Her insight and embodiment are part of her gift to her tribe. She is a ‘Seer’.

I am taken further back to watching her as a girl learning her skills. She is left to play and watch alongside her mother. She gathers food, plays on the cliffs among the wild flowers and rests on the granite stones all around the landscape. She is free to listen to nature, the plants, the animals, and she is filled with a joy of life and living.

I see her in the middle of her life with her children around her and her beginning to notice the change in her people as shining metal soldiers walking and with horses begin to live nearby. They are Roman and there is a desire in many to be seen as ‘civilized’ as those they understand the newcomers in square houses to be. There is fear and greed and a sense of striving, which was not here before.

I am taken to the time in this life when I die. I am being asked to conform in someway. To bow down to the holy Roman empire – to kiss the ring of the general in submission to their power over my land. I will not conform. I will not avert my eyes. I will not abandon my land or my people. One by one my children (now adults with families of their own) are killed before me. Each defiant and wet with tears that it is the right thing to do. I will not abandon what I know to be the living power within me, and my land. I am ridiculed as my eyes are burned with a red hot stick. “See now Seer of Cornwall” they jaunt. I have been weeping bitterly but can no longer weep, grief and rage consume me as I fall to my knees.

I am taken to view the scene from above. I am hanging from a tree. I have been bound with ivy, my hands tied behind my lower back. I am broken and I make a vow:

‘I must be invisible, I must not be seen, I must stay small. I have caused so much suffering to my family and my tribe. I must hide my medicine.’

I am taken to embrace the spirit of this ancient self. I forgive this Self as there is nothing I feel that needs forgiving. We hold one another in love and I am given a blade made of bronze to cut the ivy that is binding this oath to me. We merge into one.

I make a new vow now as myself:

‘I Mandy am Seer and Healer. I now choose to allow my medicine to flow through me again. I find courage when I am afraid. I nourish those around me with my words. It is safe to stay connected, and my gift in doing so allows others to come back into connection also’.

I am aware of a huge swan standing behind me, her wings are encircling me and her body is pressed against mine, with her beak at the back of my neck. She gives me a feather and gently brushes me with it.”

Mandy Adams, 2016

 

Thank you Mandy for sharing your story and the work of your heart and lineage at www.mandyadams.uk and Red Tent Cornwall. I am standing with you in this ‘revolution of courage and bravery to all women ready to step into their calling’!

Swan Blessing Story for the Magical Jeweller – Clearing the Fear to Shine

Artwork: Sidney Sime (1865-1941)

How often do we allow ourselves to not only be seen but to truly shine? What beliefs do we hold about standing out or being unique and different? Through my work with Swan Blessing and our ancestral folklore, I have seen that many people often shield or veil their light so as not to offend others or attract jealousy or believe it will bring dangerous attention. In previous times perhaps this was true but I am happy to see that society is gradually changing and we are becoming much more acceptable of many different expressions of beauty.

Today I share the Swan Blessing story of Camille and her past life memory of a child’s love of adornment and exquisite jewellery that became tainted and damaged and led to a fear of shining too brightly or not being worthy to wear beauty. It should come as no surprise that my relationship to the artist Vali Myers, led Camille to me – Vali is a huge inspiration for Camille and she was the queen of adornment. When I had the pleasure of getting ready to go out with Vali I used to laugh and think of Coco Chanel who said: ‘Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off’ – Vali used to do the exact opposite. She was always adding a flower in her hair, another ring, a scarf… I loved her for this because she taught me that we must dress to please only ourselves. Vali was also one of the only women I ever met who could truly meet her reflection in the mirror and flirt with herself. Oh, and Vali’s jewels were legendary and absolutely they were magical talismans.

And how did we forget the magic and power of a jewel – made from crystals and metals from deep in the earth and worn against our body every day?

Camille’s Swan story brings so much happiness to me because her jewels are otherworldly and full of magic and are the perfect reflection of her heart.

SWAN BLESSING STORY:

“I’m a jewelry designer, and this is the story of how Julia and her Swan Blessing made my wildest dreams possible.

A few years ago, I was working a soul-sucking corporate job and I realized that if I wore all my colorful vintage necklaces to work, I was happy despite sitting in a depressing office doing mindless tasks among old guys in grey suits.

My adornments were my magical talismans against that dreary world – brightening each boring day, keeping me upbeat, reminding me that I too was brighter than my surroundings and inspiring me to get out of there. So I went after my dream job.

When I walked into Harper’s Bazaar on my very first day of work, I was more than a little nervous but I looked down at my colorful necklaces and smiled – I was bright, I was bold, I could do this. And the next year, when I had to go to a friend’s birthday party a few days after getting laid off, I got decked out in all of my necklaces and finally felt ready to leave my sofa and face the world. I desperately wanted share this magic with other women by designing my own necklaces – more wonderfully vibrant and enormous and colorful than any pieces I could find in stores – full on glorious, powerful talismans. But soon I started to doubt myself. “Who would actually wear something this bright and colorful?” I worried, “This is too much, no one else will actually like this, this is too weird.” So eventually I toned down my vision and spent the next few years designing simpler, smaller, more “normal” necklaces that I thought would sell.

Happiness and inspiration and color drained from my life.

Around this time, I came across Julia on Instagram and I immediately wanted to do a Swan Blessing session to see my previous lives, but since I live in New York City and she’s in Australia, I told myself it was something for the future – I thought that doing it over Skype wouldn’t be as “effective” as doing it in-person. But a few weeks ago, I knew, somehow deep inside, that it was time, despite being halfway across the world, despite being busy with life, despite thinking “who am I to do this?” and despite being scared of what I might see.

The moment I connected with Julia over Skype, I felt like I was sitting right across from Julia in her beautiful, peaceful forest home. Her ancient knowledge, deep wisdom and magic shone right through my laptop screen and the city noises outside my window disappeared.

She pulled two tarot cards for me and each hit at the very heart of what I was going through. The Seven of Earth showed that I was beginning to plant new seeds, zeroing in on my true vision. The Shaman card spoke to my power, that I always knew I had deep inside, to share the incredible magic of adornment. I was very nervous and also very excited, because it was actually happening, Julia was going to take me hundreds of years back.

She began guiding me into the journey, telling me of all the grandmothers who were there next to me supporting me, and I saw them and I knew that they had always been there for me. Next Julia guided me through a forest with sun filtering through the tallest trees and I felt the dirt beneath my feet and my arms open in awe as I walked upon the earth, looking up at the dazzling branches so high they seemed to go on forever.

Julia led me to the water, and I looked in and saw my own face, and then looked deeper and saw another woman who was so unlike anyone I had expected to see when imagining what this journey would be like (real life is always so much more beautiful than we ever imagine!). She had cloudy blue eyes, she was blind, and her light brown hair was dry and shorn, like someone who didn’t care had cut it off in chunks with a pair of old, rusty scissors. Her clothes were dirty and ripped, but her face was still pure and she was smiling sincerely, and though she was blind, her eyes were seeing and deep – like gorgeous opals. She was so happy to see me, she had been waiting.

This woman who I knew now was me in a past life, was so light and joyful despite the state she was in….She led me through to her world, as Julia guided me, always asking what I saw, and whenever I wasn’t sure, Julia gently helped me look in a way that I could see – so really, there is no way to “not get” or “mess up” this journey as I had feared! We were in Cornwall, England, in the medieval times.

The woman was now a young, eager girl, her light brown hair shining and her face full of freckles, smiling so wide. She was happy and energetic, the spirit of a wild, curious girl, as she pulled me by the hand through a bustling market, full of vendors and the glory of daily life. She was at home here, this was her happy place where she went every day. She was so excited to show me everything there that she loved and I knew the vendors and people there loved her too.

I recognized this feeling as the same excited feeling I had when hunting through my favorite vintage and antique markets for bright treasures for my necklaces, bonding with vendors over the shared love of some incredible pendant, and spending hours just wondering and seeing beautiful things. A Sunday at the market had always spoken to my soul more than any yoga class or other “spiritual” activity, but I had forgotten that…

Next, the girl showed me where she lived, which I immediately knew was a sadder place for her than the market – a light colored stone house with a thatched roof on top of a sloping green hill at the edge of the forest. She lived with her brother, who was only a few years older but who cared for her – her parents were dead. They had been killed in a fire after she accidentally left the stove burning. Everyone told her she was careless and she believed them and blamed herself for their deaths.

Yet her happiness was so strong it still shone through despite this. She would gather bright red berries from the bushes at the edge of the forest, squishing them in her hands and painting her face and running around laughing in the sun with wild abandon, full of so much energy. Watching her, I realized that this was her gift – using vibrant adornment to bring out happiness and joy and inspiration and life.

But then Julia guided me to see this girl when she was a few years older. She was sullen and quiet now, the perfect picture of obedience. Her hair was pulled back, her hands were behind her back, her apron was tied on perfectly over her dress, her eyes gazing down – all the color and life was gone from her face. Her brother and other adults hadn’t seen her gift of joyful, wild adornment as a gift at all – they thought it was simply a silly child’s game and that it was time for her to get serious and do more important things. She automatically believed them – they were adults so they had to be right, right? She was very careful to not be too loud, too outgoing, too wild, too much. She began selling apples in the marketplace every day, the same place that had once brought her so much joy.

She stood silent at the edge of the market in her plain clothes and bare face, looking down at the basket of apples at her feet. She felt so self-concious and small, like she was nothing and so she was and every shopper passed her by, making her feel even more inadequate. Often, her eyes filled with tears.

But there was one thing that made her happy and brought her back to life – a gorgeous, shining gold locket that she secretly wore around her neck under her dress. She would reach up to hold it whenever she felt down and it would bring her so much hope and joy.

“Where did she get the locket?” Julia asked me, and I knew at once that she had stolen it…I saw her opening a wooden drawer, eyes lighting up at the sight of this necklace, like a starving person who finally sees food.

Now I saw her standing at the top of a hill, holding the locket up to the sky, her beautiful treasure, and there were storm clouds in the distance and a band of men wearing black hooded capes approaching her. They were coming for her and she knew it. The leader of the men was chubby and pale with small eyes, a dumb bully. He was laughing at her, giddy in his power over this beautiful girl who would never notice him otherwise. He smiled and said “this is what you get pretty little girl for stealing beautiful things, now you’ll never be able to see beauty and steal it again!” And he laughed more as he slashed her face, blinding her, and the mob of men descended, kicking her, joyful in this act that was just a game for them, their daily amusement, as she curled up in the dust.

The girl was too ashamed and embarrassed to return home to ask her brother for help, so she went to the forest. The trees comforted her and took her in and taught her, she learned their ways and the ways of the glorious plants. She loved her solitude in this forest, where she could finally relax and be herself, and she lived there alone for the rest of her life. I saw her now as an old woman, laying beneath her favorite tree, her tree, arms wide open to the sky, smiling so much and so sincerely and peacefully, happy at the end of her life despite all she had been through. And that is how she died.

Julia now led me back to the water, and I saw that these past experiences had made me doubt the power of colorful, bright adornment and hide my gifts because I was scared of not fitting in, of being mocked, of being judged by my family and others, and being harmed.

I didn’t think it was safe to be myself.

All of these fears had festered in my soul for centuries, creating an iron rope tied around my chest and knotted right over my heart. I immediately recognized this rope and knew it was real – whenever I was designing, I had trouble breathing and literally had to force myself to inhale and exhale. I thought I was just anxious and stressed, or maybe that I drank too much coffee. A water maiden held out a tool for me to use to cut off this rope, and Julia told me that I had created it so I could remove it too. The second I cut into it, it just disappeared, as if it was nothing at all…

I embraced my old self and we smiled at each other – I forgave her for stealing, for thinking she had to be “normal” and “fit in”, for being ashamed of her true self, and I understood why she did it all – society back then (and sadly, sometimes even in our modern society today) saw colorful and fun adornment as inappropriate and frivolous. I realized that her brother was only doing what he thought was best for her, trying to direct her life in a way that he thought would keep her safe.

Now the grandmothers were all around me, singing of my gifts to me – my gift of creating and sharing magical, powerful adornments, the gift that I had doubted was important or even real…and then Julia led me gently back to my apartment and I opened my eyes.

I tried to take off my rings before going to sleep, but they wouldn’t budge – my fingers were swollen like after a long flight. I really had traveled a long way.

The next morning I woke up and began creating the glorious necklaces that I had been dying to share for many centuries and many lifetimes. I know now that it’s true – that what we wear can change our mood, our day, our life, and when we adorn ourselves with all that is colorful, unique, vibrant and wild, we smile more, we have more energy, we remember our own bold power and stay true to our own beautiful unique selves. We’re inspired to share all our colors with the world and go after our wildest dreams.

I am so happy to finally be free of my old fears that kept me quiet and small for so long, and when my old doubts resurface or life gets me down, I know how to lift myself up and re-ignite my joy – I put on one of these talismans. Wear yours every day, you never need to tone yourself down, you are never too much, too bright, too big, too bold, too colorful – you can be your full on, shimmering self every moment of your life, and just smile at anyone who thinks otherwise, because they are the ones who need color most of all.

I am so grateful to Julia and her Swan Blessing, she gave me back my life, my freedom, my happiness. If you feel as if something is holding you back, reach out to her and go on your journey – your true self is waiting for you and Julia will guide you there so safely and gently.”

Love, Camille

 

Thank you Camille for sharing your personal story and folklore of the talisman. I’m so happy that you are shining and creating again. Below is a beautiful necklace that Camille created in dedication to her love for Vali Myers. It’s called the Vali necklace and in real life is so beautiful and huge like a jewelled shield for the heart – not to hide but to illuminate even more brightly.

Swan Blessing bookings link.

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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Veil Nebula

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

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

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.

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