Tag: Ancestral folklore

Swan Blessing Story: White Raven and the Vow to Never Do Harm

I made this doll for Kristen after she journeyed through her Swan Blessing session. There were many clues and hints in this doll for new surprise and gifts that were coming to Kristen but were unknown to us both at the time. But they were known to the dolls…
Today I share Kristen’s beautiful Swan story because I feel it touches on an old belief and fear that we carry as women from the Burning Times – that somehow working with nature and magic means that we are doing harm. Or the fear that what we are doing will be misunderstood and lied about and we will be labelled as our great grandmother witches and healers were and persecuted for it.
When I sat in session with Kristen I was very moved because I could feel how pure and rare her spirit was. It’s always a gift and honour for me to sit in Swan Blessing because I too receive so much. Something really unique was happening as I sat with Kristen, it was as if an older part of myself somehow recognised her. Often, before a Swan Blessing session people tell me that I visit them in dreams. It’s never something I intend or do consciously but I’m always happy to hear that this happens as if the Swan has made introductions. It wasn’t until she wrote and sent me her Swan story afterwards that she told me about the dream she had before we even laid eyes on each other:
“First I want to tell you about the dream I had the night before the Swan Blessing. I was speaking with you and a friend of yours, a maiden helper- deciding about some sort of round symboled jewels to wear on my third eye. I did not recognize any of the symbols; some had animal spirits, but none of them spoke to me even though they were all so beautiful. We began talking about Iceland, and we traveled together to the volcanic rocks outside of Keflavik along the coast. You shapeshifted into an Elf Woman as I told you a story about my son seeing a troll among the rocks. You were speaking Icelandic, in a trance- your pupils were pinpoints, your ears were slightly pointed. You stayed that way, speaking Icelandic in trance until I woke up.”
And now for the retelling of my Swan Blessing:
‘As I looked into the pool, I saw myself- I was young and had very long red, wavy hair. As the well water rippled I saw a woman, ancient and weathered, with hair like mine but white and gray. I followed her and we arrived at her home in the woods where she lived alone. It was a small cottage, well taken care of, but round and the light was dappled and happy though the leaves of the great trees towering above us. She was used to being alone and moved with ease as she led me down the carefully laid stones to the house. On her arm she carried a basket filled with plants and roots and along the pathway and surrounding the house were a number of plants used for medicines. We walked in and I saw more plants hanging for drying, and others that were piled along the table. There was one window in the house- one chair, one table, a hearth and a bed. There were other plants in clay pots and jars on shelves.
I was aware that people would come find her in the woods for her medicines and for her Sight. A woman came for medicine and looked wary of being there. She was cloaked, but desperate for the old woman’s help, for the old woman not only worked with plants but very secretly, very carefully and covertly worked in other ways- in the other realms. Her Grandmother had taught her the ways of the forest, the Old Ways, the Spirit of the Plants and the ways of healing with the Earth. She was so pleased to learn and thought her Grandmother the most powerful and kind of all people. Her Grandmother handed her Rosemary- something very important, a pausing, a way of remembering. This was for her to keep for herself, a totem of the Medicine she was teaching her, the same way her Grandmother had taught her and so on and so on. The ancestral lineage passed on from many lifetimes. I felt so deeply connected and so grateful. We flashed back to when the old woman was a young woman. She was gathering plants with her Grandmother, walking along the side of small cottage which the two of them shared. She was feeling a deep heaviness and like the plants and the life she was bound to was a burden- She felt like she wanted to marry- she was so angry, so angry at her Mother. Her Mother was gone.
It was hard to look. Her Mother had died in a fire, a witch’s burning. She died with three other women who were also burned;  for practicing her Sacred Medicine. Her Mother had long blonde hair. She watched from the very back of the crowd, cloaked and stood next to her Grandmother. Before the burning was complete, her Grandmother hurried her away, deep into the forest and taught her the Old Ways. She was only about 16 at the time and did not understand everything, for she promised to Never do Harm- something her Mother was accused of, although she never actually caused any harm. All of the cycles of life had become confused all around her. She vowed to stay alone, she felt deeply burdened by this responsibility- to practice the Medicine, what her Grandmother told her was the most important thing. More important than anything else. When she died, there was a woman and a child with her, possibly her own daughter and granddaughter. As she took her last breath she turned to face the single window of the house and focused on the doe just outside. As she took her last breath, she saw nothing but the doe.
The bound agreement of the burden of the life of a healer, the obligation of healing, the solitude, and the vow to Never do Harm manifested into thick jungle vines. They wove themselves around me, around my torso and began to tighten like a vice. It was hard to breathe. The well woman gave me a ball of light in each hand to cut the vines, and with this action the Story and the agreements, the burden, the lies, and the confusion withered away dissolving into light.
Then it was me- the Red haired maiden and the Blonde Mother as One- surrounded by all of our Grandmothers from the well woman and her Grandmother and her Grandmother and so on and so on- the circle around us was grand indeed. My crown was made of roses and rosemary, and the White Raven came and rested on my left shoulder. I was washed clean.”
I will say, the following week after this blessing I sat down in meditation and the White Raven came back- this time flying into my womb and settling in for the long haul. It has not left me since. Thank you for this opportunity for deep connection with myself, with my ancestors, and with those to come.
Blessings and Love, Kristen
May we all come to the place of being able to offer the gifts of our lineage and ancestral folklore with love and trust again. We are pure and have always been this way. The path of the herbalist and healer is sacred to the earth and in balance with the ways of the land. Thank you Kristen for sharing your Swan story and your dream.

Revealing the Hagstone – Swan Blessing Story of the Weaving Healer

Today I share Lori’s Swan Blessing story of the ‘weaving healer’. Ever since returning from Cornwall last year where I was given my first hagstone that I carried with me through Ireland and Scotland I began to feel a deepening of the Swan Blessing work. In honour of these magical stones that feature a hole made by the elements wind and water and were rumoured to show the ‘otherworld’ when looked through, I created new Swan Blessing sessions called The Hagstone. The focus of these sessions was to unblock or recover our own way of seeing into the unknown and receiving a healing vision that will not only give us answers about the past but help us to put our natural gifts to work again in our present lives. Even if these gifts are not understood by everyone and especially if we hold a wound about them being shut down as children, these gifts belong to us and they are beautiful and need an expression in the world again.

With all Hagstone sessions I ask the one seeking a vision to prepare in the days before by recalling a time in childhood when they felt completely magical and open to their gifts and shared them happily with others. Once this has been remembered we look at how and why these gifts came to be seen as wrong or even almost a secret. Lori had contacted me with the intention to ‘connect fully to my creative spirit’. She remembered that as a child she had loved being a storyteller and was good at it but there was now some kind of fear or anxiety around expression or trying to write about what is sacred. I opened and held space for Lori so that we could journey together and see where and why her voice been silenced? This is Lori’s Swan journey to find the weaving healer and uncover the hole in the stone.

Artwork: Woman Spinning Wool by Knud Berslien

The Hagstone – Swan Blessing Story

“My first Swan Blessing was almost a year and a half ago.  It was a particularly visual journey and felt easy to write.  Since that time, I’ve undergone a few deep initiations and find myself at another crossroad, deeper into my path.  My inside voice said it was time to sit with Julia again.

For some reason, the story of my Hag Stone Blessing doesn’t feel easy to write.  It was a far more “feeling/sensing” journey than a visual one this time. I was releasing a few profound pieces the night Julia and I gathered for the blessing (unbeknownst to Julia.)  The process brought on immediate physical release and healing.  For these reasons, this blessing feels far more personal.  I am going to push through this uneasiness, though, and just write the story because it’s part of the healing.

My intention for this blessing was to fully open my gift of connecting to the language of nature ~ to fully connect to my creative spirit.  When we entered the blessing space, I was reminded of my gift for writing stories and how it bridged the distance for my child-self when we moved away from my favourite magical place (“the lake”) and my favourite magical people (my maternal grandparents.)  I was reminded how my maternal grandmother used to tell me stories and how I got lost in the magic of those tales ~ how I could literally FEEL the magic.  “Magic”, to me, is a kind of full feeling that comes either into my head first or my heart.  It feels like absolutely anything is possible ~ like doors you never knew were there are opening. It fills my body and sets off all the lights in my brain, like a beautiful symphony of fireworks.  It’s the fuel of living beauty and when it flows, perspectives may be shifted, wounds may be healed and lives may be changed.

Julia guided me to the well.  I looked in and saw a woman moving up through the water.   She had the brightest green eyes and long, blonde hair. I didn’t recognise her. Julia asked me, “who do you see?”  I was having difficulty because I didn’t know who I was seeing, but the woman kept staring at me with smiles and mischief in her eyes.  I was about to tell Julia that I didn’t know who I was seeing when I was filled with a powerful feeling, beginning in my heart – one I knew inside and out.  It was the spirit of magic.  The woman was me in another lifetime.  She took me into her realm and as we walked the footpath through the forest to her home, she was talking aloud in an almost sing-song voice.  Many forest animals came running to her and she put her hand out to greet them.   She lived in a small, white stone cottage filled with a welcoming spirit.  Every part of this place was infused with a sense of peace, of grace, of being found ~ a place where a person could finally put down their troubles and find solace.  It was a bright place filled with jars of delicious things, threads, brushes, cloth, and supplies for all kinds of needlework.  A big fire was burning brightly in the fireplace and there was a pot hanging over the flames.  There was a full picture window that spanned the length of the front of the cottage.  To the right of the fireplace was a wall full of shelves.  The shelves were full of wool ~ some raw, some spun.  Then I saw a beautiful spinning wheel and a loom.
Women would come to her for healing.  One by one.   She sat them down in a chair and stood behind them, not touching them, but close enough that they could feel her comforting presence.  She did this until she could sense they had settled into themselves. She placed her hands on their shoulders and, with the movements of her hands, began to settle whatever was troubling them ~ to bring healing, moving from the upper back of the woman and ending by placing a hand over the heart place.  The women were completely at peace in the chair.

As they sat in their solace, she would move to her wheel and spin wool ~ putting into it the particular healing for the woman she had just laid hands on.  Once the wool was spun, she worked needles or her loom to create a healing shawl for the woman, so that she could carry her healing wherever she went.  Everyone who came to see her for healing loved her.  They felt seen. They felt understood.

The healing work went on uninterrupted until one day, a woman turned up on her doorstep not wanting healing, but to apprentice with her.   The woman appeared earnest in her desire, so the weaving healer woman wholeheartedly shared all the ways of her practice.
I was then shown the woman on the doorstep had 2 faces:  one of an attentive student and one of a backstabbing gossip monger.  The woman used everything the weaving healer had shared with her to discredit her work and mock her gift.  She painted her as an insane, dangerous woman, she warned people away from her.   At that moment, I saw a dark, clay wall build around the weaving healer ~ her heart was broken.  From then on, she only allowed herself the smallest space for her gift ~ shared only with herself.  She would sometimes let it out a bit further, but would always recoil with fear and grief.  The animals in the forest, however, remained loyal to her.

At the moment of healing in this story, the weaving healer and I switched places.  I was encased in dark clay and she was bright and free again.  The Daughter of the Well gave me a copper hammer and I smashed the clay tomb around me into a million bits of dust.   As the tomb smashed, I saw all the women who the weaving healer had helped – making their way through the forest – each wearing their healing shawls.
This gift of the weaving healer is no longer choked in me like a tiny trickle of water in a dried-up riverbed.  This gift of the weaving healer, this spirit of magic, is now a flowing torrent that runs freely through my veins.  The star grandmothers have blessed me and I am free to allow the healing spirit of magic, to allow the fuel of living beauty, to flow through me and my work, unfettered.

Thank you, always, dear Julia, for shining the light and illuminating a way in.
Infinities of love and all good things”. Swurlygirl – 2017

 

I am happy to say that Lori’s ancestral memory of weaving, spinning and knitting with love and intention is very much alive in her life again and you can see her beautiful work as Swurlygirl Working Wool. I will watch with great curiosity as Lori also makes way for her stories to emerge to be shared again too now that she has given herself permission to share them again with others. Thank you so much Lori I’m putting my name down for one of those healing shawls when they are ready to return.

Bookings: The Hagstone – Swan Blessing with Julia

Read more Swan Stories