Tag: ancestral medicine

Swan Blessing Story – The Deer and Vow to Keep the Healer as Secret

Stag Woman by Alice Savage

The link between the Deer and Women and ancestral wisdom is huge. I have this confirmed to me again and again when I sit in journeying circles with women all over the world and wrote about healing with Deer in a piece I called She Wears the Crown. Recently I have begun holding Swan Blessing sessions: Hag Stone and Animal Wife that explore the ancestral stories held in our spirits from lifetimes of our own lineage and also past lives to see where and how we lost connection to our natural abilities to connect to the earth and to heal. In the Animal Wife sessions we recover and reclaim our ‘animal soulskin’ the instinctive and wild gifts of nature. Like the Selkie seal woman who had to forfeit her sealskin (soulskin) and gifts to live amongst humans I believe we have also become divorced from our natural animal instincts due patriarchy and institutionalisation. We have been forced to obey man made laws over the natural Lore of the land and her plants and her people.

Again and again as I journey beside women as they recover their ancestral stories, the Deer makes herself known and when she is recovered such a feeling of gentle wisdom and intuition is gifted back to the us. Through my own connection to the Deer I have met talented artists and healers, such as Alice Savage who drew this incredible drawing above after being inspired by a doll that I had created for my own healing when I moved to Sherbrooke Forest 4 years ago. The doll now lives with Alice and I am this drawing now lives in my home. I called her Stag Woman because I felt she helped me to bridge and create symbiosis between my feminine and masculine traits and natures and to heal my fears of living in the forest again and sharing Swan Blessing in a world that still struggles to make peace with the purity and wisdom of the witch, the healer and the seer. I am only realising now, years later that in creating the Swan Blessing to recover the Soulskin of our personal animal ally and spirit marriage, that she was my first introduction to the Animal Wife.

Today I share Gemma-Kate’s personal Swan Blessing story of a lifetime where she had to make a vow to keep the gifts of her lineage and her Grandmothers a secret. She had to hide her ability as a healer, the one gift that made her most proud had to become her deepest hidden part of herself. When we hide our greatest treasure it can sometimes create such a fracture in our spirit that we almost split into two personalities. We sometimes become the warrior in the world to protect what is the most vulnerable – our own spirit. When I met Gemma-Kate I recognised her as one of ‘Vali’s Daughters’ another wild and beautiful woman touched by the magic of Australian artist, Vali Myers. I could see Gemma-Kate’s power and strength and she told me how she was a veterinarian nurse and animal rescuer who had to step away from working in conventional ways and institutions with animals because something older and deeper told her that some of the practices used there were harming the animals instead of healing them. I saw this was a huge wound for her and I could also see the enormous amount of wisdom and healing abilities within her. I was honoured when she contacted me to tell me she was ready to journey with the Swan.

Swan Journey:

“I no longer need to hide the person I am, the gifts that were given to me as a woman. I can be true. I can follow my path as intended, and most importantly, share my gift to others.”

“I am taken to a waterfall. There is dappled sunlight bouncing off the lush greenery. Butterflies flutter in the grass. I journey through the water, through the veil of water, and find myself in a dark cave. There is a pool of water in a natural basin. I look into the water, and find looking back at me, an old woman. Her hair is white, her skin deeply wrinkled with years of emotions, and pale, no longer showing the flush of youth. Her eyes. Her eyes!! They are the palest blue, like topaz. They tell a thousand stories and are full of sorrow. I feel she is me. I look up into the cave and now see a dwelling. A woman’s dwelling within the cave. A secret hideaway. Her secret hideaway. My secret hideaway.

I am led into the forest. I know this place. It already exists in my mind. I walk towards a clearing. A place where we sung and danced and celebrated. I leave the forest, and head to my home nearby. I live here with my sisters. I am the eldest. I am 42. I have been the parent. Our parents have been taken. I am a spinster because of this, and I hide many secrets. Secrets I only share with my sisters. We keep herbs of all kinds. We are healers.

I am taken to another time in the same place. I am much younger. Only a girl. I am playing in the long grasses on the fringe of the forest, where the grass is thick from plenty of sunlight. My sisters and I hear the horses coming, and we are very close to the road leading to the small cluster of houses. We are hidden well, and we can see they are soldiers. They have come to take people. There is talk from the townsfolk about the group of people in these dwellings. They have come to punish us for our old ways. My family are safe. This time at least. We all make a vow to keep secret our gift, and our knowledge. I feel shameful.

I now find myself back in the cave with the woman. I realise now her sorrow. She has lived a life predominantly in solitude, the only place her secrets are safe. She receives comfort from the plants and animals, and they her. I feel a tight force, a weight, binding my chest, restricting my breath. I see white rags binding me. They look like sacred cloth from the religion that has destroyed the ways of life of my people. I notice the sensation that the cloth is loosening. The old woman is using her mind to release the rags. She only needs her mind, because these rags represent our sacred vow. She is releasing me from the ties that bind me. She is taking away my shame. She is telling me it is safe now. I am feeling so much emotion now. I have been crying throughout, but now I feel it in my chest and throat, where the cloths had once been. I am released, I have freedom, and I am led to waters at the bottom of the waterfall. I bathe in the waters. I am now healed.

I am now on the edge of the water, and I feel the swan embrace me. Her huge, warm, loving wings engulf me. I feel so much love. I feel white and yellow. We fly, but I notice little. I am surrounded by light. Then we are walking. I am grounded. I am aware. We are walking in my forest, toward the clearing, for this is a celebration. The sun is shining bright and the air is crisp. There are many small creatures here, there always is. I look towards the edge of the clearing, where the trees begin. Grazing at the edge of the grass is a deer. A doe. She looks up at me, and she ‘sees’ me. We exchange a long gaze. She is my guide. She is my medicine. She is so gentle, and I realise it is her I fiercely protect in life. She is what I am tough, brave and strong for. I realise how much I have pushed her away.

I am now asked to repeat something three times. I am so emotional that I am having trouble forming words. So emotional that the exact words evade me. What I feel as I repeat this sentence, this new vow, is that I no longer need to hide the person I am, the gifts that were given to me as a woman. I can be true. I can follow my path as intended, and most importantly, share my gift to others.”

Gemma-Kate 2017

I was so thrilled this week to see Gemma-Kate in a new state of beauty, transformation and vulnerability. She had cut off all of her hair and was wearing colours I had never seen before. She looked like a beautiful butterfly with the wise eyes of the magical and gentle Doe. I felt that I was seeing Gemma-Kate’s spirit in it’s true form – no longer split but embracing her strength and vulnerability at the same time. She also told me that she is now actively sharing and opening her heart to her healing gifts again. I look forward to seeing her magic I’ve got a feeling it will be big. Thank you Gemma-Kate for showing us your Deer heart and sharing your story here.

Book a Swan Blessing with Julia 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Candice 2016, The Blessed Path Within

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

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

Bookings for Swan Blessing sessions with Julia 

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

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

Witches' Wood by Bertrand H. Wentworth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

illustration John D Batten

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Walker, 2016

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Read more Swan Blessing Stories

Swan Blessing personal past life medicine sessions

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

 

Images: Witches’ Wood by Bertrand H Wentworth

Illustration John D Batten

Photos by Alex Walker

The Butterfly, the Black Swan and the Dreamers

Sacred Familiar

MoonMedicine for this month is Butterfly Medicine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Black Swan
Fairy GodMother

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

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

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

Hiraeth

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

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

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

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

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

Mugwort Faerie Queen