Vow to Forever Fight - Swan Blessing Story

 Artist: Arthur Rackham

Artist: Arthur Rackham

In the moment of the beloved’s death, in the fear of losing tribe and land, my Ancestor Woman vowed to forever fight for the next seven generations, to keep them safe, to guard their power, and to ensure that no ‘other’ force took their freedom.

Today I share Hollie's Swan Blessing story of the Vow to Forever Fight and how she released herself from this old vow of her lineage. Warrior's oaths such as this carried out of time can create a sense of heavy responsibility in our present lives often for situations and events that we cannot control. These types of soul vows also carry a fierce need to defend and protect the lives of the people we love and even whole communities that we hold dear, while the integrity of these feelings is beautiful what this can create is a need to be 'ready for battle' at all times and a lifetime 'at war' which is exhausting.

I was honoured to hold this Swan Blessing session for Hollie who has such integrity in her work and path teaching young women and girls the cycles nature and magic. She is someone who has walked her talk for many many years. I love the photo below of Hollie with her bow and arrow on her land where she lives off-grid with her family. This is a beautiful image of embodied ancestral wisdom. To release the vow to forever fight has released Hollie from a responsibility that would have been impossible for one person to ever carry so that she can now continue her work helping and speaking up for others with a new relationship to herself, community while feeling the joy of living in the garden of our Mother Earth.  

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Swan Blessing Story:

"I met/merged/revisited/became an Ancestor Woman at the time of the first Roman invasions to Britain-Brigga. In a round hut with an earth floor, there was a man, a beloved, dying from wounds from a battle where many lives had been lost. There were hounds in the hut, of course there were hounds. And there were women gathering with children.

In the moment of the beloved's death, in the fear of losing tribe and land, my Ancestor Woman vowed to forever fight for the next seven generations, to keep them safe, to guard their power, and to ensure that no 'other' force took their freedom.

The gathered women would keep the next generations safe by separating – going it alone; each taking a group of young people to disappear into the forest, join with other tribes, save what can be saved, even if it meant being alone. A deep wound was torn in leaving the land of our ancestors, but a new promise was held in the potential for a future that kept the children safe.

I saw the Ancestor Woman partaking in various teaching activities. She crossed many tribes/cultures. I was aware of power-full healing modalities, plant magick and the creation of hand crafted, woven creatures that could hold medicine. The Ancestor Woman travelled many places, taught skills to many people, with faces different form her own. I recognised her ability to heal in ways that didn't need explanation. She had unique techniques and she engaged her Self as a process of the work.

Her next generations were kept safe and she went on to share wisdom in other places, past Brigga, onto ships and beyond worlds she'd ever imagined. Toward the end of the vision the Ancestor Woman lay on a pellet on a ship, moving along an unknown waterway. Although there were more people, she was set apart. Finally, she lay in a field of aromatic plants, somewhere on the Mediterranean coast, and I understood that this would be where she would die. I recognised all elements of this Ancestor Woman's story. The fight for youth place and space, grief and dispossession of ancestral connection, isolation and going it alone, living in the counter-culture, travelling the edges, and working with techniques that can't be explained...

And yet, releasing the binds of the Ancestor Woman's vow allowed me to shift from creating the pattern to supporting the need. Cutting the threads released the pressure of having to fight, to supporting a process. Although the Ancestor Woman was successful at providing/supporting/saving the next seven generations, her greater body of work, and that which was the largest gift to the world, was actually that which could not be named – her expert Self.

It has been some time since I had my Swan session with Julia. Writing usually comes easy to me, yet I could not write this piece. More recently I entered a vision and to my surprise, the story picked up at the place where the Swan left off.

The Ancestor Woman was in the field, with the many plants, and indeed she was dying. She was there, in the place of plants to leave her wisdom for the next generations. She passed her healing to the plants, and the message was clear : Tend these same herbes and you will access the wisdom. My deep truth is that plants are a spiritual practice. All the wisdom and healing that I would seek, is built in to the process work of the garden. It's all right at my fingertips. As provision and security, the garden is an act of wisdom for the next seven generations that is healing, powerful and continues to emerge.

I'm mega-grateful for this work as an aid to unravelling the complexities of wisdom and vow and truth. The forgiveness process in the Swan Blessing is perhaps the most power-full. It's one thing to see your story. It'a another to let it go. Julia's skilled facilitation allows both in such a supportive and nurturing way. Truly, an edge walking Wise Woman! I like to call her Aunty Julia."

Hollie B. 2018

www.instituteforselfcrafting.com

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Last Town Witch - A Swan Blessing Story

All my grandmothers surround me in the water... I am free from this vow of loneliness. I am blessed to become all the light that radiates from within me. I rise up to become one with the sun above me, feeling the weightlessness of my soul self. The swan takes me upon her back and flies me back down to earth - to my home.
— Becca Piastrelli

Today I share Becca's beautiful Swan Blessing story of 'the last town witch' and the freedom that comes from releasing an ancestral vow to keep medicine and old ways safe even if it means living a lifetime alone as 'the other'. 

"As I looked into the well, I saw the face of my mother’s mother - but different and older. She was afraid, telling me “They won’t believe me!” with such urgency in her voice. As we held hands, she bid me to enter into her life story. 

Suddenly I found myself in a town square with a well and horses and people bustling about. She was cloaked and asked me to quickly follow her to her home - outside of the main town in a hut with a leaking roof. It is rundown but this was the only place she feels safe. There’s a cat in the corner and fire in the hearth, with bottles of medicine and herbs hanging from the ceiling all around her. She is a medicine maker - making medicines to heal the women of the town who call upon her in secret during the day when the men are out. She goes to them and helps heal them, but there is a feeling of anger and resentment in her being. These women see her as other. They know they need her medicines, but don’t want to get too close or get caught being with her. She is the last town witch, and she is constantly in danger for what she knows. This makes her feel so sad and rejected, but she has made a commitment to the medicine and to pass it along. 

She made it when she was eleven to her nanny, who raised her and was a mother figure to her. Her mother was gone and her father was a powerful man with a bad temper and drinking problem that she felt she must obey. She and her nanny would play in the bath, putting flowers and herbs into each other’s hair. They would walk in the garden - the nanny teaching her everything she knew. And when she was eleven, the elderly nanny asked her to promise to preserve the mysteries and keep making and sharing the medicine. She makes this promise earnestly. 

When she is 22, she falls in love with a man who is equally in love with her. But he knows they cannot be together, as her father does not approve. He does not make enough money. So he leaves her behind - heartbroken and bitter, knowing she cannot disobey her father - she fears him and desires his approval.  She is never to love or find companionship again. When her father dies suddenly, she buries him and then lives her life free and devoted to the medicine. But she is so so profoundly lonely - it aches her heart. 

She gets very very sick and almost dies. She has no one to care for her in her house at the edge of town. But, by the miracle of her medicines, she lives. This frightens the town and she is even more feared and seen as dangerous for her wisdom and healing magic. She is further isolated by this.

When she is old, she discovers an abandoned baby in a stream. The baby is unwell. Even though she is old, she takes the baby in and nurses her back to health. The baby becomes her apprentice and is by her side as she dies. She dies still with the promise to preserve the medicine, even with the loss of her love and belonging in the town. She has kept her promise to her most beloved nanny.

I feel the weight of this anguish - this vow to protect the medicine and be alone and isolated for the rest of her life. It is a boulder weighing down her heart and mine. I take this boulder and place it in my own chest to take it from her and ask her to forgive herself - she did the best she could. I am now covered in a clay chain making its way all around my body. The well witch appears and gives a hammer to break the clay. I smash down right over my belly and the clay slits into a thousand pieces - allowing the boulder to fall from my heart and become nothing at all. The well witch blows on my heart and seals the hole from where the boulder came from. She takes me into the water and lays me down where I float.

All my grandmothers surrounded me in the water, blessings me with herbs and flowers and songs and ancient chants. I am free from this vow of loneliness. I am blessed to become all the light that radiates from within me. I rise up to become one with the sun above me- feeling the weightlessness of my soul self. The swan takes me upon her back and flies me back down to earth - to my home. 

I am free and joyful and home. I proclaim it 3 times. It is so."

Becca Piastrelli

Thank you so much Becca for sharing your story and your heart! You can read about Becca's practice and work at www.beccapiastrelli.com

 


Swan Blessing Story of the Exile

Norns by Lara Veleda Vesta

Artwork: The Norns by Lara Veleda Vesta

Last night I had one of the most profound journeys of my life thus far... in Swan Blessing, discovering through vivid story the source of my wounding and power.

It was ancient and indescribably beautiful. For much of the journey, which passed in the timelessness of no-time, tears streaked my face as I remembered belonging, remembered my medicine, the sacred ones that live in me, and why I am so fearful of exposure. I located my witch wound, and loosed the bonds of another’s oath.
— Lara Veleda Vesta

Today I share the Swan Blessing story of the Deer Healer and her exile by ancestral worker, artist and mythic storyteller, Lara Veleda Vesta. I was honoured to hold this ceremony for Lara as her ancestral work and teachings are so rich and deep and always an inspiration to me. I have no doubt that it was a Deer kinship that brought Lara and I together to do this work. 

The story of the exile is one that many healers carry deep in their bones. For many of us we carry ancient memories of the sacrifices that were made in the past around medicine and healing and the vows taken to have permission to carry it and use it. These vows made perfect sense in their time but they are very confusing for us to hold in our present lives. In past lives and in the times of our ancestors decisions had to be made to use healing medicine in a way that broke these laws but protected and saved the lived of others. These were extreme times and they called for extreme measures. What happens when the soul remembers and holds the trauma of these events? Very often these memories and soul promises activate similar events again in our current lives as the spirit tries to understand and heal this pattern. 

Lara's story is of a healer taught in a tradition of the Deer Women who had to break her healing vows to save the lives of her community. Rather than breaking the hearts of her people who looked up to her she chose instead to protect the integrity of the Deer Women and their ways by exiling herself from her home, her land and her people. In Lara's present life this story has kept playing out and only recently she experienced an illness and deep initiation back into this story. I believe that by cutting away these stories and histories we won't heal, instead we must let go of the ties and bindings to them through old promises and vows. In this way we are not cutting off we are integrating the story and coexisting with it. We can then learn to embrace the teachings and most importantly the deep ancestral wisdom and medicine ways of these times. This is the 'coexistence of alchemy'. This is our inheritance. And this is Lara's Swan story.

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Elen of the Ways by Lara Veleda Vesta

The Deer Healer

And I bathed in the pool by my grandmothers who dyed me with woad and garlanded me with bay laurel and rosemary and hawthorne berries and star bright flowers and sang to me and set me free to run with the deer beneath the sun, with the swan singing and my own voice singing and opening to the freedom that is our birthright, I return the song, I return to the women of the deer, I carry them with me.  Their freedom, their healing, their community, their belonging, their land of oak and meadow, their scent of blood and bone, ash and stone.  We are one.

'In the ancient time of swan and wind there lives an undine.  She waits not, for in the portal of the waterfall pool she drifts up and holds my hand.  Her crown sways, her eyes portals too, slits of pure gold and grace.  The silver thread around my finger connects to her webbed hand, her skin ever changing aquamarine, deep blue, green.  We fall into the pool and are in the creek of my childhood, the water warm, stones brown and copper bronze beneath us.  On the floor of the creek there is a golden key.  The undine has me take the key in my right hand and swims us deeper along a dark channel where there is a narrow passage with a round wooden door.  Looking up I can see the blurred alders above and remember I can breathe underwater.  I insert the key in the lock and turn and the water rushes out into a meadow.  

In the meadow sits an old woman on a stone in a circle of stones.  The circle is surrounded by oak savannah and rolling hills.  She is crouched there wearing a red skirt and a green shawl, her hair long and silver grey, her face pained as she looks down the valley.  Her heart hurts, there is a pain too deep to skillfully bear.

Down the valley in her line of sight, through the portals of time to a village.  She is young there, wearing a skirt of red and a green embroidered vest with silver clasps, her hair in a long braid.  On the town green there is a festival starting and she has the work of strewing the flowers and herbs, blessing the circle.  The townspeople love her and honor her.  She feels whole.

To the north of the square is her home, a round house with two levels, a fire or hearth in the center.  On the fire is a cauldron, and in the cauldron is a medicine brewing thick with herbs, purple in color.  She adds a handful of hawthorne berries and stirs the mixture.  A spiral forms on the surface, doubled, moving in both directions.  She sips from a heavy cup and it tastes of honey as the door opens.  It is her work today.

She heals hearts with this medicine, scooping it cheerfully into cups, offering herself in story.  Literal hearts, broken hearts.  Her work is love and joy.

In the forest, but not far from the edge of town there lives her teacher.  At six she was sent for initiation and study with the woman of the deer.  The woman of the deer is sometimes many women, sometimes one.  She has long white hair and wears white robes, and the deer around her round house are dappled white.  Something shines in her hair, something like stars.  The girl learns the ways of the deer, learns when to pour out and when to conserve.  There is a sacred knife stuck into the table block and she watches it for many years, through growth and learning, until her moon blood comes. One night when the moon is just past full she is taken into a field and her left hand is cut by her teacher down the palm, her blood dripped into a cup in the stone.  She makes a vow by her blood to serve always and without question, to preserve life and to listen to the deer.   She is celebrated, she has her purpose and her path, and the women of the deer live on for another generation.

Sometime in her mid life a moment of choosing comes.  An aching betrayal.  The village suffers abuse and violence, destruction, a year without crops, another, the deer are dying from lack of fodder in the hills and the people are dying from the greed of men.

The greediest and cruelest of all lies before her now.  A shadow.  She carries a vial of poison.  To end his life is forsaking her vows, but to not end his life is forsaking her community which she has committed to serve, the land which she is promised to, the deer to whom she owes her spirit heart.  If he doesn’t die all of this will be gone.  And if he dies at her hand she will save it, though she must die too—at least, appear to.  She must disappear into the wood and not return.  She will leave her cloak in the stream, smeared with blood.  They will believe her victim of another’s crime.

This she knows and still tips the bottle to his blistered lips.  Then she goes.

Run run run.  Run with the deer.  In exile, she can’t ever return.  No one knows, it is a secret.  She lives alone, serving only the deer, healing the deer.

She dies in the circle of stones, still bound by her oath and the complexity of the forsaken.

And her oath became mine.  To serve without question.  Her choice became mine, to lose and lose again home and root and family.  

When we met she was all ages, ever changing.  When we embraced she was so familiar.  She smelled like me.  The binding on me was wood and metal, like a barrel and staves with a lock.  She drifted into wholeness, becoming our whitehaired teacher, woman of the deer.

And the water witch in the falls gave me a glowing wand which sliced through the past, the broken oath, the exile, like liquid and the bonds slipped away.

And I bathed in the pool by my grandmothers who dyed me with woad and garlanded me with bay laurel and rosemary and hawthorne berries and star bright flowers and sang to me and set me free to run with the deer beneath the sun, with the swan singing and my own voice singing and opening to the freedom that is our birthright, I return the song, I return to the women of the deer, I carry them with me.  Their freedom, their healing, their community, their belonging, their land of oak and meadow, their scent of blood and bone, ash and stone.  We are one.'

Lara Veleda Vesta, Dark Moon before the Solstice 2017


You can explore more of Lara's profound work in ancestral mythology guided by her Norse ancestors at Lara Veleda Vesta. I hope her generous offerings, experience and wisdom help you to find the trackways back to your own ancestors.

** Two days after holding Swan Blessing for Lara I went for a walk in Sherbrooke Forest and finally saw the White Deer that lives here. I have been waiting 5 years to sight this beautiful creature that I had heard so many stories about. This was a beautiful confirmation that by connecting with others who carry similar medicine and dreaming that we strengthen our dreams and wishes. Thank you Lara for helping to sing the Deer back to me.  

Swan Blessing - the Plant Healer

Swan Blessing - the Plant Healer

Phoebe and her Swan Blessing past life story of the plant healer and her vow of silence: 

"I find myself in a forest I recently visited in a blood vision. Cool, dark, green. A sacred place of my ancestors. A path between the trees. A feeling of longing washes over me so deeply that it registers as sorrow. A longing for this place and it’s longing for me."

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

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I made this doll for Kristen after she journeyed through her Swan Blessing session. There were many clues and hints in this doll for new surprise and gifts that were coming to Kristen but were unknown to us both at the time. But they were known to the dolls...

Today I share Kristen's beautiful Swan story because I feel it touches on an old belief and fear that we carry as women from the Burning Times - that somehow working with nature and magic means that we are doing harm. Or the fear that what we are doing will be misunderstood and lied about and we will be labelled as our great grandmother witches and healers were and persecuted for it.

When I sat in session with Kristen I was very moved because I could feel how pure and rare her spirit was. It's always a gift and honour for me to sit in Swan Blessing because I too receive so much. Something really unique was happening as I sat with Kristen, it was as if an older part of myself somehow recognised her. Often, before a Swan Blessing session people tell me that I visit them in dreams. It's never something I intend or do consciously but I'm always happy to hear that this happens as if the Swan has made introductions. It wasn't until she wrote and sent me her Swan story afterwards that she told me about the dream she had before we even laid eyes on each other:

 

"First I want to tell you about the dream I had the night before the Swan Blessing. I was speaking with you and a friend of yours, a maiden helper- deciding about some sort of round symboled jewels to wear on my third eye. I did not recognize any of the symbols; some had animal spirits, but none of them spoke to me even though they were all so beautiful. We began talking about Iceland, and we traveled together to the volcanic rocks outside of Keflavik along the coast. You shapeshifted into an Elf Woman as I told you a story about my son seeing a troll among the rocks. You were speaking Icelandic, in a trance- your pupils were pinpoints, your ears were slightly pointed. You stayed that way, speaking Icelandic in trance until I woke up."

And now for the retelling of my Swan Blessing:

'As I looked into the pool, I saw myself- I was young and had very long red, wavy hair. As the well water rippled I saw a woman, ancient and weathered, with hair like mine but white and gray. I followed her and we arrived at her home in the woods where she lived alone. It was a small cottage, well taken care of, but round and the light was dappled and happy though the leaves of the great trees towering above us. She was used to being alone and moved with ease as she led me down the carefully laid stones to the house. On her arm she carried a basket filled with plants and roots and along the pathway and surrounding the house were a number of plants used for medicines. We walked in and I saw more plants hanging for drying, and others that were piled along the table. There was one window in the house- one chair, one table, a hearth and a bed. There were other plants in clay pots and jars on shelves.

I was aware that people would come find her in the woods for her medicines and for her Sight. A woman came for medicine and looked wary of being there. She was cloaked, but desperate for the old woman’s help, for the old woman not only worked with plants but very secretly, very carefully and covertly worked in other ways- in the other realms. Her Grandmother had taught her the ways of the forest, the Old Ways, the Spirit of the Plants and the ways of healing with the Earth. She was so pleased to learn and thought her Grandmother the most powerful and kind of all people. Her Grandmother handed her Rosemary- something very important, a pausing, a way of remembering. This was for her to keep for herself, a totem of the Medicine she was teaching her, the same way her Grandmother had taught her and so on and so on. The ancestral lineage passed on from many lifetimes. I felt so deeply connected and so grateful. We flashed back to when the old woman was a young woman. She was gathering plants with her Grandmother, walking along the side of small cottage which the two of them shared. She was feeling a deep heaviness and like the plants and the life she was bound to was a burden- She felt like she wanted to marry- she was so angry, so angry at her Mother. Her Mother was gone.

It was hard to look. Her Mother had died in a fire, a witch’s burning. She died with three other women who were also burned;  for practicing her Sacred Medicine. Her Mother had long blonde hair. She watched from the very back of the crowd, cloaked and stood next to her Grandmother. Before the burning was complete, her Grandmother hurried her away, deep into the forest and taught her the Old Ways. She was only about 16 at the time and did not understand everything, for she promised to Never do Harm- something her Mother was accused of, although she never actually caused any harm. All of the cycles of life had become confused all around her. She vowed to stay alone, she felt deeply burdened by this responsibility- to practice the Medicine, what her Grandmother told her was the most important thing. More important than anything else. When she died, there was a woman and a child with her, possibly her own daughter and granddaughter. As she took her last breath she turned to face the single window of the house and focused on the doe just outside. As she took her last breath, she saw nothing but the doe.

The bound agreement of the burden of the life of a healer, the obligation of healing, the solitude, and the vow to Never do Harm manifested into thick jungle vines. They wove themselves around me, around my torso and began to tighten like a vice. It was hard to breathe. The well woman gave me a ball of light in each hand to cut the vines, and with this action the Story and the agreements, the burden, the lies, and the confusion withered away dissolving into light.

Then it was me- the Red haired maiden and the Blonde Mother as One- surrounded by all of our Grandmothers from the well woman and her Grandmother and her Grandmother and so on and so on- the circle around us was grand indeed. My crown was made of roses and rosemary, and the White Raven came and rested on my left shoulder. I was washed clean.”

I will say, the following week after this blessing I sat down in meditation and the White Raven came back- this time flying into my womb and settling in for the long haul. It has not left me since. Thank you for this opportunity for deep connection with myself, with my ancestors, and with those to come.

Blessings and Love, Kristen

May we all come to the place of being able to offer the gifts of our lineage and ancestral folklore with love and trust again. We are pure and have always been this way. The path of the herbalist and healer is sacred to the earth and in balance with the ways of the land. Thank you Kristen for sharing your Swan story and your dream.

Revealing the Hagstone - Swan Blessing Story of the Weaving Healer

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

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

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Artwork: Woman Spinning Wool by Knud Berslien

The Hagstone - Swan Blessing Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bookings: The Hagstone - Swan Blessing with Julia

Read more Swan Stories

Swan Blessing Story - Leaving the Grey Life Behind

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

There is memory in our own DNA and spirit of the experiences and stories lived by our ancestors. Sometimes these memories are full of fear and guilt and at first they feel like they are part of our present experience but the more we journey with them we see how they are strange and irrational. We somehow know that they are part of us but do not belong to us.  

Today I share Rachel's story of journeying with the Swan along her own ancestral line to uncover and release a chain of guilt and shame that has been buried deep in her ancestry. I'm so happy that the child and the grandmother - the inner child and wise woman can now play freely again. The knowledge of the plants and nature is part of Rachel's ancestral folklore and it can be shared and received as it was intended - as a wise and beautiful inheritance.

Swan Blessing Story:

"I enter a restful peaceful forested glade. I approach a waterfall, which cascades into a deep glade. The water falls across my head and down my face. I am on my knees, gazing into the deep pool of water. I see the faces of two women. Both with stories to tell. Fading in and out of view. One as old as this place. With long white hair, and eyes full of wisdom. The other, a younger woman – I feel her fragility. Some nervousness. She wears a finely tailored dress of a servant, and is in her mid twenties. It is her that I receive.

I am in the basement of a Georgian/Victorian terrace home. It is the servant quarters. There is the smallest sliver of light coming through from a window to the city street above. It is here that I sleep and mend. Above is a family who I work for. I feel very alone and feel judged and avoided by other servants and domestics that I come into contact with. I am full of a sense of otherness, of escapism. I go to the very back of the room. I lift a rug to show a ‘grate’ that covers a deep hole in the ground. I feel I must confess it is a very dark energy that comes from this ‘pit’. This vortex. I feel I must appear to not invite this energy. Yet it is here that I lay and dream. The rug back once again, overlaying this deep ‘vortex’.

I cannot tell you what it is that I dream here, only that I am full of dreams. Perhaps it is to sew. Yet, with the ink stain on my finger, I know that I dream to write. Immediately, a vision. I, she, am sitting naked and cross legged, a pure energy being, over that vortex of energy that is rising up from the ground. I/she is connected to Source. I am beyond time and place. This is in answer to your question. We travel to a forest. A long way away from this city. I am a child. I am with my Grandmother being led on a gentle path through a tall forest filled with light. I feel safe, warm, and led by this woman who shows me herbs with her beautiful old and perfect hands. I live here with my Grandmother. We live in a wooden house surrounded by trees. Imediately time and memory becomes fragmented.

I am both hovering above a scene with uniformed soldiers who are attacking my Grandmother who lies on the floor, imploring me in her mind, with the last of her vital energy to escape this place. They wear dark clothes, angular. There is fire in the forest surrounding our home. I am running and running as fast as I can in the direction my Grandmother pointed. It is as if the great white light that surrounded my Grandmother and our home was the reason the soldiers came. I understand that the gifts of our lineage that were manifest in the material realm will emerge in perfect time. It is that light that still protects me and leads me home. I ran and ran as our home was surely ground to ash. In the years that followed I was taken in by a family, with whom I did a lot of farm chores. When I became a young woman I was sent away to work as a domestic in this city. Perhaps over the ocean.

I come to the glade. To the waterfall. I and she stand face to face. I take her hands in mine. I gaze into her brown eyes, her innocent face. What is there to say to this woman, my mother of my mothers. ‘It was not your fault. It is time to release the guilt at your Grandmothers death’. I feel a release and know that the heaviness that infused her life, is the heaviness that infuses mine, and the hiding, the fear of being safe, and the burden of carrying a gift that can not be expressed. We are back in the forest, behind the veil, of the veil. The Grandmother is there, and the child runs to her and is taken in her arms. It is as it was, once again. As it should be. The rightful place. Hand in hand, learning the lore of the land, protected and safe to grow into a woman who channels this light. The swans beak presses against the back of my heart, and her wings wrap around me. The child and the grandmother. My inner child and my wise woman. Fled in fear, destroyed and separated. Yet leaving messages to be understood down the path of time, to return home to this place of light. To shine. And work the magic of our lineage that can not be destroyed.

As stood with binding around me. White cotton first, that fell, and I felt a weight lifting. I didn’t need to be silent anymore. Underneath were chains, and I had a brief moment of fear, and felt the pull into darkening visions. Julia was intuitive, strong and didn’t falter with her direction for me to make the choice. It was a clear choice. I let the chains fall. This was the moment of reckoning. I had carried those chains for lifetimes along bloodlines, and there was nothing left for me to gain from them. Metal chains of guilt, taken on by the innocent, and which held me trapped in fear – Fears that my light made me unsafe, and would bring violence and trauma upon me and those I love. I was carrying a story that my truest soul expression, this expression of the Earth song had no place in this world. That this expression and its power to heal was of a time past, destroyed. I needed to grow up, and face the reality of a grey life – Grow up before my time, into a world without the wisdom of the Elders who held the interconnected web of life in their being. It didn’t feel like the end of a journey. I felt clear, curious and gently driven to experience the world, and myself without the weight of a thousand lifetimes!!!

I had been witnessed, and I had heard my voice after what felt like such a long time. I had new affirmations to practice morning and night – affirmations of the energetic vibration that I put out to the world. I immediately felt the power of these affirmations, extending outwards from me with love, expression of Source . For me, this is the work, to take one step after the next, embodying this wisdom, these choices, this deep soul work – this work that would not have happened without Julia. I feel so grateful to her and her work in the world. Also that she introduced me to the Swan, whose gentle love never falters, is patient, clear and true, and supports me when I call."

Rachel 2017

 

Living Classroom

I was so happy to read about Rachel's current work leading children into theleading them into the Australian bush to find bush tucker, to know what plants are and do, what is edible and full of healing. Thank you Rachel for sharing your beautiful story and opening your arms to your grandmothers again. I hope it has helps anyone who is reading and feeling relating to this story. These stories are all of our stories. They are an opening again for us all to our ancestral folklore and natural inheritance.

Read more about

Swan Blessing sessions with Julia here

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Artwork: Spellbound by Frederick George Cotman

Swan Blessing for the Seer of Cornwall

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

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

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

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

Swan Blessing Story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I make a new vow now as myself:

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

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

Mandy Adams, 2016

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

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

Artwork: Sidney Sime (1865-1941)

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

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

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

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

SWAN BLESSING STORY:

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

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

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

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

Happiness and inspiration and color drained from my life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Camille

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

Swan Blessing bookings link.

Camille Davis Jewelery
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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.

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