|The Barefoot Princess - Igor Oleynikov|
Today I share the Swan Blessing story written by Kat or Kat-Fox as I call her. I never could really put my finger on why I called Kat that until her Swan Blessing and then I got a glimpse of the beautiful, wild girl that had been bound by a Past Life Vow of Silence. This is Kat's story of the untamed child, the child of the forest and how this wild knowing, our intuition, can be taught through nature, through the land itself. Even in present times, the self-taught child, the one who is comfortable playing on her own, or the child who communes more easily with trees and animals is still feared and misunderstood. Thankfully we are waking up. We are opening and I hope that we will find new ways to welcome the wild child, to learn from her before it is trained or tamed out of her. Those secrets of the wild world. It is time to lift our Vows of Silence, to break the ties that bind our voices, our unique expression. For all who feel this ancient restriction, particularly around the throat chakra, find ways to speak and write and sing your words - let the wise trees be your first audience.
She emerged from the waterfall and stepped towards me. Her skin was glowing olive smooth. She had toiled, but not in the sun. Her green almond-shaped eyes held the memory of a smile. Her white fine hair cascaded in waves down her back. She trod lightly, silently, her back was rod-straight.She led me back to her home, the entrance of which seemed to be an invisible knot in the trunk of a tree. Her home was without edges and warm with dusk light. A wooden table with two chairs, a few pots and pans, a kettle. Little but ample. Herbs drying in bunches hanging from the ceiling.Tea poured, she took my hands and looked into my eyes. My breath seared my throat as she took me back…
A small girl, about eight years old, playing. A perfect circle of light gleaming down through the tall trees onto her honey curls. She lay on her belly, her feet languidly searching for clouds oblivious to the butterflies dancing between them. Her play was serious, focused: naming the plants for herself, steeping them in her kettle, experimenting.Barefoot she ran, darting between knees and dodging heavy baskets, through the dark clouded marketplace. She headed precisely to her destination, barely detected but not oblivious to predators. She approached his tiny table quietly, head bowed respectfully. He was small and gnarly, and benignly nodding his ragged grey beard towards the tiny bundle of sticks at the end of the table. She pawed them nimbly, knowing they were exactly what she had been seeking. With silent thanks, she turned and disappeared into the darkness, flying towards her clearing, eager to progress her research.A dark cloud loomed across those almond-shaped eyes as rivers streamed down our cheeks…They came for her: tall, black, hooded, angular. Grabbing her roughly by the arms, lifting her feet from the earth. She kicked and screamed, writhed and bit, like a wild wild thing. She summoned the image of her protectors: young, love, glowing. They were far far away, and could not help her now. The marketplace table of the gnarly old man was empty, his chair smashed on the cobblestones.
Times were changing.All that she had done, all that she had been, was wrong. A threat. Her solitude, her freedom, her enquiry, her craft: unacceptable. And those hooded ones: they did not even know half her story.
That wild girl who had run like a fox and communed with the trees in a circle of light now lived somewhere stone, cold, square. Her back was straight. Her mouth firmly closed. Her eyes hooded, downcast. Her wild hair pulled back, lank and dull. She walked with muted purpose alongside those long cold walls. She washed, she swept.At night she lay staring up at the blank ceiling, that thick coarse rope biting into her back. Gritting her teeth she vowed that she would never completely dampen her flame, that ember in her womb, that spark of curiosity, that life that had been hers. One day, she knew, she would walk right out of that place. Until then, she would not speak, she would not sigh, she would hardly breathe.And then, that day came. It was all over.
Her chin rose, eyes meeting the horizon…The gates of that forbidding place were prized open by forces completely unknown and entirely irrelevant to her. Without loyalty, without regret and without rancour, she walked as she always had done: unseen. In the midst of the chaos. Right out of those front gates. As the walls crumbled around her. She walked.No direction but forward. She walked and walked and walked. Never looking back and never to return.The place that she found was not so different from that clearing where she had played as an ancient child. She made her home, stripping bark and twig slowly from one gnarly old man tree, taking her time, open to the gifts of the forest spirits and the seasons.She looked me straight in the eye. She saw me and showed me what I needed to see…
That vow of silence: it bound her forever. It was a vow she had been forced to take, symbolised by the rough rope binding her waist, constricting her breath, knots slicing into her spine. That ache would never quite leave her.The daughters of the well emerged from the waterfall and ignited the rope. It disintegrated to ashes, which dispersed on the breeze. We saw that we were now safe to nurture that ember, the flame that had been dampened for so many years. We understood we would nourish it back to crackling roaring life, one golden feather-like filament at a time.
This was our work.My almond-eyed olive-skinned crone took my hands for one last time.
She was safe. She welcomed fatigue, hunger, cold. She could endure.She lived alone and invisible to most. She was never lonely.And she healed, those tiny ones had started to arrive. Tiny as she had once been. Wordlessly peering into her window, gratefully pawing a lovingly-bundled collection of sticks carefully placed on the table within a small arm’s reach, knowing that it was exactly what they had been seeking.
Post script: I have had a lower disc injury in my back, the origins of which has – up until the Swan Blessing – always been a mystery to me.
Post post script: Whilst undertaking the Ninth Wave Water Rites to complete the Swan Blessing, I received my calling: to heal with words. Daughter of a nurse and an educator, gifted with words, I finally saw my life’s true purpose. The vow of silence, the prohibition on healing, had been broken. For this, I will be eternally grateful to Julia and Tony, and the daughters of the well.