Sometimes before holding group Swan Blessing journeys I worry that there may be a chance that these large dreaming pools are not strong enough to give the journeyers all the answers they need. I worry that without one-on-one assistance as I give in personal Swan Blessing ceremonies, that they may not see as well or that vital clues may be missed. And then when I talk to the participants of these circles, I am always blown away by the clarity and strength of their journeys - journeys that are often very deep and potent. I have come to realise that Swan's medicine will work in any environment that is held as sacred space and that everyone always receives exactly what they need.
At the dreaming pool of Femmina Unbound at the Convent I was eager to hear back from the sisters journeying in such proximity to the site of the Magdalene Laundries. I had a feeling that they may have gone far deeper than ever before. Before I began the group Swan Blessing I was told by Swan to create the intention to ask them to journey to and release the strongest binding belief or promise of the past upon the Sacred Feminine. This is Rachel's story of her journey taken in the presence of the Magdalenes, a cause close to Rachel's own heart. Her's is a potent Swan story of release from the very literal bindings of the past - the beliefs that negated Womens' Wisdom and stopped access to higher education. I believe we are at a very important time when we are being asked to value education but to stop the worship of the educational hierarchies that dominate and control learning and do not honour and teach the valuable ancestral wisdom of intuition and creativity. We must learn to value both again and understand that wisdom comes from within and cannot be found by climbing a corporate education ladder but by spending time alone, going deeper inside to truly meet yourself. Only then can we come to truly understand our own Ancestral Medicine and how it can best be applied to serve our community and Earth.
"A man appears before me as I gaze into the dark pool at my feet. I have been taken here by the Swan, to uncover what binds me, what I need to reclaim and release from my Spirit's past as part of Feminina Unbound at the Abbotsford Convent on the first day of Spring.
A well dressed man in the fashion of the early 19th century, he stands straight and tall, untamable curls peaking out from under his tall hat. His eyes speak of knowledge and determination, but also betray a hint of something out of place, something deeply hidden.
I see him standing in a grand wood-lined room lecturing to a group of men - lawyers, politicians, academics, men of wealth and means. Speaking with eloquence and passion, he is arguing for the rights of women, emploring these men to understand the importance of equal rights for all citizens as the new century is born. They listen, expression ranging from skepticisim to downright mocking on their faces, but they are at least listening for once.
Later as I watch he strides down a street in a well-to-do area, gas lamps being lit as evening rolls in. He is nodding acknowledgement to the many people he passes, but he doesn't really 'see' them. His mind is blank but for a growing sense of anticipation tinged with a slight trace of fear. For the first time I sense a tightening in his body - from chest to hips - which grows more and more uncomfortable as he walks now.
His chest aches by the time he reaches the door to his home. Stepping inside it's clear he is a bachelor - the house is furnished well in a strongly masculine style, clean and neat but devoid of any feminine touches. He forces himself through a precise nightly routine quickly as I sense a strong eagerness to move upstairs. For the first time I realise that something? someone? is waiting upstairs - this is what he's been waiting for all day. His 'dirty little secret'?!?
The sense of binding grows more and more uncomfortable by the moment and the fear and excitement are all consuming. Quick steps take him up two flights of stairs until he stands before a securely locked door, his heartracing now as he pulls a heavy key from within his waistcoat and opens the solid wooden door and bounds upstairs into the attic.
Striking a match he lights the glass lamp that sits on a small table at the top of the stairs and a soft, feminine room is revealed by the soft glow. Light and beautiful, the room is a stark contrast to the rest of the house. A hand embroidered quilt covers a bed against one wall, the scent of fresh flowers wafts up as he walks pass a dressing table covered in perfume bottles and makeup pots. A beautifully carved armoire sits in the far corner next to an ornate full length mirror. The only masculine piece in the room is an empty valet stand in the corner.
In quick steps he crosses the floral rug to stand in front of the mirror and begins to undress, hanging each item carefully on the valet. Only as he removes his starched white shirt do i see a glimpse of bandages covering his whole torso. The bindings I could feel as he walked are literal! My mind is filled with childhood visions as the bindings are unwound slowly to reveal the soft feminine curves of the body underneath. A pretty little girl bearing witness from her hiding spot in the corner. She knows she must remain hidden, but all her instincts tell her to go and protect her Mother who sits sobbing in the palour once again as Father screams at her for spilling his tea..."You stupid, worthless woman!"
The warmth of the tears running down her face is replaced by the warming heat of the fire in her grandfather's study, where she sits for hours as he discusses with her all manner of things that little girls aren't supposed to know. Her mind being expanded and tested, her reason and logic being exercised and challenged.
A first class education is his gift to her despite his son's protestations that "educating women is a waste of money". But it comes with a price, as she finds only frustration as she steps into the world as a young woman, only to be ignored, overlooked and dismissed as she tries to engage high profile men in meaningful conversation over the rights of women. But her determination is absolute and she is willing to do whatever is needed to make her stand.
As the last bandages are wound into a neat roll and placed on the valet she can breath deeply for the first time all day and she looks at her naked body in the mirror. She has her mother's figure - full hips, a small waist - perfect for the fashions of the day, for the high waisted full skirts that she will never wear. She slips on a luxurious silk robe and moves to the dressing table where she primps and preens in the mirror - anointing herself in the finest of scents and lotions. Fingers fluffing her hair back into soft curls from where she tried to tame them. Missing her long locks that her mother used to brush for her each evening before bed.
She will never wear a beautiful gown and dance with handsome men at a ball. She will have no lover, no husband, no children. Her urges and desires are pushed down, hidden, ignored in the name of the 'greater good'. Her only indulgence is this hidden room, the only place she can be "her". In order to fight for the freedom of women, she has had to sacrifice her own femininity."
Rachel, Femmina Unbound at the Convent 2013
|Image chosen by Rachel|
I love that now in her present life, Rachel has embraced the medicine of teaching women in circle in her work through Soul Divine. Rachel is also a gifted Tarot reader and has deep ancestral bonds to the medicine gifted to her by her own ancestors. You can experience Rachel's beautiful 'soul mamma magic' at her circles: Tea by the Hearth. I can heartily recommend her as a guide and holder of sacred space for women. Love to you Rachel and thank you for bringing your medicine to the Magdalenes. We welcome another Sacred Artisan to this world again: Teacher - bridging the worlds and creating pathways to women's wisdom.
** as a side note, the day after reading Rachel's Swan Story, I found this article on the Sworn Virgins of Albania.