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."
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.