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.