“No longer tarry in the in-between. In order to heal, you must be seen.”
Today I share Lori's Swan story of the healer who vowed to go unseen. It's a story that I feel is a tale of remembering how innocent we all really are and how we were born this way. We have an ancient memory of women being punished for using ancestral medicine and healing. A memory and vow such as this can create a fear of our work being misunderstood and so we will find ways to only share our work between friends, only trusting those near and dear to us. We may find it very difficult to advertise our work or put it out in a public way. I find this very sad as it means many artists and healers don't share their gifts with the world. Under the name Swurlygirl, Lori shares the ancient medicine of the wool worker. I have had the pleasure of receiving some of Lori's hand-crafted woollen creations and these talismans are filled with such loving intention. Here is Lori's story of the how she opened the door to share her spirit-filled creations with others again.
Swan Blessing Story
"In 2007 I had been reunited, in a way, with the shamanic path. In all my studies and work, however, I’d always felt a deep fear that kept me closer to the edges of the path rather than walking confidently down the middle. This fear usually made itself known whenever I got closer or deeper into knowing myself - whenever there was talk of “knowing your medicine.” I pushed onwards and tried to work through the fear. I became the assistant to a shamanic practitioner & teacher ~ however this fear was particularly strong and kept me from stepping any further in. In September 2012, during a shamanic journey to seek healing, I heard these words spoken to me:
“No longer tarry in the in-between. In order to heal, you must be seen.”
This gave me comfort and also terrified me at the same time. I didn’t really know what to do next, so I kept the words inside, to unpack their medicine another day. That day came in July 2015, with the support of Julia & her Swan Blessing work.
As I listened to Julia’s voice gently directing me, I came to a forest. I recognized the land I was walking on ~ every tree and every blade of grass here. I had long golden hair and a long white dress on. As I moved deeper into the forest, a deeper familiarity came to me as I saw the well and the waterfall. I knew this place.
When I looked into the well, I saw Baba Yaga - An Cailleach, the wise crone looking back at me. As I looked into her eyes I could see all the faces of her - Her eyes were filled with warmth, looking into mine and I felt sadness and shame. She took my hand in hers and told me she loved me and that she has always loved me. Then she took me to where she lived - it was in a craggy paddock that I recognized from a shamanic journey I had done some years ago ~ hilly with bare stone showing through the grass in some parts. There was a grove of trees beside us. It was a warm, sunny day and a soft breeze was blowing.
She led me to a big black cauldron with a fire burning beneath it. She was slowly stirring the cauldron and as she did so, she looked so powerful ~ like the embodiment of wisdom. I looked into the cauldron and saw she was stirring a thick, dark liquid - like a resin of some kind - an amber coloured resin. When I asked what the resin did, I felt a heaviness in my belly. I then saw a woman coming up the hill to see the old crone ~ as she came closer into view, I saw that she was heavily pregnant and was wearing no clothing. The woman came closer to the cauldron. She was afraid and kept looking over her shoulder that no one should see her there. The crone took a cup, ladled some of the amber liquid into it and gave it to the woman to drink. I then saw the woman was no longer pregnant and was a different person living an entirely different life. Another woman came up the hill - an older woman this time and the amber liquid made her young again. I was shown where the crone slept and lived - in a small room in a cottage in that forest. Her bedroom was sparse with a cot, a small dresser and a window that looked out to the forest. She lived there completely alone ~ no animals, no people, completely quiet.
I then saw the crone as a little girl of 5, with white-blond hair— in a similar woods ~ chasing after butterflies, laughing as she ran. The animals in the forest - birds, deer ~ all playing with her. She felt connected to everything and felt known to everything around her. There was no fear. She understood the language of the world around her and the world understood her. She was so deeply happy and innocent. She lived in a little house made of stone & timber - she lived there with her grandparents. When she ran into the house, both her grandfather & grandmother greeted her warmly. The grandfather was standing at the big wooden table in the kitchen and was preparing vegetables and plants. The grandmother was sitting across from the table in a big wooden armchair. She was working some fine handwork embroidery into linen. They both felt familiar to me - when I looked into their faces I recognized them as the people who had been my Baba & Geja (grandmother & grandfather) in my present lifetime. My grandmother taught me the handwork and my grandfather taught me the plant work - together they made a talisman from the plants and the embroidered cloth.
The girl’s parents were not here. I was then shown who they were. I didn’t recognize the man who was the father, but when I looked into the eyes of the woman who was the mother, I recognized them to be the eyes of someone I had known in my present lifetime, but am no longer in contact with. The girl was being raised by her grandparents and taught their ways.
I was then shown the girl at 16. It was night time in the forest and she was all alone. She was dressed in black and standing in the middle of the forest. She was scared and alert. I could feel her heart beating so strong & fast. It was dark, but she could see her way in the dark - I couldn’t hear anyone coming, but she knew they would be. It was the townspeople that would be coming for her.
She showed me that, earlier that day, a very pregnant woman had come to her seeking some kind of help - and that the girl did what she has been instructed to do to help the woman, however somehow, something appeared to go wrong and the woman, instead, became violently ill. The girl tried to do what she could, but knew, if the woman’s people came for her, the girl could never explain what happened and that they would not understand if she did try to explain. She consoled the woman the best she could, kept stroking her face and hair and telling her she was so sorry ~ she kissed the woman on the forehead and then ran into the forest. She could hear them coming and she began to run into the darkness and shape-shifted into a crow. All I could see then, was a dark void.
I was then shown what had happened to the girl before this night. She had been cast out of her family, by her people, specifically her mother, for being different from the rest of them. Her mother, who was very pious in her outlook, did not approve of her daughter & was afraid of her. The girl was 15 years old.
I was then shown the young girl, maybe a few years later. She was in a dirty night dress that looked like it had once been white. She was inside a stone turret - a prison - alone, with irons on her wrists and her feet. Her hair had been hacked off and I could hear people outside this place calling her a witch and a killer. In this place I heard her say “ I will never show myself ever again. I will never allow myself to seen ever again. “ I felt her cries inside and the deepest sadness. I was then beside her as she was inside the fire being burned as a witch. I saw the flames engulf her and she was completely silent. She then turned into the brightest light and shot upwards to the stars. She was free.
When I returned to the well, I held the Crone in front of me and breathed the deepest, strongest love into her - I felt all her sorrow melt away and she became bright and beautiful and free.
As she became free, I became bound - bound up so tightly with reams and reams of barbed wire from my ankles to my neck. The binding was the tightest from my torso to my throat - binding my arms so tightly that I couldn't move them. I was given a tool by a Daughter of the Well that would cut the binding. I managed to cut the first bit of binding, then more and more became loosened until my whole body was freed and the bindings disintegrated.
When I received the blessings of the Grandmothers - I felt all the love of all of my ancestors ~ of all the medicine-keepers of my lineages ~ I felt light and free and full of love, truth and wisdom. And I felt the peace of my ancestral name, Peace Carrier, so deeply, almost for the very first time. I felt the words push through my heart: I am truth. I am love. I am wisdom.
That feeling of peace and freedom stayed with me for days after the blessing. There were so many parts of my swan blessing story that I could connect to my present life - situations, things that I have lived through in this life that echo back to the past. I was amazed at how many things connected to my present day. I was remembering, more clearly, all the time I spent with my maternal grandparents, the ones that I’d recognized in the Swan Blessing. In this lifetime, my Baba taught me to work with wool and how to craft with words. My Geja worked with the earth, among many other things, he was a gardener and a man of plants. We spent many mornings and afternoons exploring the land and forests around our summer cottage when I was younger. He taught me about the earth and how to tend a garden.
In this lifetime, my grandparents taught me about the magic that is inherent in life.
The strongest affirmation and most magical thing, however, came shortly after the blessing. Where I live now is a bit like where the young girl and the crone lived in my swan blessing. I live on the ground floor of a house on the edge of a forest with many, many ferns, moss, towering cedars, pines and a roaring creek behind me, in the mountains on the west coast of Canada. Above me, lives a family with 2 young boys, aged 4 & 6. The boys are friendly and whenever we happen to see each other, they like to tell me about their their toys or their mountain-biking adventures. Usually, in the summertime, they are mostly running around with water guns, dropping water balloons or playing on their trampoline. As I was writing to Julia a day or two after the blessing, there was a knock on my door. It was the 6-yr old boy and he asked if he could show me a spell / potion that he was working on and if I could help him. I paused for a long moment because he had NEVER asked me this before, nor had I ever seen him engaged with the plants and the earth like this. He was very insistent that I knew how to help him. I broke into a big smile, remembering the Swan Blessing, and nodded my head that I could help him. He said that it was an exploding spell. And then he made another one to show me, which was a healing potion and then one potion that would do whatever was needed by what it touched. That one, he put on the ferns and said that it would now affect ALL the ferns in the whole world AND that we had to program it - he wanted to program some quite violent things, being a 6-year-old boy - but I convinced him towards a gentler approach ~ much to the relief of the dear ferns. A few moments later, his mum was calling him in for dinner that was waiting for him, and he ran into the house. I remained outside for a while ~ staring at the ferns and the forest, that seemed, now, to be glowing with the most vibrant green life. This was the work of the Swan Blessing. I took a moment to say thank you again, to the Swan and the grandmothers, who, through Julia, brought me back to the love, truth and wisdom that I had been parted from so long ago. And a word of gratitude to the spirit helper who whispered to me years before, “No longer tarry in the in-between. In order to heal, you must be seen.”
I learned, many years ago, that it’s important for our healing, to be able to find something or some way to bring this “otherworldly” medicine into our mundane world. So a few days after the blessing, I crafted a talisman to honour the work, my story and to help the blessing settle into my bones and ground into my everyday world, a guidepost to hold it all. Whenever I may feel in doubt or filled with grief, I sit with this talisman, the tangible reminder of the Swan and her blessing.
This blessing work truly shone a light on the seed of the fear that I have felt for most of my life. It has been a sometimes slow, but steady process to sweep away so many cobwebs, however, since the Swan Blessing, I have felt a space open up inside of me that continues to grow. I feel a far greater freedom and confidence in my wool work - to incorporate word & plant medicine more openly into the creatures I weave, felt, knit, crochet, and stitch. I have also felt less fear in sharing this wool work with others.
Some days, the fire that was rekindled within me with the Swan Blessing burns bold and bright and on other days, it’s a little glimmer of a flame in the dark and an inner knowing that I am part of a great, deep flowing magic that I will never be parted from.
Infinities of love & gratitude, Swurlygirl 2016
I'm thrilled that Lori is sharing her gifts as wool worker more and more and setting up a space for herself online where people will be able to see what she does and request their own pieces of Swurlygirl magic. And I'm so happy that Lori knows that every time she creates she is honouring and even visiting with her grandparents again to thank them for all the ancestral medicine they shared with her as a child. Look at these new creations - the child and healer are now one - playing and showing herself again.
Book a personal Swan Blessing ancestral medicine session with Julia.
Singing Home the Ghosted Sister - Swan Blessing ceremony and medicine doll workshop.
Image credit: Imogen Cunningham