Swan Blessing

Swan Blessing Story: White Raven and the Vow to Never Do Harm

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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.

Revealing the Hagstone - Swan Blessing Story of the Weaving Healer

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Today I share Lori's Swan Blessing story of the 'weaving healer'. Ever since returning from Cornwall last year where I was given my first hagstone that I carried with me through Ireland and Scotland I began to feel a deepening of the Swan Blessing work. In honour of these magical stones that feature a hole made by the elements wind and water and were rumoured to show the 'otherworld' when looked through, I created new Swan Blessing sessions called The Hagstone. The focus of these sessions was to unblock or recover our own way of seeing into the unknown and receiving a healing vision that will not only give us answers about the past but help us to put our natural gifts to work again in our present lives. Even if these gifts are not understood by everyone and especially if we hold a wound about them being shut down as children, these gifts belong to us and they are beautiful and need an expression in the world again.

With all Hagstone sessions I ask the one seeking a vision to prepare in the days before by recalling a time in childhood when they felt completely magical and open to their gifts and shared them happily with others. Once this has been remembered we look at how and why these gifts came to be seen as wrong or even almost a secret. Lori had contacted me with the intention to 'connect fully to my creative spirit'. She remembered that as a child she had loved being a storyteller and was good at it but there was now some kind of fear or anxiety around expression or trying to write about what is sacred. I opened and held space for Lori so that we could journey together and see where and why her voice been silenced? This is Lori's Swan journey to find the weaving healer and uncover the hole in the stone.

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Artwork: Woman Spinning Wool by Knud Berslien

The Hagstone - Swan Blessing Story

"My first Swan Blessing was almost a year and a half ago.  It was a particularly visual journey and felt easy to write.  Since that time, I’ve undergone a few deep initiations and find myself at another crossroad, deeper into my path.  My inside voice said it was time to sit with Julia again.

For some reason, the story of my Hag Stone Blessing doesn’t feel easy to write.  It was a far more “feeling/sensing” journey than a visual one this time. I was releasing a few profound pieces the night Julia and I gathered for the blessing (unbeknownst to Julia.)  The process brought on immediate physical release and healing.  For these reasons, this blessing feels far more personal.  I am going to push through this uneasiness, though, and just write the story because it’s part of the healing.

My intention for this blessing was to fully open my gift of connecting to the language of nature ~ to fully connect to my creative spirit.  When we entered the blessing space, I was reminded of my gift for writing stories and how it bridged the distance for my child-self when we moved away from my favourite magical place (“the lake”) and my favourite magical people (my maternal grandparents.)  I was reminded how my maternal grandmother used to tell me stories and how I got lost in the magic of those tales ~ how I could literally FEEL the magic.  “Magic”, to me, is a kind of full feeling that comes either into my head first or my heart.  It feels like absolutely anything is possible ~ like doors you never knew were there are opening. It fills my body and sets off all the lights in my brain, like a beautiful symphony of fireworks.  It’s the fuel of living beauty and when it flows, perspectives may be shifted, wounds may be healed and lives may be changed.

Julia guided me to the well.  I looked in and saw a woman moving up through the water.   She had the brightest green eyes and long, blonde hair. I didn’t recognise her. Julia asked me, “who do you see?”  I was having difficulty because I didn’t know who I was seeing, but the woman kept staring at me with smiles and mischief in her eyes.  I was about to tell Julia that I didn’t know who I was seeing when I was filled with a powerful feeling, beginning in my heart - one I knew inside and out.  It was the spirit of magic.  The woman was me in another lifetime.  She took me into her realm and as we walked the footpath through the forest to her home, she was talking aloud in an almost sing-song voice.  Many forest animals came running to her and she put her hand out to greet them.   She lived in a small, white stone cottage filled with a welcoming spirit.  Every part of this place was infused with a sense of peace, of grace, of being found ~ a place where a person could finally put down their troubles and find solace.  It was a bright place filled with jars of delicious things, threads, brushes, cloth, and supplies for all kinds of needlework.  A big fire was burning brightly in the fireplace and there was a pot hanging over the flames.  There was a full picture window that spanned the length of the front of the cottage.  To the right of the fireplace was a wall full of shelves.  The shelves were full of wool ~ some raw, some spun.  Then I saw a beautiful spinning wheel and a loom. Women would come to her for healing.  One by one.   She sat them down in a chair and stood behind them, not touching them, but close enough that they could feel her comforting presence.  She did this until she could sense they had settled into themselves. She placed her hands on their shoulders and, with the movements of her hands, began to settle whatever was troubling them ~ to bring healing, moving from the upper back of the woman and ending by placing a hand over the heart place.  The women were completely at peace in the chair.

As they sat in their solace, she would move to her wheel and spin wool ~ putting into it the particular healing for the woman she had just laid hands on.  Once the wool was spun, she worked needles or her loom to create a healing shawl for the woman, so that she could carry her healing wherever she went.  Everyone who came to see her for healing loved her.  They felt seen. They felt understood.

The healing work went on uninterrupted until one day, a woman turned up on her doorstep not wanting healing, but to apprentice with her.   The woman appeared earnest in her desire, so the weaving healer woman wholeheartedly shared all the ways of her practice. I was then shown the woman on the doorstep had 2 faces:  one of an attentive student and one of a backstabbing gossip monger.  The woman used everything the weaving healer had shared with her to discredit her work and mock her gift.  She painted her as an insane, dangerous woman, she warned people away from her.   At that moment, I saw a dark, clay wall build around the weaving healer ~ her heart was broken.  From then on, she only allowed herself the smallest space for her gift ~ shared only with herself.  She would sometimes let it out a bit further, but would always recoil with fear and grief.  The animals in the forest, however, remained loyal to her.

At the moment of healing in this story, the weaving healer and I switched places.  I was encased in dark clay and she was bright and free again.  The Daughter of the Well gave me a copper hammer and I smashed the clay tomb around me into a million bits of dust.   As the tomb smashed, I saw all the women who the weaving healer had helped - making their way through the forest - each wearing their healing shawls. This gift of the weaving healer is no longer choked in me like a tiny trickle of water in a dried-up riverbed.  This gift of the weaving healer, this spirit of magic, is now a flowing torrent that runs freely through my veins.  The star grandmothers have blessed me and I am free to allow the healing spirit of magic, to allow the fuel of living beauty, to flow through me and my work, unfettered.

Thank you, always, dear Julia, for shining the light and illuminating a way in. Infinities of love and all good things". Swurlygirl - 2017

I am happy to say that Lori's ancestral memory of weaving, spinning and knitting with love and intention is very much alive in her life again and you can see her beautiful work as Swurlygirl Working Wool. I will watch with great curiosity as Lori also makes way for her stories to emerge to be shared again too now that she has given herself permission to share them again with others. Thank you so much Lori I'm putting my name down for one of those healing shawls when they are ready to return.

Bookings: The Hagstone - Swan Blessing with Julia

Read more Swan Stories

The Witch's Daughter - Past Life Vow to Remain Alone

Witches' Wood by Bertrand H. Wentworth
Witches' Wood by Bertrand H. Wentworth

Swan Blessing is the past life and ancestral healing work that I began 7 years ago to help clear and heal the memories and ancestral trauma of the 'burning times' upon our ancestors and ourselves. The memory or soul loss created by witnessing events where women have been persecuted for simply being healers and connected to the earth and her plants or even carrying these memories from our ancestors in our DNA can create many kinds of problems in our present lives. The most common feeling is anxiety, but it can also manifest as a kind of sensation of being stuck and unable to move because in a way we remember what happened to the women who stood out, were different. The biggest crime of all is that it has conditioned us to believe it is safer to stay on the edge of the 'mystery', to never step back through the veil. 

Today I share Alex' Swan Blessing story of the witch's daughter and her vow to remain alone. When I read this story in full it had a profound effect on me because she was speaking from the heart about issues that were so personal and painful for her. I loved her retelling and the honesty, the raw guts and all approach to her life! Thank you Alex for reminding me that this journey with the collective is also personal and individual - we cannot compare it to anyone else's experience and the worst thing we can do is try to 'fit in'. Alex is also speaking honestly about the healing process and how it is often like peeling layers away - good and deep healing takes time. Most importantly I am so happy to see that now Alex is alone when she chooses to be alone and that she is MAGNIFICENT! 

With her story also came gifts of healing water gathered at the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in Scotland where she was the only one crazy enough that day to swim in those freezing waters and from the Chalice Well in Glastonbury. When Alex arrived for her session I didn't know that she was about to embark on this journey, but as soon as she chose tarot cards from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert (an amazing deck that I find perfect for past life work) her destination was right there in front of her in vivid colour. The cards asked Alex 'are you going to always sit on the edge of the mystery daughter? How long can you keep yourself apart, a step away from joy?' Here is her answer.

 Swan Blessing reading with the Gaian Tarot before Alex journeyed with the Swan

Swan Blessing reading with the Gaian Tarot before Alex journeyed with the Swan

"This has taken me a while to write. Soon after my Swan Blessing with Julia, I wrote some notes to remember my encounter. But to write it out fully, is to release it. And I haven’t been ready to do that. Until now. I very much enjoy wallowing in my pain and misery, observing it, letting it twist my insides until my anxiety levels peak. It’s quite sadistic, I know. But I learn from it, as long as I acknowledge it. Which takes a while. After I wallow, I ignore all the self-inflicted pain and become destructive until I am ready to face the truth. I am a big advocate of 'ignorance is bliss'. Yet the problem is, this no longer works for me. I know too much, have felt too much to be ignorant to my desires, passions and ultimately the light and dark of my being. Which was why I went to see Julia.

I arrived at Julia's home on the second day of spring, full of promise, hope, doubt and a little worried. Throughout the year, I have been doing a lot of soul searching, trying to understand my nature, patterns I repeat and my shadow aspect which I have a tendency to either deny or let consume me. I was going to Julia to seek answers. When she explained to me that sometimes vows or promises made in past lifetimes have the ability to affect us in this lifetime, my immediate reaction was "shit... I reckon I did some pretty crazy shit in my previous lives". But Julia's calming voice let me break away from my fears and feel the love and energy of my spirit guides and ancestors.

After I selected cards from a tarot deck, Julia was able to explain to me the vow I had made was having a major impact on my relationships in this lifetime. This was very accurate, as I do struggle to connect to others on a higher level as well as letting certain patterns destroy my relationships. However, the next card was the one that really hit me. It was a young girl sitting on the edge of the Chalice Well, a famous spiritual site in Glastonbury, England. Like the girl, spiritually, I had always found myself on the edge. Never delving in, never committing, yet interested and informed. Not being able to let go and experience spirituality had there caused me much sadness throughout my life, contributing to feeling like an outsider. What made this card particularly interesting, was that in approximately a month, I was travelling to the UK, so making the journey to the Chalice Well was at the top of my must see list. The final card was the Sun which showed a girl surrounded by sunflowers, dancing, with a beautiful, happy and knowing smile. I saw myself in that girl and instantly I wanted that version of me. I didn’t want to wallow and pity myself anymore. Nor self-destruct,hurt myself and others or waste my life away in ignorance. I wanted to release the vow I made, one so strong, it hid, forcing me to go deep within. One that I have carried through lifetimes, letting it affect me and even feeding it at times. But not anymore. This time I am going to let it go.

The first thing I see are green eyes. Green eyes peering at me in a pool of clear water. I try to reach to the creature with the engaging green eyes. But they disappear. I call to them again and this time they appear with a nose. But they still will not leave the pool, the safety. They are willing to let me in, but they will not come out. I must go deeper for this journey. As I break through the veil of the pool onto the other side, I find myself in a partially dried river bed, in a beautiful valley surrounded by trees, standing next to a girl of about 8 years old. She has straw coloured hair and is dressed in a filthy white woollen shift. As she turns to look up at me, somewhat defiant yet also grateful, I see that the eyes match the green eyes I saw in the pool. She still will not let me approach her, but she allows me to follow her so she can show me. I follow her along the river bank, watching her as she stops sporadically to pick something up, throwing stones into the river here and there and occasionally checking that I do not get too close to her. I ask her where her family are.

She speaks to me without opening her mouth, in what I can only describe as telepathically. She tells me that she is alone. She is upset but she looks into my third eye and shows me what happened to her family. I am not myself, I am her. I feel all her fear and horror as people surround her house, yelling and shouting, calling out to her mother. I can see my (her) mother standing in the corner shielding my brother, a toddler who is crying. The people around the house are yelling a number of things, directed at my mother such as“Heretic”, “Witch”, “Whore” and“Slut”. The mob burnt the house to the ground. Yet I was not in it. I am not sure how or why, but I was somehow watching the house burn from above.

I feel all her loss, pain and anger at losing her family. As the girl pulled me back to myself, she explained that she had been living in the valley on her own, taking care of herself. I ask her to show me happier times with her family and what it was like before they took them away. Again, I am forced into her consciousness. I see my mother, who radiated love and cared for me so much. The love I felt towards my mother, emanating from my small form was some of the purest, most joyful love I have ever felt. My mother was a medicine woman or hedge witch, who showed me how to make healing poultices, use healing plants and hunt and trap animals for food. I had no father. I played with my little brother and took him to the garden when people would come to see my mother. The same people who would kill her. Young women would come for love or fertility, and men for healing and virulence. To the child and to me she was the absolute embodiment of the divine feminine. The perfect balance of feminine and masculine. She was womanly and gentle with unbleached skin and light auburn hair with big blue eyes like sapphires.While these people used her for her services, they were always wary and scared of her. I could feel my child’s mind unable to understand, because the way I saw her as beautiful, loving and caring. She was pure. The people who used her were troubled and scared of everything including themselves.

illustration John D Batten
illustration John D Batten

I was thrown forward in time and I was still the girl but a little older, around 14 years old. I slept in a large tree at night to keep warm. I was able to hunt for myself and find any herbs, vegetables or plants that I needed. I was ultimately a recluse, withdrawing form human contact as much as I possibly could. She wanted me to see that we could take care of ourselves. That we didn’t need to rely on others. As I acknowledged this fact, I was thrown forward again to a time where I was approximately 20 years old. I was walking through the middle of a small town or village. The people that I walked past, mostly in a market place, stopped what they were doing to gawk at me. Some were whispering, few knew who I was. Others could feel or sense the power that was emanating from me, swirling around me, threatening to consume them if they dare approach. My destination was a hall which sat on a hill just above the village. The only way I can describe my thoughts while I was walking through the village was “NO FUCKS GIVEN.” I did not care what these people thought of me, what they said to me or about me. I was fucking magnificent, powerful and most of all, I knew it. I was there for a purpose.

As I approached the hall and opened the doors to enter, my eyes locked with a man in a large chair, someone who was clearly in charge. He knew who I was and I knew who he was. He was my father. And he had had my mother and brother killed. Whatever his reasons or intentions, I did not care. I stared at him until his gaze fell, possibly in recognition of who I was or in acceptance of what was about to happen. And then I cursed him. I cannot remember the exact words (probably a good thing) but they were similar to “I curse you and all your seed. Your line will begin and end with me. All you love, have ever loved and all you touch will turn to dust and fade. You will be nothing. You are nothing." The pure anger, hatred and vengeance was like nothing I had ever felt. At times I can be a vindictive person who will hurt others because they have hurt me, but this was next level. In this lifetime I was willing to sacrifice myself to hurt another person. To take away everything that mattered to him, because he had taken away the only thing that I cared about. My vow and the sacrifice I made for the curse was to be alone forever. I had lost the only thing that mattered and rather than try to find solace and acceptance, other people to care for, I chose hateful vengeance and a solitary life. I was shown a brief glimpse of the rest of my life, which was not overly long. I had a number of lovers and seduced anyone I could, with no acknowledgement of the pain I caused to people that had never hurt me. I bore children and in a way discarded them, found no joy in them, regarded them as a hindrance. And so I was always alone. I didn’t care for anyone.

Many years later, I went back to the village of my father. They eventually bound me in chains and placed me in a jail of some sort. In some way, I knew that my father was dying or very ill. I was at the end of my journey, the hate and rage had become exhausting and it was nearly over. I knew that to capture and kill me, despite the curse would give my father a measure of peace in his after life. So in my last act of defiance I pulled a vial of poison out from between my breasts, took the dram in one long swig and died with a smile on my lips because I had won. I had sacrificed my own peace to take away someone else’s.

Once again, I was standing in the valley beside the river bed, with the young woman who had placed the curse in front of me. As I looked at her, my eyes filled with tears and my whole body became tense, making me feel like I had been winded. I begged her to embrace me, to release the anger, hatred and the vow that held us both. She refused me. Who was I to tell her what to do? How could I make her release when no one else could? What happened next, was like some telepathic exchange where I explained that I knew how she felt, I had just seen it, I was also bound by her hatred. I pleaded with her once more and hesitantly she embraced me and then collapsed in to my arms. All the sadness, sorrow, hatred and pain left her, filtered into me and she became light as a feather. Before she was beautiful because she was fearsome. Now she beautiful because she was happy. She could be finally be with her mother and brother. They were standing there waiting for her, like they always had been. As she hugged me goodbye, thanked me and went to her family, all her emotions consumed me and bound me in vines from my feet to my neck. As they constricted and suffocated, this was the time I knew I could not wallow in my self-hatred and pity. I searched for anything to break me free from these constricting vines and found a dagger made of bone. As I began to hack away at the vines piece by piece, I could feel the tension in my body begin to ease, the anxiety slip away. I felt the hatred, vengeance and pain fall away with every vine. I cut through the curse and the vow and felt my body release generations of pain. I was free.

A month after I had my Swan Blessing, I journeyed to the UK. I went with a heart and head full of the excitement, knowledge and hope I had gained. And you know what? I was disappointed. I arrived in London expecting to be this amazing, free person, yet I still wasn’t. To be honest, after seeing Julia I did a little bit of work on myself but other than immediately after the blessing I didn’t feel significantly different. I thought it would all make sense when I left, when I escaped from everything I knew. I expected an instant fix. I saw friends in London and Liverpool and travelled to Glasgow on my own, waiting every moment for this 'epiphany' to happen. To let go of all my bullshit, to release my vow, to be as free as that girl in the sun, the one who had cut all the vines. Instead I was homesick. I was in a country I had wanted to travel to virtually my entire life and I was fucking homesick!? What the hell was wrong with me? Where was this magical realisation and cure all for me being a fucked up mess? Feeling quite dejected I continued on. I hired a car and drove through the Scottish Highlands, to the Isle of Skye, Inverness and back down to Edinburgh. I marvelled at the enormity of the highlands, the vast meandering emptiness that also felt so full of life with a sparkle in my eyes and a grin on my face. I forced myself out of my shell, talking to the travellers, asking their advice and picked up a hitchhiker who I travelled to Skye and Inverness with. I climbed mountains, stood on cliffs and swam in the Fairy Pools. I went searching for the Northern Lights of Inverness, driving along winding roads that felt so tiny and foreign. I stood on the banks of Loch Ness, with a song in my heart and picked a thistle for my one true love.

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During this time, I forgot that I was waiting for this 'epiphany'. I forgot that I needed a cure for being a mess, for being sensitive and cruel at the same time. It wasn’t until I was back in London and had a little down time that I remembered how important the Chalice Well had been to me. So I hired a car and drove out to Glastonbury, stopping at Stonehenge on the way. After arriving in Glastonbury late, I left early the next morning to drive towards Tintagel Castle and Cornwall. Due to lack of planning, I missed the opportunity to explore Merlins Cave. Pissed off, I hiked up a ridiculous amount of stairs against the tearing wind to look at some bloody rocks that form what was once a castle. I kept going, marvelling at the wildness of the country, avoiding massive slugs and goats that are apt to chase people. When I had reached a peak, I sat down partially from exhaustion, part memory and part sadness. I stood up and looking down at the ferocious sea, I screamed into the wind, yelling at the goddess, at god, at myself, daring the wind to become powerful enough to knock me into the sea and let it consume me. With a raw throat, salt stained face and teary eyes, I walked back to the car.

I had one more stop before I could finally go to the Chalice Well, and that was St. Nectan's Glen which I thought looked like a cool waterfall. Once I arrived, I started to walk along the path hurriedly as I just wanted to get a photo and get back in the car so I could make it to see the Chalice Well before it closed. Yet I kept walking. And walking. And bloody walking! Rather than taking in the beauty around me, I was hurrying. When I finally reached the entrance I walked down to the waterfall and I was on my own in this haunting glen. It felt like there was no one around for miles. Like I was the only soul left alive. I admired the ribbons hanging from trees, small piles of flat stones and the rushing water from the beautiful keyhole waterfall. I sat for a moment and contemplated whatever people contemplate in places such as this and then I stood up, took my clothes off and waded into the water and stuck my head under the freezing waterfall. Because why not?

I finally made it to the Chalice Well gardens that afternoon (after taking forever to find a park in tiny English streets, being yelled at for smoking too close to the gardens and scolded for coming towards closing time). I walked the gardens, took photos and drank the water which apparently has healing properties. By the time I came to the actual Well, I sat and cried. Not from sadness or happinessbut from acknowledgement. Sitting by it, I can’t honestly say if it was 'welling' with the spirits and powers of ancient magicks. I was too consumed in myself and my 'epiphany' moment. The Chalice Well was a reminder of how far I had come since sitting in the room in the forest with Julia and discovering my vow, my strength and my darkness.

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Despite making the vow to be alone and being afraid of it all my life, I learned it is okay to be a recluse at times in order to recharge and to do things on your like driving through Scotland. That like the little girl from my Swan Blessing, I can take care of myself, without reliance on others, what they think of me and their opinions on how I conduct my life. I realised that I am FUCKING MAGNIFICENT, even if I don't feel that way all the time and that while being born a woman, a cause of pain and frustration in many ways, is such a blessing that I need to own it and be proud of being this fucking divine. I don't need to constantly test people nor do I have to win all the time, as it is okay to let go sometimes. I acknowledge that I don't need to rush all the time, sometimes the universe is just screaming for you to take your time. Most importantly I realised that I am deserving of love and so much more.

While these might not sound like things worthy of a major realisation, these are issues that I have faced throughout my life. While I visualised cutting away the vines that day in the forest, they were never completely gone. Cutting the vines did not release my vow, but gave me the power to release it. However it doesn't come quickly. You release parts and pieces, acknowledging and bidding farewell. They will try to come back repeatedly (a bit like John Farnham) but you know better now. They're transparent and you are no longer ignorant. You won't let the vines creep up on you again. Whilst I understand not everyone can go on a journey like I did so soon after having their blessing, you don't need to. You have been awoken. You have seen your lightness and possibly your darkness. It won't come as easy as you think or will it come quickly and you will spend a long time keeping those vines at bay. But it's worth it. Because you're no longer happy to sit by in ignorance and bliss. Take the pain and harsh realisations because it is all worth it in the end.

I would like to thank Julia for not only the Swan Blessing but also the help and advice she has given me in the past. I have learnt that I don't need to hold on to things to make them true. I need to release them so that I am able to live."

Alex Walker, 2016

 

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Photos by Alex Walker

GrandMother Crow and Past Life Beliefs

Crow Medicine artwork by Sacred Familiar Lately I have been finding crow feathers on every walk in the forest. This is a photo of a GrandMother messenger that I met on Williamstown Beach many moons ago - one of the biggest teachings I've ever received. She said to me 'you are beholden to no-one' and began to show me visions of past lives where I'd taken sacred vows of silence, poverty, chastity and the healer's oath - beautiful & honourable vows in their time but promises that had become binding and heavy to my spirit now. Soon after this meeting with Crow I began to travel around Australia for the next 3 years with the medicine that became known as Swan Blessing - a release from old karmic contracts and sacred vows.

I'm happy to say that after resting this medicine over the last 6 months I will be opening space to hold these medicine sessions again in 2015 in person here in Sherbrooke Forest & by Skype. Blessings on your path friends, you are free.

Shapeshifters by Sylvia Ji

Kristan's Swan Blessing Story of The Outcast

In her past life, Kristan belonged to a tribe that could not accept the powerful medicine that she carried. In her tribe this medicine was seen as taboo for woman to hold. She was asked to obey or to leave. She chose to say NO to the tribe so that she could say YES to her spirit. Many of us have experienced similar stories in past lives and in our present lives. We have felt that to truly be ourselves, we must journey alone. Or we have put up with behaviour that hurts us just to stay a part of the tribe whether that tribe is family, society, peers. In this time of the rise of the Divine Feminine we are being called out of the shadows to embrace all of our natural gifts and to release the fear of being rejected and cast out by those who do not understand or accept us. Saying NO when it is right for us is a practice of honouring ourselves. When we release the belief that there was ever anything ‘wrong’ with us we remember that we are all creatures of the earth – as individual as every animal and plant and an integral part in the wheel of life.

Looking into the waters of the crystal ball of consciousness, I stared and I waited and I imagined I would not see anything. And I saw nothing for what felt like such a long, long time, I was beginning to feel I would not see, that my mind was too strong to allow my soul to show me what I needed and wanted to see

I stayed with prayer, asking and pleading at one moment to see, please let me see  . . .  and then the mists began to clear and I could see a clearing in the mountains, green pine all around, the smell of freshness and soil, and a teepee

And horses, many horses And then I saw HER, myself in another time By the teepee, the wild life of the mountains surrounding HER  Ah, she was alone, living an isolated life, no tribe, a sadness surrounded herI could also sense an understanding, acceptance of her situation as the best possible outcome for her at that time and place We saw each other, she smiledI could see her deer skin clothing, her turquoise choker with red beads HER long, long braids of dark black hair I could feel HER and I felt a relief that we had met, that the veils had parted and that we could meet I began to track why she was alone in the woods, her only communication with the forest life; the birds, woodland creatures, trees, the natural world who heard her and loved her

A new vision appeared I found myself within a tribe of teepees A fire A Father, a Chief at the door of his teepeeAnd a Mother and more children (my siblings) sitting at the door of her teepee I stood by my Father, the Chief as he asked me again if I would do what was expected of me and again, the 12 year old HER (me) said NO I would NOT

I was banished from my tribe

For being who I was For speaking who I was For saying NO to what was not true for me I caught the eye of my mother and she caught mine sadness but understanding i saw there and in my father too, not as cheif, but as my father a sadness and again an understanding And away SHE went, alone, to live a life of isolation, to be herself Again, I find myself back at HER teepee This time we connect, we stand in a pool of water, a water fall, falling behind us The vines from below come up, writhing and cover her, strangle her, snake like she is bound I connect with HER, I cut with my teeth the binding reedy vines I free HER She smiles at me, she becomes as of light and as a shooting star Returns

The wounding: I will be rejected, cast out, banished from my tribe if I am myself, authentic and truth speaking, if I say NO to what does not feel right I release this binding, this wounding as I bite and free the vines of that lifetime

The blessing: authentic, true and free, I express myself fully, I am my actualized self, accepted, loved and cherished by my tribe, now and for eternity

Thank you Kristan Read, for sharing your beauty, strength and truth. Kristan is a Shamanic Midwife, Teacher and crafting creatrix extraordinaire! You can experience Kristan’s inspiring medicine for yourself through her work at www.atmypractice.comand www.thecrafthive.com

 

Read more Swan Blessing stories

New Forest Space for Sacred Familiar

Hello dreamers we have now opened our new space in Kallista surrounded by the green wonder of Sherbrooke Forest. Ancestral Medicine sessions will open on Monday at the New Moon Solar Eclipse. Hope to see you soon. We also offer sessions by Skype and telephone for our faraway friends. Green love to you all for your weekend wanderings, Julia and Tony x

Redwood Dreaming in Australia

This week I have begun preparing for the Swan Blessing ceremonies I will hold at Seven Sisters Festival on 28th March. This is more a process of stopping and listening rather than planning and being busy which is the way our minds have been programmed to gather knowledge. Wisdom gathering is hard for the mind because it happens through stillness. Over the last 2 weeks we have been without phone or internet and I remember something very similar happened before Seven Sisters last year - enforced stillness haha. 
And so this is where our enforced stillness led us this week - to discover a Sequoia forest in Warburton. I don't know why there is this forest of Redwood beauties planted here but it was a beautiful detour on a our monthly water quest to Mount Donna Buang. The forest had such presence and deep vibration and was full of the sound of a colony of bats that circled and communicated above us. We also stopped to pay our respects to the Yarra River. It saddens me to hear people talking badly about this beautiful river. The fact that she ends up in a dirty state in the city is due to human neglect. For all those who have never seen her in full and clear beauty - come to the mountain to see where she begins her journey. Let's all start showing her more love, she is looking after us. We love you Mother Yarra, thank you. 

Beloveds - Tony carrying Rory in the Redwood Forest
Mother River - Yarra River

Swan Blessing - Religious Vows of the Seer and Mystic

 

Today I share again Sharon's Swan Blessing story of the release of the Vows of Chastity and Poverty taken as a nun in a past life. Sharon felt these vows very keenly in her present life particularly the Vow of Poverty. And there was also something deeper, harder for Sharon to name or understand with her conscious mind. It manifested as a deep fear of rejection, particularly by her family and also a need to hide her true self in belief that to reveal it, would lead to the dreaded outcome of being rejected and outcast, not only from family but from society itself.

As the Swan Blessing opened Sharon's gift of sight, she saw a lifetime that began with abandonment. She saw herself as a baby being left on a doorstep by parents too young to keep her. She was taken in by a family who did not welcome her as a child of their own but as an unpaid servant. It was a childhood of hard work and of feeling unseen but deep within the child was a knowing that she was somehow meant for greater things. She was a child with a gift to see and communicate with the angelic realms. This secret gift was the only source of solace and joy in her life but when revealed became the source of ridicule, forcing her to run away from the adopted home. Like many female mystics of the past, she entered a religious order in the belief that she would not only be allowed to carry on her spirit communication but that she would be understood and honoured.

To enter the convent she had to take the heavy vows of Chastity and Poverty - vows that meant little to the young girl who was seeking a safe place to share and celebrate her medicine as Seer.  She was again relegated to the duties of servant. Over the years she gradually managed to rise up in rank in the convent but again felt the calling of her medicine, a deep knowing that she was made for deeper and stronger spiritual work and began to slowly reveal her gift of communication with spirit. In thinking that by entering a convent she would be in a place where this gift of direct revelation with spirit would be honoured and accepted she was greatly mistaken. Instead she saw herself experiencing the fate that befell many healers and medicine women of the past, she saw herself suffering the greatest of betrayals when her gift was labelled as witchcraft and she was burnt at the stake.

By releasing this story that has bound and held her medicine for lifetimes, Sharon felt enormous release and sense of freedom. I am glad that she is able to begin to embrace her ancestral wisdom once more and share her gifts in this lifetime free of fear.

"I Sharon am a Healer. 
Dear Julia, I just wanted to say thank you so much for yesterday's session. I had an AH-HAH moment in the car on my way home. Now it all makes perfect sense as to what has been going on in my life. 

As I looked into the well and saw that girl aged 15 with her piercing blue eyes and long blond hair, I felt a sense that I was looking at myself from centuries back. When she showed me that she was in a nun's outfit. 

She was such a tough little girl, to be abandoned by her parents when she was a baby, being rejected from her first day of life. Then to be taken in by a family where she never belonged and felt rejected once again, being a maid. Her only solace was talking to her friends the angels. Then being ridiculed because people thought she was crazy when she told people about her gift. Her only option was to run away.  

She thought that being a nun was her only way of being able to talk to the angels again, but she was made to be an outcast, so she renounced her gift and took on the vows of poverty and chastity and joined the order. Yet she never felt that this was her vocation and when she had risen through the church and decided to once again explore her gifts, she was burnt. 

This all makes sense to me, all my life, I have tried to do everything for my family. I always feared that they would reject me if I did anything wrong, This caused me so much anxiety and I even suffered from depression. 

The vow of poverty resounded so well for me, never being able to have a stable job because I didn't think I belonged anywhere and never giving myself fully to a relationship. This is all about to change. I am reclaiming my freedom and from this day forth I will ensure I lead my life . I am so looking forward to opening myself to the spiritual realm, to explore meaningful career opportunities and to welcome abundance. Thank you so much."

Blessings, Sharon

 
Artwork: Suscipe Me Domine, John Henry Frederick Bacon (1895)

Asha's Swan Blessing Story - BoneWoman

Susan Seddon Boulet

Today I share with you Asha's Swan Blessing story of past life Ancestral Medicine.

There are many reasons why we block and resist opening full connection to Ancestral Medicine again. Sometimes the medicine we have access to is so ancient and unknown to the mind that it frightens us. It may also carry the bindings of memories of carrying these gifts in times when it was dangerous and misunderstood. Many witches, healers and shaman were persecuted for possessing healing medicine that was viewed by a later religion as evil. The seeds of Ancestral Medicine are ancient and indigenous to the land they were birthed through, but these lands may not be where you find yourself living now and the wisdom needed to understand your medicine may not be available to you in your current environment or family.

When Asha came to me, she came with a heavy fury and pain. She also came carrying deep shame from lifetimes of believing that she had been the cause of a terrible and traumatic event. Asha's medicine in another lifetime was that of BoneWoman and Midwife. In this lifetime Asha had been drawn again to shamanic midwifery but was experiencing great pain and confusion when she sat with her sisters. In journeying back to the point of Soul Loss and closing down of her medicine, Asha saw that she'd lived in a time of high infant mortality and was a healer from the forest who was looked on with fear as she came not to birth the baby but to save the mother after the baby had died and heal the baby's soul and spirit through bone magic. Like many female healers, Asha experienced being blamed for the illness and 'bad luck' in her village and was made to watch as her sisters were murdered for her supposed crime. This led Asha to make the Sacred Vow to close down her Medicine and close her heart to Love.

This Swan Blessing was painful for Asha but so very beautiful in it's healing and return to Love. Asha gifts her Swan story to us here to help anyone else who may be resonating with these feelings.

"Her eyes are dark, black like ink. Thick black eye brows snake to a sculpted nose and her hair like coal rests heavy down her breasts.  

She is enraged, I feel it in my body, a hot convulsion, a shudder behind my brow, thick in my throat. But she trusts me, she trusts me and she reaches out her hands and I fall quickly and wholly through the inky pools of her eyes. I am in a dusty street, and alley between square earthen homes. Little stalls line the street and although it is not overy busy I cannot see her. Then it is that I glimpse her, see her walking briskly, almost, almost running, her scarf and clothes conspiring in the shadow of the buildings to conceal her almost completely. We come to a door way and when I enter at first I cannot see. There is a smell of death and metal. I cannot decide if I am in a home or the halls of a sort of hospital, not as I know it, but there is a long dark hall and I feel if not see many rooms. I feel other midwives, and also I don't and then we are in the room and my eyes have adjusted, just, and there is a mess. Blood and sweat and tears and the echo of pain to great to bear drench the air. A metalic stench. The mother, thick and heavy with her body's outpourings, past screams that have racked her body, and her hallow moans are all the worse for their subdued volume. A liquid is given, brought I assume by my dark eyed self but it is not she who holds it to her lips. Her entire focus is elsewhere. The babe stuck and dead.  

I watch her a long time. I think she wants me to know what it took. The physicality, her whole body wrenching from the woman's now limp one the the dead babe. Every thing she had. And more. And the numbness necessary. A resigned determination. Or a determinded resignation. She does not know if the mother will live, and in this very moment, in a certain way, she does not care, and the babe is too long dead. But she must pull it free. All she knows is that she must. And then it is done. There is a chaos in the room but we are removed from it all. No one looks at her. No one looks at the baby. No one looks at us. Too many dead babies.  

We are in the forest. A very small clearing created from the felling of one tree on whose stump rests something important. Show me, and she does, but it comes slowly. There are bones. For a long time all I see is the bones. As she moves them I understand she has collected them. Here is the skeleton of a rabbit. A deer. At first I do not understand. Teach me. She carefully aranges each bone to form the skeleton of the creature it once was. But one bone, one bone she takes from the baby. One bone she replaces. And then she breathes on the bones. She breathes the breath the babe never took. She breathes it into the rabbit bones until they breathe themselves. The rabbit lives, and the child lives in the rabbit. In the deer, in the birds of the forest. She is calm. She is sad but she knows what to do.  

She is old. She is so old. She is bitter. So bitter. I shake with her rage and she tastes like poison, like bile, yellow, green, black. The front of my body rots from it. And I ask her why. And she shows me. There is blood. There is blood. And there are limbs. Pieces, pieces, pieces of them. Mothers, daughters, sisters, midwives. They are hacked. They are hacked. They are hacked. And their blood pools and she is held. She is held by hard rough hands and arms, it takes many to hold her. There is an arm thick with muscle with soft blonde hairs. But they make her watch. They make her watch what she has done. They tell her this is her fault. The blood. The faces. The pieces. What do they call her? Witch. 

And it shivers though our spine. And it shivers through our time. I have to fly above it to understand what cannot be understood. But she is held in place. All she can see are those she has killed. She is old again and she coughs up the binding like stale phlegm. I will not help. I will never help again. What I know her to say is, I will not love. I will not heal. I will not love again. She binds her love and her healing gifts. I go to her. With my heart I see her. With my heart I understand. And I love her. I forgive her. And I tell her we are free. 

Our soul family comes, her sister midwives, and we are shocked, because they welcome her, they love her with open arms, here are her sisters who died, whose deaths we feel responsible for. But they do not ask us to hold this pain. They ask us to let ourselves be forgiven. And they become light like balloons, light like feathers, and she is rabbit, she is deer and she bounds into the forest. I cry for us because we are welcomed. We are welcomed home. We are welcomed back into love.  

I am as heavy as she is light. The daughter comes to me. I see my binding, it is arms. It is hands wraped around my torso. It is metal shackles on my ankles. The daughter comes to me and she hands me a scythe, the same one, and I shudder, but I hack away the hands that bind, and when they fall I slice smoothly through the metal on my ankles, the chain crumbles into dust. But the real work is the poison. The daughter puts her mouth to mine and she sucks the poison. She sucks and she sucks and she is serpent and woman and she sucks and she sucks. And she is done. Except there is something left. I spit out the last bit of bitterness.   

We are free. 

And I, I am safe to love again."  

.........

Deer Julia,I have felt profoundly this releasing. I am feeling more whole and more held in this life. And I can see today swan and in her gentle permeance. Gliding on the rivers of my journey. I have called in my sisters when I have felt my need, and they have come. And I feel them, all the women who have chosen to love me in this life. All the women who have chosen to love me in many lives. And I am releasing my shame. And in allowing myself to receive this love, allowing myself to be part of this cycle, allowing myself to love, I am coming to the freedom to be more and more alone. More all-one. Asha, 2014

Thank you Asha for sharing your heart and your story, oceans of love for the gentle holding of your beautiful medicine again, love Julia x

heart alchemy - healing the lineage

Stacia Napierkowska
Today I am creating a bespoke medicine doll for a seeker who wishes her doll to hold the spirit of Avalon. This morning I began gathering ferns and moss and oak leaves from a tree nearby. I will place an acorn in her hands - perhaps in a basket. I did a final walk to see what treasures were on the ground waiting for this doll and as I lay them out I began to feel what resonated for the doll and thought this is like alchemy, it is always a delicate balance of different plant and animal medicine. Some medicine feels distinctly feminine or masculine.
As I was laying out plants and feathers I received an email with the gift of the photo above of Stacia Napierkowska. The woman who sent it to me was in need of a session to heal the wound story of the lineage of women in her family. She remarked on how similar the photo felt to the card The Fferyllt representing the archetype Temperance in the Druidcraft Tarot. The Fferyllt were the Druid alchemists - creating the Sacred Marriage of balance between the Sacred Feminine and Masculine. We see this work here in the element of Water (in the cauldron) representing the Feminine and the Fire below as the Masculine. 
This healing of the Sacred Union is such important work for us now. These wounds may come from your own experiences in this lifetime, from the lineage wound in your birth family, the collective unconscious or carried over from past lives. This heart alchemy will not only be a benefit to ourselves but also to the lineage of children to come and the ones who came before us. Ancestral healing teaches us that we are all linked - when one hurts, we all hurt - when one heals, we all feel the benefit of that release. To do this healing work for your lineage, family and community is a great gift. Sending love to all those finding the delicate balance of heart alchemy today.
Druidcraft Tarot

Jane's Unbinding of the Wise Woman

Recently I had the honour of holding a Swan Blessing dreaming well at the Deepening Retreat for the sisters of the School of Shamanic Midwifery. What a powerful dreaming on the sacred land of Jane Hardwicke Collings, the founder and creatrix of school. Jane's dream of birthing the new shamanic sisterhood left a deep impression on me, her energy is beautiful - without judgement and full of encouragement. If you are looking for a guide to step into your own shamanic practice I can recommend no-one more highly. I first met Jane in person when she came for her Swan Blessing just over a year ago and since this time we seemed to have journeyed so closely in our medicine and wishes for this new Golden Age. 

We will be holding the last Swan Blessing sessions for the year next week at the Summer Solstice, if Swan is calling to you please get in touch it is such a beautiful point of the wheel right now to be creating more freedom in your life. Many of the seekers who take part in a Swan Blessing are also sending us their journeys for a book in creation: Swan Blessing - Releasing the Ties That Bind. They are so very potent and beautiful. Here is Jane's memory of her journey with the Swan. 
I saw her, old, long scraggly hair, wrapped in tanned animal hide for protection, by the river, in the forest, alone, very alone, sad, resigned, quiet. She'd been banished from the village, or maybe she'd run away and been hiding, either way it was because she'd been found out or would have been and that meant she'd had to leave or die.   

I saw her, young, she was writing furiously, long feather quill, hiding somewhere in a corner of the attic of the dwelling, in the dark, a lone taper burning. She was scared, fearful of being seen, yet she wrote and she wrote, pausing only to hear more to write.The words were coming to her from others, words she couldn't see who spoke, yet the words came and she wrote them.The Grandmother who lived in her hut in the forest had told her that the voices and their words that she heard were important and that she must write them down and give them to her. She taught her to write and read and told her to keep it a secret, not to tell anyone and to keep on doing it. 

On the Grandmother's death bed, she made her promise, make a vow, to never let anyone else know about the words she heard and to not let anyone see her writing, otherwise she would be killed. She wrote and wrote and the words soothed her soul. She shared them with her mother and her sisters because the words spoke of a different way, a way where they would be honoured and respected, it was so different to how it was for them.... The vow she made to the Grandmother kept her scared, scared of being seen, scared of being found out and scared of what would happen should she be discovered and the vow kept the words secret, but the words wanted to be shared and read.....   

The vow she made stayed with her until another lifetime when she went to the Blacksmith's cottage and met a Witch who flew with Swan. The Witch helped her find a way to cut away the web that was the vow, that had stuck to her, that was stuck in and around and all over her. And Black Panther came then, to be with her, to protect her and guard her. She was safe now, the vow was released and the words could come freely and be shared.    

Jane, Sydney 2012

Thank you Jane for sharing your story and sharing your love and vision with us all. How lucky we are to have you back with us again.