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Swan Medicine

*Lady Stearn Robinson & Tom Gorbett/The Dreamer's Dictionary:
The omen here depends on the details of the action and color. Black swans portend business problems in the offing; white swans predict happiness in love or domestic affairs if they were floating, and business or financial success if they were flying or walking. To see swans gliding in a small pond predicts great weath through your own diligent efforts.

*Zolar/Encyclopedia of Signs, Omens, and Superstitions:
Because of their size and rather conspicuous white plumage, swans have always occupied a prominent place in mythology and folklore. Engravings and designs that date back to the Stone Age depict the swan and other long-necked birds in designs that include the sun disk, suggesting that these birds were linked with solar mythology from a very early period.

Since swans appeared every year at the time when the days were lengthening and the power of the sun was increasing, it is said they helped usher spring in. To this day, some inhabitants in Northern Asia erect poles featuring effigies of flying swans, under which they place wooden models of fish--symbolizing the powers of sky, earth, and water.

The belief that people can be transformed into swans is ancient and widespread. Aeschylus, the Greek playwright, was perhaps first to mention the swan maidens. Aphrodite is represented in art riding on a swan or goose. According to Ovid, Cycnus was turned into a swan by his father, Apollo. It was said that both Apollo and Aphrodite rode in chariots drawn by swans. Zeus was said to have turned himself into a swan in order to have sexual relations with Leda.

Traditions in Siberia and Ireland said that killing a swan would bring misfortune or death. In County Mayo in Ireland it is said that souls of virtuous maidens actually dwell in swans. Generally accepted is the legend that the swan sings while dying. Although Pliny is said to have contradicted this belief, it was, nontheless, endorsed by poets throughout time.

Shakespear writes, in Othello, "I will play the swan, and die in music." In The Merchant of Venice he writes, "He makes a swanlike end, fading in music."

According to a Hampshire belief, swans are hatched during a thunderstorm. Generally held is the idea that a swan can hatch its eggs only during a storm. In Scotland it is believed that three swans flying together means disaster is coming.

*Barbara G. Walker/The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets:
An ancient, universal shamanic practice of wearing swan-feather cloaks created numerous myths of deities able to transform themselves into swans. The Heavenly Nymphs (Apsaras) of Hindu mythology were swan maidens. As a phallic god sporting with these sexual angels of the Vedic heaven, Krishna became a swan knight. Multiplied forms of his Goddesses were sometimes swan-houris, sometimes milkmaids, the Gopis. Kalmuck a swan knight who courted the Triple Goddess in the guise of three milkmaids, daughters of the Old Woman (Kali).

The same Indo-European lore surfaced in Scandinavian myth as the swan incarnations of the Valkyries, who wore magic swan-feather cloaks to transform themselves. Kali or Kauri became the Valkyrie Karam, who flew in her swan feathers above battlefields and sang magic charms to deprive the enemy of strength. Legends insisted that if a man could steal a Valkyrie's costume of swan feathers, she would be forced to grant his every wish.

The swan knight Krishna appeared in classic Greek myth as Zeus in swan feathers, disguising himself as a swan to seduce the Goddess Leda, who gave birth to the World Egg, which suggests that she too was a totemic swan. Sometimes she was confused with the Goddess Nemesis to whom Zeus's very life was subject: Leda or "Lady" being her only title. Northern mythology also identified her with the Balkyrie Burnnhilde, whose seven children or Seven Dwarves were transformed into the seven swans of the fairy tale. Zeus's swan form can be traced also to the Vedic image of Brahma in his special vahana ("vehicle," animal incarnation): a swan.

Swan maidens and swna knights associated with the Old Religion were common in European folklore throughout the Christian era. A certain order of knights connected with the legendary Temple of the Grail and the defense of women claimed descent from a divine swan-hero. The families of Gelders and Cleves bore a swan on their arms, to honor their ancestor "the Knight of the Wan, servant of women," in whose memory Duke Adolph held a tournament in 1453.

This Knight was sometimes called Lohengrin, a savior of women like the British hero Lancelot-Galahad. After the classic pattern, Lohengrin floated in a mystic vessel on the sea in his infancy, and was found and raised by a great queen in a foreign land. After his death he was reborn or reincarnated as his own son.

When Lohengrin became one of the Knights Templar of the Grail, he was sent from the Grail castle at Montslavatch to champion the cause of Duchess Else of Brabant, who had been unjustly imprisoned for exercising the ancient right of noblewomen to choose a lover from among men of inferior rank. Having overcome Else's enemies, Lohengrin married her. According to one version of the story, probably drawn from the myth of Psyche and Eros, Else was forbidden to ask her husband's real name, but couldn't help insisting on it; so, sorrowfully revealing his name, Lohengrin was obliged to leave Else and return to the Mount of Paradise. Other versions of the story said he took her with him to Montslavatch, where they lived happily ever after.

Other stories said Lohengrin appeared in his swan-feather costume to defend Clarissa, Douchess of Bouillon, against the Count of Farankfort, who tried to steal her duchy. Or, he took up the cause of Beatrice of Cleves, whose property rights were threatened by hostile barons. Though he sallied forth to the rescue of several ladies in distress, the Swan-Knight's real home was always "the mountain where Venus lives in the Grail."

*D.J. Conway/Animal Magick:
There are five species of these very large, long-necked and web-footed birds in the genus Cygnus. They are related to geese. Three species are found in the Northern Hemisphere and two species in Australia and southern South America. Northern swans are all white. The Australian is white with a black neck. The only species without a loud voice is the mute swan which produces only hissing sounds. Swans pair for life. They are graceful, beautiful, and fast fliers and swimmers, but they can be very aggressive. They glide with stately dignity on the water.

To the Greeks, the swan was the bird of Apollo. According to a Greek legend, the swan sings a melody of haunting beauty just before its death, thus connecting it with Apollo, god of music. It was dedicated to the Omphalos stone at Delphi. The swan was also an emblem of the Muses and Aphrodite. They were sid to pull the chariot of Venus through the air. Zeus took swan-form to satisfy his lust with Leto and Helen.

The Greek love goddess Aphrodite had three bird familiars: the dove, swan, and goose. A sixth century B.C.E. statue shows her standing on a giant swan; in one hand she carries a sacred casket, symbol of her secret knowledge of death and rebirth. In another terra cotta image, Aphrodite sits on a throne made of two swans.

Hindu deities often interchanged the goose and the swan, which repesented breath and spirit. The swan was a mount for the goddess Sarasvati and sometimes Brahama. The heavenly nymphs, called the apsaras, were often portrayed as swans. The goddess Devi rides a swan that wears a necklace.

Several Celtic folk legends tell of the mystical sacred swan. Its feathers were used in ritual cloaks by the Bards since wans are connected with music and song. People who shape-shifted into swans were identified by gold or silver chains areound their necks. Norse legend also speaks of this shape-shifting as one form which the Valkyries could take; they were called swan maidens. As an alchemical symbol, the swan stood for mercury.

superstitions: Some cultures still believe that the swan sings at its death. It is said the swan can't hatch its eggs except in a thunderstorm. In Scotland, if three swans fly together, it means a national disaster.

Magickal attributes: Aid with the interpretation of dream symbols, transitions; spiritual evolution. Developing intuitive abilities; seeing into the future. If a swan is seen in meditation, pay close attention to hunches and omens. Divination on a spiritual level.

*Mary Summer Rain/On Dreams:
Exemplifies an individual's beautiful and grace-filled spiritual nature; inherent spiritual essence and resulting gifts.

*Denise Linn/The Secret Language of Signs:
The white swan is the sign of the white goddess and beauty. If this sign appears to you, plan on gliding to new heights with freedom and grace. A black swan can allude to the inner mysteries of life and to your intuitio. Some have suggested that the swan is a sign of the balance of male and female energies, becasue its rounded soft body suggests femininity and its long outstretched neck suggests the phallus. Apollo, the god of music, was associated with the swan becasue of the mythic belief tthat the swan would sing with exquisite beauty at the point of death--the swan song.

*Bobby Lake-Thom/Spirits of the Earth:
Among birds, for example, the White Swan represents the North direction, the first power of Creation, which is the Wind. The color white represents purity, strength, wisdom, and old age.

*Patricia Telesco/The Language of Dreams:
A recognition of finality and ending (e.g., "singing one's swan song"). Among Hindus, this bird is interchangeable with the goose, representing creative origination and the breath of life. The Celts regarded the swan as a solar bird that was beneficent and a shape-shifter. In a dream, this can relate to your ability to adapt to a new situation gracefully. Native American: An emblem of trust and forgiveness. Swans are also representative of love interests, being sacred to Aphrodite, Venus, and Zeus, the latter of whom changed himself into a swan to pursue the affection fo Leda. Dreaming of two swans together portends very devoted relationships. Swans mate for life. Becasue o fthe story of the Ugly Duckling, swans also represent positive transformations in self-image. It can also reflect spending time with the wrong groups of people who engender lower self-esteem.