Swan journeys from awkward adolescence into captivating adulthood through a process of surrender. Many people feel that surrender signifies defeat. If we stop protesting and yield to the conflict at hand, are we compromising noble truths? Are we turning away from our core values?
Why do we sometimes linger in a state of anguish? Why, if we are in pain, do we not return to a state of grace within minutes- as all the animals do? The Swan Spirit Animal Totem teaches the art of stepping into one’s beauty and power against all odds. Swan journeys from awkward adolescence into captivating adulthood through a process of surrender. Many people feel that surrender signifies defeat. If we stop protesting and yield to the conflict at hand, are we compromising noble truths? Are we turning away from our core values? Or could it be, in accepting a painful condition, we enter a strange, cosmic state of grace that gives us a glimpse of the larger pattern we are a part of?
We live in a dimension of duality. Of opposites. Light/dark, right/ wrong, hot/cold, male/female and on and on… In this state, we constantly shift between all variations. Human nature can never stay still. And Swan Medicine is asking us to learn how to surrender to our own duality. We can love a person AND hate them. As confounding as that may seem, it is a natural law. Entering a state of Grace is only possible when we give space to the parts of us that are not “lovely.”
Many people who are struggling to heal from past trauma have an unconscious belief that if they allow themselves to heal from what happened to them, then the people who inflicted the pain upon them will “get away with it.” There is an unconscious belief that if we stay wounded, we hold those responsible for the pain and in some energetic way, through our inability to thrive, punish the wrong-doers. If I learn to let go of what they did, I let them off the hook. But the frustrating reality is, what happened has happened. Whoever was involved was, for whatever reason, able to do what they did. And it is done. And it is over. And asking how or why it happened, seeking meaning from events beyond our understanding, will only hold us in the painful state. We are not, can not be literally responsible for bringing justice to those who broke the rules, as much as our film and television stories would have us believe. How justice works is much too dynamic and spontaneous for us to control. If by the Grace of the Great Mystery, we can find a way to release the need for justice and trust that whatever anyone does to another, they do to themselves ten times over, we can then release ourselves from the agony field and disengage from the situation holding down our desires to thrive.
It is a well-known catch-phrase that “The best revenge is a successful life.” Let no one stop your live energy from flowing forth as is its natural right. No single person or event can ever be worth giving up such an incalculable value. We speak in this blog about Animal Spirit Medicines. But the HUMAN Spirit is about triumph over adversity. In the famous ballet, Swan Lake, Princess Odette overcomes a curse and experiences the full range of light and darkness. This passionate, elegant play teaches about feeling all there is to feel to the fullest capacity and never letting anyone event, person, or feeling stop us from our life’s journey. Swan says- Thrive. Travel through the pain and succeed in the art of living.
But how do we measure success? Swan Medicine asks us to measure success by the amount of beauty, joy, and awe we allow ourselves to access. Success is about opening the heart and achieving peace and happiness. Staying unhappy, waiting for justice will never punish those who probably deserve punishment. Swan says, Release yourself from the agony trap. Allow yourself to forget what happened. Doing so does not mean you become complicit in allowing violent people to continue harming the world. Releasing yourself from the grip of that confounding energy tangle through the process of surrender and acceptance that the person, the situation, and the violence was at that time more powerful than you. And you lived. And it is over.
Swan is the master of traveling through the awkward phases of life. She is good at being bad at things. She is at peace with floundering and forgives herself of how embarrassing the learning process is. When she does this she becomes simply stunning. Physical beauty will always yield to age. Youth is a gift we often feel as it leaves us. But this departure need not be sad or painful. In the contrast of aging and losing agility, we experience more fully just how wonderful being young really was. And as we surrender to the loss of physical grace, we have the opportunity to gain the power of poise. Aging is not about loss. It is about more effective energy management and sifting through the distractions that are not worth our efforts to hone in on an effective state of living.
Most indigenous cultures honor age as the greatest achievement. Swan Medicine knows that youth is not where true beauty lies. Youth is the jungle gym we use to locate our true, eternal beauty. All things fade. But you are no thing. You are an energy stream of pure Grace on an adventure through time and space. Whenever you feel you’ve located some aspect of your identity, Swan asks that you remember the sacred sutra, “I am not that.”
You are not the violence that was committed against you. You are not any gender, or race, or age. You are that which experiences all those things.
Another aspect of Swan Medicine is about finding where we belong. In the famous story the Ugly Duckling, we learn how one baby swan discovers who she really is and how to shift reality to empower her gifts and skills. The ugly duckling did not learn that she did not belong on Earth. She only learned she did not belong with the ducks! Where are your people? If you are having trouble finding them, it may be you are still in the process of becoming who you really are. Shed the downy feathers of childhood identity. Conduct a ceremony for shifting into adulthood.
The state of childhood is the only time unconditional love is available to us. When we grow old enough to feed and clothe ourselves and learn on our own, our love relationships cease to be unconditional, as much as we like to believe otherwise. All adult relationships are conditional, optional, and able to be renegotiated at any time. This means that no one owes you anything once you are an adult. As a child, you were most certainly owed love and protection. If you did not get it but you lived through that deprivation, Swan Medicine asks you to release the seeking for what can now never be. If you are alive, you got what you needed. Adult relationships are a collaboration of mutual effort. If one works harder than the other, resentments will soon follow. But if communication can be established then the ebb and flow of exchanging energy can thrive. Many people want to believe that taking love vows as adults means their partner just has to put up with negligent behavior. You don’t. They don’t. Parents are the only ones who can provide unconditional love and if they were not able to do that, Swan says, leave that longing. Glide away to another place in the lake. Make peace with what never was in your past and love what you have bloomed into. If your parents could give you what you long for, they would have done so by now. Stop seeking from a source that can not provide. Give that love and attention to yourself. What you ask of others is really what you are needing to learn how to do for yourself.
If Swan Medicine has glided into your life, it is time to surrender to the awkward, the frustrating, and the seemingly wrong. Nothing has happened that is too great for Grace to hold. Reality arises from what you are capable of expecting. Your expectations are often determined by what you have experienced in life. If you have repeatedly experienced being let down by people then it is probably only a matter of time before that next new person lets you down. By identifying your honest expectations about a person or a situation you are then able to turn those expectations around. Not all at once. It often begins with identifying a condition you don’t want and then reaching with your mind’s imagination what you do want. This reaching is called hope.
Whether or not your imagined vision arrives has no bearing on your ability to sustain feeling hope over feelings of disappointment. Practice hope, not so that you will gain the physical reality you seek, but so that you can live in the grace of how hope feels. It takes the same amount of energy to be positive as it does to be negative. How you experience life, what you reach for is your choice. Practice reaching for the stream of Grace and join the great visionaries of history- Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Ama… Accept the past. Accept what is, and reach for what could be. This is the Swan Medicine way.