Swan Totems

photo by Fiona Claire
The term Druid comes from the words ‘oak’ and ‘door’—with the symbol of the door being central in Druidic teaching. Like other shamanic paths, the symbolic door offers a way to enter into a different reality. Which is why I chose the main image for this website.

Shamanic teachings in cultures around the globe usually involve totems. A totem is an animal, bird or insect with whom you develop a special bond, sensing them in your consciousness via meditation, dreams, and physical encounters.

Perhaps because I live near a large body of water, the totem animals I encounter are often water fowl—swans, ducks, geese—and less often, otters, foxes and hares.

In Druidry, animals, including birds and insects, can be allies, guides and teachers. They enter our awareness to help us discover a path to personal growth. That’s why, when I encounter one of these creatures in my walks through the countryside, I’m always delighted. It’s an occasion for pause, reflection, and gratitude. Usually, I receive a meaningful message from these encounters.

Lately, I’ve encountered a lot of swans, either on my walks by the lake or flying in formation. In Ireland, the swans are mute, but their powerful wings vibrate with a whooping sound that can be heard for miles. Swans are totems of love and beauty, and they are particularly auspicious symbols for writers. Bards, the story-tellers of Celtic tribes, wore ceremonial cloaks made of swan’s skin and feathers. Perhaps most importantly, swans represent an inner call from the soul.
photo by Steve Chilton
Last week, as I sat outside compiling a list of agents to query with my novel (which follows a legend that inspired Swan Lake), a flock of ten swans flew past my house toward the lake. I jumped up and waved at them, like an idiot, sending them silent well-wishes.

It never ceases to amaze me, the gifts natures chooses to give!