Swanstar Totem Card Picture

My finished submission to the "Pathfinders" Animal Totem Card Deck...Pictured here are the eight living swan species of the world: Whooper, Trumpeter, Whistling/Tundra, Bewick's, Mute, Black, Black-necked and Coscoroba. The Swan has been revered and featured in myth, fable and folklore since antiquity, has long been used as a heraldic device and religious emblem in many cultures, is carved as figureheads on boats to bring good luck, is considered taboo to kill and eat, and is one of the oldest names in the English language, having come down unchanged since Anglo Saxon times. In Britain, mute swans are the property of the Crown, which may grant "royalties" or ownership rights to companies or individuals, where they mark their swans' bills during the ceremony of "swan-upping": [link] and [link] ...As a totemic animal, the Swan represents communication between the worlds, being a bird of land, water and air, and is and excellent guide to the therapeutic powers of these elements. As all white animals are especially sacred, it represents the divine intermediary between this world and the realm of the Otherworld. It also represents inner beauty, grace, purity, marital fidelity, enduring love, music, poetry, transformation and the inner light of the spirit. As the Swan wings its way homeward, so, too, does our spirit throughout its journeying seek to return home to the Source.

If the Swan is your totem animal, you are emotionally sensitive, empathic towards the feelings of others, and you draw people to you. The pure white swan is a solar symbol, whereas the Australian black swan is a nocturnal symbol. With its long neck, the Swan acts as a bridge between the worlds, making it an oracular bird. Being a cool weather bird, its direction is North. Swans are excellent totems for children, as well as those connected to the Fairy Realm, poets, bards, mystics, and dreamers. Many healers use a swan feather in smudging and healing ceremonies. A swan feather tied to an instrument such as a harp would be a powerful adjunct to music therapy. In the Medicine Cards, pulling the Swan card tells you to "accept your ability to know what lies ahead, pay attention to your hunches, gut knowledge, and female intuitive side". Reversed, the Swan card means "you are not grounded, not paying attention to your intuition, or to the Unseen". In Navajo tradition, the Great White Swan can call up the Four Winds and the Great Spirit will use swans to work its will. Swan is the bird who may enter the Dreamtime and bring back knowledge and healing to the tribe. Swan medicine "teaches us to be at one with all planes of consciousness, and to trust in Great Spirit’s protection". The Austrailian aborigines saw black swans as the wives of their All Father.

In Celtic tradition, the Swan is a mystical, otherworldly bird who figures in several folktales, associated with deities of healing waters and the sun, as well as with music, love, purity and the soul. They have mastered the elements of water, earth and air, and aided the Celts in traveling to the Otherworld. The Swan was a symbol of grace and beauty, representing the radiant divinity of the Gods. They are shape-shifters, and at certain times of year, can transform into Swan Maidens, or "Swanmays", such as at Summer Solstice, Beltaine or Samhain, when the veils between the worlds are thin. Swans are often the disguise of Fairy Women, and can always be recognized by the gold or silver chain that hangs around their necks. Among Druids, the Swan represents the soul, and is associated with the Festival of Samhain. Swans are also sacred to Bards, and their skin and feathers were used to make the "tugen", the ceremonial Bardic Cloak. The White Swan is also associated with the White Ghost or the White Phantom known as "Gwenhwyvar". Connected as they were with music and song, the Swan also aided the Celts in the interpretation of dream symbols, transitions and spiritual evolution. The Celts knew five seasons with Alban Eiler, the vernal equinox, coming in the spring, also called "The Flowering". Alban Eiler celebrates the youthful spirit of new life warmed by the March sun, and it was believed that those born at Alban Eiler are gifted with the grace and elegance of of the Celtic Sun God's Swan Maiden bride.

In Ainu (aboriginal Japanese) folktales, the Swan was an angelic bird who lived in heaven. When the Ainu fought amongst themselves, killing all but one boy, the Swan descended from heaven, transformed into a woman, and reared the boy to manhood. She then married him to preserve the Ainu race. In Hindu tradition, it was the Swan that lay the Cosmic Egg on the waters, from which Brahma sprang. The Swan was the vehicle of Brahma’s wife, Saraswati, the Goddess of Wisdom, Education and Music, and the Swan represents the perfect union, and the spirit of Brahma. In Vedantic teaching, the Swan is a symbol of purity and transcendence. "Paramahamsa" (also spelt "paramahansa" or "paramhansa"), is a Sanskrit religio-theological title of honor applied to Hindu spiritual teachers of lofty status who are regarded as having attained enlightenment. The title may be translated as "Supreme Swan," and is based on the Swan being equally at home on land or water. Similarly, the true sage is equally at home in the realms of matter and of spirit. The Swan is also, according to Indian legend, able to separate milk from water. Thus, the Swan symbolizes the ability of a Self-realized master to separate truth from the insubstantiality of delusion.

In Greek mythology, the Swan is the symbol of the Muses. The Swan also has erotic connotations--Zeus seduced Leda in the form of a swan, and Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, had a swan-drawn chariot. The Swan, as a symbol of music, is also dedicated to Apollo, who was said to transform into a swan. Socrates wrote that the swan sung its most beautiful song just before it died, leaving us with the phrase "swan song". The constellation Cygnus depicts a swan sailing down the Milky Way. In Serbian folklore, the Vila nymphs take the shape of swans and serpents. The Norse mythology, the Valkyries as well as the Three Nornes (Nordic Muses) often take the shape of swans and they fly, singing, through the air. All things considered, the Swan is an ancient and powerful totem indeed.
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