There are moments in life, or I should say my life, that signs from Spirit and lessons stop me in my tracks. The element of surprise is a great way to get my attention. So, the story begins on a warm (well warm for New England, 40 degrees) early January day before the heavy snows came. I took my beloved bicycle out for one last ride before winter really hit. It was a difficult day for me as I had to cancel my shamanic training due to start in a month for lack of enough participants. This would be the first year in nine years that I would not have a training and I was very sad and worried. Not only did it mean not doing the work that I love so much but it meant an absence of a significant part of my income. Thoughts like, “what does this mean for the future of my work”, “will I have to get a “real” job”, “what will I do without the work that feeds me”, “how am I ever going to pay my bills” ran circles in my head. So I did what I usually do when this happens, go outside.

As I pedaled through these thoughts, I continually tried to bring myself into the present moment and notice what was around me; blue sky, bright sun, hemlock, beaver pond, pine. As I neared the top of a small hill, a large bird flew across the road right in front of me and landed in a nearby tree. I stopped immediately and straddled my bike as I stared into the eyes of a barred owl. We looked at each other for 5 minutes or so and I was awash with love and gratitude for this bird. What a gift that came when I so needed it. That morning I prayed to my guides to help me feel their support and here it was in this majestic owl. The bird flew a bit deeper into the forest when a car passed, but we continued to hold each others gaze. I felt a softening happen in me, some fear melt away, and I heard the words “honor yourself” and “don’t be afraid to let go.” I calmed down considerably and gave great thanks to this ally and messenger for coming to me.

After Owl flew deeper into the woods, I came out of my transfixed state feeling humbled and happy for this sign of support. As I mounted my bike, I looked down at the spot where I had stopped and there lying on the side of the road was a small stuffed animal swan. I stared at it a few seconds, not quite believing what I was seeing, then picked it up. It was relatively clean for being on the road, had shimmery pink wings with lace. long black eyelashes and a cute face. My logical mind tried to figure out how in the world this got here. Meanwhile, the little girl in me was elated knowing this was proof that Magic Happens and that she had another stuffed animal to add to her collection.

As I rode home, I could not help but think of the choreography and perfect timing of the Universe that led to these events. I pictured a small child in a stroller dropping the swan hours or perhaps days before I got there, and marveled at the instinct in me to stop at that exact spot. If these forces were at play, what else might manifest in my life. I felt the power of magic and manifestation in that one moment, and my faith in the Divine Plan and in myself was restored.

I knew that Swan symbolized Grace in the Medicine Cards* and I looked to see what else was written about her. It seems worth repeating here. “Swan was not so sure she wanted to enter the black hole. She asked Dragonfly what was necessary for her to earn entry. Dragonfly replied, ‘You must be willing to accept whatever the future holds as it is presented, without trying to change Great Spirit’s plan’. Swan looked at her ugly duckling body and then answered, ‘I will be happy to abide by Great Spirit’s plan. I won’t fight the currents of the black hole. I will surrender to the flow of the spiral and trust what I am shown.’ Swan reappeared many days later, but now was graceful and white and long-necked. Dragonfly was stunned! ‘Swan, what happened to you!’ he exclaimed. Swan smiled and said, ‘Dragonfly, I learned to surrender my body to the power of Great Spirit and was taken to where the future lives. I saw many wonders high on Sacred Mountain and because of my faith and my acceptance I have been changed. I have learned to accept the state of grace.”

Well, I can’t say that I am as evolved as swan in completely accepting the state of grace but I am moving in that direction. Little Swan sits on my desk, she is next to me now as I write. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at her and smiled and grabbed onto a chunk of faith I didn’t know I had. She is a blatant reminder to me that I am supported, that I don’t need to know what’s next and that I am floating in a pond of Grace.

The gift of Owl and Swan that day and the lessons they transmitted still resonate within me. Owl visited me again several days ago in a tree very close to where I live. It was yet another timely visit and reminder to let go, to trust my inner wisdom and to see through the illusion. I spent 20 minutes or so watching this very large and beautiful barred owl who allowed me to photograph him or her. I share these photos with you here as well as those of Little Swan. I wish you the power to Let Go and Trust and the Faith to Surrender to Grace.

*Medicine Cards. The Discovery of Power Through The Ways of Animals. Jamie Sams & David Carson.


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