Swans in Mythology

topic posted Tue, March 25, 2008 - 1:51 AM by  Unsubscribed
The swan is one of the most powerful and ancient of totems. This is reflected even in its name. It is one of the oldest names in the English Language, and it has come down un-changed since Anglo-Saxon times. The swan is a stately aquatic bird with a lock graceful neck and beautiful white plumage. It is the largest of all waterfowl. It feeds on soft water plants, and its bill is so sensitive that it serves as a feeler underwater. For those with this totem, the emotions will become more sensitive, and you will find yourself becoming more sensitive to the emotions of others as well. The swan is usually pure white (except for the bills and feet). This makes it a solar symbol. There is a black swan (Australian) and it is more of a nocturnal symbol. It is also considered a symbol of something rare and/or nonexistent.

The neck of the swan is long and graceful. It is one of the swan's most distinguishing features. The neck is a bridge area between the head (higher realms) and the body (lower worlds). In the swan totem, as you begin to realize your true beauty, you unfold the ability to bridge to new realms and new powers. This ability to awaken to the inner beauty and bridge it to the outer worlds is part of what swan medicine can teach. It can show how to see the inner beauty within yourself or in others, regardless of outer appearances. When we are capable of this, we become a magnet to others. This is reflected in the familiar story by Hans Christian Anderrsen, "The Ugly Duckling."

The swan is a cold-loving bird. They do not like the heat, and can stand the cold very well, as long as there is food. Those with this totem will find it easier to stand colder climates than warmer. Because of this, the swan also has ties to the direction of North, and its symbolism should be examined as well. The kind of swan and its characteristics will have significance unique to themselves and to you. The largest of all swans is the trumpeter. It is named for its loud, far-carrying call. The whistling swan is our most common. The sound it makes is actually more of a whoop than a whistle. The mute swan, best known in America, is named for the belief that it loses its voice as it reaches maturity. It is not truly voiceless, but it does epitomize the idea of strength through silence.

Swans are powerful birds. They can break a man's arms with the beat of their wings, and they have strong bites as well. They are also devoted parents and they mate for life, and some live as long as 80 years. They reflect the power and longevity that is possible as we awaken to the beauty and power within ourselves. The swan is the totem of the child, the poet, the mystic, and the dreamer. Swans fill mythology and folklore, usually as traditional symbols of beauty and grace. Swans were sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. They were depicted pulling the chariot of Apollo. Zeus took the shape of a swan to make love to Ledo, a mortal - reflecting the ability of a swan to link different worlds and dimensions.

The swan fills folklore and fairy tales. Many speak of young maidens who turn into swans by putting on the magic garment of a swan's skin. If the skin were found, the beautiful maiden had to remain human and marry whoever found the skin, or do their bidding. The swan thus has come to be a link the to the Faerie realm of life. Many of these tales involving swans ended tragically, hinting at the primal life-changing power of beauty when released freely. It hints of the control necessary to effectively work with such energy.

From Greece comes the mystery of the swan song. This belief taught that the swan sang its most beautiful song just before it died. The swan song has come to be synonymous with poetic fancy. The swan can teach the mysteries of song and poetry, for these touch and child and beauty within.
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