On the far left corner of my desk, stands a vase of swan and hawk feathers. Each was lifted from the ground, by me. The feathers are from a magical land, on which my great grandmother spent weeks with my mother when my mother was a child; where my sister and I spent the majority of our childhood summers with our mother and grandmother; the place which has delighted me and my children for the past seventeen summers.
I do not recall picking up such glorious feathers as a child. I only remember seeing small feathers, the deep blue of jays and small brown feathers of unknown species.
About ten years ago, a pair of swans graced us with their presence. Each spring, they built a giant nest at the unaccessible, southern edge of the lake. The mother would sit on her eggs while the father swam around protectively. The cygnets would hatch in early summer, and we’d watch them disappear, by ones and twos, prey of snapping turtles. One summer, a cygnet reached maturity and its parent taught it to run along the water, rapidly flapping its wings, until it took flight.
The swans like to feed and groom near our beach. A few years ago, as they molted, they left a deposit of long, white feathers in the grass near the shore. I collected the prettiest. Many were frayed at one side, from use.
I kept the feathers in a plastic cup on my bookshelf at the summer place for a few summers. After, I titled by first book, Swan Mothers,I brought the feathers home and upgraded their container to a pretty vase.
In 2013, my son and I were walking in the woods in early spring. Wandering through a grove a maples, I found a large, brown and white striped feather. Then another and another. I photographed them and shared on Facebook. My cousin wrote, “Beautiful red-tailed hawk feathers. Just don’t take them home. It’s illegal to have them, to prevent poaching.” I deleted the photo, but kept the feathers.
After the first find, in a park, I began finding hawk feathers at the summer place. I watched the hawks circling and swooping, and listened to their distinctive cries.
The burst of white mute swan feathers and striped red-tailed hawk feathers remains on my desk. The feathers bless me with the Medicine of the winged ones. They agitate the air. They remind me to ride currents. They show me that I can rise above it all, and glide.
Swan Medicine: Swan can show you how to access the inner beauty within yourself and in others. Swan represents communication between the worlds, and is and excellent guide to the therapeutic powers of land, water, and air.
Hawk Medicine: Hawk awakens vision and inspires a creative life purpose. A Hawk totem is filled with responsibility because Hawk people seek the overall view. A Red-Tailed Hawk Totem has direct ties to the Kundalini, the seat of primal life force.