Swan Mythology

We chose the name ‘Swan Songs’  as it embodies the transformative experiences we hope to inspire and honor through our performances.

This page contains history, stories and myths which reinforce the name choice.  Please share other stories you may know at the Contact Us page.

swan song n

  • Farewell or final appearance, action, or work.
  • From the belief that the swan sings as it dies, the beautiful, sweet song supposed in ancient fable to be sung by a dying swan.
  • The last act, final creative work, etc. of a person, as before his death.

Source: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


Swan, Grace

Source: Medicine Cards,”The Discovery of Power Through The Ways of Animals,” Jamie Sams and David Carson, published by Bear and Co., Santa Fe, New Mexico

Little swan flew through the Dreamtime, looking for the future. She rested for a moment in the coolness of the pond, looking for a way to find the entry point to the future. This was a moment of confusion for Swan, as she knew she had happened into Dreamtime by accident. This was her first flight alone and she was a bit concerned by the Dreamtime landscape.

As Swan looked high above Sacred Mountain, she saw the biggest swirling black hole she had ever seen. Dragonfly came flying by, and Swan stopped him to ask about the black hole. Dragonfly said, “Swan, that is the doorway to the other planes of imagination. I have been guardian of the illusion for many, many moons. If you want to enter there, you would have to ask permission and earn the right.”

Swan was not so sure that 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 little 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.”

Dragonfly was very happy with Swan’s answer and began to spin the magic to break the pond’s illusion. Suddenly, Swan was engulfed by a whirlpool in the center of the pond.  swan2web

Swan reappeared many days later, but now she 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 a state of grace.” Dragonfly was very happy for Swan.

Swan told Dragonfly many of the wonders beyond the illusion. Through her healing and her acceptance of the state of grace, she was given the right to enter the Dreamtime.

So it is that we learn to surrender to the grace of the rhythm of the universe, and slip from our physical bodies into the Dreamtime.  Swan medicine teaches us to be at one with all planes of consciousness, and to trust in the Great Spirit’s protection.”


Swan Symbolism

Photo: Inger M. Pederson, www.holyheart.no

Because of its pure white color, the swan is a symbol of light in many parts of the world.

As a dream symbol, the swan can signify self transformation, intuition, sensitivity, and even the soul, the ‘higher Self’ within each person.

Though in some regions it was considered a feminine symbol of the moon, in most it was a masculine symbol of the sun. In ancient Greece, for example, the swan was linked to Apollo, the god of the Sun. The god Zeus took the shape of a swan to get close to Leda, with whom he had fallen in love. And in Celtic myth, a pair of swans steered the Sunboat across heaven. As a feminine symbol, the swan represents intuition and gracefulness, and goddesses such as Aphrodite and Artemis were sometimes accompanied by swans.

As a symbol in alchemy, the swan was neither masculine nor feminine, but rather symbolized hermaphroditism or ‘the marriage of the opposites’, fire and water. It was an emblem of mercury, as it was white and very mobile, because of its wings.  two swans flying

In Germanic myth the Valkyries had the power to transform into swans. They were warrior goddesses, bringing victory to one side and defeat to the other, and deciding which warriors could enter Walhalla after death. They would sometimes take off their swan-plumage and appear in human form, but if a man then stole their plumage, they were forced to obey him.

However, the Valkyries could also be united with a man through love instead of force. The Valkyrie Kara accompanied her lover Helgi in war, flying over the battlefield in her swan’s plumage. She sang a song so soothing that the enemy lost the will to fight. Also in Celtic and Siberian culture stories existed of swans taking off their plumage and turning into maidens.


Swans in Shamanism

Photo: Copyright Suzanne ter Huurne

In shamanism, the Swan totem is associated with love, inspiration, intuition, self-transformation, gracefulness and beauty, and also with traveling to the Otherworld.

As a water bird, it is also connected with emotions. Swan can help you with seeing the inner beauty in yourself and others, developing your intuition, accepting transformations and balancing your emotions.

Swan & The Ugly Duckling

Source: http://www.rainbowcrystal.com/power/poweranimals/swan.html

One of the best-known children’s tales, The Ugly Duckling, tells of an little “duckling” who doesn’t look like the others, who are all very surprised when he grows up to become that most elegant of birds, the swan.

On one level, this fable illustrates the deceptive nature of first appearances and teaches us that true beauty grows from within.

Swan, in teaching us that we all have inner grace and beauty, teaches self-esteem.

Swan symbolizes grace and beauty on many levels. It is associated with love, music, and poetry. In Roman mythology Swan was sacred to Venus, the goddess of love. In Greek tradition, this bird was often pictured singing to a lyre.

The cloaks of the Irish bards, who were both poets and musicians, were made of swan feathers, and in the Irish saga, the Children of Lir, when turned into swans, sang so sweetly that all who heard them, were calmed and slept peacefully.

This and other Celtic legends of the transformation of humans into swans illustrate the deepest meaning of Swan medicine. Grace is not simply the ability to live harmoniously on the physical plane. It is the gift of being at home in many planes of reality, to recognize that we are more than we appear to be, that we are simultaneously physical and spiritual beings.

In the Celtic tradition Swan symbolizes Soul, that aspect of all beings which is eternal. Viewed from this perspective, the Ugly Duckling story tells us that regardless of the appearance of our physical vehicles we possess an inner radiance which cannot be dimmed.


Who We Are  >>  Swan Mythology