Totem Talk

Working With The Animal Totems

Spirit of the Swan: Grace, Beauty, Power of Self


Swans in Mythology:

Swan's Wisdom Includes:

*Power of Self
*Ability to see the future
*Teaches the mysteries of song and poetry
*Bridge between the mundane and the extraordinary
*Mating for life -- honoring commitments
*Helps process emotions efficiently
*New Dreams and New Realms
*Swan reminds us that while we are manifesting new dreams and exploring new realms we must maintain balance thus making every day one of beauty and promise.

Swan as a totem is strong medicine. Swans are graceful, strong, and tend to live a very long life. For this reason the swan as a totem represents grace, strength, and longevity. As a species swans mate for life. A swan showing up can indicate the one you are with, or someone you are soon to meet is a soul-mate. The swan teaches that there is beauty in all things. As an archetype, the swan begins life as an "ugly ducking" and yet emerges into a beauty when full grown. This children's story is a tale of soul-growth and also teaches inner beauty. The swan's message may very well be that things are not as they appear outwardly. Look beyond the obvious.

The Swan

Graceful elegant birds the swan seems to glide through the water leaving hardly a ripple behind. Its persuasive beauty reminds us to move gently through the currents of life and not battle them.

Swans are one of the fastest fliers. During migration they fly in V formations at great heights. Their wing beats are slow but steady. This gives them the endurance needed to reach their destination quickly without tiring. Those with this totem have the same abilities and should observe, then apply, the movements of swan when pursuing goals.

The swans large wings embrace the sky collecting and storing knowledge from the heavens. Their white plumage reminds us of the wonder and innocence found in the purity of spirit. Their long slender necks serve as a bridge between the mundane and the extraordinary. Upon this bridge lies the wisdom for spiritual realization.

The swan mates for life. Courtship involves mutual bill dipping or head-to-head posturing. They are committed devoted partners. In personal relationships humans make commitments they cannot keep. By applying swans skills in our life we begin to honor what we have chosen. This in itself is a powerful lesson for those who hold this medicine. Honoring commitments increase ones personal integrity.

While feeding, swans do not dive into the water like other birds. They skim its surface dipping themselves in and out. In man, water is associated with the feminine principal of intuition and emotion. By following the lead of the swan we learn how to view our emotions without getting trapped by them. Our intuition helps us understand our feelings and the swan helps us process them efficiently.

Swans are sociable birds with a long life span. They live about 20 years in the wild and 50 years or more in captivity. The swan is a totem that teaches us grace through movement and longevity through inner knowledge. When we look upon the swan it invokes a feeling of tranquility in us and reminds us to experience the beauty and magic of life.

The Swan

Swan of beauty, swan of grace
A queen among her ancient race
She glides across the mirrored lake
No ripple does the surface break


The swan is a totem of beauty and grace. As in the story of the Ugly Duckling, it connotes inner beauty as well. If Swan is your totem animal, you are emotionally sensitive, and 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. The swan, with its long neck, 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, those connected to the Fairy Realm, poets, bards, mystics, and dreamers. (Animal Speak, page 196)


The swan is master of the elements Earth, Air and Water, and is and excellent guide to the therapeutic powers of these elements. 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.” (Medicine Cards, page 194) Reversed, the Swan card means you are not grounded, not paying attention to your intuition, or the Unseen. The authors suggest that you “notice your surroundings, and touch the Earth; be still and focus on one reality or the other - the Dreamtime or the mundane world; stop the clutter in your mind and listen; or focus on a physical activity that will ground you.” (Medicine Cards, page 195)

In Celtic lore, pulling the swan card can mean poetic inspiration from the Otherworld. It can also mean an enduring love is entering into your life. Many swan tales have to do with sad partings, separation, and suffering loss with grace. Swan can be a symbol of transformation. Swan often indicates a soul level experience about to commence.

Native American tradition

According to Jamie Sams and David Carson, who collected Native American tales from elders in the Choctaw, Lakota, Seneca, Aztec, Yaqui, Cheyenne, Cherokee, Iroquois, and Mayan traditions, Swans represented “Grace”.

Swan tells Dragonfly in legend, “I learned to surrender my body to the power of Spirit and was taken to where the future lives. I saw many wonders high on Sacred Mountains and because of my faith and my acceptance I have been changed. I have learned to accept the state of grace.” 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.”

Celtic Tradition

In Celtic tradition the Swan is associated with deities of healing waters and the sun. They are associated with music, love, purity and the soul. They are shape-shifters, can take human form, and have mastered the elements of water, earth and air. They can always be recognized by the gold or silver chain that hangs around their neck.

Among Druids, the Swan represents the soul, and is associated with the Festival of Samhain. The swan aids us in traveling to the Otherworld. Swans are also sacred to Bards, and their skin and feathers were used to make the tugen, the ceremonial Bardic Cloak.

Tags: SWAN, animal, power, totem

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