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*Patricia Telesco/The Language of Dreams:
The arrival of this bird in spring makes it an envoy of hope
and new opportunities. In heraldry,
the swallow represents conscientious attention to duty. China:
a symbol for daring and
fearlessness. Also a stern protector of marital fidelity. Biblical
Communications, sometimes those with little meaning. In this
setting, the swallow is called a
*Bobby Lake-Thom/Spirits of the Earth:
Swallow tells us when spring is coming and what the other weather
elements will be like.
*Mary Summer Rain/On Dreams:
Swallow refers to shyness or timidness.
*D.J. Conway/Animal Magick:
The swallow is a member of a species of songbirds in the family
Hirundinidae. They live in
temperate and tropical zones in both the Old and New Worlds.
The swallow has a slender body,
loing pointed wings, and a large mouth for catching insects
in flight. Their voices are twittering
and unmusical. This bird is highly migratory and the most graceful
and attractive of songbirds.
Although the swallow was associated with the goddess Aphrodite,
the Greeks considered it
unlucky. In Rome, however, where it was a symbol of Venus, the
bird was regarded as lucky and
a creature that carried the souls of dead children. In northern
Europe, the fork-tailed swallow was
a symbol of spring and love, therefore sacred to the May Queen.
In ancient Chaldea, there are
carvings of a fish with the head of a swallow. These strange
figures represent cyclical
regeneration. In China, this was a bird of daring, and it came
to signify coming success and
fidelity. The Japanese saw it as a bird of unfaithfulness. In
Native American lore, the swallow is
considered closely related to the magickal Thunderbird, because
it will fly before a thunderstorm arrives.
Superstitions: It is a general belief that to kill a swallow
will bring bad luck. It is a sign of good
luck if a swallow builds a nest on your house. In Germany, people
believe this bird prevents fire
and storms from damaging any house on which it has its nest.
The Irish seem to connect quite a
few birds with the devil; they say that the swallow has three
drops of the devil's blood in it.
European farmers say that to kill a swallow will ruin the milk
yield. If you disturb their nests the
harvest will be bad. In Germany, if a woman steps on a swallow's
egg, she will be barren.
Medieval scholars recommended swallow dung to cure blindness
Magickal Attributes: Good luck, success, changing your luck.
*Zolar/Encyclopedia of Signs, Omens, and Superstitions:
Well-known and oft quoted is the statement of Aristotle, "One
swallow does not make a
summer." Long held as the harbinger of springtime, swallows
have a long tradition as birds of omen.
The Greek myth was that the swallow's song was like the chattering
of a foreign tongue. The
swallow came about when Tereus cut out the tongue of his wife's
sister Philomela, so she would
not tell that he had sexually violated her. When discovered,
the gods transformed all three into
birds. Tereus was turned into a hoopoe, Philomela into a nightenagle,
and his wife Procene into a swallow.
Legend holds that a fluttering swallow seen near the head of
Alexander the Great portended
tragedy. Dionysus, however, had his safe return predicted by
swallows. Both Greeks and
Romans often forecast weather by the swallow's flight, and generally
held in Europe is the belief
that swallows flying low mean bad weather will soon appear.
The Chinese believed that one
could induce rain by throwing swallows into water.
A Swedish legend says that a swallow was said to hover over
the cross, crying "Cheer up, cheer
up." French tradition holds that the swallow picked off
the crown of thorns, and, in so doing,
ignored the wounds made in her own breast by the spines. Ever
since, the swallow has had stains
of blood on its breast. Another belief among the French holds
that magpies pricked Christ's feet
and head with thorns while he was resting in a wood, but that
swallows came and extracted them.
For this reason, says the legend, the magpie is forced to build
its nest in tall trees, while the
swallow nests in man's dwellings.
An English folk rhyme clearly illustrates the swallow's position
in popular hierarchy:
The robin and the wren,
Are God Almighty's cock and hen;
The martin and the swallow,
Are the two next birds that follow.
Long held is the belief that white or red swallow stones, believed
to be secreted in the bellies of
the nestlings, have medicinal value. A legend from the Middle
Ages says that a swallow can
fetch a pebble from the seashore to restore the sight of its
fledgling birds. Body parts of the bird
were said to cure snakebite, epilepsy, and rabies. Droppings
from a swallow were used to treat
diphtheria, and mud from its nest, erysipelas, a skin inflammation
accompanied by fever.
In France and Hungary it is said that a swallow flying under
a cow's belly means the milk will be
blood. In Yorkshire, a swallow coming down a chimney was held
as an omen of death. In
Czechoslovakia, should a girl see a solitary swallow, it is
said she will be married within the
year. contrariwise, should she catch sight of a pair of swallows,
she will remain unmarried.
Those who treat swallows badly are assured of ill luck. For
example, your house will be burned
down if you have destroyed a swallow's nest, says a Tyrolean
Should a swallow's nest be disturbed, the crops will go bad.
In Britain, it is believed that should
one kill a swallow, rain will commence and last for four weeks.
Some say destroying a swallow's
nest will cause you to fall from a tree. Robbing a swallow's
nest can cause one's horse to go
lame, say the French.
Up until the nineteenth century, the belief was held generally
that swallows disappeared in
autumn and reappeared in spring by hibernating under the water
or in crevices in the earth.
Generally held as a sign of luck is a swallow building a nest
on your house. Should the swallow
start to build and then abandon the nest, however, it is considered
Generally held is the tradition that a swallow lighting on your
shoulder is a certain sign of death.
Should a swallow build a nest in your house, the house will
be protected from both fire and
It is said that if one easts swallows when they are in heat,
one will be inclined towards love.
According to another tradition, one can gain love by offereing
a ring that has stayed in a
swallow's nest for nine days.
Should a woman step on a swallow's egg, she will become sterile,
according to a German
Last, according to Irish belief, every swallow has in itself
there drops of the Devil's blood.
Keynote: Protection and Warmth for the Home and Porper Perspective
Cycle of Power: Summer
The swallow is often considered a favored bird that heralds
the arrival of summer. Swallows
have a tendency to follow warm weather, and thus they were considered
one of the surest signs
of summer. On the other hand, I have heard it said that one
swallow does not make a summer.
The swallow has its own legends and tales unique to it. One
Indian legend tells how the swallow
stole fire from the sun and brought it to the earth, carrying
it on its tail feathers. It is because of
this action that its tail feathers are now forked and spine-like.
Because of this and because the
swallow comes with warm weather, it is associated with the sun
The southeastern Indians hung hollow gourds for purple martins,
a member of the swallow
family. An examination of martins will provide some further
insight in the specific symbolism of
In the Middle Ages, a variety of beliefs were attributed to
the swallow. Many believed that
swallows knew of a magical stone or a magical herb (Celandine)
that could restore eyesight. A
study of celandine (lesser) may provide some further insight.
In a Scandinavian legend, the
swallow hovered over the cross and cried "cheer up"
A swallow nesting on a house would reflect protection and preservation
from disaster, especially
fire and storm. A swallow flying high was an indication the
weather would be good. Flying
closer to the ground indicated rain. A study of the swallow's
true characteristics and behaviors
will help define its role and abilities as a totem.
The swallow is a small, insect-eating bird. Its bill is small,
but the mouth opens amazingly wide.
This hints at communications being more than what they appear.
Are people saying things that
actually have other meanings? Are we saying more than we realize?
Do we need to listen more
closely to what is being said and not be put off by who is saying
it or how it comes out? It may
even indicate that there is hidden wisdom in your own words
or in the words of others.
The swallow feeds on many harmful insects. Swallows that nest
near your home will help control
pesky insects, reflecting a subtle protection of the home and
the home environment. If a swallow
shows up in our life, what does that say about the pesky insects
within your life? Do you need to
be more controlling of things in your life? Are there a lot
of little irritations that are
accumulating?" Are you becoming too much of a "pesky
insect" to others? Are you becoming
too engrossed in the petty mundane activities of life and not
moving on? Are others doing so?
The swallow brings an energy that can help us with any aspect
The swallow is a graceful flyer, and it actually spends little
time on the ground. This is important
to those with this totem to remember. Do not allow yourself
to become too deeply enmeshed in
the mundane. The swallow will often show up when you are allowing
yourself to rehash old
issues and problems and not move on. Its an indication
you need some perspective.
The swallow has legs and feet that are small and weak. This
reinforces the idea mentioned in the
above paragraph. If a swallow has shown up, it may be telling
you that you are weakest when
trying to handle things from a strictly mundane perspective.
You are weakest in solving
problems when you do not distance yourself from them. A distance
will help you to see clearly
how to strengthen and protect yourself and others.
Objectivity is the key. By keeping your objectivity you will
be able to easily protect the home
and add greater warmth to your life and to the lives of those
you touch. The swallow can help
you clean your environment of pests and create an energy of
loving warmth in the home.
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