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The Swan-Bone Flute


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Use this book to help you change our world. Take Ursel's courage as you confront the power of the patriarchy. Elder Edith will guide you towards new/old ways of creating democracy. Step into the Cave of Dreams: Hilda's stories can work in your depth. Spread your wings! Trample what needs to be destroyed. Take care of love. When I walk the landscape of my books, I crunch over chalk, slither in clay, squelch on peat. The voices of Hilda the storyteller, Meg the dreamer, Seren the Healer and Oswynne the organiser whisper in my ears, insisting on being heard. As a storyteller, I like myths where feisty females act assertively, like the ice giantess who skis down a mountain with her wolves to grab herself a husband, because the gods owe her one. I have told stories for groups in museums and schools, at festivals and celebrations, in a freezing fen, a smoky roundhouse, village halls and pubs. At a local eisteddfodd I was awarded the title: Chief Skald of Suffolk, Storytelling. I love stories where a small act of kindness is rewarded with Mother Nature's astonishing generosity. When I'm helping parents and babies learn to breastfeed, that resounding response often happens when the little one gazes into her mother's eyes and milk flows. I see it again when that mother turns to the next family and encourages them, and a friendship develops. This is one way to grow communities . As a Breastfeeding Counsellor, I witness the power of telling our own experiences in supportive groups. When I edited magazines for a breastfeeding charity, I delighted in encouraging mothers to write the story of their breastfeeding journey and share it. Those accounts formed valuable resources for other families. Coordinating international publications for the charity, I facilitated a flow of parenting stories between cultures. It's not all cooing at babies; part of my work is to support breastfeeding organisations, and stand up for the rights of parents to make their decisions free from commercial exploitation. Companies in our age can behave like thanes and headmen, taking peoples' freedoms while distracting us with bling. I am involved with groups of women who resist. I see how hard it is for us to work together, how class and culture can divide us. What helps? Telling our stories ...! When I'm not working with parents or telling stories, I walk, or swim outdoors in rivers, lakes and the sea. I studied History and Social & Political Studies at Cambridge University, UK when we aimed to change the world. Sorry we've been a bit slow. Let's do it now! https: // Katherine Soutar I have been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, decorating the interior of my fathers books until my exasperated parents managed to impress upon me that only 'blank' paper was for drawing on.... I specialise in themes and imagery from folklore and storytelling, making these narratives visible is my passion. Working with specialist publishers, The History press, creating the cover art for their Folk tales and Ghost tales books has been an enormous pleasure for me and is a continuing project. I have a touring exhibition and now also a book of some of the best covers from the series. I also work with individual storytellers and authors to bring their words to life as illustrations. I work primarily in watercolour and ink on watercolour paper and mixed media on canvas and board. I am also available for private client commissions and workshops/talks. contact me at: 07805826484


The women in The Swan-Bone Flute cope with change and challenge, faced with dilemmas that countless women have known, in feudalizing and colonizing societies, that continue in our own times. The transformations they go through, and the subtle teachings of the wandering bard Hilda, speak to the lives of women today, and what we are reaching back to recover.Max Dashu, Director of the Suppressed Histories Archive and author of Witches and Pagans, Women in European Folk Religion, 700-1100 We all half-remember the stories of The Swan-Bone Flute. We have inherited them in our DNA. Meg, Hilda and all the others are strangely familiar; we catch sight of them with the corner of an eye or dance with them in our dreams. Reading The Swan-Bone Flute is like sleep-walking in our mothers' memories or overhearing whispered gossip about nearly-forgotten neighbours.The characters Rachel O'Leary has conjured are well rounded and colourful, jumping off the page and into the imagination. This is a book you will want to savour. It will enthrall and enchant you and fill you with righteous indignation. Travel with Hilda as she battles to raise the consciousness of the women who have had their ancient status and rights stripped from them and cheer for Meg as she steps into her female power.Maddie McMahon, Author of Why Doulas Matter and Why Mothering Matters

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