The Meaning of Feathers

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What do feathers mean? In many cultures, feathers represent a connection to spiritual realms. Coming from birds, feathers symbolize freedom, both mental and physical, from the bounds of the earth. In Native American cultures, feathers have always been significant parts of ceremonies, often used for clothing, decorations, tools, weapons and “dreamcatchers.” The Iroquois have a Great Feather Dance to thank the gods for all their blessings – food, water, the sun, the moon. In many Native American cultures the central hollow shaft of a feather was seen as a way to send prayers to gods and receive messages from them. Several cultures constructed prayer sticks with bunches of feathers at the end. The sticks were placed in maize fields and sacred places as offerings to their ancestors. The fluttering of the feathers in the wind sent prayers to the gods.

Today some people still see power and symbolism in feathers. If you find a black feather, it is a warning, so be wary. Yellow feathers represent happiness and prosperity. White feathers represent angels watching over you. Red feathers represent passion. Brown feathers indicate that you need more stability in your life. Green feathers may mean success, healing, health, and money. Orange feathers represent energy, grey feathers indicate peace, and black and white feathers represent protection; pink feathers represent spiritual growth, blue feathers indicate that you were born with gifted hands and you should used them to help people. Multicolored feathers mean many things and they will all happen at once. You can look up various sites on the web and get a variety of meanings for every color feather. Here’s one that’s sort of interesting on speakingtree.

All very interesting. Many cultures gave symbolism to feathers as birds have always been fascinating and seem to possess some special powers because they can fly. But to predict some future event or change in one’s life because of a found feather is a bit of a stretch. Orange feathers represent energy? When is the last time you found an orange feather? Or a green one? Or a pink one? And what about the significance of a beige and white banded Barn Owl feather?

In my experience I mostly find black feathers (ominous) brown feathers (I need more stability) or gray ones (peace). I don’t think I’ve ever found a green, orange, or pink feather. Maybe if I go to the flamingo and parrot enclosures at a zoo?

I put no credence in any of these interpretations, but I have to admit, though, there is something special about finding a feather. After handling many thousands of feathers in my career, I always stoop down to pick up a feather I see on a trail, in the gutter, or in my backyard. There is just something magnetic about them. They are smooth, shiny, and elegant. Run your fingers down the vanes and separate the barbs; then run your fingers upward and meld the barbs back together. It’s almost magical. I often stick the found feather in my hat or lapel or somewhere. I usually toss it later but discarding it immediately seems almost sacrilegious.

As I was wrapping up this blog I noticed a feather from a wing of a Red-shouldered Hawk on the wall behind and above my computer. I have no idea how long it has been there or why I haven’t noticed it. Cue the music from The Twilight Zone (below).

12 thoughts on “The Meaning of Feathers”

      1. Last week on the way back to where I stay from going to the store. Right at the corner of my block there was a while and gray feather standing straight up in the yard . As I walked by it shifted to the other side,then shifted back. Today walking back from the same store. I took a neighborhood walk way. I say another feather same color also standing straight up. I chose to pick it up cause I had remembered last week’s feather. Half way back I found another also standing up . Same walk way. I picked it up. As I turned the corner an saw the first gray feather from last week. Did not notice it on the way out. Anywho I also picked it up. I’ve been going through some issues on my own that people that I loved have hurt me. I’m also making a change in my life. I pray it’s fo the better. I met a woman from Grand canyon tribe. Her mom said they are for your to be careful in the future. Bad aurais coming. What does it mean. I am Kickapoo. I googled it and can’t find an answer. Thank you.
        ? Love

        1. There are many cultures and nationalities that have created myths about the meaning of feathers, but as I tried to explain in my blog, these are just stories, folklore, myths, and fables. There is no scientific or realistic basis for ascribing meanings to found feathers. All a feather on the ground means is that a bird lost a feather. They do it all the time as they molt. You can’t find an answer by googling as there is no realistic answer. Believe in yourself, not auras or feathers.

  1. I was on a walk not too long ago and found a blue feather (wing) with yellow underneath. Someone had placed 4 or 5 of them on a plate at the end of their yard with a small sign that read: Take One.

    I still count this as finding it. So, I’ve got that going for me. What I found even more intoxicating was I haven’t found a feather in forever and yet, I found 2 black ones in my back yard on separate occasions shortly after I FOUND the blue one. A tail feather and another wing. I have no doubt it’s spiritual and not because I have crows back there chasing hawks away on a regular basis. Chasing, but more so in the sense like someone chasing you out of a movie theater because they won’t stop talking. Crows love to hear themselves as well.

    Lastly, to be fair, I shared the experience with a friend of mine for his opinion. He suggested it’s because I have naked birds in my neighborhood.

  2. Dr Lederer,
    I had a dream that I was standing before what looked like a shrine or grave in my backyard. The marker was made of a corn stalk and had black feathers and black beads tied to it with what appeared to be thin leather straps.

    (My home sits on a corner on a very small street)

    As I looked up I could see a group of modern day Native Americans walking peacefully up the street (traveling from east to west) along the side of my home. I went to the gate and met with them. One by one they handed me a black bead or a black feather some handed me both tied to a thin leather strap. They were almost sympathetic and remorseful. They didn’t speak but I could sense they were offering comfort and support. I woke up when one finally spoke to me. He said “Can I kiss you?”

    Can you please tell me what the black feathers meant in this dream? Is it good or bad?

    I do have Native American friends and my home is in an area where the tribes met in peace to share and trade with other tribes pre western influence. I would ask my friend but he is the voice I heard and I would rather not involve him. I wouldn’t want him to think weird thoughts and have things change between us. We are only friends and for me this holds no meaning. Thank you in advance for any help you may offer.

    P.S. There may be more to the story… however I do not wish to have it displayed for public viewing.

  3. Maria Agathangelou

    Ever since my father passed I found blue feather , white and grey , white and Brown and recently just brown they pop up in my house as I look down I know my father is watching over me for did for him till he was 91 almost .

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