The Meaning of Feathers

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).

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