Exploring Symbolic Meaning of Feathers
Meaning of Feathers? More than you might think! Feathers mean so much, from travel to spirit…seeing feathers imply a myriad of meanings. Very often, seeing feathers on our path is a message from a loved one or a connection from the other side of life. My research into the meaning of feathers has taken me to great heights. It’s no surprise. Feathers are a product of birds. As such (and as countless ancient cultures believe) the feather is inseparable from the bird.
That means feathers take on the meaning of the avian kind. So, we look to birds for their symbolic meaning. Birds represent freedom and inspiration.
They are also symbols of travel. Not just physical travel, but travel with the mind and spirit. Consider…birds have an aerial view of our world.
While we are down here plodding about, birds are above looking at us. Maybe they’re laughing at our clunky, earth-bound bodies as they watch from on high. I wouldn’t blame them. I mean, birds are lithe and light. They have the ability to fly where the wind takes them. That’s surely symbolic of freedom. Explore more about symbolic meaning of birds here.
Feathers in Cultural Symbolism and Ceremonies
Because of their connection with the vast, limitless skies – birds (and feathers) have been associated with the gods and goddesses of the heavens. In fact, many Native American and Aboriginal tribes used feathers in sacred ceremonies. The Iroquois for example used feathers to give thanks for all their bounty. They would have a ceremony called the Great Feather Dance. Feathers would be everywhere during this dance. Iroquois would don them as robes, weave them in their hair, and even tie them to animals. This was an act of showing gratitude. It was a process of reverence – of honoring the great gods and goddesses – particularly the triple goddess known as Deohako. These three goddesses represented the main staples of the tribe’s existence which was: Corn, Beans, and Squash.
So feathers are a symbol of giving thanks and appreciation. They are also a symbol of fertility as we see in Iroquois and many other tribes. The act of attaching feathers to oneself, animals, plants, etc is a ceremonial action that sets an intention for growth and abundance. It’s an easy connection to make. Because birds are considered connected to the heavens, and consorts of the gods/goddesses – it makes sense their feathers would have the power to communicate messages to these lofty audiences. Waving feathers during the ritual is a way of whooshing wishes to celestial energies. Kind of like saying a prayer, I imagine.
It works both ways. Where many cultures use feathers to lift up intent and prayer to the sky gods – just as many consider feathers a message from the gods. From Aztec to Zuni there is evidence that feathers found should be seen as a gift from the gods. They represent messages, and it is the finder’s duty to consult the gods for clarity.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”~Leonardo da Vinci
Further to this point, there is an unofficial modern idea that finding feathers on our path is a message from the dearly departed. Yep. Many believe that finding a feather is a sign from heaven – a message from a loved one who passed away. It is an uplifting thought. It makes sense to me. Feathers are a symbol of the heavens. Feathers have been released from the heavy burdens of the world. So too have our loved ones no longer living on this earth with us. Feathers, as the soul, are no longer bound by the world’s gravity – they are free to ascend.
Feathers represent a lot of things to a lot of different people. These are just a few overarching concepts that describe the symbolic meaning of feathers.
Symbolic Meaning: Feather Keywords
I get a lot of questions about finding feathers on our path, and what that means. There are as many different answers to that questions as there are people in the world. A lot of the opinion comes from whoever found the feather. But I have some ideas about how we can respond when feathers show up in our lives…
Possible Meanings Of Finding Feathers
♦ Get Grateful. Feathers are a reminder to count our blessings and be thankful for the good stuff going on in our lives.
♦ Get High. No, not like that. Feathers are a symbol of levity. When seen, they remind us to ease up on all the seriousness. Take a breath, relax, enjoy.
♦ Get Listening. If feathers really are a communication tool to and from the gods, then their appearance is a reminder to listen to the bigger voice – as in a higher power.
♦ Get Love. Feathers often show up when there is someone or something that wants to reach out to us. Sometimes this might be a loved one who has passed into non-physical. A feather is a reminder you are loved by infinite people (both here on earth and otherwise).
More About Feather Meaning in Myth and History
Symbol meaning of feathers deals with ascension and spiritual evolution to a higher plane. Feathers were worn by Native American Chiefs to symbolize their communication with Spirit, and to express their celestial wisdom. Also in the Native American Indian culture, feathers represented the power of the thunder gods, along with the power of air and wind.
Native American Pueblo Indians would pay homage to the Feathered Sun which is a symbol of the cosmos and the center of existence. Another symbol meaning of feathers also revolves around prayer, and the Pueblo use feather sticks as they dance in prayer for rain during solstice rituals.
As a Celtic symbol, the feather was worn by Druids in the form of ornate feathered robes. Celtic Druids donned these robes in ceremonies to invoke the sky gods and gain knowledge of the celestial realm. It was believed that the feathered cloak along with the presence of the sky gods would allow the Druid to transcend the earthly plane and enter the ethereal realm.
The Egyptians believed that feathers were symbolic of sky gods too. Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of justice, would weigh the hearts of the newly dead in the underworld against the weight of a feather to determine the worthiness of his or her soul.
In Christianity, feathers represented virtues. In fact, an image of three feathers was made into signet rings – each feather symbolizing Charity, hope, and faith. These rings were worn as a symbol of a virtuous soul – they were also used as wax seals. The ring would be dipped in warm wax then pressed against documents to seal the closure. The recipient would know the documents came from a virtuous man by the indication of the three-feather symbol in the wax.
Feathers in Dreams
In dreams feather meanings sometimes point to travel or the ability to move more freely in life. As in waking life, feathers might also signal a message coming to you. Feathers in dreams are a sign of hope, promise and peace. White feathers in dreams indicate innocence or a fresh start in a spiritual sense. Black feathers in dreams often indicate a secret being kept that yearns to be set free.
I hope you have enjoyed this page on the symbolic meaning of feathers. Don’t miss my symbolic meaning of feathers (for tattoo ideas) page!
May all your feather encounters be fulfilling. As always, thanks for reading!
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