Feather Symbolism, Magic, and More!
You’re walking down a familiar path when something catches your eye. It’s a large feather. You were having an awful day, but somehow finding a feather on the ground has elevated your mood. That is the innate magic of the feather. Feathers come from birds and so are magical by association. Birds have long been regarded as messengers of the gods, as they carried messages to and from the heavens. Finding a feather on the ground is a gift from Spirit—a spirit guide, angel, or deceased loved one. There is something special in every found feather. Let’s explore feather symbolism, feather magic, and more!
Feathers: Type of Bird
If you’re finding feathers on the ground and can’t identify the birds, don’t fret. You don’t have to know the type of bird it came from to tap into its magic. But if determined to identify the feather’s bird-owner, you can start by doing your research. Look at what kinds of birds live in your area. Then identify the size of the bird and the feather. You can narrow down your search to a few birds, if you try hard enough. Or you can ask Spirit to show you the bird in a dream or meditation.
Feather Symbolism by Bird
Each bird has its own feather symbolism, its own special magic. Birds have a direct link with Spirit and will bring you divine messages.
To get started, here is a list of birds and feather symbolism:
- Blue Jay Feathers – while many people say blue jays are a nuisance, I have found them to be very powerful guides. Their message is simple – protect family at all costs.
- Blackbird (Crow, Raven) Feathers – there are many kinds of blackbirds but their general message can be broken down into: magic, mystery, intuition
- Ibis Feathers – the ibis is found in the Southeastern U.S. and is directly connected to Thoth the Egyptian god of Wisdom and Writing. The ibis reminds us to tap into our creative side and gain wisdom from the universe.
- Seagull Feathers – the seagull can be found almost anywhere along the coasts. It is a scavenging bird and is connected to the sea. A seagull feather symbolizes humor, silliness, and using resources wisely.
- Cardinal Feathers – the cardinal has such beautiful and vibrant red feathers that symbolize vitality, life, power.
- Parrot Feathers – parrots remind us to be aware of our surroundings and heal us through color therapy.
- Dove and Pigeon Feathers – doves and pigeons are in the same family. Dove feathers symbolize peace, love, and family.
- Mockingbird Feathers – mockingbirds remind us to sing our own songs, to be our own unique selves.
- Owl Feathers – Owls have connections to ancient deities. Owl feathers symbolize magic, intuition, seeing in th dark, developing psychic awareness and more.
- Hawk Feathers – Hawk feathers remind us to connect with Spirit, stay focused, and fly high.
Feather Symbolism by Color
If you don’t know the kind of bird, look at the color. The color of the feather has special meaning. Here’s a simple guide:
- White Feathers: a sign from recently passed loved one or angel
- Black Feathers: a call to spiritual action and self-exploration
- Red Feathers: a sign of passion or love in the near future
- Gray Feathers: a time of peace is coming
- Blue Feathers: a sign of communication, peace, and protection
- Brown Feathers: a sign of home life and importance of grounding
What Part of the Bird Did the Feather Come From?
If we want to get into the details of feather symbolism, identify what part of the bird the feather came from. The part of the bird has spiritual meaning and magic. Ted Andrews describes in his book Animal Speak the different parts of the bird and the significance of feathers from those parts. Here is my take on the parts and feather symbolism:
Wing Feathers: send a thought or prayer to another or to Spirit. Wing feathers are stiffer than other feathers to support the bird in flight. And so it will support you in your endeavors. The technical name for these feathers are remiges.
Down Feathers: these soft and fluffy feathers provide warmth to the bird. Use them to comfort and protect your spirituality.
Outer Feathers: these are called contour feathers and are the outermost feathers, or the ones that you see the most. These feathers help wick water and are the most colorful. Contour feathers can bring a sense of self appreciation and protection.
There are others: tail feathers (rectrices), border feathers (coverts), below the contour feathers (afterfeathers), and bristles. You can find out more about the types of feathers by going here.
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Feather Magic: Ways to Use Feathers in Your Spiritual Practice
For thousands of years, Native Americans and other indigenous peoples have used feather symbolism in their spiritual rituals. Here’s how you can use feather magic today:
Smudging: smudging is an old Native American practice. It is the use of smoke from a dried herb (such as white sage) to rid an area or person of negativity. It is a rite of cleansing. A larger feather can be used to fan the smoke in different directions. The feather itself lends to the power of the smudging ritual. Feathers can be bundled together and made into a “smudging wand”. You can watch tutorials on how to make your own on Youtube.
Accessorize: feathers can be worn on the body. This is a powerful form of feather magic. Natives have worn feathers in their hair and on their clothes for centuries. You can wear your favorite feather by making it into a hair piece or as a piece of jewelry. Carry the feather with you and the spiritual significance will stay with you.
Meditation: hold feathers during meditation. Blow gently on the feather to send out your spiritual intent or to put yourself into a trance. Hold a specific type of bird’s feather to contact your bird spirit guide.
Dream Bags and Pillows: if you are not allergic to birds/feathers, place a feather into a small sachet with other herbs to induce lucid dreams. Tuck the feather under your pillowcase at night to help transform yourself into the form of a bird in your dreams.
Magical Arrangements: place your favorite feathers between your favorite crystals and stones in a small clear vase and put somewhere special in your home. This keeps the spiritual powers of the feather flowing throughout your sacred space. Plus you can admire their beauty any time!
Adornments: you can adorn yourself with feathers or you can use feathers to adorn your spiritual tools. Just as the Natives did, you can use feathers to decorate wands, rattles, drums, staffs, altar cloths, and more!
Gods and Goddesses
In addition to the type of feather, what kind of bird it came from, and how to do feather magic, research if the bird is connected to a god or goddess. For instance, the seagull is connected to the Celtic sea god Manannan Mac Lir. The Ibis is connected to Thoth, the Egyptian God of Writing. The vulture is connected to the Egyptian Goddess Nekhbet. The Morrigan, an Irish Triple Goddess, is connected to the crow. And the list goes on.