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War Bonnet Discussion
By Cinnamon Moon
As many of you know, Jamie Sams is one of my favorite authors.
I'd like to quote something from her Sacred Path book on the
Warbonnet since we are all spiritual warriors in our own right.
Here's what she has to say:
Advance The Teaching:
The Warbonnet was the symbol of a
Chief, a Warrior whose counsel was sought because his wisdom
was recognized by others; he had come to terms with his Personal
Medicine. He had earned the right to wear the Warbonnet because
he knew how to advance himself through the acts of bravery,
advance his Clan through Counting Coup, and advance his Tribe
or Nation through providing for all its members. The Warbonneted
Chiefs of Native America won the Coup Feathers in their bonnets
through serving the needs of the People.
The feathers of the Warbonnet are
not acquired from killing Eagles. Young Braves set traps with
live Rabbits. The rock crevice below the nest where the Rabbit
was tied had one or two young Braves silently waiting. When
Eagle came for its dinner, the Braves would have to be very
quick in snatching a tail feather or wing feather. If they were
not so quick, the Eagle could maul their hands with razor sharp
talons or beak. This way of getting an Eagle Feather was one
of a young man's tests of courage on the pathway to becoming
a Warrior and was one from of advancing his position in the
Full Eagle wings, tails, or skulls
were gifts from the Eagle Nation. When the Eagles were ready
to "drop their robes" (die), they would call to a
Warrior or Medicine Person in a dream or vision to let the Two-leggeds
know where they would leave their bodies. In this way, a Medicine
Person or Chief would have extra feathers to bestow on those
who had earned the right to wear them.
The Eagle wing is divided into several
categories of feathers. The spike-tip of the wing is considered
the Destiny Feather. Through reading the markings on the Destiny
Feather, a Medicine Person could tell what the Warriors future
would hold. The Destiny Feather could tell if the Warrior's
life would be full of joy or sorrow, whether this Earth Walk
would be a long one, or if the seeker was soon to join the Ancestors
by Dropping the Robe. If the Destiny Feather had a broken quill,
death was to be sudden and in youth. If the Destiny Feather
had any markings, as with the Spotted Eagle Feather, the faces
or shapes that appeared told the story of that person's future
life events or their Allied Totems.
The small feathers on the cutting
edge of the wing were called Hopes and Dreams Feathers. These
feathers marked the path of the desired destiny of the owner.
Often a pattern or set of events could be seen in the way the
feathers grew from the skin. A trained Seer could divine the
meanings for the wing's owner and accurately foretell the events
and challenges that life would provide. The personal goals of
the wing's owner were also shown in the markings of the feathers.
If those goals were inclusive of the advancement of the Tribe
or Nation, the selflessness of the seeker was sure to be blessed
by the Grandfathers and Grandmothers in spirit. The selfish
person's wing might show many challenges or trials that would,
if approached in a humble manner, aid in changing the person's
character for the better.
The four feathers in back of the
spike-tip are Healing Feathers given to the Medicine People
of the Tribe. These Healing Feathers were used to clean the
Sacred Space around the body of a sick person. Since the Eagle
feather is used to gather negative energy or bad Medicine with
quick, firm strokes near the sick person's body, the spirit
of the Eagle can be felt by the patient. Eagle represents spiritual
illumination and if the illness was psychological, a person
might feel a great deal better just by being feathered. The
trained Medicine Person can see the energy needing to be removed
and can use the Healing Spike Feather to remove the bad energy
from the body.
The round-tipped feathers on the
underside of the wing nearest the Eagle's body are Warrior Feathers
as were the tail feathers. These Warrior Feathers were added
to the Warbonnet. The Warrior Feathers are still used in a sacred
manner and are passed down through families who carry the blood-line
of the Chiefs in each Tribe. As Medicine People train the future
generation to take their place, many Warrior Feathers as well
as Healing Feathers are passed to those who honor the teachings
and take responsibility for the roles they will inherit. These
feathers are a part of the trust given to the future generation
that embodies the advance of the Tribe or Nation. The passing
of this Medicine is a reminder that the Tradition and Teachings
will be preserved so that our way of life will be protected.
The Plume Feathers are from the Eagle's
breast. One plume is tied into the scalplock of those who return
from Vision Quest or complete the Rites of Passage. These special
plumes are also used as ornamentation and protection on the
Cradleboards of babies. They may represent the Eagle Medicine
that may be carried in a Medicine Bundle. Since the plumes are
much smaller than a full feather, for the sake of convenience,
they could be placed in the Bundle that would be taken to the
Sun Dance or on Vision Quest. The purpose of placing these plumes
in the Medicine Bundle is to call upon guidance from Eagle's
Medicine during these rituals.
If a Warrior Feather had a Coup
mark on it, it was a sign that the feather had been taken from
another in battle. This was to note the change of ownership
and that the spirit of the feather now owed allegiance to the
Warrior that counted Coup on another brave. About five or six
rows of the feather hairs are cut from the quill by the new
owner and some feathers have several cuts denoting how many
times the feather has changed hands.
If the quill of any feather is broken,
the spirit of that feather has been released and is in the Without
Fires Camp, also called the Other Side Camp. The world of spirit
on the Blue Road is the place where all spirits live. Spirits
are part of the Air Chief's Clan and ride on the wind. As each
spirit desires to send a message to those on the Good Red Road
of physical life, he or she will come on the Wind and take the
form of a Cloud Person so that Two-leggeds can read the spirit
Smoke Signals. Warriors learned to read signs so that their
Medicine would be strong and victory would be assured. It was
through the signs of the Medicine Allies that the Warrior Clan
knew when to wait and when to advance.
Every Chief who had acquired enough
feathers for a Warbonnet had demonstrated certain qualities
as a role model for the People, male and female alike. Warbonneted
Chiefs were the strength of the People. They listened to the
hearts of those they protected and never spoke in anger. Each
Eagle feather represented a lesson learned in patience, bravery,
Tribal etiquette, hunting, Medicine, leadership, Ceremony, Counting
Coup, and the Father-protector role. The lessons gained by these
Chiefs included spiritual illumination tempered by courage and
the quick action necessary for proper leadership.
The Warbonneted Chief showed leadership
in times of battle, but he also exemplified the spiritual lessons
that each feather in his Warbonnet represented. The message
was loud and clear: each Warbonneted Chief was the holder of
powerful gifts and abilities. Each Chief used the gifts Great
Mystery had given him for the advancement of his people and
by so doing was worthy of his position of leadership. If the
Warbonnet has appeared in your cards today, it is time to advance.
Don't waste energy on going backward or staying in the doldrums.
You are now able to move to the next step on the Sacred Path.
Like a Warbonneted Chief, you have earned the right to learn
the next set of life's mysteries. Take your Medicine Bundle
and all the strengths it represents and charge forward.
The advance can be on any level.
Your spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional healings are
understood through life's experiences. You can now approach
your destiny with every feather you have earned marking your
past victories and see the destiny you have chosen emerging
before you. Your Medicine is strong and will allow the advancement
you need at this time.
*Note: while the teachings here
reflect Jamie's Sacred Path Cards (similar to the Tarot in the
arena of divination), these teachings can also reflect the appearance
of a Warbonnet presented to you in other ways: in visions, dreams,
and journeys. I hope this lends some insight into the honoring
of feathers in general and into the Medicine of Eagle itself...as
well as the effort put forth to earn one's own Medicine.
Thank you for sharing the symbolism found in these different
symbols. While clothing may express our individual style I can't
think of anything in contempory dress that brings spirituality
into dress in the mannerism of the Native Americans. I for one
find the symbolism of the feather very special.
Yes, feathers are sacred
for many different reasons. These examples show how they hold
major significance and say a great deal about the person. Seeing
this way is a way of life, it addresses things openly and honestly.
Pride and honor are part of that way of life and worn symbolically.
So is honoring all else in life. In this way the philosophy
behind Native ways lives and breathes with them in everything
they do. This is their tradition. Here, oneness, spirituality
and the physical world are seen as One, not two separate issues.
They live between the worlds walking back and forth constantly
all day long. That harmony and balance is the lifestyle. It's
all the same to them and therefore everything in nature is sacred,
teaches, heals, has significance in some fashion and deserves
respect. Seeing this it all starts to come together. This is
their poetry...the poetry of life...of a spiritual path.
Why does the title say
Warbonnet: advance? As for feather I dont really use them
although I know they are very significant. It my be a prejudice
but finding a pigeon feather on the corner of the street isn't
all that appealing. Not to say that pigeon medicine doesn't
have worth though. the only two medicine items that I believe
I have are a whole bat, which I store away since I still dont
know how to use it. Although I know that if it came to me it
must hold a meaning. But transformation arent my forte,
hence maybe the bat since it's something I need to work on.
The other thing is a falcon wing
feather which I am very proud to earn. that too I havent
decipher what it means yet and how I can use it. But as silly
as it seems that is something I feel I can incorporate into
my workings. If I had an eagle feather I'm not sure I would
know what to do with it. I think I'm closer to falcon then eagle
even if eagle as came to me before and falcon as not. I can
get a glimpse of what you brought here Cinn. Just holding the
feather in my hand it feels special and it's one of the most
beautiful things I ever say even if it's not in perfect condition
as it came from a road kill and then was passed on to me by
Shimmer. It's a special items. It's funny about those things.
When you show it to someone that you care about ( because you
dont flaunt it around) it's very rare that they pick up
on the beauty and the underlying strength that lies within the
I'm digressing here but to get back
to the point the only use I found for it yet is to smudge. And
as you know Cinn I have my own connection with falcon as we
have disagreed (not really but...) upon its meaning, as I have
my own special meaning for that bird that came to me. And like
I said before I'm sure that I have seen that meaning somewhere
in a book but when I look I cant find it so I'll say it's
my special relationship with that bird. Falcons do grab my heart
more than Eagles even if they arent as majestic.
I believe the title "Warbonnet advance" equates to
the feathers of the warbonnet representing achievements (spiritual,
mental, physical) that have been accomplished by the recipient
of the feathers. In some way like trophies but with a spiritual
significance as opposed to a purely mundane one. Personally,
I am not into possessions at least at this point. I actually
found a wing of a bird (prey bird type unknown) under the snow
as it melted a few weeks ago, said a pray to set its spirit
free and returned its physical remains back to the earth. I
would never have even thought about collecting the feathers,
feeling that all remains need to go back to the earth so that
new life will begin. However, the symbolism of feathers is important
since I see them in dreams and don't know their meaning. I have
never been drawn to tools however I must say that when I went
to a Pow wow a couple of weeks ago, there was one group of individuals
from Canada (non- natives) that had rattles, furs, drums, and
baskets for sale. There was a drum that was beautiful (completely
plain) that drew my attention but there was something about
the group that made me uncomfortable (probably
just on my
part) and I didn't pursue any discussion about it. I do find
the Native American walk combining the spiritual and physical
beautiful and believe this is where I am probably headed in
terms of Spirituality. I don't mean by this statement "trying
to become what I am not"; but using their practices a as
representative example or tool to find / assimilate my own way
of walking on / with the earth.
Greetings! Advance is
the key word for Warbonnet. Earthwalkers explanation is
in depth and very insightful . I also wasnt a bird person,
but with as many feathers that have come to me I am now. It
might be if you've found a feather or wing you are to pass it
on. I was just gifted with the most beautiful Red Tail Hawk
feather. The lady just didn't feel it was for her. In fact she
almost ran it over with a lawn mower They just keep coming I
was once told "Don't you honor all gifts I lay before you?"
When I went back to honor the road kill it turned out to be
an Eagle. I had thought it was a skunk .
Here is how I take care of feathers.
First I pray for the spirit of the bird, that the remains be
used for the highest good of everyone. This is a physical reminder
of that birds medicine. If the wings are spread this is a gift
for me. If the wings are tucked in tight I say the blessing
and leave it for the wild animals to take. I was told once to
give the birds back to the air. I didn't figure out how to do
that so I cremate the ones too far gone to be of any use. (one
red-tailed hawk was drowned) I give them a light spray of 'raid'
to kill any tiny bugs. I don't wash the feathers, some have
the blood of the bird, which is a medicine in itself. I use
vitamin E and baby oil on my hands. After it's soaked in a bit
I 'prune' the feathers, fixing any splits or separations. This
gives me time to feel what should be done with it. Some I've
decorated, some are made into fans, some into hair decorations.
Yes, they are tools. Some people need a physical helper, some
don't. Sometimes when I didn't think I need the physical tool,
it isn't for me, it's for the person I am working with.
Warbonnet: Advance That
came from the Sacred Path Cards book she wrote and was a direct
quote. In essence she was saying that to draw that card meant
you had earned the right to "advance" in life or on
your path or in your Medicine in some fashion. Like Tarra said,
not everyone works with tools but the feather is a special gift.
We can use them to connect to the spirit of that creature and
then work with it in journeys or for specific purposes. Falcon
can have a special meaning for you, and out of that a special
relationship will develop. There are universal meanings for
each creature-teacher, my friend, but as in any symbolic message,
whatever it means to you takes priority over a universal interpretation.
So you keep to what feels right for you and if there's more
to learn about it the spirit of the Falcon will teach you what
you need to know. It could well be that the kinship between
you gives you an insight into Falcon that others may not need
but you do. There is always more to things and that makes learning
fun while it adds to your knowledge base. We learn what we need
to know...and then some.
Some I've decorated, some are
made into fans, some into hair decorations.
And quite creatively too I might
add! (Thank you again!!!) My dear friend gifted me with a barrette
and four feathers that hung from it by clips that allowed them
to be removed and hung on other tools. One of which I have used
to "see into the darkness" and discover hidden insights.
Powerful! I've used another to help me with my recalling material
I had to memorize when it was extensive and critical to a presentation
I was giving. And the list of uses could go on and on. It's
very versatile and the barrette looks beautiful when worn, usually
stirring a conversation as to how I came by it. Then I get to
tell a story about Tarra! LOL
Copyright: Cinnamon Moon & River WildFire Moon (Founders.)
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