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Feather Medicine
By CinnamonMoon

Feathers are an important part of shamanic practices throughout the world, some of which will restrict the use of those feathers to ceremonial leaders only. Whether they appear in dreams, visions, or the physical reality they offer us much. Not only do they facilitate flight but they insulate the body and protect it. Feathers/birds hold the healing spiritual secrets to the element of Air through breath and lifting thoughts so that we can heighten our vision and creative inspiration. These feathers are from creatures of the Air, and the element itself is within us in the form of breath...like the wind it pushes, gusts, and carries things.

By breathing/blowing on a feather we can literally employ its essence and send it out to the world in a focused direction. Breath has been a big part of Medicine and Magical teachings throughout the ages, and how we breathe is very different depending on the work we do.

It's important to remember too that feathers balance well with Fire Medicine as we use them to fan the flames or smoke from our smudge pots or incense infusions. They are also water repellant, and hence can be used to sweep through Medicine Bowls to bless the water, sprinkle it over patients for healing purposes, etc. In the element of Earth they can be used as writing quills for sacred work such as journals or inscribing things. Feathers are multi-purpose tools.

Each type of bird has a unique flight pattern and by observing the species, how those feathers are used will indicate a lot about how you can use them too. Those that soar and ride the thermals can teach how to reach greater heights of awareness, ride the energy vibrations of that higher consciousness and take in that which is shown to you.

Working with feathers is a way of connecting spiritually that promotes a rather rapid manifestation of results. Feathers represent balance between the forces of Air and land, between that which is seen and that which is unseen. They are an easy and readily available tool even for the novice.

The usage for feathers is wide, and some of those applications are: for prayers or direct communication to Spirit; the Medicine of the particular species; links to other dimensional realities and entities; omens and signs, alignment with specific forces in nature; representatives of changes that are new, including new levels of consciousness.

How they are worn will often carry a message of its own, for instance a feather pointing downward indicates a person of peace and upward it indicates a warrior or warring nature. Be it a feather or wing or fan there are many variations that can be applied but all tend to indicate the element of Air and connection to Spirit. As we work with a feather and come to understand the traits of the species from which it comes those forces begin very quickly to manifest in life around us.

Wing feathers are naturally the flight feathers which are stiff, veined, and larger than the other body plumage. If a veined blood-feather is broken a bird can easily bleed to death in a short amount of time, minutes. So broken wings can mean loss of life rather than only crippling.

Primary flight feathers tend to be shed equally balanced from both wings of a bird. They are replaced before the next set falls out insuring the continued ability to fly at all times.

Feathers growing along the forward edge of the wing are called coverlets as they thicken the wing-edge and cause air to dynamically flow over the wing. These are often used for projection of the inner spirit or OBE's. Contour feathers are those most commonly found and those that are located on the body giving it its "contour". Below the contour are found the downy feathers, those fluffy little ones that tickle the nose or are used in bedding and external clothing items. These feathers muffle the sound of wingbeats, often applied for their Medicine and ability to work undetected or in secret, or to soothe and quiet the emotions.

As the down feathers deteriorate they form an oily powder that is good for conditioning the skin and hence it is used for healing purposes, stimulating the sense of touch as in psychometry or empathy. The tail feathers help the bird navigate like a ruder on a boat, so they are used to steer flight or stop it. In Medicine they can be used to direct or block energies.

Feathers empower our thoughts as we invoke a link to nature. they activate a connection to the spirits of Air almost instantly and you should feel their presence. If you don't, try blowing on the feather or waving it gently in the air to mimic a wing in flight and see what happens. Holding a feather in your hands will allow you to attune to its energy and depending on the species that Medicine will become available to you whether for healing, journey work, or simply channeling messages.

Feathers are often fashioned into tools such as fans for smudging, aura dusters (to cleanse the aura before and after working on someone, or as a daily form of cleansing one's own aura), to breathe through them for healing, as a fetish, worn on costumes or in the hair, mixed in dream bundles, as well as being placed on Prayer Sticks, Staffs, and Wands. If you are interested in feathers and how to work with them, Ted Andrews' book: Animal-Speak has a wonderful section in it on care, use, and maintenance of feathers.

The Eagle Fan is used in ceremonies that empower and seed life.
The Parrot Fan represents Grandmother and is used in ceremonies to call forth abundance. The Parrot Clan is a woman's society of Seers and Healers.
Hawk Fans are for invoking messages or smudging in the Sweat Lodge as well as the Moon Lodge.
The Raven Fan is used to enter within oneself or for germination.
The Owl Fan can be used to seek the Spirit World, clear away deception, or for stealth.
The Turkey Fan is used for Give-Away and any time thanksgiving is being offered.
The Swan Fan is used for grace and intuition.
The Blue Jay Fan for playfulness and fun.
Hummingbird Fans are used for intimacy and love.
Crow Fans are used to tap into ancient knowledge.
The Vulture Fan is used to ward of trouble-making spirits.
Roadrunner Fans are used to bless the traveler.
Parakeet Fans call forth song by clearing the throat chakra.

Attuning to your feather can be done by preening it just as a bird does. It places your body oils from the hands onto the feather as well and that conditions it while attuning it to you. They need to be handled gently, but they need to be handled. Breath is akin to the element of Air, the association very clear, and it can be part of your feather work.

By breathing on a feather we activate its energy and by breathing through it we send that energy out to the person we are working on for healing purposes. Visual images of the particular bird the feather came from will enhance your work, as it summons that essence to you. When held in hand, the sensations of tingling, the feather growing warmer, pressure etc. are often felt as that energy activates.

I'd like to close this article by sharing what a few others have to say about them.

*Lady Stearn Robinson & Tom Gorbett/The Dreamer's Dictionary: If your dream featured many small feathers, or a cloud of them, as from a pillow fight, it signifies an exceptional stroke of luck which will enhance your prestige as well as your income. Ornamental feathers, or articles made of them, such as ostrich feather fans, boas, or feathered hats, indicate an increase in social popularity for a woman or personal power for a man. To dream of gathering or sweeping feathers up or picking them off clothes or furniture predicts a life of many small joys. Other than the foregoing, a dream of feathers can have as many meanings as there are varieties of feathers, or it must be interpreted by correlating its action and other factors to the color of the feather/s.

*Denise Linn/The Secret Language of Signs: In many native traditions, feathers are thought to be the connection between man and the supreme being. They symbolize the flight to spirit and to the heavens above.

The feathers on the headdresses worn by Native Americans connected the wearers with Great Spirit.

Coup Feathers

To the ancient Egyptians, feathers represented the winds and the gods Ptah, Hathor, Osiris, and Amon. In Christianity, St. Gregory stated that feathers symbolize faith and contemplation and a quill signifies the Word. Finding a feather can signify an important message from the Creator.

This can be a sign of something that is soft or "light as a feather." Enter into the receptive state of softness. When you have a "feather in your cap," this means a job well done. You can congratulate yourself. You have done well.

*Zolar/Encyclopedia of Signs, Omens, and Superstitions: To the ancient Egyptians, the feather was associated with the delicate balance between truth and fabrication. Maat, Goddess of Truth and Justice, was often depicted in hieroglyphics as a feather. After death, the deceased journeyed to the underworld and entered the "hall of judgment." Presiding over the hall was Osiris, God of the Underworld, clad in a robe of feathers (his emblem of righteousness), and forty-two judges, each one wearing a "feather of truth" on his head. Tradition held that the heart of the deceased was placed in one pan of the scales and the feather (symbolic of Maat) placed on the other to test for truthfulness. Only if the two pans balanced did Osiris grant admission to the underworld.

Among American Indians, a feather was added to one's head-gear for each slain enemy. Since birds were held as links and mediators between men and gods, feathers were often used ceremoniously.

In Hungary, during the fifteenth century, only one who had slain a Turk was permitted to sport a feather.

Feathers of a wren were said to preserve one from shipwreck for an entire year, according to an Isle of Man tradition. Required was the fact that the wren be chased, caught, and killed on Christmas Eve, and, afterward, carried aloft on a pole, with its wings outstretched. Those desiring a feather could obtain one in return for a coin. At the end of the day, the bird, usually featherless, was buried on the seashore. After this, the feathers were a potent charm against shipwreck.

Turning a feather bed over on a Sunday was said to result in fearful dreams for a week. Should one turn a feather bed on a Sunday, according to another tradition, death would be brought into the house. Likewise, should the feathers of the bed come from pigeons or game birds, no one could die happily or painlessly on that bed.

*Mary Summer Rain/On Dreams: Feather stands for free-spirit thinker; applies to an open and expanding intellect; deep wisdom. A feather bed suggests a down-to-earth perspective regarding one's personal attainment of wisdom. A feather duster denotes the use of wisdom to make determining decisions; discerning intellect.

*Patricia Telesco/The Language of Dreams: Spiritual purity and truth: In ancient Egypt, the soul was weighed upon death against the Plume of Maat, whose name means truth. Similarly, the Hopi regard the gift of an owl's feather as a means of helping the recipients be true to themselves. Less directly this may pertain to honesty in communication. Lifting of guilt or burdens, or someone who is a truly free spirit (e.g., being "light as a feather").

Changeability: Feathers equate to the air element that shifts directions without any forewarning. A prognostication: In ancient Greece, people used found bird feathers as portents of their travels and the future. Consider the feather's color, where it lands, and the type of bird from which it comes for expanded interpretations.

Akicita Madigan posted this on Facebook:
The Eagle is a Winged Symbol for the Lakota People because it is seen as the strongest and bravest of all the birds. For this reason the Eagle and its feathers have been chosen as a symbol of what is highest, bravest, strongest and holiest. An Eagle’s feather are treated with great respect and given to another in honor. They are worn with dignity and pride. Hokahey

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