Feather symbolism takes on different meanings, depending on who you ask. In general, though: feathers symbolize the protection and love of guardian angels, the wind, the creator, and even the connection one has with God.
Different colored feathers naturally mean different things. Understanding feather symbolism can help you make certain decisions, make changes in your life, or even take a deeper look within. So, let us try to find out what does feathers represent spiritually and across cultures.
Table of contents
- Feather Symbolism and meaning
- Feather Native American Symbolism
- Feather Christianity Symbolism
- Feather Celtic Symbolism
- Feathers in Dreams
- Feather Encounters and Omens
- Feather’ Mythology and Folklore
- Feather Sign
- Feather Totem
- Colors of feathers and their meanings
- Feather Tattoo Meaning
Feather symbolism and meaning
Finding feathers, whether singular or in groups, means the wind, the realm of birds, and even the Creator Himself. Since feathers correspond to the air element, cultures that have aerial myths predominating in them often make use of feathers in their attire.
For example, the Native Indian headdress is made of feathers. Feathers have different colors and sometimes you might see them in your dreams or even in your path.
Their numbers and colors can all have special physical and spiritual significance. Each feather is unique and hence has a unique message for the seer. Feathers are great for tuning into oneself. One can even meditate on the feathers.
Whether you have been spiritual for eons and have always meditated or have just begun your practice, seeing a feather can give you a deep insight into what it is you need to do. The significance of Feathers is that they can heal.
They might magically appear in your path even if the bird is not around. It is a good idea to pick that feather up. It is made for you. It can clear negative energy out for you and bring more positivity in your life.
Feathers hold messages and can unlock deep healing and teaching. The number of feathers you see also makes a difference. They can help enhance creativity and can bring messages from beyond time and space. (1)
Feather Native American symbolism
What does a feather represent in Native American culture? Each member of the tribe used different feathers (either from the wing or the tails of different birds) and each feather had a different energy and symbolic meaning.
Naturally, different feathers were used for different purposes, such as healing, cleansing, blessing, or awakening. Lakota Sioux awarded feathers to the members of the tribe when they earned it.
They even used feathers to make it rain, or for success in hunting and catching fish. Feathers protected homes and cured the sick. Feathers were used in lullabies, love songs, corn grinding, and social dancing.
Cherokees also awarded feathers for certain achievements. Tribal members wore certain feathers when they overcame certain limitations or fears. A shaman would first purify each feather before awarding it to members.
This way, the negative features of the feather would not pass on to the recipient. A blessed feather was considered a gift better than anything.
Even the down feathers held a special meaning to Native Americans; they were considered the bridge between Mother Earth and the Spirit World. Down feathers were used for marking sacred sites and for a blessing.
For many tribes, the quill of the feathers also represented balance. And when a person experiences mental anguish, ceremonies were conducted with feathers to restore that balance. (2)
Feather Christianity symbolism
Feather symbolism meaning in Christianity and the Bible differs based on the bird. Ostrich feathers are mentioned often and they are unique because the ostrich does not fly. Therefore, they do not have tiny hooks that lock together the strands of feathers.
As a result, instead of smooth and sleek, they are light and fluffy. That is why; ostrich feathers have a place in Church’s liturgy. The flabella fans, which were made with ostrich and peacock feathers, were waved over the consecrated body and blood of Jesus Christ.
It is said that the eagle sheds its feathers in spring and, with its fresh plumage, assumes the appearance of youth.
To this, the allusion is made in Ps 103:5 and Isa. 40:31 – god’s care of the people is likened to that of the eagle. In Ps 68:13, there is a species of dove found in Damascus whose all feathers, except wings, are literally as yellow as gold.
This describes the condition of peace and prosperity, which one can attain once they completely put off earthly image with all its afflictions and sufferings and become truly invested in Christ.
Only then will their bodies be conformed to Christ’s glorious body. Only then will their humiliation disappear and the feathers will turn to Gold.
Feather Celtic symbolism
The feather symbol stands for truth, that which must rise; also of lightness, dryness, the heavens, height, speed, spaciousness, and flight to the other realm. The expression ‘ A feather in your cap ‘ is used to mean honor to you; it refers to the custom among many European countries of adding a feather in the hat after achieving something.
In Celtic symbolism, feathered cloaks worn by priests represent the journey to the Otherworld. In Celtic lore, white feather meaning of white raven was a good omen of blessing and spiritual cleansing.
In Celtic Lore & Spellcraft of the Dark Goddess: Invoking the Morrigan by Stephanie Woodfield, the goddess Aine wears a cloak made of swan feathers, and she can shape-shift into a bird.
Swans were sacred to bards and their feathers were used to make cloaks called tugen. Celts also believe that feathers mean air, ascension, fertility, and lightness, purification of evil, and abundance, purity, pride, charity, faith, and strength.
White feather meaning is cowardice, seafoam, and clouds. Crimson or red feather meaning – red feathers were cloak trimmings for fairies in Celtic lore. Black feathers meaning is sleep, evil, and mourning.
Ostrich feathers mean distinction. A feathered helmet is a triumph. Wearing feathers helps the person take on the powers of the birds, including transcendence, instinctual knowledge, and flight. (3)
Feathers in dreams
What does a feather symbolize in dreams? Two feathers meaning is light and air, opposites, height, North and South Pole, while dreaming of three feathers is a good thought, word, and deed, passing through a ring, faith, charity, and hope.
Dream catchers, which is a Native American concept of ‘catching the good dreams’ and helping kids ‘filter out nightmares’ consist of a hole in the center for the feather.
The feather moves and filters out nightmares. The baby would be entertained by the moving feather and also learn the value of fresh air.
Dream catchers made with owl feathers imparted wisdom while those made with eagle feathers instilled courage.
According to The Complete Idiot’s Guide Dream Dictionary (4) to dream of a feather means you need a lighter touch. You have been too heavy-handed or obvious. Subtlety and even a little light-heartedness will help.
If you dream of birds or dream of their feathers falling, it may indicate an inherent desire to escape. Maybe there is a situation that is making you feel trapped.
Feathers are also good medicine. To dream of a feather may also mean that you can overcome a situation and rise higher. It also means ‘look down and learn.’
Feather encounters and omens
Feathers are omens of light burdens and even of attainment of goals. To see feathers piled around you means all your burdens will be light and your cares few. Different bird feathers mean different things: Eagle feathers meaning is you will attain your aspirations.
Chicken feather meaning indicates small annoyances. Black feathers meaning is sad love affairs and mourning of a loved one.
To see ostrich feathers means you will be victorious, but you might use negative ways for your gains. Finding feathers on the ground means special messages from dead loved ones and angels.
You might have heard many stories of white feathers appearing out of nowhere. This especially happens after the death of a loved one. One may not be able to rationalize or explain these things, but they are messages from the Higher Power.
White feathers after death are the ultimate angel calling cards and appear when you pray to your angels. However, one has to believe in angels else countless feathers may cross your path and you may not see their significance.
In most cases, when a person sees a feather, s/he would know its exact significance or meaning. Because more often than not, it is always linked to a thought, a question, or a problem they have been mulling over. (5)
Feather mythology and folklore
All over the world, feathers have been used in costumes, headdresses, and jewelry. They are believed to have the attributes of the birds and often difficult to find. Therefore, they were also considered symbols of status and wealth.
In Native American mythology, there are thousands of mythological stories about feather symbol. Dreaming of an eagle and eagle feathers meant that one had to increase vigil, fast, and arrange for Eagle Dance soon else someone in his family would soon die.
If the eyes of a child were washed with water in which the feathers of owls were bathed, then that child could stay up all night.
Feathers play ceremonial importance in numerous cultures. Primarily, they are used for healing because of the talismanic powers they have due to the spiritual beings they are associated with.
Many folklore stories about feathers are shared across cultures. The story of the Robe of Feathers is common in Celtic, Japanese, and Native American cultures. It narrates the story about a fisherman who steals a cloak of feathers that belongs to a spirit without which it is powerless.
The man eventually consents to yield his treasure, provided the deity dances before him. As she does so, she rises upwards in a rainbow-color aura. (6)
Feathers, according to Egyptians, are a sign of the human soul. Beyond its funerary association, the feather – according to Egyptologists- is a sign of Ibis, who is the Goddess of truth, order, and judgment.
In North American, feathers were a sign of great warriors. Only the most accomplished warriors wore feathers. Eagle feathers were most prized since the eagle was considered the King of Birds.
The right to wear feathers was accomplished in battle. Upright eagle feather worn in the headdress meant striking a wounded enemy while a horizontal feather meant hitting a wounded adversary.
In South America, the colors of feathers held greater significance than the source of the feathers. Yellow feathers were representative of the sun, energy, fertility, or semen. Red feathers were very important as they symbolized goodness, power, fertility, and blood.
Black feathers had good and bad meanings: it symbolized high rank but was also a sign of death and mourning. In Africa, feathers were worn as a sign of status, longevity, and achievements.
In Christianity, feathers were used as emblems. The Medici ring shows a trio of feathers as a sign of charity, hope, and faith. In Hawaii, natives wore feathers in their helmets, cloaks, and capes. The colors of the feathers conveyed the power and divinity of the wearer. (7)
Feather totem signifies that you are connected above and below and you need to trust your intuition. Feathers are a sign that the angels are watching over you.
You may have been wanting some assurance that your angels are around and the feather is the sign they have provided.
Seeing feathers in unusual places might mean that the spirit of a loved one is watching over you. They may appear suddenly on the ground or even floating above you. If you find a white feather, carry it around as your protection.
This is a reminder that your angels are always around to protect you and the feather will also serve as a reminder to be more grateful for the good things in your life.
Feathers also turn up when you are going through some transition in your life. Consider the feather totem as a good omen that you are doing the right thing and are on the right path. It is a reassuring omen and sign that good things will come soon.
Feathers are useful for awakening your insights. If you spend time meditating on a feather, deeper teaching will come forth. (This depends on the bird whose feather it is). That is why; feathers are used in healing, ceremonies, and magic. (8)
Colors of feathers and their meanings
Different colored feathers have different meanings in different cultures.
Black feather meaning is death and the spiritual realm. Red feathers are symbolic of fertility, life, and the physical world. Together, both feathers represent fire with its red embers that eventually burn out to form black coals.
Black feathers are also associated with high ranking, beauty, and power. Black and white striped feathers of harpy eagles are symbolic of power, beauty, and death.
Red feathers of macaw birds represent goodness, power, and fertility. A white feather symbolizes spiritual connection, angels, peace, protection, and love.
Pink feather indicates that love and romance will soon be yours. Mixed colored feathers like black mixed with purple represent deep spirituality. An orange feather meaning portends successful changes are on the way.
Blue feather meaning is that you are about to be blessed and it is a sign of God’s love. Grey feather meaning is powerful healing has taken place and it also represents spiritual growth.
Yellow feather meaning is symbolic of the warmth of the sun. It also represents spiritual growth, intelligence, and cheer, and joy. Green feathers symbolize wealth, environment, harmony, freshness, and fertility.
Brown feather meaning is Earth and therefore, it represents the material side of life. It also suggests stability and denotes masculinity. (9)
Feather tattoo meaning
Feather tattoo meaning is a lightness of being, air, spirituality, and ascent to heaven. It also denotes supernatural divination. Feather tattoos mean different things based on feather color meaning.
Egyptian Goddess Ma’ at wore a single feather in her headdress. She also used a single feather to weigh against the heart of the deceased, who wished to cross over and gain entrance to the afterlife.
Thus, feather tattoos represent crossing over or going to heaven and are often obtained in the memory of a loved one. Some tattoos also represent motifs like peacock feathers. These symbolize pride, rain, dance, and even magnificence.
Since a peacock dances before the rains, a peacock feather represents growth, fertility, greenery, and even unique beauty.
Red feather tattoos are especially sought after because, in many cultures like Polynesian, red feathers were only reserved for the royalty. Therefore, red feather tattoo symbolizes royalty, status, and high-rank. A white feather like that of the heron bird symbolizes a woman who rose above every difficulty to achieve her goals.
In most mythologies and folklores, the feather is associated with the purity of the heart and soul. For Native Americans, feathers were a powerful symbol that connected them to the spirits of birds.
Feather symbolism usually represents angels, ascension, wind, and a connection to the Higher Realms. If you have been dreaming of feathers or seeing feathers in unexpected places, then it is a sign that your angels are watching over you. In case you are planning on getting a feather tattoo, make sure you discuss your vision with your tattoo artist.