Norman W. Wilson, PhD
Feathers, traditionally been used for a variety of purposes. Feathers have played a role in implements of war, clothing, headdresses, and headbands. They have been used for blessings, spiritual ceremonies, purification, and healing.
A shaman makes use of feathers during a healing session. For example, before beginning a healing session the shaman may take a feather fan (a wing from a bird or several feathers tied together) and physically breathe through it or wave the fan over a client and chant through it. This is done to clear the area of any negative energy.
Once a client’s aura is identified and if the aura field is not strong, the shaman may use a single feather (eagle or turkey) to clear the area around the client. In addition to clearing a weak aura, fanning a client moves the air and creates new vital energy.
A feather fan is used during a smudging. Smudging involves the wafting of smoke from burning incense.
Among First Settlers (Native Americans) feathers were used to decorate battle clubs, tomahawks, ceremonial masks, medicine bags, talking sticks, rattles, and dream catcher as well as clothing.
Depending on tribal traditions, certain bird feathers were held in very high regard; for example, the Eagle, Bald, and Golden were sacred birds. They symbolized great strength, courage, and leadership. Both are often associated with connection to the creator.
A partial list of bird feathers and their uses is listed below.
Bluebird helps with happiness and personal fulfillment
Crow helps with balance and release from past beliefs
Falcon helps with soul healing
Hawk helps with farsightedness
Owl helps with seeing things normally
Turkey helps with abundance, pride, and fertility
Wren helps with personal protection
Contemporary shamanic healers may have their offices decorated with dream catchers that contain feathers from different birds. Masks, drums, rattles and head- bands that include feathers are often used to create a healing energy.