Feather Symbolism: 10 Spiritual Meanings Of Feather

Bird feathers don’t just symbolize different things in different cultures but their meanings can also vary based on their color, the type of bird they are from, or the context in which you encounter them. Even with all this variety, however, there are a dozen or so universal meanings associated with bird feathers most people in the world would agree with. So, let’s go over the particulars of feather symbolism below.

10 Spiritual Meanings Of Feather

What are the 10 main feather symbolism you can encounter across most cultures?

Feathers as well as feather tattoos and dreams can mean many things, especially if you go through the various cultures and ages of human civilization. However, there are some through-lines that can be noticed even among entirely separate cultures and religions. So, while we’ll go into specific cultures, bird species, and feather colors below, let’s go over the 10 main aspects of feather symbolism that can be seen in almost every culture in the world.

1. Lightness

The symbolism of feathers is understandably related to that of birds and the wind so most of the time feathers are seen as a symbol of the lightness of the soul, the joy of the dance, and the lighthearted celebration of life.

2. A connection to the divine

The feathers we find in the world may come from birds but feathers are also associated with angels, the heavens, prayers, and paradise for obvious reasons.

3. Messages and insight

Birds are often seen as messengers of the gods in most cultures and so are their feathers. Finding a special feather in a specific moment can easily be seen to mean a message from the divine.

4. Healing and rejuvenation

Many birds shed or molt their feathers similar to mammals shedding their fur. So, finding a bird feather can also be seen as a symbol of new life, rejuvenation, and healing.

5. Strength

Birds may have hollow bones and a light frame but many of them are also incredibly powerful. So, a feather from an eagle or a hawk can be seen to symbolize a gift of strength.

6. Nobility

Birds such as peacocks, swans, eagles, and falcons are as much symbols of nobility and royalty as are lions in most cultures.

7. Wisdom

As the messengers of gods, birds are believed to have incredible foresight and knowledge. So, finding a special bird feather is seen to be a blessing of wisdom.

8. Balance

Flying isn’t just a feat of strength, it’s much more an exercise of balance. So, bird feathers are often associated with managing to achieve the perfect balance in life we all strive for.

9. Good or bad omens

Depending on their color, bird of origin, and context, feathers are often seen as either good or bad omens.

10. Peace

The feathers of doves and other similar birds, especially when white, are seen as symbols of peace, mercy, and tranquility.

Feather symbolism across the different cultures and religions of the world

Feather symbolism across the different cultures and religions of the world

1. Feather symbolism in Christianity

Bird feathers have a very strong symbolism in Christian ceremonies as they are associated with angel wings. The exact meaning of each feather varies greatly depending on its color and the bird it is coming from, and we’ll cover those below. But, in general, the broad feather symbolism in Christianity is that of peace, divine intervention, God’s love, and hope.

2. Feather symbolism in northern Native American culture

The meaning and power of bird feathers for the various northern Native American tribes is well-established but what exactly did feathers represent for the American natives?

Again, each feather had a different meaning and symbolism depending on the type of bird it came from. However, bird feathers in general were meant to be worn by people and grant them power, strength, blessings, and healing. For the Native Americans, being gifted a bird feather that’s been cleansed and blessed by a shaman was one of the greatest of honors.

Feathers were also given for certain achievements such as coming of age, distinguishing oneself in battle or in hunting, and helping the tribe in other ways. In that sense, bird feathers were seen as “medals” of sorts.

Naturally, feathers were also used for various religious and cultural ceremonies. For example, the Iroquois and many other tribes had a Great Feather Dance to thank the gods for all they were blessed with.

3. Feather symbolism in pre-colonial Mesoamerica and South America

One key difference in how the Native Americans of Mesoamerica and South America saw bird feathers compared to their northern cousins was that the former looked at the feathers’ color much more than they did at the birds they were coming from.

Meso- and Southern American cultures, in general, were deeply connected to the symbolism of the items, colors, and the world around them, and they also lived in much more tropical climates with a greater avian variety. So, they ascribed meanings to colors such as power and blood to red feathers, death and mourning to black feathers, fertility to green feathers, and so on.

4. Feather symbolism in ancient Egypt

Most people today are aware of the idea of weighing one’s soul against the weight of a feather. Many don’t know that it comes from Egypt, however. There, the goddess Ma’at was portrayed wearing a single feather on her headdress and she was the one weighing the hearts of those that have passed away against a feather before granting them entry into A’Aru, the Field of Reeds.

As such, for the ancient Egyptians, bird feathers – especially white feathers – symbolized the divine judgment of one’s sin, soul, and life.

5. Celtic feather symbolism

Another ancient religion and culture where feathers had tremendous symbolism is that of the ancient Celts, today represented mostly in Wales and Scotland. According to the Celtic people, there were many gods and goddesses associated with feathers and therefore one could find in feathers meanings such as lightness, divinity, truth, the journey to the Otherworld, spiritual cleansing, as well as various omens, both good and bad.

Black feathers were especially associated with the raven trinity Goddess Morrigan – a goddess of fate, war, and victory.

Feather symbolism depends on the bird

Feather symbolism depends on the bird

As you’d expect, the exact feather symbolism depends greatly on the bird the feather is from. An eagle’s or hawk’s feather bears a drastically different symbolism from that of a dove, for example, with even more differences coming up when looking at peacocks, ostriches, swans, and other popular birds. So, let’s go over some of the most common examples below.

1. An eagle’s feather

In the majority of cultures worldwide, eagle feathers are associated with strength, power, and nobility. Often seen as “the king of the avian world”, the eagle is similar to lions in that regard so eagle feathers are said to give power, health, and many exceptional abilities to those who find or dream about them.

2. Hawk and falcon feathers

Similar to eagles but faster, smaller, and nimbler, falcon and hawk feathers share a similar “positive” symbolism to that of eagles’. Here, however, there is more of an emphasis on the speed and decisiveness of these birds. So, hawk and falcon feathers often come to symbolize quick thought, foresight, and even spiritual guidance in addition to strength and power.

3. Peacock feathers

Few birds look as spectacular as peacocks or have feathers as unique as theirs. Peacock feathers, especially the tail feathers of male peacocks are believed to symbolize nobility, beauty, and holiness. Look aren’t everything, however, and the protectful and wrathful nature of these birds also means that their feathers symbolize watchfulness and protection.

4. Dove feathers

The feathers of doves are almost universally recognized as a symbol of peace as are doves themselves. Another symbolism is that of the protection of a guardian angel. And, in Christianity, there’s also the symbolism of a connection with the divine as doves are seen as messengers of God.

5. Ostrich feathers

As flightless birds, ostriches have quite different feathers from most other birds. Their symbolism isn’t any less awesome, however. Thanks to the ferocious nature and powerful physique of ostriches, their feathers are associated with strength and determination. In ancient Egypt, they also symbolized purity, truth, and divinity.

6. Swan feathers

Swans are some of the most symbolic birds in the world with the unique combination of their delicate look and short temperament. Finding or dreaming of a swan feather is seen to mean that your life will be enriched with more beauty and elegance than before.

However, swan feathers also symbolize change and strength both because of how their looks change as they grow up and because of how quickly their temperament changes when they feel that their personal space has been threatened.

Feather symbolism based on the feather’s color

Feather symbolism based on the feather’s color

The feather color meaning is arguably as important as the type of bird the feather was from. And, given the huge variety in the avian world, there are lots of natural colors to choose from.

1. White feathers

The exact white feather meaning can vary greatly depending on the context. For some, it’s associated with cowardice – for example, during World War I women in Britain gave white feathers to men without uniforms in an attempt to shame them into going to war.

On the other hand, white feathers are also often associated with angels’ wings, as well as with love, affection, hope, inner strength, and trust.

2. Black feathers

Black may usually be seen as an ominous color but that’s rarely the case with black feather symbolism. Here, black feathers are usually associated with the wisdom and foresight of ravens and crows as well as with arcane knowledge, protection, and knowledge. There are exceptions, however, as some cultures associate black feathers with death, tragedy, and mourning.

3. Red feathers

The color of a red feather is both rare and fascinating. It tends to signify passion, getting your strength back after a health issue, vitality, physical energy, as well as fertility. As such, finding or dreaming of a bright red feather is seen as a great boon, particularly if it’s in a good condition.

4. Pink feathers

The pink feather is usually seen as a symbol of unconditional love, great adoration, as well as passion, and spiritual healing. They can also be gifted as a symbol of friendship and general caring so it’s important not to mix these two (love and friendship) to avoid awkward situations.

5. Blue feathers

Blue is usually seen as a very noble color and there is a touch of that when it comes to the blue feather meaning. More than that, however, blue feathers are associated with rising above things and having freedom. There is also a strong guardian angel symbolism often seen in blue feathers together with a sense of morality and courage.

6. Yellow feathers

The widely accepted yellow feather meaning across most cultures is that of hope, joy, and celebration. As the color of young chicks, yellow feathers are seen to symbolize a vision of a bright future and a great omen for those feeling a bit lost or depressed.

7. Brown feathers

Brown feathers are very common in nature but that doesn’t mean that the brown feather meaning is not significant or consequential. Like the color brown in general, brown feathers symbolize a life that’s free while also being stable, balanced, and grounded.

8. Grey feathers

With pigeons being the most common bird in most cities, you may be wondering what does a grey feather mean? Typically, this feather color is associated with peace and calmness. Encountering or dreaming of a well-preserved grey feather is therefore a symbol that you can expect a calm and tranquil period in your life.

9. Orange feathers

In Christianity, the traditional orange feather meaning is one associated with Archangel Zadkiel and as such it’s associated with calmness and letting go. In other religions and cultures, however, orange has a very different meaning on a feather. In the East, for example, this saffron-like color is associated with passion and rising sexual energy. There’s also an association with creativity and good fortune.

10. Green feathers

Speaking of good fortune, few colors symbolize this more than green and feathers are no exception. Naturally, such feathers are also associated with fertility, healing, nature, and abundance. There is also a connection with Archangel Raphael in Christianity and therefore with hope and compassion.

In conclusion

Feathers meaning and symbolism are as inspiring as they are fascinating. But they can also be a bit confusing. Hopefully, we’ve given you at least some idea as to what that feather in your dream meant or exactly what type of feather tattoo you’d want to get for that specific symbolism you were looking for.

10 Spiritual Meanings Of Feather

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