Native American Symbol – The Feather
Feathers are an important part of Native American symbolism. They are used in many ways:
- Hair Ties
- Door Blessings
- Medicine Bags
- Silver Jewelry
- Smudge Fans
Lakota Feather Hair Tie
Because it is illegal to use feathers from certain birds (more on this in another post), Native American artists use white feathers, usually turkey, and hand paint them to look like eagle or hawk or owl feathers. Eagle feathers are a symbol of honor.
This is a hand painted turkey feather in the style of an eagle feather; soft, tan deerskin laces; glass crow bead, solid brass beads and trade cloth; great for hair tie, horse decoration, auto mirror, ceremonial or craft work. Feather is 11 inches long from tip to wrap attachment.
Oglala Lakota Macaw Feather Hair Ties
Moonwalker, a member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, makes smudge fans and carves a feather in the fringe of her medicine bags. From Moonwalker:
Native Americans believed prayers and messages were carried to the Great Spirit on the wings of eagles and other fine birds.
Prayer feathers, either single or bundled are used by an individual to offer a prayer to the Great Spirit. The feathers carry your words, thoughts and feelings to the Great Spirit. Each time you look at your prayer feather, your prayers are again sent in your behalf to the Great Spirit in the Heavens.
Prayer feathers may be used for smudging or cleansing with smoke. The smoke is fanned in the 6 directions East, West, North, South, Earth and Sky cleansing an object, person or thought to the Great Spirit. Sage, cedar, sweet grass, even incense can be used for smudging.
Some personal rituals include singing while praying. It is believed singing is one way to speak with the grandfathers as well as the Great Spirit.
WIPACI (Thank you) Moonwalker
Moonwalker Prayer Whisper Medicine Bag
Native American Smudge Kit
A smudge kit usually contains:
- White Sage and/or Cedar
- Sweet Grass in a braided stick
- Bowl, often an Abalone Shell
- Medicine Bag or Box to contain the kit.
Oglala Lakota Smudge Fan
Oglala Lakota Smudge Box and Fan
The Door Blessing has several symbols, one of which is the feathers:
- The Medicine Stick brings positive energy.
- The red, yellow, white and black ribbons represent the Four Directions from which all strength comes.
- The feather represents Freedom.
- Thoughts, Prayers, and Choices are represented by the bead circle which shows us that our thoughts return to us again and again.
- Turquoise protects us and keeps us Positive in thought.
- The rabbit fur is to help us keep a warm heart.
- The fur reminds us that Mother Earth is the Giver of Life and we should walk softly.
- The Sage Medicine Stick exists that we might all live in Love and Oneness.
Door Blessings are ideal for hanging on the door of your home, your room, your office, your tack room, anywhere you want positive light and good fortune.
Native American Door Blessing
Apache Sunface Kachina Shield
Apache Eagle Spirit Dreamcatcher
Navajo Sterling Silver Turquoise and Coral Pendant by Lester Craig
Navajo Sterling Silver and Turquoise Dreamcatcher Earrings
Navajo Sterling Silver and 14K Gold Feather Bracelet
Hand carved and painted bone feather earrings
Hand carved and painted Navajo Kachinas with feather headresses
Cynthia Whitehawk Apache Eagle Spirit Medicine Bag