There are many stories and tales surrounding feathers over the ages. Many have their origins in Persian or Greek mythology. Some superstitions seem logical and obvious others are a little more obscure.
A common belief when you happen to find a feather on the ground is that a person close to you who may have recently died is thinking about you. It comes as no surprise to learn that white feathers are associated with love, peace and good luck. It is something to be treasured.
Ancient beliefs through the ages
Conversely Peacock feathers have been associated with darker forces over the ages. The distinctive eye feature on the feathers has been linked with the “evil eye” or “all seeing eye” in Mediterranean countries. As if that were not enough they also signified an imminent death or worse still a demon that would kill children. Some clue to why this might have been so lays in the fact that warriors from the Mongol hordes wore them as they moved from East to West. It is certainly true that in Eastern Europe, an area affected by the hordes they are seen in a negative light. Paradoxically the Peacock had a better time in the Indian subcontinent where it represented good luck, patience and kindness. Buddhists too looked upon the bird and its striking feathers favourably. For them the fan like display of the male birds showed openness.
Beyond the myriad of tales and lore associated with Peacock feathers, feathers in the general sense have been associated with witchcraft and the occult. Voodoo has strong, magical connections to pillows. While Voodoo conjures up notions of pins and dolls, pillows that contain feathers can have magic spells cast over them in order to summon the animal spirits within. The idea being that the person laying on that pillow will wind up dead as a result. This is by no means the only voodoo link with feathers and pillows. Many other spells or charms are used in conjunction with the feathers and can also contain, hair, bone or an item of clothing.
Birds of a feather
In Britain the Women’s Royal Navy Service (WRNS) or Wrens use the name because the name closely approximates the name of the bird. What is interesting to note though is that in Naval folklore the Wren was considered to save a man from drowning and from shipwreck.
Worth it’s weight in gold
Feathers have long been used to convey status. This is true of Native Americans and many other tribes throughout the America’s. In Europe they are used to this day in military ceremonial dress. They are not without monetary value either. A rare single feather from the now extinct Huia bird raised a staggering £3800 at auction in New Zealand.
There are many more tales of feathers and whether they bring good or bad luck. The colour of the feather and the type of bird it comes from also plays a part.
Kerry Bents shares her interest in Feather Folklore on behalf of Awesome Feathers