I am always being gifted with feathers when I am out usually pigeon ones but I have also been given crow and magpie ones too.  If you are in the forest you may find all sorts of bird feathers and on the beach it will probably be seagull feathers.  Whatever kinds they are feathers carry their own very special magic with them.

When I find a feather I usually take it home and pop it in the freezer overnight, just as a precaution really because the cold temperature will get rid of any nasties that might be lurking therein.  Obviously keep the feather away from your frozen food!  Alternatively you can place the feathers in a solution of five parts warm water, one part vinegar and one part witch hazel, leave them to soak for twenty four hours then dry them by laying out flat on a towel.

Feathers bring the magical properties of change, focus, communication, concentration and wishes.  But the feather will also carry the magical energies of the particular bird that it came from and the colour of the feather will mean something too.

  • Crow feathers are excellent for wisdom, knowledge and helping us to let go of unwanted feelings, thoughts or negative energy.
  • Robin feathers bring new projects, plans and beginnings.
  • White swan feathers hold purification, cleansing, beauty and positive energy and black swan feathers can be used to dispel negative energy.
  • Hawk feathers bring the magic of the hunt.
  • Eagle feathers hold huge amounts of energy but also bring peace, happiness and protection.
  • Magpie feathers come with magic, divination skills, wisdom and change.
  • Pigeon feathers bring peace, love and communication.
  • Blackbird feathers will inspire you with poetry, music and a stronger connection with meditation.

I was lucky enough to have been gifted several whole magpie wings which is one of my totem animals so they sit on my altar.  If you do find a road kill bird and are not squeamish you can honour the animal by using it for magic. (There are plenty of instructions on how to dry bird wings on Google).   If the thought of it makes your stomach churn then you can also honour the animal by moving it to the verge or hedgerow so that nature can do what it does best and the animal will be returned to the earth and probably feed a crow or two as well.    I have skinned a rabbit (for dinner), plucked a pheasant and deboned a chicken but preparing a bird for preservation is a whole other level of ick…be prepared. 

For any animal or bird remains that I stumble across whether they can be used for preserving or not I think it is a nice idea to give a blessing for the animal and the life that it has had, just a few words said to the earth or the sky thanking the animal for its part in the cycle of life.

Witches Ladders

In the late 1800s in the eaves of a house in England some strange items were discovered, they consisted of a chair, four brooms and a string of feathers.  It was declared that the house had belonged to a witch as the chair was for sitting in, the brooms had been used for flying and the string of feathers was referred to as a ‘witches ladder’.  The witches ladder was a long string made from cockerel feathers and it was suggested that it might have been used by the witch to cross over the roof, to cause deaths and to hex the neighbour’s cattle.   A second string of feathers was also found which had much newer feathers in and then a third was found which had feathers bound loosely to a skein of black wool.

At the time it was said that each feather was a hex, a curse or a bad wish, the witches ladder would then be thrown into a pool of water where the feathers would eventually pull away from the wool releasing the curses, these would appear on the surface of the water as bubbles.

You could create a witches ladder with twine, wool or ribbon and insert feathers each one for a curse but equally you can also create witches ladders for positive intent such as luck, prosperity, love, healing or success.  Insert a feather for each wish.

 

Note: The USA in particular has specific laws about what birds you can have feathers from, it is worth checking just in case.