The element of air, in my opinion, is one of the hardest to really describe. It is at times invisible to the naked eye, yet an awareness of its presence is always there. It can be felt in a breeze, heard in a wind chime, seen in smoke, smelled in scents, and even tasted to some degree…just lick the air at the sea’s edge. It is the vehicle of spirit and with that also an avenue for the flying ones or bird clans.
In my spiritual practice, birds are quite important to me; my main guides appear as giant vultures and walk with me on my journey, at times carrying me, taking flight into unknown adventures. For me it is a gift and I am often bestowed with the honor of a feather to remind me of my path or as a tool for healing or other energy workings.
Some people see feathers as signs of angels or gifts from them; some just appreciate the gift of a lovely piece of nature. However, historically feathers have played a role in many cultures, in particular many native cultures around the world and are prized both for their beauty as well as their energetic properties.
Feathers have been worn decoratively, as part of ceremonies, as protection; they have been used as healing tools and in some cultures teas are made with them. They represent the spirit of the birds, the element of air, and even almighty deities in various forms. Birds have played a sacred role throughout our history and often find their way into associations with spirit or the gods. The presence of winged beasts fills historical and mythological stories alike and our fascination with the feather has not lessened in the slightest in modern times.
I use feathers often in my spiritual work. To me they are sacred tools I use for protection, for healing, and other roles on my path. However, I rarely use a feather just as it comes to me. I most often wrap it ceremoniously before using it. This method was taught to me by a Cherokee friend of mine; she herself is of bird clan. Feather wrapping is a tradition passed down from generation to generation and with her permission, I pass this information on to you.
For me when I wrap a feather I am connecting with the spirit of the bird and asking for a partnership in the spiritual world when I use the feather. I am asking for its energetic and spiritual properties and gifts to be bestowed on my workings when I use the feather. It is an intent to come together for these purposes only. It is a binding of sorts, however I am not binding the bird spirit to me, but rather binding the intent of purpose, if that makes sense.
There are many practices in various spiritual paths that bind spirits to the witch or fill in the blank label for person doing spiritual work. In some African paths, a spirit of any person or creature can be bound to a witchdoctor or medicine man to do his bidding when ever he pleases in the spiritual world. This is common actually in many practices, however it is not my path, and I prefer to always ask for partnerships in my spiritual work. I find that the spirit of whatever I am asking to partner with is far more willing and my work more powerful when I work in unison with a spirit rather than forcing my will on something. As I wrap my feathers, it is with this approach that I view the binding rather than the latter mentioned here.
So before I share with you the technique, I want to speak a bit on the process of getting feathers. I prefer naturally found or gifted feathers. When I say gifted I am speaking of feathers that Spirit or other source has given you feathers. This can be road kill, gruesome for many however; an unfortunate source of feathers but a sacrifice that can be honored if you can find the animal useful rather than left to rot, blessing the creature and honoring its Spirit is a wonderful way to have the animal partner with you. Gifting can also be from a friend or someone else on the path with you, an elder, a mentor, or some other person connected with you. In general, store bought feathers are often ill gotten and carry that energy with them, so I avoid them at all cost. Rather, try asking Spirit to gift you with a particular type of feather that you are looking for, but be aware, Spirit may not just drop you a feather at your door step. I once asked Spirit for a crow feather and an entire dead crow was found on my door step the following morning. That left me with some unsavory business to deal with, but I was grateful for the gift and the sacrifice of the bird. Careful what you wish for.
Feathers of your choice, (I prefer naturally found or gifted feathers.)
Wrapping material, (yarn, embroidery floss, wool, leather, fur, etc.)
Any decorative items, (beads, charms, additional feathers, etc.)
Smudge everything, all materials and yourself to ensure that you are energetically clear.
I start by asking the feather to partner with me. If it does not agree, I investigate as to why, try to resolve the issue. If it agrees, I proceed.
I generally use red colored materials for wrapping; however I have used other colors such as gold or blue for various workings. Go with your instinct and what the feather is asking you to use. That will always be the correct way. Holding the feather and the wrapping material along the shaft of the feather, I start with a LEFT direction wrap. I was taught to always lead from the heart. I just begin wrapping the material around the shaft, keeping my intent focused on the purpose of the wrap. If the heather is to be used for healing intentions then that is my focus. In my mind as I am wrapping I am asking for partnership in my healing work, for healing energies to be bestowed anytime the feather is used for that purpose and I am giving gratitude for the sacrifice of the feather and the bird, gratitude for partnering with me in this spiritual work. I repeat this focused intent, thinking process the entire time I am wrapping the feather shaft.
The wrap needs to be tight and even, but not crushing. It gets tricky at the bottom tip of the feather but by applying and even pressure and working diligently it will lie flat and not slide off the end.
Once you have wrapped the full length of the feather shaft down once and back up, I complete my binding by knotting three times saying, “I bind you once, twice, thrice, So mote it be.” This completes your feather wrap.
Once you have the basic wrap down you can embellish your feather with wrapping over the original wrap with leather or initially wrapping the feather with additional feathers layered on top of it. If you add additional animal components, keep in mind that you are adding those energies to your feather wrap. My suggestion would be to also ask for partnership with those animal spirits as well. Remember you are making a powerful tool for a specific intent. You want all of the players to be participating in your purpose, not working against you. You can be creative and as fancy as you like or as simple as you like. I like to add tobacco wraps to most of my feather wraps for an added layer. Here’s a link to the instructions on how to make a tobacco wrap:
So you now have a completed wrapped and blessed feather, how are you going to care for it? I keep mine wrapped in a red cotton cloth, loosely so as not to damage the feather. I keep that wrapped feather in a protected magic box to keep all of the energies intact and I also keep herbs and oils in the box to ensure no bugs get in to destroy my work. Having said that, I do want to mention that Spirit will help protect your feather once you have entered into partnership with it; however sometimes bugs or other things happen to destroy the feather. When this happens, it is for a reason! The energy of the feather is some how corrupted and cannot be used again, you no longer need it as a tool or some other reason that Spirit has allowed this to occur. It is time to LET IT GO! Do not hold on it no matter how much you love it. It is ruined and will not work as a healing or any other tool. Send it to the fire. Let the spirit be returned to the animal. Give offerings and gratitude for the partnership. You can ask for a new feather and perhaps you will be gifted one.
2016 copyright by Katie Pifer http://www.witchpetals.wordpress.com