Quite some time ago I received a beautiful Papyrus card. This delicate work of art contained the following legend:
“Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy, and celebration. The hummingbird’s delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning, and that laughter is life’s sweetest creation.”
I love it when we’re gifted with a hummingbird sighting. The weight of these tiny creatures depends on the species:
The smallest hummingbird is the bee hummingbird which weighs less than 2 grams.
The largest hummingbird is known as the giant hummingbird and it weighs between 21 and 23 grams.
I remember a heated debate in school we had about the 21 Grams Theory and then many years later, the opening lines of the 2003 movie “21 Grams” with Sean Penn:
“They say we all lose 21 grams at the exact moment of our death…everyone. Twenty-one grams—the weight of a stack of 5 nickels, the weight of a chocolate bar, the weight of a hummingbird.”
The next time I see a hummingbird it may well remind me of a soul in flight…
A flash of harmless lightning
A mist of rainbow dyes
The burnished sunbeams brightening
From flower to flower he flies
— John Banister Tabb
Metaphorically speaking, a feather is synonymous with the soul. Sacred since the beginning of time, feathers have symbolically represented spiritual evolution, truth, speed, lightness, ascension, and flight—freedom of the human spirit.
Native Americans wore feathers to symbolize their communication with Spirit, and to express their celestial wisdom. They also represented the power of the thunder gods, along with the power of air and wind.
Celtic Druids wore ornate feathered robes in ceremonies to invoke the sky gods and gain knowledge of the celestial realm. They believed the feathered cloak along with the presence of the sky gods allowed them to transcend the earthly plane and enter the ethereal realm.
Egyptians believed that feathers were symbolic of sky gods too. Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of justice, would weigh the hearts of the newly dead in the underworld against the weight of a feather to determine the worthiness of his or her soul.
In Christianity feathers represented virtues—faith, hope, and charity. An image of three feathers were made into signet rings, and then worn as a symbol of a virtuous soul; they were also used as wax seals.
In dreams feathers mean travel or the ability to move more freely in life. White feathers in dreams indicate innocence or a fresh start in a spiritual sense.
The Path of the Feather is the simple practice of going inward and embracing your source of power. It’s a daily journey of spirit that transforms, empowers, and heals. It’s sacred awareness. It’s BEing aware. It’s BEing awake.
Sacred Feathers—The Power of One Feather to Change Your Life by Maril Crabtree is an excellent book. In the introduction she says, “Feathers! Magical, mystical, incredible feathers! Feathers of all shapes, sizes, varieties, and colors. Throughout history, feathers have served as spiritual symbols for shamans and priests, as symbols of royalty for kings and chiefs, as symbols of healing, or a symbol of sacred power for cultures as far back as the ancient Egyptian, Asian, or Celtic eras. These cultures possessed abilities to communicate with nature in ways that have been overlooked or forgotten in our town time.
“Yet feathers are more than history. For many, they are mystical signs, messages, or opportunities. They are scraps of synchronicity in the flowing patchwork of universal meanings. Feathers appear in unlikely places as assurances of well being, as a comforting sign of abundance in the universe, and as unmistakable messengers of hope and encouragement. Their ephemeral grace makes them the perfect emissaries of spiritual and emotional freedom.”
I happen upon feathers all the time—they seem to throw themselves at me out of the clear blue sky. Have you ever happened on a feather, or has a feather ever happened upon you?
Important Note: Under the current language of the eagle feather law, only individuals of certifiable Native American ancestry enrolled in a federally recognized tribe are legally authorized to obtain eagle feathers. Unauthorized persons found with an eagle or its parts in their possession can be fined up to $25,000. The eagle feather law allows for individuals who are adopted members of federally recognized tribes to obtain eagle feathers and eagle feather permits.
Additionally, most migratory birds found in the United States are protected by international treaties as well as U.S. laws. No part of protected birds, live or dead, including feathers, claws, bones, skins, or taxidermy-mounted birds can be possessed without an appropriate permit, which is exceptionally hard to obtain even for legally acquired birds or bird parts.