This may associate with the bird from which it came. It would therefore be different if it were a chicken feather or an eagle feather. In which case look up the bird of origin. In general however, a feather suggests a thought, an aspiration or ideal. Or an incrimination, white feather. Sometimes it is a symbol of achievement as a feather in your cap, or as used by Indian chiefs to represent courageous deeds or help given to the tribe. But a feather may also suggest something that is moved by every tiny puff of wind, every passing change – a feather blowing in the wind.
In many cultures feathers represent the quality or beauty of the bird from which they come. So an eagle feather would represent strength, pride, fierce protectiveness, spiritual insight etc.; a peacock might represent beauty, self aggrandisement. So a feather might mean you have achieved the quality it depicts. In India they symbolise spiritual awareness; a black feather might depict the unconscious, or ability to explore it; a white feather in the past was associated with cowardice, but might also represent purity and wider awareness. Feathers also represent the ability to fly, to aspire, to lift up ones life from beliefs or fears that limit you; something easily blown by the wind – so non resistance, insubstantial. See colours for possible meanings for other colours.
The meaning obviously depends upon how the feather or feathers appear in the dream. Other associations might be suggested by the way feather is used in common language.
The wearing of feathers – other than in ladies hats – lets others know what qualities you have, what skills you have, or what remarkable deeds you have done. So the feathers of an American Indian brave would have a similar significance.
Because the peacock could shed all its beautiful feathers and then grow them again, early Christians saw it as a symbol of resurrection and immortality.
Example: Margaret dreamt there was a whole lot of downy little feathers falling from the sky and covering her, like snow. The sky was full of them. She had been watching a baby eagle very high up in tree tops flying from tree to tree. She felt it was looking for it’s mother/ parents. Then a man had caught the baby eagle by a string around it’s leg and Margaret was appalled and said to him, ‘You can’t do that. You must let it go.’ Then the feathers started to fall and Margaret felt that any moment now the irate parent eagles would arrive. They didn’t but she was with her back to a wall sheltering as best she could.
While we explored Margaret’s feelings and memories connected with the dream symbols, she told me that her man friend prodded an old childhood pain which he didn’t know about. Margaret and her son had been with him and his mother for a good weekend camping. She told her son he could go play in the park while they packed the car and they would pick him up on the way out. They were all in the car and drove to where the son was and called him, he saw them and started to run towards them and then the man friend drove the car forward as if to make out they were leaving him behind. Margaret burst with pain and anger.
Example: I had a strong fantasy of the human head that had been cut off coming alive. It was me and what I had done to myself, torn my body and head apart trying to find a solution to my pain. Then I saw flesh on its cheeks. Then it was like a native mask made of various things, and feathers. The feathers predominated in the fantasy. The mask kept breaking up, leaving only a few feathers, as if it or I were all nothing. I remember saying – “There is not even a mask, it’s just a few feathers!”
With enormous certainty I realised that there was no cure for my sickness and I had struggled in vain. It was a tremendous blow – and I gave up. I mean I gave up hope, everything, and simple lay there and my whole body and mind became still.
Then I had a vision of one feather tied to a twig by piece of wool, blowing in the wind – a feather blowing in the wind. This was very stable and persistent in the fantasy. Everything resolved back to the feather blowing in the wind. It seemed like a Red Indian symbol, perhaps tied to the suspended body of the dead, but I could not understand.
Then it came to me that I had to listen in deep stillness – not think, not seek to understand, not struggle, just listen. My whole being entered into silence, gently listening as one might listen to the rain falling on a lake. Then suddenly it was known – the feather blowing in the wind – the sound of one hand clapping – the essence of human existence. Open against the sky – emptiness – enormity. I was healed.
Feather blowing in the wind: Suggests the caprices of fate; the strange contradiction of human life with its helplessness, and yet at the same time the wind and space the feather moves in suggests the infinity of the cosmos which is fundamental to our existence.
Feathers flying or falling: Possibly refers to a fight situation – feathers were flying.
Growing new feathers: Becoming a new person; undergoing great personal change; growth; in the past this was seen as a sign of resurrection or new birth.
Idioms: ‘feather in ones cap’; light as a feather; feather blowing in the wind; feather bed; feather ones own nest; birds of a feather flock together.
Useful questions and hints:
What do I feel about this feather and what does it suggest to me?
Do I connect this to a special talent or skill in my dream?
Does it indicate an achievement, as in ‘feather in my cap’?
Am I feeling blown about like a feather in the wind?