I have been working with the bird kingdom for healing and guidance for a good while now. In my workshop A Wing and a Prayer I show others how to connect into bird energies. One of the simplest ways to do this is through feathers.
The way I started healing with feathers was to ‘feather down’ the aura at the end of a session. The feather carries off stale energies that have been loosened in the healing. I have found that you can conduct a very nice aura cleansing with feathers. Do check that anyone you use feathers with hasn’t got allergies to birds before you start!
Prepare yourself to perform healing by grounding, connecting to your higher self, centring and protecting your energy.
Choose an appropriate feather- you may want to keep one specifically for this purpose. You may even decide to make a feather fan, or bead a feather. If you want to link to a specific bird energy and you don’t have a feather from that bird then pick a feather with a similar colouring and visualise the bird you want to link with as you work with it.
Spend a moment connecting to the bird energy by visualising it and holding the feather between your hands. Now activate your feather by breathing on it. This process can all be done in advance.
When you use the feather in the aura work all around the other person smoothing downwards from head to foot. It is best if they are standing or sitting. Include under their arms and under their feet.
Pay special attention to any dense, sticky areas where the feather doesn’t want to flow. Feathers are like antennae and can guide you to the trouble spots. The only caution Ted Andrews gives in Animal Speak is to avoid placing owl feathers onto the body; they can drive the problem further in. This makes sense if you think about the ‘hidden’ and ‘secret’ qualities of the owl.
Feathers are easy to find, even in cities and picking up your own is special. When you go for a walk keep your eyes open for these gifts of Nature. We source all the feathers we use ethically. They are either picked up from the ground or gifted from bird sanctuaries. Sometimes we find birds that have been killed by vehicles and if they aren’t too damaged or decayed we will preserve their wing and tail feathers. The rest of the bird is given a respectful burial.
In some countries it is against the law to posses bird of prey feathers, even if you come across them lying on the ground, so please check the law as it applies to you. I would advise against mail order companies selling feathers; they mainly supply the crafting market and it is unlikely that the feathers they sell come from ethical sources. These feathers are often dyed unnaturally bright colours, however if you find a good ethical trader let me know!
When you have found your feathers you must address hygiene. Bird feathers can carry germs and mites. You must cleanse them physically before using them. We’ve that found a short soak in mild detergent and a gentle cleanse with a soft paintbrush in the direction of the feather growth works well. Dry them indoors (outdoors they have a tendency to ‘fly away’ in the slightest breeze!) After this initial wash try not to get them wet them again. A bird keeps its feathers in good condition with a natural oil secretion- wetting them removes this and they will start to deteriorate if you keep washing them. After healing with feathers you can cleanse their energies with incense or smudge.
One couple stayed in a local bed and breakfast for my Wing and a Prayer weekend. The chap went out for a morning walk on the Sunday and noticed a little trail of pure white feathers. He followed them and found a pure white dove dead beside the road, still warm with not a mark on it. He picked it up and brought it in for me. Doves have a special place in my heart and we were to connect to the energy of the dove later in the day. He didn’t know that I had been standing in the shower shortly beforehand thinking, “It is a pity we don’t have any actual dove feathers.” Thank you to that lovely little bird for its sacrifice, we are using its feathers with great respect.
There are only a few books available on bird energies. In my workshop we use the lovely Bird Cards: The Healing Power of the Bird Kingdom and to look up the qualities of individual birds we use Ted Andrews Animal-Speak: which has a good section on working with the Bird Kingdom.