Feathers have been long considered spiritual symbols throughout history... Egyptian, Celtic, Asian, Native American... well in many ancient cultures. Birds are considered as divine in ancient cultures; they occupy the sky and are thereby closest to the Divine, sometimes representing deity; they are messengers of the gods, Spirit Guides, and the angelic realm so naturally their feathers are very spiritual.
In tribal lore feathers represent the embodiment of the bird's spirit and their power.They were used in ceremonies to purify,cleanse, and bless the ritual space as well as individuals, and for prayer. Feathers were also worn as a symbol of bravery, spiritual power, integrity, and strength. To Native Americans, Eagle feathers (specifically the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle) are highly spiritual and held in reverence, for the Eagle represents Father God, i.e. Father Sky, or Grandfather.
In paganism the feather represents the Element Air, deity, as well as representing the type of bird from which the feather came from, as well as tools for smudging and cleansing.
Feather Meanings (bird symbolization)
Eagle- spirituality, Creation, healing, illumination (Father God)
Peacock- protection, psychic/clairvoyance, ressurection (Goddess Hera, Gods Amon-Ra and Horus)
Raven/Crow- magick, mysteries (Goddess Morrigan, and God Odin)
Owl- dream work, magick, wisdom (Goddess Athena)... Note: the Owl has different symbolism to different Native American tribes (to some it means death & evil; to others, protection)
Vulture- purification, death & rebirth
Turkey- blessings, harvest (Earth Mother)
Swallow- perception, protection
Swan- awakening, transformation, beauty
Sparrow- awakening, triumph, common nobility
Roadrunner- mental speed & agility
Quail- nourishment, protection
Falcon- agility, grace, mental speed (Egyptian Gods Horus & Ra, and Goddess Hathor)
Hawk- visionary power, guardianship
Woodpecker- rhythm, drumming, heartbeat of the Earth, mystical connection
(sources: http://www.spiritfeather.com, and Animal Speak by Ted Andrews)
It is believed that when you find a feather in your path, this is a sign, or message, that (1) you are on the right path, and (2) your prayers are being answered.
I personally like to save the feathers that I find... ANY feather that I happen find.... I have pigeon, dove, raven, duck, and sparrow feathers tucked away in my drawer. I consider them to be messages and gifts.
My Wand with Raven Feathers
I crafted this small wand last Summer, unfortunately our cat Mina (our problem-child) got hold of it, and the crystal was lost and never found.... we are hoping she didn't eat it LOL, you just never know with her!
I still have the feathers stored away safely in a drawer.