You’re right in saying there are lots of varied opinions on the topic of wearing feathers, especially because feathers like eagle feathers are considered sacred because of the relationship and proximity that eagles have with the heavens and the Creator. It’s a symbol of our connection with the above.
However, the types of feathers used by tribes can have variations in their meanings from tribe to tribe and certainly among non-tribal members. Other cultures from around the world too have their own relationship and traditions with different types of feathers.
As most tribes are founded in an animist philosophy, meaning we believe all living and inanimate objects contain a life force, objects that were recently living contain special significance and should be treated as such…special.
I personally love wearing or keeping things I find in Nature, like beautiful rocks, sticks, flowers, or feathers. It’s my way of appreciating the beauty that Mother Earth provides. However, I was always taught to hold that object and ask its permission before removing it. There have been times when I felt that object wanted to stay where it was, so I put it back. I would encourage your non-tribal friends to start this practice if they haven’t already.
It’s an interesting conversation, so I would definitely continue to keep the dialog open, especially with your elders.
Thanks for writing in!