I may well end up on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, feeding the birds. The color and sound they bring to my world is not lost on me. During the summer months when I am unhurried to get my day going, I lie in bed and do my mental workout. I think about how great it would be to salute the sun, take a brisk jog, juice some veggies. All the while, laying snug as a bug and watching the birds. I’ll ever have the disapproving look of our exterminator in my mind telling me that if I don’t want mice, I may consider getting rid of the bird feeder, but that is nonnegotiable. It is a favorite part of my day.
There are so many things I cherish about the Native American Church, but perhaps my favorite detail is the use of tail feathers to pray with, such a kaleidoscope of color. There is nothing like getting smudged off from the wind of an eagle tail from one of my Native American uncles. It feels like the Goddess coming around and gracing me with her presence. Or perhaps what some people call the Holy Spirit.
And just like the rest of us, birds can be assholes, squabbling about their differences, insisting on taking up space by the sheer beauty and depth of color that they inhabit.
The suited bluejays are the bullies of the playground. The sweet morning dove, always a part of a duet. The yellow finches seem to be forever at play. The hummingbird zooming in and out, arguing the “whether”. I celebrate their diversity. And perhaps that is why I find them underfoot at times. I’ve held a few birds while they take their last breath. They just seem to find their way to me.
So for me, the dream catcher and the use of bird feathers is much more than simple decoration. It is rather a form of communion: creating something beautiful with these heavenly gifts.
One can easily look up how to make a dream catcher online. I am here rather to encourage their usage. Originally intended by the Ojibwe for protection of their children from bad dreams, the dream catcher seems an over-commercialized item, even inspiring trendy (but I think Beautiful) tattoos. Even so, it is a simple enough to make symbol of good intention and a lovely way to use found feathers.
Woodpeckers seem to be a strong medicine for me. There was a pair mating in our willow tree during my wedding ceremony. And ever since, they have flitted in and out of my life. They represent the heartbeat to me, the drummer, the opportunist. We’ve all heard the expression when opportunity comes a knocking. I do believe there is a balance between asking for things we need/want and taking advantage of people’s inability to say NO. I think heartfelt and sincere moments of asking for help bring out the opportunity for others to give and feel good about themselves rather than leaving them feeling used. The woodpecker sighting is a reminder to be bold, like the red flame atop their heads, and go for it.
Whether making jewelry or dream catchers, I always bury the birds I find with some tobacco and a prayer of gratitude.
There is truly no greater joy for me than being buzzed by a hummingbird (the namesake of my blog). And as Henry Miller says, “either you take in believing in miracles or you stand still like the hummingbird.”
This little beauty was gifted to me be a dear friend. I use her feathers as part of my prayer fan. A reminder that despite all the suffering in the world, the injustices, the horrors…we still all have a choice to choose joy. Joy is a harder path for some than others, but I can assure you one of the easiest step towards joy is counting your blessings rather than focusing on what is lacking.
Dream catchers are an easier craft than some of the other feather work you see here as all one has to do is make a loop out of willow, or you can even buy a metal hoop.
There are different methods of lacing the spider’s web for catching dreams found online. And once that is done, it is up to you how you’d like to individualize your dream catcher. My daughter made this one with a cardinal wing .
And my sweetheart former student Vivi made this beauty.
The feathers can be tied on, or simply stuck in the bead on the leather hanging down.
What is so fun about creating these is that they can be unique and embellished per one’s desire. My mother’s dream catcher happened to match her outfit.
My beautiful friend Sandra, all a smile.
and a wonderful, wistful dream catcher created by Jess…
While I prefer to use willow and sinew and make more traditional style dream catchers like Jess’s above; I think in a culture in which we adopt ideas of others and personalize them, the most important thing is to imbibe your creation with good thoughts towards it’s owner whether it be yourself or another. We make offerings to the willow tree before using her branches.
For a young friend of mine, I added a fairy detail. For who better to help protect our dreams?
Just as within the seed the potential of the fruit, the flower, the scent and the beauty of a flower exist, so does the possibility of our own blossoming exist within the dream.
We simply can not achieve that which we can not imagine. Everything begins with a thought. And the more we can spin our thoughts into conversations, and then actions, the more we manifest our waking dreams. And what of the journeys we take in our sleep? I think they are important beyond measure. Whether we can recall them or not, the time spent asleep when our subconscious mind is allowed to process all that we encounter is a precious jewel whose currency is priceless. Just as in waking meditations we can begin to control our minds, calm them, observe and release our thoughts with non-attachment, so can we control our dreams. Once all the unproductive jibber-jabber, negativity and doubt falls to the way side, we can find clarity and begin to build the lives we want. The dream catcher, is a reminder of this.