The Power Of The Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

The Bald Eagle from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

It’s My Lucky Day

I’ve made mention here before that 4 is my favorite and my lucky number. Today is 04-04-2016 and those double fours seem to be speaking to me today.

When I left the house this morning I found a large bird feather behind my little SUV. We have a lot of Red Tail and Red Shoulder hawks around here. But while I examined it, I knew it wasn’t a hawk feather, because it didn’t have the identifying stripes.

We live on a lake, but I also knew it wasn’t from our visiting Canadian Geese. But still I wasn’t sure what it was. So in an effort to identify the feather, I took a picture and uploaded it to Google’s image search. When I found several matches I knew I had my source. But to be honest I was seriously shocked to discover its the tail feather of a Bald Eagle.

We have a couple of nesting pairs of Bald Eagle here on our lake. We’ve seen them over the years flying by the water’s edge. Even caught sight of one fishing on one occasion. “He” dove into the water, disappeared and re-emerged with a fish between his talons. It was indeed a marvelous sight. We’ve seen them in the winter sitting on the ice near an open pool and we managed to capture one in a very bad picture eating a fish on the ice one winter.

Now being a Shaman, any eagle medicine is a very powerful animal message to me. You don’t come by Bald Eagle feathers every day. Heck, I’ve never seen one in this type of situation in my entire life. So this is a big deal to me. Wholly guacamole!

Nearly all Shamanistic societies believe animals in the physical and spiritual worlds come to us for our own good to deliver messages. When animals cross our path in the physical world they maybe bringing a warning or a message as guidance. They’re a “here in the now” kind of message that impacts our physical world. ~ from Animal Sign here on Springwolf Reflections

Learning about the animal will help to decipher the message it brings. But it’s also helpful to know what the animal represents to you. For instance, the Bald Eagle to me represents freedom, going with the flow and being majestic or proud. These three aspects will also influence the message being brought on this special day.

Additionally the feather I found, is a tail feather.  Tail feathers are used for navigation and flight, so the message I’m seeking will also be related to direction and travel. Especially since I found this feather right next to my car.

Tail feathers are specialized plumage that’s lighter and stiffer than body feathers. The same is true of feathers at the tip and trailing edge of their wings — along with their tails, they’re collectively called “flight feathers.” Birds use their tails to create lift and control drag during slower flights and to help steer during turns. They also furl their tails to reduce drag during faster flights.  ~ From “The Purpose of Birds’ Tails” on The Nest

Bald Eagle Tail Feather ~ Image by Springwolf

My Bald Eagle Tail Feather ~ Image by Springwolf

When I want to know about Animal Sign I turn to an expert on the subject. For me that’s Ted Andrews.  In his book Animal-Speak, Ted says this about Eagles: (this is not his complete chapter on eagles as I’m focused on Bald Eagles).

Keynote: Illumination of Spirit, Healing, and Creation
Cycle of Power: All seasons and during daylight
The eagle is one of the greatest and most admired birds of prey. It has served as inspiration to many societies. Their ability to soar and hunt amazes and thrills those who are witness. Eagles, in fact, are so good at getting food they spend very little time hunting. The fact that they are good at feeding themselves from the land and still soar to great heights in the sky reflects much about the hidden significance of the eagle who comes as a totem. They will teach a balance of being of the Earth, but not in it.

The eagle was sacred to Zeus, who often changed into the form of an eagle to help himself control thunder and lightning. The Sumerians worshiped an eagle god, and the Hittites used a double-headed eagle as a symbolic emblem so they would never be surprised. The eagle has also been associated with Jupiter, and it was a strong emblem for the Roman Empire. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the eagle is a symbol for the vowel “A”; and also a symbol for the soul, the spirit, and the warmth of life. In early Christian mysticism, the eagle was a symbol of resurrection.

To the Hopis, the golden and the bald eagles were the greatest of all birds of the sky, but these are the only two eagles that live upon our continent. Some groups of Hopis also included the red-tailed hawk as an eagle, referring to it as the Red Eagle.

There are 59 species of eagle, and they are often divided into one of four categories: 1 Fish and Sea eagles, 2 Snake eagles, 3 Harpy or Giant Forested Eagles, and 4 Booted Eagles; but there is always a great deal of variety within these four groups. When it comes to coloring and feather patterns, every eagle is unique and beautiful in its own way.

Fish and sea eagles are those who live primarily upon a diet from the sea (fishes, etc.). Upon the North American continent, the bald eagle is part of this category. Those who have a bald eagle as a totem need to look at the symbolic associations of water. Water and fish are often symbolic of the psychic aspects of life and the creative energies. Water is also an area that separates land from the heavens. Thus a bird of the water, such as a fish or sea eagle, reflects an awakening ability or need to learn to walk between worlds.

Fishing Bald Eagle (Photo : Flickr: Andrew E. Russell)

Fishing Bald Eagle (Photo : Flickr: Andrew E. Russell)

Water is the creative source of life, and living near natural water sources may be important to the health of those who have a bald eagle as a totem. An eagle hunting in the waters must be able to penetrate the waters, grasp what it requires and then rise out of them. All this reflects increased ability and need to learn to work with emotions, psychic abilities, and all aspects of spirituality with greater control. It reflects teachings about true meditation being able to enter and exit the more ethereal realms at will.

The two that are most important to those upon this continent are the bale eagle and the golden. The bald eagle is larger than the golden, but it cannot fly as high nor is it considered as graceful. The bald eagle is often a symbol of the feminine, while the golden symbolizes the masculine. The white feathers of the bald eagle especially are often treasured as they are links to Grandmother Medicine–tremendous wisdom, healing, and creation.

The feathers of eagles are sacred to the Native Americans (and most Shamanistic cultures). The feathers, are used in powerful healing ceremonies (cleansing the aura) and even for shapeshifting. White and black tipped feathers were often used on the masks of the Pueblo Indians to give the appearance of white and black clouds. Again we see the ancient connection to the mysteries of the sky and all of its phenomena.

Both the bald and golden eagle have come to symbolize heroic nobility and divine spirit. These eagles are the messengers from heaven and are the embodiment of the spirit of the sun.

They are also symbols of the rediscovery of the inner child. There once was a belief that as old age approached, the eagle’s eye would grow dim, and the eagle would then fly so near the sun that it would become scorched. It would then seek out a pure water source and dip itself three times into the clear water and its youth would be restored.

This reflects much from a mystical point of view. It hints of resurrection, but it also hints of alchemy. The fire of the sun and the clear water are opposite elements brought into harmony in a manner that elicits a change. It reflects several needs for those with an eagle totem:

  1. There must be involvement with creativity. Three is the number of new birth and creativity.
  2. A willingness to experience extremes in a controlled condition and thus facilitate the alchemical process within your life.
  3. A willingness to use your passions to purify (flying into the sun) and to use your abilities even if it means being scorched a little.
  4. A willingness to seek out the true emotional aspects of oneself and immerse yourself within them, and by doing so rediscover the lost child and awaken a higher sense of purity, passion, creativity, healing, and spirituality.

An examination of the individual characteristics and behaviors of the eagle will reveal even more of the medicine and power attunement will bring to you.

Many eagles mate for life. The male will collect the material for the nests, but the female will be the architect. These roles should be considered by anyone working with eagle medicine. The nests are always large and built high up for safety. Although the roles in the construction of the nests are separate, the task of feeding the young is shared by both, teaching the lesson of cooperative responsibility.

The mating ritual of the bald eagle is one of its most mystical and intriguing aspects. A powerful form of sky dancing occurs. The birds soar, loop, and plunge into deep dives. At a certain point, they grab each others feet and lock talons, rolling and falling, until the mating is completed. Then they separate and soar upwards to repeat the process over and over again. This reflects some of the mystical joy, danger, excitement, and power of the sexual energy experienced by those with eagle medicine. It can open them to new heights and thrills.

Eagles are symbols of great power, a power that goes beyond their actual size. An average bald eagle will weigh 8-10 pounds, about two pounds less than the average house cat.

To align yourself with eagle medicine is to take on the responsibility and the power of becoming so much more than you now appear to be. From a karmic aspect, it reflects that the events will now fly faster, and the repercussions for everything you think, do or say (or fail to think do or say)–positive and negative–will be both stronger and quicker. To accept the eagle as a totem is to accept a powerful new dimension to life, and a heightened responsibility for your spiritual growth. But only through doing so do you learn how to move between worlds, touch all life with healing, and become the mediator and the bearer of new creative force within the world.

Some of this message for me deals with change, moving forward, taking responsibility and living in balance between the physical and spiritual consciousness of life. I feel blessed to have received such an amazing and power gift as this. And I honor the Bald Eagle who brought it to my door.


There is some question about the legality of possessing eagle feathers. The law isn’t totally clear and there are exceptions for religious ceremony, especially as they relate to Native Americans. The Department of Justice updated the legislation in October 2012 in an effort to clarify the law.

Basically, if you’re not identified as Native American, you cannot possess an eagle feather.

Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, passed in 1940, prohibits “pursuing, shooting, shooting at, poisoning, wounding, killing capturing, trapping, collecting, molesting, or disturbing” a bald or golden eagle. It is also illegal to “possess, sell, purchase, barter, offer to sell, offer to purchase or barter, transport … any bald eagle… alive, dead, or any part, nest or egg thereof.”

This means you can’t take or even move any part of a bald eagle, not even a feather already on the ground. A single violation could result in up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Even though I’m a Celtic Shaman with a mix of Celtic and Cherokee beliefs and practices, I’m not legally identified as Native American. I set the feather aside to find out what kind of feather it was. I also took a picture of it to research its origin and to mark the occasion. Once I discovered what kind of feather it was, I returned it to Mother Nature with my own mini-ritual to say thanks and express my gratitude.

Additional Links:
Thanks to Carole for the links!

© Springwolfs Hanko

© 2016 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

3 thoughts on “The Power Of The Bald Eagle

  1. I see this is an old post from 2016. . .but two bald eagles live in a tall tree in my front yard and hunt in the river next my house. There are feathers scattered over my one acre lawn nearly every two weeks. . .I guess from when they groom themselves. The feathers are huge and beautiful. I collect them and trash most but keep the beautiful ones (screw the law, its my property). . .its a shame the feathers can’t be given away (legally).

  2. Hi… I’ve been wanting to tell you for awhile now how happy I was when you started posting again. I really missed your Tarot meditations, and it’s good to have you back.

    I loved this post about the eagle feather. Thought you might find this website useful… I’ve used it a number of times when I’ve come across an unusual feather. I love bird and animal watching, and I also have Ted Andrews’ book. Great resource.

    Some people paint large white turkey feathers to resemble eagle feathers… Those are legal to possess, and if you’re into crafting you can make your own smudge feathers or decorative feathers for clothing or other items. The feather atlas has great scans to use as a reference.

    Again, so good to have you back!


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