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This text is by Clara DeGalan in her capacity and does not, necessarily, reflect the views of different infinite mile contributors, infinite mile co-founders, the authors' employers and/or other affiliations.  

Recent Work and a grounding ritual for Autumn

Clara DeGalan

I began collecting feathers after attending a mythology conference in Maine, where I was told that that a feather found on your path had drifted there specifically for you, like a gift from the heavens or from a bird spirit. You could take a feather because it was ephemeral, and wasn’t originally from that place. To pick up a stone, on the other hand, is stealing. A stone lives where it rests.
Recent Work and a grounding ritual for Autumn 01
Hamtramck Landscape
Soon after I began collecting feathers and putting them into my still life assemblages—feathers lend themselves to trompe l'oeil painting, because they’re so flat and trompe l'oeil works its magic in shallow space. Feathers and tape are natural choices for this genre—both can be wrought with oil paint in almost one gesture, and can mimic the real thing uncannily while still being sloppy.
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Celebrant: Oil on Paper, 70’’ x 51’’, 2014






White feathers symbolize purification, spirituality, hope, protection, peace, and blessings of the Moon.


Red feathers symbolize physical vitality. Also courage, good fortune, and life.


 Blue feathers give mental abilities, peace, and protection. Also psychic awareness.


 Yellow feathers give cheerfulness, mental alertness, prosperity, and blessings from the Sun.


 Green feathers symbolize money, prosperity, growth, health, and fertility.
Green and red mixed feathers affect financial matters.


 Orange feathers bring attraction, energy, and success.


Pink feathers attract love. 


 Gray feathers symbolize peace and neutrality.


 Brown feathers give stability and respect. They also symbolize the home and grounding.
Brown feathers striped in black, like the tail feathers of a pheasant, give a balance between the physical and spiritual life.
Brown feathers banded or mixed with white bring happiness and give the kind of protection that enables one to go unnoticed amidst those who would harm them.
Brown and red mixed feathers bring healing to animals.


 Black feathers give the mystical wisdom that comes with true spiritual initiation.
Black, iridescent feathers give mystical insight.
Black and white mixed feathers give union and protection.
Black (or gray) feathers banded or mixed with white give hope, balance and harmony.
Black mixed with purple means deep spirituality.
Black, white, and blue mixed feathers bring change.

feather 02 The "eye" on the end of the peacock tail feather protect against the "evil eye" and stimulates inner clairvoyant vision.
feather 02 The rooster's two prominent tail feathers (called sickles) are symbols of the God and Goddess. The black ones are sacred to the God because of their resemblance to the curved horns of the Horned God. They are also a symbol of male virility. The white ones are sacred to the Goddess because they resemble the tool (the sickle) with which grain (sacred to her) is reaped. They also resemble the waxing and waning Moon.

Feather Chart Courtesy of earthwitchery.com 

Browsing through The Vermont Country Store catalog, I discovered that there is a whole subgenre of “feather painting,” that is, painting on feathers. The subject matter is usually the bird that the feather came from, very delicately rendered, the whole enclosed in a glass jar like a miniature ship or mounted on a wee wooden frame. This discovery led to my practice of making pictures on feathers. It corresponded with a burgeoning interest in the objects that I was painting as potent things in themselves and not just mysterious sources.

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Feather Installation

The potency of the object, and the preservation of that object in the form of decoration, creates a distilled moment lifted from the path of daily life, in which we are always receiving signals in various forms. My practice is rooted in slowing down enough to recognize those signals, mix them up, and cast them into lots of different combinations.

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Autumn Drawing

Making a Witches’ Cord for Autumn

  1. Take two white cords and one orange cord- orange for the season, white for the Goddess. Clear a nice space and hang the three cords on a hook. Have eight feathers ready (see feather color key for ideas about colors. If you cannot find colored feathers in nature and if you plan ahead enough, you can order all kinds of colored feathers online. It might be better to just use found feathers, however. Note: NEVER harm a bird to obtain a feather! If you need a certain color of feather from nature, find out where that bird lives, and wait. For example, cardinals are crepuscular, blue jays are noisy.
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Feather Drawing 1

Most feathers in the city come from pigeons, but they’re still powerful. If you’re lucky enough to have some living under your eaves, they’ll coo you back to sleep when you should be getting up and going to work.

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Witches’ Cord
  1. Begin to braid your three cords. Work the eight feathers into the cord as you braid, spacing them at roughly even intervals. If you have some rosemary, burn it smudge style—sweet grass incense is good too.
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Witches’ Cord
  1. Once the cord is all braided and all the feathers are worked in, tie it at both ends so it forms a wreath. Add a sprig or two from a plant near your home if you like. This will be a reminder of Place once you’re far away from here.
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Feather Drawing 2
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Witches’ Cord
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A Veiled Asking, Oil on Canvas, 40’’ x 30’’, 2015
  1. When your witches’ cord is completed, take some time to sit and look at it. It goes right back to the beginning of time, and holds space right here, in the same way. Ask it to help you keep your eyes, ears, and heart open as the earth turns toward darkness. Imagine the moon in whatever phase it is when you make the wreath floating inside it, so small that you can hold it in your hands. Burn more incense and drink some whiskey. Your witches’ cord is now ready! Hang it high up, where nobody will see it right away.
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Feather Installation close up
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a journal of art + culture(s)  
link - issue 33: November 2016
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