The Offering

For me, feathers are an offering from above: above the fray of everyday dramas, and above the bounds of gravity.

Years ago, we lived near a beach where our boys ran wild and built forts and played in the sand and mud. Running wild was key to their upbringing: Jim and I had moved from Seattle city life so that our boys could experience nature more directly.

Mission accomplished in our home of 20 years: they played outside in every season. They fished off the banks of nearby beaches. They built log forts, and made rock damns. And, importantly: They directly viewed and experienced wildlife: otters, fish, whales, weasels, skunks, raccoons, squirrels, toads and frogs. They looked under rocks and found salamanders and crabs. They looked to the sky or up in the trees for nests and bird sightings.

Of course, I had the best job of all: bringing nature to my kids and their pals. We’d walk to this beach, and sometimes I’d play with them—I love building forts. Or I’d let them loose, and while they played, I’d go on a walkabout, and think and observe and commune. I found treasures to pocket, or gather and drag home: sculpted driftwood, rocks large and small, and feathers—lots of feathers. I still have bouquets of feathers all over my work studio and home.

For me, feathers are an offering from above: above the fray of everyday dramas, and above the bounds of gravity. I’ve used feathers in ceremonies and in healing sessions: As I smudge with feathers and the sacred smoke of sage or cedar or Palo Santo, I offer up prayers of healing. Up and up the sacred smoke goes, to the great Above: Great Spirit, God, Universe, Source, Creator….

Back to the beach:
It was a cloudy day on the beach with boys and hubby. My mood was clouded by my dealing with Jim’s recent medical emergency: a grand Mal seizure and cardiac arrest had prompted a Near Death Experience on his part, and a new role as carer and full time breadwinner on my part. So, while Jim was happily involved in a driftwood building project with the boys, I wandered off to let nature heal my still-frazzled nerves.

I wandered and thought and prayed and cried a little. Life seemed overwhelming with new issues to solve: How do I make ends meet while we wait for disability insurance to kick in? What kind of care or rehabilitation did JIm need to heal his injured brain and damaged heart? How do I cope and raise a family and work and…?

And then…

I was stopped by a familiar sound: an eagle screech from right above me. The eagle circled in a slow vortex above my distressed human, then screeched again and flew off. My gaze stared at the empty space eagle left behind. But wait a minute—the space wasn’t empty! Something floated down towards me. I opened my hands, palms up, as if the something would somehow land in them.

Down it floated, swinging in an unseen breeze and into my waiting hands. I stared at the eagle feather in disbelief of how it could have made such an accurate landing. The physics didn’t matter though, because the metaphysics were obvious: The feather was an offering from above with this message: “Elke, once in awhile, you need to look up. And you need to rise up, above the busy-ness of your mind, above the circumstances you live in, above your human self in order to view your life from your higher Self. Take in the view from where the eagles fly, above it all.”

I accepted the offering and murmured: “Thanks for the reminder.”

*The above picture came from a beautiful calendar, with art from indigenous Tlingit and Yukon artist Jean Taylor. You can find her art on

the offering
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Elke Macartney


  1. Joan Barlow on May 10, 2021 at 8:26 pm

    I too have had gifts of feathers regularly but mine ate from beyond the veil. I never thought to see the coaxing of “look up”! Very vivid memories your writing takes me there to any one of our innumerable lovely beaches. Beautifully written and shared Elke!

  2. Nancy Addison on May 11, 2021 at 3:27 pm

    Still reading.. But got a little lost in the “memories” it brought up. Funny, I too found so many treasures during my hours among the trees. While Linda (my beloved 4-legged companion) waited.. (To be fair, I waited when she found treasures too. Sometimes I even got down on the ground to see or smell what she had found. Wow.. ). Even rescued, dragged home, and planted baby birch trees that were being destroyed (and that my husband then proceeded to deliberately run the lawn mower into because he was mad at me.. ) My son invited me to the fort he built, complete with a rope to hold on to (to help me get in). So many “memories”… I didn’t find feathers though. Maybe I wasn’t looking for them… But butterflies.. Now back to the beach..

  3. Peggy Woods on May 11, 2021 at 5:52 pm

    Beautiful writing, Elke! That is so amazing and powerful the feather came out of the sky and landed in your hands. I’ve had magical moments of finding eagle feathers too.

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