Sign of witchcraft – “There are men and women in the Ozarks who believe that the strange feather balls known as ‘crowns,’ which sometimes form in pillows, are the work of witches and if not destroyed will inevitably cause the death of the person whose head rests upon the pillow.” ~Randolph OMF 272

Sign of going to heaven – “Another superstition which has to do with the welfare of the dead is the tale of the heavenly crowns, also known as feather crowns and angel wreaths. The idea is that when a very good and saintly person is dying, the feathers in the pillow form themselves into a crown, a kind of symbol of the golden crown which the dying person is soon to wear in Heaven. Variations of this tale are heard in many places, over the whole length and breadth of the Ozark country.” ~Randolph OMF 320

“When the bereaved family finds one of these feather crowns in the pillow of a relative who has just died, they are quite set up about it, sure that the dear departed has gone straight to Heaven and is ‘doin’ well thar,’ as one old woman told me. The crown is taken out of the pillow with great care and displayed to all the neighbors; sometimes there is a mention of it in the village paper, as a sort of postscript appended to the obituary. Some families keep such a crown in a box for many years, and I have seen two crowns sealed up in a glass-topped case of polished walnut which had been made especially for them.” ~Randolph OMF 321

Sign of death – “If feathers cling together and form a crown in a sick person’s pillow, it is thought to be a warning of death.” ~Parler FBA VIII 7897

“If a person finds a matted mass of feathers in her pillow she will die; for this is a ‘crown’ and when it’s formed she is about ready to use it.” ~Parler FBA VIII 7898

“If feathers in one’s pillow made a crown, it was a sign he was going to die of that sickness.” ~Parler FBA VIII 7900


Parler, Mary Celestia Folk Beliefs from Arkansas (FBA)

Randolph, Vance Ozark Magic and Folklore (OMF)