Death Crowns

This is a very unusual story; one not ever heard by many people---especially those under 60 years old.  I suppose one would say it is a story for we older folks.

I have heard the story of Death Crown (also know as Feather Crowns or Angel Crowns) for many years.  The first time I recall hearing the story was in the later part of 1950; I was eleven years old at the time and my Mother had just died in August.  She took ill during the night and was rushed to the hospital in Colorado City early the next morning where she soon died.  We later learned it was from a large brain aneurism.

Momma always had a certain feather pillow that she slept on; being very young and missing her, I asked to sleep on her pillow.  I was sleeping that night with my Dad and I could not get comfortable on the pillow as there were little knots in the feathers.  I told my Daddy and asked him why the knots were there.  He said to me, "I will let your Grandma Phariss explain".  I suppose in his grief he did not want to discuss it so soon after Momma's death.

The next time I was in Breckenridge, Texas visiting my Grandma Phariss (my Daddy's mother) I told her about Momma's pillow.  She then began to tell me the story about Death Crowns.  Here is what she said:  "When a person died, there was sometimes found in their bed pillow (if it were a feather pillow which they mostly were back in those days)  a closely and mysteriously woven mass of feathers ... It was called an Angel Crown ... and it indicated that the deceased person ... had gone to heaven ... if such an object was found in the pillow of a sick person, it meant that this person would soon die. In such an instance the crown was called an 'Angel of Death Crown' or simply 'Death Crown'." 

Grandma Phariss had two of these Death Crowns and she showed them to me.  The best I recall they were from her mother and grandmother.  She said I could have them when she was thru with them.

She explained to me that since Momma did not actually die on her pillow the "crowns" did not have time to completely form; they were only beginning to form.

I could hardlly wait to get back home to Colorado City to investigate.  When I got home, I cut open the pillow to find Momma's Death Crown.  It was not there!  I went thru the feathers of that pillow completely and found nothing; so I sewed it back up and, again, there were the knots.  If I remember correctly, I opened the pillow several times looking for the Death Crown but never found one.

I never did get the Death Crowns that my Grandma Phariss had.  After her death so many people went thru her things, I supposed someone else got them.  I asked my Aunt Myrtle (my Dad's oldest sister) about them and she said she had no idea where they were but if I was that interested, I could have two that she had.  She gave me the two I have now (in the photo) but she could not tell me to whom they belonged.

Here are several links that you can go to in order to get more insight into Death Crowns:

1.  http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/15660
2.  http://www.carrollscorner.net/FeatherDeathCrowns.htm
3.  http://www.wunderkabinett.co.uk/damndata/index.php?/archives/246-Death-crowns.html
I have had the two Death Crowns above for over 50 years now; I have no idea how old they might be.  I keep them in a sealed jar at all times and they have never lost but about a half dozen feathers.  In the story Grandma Phariss told me was that if you still had the same pillow, you could seperate the feathers, put them back into that same pillow and they would reform. 

As you can see the quills are all point toward the center of the swirl of the Death Crown.  I find it amazing to look at them. 

That is a quarter in the photo to give you some sense of size.