Dream Catchers: Meaning, Purpose & Symbolism

Introduction

The dreamcatcher may be the perfect gift for anyone who suffers from nightmares.

Dreamcatchers are round. Inside the loop thread is arranged in such a way it resembles a spider’s web.

Feathers are attached to the bottom. Beads are often used.

Some choose to have one bead in the middle representing the spider.

How a dreamcatcher works according to believers

Dreamcatchers are placed in the bedroom.

When a person goes to sleep the dreamcatcher will attract all the dreams.

Nightmares get trapped inside the web.

Good dreams pass through and slide down the feathers to reach the person sleeping.

When morning comes and the dreamcatcher is exposed to light, the bad dreams dissolve and disappear. They cannot survive in daylight.

As the person wakes up he or she feels refreshed after a pleasant and peaceful sleep.

Ojibwa Native Americans

Dreamcatchers originate from the Ojibwa Native Americans. They now mainly reside in Canada and the United States.

They made these small amulets to protect their infants and young children. They were meant to trap all evil spirits that came in the form of nightmares. The small dreamcatcher hung over the cradle or bed to ensure their children were safe and secure during the night.

We can imagine how the slow and peaceful motions of the feathers would be soothing to a baby as the child drifted asleep.

The Ojibwa Native Americans made the authentic dreamcatcher from willow wood. They always used real leather. They wove the web inside using sinew strands or thread. Authentic dreamcatchers can still be purchased today.

The dreamcatcher is associated with Absibikaashi, the Spider Woman. Once all the Ojibwa people lived together at a place called Turtle Island. As time passed all her people had moved to all four corners of the country.

Spider Woman cared deeply for all the children. She found it difficult to visit every single child at bedtime to ensure they were protected from the evil spirits.

All mothers and grandmothers agreed to weave a web inside loops made from the willow tree. These magical webs could catch the spirits lurking around the child at night. Evil spirits would not be able to taunt the sleeping child anymore.

The New Age Era

During the 1960’s and 1970’s the New Age movement adopted many of the traditions of the Native Americans.

They took the ideas and copied the items believing it was the renaissance in Native American belief and culture. They truly wanted the world to know and recognize this deep-rooted and extraordinary culture.

Today dreamcatchers are known and used in many countries worldwide. People are now making their own variations of dreamcatchers using different kinds of material and equipment.

Dreamcatchers found in thousands of homes globally may be a far stretch from the authentic items.

People who make their own variation and people who own an authentic Native American made dreamcatcher do have one thing in common:

They all seem to love their dreamcatcher!

You’ve probably heard about dream catchers. You may even have one or seen one hanging from a tree branch or on a wall. But I bet there’s a lot about dream catchers that you probably don’t know. Let’s explore their origins, legends and how they’re used today.

What is a dream catcher?

People mostly use them for decoration today but dream catchers have a long history among First Nations people. They were given to children to hang over their beds to ward off bad dreams.

Where did dream catchers come from?
Explorers reported that the Ojibwa people were using dream catchers to protect children while they slept — they were sometimes called “Sacred Hoops.” Dream catchers have also been used by Cree and other First Nations people.

Catcher of bad dreams

One legend tells the story of a chief whose child becomes sick with a fever that causes terrible nightmares. A medicine woman makes a dream catcher by copying the pattern of a spider web. Instead of catching flies, the dream catcher will catch bad dreams. When nightmares came for the child, they were caught in the strands of sinew. But good dreams were able to pass through the web and follow the feather down to the child. In the morning, the sun would hit the dream catcher and burn away the bad dreams.

The spider in the window

Another legend tells the tale of a spider weaving its web in a window while a grandmother watched from her bed. When her grandson tried to squash the spider, the woman stopped him. The spider, grateful that her life was spared, gifted the grandmother with the web and told her that it would catch all of her bad dreams but let the good dreams through.

What are dream catchers made of?

Dream catchers were made with a willow branch that was bent into a hoop or teardrop shape. The artist would use animal sinew — the strong tissue or tendon that connects muscle to bone — to weave a web-like pattern. Feathers — usually from a hawk — would be used for decoration and trailed down the bottom. There’s a lot of meaning in the dream catcher: their shape is the circle of life and according to some legends, the beads represent the spider who wove the dream catcher.
Today, dream catchers are much fancier and use different materials. They can be decorated with beads, shells and coloured threads.

What is the meaning and history behind the dreamcatcher? You’ve probably seen a dream catcher hanging from a tree, a porch or even in a souvenir shop and wondered about its purpose and meaning. Learn more about the story and the legend behind the origins of the dream catcher.

Dreamcatcher Meaning: History, Legend & Origins of Dream Catchers

Originally created by American Indians, dreamcatchers today come in a variety of different sizes and styles. They usually consist of a small wooden hoop covered in a net or web of natural fibers, with meaningful sacred items like feathers and beads attached, hanging down from the bottom of the hoop. Real authentic, traditional dream catchers are handmade and crafted only from all natural materials, measuring just a few small inches across in size. The hoops are usually constructed of a bent Red Willow branch covered in stretched sinews. Wrapping the frame in leather is another common finishing touch for “real” dream catchers.

History of the Dreamcatcher: Ojibwe or Lakota Origins?

Today the dreamcatcher is associated with Native American culture in general, but dream catchers are often believed to have originated from the Ojibwa Chippewa tribe in particular. The Lakota tribe also has its own legend about the origins of the dreamcatcher, but most ethnographers believe the dreamcatchers were passed down from the Ojibwe through intermarriage and trade. The Ojibwe word for dreamcatcher asabikeshiinh actually means “spider,” referring to the web woven to loosely cover the hoop. The patterns of the dream catcher are similar to the webbing these Native Americans also used for making snowshoes.

What do dream catchers do? Purpose & Meaning of the Dream Catcher

Sometimes referred to as “Sacred Hoops,” Ojibwe dreamcatchers were traditionally used as talismans to protect sleeping people, usually children, from bad dreams and nightmares. Native Americans believe that the night air is filled with dreams, both good and bad. When hung above the bed in a place where the morning sunlight can hit it, the dream catcher attracts and catches all sorts of dreams and thoughts into its webs. Good dreams pass through and gently slide down the feathers to comfort the sleeper below. Bad dreams, however, are caught up in its protective net and destroyed, burned up in the light of day.

Dream Catcher Meaning: Web, Feathers & Beads

All parts of the authentic Native American dreamcatcher have meaning tied to the natural world. The shape of the dreamcatcher is a circle because it represents the circle of life and how forces like the sun and moon travel each day and night across the sky. The dream catcher web catches the bad dreams during the night and dispose of them when the day comes. As for the good dreams, the feathers act as a fluffy, pillow-like ladder that allows them to gently descend upon the sleeping person undisturbed. There is some contention when it comes to the meaning of the beads that often decorate the dreamcatcher. According to some American Indians, the beads symbolize the spider—the web weaver itself. Others believe the beads symbolize the good dreams that could not pass through the web, immortalized in the form of sacred charms.

Dreamcatcher Meaning Today: Authentic Symbol or Cultural Appropriation?

Though dreamcatchers are quite prolific, finding real authentic dreamcatchers is not that easy. Real handmade dream catchers are usually small in size and feature sacred charms like feathers and beads. Many dreamcatchers for sale today, however, are much more American than Native American, often oversized and made of cheap plastic materials. Many Native Americans still consider the dreamcatcher to be a symbol of unity and identification among the many Indian Nations and First Nations cultures. Still, many other Native Americans have come to see dream catchers as an symbol of cultural appropriation, over-commercialized and offensively misappropriated and misused by non-Natives.

http://legomenon.com/dreamcatcher-meaning-legend-history-origins.html

https://goodlucksymbols.com/dreamcatcher/

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